At 4:00, the sun shined through a hole in the flat colorless layer of cloud that had filled the sky for most of the day. A few of us may have looked up, blinking our eyes, expecting the cloud to close over the sun again. But the seam cracked wide open and the cloud rushed away somewhere else, leaving the sun naked, playing off some last remnants of haze. There weren’t any cheers, no one stopped and pointed, and there were no high-fives. Everyone just continued doing whatever it is we’re doing.
Workers have taped off a large section of Westlake Park while they disassemble the Sound Transit exhibit that’s occupied the space for the last couple of weeks. The 100-foot length of train that’s sitting up on bricks will be loaded onto a truck and hauled away. (Maybe this is how the train will cover the last unfunded seven miles to the airport that Ron Sims insists is still part of the current plan, but I digress.)
There’s a red pickup parked illegally on Pine Street. Two marketing-types in red polo shirts are moving cans of Coke and melting bags of ice around in the back. A teenage girl is filling a black backpack with the Coke cans.
Across the street, there’s a frustrated looking man handing out flyers for an anti-war rally. Beside him, he has a crate of “No Iraq War” signs. He holds a flyer out to a man who’s walking by. The man responds with, “You’re a sick bastard,” and walks on. An older woman walks up and confronts the protestor, “You don’t listen to him. We need people like you.” He flinches at the finger that she’s wagging in his face.
At the corner, there’s a fashionably dressed girl waving a bible at people and ranting at nobody. “I was afflicted! To be afflicted means to be hopeless. I was afflicted! And I was lost before I was afflicted.” There are three more girls giving similar performances, one on each corner. The girl on the southwest corner lowers her voice to a whisper and hugs her bible tightly whenever people walk by.
There’s another set of four girls who’ve found themselves paired up with the ranters, one to a corner. They each have distant looks in their eyes as they hand out cans of Coke to the people walking by.
One passerby looks at his can curiously and asks, “What is this?”
“It’s Coke. It’s just in smaller cans.”
“How long are you going to be out here?”
The girl looks back toward the pickup truck, “I don’t know.”
Up the street, there’s a crew of three people wearing yellow rain jackets trying to make eye-contact with passersby. “Do you have a minute for Greenpeace?”
Four more Bible-girls have the corners at Fifth and Pine covered. One of the girls stops and looks at her watch before ranting on. She’s sharing the corner with Pablo. Pablo is holding a painted stick over his head and pointing at his, by now familiar, sign: “Seattle Police. You are communist devil!” He says thank you when he catches me taking a photo and then continues with his speech, “Hey, Seattle. Listen up!”
A short and tough-looking busker has the entrance to Pacific Place staked out. He and his bulldog, who is installed beside the tip can, are wearing matching sweaters. He’s playing an electric violin and is accompanied by pre-recorded synthesizer music. He lowers his violin briefly to talk to someone, and the violin part continues without him. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s playing over a recording of a synthesizer and a violin and not simply miming his violin-playing.
While I’m digesting the busker’s apparent subterfuge, I detect a change in the atmosphere and look back the way I’d come. The four Bible-girls have quit simultaneously and are heading back toward their associates at Westlake.
Packet of strawberry jam in the Olympic Broiler’s window
(2001(?) – February 2003)
(Also, paper towels. The paper towels that were stuck in one of the windows are gone too.)
All of my socks are white (or off-white probably) with gray patches on the toes and heels. (That’s not completely true. I have one pair of dark blue socks, but they’re not important.) The gray heels don’t line up exactly with the heels of my feet – the sock heels ride up a little, covering my ankles and barely hugging the tops of my heels.
Socks come in bundles of 6 or 8 pairs – the packages are labeled with a range of shoe sizes and those ranges overlap. For example, the package for one size of sock might say “for shoe sizes 6-12″ and the next larger size will be labeled “for shoe sizes 11-15″. My shoe size happens to fit right in that narrow range of overlap, so if I’m shopping for socks, I have an extra decision to make.
Every time I buy socks I forget which size I chose the previous time. But I have a good track record. I’ve only bought the smaller size once, and that was pretty recently. I’ve learned my lesson.
There’s one anamoly in my sock collect. (I’m not talking about the single unmatched sock. I’m not overly concerned about that situation.) Two of my socks don’t have gray patches on the heels and toes. It’s a pair of plain white socks, a little brighter than the others. (I didn’t mention that the gray patches are a relatively new development. The sock manufacturer first introduced them a few years ago. It was a marketing thing – The package said “Now with reinforced toes and heels!” or something to that effect. The gray heels and toes were supposed to be an improvement. But I can’t tell the difference.) I’m kind of worried that they might have been left in the dryer by one of my neighbors before I put in my laundry. I might be wearing someone else’s socks, I’m just not sure.
