The Seattle I Brag About
Last week I celebrated my eighth year in Seattle. I’ve lived, loved, worked, played, ate, drank, slept and Not Slept in this magnificent city since July 2, 2002, when I piloted a U-Haul full of useless junk down narrow streets into the heart of Ballard (which is not to be confused with Hjärta Ballard, a condo block at 15th and Market). Those first few days in my new city yielded a new wonder every minute: I was fascinated by the way each neighborhood seemed self-contained, fascinated by the dill and chamomile growing wild through cracks in the sidewalk, even fascinated by the air itself. To paraphrase Kerouac, Northwest air is air you can kiss.
I’ve only ever fallen instantly in love with three cities: Seattle, Bangkok and Las Vegas. I don’t really need to explain my love of the latter cities to my friends — Bangkok, even torn apart by civil strife, is still Bangkok, and many of my lifelong friends still live in Las Vegas and don’t need to be told why they’d want to live there. Seattle, however, is a tougher sell. My out-of-state friends imagine life in Seattle to be an interminable gray slog, punctuated by bursts of grunge, flashes of flannel and the occasional coffee spill. And my local friends — well, a good number of them feel the same way, minus the flannel and grunge. (The hooded sweatshirt is the local comfort costume, not the flannel shirt — and it’s actually our hip-hop scene that’s booming these days.)
I know that there isn’t much I can say to those doubting Mothra-truckers that will make them change their minds. (I’ve already held forth on this topic, to little avail.) But what I can do — mostly for my own enjoyment — is to show you some pictures of the things I love most about Seattle. Your city may be bigger or cleaner or more fiscally sound, but it’s not Seattle. It’s not the place I’ve loved steadfastly since ‘ought-two. And I’ve got the pictures to prove it.
Seattle’s got an amazing theater scene. “(It is) a proud and meaningful theater town,” said Patrick Healy in the New York Times. It’s got enough confidence to poke fun at itself, as the Brown Derby Players do with their straight-faced readings of popular film scripts (in this case, “9 to 5″).
Art is everywhere. We’ve got out museums, we’ve got our galleries, we’ve got our public art — but every now and again, you discover art in places you never expected to find it, or you unwittingly stumble upon art in the process of being made. One day, the School of Visual Concepts pushed all the cars out of its parking lot and made it into a giant letterpress shop — using a steamroller to create giant prints.
Seattle’s sense of humor is keen. I never tire of seeing The Stranger acting out: here, the weekly magazine’s editorial staff got an advance look at the Seattle Weekly’s cover and decided to match it, in their own inimitable way.
We fly kites. Hey, the dad in “Mary Poppins” seemed to think that was pretty important.
Seattle’s natural beauty is unassailable. We’ve got the trees; we’ve got the water; we’ve got the clouds to make the sunsets unforgettable. And every building that exists here — even the scrubby, drab industrial structures — must bow to that natural grandeur.
We’ve got the eccentric thing down to a science. The Fremont Summer Solstice Parade (also pictured at the top of this piece) provides living proof of that, year after year.
Seattle doesn’t let anything go to waste. The strip of Airport Way that runs through our Georgetown neighborhood is essentially one lone, concrete-and-brick canyon, with the old Rainier brewery bordering it on one side and freight train tracks on the other. And yet, it’s one of the city’s liveliest spots, with terrific bars, restaurants, galleries and shopping reclaimed from decay. Those old buildings were just too cool to let die.
Seattle makes lunchtime fun!
We may not have an NBA franchise — expletive you very much, Oklahoma City — but we have plenty of other great teams to cheer: The Mariners, the Rat City Rollergirls, the Seahawks, the Sounders FC, the Storm, and of course, the Seattle Slam.
Seattleites know how to get noticed.
Everyone in the city is blessed with superhuman strength.
We even make our protests look arty.
And Seattle is surrounded by farms growing all kinds of wonderful things.
Oh yeah, almost forgot: We’ve also got a fish market, the original Starbucks and something called a “Space Needle.” Maybe I’ll post photos of those next time. Or you could come up to Seattle and see them firsthand, along with a few other points of interest.
PHOTOS BY THE AUTHOR