CHS Crow | Alvina, Korte & Patrice — ‘Sometimes people want a change’

This week, the crow learned what happened to the editor of the Pike Place Market News. What did you learn?



What brings you out here [to Black Coffee] tonight?
I really like Black Coffee—I’ve spent just about every day here since it opened up. It’s a coffee shop, but it’s more of a community space; kind of a middle ground for people to come and meet each other over something really good, like coffee. It has radical overtones—people can come here and talk about the issues of the world in a safe space without it getting too contentious.

That’s pretty rare—it seems like most people stay in “echo chambers,” so to speak, when it comes to the big issues.
Both aspects of this place are pretty rare. Not only is it hard to meet people in the middle when it comes to something like politics, but having the confidence and feeling safe enough to interact with each other… This place really brings it back home in that regard.

Can you think of any conversations that you’ve had that would be an example of that?
I’ve seen a couple people walk in here and expect the same environment as a typical Capitol Hill coffee shop—people with their headphones on, not talking to each other. And they sat down and were immediately addressed by people around them, and had these huge conversations. As a result you have people who come back, not just for coffee, but to interact. That’s really important, especially during the winter, when people around here kind of hole up.

When I walked in here, you were also in line, and you said “Hello!” as if we were old friends. I thought that was cool.
I think the worker-owners wanted to put the power back in the community to create a place that was generally free of classist and racist and generally prejudiced ideals. You have people who are travelling and live nowhere meshing with people who are going to college, all relating on a very fundamental level. That’s what I’m pretty obsessed with right now.

Do you work and/or go to school around here?
I’m starting at Seattle Central this winter. I was going to study film, but their program was cancelled. Also, I work as a model at the Gage Academy. I think too many people devote portions of their time to things they don’t enjoy, and I don’t want to be one of those people.

Other than Black Coffee, do you have any favorite hangouts on the Hill?
I like hanging out at the Gage Academy. I like being surrounded by creative people.

Are you a visual artist yourself?
No, I’m a writer. That’s why I wanted to get into film. Not many people read books these days, which is a tragedy.

If you had to make a film, what would it be about?
The most vulnerable qualities of human beings. We all learn something if we’re slapped in the face a little bit. It would give us humility and make us realize how minute some of the faults we see in people are.

Do you live on the Hill?
Yes. I live right next to Gage, which may be why I gravitate there.

What do you think is the sexiest place on the Hill?
Definitely Black Coffee. Not only is it a great community space, but every person I’ve seen walk in here is totally bangable.

Wow. That is the single highest recommendation I’ve ever heard for any place, ever.
Yeah. Everyone here is hot!



How long have you lived on the Hill?
About 12 years.

And before that?
Bainbridge Island.

What inspired the move?
Divorce. But I moved to the Hill for the first time in 1970.

I bet you’ve seen a lot changes in this area since then…
Yes, back when I was one of the original bartenders at The Comet, it was only one shop wide.

You were an original bartender at the Comet? So, you’re part of rock history!
We all are, aren’t we?

I’m aware that rock music exists, if that counts. What are some of your favorite places on the Hill?
I have my favorite coffee shop that I spend a lot of time at—Joe Bar. I also like Coastal Kitchen and Panevino—best Italian food in the area. I like Charlie’s, oddly enough. Also, Twice Sold Tales, and Value Village, and the Lifelong Aids Alliance Thrift Store…

Are you still a bartender?
No, it didn’t take me long to figure out which side of the bar I belong on!

What line of work are you in?
I’m retired now; I used to be a newspaper guy. I worked for Port Townsend Leader, and the Enumclaw Courier-Herald combined with Buckley News-Banner.

What was your “beat”?
On a weekly newspaper, you kind of do everything. I was the Jefferson County bureau chief for the Port Angeles Daily News, and I was editor of the Port Orchard Independent for a while, and editor of the Pike Place Market News for a while. I’ve had what you might call a “checkered career.”

I love local news—which, nowdays, includes blogs and sites like CHS—because people have such immediate, passionate reactions to the issues or stories. It seems like wars or earthquakes on the other side of the world sometimes will elicit fewer strong opinions than a new restaurant down the street, or a slight change in a local zoning regulation. What did you like about the local circuit?
One of the things about covering local news is that you end up meeting your public all the time, and you get immediate feedback.

Were there any stories that you reported on that particularly stand out in your mind?
The sinking of the Hood Canal Bridge. That was in 1979.

A lot of people have relatives who come into town for the holidays from out of town. If someone’s never been to Seattle before, where on the Hill would you recommend they visit?
Lake View Cemetery is fun; Bruce Lee is up there. The Asian Art Museum is wonderful. Or, just wandering around on Broadway in the evening, you’ll see plenty of interesting things.

Any other thoughts about life on Capitol Hill?
Capitol Hill is real Seattle. If I were still raising a family, Capitol Hill is probably not where I would choose to live, but I’m not. There’s an energy here that kind of draws you in, isn’t there?

Why wouldn’t you want to raise a family on Capitol Hill?
It’s a little too energetic. With kids, it’s probably better to live somewhere like West Seattle, where there’s less going on.


What do you do for a living?
I’m a cosmetologist here [at New Look salon on 15th].

Do you have any specialties?
I work on all kinds of hair, but my specialty is thick, curly hair.

Getting a new haircut or hairstyle can have a lot of meaning for people. I think it would be daunting to have that much responsibility…
Yeah, sometimes people want a change, but they don’t know exactly what. You have to really listen to clients, and help them figure out kind of styles are going to be best for their hair, their lifestyle, et cetera.

You have to be, like, a hair psychic?
Something like that. It’s about helping people figure out what they really want.

That’s also the job description of a therapist. Only, after therapy, I’ve paid $150, but my hair still looks like crap.
Being a hairstylist can be a lot like being a therapist, for sure!

How long have you worked on the Hill?
About three years.

Do you have any favorite hangouts on the Hill?
Actually, I don’t hang out here that often. Not because I don’t want to, but after work, I’ve been on my feet for hours, and I’m ready to just go home and relax.

Are you a Seattle native?
I am, born and raised. Now I live near Kent, though.

That sounds like quite a commute.
It is. That’s why I’m moving to a salon closer to where I live.

Is there anything you’ll miss about working on the Hill?
It’s a very friendly vibe. Lots of nice people, very open, all that. I’ve enjoyed working here, I just want to work somewhere closer to home.

Is there anything you dislike about like about this area?
The parking. It’s really hard to find a parking spot around here.

Do you have any advice on beauty, or life in general?
Find your own rhythm, and follow it!

More CHS Crow:

Marguerite Kennedy is a freelance writer, semi-professional thumb wrestler, and recovering New Yorker who currently resides on Capitol Hill. She blogs at, and does that other thing @tweetmarguerite.

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