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Spokane word

Spokane-Clock Tower
View from the convention center


I spent the weekend in Spokane with akirlu attending a facilities walk-through and planning meetings for Sasquan, the 2015 World Science Fiction Convention, and also just poking around the city, which I had never visited before. akirlu and I (as well as other of the usual suspects amongst Seattle fanzine fandom) are running the fanzine lounge in 2015, and she thought it would be a good idea for us to meet the committee and especially to talk to Randy Smith, who is head of the Exhibits division, which is handling the fanzine lounge. Indeed, of the roughly twenty people who came for the weekend, I had met only five before, so it was probably good to make ourselves known to more of them.

These were the first Worldcon planning meetings that I've ever observed, and it confirmed my feeling that it's not something I'd want to do very much of, while at the same time being fascinating and educational in a variety of ways, from people to process to politics. There were a lot of jokes about Worldcon sausage being made, and the jokes seemed appropriate. It was great to spend some time with Randy Smith (one of four Randys I encountered over the weekend), who is very interested in the fanzine lounge even though it's only one small corner of what he's dealing with. It was also a pleasure to meet and start to get acquainted with various other folks, including the Chair, Sally Woehrle. A lot of folks were from out of state, but there were also a number of us from the Seattle area and a contingent of locals. The politics of outreach to the locals, and the different convention-running cultures on each side of the mountains, was one of the more interesting topics of the weekend. All in all, I was impressed with the people running the show.

Alongside all that was the exploration of Spokane itself, and I came away impressed with that as well. First off, there's something like seven micro-breweries, which is a good way to win my heart. We visited two of them, NoLi Brewhouse and 12 Strings Brewing Company, and I liked them both. The NoLi also has a pretty good food menu that included poutine. (I had the steak salad.) A group of us had lunch at the Saranac Public House, which has a good selection of beers from around the West Coast and a nice food menu as well. That's just the tip of the beer iceberg. akirlu and I also had dinner at Wild Sage Bistro, which was a little spendy but utterly fantastic. The flash fried calamari, which had been soaked in buttermilk over night and was served on a bed of shredded home made kimchee and pepperocinis, was to die for. We twice ate breakfast at Frank's Diner, which has great food and is located in an ornate old railway car. In general I got a strong impression that there's a good foodie thing going on in Spokane.

The downtown area is pretty interesting, with some cool old office buildings and a couple of architecturally impressive churches. The Davenport Hotel, which will be the party hotel, is just as spectacular and elegant as advertised. Some of the ballrooms, which the convention may or may not be able to use (they are still negotiating), are truly astonishing. The convention center is set right on the river across from a lovely city park. There seem to be a lot of restaurants and bars in the area, as well as some interesting looking shops.

Well, as I say, I was impressed. I know that there's been a fair amount of skepticism about this convention, but I hope folks will give it another look. Aside from everything else going on, we are going to do our best to make the fanzine lounge a happening place for birds of our feather and any and all folks looking for a port in the Worldcon storm. I honestly think we could have a total blast out there in Spokane, which was the earliest European settlement in Washington State (circa 1810, so not long after the Lewis and Clark Expedition) and feels like a place with real, live history. There's gold in them thar hills, I do believe.

Spokane-Davenport Ballroom
Viewing the Marie Antoinette Ballroom in the Davenport Hotel

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
kalimac
Mar. 31st, 2014 06:35 pm (UTC)
First time I went to Spokane was for the World's Fair in 1974. I thought it a nice place, and I did on a couple later visits in the early 80s as well. Haven't been back since.

Bing Crosby's hometown, too!
randy_byers
Mar. 31st, 2014 06:38 pm (UTC)
I didn't know that about Bing. I associate him more with Tacoma.
kalimac
Apr. 1st, 2014 08:07 am (UTC)
Bing was born in Tacoma, but his family moved to Spokane when he was very young, and that's the home town he identified with. He even went to Gonzaga, but left before graduating.
randy_byers
Apr. 1st, 2014 03:07 pm (UTC)
We were struck by the fact that the University District in downtwon Spokane houses multiple schools, including Gonzaga, Whitworth, and a surprisingly large branch of WSU. I'm not sure whether the other two are branches of main campuses as well, although that appears to be the case for Whitworth at least.
kalimac
Apr. 1st, 2014 03:33 pm (UTC)
No, they're both really from Spokane, though Whitworth, at least, like Bing Crosby, moved there from Tacoma when it was very young.
randy_byers
Apr. 1st, 2014 03:48 pm (UTC)
Right, but Whitworth's main campus isn't in the University District. I'm not sure about Gonzaga.

Okay, I've discovered a Master Plan document that indicates that the district incorporates the Gonzaga campus, and that the branch campuses are actually WSU and EWU. I don't see any mention of Whitworth, although Whitworth *is* mentioned at the University District website, which says they offer some adult education programs there.
paulcarp
Apr. 1st, 2014 05:46 am (UTC)
Willis A. Ritchie
The architect of my hometown courthouse (Port Townsend, Jefferson County) designed a lot of Washington state courthouses. The only two that remain, I believe, are Port Townsend's and Spokane's. Ritchie's fairybook style is definitely worth the trip to Spokane.
kalimac
Apr. 1st, 2014 08:11 am (UTC)
Which one is that? I'm tempted to say it must be Spokane, because you don't get skies that blue in Port Townsend. (I know, it just seems that way.)
paulcarp
Apr. 1st, 2014 02:47 pm (UTC)
This is Spokane. The one in Port Townsend is made of red bricks.
randy_byers
Apr. 1st, 2014 02:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Willis A. Ritchie
Aha! That's the fantastical building we spotted from afar and both exclaimed, "What the hell is *that*!" I thought it might be another church.

It didn't seem as though Spokane had much contemporary architecture, at least in terms of the office buildings, but some of the older buildings are quite impressive.
surliminal
Apr. 2nd, 2014 12:34 am (UTC)
Actually that sounds like the most positive stuff I've heard about a US worldcon in ages! I guess you might get more Brits than usual as people tend to sign up for things when at the prev Worldcon I suspect..
randy_byers
Apr. 2nd, 2014 01:02 am (UTC)
Well, you know me, I'm such an optimist. And I didn't even mention all the wine-tasting rooms I spotted.
Elizabeth McCarty
Apr. 3rd, 2014 12:44 am (UTC)
It was very nice to get a chance to meet you! I look forward to working with you on Sasquan. :)
randy_byers
Apr. 3rd, 2014 03:56 am (UTC)
Likewise!
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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