Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Seattle Attractions: The Ubiquitous Gum Wall!

Hidden down under the Pike Place Market in Seattle's Downtown area is an attraction that few visitors to this great city rarely get to see. I'm surprised to find it's in not one of the many guidebooks I've referenced for this post.

It's called the Gum Wall, well, that's what I call it, I'm not sure it has a name, it's on a forgotten part of Post Alley, you enter this section of post alley from the corner of 1st Avenue and Pike Street, near the news stand. Adventure down the cobblebrick road until you get the distinc feeling that you might be mugged and Violla! Gum Wall! It's proximity to so many other frequented tourist locations makes it even harder for me to understand why so few have made it's aquaintance.
We Start from across the alley, about eight feet away.

I believe the wall is a portion of the Pike Street Brewery, not sure if they commissioned its creation. As stated, the artist is unknown. Attempts to find a signature were met with a scolding from Mr. Sticky Fingers.

The Gum Wall appears in front of you as you exit one of Seattle's great nightclubs, the Alibi Room. On a given night, you could meet your future spouse, dance the night away to a local DJ, have a damned fine dessert (if I do say so myself), and stumble out of here, sick as the mind of M.C. Escher, and trip, face front, right into one biohazardous piece of gum right after another.
Getting Closer, can you smell the Retsin?

Don't think you have time for this little aberration? Only 72 hours in Seattle? I'll tell you what, skip the "Ride the Ducks", those things are dangerous! The Space needle? Who needs it? You want to really see Seattle, in all of it's artistic glory? The answer is simple. That's right, you guessed it, Gum Wall.

Is that a phone number up in the left hand corner? What a classy place for a singles ad!

Now that you've met your mate, had a bite of chocolate cake, cut a rug, guzzled a few mojitos and skipped the duck, move in a little closer.
Mesmerizing, isn't it?

Moving in to about two feet away, the artist's talents really start to shine through. It's actually beginning to resemble...wait, could it be? A Jackson Pollock!
(Actual Jackson Pollock for comparison)

At close range, the Gum Wall takes on it's own life, it could be a photo of grains of sand or decaying captain crunch.

In conclusion, the Gum Wall is just one of the many exciting and overlooked destinations that should be near the top of any visitor to Seattle's list. You can enjoy it here, in two dimensions, but to really get the flavor, you're going to have to step right up and take a bite.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Timeliness is next to, well you know.

I was just about to submit a big photo post about the areas on the Duwamish River that I wrote about earlier, when on the radio I heard that KUOW is getting ready to air a 5 part special on the Duwamish September 24th through the 28th. Creepy.

Now on to the photos...
Northward View from my lunchspot.
rusty torch in the rivermud

The fishing nets. As I understand it, the Duwamish tribe has no fishing rights in this river. I'm not sure who does. Despite their lack of ability to make money from the river, they have been on the forefront in it's cleanup and protection.

The monument to someone named Tim O'Brian.

The shoreline formerly known as brick wall.
An abandoned breakwater.

These river Rocks are made of brick and concrete.

South Facing View

Check out the radio special, and consider giving to the Duwamish Tribe to help build their longhouse. Their website, where donations can be made, is located here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What, Hague Worry?

Poor, Poor council member Jane Hague, once again her terrible staff failed her and quite accidentally (why is this tongue stuck in my cheek?) misrepresented her as having a college degree. News of the phony diplomey somehow happened its way into some four reputable publications.

This isn't to say that those publications aren't to blame for not doing their homework, but the deja-vu-all-over-again that this little spectacle brings to mind is unavoidable. One more in the rash of recent, and not so recent reports that Mrs. Hague can't be held responsible for her actions.
Asked why several "Who's Who" books said she had a bachelor's degree from Western Michigan, Hague said at first, "Beats me." She then speculated that her staff members may have inadvertently filled out forms with incorrect information.
So says the Seattle Times in this report about how she's taking the blame. Sure doesn't sound like it to me. Blame and responsibility are separated by a fine line.

