Friday, September 2, 2011

west, vol. 5

this day was epic, and deserved its own post.

thursday
-woke up to yet another beautiful day. showered, then basked in the sun on randy's balcony. ben & tyler were up shortly, and we headed out again on the 5, aiming for the international district...chinatown. goal: to feast on barbecue. while waiting at the stop, discussion turned towards the different shades and colors of...yams. ben was resistant toward the idea of asian purple yams, saying that he hated anything that was purple out of principle. a woman waiting under the shelter (who happened to be wearing an ostentatious, sequined, royal purple blouse) commented, "well, do you hate me then?" oh, bus-stop talk...
-made it to kau kau, well in time for the lunch special; a mere 5 bones for bbq pork, pork fried rice, hot-n-sour soup, and your choice of things like grilled prawns, duck breast, spare ribs...you get the idea. tyler went for the duck breast, i had the spare rib, and ben, ever the wildcard, got some lamb curry. bone-in, of course. all this and a large pot of hot tea resulted in a serious glow/buzz...not unlike muncie's history NY House (now the might savage's). good thing, too, for upon exiting, clouds had descended upon washington for the first time past noon during my visit.

beard papa's...best gorton's fisherman look-a-like/sailor sellin' cream puffs in any metro seattle food court. i mean, i trust this man.

-wandered around the international district, including passing by the seattle pinball museum. alas, it was not open, so we peered through the dusty windows onto the game machines. well...i did need my quarters for the bus. we eventually passed into uwajimaya, a market on steroids, packed with a bookstore, full grocery, food court, housewares, toys, and enough strange food and drink to spend the better part of an hour staring at. purple yam ice cream? got some ginger candy and a coconut chocolate bar for amelia, and stared at the cream puffs from the aforementioned beard papa.
-upon leaving uwajimaya, and finding an orca card machine (if that is an LOTR reference, excellent work); we headed towards the bay. wandered through pioneer square, and happened upon waterfall garden, an interesting oasis, though admittedly not a place you can really sit and talk. unless you enjoy yelling at your friends...so, bostonians...anyhow. made it to the bay, where people-watching was done, and tyler couldn't resist the siren call of the artisan pump organ outside ye olde curiosity shop. for $.50, i didn't expect such a bone-rattling blast of sheer organ. whoa.

one of those sights that you observer for a second, and then walk away to reduce imminent embarrassment. playing it is like exclaiming, "t-t-t-tourists over here!" but...how can you resist trying out those pipes? i must've been an organ-grinder's monkey in a past evolutionary cycle.

-made it to the owl n thistle, a darkened, lived-in yet tidy hovel of a bar currently in somewhat of a construction alley. if only i'd had the stomach room for a $4 happy hour burger, but i opted instead for a ninkasi ipa. at some point, ben sneezed so loud that every person in the bar turned around to bless him. i could dig the daytime vibe of this place, so dark and wooden that i forgot it was cloudy outside.
-not sure if it was the 4pm buzz, or the emerging sun, but leaving the owl, i felt like a flag unfurled. in hindsight, this was good; the day was just beginning. we headed back to pike place market to fruit up. while tyler investigated some art prints, ben & i kicked it in the park again, people-watching & chewing the fat. after snagging some peaches (again; too good to resist), we headed for the bus stop.
-stopped to procure cabin necessities: cigars. tyler chose well with some stinky rejects for $4 a pop---cheapest in the humidor. though ben was supposed to purchase wigs to impersonate andy's ex-es, and despite pausing to plan our next move, and finding ourselves directly in-front of a wig shop, we went wigless, as he cowed under the pressure of finding an empty shop with 1,000 empty-eyed heads staring at him. alas!
-took the bus back to randy's, and waited in the orange-glistening 5pm sunlight on the benches outside the apartment complex, watching the fountain burble and briefly petting a dog named...stinkbone? randy arrived, and we chilled out for awhile before heading back out...the night-of-dudes was ever-approaching.
-headed out towards fremont with good intentions. snagged gyros and falafel at a walk-up called sinbad's---though the best feature of the place were the wasted foursome who got in a good amount of groping, as well as walking to the counter, waving a hand full of bills, only to be told repeatedly that they'd already gotten & paid for their food. it was almost more embarrassing than funny, due to it being 9pm and not even dark yet. who knew that we'd catch up...

d.b. cooper...i think his drink had egg in it, which was the deal-breaker. i'll eat an over-easy egg, or fresh mayo, but something about stirring a white or yolk into liquid and not scrambling it turns the corners of my stomach.

