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The Policy Staffer is the DJ

2011 March 29
by Josh Feit

< Brain Fruit at the Healthy Times Fun Club on Capitol Hill, May 2010; photo: Jennifer Haller >

With Metro policy briefs, ethics and elections commission campaign finance numbers, and ways and means committee bill summaries getting all the ink at PubliCola, readers couldn’t be blamed for thinking I don’t have any interest in arts and culture—that I’m just a policy wonk. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I love the arts and think the prevalence of rock clubs, galleries, readings, live performances, and indie movie houses is what sets cities apart from suburbs and makes them important. Brilliant arts and culture are what cities give to the world.

My own tastes run a little snobby. It’s mostly music I love—Sonic Youth’s Lower-East-Side-era EPs; Rod Modell’s dub electronics; and early 1950s “race records.” I like movies too—those little indie, character-driven movies that play at the Northwest Film Forum on 12th Ave.

There’s a connection between arts and politics (and I don’t mean in that block-headed protest music way—oy vey). I mean in that way when the line stretches around the corner at SIFF; when a hip-hop show at the Punctuation gallery on Pike St. is jam-packed; and when a friend tells me they saw a great play at the Annex last night. Those are political wins for Seattle.When you’re poring over urban policy briefs, at your core, you’re a booster for urban arts.

The basement rock clubs, galleries, and indie movie houses that are strung across America from city to city like a Mardi Gras necklace that also includes transit stops, apartment buildings, bike lanes, basement recording studios, app startups, and P-Patches is exactly why those policy briefs are written in the first place.

The budget policy staffer who’s crunching data on floor area ratios and the laptop DJ who wants to cue up the perfect dance floor mix on a Saturday night at Lo-Fi are both trying to answer the same questions: How do I make this a fantastic place to be? And how do I make it last?

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Josh Feit is the founder and editor of Seattle’s news site, PubliCola. In 1999, he wrote “I, Clone,” a chamber opera based on the Amazing Spider-Man issues #144-149.

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