Save Ferris*


I need to hang out at the waterfront at night more often, it seems.

My Modern Met put together a really beautiful collection of long-exposure images of the Seattle Great Wheel** at times when it puts on its fancy clothes for holidays and the like. God, I love stuff like this. I’ve never been up in this thing, but I will soon, and I’ll bring you along. Also maybe a flask – I hear it’s pretty slow going.

Fun fact: one of the highlights of the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis was the 26-story Ferris Wheel, which could hold 2,000 people. It was the same Ferris wheel featured at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.*** However, after its second life in St. Louis, it was BLOWN THE FUCK UP, and only its axle remained. Only no one knows where it is – people believe it may still be in Forest Park, where it’s not out of the ordinary to find weird artifacts from the World’s Fair. But a GIANT FREAKING AXLE remains out there, unaccounted for. This is an open case, people! This is still a thing being discussed!

World’s Fairs are weird things. I wish they still happened in all their hopeful, disposable glory.

*Eesh, sorry.

**Yes, that is the name of the Seattle Ferris wheel when it’s at home.

***P.S. Go read Devil in the White City. I’m serious, get to it, now.

The Weirdly Awesome Under-Interstate Bike Park

Welcome. Hello. Have a seat.

under-highway couch

I cannot overstate how badly I wanted this couch to be made of stone.

This is what greeted us when we crossed Lakeview to arrive at the I-5 Colonnade Mountain Bike Park. It pained me – I have a long-held ambition to have an outdoor couch of my own – but I’ve heard far too many bedbug stories on NPR lately to sit on furniture of unknown pedigree. Sad. Continue reading

Bleh, Bumbershoot.

No. NO.

No. NO.

I should preface this by saying that I don’t really like big music festivals even when I think they’re impeccably run. I see live music now and then, but I’m often dissuaded by the lack of seating, the way cement floors make one’s lower back feel, and the rampaging elbows of drunks.* Since a lot of these things are amplified at big outdoor music to-dos, they’re generally not my cup of tea.

However, my beef with Bumbershoot is different. The first time the System of it was explained to me, I blinked and asked the person to repeat it. Patiently, they said again:

  • You buy a ticket for the festival with real cash money.
  • This ticket gets you through the gate, for which you stand in a long line.
  • Then you get inside and find the line for the music or comedy tickets.
  • Then you stand in another long line, at the end of which you may or may not be rewarded with special, magical additional tickets to the shows you actually want to see.
  • If you don’t get tickets, you slink away, sad, and proceed to half-heartedly see a bunch of stuff you don’t really care so much about – and that apparently no one else does either.
  • Profit?

“Why wouldn’t I just wait for Patton Oswalt to come back on regular tour so that I’d be guaranteed to see him?” I asked.

There wasn’t an answer for that one.

Who devised this? And how does it seem to make sense to so very many people? Because I’ve been in Seattle for coming up on eight Bumbershoots now, and I still find it baffling.

I went once. I got a free ticket for participating in an arts event, which ordinarily would make me more forgiving of idiosyncrasies.** Gamely, I stood in line for comedy tickets – I even went early! – only to watch every. single. event I’d identified as being even faintly of interest to me be covered up with sad SOLD OUT signs on the big grid o’ events as the line lurched forward.

I turned to my friend. “So it’s exactly the shit I always thought it would be?” He nodded.

Bleh, Bumbershoot. I’m content, like with most things that just aren’t for me, to stay away. But every year around this time, I wonder: what the hell do other sensible people see in this borked system?

Can you tell me? No one has been able to so far.

*Yes, I am occasionally a sour old cow, despite not being old or cow-like.

**I am also cheap and easily bought sometimes.

The Stairs Less Traveled

One of the fanciest walls in Capitol Hill. Look at those angles.I didn’t understand how hilly Seattle was until I got here.* I went to college in Boston, where I lived within a few blocks of Beacon Hill for three-and-a-half years. Have you been to that Beacon Hill? If you’re kind of out of shape, you might consider it a hill. But really, it’s a sort of gentle rise, especially compared to our little corner of the Pacific Rim.

So when I moved here, I was unprepared. I threw myself into it – I was 21, so I could fake the endurance I hadn’t rightly earned, even though I was accustomed to flatter pastures and a car-based life at the time. But Seattle is hilly enough that I snort when we’re described as a bike-friendly city (although not only for reasons of topography). My laundry cycle accounts for the fact that my walking commute home usually leaves me as sweaty as if I’d just jogged a few miles. So it goes.

Seattle is hilly enough that there are certain slopes with stairs, because the hills are too steep to sustain a plain old sidewalk. Yes, in certain places downtown and in Phinney Ridge and probably other places I’ll get to in the next few months, the sidewalks have those raised ridges so you can dig your toes in as you climb to your office on Third on an icy day. But western Capitol Hill, Queen Anne… these places require actual, honest-to-god stairs. Continue reading

Northish Capitol Hill

Glad we cleared that up.I went on a good, long walk today with adventurous friends and saw parts of my neighborhood I’ve never seen in the 8.5 years I’ve lived here. I’ll tell you about it soon. In the meantime, there’s… this. I’m glad people with strange thoughts also sometimes have the foresight to bring a Sharpie or paint pen or whatever with them wherever they go.

In Paris, I went to Le Refuge Des Fondue (why aren’t you there now? why am I not there now? what are we doing with our lives?). About five or six items down the list of things I’d tell you about this place is that it’s covered – COVERED – in graffiti. We finished dinner and were winding our way out of the place, and we decided we wanted to add to it. I dug in my bag, which is generally better stocked with art supplies than most people’s would be, and produced: the Sharpie. And we wrote and left our marks and went happily into the night, not knowing we would soon be trapped in a humid room for upwards of two hours by French singers.

“Why did you have that?” one of our number asked me, confused but a bit impressed. I thought about it and said, “Well, why wouldn’t I?” Sharpies are a sign of good, thorough preparation. Always have a Sharpie. Ideally a good thick one in fighting shape. You never know.

All that is to say: I went on a walk today and had a fiercely good time. More to come.