CALL US BIASED, but it’s as easy to dig up reasons to love this city as it is to score gourmet grub on our streets. (Hey, there’s a reason right there…) In fact, we found so many—from our flair for flash mobbery to our kid-friendly bars—that we spread them all over this issue. All of them are as unique as Seattle itself—which is why we didn’t number them in any particular order: When you’ve got this many excuses to heart your home, it doesn’t feel right to rank them.
5. We Have Flash Mob Guys
It’s an early April Saturday and the first licks of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” trickle out over loudspeakers in Westlake Center plaza. Then, suddenly, 1,000 seemingly average shoppers start dancing. Synchronized dancing. And parting the crowd like Moses in skinny jeans is Bobby Bonsey, the 23-year-old with scruffy-star good looks who helped choreograph this Glee-inspired flash mob: ostensibly an impromptu dance party that actually took four months of preproduction and hours of rehearsal, plus 10 videographers, three photographers, two audio engineers, and one director (all volunteer) to pull off. Bonsey is one of Seattle’s “flash mob guys”—something he hadn’t even considered when local event producer Egan Orion asked him to play Michael Jackson in a Pike Place Market mob in 2009. But the two of them—along with dancer Beth Meberg—have since become a hot commodity. Since the success of the Glee mob, they’ve fielded offers from the Seahawks, Microsoft, and FOX television to go corporate with their dance moves.
4. We Nurture New Talent
So much talent bubbles in Seattle—you’re welcome, Rolling Stone, for all those “bands to watch”—it’s no surprise something like New Guard (hopegrocery.com) popped up here. The inspiration of Sasquatch Books editor Whitney Ricketts, artist Joey Veltkamp, and husband-wife creatives Sarah and Damien Jurado, the decidedly hip dinner series serves up a three-course meal of the best in art, music, and food. The idea is simple, but the carefully curated menu of up-and-coming contributors is what gives New Guard gold-star status. Since the series debuted last September, it’s featured roving chef Eliot Guthrie, multimedia artist Jason Hirata, and indie pop-psych band Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground. “We’re surrounded by talent,” says Ricketts, “I’m consistently amazed.” We are, too.
7–13. We Look Good on Paper
In the past year, Seattle has been Ranked…
• Most Literate City
• Fourth-Fittest City
• Seventh-Best Quality of Life
• Ninth-Best Place for Young Adults
• Fourth-Most Bike-Friendly City
Second-Most Influential High-Tech Center
• Nation’s Best Economy
96–98. Our Reality-TV Stars Know How to Seize an Opportunity
Okay, so they don’t all turn national exposure into success (American Idol’s Sanjaya Malakar is dishing pie at Pagliacci Pizza this summer) but three recent local reality-TV stars have really made their 15 minutes count. In March, Robin Leventhal (Top Chef) made the jump from local kitchens—Crave, See Sound Lounge —to an exec chef gig at the Meridian Club, an exclusive resort in the Caribbean. Meanwhile former Capitol Hill bartender Logan Neitzel (Project Runway) launched a Goth-inspired clothing line that attracted the likes of Vogue. And UW alum James Sun (The Apprentice), after staring down the Donald all the way to the finale before hearing that pinched-face growl “You’re fired,” landed his own reality show, BBC’s Sun Tzu War on Business.
43. We Heart Butterfat
First came the dessert renaissance—the cupcake, doughnut, and ice cream shops that engulfed Seattle in a buttercream avalanche a few years back. Then richer, creamier butters began to grace the bread plates at our favorite restaurants. Now Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream (mollymoonicecream.com) proudly reports that it’s upped the butterfat content of its already uberrich product—from 14.5 percent to a whopping 19—making it the highest-butterfat ice cream you can buy in Seattle. In revising their recipe to remove corn syrup, something had to be added for texture. That something? Butterfat. “Our ice cream went from amazingly, deliciously rich to amazingly, delectably, deliciously rich,” Moon sighs. We’d add a couple more adjectives, but our mouths are full.
3. We Can All Just Get Along
Gordon Ramsay versus Mario Batali, David Chang versus San Francisco: Chef rivalries pop up everywhere these days. Everywhere except Seattle. After he sold Matt’s in the Market and before he found the Harbor Steps spot for his new venture, Lecosho , Matt Janke booked a temporary gig at Wild Ginger. When Stumbling Goat veteran Seth Caswell lost investor funds for new project Emmer and Rye, Art of the Table owner Dustin Ronspies turned over his restaurant to Caswell every Tuesday so he could cook up a weekly fundraising feast. And Emmer and Rye itself represents a collab between Caswell and Karsten Betd, the man behind the local vegetarian-friendly Julia’s chain. Instead of closing his struggling Queen Anne branch and vacating the Victorian that housed it, Betd approached Caswell about partnering on a new project there. Betd stayed in business, and Emmer and Rye finally had a home.
76. We Can All Just Get Along, Part 2
Perhaps there is another city in which a Sufi Muslim imam, a Jewish rabbi, and a retired Congregationalist minister would unite in common purpose. But we wouldn’t bet on it. Seattleites Sheikh Jamal Rahman, Rabbi Ted Falcon, and Pastor Don MacKenzie came together amid the smoking rubble of 9/12, determined to foster connectedness across tribes of the freshly wary faithful. Numerous public speaking engagements, spiritual retreats, Middle East interfaith pilgrimages, and one book later, the trio (now dubbed the Interfaith Amigos; interfaithamigos.com) continues to bang the drum for mutual understanding and tolerance—qualities Seattle remains notably better at than religious devotion.
