Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Civil Blindspots

Civil Blindspots

City planners seem to succeed
where King Śuddhodana failed Buddha,
but I see it.

It is easy to detect imperfections
in this gleaming, bejeweled metropolis,
not as obvious viewed from street-level of
the Magnificent Mile, with cathedral-capitalism spires
reaching to the heavens, threatening to wedge-open
the needle’s eye for as many camels as possible.

Pay the exorbitant fee to be lifted onto
the observation decks of these majestic towers,
it is much more apparent up here, but only if the observer
knows where to observe the divining line.
It traverses north and south when facing west,
and east-to-west when viewing south.
It is funny that many cannot see with their eyes wide-open
that which I cannot avoid viewing, no matter how tightly I
shut out the light with my lids.

With one eye, I see the future,
in all of its optimistic, sanitized,
chrome-polished glory.

The other eye sees a twisted, sinewy,
amalgamation of present and past,
my past entwined with this city like
the rusted remains of a chain-link fence
protecting a condemned building that was
once home to countless lives scraping to earn an honest living,
or hell-bent on strong-arming higher-quality lifestyle
by any means necessary.

From the man-made summits,
the horizon blends into haze,
it is easy to forget that people live in this nebulous realm,
but from the imperceptible margins,
there is a clear view of the majestic “big shoulders”.
They cast long morning shadows on playgrounds full of broken swings,
its paint-chipped benches occupied by jobless adults
passing around bottles in brown paper wrappers as they trade
addictions and stories, mostly of failure
and how the system is stacked against them,
or how to game the system for infinitesimal, fleeting successes,

but sometimes there are tales of those who tried but failed.
In what passes for the story’s moral,
the star-crossed dreamer isn’t mocked for his failure,
but for trying in the first place.

About ten miles from the Magnificent one,
the shadows fade by noon, revealing an elderly, shoeless man
chugging a beer in the middle of a pothole-mangled street.

The cops can’t even be bothered
to slow down enough to harass him.

He is a fixture; just another curiosity in front of a sandy,
vacant lot that was once a vibrant juke-joint twenty years earlier.

No one knows his story, the battles he has fought,
the turmoil he has endured, or even caused,
during the many acts of his life.

No one has even seen him begging for spare change
though he must have to at some point to finance
the only comfort he seems to relish.

Each day, the shadows reveal him,
each night, they reclaim him.

Some afternoons – weather permitting – affluent college students
would follow affluent sociology professors
on audacious field-trips to the ghetto neighborhood of my youth.

I knew they were sociology classes
because they used phrases like “urban blight” and “moral decay”.

I knew they were affluent because they always seemed to talk about,
but never directly to me or the “mostly fatherless” neighborhood kids
who had no hope of higher-learning or advancing
beyond the adults squatting in the playground
or that man swilling beer in the sun
that no one ever sees begging for cash,
though it’s assumed that he does.

I knew their trips were audacious because
each time I saw them bringing their discounted empathy
to my urine-scented streets,
I wanted to punch their smug faces.

As if they could capture the “plight of the negro”
without speaking to a single one of us.
As if we would be too stupid to grasp the inner-nuances
of their safari trips, and in grasping the concept,
also grasping the dehumanizing elements of their studies.

They observed that we were poor and hopeless.
Had they spoken to us,
they’d have learned of our fears and aspirations.

The evening hues cast unique features,
with skyscraper lights upstaging the distant twinkles.
On one such night, I sought out the darkness,
my gaze affixed to the heavens, veiled in youthful enthusiasm
as the earth’s shadow began to devour the moon.

Oblivious to this dueling jostle for attention,
a woman approached, asking the 16-year-old stargazing me
what up there in the sky could possibly be more interesting
than the dual bulging globes of flesh
pressing to escape her blouse to meet my approval.

She asked if I was old enough to date,
which made no sense to 16-year-old me because clearly I was.
Only when she asked how much money I had
did I finally connect the faded dots of this constellation.

Turns out that the perfect location for novice astronomy
was also ideal for other transactions that work better in darkness.

To this day, I don’t know which sight was dimmer;
a woman desperate enough to risk solicitation with a minor,
or the vacant, desolate glint of abject despair in her eyes
after I said, “None,” turning to distance myself.

None of this is visible from downtown’s corporate towers,
though the towers are clearly visible
to anyone who chooses to raise their gaze.

