HO HO BROTHER 2017

Somehow, I managed to pull off another one.

At a time of year when commitments and gatherings and parties consume my calendar, I decided to add on traditions that are incredibly time-consuming, but oh, so rewarding.

One of them is an annual Christmas CD, that I gave the name Ho Ho Brother.  In the late 1990s, I was working with an I.T. guy named Rick Taylor at KLSY.  Rick was my ambassador to the techie world, which I had a fascination with, but limited time to explore. I believe it was in 1998, he gave me a Christmas collection of songs that he had rounded up and burned to a CD. Some odd ones, some funny ones and some sentimental favorites. The following year, he burned a Christmas CD complete with fancy label that featured all Jewish singers that sang Christmas songs. Bottom line, the technology existed that we could collect songs or anything pre-recorded, put it together and then give to family and friends to spread Christmas cheer.

I loved the concept, so in 2000, I produced my very first collection, Ho Ho Brother. This year (for those of you lousy at math), I’ve put the finishing touches on Ho Ho Brother 17.  The secret formula isn’t that secret–it’s a blend of comedy bits, new and old, holiday classics, fresh new songs you may not even know existed and with a personal goal of not repeating any of the recordings I’ve used before. I think a couple of repeats have slipped in during the past 17 years, but I’m of the opinion if I don’t remember, why should you?

I know that the days of CD’s are waning, but I’m still burning them for those who have CD players. Reality hit me this year when I bought a new Hyundai Ioniq that didn’t have a CD player in it. The move is to digital, but since everyone is not there yet, I still hand out these CD’s to friends and family as a holiday spiff. Something festive and to a few, unexpected. It’s fun to watch the first-timers get a puzzled look and say, “So, what is this?”  But I love giving it to the people who have been looking forward to the latest edition and comment that they were just listening to a previous year’s Ho Ho Brother while decorating their home.

One of the regular contributions I love to include in this mix is an original song and, this year, I’m sorry to say, that didn’t happen. Well, it did, but it didn’t. My regular singer, Alana Baxter, got her medical degree and headed off to Hawaii.  We managed to record her voice last year while she was home and I had all the intentions of including our new song, “All I want for Christmas is booze.” But, after carefully listening to it, we weren’t pleased with the voice.  So, thanks to connections over on the islands, I was able to sneak her into a studio last week to re-record the voice.  I will have that song and matching video for you in next week’s blog, but it was just too late for this year’s CD if I wanted it to reach distant relatives by Christmas.

That’s how it was meant to be, I guess. I’m already working on next year’s CD and song in an attempt to be even more ready for 2018. And, of course, that is when I’ll include Alana’s latest holiday hit.  I’ll get more into that next week.

For now, here’s this year’s Ho Ho Brother collection for you to download, put on your phone or computer and enjoy.

Click to play or right click here to “Save As” audio to your Mac or PC

Right click here to download the playlist

Apply generously and enjoy.

Merry Christmas to all!

Tim Hunter

‘Tis The Season For Format Changes

Fi-Fi-Fi-Fi-Fire, Fi-Fi-Fi-Fire!

We’ll come back to that.

A quick flashback to my college days for just a moment. The year was 1975 and I had been at the University of Washington for a couple of years by now and still hadn’t figured out what my major was going to be. Probably needed to make that decision fairly soon.

Then one day, I was talking with a guy from the end of the fifth floor of Terry Hall who mentioned the campus radio station. The what?  You could do radio and call it a major? So, off I wandered off into the world of communications, with an emphasis on Radio & TV.  Ask me for the long form of the story next time you see me, but for the time being, I decided that radio was the way to go.

It was my career for the next 30+ years. I consider myself very fortunate in that I was only let go twice during those three decades. Radio is pretty much like golf–the lower the score, the better you did.

This past week, we saw two Seattle radio stations get flipped. For the outsiders, that means a personality was saying a slogan for a station one minute and a few moments later, there were new call letters. KMPS, which has survived as a country station since Gerald Ford was president, fell as part of the CBS Radio/Entercom merger.  Across the lake, 98.9, which had been some kind of rock station for a couple of years, flipped over to country to keep the Wolf honest. I still think of 98.9 as Smooth Jazz, much like I keep calling Macy’s The Bon.