6. We Own Our Mistakes
State Superintendent for Public Instruction (and former legislator) Randy Dorn is the rare politician who, when busted for DUI, doesn’t make excuses, challenge the bust, and generally weasel out. With a blood alcohol reading just a few .01s above .08, Dorn could easily have pled to a lesser charge when he got busted after leaving a reception in March. Instead he ’fessed up, pled guilty, spent a night in jail, and turned an embarrassment into a statewide lesson in taking responsibility.
17. We’re Buried in a Blizzard of Beignets
Suddenly they’re on menus all over town: those pillowy fried and sugar-dusted rectangles of gently sweet dough the French call beignets. “I just get a kick out of watching people eat ’em,” says Bo Maisano, chef at Tin Table (thetintable.com) on Capitol Hill, whose New Orleans heritage explains his devotion to the pastry. His secret? “Lard,” he whispers, looking around. We don’t know if the other joints serving the ethereal dessert—which, depending on the day, might include Artisanal Brasserie, Rover’s, Coastal Kitchen, Casper’s, Toulouse Petit, and good ole Crawfish Kitchen—follow Maisano’s formula or not. We are pretty sure the vegetarian Cafe Flora.
19. We’re About to Become the Center of the Small-Batch Spirits Universe
When Kent Fleischmann and Don Poffenroth set out in 2007 to open a distillery, they had to convince Spokane senator Chris Marr and the rest of the state legislature to tweak teetotalist laws and annual fees that had been kneecapping the local liquor industry since Prohibition. Their ultimately successful pitch: Small-batch spirits are made with grains and botanicals grown mostly in the Northwest, so a booming mini booze biz would be a boon to state farmers.
In 2008, Governor Gregoire signed a Marr-authored bill that ended the dry spell, and Dry Fly Distilling (dryflydistilling.com) —Fleischmann and Poffenroth’s house of spirits, which today churns out gin, vodka, and whiskey—started selling the same year. Other distilleries in Ellensburg and Woodinville followed. At press time 18 licensed micros were poised to open around the state, and 28 more awaited approval at the Liquor Control Board.
1–2. We Have Our Very Own Political Odd Couple
It’s human nature to toggle between wanting inspiring, if erratic, leaders and those who are capable, but dull. Now we’re lucky enough to have both: Mayor Mike McGinn for vision, drama, and headlines, and King County Executive Dow Constantine to spare the fussing and get down to the job of straightening out the county’s battered finances and administration. Now if you had to pick just one…
81. We Just Say No
To reefer madness, that is—America’s punitive war on weed. Last November, Pete Holmes unseated City Attorney Tom Carr—and announced that the city would no longer prosecute marijuana misdemeanors. This doesn’t affect felony possession (over 40 grams), which falls under state jurisdiction, nor the thousands of busts per year in the rest of the state. But 36th District state senator Jeanne Kohl Welles is pushing a bill to decriminalize possession statewide. And Seattle activists are promoting Initiative 1068, which would legalize pot outright from Oysterville to Usk. And the fact that Hempfest remains the most reliably peaceful (if not boring) mega festival in town ought to tell the guardians of public safety something.
22–31. We Know Sandwiches
Oh yeah, we got salmon. We got cupcakes. But for whatever reason sandwiches rule as our current obsession, so here’s a list of the Great Ones.
Baguette Box (baguettebox.com) The Drunken Chicken is a banh-mi on steroids.
Delicatus (delicatusseattle.com) New and brick-lined in Pioneer Square, offering a killer spicy pork with jalapeno aioli and hot pepper number called Fire of 1889.
Homegrown (eathomegrown.com) The turkey-bacon-avocado sandwich has a cult following among those who like their lunch with a side of sustainability.
Market Grill (206-682-2654) Don’t even think about anything but the blackened salmon sandwich at this Pike Place Market lunch counter.
Paseo (paseoseattle.com) Two words: Midnight Cuban.
Rizzo’s French Dip (rizzosfrenchdip.com) Big, wet French dips are all they got, and all you need.
Roy’s BBQ (royscolumbiacity.com) If there’s anything better than the pulled-pork Georgia Gold at this hole-in-the-wall, we’ve never met it.
Salumi (salumicuredmeats.com) Artisan cured meats made into marvels like the hot porchetta at Seattle’s legendary Old World salumeria.
Skillet (skilletstreetfood.com): Okay, it’s a burger…but it’s slathered with bacon jam!
Tat’s Deli (tatsdeli.com): The East Coast–style fave moved around the corner but remembered to bring its killer Tatstrami recipe. Whew!
79. Our Small Theaters Think Big
After debuting five years ago, Washington Ensemble Theatre (washingtonensemble.org) lingered contentedly under the radar, putting on daring, wildly imaginative plays in its tiny black box on 19th Avenue East. But in the last year, this fringe company has come into its own with a season of premieres (two regional, two world), including a 60-minute show about love-struck robots that sold out its entire run. As co–artistic director Montana von Fliss closes out her first solo show, Cancer: The Musical (sans music), we’re reminded that “alternative theater” is one of the surest bets in town.
80. Our Rock Stars Never Forget Where They Came From
It was big news in January when long-silent Soundgarden announced they’d headline August’s mega musicfest Lollapalooza. But nothing compares to the tremors we felt here April 16, when the iconic forefathers of grunge floored fans with a hush-hush, out-of-the-blue concert at Showbox at the Market—the band’s first stage gig in 13 years.
