PAGE IV: THE DAY OF TOURIST TRAPS
There was one thing (other than visiting Nintendo HQ) that I was determined to do while in Seattle: the Space Needle. It just looks so retro and gay; I simply had to get a picture of myself on it from its peak.
So, I took Ilene, or Irene, or whatever with me to the restaurant atop the Space Needle for brunch that Saturday morning, in order to eat a(n) (expensive as all fuck) meal at the top of the town, in a revolving merry-go-round experience of a lifetime. It only took us about 15 minutes to walk to the 60s superstructure from the hotel, but as we found ourselves looking up at its 250 story tall peak (I'm guesstimating), Lyllandra started talking all nervous-like. It was cute, so I just ignored her potential, irrational anxieties.
We, along with the operator, were the only ones in the elevator as it sped us up to the tippy top of the Needle. The operator made trivial small talk about the structure as we shot spaceward, and she stood with her back right up against the great glass door to oblivion the whole way. I was a little nervous, being slightly to medium acrophobic myself; Irina pretty much shit her panties and huddled up in a little ball as far away from the glass as possible. The nonplussed operator thought this was humorous, whereas I did not. If Simone tried to bail on me I'd have a lonely brunch by myself, since there was no way I was going to miss a meal of this magnitude.
My date started clutching her ears and chanting "La la la, la la laaaaa," by the time we reached the summit, and with a little effort I was able to pull her into the safety of the large and spacious (and very round) restaurant — which was almost like a normal building from the inside, only with a slowly revolving outer rim. Jasmine calmed down a bit, and I was able to walk her, following our hostess, to our table... which was up against the all-encircling, giant window. She started to whimper again, but I tried to cheer her up by pointing out, "Hey! Would you look at that! Our waiter is Shia LeBeouf! Holy fuck, I guess that upcoming Transformers movie really is going to fucking blow." And sure enough, Shia himself came up to our table and began reading off the brunch menu.
It was at that time that Simone (who had been staring up at the ceiling, or down at the table, and never out the enormous window a foot away) cracked. I think she snuck a peek at the waterfront (three blocks over, and 2,000 feet down), and that's what pushed her over the proverbial edge. In between screams she did yell out that she'd meet me at the Pantheon, or Olympic Park or something, after my meal in the heavens. But I was there, hanging with Shia, and I was going to live it up! Sorry, Lorri.
I must say, it was worth it. Even at $45 it was worth it. One of the top 5 steaks of my life. And Shia kept bringing me bread and drinks like a madman. It's amazing how well the waiting staff will treat you when you sit by yourself and write notes in a little notepad the whole way through your meal. Yes, I was only writing stuff like "10:15 — Lucy ran out of here like a little baby. 10:20 — Asked Shia to pose in picture with me... He claimed it was against restaurant policy; I claimed my boot up his ass was against the natural order of things, but some things were unavoidable if other things occurred first. 10:25 — Security came to frisk me and check my backpack for weapons. 10:27 — Security refused to pose for picture of them frisking me for weapons and liking it...." Etcetera, etcetera.
What really made me wonder about my surroundings though was this: as expensive as the restaurant at the top of the Space Needle was (and it was), it had a very low-class clientele. Yes, that statement includes me, but at least I wore a collar and looked fairly cool what with my ability to wear stylish shoes, and not flip-flops or sandals like a hippie-freak. Half the crowd there simply wore T-shirts and cut-offs and sandals. Well, the extended Japanese family that sat directly behind me for most of my meal (all 12 of them, 6 being little
Anyway, after dining and dashing I ran up to the observation deck, made a few phone calls (best reception in the whole damn city... which isn't really saying much), and then ran down to the restaurant for one final attempt to talk Shia into a humiliating picture with me (which in all honesty would have left a lot less egg on his face than listing Michael Bay's Transformers on his resume), failed at that, and then took the great glass elevator back down to sweet, sweet terra firma again.
I had originally meant to chase after Jennifer, and try to find that park she was yelling about, but as I exited the Space Needle I noticed a really strange (and totally fucked up) structure laying in its shadow (you can see the picture of the building on page 3). I checked it out and found it to be the Museum of Music and Science Fiction. It was the strangest fucking amalgam of shit I had ever witnessed, both aesthetically and thematically. The outside was a complete mess, but the inside was even more fucked up.
First of all, I wasn't allowed to bring a camera into the place, even after spending $15 on a ticket. Then, as I entered the Sci-Fi half of the building I found myself climbing up a large flight of stairs that only led to a two-storied room with about a dozen lame costumes (mostly from the original Star Trek) being the sole draw. Oh, and there was a suspended model of the Next Generation Enterprise hanging from the ceiling if I recall (damn their "no cameras" policy! That could have been a great forced-perspective "beam-up" shot!). I was pissed. That was fucking it? Yeah, they had little TVs next to some of the costumes — showing 5 seconds of a certain episode in which some green chick wore the bikini outfit that was standing in front of you, over and over on a repeating loop (cut off just before Denny Crane ripped the costume off and made sweet love to the woman wearing it) — but that was hardly a draw. Now if they had a new porno showing what happened when that outfit lay on the foot of Kirk's bed, THEN that might be something... but that was it. What a goddamn crock!
