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Unapologetically grasping for the ‘wit’ in ‘dimwitted’

The Red Hammer Dubious Achievement Awards return

By Ron Judd Executive Editor

We would like to say the ballots are in, but it was a mail-in election, so … never mind. The annual Red Hammer Dubious Achievement Awards, a hallowed tradition in these parts for well over a 50th of a century, are really subject only to the whims of B. Hammer, who is a fictional character, barely an editor and certainly not an auditor. 

So it is what it is and here it comes: 

The Hammer is happy to present once more, for the second year in a row, the extremely uneagerly awaited list of dubious achievers in Northwest Washington for the year 2023. 

Please understand, people — this is a high bar. Competition was fierce, given the amount of duplicity and general dull-wittedness floating amongst us, like Canadian wildfire smoke in September, and/or cottonwood “smoke,” whenever that occurs, who knows?

Upshot: There simply is insufficient space to give a trophy to everyone around these parts who does something markedly stupid. So we have to laser-focus only on the exceptional. Let’s get right to it:

The Larger Than Life Jenga-Stack Urban Renewal Award: To the Port of Bellingham, still measuring success by the height and width of retail-conversion shipping containers stacked on what coulda/shoulda been the city’s crown jewel waterfront development. 

The Deck Chairs on the Hotel Titanic Award: To Harcourt Development of Ireland, would-be/won’t-be waterfront developer that probably wishes by now it had never heard of Bellingham. (The feeling is mutual, folks.) 

The Nice Rolfing Biz, Be a Shame If Something Happened To It Award: To brave local soul, rolfer and masters swimmer, Brad Jones, who in a CDN guest commentary had the nerve to take on the local Greenways Board, a quasi-religious institution in the ‘Ham, to fight for a share of tax money for indoor, not just outdoor, recreation. (What can we say; the Hammer appreciates folks willing to stir the hair-clogged waters from time to time. And we KID the Greenways Board, composed of good people! Please don’t hurt us.)

The Thank God, Another Brick/Mortar Bank! Award: To whoever thought it was a good idea to put Yet Another Bank at the location of the former Zane Burger in Fairhaven. Seriously: It’s about as useful as another nasty, bitter IPA dispensary. Or another $1.2 mil condo, or … 

The Still A Chance to Pull It Off Award: To bank builders if they choose to leave the car up on the roof.

The Embrace Your Inner (Iconic) Scrap Heap Award: To the folks at ABC Recycling, who must’ve thought they could just start ripping, shredding and shipping from local shores without much fuss. (Boardroom conversation: “What’s a little pile of scrap next to a phalanx of beloved acid digesters?”)

The Pat Yourselves on the Back Award: To all the community members who stepped up to a plea from the Bellingham Food Bank for cash to keep the food boxes rolling last spring. Hint: That fight is rarely over; continue to do what you can.

The Where Have Thou Gone, Oh Clickbait Honey Jar? Award: To the murder hornets — remember the murder hornets? — who only a year after being hyped up as the threat most likely to menace the entire nation, apparently observed that those pitchfork-wielding, Teletubbies-suited folks up around Blaine were crazy, and promptly withdrew to whence they came. Peace be with them. Or perhaps not. 

I Mean, Seriously: Selling exclusive video rights to north Whatcom County residents being menaced by killer bees during Sunday church services was our entire business model for next year. Back to the drawing board. Who’s up for a juicy zoning board story?

The Back-From-the Dead-Via-Food-Court Award: To Bellis Fair mall, which we may have goaded into action with last year’s (possibly unfair/premature/even boorish) “Will the Last Person at Macy’s Please Turn Out the Lights Award.” They might’ve gotten mad, but they also got even, drawing some creative new tenants to keep those lights on. Hope they stay.

The Blight in the Darkness Award: To developers of large apartment complexes in prominent places that serve as punctuation points on an obituary for pleasant contemporary architecture. (We know, we know, it’s all about “affordability.” When does that kick in again?)

The (Oh Please, Oh Please) Happiest of Retirements Award: To members of the Chuckanut Community Forest Board, apparently now free to disband (won’t they?) and roam the South ‘Ham walking trails they fought to protect from various ne’er-do-wells, such as people on bikes.

The Have You Considered an Actual Three-Ring Circus Award: To the many people conducting the honorable work of trying to find a secondary use for the highly juiced former Intalco aluminum smelter site near Ferndale. 

The Welcome to the (Expletive Rhyming With “Mitt” Deleted) Show Award: To Sheriff-elect Tank Tanksley and Bellingham Mayor-elect Kim Lund, whose promised penchant for “transformative leadership” better have its game-face on when the ship hits the span of real life up north come January. (B. Hammer, who starts every pol with a 0-0 record on the Big Hammer Scoreboard, is in both their corners, at least for the moment.)

The Space, Schmace Award: To Western Washington University, proving with its new Kaiser Borsari Hall juicebox-replica building on south campus that you can put up a structure in any 26-car parking space on campus if you squeeze hard and build high enough. 

The Un-Truth in Advertising Award: Also to Western, whose claim that said structure is the first local “zero-energy” building hereabouts could only be uttered by someone who has not visited B. Hammer’s Tavern District office on Mondays.

The “I Do This For Relaxation, Get the #!$*# Off My Court!” Award: To those people of a certain age — they all know who they are — now convinced modern life now revolves exclusively around … pickleball. I mean my god, just the sound of it, right?

And Finally, the We Hardly Knew Ye Award: To Hizonner Seth Fleetwood, the soon-departing single-term mayor of the ‘Ham, who did his community a … well, solid by keeping the ship on course through some rough waters over the past four years. Following winds and calm seas to Seth, to whatever port comes next. We hereby retire that famous photo. For now.

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; ronjudd@cascadiadaily.com; @roncjudd.

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