Seething in Seattle [California Seething]
So, last week I left the comfy, drought-ridden, hazy and slightly scorched confines of my Los Angeles home for the moist, green landscape and bright clean air of Seattle and other random bits of Washington State.
Now, you probably think I heart Seattle. Or looove it. Or lurve it. Lurve – is that a thing? Do the kids say “lurve”? Are the kids that dumb? I mean, I know they’re dumb cause they’re The Kids and the whole purpose of the next generation is for them to be dumber than we were so we don’t feel so bad about ourselves for getting old and not understanding their music or clothes or YouTube videos or the Instagram GET OFF MY LAWN!
So, yeah. They’re dumb. But dumb enough to say “lurve”? Discuss.
Anyhow, like I was saying, you probably think I have a certain fondness for Seattle. And I can’t blame you for thinking that – I mean, I am a card carrying member of Generation X (the card says “card”) and I went to college during the height of the Grunge Era in the early 90s.
And Seattle during the early 90s – well, hell, that was the epicenter of cool – like San Francisco in the 60s, though instead of LSD and enlightenment, we had heroin and crippling depression and instead of the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, we had Alice in Chains and Soundgarden and instead of The Graduate and Harold and Maude, we had Singles and Reality Bites.
Wow. The early 90s were TERRIBLE! What a fucking horrible time to come of age. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was a great time for fashion. For me, anyhow. After all, a broken clock tells the right time twice a day and an unkempt, slovenly, unshowered dude is fashionable twice a millennium (the early 90s and THE ENTIRE DARK AND MIDDLE AGES).
And then there was the dancing – which, during the Grunge Era was outstanding! Jumping around, slamming into each other, screaming at the top of our lungs – hell, that’s what I do when I’m taking the bus – I was a goddamn moshing natural! What a fantastic time to come of age!
And then the stupid Swing Dancing craze came along and everyone started learning dances with actual steps and caring about their appearance and showering like every motherfucking day. Thanks John Favreau! Thanks Vince Vaughn! Thanks Big Bad Voodoo Daddy!
Thanks for ruining everything with your suits and hats and your hair product and your dancing that requires a modicum of coordination. I’m glad you’ve all turned in to a bunch of total washouts. I hope you had fun playing the Snoqualmie Casino, Big Bad Loser Daddy. It’s right outside Seattle (CALLBACK, BITCHEZ!)!
And speaking of Seattle you still probably think I like Seattle. Well, you’re wrong. Totally wrong. So wrong, in fact, that it should call into question all the other decisions you’ve made in your life.
Like going to grad school for playwriting, or buying your 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom, 3 story Dream Forever Home in Las Vegas in 2006 (Interest only ARM loan? No problem! Values are just gonna go up, up, up!), or trying that thing you saw on TV where you put a full glass of wine on the mattress and then jump up and down next to it, or getting bangs (they don’t work with your face, sorry), or using your position with the IRS to go after Tea Party organizations applying for tax exempt status – that was particularly wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. TOTALLY FUCKING AWESOME but so very wrong. But awesome. Totally awesome.
I mean, I have a total bureaucrat crush on the IRS right now (shhhh, don’t tell the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the ATF. They get, like, super jealous).
For me, Seattle is like Mad Men – it’s beautiful to look at, filled with douchey white people in vintage clothes, everybody I know tells me I should like it and I DO NOT GET THE APPEAL.
OK, so sure, I suppose that Mad Men arouses a certain Mitt Romney like nostalgia for the era of white male dominance, and Seattle is a great place for liberals who want to send their kids to all white schools where they will be taught the importance of diversity.
And the thing is, I know I should like Seattle. Aside from nostalgia for the sweaty, stinky glorious days of my grungy past, it has all the stuff I usually like in cities: old buildings & neon, walkable neighborhoods with locally owned non-evil businesses (or very slightly evil. Or evil but more in a why the fuck are you putting pig cheeks and arugula on my grilled cheese sandwich kind of way, not in a giant factory fire in Bangladesh cause they’re trying to make everything as cheaply as possible kind of way), wide ranging public transportation- hell, there’s even a monorail. I mean, there’s nothing on earth like a genuine bona-fide electrified monorail. What’d I say? MONORAIL.
And some of my absolute favorite people in the word live in Seattle. In fact, one of the main reasons I was headed there was to see them. So why don’t I like it? Is it me? Do I just hate stuff for the sake of hating it? Am I some cranky and utterly unpleasant person who hates harmless, quirkly, loveable things like Seattle and Ziggy and animated kittens with super big eyes and Zooey Deschanel?
Yes, maybe. God, I hate Zooey Deschanel. And Ziggy. And those stupid animated kittens. And Seattle! But certainly there must be more to it. I set out for Seattle determined to find out.
