A City on a Hill: Looking back on a crazy, strange year

It’s been a crazy, mixed-up, challenging year in the news. Even locally.

Herewith, some follow-ups to some of the stories covered in this column over the previous 12 months.

In August, we told about Belltown’s legendary Two Bells Bar and Grill, whose real estate was being sought by a tower developer.

At the time, bar owner Jeff Lee said the place wasn’t being closed or sold.

But in early December, he announced he was retiring at age 71, closing the Bells, and negotiating to sell its land.

Present and past patrons and employees alike crowded the humble beer-and-burger place throughout its final weeks. Its long run ended anti-climactically at 12:29 a.m. New Year’s Day, when the bar manager went outside to tell people waiting to get in that the credit card machine died and the place was closing an hour ahead of schedule.

In June, we commemorated the five-year anniversary of the shooting at Roosevelt Way’s Cafe Racer.

At the time, owner Kurt Geissel announced that he’d put the business up for sale, and was raising money online to keep it open; but that it “wasn’t going anywhere.”

In late October, Geissel said he was indeed shutting down, claiming he couldn’t afford to keep it open.

Then in late November, Geissel announced he’d sold a majority stake in the business to Jeff Ramsey, a longtime fixture in the local restaurant and bar industries. It will reopen at a yet-unannounced date early this year, after a little interior remodeling. When it does, it will take over the Two Bells’ most famous menu item, its “tavern burger” served on a baguette.

In December, we looked ahead to the upcoming third incarnation of the Seattle Center Coliseum, to replace the second incarnation better known as KeyArena. We mentioned that the National Hockey League could announce a Seattle expansion team as soon as the arena deal got final city approval.

Which is what the NHL promptly did.

As long as the prospective owners sell enough advance season tickets, the league says the team can start play in 2020, when the new arena’s supposed to be done.

What’ll it be called?

A Microsoft attorney (acting on his own behalf, not the company’s) has already applied for a trademark on the name “Seattle Steelheads.” If the new team wants to use that name, they’d presumably have to pay him for it.

Same with “Seattle Sockeyes.” The erotic-romance author who writes books about a fictional Sockeys hockey team (and whom we mentioned in December’s story) has filed her own trademark application.

In November, we pontificated on “the limits of white progressivism.”

We predicted that the Black Lives Matter march, set for later that month, would be almost entirely composed of white people, which it was.

Marcus Harrison Green, editor of the South Seattle Emerald blog, recently wrote about a prior BLM rally in the Central District, at which he and the few other black participants “were buoys of Hershey afloat in an ivory sea.” The rally principally featured “a majority of white participants ardently shouting about how much ‘Black Lives Mattered’ in an area that ‘black life’ had been forced to abandon due to high rents and low prospects.”

Still, Green asserted, “If marching in the streets helps get more white people out of their social bubble and engaged with black issues, then, so be it.”

Meanwhile, former mayoral candidate Nikki Oliver says she’s “not so thrilled with Seattle’s brand of progress.” Writing at Crosscut, Oliver says that “our local government, both city and county, fails to diversify based on race and economics;” and that the city’s “faux progressiveness” won’t improve as long as “the good white people remain silent as people of color are pushed from our homes and locked out of development and the political process.”