These events brought back memories of my second radio retirement. December 19th, 2003, at the Village Theater in Issaquah.  It was the Murdock, Hunter & Alice annual Christmas spectacular. I believe it was our 3rd one, as each year we kept getting bigger and bigger. This particular morning, Bryon the Producer had pulled out all the stops.  We had Brenda White, the original singer of “Christmas in the Northwest” performing live. Channel 5’s Dennis Bounds read, “Twice The Night Before Christmas.”  There were kids singing, story-telling, it was some pretty great radio, despite the fact that all three of us knew this was probably going to be it.

And so, at 9am, after introducing our final act and thanking everyone for listening, our general manager came backstage and asked if we were done on the air. We said, “Yes” and he said, “We’ve decided not to renew your contract. See ya. Take your time cleaning out your desk and well throw you a big party next month to say thanks for all those years.” (I had been in the building 19 of them)

Six days before Christmas. I suppose he could have come down the chimney Christmas morning and had more impact, but maybe this was his way of being kind. Oh, and that party? Never happened.

Once you’ve been in radio, it’s a hard demon to shake. It’s an addiction. Maybe the city of Seattle, once day, will set up Safe Broadcasting Sites. I have to admit, even though I find myself in a dream situation for work, if the right situation were to come up, I would be seriously tempted to give it one more round.  All this while watching several members of my extended radio family being kicked to the curb and can’t for the life of them get back up on that horse.  One was even kicking butt in the ratings and was still let go. Radio is just that kind of master.

So, to all of those hard-working folks who found themselves on the street this week, just know you’re in one heck of a club. It’s a badge of honor in this biz and also a powerful reminder that, hey, it’s just a job. You’ll survive. You’ll grow from the experience and eventually, realize that you’re better off in whatever you take on next. The industry has been changing for a long time and not for the better. I’ve told friends more than once that I truly do believe I was lucky to have taken part in radio’s last big hurrah.  In these days of satellite and having your own personal format on your phone or multiple streaming options, all without commercials, it really is just a matter of time.

But damn, it was sure fun while we had it.

Tim Hunter

I got ’em. Might as well post ’em!

 

Friends

Of the billions of people on this earth, we’ve chosen a few along the way to label as “friends.”

Friends come in many forms. Facebook Friends. Best Friends. Close Friends. Great Friends. Sorta Friends. Casual Friends (some with benefits). There are Childhood Friends, High School Friends, College Friends, Work Friends. Think of any of those categories and I’m sure names and faces pop up in your mind. As many as there are different types of people, there are varying degrees of friendship. I put an extremely high value on my friends. Over my six decades, I’ve made a lot of them and stayed in touch with as many as possible along the way.

There are some people who limit the amount of friends, keeping it a core group.  The group of friends they stay in touch with are pretty much it. In my case, I’ve got a ton of really good friends that I see sporadically. It could be several months, it could be years. But those are the people who know, when we get together, it’s as if it had just been moments before and we just pick up where we left off. None of that, “You never called” stuff.

There were the elementary school friends, who I lost track of. The high school friends, which I’ve reconnected with thanks to Facebook. I hit the jackpot with my college friends. I’m hoping at some point, I can do justice to that story and write a screenplay about those crazy days at Terry Hall.  And of course, my incredible collection of radio friends that I have made along the way. There’s a lifetime supply of stories right there.

The one term I have a really hard time with is, “Best Friend.” To single out one person out of all the people I know, I’d probably have to default to the cliché answer, “My wife.”  I don’t really have one person I would call a best friend but that’s because I want it that way. If forced to identify someone outside of my marriage as a Best Friend, I’d probably say, “It’s whichever friend I’m with at the time you ask.”

There are people-watchers. I’m a people-listener. The bottom-line is that everyone has a great story.  Last weekend while chatting with Victoria, somehow I got on the topic of a certain person and suddenly, details started spilling out about their life and their story.  All stuff that could easily end up on the Hallmark Channel. Maybe it’s the writer in me, the story-teller, but it’s the details of people’s lives that simply fascinates me.

