The Nose

The Nose: Stomach bugs, global pandemics and other hilarious stuff

Tacoma City Council members Marty Campbell (left) and David Boe are ready for the plague. Or for norovirus. Or maybe they’re just impersonating The Nose.
Tacoma City Council members Marty Campbell (left) and David Boe are ready for the plague. Or for norovirus. Or maybe they’re just impersonating The Nose. Photo by The News Tribune

Remember how nauseated we felt five years ago when Russell Investments moved out of its plush headquarters in T-Town and resettled in Needletown?

Remember that empty feeling in the downtown Tacoma neighborhoods surrounding the abandoned 12-story HQ?

Well, the nausea and emptiness bounced back on Russell in a big way last week when a nasty outbreak of norovirus passed through the former Wa-Mu building in downtown Seattle faster than a Chipotle burrito.

Around 200 people were put through gastrointestinal distress after a Dec. 1 catered event went wrong in the Russell Investments Center cafeteria. Norovirus is stomach-churner that starts out as food-borne illness and spreads like wildfire via contaminated doorknobs and other surfaces.

Overheard at an imaginary Russell water cooler this week: “This never would’ve happened if we’d stayed put in Tacoma. (Gurgle, gurgle). Oh, mercy. Hand me the Imodium, quick.”

The last time there was such gut-wrenching violence associated with a company Christmas party in a skyscraper, Hans Gruber and his thugs were taking over the Nakatomi Towers in the first “Die Hard” movie.

The types of symptoms seen with norovirus are sometimes referred to as Montezuma’s revenge.

But in this case, the vengeance was all ours.

A dish best served cold: Because that’s how norovirus stays active.

Speaking of plagues: Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland has announced next year’s book selection for the annual “Tacoma Reads Together” program, and it’s a true heart-warmer. A real pick-me-up.

“Station Eleven” is a vision of a post-apocalyptic North America after more than 99 percent of the population has croaked from a flu-like virus.

“It’s not exactly the most uplifting book, but we thought we’d try something different this time,” Strickland said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “The good news is there are no zombies, no aliens from outer space and no mutated monsters.”

During the announcement, council members were given rudimentary plague masks, which Tacoma library director Susan Odencrantz explained was one of civilization’s first attempts at a biohazard suit. Doctors who treated plague victims in the Middle Ages wore the masks and breathed through the beak, she said.

Councilmen Marty Campbell and David Boe rocked the masks, Nose style.

Boe, attending his second-to-last meeting as a councilman, added his inimitable sense of hat fashion.

The good times will continue in the months ahead with book club readings, a visit from author Emily St. John Mandel and end-of-the-world board game nights at the library.

If anyplace can turn a pandemic into a party, it’s Tacoma.

Expect nothing less from the city that put the “fun” in Superfund.

While Mount Rainier gently weeps: The Dietz & Watson company knows meats, but it obviously doesn’t know mountains.

The Philadelphia-based food company launched an advertising campaign that could’ve reached great heights but fell shamefully short.

“Our standards are as high as Mt. Hood,” the company boasts on a billboard ad promoting sales of their products at Safeway stores.

Oh, really? Well, maybe it should raise its standards another 3,162 feet so they can be as high as a real Washington mountain, instead of an inferior Oregon rockpile.

To compound the offense, the company stuck one of its billboards on the highway to West Seattle, within eyeshot of Mount Rainier.

The folks at Dietz & Watson take pride in making artisan cheeses and premium deli meats.

But if you ask us, they’re full of baloney.

A billboard on the highway to West Seattle pitches its message obliviously while our own Mount Rainier watches politely in the background. (Courtesy.) 
A billboard on the highway to West Seattle pitches its message obliviously while our own Mount Rainier watches politely in the background. (Courtesy.)

Must be the booze talking: Give Fircrest folks a few drinks, and delusions of grandeur start dancing in their heads like rum-soaked sugarplums.

The corks are still popping since voters decided last month to escape the 1920s and allow alcohol sales by the glass, like every other city in Washington.

Now some Fircrestians think they can keep the time machine running and skip straight to the digital age.

Take Phaedra Miller, an eager resident who kindly suggested to the City Council this week that it get with the times. Maybe, just maybe, it would consider joining Facebook to connect with residents.

If that’s too much, maybe the city could ensure its website and email system aren’t on the fritz. Or that council agendas and meeting minutes are posted online.

“We’re in the 21st century now,” Miller said. “Social media is not going away, technology is not going away.”

Whoa, ma’am.

The city has only one part-time technology worker on the payroll, according to City Manager Rick Rosenbladt. And because the IT guy worked all weekend and has a day job, he wasn’t available to fix the website.

So keep all the 21st century crazy talk to yourself, with your gee-whiz rocket ships and push-button telephones and fancy Facebook machines.

If you want to live like Buck Rogers or Judy Jetson, you can always move next door to Tacoma or UP.

Got news for The Nose? Write to TheNose@thenewstribune.com. Twitter: @thenosetribune

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