Domesday Scenarios

Thirty years ago in Seattle Weekly.

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This is one of a series looking back at Seattle Weekly's first year.

30th Anniversary

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Issue No. 8 of the Weekly (May 19, 1976) was a good one for scary predictions that didn't come true—at least not as quickly as anticipated. Editor Dick Lilly warned that the opening of the Kingdome was driving all the art galleries out of Pioneer Square. Well, the Dome is gone, and gentrification may still finish the job, but for now the Square is still the art lover's place to be First Thursday of every month. Another threat: In 1974, the state Board of Health demanded that Seattle cover all its 11 open-air drinking-water reservoirs. By issue date, the number had been negotiated down to two, but those two would still cost 5 million 1976 dollars, and City Council Chair Randy Revelle was dubious about the public-health benefit of protection from low-flying seagulls and passing terrorists. Reservoirs in Magnolia and at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill were finally lidded in 1995 and 2003, respectively, and five more are in the planning stages. But so far the terrorists have been busy elsewhere. Almost laughably off-base: Bill Cushing's discovery that health care in the area was becoming unaffordable. How little we knew.

The 1970s were the heyday of federally supported arts touring, and nobody benefited from the largesse more than Seattle and the dance company led by Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino. A whole generation of Puget Sounders was introduced to modern professional dance by company warhorses like Robbins' Interplay, Jooss' The Green Table, Twyla Tharp's early masterpiece Deuce Coupe, and Arpino's then-notorious "hippie ballets" Astarte and Sacred Grove on Mount Tamalpais. The New Yorker's dance writer Arlene Croce cruelly called the Joffrey a "first-rate third-rate company," but serious dance might well never have taken root here without the company's annual infusions of flash, kitsch, and substance.

In the lifestyle area, the paper's second foray into the social whirl and designer fashion was even lamer than the first, and the whole idea of regular fashion spreads was quietly dropped for rejiggering.

Goodness knows what trouble the paper would have gotten in if contemporary conflict-of-interest standards had been in force. Food writer Lars Henry Ringseth did a survey of the best and worst espresso spots in town. At the time, Ringseth's real-world alter ago was Gordon Bowker, a founder of Starbucks and a man with strong ideas about what constituted a good cup of java. It's therefore agreeable to report that the only surviving coffeehouse among the dozen sampled—and also rated number one—was the U District's Allegro, still steaming the milk though at a new location at 41st and Roosevelt Way.

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