Other News

Interesting news stories from around the Pacific Northwest.

I-5 Design and Manufacture / Flickr

Hospitals in Washington are required to serve patients even if they have no way to pay. But a public interest law firm says many duck their obligations by failing to screen patients for eligibility. Now they’re bringing a class-action lawsuit against a hospital in Seattle.

I stopped drinking at the age of 35, roughly two decades into my sex life. I was scared to quit for a lot of reasons. I thought I'd be boring. I thought other people would be boring. When you drink as long, and lovingly, as I did, you will find a lot of excuses not to hang up your beer mug. But nothing frightened me as much as sex without alcohol. As in, no way. Not happening.

mf821-03188616a / Flickr

This week on Sound Effect, you are what you eat. We bring stories of food, and how it intersects with identity.

We Eat War

ElmerGuevara / Wikimedia Commons

For Claudia Castro Luna, nothing transports her back to her native El Salvador more quickly, and more vividly, than then pupusa. It’s the unofficial national dish of El Salvador, consisting of a think corn tortilla wrapped around a rich filling.

But for Castro Luna, Seattle’s first civic poet, the pupusa contains more than pork, cheese and beans. It contains the history of the country of her birth, and of her journey away from it.

Courtesy of Hsaio-Ching Chou

For many immigrant families, food is a way to both stay connected to their culture, and a way to survive. For the Chou family, opening a restaurant seemed like the only way to make ends meet in small town Columbia, Missouri.

When they opened Chinese Delicacies in 1980, Hsiao-Ching Chou was only 8 years old. The restaurant defined her childhood, even inspiring her career later as a food writer in Seattle.

For the family, it defined their American experience. They developed a menu that appealed to American tastes and later bowed to customer demand and installed a buffet. 

(courtesy Nancy Leson)

Nancy Leson, half of KPLU's  Food for Thought duo, has been in the food industry for a long time. But some of her earliest memories of food come from bars -- not as an employee, but as a patron — a six-year-old patron. 

Leson grew up in Philadelphia, in a time and place where children were allowed to belly up to bars and eat Slim Jims and pickled eggs, or order a Coke with loads of  Maraschino cherries. 

The reason Leson wound up in those bars was that that was where she would find her mother. 

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Everyone’s got a favorite food. But how about a favorite crop? 

Dr. Stephen Jones, director of Washington State University's Bread Lab in Mt. Vernon, loves wheat. A lot.

"The sheer beauty of the crop in a field like this ... you can almost hear the voices in it — the voices of the tradition, the voices of the people that came before us into this crop," said Jones. "I don't get that when I walk into a lettuce field, but I do in wheat."

Ariel Van Cleave / KPLU

The town of Lynden, Washington sits just to the south of the U.S.-Canadian border.  It's a small town of about 13,000 people.  

Lynden is also home to the Lynden Dutch Bakery (which makes a tasty short cake), Darigold (maker of cream, both ice and whipped), and of course, acres of berry farms.

Lynden just turned 125 years old recently, and to celebrate, folks there decided they needed a birthday cake — but not just any cake cake would do for such a celebration.  They wanted a really big birthday cake — one that would highlight all that Lynden had to offer.

A few years ago on Father's Day, my dad, who was then living in Taiwan, forwarded the family a special holiday coupon to one of his favorite places in the world: Souplantation. A sort of glorified salad buffet, Souplantation is the kind of chain restaurant you go to with your family after church or sports games, particularly after the ones you've lost. The food doesn't inflame the senses or your digestive tract. In his email, he urged us to take advantage of the coupon on his behalf— with an exclamation mark and a note of regret.

Editors' note: Invisibilia's back! Each Friday for the next seven weeks, we'll feature an excerpt from the latest episode of the NPR podcast. We're also creating original features for Shots that explore the Invisibilia theme of the week. This Saturday, Hanna Rosin asks whether social norms have changed enough so that boys are no longer afraid to cry. On Sunday, we explore how the norms for sickness and health vary around the world.

Maybe we're all just taking politics too seriously these days. Eighth-grader Jack Aiello used his 8-minute graduation speech to impersonate Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

When you look out your window at night, can you see the stars? Or are the heavens just a murky haze?

If you're not seeing stars, you're not alone. A new report says that 80 percent of the world lives under light-polluted skies — and the Milky Way is hidden from more than a third of humanity. Blame it on the artificial lights that shine at night.

Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from the book The Carrot Purple And Other Curious Stories Of The Food We Eat.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Thousands came together in a Seattle park Sunday evening to express sorrow and anguish over the mass shooting in Florida, in which 50 people lost their lives. Clutching signs with messages of grief and lighting rainbow-colored votive candles, people of multiple faiths and backgrounds converged on Cal Anderson Park in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. 

Courtesy of Harley Lever

This week on Sound Effect, we have stories of how neighborhoods in the Puget Sound region coexist with homelessness and indigence.

Gabriel Spitzer

Harley Lever is from Boston, but he fell in love with Seattle while working at as a fisherman in Puget Sound. So nearly 10 years ago, he moved into a little condo in the Interbay neighborhood with his girlfriend.