I guess the longer someone lives on the margins
of the structures of others,
with scaffolding soaring higher into vertical displacement
the less often either party are to see each other,
let alone seeing each other’s humanity.

It seems that King Śuddhodana could’ve
hidden the world’s suffering from Buddha’s observation
by imprisoning him inside an observation deck.

Written for dVerse Poets - City Songs for Poetics. Many other dVerse Poets also contributed to this prompt. Go here to read their work.  

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Battle

The Battle

Fleeing love and death
Your gaze fortified my spine
I'll stand my ground beside you
If our cause is just
I will take up both our swords
Or gladly fall upon them.


I learned of the Sedoka from a poem I read on Conscious Cacophony's blog. This is my first crack at the form. Go there to read her own Sedoka, as well as a good description of the form. 

Shared with dVerse Poets' Open Link Night - November 2011. Many dVerse poets have also shared their work here

Tuesday, November 25, 2014





“Would Theo do that to Heathcliff Huxtable?”

Dad looked down at me through his Spectacles of Disapproval, which is the name I gave his thick eyeglasses whenever I found myself disappointing him, which was fairly often. This particular event was so long ago that I don’t even recall my infraction now. He often turned to humor in these teachable moments, not realizing that from my juvenile perspective, this only served to further humiliate and rub my nose deep into the stench of my error. Or maybe that was the whole point. Who can understand the mind of a man with an acerbic wit? His favorite go-to move was, “Would Theo do that to Heathcliff Huxtable?”

With my practiced apologetic smile firmly affixed, internally, I winced each time he went to that sanctimonious well. The reasons were threefold; (1) Dad, being lower-middleclass, was in no way making Dr. Huxtable money, (2) Theo screwed-up constantly on The Cosby Show to the point where they could’ve renamed it The Dumb-Assed Theo Show, and (3) it felt ludicrous to be held to the lofty standards of fictional characters.

I was probably the only Black kid alive who eventually developed a deep contempt and resentment for The Coby Show and its spin-off, A Different World back in the 80’s. While family and friends mostly lauded these shows as shining examples of how African-Americanism can be lifted up if we all aspire to be our best selves at all times, all I saw was a lofty perch that I would never reach because I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t smart enough, and I wasn’t ambitious enough. The sum of whatever I thought I was, of whatever I thought my “best self” was, just wasn’t… enough. (To that end, I cried myself to sleep after viewing Spike Lee’s film School Daze, not because of the plot – undergrad, dark-skinned Blacks beefing with undergrad, light-skinned Blacks over ultimately senseless tribalism – but because I knew that my best-self wasn’t good enough to go away to college to weigh-in on that ultimately senseless tribalism. Turns out that I was right for the wrong reasons.)

I try not to hold a grudge because after all, there is no ghetto parental playbook, and Dad made a good-faith best-effort at guiding me down the right path. Dad couldn’t even perceive my poor self-esteem, and I was too passive to ever consider that my perspective mattered. So much for engaging in dialogue that could’ve spared me a few decades of uninformed decisions. Still, things worked out surprisingly well for me. A Naval recruiter took one look at my ASVAB scores and sold me on the Honor, Courage and Commitment of the U.S. Navy, where I matured, continued my education, and learned that my voice does matter. As it turns out, my “best-self” was good enough for whatever I set out to achieve. That’s what Dad was trying to tell me. That was Bill Cosby’s message in his pious, cloying television shows and his cranky, out-of-touch “Pull your pants up and stop using Hip-Hop, boogie-music slang!” old-man rants. I still found Dr. Cosby as annoying as any sanctimonious parrot could be, but I felt that his heart was in the right place, so I could deal with him in small doses.

When the rumors about Bill Cosby allegedly raping women began, I instantly dismissed them as urban legends and mean-spirited character-assassinations because Bill Cosby was clearly the Bill Cosbyest of all of us African-Americans aspiring to be our “best selves”. Bill Cosby couldn’t rape a woman any more than you or I could punch an infant in the face. Come-on, now! Bill Cosby doesn’t have sex, son! Bill Cosby is asexual, like an amoeba that just wants you to speak in grammatically-correct, profanity-free sentences at all fucking times (Sorry, Dr. C.)

But then more stories started to come out. And then more stories. And then still more. And then there were stories about Dr. Cosby being a mean-spirited bully. And then there were stories that made Dr. Cosby sound like a mafia Don or some kind of evil Black Pope entrenched in an intimidating power-structure that made victims question the wisdom of coming forth with their stories of Bill Cosby’s alleged predatory sexual acts.

