Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lo-fi

On CNN the other morning, a reporter was explaining the concept of Twitter, with the kind of dumbed-down language and fake-excited voice you'd use with a child you were trying to cajole. He included a primer on acronyms like LOL and ROTF (and puritanically omitted -LMAO).

Come on, really? We've been LOL-ing for years now. Even LOLCats seemed to have jumped the shark (now there's some metaphor-mixing).

It made me think about this dichotomy I've noticed in people around me, an affinity for both high-tech gadgets and lo-fi living. The same people juggling iPhones, Kindles and Roombas, also embrace--almost fanatically--bike rides and farmer's markets, backyard bbq's and do-it-yourself house projects. We all want to have the latest and greatest and coolest, all while keepin' it real and doin' it old school.

Are we like this because we can be? Would I be so invested in eating seasonally and living sustainably if I were working two jobs, if I had the kind of childcare, transportation or domestic issues that millions of women in their 20's, 30's, 40's and beyond are dealing with?

I don't know. I'm not even sure I would want to find out.

Postscript: the search for Sasquatch continues, unsuccessfully

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A lesson in Seattle nice, courtesy of Metro

Hands down, the best part about riding the bus--other than low-carbon brownie points--is eavesdropping. Seattle is pretty passive aggressive, so most of the time you have to pay close attention. (A friend from Chicago declares we are passive-passive, and she may have a point.)

I rode the 31 today and sat, as usual, in the back; it's not as crowded, but it's also where the troublemakers ride (coinkidink?) so things can get lively.

A guy got on at the last U-district stop, and ran down the aisle to the back. Like half the other riders, he wore headphones, an iPod, sunglasses. Then, a couple blocks later, he moved to the back bench, wedging himself in between a girl by the window, and a very tall guy in scrubs sitting in the middle.

Now, seating etiquette--unspoken but elaborate and hierarchical in a Louis XIV-meets-State dinner kind of way--dictates that if the bus isn't crowded, you don't sit thigh-to-thigh with another rider. This bus was maybe 1/2 full. I watched headphone guy's seatmates. They stared off into middle space, not making eye contact. If I ignore him, maybe he'll move.

Headphone guy started to sing. The kid opposite me, in a knit cap and low-rider jeans, smirked. The guy in scrubs frowned even harder. The girl by the window got up and left. Out of nowhere, low-rider started singing too. They sang together. Sing it, bitch, headphone guy enthused.

When the song was over, headphone guy peeled off his sunglasses and headphones. You got a pot pipe, he asked low-rider. Cause I got some weed.

Laughing, low-rider said No, nope, no way.

Two girls were giggling in a nearby seat. Headphone guy asked them to sell him some weed. You should have stayed in the U-district, they laughed. It's all over the place there.

I tried, he said, rueful. They called me a faggot.

Silence. It was one of those moments where things can go sideways, fast.

I am a faggot, he said, putting his sunglasses back on. He turned his attention back to low-rider. You're a good looking dude, man.

I'm not gay,
low-rider said easily.

Headphone guy nodded. That's okay. You're still hot. And you know it.

He got off the bus at my stop, laughing and talking to a passing dog. It's a miracle he didn't start a fight. On another bus, on another day, he might have. But, not today.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

30 Proof

I had moments over the long weekend where I looked around and realized how completely relaxed, pleasant and/or just plain nice it all was. The kind of moments I wish I could store up in a bottle for later, like good Scotch.

Yes, I'm getting old and reminiscy, but I just can't seem to help it (nor can I figure out the spacing with these darn pictures, so let's chalk the design up to a chillaxed mindset)...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A dress code with soul

Misspelled signs crack me up.
Wait...or is it, mispelled signs...crack me up?

Signs that are spelled wrong crack me up.

Which leads to some fractured grammar.
At any rate, I liked this one, at Fusion Lounge on 45th.

YES to a shirt with soul. Who can argue with that?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Picasso and key chains


I brought it on myself, asking "ou est henry?"
Now I know. Turns out, a lot of people know.
It's like when you're a kid and you first see a Picasso painting, maybe one of the still lifes, and you think "Oh my god, he is amazing, I can't believe more people don't know about him," and then you come to realize that yes, people do know about him, and furthermore he's become a capitalist product, that there are Picasso baseball hats and key chains and hey, possibly even a Picasso condom.
Regarding henry: I wish him the best. I'm looking forward to discovering more of his work around Seattle.
And if I can find the birthplace of Sasquatch, I'll let you know.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Snark...and a teaser

Best sign at the U-District Street Market this morning:

Hail Seitan
Go Vegetarian

Here's a teaser--I happened upon a mural finished by henry just yesterday! The paint fresh and sparkly, the nearby grass trampled and swiped with red and blue paint. More soon -- I know now who he is and even got a hint where his next project -- a 3 story Sasquatch--will appear.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Overheard around town redux

