‘My Goodness’ is probably my favorite “new” Seattle band.
They’ve got a White Stripes meets Black Keys meets Mudhoney thing going on, and if they aren’t a household name in Seattle (if not wider) within the next few years, I’ll be surprised.
A couple of other bands that have the potential to save Seattle from folk and video game music are the Absolute Monarchs and He Whose Ox is Gored. The latter is an ultra-heavy Melvins-meets-Murder City Devils band with lead vocals which are every bit as radio-unfriendly as Buzz and Spencer’s, but which make for one hell of a live show. As the auto-tuned, metrosexualized, mellowed-out, “amazing” 00’s fade away, it’s time for noise to make a comeback.
When I checked the Capitol Hill Block Party schedule this past weekend, I was pretty psyched to see that two bands that I really wanted to see were playing back-to-back … outdoors … in the afternoon. My Goodness and The Posies.
Early outdoors meant that, for the first time ever, my daughter could actually hear these bands live. Call me old fashioned, but even if a show is all ages, I don’t take kids to night venues. It’s just awkward and weird.
I would, however, like to get her exposed to some decent stuff. I’m teaching her how to play the guitar and I’d like her to see some live gigs up close to get a feel for band dynamics, crowd interaction, etc. I also thought it would be great if she could see it in her own backyard.
Before committing to taking her, however, I decided to walk up to Broadway & Pike (just a few blocks from my home) on Saturday to see how many other kids were in front of the main stage. I reasoned that if there were no other kids in the crowd, and people were blazing, I’d leave my own daughter at home instead of killing the crowd’s buzz on Sunday.
When we got to the intersection, I was happy to see a sign near Retail Therapy that said “businesses open”. This area is a good place to get a quick view of the crowd while window-shopping, and I was glad to see that it was open to the public.
As we crossed the street and approached the sidewalk on Pike, a larger tattooed woman stepped in front of us, held her arm out, and said “you can’t walk on the sidewalk”.
I pointed to the sign that said that the sidewalk and businesses were open to the public, and she said “you still can’t walk on the sidewalk”.
“Why?”, I asked.
She said nothing. She just stood there with her arms spread out, preventing us from walking.
Now, keep in mind that there were scores of people walking up and down this stretch of sidewalk, and nobody was stopping them.
Again, I asked “why?”, and again the woman said absolutely nothing.
“It’s a public sidewalk”, I said, “physically preventing us from walking on a public sidewalk is against the law.”
Finally, she spoke. “I’m just doing my job”, she said, “you need to leave the area.”
I was confused. I looked down at my young daughter, and she was confused.
“Well, you can’t legally prevent me from walking on a sidewalk that is open to the public, you are breaking the law, but I can’t very well force the issue with my daughter standing here”, at which point I turned around and walked to the Broadway/Pike crosswalk.
I looked down at my daughter, who was looking around with an odd expression, and I said “the sidewalk is open, I’m not sure why they won’t let us go”.
Then, she said something that made me sad. After looking left and right a few more times, she said “maybe they just don’t like people like us.”
“What do you mean?”, I asked.
After a few seconds, she just said “never mind”, and she kept looking around.
Curious as to what was going on in her head, I began looking around as well.
You know, it’s ironic. The Block Party and The Stranger admonished us all not to go to the block party, and to “go to the mall” if we didn’t like different people, but as I visually canvassed the area, all I could see was a sea of white folks. Seriously, the Capitol Hill Block Party makes a typical suburban shopping mall look like a veritable bastion of diversity.
My family happens to be mixed, which makes my own daughter look like a different race than myself. Even though she did, indeed, swim directly out of my sack many years ago, she’s clearly not the product of two Caucasians.
Even here in supposedly-diverse Seattle, she still has to fend off daily questions, not the least annoying of which is “What are you?” (to which she likes to answer: “human”).
At school, at the playground, in Westlake Park, in Pike Place Market, to this day it astonishes me how many people in a major city stop and say to me “oh, she’s so cute, what is she?”.
For her entire life, she’s been reminded daily by (mostly white) people that she is “different” (read: not white). The kind of people that the Block Party said were welcome.
What could I say?
Frankly, I have no idea if this was the issue. I would like to think that it wasn’t, and I will certainly give the Capitol Hill Block Party the benefit of the doubt, but the nagging question remains. Why were we the only people stopped and excluded from walking on a public sidewalk? A public sidewalk which openly advertised that it was open to the public?
As we continued to stand and wait for the light, a heavy-set “security” guy walked up and all of a sudden heavy tattooed woman got loud and verbal.
She started laughing and said “Listen to this! Some guy told me that I was breaking the law by not allowing him and his daughter to walk through here”. They both shared a gregarious laugh, and then I turned around.
Tattooed woman must have thought that I had already crossed the street because she seemed genuinely surprised and embarrassed by my presence. I let both her and her friend have it. I was genuinely upset, and I went off on them to the absolute stunned silence of onlookers who stopped in place just to listen. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it wasn’t pleasant. I felt bad about doing this with my daughter next to me, but to be honest, I don’t necessarily want my daughter to be passive in the face of injustice. Also, if your family won’t speak up for you, who will?
During the entire thing, heavy-set man just stared as tattooed woman softly said “I’m just doing my job”.
Suddenly, she wasn’t so confident and mouthy.
When I asked her again why we had been singled out from using the sidewalk, she had absolutely no answer, though. None. According to her, she was hired by the Capitol Hill Block Party simply to discriminate. That was “her job”. That was her position and she was sticking to it. Her partner had nothing to add.
After causing a bit of a scene, we turned around and began walking back home.
I was still seething, and I was hoping that my daughter was okay. The next thing out of her mouth made me realize that she was just fine.
The rest is blogging history.
Anyway, even though I spent most of the weekend in Pike/Pine (as I often do), I decided to skip the Capitol Hill Block Party this year.
By all accounts, they may have a problem with diversity.
Next year, I’m going to the mall.