Sunday, May 1, 2016

Your Sunday Squirrel

OK, so there was another mini-hiatus.  But it was worth the wait.  I stumbled onto a squirrel and some favorable lighting, and this is the result.  Once again, a very skittish customer takes a really nice photo.  This is definitely a calendar candidate.

Belltown Casualties!

Like I've always said, this is not the place for breaking news.  And also, I'm not very observant.  But some things are impossible to overlook.  In the past few weeks, two fairly prominent places have closed: Branzino at 2nd & Wall and Spitfire Grill at 4th & Bell.  You'll recall that the Spitfire was in the old Sit and Spin location.  Ah yes, that was quite a venue, but it, too, went out of business - and rather quickly, too.  I think that the Spitfire lasted much longer, but does it really matter?  I never went there.  I really genuinely prefer Buckley's.  It's a sports bar where people who aren't the least bit interested in watching sports can go, except at certain days and times during football season, which is completely understandable.  So Branzino always had a good-looking menu, but I never went there either.  They were a bit out of my price range, meaning that if I had to save up to go to a place, it would generally turn out to be Shiro's.  So that's that.  The rising tide does not float all boats.  Sorry guys, I guess that's showbiz.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Your Sunday Squirrel

OK, so this guy isn't totally perfectly in focus.  I made it to Denny Park only a few times this week and there weren't any squirrels around.  I don't know if it's because the bums are starting to pitch tents or what.  But bottom line, no squirrels.  This fellow is from a few weeks ago.  He was quite photogenic.  Last week's SS was him, too.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Your Sunday Squirrel

Since Mama's closed, I've had more time to go to Denny Park.  This is a squirrel I met today.

I Have Seen the Future...

...and it is not pleasing.  OK, so the same guy who owns Local 360, Bell+Whete and the Crocodile is taking over Mama's.  Personally, I really like Local 360; I'm just not rich enough to eat there regularly.  Plus, I find the place a bit uncomfortable, with the boxy decor and all.  So Bell and Whete has been open for a while now and I thought I'd give it a try for happy hour.

I have to tell you, first off, it's expensive.  I mean, a pint of Hilliard's, a local product, is ten bucks.  For happy hour, they give you a dollar off.  So nine bucks.  That's a lot.  Anyhow, everything else is similarly expensive.  We had four beers between us and it ended up being $41 - and yes, that's with the happy hour discount.  Without it, the total would have been $45.  This was for four ordinary, garden-variety beers.

Perhaps what was most alarming is that we were charged a mandatory 20% gratuity.  I was pretty super displeased about that.  I've heard about places that have a "no tipping" policy, but this seemed the opposite of that.  Yes, the service was fine, but I want it to be my choice how much I tip.  The restaurant shouldn't require me to pony up a certain amount.  I asked the server about the charge and she told me that this is the way that the place complies with the $15/hr. city wage.  The more I think about that, the more ridiculous it seems.  First off, it's expensive.  I know that they're in a new space, paying market-rate rent, but shouldn't the rather high drinks prices go toward the city wage?  Wages are supposed to be built into the food and drinks prices.  You don't treat them as a surcharge.  That just seems like gouging.

I'm not going back to Bell and Whete.  If I want Hilliard's, I'll take a bus to Hilliard's in Ballard.  If I want a great Belgian pub, I'll go to Brouwer's in Fremont.  To me, this is just another place that's too expensive for people who live in the neighborhood to patronize.  And the real sad thing is that this is what Mama's is going to be like when it reopens.  I'm positive that it will be chock full of locally-sourced artisanal fusion.  It will be precious, disappointing and expensive.  And I won't be able to afford it.  But you can be sure that however much your tab is, you'll be paying 20% more because having high prices just isn't enough.

NOTE: I'm very much in favor of the city's $15/hr. wage.  But this is the worst possible way to achieve it.

So Long, Mama's

Well, as we all know, Mama's is gone...but also not quite gone.  The kitschy dive with the fantastic bean burritos (and superior salsa) is no more.  Thursday was the last day.  I was there.  In fact, I went there nearly every day for their final two weeks.  It's funny, whenever I'm traveling in some other country, the only thing I crave is Mama's.  That's the truth.  I had to get my fill before they went away.  I loved that place.  I liked the people who worked there.  And now it's gone.

Sure, it's not authentic.  It never pretended to be.  They served the kind of hearty "Northern Mexican" fare that I grew up on out in the burbs.  It was almost like home cooking.  It was always kind of heartwarming to see tourists experience sensory overload when visiting the place for the first time.  My first visit was in 1978.  It was very much like it is now.  Or was.  Sorry.  Back then, Belltown was a pretty sketchy place.  The restaurant and the neighborhood scared me.  The restaurant became an institution and the neighborhood became the drinking playground for people from elsewhere.  I'm really glad that Mama's didn't change, because it reminded me of the Belltown that I moved into.

I'm not sure how to further eulogize a place that anchored the neighborhood.  Only today when I started to feel hungry, I automatically thought about getting a burrito down at Mama's.  Yeah, that's not an option anymore.  Well, I'll just say goodbye to Mama's and thanks.

I was lurking in the bar all night.

Elvis decor...

I drank a lot.  They ran out of Rainier, so I had to finish off with Corona...

I love this old photo of the creepy kid and the dog.  Who are they?  How did it get here?
It's a mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a flour tortilla.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Your Sunday Squirrel

Although I've been a bit preoccupied lately, I've managed to make a trip or two to Denny Park.  Here are some of the results:
I already posted a few of these on Facebook and Instagram, but several are new.  Special thanks to the squirrels of Denny Park.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

This Is OK Graffiti

The building across the street is a graffiti magnet.  They painted over a bunch of unsightly tags a week or so ago.  But this has appeared in the last few days.  It's a variant on what's on the back of the building and I don't mind it.  Sure, it's a bit rough, but I see what they're going for.  Tagging is stupid.  It's done by morons.  This is something better.  It's not great, but it's infinitely preferable to tagging.  

Say Goodbye

The Jewish Federation building will soon be no more.  They're tearing it down to build some 38-story thing.  You will remember that around ten years ago, some mentally ill asshole from Eastern Washington decided to shoot the place up and take hostages because he was mad at Israel.  A standoff ensued and at the end of it, one poor volunteer was dead and six were wounded.  After the incident, they really beefed up security and who could blame them?  Oh, it was a pretty unfortunate event.  But soon, the building will be gone along with any indication that anything happened there.

New Place!

OK, so it's been awhile since the last post.  Apologies.  I was finalizing the album and conducting a legitimate job search.  I mean, is there any more of a redundant term than "unemployed musician?"  Well??  Anyhow, there's a new pho spot in Belltown, located at 4th & Vine, where the pasty place used to be.  A shame about that; I was gearing up to go there, but alas, it is no more.  It was just another in a growing number of places in that location that have not succeeded.  I wish these guys luck.  Me, though I really do like Local Pho at 3rd & Bell, I'll give these guys a try.  And yes, I'm aware that they spelled "Mekong" wrong.