I had walked down the flight of stairs leading to the main lobby again, ticked, and ready to demand my entrance fee back, when I noticed a giant set of steel doors closed and to the left of the foot of the stairs. I could see some movement in the small glass windows set in each door, and decided "fuck it... If I'm not supposed to be back there they can just throw me out anyway." And as I pushed them open, like Clint Eastwood entering a rough and dirty old West saloon, I knew why I was drawn to this place: glass cases everywhere, featuring props from Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Terminator, models from Five Star Stories and Giant Robo, and laser guns from Star Wars and those Flash Gordon matinees from the 30s! Plus, there was a running narrative throughout the 3-4 gargantuan subbasements about the history of science fiction, from the earliest tales of space travelers to today. It was a geek's wet dream come true (next to that one dream of me eating gallons of tapioca with Godzilla and Gamera in a hot tub with a grown-up Ginny Weasley on my lap)!
I spent about 2 hours walking around that museum, just reading all the fun movie facts, essays on the validity of hard core sci-fi stories, and playing around with that awesomely CG animated movie screen featuring various sci-fi space ships ranging from the Millennium Falcon, the Planet Express Cruiser, the Alien mining ship to the Bebop from Cowboy Bebop fame. Oh, and Moya. And that 2001 ship. Good geeky stuff indeed!
Then I decided that I should probably check out the Music Museum too. If it was only half as entertaining as the Sci-Fi Museum I was in for a treat! Needless to say, no treat, just a trick. The Music Museum was a complete waste of time. Yeah, it had that Hendrix tribute, but it was right next to the Disney display, and all of the Di$ney music was overpowering all of the guitar wails from Hendrix. There was also a room to play musical instruments in a Guitar Hero sort of way, but it was packed with rugrats. And once again, no cameras were allowed (to take pictures of guitars and records on the walls...). Even the gift shop sucked lizard balls.
LOOKING FOR A REASON
It was around 2 by the time I got out of the dual museums, and I thought it was time to accomplish the rest of my goals for this trip: hit all the touristy spots imaginable, and maybe find a few more corporate global HQs along the way. I started marching for the sound (Puget Sound). Soon I came upon a small, grassy area, that had tons of really terrible (just hideous!) impressionistic sculptures by hacks without any talent what-so-ever. I was going to get my picture taken in front of some of them, but they were all so awful that any jokes I had about them would be overshadowed by their utter shittiness. They wouldn't have been funny, just sad, and this is a happy place.
After walking around and laughing out loud while pointing at each headache-inducing sculpture for about 20 minutes, I saw that this area (with all the "art," and the zig-zaggy path down to the water) was indeed called Olympic Sculpture Park. With this revelation, I wiped my eyes free of the "laughter tears" caused by intense giggles caused by hyperly-shitty, giant statues, and began looking around for Bethany. Then I started shouting her name... No reply. After doing this once more I decided that I had to move on with my life, and find the very first Starbucks. I walked about a mile down along the piers and came across Pike Place Market. I had heard that it was around there somewhere, and so began my new search of a lifetime.
This day was turning into one filled with more mirth and laughter than an Animal House/Ghostbusters double feature (meaning a lot of laughter, and possibly some pants wetting), though instead of laughing WITH the movie, I was laughing AT the wannabe artists and shopkeeps selling used wigs and two-day-old corndogs. Though the real reason anybody goes to Pike's Market is to see the fish monger shops on the top deck (the whole market is multi-storied as it flows with a large hill right down to the shore), who's employees throw their orders around, over counters and above the audience's heads. At one point, I had my camera out, ready to snap a picture of one goofy-looking fish hurler just as he was about to let go his load, when he saw me, and my (obviously) wicked smile behind the lens. That's when it happened; I don't know if if was an accident or done on purpose, but that giant mackerel (well, FISH at least) flew from his hands and smashed with a wet *slap* into the face of the elderly gent right next to me. He was aiming for me though. I just knew it. I think it was the shower of fish (that followed me as I retreated as far away from the market as I could) that tipped me off.
After a few minutes of no fish hitting me, I stopped running. When I looked around I felt a pang of panic — I had no fucking clue where I was... But the good news was there was a Cold Stone Creamery across the street, and I still had a punchcard on me that was ready for a free "Love It" cone or shake of my choice. I got a creamy, cookie-dough, sweet cream shake because it is the greatest thing that has ever been done with ice-cream since the 1700s and you could legally eat it off the supple breasts of virgins in kings' and queens' courts! But I digress. I had a mission, and it was not yet complete. After slurping down my confectionary drink, I slowly made my way back to Pike's Market and began searching around for the first ever Starbucks. I couldn't find it anywhere. I asked a total of 4 individuals, 3 shopkeeps, and one police officer where the heck it might be. Only the cop (who seemed to know her way around a coffee and donut shop herself) was of any help:
So I did (hit the strip joint), and then I did (hit the Starbucks), and holy fuck, that cop wasn't kidding (about the cost). See, I'm not a coffee drinker (and I even think that coffee-flavored ice-cream is a complete waste of ice-cream), and whenever I even smell those percolating beans in the break room in the morning it starts to induce my gag reflex... My point being that I had no idea how much a cup o' joe from the 'Bucks would cost; even a cup without any overpowering "joe" ingredient in it... just a poofter joe, truth be told. I can't think of a joke that hasn't been done before about their prices (and done better by the likes of Lewis Black), so I'll just let it go with my wallet was bleeding afterwards from the ass-raping they performed on it (with a thick, rubber dick).