If you’re a friend and you’d like to sit around some day and compare life stories, just say when & where. There are actually two people from my past that I would love to have that conversation with and hear how life has gone since the last time we saw each other.  I think we all have people like that. For no other purpose, just for the curiosity of it. Here’s what happened to me, how about you? How was your life? I really doubt these two particular conversations will ever happen, but I’d like to believe they will.

Or maybe, just maybe, that’s what heaven is. Just sitting there, with a friend from long ago, swapping stories, getting answers to your questions, remembering old times. Having their stories trigger more of those long-lost adventures from your memory bank.

For yours truly, that would work. A lot. Yeah, that sounds like heaven to me.

Family is assigned to you. Your friends are those wonderful bonuses that add so much to our crazy story of life.

To all of my friends, thank you for being a part of my story.

Cheers!

Tim Hunter

Keeping The Thanks Coming

Well, here comes one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. Minimum decorating, no gifts to buy and its centered around eating. Bob Thanksgiving or whoever it was that invented that holiday, we thank you.

I’m grabbing a few minutes and doing a quick parade through my brain of all the people and events I have to be thankful for, knowing darn well I’ll probably miss an important one along the way, but here goes:

Mom & Dad–How do you skip past them? Having done the great parent experiment myself, I look back and admire what they did for us. Not so much for the”things.” God knows as kids my sisters and I would complain that we never got to experience real Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, we got the Springfield brand. Springfield soda, Springfield popcorn. It was the lesser-cost version of all the popular foods. But like I said, it wasn’t about  the things, it was the environment. They gave us an abundance of guidance, stability, faith, and allowed us to be kids while growing up during those turbulent 1960s. Even when dad was out of work because of a strike or we were dangerously close to nuclear war with Cuba, my world was made up of school friends, Cub Scouts, Little League, Dodger baseball and the kids in the neighborhood.

Mr. Ray and Mr. Maxwell–two of the teachers I had along the way, both with clever, dry senses of humor. I credit them for helping shape my comical thinking.

Gary Owens–This Los Angeles radio legend and eventually, the announcer on “Laugh In” was nothing short of brilliant. While other kids were listening to Boss Radio KHJ (and that’s where I went after Gary was on the air) I couldn’t wait to tune in KMPC, wade through another Ray Conniff song, only to hear his witty banter and bits like The Story Lady. Blame him for me heading into a 30-year radio career.

Getting Fired–Yes, it wasn’t just people, it was events. Having your career pulled out from under you either destroys you or makes you stronger.  Twice, my life plans were thrown into chaos and uncertainty, but each time I emerged better off than I was before. This helped brand in my brain to keep focused on what’s really important–your life. Lose a job? You’ll be fine.  Getting honorary mention is deciding to quit a job and go out on my own 3 years ago.  A step I never would have taken if I hadn’t been fired. I basically fired myself, which put me into the dream situation I enjoy now.

Family–My incredible wife who showed me that people can be kind and caring as a way of life. My mom & sisters, my kids and step-kids, the grandkids, the assorted nieces and nephews. Oh and all those aunts and cousins throughout the greater United States. Quite the collection of characters. Love you all!

My Radio Brothers & Sisters–I made some life-long friends during that 30-year stretch of my life, most of whom I still stay in touch with today. It’s not a constant-contact kind of thing, but put us together anywhere and we can pick up right where we last left off.

My Memories–In the amusement park that is my mind, there’s a wonderful place called Yesterday. It’s where I go and reflect on my dad, my radio mentor Larry Nelson and my former morning show co-host Alice Porter. One of my high school classmates Dr. Jon Lemler is there, too. The class of ’73 will remember him playing “Suwanne River” with his hands at the senior talent show. I’ll be forever grateful to him for talking with my wife at one of our reunions where she told him about her kidney disease. Jon helped us with some alternative medicine that we are convinced helped Victoria’s disease go into remission. A couple of years ago, Jon was walking in Las Vegas when he collapsed and died from a massive heart attack.

You see, I’ve had the incredible fortune of meeting some amazing people along the way.

