23 Things You Should Know About Seattle
1. People might be coffee snobs in Seattle. But it’s ok, because Seattle has the best coffee (actually, espresso). Three things you can do to have the best espresso in the world when you’re in Seattle: go to Vivace, go to Cafe Ladro, go to Victrola.
2. There are many places for laptop usage in Seattle. I would not consider Seattle’s public libraries, however, as they are day spas for Seattle’s homeless and disenfranchised. Though, the downtown branch is beautiful and enormous. No, use your laptop at the Victrola on 15th. Avoid it at the north-Broadway Vivace, as their wireless mysteriously doesn’t seem to work a third of the time you’re there and the baristas are never (have never been, to me) very helpful in that department. But they are very good baristas otherwise.
3. It doesn’t rain all the time in Seattle. The summers are actually beautiful and perfect, for the most part. Spring, fall, and winter are sort of miserable though, as it’s just cloudy all the time. And what’s most unfortunate is that when it actually does rain, it just mists and sprinkles — it hardly ever thunderstorms. I’d have liked it if it would have thunderstormed for me more often, when I lived there.
4. If you’re in your 20s, you should spend most of your time in Capitol Hill. The rest of the city’s pretty from the top of Queen Anne, but that neighborhood is boring otherwise. Belltown is full of bros and the Olympic Sculpture Park thing isn’t much to see, plus it tends to be surrounded by crackheads. The downtown shopping/ financial district is worth two to three hours of your time, max. Ballard is ‘meh’ except for its Sunday farmers market, which is huge and amazing. During the five years I lived in Seattle I went to Georgetown exactly once. Pioneer Square is where you will find more homeless people per capita than any place in the Western world (speculative). Stick to the Hill, it has everything. I’m going to get a lot of shit in the comments.
5. Pike and Pine are your most important streets. They are followed by Broadway and 15th between Volunteer Park and John. Don’t follow Aurora anywhere past Denny because it’s a nightmare from that point on (the Denny “version” of Fremont is loud and impossible). Be advised — Northgate is also a nightmare, maybe because its main artery is Aurora. Again, Pike and Pine above I-5 is where you want to be. First Hill is useless and sterile aside from The Hideout, where you should definitely go because the art there is floor-to-ceiling and it’s beautiful and so will be your company and it’s the place where you’ll forget how fucked up you are.
6. People are touchy about Portland. Complimenting Seattle’s smaller sister city is not advised and should probably be avoided. Definitely don’t let anyone hear you telling someone on your cell phone that Portland is cooler than Seattle. Especially if you’re on the Hill.
7. The Comet is still shitty. And it’s still the place where Kurt used to play. Go there because it’s not like that one bar wherever Bukowski lived called “Bukowski” that sucks now because it’s become a tourist trap, nor is it like the bars Hemingway used to frequent in Key West that now have gift shop additions that sell t-shirts and shot glasses bearing portraits of Hem. The Comet still smells like piss and I’m next to certain the men’s stalls don’t have doors and they still have concerts so loud you can’t hear yourself think and it can be ventured that the more “authentic” youth go there. Burn me in effigy.
8. The University District is all right. If you have to take the bus there, then that sucks for you, because from the Hill it’s like a 25-minute minimum on the 43 or 49 next to an insane smelly person (people who ride the bus in Seattle = half students/ half people going to/from work/ half insane smelly people) who in all likelihood is going to be offended by the fact that you aren’t responding to his attempts at conversation. Anyway, the University District. Go there — good theaters, good bookstores, good Thai food, good-looking students. Annoying pan handlers.
9. There will be canvassers near the north Broadway QFC and on Pike & 4th-5th avenue. Just keep walking. There is however a dude that you should pay attention to, and this is because he is insane but kind-hearted, I think. He paces in front of the north Broadway QFC and maybe gets as far as Vivace’s street location/ the Chase parking lot saying one of two things: “Have any money for a sandwich?” or “Have any money for food?” I used to work at the Capitol Hill farmers market, and one time I was walking home with my ex-girlfriend, who had a bag of cherries. That guy asked us for money for a sandwich and my ex-girlfriend offered him the bag of cherries. “I prefer bananas,” he said. He’s a kind man.
