West Seattle, Washington
A small number of our fellow human beings do horrible things sometimes. Though there are far “worse” crimes, the offense that for some reason infuriates us more than almost anything is graffiti vandalism, aka “tagging.” This morning, our blood pressure is somewhere in the stratosphere because of what we just saw in the Junction.
First, there’s the tagging on the Hi-Yu parade mural on the side of the post office. An e-mail tipster told us about this a couple weeks ago, and we didn’t get around to checking it out immediately. Looking at it this morning, with the Saturday sun blazing against the beautiful mural and the hideous black scrawl across its lower left quadrant, we fumed.
Moments later, heading back down California, we saw an even fresher example of this type of brazen, pointless vandalism — tagging on several business signs on the west side of Cali Ave, including WaMu, Radio Shack, and Be’s Restaurant.
We’ve tried to figure out why tagging pisses us off worse than some of the more newsworthy crimes that involve blood, pain, and prison time. Perhaps it’s partly because the evidence is so public and flagrant — it takes time and money to arrange to have tagging/graffiti vandalism painted over, and until/unless you get that time and money, the crime scene just sits there, smirking at you. (Outside WS, a particularly galling recent example is a huge tag that appeared this week across the side of a classic brick building that’s highly visible to thousands of drivers daily as they drive northbound on the viaduct, into the Battery Street Tunnel. That type of vandalism can’t just be painted over, without ruining the beautiful old brick. Don’t even know if sandblasting will get rid of it.)
Anyway, the fact is, this morning the Junction is uglier, because of some idiot criminal(s) who decided to sneak onto business roofs, no doubt in the middle of the night, and deface signs. It feels like they’re spitting in the faces of the business owners and all those of us who live here and will have to look at it for who knows how long. (We volunteered for graffiti paintout patrols long ago and far away; do they still exist?)
Far from the first time, and we suppose it won’t be the last time. Is security too lax? Are the laws too loose? How do we stop this? We’ll be thinking hard about it. We hope you will too.
The experts insist the heat wave is finally ending. Still — if it’s still sweltery tomorrow night — here’s a different way to try to keep cool by pretending to feel wintry: Cruise past Canine Casa in Fauntleroy (just south of Endolyne Joe’s) and check out the red-and-green holidayish lights. Bonus: Tuesday happens to be exactly five months till Christmas.
Took a closer look at the in-the-works Dakota Place Park, north of the Junction, on Sunday morning. Cool way to honor a chunk of West Seattle history (instead of, oh, say, turning it into more condos). The official city info page is here; citizen organizers have a site here. Several other park projects are under way on our peninsula too, including the ex-monorail site in Morgan Junction — where butcher paper just appeared on the windows of the ex-Video Vault building, to become the new home of Beveridge Place Pub as part of a deal with the city.
The intersection at the heart of The Junction suddenly has enough neon to resemble a corner of the Las Vegas Strip. Try driving through at night — the big new Cupcake Royale/Verite Coffee sign anchors the northeast corner, the relatively new Super Supplements sign glows on the face of the ex-Urban Fitness storefront on the southeast side, and on the northwest corner, there’s the Easy Street Records sign that started it all. Missing in this equation: Key Bank, on the fourth corner of the fabled “Walk All Ways With Walk” intersection. C’mon, guys, how about at least a red neon key like the one on your much-maligned arena?
On a pole at the corner of Delridge and Thistle: “MOVING IN TOGETHER SALE.”
Somewhere on 34th SW — didn’t catch the whole address while driving by the sign. Anyone who does see the sale — tell ’em good luck!
If you frequently drive Fauntleroy northeast of Morgan Junction, you might have noticed a little storefront full of used items, in the lower level of a brick building, with its offerings frequently spilling out onto the parking strip. It’s called “Previously Enjoyed.” On our stroll today, we discovered why those colorful, busy displays haven’t been out lately — a note on the door says “Due to a landlord dispute, we are closed till further notice.” More ominously, very close to that note, there’s a business card from a state revenue agent with a scrawled note telling the store owner he “needs to call” said agent. Hmm.
Back from our jaunt, which took us far beyond Summer Fest, though we dropped in on the way back.
Glad to see the info booth full of West Seattle-related collateral/propaganda is right in the center of things.
