Best event of the year
For giving this smug city a swift kick in the ass, for giving Seattle more front-page, prime-time, global news coverage and making our name synonymous not with free trade or flavored coffee but with human rights, economic justice, and passionate resistance against corporate globalism—we pick WTO.
Best quotes to remember WTO by
1) "They say be careful of what you ask for—you might get it."—Port Commissioner Pat Davis. 2) "If anybody's mad out there . . . You can vote me out of office next time around."—Mayor Paul Schell. 3) "I hear Bob Hope has gone to Seattle to entertain the troops."—Jay Leno.
Best post-WTO bumper sticker
We saw this one hand-scrawled on the back of a car parked on Dexter the week after WTO protesters were pepper-sprayed, shot with rubber bullets, arrested for carrying signs in downtown streets, and thrown into jail for days on charges that were ultimately laughed out of court: "Got rights?"
Best indication that Seattle police don't necessarily hate a good time
Underneath that golden badge beats a heart like your own, after all, and it's not their fault if they're forced to hustle along the occasional vagrant or tell the occasional Pioneer Square partier to dump the beer on the sidewalk. They've shown a considerable amount of tolerance and compromise regarding the proposed rewrites to the Teen Dance Ordinance, and though their record has not always been so spotless, they've actually taken a positive role in Seattle's after-hours scene. Whereas just a year or two ago, their appearance at a rave at 3am meant the party was definitely over, take a stroll down to Pioneer Square after 2 on a Saturday night to see a heartwarming sight: cops monitoring the doors at clubs with after-hours. It's true! There they stand, shoulder-to-shoulder with burly doormen, checking IDs, asking about your well-being, and even smiling and chatting with the occasional partygoer who evidences some interest in a good-looking fella in uniform. Better than the police officer on the beat is the police officer with an appreciation for the beat, if you ask us.
Best place to watch the hangings come the Revolution
For some of us, the WTO only slaked our thirst for violent social change temporarily. We longed for the billy clubs, tear gas, and broken windows to erupt into full-scale class warfare. Well, my brothers and sisters, clearly the time is not quite ripe, though we certainly gave those downtown merchants something to think about, didn't we? Don't worry, our time will come. The lists will be drawn up, the gibbets raised, and the remarkably clean streets of Seattle will run red with the blood of the capitalist pigs. And when that time comes, make sure to reserve yourself a seat at the W Hotel (1112 Fourth, 264-6000), which is the coolest, hippest place for young free-marketers to hang out. With its subdued lighting (reminiscent of the cult '80s vampire movie The Hunger), aircraft-carrier-sized bar, glass drinks tables, and sparse d飯r, it's the ideal headquarters for a 21st-century Robespierre to set up shop. The vast lobby has lovely high ceilings as well, and if you include the bar, that's a lot of space to set up pulleys so the Hotel's top-flight clientele can serve as a grisly example to their fellow entrepreneurs.
Best place to view EMP
We glimpsed its ribs on the Monorail, sweated and strained up impossibly long hills on Queen Anne and Capitol Hill only to be blinded by its gleaming pate, whiplashed our necks staring at its long, palm-printed flank from the Fifth Avenue sidewalk, but we didn't grok (or Gehry) it at all—it just looked like a phosphorescent pile of mashed potatoes. Until we rode the Windstorm. From the top of this Seattle Center roller coaster, Experience Music Project, while still looking very much like a pile of mashed potatoes, begins to reveal its inner essence. As you scream around the track, you recall your very first "rock" concert, when Shaun Cassidy (it's OK, you were 8) left you hoarse from Da-Doo-Ron-Ronning. Crawling slowly toward the coaster's pinnacle, you're back in fumbling make-out sessions, soundtrack courtesy of Loverboy, whose sodden strains are replaced by the downward spiral of a certain Cure show, before which you thought it would be fun to ingest numerous flaming Sambuca shots. We won't go into your psychedelic phase, except to say that EMP does bear a scary resemblance to certain, er, "things" you saw at the '92 Dead show in Eugene.
