arts, music, seattle

Weekend of Readings

This weekend I saw not one, but two readings.

The first was actual music, dance, and poetry (in that order). I don’t know what the schedule is for the Apostrophe series, but I know it happens regularly at Gallery 1412 (1412 18th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122) in good ol’ Capital Hill. I like the idea of having three different disciplines coming together for a lot of reasons. For one it gets people who are focused in different arts in the same room (both audience and performers).

This weekend’s Apostrophe wasn’t as good as the last one I saw, but it was good still.  I wasn’t sure about the dance, though it should be said that what I know about dance could barely fill an index card.  The music was just boring to me. It was just a guy on a laptop playing boring loops. If I want see someone working on their computer I’ll put a mirror in front of my desk.  But that isn’t what made it boring, the loops were the culprit.  In amateur opinion I decided that the problem was that the sounds didn’t layer well. They were mostly background— missing some vital foreground to catch my attention. The background was great as a background, but it just couldn’t do all the work.  The only way I could start to get interested was by thinking of the intention (ie. what is the artist saying about background, making background a foreground, etc).  And even then I was only theoretically interested, the music still left me bored. The poetry was nic, nothing ear popping, but nice.

The second reading was at Open Books.  One of my friends read along with another woman who I am not friends with. Clearly I am not impartial, but I can say with honesty & conviction that Monica Fambrough is a great poet and was the better of the two.  Her reading was a high point for the weekend.  Everyone should get her new chapbook Black Beauty.  You can also here her digitalized-over-the-phone-voice at on weird deer (go to the very bottom of the page).

eating out, seattle

Restaurant is Good but Needs a New Tidal

First, let me apologize for that pun, but let me also point out that if I was really sorry I wouldn’t have done it in the first place. The Ebb n’ Flow located at 2114 N 45th St in Wallingford area of Seattle is a great (though not cheap) place for brunch. But don’t go to there expecting seafood, that just isn’t their thing, even if the name suggests water they offer a gourmet greasy spoon menu. At least that’s what I saw looking at their brunch and lunch menus. Dinner may be different, and from what I hear dinner may be worth missing out on.

I was torn between waffles and french toast (they called it Pain… something, “pain” is French for bread). I’ll tell you this, the french toast was very tasty. Right now I don’t know about the waffles. I did see them at a table beside me, and I think I made the right choice going with the toast. And let me tell you this was no run of the mill french toast. Made with thick white bread in a oval shape, a little (too) light on the egg, then add cinnamon and a brown sugar/butter spread with some maple syrup on the side. Yikes, it was good. The serving size was enough to fill me up with some meal to spare and it cost about $8 plus some tea, tips, and taxes*. Reasonable for sure.

My friend ordered a custom job of scrambled eggs with spinach and bacon, and some potatoes on the side. it looked pretty good, though again it was absurdly light in the egg department. Maggie didn’t seem to mind too much until the end when the egg was difficult to find among the bacon and greens. I didn’t notice the price, but I think it fell along the same lines as mine.

If you are in Wallingford, which is a nice part of Seattle —home of Open Books, nice tea and coffee joints, the Erotic Bakery, some decent park space and a bunch of other neat stuff— then you should make it a point to get brunch there.

*I should point out that in my rush to catch the bus I forgot my wallet and now owe my friend Maggie a meal. Thanks again, Maggie.

[tags]brunch, eating out, ebb n’ flow, restaurant review, restaurants, seattle, vegetarian options, wallingford, ebb n’ flow[/tags]



Being a good-for-nothing-vegetarian means that there can be trouble when attempting to eat out. Sure there is pizza, but that gets old after a while. A lot of places now have veggie burgers, but again, veggie burgers do get old. It isn’t always easy to find menus that go beyond the veggie burger though. In fact many menus try to squeeze meat into just about everything they serve. Chinese, Japanese, and Indian food tends to be very accessible to vegetarians, though even those can’t always be counted out (watch out for those broths and sauces folks).