Even more interesting — sightings of people in mascot suits. First there was the State Farm Insurance bear, being interrogated by two beat cops. Then, the strolling ATM shilling for US Bank. Didn’t seem to be handing out complimentary cash, sad to say.
Biggest crowd for comestibles — The 7-11 at the south end of the Junction. Stacked up seven deep in there for sour Slurpees.
-Casablanca Coffee on 35th has changed its name – now it’s the Coffee Shoppe. Just noticed this on a drive-by, so we don’t know yet what’s different inside.
-If you hadn’t already noticed, Super Supplements in the Junction is open. The blue and red neon is still a little much for our eyes.
-You might find this mention a little odd, but we were fascinated to see Don Swanson Insurance in the Junction finally changing its facade. It’s looked the same for all of our years here (including the years when we bought our insurance there, before the GEICO gecko seduced us away, sorry, insurance is so darn expensive, that’s one thing where i will suspend my preference for local vendors).
Lagged a few days in patroling for blog material; big work project kept me megabusy. Finally getting out there and wow, so much has happened! Went through the Junction tonight, for example, and two things in particular caught my eye:
-The “Watch This Space” butcher paper over the ex-tanning salon next to Pagliacci is now replaced with hand-lettering for “Coming Soon: Clementine/Women’s shoes/Handbags/(didn’t get close enough to read the third thing.”
-Tons of motorcycles outside Matador (10 pm Friday). Is this the upscale sequel to Taco Thursday at the Alki Tavern????
OPEN: The Safeway gas depot on Admiral … finally … sometime in the past week or so; just saw it brightly lit and serving customers tonight.
ALMOST OPEN: Also brightly lit, signs and interior alike — Super Supplements in the Junction.
SHUT: Looks like the Cat’s Eye Cafe may have run out of all nine of its lives. Signs spotted on its door tonight indicate its fixtures are for sale. Some kind of construction permit is posted — though it’s so new, I can’t follow its trail online yet.
Spotted next to a doorway in a Westwood neighborhood:
(preprinted) NO SOLICITORS … (big hand-lettered PS) ESPECIALLY POLITICAL ACTION
-A final word from today’s crash-caused traffic jam: While trying to get out of WS in the late morning, West Seattle Blogger Spouse reported a suspected sighting of Councilguy Dow in the next car. I’m a little suspicious since it would seem Councilguy Dow would be the first to switch to the Water Taxi. But perhaps he was just on his way to Seacrest …
-Unrelated to the traffic but vaguely relevant to the title of this post — when the street in question is Alki Avenue, anyway — today’s batch of city land-use-permit applications includes one from the Celtic Swell for a sidewalk-cafe’ area. Wonder if they’ll keep it open for the hale ‘n’ hardy St. Paddy’s Day crowd …
First night of summer, last day of school, whatever the case, a little edgy down along Alki Beach just after sunset — we were out for a simple “scenic drive” en route home from downtown, but things bottlenecked right around the Pepperdock — at least half a dozen police cars blocking off a side street, officers walking warily around the edge of a fairly thick crowd on the beach side of the street. Hard to tell if any actual trouble had brewed, but with the crowd so close to the traffic lanes, we felt a bit nervous. I know Alki’s been a gathering place for The Young Folks since the dawn of time, but this density seemed a little unfamiliar.
Thanks to a tipster for calling our attention to a CitiFinancial branch that’s just opened on 42nd, south of Alaska, across from Jefferson Square. As the tipster notes, it’s a banking boom in WS these days — with Viking Bank building a branch at the old Burger King site further down Alaska, and First Mutual opening its new building on Cali Ave north of the Junction. Maybe the attraction is all the new construction? Or perhaps just the people moving here to live in the new construction …
We were briefly puzzled on Saturday afternoon when the RFTC shirts on “Walking with Logs” were replaced with dark green shirts and a huge banner, “CONGRATULATIONS VHS PIRATES.”
Chief Sealth … no V … WSHS … no V … aha — Vashon! Seems Saturday was graduation day.
Meantime, if school zones are on your regular route through WS, it’s worth noting that the school year is almost over — Wednesday’s the last day, at least for SPS.
Drove by the “Arlington Northwest” display at Roxhill this afternoon (mentioned in “events” post below). One word: Overwhelming.
