Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sweat Shop

I recently returned from a visit to Seattle with my friend UberKen. He was going up to visit his I-can't-stand-LA-anymore house, and invited me to tag along. It was a great change of pace for me, and I was able to explore some local color. A short road trip to North Bend (filming location of Twin Peaks) necessitated a stop at Tweedy's Cafe, home of the infamous Cherry Pie and Damn Good Cup of Coffee. A quick stop there and all seemed normal, no one was wrapped in plastic as far as we could ascertain. At least no one stood out. Another local favorite was Jak's Grill in Issaquah, where they make what is perhaps the most perfect Martini in the state of Washington. Delivered with an impressive swirl of ice crystals floating on top, it sparkles and seduces. Okay, perhaps I am easily seduced.

One afternoon I opted for the Seattle Underground tour. A bit of history- the city founders opted for some rather extensive urban renewal in 1889 as much of the original downtown burned to the ground one June day. Seems they took the opportunity to elevate the streets approximately one story, meaning that what had been the second story was now ground level. As a result, there is a secret and amazingly well preserved underground which had been the original ground level, and it makes for a fascinating tour.

One of the important lessons shared with us was the legend of the seamstresses. There was one notorious street that, in the 1900 census, housed no fewer than 246 single women who reported their occupation as "seamstress". This came as somewhat of a surprise, as most of the doors on that block had red lights above them. The city fathers, eager to learn the truth, apparently sent a posse of volunteers to investigate. They later reported back that there was not one sewing machine in all of Founder's Square. It brings a whole new meaning to the term "sweat shop".

For the balance of the trip, UberKen kept pointing out individuals and asking- "Do you think he might be a seamstress"?

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