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Tuesday, 20 December
The Island Of Costly Toys

I tried, I really did. I tried to do all my Jesus Day shopping online this year again, thinking, This year will be the year that I do not actually have to enter a real store. Once again, I failed. There are simply things that are good for online shopping ("What a handsome Prada purse!") and things that are just . . . not. ("What a handsome prostitute! . . . Ewww.") And then there are friends who are easy to shop for, like most actors I know ("When all else fails, buy booze"); and then there are those who are not, like most parents I know ("I don't fucking care. Let's get them a sex pinata filled with erotic tacos. I can't even think of this any more").

What all this means is that, yet again, I found myself trudging downtown today after work to enter the perfect Gehenna that is downtown Seattle shopping.

One thing you should know about downtown Seattle is that, while it has a lovely skyline, the place itself is devoid of anything resembling soul or character or fun. All these things, along with troublesome homeless people, have either been chased out to other neighborhoods--like mine--or have been simply dumped into some large municipal burr grinder, so that all that remain are edificial horrors like the Cheesecake Factory, Banana Republic and horrid corporatized bars with names like Hello, Cactus Fuck or Bonny Al O'Pecia's Genuine Irish Publick House, where the prices will make your hair fall out! Guinness served ice cold!

Downtown Seattle is to enjoyable municipal space as Patch Adams is to heartwarming comedy.

It was with this sort of attitude that I entered the completely intolerable Pacific Place mall, an airbrushed gleam of a thing that features little annoying shops with little annoying names like TWIST! and, horribly, UNIK! right alongside such big names as Pottery Barn (who keeps their pottery in the barn? I guess it beats calling it "Shit in a Shed") and Restoration Hardware (which I always see at first as "Resurrection Hardware," for some reason--"Get your Lazarus shovels here! He's not going to dig himself up, you know!"). My first stop was the odious Barnes & Noble.

B&N always fills me with conflicting emotions, mainly because of my undying fondness for mom-and-pop bookstores, whose inventories always reflect the owners' personalities, and for the clean, simple pleasure of jawing about good books. (Once I had a book shoved into my hands by a local bookseller who said, "You'll love this. Just bring it back when you're done.") On the other hand, it sure is convenient to have every book ever published right there ready to buy if you want it. You can even read it if you want! Right here in our cafe! Want some melon? No thanks, I'm reading Henry James.

I found what I needed and bullied my way to the cashier line, and plopped my crap down, ready to buy. The cashier gave me my total and said, "Do you have a membership card?" I told him no, don't worry about it. He pursed his lips, as if I had really let him down.

I don't even know when this membership card thing all started. I have one now for my fucking supermarket, since I don't want to get boned on all those great deals on olives--though they bone me nicely anyway by overpricing every other item I could possibly need--but that's about it. Are there really people who have membership cards tucked away in their exploding wallets for every fucking conceivable shopping experience? "Oh, honey, look--two dollars off margaritas at Hello, Cactus Fuck! Should we?" "Well, I'm driving, but . . . I can't pass that up! What do you say, kids?" "Daddy, but what if you drive drunk and kill us?" "Oh, children! Don't worry! You're insured! Daddy has a double-points card with Geico!"

I'm a pretty efficient shopper, particularly when I have incentive to get the fuck out of anywhere that has more than ten people in it. I soon left Pacific Place and caught a cab back home. I glared at my GIANT BIG FANCY SACKS full of shit and stewed in the cab. Despite the fact that nothing I had purchased was really all that huge, the store staffspeople had nonetheless dropped everything into these ridiculously enormous bags, as if to say, "Hey, this guy bought some seriously gigantic shit! Shouldn't YOU stop by and torch your credit card for a Mary Magdalene RealDoll? You can get it, right here at Resurrection Hardware!"

Fully functional. Dishwasher safe--she is super bendy. No, sir, the historical record is kind of unclear as to the actual color of her pubic hair. I recommend auburn. Anyway. Do you have your membership card?

Thursday, 03 November
I Can't Wait To Have My Meat Packed!

Hey, November! So here you are! Gosh, it's . . . fucking lousy to see you again!


As if on cue, the weather has turned absolutely fucking miserable these last couple days. I stare up at the grim sky and wince at what appears to be the dire folds of God's great grey striated anus stretched out across the horizon for my nonpleasure, waiting to unload His woe on us. Fuck this, man.

(Look, not to pick on God's butthole or anything. I'm sure it's like the best butthole ever. But I'm sorry, He's getting up there. It's got to be kind of grey. I'm sure He's fastidious and all about this. But grey. Gotta be.)

I know . . . I don't have to live here. It's all just crummy. I just managed to forget that this place is shitty for heating. It's electric baseboard (as opposed to our last place, which was forced hot water)--I considered for a little while about getting an auxiliary heat source. An electric one. Because I'm a fucking genius. Then it was gently pointed out to me that whatever electric source of heat I brought i would probably be financially equivalent to our baseboard heat. Then I killed some adorable babies, because, hey man, fuck this! I'm cold! And, it seems, pretty stupid.

