Editor’s note: First, this is not the same Crow column we ran before on humping hummingbirds. We’re pulling the branding back and keeping it for this, a chance for CHS to have conversations with the interesting people you can find on Capitol Hill. Part flirt, part send-up of mundane rock and roll Q&A interviews, part Facebook updates you wished you’d see. We hope you’ll enjoy learning a little bit more about what makes the people — this time: a student (who is also a fire-performance tool maker), a tarot card reader and a leather shop retailer — around you tick.
Why did you move here?
For school, and friends, and because San Jose is the shittiest, most boring city I’ve ever lived in. The whole Silicon Valley area sucks.
Is that where you grew up?
I grew up all over. My parents are both nuclear scientists, so we moved around from reactor to reactor.
So you lived in a (ahem) “nuclear family”?
Yes, but we never lived in Springfield.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a student at Seattle Central, studying chemical engineering. I’m also a prep cook at a restaurant in Pike Place Market, and I make and sell fire-performance tools.
Fire-performance tools, I bet, are a core element of the local economy. Are you a fire spinner yourself?
I am. I’m part of a group that spins in Gasworks Park, and the High Dive, and at the Hazard Factory.
What do you like best about living on the Hill?
I love that there are so many different kinds of people. If you’re feeling alone, or you just need a change of pace, you just have to walk down the street and you’ll run into somebody. Random people will talk to you, if you’re just warm and open. Also, this is the most densely populated residential area of the biggest, weirdest city for 100 miles in all directions, if you don’t include Portland. People come here to be weird, so you get the cream of the “freak crop.”
If you could change one thing about this area, what would it be?
I would eliminate traffic on Pike between Broadway and 12th between 5 PM and 2 AM. It’s a huge waste of fuel, because it’s so slow, and it’s dangerous with all the pedestrians pouring out of bars. I’d also institute some sort of cheap, reliable transportation that could take people directly from the Hill to other parts of the city—either a trolley or a kind of a “metro party bus.” It would keep people from driving drunk.
Let’s say you can go to only ONE local bar for the rest of your life. Which one do you pick?
I’d have to go with The Stumbling Monk. It’s the only bar where you can actually hear your friends talk. Plus, they change the taps often enough that you’d never get bored.
The Monk has a crazy selection of beers. Do you have a favorite?
That would be like a mother choosing her favorite child!
Like, an alcoholic version of Sophie’s Choice?
Do you have any favorite local bands?
Sure. I like Steel Tigers of Death, and Police Teeth. Oh, and Titanium Sporkestra–they have flaming trombones.
You mean their trombones are, like, super-gay?
No—literally flaming trombones. They have a controlled flame on the end of the horn. It’s pretty awesome.
I wish there were an all-gay brass band that played fire instruments, called The Flaming Trombones. I would go to ALL their shows.
Me, too. Maybe you should put it out there? If it could happen anywhere, it would be on Capitol Hill.
Hello, CHS readers? The Flaming Trombones–let’s make it happen!
So, you’re a psychic?
No, not at all. There’s a stereotype that tarot readers are “fortune tellers,” but that’s not what I do. I use the cards to help people plug into their own intuition. It’s not about telling the future, it’s about using symbolism to figure out what’s going on in your life. I believe that we’re 99% in charge of our destiny.
Your table is on a great corner [at Pike and Boylston] with a window. I bet you’ve seen a lot of interesting things over the years!
Oh, you have no idea…
If you had to pick the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on this corner…
One time, at one in the afternoon, a gentleman in a business jacket came running down around the corner, then back again. Running as fast as he could. From the waist up, he looked pretty normal. Except that…he wasn’t wearing any pants. No underpants. No shoes, no socks. He was too old to be a drunk frat boy, and he didn’t seem like a homeless person, or whatever.
Just a middle-aged guy who accidentally misplaced his pants?
It’s a mystery. I’ve always wondered about that one.
Do you live on the Hill?
