Friday, July 3, 2009

Pacific Standard is closed for Independence Day

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Thursday, July 2, 2009


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My dad

Schmitz Park, West Seattle

Things have gotten kind of hectic this week so my posts have been all over the place (or maybe they always are), but I wanted to mention that last Saturday was my dad's birthday. We went and walked around at Schmitz Park in West Seattle, which is a pretty huge swath of forest, including some old-growth, with a creek running through the middle of it. It's pretty wild compared to most city parks and really beautiful. Anyway I wanted to wish my dad a happy birthday again, and I also wanted to post up these photos of him and me in the early '70s, when I was just a wee little lad:

My first birthday. Hell of a damn cake.

This is my dad and me working on his Triumph TR4A. When I say that I was working on it too, I mean it in the same sense as how I helped him install the record and book shelves in our condo – I stand there and make sure he has ice water or coffee or a beer, and I help lift things when they're too big for him to do it himself. Occasionally I say 'looks good' and stuff like that.
I'm sure it's helpful.

This photo is fresh to me for about 800 reasons, including but not limited to (1) model ship in glass case, (2) homemade papier maché and painted wood Christmas ornaments with popcorn garlands, (3) Bauhaus book, which I have since liberated, (4) reel-to-reel, (4a) short-wave radio, (5) bricks and boards in an odd configuration, (6) old school toy airplane, (7) sweet beard and haircuts, (8) nice button-down shirt and jeans, (9) good glasses, (10) extremely comfortable yellow pajamas with built-in feet.

This is my dad at a cabin we used to rent every year on Sequim Bay. He's not giving that look because he's sad or bewildered, it's because the water is freaking cold. He used to go out and pick up all kinds of odd sea life, put it in his mesh bag, and then my mom would figure out how to cook it. It inspired a spirit of adventure in eating that I still proudly maintain. That thing over his shoulder is an old pile driver we used to row out to.

Under Admiral Way in Schmitz Park (same goes for the top photo)

Dad, I wish you many more adventures, countless double-anchovy pizzas, and a happy birthday.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sunny Day Real Estate

Mount Rainier and Lake Washington

Also in today's New York Times (and I'm not trying to gloat, but since it's our first summer back here and we struggle fairly seriously with missing New York from time to time), this little tidbit:
Rain, Rain, Go Away. Really. Oh, and by the Way, We Hear That Seattle’s Nice.

By Ralph Blumenthal Published: June 30, 2009

I like New York in June...
-“Babes on Broadway”

Oh yeah? The city was a soggy mess in June, drenched with rains. There was even a touch on Tuesday, leaving the city close to setting a record before the month floated into history at midnight. Ball fields had flooded and lonely lifeguards had shivered from Coney Island to Orchard Beach. Even a relentless booster like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg had to joke: “It only rained twice this week — once for three days and once for four days.”

Worse, you couldn’t even call it Seattle-like weather.

Seattle was gorgeous.

For that, Seattle almost had to apologize. “We’re having to explain to people they really are in Seattle,” said Tom Norwalk, a spokesman for that city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, speaking by telephone.

And — ignominy! — a Seattle umbrella shop did its best business by shipping east.

Central Park was pelted with 10.06 inches of rain for the month through Tuesday afternoon, according to preliminary figures from the National Weather Service, more than twice the average for the month, and close to the record 10.27 inches set in 2003. In contrast, Seattle, known for its precipitation and “June gloom,” recorded an almost imperceptible 0.18 inch of rain, one-seventh of the average.

And before a sprinkle on June 19 dashed Seattle’s hopes for meteorological immortality, it had gone 29 days without rain, tying a local record set in 1982.

“Close, but no cigar,” lamented Cliff Mass, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington and a weather blogger who chronicled the “mega-dry” streak.

The Seattle-New York weather seesaw was scarcely coincidental, Dr. Mass said. “It’s usual to have opposite weather,” he said. “There’s a wavelike pattern to the atmosphere. We are often 180 degrees different.”

