Category Archives: Tacoma stuff

5 Question Friday With Rosie Martinson From TacomaWorkingMoms.com

imageEvery now and then I’ll put out a random tweet asking for people to volunteer to join me for 5 Question Friday. Historically, every single person who has volunteered has not responded once I sent them five questions. It’s been that way for three years now. Rosie Martinson has broken that streak.

Rosie Martinson works in healthcare marketing, but that’s not what we’re talking to her about. Rosie is likely better known as the creator of TacomaWorkingMom.com. Rosie somehow manages to do all of this and raise four boys with her husband. How she found time to join me for 5 Question Friday I’ll never know. Here’s Rosie:

1. What is TacomaWorkingMom.com?
It’s a blog all about living a successful Mom life, Wife life and work life.

2. How did TacomaWorkingMom.com get started?
Tacoma Working Mom got started because I wanted to create a place for working Moms to engage in community and share lifestyle tips and experiences plus I needed a creative outlet separate from my day job.

3. What’s the one thing you want every Tacoma Working Mom to know?
It doesn’t matter whether you have a conventional job or you stay at home, all Moms are working Moms.

4. What’s your favorite thing about being a working Mom in Tacoma?
As a working Mom in Tacoma one of the best things is all-day kindergarten. My favorite thing about being a working Mom is sharing what I do at work with my boys and how I make a difference in our community. 

5. What do you see for the future of TacomaWorkingMom.com?
The future of Tacoma Working Mom is full of opportunities. I just launched TacomaWorkingMom TV in January! I’m interviewing women that have a story to share. I also want to partner with brands to help promote everything local.
I’d like to thank Rosie for participating in 5 Question Friday. You can find more about TacomaWorkingMom at the links below. If you or someone you know wants to participate, drop me a line at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

www.tacomaworkingmom.com

www.youtube.com/tacomaworkingmomtv 

www.twitter.com/tacomamomblog

www.facebook.com/tacomamomblog

–       Jack Cameron

Help Victims of a Senseless Attack

justinwinter

This past Tuesday tattoo artist Justin Winter, Mishele Dupree, and a friend were  walking on South 19th and Martin Luther King Way. They were approached by a group of young people. There were at least 15 of them. Justin had refused to give one of them a cigarette a few nights before.

The girls with Justin managed to escape with bruises. Justin was not so lucky. He was knocked to the ground and repeatedly stomped in the face and hands and left with a jaw broken in multiple places and numerous other injuries. He’s finally being released from the hospital today.

The attack occurred on a busy street. The nearest police station was only two blocks away. While the Hilltop neighborhood is notorious for crime from the gang violence of the early 1990s, Hilltop has changed dramatically since then. And violent attacks such as this are rare.

This crime is eerily reminiscent of the 2000 beating death of Eric Toews. In that case, it was one of a series of attacks by the same group of teenagers. I’ve spoken with the Tacoma Police Department and have been told that similar attacks have not occurred lately.

As one might expect, the injuries Justin has sustained are resulting in substantial financial hardships. There is a fundraising page set up for Justin at the link below. If you have the means, please donate what you can.
https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6dUe5

– Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Tacoma Alcohol Consortium’s Todd Buckley

ToddI first met Todd Buckley a few weeks ago when he organized a tour of Tacoma Brewing Company. He was a gracious and enthusiastic host with plenty of knowledge and passion for alcohol. Up until then, I’d never heard of the Tacoma Alcohol Consortium. By the end of the tour I decided that everyone in Tacoma with an interest in drinking should know about it.

I contact Todd and he was more than happy to participate in 5 Question Friday this week. Here’s Todd:

1. What is the Tacoma Alcohol Consortium?

Tacoma Alcohol Consortium was designed to elevate the importance of locally crafted alcohol, because there is an urgency for awareness, education, and enjoyment of, what I believe to be, Tacoma’s second renaissance (the first being the art/museum scene).

The mission of TAC is: Sharing Enjoyment Through Imbibing Locally Crafted Alcohols. The mantra is: Drink Smarter.