A rainy afternoon, and cold.
The driver of Metro Route 31 alternately leaned on the gas, then the brake, as though he wore super heavy shoes, as though they were so weighty he couldn't control their depressions.
When a new crop of riders boarded and the bus lurched away from the curb, I wasn't too surprised when a man flew past me. A bearded, tattooed fifty-something man, smelling of beer, wearing an American-flag-emblazoned leather coat and carrying a taped-up guitar case. He flew past and landed sideways on a skinny kid seated on the back bench.
Ha, the kid said, looking sheepish. As though he were the one who'd flown ten yards and smashed into a stranger's legs.
You think that's funny, huh, the guy said. He righted himself and sat next to me.
The kid opposite us also carried a guitar case, made of newish canvas, not even rain-spattered.
Whaddya playin' with, the older guy said to him.
Uh, nylon, the kid said.
What? the older guy snapped.
The kid repeated it, timidly, and the other kid--the fallee--laughed and said, Nylon strings? No, dude, what kind of guitar do you play?
The second kid's face cleared. Oh, Yamaha.
You gotta buy American, the older guy said.
It's not a very good guitar, the kid admitted. The three of them then had a nice chat about music.
The boys got off a few stops later. The older guy immediately began talking to a woman in fucschia lipstick, his companion apparently, and who I hadn't noticed in all the arrival drama. He was pissed. The other night he'd wanted to make french fries, and as he waited for the oil (the ole) to heat, the stove burner caught on fire, and when he tried to smother the fire, the towels too went up in flames.
We need to tell the landlord, the woman said, nervous.
Tell him what? We burned up the fucking kitchen? We'll fix it first. But we're not telling him nothing. Abruptly, he thwacked the page of my magazine. Watcha reading, hon?
Startled, I flipped back to the beginning of the article. It's about cards, I said. Poker. Then--embarrassed to show him it was The New Yorker--I got up and stood by the rear door of the bus. We were almost to my stop.
I passed the two on my way home. They stood, pelted by rain, in the cloud of exhaust from the departing 31, looking with longing at a mattress and frame dumped on a patch of muddy grass, clearly not deterred by its sodden, forlorn state.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Momash Day

Momash is what my sisters and I called our mom. I can't remember why.
Another nickname we had for her was Eagle.

When, back in the late 1980's, she came home from the hospital after a life-threatening illness, we hovered over her like anxious waiters. Being a feisty, independent spirit, she reluctantly allowed us to do a few things--make her tea, help her on the stairs--but she drew an absolute line at assistance in the bathroom. She would shuffle inside and close the door firmly. Quiet seconds would tick by. Then, triumphant, she'd call, "Eagle has landed!"

Eagle left us over five years ago.
I still miss her as though it were yesterday.
We're going to try and observe Momash Day today as sisters, for the first time since. It will involve chocolate covered graham crackers, and a thrift store or two. Lots of laughs, definitely some tears.
Miss you Momash.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Contretemps

I'm a contrarian by nature. (Or, possibly, nurture.)

Sunny days depress me.
I can completely understand the appeal of living in a closet (real, not metaphorical).
I'm female and I'm not a fan of shopping, candle parties, cute puppies/babies, or Hugh Jackman.
When I'm with friends and things are jamming and people are laughing and obviously having a great time, I wonder if I've suddenly become "normal," if it's too easy, if I'm missing something.
If a movie becomes too popular ("Titanic"), I won't see it.

This is all quite possibly attributable to good old Baptist guilt.

p.s. All sorts of inspiring thoughts came to mind during my morning ramble. I passed a windowless garage on which was painted a faux window, complete with flower pot. Trompe l'oeil, I thought. And then, taking in how truly bad the paint job was, trompe LOL.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ou est henry?

In my rambles around town I've noticed a series of bright, accessible murals signed "henry." So far I've snapped pictures of henry's work in Wallingford, Queen Anne, and Fremont. And now I hear there's some in Ballard!

Check out my Flickr page to see more.

Apart from the weirdly-grinning girl in red, the characters are uniformly poker-faced. On the Wallingford mural (a vacated radiator shop), the man in the red hat has an abnormally large hand that serves as a perch for a snaggle-toothed bird. The Queen Anne submarine series graces a clay shop; the mermaid has no mouth, and one enormous monocle-like eye. I have a real soft spot for the Fremont series, the burglar and the spider staring each other down, and yet another fanged parrot pointing the way to the Orange Splot art gallery.

Who is henry? Where can I find more of his ouevre?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

So long Tubs

Free Sheep Foundation held their Tubs memorial last Sunday. (I'll link to the Slog since FSF.org doesn't have anything. Tons of pictures on Flickr too.) Reportedly the structure will be demolished soon to make way for a new retail/apartment building. The memorial was less art opening (closing?) than clumps of pasty people dressed in black standing around a hot parking lot, watching other pasty people take pictures and duck inside for one last look.

Two friends and I were three of those pasty people. The unlit Tubs interior felt like the set of an apocalyptic movie, all shredded insulation, coils of jagged wire, broken up wallboard, dripping jugs and packets of tanning lotion, the odd scrawl of paranoid graffiti.

Outside though was still brilliance and originality, humor and acerbity. Moms were there with kids. Lots of twenty-somethings in skinny jeans and intentionally bad haircuts. Three or four people sat on camp chairs in the middle of the parking lot but mostly people stood, underscoring the temporary nature of the art. Traffic roared by on Roosevelt and 50th. The transient across the street at the quickie mart continued to ask for money.

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