1) It rains a lot.
2) People will not cross the bridges unless one side>"/>
1) It rains a lot.
2) People will not cross the bridges unless one side is on fire and the only water to be had is on the other side. And even then, they'll try really hard to get their cousin or best friend to drive.
3) It rains a lot.
That was not much to go on for a young(ish) journalist just trying to get a feel for his new city, but in those first strange couple weeks, I didn't have much else.
Then, on maybe my second Saturday night in town, I stumbled across something that I thought was perfect: a rerun of a show called Almost Live!--a weird kind of sketch comedy show that (to me, with no understanding in that moment of what it was or the history it had) came off like a bizarre alternate-universe Saturday Night Live done on a shoestring budget, by a cast of people I vaguely recognized from too many hours spent drunk and watching old stand-up sets on Comedy Central in the middle of the night. Everything looked like a bad stretch of 1987. The jokes were almost surreal in that I got none of the references and knew none of the landmarks. For a few, precious minutes I thought that maybe I'd inadvertently huffed some kind of psychotropic rain forest slug fungus and was just imagining it. Either that, or I'd accidentally invented a time machine and slipped into a world where everyone wore shoulder pads and John Keister was the most famous man alive.
Needless to say, that wasn't the case. But Almost Live! (which forms a good part of this week's feature story by Mike Seely, profiling the one-time master of the stoners-and-loners TV time-slot, John Keister) still became a ritual for me--a way to look back and decode the recent history of a city to which I was a perfect stranger.
I learned the names of the suburbs from Almost Live!. How to drive in a city that hates cars. The names of former mayors. All about angry Scandinavians. And I learned how Seattleites ate ten years ago--mostly a diet of veggie burgers, microbrews and leftover Thai food. Which, honestly, is not that different from how you people still eat today.
This, though, was probably my favorite moment from those first couple weeks of watching: the "Great Chefs of Tukwila" sketch. Much as I'd love to show it to you right here, the only available version I could find has the embedding disabled (boo!), so you'll have to click through the link above to take a look.