2. How did it get started?

I have been pursing my dream of opening Tacoma’s first distillery since late 2009. I started to put my resources and energy into the distillery business in 2010 and since then I have been doing my best to figure out creative ways to get this business financed and open to the public. The concept of Tacoma Alcohol Consortium actually came to me during morning meditation. I had these thought of “a rising tide lifts all boats”. Then the question for me became, how can I accomplish that goal, not just for my distillery, but for everyone making alcohol within the greater Tacoma area. Tacoma has a chance to be a destination place on the map nationally if we all work together and seize our destiny. Tacoma was once the largest alcohol producer on the West Coast. There is no reason that cannot happen again.

3. How can people participate with the Tacoma Alcohol Consortium?

First, if you are on Facebook, click the ‘like’ button on our Facebook Page. Secondly, start reading and get engaged. This community can only thrive if people have passion and deep interest in the topic of locally produced alcohol. Frequent restaurants and stores that promote and sell locally made alcohol. When you see your friends drinking a fancy import, ask them if they’ve tried the fancy local beer, wine, or spirit. When you go to a restaurant or store and you don’t see local alcohol for sale mention it to the manager.

4. What are some of your favorite Tacoma places to imbibe?

Tacoma is a drinking town. There are too many places to list, but my heart is about cocktails and I would be most overjoyed when I would sit at the bar at the original Hilltop apothecary, 1022 South, with Chris Keil. Now I spend a lot of time at Tacoma Cabana. Jason Alexander is doing great things with Rum. There are numerous breweries that I enjoy like, Wingman, E9, The Harmon, and Tacoma Brewing Company, as well as locally produced wine at 21 Cellars and Stina’s Cellars.

5. What is your ultimate goal for the Tacoma Alcohol Consortium?

There are approximately 200,000 people in Tacoma and almost 2/3rds of those people are of legal drinking age (about half the American population doesn’t consume alcohol – a fact I found amazing), but that still leaves a lot of potential influencers to support a thriving ecosystem of locally made alcohol. I would like to see Tacoma create a healthy culture around producing and consuming alcohol which would make the City of Destiny a destination spot for people all over the world to come and enjoy. Plus, 50,000 Facebook Fans for TAC wouldn’t be bad either.

I’d like to thank Todd Buckley for taking the time to join me for 5 Question Friday. If you or anyone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, write me at tacomastories@gmail.com

5 Question Friday With Tinkertopia’s R.R. Anderson

Tinkertopia has a bit of everything

Tinkertopia has a bit of everything

R.R. Anderson is one of Tacoma’s most outspoken and prolific artists. Last time him joined me for 5 Question Friday, he was talking about Tacomic. Now he’s part of a new artistic endeavor called Tinkertopia. I could try to explain what that means, but R.R. can do it a heck of a lot better than me. Here’s R.R.:


1. What is Tinkertopia?

Tinkertopia, LLC. is a creative reuse center specializing in alt. art supplies all rescued from the oblivion of our North American consumer culture way of life waste stream.  Our creative reuse center also maintains an onsite “Make and Take Tinkerspace” or open studio where you have freedom to tinker with access to our book and tool library.  Our network of Tinker Patrol Deputies are always on the lookout for perfectly good materials to rescue into a new life of creative pursuits.  Anyone can become a Tinker Patrol Deputy… we give you a badge and everything!


2. Where did Tinkertopia originate?

Tinkertopia manifested out of the twilight zone… Ms. Darcy and I would always joke about quitting my commercial, cubicle bound graphics design job and opening a Mr. Jones Glass/Burning Man style junk yard complete with Red Green style creeper delivery van.  We would imagine our store being much like the Creation Station up in Lynnwood, Washington or SCRAP USA down in Portland, Oregon or Urban Source up in Vancouver, BC.  These dreams quickly became PLAN B after the design firm I worked for plunged  into a violent death spiral.   From the lifeboat, my wife and I took stock of our ninja skills… I a graphic artist with web and marketing experience… Ms. Darcy a preschool Montessori teacher with theater and retail craft store experience.  We are fortunate to live in a city that encourages creative class entrepreneurship!  We packaged our crazy ideas into Tinkertopia applied for a Creative Endeavor storefront with the Tacoma Arts Commission’s Spaceworks Tacoma program.   Cosmic convergence!   I mean, I’ve been drawing hyper-local political cartoons since 2007… digging in politician’s trash cans looking for stuff to make beautiful drawings out of.  SKILLZ!!!