But in only a week and a half or so, I will be relieved of this shit! The wife and I are going on vacation. To the tropical town of Chicago! Hurrah! Fuck this abysmal cold and rain. Think about it: if you're kind of sleepy, "Chicago" sounds like "Kokomo"! (Enjoy that earworm, everyone.) Which means--duh--that it is somewhere we can relax on the beach while Bryan Brown prepares elaborate cocktails for us! Hey, look! Tom Cruise is putting it up Elizabeth Shue's ass! Flip her over, Tom! It's the "Cocktail" thing to do!

We're really looking forward to this. Especially the famed "Lake Effect," where the warming air of Lake Whatchama blows all over Chicago and we all walk on the beaches getting free corn dogs and shit from The Fridge. At least that's what the guidebooks say. We have coupons. "Present this to The Fridge for a free corn dog and shit." (Look, it beats the hell out of Jim McHahon's sauerkraut.)

Here's to dreaming about tropical Chicago! The city of White Shoulders! Who knew that city was so into fragrance? I can't wait.

Thursday, 06 March
Streets of Fire (Sale)

I've been living in Seattle for over ten years now, in fact in the same neighborhood the entire time: Capitol Hill. It's well known around Seattle that Capitol Hill is the artsy, boho-ish, gay-friendly area, so it's naturally full of local color and about nine hundred thousand hoboes, each of which hits me up for change on my way home every day. Broadway is kind of the acknowledged main drag (ahem), and if I have only one problem with it, it's this: it's going straight to fucking hell right before my eyes.

Take the Broadway Market. The Broadway Market is a mall that's not really a mall, more kind of just a dinky mall-let with more character and a nice public space in the middle where people of all ages and all manner of metal shit lodged in their bodies come to hang out, drink coffee, and make fun of the unhip straights like me. It's cool. Upstairs years ago there used to be a funky bar/restaurant called Hamburger Mary's which has since moved to a different location, where it died a horrible death, and was replaced by another bar, which is undergoing a horrible death, pretty clearly, because nobody ever goes there for mysterious reasons perhaps having to do with a gypsy curse or something. Anyway, when I worked at my horrendous retail job in the Broadway Market, we would of course go upstairs to get drinks there, but then when Hamburger Mary's left, it was replaced by an intolerable Mexican joint whose margaritas tasted like transmission fluid, so nobody went there any more, and now it's a fucking health club. Part of me dies when a health club replaces a former bar spot, but maybe that's just my liver sparking out a twinge of hope.

Downstairs in the Broadway Market, they just lost a big anchor store when the Gap moved out. This leaves me really fucked, as I now have no convenient place to purchase my bland, monochromatic clothing. I need solid colors! I can't dress myself otherwise! But the real question here is: how does one of the ostensibly hippest shopping centers in town, located in the midst of a huge gay population, with tons of foot traffic lose the Gap? It's insane; it would be like a head shop going out of business in downtown Eugene. It doesn't make any fucking sense. The Market is looking pretty gutted, and there's more on their way out; a funky African store is taking off, and the snooty sandwich shop inside folded too. Now it's not that I feel warm fuzzies for any of these particular places of business, but I liked them a whole lot better than, oh, nothing, which is what's shaping up to replace them. About the only thing in there clearly still doing a jumping bit of business is the liquor store, and why not? Everyone on Broadway is drinking themselves stupid while they watch their neighborhood dissolve into something out of Escape from New York. Only instead of Kurt Russell, it'll be Jane Russell, except this Jane Russell is a man in drag, and instead of subhuman CHUDS, there'll be loser punker kids spare-changing in front of empty store fronts. Othewise exactly the same.

Down the road a bit, there's another bar that croaked itself after being in business for around ten minutes--Jack's Roadhouse--and since it failed as a bar, the new tenants are cleverly resurrecting it as another bar, this time an Irish Public House sort of deal. We'll see. Across the street, the great old indie record store that closed down a while back and then turned into sleeker record store that almost immediately gorked out is trying to become a funky shoe store. They're doomed. And down from them is the space where--RIP--Fallout Records used to be, home for about a million years to punk records, punk regalia, punk comics, and, occasionally and improbably, since the place was about as big and comely as a grimy phone booth, punk bands. It cheered my heart walking home some days to stroll by and be suddenly leveled by the sheer noise emanating from their store, while the neighboring shopowners glared and calculated arson prison sentence negotiations in their heads. It always sounded like some pub band had fallen en masse into a huge wood chipper.

It's all just depressing, and I hope the place recovers before it gets worse. I might do my part and go out and get a drink at one of my default bars on Broadway. There's a nice little Asian joint right around the corner. You know the place. It's next to Jimmy Woo's Jade Pagoda, one of the most legendary places of magic in town, a wellspring of timeless booze mojo. Cheapest drinks around; clientele looking like they were born in there, years ago, sprouting up from the carpet mold; a jukebox that really has "It's Raining Men" on it; and of course the alleged food that they never serve to anyone because every person I know is terrified to try it, even in the most gravely drunken desperate state. That's the place.

It's closing soon.

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