Best new slang name for EMP
Love it, hate it, it certainly looks like Experience Music Project is here to stay. (Though some of us have fantasies of returning to Seattle in 10 years to find its decaying interior housing a Greek restaurant.) Depending on what angle you happen to view it from, EMP looks like a blob stealthily readying itself for an attack on the Space Needle, or an everlasting gobstopper left out on a dashboard. So what sort of name can encompass all that, plus a $20 ticket price? The Technicolor Yawn? The Jimi Hendrix Memorial Mess, rock star's name withdrawn due to legal proceedings? Okay, we're being unkind. Let's pick something a bit more neutral. How about the Project? Now, there's a name that truly reflects the experimental nature of the venture: Paul Allen's Skinner Box that tests the various responses of its patrons to confrontation with state-of-the-art interactive technology, memorabilia, gourmet fast food, and a huge gift shop.
Best place to get mugged
We'll tell it to you straight: Regrade Park (a.k.a. Needle Park), at Third and Bell. The good news: Your crack dealer's conveniently located in the alley. The bad news: These guys make Jekyll look like Al Gore. Crack hangovers tend to bring out the worst in folks, and that Coach handbag looks like a dozen dime-bags to a dope-happy derelict. The place is so bad, even bike cops are avoiding the route. So if you're heading to one of the swank Belltown eateries, do yourself a life-saving favor and go around the block. (And if you really need to buy crack—pull the car up nice and slow on Bell Street, wave one of the crack-heads over, and do the deal from the safety of your slowly rolling vehicle.)
Best Highway 99 alternative
Thanks to the apparent death of the voter-approved monorail and bureaucratic foot-dragging on rapid transit, everybody's looking for alternatives to I-5, and the Aurora "secret" has long been out of the closet. So with 99 doomed to an I-5esque fate, we give the prize to 15th Avenue NW (which includes Holman Road and Elliot Avenue), stretching from Greenwood in the north all the way to downtown Seattle to the south. Known in Ballard circles as "Aurora Junior" for its multitude of strip joints, dilapidated appliance shops, dive taverns, mini-marts, fast-food joints, and billboards, 15th puts the "see" in "seedy." Just go easy on the brakes as you head to the happy hour lap dance at the Sands.
Best local TV news
Last year, we picked the 10 o'clock cuties from KCPQ, but we grow weary of their pandering to Gen Y and the dot-com world and the way they treat press releases like a page-one scoop. KING doesn't get our vote either, because they continue to feature Jim "Hippie Bitch" Forman, whose prominence in station newscasts is one of Seattle's great mysteries. KOMO wouldn't get our vote if it were the end of the world—because they wouldn't cover it! (This is the station that declared in advance of the WTO demonstrations that it would not "devote coverage to irresponsible or illegal activities." Of course, this pronouncement made them a laughingstock since 90 percent of all news is "irresponsible or illegal acts"—plus it revealed their shameless corporate bias.) Our choice, KIRO-7 (2807 Third, 728-7777), did what stations are supposed to do when big stories break: They covered WTO like hell. The station has a history of covering breaking stories well (remember the news jet?), and the staff rises to the occasion. Plus, their format consistently pushes actual news stories to the top of the broadcasts, unlike some of their competitors. No wonder they won an Edward R. Murrow Award.
Best daily paper
So far, in this non-Pulitzer year for either the Times or the P-I, the underdog Post-Intelligencer (448-8000) is taking the first round in the morning wars by simply being a gussied up version of its former self: a clean redesign; quick, no nonsense news reporting; the occasional news-making investigative piece (asbestos in crayons!); and Art Thiel. The Times seems to be taking a similar tack by sticking to its old afternoon-paper strategy: "We don't report the news, we tell you what it means." Hmm. For our morning quarters, we'll take news without the bloviation, please.
Best political race
Here's an opportunity to take the pulse of the Democratic Party in September's primary election for US Senate: Deborah Senn vs. Maria Cantwell. In one corner we have Deborah Senn, the fighting Commish, a tough populist who has raised hell with the insurance companies from her post as Insurance Commissioner. Opposing her is former Congressperson Maria Cantwell, a probusiness "new Democrat" who amassed a high-tech fortune at RealNetworks. (Cantwell is using her personal wealth to fight a spin doctor-driven air war.) Senn, on the other hand, has been on the ground for months rallying at the grassroots level. Cantwell will win if our political process has been completely turned into a contest of money and 30-second TV spots; Senn will win if enough people still believe the Democratic Party should resist the excesses of corporate domination. Sadly, neither is likely to beat Republican Slade Gorton.
