Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's always strange realizing that there are normal people in the alternative place that you've moved

A lot of my experience out here in the Pacific Northwest has involved unlearning some of the hype and self created illusions that I brought with me when I moved here. I had no idea, but through the four years of completely alternative living, off the board, in Florida that I'd gone through I was already further along on the path to weirdness than many of the folks who already lived in the Pacific Northwest. Strange. My idea was that Washington was going to be the next level, the next stage of strangeness and mind bending radicalism....and in many ways it has been that, but not in the same intense, all encompassing, way that I imagined. Like any other place there's a lot of variation, with many folks being not as hippyish and crazy as others.

Along the way this has lead to some confusion between myself and others. I can picture myself as a kind of castaway from a far off land, going to the Northwest after wandering through the deserts of Texas and the Southwest, on and on, encountering people and being met with kind of blank stares."Umm....that's great and all...hey George, how are the Sounders doing?"

Friday, February 18, 2011

Another Seattle favorite: El Diablo Coffee in upper Queen Anne

El Diablo Coffee is a Cuban/Caribbean style cafe that serves traditional coffee drinks and sandwiches...and that is very reminiscent of cafes and coffee shops back in the good 'old Florida Keys. The same pastel coloring on everything, the same sort of whimsical folk art patterns, even the fact that it opens up onto a wooden deck/walkway that it shares with other businesses reminds me of the Keys. It's a place I often go to get away from things and relax, sort of a secret hideout. Decoration wise, the big inauthentic thing about it is that many of the images, including the Devil images, actually come from Mexican folk art and things like the Loteria game, that has lots of iconic images. The Virgin of Guadelupe, for example, isn't venerated in Cuba or in the Caribbean. But, Mexican folk art is great for me as well, and reminds me of another past place that was a love of my life: Austin Texas. In any case, the combination works well.

The coffee is good, the food is good.

Upper Queen Anne is a place that tourists in town should check out. Queen Anne itself is interesting enough, but up the hill you'll find a more laid back, less aggressively urban environment with small shops and residential streets that's sophisticated, and upscale, but that's still approachable and enjoyable as a regular person. This isn't Bellevue, just a nice little neighborhood.

On a side note, while it's not nice to celebrate a restaurant going out of business, in general, I have to say that I'm not sad to see that the Florida Keys themed restaurant in upper Queen Anne has closed down. Completely inauthentic.

If you are looking for Mexican folk art in Seattle, Milagros in Pike Place Market is the place to go. Totally authentic, good selection, nice products. Reasonably priced as well.

If you're looking for Mexican folk art in Austin, for that matter, or want to be able to order lots of it online, Tesoros Trading Company is the way to go.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I'll miss Borders--they did some good

They did some good in an area that's usually MIA in American culture--the cultivation of higher sensibility and that of the mind. Although they became one of the two big box book stores in the U.S., the mere presence of one often improved life for people by giving them broad access to lots of books that they otherwise would not be aware of or see. I know this first hand through growing up in a mid size town on the edges of the Detroit area. When a Borders opened up near Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights, it changed my outlook. Sure, I couldn't go there all the time because it was roughly twenty five minutes away, but it did enough. Before that the major bookstore was substantially farther, the Barnes & Noble in Rochester, which has since moved across the street into a new building.

I know Borders improved my life, and even though it became a place to avoid in order to support independent book sellers, still, I can imagine there being lots of people for whom Borders was the independent bookseller, or as close as they could get to it in their area. The only alternative to me for a while, besides the long trek to Rochester and Barnes & Noble facilitated by grumpy parents, was Waldenbooks in Lakeside Mall, since closed down and hardly comparable in any way to a Borders.

So Borders, I'll miss you.....but...looking on line it seems that the Redmond branch will still be open, which is good. If only underserved communities like Lynnwood could have retained there's.

Monday, February 14, 2011

If you're looking for library architecture in Seattle, go to the Capitol Hill branch of the SPL after you're done with the downtown one

Because the Cap. Hill branch has a facade that incorporates ivy and plants into slats of metal, combined with a metal walkway. Inside, it's acceptable to snuggle into a window ledge and read. In fact, they have rules posted about what you can and cannot do while reclining in that fashion.

The drawback is that although it's great architecturally, it's small. The books are great for the size, but it would be awesome if it could move to a bigger space sometime in the future.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Seattle moment, Cafe Vita in Cap. Hill

Sat next to a group of guys and gals who trucked out a Dungeons and Dragons board and game and were playing it on two tables pushed together. Out of the ordinary, for sure, but the people who were playing were very openly and flamboiently gay. They were also in their early '40s, well heeled, and were the antithesis of the common notion of 'nerds' or 'geeks'. My guess is that in their teenage years they were in fact those people, but in the intervening time they found themselves, came out, and struggled to compose careers for themselves as out gay men. Yet still, they retained memories of their love for D&D that they had as kids.

I might just be reading all of this into the game, but it would sure be great if that was the case.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Went to Blick Art supplies on Capitol Hill, feel like a traitor,

The Blick store across from Seattle Central Community College is one of those places that's seductive, yet you know you shouldn't be going there. Why? Because their goal is to put Utrecht, Artist and Craftsman, and possibly Daniel Smith out of business. I like all three, although I mostly go to either Artist and Craftsman in the U-District or go down to the huge Daniel Smith store/factory in SoDo.

My art focusses on three broad mediums: stone sculpture, copper and zinc etchings, and drawings. Occasionally collage, although that's kind of been cheapened since everyone and his brother now does collage. I like reductive sculpting through stone, getting in there with a chisel, hammer, a piece of marble, and a model to work from....meaning another sculpture, usually made out of clay or taken from that, rather than a live model. Also have done bronzes sometime from clay.