I was briefly amused by the perverse irony of it all (“Ha-ha! The guy yelling at us to pull out pants up can’t keep his own pants on!”) But then, as empathy for the alleged victims built, and as the details of each story became darker and more depraved, I started to feel angry and betrayed. How dare this pillar of our Black community who inspired us and insisted that we show our best-selves not only show us the worst kind of human-failings, but also fail to see the humanity of the women so inhumanely exploited (allegedly)? Goodbye, and good riddance, Dr. Cosby! The Black community will do just fine without hypocrites like you failing to practice what you preach. It’s a good thing that nothing racially traumatic has happened recently that could've used the benefit of your now seemingly irrevocably broken moral compass-

Oh yeah. The Ferguson verdict. And then the Ferguson riot. And then the Ferguson protests in other American cities. And then the condemnation of the Ferguson protests by callous people who are either unwilling, or unable to comprehend why the apparent shooting of a surrendering, unarmed 18-year-old by those sworn to protect us might upset some of us. And then the irresponsible cry for vengeance by those who feel that justice has denied them one time too many. And then the few craven opportunists who believe that this society and its rules are bullshit anyway, and so when it threatens to unravel, they might as well get theirs. And then still more condemnation by disingenuous people who will use the craven opportunists as clear examples of why shooting an unarmed surrendering kid was justified. Of course, this horrifies me, not just because the skin color of the victim is similar to mine, but also because like me, he was once a human being with aspirations that won’t be met.

There is still the very real possibility that the Ferguson shooting was justified, though I still have my doubts. This is also a tough sell to most Black people because there are far too many instances of us having excessive force used on us for no justifiable reason. Many socially-conscious White people are rightfully outraged by these injustices, but if your skin color is similar to mine, you are most likely terrified. I fear being mugged by criminals, but I also fear being questioned by the police, and I have never committed a crime. Lest I forget, there are always more reminders that my “best self” is still just one misunderstanding and/or sudden-move away from being carried away from the scene of my death in a coroner bag. There will always be more reminders that I, a U.S. Navy Veteran, can be stopped-and-frisked for “fitting-the-description” or accidentally gunned-down for reaching for my wallet after a routine traffic stop (Good thing there was a dashboard camera, right? Also, why aren’t all police required to have cameras?)

A glib, stuffed-shirt will stare into a teleprompter and ponder nothing while parroting the words on his screen that form sentences of legions of air-tight strawmen like “what if he wasn’t surrendering?” Which makes sense because what if I pushed a guy and shoplifted cigars so I can go “stuntin'” (apologies to Dr. Cosby for the hip-hop slang) like some kind of gang-banging rap star? See? The shooting would be justified, right? And then regardless of what we believe, we will inevitably retreat to our respective echo chambers instead of summoning the hairsbreadth of empathy required to listen to one another while having an actual conversation about race and racism.

It is ludicrous, even laughable, to suggest that an elderly, out-of-touch comedian who inspired millions to achieve greatness could somehow bridge the widening gulf of racial mistrust and dehumanizing violence if only he wasn’t an alleged predatory serial-rapist. (As early as last week, my previous sentence would’ve been rejected as a failed plot-pitch for Law and Order: SVU) But in times like these, with social injustice and it’s inevitable backlash threatening to smolder and burn away everything we struggle to hold together, with empathy for others evaporating in the harsh drought of national tribalism, willful ignorance, and staggering apathy, I now find myself wondering…

Who among us in our race – the human race – will step up to remind us of who we aspire to be?

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Credit: Aurora over a Glacier Lagoon © James Woodend (U.K.)


lace swaddles my vision
looting her aurora

love smearing my judgment
left her tied in ribbons

lifted by emerald skies
longing for her rare air
loss gives way to wonder    

Written for dVerse: MeetingTheBar: Pleiades. This is a fun form. I'm glad I tried it. Go here to read other dVerse poets' Pleiades form. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Nihirizumu no Kage

Image source: google

Nihirizumu no Kage (Shadow of Nihilism)

Turbulent winds blow, tearing asunder
the life-force, a full flow, feeling the thunder
shockwave tear the air, rip through the atmosphere
impale the ill-prepared, lungs inhale blue fear!

Oblivion, be my blade, be not afraid
obliterate the masquerade, air-raid remade
in the image we imagine with dragons of all fashion
with a visage we envision that drags on flame passion!