So when Seattle turned nice, New Yorkers were almost destined to suffer. And suffer they did.

While the rains left the city’s parks greener than ever, “it’s been difficult to mow the outfields,” said Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner. “The infields hold water — they’re under huge puddles.”

Beach use in June was way down, Mr. Benepe said, to 735,000 from the usual 2.6 million, according to crowd counts. “We could get 735,000 on one hot day,” he said.

Presiding over the empty beaches was an augmented army of 1,200 lifeguards, ranks swelled by the financial crisis and the lure of a job, even if just for the summer. “They’re spending a lot of time practicing and sitting huddled under umbrellas,” the commissioner said.

But there was good news as well. “With rains like this, the parks are especially lush,” he said. “They’ve never been so green. It’s a great season for flowers.”

When the sun has peeked through, people have rushed out. “If there’s 15 minutes of sunshine, they get out to the parks,” Mr. Benepe said.

For their part, Seattleites showed little concern that their city’s reputation for dampness might be at stake, and they flocked outdoors. Last weekend the main attraction was the city’s first rock ’n’ roll marathon, with bands serenading 25,000 marathon runners along the route. A gay pride march and a game by the city’s soccer club, the Seattle Sounders, drew large crowds.

“People were everywhere out and about,” said Christina Donegan, the Chamber of Commerce vice president for communications.

Of course, they usually are anyway. “People out here have a lot of Gore-Tex, and they’re ready to use it,” Dr. Mass said of the popular wet-weather fabric.

Actually, New York City averages more rainfall annually than Seattle, 49.69 inches to 37.07 inches, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but Seattle’s climate is damper, with more days of rain and mist.

Mayor Bloomberg looked on the bright side. “One of the things any mayor is worried about is if the reservoirs are going to empty out,” he said. “We took care of it early this year.”

Also, he said, “There’s more to do indoors in New York City than to do in- or outdoors anywhere else.”

The weather was so nice in Seattle that Bella Umbrella, a shop specializing in renting its 800 vintage models for weddings, might have suffered but for an unexpected boon. “I’ve had the best two months I ever had, and a lot of it was because of last-minute orders from the East Coast,” said Jodell Egbert, the owner. For brides and grooms, she said, she represented “Plan B.”

And I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the rain.
- Creedence Clearwater Revival
Since I just copied and pasted that entire article I feel compelled to let Seattle readers (and others outside of NYC) know that The New York Times is currently running this special offer wherein new subscribers get 25% off the cost of home delivery, and this special T tote bag.

And now – why, look-a that, it's happy hour – time for a beer in the sun.

Oh Canada

When I was a youngster I used to send away for packages of stamps through ads in the back of comic books. I always thought this one was kind of funny, like it was the United States' self-centered view of Canada, looking north at a land of vast natural resources.

Emily in Jacques Cartier National Park, Quebec

Anyway, today is Canada Day so I just wanted to acknowledge that I love Canada and its people. Emily and I road-tripped through Alberta and British Columbia for our honeymoon and took several trips up north while we were on the East Coast (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec). I'm looking forward to visiting again some time soon, especially Eastern B.C., which is so beautiful it doesn't seem real – it seems like you're driving through a trainset or diorama.

Emily on the beach at Prince Edward Island, with the bridge to New Brunswick in the background. The sand on Prince Edward Island is red and the water is surprisingly warm in the summer.

In this morning's New York Times, notable Canadian expats share what they miss most about home. Click here to check it out.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Old Records in My Crib

Hey, I wasn't joking when I said I was gonna start posting more records. I snagged this one, Willie Rosario's Infinito (Inca Records, 1973), at a flea market in Chelsea several years ago for a dollar or two – there used to be a guy at the back of the 25th Street parking lot with a bunch of good Latin records. The whole album is solid but here's my favorite cut:

Willie Rosario Last Tango In Paris mp3

Click here to buy Infinito at Other Music (and, by doing so, support Pacific Standard with the small referral fee Other Music pays us).