10. I would go to the Cha Cha once. The Cha Cha is a hipster Mexican restaurant with a really amazing downstairs bar that you really need to see if you visit Seattle. The reason you should go there once is thus — it’s become a sort of bro-from-Bellevue weekend tourist attraction, and I think that’s kind of unfortunate. Their ID policy is very strict, FYI.
11. If you are in Seattle and like to drink, go to the Redwood. The Redwood is in the very heart of residential Capitol Hill and the fact that someone from Band of Horses or a similarly-named band owns the place has no effect on the experience of drinking there. The Redwood is without pretense or ego. The bartenders are very large, gruff men. The bar can be classified as hipster perhaps for its hunting theme. Pints are around $3 and the sweet potato fries are the right sweet potato fries.
12. There’s another place you should drink. It’s called the Canterbury. It’s somewhat of a labyrinthine dive bar. It’s on the corner that basically marks the end of commercial 15th. The clientele is older and maybe more down-and-out than you. The drinks are cheap, there are arcade games and pool tables, and everyone’s friendly, which, I’d generalize, isn’t necessarily true about The Comet.
13. “_______” is being “gentrified” is something you will hear (white) people saying. Unless you are in the Central District, which I wouldn’t necessarily recommend, as it’s big and hard to find the non-boring spots.
14. The Space Needle is pretty much dumb and upper-Belltown is just as boring. It is worth walking around the Seattle Center, though. The stuff outside of the opera house there is cool, and there’s a planetarium in the Science Center, if you’re into that.
15. Walking/ biking day trip: The Whole Foods at South-Lake Union to Fremont. It’s pretty, and I used to do it with my ex, and when you get to Fremont and it’s a Sunday (it should be a Sunday) you can go buy cool things in the covered garage at the farmer’s market and eat at one of the Thai places on 34th and get a coffee from the tiniest coffee shop on the planet (Espresso To Go) and take a picture in front of Lenin, who is represented there by a giant statue.
16. The Crescent is the most important bar in Seattle. I admit that this is an entirely subjective statement. It’s just that I’ve done keys of coke in the bathroom to the tune of a 55-year-old tranny performing “You Give Love a Bad Name” on the karaoke system there, and when I used to walk to work at 10 a.m. there’d always be shirtless queers smoking cigs just outside the door, looking like the amazing freaks they were.
17. Pike Place market is iconic, but something like 6/10. Likewise for the piers nearby. This is if you’re my age, I think. If you’re like 70 years old, OK — Spend all day at Pike Place. If you’re younger though, it’s sort of a sham. I’m not convinced half the produce there is even local. You CAN get some mean Asian pastries, but other than that the market is basically just a tourist attraction. If you do find yourself there, though, find Post Alley and give it a walk through. Pink Door is somewhat pricey but recommended. You’ll impress your girl.
18. Redlight on Broadway is a hipster thrift superstore, and for that it is recommended. The staff is zany and the playlist there is always very good. Value Village is an actual thrift store and the employees there are peaches and there is very often a line for the fitting rooms. What is most recommended, however, is The Bins. The Bins is the Goodwill Outlet in SoDo where the clothes are in piles, literally in large bins, and sold by the pound. This is a fun activity if you are of a certain type.
19. Public transportation is very bad. Aside from the light rail to and from the airport, and one meager line that goes about 15 city blocks, and the weird, not-connected-to-anything monorail, busses rule, and are hella (as some would say, in Seattle, in the earlier ’00s) slow because they’re stuck in traffic all the time.
20. Take brunch on 15th, and after you’re sufficiently buzzed, walk to 16th, take a left, and enjoy the mansions. It’s like Kevin McAllister land over there, so it’s just nice to see.
21. Avoid 3rd Avenue between Pike and Pine, downtown. It’s a mess.
22. If you’re wondering: The Stranger is the alt-weekly you should be picking up (not Seattle Weekly).
23. People will get mad at you if you write a list about Seattle that doesn’t specifically include their views on Seattle. In the comments section, they will show absolutely no humor and get butthurt because you “forgot” something (you didn’t forget something — your list isn’t all-inclusive) or they live in one of the neighborhoods that you took a playful jab at or they live in Seattle and they’ve “never thought any of this before.” You’ll see these people in hell. Hopefully when you meet up with them, they’ll have learned not to attach so much of their inferiority complexes to the city in which they reside and will have been disallowed from commenting on the internet ever again. (Ha!)
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