Archive for August, 2004

It’s about that time again.

Time, that is, for a list of things to do in Seattle that don’t involve going to Bumbershoot.
(Dear One Reel: I respect your need to make a profit and I appreciate the efforts you’ve expended in keeping the festival alive, but enough with the “Seattle arts festival” tagline already. Bumbershoot is “the Seattle arts festival” only because it takes place in Seattle. The contemporary structure of the festival is such that it could be held anywhere–there’s so little about the fest tha’s uniquely Seattle any more. Then again, “Booths full of the same old crap as every other fair and festival in Seattle, whatever touring bands we can sign and a small corner of local artwork” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, does it?)
Here’s my list so far:
1. Take in a viewing of “Hedwig & the Angry Inch” at The Re-Bar
2. Attend the “FTM2004: A Gender Odyssey” conference at Hugo House
3. See one of the greatest so bad, so good, and so bad that it’s good films ever,
Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains
at The Grand Illusion.
…more to follow, but in the meantime, anyone got any other suggestions?

Jump in!

Now that I have been here about three months, and the fall is coming, and I am realizing that this move is more than just a big silly summer vacation, I have been thinking a lot about my first days in town. It makes me laugh to remember how wide-eyed, frightened and yet unreasonably hopeful I was. It shocks me to think how different a direction my life has taken since those early days…
My first friends in Seattle were these homeless guys who hung out by the water all day–in that “park” area by the aquarium, with the picnic tables and the disturbingly aggressive seagulls that crap all over EVERYTHING. I was sitting there, trying to plan out my new life, staring at places I did not yet know, waiting for my hostel check-in time to arrive, when I heard a scratchy voice from behind me–“Hey, wanna pet my bird?”
I turned around fast, teeth grittted in defensive New Yorker mode, to find a weathered looking man with freaking PIGEON in his hand. I had to decline the offer (pigeons terrify me), but the ice was then broken…his friends approached, slowly, shyly. Once they found out I was new in town, they overwhelmed me with chatter–tips on how to get around, places to go, stories about how they all ended up here.
Some were ridiculously young (an eighteen year old who had left Miluakee a few months before, lured by the promise of sweet, sweet Seattle weed). Others were around my age (a man from LA who had gotten kicked out of his parents house a few years back and had been wandering ever since). And some were older…like the guy with the pigeon, Brian.
He was there every time I went back over the next few days. It was hard to pinpoint his exact age really–if I had to judge by his perpetually resigned expression, I might say 50, but I know it was more like 35. I used to worry that I would appear rude because I had so little to say to him (I’m not good at striking up conversations with strangers), but it always ended up okay; cheesy though it may sound, I think Brian just wanted someone to listen.
He told me stories from different phases of his life; from his time in the Navy, to idyllic visits with his niece and nephew, to horror stories of the present day. How his back pack was stolen while he slept and how it wouldn’t be that bad really except for along with wadded up clothes and a few cans of food, the theif also got pictures of his family, his hometown, his dead mother–things he had no way of replacing. How most days, he just sat by the water, thinking about how there was no way out of his current situation. In between stories, he’d offer me swigs of his Pepsi and bites of canned tuna which always struck me as extraordinarily generous (I mean, if I had nothing, there’s no way I would be giving my food away to anyone, let alone some spoiled chick who had come to Seattle “on a whim”…I mean, how white girl princess is that??).
One day I was sitting with him, watching tourists stroll as he spoke. Some were ascending that pink ramp, making their way to the above landing. When they reached it, they all leaned over the railing, looking down at the water below.
“Hey,” yelled Brian. “Jump in!”
“What are you doing?” I asked him, slightly embarrassed, as I watched the tourists spin around in confusion.
Brian grinned at me and turned back to the tourists. “JUMP IN!” he repeated, even louder this time.
The tourists zeroed in on him. “You jump in!” they retorted.
He held up an extended index finger in a “Hold on a second,” and then stood.
“WHAT are you DOING?” I asked, a shade more nervous than before.
“Don’t worry. I do this alllll the time. Watch my stuff, okay?”
I nodded and watched as he jogged over to the ramp and up to the landing. I saw him converse with the crowd of tourists, negotiating. Then he stripped down to his boxers, climbed over the railing and…well…jumped in, while the tourists snapped photos.
When he returned to the bench he pale and shivering (the hot summer weather had not yet kicked in) and five bucks richer.
As the day progressed, Brian proved true to his word–he did do it “all of the time.” By the time I left a few hours later, he had made about four more jumps.
I don’t want to say that there is anything necessarily wrong with these transactions. Brian offered, they accepted. They hadn’t sat and talked with him, they didn’t think of him as a person, just a zany Seattle character–“Oh Betty, look at this delightfully quirky homeless man I met on vacation. I paid him a dollar to jump into the water. Isn’t that just a LAUGH?” That’s not so very evil, just human and a little sad.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Brian. The idealistic part of me thought “Someone as smart as Brian, surely he could get a job SOMEWHERE! And build a life! And be happy again!” But I know it isn’t that simple.
Since I have moved to the Hill and started working practically non-stop, I haven’t had much of a chance to go trade stories by the water. Even if I did, I am not sure that I would–“Hey guys, I have a house and a job and food in the fridge! Isn’t that great?”…but I might… I wonder if Brian still hangs out there. I wonder if he still gets five bucks a jump. I wonder what he does in the off season. I wonder if he’s okay…