Star Boreson–I had incredible timing and, even though I didn’t grow up with him here in Seattle, during my days at KOMO, he came in as the revered former TV show host and I got to know him. Enough that he invited me over to his and Barbara’s house for a couple of afternoons, where we wrote parody songs for his next Christmas album. Read the fine print on the cover, there I am. Buried in our basement are the original hand-written lyrics to a lot of those songs on the album.  It was a college-level course on how to create a comedy, which I used many, many times throughout my career. And still do, to this day.

Matt Riedy & Frank King–It’s all about opportunity. Back when radio brother-turned-actor Matt was working over at Smooth Jazz, he connected me to a comedian he had worked with, Frank King. Frank used to do stand-up comedy with Jay Leno and had remained connected to him, faxing him jokes each day. Frank invited me to join his White Collar Comedy submission sheet and for most of a decade, I was lucky enough to be able to sell jokes to Jay. The thrill of having him tell a joke that I wrote, word for word, was about the biggest high a comedy writer could experience.

Dwight Perry–This Seattle Times’ lighter side of sports writer has dropped in some of my Wacky Week lines over the years and given me exposure that I wouldn’t otherwise receive, being off the air. As recently as last Sunday, a friend said, “Hey, I saw you in the sports page again today!” Thanks for the plugs, Dwight!

Jean Godden & Sherry Grindeland–When both were back in their day writing newspaper columns, they gave me quite a few mentions and let me show off my comedy writing skills to their readership.

You–A writer is nothing without readers. If no one bothers reading it, then I would be just entertaining myself. (which I do anyway. I’m a great audience) I’ve managed to write over 800 blogs these past 15 years, with 42,543 views the last time I checked. I am humbled.

I’m just a guy going along for the ride who believes everyone should be doing what they love to do. It truly makes all the difference in the world. I wish you peace, hope and happiness as we gather again to give thanks for all we’ve got.

It’s a shame we really only do this once a year. If nothing else, the holiday serves as that annual reminder that we truly are blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tim Hunter

An Early Thanksgiving

Give Lincoln full credit. He was the guy who made Thanksgiving an actual holiday.

You gotta love it: the government mandating the obvious–for God’s sake, don’t think about what you don’t have, but instead, be grateful for all the blessings you DO have!

While I try to live that way day-to-day, it’s easy to get caught up in the busy pace of life and one of the first things that goes away is gratitude.

Everyone should hear the word Thanksgiving and begin thinking of all the blessings in their life. As I do that in 2017, I marvel at everything around me and just can’t believe this is all really happening to me.

First off, I have my health. As you get older, you realize more and more what a valuable commodity that can be. Seriously, if you don’t have good health, pretty much everything else gets thrown out the window.

Now, let’s take it a step further. Your health, and everybody else in your life that matters to you–their health. Oh, screw the minor aches and pains or the stuff that comes with getting older. The fact that 100% of the people you care about are doing OK? Just sign the Thankful Certificate and call it a day.

However, this year, I have another really big thing to be thankful for.

A couple of weeks ago, while putting together one of my Wacky Week Podcasts, I was listening to a tape from my KCMU days. That was the college radio station at the University of Washington that has since been sold to Paul Allen, who moved it over to KEXP at his MoPop Museum. But back in my U.W. days, it was where I cut my radio teeth. And one night, while I was showing off the radio station to a nursing student I was dating, I recorded a phone call she made to her mom.

The moment I heard it, I strongly felt she should be able to hear this recording. As I listened to it, the memory of that girl from 40 years ago came rushing back. Her laugh, her voice, the voice of her mom–it took me back to the mid-1970’s, when a 21-year-old version of myself was about to head out into the world.

But the way I remember leaving it with her was not good. I recall being a jerk, a legitimate asshole. However, because I felt she should have access to that recording, I searched for her on Facebook and reached out, really expecting the worst. Maybe she would lash out or just block me from contacting her on Facebook.

Instead, she couldn’t have been more kind and said she didn’t remember the caustic ending that I had attached to the last time I saw her. While I could question or contest that, I’m going with the flow and if she really has no resentment towards me, then I am beyond blessed.

I clocked in at 62 years in September. Dear God, that’s old. In my brain, I had done this girl a tremendous wrong as I headed out from the U.W. and into the working world. Four decades later, I find out it must not have been as awful as I remember. That truly was the only thing that, at some point in my life, I wanted to rectify, to apologize for, to amend for my behavior.

