It's not easy being a Seattle snob. The first law of Seattle snobbery is a feigned horror of ostentation of any kind. But if you're

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Superior in Seattle

On the innumerable tiny ways in which being a snob is codified hereabouts.

It's not easy being a Seattle snob. The first law of Seattle snobbery is a feigned horror of ostentation of any kind. But if you're too understated in your superior Seattlehood, no one will notice how superior you are. Tricky.

But feasible. Remember, not everybody has to notice how thoroughly, genuinely unself-consciously you wear your Seattle colors—only people who aspire to the same austere standard, who will be annoyed at how much better you do it than they. As for the others: Fuck them.

Aside from the unostentatious thing, there's really only one ironclad condition of strenuous Seattlehood. Seattleites are not puritans—far from it. They eschew self-denial like anything. But if there isn't at least a little difficulty and inconvenience (D&I for short) involved in an activity, Seattleites feel shortchanged. D&I is the spice that gives an otherwise cosseted lifestyle a whiff of real life.

Example: Anyone can go to the movies. But only true Seattleites go to SIFF year after year, to stand for hours in the rain being chivied by power-mad volunteer film nazis to see movies by artists they've never heard of, just so they can tell their friends that this year's festival was even worse than last year's, if such a thing is possible.

D&I is generally strongest when it comes to culture consumption. Benaroya Hall, for example, has made listen- ing to classical music too convenient and comfortable to seem quite Serious. Sitting in a stuffy school auditorium with bad acoustics (as at the summer Seattle Chamber Music Festival at Lakeside) or a barely remodeled synagogue (for the Early Music Guild winter series) makes one feel one's making some sacrifice for one's art. All the walking lends Seriousness to Pioneer Square's First Thursday. Theater? The Seattle Rep in general is too bourgeois for words, but its annual spring new play series is so hard to get into it's a Serious hot ticket. Devotion to Literature gives Serious cachet to Book-It, and Taproot . . . I confess is a mystery to me.

Early Music Guild concerts, particularly on wet nights, are a great showcase for what Serious Seattle is wearing these days. Eddie Bauer may have turned into what Abercrombie & Fitch used to be, REI has become just too commercial for words, but Serious Seattle still turns out in bulky ragg-wool sweaters and dun-colored twill trousers, ice-blue down and rubberized nylon ponchos.

The same uniform is worn for a night on the town, particularly when dining at "upscale" restaurants, to show how unimpressed you are by mere ambiance. But the real haunts of the Serious are spots as unostentatious as themselves—Fremont's Swingside, Ballard's People's Pub, Wallingford's Chile Pepper.

Dining out, of course, is inherently of questionable Seriousness, so Serious eating is done mostly at home, with impeccably fresh and preferably ethnic ingredients from Serious purveyors like PFI, Uwajimaya, World Merchants, and Wild Salmon Fish Market; only when you've exhausted these resources are you allowed to hit Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. It's frowned on to be too enthusiastic about wine, and beer must either be boutique microbrew or Belgian—preferably both—and purchased at Bottleworks.

Home, of course, is ideally in shabby-but-very-genteel Madrona or Ravenna, but the housing situation being what it is, Serious homeowners are willing to countenance friends living in north and east Ballard, West Seattle, and Mount Baker, so long as the home in question is at least 50 years old and looks it. The children will be enrolled in an alternative school until the parents, with a sigh, enroll them in Lakeside: "Of course, we worry about the values they'll pick up, but really, educationally, we had no choice."

rdowney@seattleweekly.com

 
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