Saturday, December 01, 2007

Just what Seattle are the writers of "The Seattle Weekly" living in?

Because their story about the supposed ultra-high crime area in downtown Seattle has little resemblance to how the place actually is. On any level. Here's how the story "Pike Street's All Stars" classified the area between first and fifth avenues on Pike Street:

"While the cops may have had an impact on driving out violent crime, the lunatic flavor of the corridor remains visible and potent. Taking a stroll along the west end of Pike Street is still the cheapest way for LSD-averse Seattleites to experience alternate dimensions. A simple hello quickly turns into "You need OxyContin?" And women stand on the corners and scream at nothing."

There's just one problem with this story and that is that the area they're talking about is equivalent to mid town Manhattan or the loop in Chicago, Chicago's central tourist area. On one side, on first and Pike naturally, is the world renowned Pike Place Market, one of Seattle's biggest attractions and a general fun and safe place. On the other side, along fifth avenue, you find Borders, and if you go one block up on fifth you find the Westlake Center, an urban mall with ultra-ritzy stores in it including Nordstroms. One block up from that, in turn, is Macy's. In between are office buildings with little food joints on the street level that the people working their get their lunches from. Plus, the tourist aspect of Pike Place Market spills over east onto Pike street, with stores selling Seattle souvenirs and maps. So this is the alternate universe that you'd have to take LSD to replicate an experience of?

I've never been offered OxyContin while walking from getting a Chinese Hum Bow pastry at the market to the new public library, which is south of Pike street, but then again I don't try to start up random conversations with homeless people. And it looks like homeless people are a big part of what the Seattle Weekly calls the area's "lunatic flavor". Wow, homeless people in an urban area, who'd have thought it? And who'd have thought that Seattlite's would react to it like that. The other part, the one that causes a lot of the crime, that's probably responsible for the image of a "lunatic flavor" is the presence of bored, probably poor, teenagers with no place else to go. Oh, and they're black, which no doubt ups the fear level.

Yes, there is crime, including spectacular crime like these kids beating up somebody in front of one of the high end shops and nobody doing anything about it, but it's a different sort of crime. To take the Seattle Weekly's tone you'd think that there were crack houses lining Pike street with women in the center of it soliciting.

Nope, instead it's a bourgie shopping and tourist district.

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