As someone who tries to not get caught up in political malarkey, I just cannot let this woman's continuously trashy behavior pass without comment. Call me a partisan hack, call me what you will. But I say this; If you're unfortunate enough to still be on this woman's staff, I would advise you to start looking for another job. That or assume the position again when your fearless leader swerves her way into the office this morning. She's bound to screw you again.

More, and much better expressed coverage of these disturbing shenanigans can be found if you work your way over to horsesass.org

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Mighty Duwamish. River or Waterway?

I work in South Park, in South Seattle, about 10 miles south of downtown. I occasionally grab some lunch and head down to the river to watch the water and wildlife. Today, the native American's are fishing it, with nets running across the river about 50 feet apart. They do this a few times a year. Last week I saw salmon jumping high out of the water, there are even a few places that anglers will brave the bank. They do this for the migrating fish, however. You wouldn't dare eat something out of this river that spent it's life here.

There are a few parks, mostly very small triangular plots where you can sit and look at the river. These parks are on the whole polluted, filled in with old cement blocks, brick walls felled to form a makeshift bulkhead, creosote covered, rotten pilings stretching out into the shallows like ancient, disembodies legs. You wouldn't even know these parks were here unless you were really looking for them. They are at the end of graveled, dead-end streets. Rutted by decades of neglect and huge 18-wheelers delivering the supplies that keep our growing port city and nearby Boeing Field constantly moving.

The small park I was in today had a stone, carved and smoothed out to make a seat, with an inscription. It said,
This is a river, not a waterway.
I didn't catch the name of the person quoted but he was apparently a great friend of the Duwamish, who cared deeply about its future. A quick search for what constitutes a waterway came back as
a river, canal, or other body of water serving as a route or way of travel or transport
The Duwamish is definitely all of these things, but I think the man quoted on the stone was definitely on to something. Here in the Pacific Northwest we've been losing our rivers to waterways for a century or more. The promise of cheap, abundant power drove us to dam our major rivers to a point where we have been forced to truck returning schools of salmon past the dams, in mostly futile attempts to protect diminishing salmon returns. The ability of using rivers for transportation brought us to place our most polluting industries right along their shores. This idea of a waterway as route for travel or transport is limiting in the way that humans limit things unconsciously. It fails to mention who the water is making way for. That would be us. Humans. The problem is that these were waterways long before we arrived. Fish and marine mammals filled these rivers before we got here, delivering precious biological cargo upriver and we've pushed them aside in the name of progress.

Well, it looks like Seattle has taken a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the Duwamish basin has deteriorated to the point where it is a Superfund site, the good news it that this status has put in motion a project to return a portion of it's natural beauty and utility, both for those that eat lunch on it's shores, like myself, and the birds, fish and other aquatic species that depend on it. The Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition is tasked with this job. They have links to a wealth of information about the project and recent press coverage on their website.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Love Power!

A remarkable thing happened this past week. My daughter, all of 20 months, proclaimed, "Daddy, I Love You!". Let me put this into context though, she probably was in the middle of singing the "Wheels on the Bus" and telling us, as she often does that "Ellie, No Eyes" (Our Basset Hound had glaucoma when she was very young and had her eyes removed).

Despite the fact that she probably couldn't really fathom what it was she was saying, she did say, distinctly, that she does indeed love her daddy, and as a father, there isn't anything I can think of that could have made me happier or prouder to be her daddy than that. Somehow, in her growing brain, most likely right alongside the lyrics to Baby Beluga, that little girl knows that she has a father and that she loves him almost as much as she loves her mama.

I can't do justice, in words, to how I felt when I heard her say it. It wasn't something I'd felt before. I think the best way to describe it is to say that I felt connected.

In this one relationship in my life, i knew exactly where i stood, and where she stood, where I'll always stand.