Coffee, Rain, Dead Rock Stars, and Seattle Herself (Part One).

Seattle 2 comments

When I was preparing to move to New York City for conservatory, the guy who called me to set up student housing asked me: “So, Seattle, huh? Does it really rain all the time? Do you drink a lot of coffee? Do you like Nirvana?”

This being the late 90′s (I’m dating myself, I know) I of course answered “yes” to all three questions. I mean, duh: we all listened to Nevermind on our Discmans while drinking a latte in the rain, right? But inside, I sighed. Really, dude? I mean, really? I know you’re from NYC, center of the goddamn universe, but c’mon.

I didn’t stop getting those questions. People constantly asked me about rain and coffee and Kurt Cobain, and later (after I moved back but when I would visit other places) they asked me about Microsoft, the Mariners, and Death Cab. Much later, I worked for years at the world-famous Pike Place Market*, and I dealt with this all the time. After you work there a while, it becomes a game with your fellow Marketeers, one-upping each other with rounds of Tourists Say The Darndest Things.

Hell: even Locals Say The Darndest Things.

This town – city, I guess, but we’re small — is quirky; downright weird if you keep your eyes open. Maybe it’s the bipolar weather, or the isolation (a huge percentage of Seattle’s population are transplants and it’s the biggest city for hours), but people “go strange” here. Ralph and I have both lived in NYC, and we swear little Seattle has more freaks per capita than Manhattan and all the outer boroughs combined. (And I saw 99% of them come through the Market.)

Some people find this off-putting. I think it’s a storytelling gold mine. Part of the landscape.

In my writing, I’ve always tried to make the setting come alive: the physical (and temporal…) places that we exist in tell whole tales of their own. In writing Causality, Montoure and I – the only Northwest natives on the team – want Seattle to be a character, just like Holly and Mason. And we love it just as much. Oh, sure, we’re aware of it’s limitations: the erratic weather, the six to nine months of bleak, oppressive darkness, the so-called “Seattle Freeze“**, to mention just a few.

Seattle fuckin’ Washington.

Everyone thinks they know this place. Everyone has their ideas about what it’s like here: coffee and rain and dead rock stars. But Seattle’s a tough lady; she plays hard to get.

Come with us and get to know her better.

*Where they throw the fish and have the “First Starbucks”.  (It’s not the first, it’s just the oldest.)

**More on The Freeze – and my theory about it – another time.

Posted by   @   January 17, 2011 2 comments
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Jan 20, 2011
5:09 pm
#1 C. Wilcox :

If I was still living in Baltimore, this would’ve made me cry, as a semi-native who has chosen to move here TWICE. Seattle and I were friends instantly, and once you get to know her, she is definitely NOT a fairweather friend!

Jan 21, 2011
1:41 am
#2 Glynis :

I agree! I have more to say on Seattle later.

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