Yes, I live a few blocks from here. I’ve been here, on and off, since 1996.
You live and work on the Hill, so you must know it pretty well. What do you like best about the area?
I love how many creative people there are around here. It seems like everyone is some kind of artist or musician. Lots of people who are in bands.
Are you a band?
I am. I play the bass in a band called Legion Within—we’ve been around for about ten years. Most of my bandmates live and work in local bars and restaurants as well, so we’re very connected to the community.
Do you write songs inspired by tarot cards? Please, tell me you do!
No, I don’t write a lot of lyrics. It’s a gothic-industrial band.
Do you guys play out on the Hill?
Sure. The last place we played was Neumos.
Are you a Seattle native?
No, I’m originally from Southern Indiana–but I’ve lived all over. Before moving here, I spent a few years in “Missisloppy” and Phoenix.
What inspired you to move to this area?
For one, I never wanted to see another Southwestern landscape, ever again. I hate hot weather. In Indiana, summers are about 100 degrees with 95% humidity. Phoenix was also incredibly hot. I used to look at the national weather maps, and Seattle was the only area that was consistently less than 80 degrees in the summer.
You’re the second person I’ve met who moved to Seattle…for the weather. I was expecting it to be the one thing everyone hates!
I love the weather here. Not too hot, almost no snow. It’s perfect.
Do you have a favorite local corndog?
No, but I once ate ten corndogs at the Puyallup fair, and I would’ve had more, if my friend hadn’t staged an intervention.
Corndogs are pretty phallic. Do you think that’s part of the appeal?
Not really. They’ve been my weakness ever since I was a kid.
Have you tried the corndogs at Unicorn? It’s like you’re at a State Fair, only without the washed-up 80s bands.
I’ve heard that, but I haven’t been there yet. Maybe it’s for the best!
What’s your favorite local place to eat foods that aren’t corndogs?
If I can only pick one, I’d have to say Boom Noodle. I eat there probably three times a week.
Based on the fact that you’re behind the counter, I’m assuming you work here [at The Doghouse]. Do you live on Capitol Hill as well?
I do. In fact, I live in the apartment that’s on top of the store. So, not a bad commute!
Are there any disadvantages to living so close to work?
Not really, especially since we’re open until 11 at night. But we are at the intersection of about five different bars and nightclubs, from Chop Suey, to The Cuff, The Elysian, and others. So it doesn’t quiet down around here until two or three in the morning. Earplugs are essential.
Other than being close to work, what do you like best about living here?
The fact that you can walk to just about anything. Great restaurants, grocery shopping, you name it. You don’t need to have a car, because everything’s right here.
If you could change one thing about Capitol Hill, what would it be?
Nothing! It’s crazy and loud and chaotic sometimes, but that’s what gives the area its character. Well… I take that back. I would ask Chop Suey to turn down the bass. You can hear it for miles.
How many people mistake this place for a pet shop?
It happens all the time. But you’d think the logo [a dude on a doghouse] would be a clue. But we’re careful to not put anything explicit or phallic in the windows, which I think families really appreciate. However, we do sell leashes!
How did you get into this line of work?
I worked at the Crypt for years. It’s similar, but here we’re more specialized for men and the leather community.
So it’s like going from Banana Republic to Betsey Johnson?
Nevermind. Do you get a lot of customers who are coming out of the nearby bars?
Sure, especially The Cuff, but other bars as well. This store was originally a room in The Cuff. We do more business at night than during the day, but so do a lot of businesses on this street.
Are you a Seattle native?
No, I moved here about 20 years ago. I’m originally from Denver, but I also lived in Australia for a while.
I wanted somewhere cosmopolitan, but not too cold. Denver is really, really cold.
Lemme get this straight. You moved to Seattle for the weather? You do realize it’s hailing outside.
Actually, that’s sleet. Sleet is frozen rain, and smaller-it forms in a patch of cold air, on the way down. Hail is bigger, and usually forms in thunderclouds, and comes down in bigger rocks.