Monday, January 4, 2016

Hail and Farewell!

Blogger decamps to Santa Fe

Valedictory Posting by Bryan Tagas

This is my final posting as the Madison Park Blogger.  For six years, beginning in April 2009, it was my joy, privilege, and occasional burden to be a purveyor of neighborhood news to that very select (meaning self-selected) group of Madison Parkers who chose to read what I chose to write. While MPB began as something of a lark (with an initial readership of just four or five neighbors), it rapidly grew by word of mouth to become something more serious.  At last count, the blog was reaching over 1,000 regular readers, including 669 email subscribers through Google Feedburner and 421 Facebook friends. With only one exception, there hasn't been a posting on the site since March 2015; yet new subscribers are still signing up for emails and others are still finding and liking the blog's Facebook page. According to Feedburner, there have been 415,153 views of the 803 stories I've posted over 71 months for Madison Park Blogger. In light of this great support, it's particularly sad for me to say it's over.

Here's the thing: after spending our entire lives in Seattle, my wife and I absconded to New Mexico in October. For the both of us 2015 was one hell of a year. And without going into the personal and professional details, let's just say we each felt it was time to move on.  Unfortunately, there was no elegant solution to the problem of maintaining Madison Park Blogger, either from long distance (though that idea was suggested to me by several readers) or by anointing a surrogate poster "on the ground" in Madison Park who could be trusted to maintain the journalistic standards I established for the blog and tried to adhere to.

The website will continue to exist as a historical record of the early 21st Century in Madison Park, searchable for clues to the neighborhood at time when it was losing its "village" identity but still retained the vestiges of what it once had it. During the fifteen years I lived in The Park the demolition of cottages and their replacement by megahouses accelerated;  businesses, restaurants in particular, fell by the wayside as the business district lost what little remained of its onetime status as a "destination" shopping area (anyone remember The Yankee Peddler?); and Madison Park became increasingly rarefied as the cost of housing made the place all but unaffordable for even renters.  Lola McKee's semi-facetious comment of several years ago, ("Madison Park is becoming a place where about the only things you can come here for are get your hair done, get a good meal, or cash a check") had become a virtual statement of fact by the time I left Madison Park. Madison Valley during this same period seemed to gain some of the vibrancy that Madison Park had lost. 

It was great fun chronicling the neighborhood over those six years and getting to know many residents and business owners that I may otherwise never have met. For that I am very grateful. I hope these personal connections will remain even though I am geographically distant (those who would like to keep in touch may email me: bryan dot tagas at gmail dot com).

I did a lot of legwork for many of the stories I posted on the blog.  For example, I took several months to write the three postings on what defines "Madison Park" as a distinct Seattle neighborhood.  I also did several investigative pieces along the way, my favorite of which was an expose of the fact that some wealthy Madison Park property owners had for decades blocked public access to one of the neighborhood's six waterfront road ends by paying nominal fees to the City for that right ("East Mercer Street: no trespassing").  The stories I had the most fun writing, however, were not always the ones that got the most readership.

These are the ten most-read stories ever posted on Madison Park Blogger:

1) "Feds shutdown Lakeside Capital" (7/17/14) [1,622 views], about the travails Dennis Daugs (with plenty, indeed too much, reader commentary thereon).

2) "Cyclist severely injures pedestrian in crosswalk" (8/23/13) [1,621 views], about the Madison Park resident who was run down in front of Wells Fargo (but who ultimately recovered).

3) "Wells Fargo branch robbed" (4/3/14) [1,567 views], about the cross-dressing sous chef  killed by police in Denny Blaine after an hours-long manhunt. 

4) "Armed robberies put neighborhood on edge" (11/24/14) [1,467 views], about two scary gun-related incidents in Denny Blaine.

5) "Weekend hit and run leads to arrest" (1/22/13) [1,450 views], about the Broadmoor teenager who crashed into several parked cars while allegedly intoxicated, later reporting herself to police as the victim of a hit and run.

6) "Waterfront project riles some neighbors" (1/17/14) [1,350 views], about the proposed development of a waterfront property on 43rd Avenue E., a project which apparently has yet to be approved by the City.

7) "Goodbye village, hello 'contemporary styling'" (10/11/13) [1,312 views], my later-regretted stab at architectural criticism, involving the design of a neighborhood residential development.

8) "Tully's to close Monday" (10/10/12) [1,275 views], about the sad end of a neighborhood hangout.

9)  "Keira Knightly movie filming in Madison Park" (6/11/13) [1,267 views], which though clicked on by Knightly fans from around the world, did not include a picture of the actress--a failure for which the blog was roundly condemned.

10) "The shooting: pondering the imponderable" (4/5/14) [1,237 views], a followup to the Wells Fargo robbery story, discussing the background and presumed motive of the robber.

Madison Park was and will continue to be a great place to live, and I value the time spent with you. 

It's been a blast.  Thanks for the ride!

Sidebar:  Why Santa Fe?

My wife and I each lived in Seattle since birth. That's over 63 years in my case. Here's what Santa Fe offers, for those not in the know:

1)  320 days of sun annually, on average
2)  dry air
3)  four distinct seasons (on a par with Eastern Washington--not too hot, not too cold)
4)  a very developed arts scene
5)  world-class cuisine

Of course New Mexico is backward in many respects, including the fact that it is in the economic doldrums. It is one of only three states that experienced a net out-flow of population last year. Also, the state government here appears to be somewhat corrupt and was just named the worst in the country by one national ranking organization. Furthermore, we now find that you often can't get decent fresh fish in the grocery store!

Well, you can't have everything...