Alas, everything must come to an end dear people. I started drawing the maps of the North-West marked up with Nirvana locations way back on August 13th – the trip itself actually only took place from September 4 (landing at 8.30pm) and ended with me strolling through the gates of Sea-Tac at 9am on September 15, it’s taken me three additional weeks to almost finish writing about something that only took ten days in total.
As ever, no interest in concealing sins, so! What did I miss? Oh, tonnes of stuff. There are two I’m saddened by; the crucial one is 11301 Lakeside Ave, the Cobain residence for most of the period from March 1993 until January 1994. When he met up with John Purkey (Sleeper Cell, Machine, Sky Blue Eye, Noxious Fumes, etc.) in October 1993 he told John that he was basically between houses and that the best way to get hold of him was via other people which possibly summarises how attached Cobain was to this property. On the other hand, this is the home in which he was living when he most likely wrote his final known songs, You Know You’re Right for certain (unless its origins are so much earlier than so far acknowledged) and likely Do Re Mi (unless you believe it was written in the precious few days of January-March 1994 when it was recorded. I don’t.) Plus its the home that goes unmentioned – 171 is a far less extensive Cobain residence notable for only one sad event, I’d rather see this one where at least some positive events and happy moments took place.
Oh, when it comes to joke I’m not above a cheap shot – this one below? Are they like deer? Do they flock…?
If I’d arrived at the University of Washington Husky Union Building a lot earlier in the day I’d have seen if anyone was willing to walk me in and help me locate the East Ballroom – ah well, can’t have it all. I straight out failed to find the Central Tavern which I suspect is now the Central Saloon. I also didn’t make it up to the park behind 171 Lake Washington Boulevard. Oh, and the Center on Contemporary Arts? Both venues seem so far outside the centre of Seattle I think I always knew I was going to skip them. Other things I would have liked to have done? Well, obviously catch a show at the Paramount, or at the Moore Theatre, or at The Crocodile Cafe, or…You get the picture. There was plenty on and I never had an evening where I wasn’t busy or knackered.
I only asked one stripper for directions. I may have an apology to make, the lady in question was in the street outside a slightly seedy looking strip club. I needed directions and it seemed a fair decision to make – I can’t imagine there are truly many rich strippers in the world. They’re like welfare queens, predatory gangs haunting housing estates and necessitating vast home defence and all the other popular lunacies.
Before I left for U.S. someone said to me “a city famous for Nirvana and Starbucks? It’s like they thought of you Nick and built a city around the things you like.” Yes, I drank an awful lot of Starbucks. Please paste the following order into a Word file, print it off and take it to your nearest Starbucks, I promise you that you’ll not regret tasting this – ready? TALL MOCHA FRAPPUCCINO WITH PEPPERMINT SYRUP, NO CREAM/WHIP AND WITH SKINNY/SKIMMED MILK.
In an airport, when requested by the staff at a newsagents, I did buy some kinda chewy confectionery for U.S. troops somewhere in the world – everyone deserves sweets. Aside; first full day in Seattle I’m embarked on a nine hour walking sojourn up round Reciprocal and so forth. I halt at a roadside, scan the traffic…And I look over my shoulder. Strange, I’m sure someone spoke to me. No one there. Oh yeah, there it is again. “Wait.” Hmm…I look other side, I’m sure someone’s talking to me. I’m not saying I’m not sharp but it did take me a minute or two to realise this roadsign was talking to me and given me staccato orders to “wait” or “walk”.
Of course there’s more, Tyler Willman pointed out a friend of his works at Robert Lang Studios and if I had longer he would have called and arranged to let me have a look inside – shucks! In Olympia I skipped the entire university district, the distances involved in the time I had, it just wasn’t likely. I got a bit hooked on Tacoma – loved it – so ended up staying there longer than intended. So no Dorm K208, no Library 4300 – I never even remembered to try and identify Reko/Muse.
In Portland I skipped hunting down The Blue Gallery. In Aberdeen I’d simply have liked to stay there longer – heck, the piece missing from this whole trip was time to just play tourist rather than plotting out the run from one place to another. This one might be a bit British and I’m worried what it says about my imagination…But what do you think this restaurant is called?
What the hey, time burns and its amazing how fast. The photos today are a basically what I’ve got in a folder marked ‘stereotypes’. It’s the photos that summarise some part of the media-impression of the U.S. and that amused me. No, naturally I don’t think they’re anymore representative of U.S. reality than red pillar boxes, troops in bearskin hats or the chinless royal family are the totality of the U.K. They’re pieces. And they amused me.
Plus, its a record of things that are simply outside the British experience – we don’t sororities, I live in a basically atheist country so there are few arguments around a lot of the crucial topics that exercise great minds in America…It’s just the way. And its lovely seeing things that make me say “wow, doesn’t matter how much globalisation has made the world homogenous, there’ll always be things that are unique.”
I mean, admittedly I did have to double-take when I saw that some people need reminding that carrying guns and knives round an airport might be a bad idea – thank you to Charlotte, North Carolina for that one…And, of course, I’m curious – the idea below, is it just wishful thinking in sign form or does it actually involve something more than a polite request that people stay a little way away from the local school?
This is my favourite, apologies to those I’ve already used this line with but seriously, I think this sign says “Avoid Oncoming Bullets” – prove me wrong? I mean, drivers in the Pacific North-West are incredibly polite, very sweet indeed (let’s not talk about the casual drink driving thing that seems endemic – ignore it for now) but are they really so polite that they’re unwilling to break lane discipline to avoid a hail of oncoming gunfire? Is that white line in the middle of the road so significant they’re damned if they’re going to cross it just because the windshield is peppered with Schwarzenegger quantities of bullet-inflicted pockmarks?!
Do I have some deeper message? No. It’s a holiday. But I’d have to say that I didn’t go to a single place in State of Washington that I didn’t adore. At risk of committing the same sins that people do when they talk about ‘the Seattle sound’ or Sub Pop as if there weren’t numerous other bands and styles and genres loose in town in the Late Eighties, the sign below just seemed an appropriate way to end things – so four weeks ago, Thursday September 5 I took a moment to shoot it.