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Translation: Abandon all hope ye who enter here.
Vernal Coleman may have kicked it with the down and out--addicts and prostitutes--in the course of writing

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Profiles in Courage: Reporter Walks Phinney at Night

phinneystreetsign.jpg
Translation: Abandon all hope ye who enter here.
Vernal Coleman may have kicked it with the down and out--addicts and prostitutes--in the course of writing his superb feature on the inhabitants of Aurora's hard-luck motels. But can he say he walked Phinney?

In case you haven't noticed, a crime tsunami has hit that North Seattle neighborhood. It's gotten so bad that residents are on the lookout for people who sit in parked cars--the cops say call the cops if you see that--or even just stand on corners. The time has come to be proactive. So said Phinney residents who called and e-mailed me to explain that I don't appreciate the problem's severity. So I decided that--personal safety be damned--I would walk the neighborhood at night. I had been told that this was not a smart thing to do. "Danger! Danger!" shouted a Phinneyan into my voicemail. But after a brief detour to Ballard, I drove west on 65th street, a lump in my throat as my car climbed the steep hill.

At 2nd NW, I slowed for a speedwalking woman. Was she speedwalking away from something? Perhaps an attacker?

Then, at the corner of 65th and Greenwood, I passed Hip Zephyr Boutique, Luscious Skin Spa, and Mediterranean Specialty Foods and Wines. There was neither turning back nor two ways about it: I was in the shit. Leaving my car parked on a side street like a lamb in a wolf den, I walked Greenwood and Phinney Avenues, going as far south as 59th street and as far north as 81st. Below are some photographs of the harrowing experience.

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I was not reassured to find motorists in such a hurry to bypass this boarded-up crime trap.

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Crossing flags or gang rags?

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Phinney got a Starbucks. Thank you, Magic Johnson!

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I felt a chill as I saw this in the distance--surely it was the riots I'd been warned of. Fortune be praised, it was only a Wing Dome.

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Pianos? The only keys they know in these parts are of the Escobar variety.

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Pilates studio: There goes the neighborhood

Finally, here's how my adventure ended: I was walking down Greenwood Ave. N. when I noticed a figure sitting in a parked SUV. From my research on Phinney's crime wave, I learned that the SPD recommends that Phinneyans who see people sitting in parked cars call the police immediately. My hands shaking, I reached for my phone. I could feel the occupant following my every move. I turned towards him. His eyes met mine. His stare was menacing. Put the phone down, it seemed to say, in an evil Jedi Mind Trick sort of way. This was one puppy I didn't want to mess with. A Golden Retriever, in fact. Finally, it was clear to me: I'm not cut out for Phinney. I put the phone in my pocket, got in my car, and drove away, soaked in sweat.

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