Masquerading under the anagram Nudedragons, they made their epic, 18-song return in the city they helped make famous, in front of a hometown crowd of 1,000 friends, a lucky few fans (tickets sold out in a matter of minutes), and fellow musicians (Eddie Vedder, Mudhoney’s Mark Arm, et al.). Even if lead singer Chris Cornell dubbed it a rehearsal, the show spoke volumes about this city’s symbiotic kinship between fan and band.
34. The Rich Don’t Always Want to Get Richer
Call it a tax revolt…in reverse. Seattle attorney, philanthropist, and Very Famous Father Bill Gates Sr. is spearheading a move to increase his own taxes by leading the charge for a state income tax on the very wealthy. And Seattle author, philanthropist, and heir to the Paccar fortune Judy Pigott is one of several American millionaires asking Congress to dismantle the tax breaks passed by the Bush administration.
The promised trickle-down hasn’t worked, Pigott told The Seattle Times, and has led to “the greatest wealth disparity since the Great Depression.” Which is why every year she gives away what she would be paying in taxes pre-Bush—and then some. Assuming Gates gets enough signatures by this month’s deadline, his state income tax proposal, Initiative 1098 (yeson1098.com), will be on November’s ballot. Fitting, perhaps, in a town not known for its tea.
38. For a Small City, Our Designers Dream Big
No one believes in Seattle’s viability as a World-Class Fashion City more than designer Francisco Hernandez. (Funny thing is: He’s originally from Miami.) For his collections of textural, world-history-inspired men’s knits, the Cuban American creative director behind Built for Man (builtforman.myshopify.com) employs weavers in remote Peruvian villages and marketing minds—who sometimes double as runway models—from Capitol Hill. Fashion shows and salonlike cocktail parties in his Twelfth Ave studio knit global sustainability issues to handcrafted high-fashion, which you can buy at David Lawrence and Veridis, and soon, maybe, Milan?
14. We Gave the World Duck-Hunter Chic
“The minute you start to say you’re cool, you’re not, so we’re not going there,” says Bill Kulczycki, the man overseeing from its SoDo headquarters the rapid fashion-world ascendancy of the outdoor brand Filson (filson.com). We’ll say it for him: Filson’s cool factor hasn’t been this high since trendsetting gold rushers and Wild West pioneers sported the Seattle company’s first wool coats over a century ago. Not that modern-day moleskin vest–bedecked duck hunters give a hoot that kids from Ballard to Brooklyn pack iPod accessories and fashion mags in Filson field bags, or that the brand debuted an ultramodern shop in Osaka, Japan’s slick shopping district in March. They’re just fired up about the classic cuts, traditional plaids, and tough, durable construction.
42. Our Street Artists Meet with the Mayor
While most street artists keep a low profile—this is a city that spends about $1.75 million a year on graffiti cleanup—Ryan Henry Ward chats up the mayor to find new public venues for his big, bold bonanzas of brushstrokes. Far from a paint-by-numbers tagger, Ward got his start in public art in 2008 by knocking on business doors and asking for permission to paint murals on their walls. (If you’ve driven by Crown Hill’s Value Village, you’ve seen one of his works: dancing elephants decked out in polka-dotted dresses.) And his project for next June may be his master stroke: Ward has lofty plans to complete 100 pieces of collaborative public art.
33. For a Bad-Boy Chef, Michael Hebb Sure Does a Lot of Good
By the time Michael Hebb (onepotblog.blogspot.com) decamped from Portland—amid the grease-fire smoke of abrupt restaurant closings, pissed-off former employees and investors, and a big fat acrimonious divorce—the young chef and smooth-talking raconteur had supersized his bad-boy reputation.
And he brought it along with his chef’s knives when he moved to Seattle four years ago. Sure, the guy Food and Wine dubbed a “food provocateur” is a lightning rod, given to sweeping declarations like “Kill the Restaurant!” (We like your Pike Street Fish Fry restaurant anyway, Michael.) But the truth is, Hebb’s better suited to the role of cultural impresario than restaurateur. This is the philosopher whose One Pot dinner happenings bring poets and thinkers and chefs (and diners!) together, often in the burnished Sorrento Hotel, simply to “find the meaning of the common table.” Is it just us…or is this bad boy doing pretty good stuff?
37. We’ve Got a Field House of Dreams
As a girl during the Great Depression, Nicole Miller’s grandmother took home economics and craftmaking classes at the South Park community center called the Field House. As a reaction to the Great Recession, Miller, who owns Ballard’s hugely influential men’s boutique Blackbird recreated it. The new Field House sells American-made and regionally produced heritage brands (Woolrich, Filson, Pendleton) to enlightened consumers counting fashion miles and cost-per-wear; on Sundays, Miller’s friends and employees give free workshops on knot-tying, mending and sewing, and deboning a chicken. Just like in the old days.
72. We Have the Best Mobile Food Cart in America
Oh, how the Roach Coach has evolved. Mobile food-service trucks such as Marination Mobile (marinationmobile.com) now purvey curbside cuisine from every part of the world in every neighborhood. From within its tin-can walls come kimchi quesadillas, kalua pork tacos, and other succulent fusings of Korean and Hawaiian food. “Our customers are great,” says co-owner Roz Edison. “They stand in the rain, wind, and cold for our food.” They also stand up for it. In November, Marination’s fans vaulted the little truck to a first-place victory in Good Morning, America’s Best Food Cart in America contest. Not bad for a truck that hadn’t even been rolling for a year.
