Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Before we left for Seattle, we checked the weather forecasts and saw temperatures weren't expected to top 55 during our stay. No big deal, I thought. That's pretty much par for the course this time of year. Then we arrived and it was 71 degrees and I didn't have any short sleeve shirts. It was quite unpleasant, really.

But today, things got back to normal.That's the Space Needle in the typical cloudy conditions of the Pacific Northwest. I was there to check out the Experience Music Project, a music museum built by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen. The stainless steel construction made for some odd (yet fun) reflections.And they produce the perfect conditions for lame self portraits.I walked into the Experience Music Project with more than a little skepticism. This was clearly another example of Baby Boomers trying to enshrine their youths in costly temples. I rolled my eyes until I saw a door labeled, "The First 10 Years of Hip Hop." Well.. if they're going to enshrine my childhood in a costly temple, that's a whole different matter.

The exhibit was pretty amazing. There were lots of the silly looking leather outfits common among early hip hop crews. There was the original handwritten lyrics to "The Breaks" by Curtis Blow. There were displays on graffiti art, break dancing, and DJ-ing as well. There was also good information on Seattle hip-hop pioneer Sir Mix-A-Lot. While the world knows him best as the man who brought us "Baby Got Back." But he was one of the first hip hop acts to spring up outside of NYC. Very well done. I could have all day there.

Instead, I decided to go for a walk in no particular direction. I enjoy wandering aimlessly in a city. It's a great way to explore an urban area on the ground level, and it prepares me to be a homeless derelict in my later years. It was a little rainy outside, but I'm from upstate New York, so I'm not afraid of a little water.
There seems to be a pretty significant homeless problem here. While I know this is the case in all large American cities, it seems particularly acute here.

Religious zealotry seems pretty popular, too. Again, every city has "crazy bible guy" standing on a corner preaching hellfire and damnation, but they're quite aggressive here. Yesterday I was followed for two city blocks by a guy who wanted to yell at me about the lake of fire that would consume me. When the charming sermon was over, he yelled, "OK, ignore me. Forgive him, Father, for he knows not what he does. I forgive you."

So that was a relief.

Today a man was holding a large sign with bible verses on it while shouting in what I'm assuming was tongues. Not content to be ignored by pedestrians, the man shouted violently at passing cars. By the time I passed the scene, the man was standing at the door of a bus stopped at a red light while shaking his sign and shouting.

While I'm not afraid of a little water, my shoes are. My one hour stroll came to an end once my socks got soaked through. So now I'm holed up in my hotel room waiting for things to dry out. Tonight we'll have dinner with some of Julie's clients, then we'll meet up with friends on Broadway, a street Sir Mix-A-Lot rapped about.

Seems appropriate.

Seattle is a nice place, but I'm still not in love it with it, though. Perhaps the perspective from locals will change that tonight.

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