Mostly, though, when I get art supplies they relate either to printmaking or to drawing, or to miscellaneous productions, because the stone tools and the stone itself are all very specialized, with their own suppliers.

But, in any case with the art supply stores, maybe Blick will turn out to have better products, I'm not sure, but I think I'll stick to the places I already go to.


Who knows, maybe in time I'll post some pictures of some of my artwork here?

Visited the late, great Abraxus books in Seattle on its last day in business

Sad thing. Abraxus was always one of the best, in fact was probably the most academic of the used book stores in Seattle, although the much smaller "Horizon Books" has some pretty academic titles. It surpassed Magus Books in the U-District in this regard. When I saw it the first time in Queen Anne I thought that that was just a new location and that it hadn't moved as a whole.

Anyways, managed to get some good stuff, including cultural anthropologist Marvin Harris' "Cultural Materialism", about analyzing cultural systems, and "Intelligence Reframed" by Martin Gardner, talking about his theory of multiple intelligences.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ah, Almont Michigan

Sometimes it's bitter to be concerned with things that happened while you were in High School, sometimes it's just fun.

Man, what can I say about the sheep fuckers in Almont Michigan? Not much, except that I moved away and went to school in Birmingham, MI, and was able to get into NYU and U of M, while they remained concerned about country music and whatever repressed culture had infiltrated their rural Christian world.

Wasn't from there, only went to school and lived there for three years, but damn if that wasn't some of the most monotonous, idiotic, years of my life. The world that time forgot.

If we were back in the days of city states I would suggest that neighboring Romeo, which isn't rural, occupy Almont and teach it civilization.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Business in America and government: false teleologies

So funny to hear the Republicans constantly complaining about regulations hampering business hurting the country. The country, this country, is made up of people, of citizens, who are going about living their lives. Business is a secondary phenomenon, which should be located under the general lives of people in terms of importance. Saying that x powers society and that, therefore, it should have primacy in society is false logically in that x is not discrete and on its own but enmeshed in society and not different from it. You have to analyze society as a whole to determine what is important and what's not, not just pick out one institution and declare that it's prime because you think it appears important. People could just as easily argue, fundamentally, that the State is the primary motor of society, or that the Family is. The fact is that in isolating business from the context it exists in people ignore the greater impact that business, especially unregulated business has on society as a whole.

An Amanda Knox parody from the Onion:"Judge Rules White Girl Will Be Tried As Black Adult"

Judge Rules White Girl Will Be Tried As Black Adult

Of course, it's sort of indirect because it's not Italy, but the meaning is pretty clear.

Here in Seattle, the unbridled support of Amanda Knox, and the complete ignoring of Meredith Kercher, reached untold levels. Being rich, white, from a private school, Amanda Knox had to be innocent, and those dark skinned, dark haired, Italians had to be corrupt and just persecuting poor 'ole Aryan Amanda.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Finally saw "Portlandia"

And oh my god is it funny and right on. For some reason, I was under the impression that it was going to be a "Friends"-esque treatment of twentysomething hipsters, indie people, and alternative folks, in Portland that would be full of fawning and whitewashing. Not The Case.

I can imagine quite a few non-violent and non-confrontational Portlanders suddenly chucking all of that out the window and attacking the two main people in the streets. Then again, as the series points out, 'some' people there are willing to chuck their values and go completely against them when it serves their own self interest, so Portlanders doing so wouldn't be that much of a surprise.

Cross post w/LHT ""Ronald Reagan cared more about UFOs than AIDS" by Alex Pareene"


Very true. It contains an immortal paragraph:

"If Ronald Reagan was a genuine UFO nutter or simply in thrall to a simplistic sci-fi plot makes no difference to me. But the fact remains that he spent a lot of time talking about spacemen. Spacemen killed, according to my estimates, no Americans, at all, during Reagan's presidency."


"There isn't much evidence that he devoted much time at all to even thinking about AIDS, which was killing a frankly staggering number of Americans throughout his entire presidency. Edmund Morris recalls him wondering if "the Lord brought down this plague [because] illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments," which does not sound like the statement of a man who's given the disease much thought."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Your moment of What the Fuck? Nancy Lieder of Zeta Talk describing the varieties of alien life in the universe

No comment....or maybe, comment, a sad comment.

Really good restaurants in Seattle from someone who isn't trying to sell you stuff

Here are some local favorites that you'll probably like, if you don't like food that's bad. Most are pretty affordable, and all are place I either regular go or go back to when I go out. In no particular order:

1:Rancho Bravo on Capitol Hill

2:Cafe Vivace on Capitol Hill

3:The Honey Hole on Capitol Hill

4:Ruby in the U-District

5:Aladdin's Gyros, U-District

6: Tahn Brothers Pho, U-District

7: Bengal Tiger, Roosevelt

8: Cafe Bastille Ballard

9: Roxy's Fremont

10: Brouwer's Fremont

11: New Orleans Creole Restaurant, Pioneer Square

12: Cafe Umbria, Pioneer Square

13: Wild Mountain Cafe, Crown Hill/Ballard

14:Mee Sum Pastry, Chinese Pastries, Pike Place Market

15: Le Panier, pastries and coffee, Pike Place Market

16: Thaiger Room, U-District. Good Thai food. Thai Tom's is rated better, but this is very good as well, and has better seating.

17:Gabriel's Fire, Crown Hill. Barbecue joint, almost makes it as good as places in the South, which is saying something.

18: Cafe Besalu, Ballard. Best and most authentic French Pastries in Seattle.