Monthly Archives: September 2012

5 Question Friday With Mark Thomason From Broadway Center For Performing Arts

Everyone has a passion. For those who are smart or lucky, they are able to turn that passion into a career. I’ve known Mark Thomason for years and his passion for theater is one of the constants in his life. He is now the Production Stage Manager at downtown Tacoma’s Broadway Center for the Performing Arts. Tomorrow begins a free event that the Broadway Center is putting on called the Fall Free For All. Mark was nice enough to take time out of his incredibly busy schedule to join us for 5 Question Friday. Here’s Mark: 

1.      What is Broadway Center for the Performing Arts?

Broadway Center for the Performing Arts is hard to define, actually. Ostensibly we’re a non-profit organization which presents live entertainment and manages the city-owned facilities including the Pantages, Rialto, and Theatre on the Square venues, plus three rehearsal halls as well as several interconnected spaces.

But much more than that, BCPA is a community-centered organization which partners with literally dozens of other non-profit organizations to support education, anti-poverty initiatives, economic development, and so much more. I could go into all the various initiatives and projects BCPA is involved in here in Tacoma and Pierce County, but it would take me all day to list them.

2.      How did you get started there?

I’ve spent my career in the performing arts industry, graduating with degrees in theatre production and communications/photography. I worked as a freelance stagehand when I first moved back to the area after college, and eventually took a full time job at the Admiral Theatre in Bremerton. I was there for ten years; during most of that time I lived in Tacoma and commuted. I continued to freelance as a lighting designer in the area, a capacity in which I met David Fischer, Executive Director for the Broadway Center, when I worked with him on My Name is Asher Lev last year. Last January, they came to me and asked me to join their staff as Production Stage Manager. I loved the Admiral, but BCPA is such an important part of Tacoma, and I was happy to be given the chance to be a part of an organization that is really making a difference in our town. Plus the five-minute commute doesn’t hurt!

3.      What can people interested in Broadway Center for the Performing Arts do if they want to get involved?

The simplest thing is to go to the website at and volunteer. We have a large volunteer corps whose primary duties are acting as our ushers but they also help out in so many other ways. Of course, as a large performing arts center with a community service mandate, we absorb the costs of presenting shows by lowering ticket prices and giving away tickets to underprivileged groups, so there are numerous sponsorship opportunities for businesses and individuals interested in donating, either financially, or in-kind.

4.      What is the Free For All event this weekend?

Fall Free For All is probably the most publicly visible of our initiatives to promote and support downtown Tacoma. A completely free event open to the public and sponsored in part by the city, we’ll be closing down Broadway between 9th and 11th to put on a festival of arts and music encompassing the street and the entire theatre complex on Broadway. We’ll have 7 total stages on Saturday, with music, live arts installations, family-friendly performances, bouncy houses for the kids, even a live iron-casting art presentation. The fun begins at noon and lasts into the evening, with Vicci Martinez headlining on Saturday night at the Pantages. We continue the party on Sunday with a much smaller festival, with a mix of shows in Theatre on the Square and Studio 3, a live-cooking show in Studio 1, and a historical fashion show, a mix of Tacoma History and a men’s clothing fashion show in Studio 2.

Anyone interested in attending, visit the website and submit your email address to be registered to receive wristbands for you and your family for access to the whole weekend.

5. What’s coming up for Broadway Center for the Performing Arts?

At this point, I’m so focused on Fall Free For All, that’s everything I’m thinking about. That said, let’s look at my calendar… We’ve got ongoing classes for kids and adults both here and at various locations around town, we’ve got all our local arts partners gearing up for their season such as the Northwest Sinfonietta’s performance of Beethoven’s 9th in the beginning of October and Tacoma Opera’s Cosi Fan Tutte later on… we’re kicking off our own presenting season with Wayne Brady on the 11th at the Pantages, and we’re helping to mount the new broadway tour of A Chorus Line, opening on the 26th and 27thhere before they head out on tour all over the country. Did I mention the Korean Consulate’s bringing in Gong Myoung to the Rialto, and we’ve got our performance of the Voices Of the City, an outreach program representing many of the different communities and cultures living in Tacoma, where normal Tacoma citizens develop a way to present their own stories to share… We’ve got Video Games Live in early November, we’re showing an Alfred Hitchcock Film & Lecture series… so much coming up I’m getting exhausted just thinking about it.

