Tag Archives: Jack Cameron

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date: The Harvester

Welcome to the latest installment of Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date. Here are the rules: Each week, my girlfriend Mimi and I go somewhere in the Tacoma area for a cheap date where we spend $20 or less. (This does not include tips because service is unique and can’t be universally quantified.) Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we fail.

There are some places that are so much a part of my life that I forget that there are others who don’t even know they exist. My very first apartment was about four blocks away from The Harvester in Tacoma’s Stadium District. The Harvester is a diner like Shari’s or Denny’s but local and good. I’ve gone there countless times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner over the years. But this time, Mimi and I would be going there and trying to spend less than $20.

We went for breakfast one weekday morning. It was fairly empty. We took a window booth and looked over the menu. We quickly found a problem: Almost every full breakfast was nine dollars or more. This wasn’t going to be easy, but we’d already sat down and we were hungry.

The waitress poured a couple of small glasses of water. Mimi ordered a coffee. I chose a Farmer’s Omelet for $9.79. Mimi decided for Bacon & Eggs for $9.49. The coffee turned out to be $2.39. This put us over our limit.

breakfast

Our food arrived. I was so hungry that I instantly took a bite of an English Muffin before Mimi reminded me to take a photo for the article. Mimi enjoyed her Bacon & Eggs though the bacon was a bit greasy for her tastes. My omelet was good and the portions were substantial.

The Harvester is a favorite of mine. Hardly a month goes by that I don’t end up there. For the purposes of having good diner food in a great neighborhood, I recommend it. For Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date, I must give the breakfast a mixed review. The food was good, but the price was a bit too high.

receipt

The Harvester is located on the corner of Division and Tacoma Ave. at 29 N. Tacoma Ave., Tacoma, WA 98403.

– Jack Cameron

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Tacoma Homicide FAQ

policelineI’ve been writing about homicides in Tacoma since 2006. Over the years I’ve received dozens of emails from the families and friends of victims. These emails are what I look at whenever I feel like I should stop. They remind me that what I write sometimes is exactly the thing a grieving person wants to see. If I can be even a small amount of comfort, then I don’t see how I can morally stop writing about these times when people are taken from our city.

I also receive emails and am asked questions in person about how I go about writing these things and why I write about one thing and not another. I’m going to try to tackle all of these frequently asked questions in this post. Here goes:

How Do You Get The Information About Tacoma Homicides?

Almost every piece of information I post about Tacoma homicides is found online through a combination of news reports, my own research, and a handful of local contacts.

Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier to get information on how homicide victims died than it is to get information on how they lived. I do my best to include details about the person who was killed whenever possible, but I more than anything I rely on the friends and family of the victims to help share who we’ve lost from our cities. In some circumstances, I’ve welcomed friends and families to do guest posts about their loved ones.

Why Don’t You Write About Vehicular Homicides?

Most police departments treat these differently than regular homicides. In fact up until recently you perpetrators of vehicular homicide only received a third of the sentence they might have received if they’d shot the victim. But the reason I don’t cover them is simply that they’re difficult to cover. Often charges aren’t brought until long after the incident and if I covered every vehicular death then I might as well start covering every unnatural death and that’s beyond the scope of what I want to accomplish here.

Why Don’t You Write About Suicides?

I want to write about suicides. There are far more suicides in Tacoma than homicides. But they’re rarely reported to the media and so getting any relevant information is difficult. Some suicides make the news and others don’t and I’d rather cover no suicides than just some of them.

Why Didn’t You Cover That Homicide in University Place/Fife/Parkland/Lakewood/Spanaway/Etc?

When I started TacomaStories.com I decided that as much as possible I’d confine my posts to things about the City of Tacoma because if I included surrounding areas I’m not sure where I’d stop. Do I include Federal Way? If so, do I also include SeaTac? Where does it end?  I would more than welcome someone else picking up the torch for Lakewood or other local cities and starting LakewoodStories.com or something.

What’s The Worst Thing That’s Come Out of Writing About Tacoma Homicides?

There have been a couple of death threats and an incident that I had to report to the police before it became something violent, but thankfully nothing ever came of any of it. It was also difficult to write about a former classmate of mine who was shot and killed.

