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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  The Slice

The Slice: Spokane’s swell, and we finally know it

Aug. 25, 2019 Updated Sun., Aug. 25, 2019 at 2:49 p.m.

When I started writing The Slice in August of 1992, Spokane had a thinner skin.

At least that’s the way it seems.

Back then, even the mildest form of subjective truth-telling about the Lilac City’s shortcomings evoked wounded cries of “Spokane bashing.”

What yours truly and some of my contributors viewed as tough love, others saw as mean sniping.

That’s changed, and I think it is a good thing. Maybe we’re simply less defensive because we care less about the opinions of the uninformed. Or perhaps we’re just more confident now.

Oh sure, there are those who still say unkind, sometimes unfair things about Spokane. But it seems like people here mostly laugh that off these days.

When you are aware of all the good things this city has going for it, you’re less apt to be bruised by someone suggesting we aren’t Seattle or Portland.

Of course, this is just my perspective. I could be wrong. Or I might be generalizing on the unreliable evidence of personal experience. Wouldn’t be the first time. But I’ve been thinking about Spokane and listening to talk about Spokane for quite a while.

I used to get worked up about Spokane being the target of real or imagined slights. Eventually, though, I got to the point where I was more inclined to shrug things off. I think a lot of us have.

Could be I’ve just gotten older and have less energy to devote to being offended on my occasionally confounding underdog city’s behalf.

I still don’t understand why we elect some of the public officials we do. And I would prefer that you could leave a bicycle unattended for two minutes without having to lock it up. The reality list goes on.

But here’s some news. Spokane’s a pretty swell place. Always has been. It’s just that, I think, more of us are willing to admit it now.

Let’s move on.

To review: So what have we learned from a summer of feeding the neighbors’ pets while they were away from Spokane on vacation? I’ve got a little list.

Some cats can hit speeds approaching Mach 1 when attempting to zoom past you and out the door in a crazed bid for freedom.

Some pet owners’ strict instructions for how much food to give their well-rounded animals seem suspiciously like plans for a forced weight-loss program, with you in the role of the bad guy diet counselor who is putting all the four-leggers on short rations.

If not for the pictures on the refrigerator and nutritional offerings disappearing from the food bowls twice a day, it would be tempting to regard some resident felines as strictly a rumor.

It’s hard not to take it personally when the pets hear you opening the door and then get incredibly disappointed looks on their faces when they see that it’s not the family returned home at last.

The act of cleaning a litter box really does make you wonder who’s in charge here.

Talking to the pets just seems natural and normal, not silly.

Agree or disagree: An intentionally over-the-top look at the Seattle Seahawks on suggested that rabid football fans from politically/culturally “red” parts of the Northwest – including Eastern Washington – help determine the flavor of the spectator experience at home games. This despite Seattle’s reputation for elegant style and laid-back cool.

“That stadium might as well be in Alabama on game days.”

Fair point: Sara Lindgren, a former colleague of mine, noted that I overlooked something last week when I was going on about universities wanting to pointedly place “The” before their names.

I neglected to mention Washington’s own The Evergreen State College.

Cigar smoke: William Anderson saw the column item from another reader about a downtown fixture from about 60 years ago.

“I most certainly do remember that newsstand by the Lincoln Street revolving door entrance to the post office. I vaguely recall the guy was not only blind but always had a stogie in his mouth.”

A lot of people around here don’t know what they are talking about when it comes to: Sweet corn. Just calling a batch of ho-hum ears “sweet corn” doesn’t magically transform it.

Which is more controversial in the Inland Northwest? Any discussion of the statistical link between handgun ownership and sudden-impulse suicide or a strict adherence to the separation of church and state?

Warning: When your computer wants to install updates, sometimes you will see a message on your screen saying, “Don’t turn off your PC. This will take a while.”

Be aware that “a while,” in this context, could mean a geologic period of time.

Warm-up question: What special ingredient does your family add to trail mix to get the mixture up on its feet?

This month’s Slice question: Where is it most exasperating to be in the political minority – Spokane, Spokane Valley or North Idaho?

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at When picking up and underhanding fallen apples into your green waste barrel from about 8 feet away, it’s almost impossible to not imagine that you are starting a double-play.

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