dept. of community resources, v.2

Staring at your walls and an empty wallet wishing for some entertainment that won’t break your bank account? RealLiveSeattle is a community calendar of “oddball, interactive, entertaining, challenging, and/or educational things real live Seattlites do for less than twenty bucks.”
I just found this site; so I can’t vouch for the quality of the events. Still, the concept seems like a neat idea and the format is compellingly browsable for those times when you’re looking for something to do, but you’re not sure what that something is.

dept. of community resources, v.1

If you haven’t gotten a change to check it out, i-neighbors is a site created by M.I.T. researchers to further communications among people in your neighborhood. Gone are the days of front porches and lemonade, replaced by niche market friendster zones.
So far, it looks like a project with potential — one of those things that only becomes useful after a bunch of people sign-up and start using it. Give it a shot! If your ‘hood doesn’t already exist, create one and start the revolution in your few block radius.

supermarket cake race

I like to buy my desserts rather than making them, because I’m the only person in the house who eats dessert, and I don’t want to waste time making a tiny dessert any more than I want to waste time eating the same dessert over and over. The new Whole Foods in Bellevue has been open about a month, and I like to get my desserts from there, in order to fool my body into thinking I’m eating something healthy.
The big complaint I have about Whole Foods, other than their stupid operating hours (8AM-10PM) is that they can’t seem to keep the same desserts available. For instance, I’m addicted to the lemon drop bundt cake, which they’ve had available twenty percent of the time. The runner-up would be this cake below:

… except I can’t figure out why they would call it a lilac cake and then put no lilac in the ingredients. Is it a comment on the color? It’s a yellow cake, as far as I can tell. I couldn’t even see any candied violets. Did they grind them up to put in the frosting? So subtract one point for “truth in advertising”. Subtract a second point for the frosting (which is pure butter). I scraped it off, but I had to pay for it, so I’m not happy throwing it out. Maybe I could save it for my toast tomorrow morning.
So the runner-up is the chantilly berry slice, which I have seen in the store exactly once. The tiramisu is edible, but… I dunno. Nothing I would go out of my way to buy.
Tonight’s new “dessert I’ve never seen here before” was the mini creme brulee. It comes in a dear little ramekin, and they added TWO DOLLARS onto the price for that. I see 4 collectible colors/shapes though, so the packrats should be happy. I was tempted to get one, but from the looks of the ingredients list, they may have buried invisible raspberries in it.
Final opinion: on the whole (HAHAHA), when it comes to a proper dessert (i.e. not your brownie, or cookie, or cobbler) and the cafes are all closed, the individual-sized Whole Food desserts tempt me a lot more than the individual-sized Safeway desserts. The only thing I’ve seen at QFC that I like is the bostom creme pie. Still to come: trips to Fred Meyer and Uwajimaya.

