In “Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates”, Tom Robbins’ character Switters sailed paper boats in the rain-filled gutters of Pike Place Market and down Elliot Avenue. The Art Institute of Seattle recently closed, due to bankruptcy. One last sailing of the paper regatta is due in memoriam. So long, Artgirls.
“People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf” — Richard Grenier paraphrasing George Orwell
In the fictional near-future, I’m standing overwatch on the wall of the Haunted House Control Point near the present-day Octagon Museum, about two blocks from the White House, watching a group of men burn to death in a fire I set with a portable flame-thrower turret. It’s a beautiful sight.
Some of them drop their weapons and I walk in to take them for myself as the fire dies out, then I roll behind a jersey barrier and fire off a few rounds of suppressive fire toward a heavily-armored man weilding a chainsaw. He’s barely phased by the bullets that pancake on his ballistic armor and he revs the chainsaw menacingly as he runs at me.
I’m rebuilding society in the shadow of a biological terror attack, making America great again. I’m playing Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, a video game about killing people who kill people and take their stuff, and then taking their stuff so you can kill even more-well-armed people and take their stuff too. I kill people to show that killing people is wrong.
Seattle Weekly’s last print issue hits the streets today. It’s another exclamation point at the end of a string of exclamation points that signal the exasperation of excitable writers witnessing the end of an era that began in the mid 1970s with the rise of alternative weekly newspapers.
Alt Weeklies, as they were called, were the counterculture’s attempt to take back the media narratives that were at one time controlled by daily newspapers. Dailies were the CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC of their day, respected and read by everyone who wanted to know what opinions they’d have at the clubhouse after a round of golf.
The alternative was newspapers like the Chicago Reader, Village Voice, and the L.A. Weekly who reported weekly on the culture beneath the dominant culture with a loud and proud voice that told it like it was. The mid-to-late seventies were a time of cultural upheaval, and the rebels wanted their own balladeers to properly sing their praises. The upstart young poets would weave epic tales worth rhyming, and the hearts of the broken-down cities of the ‘70s were bleeding to the beat of a different drummer.
The birthplace of great writers such as Susan Orlean, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Matt Groening — where television personalities Chris Hayes and Jake Tapper got their journalistic start — alt weeklies were the WNBA of the literary sport: the place you’d go to see the game the way it was meant to be played, without the oversized egos and the steep ticket prices.
After Woodward and Bernstein’s investigative journalism had just brought down a President, what else was it capable of doing for the public good? This was the ‘70s on a stage set in the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. King, the riots at the Stonewall Inn, and the fight for an Equal Rights Amendment. Great social change was ongoing, and it was in this chapter of Journalism’s greatest story ever told, the Seattle Weekly proudly proclaimed themselves the alternative to the alternative weekly.
Backing away from them, I look over my shoulder at the edge of the futuristic Egyptian garden wall and imagine myself leaping into the mists below, where I will surely perish.
If I don’t, I will either be crushed by a well-dressed man with a giant cybernetic fist, poisoned by a one-eyed grandmother, or nuked by a South Korean esports legend. But more likely, the overly polite climatologist with a reputation for freezing her enemies, will blast me with her freeze gun and then stab me in the eye with an icicle.
I choose to rob them all of the satisfaction and step off into the void.
Multiplayer combat-oriented video games have been an growing popular form of entertainment over the last decade. With names like, “League of Legends”, “Overwatch”, and “Fortnite: Battle Royale” they rake in billions of dollars and strike fear into traditional and new media alike.
These games are addicting, stressful, violent, and insanely fun. Parents are increasingly wary of their potential to engulf their children’s free time; to the detriment of face-to-face social interaction, outdoor time, and performance of household chores.