As we approached, the oldies station launched into “What’s Goin’ On” by Marvin Gaye. (Follow the link if you don’t get the synchronicity.)
The display is up till 7 tonight if you haven’t seen it for yourself.
Just back from a drive around Alki, where we noticed the banners up for the impending Seafair Pirates landing. Just one day after the opening of the next pirate movie. Perhaps Disney will consider a spinoff, “Pirates of Elliott Bay” — where our hero/anti-heroes try to loot Alaska-bound barges. Or something.
If there’s a kid in your life, think about dropping by Curious Kidstuff in the Junction today (Sunday 6/11) and checking out its anniversary sale. A big banner’s been up outside the shop for a while to promote the sale. It’s a shop with a conscience, all too rare these days — for years, a welcome refuge for those who would rather not see kids play with fake weapons or shoot-em-up video games. Hope they’ll be around for many more years.
Noticed recently that a lot of land-use applications in West Seattle these days — these addresses in Gatewood, Delridge, north end of Delridge, Admiral, Morgan Junction — are for wireless antennas for something called Clearwire. Thought maybe that was just a front company for the various wireless companies, but have since learned otherwise. And today, driving along Cali Ave, we noticed another Clearwire application sign up in front of the block of apartments/stores just south of the Junction 7-11. The Clearwire Web site does not mention how soon the company expects to launch West Seattle service; separate from the controversy over too many antennas going up too close for comfort, I’m interested in the possibility of an alternate broadband provider. Service from the Comcast monopoly is not really that Comcastic for us, and Qwest DSL doesn’t seem to be an option in our neighborhood. So we’ll keep an eye on this one too …
Sign of life finally at the former tanning-salon space next to Pagliacci in the Junction: someone’s scrawled WATCH THIS SPACE over the butcher paper covering the big front window. P.S. Doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but Pagliacci’s about to celebrate its TENTH ANNIVERSARY on this side of town.
Used the sleepy holiday morning this past Monday as the perfect occasion to go try Cupcake Royale “for real.” As I wrote here a couple weeks ago, we dropped in on Grand Opening Night, but I didn’t actually have a cupcake — left that to one of my escorts. So this time, it was cupcakes and coffee for breakfast.
Verdict: Great frosting (mint), so-so cupcake (vanilla). Not too sweet, which is good, but not so moist (as at least one other reviewer here had mentioned), which was a little disappointing. The coffee (double-tall latte) was also just OK. I’ll give them another chance next time it’s convenient, but I’m not going to go out of my way to rush all the way to the Junction for a “fix.”
Meantime, we kept the radar up for news while down in the Junction for the CR stop. Seems like there’s more to say about what’s NOT going on than about what IS — the old Neilsen Florist shop still has papered windows, but the grease-penciled message from a glass company is gone; the new Super Supplements (ex-Urban Fitness site) doesn’t have an opening date posted yet; the former First Mutual Bank storefront shows no sign of what will move in next.
While en route this morning to the multi-Starbucks side of Westwood Village (I’d prefer to patronize local independent stores but the Frappuccino fan in the household insists no other frozen coffee drink compares), I got another look at the eternally parked vehicles along Trenton (north side of WV) that always make me go “hmmm” … one is a U-Haul-size truck encrusted in graffiti; it’s been there for months if not years. On the other side of the street, along the downslope of the Southwest Athletic/Chief Sealth/etc. playfield/stadium, a couple of rickety motorhomes seem omnipresent — or at least, they’re there every time we drive by (an average of a couple times a week). Are they abandoned? Do they belong to people who live in the area but don’t have parking space for them at their homes? Are they auxiliary changing facilities for sports teams who play for the field? Or … here’s the paranoid person inside of me coming out … perhaps, mobile meth labs? Take a look next time you’re en route to Bed/Bath/Beyond, Barnes ‘n’ Noble, or Target, and tell me what you think.
We used to call the little grocery on the west side of Cali Ave, halfway between Morgan & Alaska Junctions, “the so-so market.” Not as a judgment on its quality or lack of it, but because its old sign saying “50-50 Market” looked more like “So-So.”
Well, we can’t make that joke any more. West Seattle Blogger Spouse tells me it’s put up a new sign with a new name, “Juneau Street Market.”
Everybody’s trying to upscale around here. Question though, does it have … CUPCAKES?