For more information on the Free For All event beginning tomorrow, September 22nd, go to click here .  I’d like to thank Mark for joining me this week. As always, if you or someone you know is interested in participating in 5 Question Friday, email me at

– Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Pacific Grill’s Gordon Naccarato

Seven years ago if you wanted to go to a really nice restaurant in downtown Tacoma, your choices were few. That when Gordon Naccarato opened Pacific Grill. Gordon agreed to join me for 5 Question Friday and tell us a bit about his restaurant and some other things. Here’s Gordon:

1) For those who don’t know, what is Pacific Grill?
PG is my restaurant in the gorgeous Waddell building in downtown Tacoma. We serve contemporary American cuisine, and a great all-day Happy Hr.

2) Why is Tacoma a good place for a restaurant?
When we opened PG 7 years ago I think Tacoma was under-served in terms of quality restaurants, and certainly in chef-owned, non-corporate chain restaurants.

3) What are some of your favorite places to get a bite to eat in Tacoma?
I love the Lobster House on 38th in the International District for good Asian food and next door El Zócalo that serves amazing and delicious tortas (that are enough for 2 meals)– and has an attached bakery. Charlie McManus does a great job at Primo Grill and Crown Bar. And I do love the great breakfasts they are serving at DOA. But I love driving to Seattle or Portland to learn something new and see what is going on. And I just got back from Los Angeles where I went out to eat day & night (and one day had 3 lunches with my daughter cause I had to try so many new places!)

4) What food is highly underrated?
Ramen. I love ramen, pho and Saimin (in Hawaii). But if I could have only one it would be ramen. Although I appreciate how unstructured Saimin can be– in Hawaii it as if Pho & Ramen had a wild child named Saimin that can be quite untraditional and really delicious. Even the cheap-ass ramen is delicious (especially if you add some Vietnamese Curry powder to the base, some fresh grated ginger, cilantro, mint and basil– and even a tablespoon of chunky peanut butter too!)

5) What are your plans for the future of Pacific Grill?
I am working on several new projects. It is hard to say which may come to fruition first. But I am considering shaking things up a bit on the PG menu in the near future.

I want to thank Gordon for taking the time to be part of 5 Question Friday. You can check out Pacific Grill for yourself at 1502 Pacific Avenue.

If you think you or someone you know would be interested in participating inf 5 Question Friday, drop me a line at

– Jack Cameron

Missing Person

A friend of mine has a daughter who went missing last week. If you have any information about her whereabouts, please contact the Tacoma Police Department at 253-798-4722

UPDATE: Phaedra has been found and returned to her father. Thanks to everyone who shared this post and helped get her home.


Test Drive: Chevy Volt

I drive a 1965 Ford Galaxie. It gets roughly 11 miles to the gallon and it’s about 20 feet long. It’s made out of American Steel. It has a 390 engine in it and when something goes wrong, I open the hood and can almost instantly see what the problem is because the 390 is not a complicated engine. They have not made a car like this in decades. It is an antique. And I love driving it.

A few weeks ago I was sent an invitation from a Public Relations company. They wanted me to attend an event in Tacoma where they were showcasing the Chevy Volt. I agreed to attend.

The event was being held at Griot’s Garage on South 38th and Union. For those who have not been, Griot’s is to your car what Metropolitan Market is to your kitchen. If you want to wash your car and can’t stand the spray from a garden hose, Griot’s has a $134 nozzle that will give you the most even spray you’ve ever seen. Don’t get me wrong. Griot’s is an amazing place, but it’s not for cars you drive to work. It’s for cars you love.

As I arrived at the event, I noticed a half dozen Chevy Volts and a table with a sign up sheet and various promotional materials.  One Chevy Volt was by the table with its doors and hood open so you could inspect the vehicle.

I signed in and mentioned the name of the person who invited me.  I was told she was out on a test drive but that I should ‘definitely’ wait for her. I agreed and wandered around the display car.

The first thing I noticed was that under the hood instead of an engine there was a X-Box. Later I would be told this was an electric engine with a gas powered generator. But looking at it, it appeared to just be a plastic box under the hood. In the trunk, there’s a gigantic extension cord with a standard plug in at the end. This immediately made me feel like this was a very large toy and not a real car at all.

Under the hood of the Chevy Volt

Eventually, Amanda arrived. Amanda was the one who had sent me the invitation. Amanda was probably fifteen years younger than me, blonde, and but not ditsy. In other words she was exactly the sort of person you’d want showing your product.  As we got into the Volt, she told me about the various features of the car.