After that, I climbed back down the hill and found myself face to face with the Seattle Aquarium. It was just a little before 5, and they were letting in the last entrants of the day. Even though they didn't close until 6 I thought that I'd have to rush through the whole place like shit through a goose (imagining that since the land-locked Atlanta Aquarium was enormous, and worth at least an entire afternoon to wander through, the Seattle would be worth a full day to explore, due to its being right on the fucking water; meaning easy access to drop off tons of orcas, sharks and piranha, and keep giant tanks fresh and filled with oceanic critters)... Turns out an hour was about 50 minutes too long, and the admission of $15 was about $14.98 too expensive for what they had in store for silly patrons such as myself.
There was more aquatic life to gape in awe at in the fish bowls of your local mall pet shop. The tanks in the Seattle Aquarium were very small, but that's alright, seeing as the fish and sea creatures inside them were very tiny as well: Small fish, no giant whales, no sharks of any scary size (I think they had one nurse shark..... yeah)... but they had otters!..... No, that's not really a selling point. I've seen things that look like otters flattened on the side of the road next to the lake by my house all the goddamn time. Fuck otters! Fuck starfish! And fuck that donation jar at the entrance! I just paid $15, and felt gypped over it! Why would anybody donate anything beyond that? And who the fuck would buy a season's pass to that place? Honestly!
About the time that I was really getting into grabbing the starfish from the petting pool, and hurling them either into the water outside the giant, open doors to the sound, or into the faces of the security guards (of which not one stuck... goddamn lying Disney cartoons!), it happened. My stomach gave up on me and started kicking my own ass before the security officers could do it themselves. I was the victim of a four alarm emergency, and no safe place to drop the kids off at the pool (or release the biohazard into the environment, whichever analogy for getting the runs you wish to go with). It had to have been Starbucks... Had to. Oh my GOD.
I know you don't want to hear about this anymore, but the only way I got out of a severe beating by the Aquarium guards was by dropping to my knees, grabbing my stomach and yelling "Parlay! Parlaaaay!" Then, when they cautiously approached me, I claimed, "Me... Stomach... Bad things... Emergen- Oh!... Explosion... Imminent!..." They all backed away, but they refused to allow me to use their own facilities to cure myself (wisely on their part). So there I slumped, defeated and in monster pain, suffering Frasier Crane's Revenge (think "Montezuma's," but with a Seattle twist). I took my leave, and unfortunately was denied access to whatever restaurant or public facility that I tried to enter in order to, well, you know. I was pretty much forced to march 2 goddamn miles back to my hotel before shaking the very pipes and foundation that the place was built upon (think Dumb and Dumber). My adventure as I knew it was over.
IT'S OVER: NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART
I spent the rest of the night like Elvis spent the last hours of his life: alternatively sitting on and hugging the porcelain god (in between flushes of course!). By about 10 that night my fever and sore throat appeared, and my sinuses clogged up shortly after that. It was the total sickness package. Only by reading Drew Curtis' It's Not News, It's Fark book did I keep my sanity... Though nothing is really worse than laughing while thinking about some Farker's comments in the last chapter you read while vomiting into the bowl and spraying it all around like a Wigglin' Willy sprinkler toy. Thank Christ it was my last night in that room (and I think I was banned from that hotel chain all together).
The next morning I still couldn't eat anything, and I groggily forced myself to get to the airport super fucking early so that my almost botched Atlanta take off would not be repeated. Well, even with stopping to fill up my rental car, and dropping it off at Avis, I still found myself with 2 and a half hours to kill at the departure gate (and that also includes getting frisked and heavily searched at the security checkpoint because in my sick daze I forgot to remove my keys, change, watch, belt, and an ice-pick that I still have no idea how it got in my front pocket). You just can't goddamn fucking win.
I got an assload of reading done, and then boarded, and then left Seattle for the East coast. After all is said and done, the only question still on my mind after all my time in the City of Grunge was: Why the fuck would anybody build a city under the shadow of a live volcano (Mount Rainier — a "stratovolcano" at that... meaning when it erupts it pretty much EXPLODES)?
Anyway, I landed, got my car back no problem, and then drove all the way fuck back home. I had to work the next day, but the consolation I had for that fact was the hope that I was at least a little bit contagious still (I heard that big, burly Chuck was simultaneously vomiting and mega-deucing all night after I licked his coffee mug my first morning back). Good times for all.