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January 16, 2015 at 11:47 AM

Seattle-Green Bay smack talk: Columnists face off about who has the cultural edge

Illustration by Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Illustration by Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

From the gridiron to the newsroom, we can’t get Sunday’s big game — the NFC Championship Game pitting the Seahawks against Green Bay — off our minds. Here, Seattle Times and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnists go head-to-head to prove which region is better — off the field.

Which city and state do you think is better? Add to the smack talk in the comments.

Put down your beers and find some taste

HIGGINS - SEATTLE - 12/18/2014This is that special time of year when Green Bay’s infatuation with its storied football team allows residents there to actually forget where they live.

If you don’t know Green Bay, Wis., think of it as Everett without the charm, and caked in dirty slush.

When Seattle brags about building the world’s best jetliners, Green Bay persists on being known as the “toilet paper capital of the world” because, you know, it invented splinter-free toilet paper.

To be fair, Seattle fans hold a smidgen of respect for Green Bay. It was the Packers’ former coach Mike Holmgren who helped turn the Seahawks franchise into what it is today — simply the best team in the NFC.

As Sunday’s championship game draws near, you can almost hear Green Bay fans praying for a miracle. Please, the plea goes, heal Aaron Rodgers’ left calf.

It’s understandable. Green Bay fans have witnessed the Legion of Boom and the tip of the spear — the high-leaping Seahawks safety, Kam Chancellor. Rodgers’ calf, it turns out, means more right now to Green Bay than all its upcoming ice-fishing derbies and beloved snowmobiles, combined.

Let’s be clear, Seattle expects a Sunday smackdown, a repeat of September’s bludgeoning of Green Bay. We want those cheesehead fans, with their green and mustard-colored jerseys, to suffer the Pioneer Square Walk of Shame after the game, knowing that not only is Seattle a better team but so, too, is our city and state.

Here are seven (obvious) reasons why:

    • Music: Wisconsin claims Liberace, the flamboyant pianist who lived by the motto, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful.” Seattle has Jimi, Kurt, Eddie and new guy Macklemore, to name just a few.
    • Business: OK, would you rather have Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks and in your backyard or Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, Johnsonville Sausage and Western States Envelope & Label?
    • Outdoor gear: Seattle has REI, the mothership of outdoor gear and apparel. Wisconsin has … OshKosh B’gosh, manufacturer of really durable baby clothes.
    • Bikes: OK, we mean motorcycles, and for that we give a hat tip to Wisconsin, home of Harley Davidson. But, hey, here in Seattle we custom-craft some pretty sick fixed-gear bicycles.
    • Weather: Green Bay has its polar vortex and subzero temperatures. And you never know if your submerged car will be carried away by a snow plow. Seattleites have snow — for about 10 minutes until the next rain. And, yes, we do have the Seattle Freeze, our collective urge to be polite but somewhat standoffish.
    • Food: OK, we get it. Wisconsin likes cheese. The medical term for cheesehead is actually “Cheese on the Brain.” They might want to get that checked out. And bratwursts? When we wrap it up, it’s not with pig intestines but rather salad wraps and rice paper. And those Wisconsin fish frys of beer-battered walleye or bluegill? Try our smoked wild salmon.
  • Beer: Milwaukee proclaims it to be the beer capital of the United States, founded by German immigrants in the 1800s. But Prohibition really messed things up and now that state drinks watered-down, Wisconsin swill — Miller, Pabst, Milwaukee’s Best. Serious suds come from Seattle — craft-brewed, our heavy-hopped IPAs would body-slam Wisconites’ tender taste buds — and not to mention that Washington grows three-quarters of the nation’s hops. You can thank us over a craft-brewed cold one.

Mark Higgins is deputy opinion editor for The Seattle Times. Email:

Seattle needs a good shaving

David Haynes - EmployeeA few years ago, I did some reconnaissance in Seattle while reporting on another important matter (it was called my vacation). Drawing on that experience, I am convinced that it’s in the national interest that the Green Bay Packers defeat the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday’s NFC Championship game.

I didn’t know much about Seattle people then, except that they seemed like a swell lot. Who couldn’t help but like the adorable Bobby Sherman in “Here Come the Brides” or Tom Hanks in “Sleepless in Seattle”?

But three days in Seattle revealed a dark underbelly and a gray sky. I learned that Seattle people were not at all like Bobby Sherman or Tom Hanks.

This is why sending the Seahawks to the Super Bowl for a second straight year would send exactly the wrong message to impressionable Americans such as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Walker might get the idea that it’s OK to forget to shave, listen to unnatural music or a Richard Sherman interview.

After crawling through Belltown, riding the Space Needle and patrolling Lake Washington, I learned that people in Seattle don’t cut their hair — anywhere on their bodies — and that many wear clothing best described as “teenage roustabout chic.” They ride bicycles — everywhere — even though it appeared that they still had lanes for cars.

They believe in a mountain they call Rainier, which they claim exists just beyond the fog, rain and clouds. Even University of Washington academics are bewitched by this mountain god and tell prospective students they’ll see it every day on their way to class. But here’s the thing: No one has actually ever seen this alleged outcropping.

Persistent cloud cover does strange things. It makes people drink coffee. Then more coffee. And then it makes them open Starbucks outlets on every corner. It also makes them listen to a low, grumbling music that I believe they called Grunge. Or perhaps that described the bathrooms in the coffeehouses.

After all that coffee, Seattle people don’t feel the buzz anymore. All they feel is a steady hum inside their heads and a ringing in their ears. And they start seeing a mountain and invent Windows 8. Then they crash — and so does Windows 8.

In Seattle, I witnessed a woman ride up to a fine restaurant in a bicycle towing a cart that carried a toy poodle. The dog, which was belted in, wore a hat. I am not kidding. In Wisconsin, our dogs hunt for grouse and bear. They fetch the newspaper. They provide a convenient footstool. We understand that dogs work for us.

We have our challenges in Wisconsin. We are addicted to cheese … cheesehead hats, cheese footballs, cheese keyrings, cheese neckties and cheese shirts and pants and cheese underwear.

But we know what’s right. Most of us get haircuts every couple of weeks, know the business end of a razor and appreciate a good brat and a beer.

Western civilization may depend on the outcome Sunday. This is the NFL — at least that much is at stake. We cannot allow the world to believe that Seattle is normal, which another trip to the Super Bowl by the Seahawks would risk. Let me say clearly: Richard Sherman and Bill Gates are not normal. “College Navy,” “Wolf Gray” and “Action Green” — the Seahawks’ colors — not normal. Dogs in rickshaws — not normal.

Aaron Rodgers. Beer. Brats. Green. Gold. Cheesehead hats. Beer bellies. Lambeau Leaps. That’s normal.

Pass me a Miller. And a brat with kraut.

Go Pack!

David D. Haynes is the editorial page editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Email:

Comments | More in Discussion | Topics: David Haynes, Green Bay Packers, Mark Higgins


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