May 31, 2013 at 10:58 PM
Sketched May 28, 2013
Several weeks ago, there was a double-shooting in front of this colorful convenience store at Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South Jackson Street.
But there are more things happening in the Central Area than the crime that often makes the headlines. Today, you can try hopscotching for a change.
From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., everyone in Seattle is invited to hop, skip and jump along a 1.8-mile path that starts across the street from Quick Pack (home of “the best fried chicken in town,” reads the sign) and ends at 23rd Avenue and East Union Street.
Along an eventful course, you may shop at yard sales, dance to live music, grab a lemonade or get your nails painted.
Says organizer Knox Gardner about the initiative: “If we can get together and play together, it’s easy to get on as neighbors.”
For more information visit jacksoncommons.com
May 24, 2013 at 10:42 PM
Sketched May 15, 2013
Goodbye Caffeine Cuties, hello The Bean Feen.
Next time you drive through this coffee stand in Mount Lake Terrace, don’t expect a scantily-dressed barista to serve your morning latte.
Big block letters announce the change: “NOW FAMILY FRIENDLY”
Is this a sign of the times? I wondered. Are bikini-barista stands an endangered specie of our surburban landscape?
New owner Jackie Briones doesn’t think they are going away, though she wished they would. “It’s degrading for women,” she said. Unless you are a model or a lifeguard, “where else can you go to work in your bikinis?”
To bring in a new clientele, Briones has been writing this other slogan on the dry-erase board: “Now clothed and classy.”
But new baristas Cloe Hadidi and Kendra Johnson say the occasional “creepy guy” still comes in. They recalled someone being very angry: “I drove all the way here and you are wearing clothes!”
Briones takes heart that a larger number of customers are saying just the opposite: “Thanks for having clothes on!”
May 18, 2013 at 2:24 AM
Sketched May 8, 2013
“Are you thinking of flying today?”
When Marc Chirico asked the question, I mumbled: “Er… I wasn’t planning to.”
Chirico, who runs a paragliding school at the foot of Tiger Mountain in Issaquah, has a long resume in the sport. He has participated in international competitions and once flew 65 miles between Chelan and Odessa in Eastern Washington — a state record.
He also has a knack for making people feel at ease. He welcomed me atop his “eagle’s nest” with a fresh cup of coffee and an extra jacket in case I was cold.
The 4-story high platform overlooks a grassy field where pilots land next to the Issaquah-Hobart road. It is the latest addition to Seattle Paragliding, the training center Chirico has operated from this converted farm for more than a decade.
The grounds also include a sloping hill where I watched pilots practice take-off and landing. Tom Keefer was one of them. He said the more you practice here, the better prepared you are when you fly.
Meeting Keefer and Chirico’s other students helped me realize this may not be the sport for daredevils I imagined.
Keefer, 61, is a retired Metro bus driver who has flown solo 57 times. Nancy Colton, a 50-year-old massage therapist, was excited about completing her fourth solo flight and looking forward to her fifth the following day. She said she still gets scared, but the desire to fly is stronger.
If they could do it, why not me?
By the time Chirico mentioned the 4:45 p.m. shuttle service to the launchpads at Poo Poo Point, the idea of a tandem flight was sounding less intimidating.
The shuttle driver is someone very dear to Chirico, a man named Mike Miller who was born with celebral palsy. Chirico called him up and he joined us atop the eagle’s nest long enough for me to do a quick sketch of him.
While many take the shuttle up to the Poo Poo Point launchpads, others prefer to hike. That was the case of Michael Peña, a sporty-looking fellow I sketched moments after he landed. Peña, who has practiced the sport in Costa Rica and Mexico as well, said Tiger Mountain is one of the most scenic places for paragliding he knows.
With permission from the Department of Natural Resources, Chirico built the trail that goes up to Poo Poo Point and the launchpads that paragliders use to jump. The process of building the launchpads started in 1990, he said. It required bringing excavators to level the terrain and installing runways of Astro Turf. Today, Poo Poo Point has become a community treasure, said Chirico. It is the “country club of paragliding.”
After watching about a dozen pilots take off, I took up Chirico’s offer to fly a tandem with him. Talk about gaining a new perspective!
He strapped my harness to his and I followed the steps: “Three, two, one, run …. and torpedo!”
A burst of wind lifted the featherweight wing and we soared into the sky.
A few minutes later, as the warm air of a thermal propelled us, I pulled out my sketchbook and drew Mount Rainier with my feet dangling in the sky.
“Can you feel the heat,” Chirico asked.
