Ask The Experts How to Cope

Dategirl

Pancho Chavez, bandleader

Kermet Apio, comedian

Alvin Stillwell, photo stylist

Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, oceanographer

Yuji and Angie Okumoto, owners, Kona Kitchen

Summer Guide 2005

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Dategirl

SW romance columnist Dategirl is just the person to advise us on hot passion in a hot climate. TIM APPELO

SW: We won't reveal your undisclosed location, but to establish your credentials, how's the weather where you are?

Dategirl: Hot and humid.

And yet love flourishes even better than mold?

Well, yes! Because people are wearing less clothing.

Ordinarily, Seattleites dress in down jackets and resemble the Michelin Tire Man. How should your dating strategy change in hot weather?

If your date's really hot, suggest things where she's going to get wetter. Boat rides where you go whale-watching and get splashed a lot. Water parks. Outdoor shows, stuff by the water. Water puts people in the mood. Or you could just go the movie route: really good air- conditioning, a big dark room . . . the beach at night is romantic. Maybe you can build a fire. Also, it's easier to have sex on the beach when there's no one around.

Is it ever too darn hot?

I know I'm letting you down as a dating columnist by saying this, but yeah.

So what then?

It's the one time of year when cold showers can be erotic. Or—I know it's environmentally incorrect to use up all that power, but an air conditioner is probably going to get you laid more than a Prada dress or a fancy car.

Does it make sense to pay for a fancy hotel in town even if you're paying ridiculously high rent on your apartment?

Hell, yes! Hotel sex is the dirtiest, except for motel sex. Big mirrors in odd places, very fun. Taking someone out to dinner and having it be room service. You're going to have a good night!

Find Dategirl's column each weeek in Diversions.

Pancho Chavez, bandleader

Pancho Chavez left Lima, Peru, to study business at the UW, but his business has become his salsa band, Cambalache, which means "to share," as in a good time, a party, or "some type of social disarray where the main goal is to have fun." TIM APPELO

SW: So is the drought making Seattle more like steamy Lima?

Chavez: I've been here nine years. Every summer is looking more and more like it—almost identical. Really hot.

When does the salsa season start?

May. Then it gets superhot. Folklife, Bite of Seattle, Taste of Tacoma, music in the parks. We play 12 times in May, 18 times in July.

Who's in your band?

Three Peruvians, one Mexican, one Filipino American, one Cuban who played with the Buena Vista Social Club, and the rest Seattle types.

How does the weather affect audiences?

People seem to be happier [in warm weather].

Do they dance more?

They do. You'd think they wouldn't, because it's hotter. And it gets more crowded, which makes it hotter, too. They don't seem to care.

What's the best music for the great Seattle heat wave?

A lotta tropical salsa. The Spanish Harlem Orchestra from New York. A local band, Yerbabuena. Gran Combo from Puerto Rico. I would recommend Caribbean music. Any sort of hot, y'know, really upbeat music. Even swing.

Swing?

Thirties swing, Benny Goodman. Greta Matassa—she's local—would be good. And Brazilian music, that's actually very happening right now. Ipanema restaurant has music on weekends—bossa nova, samba.

Seattleites aren't used to real summers. What are they supposed to do when instead of rain it's sweat that makes them wet?

They need to go out and shake their hips.

Info: www.cambalachesalsa.com.

Kermet Apio's been waiting for a really big wave to hit Lake Ballinger since 1985.

(Pete Kuhns)

Kermet Apio, comedian

Kermet Apio grew up in Honolulu, but not the Honolulu you're thinking of. "People don't realize Honolulu has 900,000 people in it," he says. "It's a big city. Yes, it has palm trees, but you can't see them through the buildings." He came to Seattle to go to the UW in 1985, and in some ways, he's still adjusting. LYNN JACOBSON

SW: As the temperature here rises, how can Seattleites act more like Hawaiians?

Apio: Hawaiians are incredibly laid-back. That's kind of a stereotype, but it's really true. When you live in a place where the weather's always nice, it's very easygoing and time isn't as important as it is on the mainland. Being late is not a sin.

What's your most essential piece of hot-weather gear?

I brought my surf shorts to Seattle with me in September 1985. In November, there was a big blizzard, and I thought, "That was stupid. I'm never going to wear these things." Now a lot of people wear them, and I have to say it looks kind of weird to me. I'm a semi-overweight 37-year-old, and obviously, I haven't surfed in a long time. But I can at least make the claim to have surfed at some point.

How about flip-flops? You wear those?

We call 'em slippers. That's a big staple. I love the way you can have 'em by the door, slip 'em on, and go. I get them back in Hawaii—whatever brand is comfortable and cheap. I've not found the same feeling and style here.

What's your favorite activity on a hot, hot day?

I'm kind of an allergy person, so when it's really hot I know I'll be uncomfortable and sneezing, so I like indoor things, like a good movie in an air- conditioned theater. Or grocery shopping in the freezer section. I go to the produce section and try to time it just when the spray is coming out.

What foods put you in an island mood?

Certain fruits give me a sense memory of my childhood. Häagen-Dazs mango sherbet is dead on—that taste is the exact taste of back home.

Any parting words for Northwesterners coping with the heat?

Carpool with friends who have air conditioning. Especially with these gas prices!

Kermet Apio's credits and upcoming appearances are listed at www.connectexpress.com/~kermet.

I adore a fedora.