When I get into my Galaxie, I have to pump the gas a few times, then turn the key, which turns the engine over and if it’s not too cold, it’ll start right up with that familiar rumble that lets you know you’re driving a big car that can kill people. When you turn on a Chevy Volt nothing really changes. There are various readouts you can pay attention to if you like, but I was too busy being amazed that the car was now going in reverse out of the parking space and it was barely making a sound.

The Volt even has a device that is basically a horn, but it’s not for people cutting you off. It’s to let people know that you’re there. I pulled into traffic and got the car going about 30mph. I noticed that the acceleration was quick and effortless.

Amanda told me how the Chevy Volt has a 35 mile range. That’s 35 miles on pure electricity with a full charge. If you drive more than 35 miles, then the 9 gallon gas tank kicks in and uses a generator to create electricity for the engine. So even when you’re using gas, it’s still electric. She said that with the gas tank and a full charge you could go as far as 900 miles between charges if need be. She mentioned how there no transmission.

“No transmission?” I said, “So what would happen if I suddenly threw it into reverse right now?”

Amanda gave me a look. “I…uh…don’t know.” I smiled, letting her know I wasn’t going to test it. She then told me about a feature the car has for stop and go traffic just as we were getting to a light. I shifted it into this mode and noticed that as soon as I took my foot off the gas pedal and the car braked just a bit. Once you got used to it, it was very nice.

As we returned to Griot’s, I realized that this was basically a car from the future and my car was a car from the past. It was somewhat amazing that the two devices were both considered cars. In just about every way, the two vehicles are opposites. One is gas powered. One is electric. One is a Ford. One is a Chevy. One is from two years after JFK was killed. One is brand new.

I thanked Amanda for her time and let her know that I would be writing about this.

I love my 1965 Ford Galaxie. It’s a joy to drive. And even though it breaks down from time to time, I enjoy fixing it. (I just replaced a lower radiator hose on it.) And yet, I can’t help but be drawn to the Chevy Volt. It’s not a pretty car. I don’t particularly like the style, but the smoothness of the drive, the easy acceleration, and sheer user friendliness of it are almost intoxicating. At $34,000 I won’t be purchasing one anytime soon. However, I’d be freely willing to trade my 1965 Galaxie straight across for a new Chevy Volt. If Chevy were to agree to such a deal, I’d write about that too. But I won’t be holding my breath on that one. Word is that they’re barely able to fill orders for these cars as it is. Looks like you’ll be seeing lots more Chevy Volts on the street and if  you look, from time to time, you’ll see one or two Ford Galaxies.

– Jack Cameron

Seventh Tacoma Homicide of 2012: Sgt. Prince Gavin

Prince Gavin was a combat medic in the US Army. A sergeant. He was stationed at Joint Base Lewis/McChord. He’d done two tours in Iraq. He carried a .45 pistol for protection and had a permit to do so. As far as anyone can tell, he’d never pulled it on anyone. On Friday his ex-girlfriend was helping him move from his place on Mildred. He’d been recently been transferred to a base in Colorado. At some point there was an argument between the two or something happened that caused the police to respond. The officers arrived to the place on Mildred but found no one there. They had information that they may have gone to a house on the 0800 block of South M Street.
As Gavin and arrived in a truck on South M Street, a police officer pulled up. Reports say that Gavin ran from the truck towards the house. What happened next is unclear. There was some sort of confrontation between Gavin and the officer. The officer says he was in fear for his life and fired his service weapon twice killing Prince Gavin. Sgt. Gavin was 29 years old. Gavin’s pistol was found near his body. Friends say that Gavin was likely trying to show the officer that he was armed and the officer misunderstood. It’s unclear what exactly happened and the shooting is currently under investigation.
This is the second shooting this officer has been involved in. It would be easy to make the leap that the shooting was unnecessary and that this is just the latest in a recent string of questionable local police involved shootings over the past few years. However, as tempting as it might be to paint such a picture, doing so leaves out the fact that we don’t actually know what happened. All we know is that two armed men had a confrontation and that one killed the other.
I’ve known many police officers. Some of them have been involved in shootings. Not one of them wanted to kill anyone. I think the same is true of Sgt. Prince Gavin. Given what information we have, it’s difficult for me to see Gavin turning his weapon on a cop. At the same time, I have a hard time thinking that the responding officer’s actions were malicious. This is a tragedy. And I hope that the resulting investigation will uncover more facts.
My heart goes out to Gavin’s family and friends. And to the family of the officer involved in the shooting.
Sgt. Prince Gavin was the  seventh homicide in the city of Tacoma this year. As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Gavin to share their memories of the man and let the rest of us know who he was.
– Jack Cameron