So…Why Do You Do It?

I’d started out writing about Tacoma’s homicides to prove a point about the city and its reputation. It’s a far safer city than it was in the 1990s. In fact it’s so safe that I can write about every Tacoma homicide and still do other things. Not a possibility in a place like Chicago. In fact even Seattle has 3-4 homicides a month vs. Tacoma’s one homicide a month sometimes.

However, as I stated at the beginning of this, the reason I keep writing about Tacoma homicides is that the families and friends of the victims appreciate it. I’ve heard from people sometimes years after their loved one’s death. In some cases my article is the only online evidence of what happened.

That’s about it for now. If you have any other questions for me, let me know.

–          Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday with Creative Colloquy’s Jackie Casella

ccOne of my favorite things as a writer is the fact that I don’t have to rely on anyone else. It’s a solitary thing. So I’m not exactly known for joining or participating in writer’s groups. I prefer to sit and type away my stuff then send it out there. But recently I heard about a new local site called Creative Colloquy. It is run by an acquaintance of mine named Jackie Casella. I had a short story that didn’t have a home and so I submitted it to the site and now people can read it whenever they like. (Here’s a link.)

 

In addition to the site itself, Jackie puts on a monthly reading on the last Monday of the month. This month, I’m one of the readers. I asked Jackie to join me for 5 Question Friday but then my week got very busy and I didn’t get a chance to give her the questions until Thursday night. Jackie stepped up and got back to me right away. So I’d like to give her a special thank you for that.

Here’s Jackie to talk about Creative Colloquy:

1.What is Creative Colloquy?

The short version: Creative Colloquy is a “submission based literary site” with a focus on Tacoma and South Sound scribes paying special attention to writers of short stories, essays, and excerpts of novels. But really “colloquy” by definition means to pow-wow, or open up a dialogue so our events play an instrumental part of that. It was born from the desire to create a platform for writers to share their work and build relationships with those of like minds. Writing is typically something done as an isolated individual but connecting with those who understand the struggles or process I think can be really inspiring and necessary to the creative process. Plus it’s just plain fun.

 

2. How can someone get involved in Creative Colloquy?

The easiest way to get involved is to submit! We publish our favorite submissions every other Monday and have so far featured immensely talented and diverse content. Another great way is to attend our events. Each final Monday every month we meet at B Sharp coffee house at 7pm. Festivities begin with a line-up of 5/6 authors we’ve published on the site reading from their works immediately followed by an open mic. The dynamics of the event pretty much guarantee performances from a variety of genres and experience levels. Other events are in talks to occur over the summer and some really cool things happening by fall that we aren’t quite ready to announce.

 

3. What’s been the most interesting thing to come out of this project so far?

Any time artists gather in one place it’s interesting. The stories that are told among a group of scribes especially so. I think the most interesting thing is seeing the diverse community coming together at the events. We’ve been joined by young college level novices attending their first open mic to established published authors, playwrights, actors and so on covering so many different genres. Witnessing those interactions can be interesting. The level of support has been ridiculously amazing and leaves me feeling pretty fortunate to have begun this adventure.

 

4. What’s something you want to do with Creative Colloquy that hasn’t happened yet?

We have been in discussion of adding some texture to the site. A podcast is something we are uber excited to do and we have some fun ideas to open a dialogue and entertain our audience. I’d really love to begin doing dramatic readings with actors performing larger pieces and getting crafty with a set design that mimics a huge pop-up book too! There have been some other seeds planted that include a panel discussion at UPS and highlighting local women storytellers with a Tacoma group working towards a living women’s museum and maybe even some children themed events for the minis out there.

 

5. What would you like to see for the future of Creative Colloquy?

I’d love for CC to gain non-profit status in efforts to promote literacy. I daydream about dramatic reading events for schools and festivals and a bookmobile cruising around town. We’d really love to release a “best of” print version maybe twice yearly for distribution too. That’s more of a when not if and HOW we are going to fund the project when it’s time.

