Dispatch from Emerald City

Dispatch from Emerald City

George in Seattle. Photos provided by George Payne.

George Cassidy Payne recently returned from a four day trip to Olympic National Park and Seattle, Washington.

SEE Enchanted Tranquility: Scenes from Olympic National Park, The Severing , Why the Sasquatch Myth Will Never Die and TO THE PENINSULA

At night, what you see is a city, because all you see is lights. By day, it doesn’t look like a city at all. The trees outnumber the houses. And that’s completely typical of Seattle. You can’t quite tell: is it a city, is it a suburb, is the forest growing back?

Jonathan Raban

My one day visit to Seattle came at a time when the city was still reeling from the depressing news about beloved Mariner Edgar Martinez. Once again, the prolific hitter of Seattle’s baseball franchise had failed to garner the votes needed to be elected to the Hall of Fame. As a baseball fan, I could sense an unresolved gloom.S12

That said, my initial impression of Seattle began with the sensation that it did not really matter if Martinez got in or not, the city would still have this damp, overcast, edgy and contemplative feeling. Grunge started here for a reason.starbucksS1

The big stereotypes seem to be mostly true. Yes, Seattle is fog-soaked, slower than San Francisco, laid back and cerebral. Yes, there is a Starbucks around every corner. Yes, marijuana is ubiquitous and almost entirely self-regulated. Yes, the Pubic Market rocks.S14

Seattle is the kind of city that looks forward to transcendental meditation facilitated by Bob Roth and David Lynch. The kind of city that gets excited about Robert Reich’s new book Economics in Wonderland. The people are introverted yet friendly, and essentially dominated by a work force of 20 somethings: it is athletic, future oriented, unveiled, and politically conscious.S10

After just 12 hours of exposure, here is what I think Seattle is. Seattle is a cute blonde wearing pajama pants and a flannel; she reads Popular Science and orders a stout in a microbrewery by the harbor.

S8Seattle is 3,000 homeless people, some wielding machetes and unmedicated grins.

Seattle is living in the shadow of an active volcano; she possesses energetic forces operating below a stable, steadfast and non impressionable surface. Seattle is the Indian Wars, the Chinese Riots, the Timber Strikes, the Spotted Owls Wars, and the World Trade Organization protests. Seattle can erupt at anytime.

The European settlement was moved to the eastern shore of Elliot Bay and named “Seattle” in 1852, after Chief Si’ahl of the local Duwamish and Suquamish tribes. Once a rugged, dangerous place ruled by mountaineers, miners, and gamblers, Seattle is now the dominion of software engineers, social media advertisers, business executives, and artists.

emerald last

Our new Pacific Northwest sports commentator. On the Seahawks, and some Bills.

Why the Sasquatch Myth Will Never Die

The Severing

Enchanted Tranquility: Scenes from Olympic National Park


About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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