Best local bumper sticker
So simple, so understated, so . . . puzzling. Of course, we're referring to "Visualize Ballard." Why on earth would we need to visualize something that exists right under our noses? All it takes is a 20-minute bus ride from downtown, and if you can't be bothered, just switch on cable some night when Robert Altman's 1980 movie version of Popeye is playing—Ballard looks an awful lot like a less aggressively cartoony rendering of that film's Sweethaven. Or maybe they're referring to Ballard's intense waterfront aroma; walking through town, you can practically taste the salt. But if that were the case, the bumper sticker would say, "Ingest Ballard." What it boils down to, then, is the intense fetishization the community has inspired. We've asked residents what the big deal is, and the response is invariably the same: a deep sigh, a faraway look, an utterance of something along the lines of, "Ooohhh . . . Ballard," and absolutely no concrete answer to our question. Therefore, we'd like to suggest a new bumper sticker: "Ballard: A Zen Koan"—and offer a hearty "you're welcome" to the enterprising folks who get rich off the idea.
Best local court decision
In 1999, Tim Eyman sat down and cooked up a wicked combo called Initiative 695: Hey voters, here's a big fat tax cut on your gas-hogging SUVs, and, by the way, you'll have to vote on every increase in taxes and fees forever more. Towel fees going up at UW gym? Let's hold a statewide vote! Unfortunately, voters jumped on the chance to eliminate the hated Motor Vehicle Excise Tax and passed I-695 into law. There's a reason our state constitution says initiatives must only be about a single subject. It's so snake-oil salesmen such as Eyman can't coat poison pills with irresistible sweeteners like tax cuts. So our vote goes to Judge Robert Alsdorf's tossing of I-695. King County Superior Court Judge Robert Alsdorf examined 695 and didn't flinch (even though he's up for election this November). In March, he threw I-695 out because it was about more than a single subject. That took guts, which means it's up to us to show our thanks and support him in November.
Best place to restore tranquility during lunchtime
Your phone beeps annoyingly at you if you forget a phone number. E-mails chirp their presence when you're zoning out with the screen-saver. And someone just bumped your miniature Zen garden off your desk, with some of the sand getting into your keyboard. It's time to attach that 15-minute break to your lunch hour and visit the Waterfall Garden Park (Second and S Main in the International District). During summer lunchtimes, the park is often crowded with folks sitting at the sets of wrought iron tables, but in the fall and winter months, it's often nearly empty. Planters filled with azaleas, rhododendrons, and other flowering plants provide brilliant blossoms in late spring and summer, while the geranium creepers that run about the park turn a dark red in the fall. Built in 1977 to honor, of all things, the employees of United Parcel Service (UPS was founded on the site in 1907), this hidden oasis of green in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood features a 22-foot-high rock waterfall, whose cascading waters wonderfully disguise the sound of nearby traffic.
Best place to thumb your nose at the 9-to-5ers
See Dick and Jane. See Dick and Jane stuck in traffic on the 520 bridge. See Jane pound the steering wheel of the Range Rover she bought with the gold from her handcuffs. See Dick vacantly trace his name in the grime on the stuck-shut window of the flesh-packed bus while he calculates exactly how many stupid, boring, unproductive "team meetings" he will have to endure before he can retire. No, Jane, no! Do not order another Fendi handbag on your PalmPilot! Look, Dick, look! There's a perfect view of Mount Rainier through your window! Thumb your nose at Dick and Jane as you drift languidly through the cool, shaded inlets of the Arboretum from a canoe at 5pm on a Wednesday afternoon. You do not have stock options. You do not own a luxury condo. You do not take Spot to a doggie psychiatrist when he chews up all your shoes. Wear your chewed shoes in the canoe. See a long, lithe heron glide past Dick and Jane. Paddle slowly.
Best way to get into Jean Godden's column
Here's what you do: First, get engaged to one of the McCaw brothers. Next, invite Dan Savage and a public relations specialist from the Downtown Seattle Merchant's Association to your reception—both can be counted on to call Jean with their "news" each week. Then, find a priest to conduct the wedding whose last name, amusingly enough, is "Wafer." Rent a limo with the license plate GR82BRICH. On your honeymoon, have a piquant experience that shows how nice Seattle people are. Get the whole thing written up in Vanity Fair.
