ViaF*cked: Adventures Under Seattle’s Viaduct

Three years ago I moved from a tiny Kentucky city to the thriving metropolis that is Seattle.  Living in Seattle has been a thrilling experience–new people, new career, new opportunities, crazy situations, nightlife…it’s all very exciting.  But, if I were forced to pick one aspect of life here that is consistently full of surprises, it would definitely be my morning walk to work.  Sound pretty boring?  Think again!  I am one of the lucky few that arrive to work on 1st Avenue S at the right time of morning to score parking under the Viaduct!

For my friends back home, let me explain that the viaduct is like a street on stilts.  It is a double-layered deathtrap suspended over earth and water that allows quicker access to different parts of the city.  Apparently, the last earthquake left it structurally unsound and the plan is to tear it down and replace it with a tunnel (though this project is under heavy debate).  If I have any of this incorrect, Seattleites, please let me know.  In any case, parking underneath the viaduct is the only free option for parking in my work area.

Walking to the office takes me down a long section of covered, isolated roadway, through a small parking lot and across the entrance to a very sketchy alley (where you can score a variety of party favors).  Every morning is a new adventure!  You meet the most interesting folks along the way—all with their own special quirks:  “Meth-head who likes to hide behind the dumpster,” “poor old lady in the church hat who talks to herself,” “Blue-jacket man who likes to pretend he’s the parking lot attendant,” “cowboy guy who ‘hates Seattle’,” and the occasional newbie.  Sometimes my coworkers have lovely “incidents” to report—things they witness happening that are delightfully unusual or frightening.  Personally, my favorite thing about the trip through the viaduct is finding my morning treasure.

About once a week, I make a shocking or bizarre discovery on my morning stroll.  Incidentally, the item or creature I come across is usually positioned in a way that forces me to step over it in order to reach my final destination.  Here is my current list of these little gems:

Used Condom, Old Razor Blade Combo

On my first day of work at my new building, I stepped over a used condom positioned in close proximity to a dirty razor blade.  Hmmm…

Rabid Seagull

The thing wouldn’t move, no matter how close I got.  It just stared at me.

Empty Six-Pack of Non-Alcoholic Beer

Hey, Jed, let’s sneak over to the viaduct and drink O’Douls till we pass out!

Rusty Nail Mountain

One of the lesser-known mountains in the area, it appeared overnight.  There were hundreds of them just piled up on the side of the street.

Freshly Killed Rat #1

I will refrain from mentioning the other freshly killed rats.  I just wanted to mention this one because he was my first and, therefore, holds a special place in my heart.  I am certain, due to the look of him, that he felt jaded by life as a rat and threw himself from the edge of the viaduct in a fit of rage and angst.

Not so Freshly Killed Rat #1

If I were a forensics expert—and maybe I am—then I would say this animal met it’s demise in another location and was dumped under the viaduct to cover up wrong doing.

Blind Ferret

Yes, he was alive and well.  My coworkers and I trapped him and took him to a ferret rescue center.  I named him Eduardo.  Watching him walk into walls was simultaneously endearing and tragic.

Severed Deer Head

In the freaking parking lot!  Seriously?  How does that happen?

These are few of my favorite finds.  I’m sure there will be many more to add in the future.  Until then, be sure to take your time and look around on your way to the workhouse.  Enjoy your environment.  Stop and smell the not so freshly killed rat!

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“There are no happy endings because nothing ends.”

I have hopped on a strange train of thought that consists of obsessively trying to remember all my favorite childhood movies.  The train nearly derailed when I uncovered a theme of incredibly dark, morbid cartoons and fantasy films.  I’m not saying I was a dark, morbid child.  In fact, I think I had fairly normal ups and downs till about age 10…I just realized that a lot of the movies that are marketed toward children are creepy (At least the ones marketed toward children in the 80’s).

I loved the cartoon The Last Unicorn.  In fact, the quote I used as a blog title is from this film.  If you haven’t seen it, watch it!  The whole movie is very bizarre and tragic and seems to focus on the destruction of beauty and innocence.  In a way, the film is more aesthetically appealing because one feels constantly in danger of losing the ethereal, fantastic, pure imagery of the main character.

The Secret of Nimh is another overwhelmingly dark cartoon that is geared toward the young.  I caught about 30 minutes of it on tv the other day and was astounded to find that the glowing eyes and feral expressions of one of the cartoon rats still make me shudder.  Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Willow, Watership Down, etc. made up another group of morbid tales.

When I was very young, a perpetually grumpy relative bought me birthday present that I will never forget.  It was a book of original fairy tales.  These versions bore little resemblance to my Disney movies (although Disney’s Snow White & Sleeping Beauty were distressing in their own right).  I particularly remember a story about a young woman whose true love was murdered.  The girl could not live without her man, so she kept his severed head hidden in a flower-pot and talked to him each night.  Sometimes the head talked back.  Cue “Twilight Zone” music, please.

I suppose, in a way, we are trying to warn children through these stories/movies.  I know that I will never put the severed head of my lover in a flower-pot on my balcony (thanks for the tip)!  Or maybe the folks that made these films and stories just thought they looked and sounded really cool and a five-year-old would have no idea about the more macabre aspects.

Don’t misunderstand–I wouldn’t trade those film experiences or the thrilling, haunting feeling that comes with them.  I’m positive they influenced my outlook on life, art, society.  After all, films are cultural product that saturate us with the anxieties of our particular time, social class, and region.  Still, I have to wonder why certain adults in my life felt it was perfectly fine to let me watch the slaughter of innocent creatures, the perversion of purity, the evil monsters that seemed to wait around every corner.  In one childhood film viewing, I watched creatures steal a baby and threaten to eat it, yet it was unacceptable to my family, years later that I continued to watch “The Ellen Show” after Ellen Degeneres “came out” on TV.  Try to make sense of that hypocrisy!

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