3. What are your hopes for Tinkertopia?

To survive, to become self-sustaining… maybe growing into a well worn community institution with that old book smell?  When customers enter into Tinkertopia, I want to conjure the same emotional response that I used to get walking into one of my grandparent’s basement/garage workshops that exist now only in haunting memories. We hope to create a place where things are taken apart… fixed and reassembled maybe not exactly looking the same, but looking better with that special patina of handyman ingenuity.  We want to change the relationship citizens have with ‘stuff’ which we believe is critical to planetary health awareness. We’re going to change the world or something! Maybe employee health benefits! Fun with a capital F! and capital U!


4. How can people help Tinkertopia?

We do pickups (click here for information on pick ups) in addition people can now Tinker Patrol Deputies can deliver donated materials for drop off at 1914 Pacific Ave!  Shoot us an email rerun@tinkertopia.com or give us a call (253) 778-6539  if you have questions !


5. What’s the one thing you want everyone to know about Tinkertopia?

We deliver 24 hr honest to god creative reuse customer support via Twitter & Facebook

Tinker1

I’d like to thank R.R. for joining me on 5 Question Friday. You can find Tinkertopia at 1914 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402. For more information, check out the links below.
links:

http://www.northwestmilitary.com/music-and-culture/walkie-talkie-blog/2013/02/Tacoma-RR-Anderson-to-turn-trash-into-treasure-at-Tinkertopia/

http://www.tacomaweekly.com/citylife/view/tinkertopia/

http://blog.thenewstribune.com/arts/2013/07/10/one-persons-junk-another-persons-tinkertopia-art-foraging-store-opening-mid-july-on-pacific-avenue/#more-5477

If you or someone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, write to tacomastories@gmail.com.

–          Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Tacoma Brewing’s Morgan Alexander

Morgan

I first encountered Tacoma Brewing Co.’s place while looking for somewhere to have a drink before I went to see a movie at the Grand. Morgan’s brother, Tristan was working. Lately, craft brewers have been popping up everywhere in and around Tacoma.

 Most of them make an IPA, a Stout, and maybe something slightly different. The choices at Tacoma Brewing were strange and exciting. I ordered a honey/strawberry beer. After that, Tristan let me taste a few others. Not one of these beers seemed like a safe bet to me. Each seemed to be pushing the envelope of craft brewing. Sure, they had a stout but it was a cherry/pomegranate stout.

As I talked to Tristan, he told me about his brother, Morgan. He said, “He’s been brewing stuff practically since high school when he learned you could turn sugar into alcohol.

A few weeks later I got a tour of Morgan’s operation and got to talk with Morgan. When I tried to describe the experience and the type of adventurous drinks that Morgan is making to a friend after the thing, I said, “When it comes to brewers, where others are professors, this guy is Indiana Jones.”

I’m happy and honored that Morgan agreed to join me this week for 5 Question Friday. Here’s Morgan:

1. How did Tacoma Brewing get started?

It got started out of an obsession to make flavor-forward beers for the masses… or at least Tacoma! It was some years in the making but after getting feedback from dropping samples off at my favorite watering holes, I decided to go for it and file for a commercial beer making permit.

2. What’s your favorite brew you’ve made so far?

My favorites are the Penalty Kick Double IPA (11%) – it drinks like a 7% and is very citrus hoppy – very juicy! On the darker side I like the Kentucky Bourbon Stout… because I love bourbon and it’s very bourbon-forward.

