Update 06.15.07: Article published on Kuro5hin.
See Dog Run: Behavioral observations on the introduction of autonomous motility to a digitally-entrenched corporate whore. An essay.
Cross-Borders Jam #2
OK, here we go: Freeway Park, Seattle, circa summer 2006. Jump up on a dirty gray pillar, sandpaper concrete scuffing still-tender hands. (I’ve only done this a few times now.) Crouch down into a fists-at-feet gorilla-style perch and watch for stragglers crossing toward the fountain. Emerging from the city jungle, the ones who know me call me by name: Hey Raindog! It’s July’s final Sunday but still plenty of summer left — always something to cherish in a town so drenched we don’t even bother with carrying umbrellas anymore. Behind me, amid the concrete maze all draped in lush green tentacles, is the usual cross-section of local color: Convention Center sales suits tote briefcases in purposeful stride, sun reflecting off of shiny black shoes, while Mad Dog-soaked knapsackers shrouded in 7-month-beards look on from the benches, sitting this one out. Freeway Park: a community of circumstance dead-center in a city founded on making the best of poor planning. A place to work, live and play, held inexplicably together inside a bigass floating geometry lesson with a highway spilling out underneath. This is where the fun begins.
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A cold, crisp, sunny afternoon in Seattle last week offered a reprieve from the bitter “Day After Tomorrow” winter-of-impending-doom we’ve been enjoying, and happily coincided with one of my handful of days at home this month. So I dusted off the old digital camera and took the Seattle Art Museum up on their offer to preview the spanking new Olympic Sculpture Park before it goes public. I was reminded once again that despite our many faults (of both the human and geological variety) this city is nevertheless damn cool!
The park has totally transformed the former no-man’s-land between Western Ave and the Elliott Bay waterfront into a gorgeous, wide open public park space. It even has a train running under the brilliant psychedelic pedestrian overpass. For me, the park evokes feelings of stark European minimalism mixed with old-fashioned larger-than-life American badassness. Except the good kinds of those things. I think. What am I, an art critic? Go look at the pictures and see for yourself.
This poem is written on the sad occasion of my decision to make peace with the tragic loss of the Seattle Monorail project, for which I had such high hopes. The dream of elegant and efficient public mass transit in Seattle, a long complicated saga that I chronicled for some time on spaceneedle.us (now repurposed), was brutally slaughtered on 9 November 2005 by a hastily written ballot measure that ended 4 years of public support for the project. Anyone who gives a shit knows the story so I’ll spare you and myself the pain of recounting it. But here, with a heavy heart (and a nod to the Vogons), I post this final vestige of the monorail dream that once was.
O Seattle we once had a dream
That over this great city soared a train
Bestriding but a single perfect beam
And glistening like platinum in the rain.
The masses climbed aboard this train you built —
Connecting Ballard with Seattle (West) —
They teemed, unstradled with the pain of guilt
for blue skies lost, onto the field of Qwest.
Enjoying there their unencumbered mirth
As Seahawks made the competition quiver,
Though 99 might crumble to the earth,
Still safely back the train would them deliver.
It was a dream so powerful and right
That out of our collective hearts did grow;
We verily did ballot measures write
And voters did their mighty Yes bestow.
But misery! Your hand evokes our screams
As though it were a rigid piercing nail
That punctures tires inflated by our dreams
To ride upon the solitary rail.
For though our wills were pure as winter’s frost,
A fifth vote shattered hope forever more,
And brought the scourge of gridlock and exhaust –
An environmental nightmare to abhor.
Betrayed by lies and hoodwinked by our mayor
Down to bitter exit went our work,
While Martin Selig cheered with his nay-sayers
Because he is a sphincter and a jerk.
So thus with tears the dream to bed we lay;
Remorsefully we fold the Green Line map,
Perhaps to gaze upon some other day
When our leaders aren’t completely full of crap.
And now with heavy heart on this occasion,
I gaze upon my car under the tree,
And fasten license tabs falsely emblazoned
With images of what will never be.