This girl was a part of my last year in college. She was a serious student. She introduced me to Fleetwood Mac. I remember she threw me a going-away party when I took my first radio job in Yakima. She was very, very kind. She LOL’d before it was popular. She was simply a very nice person. They really do exist in the world. And now I found out, after thinking otherwise for 40 years, she didn’t hate me after all!

And now, adding that to my 2017 list of things to be grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tim Hunter

 

The Calm Before The Holiday Storm

My wife made the comment just this morning: “Can you believe it’s just a little over two weeks until Thanksgiving?”

After decades of going through this ritualistic season, you’d think we’d be better at it. But like clockwork, you’ll hear the same things, year after year:

  • “It’s too early to decorate for Christmas”
  • “I’m waiting until after Thanksgiving.”
  • “Your holiday party is that night, too?’
  • “Outside decorations are up. That’s all you’re getting this year.”
  • “When are we getting the tree?”
  • “Are we doing cards this year?”
  • “When’s the mail deadline?”
  • “I haven’t had time to shop!”
  • “I’m so stressed out!
  • “How am I ever going to get all those presents wrapped?”
  • “I can’t believe it’s over.”

Seriously, you’ve heard ’em all before. But I do have to say, in spite of our really busy personal schedules with work tossed in, I think I’m doing a decent job of actually enjoying the holiday season. I do have over-achieving as a goal, but somehow each year I pull it off and it’s just about time to fire up the engines again.

Here’s my collection of annual holiday “duties” I thrust upon myself. (because I know that one day, I’ll look back and remember when I used to do all this)

The N.A.C.C. Julebord–I began attending this when I married Victoria, the uber-Norwegian. It’s an annual lunchtime gala at the Seattle Golf Club that is decadent and extremely fun. Within a couple of years, the elderly emcee had to give up the microphone and I was called into service. I think this is my 6th Julebord (pronounced YULE-uh-BOARD). It’s actually a pretty cushy gig and let’s me get being a goofball out of my system. I do a brief monologue at the beginning which evolves into me doing a parody song about something. Then it’s just keeping the event moving along, with songs, door prizes and a tad bit of drinking.

SANTA CLAUS ARRIVAL AT BOTHELL’S COUNTRY VILLAGE SHOPPING CENTER–I believe I’m in my 14th year (at least) of hosting this event. My evening duties begin at 6pm when I stroll the village dressed up like a town crier, “Hear ye! Hear ye!” bell and all, announcing that Santa Claus arrives at 7pm.  Back when I started, Santa’s sleigh actually flew in on a wire, but eventually, the liability became too much. I’ll never forget the year that someone parked right in the flight path and I led the crowd in a “Tow that car!” chant until they eventually did. Longest 25 minutes of my life. The event means even more to me because we’re down to the final two Christmas’s where I’ll be doing this. The village has been sold and after the 2018 Santa arrival, the place will become history.

THE NORWEGIAN LADIES CHORUS OF SEATTLE HOLIDAY CONCERT–What I love most about this is I just have to show up. I usually go up in the rafters and videotape the concert and, much like country village, this could be a limited-time tradition. Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Ballard–where we were married–is going to be undergoing a massive renovation in the near future, which includes taking down the choir loft.

Those first three events happen in order on the first weekend of December–Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I also take on–

MY ANNUAL CHRISTMAS CD–The days of it actually being a CD are limited as well. In fact, only a select few will be burned this year, as the world moves towards digital music. This will be my 17th edition of “HO HO BROTHER”, which features fun, festive and funny Christmas songs, along with some original comedy bits from either my radio past, or new ones. If you’d be interested in getting this year’s collection, just let me know and I’ll put you on the naughty list.

MY ANNUAL CHRISTMAS MUSIC VIDEO–This is probably the most ambitious thing I do and I need to get going on it. I hooked up with a young singer named Alana Baxter some years ago and we have done a series of silly Christmas songs, complete with video. Now, since she has relocated to Hawaii, it’s made the task even more challenging. So what we did last year was to record this year’s song. I’ve got her voice track.  I’ll just have to round up some video and be creative and then we’ll have another one to add to the collection. Her song is also usually included with my Christmas CD collection. If you’d like to enjoy some of our previous works, here you go!

