Sunday, April 27, 2008

Where's the 800 block?

700, originally uploaded by Matt Westervelt.

Just north of the 700 block on Boylston Avenue East, addresses start at 900. A while ago, a woman in a car stopped and asked me directions to an 800 address. I was stumped, and I've wondered about it ever since. I've asked a few neighbors, but of course, nobody knows why it doesn't exist. I figure it's easy to find out the history of something that exists, but where do you go when you're trying to find out the non-existence of something?

Just what is Chelada anyway?

srsly... chill., originally uploaded by Matt Westervelt.

OK. this is freaking me out. A while back, I was in the QFC and saw Chelada!. This weekend, there's another one. Except it's different. Completely different. First was Clamato and Budweiser.. Now it's Miller and Lime.. I can actually see adding lime to beer, I do it to get the skunk out of Corona, and it's pretty much accepted universally in mexican-beer-land. The slightest chance of clamato pretty much insures that I'll never ever say "Pick me up a Chelada at the QFC".

Don't marketing people look at their competition's campaigns? What the hell?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

bike tweak

bike tweak, originally uploaded by Matt Westervelt.

It's officially spring. Joe Bar is having it's annual Bike Tweak today. If you've been putting off your bicycle maintenance all winter, cruise on up and they'll lube your chain and make sure your brakes work when you hit that Roy to Belmont curve.

Bike Tweak is a good time, and though they can bring your dusty old basement bomber back from the near-dead, they don't promise miracles. Last year, I brought my 1986 Haro Sport freestyler, and they told me it was unsafe at any speed. Bent axles, cracked front bearings, scary scary cables and disintegrating tires. I had hoped that armed with a checklist I would have it back on the road this year, but unfortunately I just couldn't come up with the motivation to do it. Maybe next year...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

books on broadway

self publisher, originally uploaded by Matt Westervelt.

For the past 7 years, Brett Dean McGibbon has been selling his books in front of the Broadway News on Broadway. He pulls up a card table, covers it with his laser printed, leather bound books, and strikes up conversations.

One of his books, Lucifer's Redemption, is about the devil, born on earth with one weakness, the human heart. It's a tale of crossing the United States on a motorcycle, Alaskan fishing boats and falling in love with God in a woman. I only got the quick pitch on the book, but I did get to talk to him a little bit about self publishing and his experience on Broadway.

Apparently, the online world hasn't worked for Brett. He has a website (, but he tells me that for the most part, it doesn't generate sales at all. His direct method of selling has sold thousands of books and makes enough for him to live on. In our short talk, it made complete sense. He's passionate about his work, is proud of his product, and has the temerity to sit alone at a table in Seattle and not only strike up a conversation, but attempt to sell a product to strangers. He handed me a small piece of paper with a passage from his book.

Apparently, like a seed, for the stubborn like me, the hard shell of the heart must crack, be broken before anything worthwhile can bloom...

He told me that once he gave these slips (and he has a stack of hundreds) to spare changers, so they could give something out instead of just asking for money. Later he asked if it had helped or hurt. They told him that when asking for change, they could expect indifference, but by handing out anything, they garnered hostility.

It's funny, at first I feigned surprise, but it really isn't all that surprising. Walking down Broadway every day, I am bombarded by people asking for change, trying to sell me a newspaper, wanting to tell me a story (which is usually a longer, more involved form of panhandle or scam), hand me a flier for a shop or a service. If I accept the flier, I'm stuck with it. It'll go in my pocket, and get put on my bookshelf when I get home, with a pile of receipts and other pocket offal. It will probably get tossed in a box of papers to be sorted, shredded or filed, which will almost certainly be forgotten and stored as-is. Years later, I'll see it for the first time, and think "wow. that is a really good deal on Doc Martens, why did The Cramp close anyway?"

All in all, Brett is an interesting, charismatic face on the north end of Broadway. If you're interested in picking up a book, you can renew his faith in the Internet by picking one up at his online store, or you can drop by the Broadway News on a Friday and he'll show you what he's got available and hook you up with a signed copy. If you're not interested in his book, that's OK too, but don't be mean to him when you walk by. He's a nice guy.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sound Transit, Broadway Station


Today after work, we (and about 130 other people) headed over to SCCC to listen to Sound Transit talk about the upcoming Broadway Station. This meeting was there to tell the public about the design of the station, it's impact on the neighborhood, the landscaping and the art.

For the most part, the station entrances are glass, green walls (like the Capitol Hill Library) and masonry. Special attention has been paid to provide plenty of light and a clean look. They mentioned the spirit of the neighborhood a lot, but on the walk home, I didn't really see a lot of buildings with enormous windows letting in natural light or big glass walls. Maybe they know more about what's going to happen with the monster condo projects planned in between now and then.

They talked about the truck routes that will be taking away the debris from knocking down 2 blocks worth of buildings, and although efficient (going up Denny and coming back down Olive to the freeway), I'm not looking forward to crossing two lines of dump trucks in a hurry on my way to work. One question from the audience asked about putting in a stoplight crosswalk at Olive and Boylston, and the danger of that particular intersection. I cross that street pretty much every day, and I have to say, that's probably a good idea. I hate that intersection. It's dangerous. In fact, the route crosses two of the most dangerous intersections on the hill. It's going to be an adventure.

They talked a bit about trees, and I mostly blanked out. I don't know what kind of trees the architect was talking about, and it's pretty hard to tell with the artwork (and even worse with my pictures of the slides... sorry). We have lots of trees on the hill, and they're going to keep it that way. At one point, she mentioned that they're going to replace three trees they're knocking out of Cal Anderson with 6 additional trees. They're not knocking down the "important tree" at the entrance, which is good to know.

What got a rise out of pretty much everyone was the art. Mike Ross, the artist who built Big Rig down at Burning Man this year sort of fumbled through his thought process, talking about how Seattleites (he's from Brooklyn) love nature, and how he googled "What I love about Seattle is" and got a lot of hits on rain. He talked about descending into the huge station, and how it was like coming through the clouds. Then he dropped the bomb. He's making his sculpture out of Fighter Jets. He'll be painting them pink and orange, cutting them up, and making natural shapes out of them. He had a picture of a Great Blue Heron (our cities official bird) , and although he said it'd be shaped something like that, I didn't walk away with a feeling that it would be a literal representation. I walked away with the knowledge that the largest and most expensive pieces of public art on Capitol Hill will be pink and orange weapons of war.

Here's my flickr set, which should have most of the slides, but the color is completely out of whack because of their projector. Awful really, but if you want the content, it's there.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

everlasting puddles

everlasting puddles, originally uploaded by Matt Westervelt.

Have you ever noticed there are some spots on the hill that always have huge puddles? This one, on the corner of Belmont and Mercer is pretty scary to walk by. Cars love to hit it and watch the mud water mix spray all over the hydrant and pedestrians. It's a block from the stop sign, so they've generally got enough speed for it to hit that garage wall when it's big enough. There's another up on Boylston (north of Roy) that last I looked took up 6 parking spaces. We've started calling that one "Lake Boylston". It's been there for years, and although my neighbors told me calls to the city have gone unanswered, the tubes have informed me that just moaning about it probably wont do any good. I think I'm going to call the DOT and see what happens.

On a different, but related topic, there are a lot of potholes on the hill. I wonder if the Pothole Rangers really do fix things in 48 hours. There's one on Roy that has been pissing me off for years. Am I really going to be the first person to call about it?