Down on the corner

More info on what’s replacing Ben & Jerry’s in the Junction:

The permit on the door named a “Verite Coffee” as the permittee. The name rang no bells; a little googling revealed the name to belong to a coffee and cupcake enterprise with two locations in northern parts of Seattle.

An e-mail inquiry brought confirmation — they’re opening a coffeehouse in the B & J space. No date yet — they say “we just got the space – so it’ll be a while …”

Good news for Husky Deli; they win the Junction ice-cream war. As for coffee — hmm — guess it’s impossible to have too many coffee providers in any given Seattle block, but the Junction is getting crowded now; these “Verite” folks will be joining In-n-Out, Capers, Uptown, Easy Street, Bike ‘n’ Brew, Coffee to a T with Sugar, are we missing anyone?

Our new mascot

March 8, 2006 6:17 am
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 |   Wildlife

I don’t see it on the Seattle Aquarium’s own site yet, but a source sends me word that the aquarium’s cuddliest critter finally has a name — with West Seattle significance! From the official press release:

HI! MY NAME IS ALKI The male northern Sea Otter pup born at the
Seattle Aquarium on December 6, 2005 officially has a name. “Alki” was
chosen from names submitted by the Aquarium’s Otter Watch volunteers.
“We decided to give the privilege of naming this otter to our Otter
Watch Volunteers” explains Sue Donohue Smith, Manager of Volunteer and
Guest Services. “For six to eight weeks after otter pups are born at
the Aquarium, we have the Otter Watch program running. The volunteers
work four hour shifts, 24/7, outside the otter exhibit. We collect data
on the behaviors of both mother and pup and compare those behaviors to
other otters born at the Aquarium. Being able to compare the data gives
us a good indication of how the pup is doing. This is tough duty in the
Winter!” Joe Weiss submitted the winning name of Alki for the otter
pup. Joe is the teacher of the Marine Technology program at the Seatac
Occupational Skills Center [OSC]. The Aquarium has a long standing
partnership with the program, placing students as interns in life
sciences as part of their curriculum in the program. Joe told his
students about the naming contest and asked them for ideas. The classes
voted on the name Alki, which he submitted as his choice.

If you’ve ever seen the Otter Watch volunteers on duty, you know it’s hard work indeed. We visited the aquarium shortly after this little guy was born, and marveled as the volunteer simultaneously managed to keep her eyes on the pup, keep her fingers on a keyboard to log the otter’s every action, and keep calm while quietly fielding excited questions from about a dozen kids a minute.

One if by bridge, two if by sea

March 7, 2006 7:15 pm
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 |   Elliott Bay Water Taxi | Transportation

BRIDGE: Got lane-jumped this morning near the top of the WS Bridge. A white Hyundai Sonata with custom “Go Cougs” license plates and two AM 1090 (Air America) bumper stickers sneaked right in front of me, way past where its driver should have waited patiently and properly to get in the right-lane line. Only reason I didn’t consider a beep or bump, the car held two people. Which means one less car. Small consolation. Next time, I’m not going to leave enough space for someone to shoehorn in. SO THERE!

SEA: E-mailed our friendly neighborhood King County Councilperson to see if there’s an update yet on the Elliott Bay Water Taxi for this year. Here now, the entirety of how Councilperson Constantine answered my question “Will the water taxi be back?”:

It will. For the first time the Executive actually put it in his proposed budget. I am working (against much resistance) to fund a permanent dock and establish permanent funding for the service outside of existing Metro bus service. More later.

How safe is your neighborhood?

March 7, 2006 6:36 am
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 |   Crime | West Seattle online

Ever wonder about the crime rate in your neighborhood?

Here’s a handy way to check. (To figure out which “census tract” you’re in, look here first.)

Hot history

March 6, 2006 7:46 pm
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 |   WS miscellaneous

Had no idea that Fire Station 37 on 35th SW is a historic landmark.

