Well, Tuesday night was happnin’  I was walking back from the bar after a late night drink on the eve of the hottest day ever.  At about 12:15, I heard a women yelling, but I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. (Above me, it turns out)  As I passed the last wood frame house on Ballard Avenue, I saw a small fire on the side porch.  I tried to stamp it out, but it was a gasoline fire and my little sandals weren’t cutting it.  The woman, Angelique, came down to the street with the fire extinguisher from her building, and another fellow put the fire out with that.  The fire department and the arson squad soon appeared.  Definitely arson, definitely the FD and police are keeping this quiet.  No publicity, no asking for information.  Do they already have a suspect?

Bastille in Ballard, the newest ‘in’ place for new-to-Seattle hipsters and California rejects, has just about done away with their happy hour selections.  The Happy Hour remains, there are just fewer specials.

Bastille used to offer one of the better happy hours for the first few weeks it was open.  Moules and frites, Lamb burgers, Mac&Cheese, etc.  Now, just moules, no frites for $6.  No frites.  Frites are extra, $4 at happy hour.  So to get the ‘old’ half price moules and frites, regularly $12, now you pay $6 for the moules, and $4 for the frites, for $10, a discount of two bucks off full price (and a larger portion?)

Same for the half price lamb burger and fries, which used to be $6.  Now its $10 with the fries.  The mac and cheese is now reduced to a tiny little ramekin of a taste of mac & cheese’lette!   Used to be a decent plate of food.  And no discounted price anymore, you pig.   Removed completely from the happy hour menu is the falafel, and the poutine.  And the discounts all around are reduced.

Bastille has had major problems since opening.  It severely restricts the number of diners for dinners, leaving most folks stuck with over-priced appetizers in the bar area.  Dinner is essentially a reservations only affair, and even then they severely restrict the number of diners “because the kitchen can’t handle it”.  (I recently had dinner at Le Gourmand, because Bastille was too hard to get into!)  The fancy filtered water system (both still and gaseous) is not hooked up to the bar, so you can’t get that nice sparkling water in your drink.  The kitchen frequently runs out of food.  Service is mediocre or worse.  And of course, prices keep going up and the happy hour specials, which were a good way to entice people to try the food, are essentially gone.  And what is with smaller portions?

How long can Bastille keep going like this?  When it opened the restaurant was hailed for its reasonable prices, making it an affordable and frequent stop for locals.  Bastille has apparently decided that locals filling the place weren’t enough for them, so now they are going after the tourist crowd.  In a location way off the beaten path, with no parking, I say good luck. You will need it.

Why does Moshi-Moshi serve Atlantic Salmon?  What’s up with that?

OK, I admit I was a total slut for Bastille, the new Seattle french restaurant.  But after a short but abusive relationship, I’m pretty much over it.

For the fourth time in two weeks, I was refused dinner service.  This time, I was sitting at the bar.  After failing to get the bartender’s attention for about an hour, I finally asked if I could order their chicken dinner and was told that I could only order from the bar menu.

Here is what Bastille needs NOW (like last week):

1. A back bar in the kitchen for filling orders of wine, champagne, beer, carafes, etc.  There is no reason these orders are being filled at the front bar, where the bartenders don’t have the time.

2.  The bartenders filling orders for the dining room means there is poor service for people sitting at the beautiful zinc bar.

3.  Not that you would want to because you don’t have the space, but you can’t order off the extensive dinner menu at the bar.   And since they won’t seat you in the dining room absent a reservation and, you know, lagniappe, then you are fucked.  Six times visiting this place and I still haven’t had a full meal entree there.

4.  Basically, only a few people can eat off the menu posted on the front window because you can’t get a seat.  So nice menu.  Too bad it is kind of a bait and switch situation.

5.  This is an extremely loud restaurant even when it is quiet.  WHY ARE THEY PLAYING MUSIC IN THE BACKGROUND??!!

6.  If they are really going to be a sports bar, they need another TV.

7.   Live music out on the patio tonight.  Too bad almost no one could hear it because it was only outside!!  The outside tables are set far apart, so there are fewer of them.  What a waste.   Although there were several empty tables.  Reserved I suppose.  No one asked if I wanted to sit there.  This is just a colossal management fuck up.

8.  Bastille Day should have been the biggest day yet.  But they have been successful at keeping the customers away in this ‘soft opening’ (I thought that was a sex position?)  The place was not full and still the staff was barely able to manage.  They don’t have a first string wait staff and I can kinda see why now.  Are the better waiters staying away?  Do they know something?

9. The Bastille authentically recreates that Paris feel:  bad and surly service, abusive wait staff and bartenders.  Ignores singles totally.  Singles have to sort of elbow their way in.  But good food so everyone ignores the bad service.

Except Seattle has many excellent french restaurants where you don’t have endure abuse; Viola, Cafe Presse, Le Pichet, Anita’s, 911 Supreme, etc.  I appreciate Bastille has spent a butt load of money and created a wonderful environment.  But this restaurant is going in the wrong direction, getting worse each week instead of better.  C’est la vie.

