February 2nd, 2014
First off, we’re having a sale today anyway, and I should emphasize that: 1/3 off all U.S. writers in all categories.
I think it will fill up fast downstairs: they’re carrying stateside coverage of the game (one customer told me in that case he would come, for the commercials) and offering an unbeatable beer-and-slider all you can stuff in deal. We’ll be open until the game starts, and then available in the bar to guide customers upstairs to the books at request.
Why am I watching a football game, on purpose?
I have zero interest in watching sports. Whether this is because my deepest formative years were spent in European hotels before American sports were televised abroad or because of a particular mental or sociological makeup, I can’t say. I’ve just never cared. The Super Bowl, with it’s weird echoes of that ‘peculiar institution’ that ended officially in 1863, and real violence and air of mass-savagery, kind of skeezes me out in a way no other sport comes close to doing.
So I’m not a fairweather fan like most of those Seattleites all of a sudden calling themselves the ‘twelfth man’ – a phrase I’d never heard until last week – in fact, I have a history with the Seahawks that would understandably make me root for the Broncos or even find a shaman to cast a spell on the team.
Twenty years ago, at the start of my civic activism in Seattle, I was the campaign manager for two citizens’ initiative campaigns, and one electoral campaign against the public funding of Seattle’s new baseball and football stadiums.
And there they stand today.
The powers that be put the baseball stadium to the voters, who said no. Then the state legislature called an emergency session – an emergency session – to fund the project, on King County’s (where Seattle is) dime. We started a citizens’ initiative campaign that was deemed hopeless before even qualifying for the ballot. That was round one.
But we rolled our organization right into the next fight (it was called, very to the point, Citizens for More Important Things) against bigger enemies: the Seahawks. Paul Allen of Microsoft had just bought the team. We gathered 75,000 signatures in just six weeks to stop him from logrolling the County. The whole while, Seahawks fans – those 12ths – called my office daily to threaten to blow it up, burn it down, shoot down signature gatherers. It was a different time, I didn’t take them terribly seriously.
But in a corner of my mind, I did. And the stress of that campaign, the cold, the tyrranical orders of a boss who is really one of the sweetest guys in the world and was one of the co-founders of this store fifteen years later, combined to start the nerve and muscle pain disorder that has tormented me since. (Much, much less since moving here. In fact, it was in large part why I moved here.)
Finally Allen, in a grandiose display of rich-guy cynicism, simply told the state to hold a one-issue ballot election, at his expense, and that would decide it.
Not unconstitutional technically, just massively so spiritually.
The fat little fucker won (surprise!) and it’s seventeen years on and the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl a week after a Seattle rapper without a record label swept the Grammys. (I like the Macklemore record – it’s even brought me to the edge of tears on occasion. I know that as a white rapper he comes with an almost religious respect bordering on apology to the hiphop game. But having won those four – meaningless – little statues, he’s now out in the wider world where hometown rah-rah won’ t float him at all, and the internet pirahnas are under his flotation device. And that lyric – “and if I fall / then my city, they got me” – I remember when I felt that way, and believed it with my entire heart. That’s an illusion, bro. I wish him well, and good luck. And I recognize that a Seattle whose identity is based on hiphop and football is unrecognizable to me. So it should be, and that puts it well and even further behind me.)
I talked to my good friend Bryan Miller yesterday, something of an entrepreneurial mover and shaker in Seattle these days in a good way: he runs the drinkeycultural Naked City Brewing Company, a brewpub dedicated to movies, literature, and soccer. He tells me that between Macklemore’s success and the Seahawks in the game today, Seattle is posed to get adrenalized on a scale perhaps unseen before. You need that, in February, in Seattle.
But he says, knowing the strange weather-and-substances linked manic depression of the place (pot is legal there now, and taking its place in the culture out of the shadows and unashamed alongside alcohol) that if they lose….
… it’s gonna be a bummer.
The only thing holding me back from wishing destruction 100% on the Seahawks is the passionate dedication to the team (no fairweather fan she) of our co-founder Kim Suther, who will spend today somewhere in Seattle, screaming in a bar. I love her, and she practically built this place with her bare fucking hands, so I don’t want her team to lose.
Either result will provoke feeling. I’ve never gotten that from a sports event. The energy around this for me, and all the damn Seattleites filling up this town – it’s impossible to look away. Or, maybe I’ll get bored after ten minutes and go back upstairs, drink tequila and listen to Hunky Dory.