But it says so right here, on a page I looked up after receiving a flyer making its way around this side of WS. According to the flyer, the city is going to sell off Historic Station 37 and build a new one a couple blocks to the south, on land that’s currently home to a house and a substation (apparently NOT historic).

Found a bit more about Current Station 37’s allegedly historic nature here. So will West Seattle’s Log House Museum be joined by a Fire House Museum?

Monday, Monday

March 6, 2006 6:37 am
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 |   WS miscellaneous

–Two more Signs of Spring over the weekend: The first wave of dandelion invasion, followed by the first door-hanger flyer from the Unmarked Truck Gardener Services. Yeah, I know, my yard will never make it into the pages of Pacific Northwest magazine. But at least it’s organic. (Death to dandelions — but never by chemicals — only mano-a-mano combat.)

–Still working on the Ben & Jerry’s “investigation.” Didn’t get back to the Junction to try to read the posted permit in daylight; did search the city permit database, nothing new there; maybe it’s a different type of permit.

Sorry, no MIDI file of the “Cops” theme

March 5, 2006 3:30 pm
|    Comments Off on Sorry, no MIDI file of the “Cops” theme
 |   WS breaking news

Looks like the Admiral Wells Fargo heist got solved pretty fast. The ones who don’t disguise themselves so well, like (apparently) this guy, might as well just pause and say “cheese.”

For whom the toll tolls

March 5, 2006 11:22 am
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 |   Transportation

Call me asleep at the wheel. I didn’t really realize there was serious talk of making the Viaduct replacement a toll road. It’s mentioned in passing in this Times article today. In a quest for more information, I found the state’s study of Viaduct toll viability. Doesn’t sound like it would be worth the trouble (a few million bucks a year). I think I’d rather try cross-bay swim commuting than try to wade through that sort of mess.

Two Saturday tidbits

March 4, 2006 7:13 pm
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 |   WS miscellaneous

–If you’re wondering why TV news crews are in the Admiral Junction tonight, here’s the story.

–Found out a bit more about the Ben & Jerry’s mystery in the (Alaska) Junction. Went to the Ballard B & J’s, whose owners also ran the WS B & J’s. We asked the guy behind the counter what’s up with the WS location; he told us “It’s been sold. Might stay a Ben & Jerry’s, might not, don’t know.” Then we stopped by the Junction to take a look for ourselves. You can see inside from the south side windows, which are only partly papered. Tearing it up like that wouldn’t make sense if it’s going to stay a B and J’s. There’s a permit posted by the front door but the light was too dim for us to read it (gotta go back in daylight tomorrow). Our money’s on another food franchise replacing it – Starbucks or Quizno’s.

Food notes

March 3, 2006 10:30 pm
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 |   West Seattle restaurants

-Ben & Jerry’s in the Junction, supposedly reopening March 1 after a winter closure, is instead undergoing some sort of remodel. Checked the phone line that its number refers callers to; still says “reopening March 1.” Will investigate further.

-Driven by La Rustica on Beach Drive a million times; haven’t been in the building since its early ’90s days as a coffee joint. Just happened onto its inside story. Who knew?

Clock is ticking

March 3, 2006 6:49 am
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 |   Transportation

If you have a spare million or so, you’ve got only about two weeks to get in a bid on the sad but promising site of dead monorail dreams … end-of-the-line in more ways than one.

Or maybe you’d prefer a parking lot?

Turning greenery into green

March 2, 2006 10:30 pm
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 |   Environment

You see their vans everywhere — and they are based right here in West Seattle — the phone number starting with “93” gives that away — I’m in awe of the Botanical Designs folks. Seems like they take care of plants at every business in the city. I’ve seen their teams pulling up in front of nondescript office buildings, and parking outside plush hotels. Hard to find out much about them, though; even their Web site is mysteriously shallow. But two (green) thumbs up to them for helping make sure we don’t devolve into a plantless world.

