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The Seattle I Brag About

13 July 2010 Seattle 4,637 views 7 CommentsPrint This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post

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.

The Brown Derby Series: "9 to 5" 0044

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″).

Yes Wayz

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.

Two-Ply

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.

Let's Go Fly a Kite

We fly kites. Hey, the dad in “Mary Poppins” seemed to think that was pretty important.

Bridge to the First Century

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.

Solstice 1008

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.

Happy Hour in Georgetown 05

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.

Deli Lama

Seattle makes lunchtime fun!

The Seattle Slam

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.

Ariel: The Lost Years

Seattleites know how to get noticed.

Seattle Erotic Art Festival 27

Everyone in the city is blessed with superhuman strength.

Three Masked Figures

We even make our protests look arty.

Ladyferns

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.

- Geoff Carter

PHOTOS BY THE AUTHOR

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7 Comments »

  1. Interesting to hear about Seattle, I don’t know much about it, and as I’m moving to central London soon, i look forward to hopefully falling in love with my city too as you have done. I realise it’s definatley not cleaner though! One more point, the boast about the original starbucks – I’m not so sure that’s a good thing, i mean, one could argue that the rise of starbucks has seen the demise of other coffee shops – ones that genuinley have character and enhance a city neighbourhood. although those big mugs and matching caps are pretty cool…doh!

  2. Now I want to visit, but only if I get to live in a Geoff Carter photograph!

  3. Nice piece, as ever. Now can you do something about this 90-degrees-one-day-50-degrees-the-next weather? I refuse to wear leggings in July.

  4. Did you forget the mountains in your description of Seattle’s natural grandeur? Maybe they go without saying.

  5. Jerry: True. But I did have my reasons for not mentioning our nearby mountains or forests. I tried to concentrate on things that don’t get much exposure in outsider write-ups on Seattle — the art, the eccentricities and so on. I’ve read dozens of travel pieces on Seattle, and nearly all of them say something to the effect of “Seattle is a decent starting-off point, but what you really want to do in the Northwest is go to the mountains.”

  6. Seattle kicked my ass the first year, but then it got good, for the reasons you described and a million more. I couldn’t tell where some of those pictures are from, but they captured a big portion of what makes off-the-beaten-path Seattle great!

  7. I have similar feelings as yours. I moved here seven years ago, after having surfed the dotcom boom through Atlanta, Portland, Dallas (a hellhole), and finally Seattle. My wife and I after a year said, this is home.

    Seattle may not be perfect for everyone, but if you are geeky or celebrate quirky, love snowcapped mountains, or oceans, hate the heat or humidity of the east coast, can appreciate a cup of coffee with gray skies while looking at the bay of fishing boats, or just want to do your own thing without people putting you down, this just might be your paradise.

    Thanks for reminding me how much I love Seattle. Great article.

    Oh, and the local music scene is not too shabby either.

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