Why This Unfair Prejudice Against Skateboarders?

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

What do you think about Stumptown, that Portland coffee place, coming into the Seattle market?Betwixt and Between

Dear 'twixt,

I'm trying to maintain a healthy perspective, but I have to admit that this situation has made me a little anxious. OK, a lot anxious. And disappointed. After all, we're so progressive here that we can be totally nonchalant about it. We will (for example) read a 5,000-word news story about a public figure who happens to be a lesbian and not be surprised that her lesbianism isn't mentioned. Just a big, fat nonissue for us. In fact, if you did tell us someone was a lesbian, we probably wouldn't even remember. Wouldn't remember what? I already forgot what we were talking about.

So why isn't anyone doing anything about this Stumptown business, which is as pernicious a threat as English holly, Japanese knotweed, or any other non-native plant? Wake up, everyone! Stumptown is going to destroy the very taxonomic structure of Seattle espresso.

We currently recognize two species of coffee shops. First, there's the Starbucks family, which includes Starbucks itself and its clones, Tully's and Peet's (yes, I know Peet's was first, but let's not make this too complicated). We despise them like we despise Microsoft, but will use them in a pinch. Some people even secretly enjoy the reassuring dependability of their employees' paste-on friendliness. Second, there are the V's: Vivace (the original V), Vita, and Victrola. They're known for their microroasts, their funky ambience, and the rosette thing they do with the foam. (Others in this category include Caffe Ladro, Uptown Espresso, Zeitgeist, and Lighthouse.) We love them, except for the ones that maybe have been slipping a little lately, or maybe were overrated to begin with. It is a mark of the civilized person to be able to discuss which ones these are.

Now here comes Stumptown. Everyone says they're great, but how do they fit in? What if their foam is better than the foam we're used to? Won't we feel stupid for getting by on the V's all these years? Stumptown is supposed to be obsessively devoted to treating their suppliers fairly. Won't we feel inadequate with mere Fair Trade when it turns out Stumptown personally administers shoulder massages to all their coffee pickers? What if they have live performances, seminars, and a bunch of other newfangled ideas about what a coffee shop can be? As far as I know, they haven't even promised that they'll have free Wi-Fi and a place for me to plug in and stare at my Mac PowerBook. The humiliation is worse coming as it does from Portland, which seems to be forgetting its place as our quaint, underachieving little sibling. The place with the great bookstore and not a lot else. My alarm is greater because no one seems to share it. Please join me at nativeseattleespresso.blogspot.com to help stop this threat.

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

I ride a skateboard to work. It's healthy and environmentally sound. But I get nothing but dirty looks during my morning commute. Even dogs hate me. Why this unfair prejudice against skateboarders?Emissionless 'n' Dissed

Dear Emissionless,

May I offer a couple of gentle corrections? First, it's really not a prejudice against skateboarders so much as...what do you call it? Not "intense antipathy" so much as "burning hatred." Second, though it might seem "unfair," this is one of those many things that is not what it seems.

Don't get me wrong. I am totally "down with" the vibrancy of youth culture, especially since the basic template of free-spiritedness and political activism comes from my generation. It is perfectly terrific with me that younger people seek out their own fun variation on this template. At least until I hear the roaring, ka-THUNK ka-THUNK-ing approach of skateboard wheels.

Sure, they aren't polluting, and they seem to be having a good time, but how much of a good time should they really be having? The war on global warming is deadly serious. Bicyclists suit up for the battle in helmets, spandex, wraparound shades, and special shoes. Skateboarders, on the other hand, glide down the street in tattered sneakers, leering tattoos, and metal stuff in their faces. What can they possibly be thinking about? What music are they listening to? They seem to think they've left people like me behind. They may even be laughing at me behind my back. And that's really the reason for all those dirty looks, Emissionless. No one likes being laughed at.

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