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The Hammer: August 2023 edition

Share with us your favorite hideous neighborhood apartment project!

By Ron Judd Executive Editor

Tuesday, Aug. 29

Someone Has to Do It: And if the Hammer handle fits, well …

Introducing Herewith: The Hammer’s inaugural Hideous Neighborhood Apartment Construction Project Photo Contest, a Bellingham-area tradition since … about 15 minutes ago. 

B. Hammer’s Opening Salvo: Posted below, is at the memorable bread box at the intersection of Lincoln Street, Samish Way and Elwood Avenue, on the east side of the Interstate 5 Exit 252 Samish Way/Original Pioneer Wagon Train Ruts interchange in the Samish neighborhood.

For the Sake of their Own Reputation: We’re not even going to say (unless asked) who “designed” it, nor is building it. That would be unfair, and really doesn’t matter, as it is not unique, but in fact consistent with the same Skecher’s Shoe Box-inspired apartment design now gracing streets on every available scrap of unbuilt land.

The Hammer Hereby Challenges: Anyone within the sound of his voice to send, to the email address below, a photo of a competing, anywhere near as hideous complex still in its larval construction phase. 

Rules: Your building’s shape/appearance must be distinctly boxlike, devoid of any trace of grace or thought. Important: The structure itself should edge up to within 6 inches of sidewalks on all sides, blocking out light from all directions.

Go Ahead, Make Hammer’s Day: It’s hard to imagine that a similarly cellblock-faithful piece of architecture exists anywhere in the region. But the Hammer can’t be everywhere at once, and in fact, has problems some days being where he already is. Take a moment to give us your best shot. See you in the inbox.

photo  Leading off in The Hammer’s inaugural Hideous Neighborhood Apartment Construction Project Photo Contest is this piece of architectural sublimity on the corner of Samish Way, Lincoln Street and Elwood Ave. Known locally as “The Blight,” its cardboard-box form is now irreparably burned on the eyeballs of countless thousands of individuals stuck for days at a time at the nearby Interminably Long (patent pending: Bellingham Public Works) traffic signal. (Ron Judd/Cascadia Daily News)  

Friday, Aug. 18

It Says Right Here: That tons of people with more time, money and possible impulsive-behavior issues are flocking to Death Valley, Calif., to “experience” extreme heat conditions, such as the mercury topping 125 degrees by lunchtime.

Seriously: “Heat Tourism” now is apparently a thing, making 2023 the year the sun finally got hot enough to make a disconcerting number of Americans qualify as fully baked.

That Said: It’s a potential tourism boon for the Tri-Cities. True, it only gets to around 120 there. But there’s always tomorrow, and to rich folks from Bellevue, it’s all relative, right?

Speaking of Are-You-Kidding Me: Apparently we have a new class of U.S. voters, ably identified by The Washington Post: The “Awkward” segment, which, we are led to believe, gravitates toward the King of Same, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Dullard.

That Piece: Roundly mocked in recent days on the socials, quoted several proudly non-prominent Americans who said they identified with DeSantis’s apparently now-legendary awkwardness. Published in one of America’s leading newspapers was this actual passage:

Alex Whitlock, a stay-at-home dad and a “Never Trump” Republican from West Virginia, found himself relating to DeSantis after reading an article that mentioned that the governor made people uncomfortable with his “propensity to devour food during meetings.” 

“I don’t always have an appropriate sense of when to eat or not eat,” said Whitlock, who also said he rarely knows when he’s supposed to shake someone’s hand.

For Once: The Hammer, jaw agape in utter journalistic amazement, has nothing here. Nothing whatsoever. All he can say is that the influence of ace staff WaPo satirist Alexandra Petri has expanded farther and wider in that building than anyone could have anticipated.

Please Join: The Hammer in searching for a rock of sufficient size to crawl beneath for the weekend. 

Wednesday, Aug. 9

Lots and Lots of (Streetside) Talk: About Bellingham’s “streateries,” those sidewalk-sharing, parking-space-hogging (!) eating spaces that popped up like ’shrooms on a wet forest day during the pandemic.

Let Them Live! While acknowledging (and even occasionally whining) that some streateries could use a bit of … ahem, architectural and structural love (legit concerns have been expressed about a few being blown to Sedro in our next big Northerly), The Hammer has a clear opinion on the concept in general: It’s worth preserving.

Mainly Because of This: Downtown might not look as urban-planning-textbook with them, but so what? It also has a notably livelier vibe. Here’s hoping city council members have the good sense to give them a path to sidewalk success, with fees lowering enough to make that a reality.