For now we are just having a great time reading local talents stories and connecting at the events. It’s been really amazing having folks turn out that aren’t necessarily in our “circle” and building those relationships based on our literary love.

 

Once again I’d like to thank Jackie for participating in 5 Question Friday. For more information about Creative Colloquy or just to check out some local writers, go to http://creativecolloquy.com.

You’re also welcome to attend this month’s Creative Colloquy reading at the B Sharp Coffee House on Monday April 28th at 7pm. The B Sharp Coffee House is in downtown Tacoma at 706 Opera Alley. Featured readers include Alec Clayton *narrated by Christian Carvajal, Titus Burley, J Anne Fullerton,
David Mucklow, and me.

–       Jack Cameron

Sixth Tacoma Homicide of 2012: Hector Hernandez-Valdez

On the afternoon of Friday, June 1st, 15-year-old Hector Hernandez-Valdez went over to a 16-year-old acquaintance’s house in the 800 block of E. 52nd. He was two blocks away from his home. Court papers say he went over there to smoke marijuana. While going upstairs, the two of them got into a fight. The older boy had a knife and stabbed Hector in the head. The older boy’s 14-year-old brother heard the fight and joined in, stabbing Hector in the neck with a large nail. The two brothers then moved Hector to a bathtub, slashed his throat, and stabbed him a total of 34 times.

The boys’ mother arrived home while the boys were cleaning up. She found bloodstained towels in her living room. Initially her sons told her they were cleaning up chili, but eventually showed her Hector’s body. The boys’ mother drove to the police station to report the murder. When she and the police arrived, Hector’s body had been moved to inside a recycling bin. The police questioned the boys and then took them into custody. It is likely they will both be tried as adults. Hector had on him $166 and less than 40 grams of pot which was taken by his killers.

This is the sixth homicide in Tacoma this year and the third one with a teenage victim in the past twelve months. As the father of a teenager, these deaths are particularly tragic to me. I’d love to say that back in my day we didn’t do things like that, but the truth is Tacoma’s crime rate for teenagers was worse when I was a teenager in the mid-90s. That doesn’t lessen the tragedy of deaths like Hector’s. These are our children. The last thing in the world they should have to worry about is being murdered.

And all too often, like in this case, the killers are also young. It’s relatively easy to point fingers at society, video games, music, or parents, but the bottom line is this crime was committed by two teenagers who are responsible for their actions and are being held responsible. My heart goes out to all of the families involved.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew and remember Hector. It is moderated by me and no negative comments will be accepted. There are plenty of other places on the web for that unfortunately.

– Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Patrick Smith From Splatterhouse Wreckords

Tacoma has always had a constantly changing music scene. If you go to a random bar in Tacoma on a weekend, you don’t know what sort of music you might find. It could be one lone girl with an acoustic guitar or it could be a full on punk band with a style all their own. Patrick Smith knows that Tacoma is full of great musicians. That’s why he started Splatterhouse Wreckords. He took some time out of his schedule to join us for 5 Question Friday and tell us a little about himself, his label, and his bands.

1. How did Splatterhouse Wreckords get started?

Splatterhouse Wreckords has been a work in the making for a while. The label got its official start in September of 2011 when my buddy and I finally agreed on a name. The first band to release an album on Splatterhouse Wreckords was Tacoma’s own Sok and the Faggots with their release “Shit Happens When You Party Naked.”

2. What makes your record label different from others?

I try to run Splatterhouse Wreckords band friendly. I choose bands that I like.  Having bands on my label that I personally enjoy motivates me to do as much as possible to help that band succeed.  I also don’t believe in changing the direction a band wants to go with their albums. If I trust a band enough to offer them a contract with Splatterhouse, I trust them to make the right decisions in the studio.

3. Who are some of the bands on your label?

Sok and the Faggots – Tacoma

facebook.com/sokandthefunguys  

reverbnation.com/soknthefaggots

Bass Line Bums – Austin

facebook.com/basslinebumsstin

reverbnation.com/basslinebums

Load Levelers – Seattle

facebook.com/pages/The-Load-Levelers/262768289879

Angie and the Car Wrecks – Centralia

facebook.com/angiecarwrecks

angieandthecarwrecks.com

Latex Willer – Croatia

facebook.com/Latex.Willer 

wix.com/latexwiller/goinpsycho

Here are some of our upcoming projects:

Live split with Angie and the Car Wrecks and the Hard Money Saints.  The album will be recorded on May 19th at the Grayland Community Center. Come check out the show and party with the bands.

