There are times, we admit, that we just don't get it. Downtown merchants, in a rare spasm of civic altruism, turn over space to a bizarre philanthropic two-fer: Pacific Northwest Ballet, which has its own money-machine at McCaw these days, the iconic Nutcracker, and Northwest Center, the most sacrosanct of local charities.
Some 60 identical, 6-ft sculpted nutcracker figures, subjected to politically correct ornamentation by various and sundry local artists, stand mutely outside coffee shops and department stores. Concept started in Chicago, with cows, later turned up locally with pigs. As ubiquitous and unavoidable as carols (religious and secular), and no less annoying.