3. What’s the most misunderstood thing about craft brewing?

I’m not sure about that one!

4. Where can people get your beer?

People can get my beer at the taproom and as of this week at the Red Hot and Parkway – and soon other fine beer places.

5. What’s next for Tacoma Brewing?

Next is scaling up production and moving to a larger space. That’s the two year plan, at least. I am also one of the only breweries making a “pre-prohibition style ginger ale” line (contains alcohol) and I hope to start bottling them by this fall to get it out to local grocery stores and bottle shops.

I’d like to thank Morgan for participating in 5 Question Friday and I’ll say right now that his ginger ale is amazing. You can try his continuing changing selections yourself at Tacoma Brewing Co. at 625 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402. They’re open 5pm – 9pm Mon-Fri and 3pm – 9pm on Saturdays.

If you or someone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, drop me a line at TacomaStories@gmail.com
– Jack Cameron

An Important Announcement About TacomaStories.com

ShannonTank

Shannon Tank

Last Friday, 38-year-old Shannon Tank was not feeling well. Hours later she’d be at the hospital. Over the next few days they’d discover she had uterine cancer and substantial tumors as well as an infection. She unexpectedly passed away this morning.

About two years ago Shannon was my new coworker at Guardian Fall Protection in Kent. Soon after I met her we learned this was not the first time we’d seen each other. She went to Wilson High School in Tacoma. Class of 1992. I was class of 1993. We didn’t know each other back then but we knew of each other.

As I worked with Shannon I found her to be funny, opinionated, and utterly unafraid. You never wondered where you stood with Shannon Tank. She talked often about her family. She loved to share. And she was a native Tacoman.

Today Tacoma also lost firefighter Al Najmeh. He’d been a Tacoma Firefighter for the last ten years. He was well loved and respected. He was on a call earlier today and collapsed. He was taken to St. Joseph’s hospital where they were unable to revive him.

For years now I’ve chronicled the last stories of the people in Tacoma who lose their lives to violence. My initial reasons for this were to show how infrequently homicides happen in Tacoma and more importantly, share the lives of the victims rather than the murders. But I’ve been acutely aware that I was leaving a lot of final Tacoma Stories out of this site.

The people Tacoma has lost include everyone who commits suicide, all vehicular homicide deaths, accidental and natural deaths, and deaths that occur outside of Tacoma but whose lives still revolved around Tacoma. Given that I don’t have the time or the resources to research all of these deaths, I’ve chosen to stick to homicides.

But today, another former coworker of mine asked me if I was going to write about Shannon Tank on my TacomaStories.com site. I didn’t really know what to say; “No, because she wasn’t murdered, only taken way too young.”?

And so from here on out, I’d like to invite anyone who has lost someone from in or around Tacoma to send me any Tacoma Stories I miss. This city is made by its people. When we lose one, no matter the cause, it changes our city. Tacoma was different when they were here. We should share those stories and I invite you to do that here.

Send any stories you’d like to share of those who pass away in and around Tacoma to jackcameronis@gmail.com

–          Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Joshua Swainston, author of Tacoma Pill Junkies

538148727_72d65b0626_mWelcome back to 5 Question Friday. I apologize for the lack of updates. I’ve had a lot going on personally and some things I really care about such as this site have been neglected, but that’s changing.

For those of you just joining us, 5 Question Friday is a column where I talk to someone in Tacoma and ask them 5 Questions. We’ve had everyone from a homeless street poet to the mayor of the city join us at one time or another. This week, novelist Joshua Swainston joins us to tell us about his debut novel, Tacoma Pill Junkies.

Joshua has been building his audience through a lot of hard work and self-promotion. A local bookseller recently told me that he was everything you want in a guest when it came to promoting his book.

Here’s Joshua:

1.      What is Tacoma Pill Junkies?

The Tacoma Pill Junkies is a novel about drug addicts and the working class of Tacoma.

It is a noir fiction true to the genre. The story is told from the perspective of minor criminals, in this case the pill dealers and takers. There are far more sinister activities underfoot. The story starts with a mugging and continues with stalking, theft, bribery, assault and murder. There are very few characters in the book without some sense of criminality.