So this weekend I went

So this weekend I went and saw RENT at the Paramount and had a FANTASTIC time! The Paramount has to be one of the most beautiful theatres, maybe the most beautiful I have seen in awhile with the Egyptian in Los Angeles running a close second. I had tapas at Mexico in the Pacific shopping place…the one with the walkin Tiffany’s. I didn’t realize that you could just walk into a Tiffany’s. If you do go to Mexico, try the pomegrante margarita…yum. Last night, I trifled through the bins at the Seattle Goodwill Outlet, buying clothes for 1.49 a pound. That was an adventure in itself. Then I had dinner at Tempero do Brasil on the Ave. This was by far one of the greatest meals I have had in Seattle yet. It wasn’t overly expensive and the atmosphere was nice as we ate outdoors. They sometimes have live music…I met one of their guitarists walking down the street as I was leaving. Then, we followed dinner up with a walk in Cowen Park and let me tell you, that’s a fantastic place to relax. So serene and beautiful especially with all the rain we’ve been getting! Those are my Seattle antics thus far…now if I can only get my credit card back from my waitress…


Er, okay, so I’m not obsessed (bad start huh) but walking past the new-elect Trader Joe’s on my way home this eve, it turns out it’s opening this coming Monday, August 30th at 9 am. The community celebration is still on for Friday I presume, but sales of Charles Shaw can commence earlier than expected. Capitol Hill street drunks take notice!

dept. of upcoming elections, v.2

If you’ve somehow managed to miss the incessant television ads (featuring an elephant, donkey, and creepy Statue of Liberty making their way into a voting booth!) explaining the new Washington primary system and didn’t get the memo sent to postal customers, you might have been confused when your absentee ballot arrived this week.
A complete voter guide, with even more instructions about the single-party primary vote is available at Particularly helpful is a candidate guide to help you choose between, for instance, Mike the Mover and Ron Sims (among others) for the Democratic gubernatorial contenders.
How they decided that the Democratic section should be coded red, the Republican section in green, and the Libertarian in blue is beyond me. Didn’t we settle this in 2000, with the whole red-state / blue-state conventional wisdom?

Vote in person, or have your ballot in the mail by September 14, the date of the state primary election.

dept. of upcoming elections v.1

In widely-circulated news that might fend off criticism from a certain liberal alt-weekly, the Seattle Times turns against their base in an endorsement of John Kerry for president:

Four years ago, this page endorsed George W. Bush for president. We cannot do so again — because of an ill-conceived war and its aftermath, undisciplined spending, a shrinkage of constitutional rights and an intrusive social agenda. The Bush presidency is not what we had in mind. [s.t.]

Like many Kerry supporters, the editorial seems to come more from a position of anti-Bush than pro-Kerry; but I guess an endorsement is an endorsement even if it isn’t glowing.

To see the candidate for yourself, shell out $1,000 for dinner at the Westin tonight, or make the trek South to catch him at a public rally at the Tacoma Dome tomorrow at 9:30 am. Whether it’s worth a grand to avoid Tacoma is your call.

Sorry to beat a dead Monorail, but…

I take back every bad thing I ever said about the Monorail Recall. This includes the time I hollered “Monorail Forever!” at them out the window of a friend’s apartment after the Torchlight Parade. I’d been drinking, you see, and yesterday I got my tab renewal notice in the mail. It seems that my “Voter-Approved Monorail Tax” has gone up from $7 last time to ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-SIX DOLLARS. Ludicrous! Sure, it’s because I’m driving a newer vehicle now, and “we” approved it, but I still very nearly soiled myself.
I admit I don’t have a solution to our transportation ridiculousness, but I can’t help but get a slow sinking feeling about this monorail. If only we had learned a lesson from the Simpsons Monorail episode (which city council staff viewed during earlier planning stages).
In case you want to read some more anti-monorail stuff
Let me fully disclose that I never complained until it affected me personally. And if you live and drive in Seattle, it’s probably gonna chap your hide eventually too.

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