True, True: Like everything else, the vibe likely gets shoved in a basement closet during the chilly damp cycle. But that only lasts, what, like nine months? 

photo  The Hammer says: Let them live. “Streateries,” outdoor dining spaces such as this one at Black Sheep in downtown Bellingham, are up for discussion as the city council, in its infinite wisdom, weighs possible higher fees to compensate for the tragic loss of paid street parking. (Sophia Nunn/Cascadia Daily News)  

Now Get Back to Work, All of You: It sezhere that even Zoom, the parent company of home-office sloth that literally lives on the work-from-home experience, is calling workers back to its offices at least part-time after the pandemic. This after many people predicted permanent changes in workplace expectations. Zoom’s take: a “hybrid approach” (half-in, three-quarters out) is best for their workplace.

Let’s Face It: “Hybrid” duty actually is a hefty change in workplace expectations over the nanny-state corporate control most of us grew up with. And one for the better. Added thought: Companies that really want to lure workers back in the office for super long hours — and there are some jobs where this really works best — might want to think about ways to make it worth their workers’ while. It often doesn’t cost much to be thoughtful about the environs. 

This Just In: As few as 4,000 walking steps per day (check your fancy watch) has significant health benefits, according to a new study by the Medical Academy of Lodz in Poland. Not sure if they have one there, but the obvious corollary: The benefit is only significant unless step 3,999 is to the front door of a Tim Horton’s. 

Meanwhile, Personnel-wise in Ferntucky: This week reportedly mark’s the end of local guy Riley Sweeney’s triumphant reign as spokesperson for the greater City of Ferndale Metroplex. He’s off to run communications for ABC Recycling (and campaign for a Meridian School Board post). 

Important Note: ABC is the company with the loud/proud working waterfront (Iconic) Scrap Heap operation on Bellingham’s waterfront. We could tell South Hill folks to let Riley know personally about any noise issues — at any hour, including those that qualify as wee. But that would be unbecoming. Besides: Isn’t that what the Port of Bellingham is for? It has to be for something beyond the Pump Track. 

Doesn’t it?

Yet Another %$!&) Update: On Hammer’s ongoing crusade to get the original Oregon Trail Wagon Ruts (patent pending) removed from the unofficial Gateway to Bellingham, the Interstate 5 Exit 252 (Samish Way) intersections, sometime this century. Recent progress: Zip. Prognosis: Unknown. Likelihood of continued carping: Approximately 100%.

Wednesday, Aug. 2

It Probably Says Something: About the electoral process, that a Blaine School Board candidate, Tana Perkins Reneau, garnered nearly 23% (1,086 votes) in initial primary election counts, in spite of being charged in June with multiple counts of sex crimes against children.

Just What That Says: We’re not sure. Blaine’s capable weekly newspaper, The Northern Light, has reported on several occasions about the charges, as have news orgs in Bellingham. So is that chunk of the vote an oversight, or a choice? Perhaps not something we’d like to know.

Whale, Sized XXXL: From The New York Times, Hammer learns today of the discovery of a fossil from an ancient whale, the 39-million-year-old “Perucetus,” which may have weighed around 200 tons. We make a point in the office of monitoring the “BBI,” or Body Blubber Index, reported regularly on captive orca Tokitae. But we suspect America’s whale celeb is a literal lightweight compared to the heaviest known mammal of all time.

Just Imagining: If only some prehistoric NFL owner with lots of cash and good intentions had existed then, perhaps Perucetus would still be swimming among us today.

And Speaking of That: Not to freak anyone out, but Hammer recalls drifting along in a ‘yak one night with a bottle of chablis and seeing an object, swimming near the old pulp mill discharge pipe in Bellingham Bay, bearing an uncanny resemblance to this supposedly extinct creature, described as having a body akin to “mammoth manatee, propelling its sausage-like body with a paddle-shaped tail.”

Just One More: Actual passage from said story: “This is a weird and stupendous fossil, for sure,” said Nicholas Pyenson, a paleontologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, who was not involved in the study. “It’s clear from this discovery that there are so many other ways of being a whale that we have not yet discovered.” Thought for the day!

Meanwhile Down in the Arts District: We suspect a lot of them were from outta town. Which made it even more fun to see the hyped-up hat/boot crowd that descended on the Mount Baker Theatre Tuesday night for what appeared to be a sold-out show by Ashley McBryde, a rising authentic country music voice. This should not get around, but The Hammer snuck out of election coverage for a bit to take this in. Great show. Props to MBT for an eclectic mix of offerings on stage in one of the ‘Ham’s civic treasures.

The Hammer, a somewhat-less-studious alter ego of CDN’s executive editor and various other pointed-barb influencers, publishes online monthly and is updated somewhat regularly;; @roncjudd.

This story was updated at 8 a.m. Aug. 13, 2023 to correct the school board race of candidate Riley Sweeney.. 

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