Knute Berger

Mossback is back! Our famously bearded, beloved former boss was editor-in-chief during three different tenures at Seattle Weekly (and also founding editor of Eastsideweek, RIP). His new collection, Pugetopolis (Sasquatch, $18.95), is culled largely from his old Mossback columns at this paper. It also includes newer essays from Seattle magazine,, and KUOW, where he’s a regular commentator. In all his writing, whether gloating over the WTO riots (in your face, Starbucks!) or decrying the hypocrisy of “Seattle nice,” Knute Berger is a contrarian—more libertarian than liberal, a guy with a big heart who’s not a bleeding heart. He’s also still one of the sharpest, smartest columnists in town (why The Seattle Times hasn’t given him Nicole Brodeur’s wasted space is a continuing mystery for the gods). Our pretensions to being a “world class city,” our snobbery against those who aren’t as enlightened and organic, our mania for Jetsons transportation schemes (be they monorail, light rail, or anything to replace those sinful cars), our nanny-state prohibitions against, well, everything—Berger skewers them all. Notwithstanding his old column name, he’s not a crank or a curmudgeon railing against progress. Rather than being a simple NIMBY-ite, he warns that, from the Denny party to the present day’s boom-and-bust mentality, “We need to break the cycle of leaving things worse than when we found them.” From which perspective, a false utopia is just as bad as an ugly condo. (Tonight he appears with New York Times contributor Tim Egan.) BRIAN MILLER

Wed., Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m., 2009

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