39. Tim Ellis Tells the Truth About Real Estate
Tim Ellis wasn’t born. He was created—a superhero for the postrecession era assembled from the scraps of our broken real estate–investment dreams. And his power is a built-in housing-bubble BS detector. Back in 2005, before he was the editor of seattlebubble.com , the unapologetically contrarian blog about all things real estate, Ellis was just a guy shopping for a home with his wife. Scared off by the out-of-hand market and sure-to-fail loan programs, they quit searching. But he kept digging for answers to what was driving the insanity.
The product of that research is his blog, a daily analysis of the latest sales stats and market indices that routinely blows the doors off of the housing hype machine. The bubble may have burst, but Ellis is still writing, and for anyone hunting for a home—or just curious about the latest twist in today’s real-estate drama—it’s required reading.
41. Liver Lovers Have Their Very Own List
Anyone can join the Canlis Liver List. You just call the restaurant (canlis.com). But you have to be dedicated. Because on any day, you could receive a call asking you to come eat liver that night.
The list works like this: Every couple of months, butcher Tracy Smaciarz of Heritage Meats in Rochester learns a local farm is going to slaughter some calves. If those calves are young enough, he buys their livers and brings them to Canlis. The restaurant sets aside several reservations and invites a few listers to come partake. The organs are seasoned with salt, pepper, and vermouth, grilled, and served alongside onion rings—the same treatment they received back when liver was a main item on the menu in the ’60s. “It’s basically liver and onions,” says part-owner Mark Canlis, but when listers are presented with the dish, he says, “They’re like cats with catnip.”
45. A Store Isn’t Just a Store
As a retail designer at Callison, Jessica Park had reimagined Nordstrom’s makeup department concept by the time she was 26. In search of a new challenge, she left her day job and opened Coming Soon… (comingsoonconcept.com), a retail pop-up installation space that could also be called a gallery. After all, what’s a gallery if not, as Park points out, a “really, really challenging retail environment”?
Inside a tiny, 180-square-foot space and outside on Fremont Ave N, Park combined consumer research science—they won’t come in if they’re bored or intimidated—with art-world bravado and put it all on a schedule custom made for the short-attention-span generation. Exhibits, each with items for sale—could be handbags, could be fine art photographs, could be coffee. Worried you’ll miss something? An online shop catalogs goods from past shows.
40. We’ll Always Have Paris. In Ballard.
In a year dominated by French restaurant openings, Bastille in Ballard (bastilleseattle.com) nailed the Gare du Nord aesthetic. Owners Deming Maclise and James Weimann outfitted the joint after forays through Paris flea markets that yielded turn-of-the-century brass sconces, an actual Paris street light, even a double-sided Paris Metro clock. But the biggest find came when Maclise was browsing through the SoDo architectural salvage store Earthwise: a crystal chandelier, big as a fridge, that had lit the opulent Shilshole Ballroom in the ’30s. Though he had no place to hang it, or even store it (Bastille had yet to open), the glorious piece wouldn’t leave him alone until he bought it. Now it dominates the gorgeous Back Bar with all the splendor of Versailles—er, Shilshole—itself.
46. Hip-Hop Is the New Grunge
Seattle’s an incubator for music trends, but for years outsiders couldn’t see beyond the flannel curtain. Now we’re brewing a strong hip-hop scene, and national publications are paying attention. At SXSW, Shabazz Palaces (shabazzpalaces.com) made an impression on Rolling Stone with their “impossibly funky, dubby avant-rap,” while Pitchfork called their latest release “as visceral as anything on the new Young Jeezy mixtape.” (That’s a good thing.) Meanwhile, the duo behind Fresh Espresso (myspace.com/freshespresso) isn’t just making infectious party rap; they’re making some of the best music we’ve heard in a long time. Period.
48. Our Mayor Gives Good Tweet
A 24-year-old staff assistant cranks out hizzoner’s 140-character missives these days (@MayorMcGinn), but back when Mike McGinn was the longest of shots—biking to campaign events in rumpled suits from Nordstrom Rack—he thumbed some of the best Twitter haikus in the land. From the gluttonsous (“ahhhh . . . Burgers, fries and milkshakes”), to the gracious (“Big thanks to [opponent] Joe Mallahan for giving me a ride from LWVforum to Rainier Valley Forum!”), to the bizarre politics-as-basketball metaphor (“The big boys ferociously dunked on me, but I took the game of PIG with my eyes closed foul shot”), McGinn’s tweets at the now-dormant michaelmcginn gave us a glimpse of the guy whose unguarded, off-the-script approach would upend a decades-long stronghold on City Hall.
49. Our Films Screen with a Side of Karaoke
Even a $70,000 budget shortfall couldn’t keep Northwest Film Forum from climbing out on a limb this year—the idea was too good: Create a film-and-live performance hybrid, a self-described “spectacle” where people sing and dance as an original movie screens—then allow for karaoke at intermission. For the inaugural season of Live at the Film Forum (nwfilmforum.org), NWFF recruited dancer Amy O’Neal and actress/writer Marya Sea Kaminski and gave them free reign to create. O’Neal jetted to Japan to film scenes of her modern dance piece Too at a love hotel, and Kaminski crafted a docudrama about the condominium-ization of the city. Sometimes the experiment worked, sometimes it didn’t. But it was a risk worth taking.
20–21. Our Bartenders Are Hardcore About Their Ice—Like, Chainsaw Hardcore
MistralKitchen barman Andrew Bohrer has a thing about ice. So does Zane Harris, co-owner of Rob Roy in Belltown. Most Thursdays, the two pals arrange for a 300-pound block of deoxygenated, purified ice to appear at the loading dock at MistralKitchen. They leave it alone a few hours—supercold ice is a nightmare to cut—and then slice it into 50-pound cubes with Harris’s electric chainsaw. The 50-pound cubes shrink to three-by-three inch cubes by way of a band saw, and then end up in your drinks—in the form of a large iceball or a meticulously whittled torpedo. Undoubtedly there is boys-will-be-boys bravado at play. But because the ice at Mistral (mistral-kitchen.com) and Rob Roy (robroyseattle.com) will dilute your drink at the optimal rate, Chainsaw Thursday is really all about you.