We will be teaming up with Psycho a Go Go Records to release a split EP. The album will consist of a band from their label and a band from my label. Both bands will record 5 new songs for the album.

We are also working on our second compilation album. The album will be called “Splatterhouse Massacre 2, Sloppy Seconds” and it will include bands from Splatterhouse Wreckords and other bands from around the world.

4. What excites you about the Tacoma music scene?

Tacoma has a great music scene. I think the thing that excites me the most about the music here in Tacoma is the support bands get. There are some great venues in the Tacoma and greater Tacoma area that know how to treat a band while they are playing. Bands in Tacoma also get a lot of support from the fans. Show goers in Tacoma know how to have a good time.

5. In your opinion, what’s the most underrated band in Tacoma?

I think underground music as a whole is underrated or unrated. Some of the best musicians in the world play in underground bands. That’s why I do what I do. I love underground music and I want people to hear it. I will continue putting out music till I am dead and my ashes are in a PBR can on someone’s shelf.

 

You can find Splatterhouse Wreckords at:

splatterhousewreckords.com

facebook.com/pages/Splatterhouse-Wreckords/235553086463584

dyingscene.com/labels/splatterhouse-wreckords/

 

I’d like to thank Patrick for joining us. And as always, if you or someone you know wants to be part of 5 Question Friday, write me and jackcameronis@gmail.com and tell me why.

–          Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday One Year Anniversary With Ken Thoburn From Wingman Brewers

One year ago next week I started TacomaStories.com and 5 Question Friday. During that year, this site has had over 30,000 visitors. People who have participated in 5 Question Friday include street poet, David Fewster, Pierce County Prosecutor and author, Mark Lindquist, The Voice contestant, Vicci Martinez, and the Mayor of Tacoma herself, Marilyn Strickland. But it all started with 5 questions for Ken Thoburn, co-owner of a ‘nano-brewery’ called Wingman Brewers. At the time, they hadn’t even released their first beer. I decided there was no better way to end the first year of 5 Question Friday than to catch up with Ken Thoburn and see how he and his brewery are doing.

Here’s Ken:

1. How has Wingman Brewers changed in the last year?

Over the course of the last year we’ve spent most of the time getting our bearings.  None of us had worked professionally for a brewery before we opened our own so there has been a lot to learn as we’ve negotiated the industry.  We are constantly growing, adapting and trying to give our customers the best beer we can.  We still have so much to learn on every front so we’re very thankful for the awesome supporters we have.

 

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

Stratofortress is a Belgian Specialty Ale.  I originally made it as a one time thing but it was so good I had to make it again and again.  People have responded to it in the same way clamoring for it everywhere so we’re really happy with the response.  The beer itself is huge at 11.4% ABV and we age it on rum soaked cedar planks.  The spiciness of the dark rum and the spiciness of the esters present in the beer play extremely well together.  The added complexity that the cedar brings to the fruitiness of the malt background makes the beer one of the best out there in our opinion.  It’s wild to us that Stratofortress has such a great reputation after we’ve only released 5 barrels of it in the last 3 months.  We’re very excited to continue making Stratofortress and to continue making more unique beers like it in the future.

 

3. What was the most surprising thing that’s happened to Wingman in the last year?

The rate of growth and the demand for our beer really surprised us.  We’ve had to be really careful about expanding our client list at all because we have trouble keeping up with the clients we have.  We thought it would take multiple years before we got to this point but the industry moves fast and people want their beer.  Coming up on our 1 year anniversary here in April we’re very excited to be expanding and hopefully we’ll be able to bring our beer to 10 times the amount of people who tried it over the last 12 months.

