Seattle: Great city that I could never ever live in. This point was driven home to me as I stepped out of John's apartment on Saturday night directly into a 41 degree chill. I know that 41 degrees isn't a very big deal to most. However, when you've spent nearly all of your 28 years in the south (specifically Florida), 41 degrees on the second to last day of April is an absolute deal breaker. Sorry Seattle, I'm sure you'll get over it. Besides Saturday, we couldn't have gotten better weather. It only rained on Saturday and the temperature hovered in the mid to low 70s the entire rest of the trip (during the day at least).
As for the actual city of Seattle, it was better than I'd built it up to be. I've always thought Seattle would be a really cool city, though that probably has as much to do with my repeated viewings of Singles as anything. What I found upon my arrival was a city that mirrored many of my favorite cities in it's basic structure. Small geographically with a vibrant downtown area that serves as the main engine of the city's nightlife. I like a city that I can walk while stopping in for an occasional beer and shot. Seattle was more than adequate in that sense. Seattle also has some fantastic scenery when you combine the enormity of Mt. Rainier with the city's skyline and the natural sunsets on Puget Sound. Furthermore, Seattle's citizenry was both multi-cultural and young which, while expected, was a positive nonetheless. I don't really have alot bad to say about Seattle other than to say this: The Space Needle is a fraud.
- My flight out was rather unremarkable, save for the Paul Davis siting that I had in Chicago. Let me assure you of this: He looks like a much bigger pussy in person than on TV (if that's even possible). In keeping with my tradition of star/celebrity spotting, I simply pointed at him and loudly said "Paul Davis" as he walked by me. I could care less about getting some dude's autograph, but I do like to alert the world of their presence so that they feel just a little less comfortable than before they crossed my path. Don't believe me? Just ask Xavier McDaniel about the time he ran into me in the Charlotte Airport bathroom (ngs).
- I landed in Seattle about 3:15 and as soon as I turned my phone on I had two messages. One from Calvin, and one from John...they were together by the way. These messages informed me that they were drinking at a Casino near the airport and that they'd be right over to pick me up. They may be idiots but they're not liars. Shorlty after grabbing my bags I was in John's car and on my way to Pioneer Square. Despite the fact that he'd already been drinking for an hour or so, John had a work dinner to attend on Wednesday evening so he dropped Calvin and I off in downtown to kill some time before the Mariners game at 7.
There a probably a number of ways to kill time in a new city. I chose to sample a number of new and exciting beers from the region while also slamming the occasional Jager shot. After doing this for a couple of hours and inhaling some Taco del Mar, Calvin and I made our way to Safeco Field which sits on the edge of downtown.
- Safeco Field was a first class park. It's similar to many of the new parks in that it had all the newest bells and whistles while still giving fans the intimate feel of an older ballpark. All of this makes it an awful shame that there were approximately 15,000 in attendance on Wednesday night. It didn't bother me or Calvin as we cheered the Mariners to victory over the World Champion White Sox while enjoying those tasty $8 beers that make taking in a baseball game in person such a rewarding experience. While I'm here, I'd like to give a special shout out to the music guy at Safeco for his music selection. More specifically, I'd like to commend him on his use of Werewolves in London for Raul Ibanez (think about it) and for using Seattle native Jimi Hendrix's Hey Joe for Kenji Johjima.
- After the game, Calvin and I met John outside Safeco and walked downtown for some beers (seriously, we all needed more to drink). We made our way back to Pioneer Square and bounced from bar to bar. The highlights of the rest of the night are a little blurry but there are a few things that stand out. First, we spent a good amount of time drinking at a place called "The Central" which, we would later find out, was the public birth place of bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, and numerous other Seattle legends. While I never would have sought this place out, it was kind of cool to find this out after the fact.
You'll have to forgive me if I don't remember the sequence of events for the rest of Wednesday evening. Here's a quick breakdown of what I DO remember:
- Calvin calling some guy (who was wearing a suit) a "bum". This guy couldn't have been farther from a bum, but Calvin still insisted on yelling at him "to stop begging for change". I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that the three of us came close to getting in a brawl on at least three separate occassions.
-John and I deciding that Calvin was an awful person who needed to be punished. By punished, I mean kicked. At one point late in the evening, John and I were chasing Cavlin around the streets of Seattle while viciously kicking him in his shins, knees and ass. I'm talking Cobra Kai style kicks here. Calvin has the bruises to prove it.