Best homeless shelter
This is not to denigrate in any way the extremely fine work being done at all the homeless shelters in town; the Downtown Emergency Service Center, or DESC (507 Third, 464-1570), just happens to be one we know of that offers comprehensive services to the most impoverished people in our community and operates on a shoestring budget, depending on uncertain grants and donations. We live in a town where local software kingpins don't hesitate to give 15 bazillion dollars for new stadiums/scholarships/rock 'n' roll stoners' amusement parks; it seems horribly wrong that dedicated people must struggle to fund the most basic social services. So whilst you browse these lists for best nachos and car detailing, take a minute and send these people some cash. They are doing the work that no one else wants to do, taking care of the people who can't take care of themselves. Have a heart and e-mail your boss to do the same. If we can't support this, we are so far from world-class it's not even funny.
Best short-range, single-rail transport system
You're thinking Metro, right? Come on, every bus ride is like a vacation from sanity. But with all those wheels and steering options it just doesn't slice the salami. Not a rail in sight! I mean, they go left, they go right, the people decide where they stop! Such democracy is absolutely sinister. And I've heard that some rides can last over five minutes! Like I have time for that sort of nonsense. That's why no matter where I am or where I'm going, I ride the Monorail (www.seattlemonorail.com). No decisions, no thought, no "dirty" people. And as an added bonus, you get to ride through Experience Music Project every time you kiss the sky (they say Jimi's ghost wanders the tunnel at night looking for royalties)! And while the Monorail may be the only short-range, single-rail transport system in Seattle, it would most certainly be the better if there was another one.
Best intersection to get hit by a car
It's no small secret that this town has the worst drivers this side of Calcutta, people who seemingly lose all depth perception, peripheral vision, and motor skills after crossing into the Seattle city limits. A great place to see these buffoons in action is Melrose and Olive, right at the I-5 on-ramp where crosswalks, walk signs, and right-of-ways lose all meaning. Sure, five roads come together and there's some one-way action, but where else can you see a jackass turning left across three lanes of oncoming traffic into a pack of scrambling pedestrians on an hourly basis? Add in the people who have just exited the freeway, so pumped to turn right onto Melrose they can't be bothered with trivialities like looking or braking; others going the other way who assume since they're going onto that big scary freeway all should clear a path for them; and the tourists who'd rather run down people on the sidewalk than risk being carjacked by a drag queen with groceries and you've got a landmark to carnage, broken glass, and human stupidity. They're doing some major construction now—maybe they're adding land mines, razor wire, and machine gun nests to make it a little safer.
Best gay beach
Gay men end up at Madison Park beach, to the left of the lifeguard chair, a cozy little spot covered in grass, surrounded by foliage, and divided from the straight beach by men's and women's rest rooms. I suppose Madison only officially becomes a gay beach during those few days of summer when it's actually hot enough to swim, but if you're a man seeking lots of other oiled-up men in swimming trunks and Speedos, this is the spot for you. For those of you opposed to ghettoization: The gays and the straights share a few things at this beach—the buoy on Lake Washington and the shower and toilet stalls in the men's room. Isn't that enough?
Did you know that Tip Wizard is syndicated in over 30 countries? And I still don't get any royalties! That agent of mine, he's a crook! I don't know why I don't fire him.
Best place to go for a jog
Those of us who have gagged on smog while sprinting across LA's Wilshire Boulevard, shattered our knees thanks to the cement hills of San Francisco, and dodged sketchy characters under the overpasses of Manhattan's Central Park consider ourselves lucky when we can trot just a few minutes away from the bustle of Broadway or the pavement of the Ave to find solace in Interlaken Park, a gorgeous, lush pedestrian's paradise in the heart of Seattle. Wherever you are in Interlaken—cruising in your convertible along the wide, snaking street of Interlaken Boulevard or climbing one of the Park's countless side trails—you're covered. By maple, alder, and cottonwood trees, that is—making this a beautiful run in all seasons.
Best AM radio station
Prepare yourself for classic soul hits of the '60s, '70s, and '80s, a.k.a. Solid Gold Soul. There are 13 people in Seattle who have only AM in their car; if you're one of them, you listen to KIXI 880 AM, which plays all Rat Pack on Saturday nights; you listen to KRPM, Classic Country 1090, although some of it may be a little nonclassic for your taste; and you shun KBSG 1210 oldies, because they play the same 22 songs over and over. KSRB 1150 AM, on the other hand, recalls the glory days of KFOX (awwROOOO!), broadcasting soul hits from Ray Charles through disco and what's become classic '80s funk ("Excuse me, madam, you're standing still in a no parking zone. . . ."). The advertisements produced in-house are as funky as the Commodores, Cameo, and Atlantic Starr, as is the program Shut the Do'. So get with it.
