I did it. I outwitted Google, eBay, Craigslist and Amazon.
On July 28, 2014, at 6:17 p.m., the Internet as we know it ended. The World Wide Web is no longer a bestower of all things.
How did I do what a recent, potentially civilization-smashing solar flare failed to do? I searched for a Schrammie.
It’s an award that Ken Schram of KOMO-TV gave deserving persons, corporations and government: a bobblehead of himself. He’d end the televised ceremony with a signature, “This one’s for you.”
Doubtless, Schrammie recipients hold onto them. None are up for sale. They are jealously guarded, the Seattle equivalent of the Oscar.
There’s been a vacuum in Seattle since the Schrammie. Since nature abhors a vacuum, here, then, a worthy successor: the Unicorn. Why a Unicorn?
True, they are nonexistent, fanciful beasts. In high-tech geek circles, the myth has been popularly modernized: Now, unicorns drop cupcakes.
What better representation of civic silliness, hubris and projects best left un-begun? It will give honorees something to sit on and so rest their laurels; plus, they can enjoy a cupcake.
And the Unicorn goes to…
First, the Unicorn Prize in transportation.
In 2011, I applied for a job as communications director of a newly announced transportation system. I was interviewed by Elizabeth Campbell, who since collected enough signatures on petitions to put a new monorail proposition on this November’s ballot. It’s a reboot of the Green Line from the last monorail project, from West Seattle, through SODO, on the waterfront, past Magnolia and Queen Anne and over a new bridge to Ballard. It would intercept the rebuilding of the seawall and a stuck state Route 99 dig and tear down the viaduct.
I read of Campbell’s efforts to kill the deep-bore tunnel; I was curious. We met down at City Hall and had coffee. I voted for the monorail once. I voted for it twice. What I tell you three times is true: It was a crazy idea, and it still is.
Monorail, have a Unicorn.
The Unicorn in architecture goes to the Seattle Planning Commission, for establishing neo-Stalinism as the dominant model of contemporary construction throughout the municipality. Rectangles and squares occupy smaller and smaller lots, and where bigger pieces of land come up for sale, developers move in and put up the biggest structure they can. These edifices reflect the character of those who build and approve them.
Glass and particolored walls aside, the style perpetuates an efficient, dull look not seen since the Soviets cluttered their own cityscapes with concrete blockhouses.
Expect a cupcake in the mail.
The Unicorn Prize in art goes to Echo. Echo is that stretched-out, oversized head of a girl that’s been gifted to the city by a wealthy donor. It rises at the western edge of Olympic Sculpture Park, just off the waterfront.
It’s meant to remind us of the story of Echo from classical Greek mythology, a mountain nymph who fell in love with Narcissus, only to be torn apart by shepherds after rejecting the amorous attentions of Pan, a deity and goat-footed lech.
From one angle, this is a provocative sculpture. Still, that angle is difficult to notice, so it’s difficult to shake the impression you’re watching Sarah Palin’s elongated head being sucked into a black hole.
From north, south and east, it calls to mind a bleached coprolite left by a long-extinct Apatosaurus.
The Unicorn for information technology goes to the Hearst Corp. Not only did Hearst kill the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as we knew it, leaving us a one-newspaper town, but Hearst so limited the reporting depth of the subsequent online version that the journalists who were left must struggle to keep local news and analysis on the P-I site.
It’s the implementation of the site itself that deserves a Unicorn. Hearst has so loaded its site with business-intelligence-gathering junk software scripts that, once you’re on the site, it’s difficult to click out. As software is regularly updated on corporate servers and your PC, conflicts may occur, but there is no reason Hearst can’t create a user experience that doesn’t cause browsers to crash. If Hearst got its online act together, it could become a journalistic force again.
Until then, for what it’s done to the P-I, it’s earned a Unicorn.
Now, finally, the Unicorn Prize in literature: Why, it’s me!
Accept the foolishness
And so, this modest proposal: As Lao Tzu wrote in the “Tao Te Ching”: “Accept disgrace willingly. It is the human condition.”
Let’s accept foolishness with grace and humor, as we have only ourselves to blame.
CRAIG THOMPSON is a longtime community activist. To comment on this column, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.