Hot Links to BBQ joints

Seattle has a surprising amount of good barbecue pits scattered throughout the city, and though it's not a city that lays claim to its own particular style, there is a sampling of almost every type of BBQ out there. You can get North Carolina-style vinegar/mustard sauces and St. Louis tomato-based sauces, sometimes at the same spot. Lucky for me, a number of them are around the corner from the studio we have in Georgetown and although I would love to eat at The Pig Iron a few days a week I have been making the rounds to try out all the places I can.

Pecos Pit. Not the best of the lot but worth a trip, their Texas-style sandwich is truly Texas enormous. Nice place to hit up before a game at Safeco field down the street, or on a sunny day, to sit outside on the picnic benches and get your meal in about 3 minutes. You will use a pound of napkins here. Oh, and beware, even the medium heat setting is explosively spicy.

Jones BBQ. These guys are like the R. Kelly of barbecue – they have taken it to the streets and set up a steel drum of smoking BBQ outside of their Lander Street location. If you are anywhere near their restaurant you will be broadsided and led like the pied piper right to their door.

The Pig Iron. This place is not to be taken lightly. They have 3 different sauces, the best of which is a hot mustard sauce. A little sweet and a little tangy, it goes on anything. Their sides are all excellent, from hot links to greens, sweet potato fries, slaw and beans – infinite combinations of goodness to accompany your pork. And their chicken is off the charts. Do not underestimate the chicken. When we first went there my friends scoffed at me for ordering the BBQ chicken but I came out on top when it arrived perfectly cooked and seasoned. I could go on. Cold beers on tap, a cool little rockabilly location and Slim's Last Chance is next door if you want to play some pool and drink pitchers after your meal. Not a bad way to spend a lazy Sunday.

Anyone else out there got contenders? I still need to hit up the North Shore Hawaiian barbecue at Boren and Yesler...

Monday, June 29, 2009

All Time All City King

Iz the Wiz, 1982

This morning's New York Times has a lengthy and informative obituary on Iz the Wiz, who died earlier this month at the age of 50. Click here to read, if you aren't yet sick of obituaries.

Some Hippie Thing


Jimi Hendrix saluting the crowd on the last day of Woodstock, 1969

This summer marks the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. I admit it: although it wasn't particularly well received when it premiered at Cannes, I still want to see this movie (directed by Ang Lee and based on the autobiography Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life, by Elliot Tiber and Tom Monte). Word is that it's currently scheduled to be released on August 14, one day before the date the festival began in 1969. Here's the trailer:

If (like me) you're inclined to get nostalgic about things you never experienced, you can read Greil Marcus's review of/meditation on the event, from the September 20, 1969 issue of Rolling Stone, here. An excerpt:
Everyone in the country has seen pictures of the crowd. Was it bigger than it looked? Whoever saw so many people in the same spot with the same idea? Well, Hitler did, and General MacArthur, and Mao, but this was a somewhat better occasion. They came to hear the music and they stayed to dig the scene and the people and the countryside, and at any time, no matter who was playing, one could see thousands moving in every direction and more camped on every hill and all through the woods. The music became something that was going on there, and it was terrific, but it was by no means the whole show. The magnificent sound system was clear and audible long past the point at which one could no longer see the bands, and some were discussing the bass player in Janis' band even though they hadn't the slightest idea of what he looked like.
Right on.

"Woodstock: 450,000"

Yep, that looks like a lot of people.
(Photo of the crowd listening to Hendrix's rendition of
the Star-Spangled Banner at 5 a.m. on August 18
by David Sygall; more good images

Oh, well

Brazil 3, United States 2

Fabiano scores half-way through the second half
Photo Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters via NYT)

An exciting match nonetheless. We watched it at The Attic in Madison Park – they use the same recipe for Buffalo wings as the Anchor Bar, where they were invented.

More, from The New York Times:
Revisiting the Great Soccer Debate