 

4. What have you not yet been able to accomplish that you’d like to?

We can’t make enough beer.  I wish I had the beer and the time to deliver it to all the people that want it.  Coming from a customer service background it’s hard not to be able to give people what they want.  It’s also hard being a small business owner and wanting to grow but not having the resources or time to grow as fast as you want to.  Everything takes time.

 

5. What’s next for Wingman Brewers? 

There are a ton of nexts for us in the coming months.  We’re hoping to open in our new location toward the end of April.  We’re moving our brewing operation down there so we can expand it.  We’re going to have a taproom so folks can fill growlers and drink pints 3 days a week as well.  That’s the news for April, but in May we’re going to start putting our beer in cans so we’ll be in places all over Tacoma in 16oz cans.  From there the next jump will be the biggest we’ve made so far since we will have to pony up and buy a larger brewing system and all the accouterment.

You can find out more about Wingman Brewers at http://wingmanbrewers.com 

I’d like to thank Ken Thoburn and all of my other 5 Question Friday participants from the last year. This has been an enjoyable experiment. I’m hoping that the next year will be even more interesting and enlightening. Who would you like to participate in 5 Question Friday? Let me know at jackcameronis@gmail.com

5 Question Friday With Tamara Clammer From Brown Paper Tickets

Just a couple of blocks down from the Tacoma Dome, you’ll find a gigantic building with interesting shops. It’s like a mall, if malls had people in them that cared about working there. Freighthouse Square has always been a place for artistic or creative sorts to sell their stuff. It has gone through many changes over the years. The one thing that hasn’t changed is that there are people passionate about the place. Tamara Clammer is one of those people. She’s put together something called the I CAN! Celebration and I think it’s something readers will be interested in.

1. What is the I CAN! Celebration?

I CAN ! is a free, family-oriented, interactive arts event on Saturday, March 31st in the Rainier Room and some of the currently available spaces at Freighthouse Square. This event is being created by the community, for the community, by combining resources that are already available within the community.

My primary goal is to help revitalize Freighthouse Square while simultaneously creating a way to interact with artists and crafters that focuses on inspiration and the creative process rather than just admiring and purchasing a finished product.

My secondary goal is to test the theory that an exciting event can be created with little or no budget simply by gathering together and each of us providing a bit of what we have to offer.

Many of Freighthouse Square’s merchants and local artists are joining together, and we are hoping you will join us, too.

City Blocks will be setting up a large LEGO sculpture and an interactive LEGO and DUPLO building area as the centerpiece for this event. Lucy Schwartz from the Freighthouse Art Gallery will be teaching watercolor painting demos. Just Sage will Emcee and perform a set of comedic magic. Heidi Stoermer will be singing and playing acoustic music. Ryan Henry Ward will be storytelling and painting. Dayton Knipher will share her artistic photography with us and explain how to get the best results from a digital camera. Sharon McBride will be reading Tarot. Suni Cook Boucher will share her talents for creating beautiful artwork from items that might otherwise be recycled or, worse, thrown away. Brown Paper Tickets will be sponsoring a Scavenger Hunt that will explore all of the merchants’ shops at Freighthouse Square. There will also be games of Giant Checkers, using the permanently installed dance floor and traffic cones. Boxcar Grill will be catering the green room for our participants. And, www.NorthwestAuthors.org  will be joining us at Freighthouse Square for their Spring Book Fair. They will share the stage with us to read excerpts from their works. Other artists may be joining us for live painting during the event.

2. What is your first memory of Freighthouse Square?

I first came to Washington in 1987, when I was stationed at Fort Lewis. Growing up in a town of 300 in the cornfields of Illinois, Freighthouse Square was my first real exposure to diversity, arts, culture and the first real sense of community. This is where I tried my first Indian, Greek, Vietnamese, German and Filipino foods, where I saw stiltwalkers in real life at a Mardi Gras event in the food court, where I first discovered the artwork of Jody Bergsma, metaphysical concepts and tools, artwork that was created by adults for the purpose of making art rather than students simply as a high school elective, and where I saw an entire room full of antiques that, along with the whistle and rumble of a train passing by, made me feel at home. I recognized plates that my grandma had, glasses from the 50’s that were my mom’s favorites, strange things, beautiful things, so many interesting things in one place that it was as if I’d entered a completely new and yet somehow familiar world.