The book also struggles with the plight of the working class in the changing reality of modern times. Since the Bush 2 era we have heard constantly of the dwindling middle class and building opposition to unionization (Though luckily not in Washington State. A sincere, thank you Sen. Murray.) The story builds from workers struggling in jobs that require little or no education (security guards, janitors, and shop attendants) and how they attempt to better their own lives. Though, a few of the methods might make Jimmy Hoffa uneasy.

2.      Where did you get the inspiration for the novel?

Can I plead the fifth? Let me just say, I have not always been the most upstanding member of the community. That time is over now. Pill Junkies started as a way for me to come to terms with the illicit aspects of those lost years.

As I tooled with the idea of the story becoming more than just a few pages regarding my personal drugged out haze, I wanted to say more. I added a few antidotes about my deep draft sailing experiences. Then I added some ideas I had about unionization, I think this is when the State of Michigan De-unionized. I had also just read a lot about the Brown Power Movement as well as my own union, the Inland Boatman’s Union. So I was really charged about workers’ rights.

3.      Why base it in Tacoma?

On the onset of the book the setting was split between Olympia, Seattle, Gig Harbor and Tacoma. The scope of the story just got too big. I wanted it tight. So, as T-town was the central local for much of the events that inspired the book and I live here now, I figured I would use it.

Tacoma also has the correct history for this story to function. On the drug side, Tacoma has always had its fair share of problems. When it has not had the problems, it’s had the stigma of the problems. Either way, we are not viewed by outsiders as the most pleasant place in the world. I find this odd because Tacoma is an amazing place. The people who live here are fiercely protective of it. On the workers side, Tacoma is historically overwhelmingly worker centric. You have the train unions, the waterfront unions, the brewery unions and the creation of Labor Ready. As a city we are people who get things done and work for a better tomorrow.

4.      What has the response been so far to your novel?

I think I am doing well. I don’t have much of a base to work from since this is my first book. I have gotten a lot of questions regarding what the book is about. Most of the time I answer: “Drugs.” Some people I have talked to about the book are shocked that it has so much illegal activity in it. Some people totally get it, but others scratch there head over the entire ordeal.

I think the cover gives readers pause. The cover was created by friends of mine at Sleepy Kitty Art. It was designed to be brash and unsettling. The vision for the cover was to tell the reader they might want to proceed cautiously.

Maybe it is my fault. When I finished writing the book I believed I had written a piece of Lit Fiction. I lived under the delusion that somehow I was loftier then genre work. In the last three months I have found out two things. 1) There really is no lit fiction any more. Everything is classified down so far that the general artsy Lit Fiction is totally gone. Jane Austin, in today’s world would be classified as Chick Lit. Joseph Conrad, maybe Adventure Fiction. Don Delillo writes Postmodern. Will Self writes Satire. Charles Bukowski gets pigeon holed as Dirty Realism, whatever that means. 2) I like writing Crime Fiction. I had not realized the novel was a Crime Fiction until after I had put it out. In the past, I had written a few shorts that were noir or hardboiled, but didn’t understand those terms in this specific context. When it all clicked upstairs I was able to stream pages of crime. Embracing the genre has giving me power. Now that I have focused on a specific audience the questions I receive about Pill Junkies are more pointed.

5.      What’s your next project?

I have started to assemble a tale involving a woman named Yvonne. She is a cross between Nico from the Velvet Underground and Bonnie Parker. I’ll be reading a short piece from her story as well as a sample of Pill Junkies at 3 pm, May 4th at Orca Books in Olympia WA. I will be joined at reading by Alec Clayton and Titus Burley.

BookCoverAsSeenOnAmazon

You can purchase Tacoma Pill Junkies at King’s Books in Tacoma, Orca Books and Last Word Books in Olympia, Elliot Bay Books in Seattle, and of course on Amazon.com. For more information on Tacoma Pill Junkies, you can go to the official website: http://tacomapilljunkies.com.

