Seattle, WA
December 4, 2023

Hitting the Ground Running

Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!,” runs. He runs a lot. He’s run fourteen marathons and logged tens of thousands of miles on roads, sidewalks, and paths all over the United States and the world. His feet are landing him at Seattle First Baptist Church on November 11 to discuss his new book, The Incomplete Book of Running.

Aaron Roche, Seattle Running Club’s Director of Communications, runs too. He runs a lot. He recently talked to Town Hall’s Jonathan Shipley about the emotions one gets while running and a few good spots that Sagal can stretch his legs while he’s in town.

JS: What are the benefits of joining the Seattle Running Club?

AR: What I say is that it is a community dedicated to empowering the runner in all of us. It’s a low-pressure environment that encourages camaraderie for runners of all shapes and sizes! A club with some seriously kind-hearted and genuine volunteers who dedicate much of their time and energy to ensuring each member has a positive Seattle running experience. Also, free Tech t-shirt OR a racing singlet with each membership! 10% discount at partner stores! Registration discounts to local, club-sponsored races! Trail work parties! Group runs! A cross country team and access to associated workouts! Sunday trail runs! Destination runs! A lot of running!

JS: What are some of your most memorable runs?

AR: The Enchantments through-run this past September from Stuart Lake to Snow Lake. Doing that 19-or-so mile adventure with about a dozen of my Seattle Running Club family is an experience I’ll cherish for a lifetime.

JS: What are some good Seattle spots for beginning runners?

AR: Seattle’s city parks and pedestrian/bicycle trails offer the perfect terrain to lace up and get out there for your first ever run, your first run in five years, or your first run in Seattle. Living in the South End, I’m partial to anything that combines the Lake Washington Boulevard Trail, Chief Sealth Trail, and Seward Park! My go-to park runs are Seward, Woodland Park, up to and around Green Lake, Magnuson Park, and Lincoln Park.

JS: What are some good Seattle spots for more established runners?

AR: Once you’ve explored the aforementioned trails and urban parks of Seattle, it’s nice to spice things up with some trail and longer runs out on the Eastside and in the mountains. My favorites are Coal Creek Parkway to a loop around Cougar Mountain, the Redmond Watershed Preserve, East Lake Sammamish Trail (and the complete circumnavigation of Lake Sammamish), anything between I-90 and Hwy 2 on the Pacific Crest Trail (Kendall Katwalk and Lake Valhalla come to mind), the Enchantments, and the Snoqualmie Valley Trail between Duvall and Fall City.

JS: What has running given you emotionally?

AR: Running has always been a therapeutic outlet for me. I get angry on runs. I feel vulnerable on runs. I lose my mind on runs. I experience tremendous joy and clarity on runs. The spectrum of feelings during a run can span from one extreme to the other and can be like taking a drug. People say running is their drug of choice and I would agree.  Running gives me purpose. I can turn to running to explore my physical limits. I can use running as a way to satisfy my need for competition. But the best part is the runner’s high. It is no myth! Also, it’s an excuse to wear split shorts!

JS: What are the next events for Seattle Running Club?

AR: Check out our website for the latest!

Don’t miss Peter Sagal’s event on 11/11.

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Miss Betty Merrill, daughter of Mr. T.D. Merrill, who has been a patient for several days at Providence Hospital, is improving in condition,” and, “Three popular Tacoma girls are taking a special course in reconstruction work down at Reed College, Portland.”  In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”


Today’s entry…

“Have you a chicken in France?” begins a post in the November 2nd issue of the Town Crier. “If not, now is the time to show your interest in the fowl industry and contribute your quota so there will be plenty of chickens to outlast the healthy appetites of the American Expeditionary Forces in France.” The French, it seems, enjoyed chicken more than Americans did at the time. “Chickens are a staple over there,” the post continues, “to a far greater extent than in this country.”

Will chicken cordon bleu be on the menu on November 30th, for the Annual Fundraising Gala Dinner put on by Seattle’s Alliance Francaise de Seattle? Taking place at the Rainier Club, the event will include a 3-course dinner with music, dancing, and a silent auction with great prizes and fun activities from local and international vendors. 

Alliance Francaise is a non-profit French language and cultural center. Housed in the historic Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford, they offer group and private classes, cultural events, and more.

You can learn more about the organization, and how to attend their benefit dinner, here.