May 13, 2013 at 12:10 PM
Those Car2go little vehicles are popping up everywhere in Seattle. My Times colleague Brier Dudley has been taking them for a ride and says the service is convenient but not cheap. Have you tried them? I think they’d be handy for my sketching around the city.
May 10, 2013 at 6:40 PM
I could have used one of his “cycletrucks” to carry my groceries and one of his heavy-duty bike trailers to haul the little furniture that fit in my apartment.
“Haulin’ Colin,” as he is known in the local bike community, is making a name for himself in Seattle building such clever bike accessories and any kind of bike customization.
The 31-year-old started out as a computer-science major when he moved here from Bandon, Ore., to study at the University of Washington. But his love of bicycles and learning how to weld led him down a different career path.
These days Stevens works full-time creating unique pedal-powered machines and bike parts out of a crammed metal shop at Georgetown’s Equinox Studios, an enclave of “fine and heavy, arts and artisans.” His latest projects include a bookmobile bike trailer and a pedal-powered food processor for a zoo exhibit.
Stevens doesn’t consider himself an artist, but he enjoys the creative aspect of building things with his hands instead of writing software. “It’s more satisfying to make a physical thing,” he said.
Here are more sketches I made at Stevens’ metal shop while he worked on the food-processor bike commissioned by the Woodland Park Zoo.
April 19, 2013 at 5:56 PM
Sketched March 26, 2013
I may be crafty with pen and paper, but my handyman skills are pretty limited. That’s probably why I hadn’t heard of Second Use, a Seattle mecca for do-it-yourselfers who prefer to buy used materials for their home- improvement projects.
Jay Cook, who was browsing window frames when I met him, said it’s good to get something back in shape with a little elbow grease. Old cabinets from the original Amazon offices in Beacon Hill are now part of his garage remodeling project, and he also owns a 1925 urinal discarded after a Seattle school renovation.
Since 1994, Second Use has become one of the largest businesses of its kind in the area. It was founded in 1994 by the late Roy Hunter, a contractor who grew tired of seeing so many building materials being thrown away. His first inventory was discarded wood beams he retrieved from a construction site, said co-owner Michael Armstrong, a longtime employee. Today, more than 4,600 items are available at their new retail space in Sodo and can be seen on their website.
“We’ve always been looking for basic stuff anybody can use,” said Armstrong. “If you were building a cabin, you could get enough of the stuff here.”
Second Use’s new facility in Sodo feels like a Home Depot of used stuff. The building used to house the headquarters for Alaskan Brass and Copper, which is now based in Kent.
March 8, 2013 at 9:00 PM
I’m not as crazy about pizza as some, but I appreciate the art of making food, especially if you mix in a bit of spectacle.
The open kitchen at Ballard Pizza Company becomes a stage when the pizzaioli start tossing the dough into the air. The centrifugal force makes the pies perfectly round and spreads the dough evenly, explained Dan Eling, but much of the tossing is also for fun. If the restaurant is really busy, he may not have time to give each pizza a spin.
On Sunday, however, you are guaranteed to see Eling perform from noon to 3 p.m. during a competition billed as the first-ever dough-tossing contest in Seattle. For a suggested $20 donation, customers will get pizza, salad and a scorecard to rank Eling and 11 other local pizzaioli. Awards will be given for speed, style, best pie and high toss, and the proceeds will go to a charity chosen by the winner.
Eling, 26, said he’s been practicing for the competition, but he downplays his dough-spinning talent. “I’m all right,” he said at the start of his 10-hour shift. “I can get it 15 to 20 feet up in the air.”
February 8, 2013 at 5:46 PM
Sketched Jan. 30, 2013
Most people know the first Starbucks is at the Pike Place Market. But how about the first Tully’s?
Company founder Tom Tully O’Keefe told me it was in a shopping center near Panther Lake in Kent, but has been closed for more than a decade.
As far as he remembered, the next Tully’s coffee shops opened in Mercer Island, Clyde Hill and Capitol Hill soon after in the early ’90s. The one in Clyde Hill, a city on the Eastside I had yet to visit, used to be his home store when he lived in Medina. That’s where I headed to learn more about the coffee chain that was recently acquired by Global Baristas, an investment group led by TV star Patrick Dempsey.
Asked about what makes Tully’s different from other coffee shops, baristas and patrons told me the coffee is better, the staff friendlier and the atmosphere more intimate.
Janet Hollander, who stops by daily, gave me the most straightforward answer: the Madagascar Vanilla Latte. They don’t make her favorite drink anywhere else.
