ASHES TO ASHES, dust to dust, sometimes quite literally. This year saw doors slam shut—and walls fall down—all over town. If it wasn't natural disaster, it was plain old high-rise economics in the age of encroaching slumlords and hidden rent hikes. These days, strolling down First and Second Avenues (to say nothing of Capitol Hill and Eastlake, for we miss ye, too, ole Storeroom, scuzzy Foxes, and dirty, dirty Ileen's) is like playing house on one of those huge Monopoly boards, only now everything's up for sale but nobody's got any of the big bills left—and we all want the game to be over so we can go to bed.
And that's where the strings come in. Sometimes it feels like the game really is over: Gibson's—that accidental bastion of DIY-ology—left a gaping hole where your favorite punk band used to be, and the plucking-off of bars like the Frontier Room and the Rendezvous leaves pockmarks in the shape of surreal high jinx and stiff drinks all over the face of our misspent youth. Perhaps saddest yet are the losses suffered on February 28, when the earth took a big, rattled bite out of Pioneer Square. The Fenix crumbled like a cookie, and there's still no rising from those brick and mortar remains (though the club may reopen. See "Fenix Rising," p. 9). As for the OK Hotel, well, let's say we've never been so thankful for that VHS copy of Singles; 'least we've got those good Matt Dillon memories to remember her by. And now the new rich are the new poor, and those downtown developers are likely wishing they had someone to pour them a $2.50 cocktail. Just when it seemed we'd have to give way to inertia and settle ourselves with becoming the next suburban sprawl victims, we had to sit up and thank the barley-and-hops gods for the new kids in town. Places like Industrial Coffee and Stella's, while breathing new life into nearly forgotten areas of town (Georgetown, anyone?), give the rock kids somewhere to rock and the on-the-rocks glasses somewhere to tumble. Seattle, you've got a little life in you yet. And thank heaven for that.