Pierce the foundations and burn through the earth
render all creation to dust for rebirth
this existence is transitory, so what’s it worth
for your assistance to transcribe the story?

I’ll wield your girth in my hands for the master stroke
bookmark the chapter with designs on that disaster smoke
soul-cutting raptor!

Now obliterate, Nihirizumu no Kage!

(Disclaimer: The video above includes graphic language, graphic comic-book-style violence, and graphic all-around ninja-move badassery. Don't watch it unless you have a kung-fu grip on yourselves.)

Written for dVerse Poetics : Modern mythologies. The prompt was to modernize an old mythological story. Other dVerse poets gave this prompt a whirl too. Check them out here. I was drawing a blank, so I decided to take an already modernized mythology (source: modern obscure geeky anime) and add my own spin to it.

The Anime/Manga Bleach is a story about a kid named Ichigo who discovers that he has the supernatural powers of a soul reaper. Each soul reaper has his own soul-cutting spirit sword (or Zanpakutō) that basically embodies his fighting spirit and “lends” the wielder its power once the wielder calls for it by name (usually accompanied by a flowery, poetic incantation like “ROAR, ZABIMAROU!”)

Here's a clip of Ighico being trained to communicate with his Zanpakutō, named Zangetsu ("Slaying Moon")

I know what you're wondering; how is any of this relevant? A few years ago, my writing was blocked, big time. To get myself back to writing, I decided to give myself a Zanpakutō and an incantation that would act as my writing's “fighting spirit”. I wanted the name to sound authentic, so I googled Japanese phrases and translated them to find a really badass-sounding name. (Yes, I’m that kind of nerd, but it worked!)  

Here’s the original incantation:
Turbulent winds blow!
Oblivion be my blade!
Pierce the foundations!

Now obliterate, Nihirizumu no Kage!
Pretty boss, right? Like I said, I’m a nerd, and here’s my own personal nerd mythology.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

ignorance and want


ignorance and want

her kiss ignites
me in places unknown
trickle down my craning collar
delight me in shameless shadows of want
leading down a taboo pathway
her with instinct ablaze
my will smolders

divide a vow
forged in fragrant flames
of youth, they must be tended to
discarding truth ferments the lie revealed
within shameful actions pursued
resist illicit thirst
lust brews rotten


flee from these thoughts
her breath on my goosebumps
informs primal urges beneath
where rational bonds are illusory
instincts leading me to drink deep
senses want consumption
this flame will not

to higher thought
dividing us from beast
mindless passion blinds us in time
refined beings, made to bind to reason
seasons heat and cool our passions
rise above the weather
honor where you


I fear
treading pathways
leading from day to dusk
returning to hypocrisy
I can see her want intersect my own
it feels as real as my promise
remaining in twilight
our fate remains


(All images courtesy of Google)


Written for d’Verse – Meeting The Bar – The Quarrel Form. This form was created by fellow dVerse poet, and this week’s host, Gay Cannon. Click on the link to learn more. It is a challenging, but fun form. I took a smidge of creative license towards the end. Read other dVerse poets’ submissions here.

Sorry I haven’t written in a while. I tend to neglect my poetic voice during football season because I’m a self-loathing Chicago Bears fan, which can be a redundant statement at times.  

Saturday, September 06, 2014

A Snarky Introvert’s Guide to Seattle


A Snarky Introvert’s Guide to Seattle

A childhood classmate from Chicago will be visiting Seattle soon and she asked me for tourist recommendations other than the obvious Space Needle. I probably put more thought into this than I should’ve, seeing how socially-averse I am. Still, I felt compelled to highlight a few spots from my adopted city.

But before I get to my completely biased Seattle tour guide, I’d like to take a moment to explain how I happened to build a life here. Feel free to scroll down to the guide if you’re not interested or if you want to be a dick about this whole thing. I don’t mind.

Back in 1994-95, I was attending the Navy Training Center in San Diego. I was finishing an advanced electronics course for a radar/missile launching system that I was going to support once I reached my ship in the fleet. Because my GPA was ranked third out of the twelve sailors in the course, I basically had my choice of ships to serve on. (I know that this sounds like shameless humble-bragging, and it is, but hang with me. The payoff is coming up soon.) I had three options for sea duty: 1. one of many ships home-ported in San Diego, 2. a ship home-ported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (Hawaii!), or 3. a ship named the USS Ingraham, home-ported in Everett, WA, twenty-five miles north of Seattle.