50. We’re Crashing MTV. Again.
Local director Lynn Shelton’s $5 Cover: Seattle certainly has the glossy look and feel of an MTV show, as hot young things rock out and make out around town, but it’s no Real World: Rock ’n’ Roll. For this 12-part series that was slated to “air” on mtv.com in June, Shelton ( Humpday ) shot short, documentary-style webisodes based on the true stories of 13 up-and-coming local bands, covering the highs and lows of roots rockers the Maldives and the Moondoggies, electronic hip-hop group Champagne Champagne, Harvey Danger singer-songwriter Sean Nelson, and bands that start with “Thee” (electro-rappers TheeSatisfaction and the soul-infused Thee Emergency), among others. Hey, even though they don’t play videos anymore, Seattle musicians still managed to make it back on MTV.
51–55. We Don’t Need a Team to Kill It in the NBA
A message to Clay Bennett: You can take the NBA out of Seattle, but you can’t take Seattle out of the NBA. Despite being the 15th largest market, the Emerald City has sent the fifth-most hometown boys to the league since 1999—two of them, Rainier Beach’s Jamal Crawford and Franklin’s Jason Terry, won back-to-back Sixth Man Awards. And we’ve got plenty more coming up through the college ranks:
Avery Bradley One of three regional prep stars named to the 2009 McDonald’s All American team, the Bellarmine alum declared for the 2010 NBA draft after just one season at Texas.
Reggie Moore Born and bred in Rainier Beach, Moore started 30 of 31 games for WSU as a freshman last season and was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team.
Isaiah Thomas The scrappy guard from Tacoma stayed home to play for UW and racked up more points in his first two years than any previous Husky had.
Aaron Dotson Another solid product out of Rainier Beach, the six-four shooting guard started as a freshman at LSU last season.
Peyton Siva After a season on the bench at Louisville, fellow McDonald’s All American will most likely start this winter as a sophomore.
62. We Take the “Independent” in Independent Radio Seriously
Broadcasting out of an attic in Wallingford, Hollow Earth Radio (hollowearthradio.org), an all-volunteer, online-only station has, since 2007, fed our ears 24-7 with punk, metal, and surf music; live, in-attic performances; interviews; and ghost stories. Nerdly bonus: Cocreator Garrett Kelly conceived of HER in the online virtual-reality game Second Life, where the station also airs.
56. Our Hotel Lobbies Beat Their Art Museums
Forget cheesy sunsets hanging over Magic Fingers beds. The swank new Four Seasons (fourseasons.com) on First Ave takes a very different view of hotel art. Its local owners gave Virginia Wright—half of the town’s premier art collecting and giving couple—close to $900,000 to decorate the joint. She went regional and assembled the most comprehensive selection of Northwest painting’s founding fathers—plus a couple sculptors and photographers and too few founding mothers—on view anywhere. The result is a crash course in local art history—from delicate lithographs by Mark Tobey to monumental Alden Mason and Paul Horiuchi canvases—that’s a worthy match to Seattle Art Museum across the street.
59. This Sentence from Steampunk Author Cherie Priest’s Nebula-Nominated Novel Boneshaker, Set in an Alternate-Reality, Klondike Gold Rush–Era Seattle…
“Rain spit sideways, cast sharply by the wind until it worked its way under Briar’s wide-brimmed leather hat, up her sleeve cuffs, and down through her boots until her feet were frozen and her hands felt like raw chicken skin.”
57. Our Neighborhood Bloggers Can Hang with the Big Boys
The last thing Justin Carder needs is an award. Anyone tuned in to CHS, his blog about all things Capitol Hill (capitolhillseattle.com), knows his posts can veer from selfless service to self-promotion. (One recent headline: “CHS saves Cal Anderson Playground.”) Still, we can’t begrudge him the Society of Professional Journalists nod he received in May for best geo-specific site; he and his stable of contributors rarely drop a lead in Seattle’s most on-the-move ’hood.
CHS, along with nearly 20 blogs like it, are part of the Networked Journalism Project, which The Seattle Times launched in August. (Phinneywood.com also took home an SPJ award for its coverage of the Greenwood arson last winter.) Sure, it serves its purpose as an aggregated forum of local news, but the real lesson here? Our neighborhood newshounds, now more than ever, are competing with the powerhouse pubs.
60. Our Buildings Are Alive
Think LEED Platinum status is as good as it gets for green building? Think again. In 2006 the Cascadia Region Green Building Council introduced its daunting “Living Building Challenge”: truly sustainable buildings with “net zero” energy, water, and waste. And this spring the green-seeding Bullitt Foundation announced it would meet the challenge on a daunting scale: a net-zero midrise office building, to house its new Cascadia Center for Sustainable Design and Construction. It may be the first net-zero effort on such a large scale worldwide, but it probably won’t be the first local living building. On the other side of Capitol Hill, the private Bertschi School (already Washington’s first LEED Gold elementary school) planned to break ground this summer on its own living building—appropriately, a science wing.