Mission control

March 2, 2006 6:29 am
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 |   WS miscellaneous

A bit of a rant this morning:

One of our favorite takeout places has a wide selection of brochures and other marketing paraphenalia on its counter. Not sure why, but if they can spare the space, more power to ’em. One pile of brochures is from a nearby public school, intended to entice more families to enroll (not a bad strategy considering this school may face the ax otherwise). All I can say is that if I were looking for a place to teach some child of mine how to write with something resembling clarity, this wouldn’t be it. Half the brochure is taken up by mission-statement mumbo-jumbo such as “XX School is a child-centered learning center utilizing global strategies to encourage strategic child-centric learning amid a diverse community of centered learners.” Longer, actually; sorry I didn’t pick up the actual brochure and tote it home — I was a little woozy from both the convoluted language and hunger.

Discussing this with West Seattle Blogger Spouse brought memories from WSBS of a mission statement once proposed by a church that WSBS attends from time to time. As with many church mission statements these days, it included the phrase “faith-based community.” (Faith-“based”? Doesn’t “faith” just say it all? Or is it an open door toward branching into, perhaps, “faith and cuisine”? “Faith and gardening”? “Faith and bingo,” maybe.)
Please, world, I beg you, let’s just call a church a church and a school a school. Mission-statement-ese is rampant enough out in the business world; some spaces can be kept safe.

Local boy does it again

March 1, 2006 8:10 pm
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 |   WS miscellaneous

West Seattle’s most famous music man has a new album coming out — for the first time in a long time.

Paper’s out!

March 1, 2006 6:24 am
|    Comments Off on Paper’s out!
 |   West Seattle news

Wednesday means Herald day. Two things of note:

–I’m way behind the times. Hadn’t heard the word “shoe-jacked” till I read this. (Of course, the shoes I wear are not even remotely worth, uh, “jacking.”)

–What ARE those fish up to? (Third item.)

Slow the h*** down

February 28, 2006 9:37 pm
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 |   Transportation

I can completely empathize with this dangerous-driver tale of woe from Our neighborhood includes a busy intersection where ridiculously rushing drivers routinely ignore signs and put lives at risk. We too have asked about extra city controls, only to receive some sort of foggy multilayered answer about petitions and waiting lists. Note to drivers: Stop signs are there for good reasons. Really. And they’re orders, not suggestions.

Scenes from one block of MJ

February 28, 2006 6:29 am
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 |   Pets | Seen around town | West Seattle restaurants

–Everyone jokes about the same telecommuters sitting at Starbucks tables day after day, but we can also report that the same consistency seems to apply to nighttime visitors at the Morgan Junction SBUX. The family with kids doing their homework; the quilters; the guy with the gray ponytail. Someday someone’s going to walk in and everyone’s going to yell, “NORM!”

–The renovation work at Subway is into its down-and-dirty-and-temporarily-closed phase. If you want a sandwich, you’re going to have to go to Jefferson Square, at least for a few days. (Aside, how come Quizno’s is yet another thing we can’t get without driving to Burien?)

–The two cats guarding Aaron’s Bicycle Repair look like critters you wouldn’t want to tangle with. One of them looks like it’s actually tough enough to ride a bike, or at least steal it.

So you think you know which neighborhood you’re in …

February 27, 2006 7:19 pm
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 |   WS miscellaneous

Check this city-drawn West Seattle neighborhood map I bumped into.

I don’t live where I thought I lived.

And where’s Delridge?

Bridge beef

Seems like this hits the newspaper traffic columns every week. And here it is again this morning — somebody beefing to the PI (last item) about the morning commuters with self-delusions that they are driving buses. Hey, I’d settle for a couple minutes of slowdown if that’s the only side effect of stationing undercover cops (cleverly disguised as roadside breakdowns, perhaps?) to bust ’em.