I know. Shut-up. I know, OK?

Had I been single, I would’ve jumped all over those Pearl Harbor orders. But my first wife had family and a built-in support group already living in Washington State, so it just seemed like the most reasonable choice – reasonable in that any other choice would’ve probably resulted in an argument and/or inevitable divorce. So naturally, I gave her what she wanted, and naturally, six years later we divorced anyway. Initially, this was one of my biggest regrets of my adult life (Other than marrying my first wife, of course. Women, am I right, fellas? *adjusts tie*)

It’s pretty funny how a series of wrong choices for wrong reasons led me here, to a fairly liberal outpost where it’s almost always overcast and rainy, and the locals almost always say things they don’t mean like, “Let’s hang out sometime!” Most Seattleites hate hearing about the infamous “Seattle Freeze” but it does exist, and thank goodness for it. As an introverted nerd with personal space issues, I fit right in here. Despite being slow to trust, Seattleites are polite and remarkably laid-back. This has been an ideal place for me to develop a circle of comfortable acquaintances that don’t trip or pressure me to “come out of my shell” as if there is such a notion. (And to anyone who has ever uttered those words to an introvert, on behalf of all introverts everywhere, I say go eff yourself. I love my shell.)

Through work and play, I have forged acquaintances and friendships with wonderful people who I cherish greatly and continue to make excuses for not seeing on account of me being a social weirdo, and almost all of them know me well enough to not be offended if/when I freak-out and bail on them. More importantly, through online chatrooms, mutual friends, and the idiocy of fate, I met the woman who would become my second wife at The Showbox at the Market. I have no earthly idea how she puts up with me, but she’s still here! So blessed. So blessed.

I am fortune’s fool, fortunate enough to find myself surrounded by good people who accept me, warts and all. That is why I stayed here on the left-coast with the rest of my fellow weirdos. Now Seattleites, Kindly avert your eyes while I give my Chi-Town colleagues a brief tour while lightly roasting Seattle until the beans taste like someone tried to brew them with a Timberland boot. Or as you Seattleites call it, Breakfast Blend.

Also, fuck the Seahawks! (That was a test. Still here? Good.)


The Most Seattle Things to See While in Seattle

(Links to webpages provided in the headings and throughout the essay.)


Ride the Ducks


I am told that some humans enjoy being driven around in an antique motorized amphibious vehicle while an over-caffinated tour guide points out landmarks and occasionally demands that the tourists wave, hoot, holler, and sing corny songs. I’ve never experienced this phenomenon because I am a reasonably sane adult with shit to do, but to each their own.

Verdict: If you have young children or still giggle when you see your feet, do it. Otherwise, skip it.

Counterpoint from Wifey: She rode the Duck, and once that jalopy went into the water, she was certain that she would never live to see dry land again and that dive teams would have to cut the Duck open like a rusted-over sardine can to recover her lifeless body from the deep blue abyss. So there’s that.


Washington Park Arboretum


If you want a peaceful excursion that is off the beaten path, then this is the place for you. The landscape is beautiful, there is a pond full of colorful koi fish, and everything about this place screams chill-the-eff-out and slow down. Unfortunately, young children may quickly become restless with so little to do. You could probably buy yourself 30 minutes if you really upsell the koi fish.

Verdict: If you’re really into Zen or believe you possess legendary parental skills, do it.

Counterpoint from Wifey: You could buy another 45 minutes by having the kids feed the koi their fish food supplied by park patrons. I don’t know if there’s a fee, but there’d damn-well better not be one. I can’t imagine paying someone for the privilege of doing what is clearly a public works job. That’s big-time hustle right there. I’d be like, “Bitch! Y’all better hand me a fistful of dried-up fish pellets for free and stop playin’ with me!” Well, not really; I’d just not buy any and walk away quietly, but you get the idea.


Seattle Art Museum


Pro: It’s easy to get to, I guess? Con: just two or three blocks west of here is the waterfront, so the SAM’s positioning is basically like placing a public library directly next to an amusement park. Full-disclosure: at my former job, I walked past the SAM twice a day, and each time I thought to myself, “I need to go in there and check out some of the exhibits.” I still haven’t set foot in that place, but I will. Someday.

Verdict: I haven’t a damned clue, so if you can resist the allure of the waterfront, roll the dice. Take a chance.

