First Day on a Brand New Planet: Seattle Thurs AM


Just while I’m making obscure references, all of you, everyone, seriously, you need to check out Urusei Yatsura. They’re one of those bands who should have been huge and never were — Scottish origins, pop sugar rush with a noisy lime slice to give it that gin n’ tonic tang. Try Hello Tiger as square one, then anything from the Yon Kyoku Iri EP.

Anyways, there are only two locations that I felt made sense if I was to do this tour of Seattle; one was to stay at the Four Seasons where Kurt n’ Courtney spent a chunk of 1992 in blissed out semi-consciousness but it’s ludicrously expensive…The other was at The Paramount Hotel from which I can see The Paramount Theatre.


I’m in luck too, The Weeknd is playing next week, think I better take a shot at catching that one. Yes, I admit it, I like The Weeknd — musically the best thing I heard last year, but best not to catch the lyrics usually given the appallingly retarded gender politics, I still find it scary that the idea of treating people as real human beings and with the same respect one would deserve for oneself seems to have no place in an awful lot of culture. Anyways, the Paramount, beautiful old building, reliefs in stone on the outer walls, gorgeous embellishments. On Saturday AM they do the first Saturday of the month tour of the interior and I’m going to get there for that. Heck, I’m 30 metres down the road, I’d feel like such a lazy bum if I failed.


Of course it’s been raining, the nice thing about Seattle is it really is similar to London in terms of its climate — I don’t have to change wardrobes for once. Normally when I’ve arrived in the U.S. I’ve always discovered I’m overdressed and that a predilection for wearing black is a recipe for excessive heat and clinging clothing — I was reminded of this experience during a brief halt at Charlotte on the way where I also failed to remember to switch the Clinique face scrub I’d purchased at Heathrow airport to my hold luggage before re-checking it…Darn…£30 of toiletries handed in to U.S. customs security staff…Yes, it’s OK, I feel dumb. I also forgot what my case looked like so watched it go round twice (OK, OK, I admit it, probably three or four times) before twigging it might be mine.

Popped into a corner shop here partly to buy an umbrella — yes, I forgot to bring one, shows you how well-prepared I was for this trip, my favourite jeans hadn’t finished drying so I took them wet so I’ve had to submit them to housekeeping for laundry service because they smell like pond slime after hours moldering in my case — but also because they still had their Sub Pop 25th Anniversary Silver Jubilee festival poster up…So they were kind enough to let me take it. More specifically I’d like to thank Clayton! A gentleman actually from England originally, his parents opened a record shop over here in Seattle with a recording studio (46 track) below it.

Sub Pop

A brief conversation, Clayton recalls that his parent’s record store was opposite The Underground, one of the Seattle venues Nirvana played in their early days and venue for the Sub Pop 200 record release party in 1988. Hanging out there sometime over winter 1993-1994 one of the guys running the venue asked him to give someone a lift to a club called Rock Candy; “a heavy kinda place where people went to get ‘things’…” The someone was Kurt Cobain and Clayton remembers a strange journey “he sat in the car with me and said barely anything the whole ride, one or two words tops. In the club I’d seen him just standing off to the side watching everything, not talking to anyone, not doing anything.” These are my words recalled from our brief conversation so I’ll probably ask Clayton to correct me and I’ll update.
Next on the Nick agenda having acquired by flyer and an impromptu (and enjoyable) chat? Marking up my Rand McNally map and heading out again…

…Oh, did I mention my geeky collection of Starbucks cards? I’ve got 40-50 back home plus various limited edition wallets, a knitted sleeve, key ring, etc. I know. Geeky. Being in the U.S. is just an excuse to get hold of more…Oh my corporately owned taste buds…


Impressions from the flight last night? The sound of a child crying is among the most genetically effective communiqués, impossible to ignore, it’s tuned so perfectly to sound like pain and to make any onlooker’s soul twitch. I felt sorry for the child behind me, a 4-5 hour ride from Charlotte to Seattle, on top of whatever travel time had already been endured, was hard for an adult let alone for a three-year-old. The trick with sounds that disturb the ear is to dissect them, to turn them into something academic, or simply a deeper experience — the annoyance declines, calm is restored. She buried real words in her sounds but each was drawn out beyond the bounds of comprehension, like a soul singer wringing one of those multi-octave emotions, all that was left were syllables blending seamlessly into giggly hiccups of breath, nameless wails of unfathomable and incomprehensibly deep anguish, high toned peaks blurring as she tried to dredge up tears in that unreal young way, all reverting back to threaded screams that tore the cabin up ending only with the need to gulp for air.
All ended by her father and mother’s valiant ability to distract her momentarily. The Cloudbursts passed as suddenly as they’d arrived. Gone.


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