You paid for ’em, might as well use ’em

February 26, 2006 10:20 pm
|    Comments Off on You paid for ’em, might as well use ’em
 |   WS miscellaneous

Two things from the public sector:

–Counterpoint to my graffiti rant earlier this weekend, a much more innocent channel for public artistic expression was available this afternoon at Southwest Pool. Kids got the chance to decorate a sea/fish-themed mural that pool managers say will eventually go up somewhere in the facility. Among the more unusual creations: An octopus with a Medusa-ish human head. (You’ll see me plug Southwest Pool a lot; I think it’s one of WS’s great underutilized gems. Even if you don’t swim, you can go sit in the hot tub for just a few bucks. Megadeal.)

–Library lovers rejoice; our branch has expanded its hours.

Sunday drive

February 26, 2006 1:49 pm
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 |   WS miscellaneous

Tidbits from a few hours out and about:

–For my fellow avocado lovers, a price war seems to be under way. The Tony’s stand on 35th is now offering Hass avocados three for a buck; the HG Market on Ambaum in the “not White Center/not Burien” zone is touting two for that price. (Did NOT personally inspect either, so I can’t guarantee they’re not all lime-sized avos.)

–Absolute proof winter has almost run its course: The decorative purple and white cabbage plants that pass for winter garden “color” around here are starting to flower, as evidenced by the ones at the base of the Lady-Liberty-on-Alki.

–The challah French toast at Alki Cafe is still the best.French.toast.EVER.

–Just thought I’d throw this in: Apolo Anton Ohno is the best.Seattle.sports.hero.ever. Edgar, move over.

It’s not art, it’s a crime

February 25, 2006 9:43 pm
|    Comments Off on It’s not art, it’s a crime
 |   Gatewood | Seen around town

A bit earlier this winter, some vandal spray-painted two words, including the “f-word,” on an excruciatingly visible-to-the-street garage door along California Ave, just south of the Morgan Junction McDonald’s. With the proximity of Gatewood School, I wouldn’t think it an exaggeration to speculate that vulgarity assaulted thousands of young eyes (and offended age-nonspecific others).

Someone finally has covered it with white paint. Finally. But not all spray-paint vandalism is so easy to cover — for years, I’ve shuddered at the tags that have blighted our business districts, especially when the vandals have painted them onto natural-tone brickwork. And I know that in other areas of the city, some of the more creatively criminal vandals have taken to etching.

This all brings me to a video-game review linked prominently from the site’s home page this morning. Yeah, I know games are supposedly a harmless outlet for people to engage in even worse kinds of fantasy crime. I’d made a bit of peace with that. But for some empty-brain headline writer to declare fantasy vandalism “fresh and fun” just chaps me. Just wait till the designers wake up someday to someone having engaged in this “fresh and fun” crime on their property, requiring a costly cleanup.

If Michaelangelo had painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling without permission, that still would have been vandalism, regardless of its artistic merit.


Ferried away

February 25, 2006 9:07 am
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 |   Fauntleroy | Transportation | WS miscellaneous

Realized this morning that I haven’t taken a ferry ride in months, even though the dock is minutes away from our neighborhood (and most parts of WS). The state ferries are a big reason why we wound up here — on my first trip to Seattle as a tourist, a guidebook entry enticed me to Anacortes, where I walked onto a San Juans-bound boat and fell in love with its utilitarian splendor during a basic 3-hour round-trip run. Other ferry rides followed before my vacation ended. And this sail down Memory (Shipping) Lane reminds me, the ferries are even the reason I discovered WS on my second Seattle trip; I saw all those oddly placed “Vashon Ferry (arrow)” signs along Alaskan Way and was determined to figure out where that mysterious run really docked … managed to make my way onto the bridge, veered over to Alki while trying to find Fauntleroy, game over, I was crazy in love, and ready to move.

So excuse me while I go look up the schedule and see about a recreational ride on the F-V-S ferry sometime before the weekend is out … just to rekindle the romance.