90. We Can Put on a Show!
Fibromyalgia, schmibromyalgia. Ninety-five-year-old Annie Aronwald isn’t about to let chronic pain stop her when the show must go on. In the four years since her arrival at Kline Galland Home, the Jewish nursing facility just south of Seward Park, Aronwald has directed no fewer than a dozen musical productions there, complete with sets and costumes and dancing octogenarians—and, on at least one unforgettable occasion, a Dolly Parton impersonation. That, ahem, was Annie, who usually stars in these productions and whose sheer enthusiasm inspires Kline Galland staffers to help build sets and local musicians to form a volunteer orchestra. One production, based on the musical Cats, was even written by the facility’s residents—then renamed, naturally, Katz.
63. We Take Our Time
The big problem with Seattle politics, mover-and-shaker types will tell you, is it’s all process and all too rarely product: Nothing ever gets decided; it’s forever discussed, debated, reopened, reconsidered, and finally talked to death. But that’s also the best thing about Seattle politics. Without endless process and extra innings, we’d have built freeways through the Washington Park Arboretum and up to Bothell, torn down Franklin High, Pioneer Square, and Pike Place Market, leveled Queen Anne Hill, and executed a hundred other dumb ideas. So maybe Mayor McGinn’s been right to go into overtime trying to make the next 520 bridge better and (though he can’t come out and say it) kill the waterfront tunnel by making it perfect.
64. Online Shops Pop Up in Real World Boutiques
What Amanda Rosenthal wanted in fall ’08, when she went online-only with her trend-driven women’s boutique, La Rousse (shoplarousse.com), was to connect with customers beyond Seattle. But just a year later, she began teaming up with her favorite shop owners, like Linda Walsh at Clementine Shoes, to reconnect with Seattle shoppers for in-store sales. What Rosenthal and her brick-and-mortar friends find is that pop-up shops—those new-world, here-today, gone-tomorrow temporary retail experiences—yield foot traffic enough to share. And shoppers find these cohosted soirees offer free-flowing local wine, goodies from mobile food-cart vendors, and best of all, twofer-type deals.
71. We Put Faith Before Free Throws
We could tip our caps to the Northwest Yeshiva High School girls basketball team for earning their first state tournament berth in February. Or we could toast them for being the first team ever from an all-Jewish school to qualify. But instead, we’ll give the 613s—named for the number of commandments referenced in the Torah—their propers for forfeiting: With a consolation-bracket game on the line, the girls from Mercer Island conceded defeat not because they’d given up but because the tip-off was smack dab in the middle of a religious fast and the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association wouldn’t reschedule. God shoots and scores!
66–70. Fancy Restaurants Serve Family Dinner on Sunday
Business-savvy meets down-home nostalgia in a win-win trend: The Sunday Supper. Upmarket restaurants prop up their least popular day by setting out a family-style repast, which diners enjoy in a casual context for an old-fashioned tab. At Dinette (dinetteseattle.com), diners sit at communal tables. Ventana rotates ethnic themes from Thailand to Portugal and beyond (ventanaseattle.com), Joule (joulerestaurant.com) dishes up BBQ, and Avila (avilaseattle.com) puts on all-you-can-eat multicourse feasts. Heck, the Sunday Supper might even happen on a Monday, as at Spring Hill (springhillnorthwest.com) in West Seattle, where Monday Supper is sometimes a walk-in affair featuring big, 10-buck spaghetti plates, sometimes a reservation-only fried-chicken feed for four. Far cry from duck confit with savoy spinach.
74. Hillman City Is Rising (and Bellying Up to the Bar)
After two decades of languishing in disrepair and disrepute while rival/sister neighborhood Columbia City snagged nearly all of the new businesses in Southeast Seattle, Hillman City is waking up. Its nascent restaurant district is wildly international: the Kawali Grill (Filipino), Mawadda Café (Middle Eastern), Afrikando Afrikando (Senegalese), and Eyman’s Halal Pizza, where Muslims from East Africa and Jews from Seward Park savor porkless pies baked by a Cham from Vietnam. Soon it should get some good homegrown grub, too. Laurie Lusko, proprietor of the popular Beacon Pub, was at last word awaiting a liquor license to open another pub in a spiffed-up historic building next to Eyman’s. Lusko’s goal: “To make Columbia City jealous.”
75. We Say It with Lushootseed
The revered Upper Skagit elder Vi Hilbert devoted half her life to teaching, recording, and preserving Lushootseed (aka dxwle šucid), the language of the Puget Sound Salish. When she died at age 90 in 2008, some aficionados feared it would die with her. Instead, two generations of Lushootseed learners have taken up the cause. Her granddaughter Jill La Pointe leads the nonprofit Lushootseed Research (lushootseed.org), which in April convened a milestone language conference at Seattle University. Children stood up with the elders and scholars and proudly introduced themselves in Lushootseed. Future generations may still twist their tongues with this region’s original language after all.
88. We Take Downward Dog Literally
“I understand that people think it’s wacky,” Brenda Bryan says of her doga practice. Yeah, she said “doga,” as in yoga for dogs. For nearly four years, Bryan has been teaching canine-centric stretches and poses (our favorite: the one-leg-up “fire hydrant” pose), first at the Seattle Humane Society and now at West Side Yoga Doga (westsideyogadoga.com), the studio she runs with her business partner Kelly Page. She’s endured her share of snarky comments from non-dog lovers, but she’s too enlightened—and brightened by the positive effects that her classes have had—to let them get to her: “At the end of the day, it’s about having a bonding experience between you and your dog.”
