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The Slice: Villains aside, Spokane’s not so bad

SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2009

I wonder if those organizers of Expo ’74 who are still around find themselves shaking their heads these days.

I’ll bet some of them thought they had answered the question 35 years ago.

You know, “What kind of place is Spokane?”

But much as they might have wished for the long-ago world’s fair to define our city in a flattering way once and for all, the sometimes stumbling parade of current events never stops offering competing narratives.

What kind of place is Spokane?

There are, of course, many answers. Just look around. Still, some of us aren’t satisfied with a murky reality shaped by contradictions and variation. Some want it simple and sweeping.

As in, Spokane is a place where sinister, powerful institutions cannot be trusted. You can nominate your own villain — the police department, the Catholic Church, City Hall, the courts, The Spokesman-Review, the public schools. The list goes on.

All have disappointed us on occasion. Some have seemed now and then to be in denial, or worse.

You don’t have to be a conspiracy buff to be profoundly troubled by some of the sad tales in the news in recent years.

But outrageous acts, even those seemingly condoned or initially covered up by officialdom, still provoke outrage here. So long as that’s true, maybe there’s cause for guarded optimism.

What kind of place is Spokane?

It all depends, I suppose. But sometimes I wonder about those who seem eager to label this city on the basis of a few crooks, liars and nitwits.

Maybe they haven’t met the many good people I know.

It’s not easy to redirect wayward organizations. Still, I see no sign that people in Spokane have stopped trying.

•Maybe you can settle a debate: Five Mile…Nine Mile…from where?

•Name game: Mavis Hogan didn’t like her first name when she was a kid. Now, however, she loves it.

She wonders if others have experienced a similar change of heart about their names.

•A note from a Slice reader in Istanbul, Turkey: “What I miss about Spokane is the smells,” wrote Kate Lucas on Thursday. “The smell of the earth, of lilacs, the air right before it snows, even the hot, dry pine trees. And right now, I miss sitting in Jack & Dan’s watching Gonzaga in the playoffs.”

•Today’s Slice questions: Have you noticed that a lot of new backyard grills and smokers look like robots from “Lost in Space” or “Star Wars”?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; fax (509) 459-5098; email pault@spokesman.com. For previous Slice columns, see www.spokesman.com/columnists. It really annoys Loon Lake’s Janet Lehrman when she lets another motorist pull into traffic and that driver fails to acknowledge it.

 
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