Enough is enough

"Who is happy? He who is satisfied with what he has."

—Jewish Proverb

With downtown Seattle and downtowns throughout the world offering ever more fixes for shopping addicts, the latest offering from local documentarians John de Graaf and Vivia Boe might save some of these addicts from hitting rock bottom. If you're one of these wayward souls—strung out on credit cards, cruising malls at lunch time, rummaging through recycling bins for sales circulars—you owe it to yourself and probably your family to watch Channel 9's Escape from Affluenza.

See end of article for related links.

This sequel to last fall's Affluenza chronicles the lives of several Northwesterners who have kicked their consumerist habits and learned to convert less money and less stuff into more peace and more happiness. Their paths are different but all lead to the same place. Ron Simons snubbed a promotion at Microsoft to pursue an acting career. No longer working 60-hour weeks, he has time to volunteer at the Bailey-Boushay House and be a Big Brother. Evy McDonald was a highly successful hospital administrator until she was diagnosed with a terminal illness and lost most of her possessions to a burglary—on the same day. "Who do I want to be when I die?" she asked herself. More than 10 years later, McDonald—since cured—has become one of the country's leading experts on voluntary simplicity.

The film is narrated by Wanda Urbanska, who bailed on her job as a newspaper reporter in Los Angeles, moved to North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, and took over his parents' U-pick orchard. With more spare time on their hands, the couple wrote Simple Living, one of several recent books spreading the gospel of frugality.

Escape from Affluenza airs on KCTS 9 next Thursday, May 21, 8-9pm; it airs nationally July 7. Catch the prequel, Affluenza, July 2.

Lost at sea

Viewers of the first three parts of KIRO 7's recent investigative series on the Port of Seattle may be wondering what happened to the fourth and final installment. Reporter Rick Shenkman sure would like to know. "I considered the fourth part to be real journalism," says Shenkman, who produced the February series during a break from his teaching gig at American University. King County Council member Brian Derdowski is puzzled, too. The missing segment discusses one of Derdowski's biggest worries—that additional rail and truck traffic generated by the Port's planned doubling of cargo shipments will push the county's already-clogged roads beyond the brink. Derdowski says road improvements, including new rail crossings in the Kent Valley and elsewhere, will cost taxpayers some $400 million. Shenkman speculates the story, titled "The Big Oops," may air during the May ratings sweeps. KIRO news director Bill Lord is mum on the situation.

Loose change

With Jim Compton's departure from KING 5 last month, in-depth, locally produced broadcast journalism no longer exists from Seattle. His weekly Compton Report, which enjoyed an admirable 11-year run, will be greatly missed. Here's wishing him the best of success in future projects.... The case of Sandy Nelson, the former Tacoma News Tribune reporter demoted in 1991 after participating in a gay-rights campaign, is now before the Organization of American States. A complaint from the New Jerseybased Magnus Hirschfeld Centrefor Human Rights charges that Nelson's political rights have been violated.... Seattle Times editorial writers, who in December accused city officials entangled in Nordygate of "violating the public trust," have recanted. "Turns out that criticism was too harsh," read the April 24 leader, noting that any further opposition to the NordstromPine Street project would be "futile and churlish." Will this backpedaling defang the muckraking duo of Deb Nelson and Barbara Serrano?... Pine Street Development co-manager Matt Griffin seems to hope so. He's sent copies of the Times editorial to downtown businesspeople with a letter announcing "an important development in the public debate regarding our project. We have always believed the city-financed garage was critical to revitalizing the retail core.... Now, as the enclosed editorial shows, so does The Seattle Times. To its credit, after leading criticism of the garage transaction, The Seattle Times has thoroughly reexamined the issue and changed its position."... The Central Intelligence Agency has a new Web site designed for children, complete with an interactive disguise game and animated bomb-sniffing dog. See for yourself at www.odci.gov/cia/ciakids.... What a brave new ending NBC concocted for its April 19 presentation of Brave New World.

Oblivious, perhaps, to the irony of their interpretation, producers closed the film with Bernard, Lenina, and their child strolling happily down a beach.... Speaking of irony, before the start of a recent Town Meeting about excessive mayhem on TV news, KOMO 4's Ken Schram alerted audience members that the program may be interrupted for live coverage of an earthquake in Japan.... Having apparently learned nothing from the Princess Diana tragedy, some media types are complaining that Paul McCartney's spokespersons misled reporters about where Linda McCartney died. Said one particularly clueless journalism professor: "I don't see privacy as the issue here." Sick.

Worth watching

Firebrand US Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) challenges the House Intelligence Committee to investigate drug-dealing allegations against the Central Intelligence Agency on a special edition of Crack the CIA,Saturday, May 23, at 5:30pm on Cable Channel 29. (The show normally airs Wednesdays at 11:30am.)

Related Links:

The ultimate site on "affluenza"


The CIA's homepage for kids


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