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I’m bad, I’m nationwide.

Seattle! Just back from my first visit to a very nice city. I remain uninterested in analyzing popular music in the style to which I was once accustomed, but will gladly dash off a travelogue.

Riding into the city from the airport I passed the old Rainier Brewery, which reminded me of a potentially apocryphal but very believable story about former big-league pitcher Sig Jakucki.

Jakucki was the third starting pitcher on the 1944 St. Louis Browns team that surprisingly won the American League championship. By all accounts, he was also a belligerent drunk whose truculence helped lose him the sole regular big-league employment he ever managed to secure.

Jakucki pitched in Seattle when it was still a minor-league town, and reportedly, his team’s general manager would drive him home after games in an attempt to keep him from wandering into bars. One night they drove past the Rainier Brewery, in full-swing production on the second shift, with trucks rolling and bottles clanking.

“You see, Sig?” the general manager said. “You can’t drink it as fast as they can make it.”

“Maybe not,” Jakucki is said to have replied. “But I’ve got ’em working nights.”

I have no particular art to illustrate this story, so will post a pint of pilsner I drank at a perfectly copasetic microbrewery near the Pike Place public market. They had a video screen above the bar showing old TV ads for beer from the 1960s through 1980s, which was simultaneously entertaining and thirst-inducing. The beer? Very good.

# # # # #

What else happened in Seattle? Well, I rode the light rail system, starting at a station that literally only opened about a week before I hit town. It was so absurdly clean that it made the Toronto subway look like the night train through the Bowery. There was an art installation there that still worked and hadn’t been defaced, even! Mark me down for more rides.

There was some touristy stuff — Pike Place, the Aquarium, the Chihuly glass exhibit — all of it worth seeing at least once.

There was a college visit, with the younger son, to the University of Washington. Seemed nice enough, but of course, the ultimate verdict is not mine.

The most memorable building was one my son will never enter if he goes to UW. Sieg Hall, the electrical engineering building, combines a distinctly ’60s exterior architectural style with an overgrown complement of ivy and bushes.

The entrance we chose — and it was a front entrance — was completely without foot traffic. There were a few lights on in the building, and there must have been students there on a Friday, but we could have set up a picnic on the front landing and gotten all the way to the watermelon before anyone else showed up.

Walking into the place feels like doing urban exploration at an abandoned hotel in the Catskills. Swear to God.

The stairs where we entered Sieg Hall. 1977 wants its lobby back. This place is probably costing UDub some electrical engineering majors … but that is not a problem I need concern myself with. (Edit since initial post: UW’s own engineering website suggests that the university community doesn’t care much for the place either.)

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There were very pleasant visits with family members who live there. They are just about as far from me as you can possibly be and still be in the U.S., and the American commercial air-flight system seems to be developing deep cracks, but I look forward to getting back to the PNW for further visitation and exploration.

There was plenty of coffee, plus a really good maple bar at a local donut-and-coffee shop … though it pains me to report that my brother’s apple fritter was not as moist and fresh as it should have been. (Apple fritters are a link to my boyhood I’ve not explored in this space. Maybe someday. Are you riveted?)

Chuck Berry even showed up, in the garden of what appeared to be an apartment house in the city’s Capitol Hill district.

There’s a statue of Jimi Hendrix — a Seattle native — on the sidewalk on Capitol Hill, which makes sense. But I have no idea how Chuck Berry, a St. Louisan, enters the conversation.

Who knows.

Pretty sure this is Chuck Berry, anyway. He’s duck-walking. Anyone else got any other guesses?

At least three people, including a neighboring traveler, were watching “Titanic” on the flight out … and so I (in silence) saw great chunks of this movie I managed to avoid when it first came out in 1997-1998. It was abysmal, a dumpster fire of glurge and implausibility. Bleah.

There was more, and quite likely you’ll hear about it as time goes by, but for now it’s time to wrap up and go convince my inner operating systems that it’s no longer a decent hour to be awake.

2 responses »

  1. I enjoyed this very much, but mostly I want to say that I would absolutely drink a beer called “Jesus Brewed This IPA.”


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