3. Why did you start the I CAN! Celebration?

In early January, I wandered through Freighthouse Square for the first time in several years and was initially disappointed to see that so many of the spaces were empty and that part of the building was closed off for repairs. After meeting Lucy Schwartz at the Freighthouse Art Gallery and talking a bit about what could be done to help, she provided me with the contact information for the new property manager, Lonee Peschon. While meeting with Lonee, we decided that a free community event would help bring new life and energy to the building. Not wanting to compete with the merchants by selling things, and not having a budget to work with, I began asking people if they would like to participate, pro bono, in an interactive community art day. I am able to put time, energy and passion into this project because I am a part of Brown Paper Ticket’s community service outreach program, called “the Doers.”  My specialization is to do things to help the arts and the Maker community to grow and thrive. Through my job, I am free to be a force of positive change.  While typing out a preliminary plan for the Freighthouse Square event, I abbreviated this as ICAD. My partner, Just Sage, said, “It’s too bad you can’t think of something that starts with N, because then it would be I CAN!” And so, the word Day was replaced with Network and the 1st Annual Interactive Community Arts Network (I CAN!) began to take shape. But what is the network, you ask?

All of us, together!

4. What can people do to help?

We still have room for more artists, crafters, and performers who are interested in providing hands-on experiences, whether it’s showing someone how to sculpt with clay, knit or crochet a scarf, weave a rug, spin yarn, needlefelt, turn an iPhone into a tabletop robot, entertain by breaking the 4th wall, or in whatever way someone might feel compelled to share what they make or do with the community. If you’d like to participate, please e-mail me at Tamara@BrownPaperTickets.com.

People can also help us advertise I CAN by telling their friends and bringing their families. We’ll be open from 10am-4pm, and the schedule will be posted at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/231586 .

They can also follow Freighthouse Square (Official) on Facebook for updates, and return to Freighthouse Square often to shop for gifts, eat lunch, or just relax and stroll through the Art Gallery.

5. What do you see for the future of Freighthouse Square?

I see a lot of potential. I walk past the vacant storefronts but in my imagination I see a fruits and vegetables stand on the south end near Boxcar Grill. In the rooms along the way towards the food court I see a small fabric store that carries colorful bolts in fun patterns, yarn, knitting and crochet needles, notions, patterns, and classes to help get you started. I see a bookstore that specializes in the works of local authors with periodic readings and signings, and that offers workshops on how to get your own works published.

Past the food court I see an antique shop full of dishes, jewelry, small furniture, and home décor that I recall from my childhood. I see a clothing consignment store where you can support your neighbors while selecting a new spring wardrobe. I see a joke and magic shop that entertains shoppers as they browse. I see a crystal shop with an intuitive healer. I see that there is a new German restaurant, and that they have marzipan in the display case. And further down the hall, I see Freighthouse Handmade, a Co-Op full of puppets, doll houses, scarves, masks, handbags, wooden train sets, upcycled cans that are now lighting fixtures, flowers and candle holders, cards, journals, candies, yard art, and jewelry made from watch parts.

What do YOU see?

If you can see it in your imagination, you can make it into a reality. Just think:

I CAN!

I CAN

… make art!

… make friends!

… make a difference!

See you on March 31st!

Tamara Clammer is a Doer at Brown Paper Tickets. Brown Paper Tickets believes in giving back to the communities where we live, work and do business, being a good neighbor and operating Not Just For Profit.  Tamera’s mission is to help Makers share their knowledge with the world. She also helps people become Makers by facilitating workshops, collaborative projects, and art installations.  Write to her at Tamara@BrownPaperTickets.com

I’d like to thank Tamara for participating in 5 Question Friday. I hope everyone reading this can make it to the I CAN! Celebration. The more people that show up, the more fun it will be.  As always, if you or someone you know wants to participate in 5 Question Friday, email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com

Update: I’ve been informed that Tacoma’s mayor, Marilyn Strickland is planning on putting in appearance at the I CAN! Celebration.