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Tuesday, October 11, 2005  

Seattle, the Pesto of Cities
I’m getting tired of penning this travelogue and I can only imagine how tired of reading it you must be, and I really had planned on wrapping things up with this post. But I don’t think it is going to happen, so stick with me for a couple more days…

We spent the evening at our host’s apartment drinkin’ beers, playing games, and getting caught-up. The next morning it was our “tourist day” and we got an early start and were soon at the waterfront and Pike’s Market. We got a cup of seriously potent coffee at a “Tullys” which had a very cool, if somewhat Starbuckian, vibe; as well as coffee that could strip the paint off a battleship. (which is a good thing.) I’m used to Hollywood coffee, which is brewed strong as this whole town runs on it in a way that is lampooned often but in reality is a very serious. I once saw a craft-service PA get fed to a lion because of sub-par coffee. Ok that isn’t true but you get the idea. Anyway, the Tullys coffee was stiff even by my standards. We proceeded into the market which was similar to LA’s “Farmers Market” except more cramped, more tourists, and multi-leveled. We saw the infamous fish-throwers (who were waiting for the crowds to thicken before they actually began chucking things) then tried to find a donut shop that several people had told us about. It wasn’t long before we came across a purveyor of fried dough and figured the “Texas Twist” was what we were told to get. After all it was $4 worth of donut. It was 12” long and must have weighted 10 pounds. It was so large in fact that I named it Bill. Bill the giant Donut. Julie and I did our best to polish Bill off but only got about ½ through it before stuffing him back in the bag and pressing on. We rounded the next corner of the market and saw a small stand with archaic looking machines spitting tiny dough-balls into hot oil. These were the donuts we were told to find! But we were full-up on Bill and they only sold the tiny, fresh, “anti-bills” by the dozen and so we grumpily left declaring Pikes Market a Tourist Trap and heading to our next stop, a hidden Jem of Jet Cit, The Space Needle complex.

The weather was perfect site-seeing in Seattle weather: overcast and gloomy, threatening to rain but never actually getting wetter than a mist. We parked, loaded up on photographic gear and hit the “Seattle Center.” Julie was a bit sketched out about the Space Needle so we opted for the Museum of Science Fiction first. It turned out to be a pretty cool museum that collected a TON of memorabilia, a lot of literary works, and packaged it all together with the sort of in-depth and interactive supplementary material. Some highlights were the complete, hand-written manuscript for Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, the Actual “load-lifter” and Alien Queen from the film Aliens, and a video-exhibit focusing on city-scrapes in science fiction works. After wondering around the museum we took on the towering monument to 50s idealism (never mind that it was build in 62, the 50s didn’t end until JFK got offed.) What to say about the space-needle? It was tall. The view was cool. Julie was terrified.

From there we decided that since the Sci-Fi museum was so cool we should go back and hit the EMP or “Experience the Music Project,” which shared the Frank Gehry designed building w/ the Sci-Fi Museum. EMP was equally cool, and absolutely filled to the brim with kick-ass relics of rock and roll. There was a whole wing for Jimmy Hendrix that contained dozens of outfits, smashed-guitars, original lyrics scrawled on hotel stationary etc etc. There was a long-hall dedicated to the music of the Pacific Northwest that really showed that the “Seattle Scene” went a lot deeper than Grunge. There were a lot (and I mean guitar-center quantities) of instruments, and while it was a lot of things you could see at the Hard Rock Café in Des Moines the problem with the Hard Rock is all the relics of musical history are just slapped onto the wall. There is no gravity. Only a minimum of respect is paid to the spirit of the piece. At EMP everything is being glass, lit with spotlights and labeled as if it were a Renoir. And this attention to the WEIGHT of what your looking at makes all the difference. But of course the Museum is much more than rock-and-roll memorabilia. There is a whole interactive audio-tour (which we didn’t have time to do,) a DIY song-creation setup where you can play a variety of instruments and actually produce a CD of your one-man-band performance, an exhibit dedicated to the ethereal art of songwriting, listening stations, workshops. A performance space, café and bar, giant robotic sculpture, and even a temporary exhibit dedicated to the saccharine pop of TRL. We were really impressed with Both EMP and the Sci-fi museum, but it was getting late and I had one last stop planned for the day.

posted by JMV | 10/11/2005 10:29:00 AM
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