(Laura Cassidy)

Alvin Stillwell, photo stylist

Born in the Philippines and raised in the islands as well as in San Diego, Seattle-based photo stylist/makeup artist Alvin Stillwell knows a thing or two about staying cool and looking good no matter what the temperature. LAURA CASSIDY

SW: What's your favorite fabric when faced with high temperatures and uncomfortable humidity?

Stillwell: I like wearing linen. Some people don't, because it wrinkles so easily, but it's supposed to be wrinkly, so don't let that scare you. Linen breathes, and when you are on vacation and don't have laundry facilities, you can just rinse it out and it'll dry really quickly.

What about hats? How can you keep the sun off your face—and look good?

Fedoras. They look great on men and women, day or night. To get a perfect fit, I like to go to Bernie Utz. Even if you don't find what you want there, you'll know what size you are, and then you can try Diesel, Urban Outfitters, and Sway & Cake, where they have lots of cool hats to choose from.

I feel like guys have a tough row to hoe when it comes to shorts. So many of them give up and suffer through summer in long pants. Any advice for them?

If you're short and stocky, any pockets on the extremities make you look shorter. Stay away from cargo shorts and try Bermudas, preferably with a flat front, and you want them to hit you just above the knee. The variation can come in print or fabric, but not in cut. If you're taller and leaner, you can handle the bulk of cargo styles.

What's your overall philosophy for maintaining your cool in the heat?

When I was in South Africa this year, I realized you really have to just let go. And in the summer around here, we need to just have a good time and get the most out of the season. Get your vitamin D, get your barbecues in, and don't worry about what you look like.

Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, oceanographer

Seattle's Curtis Ebbesmeyer is a world expert on ocean currents and has turned beachcombing into a serious study. By analyzing flotsam that floats up on the world's beaches, he can track the movements of the seas, and the activities of those who pollute them. KNUTE BERGER

SW: What's the best time to go beachcombing?

Ebbesmeyer: Go on a weekday after a big storm.

Where?

Walk the rack lines where the previous tide has washed stuff up. Points of land are generally good and places where people don't go much.

Some favorite local beaches?

Leadbetter Point near Willapa Bay, Kalaloch Beach No. 6, La Push, Cape Disappointment, and Cannon Beach and Cape Lookout on the Oregon coast.

What's the coolest stuff you can find?

Glass balls are the dream—the glint in any beachcomber's eye. I like to look for things that have drifted from Japan, like plastic survey stakes with Japanese characters on them.

The weirdest thing?

Orange survival suits. Every year or so, one washes up on the Washington coast. One washed up in Hawaii with a full skeleton in it. Also Nike basketballs, bowling balls (8-, 9-, 10-, 11-pounders float). Just had wash up an old fire grenade—1920s vintage. Don't open it! They're full of carbon tetrachloride. Don't drink!

Is global warming changing what we find here?

Yes. Global warming is making summers longer along the coast—the spring comes early, fall is later. We may be getting more El Niños. We're getting more warm-water tuna, mola mola—a big, weird-looking fish that looks like it's missing its body—and sea turtles [from Baja]. Another thing is the carcasses of birds. Carry a stick and poke at it and see if it has a bird band and then report that. We can save the environment if we count what we see. I call it "scientific" or "observational" beachcombing. To me, the beach is a crime scene. If there's a piece of trash there, it's a crime. Where did it come from, who did that?

Will stuff from the [south Asian] tsunami ever wash up here?

Debris from the recent tsunami will get here, but be patient. Currents only move at about 10 miles per day. Mariners report a lot of [tsunami] debris in the middle of the Indian Ocean . . . and some will work its way here in five or 10 years. But will we be smart enough to see it?

Info: www.beachcombers.org. Curtis Ebbesmeyer also publishes a newsletter, Beachcombers Alert!, and urges beachcombers to report their findings to him at curtisebbesmeyer@comcast.net.

Mai tai mavens Yuji and Angie Okumoto.

(Laura Cassidy)

Yuji and Angie Okumoto, owners, Kona Kitchen

Yuji Okumoto has succeeded in two really tough industries: the movie business and the restaurant/bar trade. Among other roles, he played the bad guy in Karate Kid II. Kona Kitchen, the Maple Leaf eatery that he and his wife, Angie, own and operate, has been a solid neighborhood hangout (or "grinds" joint, as they would call it in the islands) for almost three years. LAURA CASSIDY

SW: A lot of your recipes came from your uncle in Hawaii and are based on island life. Since we might be headed toward a similar way of living, I'm wondering: What do surfers eat?

Yuji: They eat a lot of Spam musubi [a sushilike "delicacy" wherein a slab of fried pork product is set atop a large, compacted portion of white rice, dressed in teriyaki sauce, and wrapped with seaweed], which we serve here. Actually, a lot of our customers like to come in and get a few orders of it to take to the beach or to the park in the summer. It travels really well, and it's good hot or cold.

And to drink? What do you serve back in the lounge to help your customers forget about the heat?

Angie: We're getting pretty infamous for our mai tais and our Blue Hawaiians, which, of course, aren't called Blue Hawaiians in Hawaii; that drink is called Cool Water over there. We have some pretty infamous shots, too. Yuji: I have a new one called Only the Brave, which is also the name of a WWII movie I just completed. It's got Bacardi 151, Rumpelminze, and ouzo, and it's definitely only for the brave.

Kona Kitchen, 8501 Fifth Ave. N.E., 206-517-5662.

 
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