Two places I have found in Seattle that serve strictly vegetarian menus are the Vegetarian Bistro and the Bamboo Garden.

The Bamboo Garden is in Queen Anne at 364 Roy Street. The atmosphere isn’t anything special and the food was okay. My socks were not knocked off, in fact they weren’t even tugged at. it wasn’t bad though. The prices were on par for Chinese food anywhere else, not too cheap and not too expensive. The menu offered a pretty good selection, but I just couldn’t get into my meal. They have lunch specials but none of them looked like what I wanted so I ended up paying more and getting less than the people I ate with.

Vegetarian BistroThe Vegetarian Bistro is in the International District at 668 S. King Street and was the better of the two in my opinion. For one, the atmosphere was very nice, they even have a tea bar in the back. The menu is huge (almost too big) and has photos of some of the meals so that you have an idea of what you are getting yourself into. The prices are reasonable, and they have a lunch special— $7 for a main dish with soup and a spring roll. Of course you also get some delicious tea and a tasty fortune cookie (note: fortune may not be impressive, mine predicted I would read information that was “helpful” — self-fulling fortune cookie?). I got the Mongolian Veggie Chicken, and it was very nice. My socks were still on, but a felt a slight pull a couple times.

Of the two I recommend going to the Vegetarian Bistro, it’s just nicer.

[tags]bamboo garden, chinese food, food, international district, queen anne, restaurants, seattle, vegetarian[/tags]

flight, seattle, travel

Well *Ding* You Southwest Airlines

I’m not the most experienced flier, but I’ve flown enough to know what I don’t like.  On that this of things is lining up as soon as I get to the gate in the desperate hope of not getting the worse seat on the plane.  Another thing is being in an uncomfortable seat for several hours and being offered only gross snacks on a fairly long flight.  What does all this mean?  I don’t like flying on Southwest Airlines!

I flew from Seattle to Las Vegas to Manchester and then from Manchester to Las Vegas to Seattle, clearly not the most direct way to get back and forth, but it was (just barely) cheaper than some other flights. The trade off is having to stand for an hour to fight for a seat, and then sit in an uncomfortable Boeing 737 uncomfortable for the duration of the flight (6+ hours in my case).

Seating works like this: there are no assigned seats, you print a boardpass from the interweb the day before, it has either and A, B, C, or D on it depending on how many people already printed their boarding passes. Once you get to your gate you line up like cattle in lines labeled A,B,C, and D.  If you want to be at the front of your line you must get there powerfully early, don’t expect people to sit down until just before boarding.  Even if you are in line A you probably won’t get a very good seat, and if you are traveling with a large group don’t expect to sit together.

And bring your own food, unless you like those bread sticks with the fake gross cheese that I used to get packed in my lunch when I was a kid— those were good then, but they’re a punishment now.

I don’t know what it is about the seats, but I they are just unpleasant.  I know airplane seats are luxury, but for me these go above and beyond the normal discomfort.
The only pleasant part flight was the witty and snappy flight attendant on the flight into Manchester, though I’m guessing his routine is only enjoyable the first time.
I won’t even go into how much I hate the Las Vegas airport and paying $3.50 for a slice of the most disturbing pizza-like food I’ve ever eaten. I’ll leave it at this: STAY CLEAR!

People keep talking about JetBlue, so I think I’ll try them out next time.

[tags]airlines, travel, southwest airlines, jetblue, 737, las vegas, breadsticks n’ cheez[/tags]


There are Cold Things Falling Out of the Sky!

As I walked home today a man stepped out of a restaurant and said in a very confused and slow voice, “it’s raining?” There’s an old myth that the Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow, apparently in Seattle they don’t have one. The other day it snowed maybe half an inch and people abandoned their cars along the highway, businesses closed, and a general sense of danger oppressed the entire city. They don’t have sand or salt for their roads or sidewalks, they don’t have the skill to drive on icy roads or walk on the slick sidwalks, they just plain don’t know what to do here in Seattle if anything but rain falls from the sky.