Before we could get to Seattle, though, we spent a few days in Sequim, Washington visiting relatives. Where is Sequim? Well, here’s what the Sequim Tourism Bureau has to say on their website:
Sequim is located in the heart of the Olympic Peninsula in the far Northwest corner of Washington state. Sequim is centrally located between Port Angeles, with access to the Olympic National Park, and the Victorian seaport town of Port Townsend.
There. Does that answer your question? Really? It does? You’re shitting me! I mean, come on, you know it’s just a bunch of gibberish words like “Sequim is located potato duck salamander fish cake frog kangaroo iguana Port Townsend.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I have a total mental block with Washington State geography – it’s like Eastern Europe except instead of a bunch of countries ending in “stan” there are a bunch of cities starting with “Port”. I mean, how is anyone supposed to keep track of all of them?
Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Port Orchard, Port…uhm…Stuff. OK, so maybe there’s just 3 cities that start with “Port” but it’s still EXTREMELY CONFUSING. I mean, okay, it’s really not that confusing but I refuse to learn anything about it whatsoever. Just like Eastern Europe I’m hoping that if I stubbornly refuse to learn anything about it, I won’t have to go there.
Unfortunately, while this theory has worked out just fine for Kyrgyzstan it hasn’t worked out so well for Sequim because I keep winding up there and DON’T FUCKING TELL ME THAT KYRGYZSTAN ISN’T ANYWHERE NEAR EASTERN EUROPE ANYTHING THAT’S PART OF THE FORMER USSR IS IN EASTERN EUROPE AND THAT’S ALL I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU I CAN’T HEAR YOU. Holding breath. Turning blue. Passing out.
OK, I’m back. What was I talking about, oh yeah, Sequim. Where the hell is that place anyhow? And, more to the point, what’s the deal with this Sequim place anyhow?
OK, well, basically, Sequim is like an octogenarian Twin Peaks – only significantly less awesome than I just made that sound. Picture all the characters from Twin Peaks, move them up to their 2013 ages, imagine they all found God and/or Golf and take away the possibility that anything remotely interesting can, will or might ever happen in their lives and you’ll pretty much have Sequim.
Ben Horne isn’t going to that brothel in Canada anymore but he is having breakfast three times a week at the diner in Port Angeles. Dale Cooper may be possessed by the soul of Bob, but the only evil thing he does is drive around town slowly with his turn signal on. And it’s awfully hard for Nadine to think she’s still 17 since she broke her hip in the last wrestling tournament.
Not following me? OK, well picture that town from Twilight, whatever the fuck they call it, only Jacob’s got saggy man-boobs and Edward’s actually brooding about liberals taking his guns away.
Still not following me? Well just picture a town full of old people that sucks with a bunch of tall trees and shit and you’ll pretty much have the idea. Jeez. How hard was that?
Mind you, there’s a shit-ton of scenic beauty in Sequim (that’s also a quote from the Sequim Tourism Board Website. They really need to work on their copywriting). Majestic pines, snow-capped peaks, rugged coast line, colorful old Victorians – it’s something to see.
In fact, my wife and I drove around for quite a while
avoiding family exploring the scenic beauty of the region. To be honest, we got quite lost in the remote tangle of dead ends and private roads by the coast. It was one of those experiences that we, as white people, totally take for granted. After all, we get to blunder through life in a big American rental car, hopelessly lost in an area that we have ABSOLUTELY NO BUSINESS BEING IN, surrounded on all sides by paranoid gun-nuts with “Trespassers will be shot” signs on their lawns, with no concern whatsoever that anyone is going to call the cops or gun us down because they think we’re crackheads or gang bangers.
And at the end of the day it’s just another wacky story that we can laugh about with our white friends over white wine and not a harrowing tale of police brutality in the backwoods of Washington State or a reason for Obama to travel to Sequim to speak in the sorrowful, yet outraged tones (which he has had plenty of opportunities to master recently) about the tragic consequences of gun violence and racism in America and all the things he would really love to do about gun violence and racism if only he was able to accomplish anything at all.
Then again, Obama doesn’t like traveling to rainy climates any more, because he might hand his umbrella to the wrong guy and Fox News will just LOSE THEIR FUCKING SHIT over it.
I mean, who can keep track of all these rules anyhow? I guess it’s OK for a President to send the Armed Forces to die in some godforsaken country under totally false pretenses but not OK to ask them to hold your umbrella for two lousy minutes? Actually, the whole Bush / Obama thing is another great example of how good white people have it.
Some rich, C-student, ex-cokehead frat boy gets to destroy the economy and rampage around the world committing war crimes and he gets his own library afterwards. A brilliant orator turns the economy around and tries to institute common sense reforms for the well being of the American people and the media is ready to crucify him because he gave the wrong fucking dude his UMBRELLA.
