Friday, August 28, 2009


I hate talking about the weather yet I can't stop writing about it.
Is it part of life's obnoxious duality? The thing you despise is the thing that obsesses you?
These are things that I don't like but yet which fascinate me: bright blue sky (translates into a hot day), and a metal utility pole next to a traffic signal (cars, driving, roads). You have nature, engineering, and art, wrapped up in a messy, sunshiny image.
I don't know what it means. I just know that I can't stop looking.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hot mama on the 30

On the 30 yesterday a sweet little blond girl serenaded the sparkly sticker on her hand. It was a pure an expression of joy as I've seen in awhile. She lay on the bench seat, laughing and caroling, I'm singin,', I'm singin,' I'm singin.' (Mentally, I couldn't help adding, In the rain.)
Then I noticed the woman she was with. Long, lean, also blond. Bra-less in a tight white t-shirt, with Praise Jesus written on it in blue marker. And her legs. Razor free for many moons, it seemed, furred with tufts of thick blond hair. I couldn't help but stare, fascinated. She was beautiful and honestly, kind of scary.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My hair of the dog

I woke up this morning with the mother-in-law of all hangovers.
I know better than to mix my likkers but last night I did just that at a friend's kick ass barbecue, had a cosmo and some red wine and a sip of white and then some Scotch. Add in a few puffs on a cigar, and around 1 a.m. I crossed the alcoholic Rubicon into the land of I Am Going to be Really Sick.
Segue to this morning--a mere 4 hours of sleep, stomach that feels like it's harboring a festering squirrel carcass, cigar smoke coating my hair and tongue, and a headache tiptoeing around the inside of my ringing cranium. Coffee and a hot shower jump started my draggy corpse but the thing that really resuscitated me was pho.
A big bowl of vegetable pho, steaming hot, loaded with herbs and noodles and jalapenos, heavy on the salt. A few spoonfuls at an overbright Fremont noodle place playing dance music, and I felt my stomach start to settle.

PS: Super gracias to the friends who hauled my sorry butt off the grass and into the car this morning. I promise to pay all the cleaning bills.

Monday, August 17, 2009

When bike gangs roam the earth

Finally figured out the deal behind the bike gang I saw two weekends ago. I was walking up Ballard Avenue and these guys in t-shirts and porkpie hats rolled by on pimped-out bikes--some with oversize frames, seats towering six feet off the pavement, others low and laid back. Bringing up the rear was a guy with some massive speakers pumping out house music. The civilians on the sidewalk--me among 'em--watched open mouthed as they pedaled coolly by.
So anyway it was the night of the Dead Baby Bike Race.
No idea how the Ballard crew did but I give them style points, anyway.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Our birdy neighbors

I'm hearing a lot about crows all of a sudden.
A friend posted to Facebook this morning about being woken up by crows; and a few weeks ago, an even more erudite friend posted about watching a murder of busy crows.
Last week, I needed to make a private phone call at work, but the moment I sat down on the stone bench behind my building and pulled out my cell phone, a bunch--sorry, murrrderrr--of crows began a chorus of raucous cawing and jeering. I moved down to another a bench, and they hopped along the grass, continuing to harass me. I gave up finally and went inside to make my call.
Scientists study crows and yet we know so little about them.
I see what I think is the same crow sitting on a power line most mornings when I walk the dog. Sometimes we get a croaky caw greeting. Sometimes, just a sideways beady-eyed glance.
And then this morning, as I waited in line at Irwin's for a pumpkin muffin, a guy entered and stood in line behind me. A space invader, he stood too close, and reached over me to grab a handful of dog biscuits from the freebie cup on the counter. And then another handful. I feed these to the crows, he confided to me. A fifty-ish guy, with gray stubble and Ward Cleaver glasses. The crows know me. When they see me coming, they fly in from all over. I said, joking, You're the crow whisperer, but he didn't laugh. Apparently he takes his murder of crows quite seriously.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In which I am schooled

A 25-year-old friend--student, cartoonist, gym rat--told me he'd read my story that came out in Neon Beam in March. You should think about adding some humor to your writing, he said. You know, funny sells.
I'd thought there were a lot of funny things in the story. Well gee thanks, I said, insincerely.
He went on, It's like when my friends text me, if they say Hey what are you up to, I probably won't text back. But if they say, Hey hooker, why don't you roll outta the bed and come rob a bank with us, I'll text 'em back, because they were funny.
I'm thinking about what he said. Maybe my funny is too subtle. Maybe my funny just isn't all that funny. A writer friend said she thought I had a trenchant sense of humor. Compliment? I dunno. In any case, it all feels a little like that Simpson's episode where Homer berates the television: stupid TV, be more funny.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Overheard around town part VI

The heat may have eased temporarily, but tempers are still crackling and frayed. On the 373 bus to north Seattle, an irate man with a phone clapped to his ear read somebody the riot act. Nobody's gonna tell me when I can go to the f*cking bathroom. How you gonna know when I'm gonna need to go to the f*cking bathroom? If I need to go to the f*cking bathroom, I'm gonna go. I'm gonna. He went on in this vein for a good ten minutes. Then, Hello? Hello, are you there? He closed his phone, disgusted, and stared off into space.
A few nights later, on the 73 downtown, two young men in slouchy jeans rubbed baby lotion into their hands and agreed on the importance of moisturizing. A pair of teenagers boarded, a big cute girl with rhinestone barrettes and a trendy white hoody, and her friend, as slight as she was generous, each of them carrying a rustling collection of shopping bags.
Oh no you didn't
, I heard her say, in a sassy, tinkling voice. This is a Coach bag. Coach. Do you know what that means? Coach. She held up the bag. It was little. It was Coach. It was cute. She glanced at me, and I nodded. It's cute.
Couch bag, he joked. After awhile, he asked to look at her iPhone.
You can see it, but you can't hold it. Na-uh, I'm sorry. You're gonna be that way about my Coach bag, I'm not gonna trust you with my phone.
I'll let you look at my phone, he offered weakly.
She raised one eyebrow and sniffed, So? Your phone's little. Size matters.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The leaves they are a-changing

Not sure if this pressure-cooker summer has anything to do with it but the leaves are already starting to change in Seattle. This perfect golden specimen drifted to the pavement in front of me yesterday. There's something so lovely about the contrast between the rough-textured, pebbly cement and the fragile leaf.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I love this bird, markered onto a pillar somewhere on 5th Avenue in downtown Seattle. Is that his head, or a cartoon bomb? Is he whistling, or about to explode? His unwaveringly shiny eye gives no clue.
Last week, when it was so hot, I witnessed an act of true seagull savagery. A fat angry male made a feet-first, three point landing on the head of another gull which was in the middle of packing half a bagel down its gullet. Birds are not known for their avian kindnesses but this guerrilla attack was both alarming and merciless. Incoming gull managed, with his sneak-bounce attack, to dislodge part of the bagel. Diner gull scooped up his crumbs and hopped-flew away, swallowing like crazy.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Beautiful street people

I visit The Sartorialist web site a couple of times a month.
The candid shots of street fashionistas never fail to inspire me.
Or depress the hell out of me--how can 60-year-old Italian men have more style savvy in their sockless loafers than I'll have in two lifetimes of trying?

bsp videos don't sleep on 'em