“It’s Silent Night”           “He Rides a Sleigh”            “I Won’t Hate You Very Much Tonight (It’s Christmas)”           “Where are You Christmas?”

Add to all that the holiday shopping, the annual parties, a Bothell Wine Walk, watching some favorite Christmas movies, getting out the Christmas cards (we’re STILL doing that) and everything else that crops up and yes, we are heading into one, busy, festive season.

But as I said, there will come a time when I’ll be reflecting back on these days and all of this will be nothing more than my ghosts of Christmas past.

So, I’m just going to enjoy the heck out of them while it’s all a part of my present.

Ho, friggin’, Ho!

Tim Hunter

Don James And Me

That would be my fantasy headline. You’d see it and say, “Oh, wow, Tim knew Don James, the legendary football coach of the University of Washington Huskies! The guy they just unveiled a statue of, out in front of Husky Stadium.”

I actually DID know Coach Don James, on a professional level.  Our paths crossed dozens of times, as I’m sure it did with so many other people who wanted to have a couple of minutes with the coach. Let’s face it, he was not only a nice guy, but a very talented football coach that left Kent State–a school more famous for its ’60s student shooting than its football program–to head for the University of Washington. There, he rescued a floundering program, taking it to unprecedented heights and even a national championship.

I worked at KOMO AM-1000 back in the early 1980s. I had gotten a low-voiced call from Seattle while I worked at KMWX in Yakima, went over for a job interview, accepted it and two weeks later, headed to the wet side of the mountains to be Larry Nelson’s morning show producer.

Going from a small market to Market 13 in the U.S. meant a lot of learning and growing was yet to come. That was back in the time when KOMO embraced their history as being one of the first radio stations in Seattle. The wall in front of the office I shared with Larry had cartoon drawings of the radio greats from the ’30s and ’40s.  W.C. Fields, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Jack Benny, Fred Allen and more.

That was a different era at KOMO. During my tenure there, they were a Full-Service AM station with music, news and up to 30 minutes of commercials per hour. Years prior, Fisher Broadcasting gave away the frequency that KUOW now occupies because, in the words of one general manager, “FM radio will never amount to anything.”  KOMO had also let the Sonics slip away, but that allowed them to seriously go after the University of Washington sports broadcasts.

At that time, if you had the broadcast rights to a school, you got it all. What did you want to cover? Football, basketball, maybe some crew races? KOMO had access to everything purple and gold. Bob Rondeau, the voice of the Huskies, was the radio station sports director and did the morning sports reports during the week. On the weekends, he climbed into the broadcast booth. Because of that, it wasn’t unusual for the likes of Mike Lude (the Athletic Director) or even Don James to be seen around the building.

Between those occasions, a Rose Bowl trip in ’81, and even being involved somewhat in “The Don James Show” on KLSY years later, I can’t tell you how many conversations I had with the coach. Mostly chit-chat, but enough I could tell this was a seriously good guy. Oh, I heard he could be really intense on the football field. That’s what great coaches do. But off the field and one-on-one, he could turn it off and be just a guy named Don.

One year after I had moved on to KLSY and the Huskies were in Pasadena for the Rose Bowl, I remembered that New Year’s Eve was the coach’s birthday. So, we called the hotel where he was staying and had breakfast delivered to his room. Of course, we gave our studio backline number with the order and sure enough, Coach James called up to say thanks. That was awesome. That was Don James.

The last time I was fortunate enough to see him was at one of the Husky Spring Football games.  He was in the Tyee section (the hoity-toity reserved section) and he was near the edge talking to someone and so I figured when that conversation was over, I’d sneak over and grab a selfie with him. For all the years I was around him, I had never bothered to get a picture taken with him.  What a hallowed spot I would have on my Husky wall if I had only taken the time to get up there and say hi one more time.  I looked away to watch the spring game, but when I turned around, he was gone.

