On Saturday we drove out Aurora Avenue and I was reminded that some parts of Seattle are still complying to my militant agenda.
An artery famous for its ghetto motels, suicides, and hookers, Aurora also offers a fine selection of pawn shops, sinister Chinese restaurants, strip clubs, gun shops, junk yards, casinos (I don't get how that works as it seems unlikely that north Seattle is a patchwork of Indian land), and sagging strip malls.
As a critic who often makes judgments on purely aesthetic grounds, can I really feel comforted by a strip mall?
The answer is yes, yes I can.
You may note that this blog is called Keep Seattle Seedy not Regress Seattle to A Pristine Woodland Meadow.
I am not singing the praises of just any strip mall--I certainly have no use for the strip malls of the TCBY and Panda Express variety. The strip malls on aurora are special--an endearing mishmash of mom and pop taxidermy shops and what Poverty insists are 'nail salons with happy endings'. (There are clearly several flaws in his theory, but I thought it was worth mentioning, if only the image it conjures.)
You know what makes the ugliness of Aurora better than the ugliness of the latest Ballard condos?
1. Aurora is useful.
The retail space in condos is not useful.
Bistros are not useful. Salons are not useful. Boutiques are not useful. The amount of people who can afford them is small, and the clientèle they cater to is select. Aurora, on the other hand, offers a little something for everyone. Cheap Chinese food anyone? Not your gig? OK, how about house paint? Or a garden shrub? Or a bicycle? Or a hand gun? Or a taxidermied duck? Or a stripper?
2. Tom Waits
Although I'd like to believe that Tom Waits could do anything, I'm not sure he could write a good song if strictly limited to describing the aesthetics of a typical Seattle condo development. But Aurora Avenue? He'd have a field day.