Notes on Seattle, November 28, 2008, Pt. III - My Enemies Now Have the Proof That They Need

Chris and Chelz tell me of a Lenin statue in Fremont, and I immediately hear them say "Lennon." In a town so filled with rock history, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if someone erected a statue to John Lennon, even if he had, as far as I know, nothing to do with Seattle, except perhaps in the overall influence he has laid upon the whole planet.

"No, not Lennon," Chris says. "Lenin. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin."

"Oh," I reply, rather bemused. "Fantastic. Everyone calls me a commie at work anyway. By all means... let's go!"

Fremont seems a rather cool place, with a barbershop that we pass holding a copy of Giant Robot in its magazine holder. And sure enough, while more weirdly unbalancing than cool, there is a monstrous 16-foot high Lenin statue standing oddly in front of a Mexican restaurant. Apparently saved from a mudhole in Czechoslovakia by a local carpenter who mortgaged his house to acquire it, Vladimir Lenin is a strange sight to encounter. We really didn't see the guns in the sculpture that the plaque to the side assures us shows the man as a violent revolutionary -- mainly we just thought they were rocks surrounding him -- but the statue's biggest weapon is exactly how oft-putting it is to see it. There is a sense of displacement upon walking up to it, and it is really hard for me to truly put words on how I felt about seeing it. Since I am not actually a Commie Pinko -- my considered to be extremely liberal politics and rampant atheism get me branded as such though, hopefully jokingly for the most part -- and since I know full well the history of his time on Earth, both the horrible and the good he did initially, it is hard to feel anything beyond "Wow, amazing..." Perhaps the sense of displacement is the true mood that the piece requires us to feel, though it was certainly not intended by the artist; perhaps causing us to reflect upon such a past is the ultimate good such an article can achieve.

We leave Vlad and drive through the University District as the daylight goes away, and soon we come to one of the places they had told me about before I even arrived in Seatlle: Half-Price Books on Capitol Hill. Sounds grand to me. I love old bookstores, but I am sure to catch hell if I return home to an apartment already crowded with old books to bring back a stack of even more old books. And I can literally spend hours in such a store, but I really have to use the bathroom. Luckily, there is a bathroom; sadly, I cannot use it. That requires going to a back counter and asking for a key, which Chelz does easily, but I have some weird shy thing that pops up in areas relating to the use of public restrooms. It's not pee shyness, a very famous syndrome, but rather "key shyness." I simply cannot ask the owners of a store for a key to go use their restroom, preferring instead places that have open access to their toilet areas. Don't ask me to explain it... it's just a problem I have always had, and probably has something to do with my need to not have confrontations of any variety. I am already nervous enough in public places; don't ask me to commit further by having to explain to a stranger that I am about to whiz my pants.

And so I hold it, and hop from shelf to shelf for the next hour, constantly moving in a bid to make the discomfort of my bladder go away without actually removing the contents of said bladder. Regardless of this discomfort, I am able to maintain myself long enough to make several key purchases, not least of which is finding a copy of Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women by the great Ricky Jay, whom many of you may know mostly from David Mamet and P.T. Anderson films. Jay is probably the world's greatest card manipulator, and even wrote a book a number of years ago called Cards As Weapons. Learned Pigs is a marvelous history of the circus sideshow, and Jay is one of its foremost historians in addition to being a master illusionist. I lost my copy several years back in unmentionable circumstances, so it was good to find not just one, but three copies on the shelf at Half Price Books, giving me a chance to pick the one in the most pristine shape, and still pick it up for only about five bucks.

Also in my book pile is The Ernie Kovacs Phile, which I have never seen before but was more than happy to add to the collection. Having only one volume on one of my favorite comedians at hand, this volume is made up of large script portions from various shows, and the writer seems to think he is doing something unique with the way he is presenting Kovacs' story -- only reading it will tell, but I look forward to catching up with ol' Percy Dovetonsils. Equally important, and likely more time consuming, is The Moose That Roared: The Story of Jay Ward, Bill Scott, a Flying Squirrel, and a Talking Moose, written by Keith Scott, no relation to "voice of Bullwinkle Moose" Bill Scott, but similar in that he did the voice in the most recent film version with the characters. Should be interesting. One more item: a thin little paperback called Sea Monsters, likely written for the scholastic set, but at 62.5 cents, a fun thing to lay next to the much larger, more comprehensive and scientifically sound book of similar intent by Richard Ellis which I have admired for numerous years. Oh, yes... also grabbed a cheapo DVD copy of The Manster, just because I could. (History on this item on another post at another date.) All told, a hardback, two trades (one of them that replaces a lost item), one mass market and a DVD, all for less than 20 bucks combined, and all of them items I would not consider extraneous to the collection. All told, a decent night out for me, though I could have bought the place out if given the chance... and if I really, really didn't have to release a certain large amount of a certain liquid.

Blackness, incredible traffic left over from the tree-lighting and parade jamming up the downtown area as we head back through, and general weariness mean that it is time to go spend the remainder of the evening back at Chris and Chelz' abode. G&Ts for me, beer for Chris and wine for Chelz, and we settle into going through Chris' old drawing books. The Eel is tossing drawing after drawing to me from a stack of endless pages, and I am astonished at just how awesome he became at getting the thoughts from his head to the paper, in a way that I could never do art-wise. There is then an incident which I will relate in greater detail at another time, in which I am confronted with my past as an aspiring young artist, and in a separate incident, as a disaffected youth doing some automatic writing on command from my little brother. I am staggered by these revelations of past... er.. attempts (they are not really glories), but I find it amusing that Chris gives the art back to me after all these years, but keeps the story to himself. We spend the rest of the evening writing, drawing and listening to music. And at this point, Mr. Django Bongo Puppy Boy has all but ingratiated himself to me. Once I get up in the morning, he is my best pal in the world.


EggOfTheDead said…
The Manster?! That's a Golden Turkey nominee! Haven't seen it myself.

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