It was the second week of my visit before I worked out exactly why it was that I felt so at home at the Mediterranean Inn on Queen Anne North. It was because the lobby area bore a close resemblance to the set of Duty Free.
I was also now pretty adept with those buses, shuttling up and down between Commie K’s Hillbillyland palace, the vintage shop in Fremont, Downtown and the hotel. The hotel was the easy bit, as I always knew that when I was in sight of Dick’s (above) I was in the right place. (Ahem.)
(Clockwise from top left: the Hillbillyland house, the customary Ford Econoline in the garden, and 360 degree views from the roof terrace atop the Mediterranean Inn.)
The bus routes threw up some interesting possibilities. I never did get to drop in at Goofys, the salubrious looking local sports bar up near the Hillbillyland house. And I could never quite work out what a ‘free massage with your dry cleaning’ was really offering at the rundown shop on 15th Avenue.
But for a straight edge girl like myself, Seattle does have a couple of disadvantages (though I don’t expect many of my friends would see it that way).
For one thing, just about every other building in this city is a bar. Or at the very least, a restaurant serving booze with every meal. And they love to try to press you to have a drink with whatever meal you’re eating, even breakfast. Also, cannabis has been legalised here, so every so often you’ll be walking down the street and get an unwelcome whiff of weed. I even caught a waft of it when I wandered down to the Westlake shopping centre at 5th Avenue and popped into Macy’s.
(Top row: Seattle’s funky monorail, Seattle police with their big toys, the Space Needle; middle and bottom rows: the Space Needle park and views from the top.)
Mind you, I had just then emerged into a full road-blocking anti-police demo which had snarled up the whole of the city centre. There were plenty of police around then, obviously, but they were more interested in posing with their extremely cool motorbikes as they blocked off the road. (I do find men in uniform so obliging when I want to take their photograph…)
Commie K was watching this on the news, and was immediately gripped by the fear that I’d get myself arrested. Can’t think why, but it was all very sedate and no one stopped me filming the proceedings. After which I took refuge in the Dr Martens shop and chatted to the assistant in there about our respective justice systems.
I thought I ought to placate Commie K by doing something more sedate. I can recommend a trip up the Space Needle (above), which has some amazing views over the city and beyond. And I was pathetically excited by the monorail, which runs from the Space Needle into the shopping centre at Westlake, and riding it above the city centre road was still like being in an episode of The Jetsons even though it’s over 50 years old.
But for anyone of my age, the must-see was the EMP Museum, which houses the Nirvana/local music scene display. This has some incredible exhibits, including the Sounds shirt which my mate Keith C gave to Kurt Cobain in the very early 1990s and which he is seen wearing in many famous images from that time. There were also pictures and other memorabilia from so many magazines, and events and tours that I was at. I felt young, and at the same time old, and had a lump in my throat when I came out.
(Top left: outside the EMP Museum, with various of the displays including my mate Keith C’s infamous Sounds shirt.)
This took me right back to the day that Kurt Cobain’s body was found, which I still remember with extreme clarity. It was the end of the week and we’d just put the magazine to press, except for the news pages which always waited till the Monday morning. So unsurprisingly, we were all in the pub when our production editor Lord Grunge (whose real name was Jon Moore, but he had long hair, a goatee beard and was posh, so his nickname was inevitable) came pelting in from the office and told us he’d just seen on Ceefax that a body had been found at the Cobain house.
This was before t’internet and mobile phones, obviously, so we had to race back to K! Towers to try to verify the story any way we could. And spend the night re-doing pretty much the whole magazine. I spent most of the next few hours continuously on the landline to Commie K and P, who were relaying stories from the local Seattle TV news stations as they appeared, which I then relayed to The Gumby and the other journos who were pulling the night shift. None of us could quite believe what was going on, and we were only coping with prodigious amounts of booze and fags. Sometime around midnight, Kurt’s UK press officer Anton B pitched up at the office, where we sheltered him for the rest of the night as he took refuge from the fevered attentions of the tabloid press, who were obviously chasing him all over town.
We did finally get the revamped magazine done, though I still don’t know how. And I thought of that day as I emerged from the EMP Museum.
Still, despite Commie K’s worst fears, I had not even once been accosted by any local lunatics, or shot. And so it was that I found myself being ferried to Sea-Tac in P’s ancient station wagon, ready to board a flight down to LA. Whereupon I discovered that I was exceeding my baggage allowance (I knew I shouldn’t have had all those chips) and had to spend 20 minutes unloading all my dirty laundry into my hand luggage.
I hoped I wasn’t going to be too fat for LaLaLand. They probably don’t even have people who are 50 down there.