Another brilliant post from Bunnie Reidel, a long-time advocate for the public interest.  This time she picks on Connected Nation (the favorite of Washington State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles):

“Meanwhile, just as the petting party is heating up, Verizon, Comcast, at&t (among others) are lobbying state legislatures to prohibit municipal broadband. At the front of the lobbying is Connected Nation, which counts Verizon, Comcast, at&t and the National Cable Telecommunications Association among its advisors, according to http://www.BNet.com.

Karl Bode of http://www.DSLReports.com is quoted as saying “[Connect America] takes state taxpayer funds under the pretense of effectively mapping state broadband services, but then acts by and large as an extension of the incumbents — obscuring data they don’t want public, while lobbying state lawmakers on carriers’ behalf.”

Mmmm…where have we seen that before? Can you say statewide cable franchising? $50 to the first person who connects Dick Armey with Connected Nation! No really, I will send you $50. ”

And I will up the ante and send you… a big attaboy!  Read more here

It’s been disappointing and discouraging to learn that 36th District State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles has been engaging in an effort to attack my reputation, the work I do, and the progressive policies I advocate for.  Word comes second-hand from more than one person she has been button-holing that she wants to be sure that I do not advocate on behalf of the public interest in telecom and broadband issues, that I should stop blogging about her, and that I should cease my campaign against her sitting on the King County Council.

Reports also confirm that she is running her own campaign behind the scenes to get a seat on the Council.  Since she is so unqualified and lacking in support in the community, any negative comments about her are deemed out of order, in her opinion.  Her latest tack is to complain to people on organizations that belong to, to say that if I am in a leadership position in Democratic politics, or community politics, or advocacy groups, then I should not say anything negative about Kohl-Welles.

Kohl-Welles behavior is exactly what has so many people in Seattle frustrated and discouraged by our political leadership.  Instead of exhibiting leadership, integrity, and backbone, they spend their time shutting down and slandering anyone in the community who opposes them.  It is often disguised as the widely discredited ‘Seattle Nice,’  passive aggressive and dysfunctional personalities who are wholly incapable of having a policy discussion with anyone who doesn’t agree with them.   Instead of seeking to improve her record, reach out to her critics to learn from them, and take controversial and courageous positions, she seeks to shoot the messenger of any criticism at all.   It is the same technique used by Greg Nickels, Dow Constantine, Richard Conlin, and Jim Compton.  It’s despicable.

I have used the G1 Google phone from T-Mobile for about a month now.  It sucks.  I’ve called T-Mobile several times to try and get rid of this brick.  They are working very hard to stem the tide of givebacks.  Well-documented problems with the Google phone include the following:

1.  The Android OS is not an open system.  It is very much closed, and built on exploiting (read dependent) the existing Google network and apps.  The entire theory of ‘cloud computing’ cannot exist when the ‘cloud’ is unstable, frequently out of order, gimmicky, and lacking many of the standard elements customers expect (like notifications and reminders in calendar).  Power users know this: they want to build to interact with a variety of environments, both on and off the Web.  You cannot do this with the Android OS.   Using the G1 with a Mac is possible, but just barely and you better understand how to code and some quantum physics to get it all working.  And yes, you have to buy more stuff to get it to work.  Try Busymac. 

2. Android lacks a working email application.  The email application (for accessing mail at your ISP) that ships with the phone does not work at all.  Its inoperable.  There is only one other email application you can use, the K9 email client, also developed by Google.  As you can see here , there are hundreds of known issues and major defects  (can’t address an email, can’t ping your server <broken pipe error>, checking email generates hundreds of duplicate emails on the server, etc.)  These defects aren’t even considered important;  they haven’t been worked on in months, and they aren’t even marked ‘critical.’  OTOH, the Gmail app works fine.  Imagine that. 

3.  Very few applications.  At last count, Apple had I think about 14,000 apps in the App Store, and that is with Apple checking them before they go up.  In Google’s open Market, a couple hundred apps is all you have to choose from.  Like the App Store, many of these don’t work, or duplicate other apps (like the dozen or so flashlight apps).  Too bad no one has built an email app that actually works!  They could charge for that.  Also, you can’t read Word or Excel documents (there is an app for that, but it doesn’t work; same drill for pdfs).   You can’t even move apps to your SD card.  Still haven’t figured out why they have an SD slot when you can’t use it. 

4.  Hardware is shit.  Not enough battery life: maybe.  You can get through the day on your G1 if you don’t surf the web too much or use the GPS too much, like to check the traffic on a one hour car trip.  The phone sold to the public is different from the phone given to Google employees.  The real Google phones can access the SD slot, and can tether.  

I can’t see this experiment lasting out the year.  Android has no other phones coming out.  There are rumors, even demos of new phones, but no delivery dates, no manufacturing schedules, and no publicity.  The G1 is likely to be the first and last in the line.  When other carriers get an idea of how hollowed out and empty the Android OS is, I can’t see them staying with it.  Google is quick to drop loser apps and lines of business, and I predict that this will soon be one.  Too bad, IMHO, because it had promise. Google is clearly not throwing enough human energy at this project.