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Mrs. Louise Van Ogle, whose illustrated musical lectures are among the most delightful events of any season, will go to Vancouver next month,” and, “Mrs. R.E. Bragdon, one of Seattle’s crack tennis players, is waiting for word from Washington, D.C., which will send her abroad as a licensed ambulance driver.” In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

With the specter of the Spanish Flu lurking over Seattle’s streets in the fall of 1918, Halloween festivities were quelled. “Halloween parties will be in the discard this year,” the Town Crier wrote despondently, “but still the day may be suitably observed at home.” The writer suggested going to the White Elephant Shop. They had a complete line of Halloween favors including “black cats with shiny eyes of diamonds,” and “a wonderful pumpkin with accordion attachment that makes music.” The Town Crier was sure, regardless of if there were Halloween parties or not, little boys and girls would have fun for the festal occasion.

Children in Halloween costumes, early 20th century.

Town Hall has its own festal occasion fast approaching on October 30th at the University Lutheran Church. Michael Witwer, Kyle Newman, Jon Peterson, and Christopher Perkins will be there to discuss the new book Dungeons & Dragons Art and Arcana. The evening will highlight and celebrate the most comprehensive visual history of Dungeons & Dragons ever assembled. Also? Attendees are encouraged to come in costume! Each costumed audience member will receive a raffle ticket for the chance to win a prize package provided by Wizards of the Coast.

Learn more here.

“The War of the Worlds” Terrified The Nation… Or Did It?

It’s the 80th anniversary of Orson Welles’s famous radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds.” Performed in 1938 as an episode of the American radio drama series The Mercury Theatre on the Air, it allegedly caused mass panic, though, as we explore below, the scale of the panic may be overblown.

The Boston Globe, Halloween morning, 1938.

Seattle Radio Theatre, KIRO Radio, and Town Hall Seattle will present an 80th anniversary live broadcast on October 25, 7:30PM, at SIFF Cinema – Egyptian Theatre.

Before you attend and get spooked, here are a few interesting facts about the original broadcast:

The episode was an adaptation of the science fiction novel of the same name written by H.G. Wells. A futurist and prophetic social critic, Wells has been referred to as the “Shakespeare of science fiction.” His works include The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and The Invisible Man.

H.G. Wells’ book version of the story, first published 1898.

The story of invading Martians was presented realistically, but disclaimers played throughout the episode professing its fictional nature.

The radio play featured work from several prominent Hollywood legends-to-be including Orson Welles himself, who had yet to achieve fame as a filmmaker. His first film, Citizen Kane, didn’t come out until 1941. The script’s author, Howard Koch, would go on to win an Oscar in 1944 for his screenwriting work on the Humphrey Bogart film Casablanca. The composer for the fateful night’s episode, Bernard Hermann, would go on to most famously write the movie score for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

The telephone switchboard at the studio immediately began lighting up with calls from confused or frightened listeners. By midnight, the lighted bulletin that circled the New York Times building read: ORSON WELLES CAUSES PANIC.

Thousands of people across the country called the police, newspapers, and more, asking if what they heard was real.

Amidst all that, perhaps the most terrified listeners were in Concrete, Washington. By coincidence, during the midpoint of the broadcast, the power went out throughout the town. Some listeners ran into the mountains. Others grabbed guns awaiting the attack.

Days later, a reporter asked Welles, “Were you aware of the terror such a broadcast would stir up?” He replied, “Definitely not. The technique I used was not original to me. It was not even new. I anticipated nothing unusual.

Orson Welles performs.

Was their truly mass hysteria? There’s been some debate. Snopes is on the case.

Join us at the 80th anniversary live broadcast on October 25, 7:30PM.

$5 kids 12 and under | $10 Town Hall Members | $15 General Admission

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “The Northwest has virtually a monopoly on the sphagnum moss supply, for this is the one section of the country it may be obtained the whole year,” and, “Save your fruit pits and nut shells and help save the lives of our men who are exposed to German gas attacks, which still go on.” In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”


Today’s entry…

The struggles of women to gain equal rights was well on display in the 1910s, even in the oft-liberal bastion of a Seattle arts newspaper. The Town Crier article below (“Fighters At Home”), from October 18, 1918, does well to explain how “bluecoated policeman” overcame the “feminine maneuvers” of peaceful protest, but proves less successful in its notion that women should wait their turn for a voice within our democracy. The Nineteenth Amendment was ratified not long after — on August 18, 1920.

It is discouraging to fight fans to learn that women still resort to shin kicking, gouging and hitting below the belt, customs which met the keen disapproval of the good old Marquis of Queensbury, whose rules are still observed in the best pugilistic circles. A few days ago members of the Women’s Party, as it is called, ceased heckling President Wilson, trotted down Pennsylvania Avenue and made their way to the plaza in front of the senate wing of the Capitol to pay their respects to those senators who had put a spoke in the suffrage amendment wheel.

