21 January 2003 : 6.00 am
SOglad to be home!
I spent yesterday in Seattle. My brother, the brilliant comic, wanted to do a comedy club there. Ok, sounds like fun, right? And it was.. we had a great time.
We had a road trip music CD.. 88 songs managed to get us there and back. Great combination of excellent music, and you know, there's something good about driving around an american city like Seattle listening to the Hip. :)
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Traffic in america sucks. Seriously, wow. We're sitting in traffic (we took my car)
We were on the I5, and it was slow, but moving. And an ambulance tried to get through.
Why the hell don't people in america move for ambulances trying to get past? They're on their own, trying to wiggle their way up the shoulder past the cars that are ignoring them.
As my brother said, every time you hear an ambulance siren in america, all you think is $$$.
One thing I will say, though. If you're on the I5 this time of year heading north, and it's dark, take exit 165b into Seattle. If they have the lights up, it's a really cool visual because you have to drive through this weird viaduct thing, and so it feels like you're driving into a cavern, and then there are all of the lights in the trees just as you come around the corner. It's like you're driving into an underground civilisation. It's pretty cool.
So we're driving along, I need to change lanes. There's lots of space.. there's a Mercedes somewhere behind me, but there's about six times the space I need. So I signal. The Mercedes flashes his lights at me and accellerates hard as I'm changing lanes, and then honks madly at me as if I've cut him off. What the hell's that about?
And while I'm on the traffic, why do american traffic lights take like five minutes to change?
Having said that, the almost 120k limit on the highway was fun. :) Loud music, great company.. I had a really good time. Driving down, driving back, laughing, singing, talking about everything, talking about nothing.. it was good. A strange mix of people.. a comic, a chef, a musician, and me. Whatever I am. Miserable bastard.
Of course, americans don't seem to actually drive at that speed, but that's to be expected if you've ever seen them driving here.
Ok, so we got there. We found a safe place to park, and went for a walk. I examined the scooter I wanted.. it's way bigger in person than you'd think. It's more like a touring thing than a commuting thing, so I'm going to pass. Which is just as well, because Canada customs doesn't allow Bajaj scooters to be imported. Apparently they haven't provided information to Canada customs to show that they meed our rather strict safety standards. So I'll find something else.
Anyway, we went to Pike's Place market, which was closed. So we went to several other places. All closed. What's with Seattle? The whole city closes between six and seven PM. So we found a coffee place, and then went from there to an Irish pub called Fadó. That's now home base in Seattle. Cute and friendly wait staff, food, a nice atmosphere. It'll do. Though at seven PM it was empty. One of the servers said that she liked visiting Vancouver because you could go into a pub at any time and people are there drinking, talking, etc. She was Irish. She has taste. :) We went back at around ten, but it was still pretty empty.
Seattle is funny.. it's like some sort of weird parallel universe Vancouver. The architecture is similar, for example. However, the city is less.. I don't know, sophisticated. I mean, in Seattle there are a lot more flashing lights and neon and things than in Vancouver, because that seems to appeal to the local population. Shiny things. There are no trees in the sidewalks, so it lacks natural beauty of any kind. Admittedly it's a small section of the city that we saw. I think. So it's not a terribly accurate picture, but it's sort of a random sample. Thank god I never did actually move there. I'd been thinking of it.. when I left school with the programming background, it was one of those "do I move to america and collect the most money I can from them for several years before I move home?"
In the end, I just couldn't face living in america.
The whole country is slower to adopt new technology than is Canada. I don't think that that's because they're resistant to change, I think it's because of the sheer size of the population. If you consider the number of people, the number of businesses, and so on, spreading a new technology through all of that is really difficult. I mean, you can't even use a phone to pay for parking in one of their city parking lots.
I didn't get to Krispy Kreme. I've heard lovely things, but by the time we headed home everything was closed. Well, it was three o'clock.
So from the pub to the comedy club. This was an experience. First we had to find somewhere that would give us money because, though they get furious when you don't take yankee money in Canada, nowhere there takes Canadian. Which we expected, so that was ok. But why are there only like two ATMs in all of Seattle? And why do they have headphone jacks? All they do is beep.
Got money, going to the club.
The cover was $4. And apparently americans still use bills for one and two dollar denominations.
Because that makes so much sense. What with all of the vending machines and parking meters that require more than a dollar at a time, why would you want coins?
We were in the club, and the show started. Slowly. If you're a comic and you've got three minutes, do you run your act like this?
"Ok... so... let me tell you a little bit about myself. uh... I... like... cheese..."
It hurt to watch. My brother was a comedy hurricane. He crushed every other comic up there. We couldn't leave at the end because so many people wanted to talk to him.
Another guy got up, and his act consisted of ranting about how america should go and bomb the "towel heads." He went on about how the news coverage should show people on fire, people getting shot and blown up, and so on.
And people were laughing. Not, like, nervous laughter. Real laughter. They enjoyed it. Our table sat there surrounded by this sea of american hatred, feeling very saddened and very depressed by the whole thing. You meet americans individually and you think, you know, that they're not all that bad. And then you see this, and you realise that they're just a big lynch mob, with the same mentality, the same xenophobia, the same aggression. And that was a comedy club.
That was the only time I really wished that I weren't there. Some Canadians go on about how we're too sensitive as a country. That we spend too much time worrying about what other people think and trying not to offend. But look at the alternative. americans as individual people aren't so bad. We met a waiter guy on the way back who was pretty nifty. He stopped to chat, he talked about american history and how america was raping the natural world. He talked about the moron in the white house. He talked about a lot of things, and unlike many people I've met down there (or from there) he was open minded when it came to america and its interaction with the rest of the world. None of this "america is the greatest country in the world!" nonsense. He was well read in american history too. But you know what? He had never heard of the war of 1812. Which just goes to show the points I've made about american propaganda and the creative editing of their history.
My lungs feel like they've been drycleaned. Seattle allows smoking in public places.. pub, comedy club, restaurant. You can't get away from it. I've spent most of the day coughing horrendously because of the toxins I inhaled. It's disgusting. Because america is about business, not individuals. So if you work in a restaurant, too bad. You quit or you get cancer. Fortunately, they're starting to improve, and places like California are introducing no-smoking laws.
All in all, a very successful trip. We'll have to go again soon. I want my Krispy Kreme doughnuts. :)