Best FM radio station for commuting
It's impressive that Seattle offers KNHC, or C 89.5 FM, a spicy little station that pumps out dance beats and house-diva vocals 24/7, 365 days a year. Oddly enough, this channel that plays everything from Donna Summers to Christina Aguilera remixes broadcasts out of Nathan Hale High School—the first time I heard the station, I thought the Neighbours bartenders and a group of drag queens had seized the airwaves. Thanks to these teens (and their adult helpers), Seattle is a better (and slightly gayer) place, with a dance radio listenership of 60,000. The DJs aren't too shabby, either, especially DJ Victor Menegaux. Tearing up the turntables on the "Drive at 5" every weekday, Menegaux possesses a talent for blending together such diverse acts as Destiny's Child, Groove Armada, Jennifer Lopez, and Basement Jaxx to create one head-boppin', booty-movin' dance music experience that's perfect on the Walkman or in the traffic jam as you inch your way home.
Best place to go skinny-dipping
Sometimes even the most prim and proper of us feel the irresistible urge to shuck our clothes and dive into a nearby body of water. But where, pray tell, is the water clean and at least partially secluded enough? Lake Union has enough diesel and assorted waste in it to make even the geese wary. Lake Washington, while considerably cleaner, is both deep and cold. Of course, there's the Arboretum, but both the large quantities of duck poop and the seasonal algae can make the dip especially slimy. So our skinny-dipping Mecca of choice is the Fremont Ship Canal. The amount of water that moves through the Canal keeps it relatively clean and you can choose either the North or South side, which both feature swinging ropes that allow you a daring plunge into the blue.
Best business strip
Forget Northgate, U Village, Westlake, Pacific Place, Broadway, and the rest of those "all in one" crap factories and saunter on up Pike—all the way up. Across from the B of A lies one of the most fertile consumer havens available, 1300-1400 E Pike. You're free to visit these esteemed businesses in any fashion you so desire, but if you really want to maximize your experience, the following order is suggested: Start with Capitol Hill Laundry. Toss in a load and move on (don't worry, if the locals are awake they'll look after your tights). At this point you can go one of two routes. Route one includes 2nd Byte Computers, Select Auto Sales, and Central Vacuum Service. (This route is recommended for "general purpose" needs.) Route number two consists of Starlight Adult Video, Signature Bailbonds, Xotic Tan for Adults, and the Artificial Limb Co. (This route is recommended for "specialty" needs.)
For the last time, I don't have anything to do with Dungeons and Dragons! It's just the outfit. (Although I am willing to sell my autograph.)
Best cooperative readerboards
The stretch of Holman Road between Aurora and Greenwood isn't exactly the most interesting strip of Seattle (even of North Seattle), but the staff and friends of Gyorgo's Gyros (608 N 105th, 781-5514) do their part to keep things interesting, taking a page from the Lusty Lady playbook to make their punny readerboards worth watching for. The usual fare plays off menu items and customer submissions are welcome, though they've got to be at least as good as staff attempts—a friend's "101 Dolma-tions" didn't make the cut. After recent stylings like "pull over, I gotta pita" and other such riffs, we're simply atwitter waiting for some neighborhood smarty to come up with a good pun on "koulourakia."
Best place to go when everything on Capitol Hill is crowded
Since no one who lives on Capitol Hill can get into their neighborhood bars anymore, we're going to your neighborhood to party. That's right, we're going across that bridge and our legions of darkness will descend on the place that you call home. We'll be taking over your taverns, parking in front of your houses and in your garages, peeing behind your garbage cans, yelling stuff out of moving cars at your families, throwing trash on your front lawns, giving nasty looks and making nasty comments to your weirdo neighbors. Eventually we hope to drive up rents, move in next door, and then call the cops every 10 minutes because you're too damn noisy. Oh, and next big protest, we're going to have the storm troopers take over your blocks and tear gas your pets. Yeah, that's what we're gonna do.
Best of Seattle, 2000
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