76. We’ve Got Perfect Pitch, Without the Pitches
KING-FM (king.org), Seattle’s only classical musical station, has long had it all: knowledgeable hosts, a mix of old favorites and rarer pieces, Saturdays with the Metropolitan and Seattle operas, local chamber music performances. Only problem: the goofy commercials between them. No more. As of July 1, KING goes noncommercial and hits up listeners instead of advertisers for cash. Goodbye laser-dentistry spots in between Liszt and Mendelssohn; hello, unbroken listening, just like the Internet has taught listeners to expect. Given the decline of traditional ad-based business models and the ardor of classical fans, the switch may be good for the station and the arts education it supports. It certainly is for listeners.
77. We’re Saving the Elephants
When Zambia and Tanzania petitioned for exemptions from the worldwide ban on ivory exports at a WTO conference in Doha, Qatar, last March, they had Sam Wasser to thank for sinking their bid. As the scientific director at the Woodland Park Zoo in the 1990s, Wasser set out—where top forensic scientists had failed—to extract intact DNA from elephant ivory. He succeeded, then assembled a comprehensive DNA map of Africa’s elephants, a useful tool in tracing captured contraband ivory to its area of origin. Now the director of the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology, Wasser proved via DNA that Zambia and Tanzania were the main sources for most of the contraband ivory seized. Their bid was rejected—a stunning upset victory for elephants and conservation. And it all started at our zoo.
58. Zombies Rule
Head to Fremont on July 3 and you’ll see the making of a Guinness World Record: With luck, an estimated 10,000 people will shuffle down Phinney Avenue North dressed as zombies—5,974 more than we need to regain the “biggest zombie throng” title we lost to the small rural town of Ledbury, England, last August. And did we mention that Seattle’s hosting the first-ever zombie convention, ZomBCon, this Halloween? Long live the dead.
91–94. Our Street Food Is in a League of Its Own (Stop Smirking, Portland)
Thanks to lax street food laws in Portland, a “city” we tend to treat like a little sister, there are more than 500 food trucks there, compared to a couple dozen here. But here are four Seattle street foods you’ll never see in our sibling city to the south—or anywhere else, for that matter.
• A Beecher’s cheese-topped, molasses-infused vegan barbecue sandwich from Maximus/Minimus (maximus-minimus.com).
• Sweet-smelling, organic Meyer lemon bar ice cream from Parfait (parfaiticecream.com)
• The grill on wheels called Here and There (hereandtheregrill.com) serves gourmet lunch to Edmonds with pastas, salads, and delish hot sandwiches.
• The everything hot dog from Dante’s Inferno Dogs (dantesinfernodogs.com), dressed with pickled peppers and cream cheese squirted from a special gun. Only in Seattle, people.
73. Classical Musicians Rock
How do you breathe life into a rockcentric orchestra? You play a funeral. (Okay, Arcade Fire’s debut album, Funeral. But still.) Scott Teske’s all-volunteer Seattle Rock Orchestra has had an impressive run since launching in late 2008. First, there were gigs backing local acts such as Jeremy Enigk, Damien Jurado, and Jesse Sykes. Then came the Arcade Fire cover concert and a David Bowie tribute show last March (where Teske single-handedly adapted and arranged 15 songs) that may lead to a season of performances at the Moore Theatre. And for an encore, the outfit snagged a slot at Sasquatch! in May. To which we say, Rock on.
78. We’re Home to One of the Coolest (and Cutest) Indie Book Stores in the Country
Seattle’s no slouch when it comes to supporting artists, but Pilot Books (pilotbooksseattle.com) is a struggling writer’s savior: It only carries small and independent-press tomes. Sounds like risky business, but owner Summer Robinson has made it work, thanks to an able staff of three, a community of chatty bibliophiles—and her own bank account. When Pilot held its month-long Small Press Book Fest in March, Robinson used personal funds to fly in New York–based writer Tao Lin for the event’s finale. Her old cellphone is now Pilot’s main phone line, and her personal book collection doubles as the store’s lending library. If that’s not devotion, we’re at a loss for words.
32. We Nailed Fashion Week
When Bellevue’s online makeup retailer beauty.com sponsored “It” boy Alexander Wang’s fall/winter collection at New York Fashion week in February, it brought Seattle nail color specialist Nonie Creme along for the ride. And what a ride. Word of her ultrahip nontoxic Butter London lacquers (butterlondon.com) spread like a spring trend among seventh graders. Soon enough, Creme was painting rainy-day shades of taupe-gray on the hands of the hottest models for Calvin Klein, Vena Cava, and Jenny Kao. The expat Creme named her line for her adopted city, but there’s no denying the Northwest overtones in the smoky, vintage-dyed blue of Victoriana, out in September.
89. Our Backyards Double as Barnyards
If chickens could count, they’d count themselves among the farmyard animals that Seattle city residents can raise in their backyards. Goats are kosher, too: three of them, provided they’re dehorned, neutered, and weigh less than 100 pounds. But before you go picking out your pygmies, count how many dogs you’ve got lying around the ol’ homestead. You’re only allotted three dogs and goats, total—so if you have one dog, you get two goats. Two dogs, one goat. And if you have more than three dogs already, consider moving to one of Washington’s 243 unincorporated communities before introducing goats to your situation.
95. Our Kids Play at the Pub
Breeders can get their beer on at Montlake Ale House ( montlakealehouse.net ), thanks to a toy-strewn play arena for kids near the back of the bar. From a 360-degree dining table that encircles the sunken play space, parents swig micros and talk preschool plans while their wee gladiators toss toys at one another in the mini coliseum below. Plenty of tables populate the front of the bar, so most tantrums will escape the earshot (and eyerolls) of Gen-Z drinkers just in it for the brew. We know, we know: You’re never having kids. Call us in five years, Stretch Pants.