-a quick jaunt across the street brought us to 9 million in unmarked bills, local whiskey-bar/small-plates restaurant. unfortunately, that's not a d.b. cooper reference (dude only asked for $200K, which would've made an equally good name)...and thus i passed on the non-themed-man's drink for an old fashioned with maker's mark. what can i say? i felt the midwest calling. the other dudes also ordered drinks full of muddled fruits, cinnamon sticks, and various zests that required the bartender to wield a metal tool that peeled an orange as easy as butter. may have to invest in one of these. hung out around a barrel to toast the future arrival of the rest of the party, then moved over to watch tyler kick an inordinate amount of ass on the free ms. pac-man game, which sat lonely in the bottleneck between bar & dining area, ignored by the masses of better-dressed-than-i yuppies and college-crowd. not that i'm judging...but eating ghosts is a old-fashioned pleasure that never ceases to satisfy, and i'm not too cool to watch it being done right.
-headed up the street to randy-described dive bar, the dubliner. hailing from indiana, when i hear the word "dive" i think of bars layered with the plastic nascar flags, the glow of a tube television barely piercing through an ashy blanket of stolid cigarette smoke, and the taste of a corn or rice-powered lager cold-coating my throat. in case i hadn't delineated, the pac-nw is different. this dive was clear-aired (still jealous of every-city-except-indianapolis), dim-but-clean, full of empty tables, tattoos, and flat-screens with soccer. oh, and unlike midwest dives, they sported at least 10 taps. we split a pitcher or two before randy headed for the airport, at which point we decided to have another beer, then head back for the apartment via bus. when i went to buy the round of 3 skulls wit, the bartendress informed me that a pitcher was just as cheap...and here-in lies the beginning of the end. we polished off the pitcher, and, now full of pomp and feeling great about friends, dudes, the dubliner, and the world in general (even current affairs couldn't harsh this mellow); we made a bee-line towards the bus-stop, with plans to stop off somewhere along the route for a nightcap.

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during a brief wait at said bus-stop, ben scaled the wall to relieve himself out-of-sight. tyler then followed suit, only to suffer what would be referenced as "vine-burns" for the rest of the weekend.

-after a rousing bus-ride with only a couple other passengers, we disembarked close to 85th street, with ideas of returning to the great tap-list at naked city. we figured randy and the crew wouldn't be at the apartment before 1am, so we could have a nightcap, then catch the final northwards bus. alas, it was just before midnight, and naked city was closing. across the street, the glowing sign of Baranof beckoned us, despite its apparently dim interior. passing through a closed dining room, we made it into the red-and-black hued, vinyl-booth-coated, besparkled bar of Baranof. the bar was empty; the 3 of us filled half of it, and immediately produced out-of-state ID's before settling into another IPA. here the fog sets in, not of war, but drunk, musky brotherhood; the music waxing to fill available earspace while the universe narrows to a bright, pinprick tunnel that is warm and smells of familiar comforts, booze, aftershave.
-eventually, and there is photo evidence of this fact, the rest of the jet-lagged dudes arrived with randy to the bar. things were now truly rolling. hugs were exchanged as we doubled the population of the bar just before closing hour. perhaps pints were ordered, but soon enough, last call came, and moments later tyler was handing out the obligatory whiskey shots. if toasts were uttered, i remember them not, but perhaps they were not in vain, and someone can later correct my version which has become somewhat of a rosetta stone, a joyfully-jagged edged memory. i do remember (or, perhaps, hope i remember) thinking, "oh wow...we are all alive in this one place...this is most fantastic."

photo by honorable a.s. maxson. while not the best picture of the night, clearly the most representative of the blur that was the evening.

-randy left to drive the other dudes back to the apartment, while tyler, ben, and i strode northwards on the sidewalks, with a promised return ride once the first carload was emptied. at some point, a small man in a zip-up sweater emerged from a sidestreet. facts were exchanged; of those that i remember, his name was Esteban, and he was Brazilian and spoke with an accent. i stammered out a vague invitation/talked up our mountain cabin, in parts unknown and towards Canada. most peculiar though, was his clear preference of Ben, who later kissed the top of the small man's head, after which Esteban remarked about his soft lips. while they walked ahead arm-in-arm, tyler & i trailed perhaps 10 feet back, supporting each other while weeping with laughter at the strange two-some in-front of us. at some point, he melted off again onto yet another side-street, leaving us in gales of laughter when randy pulled up to expedite us back to the apartment.
-ever seen 8 dudes bed down in a 2-bdrm. apartment? we tried, and failed, to order late night pizza, i managed to spill most of randy's DVD rack, and eventually made it to my sleeping mat. yes.

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