Plus – why the hell does Bush even need a library when the only book he’s ever read is The Pet Goat, and he chose the worst possible time to read it. I mean, I know it’s riveting stuff, but he could have waited to finish the book and find out if the little girl gets to keep her pet goat until AFTER planes were done hitting the World Trade Center. I’m just saying, if Obama had done that, Fox News would be calling him a Satanic Kenyan Goat Worshipper and lighting the White House on fire.
So sure, Sequim is pretty, but it’s unbelievably dull. It’s good though, that there isn’t much going on in Sequim, because, ultimately, when you retire, you want to do it in the most boring place possible. That way, when you ultimately do leave this life behind, you won’t actually feel like you’re missing out on that much.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not belittling the grief and the sorrow of those left behind, and I’m not saying that as a person passes away it’s not sad for them to think that they’ll never see friends and family again.
I’m just saying, well, when somebody dies in Paris surrounded by light and excitement and culture, they are acutely aware of all they will never again experience – one more trip to the Musee D’Orsay, another twilight stroll by the Seine, the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower. PLUS the fact that they ‘ll never see their friends and family again.
In a place like Sequim it’s more like “Oh, crap. Well, I guess I’m not making it to water aerobics on Tuesday. And, oh yeah, it really sucks that I’m never gonna see my friends and family again”.
That’s not to say there’s no excitement in Sequim – no sir! Why, when we were there last week we found ourselves right smack in the middle of the 118th Annual Sequim Irrigation Festival. Yee-haw! Talk about some excitement. No, seriously, talk about it, because I’m not sure I can actually correctly identify it anymore after spending a few days in Sequim.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t it kind of weird to have a festival celebrating irrigation in a state where it rains all the time?
Unless, maybe it’s a festival where they’re celebrating how they don’t actually need irrigation because they’ve got SO MUCH water and they’re just rubbing it in our faces cause we’re in a drought all the time.
In which case, it’s one of those dick festivals, just like the annual Snowplow Parade in Los Angeles every January and the annual Fuck You LA, At Least We’re Not on Fire Carnival in Vermont every October.
Still, dick festival or not, the 118th Annual Sequim Irrigation Festival was quite a big deal – they even had a theme this year which was “Dancing Through the Valley” – a significant improvement over last year’s theme “Look Ma – the Crops Ain’t Dead!” and the year before “Irrigation….uhm…Neat!”
I mean, come on, give them a break, they’ve been having this festival for 118 years – do you know how hard it is to come up with 118 themes related to irrigation? Next year they’ve got to choose between “It’s Irrigation, Again – You Got a Problem With That?” and “If You Have Any Better Ideas for a Festival, Wise Guy, I’m All Fucking Ears.”
And they’ve got to make sure they choose the right theme because the Sequim Irrigation Festival is a SUPER BIG DEAL in the region – especially the Irrigation Parade which showcases zit-faced band geeks and pregnant cheerleaders from every white trash high school in Washington State including Bremerton, Poulsbo, East AND West Bumfuck, Port Tourist Trap, Port The Port Is Now Irrelevant to the Local Economy and Port I Can’t Wait to Graduate and Get the Fuck Out of Here.
Actually, though, I was glad I got to witness the Irrigation Parade, because that’s where I had my epiphany about why I don’t like Seattle (remember that? It’s what this post is supposed to be about).
At the end of the parade, one of the floats was pulling away – at least, I think it was one of the floats. It was a cheaply decorated pick up truck modified with a steel framework over the bed, so that a bunch of High School students could stand in the back and be safely contained. So, either it was related to the parade, or it belonged to a particularly audacious daylight kidnapper, but I’m gonna go with parade for the sake of this story.
Anyhow, running beside this vehicle was a gangly teenage boy with square plastic hipster glasses and a funny hat – and he was saluting and waving and yelling goodbye in all sorts of different ways: “Sayonara! Adios! Au Revoir! Farewell! So Long, Suckers!” and it was all sort of moderately amusing, except you could tell that the kids on the truck just thought he was THE SHIT and that this kid truly believed he was the funniest thing EVER and not just another teenage dweeb in an already over-saturated world and so he just kept doing it over and over and over again until it became totally unbearable.
And that, in a nutshell (if I may be so bold as to nutshell) is my problem with Seattle. It’s a quirky little city in a pretty location and it would be moderately charming if it wasn’t for the fact that it just thinks it’s the most fantastic and sophisticated city in the whole wide world and doesn’t get that it’s one more medium sized city in America with square plastic hipster glasses and a funny hat.
And, when you see the rest of Washington State standing on the back of a pick-up truck holding on for dear life on the way home from the Irrigation Parade, you can’t blame Seattle for thinking it’s so much cooler than everybody else.
