Turf— Philosophical on Eastlake

Perennial political candidate Stan Lippman: Nothing's as exciting as New York.

Perennial political candidate Stan Lippman: Nothing's as exciting as New York.

YOU MIGHT HAVE heard of Stan Lippman. He’s been a candidate for mayor, for congressman, and, this year, for City Council, winning 7,900 votes in a doomed effort to unseat incumbent Richard McIver. A former physicist who worked in California before moving to Seattle, Lippman has traveled to France, Israel, and Russia, where his parents were born. Relics of his travels fill his modest Eastlake apartment, which sits among houseboats and high-dollar condos overlooking Lake Union. Erica C. Barnett

Seattle Weekly: How did you find this place?

Stan Lippman: I came here from the Bay Area to go to law school in 1995. I flew up here and rented a car and took about four days driving around the city looking for “for rent” signs, and so that’s how I found this place.

What are your neighbors like?

Next door was a typical Seattle story: People were getting reasonable rents; some people had been there for decades. They sold the building, and the new owner doubled or tripled the rent. They basically threw everybody out. They were really nice longtime Seattleites, they all knew each other, and it was a real community over there. Now it’s just a bunch of yuppies. It’s pretty typical community destruction. That also happened just a block down on Edgar and Yale Alley. They had this apartment building called Mallard Cove, and it was kind of beat-up and run-down—but again, it was kind of an old community of bohemians or whatever. And they sold the property, and they knocked the building down, and then they put up these really expensive condos; they finished them a year ago, and we were walking by there this morning and they were like 70 percent empty.

Are you afraid the same thing might happen here?

I have no fear of that because [the owner’s] raking in 20K a month doing nothing. He has no reason to move south or anything because he just spends the winters in Hawaii; he has a house down there. I got pretty lucky because this is a pretty unique spot. So I don’t complain about anything. Even if something’s wrong, I usually don’t complain about it. It’s not a perfect place. It’s submerged, sort of, in the back because there’s a big hill, so it gets damp in the winter. If it’s a really, really rainy year, then water comes in.

What are all those weird metal boxes?

They’re called intelligent hubs. As a side business, I’m putting in high-speed networks in apartment buildings and reselling the service to the tenants. Each one of these goes to an apartment. People who want the high-speed service would log in, and my software turns their port on, and if they don’t pay, the software turns their port off. I have so many because I got kind of hooked on eBay about four months ago. These were all in corporate environments like dot-coms, so these are all surplus. This unit retails for like 800 bucks, and I got most of these for 15 or 20 bucks apiece. So this is like $60,000 worth of equipment I got for $3,000. If I could actually employ all these hubs I’ll have so much money coming in—the idea is that I want to be a lawyer and just do the cases I want.

You don’t seem to have a lot of storage.

That’s true; I’ve got a few closets. I’m in the middle of a campaign, so I’ve got boxes and boxes of T-shirts all over the bedroom. That’s why it’s so messy. It’s not enough storage space.

Do you still read all these philosophy books or just collect them?

I keep adding to them. I go to the used bookstore and add a book once in a while. In law school I took philosophy of law, and I got all these books here, all this Wittgenstein. Some of these books I’ve had for over 20 years. I guess the latest book I took off my shelf was the Federalist Papers.

Is this a convenient place to live?

You can certainly live pretty easily here without a car. And it’s very convenient to the university and to downtown. I don’t own a car at the moment. I’m not going to swear I’ll never have one. When I moved here five years ago, the buses would come every 10 minutes—and it’s only a 15-minute ride downtown. But bus service is less than half of what it was. The whole city has really gotten much worse.

Is there anything you don’t like about living here?

It’s not a great spot for commercial activity. They say that the I-5 overpass is kind of noisy and it deadens the climate up there, and so there isn’t much business. There’s only one coffee shop to go to, Louisa’s. You can’t do any real shopping here, which is sort of a problem. Capitol Hill is more exciting. But I’m from New York originally, so compared to New York, nothing’s exciting anyway.

What’s the best thing about living here?

It’s a real community, a real neighborhood. There are people who have lived here for a really long time. Considering [it’s] urban living, it still retains some of the quality of place.


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