Coffee shop manager Joel Pearson has fixed drinks for the likes of Steve Ballmer and the Gates family since he started working here six years ago. That’s nothing to be surprised about, he said, given that Clyde Hill and the surrounding communities of Yarrow Point, Hunts Point and Medina rank at the top in the state based on per capita income.
Because of its location right off the 520 Highway, this Tully’s has also become a convenient destination for Seattle and Eastside professionals to meet, said Pearson, who guessed the number of people who spread out on the tables with their laptops in the “hundreds per week.”
Do you feel any strong affiliation to our homegrown coffee-shop chains? I invite you to share your comments here and on my Facebook page.
January 18, 2013 at 7:23 PM
Sketched Jan. 9, 2013
When the Columbia City Cinema closed in 2011, many worried the neighborhood theater was gone for good. But just as the building was about to be leased for storage space, a good guy burst onto the scene to save the day.
In only three months, David McRae has brought the building up to code and replaced old movie reels with new digital projectors. All three screens of the new Ark Lodge Cinemas are now open and screening new releases including “Les Miserables” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”
The “film bug” runs in the family, says McRae, 52. He grew up helping his father run the Cine-Mond theater in Redmond in the ‘70s, before multiplexes became popular, and he spent the past two years doing film-to-digital conversions in theaters throughout the country.
McRae wants Ark Lodge to be a magnet for the diverse community of Columbia City. In addition to box-office hits, he plans to show independent films and even silent movies. And though he took a risk to get the theater up and running again, he says he’s in it “for the long run.”
The historic Ark Lodge, built by the Masons in 1921, still retains most of its character.
McRae has seen the transformation of the movie theater industry first hand. Films that used to be delivered in heavy boxes full of movie reels now come inside a hard-drive that he plugs into the projector. “You push play just like a DVR,” he said. In the sketch, McRae checks the show times programmed for “Promised Land.”
December 14, 2012 at 9:13 PM
Sketched Dec. 4, 2012
Googly eyes. Animal masks and rubber chickens. Bacon-flavored candy. You’ve seen the odd novelty gifts at Archie McPhee, a Wallingford store that has become a symbol of weird Seattle since 1983. Now meet the four guys in a Mukilteo warehouse who come up with some of that stuff: Curt Hanks, Scott Heffernan, Scott King and Jim Koch.
Koch is the creator of Slicey the Pig, a dashboard toy inspired by a French 1920s ad for fresh-cut salami. A Merry Krampus sweater in honor of the mythical beast that punishes children on Christmas is the brainchild of Heffernan. The octopus fingers come from Hanks, while King is especially proud of Baron Von Broccoli and Captain Corndog.
Archie McPhee founder Mark Pahlow said his creative team has designed more than 3,000 gag gifts over the years. “I like to think of these things as affordable art,” he said. “They are my babies and I think they’re beautiful.”
MEET THE TEAM
Artist Jim Koch shared the key to coming up with cool novelty toys. “We cater to our own taste … if it makes us giggle, that’s our seal of approval.” The process is fast too. Koch said Slicey the Pig took about six months to make, from his early sketches to the final manufacturing in China.
Koch, 46, grew up in Spokane and lives in Seattle, where he recently exhibited his artwork at ltdartgallery on Capitol Hill. He said he finds inspiration in heavy metal, hot rods, anything from the 50s and 60s and pop culture in general.
As the most veteran Archie McPhee designer, Scott King has a pretty good idea of what it takes to make successful gag gifts. “We just put our unique spin on things,” he said. That means creating a Santa Dreidel for mixed Jewish-Christian families or holiday gift wrap decorated with photos of bacon.
King, 52, lives in Arlington and has been with the company for 16 years. Among his recent creations is an inflatable Christmas tree for single guys who live in tiny aparments.
A whiz with Photoshop, he was working on an image for the company’s Geyser of Awesome Blog when I stopped by his desk. The guy holding the Savory Bacon Sticks and wearing a pig mask is marketing director David Wahl, best known as the “Director of Awesome.”
Heffernan, 32, lives in Bothell and described himself as a child of the ’80s and skateboarder. He has a degree in sign language but said he may have found his dream job at Archie McPhee already.
Curt Hanks said Archie McPhee’s toys are not only well designed but well made, not cheap knock-offs. “Look at the texture on the tentacles,” he said about the octopus fingers as he tried them on for me. “And all those little suckers underneath.”
Hanks, 44, lives in Lake Forest Park and has been with the company for 13 years, starting out in the warehouse and working his way up to the creative department as a toy designer and web developer. He’s a huge Star Wars fan and also finds inspiration in monsters and zombies.
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