‘Flutters From Side Street – Volume One’ showcases Anchorage coffeehouse musings

(Photo courtesy of George Gee)

Side Street Espresso in downtown Anchorage has been a great place for a good espresso and a daily dose of social or political commentary for decades. Husband and wife owners George Gee and Deborah Seaton have doled out coffee and baked treats for years. George is also an artist. He started drawing on a white board that featured daily drink specials to give customers something interesting to look at. Those drawings are inspired by his inner social and political contemplations and are now collected in a new book – Flutters From Side Street – Volume One.

Listen now

GEE: For the last year-and-a-half, I haven’t been walking to work from home, but for most of these years — we’ve been there 25 years — I would walk. And just in that quiet time of walking, I talking four in the morning when there’s no one on the streets, no cars. In that quiet time, things evolve in your head.

TOWNSEND: Volume One is out now, Flutters from Side Street. Do you have favorites in your first collection, or is that like asking which one of your kids is your favorite?

GEE: It’s kinda like that. There’s some that I feel closer to than others. There’s ones like the dinosaur one, The Good Old Days, that one I feel close to. The very last drawing in here is Gender Queer. It has to do with my son and I dealing with that issue, or me dealing with my issue concerning it. That’s a really important one because when you go into the text area, you see that really was influential in some changes I was learning about myself. Drawing for me, and you see it in that last section, like a therapist sometimes. It’s just a passing thing, and sometimes it’s deep.

TOWNSEND: Describe for us the dinosaur drawing.

GEE: Well it’s a picture of a skeleton T. Rex head, and it’s titled The Good Old Days. And let me just read, it’s brief. “I think only dinosaurs like me, perhaps unknowingly are already extinct, reminisce the good old days, before money became the standard for truth, honor justice, morality and excellence. Before television became the standard for family time. And before violence was all that could excite our passions. That;s the dinosaur one. But you know, the main focus is political and social. I considered not 9/11, but the response we made to 9/11 to be the most significant watershed geopolitical of the 21st century. So there’s a lot of focus on that. And we’re still experiencing it. I mean, the boundaries and the leadership in the Middle East has changed, but it’s also happening in Europe as the migration’s happening. Drawing is where I started with these images. I quickly moved to also making comments. And once I did that, it became a voice. And this is my voice, coming from Side Street.

Today is George’s 76th birthday and tomorrow evening at a First Friday event at Side Street, a combination birthday party and book launch will take place.


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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 24 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori