Perhaps you have noticed that I have not been appearing in this space for a while now. The reason for this absence was at least partly expressed in something I wrote here months ago about the end of words. It seems that evidence is turning up in a number of places that what has been passing as a form of verbal communication, at least in these supposedly united states, no longer holds sway in common discourse. Fairly strong evidence now points to the fact that a word, or a collective grouping of words once known as a sentence or even a paragraph may not actually represent what they seem. Instead, it seems that while a word based communication may now have an appearance of an intended expression of a certain fact or truth, in the end these word collectives may either mean just what they say, or something close to that, or a joke about that, or absolutely nothing at all. It kind of reminds me of a time back in my ancient college days when I was back at home with my parents and during one meal I decided I would point and grunt to communicate my dining wishes. It may have been I was acting out the role of the neanderthals in William Golding’s book ‘the Inheritors’ which I may or may not have been reading at the time- I don’t really remember. The neanderthals spoke to each other in mental pictures, which I thought was very cool, although my pictures were probably not getting through at the table that evening.
Regardless of my inspiration or intent, I did manage to get through dinner, receiving enough pointed at and grunted for food to sustain me for yet another day, and my parents didn’t throw me out of the house in disgust and frustration. Nor did they decide to write me out of their wills for lunacy and insubordination. Instead, they did have a person of legal standing craft documents for me and my sister with the intent of providing something in equal shares for us when they were gone. If you cast your memories back to past columns here, you might recall that, at least for me, that did not go so well after my parents had left the planet, mostly because the words that had been left on legal papers in that regard were totally ignored by both my sister and the family lawyer, who both had jointly been named to ensure that those words were followed in a fair and legal manner. While words and their collective interpretations have never been for me a sure thing, this was the most pronounced and affecting disemboweling of the life force and sanctity of words in a string of recent memories.
In the four year span between the passings of my mother and father, I sat in on the proceedings at the Vashon Park District which saw the egos and self-serving actions of two of the commissioners as they railed against fiscal responsibility while engaging in actions that were supposed to serve the common good of the community. As we went to Park meeting after Park meeting, words were twisted and strangled by these commissioners so as to render them virtually useless. The public in attendance at these meetings was treated as if they had no voice in decisions about their public park facilities. When the public did voice concerns over spending on the making of this athletic field which had doubled over its original construction estimate (and with no end in sight for completion), I believe on more than one occasion we were told to “get over it”, as if that would simply solve the problems brought on by the board’s fiscal negligence and make it all go away. That was over four years ago, and the park district is still struggling for its life and well being, and the offending commissioners were just allowed to walk away without any accounting or consequences for their incompetent and arrogant actions. David Hackett and Bill Ameling got over it- the Park District did not, and seemingly will not any time soon.
In the late fall of 2015 I travelled back to New England to get a few things from my parents’ house. After loading the rented minivan with my gathered family objects, while driving back across the country I was taken somewhat aback by the prevalence of yard signs supporting then candidate and now current diaper-clad, baby blimp in chief. It seemed then that there was more to this thing than I and the legions of pundits and supposed people in the know were even aware of regarding the electoral turnings of this populace. As we zipped forward to the election day reality, the protests began to spread and multiply on the left side, whilst on the right the familiar cry of “get over it” began to be heard on a regular basis. More recently we are being told to be civil while getting over it, in spite of the scores of resignations, dozens of indictments and a growing list of convictions surrounding what seems to be the most corrupt and universally disliked administration this country has seen. It is hard to even start to think about getting over something as bad as this while it to spirals downward on a path of deceit and embarrassment whose “getting” is only getting worse.
And so, in the light of all this we come to the latest tempest on the Rock. Due to spacial concerns we will skip over Mukai Gardens, the Fire Department, the Park District and Vashon High School and jump straight to the VCA, or as a friend of mine likes to refer to it- The Vashon Casket for the Arts- where the arts go to die. As I remember it, there was a public meeting years ago at the Penny Farcy Center to discuss the possibility of an arts center beyond the Blue Heron that would draw big names and acts to the Island. As I also recall, a number of people in the room pointed out that this would be contrary to the Island centric principles that formed the basis of supporting the work of Island artists which had been espoused by Vashon Allied Arts. There were many questions as to why people would come to the Island to see acts that could also be seen on the mainland without having to deal with ferry lines and fees. That if an act was a true draw to the facility and lots of people came, why should the rest of us bear the burden of dealing with more ferry delays throughout the ingress and egress of the event goers. There were rightful concerns about the actual need for any more arts and entertainment venues in a place that already seemed to have a more than adequate supply. And then there it was- the Arts Center- sitting on the corner at Center, with its county mandated sidewalk jutting out into Vashon Highway and obstructing and impeding the northbound bike lane, or shoulder, depending on who is doing the naming.
And now, just a short time later, we find that the Center for the Arts is in crisis, with staff leaving or being let go at a rate that rivals the 45 administration. There are the gag orders and non-disclosure agreements that staff had to sign to keep them from talking about what is going wrong there, and there is the spent endowment that was supposed to buffer any financial woes encountered upon the high seas of the high end entertainment world. And who would have guessed that this could happen? In my memory there is the tear down experience of the Burton Inn, where classic old Island homes were removed so that the Inn would provide needed lodging for the area. This seems to have not been the case after all, given the multiple managements and models this space has gone through in the mean time. There is the tear down of the historic old gym where the VES field now sits. As I have understood it, the field was at least in part originally envisioned as a potential spot for world class soccer camps and maybe even professional teams to flock to with the big bucks in hand to pay back and justify its cost. Instead, it remains incomplete, having twice passed its original cost estimate while sucking down millions of gallons of water so soccer can rule amongst Island youth. Perhaps the rest of the Island should take a lesson from the tear down that was and is the Vashon High School, since their country day school approach to financing their existence with off Island youth seems to be working- for now.
And so it is that we come to the tear down that is now the Vashon Center for the Arts, with all its mystery and hand wringing about its future. With operating expenses continuing to eat into their non-revenues, there is a valid concern as to whether or not the VCA can keep its doors open. In the true Island spirit of repurposing rather than tearing down, I would suggest that, since they already are in the moving mode, Island Realtors could just move all of their offices to the VCA- after all, their names are all over it already. It could become the one stop shop for trading properties of Vashon. The Kay could be used both for dramatic and musical performances as well as a venue for Island lifestyle presentations, with dramatic aerial photos and colorful shots of sunrises and sunsets around Mt. Rainier that even Norman Edson could never have imagined, and all to convince prospective buyers of what an idyllic existence awaits them here. There could be a VCA adult daycare there as well, where everybody already knows their place since their seats conveniently have their names on them. Participants could file in, sit down, and nod to each other while chanting the simple three word mantra: Get Over It. Then the curtain would rise and the daily performance of ‘the Emperor’s New Clothes’ could begin yet again. You see, everything could be just fine.