My brother Justin wrote: “My musical taste was slow in forming… In general, more mainstream than my brother’s… as an aside, it’s kinda fascinating that we more or less discovered David Byrne / Talking Heads at the exact same moment. I had picked up on Talking Heads from 94.5 KATS, a rock radio station that I listened to by virtue of the fact that there wasn’t anything better which, occasionally, played their 4 biggest hits of ‘Once In A Lifetime’, ‘Take Me to the River’, ‘And She Was’, and ‘Burning Down the House.’ Once or twice a dj showed some individuality and snuck in ‘Psycho Killer’ (something I imagaine they’d never be able to do under the auspices of Clear Channel Communications.) So, at a used music store in Seattle, as I was rummaging for something good — my brother picked up the Talking Heads album ‘Stop Making Sense’ — looking for David Byrne for some reason (because one of his songs was used as a theme song for a by now 4-years since cancellation tv show, if I remember his explanation correct), and I ended up snatching it out of his hands.”
Later that day, after Justin, our parents, and I got back to my apartment, Justin put Stop Making Sense on to see if “Once in a Lifetime” was the “This is not my beautiful house” song. There was already a CD in the CD player, David Byrne’s self-titled album. Justin put it back in its case, glanced at the cover and asked, “David Byrne? Who’s that?” I answered, “He’s the guy on the back of your CD case.”
The significance of the otherwise forgotten sitcom was that I’d liked the theme song and had tried to catch the name of the performer in the closing credits, but it had always flashed by too quickly. A few years later, after I’d been listening to a couple of David Byrne albums for awhile, I picked up Uh-Oh. It had “A Million Miles Away”, the song I’d forgotten I was looking for. I found the singer even though I forgot that I was looking for him.
This afternoon while walking down Capitol Hill I watched a jet draw a long white vapor trail starting in the sky above me down to the north. It wasn’t dissipating. The tail end was spreading a bit and the wind was blowing it into a curved shape. Later at the waterfront I tried to work out where the remnants of the vapor trail I’d watched had gone. There was the long rope of cloud near the west horizon; but there was also the wispy mass crowding the daytime moon in the south and now being bisected by another jet that left only a temporary disappearing vapor trail. The wind was giving mixed signals. I could feel it blowing lightly against me toward the east; but the vapor trails were moving to the southwest.
I wandered into Fallout Records while walking aimlessly around Seattle at some point during my first few weeks in town. It was the first store I’d been to where I could find a copy of Lowlife without having to dig around behind copies of some Batman comic; or where I could center in on something weird like a Halo Benders CD without having to dig through piles of corporate rock CDs. At Fallout, I found Hutch Owen’s Working Hard, Underwater, Jim Woodring‘s micro-comics, Dishwasher, Cometbus, King Cat Comics, Doris, and Canadian poetry comics printed on brown grocery bag paper. I was a cynical 18 year old printed-media-junky from rural Eastern Washington, so Fallout was simultaneously both a godsend and exactly the kind of thing I’d expected to find in Seattle. I figured that there were probably a dozen places like it around town that I didn’t know about. (Of course there are no other places like Fallout because every other place like Fallout is unique, if that makes any sense.) Today there’s Fallout, Confounded Books, and Left Bank Books (of course there are other great bookstores and record stores in Seattle, but not a lot of specialized coverage of small press things). Next week there will just be Confounded Books and Left Bank Books.
There’s a little boy, three or four years old, stomping around at the coffee shop. When he manages to get a cabinet door open, his mother collects him and takes him back to the table where she’s talking to a friend. When it’s time to leave, he’s bundled in a jacket with a wooly hood and they head for the door. The kid leads the way, the mother is behind him pushing an empty stroller, and the mother’s friend brings up the rear. The door is swinging shut and the boy takes a couple of bold steps over to it, grabs the handle with both hands and pulls. But the door continues it’s swing shut, taking the boy with it. He tilts forward without losing his footing. His mom began to react as soon as she saw him reaching for the door handle above his head, she stretches around the stroller to steady him, but only reaches the handle as it’s closing. The kid has already regained his balance. She swings the door open, giving the kid a paper cup to hold onto. The kid skips outside, studying the cup, which he’s holding out in front of him with both hands. He tips the cup to the side to test the lid and a little bit of liquid dribbles out of the cup onto the sidewalk. His mother talks to the friend outside for a few minutes, before she heads up the street with the boy trailing behind her, drinking from the paper cup. He walks straight into one of the sidewalk chairs, stumbles back a step, and maneuvers around the chair – his two hands clenching the cup up in front of his face.