Frank Black, Who Knew?

I knew I liked the Pixies, so I should have known that I’d like Frank Black, but for some reason I never bothered to find out if I would. That changed today.

At work I listen to internet radio stations. One of those stations is KEXP which is located here in Seattle. Today I had the opportunity to sit back and let Frank Black introduce me to Frank Black as he performed some songs in the KEXP studio. Frank Black in the lead man for the Pixies, which exists again. Apparently the band is planning on releasing another album, though there nothing is set down right now. Since the Pixies fell apart Black has continue his life in the form most common to the victims of big band breakups— a solo musician. frank black

Frank Black was a pleasure to listen to, his lyrics are great and his banter with the KEXP DJ (Kevin Cole) was almost as good. More than that though he seemed like a genuinely nice and interesting person.

Frank Black is playing tonight, right now actually (now being 8:30pm on a Monday), at the Showbox. Anyone lucky enough to be there is having an amazing experience I am sure. He’s been touring to support his new album Fast Man Raider Man.

If you have a decent internet connection and realplayer or windows media player (both of which I hate), you can listen to an archived stream of the studio performance on the KEXP website, I assume it will eventually be on the studio performances page as well. I suggest you go and do that now.

[tags]frank black, kevin cole, kexp, live performances, music, pixies[/tags]

environment, seattle

Sounds Like Bad News

The Puget Sound is dying. All our water is in trouble. It’s nothing new, when I was in elementary school we learned about lakes dying because of pollution, it doesn’t take a huge leap to realize that it’ll happen to every body of water that see regualr pollution. Bigger bodies of water, like oceans, just take longer to screw up. We already doomed the polar bear, and now it looks like fish might be goners too.

The people of Seattle are trying to save the Puget Sound, but they don’t seem to be using science which might be a problem. Politicians and the public are all invited to weigh in on the best way to save the sound. I’m not against public debate, but I sure as heck don’t want my neighbor’s idea of how ecology works to be weighed equally with how expert ecologists know it works. The goal is to restore the sound to “good health” by 2020. Considering it is approaching catatonic right now that’s a hefty mission.

The important thing to realize is that not screwing up the environment will cost us, that means making some decisions that will be unpopular. Politicians hate doing that mostly because it could cost them campaign money and votes, and there lies the problem. The thing to realize is that it’s mostly an initial cost— most of the things that help the environment are more cost effective long term. Even changes that seem to cost more will cost us less. Buffer zones and maintain (or growing) forest cover doesn’t make anyone money, but it does aid the environment which is a very limited resource.

Everytime we do something that hurts the environment less we add to the economy. When we choose to continue using oil for instance we aren’t just paying our hard earned cash for that gas at the pump, we are paying by thawing Alaska’s permafrost, we are paying by spilling oil into the ocean, by pouring pollutant’s into our air and lungs, and so much more. It adds up quickly especially as the population grows and continues our legacy of oblivious contentment.

We have to consider that expecting the science of the next generation to come up with a magic pill and fix things is stupid. We have to consider that politicians won’t do anything until they have to and that doing the right thing is rarely fun. Passing our responsibilities off only makes the problems more difficult. What’s worse is that it’s an attitude that gets passed on and so any meaningful change is resisted.

That is why people born in thirty years won’t ever see a polar bear in the wild, and that is why the Puget Sound won’t be healthy by 2020.


A Place to Live

I now have my very own place to live in Seattle. They would never say it, but I am sure Travis & Monica are relieved to be relieved of their hosting duties. My new place is on 15th Ave and E Union Street. The building is from the early 1900’s but is in very good shape. The cons are a weird heating system, 1950’s frig, and one of those damn tiny stoves. But the apartment has more nice things than un-nice things. The kitchen is newish and has two cabinets with leaded glass doors as well as a place for a kitchen table; there is a huge closet, full bath, and a build in dresser. The windows are new and most of the utilities are included— I’m satisfied.