Counterpoint from Wifey: Erin has been to several exhibits here and at its less expensive, slightly less pretentious little brother on the eastside, the Bellevue Art Museum. I recently went to the BAM for an exhibit showcasing the artistry of Japanese American intern camp prisoners, and it really hit me on an emotional level. (I was less taken by the curator who kept following me around as if he feared I was hell-bent on nefarious acts like touching the art, stealing it, rubbing my big black wang-doodle on everything I saw, or whatever the “undesirables” do to earn themselves a constant silent escort, but maybe I’m just being oversensitive.)

(NOTE: After exposure to her college friends, Erin now passionately refers to both venues as “the SAM” and “the BAM” respectively, and she was incredulous to the fact that it took me a moment to figure out what the hell she was talking about because she’s totally not a snobby Seattle scenester at all. Nope. Not even a little bit.)


Seattle Underground Tour


A tour guide takes you down beneath Seattle to show you tunnels, tell you historical anecdotes, and try to spook you with ghost stories. For my Chicago friends, you’ve seen Lower Wacker Drive, right? Now imagine paying good money so someone could take you on a tour of it. Sounds stupid, right?

Verdict: Skip it.

Counterpoint from Wifey: I did not know this, but apparently in the 1800’s Seattle suffered a major fire similar to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. But instead of razing everything to the ground and starting over, Seattle paved over the whole thing and built on top of it. Therefore, the Seattle underground is an actual ghost town that exists beneath the contemporary city. Isn’t that interesting? No? I didn’t think so either. Is it true? Don’t care? OK… moving on…


Argosy Cruise


Remember that Ride the Duck thing I mentioned earlier? Well replace the rickety amphibious ride with a sleek boat that you stand a far greater chance of surviving on, replace the land/sea tour with just a water tour, and then lower the price a bit and you have yourself an Argosy Cruise. I enjoy seeing Seattle from this vantage point, and – call me crazy – but the lower price/higher survivability chance is probably worth it. Your mileage may vary.

Also, some boats have a full bar! Once, I went to a wedding event hosted on an Argosy boat that had an open bar! Free drinks, brah! You won’t get that, but I did! And… well… that’s pretty much all I remember about that day. Somebody got married, they later had a kid… totally on some circle-of-life shit. All thanks to Argosy.

Verdict: Do it if you can, if not, no worries.


Pike Place Public Market Tour


This is where you watch fish being thrown! This is where you go to throw the fish! This is where you catch the fish being thrown to you! What is the meaning and history behind all this? Glad you asked!

Here’s my answer, based on critical reasoning and extensive observation:


Verdict: Meh. Your call.


Ferry to Bainbridge Island


Wifey Recommended. Take the Ferry to Bainbridge Island for the day and enjoy a five hour day trip on the island with a nice ferry ride and plenty of wonderful sightlines for photo ops. It is difficult to snark-up this option, so I won’t. If you want the quintessential Seattle experience, this is a can’t-miss option. The fresh, salty sea-air permeates the lungs as the ferry gently rocks back and forth beneath your feet. I love the ferries. In fact, take a damn ferry. Any ferry. The destination doesn’t matter (unless you’re unlucky enough to end up in Tacoma. Avoid Tacoma. Just trust me on this.)

Verdict: Take a damn ferry. Any ferry. Avoid Tacoma.


Olympic Sculpture Park


Wifey Recommended. Look, I’ll be frank; you’re arriving in October. It will probably be raining. Possibly windy too. You see all that wide-open, uncovered space? Don’t go to the sculpture park, OK? Trust me on this. Unless you like wet abstract art and soggy hippies, just don’t.

Verdict: Don’t go here, OK? Go take another ferry ride instead.


Seattle Center: A Multi-Venue Experience


This area bustles with activity from tourists, day-trippers, and locals, and it is almost inevitable that you will find yourself here at some point. Here’s a breakdown of some of the key attractions:

Space Needle – self-explanatory. I’ve been there once when my brother came to town. Haven’t been back since. You’ll go because you can’t help yourself.

Experience Music Project (EMP) – A music museum of some type. I haven’t been yet, though numerous Seattleites tell me that I just have to experience it for myself. Because I just have to, you know? Well no one has dragged me there with a gun to my head or taken my wife and kids hostage yet, so I think I’m still safe to continue skipping it for now. Again, your mileage may vary.