They met their Waterloo on the Capitol steps in the form of bluecoated policemen and in spite of feminine maneuvers were flanked on the right and left, heavily barraged in front and driven out of the salient pell-mell, and with banners taken away in spite of struggles and kicks, were dispersed in a disheveled condition. Those women have been repudiated by the suffragist party. They have ceased to add to the gayety of the nation and are now listed as bores. They are mentally cross-eyed. They don’t focus properly. They have no sense of humor and are bent on having personal publicity. They are a nuisance in time of real war and the punishment that would best fit their willful nonsense would be of the slippered sort which has been highly efficacious in the nursery since the beginning of time.

Times have changed, some. Elaine Weiss will be at The Summit on Pike on October 24th to discuss her new book, The Woman’s Hour. She will highlight suffragettes, politicians, railroad magnates, liquor companies, and ‘antis’ – women who opposed their own enfranchisement – who gathered in Nashville for a vicious face-off at this turning point in American history.

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Have you lunched at the Jumble Shop Inn? If so, then we needn’t tell you that it one of the tophole places for your noonday meal,” and, “Miss Anne Sally of Portland is the house guest of Miss Cornish for a few weeks.” In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

“All quiet along the Avenue,” the Town Crier notes, “and no place to go but home. That haven has had considerable responsibility thrown upon it, along with an unexpected attendance of husbands, all on account of the flu, as it is called for short.” The story continues, “The movies have ceased from moving and the vaudeville is at rest.”

The Spanish Flu was the deadliest disease outbreak since the Black Death roiled through Eurasia in the 14th century. Worldwide mortality estimates were between 50-100 million.

Washingtonians were largely spared, though approximately 5,000 died in the epidemic. Elsewhere in the October 12th issue, under the headline “Common Sense,” they write, “The only thing fear will do to you, if you give it rein, is to lessen your power to resist the epidemic of influenza. Don’t allow any one [sic] to frighten you to weakness with the thought of a ‘hoo-doo.’” The paper then offers suggestions about how to prevent the spread of the disease and how to treat it if you have it.

A century later, Town Hall encourages those who are still curious to join our friends at the University of Washington. There, Associate Professor of Population Health and Disease Prevention Andrew Noymer invites us to a retrospective on the Spanish Flu outbreak as part of UW’s free Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology Seminar Series.

Andrew Noymer:

Marking the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic

11/9, 12:30PM at 121 Raitt Hall

Noymer offers us an illuminating lecture with a focus on the experience in the United States, and on the medium-term impact of the historic pandemic. The UC Irvine professor in the Department of Population Health and Disease Prevention shares insight on “Marking the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.”

More information is available here.

The Adventure Begins

The adventure began, as many adventures do, with Indiana Jones. Dylan Thuras was infatuated with the globetrotting hero. Thuras was 10-years-old, watching Indiana Jones movies and thinking about what he wanted to be when he grew up. His conclusion — an archeologist. “Then my mom told me what an archeologist actually did,” he says. “So then I wanted to direct movies. And then I wanted to illustrate comics. I’m 35 now, and it’s interesting that aspects of my work touch on all of that.”

Thuras is the co-founder and creative director of Atlas Obscura, an online magazine and digital media company that catalogs unusual and obscure travel destinations with features on travel, exploration, history, science, and more. It has over 1 million page views each week. “Our mission,” the Atlas Obscura website states, “is to inspire wonder and curiosity about the incredible world we share.”

Thuras wants to share that incredible world with children with a new children’s book, Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid. Thuras says, “It’s important to look outward at the world. To find wonder. Joy. The vastness and strangeness of the world. We can share this world beautifully together.” Everywhere Thuras goes — and he’s gone to places like Peruvian jungles and cosmopolitan European cities — is a place where magic is. “Almost everyone I meet, no matter where I go, has a deep sense of place, shares a diversity of wonder, and has an acknowledgement of all us sharing a wondrous world.”

That deep sense of wonder occurred for Thuras as a kid – watching those Indiana Jones movies, reading books, and going on summer vacations in the Midwest with his family (he’s got kids of his own now). “Perhaps the Ur-moment for Atlas Obscura happened when I was 12 and visited the House on the Rock. It was insane. It’s difficult to describe how amazing it is.” A tourist attraction in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin, the House on the Rock is an architectural revenge of Frank Lloyd Wright. It has a 200-foot model of a sperm whale-like creature hanging from one ceiling. It’s got an “infinity room.” It’s got the world’s largest indoor carousel. “The world is vast,” Thuras states, “and is filled with so much to discover.”

