I spent the Thanksgiving holidays with my lovely girlfriend’s lovely family in Seattle, and here are the bullet points:

  • Though air travel has quickly become my least favorite mode of travel, and I think people should boycott it entirely for a few years, the Tea Essay screening process and the airplane rides were uneventful.  (I was prepared to not be subjected to the bakskattur ekksraise, but thankfully was not selected to be subjugated in that specific manner that day.)   There were a few near-panic moments in which I thought I might start yelling if I couldn’t achieve slightly more range of motion with my arms and legs (and/or a lower cabin temperature), but that must surely be normal for non-sedated humans wedged shoulder-to-shoulder into a winged machine with rockets on it, maintained and operated by people who are part of one of the world’s most expensive charades.  I did get to ride a train around in a circle across a stupidly-designed DFW, though.  At the apex of our hurry, the train we were on went out of service for the evening, so we had to wait for its replacement, which got us to our connecting return flight’s gate with exactly three minutes to spare.  And, as much as I bitch about the Tea Essay, they did help me find my belt that I accidentally left on the conveyor when trying to wrangle my luggage, shoes, computer (out of and separate from its bag, of course), carry-on bag, and 3-0z bottles of liquids.
  • It snowed and was sub-freezing for half the visit.  It prevented the doing of some things, but it also allowed some lazing-around time, which was sorely needed.  This is footage of cars, including a city bus, sliding down the hill that is literally around the corner from where we stayed in Capitol Hill.

    Frozen Dolphin in the Woodpile

  • Seattle must be one of the most walkable cities in the US.  It appears that there are several places in the city with traditional neighborhood housing mixed in with lots of independent businesses at which you can obtain pretty much anything you could need or want within about 6-8 blocks.
  • You cannot swing a dead cat without hitting a Starbucks.  This is a fact.  If you go there, try it.  And they all seem to always be packed with customers.  And really close to each Starbucks is an (at least one) independent coffee shop that is bustling just as briskly.
  • Some French café down the street has the best breakfast I have eaten lately: line an oval dish with ham, crack 2 fresh eggs into it, cover it lightly with shredded Gruyere, and broil it til the yolks are slightly less than firm.  It was good enough that we had to go back again so I could have it for breakfast on the last day.  I suspect I will soon be spending some trial-and-error kitchen time in my pursuit of this ideal.  Listening to The Walkmen is even better with café au lait.  Since my return from Nashville, I am positive that the bulk of the time I have spent talking to people about the trip has been rambling on about that egg dish.

    The "Donut" Sculpture Near the Awesome Indoor Botancal Garden

  • On the way to that cafe on the first day there, I spotted a record store, Zion’s Gate, specializing in reggae and metal.  Immediately I decided that place probably had Bad Brains t-shirts, and I was not going to leave Seattle without one.  Figuring the store would be open again before the 5-day stay was done, I made it a point to go by and call on three other occasions during the visit.  Each attempt was an opportunity to suspect that 17WfY’s assertion made on that first morning was correct: the stoner-metal guys who likely run the shop woke up to snow and ice during  Thanksgiving week, promptly said “fuck it”, and went back to sleep.
  • There are LOTS of different owl stickers on the backs of lots of speed-limit and bus-stop signs.

    One of the Owl Stickers I Saw Everywhere

  • You gotta REALLY want to go up in the Space Needle to make the cost of entry worth it.  It ends up that I prefer to spend my money on various forms of “peasant food” and café au lait (or café con leche, as the case may be).
  • Seattle is the only place I have ever eaten breakfast in a place that is a drag bar at night.
  • Elliot Bay Bookstore is my favorite so far.  It’s next door to a shop specializing in metal and band t-shirts, but they don’t have Bad Brains shirts.
  • If I ever request for you to not let me order any more Cape Cods tonight, remind me that I said that EVERY time I order another one that evening, not just the first time I try it after telling you not to let me do it any more.  Remind me that I told you to tell me it’s for my own good.
  • 1% of the cost of all Public Works projects goes to the arts in such a manner as to enhance public enjoyment of public spaces.