When they bought their home in 2007, they thought the neighborhood was on the rise. However, Lever says things started to change in 2013. He saw more and more people living in old school buses and RVs parked along neighborhood streets. Then came the heroin needles.

"It was common to come across 100 needles walking to the Ballard Locks," says Lever.


Public inebriation is not limited to Tacoma. It happens everywhere. But in 2001, Tacoma was the first city in the state to develop what they called an Alcohol Impact Area. Nowadays, there are many of these Alcohol Impact Areas in Washington state. They exist in Olympia, Spokane, and Pioneer Square, but the first in the state started in an area that makes up Tacoma’s Downtown and Hilltop neighborhoods.

Seattle King County Health Department Photograph Files / King County Archives

Tensions have long existed between housed and homeless neighbors in the Northwest.

At the turn of the century, the region was home to many transient workers employed by the lumber, mining or fishing industries. Many of these early Seattleites lived in unstable conditions or in single-room-occupancy hotels. When the Great Depression hit the Northwest, they were forced out on to the streets.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

To some residents in the Seattle neighborhood of Magnolia, things seem to be going downhill. They point to a rise in the number of homeless people living in RVs parked on their streets, and along with it, increases in property crime, blight and disorder. So earlier this year, a group of neighbors pitched in to hire a private security service to patrol the neighborhood.

I'm getting a little tired of all this pivoting.

Pundits and analysts — which, by the way, might be a good name for a new bar in Georgetown — say that Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and Bernie Sanders are, must, or are soon expected to "pivot" into some new strategy for the fall campaign.

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet has defined tragic young love for centuries: Boy and girl from feuding families fall in love. Boy slays the girl's cousin for killing his friend in a duel. Girl swallows a sleeping potion. Boy thinks she's dead. Boy swallows poison. Girl wakes, sees boy dead, and stabs herself. They're both really dead. Families mourn and reconcile.

Neon cord necklaces draped over a crisp white shirt. Hip-length braids hiding a floral shirt. A psychedelic wax-print jumpsuit.

In her new book Fashion Cities Africa, Hannah Azieb Pool sets out to dispel all the tired stereotypes about fashion in Africa (safari jackets and zebra print, anyone?) and showcase the true diversity and ingenuity of fashion in Africa.

KPLU Summer Programming Updates

Jun 10, 2016

Thank you for your support over the past few months. All of us at KPLU are committed to continuing to providing you with the best jazz, blues and NPR News programming. We'd like to update you on some special programs to look forward to this summer: 2016 Election Coverage and NPR's Invisibilia.

2016 Election Coverage

You can count on KPLU to bring you everything you need to know about the 2016 election.

Where do you draw the line between inspiration and straight-up imitation when it comes to food?

A few years ago, we brought you the story of Caitlin Freeman, a pastry chef baking innovative, art-inspired cakes at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Using modern art as her muse, Freeman translated what she saw in the museum into edible form at the SFMOMA's upstairs café.

(Wikipedia Commons/Vinodtiwari2608)

This week Sound Effect brings us stories of the pursuit.

You're It

Ashley Gross / KPLU

People living in their recreational vehicles and cars at a temporary parking zone set up by the city of Seattle in the Interbay neighborhood will soon have to move. The city plans to close that site because construction is set to start next door.

The city will set up another so-called "safe zone" in SoDo that will accommodate fewer vehicles, and that means some people will soon have to go back to parking on the street and moving every 72 hours. 

Alexander Synaptic / Flickr

This week Sound Effect brings us stories of coming out of the darkness.

‘Bathed In Light’

Imagine being in a cramped, sunless space for three whole months and then emerging into the light. That’s exactly what Petty Officer Steve Watkins experiences at the end of a submarine patrol at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. To kick off our show, he tells us about climbing the 20-foot ladder toward the pinprick of light at the top, and bursting out into fresh air. “It’s just the most amazing experiences,” he said, “just to be bathed in light.”

Courtesy of The Blind Cafe

This week on Sound Effect our theme is “Out of the Darkness,” but KPLU’s Ed Ronco and Ariel Van Cleave found that going into the darkness can shed a lot of light on the world around you, and even your own personality.

The Blind Café is a pop-up event that travels the country, offering guests the chance to have dinner in the dark. Not candlelight. Not a dimly lit room. We’re talking total, 100 percent, pitch black.

Courtesy of Jenny Heddin

Mental illness has long carried a stigma in society. In 2015, Olympia resident Jenny Heddin found herself face to face with the consequences of that.

The year started off great for Jenny. She had just gotten married to the love of her life. Matt Heddin was a wetlands biologist, a nature lover, and a caring partner. In early 2015, Matt and Jenny had a baby on the way.

Courtesy of Jason Schmidt

Jason Schmidt was three years old when police barged into his house and arrested his father for selling cocaine. “That was a very confusing evening for me,” said Schmidt, a Seattle author. It turned out to be just one episode in a chaotic childhood, where love and warmth mingled with drugs, violence and crime.