- I fell over into the middle of the street...twice. Pathetic, I know. The second time was so bad that I actually just laid in the street and laughed like some sort of crazy for a solid 20 count. Of course, I didn't remember this until I woke up on Thursday morning with two enormous scars on my knuckles from the fall(s). At least my co-workers think I'm a member of Fight Club now.
- John had to work for awhile so Calvin and I slept in and then watched the SportsCenter Spring Practice Special. Watching this show reminded me of one fantastic aspect of west coast living that nobody ever mentions, daytime television. When you live on the East coast there is never, ever anything on during the afternoon. Out west, they get all our mid to late afternoon programming during the early afternoon. There really is no better palce to be unemployed than in the Western time zone.
- After John got off work, we decided to take a trip up to America Jr. Vancouver was the destination and John said it would take about two hours, though he was really just guessing. After a ridiculously thorough interrogation at the Canadian border we were on our way. By the time we go to the suburbs of Vancouver, all three of us were in full on "ugly american" mode. Tossing out racial/ethnic epithets at every turn and openly mocking every tenet of Candian society that we could think of. The highlight of which was undoubtedly when we drove through the crowded Vancouver streets with our windows rolled down blaring America, Fuck Yeah!. I don't know what was funnier, our immaturity or the looks on the faces of those bewildred Canucks while that song boomed from John's Jeep.
- We spent the rest of the day walking around Vancouver, grabbing some beers at random bars and watching hockey. ("When in Rome"..."Go on".) During this time, we noticed a number of things. One, Vancouver has a ton of attractive women. This probably doesn't do you alot of good when its 10 degrees outside, but it was certainly a welcome addition on this day. Seriously, I think we saw maybe two slam pigs (more on that later) during our entire time in Vancouver. Two, their are a bunch of good music venues in Vancouver that attract a number a really stellar acts. I'm only basing this on the venues that I saw and the flyers for shows (both past and upcoming) but it sure seemed like they had a vibrant music scene up there. Finally (and most importantly), we learned that there are pirates in Canada. Who knew? Certainly not me. These aren't the kind of pirates that you're thinking of though. They don't dress any differently than your average person. They don't have peg legs (or kickstands). From what I can tell, they don't even say "Arrrgh!". So how did we know that we saw a pirate you ask? I'll tell you how: We saw a dude on the street walking around with a trusty sidekick on his shoulder, only this wasn't a parrot. This guy walked right past us on the street with a black cat on his shoulder. Let me clarify the situation a little. The man was walking the street with another guy and holding what appeared to be a normal, everyday conversation while the aformentioned black cat stood on his shoulders. I got close enough to verify that this cat was indeed real. I also got close enough to see that the cat was far from sedated and, in fact, looked totally ready to pounce on anyone who dare accost his master. It was standing on his shoulders like one of those black cats you see on those cheesy Halloween decorations. It was among the most bizarre things that I've ever seen. Of course, I quickly surmised the only logical explanation for such an oddity. Quite simply, the man was a pirate...a Canadian Pirate. I thought about asking the guy if he would show us his ship but figured it wouldn't be worth the effort to translate it all into Canadian.
Take my word for it, there are Pirates in Canada and they don't look anything like this.
What was worth the effort was the trip that we all took to a Vancouver establishment by the name of Smoke Signals. To say the experience was surreal would be an understatement. The three of us must've sat in that cafe for over an hour talking shit and listening to Led. Easily the best $20 I've spent in quite some time. By the time we finished up in the cafe, all that was left was a trip to Pita Pit and the ride back to America. At one point, I figured that I might have to assume the driving responsibilities but, in the end, John pulled through and we rolled into Seattle by about 1:30 am.
Quick Vancouver report: Different from any city I've ever been to. Extremely multi-cultural with an almost European feel to it. The architecture of the city left something to be desired though. Once you're in the city itself it's pretty nice, but it looks like some Eastern Bloc capital as you're approaching it. Lots of nondescript, old looking, high rise apartment buildings. I would never even consider living there but I would welcome a trip back, even without a return engagement at Smoke Signals.
I'll be back with the highlights of the second half of my trip tomorrow.