We lost Don James way too early. Not only as a head coach, but also in this world. He was just 80 years old when he passed in 2014. It’s been 25 years since he last coached the Huskies. But when I look back, it’s not with sadness, but instead, with massive appreciation for being able to be alive during his era. I was there in the stands as a student when he first took over and not too much later, be fortunate enough to actually get to know the guy a little bit. I really wanted to be at Husky Stadium last week for the dedication of his statue out front, but work prevented it.

However, that statue is not going anywhere and eventually, I’ll get back to Husky Stadium for that long overdue photo with the coach.

Go Dawgs!

Tim Hunter

My New Voting Technique

My Voter’s Guide

Yeah, it’s been a year since we threw our federal government into complete chaos.  It finally caught up to our Seattle City government, which has been dysfunctional, inept, non-achieving and over-taxing for years.

I don’t know if I’m a conservative progressive or a liberal conservative. I have opinions and thoughts on everything, but it seems to be my own brand of politics that is sometimes Democrat, while other times Republican.

Most Seattle voters pride themselves on being progressive–formerly known as liberal, left wing or socialist. Take a look at most of the council races and you get to choose between uber-progressive and really-uber-progressive.  I’m waiting for the day that the city council changes all the streets to left-turns only.

I want to truly help homeless people and all those in need, but I don’t want to enable them. I don’t believe allowing camping on sidewalks and city parks, and dumbing-down heroin addiction to the point Seattle is trying to make it a lifestyle is demonstrating compassion. You’re addict?  Here, let us set up a safe injection site. That way you’ll be healthy enough to hit those neighborhoods and steal more to fuel your habit. And now we feel better about ourselves and didn’t have to make any hard decisions.

Yeah, that’s helping.

So, the other day, I found myself at a place where you could pick up the copy of The Stranger, which I did. (after all, it’s free)  I didn’t even realize at the time, in spite of the cover, that it was the Election Issue with their recommendations for our off-year election. Coincidentally, my ballot showed up in the mail around the same time. I had started to fill it out based on some of the main races, but then I hit a point where it was going to take some digging through the voter’s pamphlet to figure out the rest of the candidates.

As I skimmed through The Stranger and came across their endorsements, I realized that they were 6-for-6 in endorsing the opposite candidate I supported. That gave me an idea.

For the first time ever, I used The Stranger’s recommendations to choose who I was voting for.  They recommended A, I voted for B. They said Yes, I said No. Since they pride themselves on extremism to the radical left, I figure the candidate they didn’t support might at least be a little towards the middle.

That was it. I finished the rest of my ballot in less than a minute, put on the stamp and ran it out to the mailbox.

And a new way to vote was born.

Election Day, as of this writing, is still two weeks ago. So lots of time left to get your copy of The Stranger.

Tim Hunter

No More Secrets

What happened?

What finally happened that it was suddenly OK to out a powerful person like Harvey Weinstein and expose his abuse of power and the sexual depravity that so many women have to endure silence?

It doesn’t matter. This is a great thing.

Unbelievable behavior has been going on for decades. There have been payoffs. There were threats. Careers were ruined. Others, spared for favors.

But that’s Hollywood, right? The home of the casting couch. Where sexual harassment and assault are “just part of the process.”

No more.

It’s with heartbreak I read story after story of what actresses and models have endured for the sake of not having their careers crushed by powerful men. But now, they’re finally fighting back and I’m cheering them on.

The current “let’s put an end to sexual harassment and abuse” campaign has spread outside of Hollywood and has become a powerful wake-up call to me and hopefully millions of men.

Last Sunday, the #metoo campaign was given a boost by Alyssa Milano and it spread like wildfire. Sadly, for good reason. If a woman had been victims of sexual harassment or abuse in their lifetimes, they were encouraged to post #metoo. Practically every woman I have as a friend on Facebook joined in. Some hesitated, because they didn’t want people to know or didn’t want to relive it. Others have used it as a light to show us it’s far from OK. In fact, it hasn’t been for a long time. Hopefully, this is where we finally start to change things.

If you know me, you know I’m a goofball. I keep it light and have a hard time being serious. (apparently, except when I blog) I have this deep-rooted need to make people smile or laugh. Looking back over the years, I never, ever intentionally sexually harassed anyone. At least, in my mind.  I’m playful, flirty at times, but only with people I felt close to.