I’d like to thank Joshua for taking the time to join us.

As always, if you or someone you know wants to participate in 5 Question Friday, drop me a line at jackcameronis@gmail.com

–          Jack Cameron

Homeless Guy Looking For Cigarettes At A Bus Stop

In honor of National Poetry Month I present a 3-minute-movie with poetry by former 5 Question Friday participant David Fewster and filmed by his daughter Hannah Fewster.

Surviving Pacific: Poison Apple

Poison Apple during construction

Poison Apple during construction

The construction on Pacific Avenue continues. To their credit, the city has placed banners and signs saying that businesses are open during construction. A couple weeks ago I got to the corner of South 10th and Pacific. A construction worker asked me where I was heading. I told her I wanted to go to Poison Apple. She radioed someone and instructed me to walk down a pathway in the street made by barriers. Once I got to the front of Poison Apple, another construction worker let me walk through the area and enter the business.

Jooley Heaps, the owner of Poison Apple is an old friend. We went to high school together. Her shop is an extension of her personality. It’s unique, intriguing and always fun. It’s the sort of place that you can find over-sized retro sunglasses or a crushed velvet coat for $20. It’s the store to buy something if you like it when people ask, “Where did you get that?”

Like other Pacific Avenue businesses, Jooley’s business has been hurt by the construction. Her shop is exactly the sort of place that people walk into because they’re passing by and right now that sort of thing is nearly impossible. With no window shoppers, Poison Apple sometimes has days where there are only a handful of customers.

Luckily, Jooley is every bit as imaginative when it comes to running her business as she is at getting interesting items to sell. You’ll find Jooley setting up vending booths at various local events whenever she gets the chance. This is the way many first time customers discover her. She’s also just put up a new Poison Apple website. Now you can purchase the oddities found at Poison Apple even if you’re not local.

Poison Apple is a one of a kind store and the sort of place that makes Tacoma such a great place to live. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello to Jooley. You’re sure to find something that strikes your fancy.

You can find Poison Apple at 907 Pacific Avenue or online at http://poisonappletacoma.com

–          Jack Cameron

Surviving Pacific: Thee Barber Shop

Construction On Pacific Avenue

Businesses on Pacific Ave are not having an easy time keeping things going during construction.

Downtown Tacoma has seen better days. Walk any given block and you’ll find at least a handful of empty storefronts. This is even more apparent on Pacific Avenue. Currently there is a major construction project underway on parts of Pacific Avenue. According to the city website this project is for ‘beautification’ and to install ‘innovative stormwater improvements to improve the business opportunities and livability of Downtown’s core street.’

That’s all well and good and hopefully the project will be every bit as successful as they say it’s going to be when they complete the work at the end of this year. The question is, will any of the businesses that are there now survive until then?

I’m going to take a look at some of the businesses in this construction area over the next few months and see how they’re doing and what they’re doing to get by.

Pete Lira, owner of Thee Barber Shop is mentoring aspiring haircutters

Pete Lira, owner of Thee Barber Shop is mentoring aspiring hair cutters. He’s also offering night classes.

First up is Pete Lira, owner of the Thee Barber Shop just a couple doors from the corner of South 9th and Pacific.

I’ve written about him before. He’s been my barber for the last eight years and he’s been cutting hair forty-seven.

While the construction hasn’t stopped his regular customers from coming in, it has made business a bit more difficult. I discovered Pete because Pete was standing outside one day and talked to a friend of mine as she passed by. Later when I happened to ask if she knew a barber, she said she did. Such an encounter is near impossible with the current construction.

What is Pete doing to help his business? Something he’s done before and enjoys doing: He’s offering to mentor those getting into the hair cutting profession. With almost half a century of experience, Pete has a lot of wisdom to impart. He’s an old school barber who believes in precision and classic training.

If you’re interested in being mentored by a champion barber or if you just find yourself in need of a decent haircut, give Pete a call at 253-272-2663.

– Jack Cameron