House on the Rock Infinity Room

Thuras, who grew up on those summer vacations and pouring over the 33-volume Time Life series Mysteries of the Unknown (titles include Earth Energies, Psychic Voyages, Secrets of Alchemists, Alien Encounters), hopes kids will now pour over his book. “What I want kids to get out of this book is to ask questions. About everything. This book is just the tip of a very large iceberg.” His book highlights such places as the lost city of Heracleion in Egypt and the root bridges of Cherrapunji in India; the hanging temple of Hengshan in China and jellyfish lake in Micronesia. “It’s just the smallest glimpse. I want kids to see everything they can with the widest eyes.”

Mysteries of the Unknown

“The fastest shortcut in putting your mind in a state of curiosity is to travel. It pushes yourself into new areas of discovery.” But he notes that you don’t have to go to some village in Kenya, or some gleaming palace in Europe to discover something new and wonderful. It might be just around the corner from you. “If you put your mind into that space of inquiry, it’s an amazing thing!”

Maybe around the corner from you are mysterious Mima Mounds or maybe an old cave filled with glow worms. Maybe get up from your chair and see what’s going on outside right now. Grab your fedora. Become Indiana Jones — books in hand, eyes wide open.

Catch Dylan’s talk on October 20, 2018 at the Phinney Center. Tickets available here.

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “There was a large attendance at the Women’s University Club patriotic luncheon on Saturday,” and, “Clara Bicknell Ford, whose ballet and interpretive dancing has delighted Seattle audiences, is now studying with Kosloff of New York, probably the most famous teacher in the country.”  In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Town Hall prides itself on keeping ticket prices low, and in some cases, free, so that anyone can participate in our city’s dynamic conversations. That’s why we took note of the $1 to $2 tickets for a concert that was being put on in early October 1918.

An ad on page 12 of the October 5th, 1918 edition of the Town Crier.

Anna Fitziu, soprano with the Chicago Opera Company and Andres de Segurola, bass baritone with the Metropolitan Opera Company, would be in a joint recital at the Metropolitan Theatre on October 7th. It was presented by the Ladies Musical Club.

Anna Fitziu (1887-1967) had a prolific international opera career, famed for her title roles in Madama Butterfly and Tosca.

The Spanish de Seguirola (1874-1953), was a member of the Metropolitan Opera for nearly 20 years.

Some things stand the test of time. The Ladies Musical Club still exists. In fact, it is Seattle’s oldest musical organization. First gathering in the home of Ellen Bartlett Bacon in 1891, 22 women musicians decided to form a new musical entity. The founding members were mostly middle-class, married women who also happened to be trained musicians. Over a century later, the Ladies Musical Club of Seattle is a non-profit, comprised of approximately 150 women, fostering classical music amongst its members and the Seattle community.

Their next concert is October 7th at 2pm at the Frye Art Museum. It’s even cheaper than it was in 1918. It’s free. For a full calendar of events, visit their website.

Rock Talk with a Woman of the World

“It was always my belief that rock and roll belonged in the hands of the people, not rock stars,” Patti Smith once said. Evelyn McDonnell is doing her part to put  rock and roll in the hands of the people with her new book, Women Who Rock: Bessie to Beyonce. Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl. McDonnell, associate professor of journalism at Loyola Marymount University, will be at MoPOP on Friday, October 12th to discuss women who have defined musical history.

But before taking our stage, she took a seat with Town Hall’s Jonathan Shipley to discuss having a crush on Michael Jackson, Rhode Island bands, and her vision of an all-female super group.

JS: What was your first introduction to rock growing up? What bands/singers most influenced you as a tot?

EM: My parents loved music. I grew up in a house with one room centered around the TV and the other, the stereo. I was exposed from a very early age to a variety of genres: jazz, classical, show tunes, and rock. In another life, my mom would have been a musical actress (instead, she was an award-winning high school teacher), so we listened to a lot of cast recordings. I have very early memories of standing on coffee tables and singing and dancing along to “Hair” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” at cocktail parties. We also listened to the Beatles a lot, and Dylan, and Joan Baez; Mom loved Joan Baez. One of my favorite TV shows was the Jackson 5 cartoon show. Michael Jackson was my first crush, the Jackson 5 Greatest Hits my first album. Motown, the sound of young America, indeed!

JS: When you reached high school/college, what bands/singers influenced you?