    Troll Under the Bridge

  • There is a huge off-road biking track that runs between the pilings under one the freeways; it’s a public project that makes good use of the space.  (I do not aspire to that kind of biking, but it’s really neat that it’s there.  Maybe a skateboard park will be next?)  There is also a huge troll under a bridge elsewhere in the city, seemingly about to eat a(n actual) Volkswagen Beetle.  There are very interesting stories of guerilla art troupes modifying and retooling (and even transplanting) existing public art so that it is even more suitable to the greater public of the region.
  • Seattle seems as if it is missing a pro hockey team, but they do have naked girls reading.  (I saw the flier.)
  • Speaking of girls, girls in Seattle coffee shops read comic books.  Normal, pretty girls.  I said comic books, out in public –not only within plain view of their friends, but actually seated at the table with their other girl friends reading comic books.  Doom Patrol, even.
  • That guy from Microsoft has LOTS of science-fiction memorabilia and LOTS of guitars.  If you like either topic, the Science Fiction Museum and the Experience Music Project are both worth seeing.  I still think it’s weird that their timeline of electric guitars doesn’t make any mention of Cheap Trick’s Rick Neilsen and his funky multi-neck electric guitars.  I think my dream job would be to curate that museum; it needs to at least double in breadth in order to begin to fulfill its name’s promise.
  • Hippies make the best donuts.  And the best coffee.
  • You can not get a Bad Brains shirt at Pike Place Market.  But you can get almost any other band’s shirt there, as well as any sort of fresh fish or vegetable, fruit, every tin lunch box you ever saw in elementary or junior high.  You may also purchase an EXTREMELY wide variety of imported glass objects of all sorts, including all sorts of devices made for smoking pot, though you apparently may not take photos of these items, not even the military-issue gas mask that’s been outfitted with a bong chamber and an electric starter.  It looked like something William S. Burroughs would have imagined into Naked Lunch.  (This is not an endorsement of illegal behavior, nor of Naked Lunch, which I hated.)  As the girl behind the counter said as I raised my camera-phone toward it, “THE CARD RIGHT NEXT TO IT SAYS NO PHOTOS.”  And, no, she has no idea where I can get a Bad Brains t-shirt, but I might want to try Hot Topic “if they’re some kind of obscure band.”  I ponder the meaning of the word “obscure” while ranting to 17WfY about the no-photos thing.  I disagree with a no-photos policy unless a flash will diminish the lifetime of the subject matter, as in certain museum situations, but that is probably another blog post entirely.
  • If you are at a(ny?) restaurant in Seattle, you will be warned that stuff on the menu might kill you in certain circumstances.  It’s true.  Anything might kill you.  Some stray wind-borne particle may spark an allergic reaction that closes your windpipe while revving your heart up to 180bpm.  An Acme safe might fall on you while you are walking down the sidewalk, too, or any other number of cartoonish events might lead to an extremely abrupt and untimely demise.  I think it’s just as chilling as it is uplifting to be reminded that each and every meal you eat might be your last.

    Pike Place Fish Market, Between Throws

  • Most of the shows I’d want to see if I lived in Seattle are at The Showbox.
  • Irene is not home. Whoever made all the signs saying that, which are all over the yard of a little corner house by the water, seems to sleep outside under a tarp because of the voices of the demons that live inside the house.  I wanted to stop and take a picture of the one hundred or so hand-written posters adorning the yard, most of which contained rants about Christians and demons, but one of the posters said NO PHOTOGRAPHS.  I should have figured that someone who sleeps outside to escape indoor demon voices probably is probably also opposed to soul theft via photography.
  • The elephants at the zoo have been trained to lift their feet in sequence and turn their bodies appropriately for trainers with spray-hoses and brushes.  The young adult gorilla, caring less about hygiene, seems just as happy to crap in its hand, sniff it, and eat it.  Which one is it that’s genetically closer to human, again?
  • There is at least one crow per person in Seattle.
  • Hot Topic in the mall downtown sells DRI shirts and Misfits and Rob Zombie and Pantera shirts, but not Bad Brains shirts.  The girl I asked replied “Bad Brain? No we don’t have that.  Is that a band?”  I had never seen a Hot Topic store before, but once I saw one, I couldn’t think of anything except the South Park episode in which the store is a vortex of evil responsible for the increase in goth kids.
  • Visiting the Museum of History and Industry reinforced a lot of themes that were touched on in my most recent favorite books, Daniel Suarez’ Daemon and Freedom(tm).  The people who struck and protested at the WTO gathering in 1999 were right, but way too late.  The people who participated in the General Strike of 1919 probably had the best example of the right idea, too, but conceded to corporate growth what could have resulted in a wholly different model for regional sustainability.  This, also, is a rant for some other post.
  • Every independent restaurant I visited in Seattle has a wider range of mushrooms available on the menu than any place I have seen in any other city.  (I did not see Scotch Eggs on the menu anywhere while I was there, but I imagine I could have found them if I wanted to make a quest of it.)
  • Ate killer Thanksgiving dinner with lots of 17WfY’s relatives, and not one of them seemed crazy.
  • While I have noticed a growing number of friends who are concerned with eating gluten-free foods, I saw something unexpected at one of the veg places we ate: “duck”, “chicken”, and “turkey” were available in faux representations made entirely of gluten.  I stuck with the organic giant mushrooms and organic spinach in organic garlic sauce.  A seemingly Jamaican man with his dreadlocks stuffed up into a huge Rastafarian hat was dining a few tables over, and I wondered if he was one of the guys who ran Zion’s Gate.  My assertion still holds that if I ever come back as a black male, I’m definitely going to have dreadlocks.
  • Cormorants can swim underwater for longer than you probably think.