Now I need to occupy this little space with things. After spending an entire paycheck at IKEA I still need to at least get a sofa, but I think I have the under control. The plan is to find a used one. I’m clearly a genius.


Goodbye Poetry Bus

On Friday I saw the end of what I saw the beginning of. Or put in a nicer way, I saw the last Poetry Bus reading. It was great! The reading was in two parts, the first being a subscriber event (to thank them for their financial support which makes things like the bus tour possible) and the second was open to the greater public. The first reading was shorter and featured the much appreciated open bar, the second reading was longer and featured the much despised cash bar. But that didn’t ruin my fun by even 0.5%

The space needle has two levels, the top one is the one where you are in the disk-looking thing that is visible in the skyline all over the Seattle. The second level is about a third of the way up and while not nearly as high has amazing views nonetheless. Imagine walking out of an elevator and looking out over the bay just as the orange sun is finally falling below the very distant mountains. Beautiful oranges and reds reflecting off the water, the buildings all silhouetted with tiny glowing windows. Mountains in the distance looking almost like ghosts. It was a very nice sight.

The readings happened well after the sun had set but (thanks to light pollution, which is a mixed blessing) there was still a view. It was wonderful to hear all these great poems and have these sox-knocking views all at the same time.

The readers were amazing, I really can’t say anymore than that. Afterwards people hung out on the bus and it was also very great. Bill, the bus driver, played blues on his guitar as people hung out— he also read at the space needle. Apparently Bill’s become a poet himself. That is what I think the poetry bus is all about.

[tags]poetry, poetry bus, space needle, wave books[/tags]


Home of the Metronatural!… or is it MetroNatural?

Seattle has abandoned it’s last slogan… See-@-L and gone metronatural. Note: this has nothing to do with queer eye for a straight guy. All this new slogan cost was $200,000 and 16 months of work. Considering it borrows from a word coined a dozen years ago I’d say that it might not be that great of a feat, but I’m no marketing exec. People here aren’t very impressed so far, in fact they are comparing it to Washington’s failed slogan SayWA, which I think we can all agree is a terrible slogan (or “branding”) for anything, heck it’s barely even a catchphrase.
The idea is that is that metronatural encompasses a person who loves both the urban and wilds. An interesting juxtaposition sure, but I don’t know if it is real. Good for marketing maybe, but not entirely honest. Yes, there are people here who sincerely care about nature, but there are plenty that don’t and even more that only think they do. The real interesting contradiction is that Seattle has a huge problem with their water and with transportation. Public transportation is a joke, the punch line being Monorail and maybe in a couple years Light Rail. There is no subway. That leaves only the weird bus system which probably isn’t as confusing as it seems, but I haven’t had the patience yet to try to figure out the map which was only available as a 2mb pdf of the entire greater Seattle area. Even if it was a snap, buses are not much better than cars and definitely not a faster, more convenient, or pleasant… and I say that as a person who happily rode on a bus system with problems for three years.

You can’t have a city and a forest, the two are exclusive of one another. But what’s more, the way Seattle is currently setup, you can’t even have environmentally friendly and a city together. I think it is important here to clarify that when I say “environmentally friendly” I don’t mean more people biking to work, which is happening here. That’s great, but unless the city (not a small percentage of its inhabitant, but the city itself) is actively trying to help the environment it is not friendly. Hey, I’d even call it a friend if just tried to make a tiny footprint, rather than a big ugly one it’s leaving now. A city that hurts the environment less than before can’t call itself a friend anymore than a mobster who breaks jaws instead of shooting shooting can call himself your pal.

Don’t get me wrong I like Seattle. It has problems, but so does everywhere else, I just don’t want to ignore the things I see that don’t add up. The nice thing is that it seems like Seattle is a place where these things have a chance of changing, that can’t be said everywhere else.