Monday, June 24, 2013


Malcolm Young's Gretsch guitar, EMP Museum, Seattle, Washington
We are staying near the south shore of Lake Union. Next door to us is a cancer research center, across the street is the lake. From our hotel-room window, we watch aquaplanes take off and land.

It is a healthy walk to most places from here, but as long as the weather holds, Sandra and I are game. Traveling by foot is a good way to learn a city. Feeling the slope of hills in your calves and quads gives a greater appreciation for the terrain, as well as a sense of satisfaction at arriving anywhere.

This belief betrays a bias. I prefer to move as slowly as practical. I prefer to observe along the way, sometimes at the expense of reaching a specific destination.

The means justify the ends.

We are here in time for the 36th Annual Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival. It's a large and friendly looking event that we pass on our way to EMP Museum.

I prefer to observe along the way, but sometimes there is a destination worth reaching. And so we must bypass the wooden boats in favor of all things Jimi Hendrix.

At EMP, we hear original mixes of Hendrix's “Crosstown Traffic” on headphones. Turn down the vocals and listen to Jimi play rhythm guitar like the bad-ass Motown cat he was.

We see Malcolm Young's Gretsch guitar and Angus Young's Gibson SG. We learn that an older brother, George Young, played with the Easybeats and co-wrote their 1966 hit “Friday on My Mind.” And that AC/DC once shared a bill with Split Enz in 1975, which is hard to imagine nearly 40 years later.

We see footage of old John Landis films and interviews with the famous director. We see uniforms from various flavors of Star Trek, Stargate, and other classics.

Upstairs is Sound Lab, where you can play instruments and record music. I jam on guitar and bass for a while, then watch others do the same. Folks with no or limited experience are the most fun, because once they conquer their initial self-consciousness, they discover what musicians know: this is a blast.

So is the museum, and it is difficult to pry ourselves away after only a few hours, but we have packed too many activities into too short a time period and so we must. Back at the lake, we eat at Duke's Chowder House. Our concerns that it might be too touristy are soon alleviated by fine food and drink.

Sandra has crab chowder, steamed clams, and a cherry mojito. I have Northwest seafood chowder and salmon stuffed with Dungeness crab and Oregon bay shrimp, washed down with Mac & Jack's African Amber Ale, which is similar to Ballast Point Calico back home.

From Duke's we return to Safeco for another ballgame. We stop at Pyramid Alehouse, which has good beer but too many people and plastic cups.

At the ballpark, Miss Washington 2011 throws out a ceremonial first pitch. She is kind of gorgeous and has a surprisingly good arm. Former Mariners left-hander Mark Langston, now 51 and a dozen years removed from his last game, throws out another ceremonial first pitch. He is also kind of gorgeous and has a surprisingly good arm.

The home team wins in extra innings. Chone Figgins is the hero, one of the few times that word could be applied to him during his Mariners tenure.

Longtime star Ichiro Suzuki, now in the twilight of his career, collects two hits. He will play seven more games at Safeco as a member of the home team before being traded to the Yankees. Sometimes there is a destination worth reaching. Personally, I'd have stayed in Seattle.

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