EM: In high school, I remained a Beatlemaniac. I remember distinctly the day John Lennon was killed. My clock radio woke me up with the news; I woke up crying. Bruce Springsteen was one of the first contemporary artists who really spoke to my life as a kid growing up in an industrial small town in the American heartland. Around the same time I discovered Patti Smith. That was transformational. I was in love with Bruce, but I wanted to be Patti. She was the first artist—a female, a tomboy, a writer—that I could really see myself in. She opened the door to punk rock, which was the defining musical genre of my coming of age, particularly the Clash, the Jam and the Ramones. I didn’t know at the time about the great female punk bands until the Go-Go’s broke through, and Beauty and the Beat provided sweet vindication for my quirky teenage self.

JS: Did you gravitate towards male-led bands or female-led bands? Did that matter to you? In what ways?

EM: I listened to anyone. I was what they now call a poptimist, but I just called populism (which is still the name of my blog). But I always paid particular attention to female artists, because as a woman in the world, I knew we needed each other’s support. I also could often relate to what they were singing about in gendered ways. My first paid article was on a new local band called Throwing Muses. That pretty much set the tone for everything to come.

JS: Have you ever been in a band yourself? If so, what kinds?

EM: I have been in a couple of one-off bands, “off” being the operative word. Both were in Rhode Island. One was a band of music critics that played a benefit every year; I was a backing singer. It was a pretty generic bar band. The other was with a group of friends for a farewell show for a cross-country road trip two of us were embarking on. We were named the Fiendish Thingees.

JS: What was the impetus of this book?

EM: So many important, genius female artists have emerged in the past decade, but no book has gathered or acknowledged them. We also felt it was important to connect today’s women who rock with the ones who paved the way for them. The last book to try to connect all these threads in a big, multi-voice, illustrated fashion came out in the 1990s—Trouble Girls—and so much has happened since then. At the time we started putting this book together, we also felt like it was a historic time for women, what with the U.S. about to elect its first female president, and we wanted to acknowledge our female sheroes. Of course, the context for the book quickly changed, and in a sense, it became more important.

JS: With the women’s marches, you mean? The #MeToo movement?

EM: The book was completed before the #MeToo movement became huge, before the Harvey Weinstein articles came out. So in a sense, it was prescient. But the point is really that assault, harassment, and discrimination have been hurdles for women in the music industry since the beginning, and yet, we’ve persisted. Since Ma Rainey mentored Bessie Smith, women have also been passing each other the torch, which is a lot of what this book is about—sometimes explicitly, as when Alice Bag writes about June Millington, and Peaches salutes Sinead O’Connor. This book was conceived in one political environment and is being published in another one, but because these stories have eternal truths, it remains just as relevant.

JS: Who would be in your all-female band super group? What would you name the band?

EM: Wow, that’s hard. Sandy West on drums. Carol Kaye on bass. Poison Ivy and Sister Rosetta Tharpe on guitar. Bjork on vocals. Aretha on vocals and piano. Sheila E on percussion. It’d be a stylistic mess. I’d call them Girl Genius.

Don’t miss Women Who Rock on October 12. Get your tickets here.

Welcome to the Town Crier

“A city’s streets to me are like the wrinkles on an old face,” wrote Margaret Bundy, the editor of Seattle’s Town Crier from 1930 to 1934. “They depict the comedy and tragedy of the life that has passed there; in short, they reflect character.” Town Hall has reflected the character of Seattle for 20 years. As a shared stage for Seattle’s cultural producers and civic groups, Town Hall is where Seattle comes together—to express our creativity, to listen and be heard, and to consider what sort of future we want to create together. And housed in a 102-year-old landmark building, we feel a deeply rooted connection to our town’s history.

That said, welcome to our new blog, the Town Crier, harkening back to our past while propelling us forward.

The original Town Crier was a weekly magazine, published between 1910 and 1938. It focused on Seattle’s news, arts, and culture. It represented a diversity of local voices, featuring artists, musicians, photographers, actors, and more, alongside reviews of local performances and discussions of local, national, and international events. The parallels to our own bustling, broad calendar are undeniable, and as we revitalize our century-old building (its set to reopen in March 2019!)—giving new life to an old name feels especially appropriate.

Town Hall strives to capture today’s voices, just as The Town Crier did a century ago, in fresh and illuminating ways. Through our blog, we’ll profile Town Hall’s speakers past and present—visionaries and thought leaders in the arts, sciences, and civics. We’ll interview Seattle’s policy makers and culture shifters. We’ll invite our community to contribute their own words and experiences. We’ll have a little fun. We’ll ask questions, and by doing so, hopefully we’ll all learn something new. Because Town Hall is a place to reflect—and inspire—our best impulses: creativity, empathy, and the belief that we all deserve a voice.

We look forward to sharing this all with you in Town Hall’s official blog, the Town Crier.

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