Seattle Monorail – This is the endpoint for one the greatest technological mass-transit marvels… of 1962! It will get you from Seattle Center to Westlake (all .96 miles!) in a matter of seconds for the low price of a fare on an actual modern mass-transit vehicle that has far greater range than this clanking fossil because, Seattle! Don’t pass up the chance to ride this polished-turd of a tourist trap that almost guarantees that it probably won’t blow out its brakes and crash, collide with the one other monorail it should’ve been designed to avoid, or just flat-out catch fire!

Seattle Children’s Museum – I’ve heard great things about this place. It is ideal for young children. I hear there’s a butterfly habitat inside. Wifey took our daughter there when she was younger, and the pretty bugs flying around and landing on her creeped her right the fuck out, which sounds awesome! Sadly, there are no photos of this.


IMAX theatre at Pacific Science Center – Self-explanatory. I’ve been here once to see a mediocre animated film about robots. Can’t recall the name of that film for the life of me. Anyway, I haven’t been back since.

(Note from Wifey: The butterfly habitat is actually at the Pacific Science Center, which is also a Seattle Center attraction. Why haven’t I been here yet? I’m a science nerd, and science is right in the flipping name! I show up for a meh IMAX film, but don’t stick around for the SCIENCE? I am ashamed.)

Key Arena – Former home of the Artists Formerly Known as the Seattle Sonics. Last time I was here, the Sonics squared-off against the Detroit Pistons. I saw Rasheed Wallace’s Baldspot up close for the first time and it changed my life. I haven’t the slightest idea of what they use this place for now. I think Jay-Z performs here when he needs gas money for his fleet of private jets or something. Also, I heard rumors about an all-female roller derby league or women’s professional basketball team renting the place for some reason.

Seattle Center Verdict: Inevitable. You’re going to the Space Needle. Don’t even lie and tell me you’re not. Everyone goes. You come to Seattle and you’re guaranteed of consenting to two things: 1. paying to have disgusting, over-roasted, bitter, burnt coffee crammed down your gullet, pausing only for you to nod and say, “Dat coffee was def!” and 2. throwing away good money to be hoisted up a glorified flagpole so you can “see Mt. Rainier gooder.”


Seattle Asian Art Museum and Volunteer Park


I haven’t been here yet, but it is on my to-do list. If you do find yourself in this area, just north of Volunteer Park is Lake View Cemetery. This is the final resting place of movie star, martial artist, and philosopher, Bruce Lee, and his son Brandon Lee. People ask me for key sights to check out while in Seattle and I direct them to the cemetery. I wonder why more folks don’t ask me for things like this?


The Performing Arts

Seattle’s outstanding theatre scene is wildly underrated and understated, which makes absolutely no sense to me. I suspect that this is because Seattleites are too busy yammering on about how long they’ve been Seahawks fans, why Starbucks founder and former Supersonics owner Howard Schulz is the Antichrist, why their particular favorite brand of craft beer or shitty coffee is superior to all others, and why Macklemore is the modern era’s Martin Luther Effing King Jr.

But I digress; if you can, check out some shows!


Act Theatre – Local talent shine in intimate productions (200-500 seat theatres). My first experience with this wonderful theatre was the play A Christmas Carol. We loved it so much that it became one of our annual holiday traditions. Last year, we branched out and saw numerous non-holiday productions and we haven’t seen a bad play yet.

I’m at about 2,300 words now, and I should probably wrap this up, so I’ll give you the abridged versions of the remaining options.

Seattle Theatre – A listing of live Broadway shows in Seattle.

Seattle Theatre Group – A Non-profit arts organization.


Dining Options


Ivar’s Pier 54 Fish Bar – Good, fresh seafood, great service, kid-friendly, scenic view of the Puget Sound. Feed the seagulls, sometimes even against your will! (They are crafty thieves, worthy of a warrior’s death French fry or two.)

Elephant and Castle – Good food, wonderfully friendly service, kid-friendly, incredibly chill vibe. If Jeff is your bartender, say hi and tell him you know me.


T.S. McHugh's Irish Pub & Restaurant – One block from Seattle Center, a cozy Irish pub, great food and atmosphere.

I’ll go ahead and stop there. What about you, Seattleites? Do you have any can’t-miss sites for my visiting Chicagoans to check out? Any tourists-traps that you recommend they avoid? Any bitches, gripes or complaints about my guide to Seattle and/or my glaring lack of Seattle knowledge? Feel free to add them in the comments.