The #metoo campaign has me re-thinking and that’s when change begins. It has shed light on something that wasn’t said before to the masses–that being sexually harassed or assaulted has been more the rule, than the exception.

My hat is off to the women who have bravely stepped forward to tell their story with the hope that things will change and that, hopefully, others won’t have to go through it.

KING 5 News Anchor Amity Addrissi bravely told her story.

A Facebook post by a former co-worker was the real tipping point for me. I mean, for God’s sake, I never knew that had happened to her. I felt incredible sadness and anger as I read her story while realizing that she had been living with this all the time I’ve known her. She is one of the brightest, nicest, just deep-down people I know. Here’s her story:

#Metoo.

When I was in high school, I was held down and raped by two drunk/high boys from school. To complicate matters, one of them was actually my boyfriend. For YEARS afterwards, I was in denial that this was even rape — that’s how brainwashed our culture is. Since I didn’t scream at the top of my lungs, since I didn’t bite and punch and kick, since I didn’t physically fight back with ALL MY FORCE, this was clearly my fault, right?

I did try to shove them off, I repeatedly asked them to stop, I cried, I tried to squirm out of their grip as the pinned me down. But, again, I didn’t fight back with all my force, so it wasn’t REALLY rape, right? (SMH)

I kept dating that boy for a long time afterward, mainly due to feelings of low self-worth. This incident had a long-lasting impact on my life. An impact that is still very much felt. It kicked off a long-lasting bout of depression, decreased my belief in my value as anything more than an object, fostered an ambivalence toward life, and worst of all, gave me intimacy issues that continue to this day.

Now I wonder, how I ever could have thought this wasn’t even rape. I was A CHILD. I was raped. I never said anything. What is WRONG with this world?

I’m not glad to have had this experience, but I am happy to add to the growing #metoo lexicon.

And one last thing. Don’t feel sorry for me. I’ve grown past it. But do join me in my outrage.

Story after story, #metoo after #metoo, from friends and relatives, knocked the wind out of me. That we’ve been silent as a society as long as we have been seems inconceivable. How could we have side-stepped this issue all the way until 2017?

The New York Post put a brighter spotlight on Hollywood’s past, which was notorious. Give this a read and you’ll see what I mean. Harassment and assault were not publicly accepted, but even worse: they were privately ignored. Power corrupts and Harvey Weinstein used his power in the most corrupt way. His attacks on women were widely known, but remained a poorly kept secret.

As for the impact on my ground zero, this forced me to come to the realization that there were most likely several times in my life when I inadvertently harassed someone. Something I viewed as playful might have been very disturbing to a victim of previous harassment or assault. They had been wronged in their life and I was reminding them of that incident or incidents. For that, I hope they will accept my apology.

I have many, many female friends and acquaintances and to you, I’d like to humbly ask that if I ever do anything that goes beyond your comfort zone, you tell me, “Tim, you’re crossing a line.” Your friendship means too much to me. And it’s long, long overdue to establish a no toleration policy.

My wife and I have talked about her #metoo story. I know it still hurts because we tried watching “Mad Men” and the sexual harassment that was part of that era and part of that show still made her uncomfortable. She had lived it.

I have my own #metoo stories. There was the bar manager in Yakima who groped me one night out of the blue. I’m talking full-out grabbing-my-crotch, claiming he accidentally tripped into me.  Yeah, right. Close friends have heard me tell the tale of the famous singer who invited me to his hotel room, gave me wine and then asked if I would take a bath with him.  Now, I am NOT bringing this up to say, “I understand.” I don’t.  I really don’t know what you went through  and I don’t know how people can use power to harass or assault people and then sleep at night. What kind of human beings are they?

It’s my hope that all those who suffered in silence now feel empowered enough to either raise their voices or at least call out something when it happens. There can be no more Harvey Weinsteins. The problem isn’t anything new. But it’s time for it to go away.

We’ve hit the breaking point. We’ve had enough. We’re going to do something about it. All of us need to make this a priority, no exceptions, no excuses. This hidden tradition of sexual harassment and assault ends now.

It’s time to step up for our wives, our sisters, our daughters and generations to come.

No more secrets.

Tim Hunter