And as a result of this city’s oversized impression of itself, everyone in the service industry there has a “well, of course your Espresso Martini costs $23 – you’re in the BIG CITY now” attitude and the locals have a “you know that Espresso Martini is made by blending artisanal vodka made from locally sourced organic potatoes and naturally purified rainwater collected in a custom made concrete cistern scientifically designed to keep the water at a temperature between 55-57 degrees and espresso made from fair-trade single-source Nicaraguan beans, and because I drink it, I’m a much better person that you are. No offense” attitude.
Which leads to me having a “that’s great now can I please just get a Jameson on the rocks with a splash of any kind of fucking water you want to put in it that isn’t piss and SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT IT. No offense” attitude and none of us end up liking each other very much.
Still, I’ll admit it: after a few days in Sequim, Seattle was a welcome change of pace. This is partially because we were staying in a hotel in Seattle and, in Sequim, we were staying With People and, given the choice I always prefer hotels.
I mean, no offense, but hotels have spent millions of dollars to figure out exactly which mattress and bed-spread combination is going to make me as comfy-wumfy as humanly possible. Whereas, when I stay With People, I’m suffering the consequences of all of their bad decisions.
Decisions like “Hey, let’s buy a futon with a giant steel rod running right through the center so it’s absolutely impossible to sleep on without splitting your spine in two and becoming a paraplegic!” or “Hey, let’s find the smallest possible Malibu Barbie Dream House twin bed we can find and put it in the guest room. Surely two people can share that comfortably!
Also, let’s make sure that the box spring doesn’t actually fit on the bed frame so that if you shift even the tiniest little microscopic bit, the box spring and mattress fall off the frame and into the Sarlacc Pit below! Good thing you can’t actually move your legs because you became a paraplegic when you slept on that fucking futon.”
Or “Who needs French press coffee when we’ve got Instant? Non-dairy, fat-free Hazelnut creamer, anyone?” I mean, I don’t mean to insult anyone’s hospitality but, you know, fuck their hospitality. I’ve just reached the point in my life where the only person who’s bad ideas I want to live with are mine. No offense, though.
So, yeah, Seattle wasn’t so bad this time. I even had pig cheeks on my pizza and they were delicious – though I still feel bad for the poor pig walking around with no cheeks like Kate Moss. And I’m not just saying this so that my friends in Seattle don’t stop talking to me after reading this post. Love you guys!
Maybe I should always visit Seattle fresh from a few days at the Irrigation Festival so that I can appreciate it the way it’s meant to be appreciated – by yokels who don’t know any better (and, of course, my amazing and sophisticated friends who also like it for some totally unfathomable reason. Don’t hate me!)
I contemplated my visit as we flew home. Why do I prefer LA to Seattle? Public transportation is worse, the air is dirtier, the water has to be brought in from a thousand miles away, the whole premise of the city is absurd and unsustainable and when the ground isn’t shaking, Glendale’s on fire – so why do I like it more?
I pondered this as the plane descended into the endless sprawl, like a scared kid stepping in to an ice cold pool. Beneath us, the patterns of the City were stamped out in all directions: Ralph’s, Vons, CVS, Starbucks; Ralph’s, Vons, CVS, Starbucks – over and over and over again like a Morse Code message that reads “Welcome Home Sucker” repeated to infinity.
We got off the plane (or de-planed as they say and by “they” I mean idiots who make up asinine words). Inside the terminal it was 78 degrees and outside the terminal it was 78 degrees. On the way to the cab – we passed a “blond” with a rhinestone cross on the thigh of her over-stretched black stretch pants, fresh from the intersection of “What Would Jesus Do?” and “What Not To Wear” and a group of round, brown tourists from Somewhere in America saying “Where’s Kim Kardashian? Where the paparazzi?”
Our Persian cab-driver greeted us warmly, stubbornly insisted he knew EXACTLY where he was going and then almost missed the exit on the freeway and practically got us killed getting over.
Welcome home, sucker. Yup.
So – why do I like it more here? Well, maybe it’s because LA is just so huge that you don’t really have to do the “LA Thing” if you don’t want to. You can get your pizza with arugula on it, but you can also just get pizza with pepperoni, whereas in Seattle, it sort of feels like arugula or move to the suburbs and order Domino’s.
I mean, I guess you can get pepperoni but it’s free-range, locally sourced, cruelty-free artisanal pepperoni and that somewhat defeats the point. But then again, I do giggle like a school girl every time I see Brooke Shields and Anthony La Paglia having breakfast in Santa Monica or Todd Bridges shopping at Ralph’s. So maybe it’s just that I like the starfucking shallow LA thing better than the smug hipster Seattle thing.
Or, I don’t know, maybe it’s just that all my crap is here and I’m glad to be back wallowing among my own bad decisions and not suffering the consequences of anyone else’s. Whatever it is, California is clearly my home, and I’m glad as hell to be back seething here.
Oh, and I can’t wait til that kid with the square glasses and funny hat moves out to LA to be an actor. Welcome home, sucker, indeed.