Krist Novoselic had just told a small crowd gathered at downtown Tacoma's University Bookstore on Monday that he once lived on Pearl Street when a middle-aged woman in the front row cheerfully chimed in.
"Is that where Pearl Jam comes from?" she asked .
Novoselic Ð a towering but benevolent presence at 6-foot-7 Ð politely corrected her. Those guys are from Seattle. He actually played bass for a little band called Nirvana.
"Some people call me Kurt, too," he said, alluding to his friend, the late Kurt Cobain. "Or (they say), 'Weren't you the drummer for Nirvana?' I'm like, no. They say, 'You look like him.'"
A dozen or so onlookers chuckled. It was a funny mix-up that would have never happened had Novoselic, say, dropped in at Sixth Avenue hot spot Hell's Kitchen. And it was also a reflection of how strikingly different his audience is now from Nirvana's heyday.
The most famous resident of Naselle, Pacific County, has become known for political activism in recent years and briefly considered running for lieutenant governor in 2004.
He had flown in from San Francisco on Monday to introduce his friend, political writer Steven Hill, and to praise the merits of instant runoff voting and Amendment 3, which will appear on Pierce County ballots in November.
"Right now I'm really focusing on electoral reform," Novoselic said, sitting at the University Bookstore Starbucks moments before the event. "It's a crisis. The pick-a-party primary is not working. And we've got to find a solution."
Under the instant runoff voting system, voters choose three candidates in order of preference. If a candidate receives a majority of the first-choice votes, she or he is elected.
If no candidate receives a majority, the last-place candidate is eliminated and those votes are allocated to the voters' second choices. That system continues until a single receives a majority of the votes.
It's one of the solutions Hill puts forth in his book "10 Steps to Repair American Democracy: An Owners Manual for Concerned Citizens" ($11, PoliPointPress.)
Under the current system, Hill said, voters choose the lesser of two evils and avoid third party candidates they might otherwise like for fear of throwing away their votes Ð a phenomenon he said Amendment 3 would fix.
"It's about making sure the preferences of the votes are respected," he said.
During the prepresentation chat, Novoselic steered personal questions back to politics. But he provided one tidbit about his musical career.
He said he has been playing bass with cult punk band Flipper, and that the realigned group would make its debut at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in London in December.
Hear Krist Novoselic talk politics (and just a little bit of music) on the Bring the Noise blog: blogs.thenewstribune.com/ej.
Tell us why on the Replace the pick-a-party primary blog
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