35. Our Bloggers Go On to Positions of Power
Carla Saulter has dished about her King County Metro odysseys since 2006 on the seattlepi.com-hosted blog Bus Chick, where the 38-year-old mother of two plays stenographer of passenger chatter and master of mass-transit neologisms—like “bus mack” (one rider hitting on another) and “pack jam” (bag snags in the aisle). Among Saulter’s some 15,000-per-month page viewers? King County Council Member Larry Gossett, who recommended she join Dow Constantine’s Regional Transit Task Force earlier this year. So Bus Chick will now advise county brass on how best to serve riders. That’s a more than valid transfer.
99. We Vote Early and Often to Support the Arts
For nearly a month, Tacoma’s Schooner Adventuress had been the clear front-runner in an online vote for a $125,000 preservation grant , but on the contest’s final day in May, supporters of Seattle’s historic—and leaky—Town Hall started voting. And voting. And voting. They helped stage an unprecedented surge, and the lead changed several times, until—the old schooner won by a furlong. But the Partners in Preservation were so impressed, they gave both organizations $125k. So much for arts apathy.
82–86: Our Happy Hours Have Evolved Beyond the Bar
Used to be happy hour meant a $5 martini and some salted nuts, maybe a little light banter with Pete from accounts payable while you waited out the after-work traffic. But it was only so long before other local businesses began competing with cocktails for those much-coveted weekday bucks. Only unwanted hair gets ripped off—for a discount, natch—at the two locations of The Wax Bar (thewaxbarseattle.com), at Derby Salon in Roosevelt (derbysalon.com), and at downtown’s Urban Yoga Spa (urbanyogaspa.com). Last spring, Bottega Italiana (bottegaitaliana.com) in Pike Place Market intro’ed a weekday espresso discount to pep up afternoon sales. At high-end restaurant Palace Kitchen (tomdouglas.com), meanwhile, special happy hour menus serve up thematic flights of bites, like a $7 trio of lamb snacks. Complimentary pistachios are available at the bar.
16. Old Buildings Are the New New Thing
As the managing director of real estate development firm Eagle Rock Ventures (eaglerockventures.com), Scott Shapiro takes dated properties and makes them pretty, fun, and pretty functional by, as he says, putting a “new building in old skin.” Take his latest, a joint venture with Liz Dunn of Dunn and Hobbes (thank her for the gorgeous Osteria La Spiga and Plum Bistro) to rehab the Melrose Market, home to artisanal butcher Rain Shadow Meats, speakeasy-style bar Still Liquor, and Sonic Boom Records. Anchoring the shops and restaurants is a barnlike marketplace flanked by raw brick, a wall of sliding windows, and a sky-high wood-planked ceiling supported by hefty industrial beams. The process is more complicated than building from scratch, but, Shapiro points out, “you can’t recreate new spaces like this today.”
15. We’ll Take Your Young and Desperate
Only the United States takes in orphans and other refugee youths separated from their parents. Only four states have more than a single agency equipped to receive them—and one of those is Washington. Lutheran Community Services (lcsnw.org) in Seattle and Catholic Community Services (ccsww.org) in Tacoma both began receiving refugee children in 1980, when thousands fled Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia without their parents. Since then they’ve received “the lost boys” (and girls) of Sudan and uprooted youngsters from Central America, Cuba, Haiti, Bhutan, and East Africa. These days, it’s youths from Congo and Burma who, without the Lutheran program, might be lost as well. Once again, Seattle’s there, at least for a lucky few.
44. We Root for a Draft Dodger
Let’s set aside the possibility that by passing up a fat pro contract to don the UW purple and gold for his senior season Jake Locker is (at best) a devil-may-care masochist or (at worst) straight-up insane. Instead, let’s focus on the fact that the run-and-gun QB’s fiscally risky decision was a message to Dawg fans—and the rest of the Pac-10, for that matter—that these aren’t Tyrone’s Huskies anymore. When NFL draft gurus like Mel Kiper predict you’d be the fifth player chosen after your junior year, you don’t stick around out of a Boy Scout–like desire to see things through. You do it because you think—no, expect—you’ll win.
61. We Can Watch Performances on Our Laptops
In January, edgy, contemporary arts nonprofit On the Boards (ontheboards.org) started testing next-gen performance with ontheboards.tv, a website that streams and sells high-definition videos of shows staged at its 100 Roy Street theater. Viewing costs less than the price of a ticket ($5 for a 48-hour rental, $15 to download and own), and the film’s quality is surprisingly sharp, thanks to the multiple HD cameras and the mad editing skills of local production company Thinklab. The service is small on selection—seven shows will be available this year, eight in 2011—but big on talent. We’d gladly watch Young Jean Lee’s The Shipment again, live or on a 12-inch screen.
100. We Love to Learn, Even at Midnight
Yes, we’ve already given Michael Hebb a pat on the back (no. 33). But Night School (nightnightnight.com), the series of nocturnal “classes” he curates for the Sorrento Hotel, is so quintessentially Seattle, it deserves another: It’s broadening intellectual horizons with a gonzo lust for life.
Whether it’s a liquored-up history class about, um, liquor, or an experiment in mashing up classical and pop music, each class is a study in learning and letting loose at the same time. And at the head of the class is the Midnight Symposium, which puts “students” face to face with a visiting intellectual (such as Pulitzer-winning historian Gary Wills) to chat over drinks and a hearty stew. We’ve never been more excited to hear the words “School’s in session.”