Twin Cities urban exploration


Max Action at SMX Seattle
  battles the Seattle Underground
meets a Synchronistic Duckie


Sunday - 6/03/07


Things started off bad. 35W south is shut down for construction - which meant that my route to the airport down Cedar Ave was clogged with an incredible amount of traffic. I failed to anticipate this, and therefore arrived at the desk merely 50 minutes before my flight. Because Northwest are margin-squeezing bastards and overbook all their flights by about 40 people, they'd given away my ticket - I'd be on standby, for a flight 5 hours later.

Since this allowed me to spend some more time with my girlfriend Mandelbrot on her birthday, it wasn't anything to get pissed about.

However, once at the gate I got wind that my ex's dog had marked his unneutered territory all over my laptop bag. That did the trick. Sleeping on the plane, I dreamed of revenge.

When I finally got out of a cab at the cheap-but-cool hotel I would be staying at, it was past midnight.

I had time for a quick walk around downtown and to the water a few blocks away before hitting the sack. It was my first time in Seattle - I liked the energy of the town, the air, the wind off the water. There were mosses growing in the cracks of the sidewalk, trees on rooftops, old brick everywhere.

I went to bed excited.

Monday -

Seattle Waterfront

SMX Begins

The conference began early, with a breakfast of surprising quality. I've been to a handful of these SEO conferences before, and the food is usually nothing to write home about. (Well, I might have written home about how crappy Bruce Clay's bagels were, I guess). The food they served would be a consistent positive for the whole conference, and was clearly something Danny Sullivan had planned out to be a talking point, distinguishing SMX from SES and other competitors. Good plan, guys. I could not break old habits, and so stocked up my laptop bag with granola bars and bananas. Free food man - grab it while it's there.

multiple warnings & alarm system - looked promising, but sneaking past it just got me a distant view of the shoreline mechasaurs

The morning sessions were pretty informative. It was a two-track conference, with one devoted to organic search issues and one to PPC/advertising. I was on the Organic track, which was good because PPC people are creepy, with their local news anchor hair and smiles. They need to get the hell out of my SEO conferences and go back to the from whence they came.

Anyway. After a few solid conference sessions and lunch, it was time for me to get out and see Seattle - I wasn't afraid of personalized search, and I didn't give a crap what Satya Nadella had to say.

As for the Yahoo "Networking Reception" - well, I had my own networking to take care of.

Adventures with Oliver Twist & Company

I wanted to get into the Seattle Underground, damn it - and sans any research at all, I had a plan. It went something like this: find someone who knows something, and ask them.

So I started walking, first aimlessly, then with a notion to head away from the water up Pike Street. I gave money to everyone I saw who was asking for it - a good way to get karma on your side in a strange city - and wound up enjoying some great bucket-drumming and some political street piano as a result - but I still hadn't seen anybody who looked like they'd know anything.

I noticed that hardly anyone seems to jaywalk in Seattle, it's bizarre - they'll just stand there at a Don't Walk signal for hours, even when they can clearly see that there is no traffic that could conceivably come through the intersection. Maybe the Seattle cops hate jaywalkers. When I grew bored with Pike, I decided to wander back toward the water, down the parallel Pine Street.

I hadn't gone far down Pine when I saw a misfit crew of malcontents of all ages and colors chilling in an urban park complete with a waterfall - finally, this felt right. Teenage metal kids, sneering 20-something punks, old sun-dried hippies with guitars, a smoking pot pipe being passed casually around - I veered off the sidewalk toward the circle with a smile.

the homeless and disaffected sleep admist the bustle of downtown

Before long, it was clear that I had a native guide in a homeless youth who went by the name 'Oliver Twist.' He had the fingerless gloves to fit the name - although as I got to know him, it seemed that 'Artful Dodger' would have been a more appropriate choice from Dickens.

Oliver was slightly built, and looked young - but explained that he had 'Peter Pan syndrome.' I was familar with the term, but he didn't mean the psychological condition of refusing to grow up - he told me his bones and organs had stopped growing at a certain age, and further, that his bones were rubbery and would bend rather than break. He smushed his sternum in to demonstrate. I haven't been able to find anything about this alleged condition of his online, but it made him into a great metaphor, regardless.

His crew - a small faction of the varied Westlake park misfits - was squatting in a vacant house out at the outskirts of town somewhere, coming into the city to shoplift supplies, network, and hang out. Their closeknit crew had a shared history with DXM cough syrup, and were currently on a kick of 'frying' on motion sickness pills - apparently, if you take 20 or 30 pills, you go on a trip that's more intense than LSD, for a looong time - ego disintergrates and reality just melts. It sounded interesting, but not all that much fun.

Oliver served as the group's shaman - his deep eyes would light up as he talked chemistry like a professor, and he studied up regularly at the local library, memorizing dosages, interactions, and chemical names - always seeking new and better highs that could be acquired for free over the counter. I envied his unshakable faith in the invincibility of his nervous system, and hoped that it and his obvious intelligence would get him and his crew through their experimentation and abuse more or less unscathed.

Fortunately for me, they were between trips now - but they had a big bag of stolen Dramanine ready for that evening. I spent an hour or so sitting in the park with them and the larger collection of misfits watching Seattle go about its business around us - it was an interesting perspective on the city, observing the straight-laced business people and downtown shoppers going past the local deviant community.

After a trip up the road to the interesting Freeway Park, I asked Oliver if he'd heard any rumors about tunnels beneath the city. He and some of the girls in the group had heard that there was a way into the underground near the Pike Street fish market - however, 'old school hobos' were said to live down there and defend their territory violently.

This sounded promising.

I let them know that I explore tunnels and such as a kind of hobby, and that in my experience we shouldn't have much to fear. Soon enough, we had a posse ready to go exploring - me, Oliver, and two of his crew - a young punk named Ashtray and a dreadlocked juggalo named Dez. They made a quick run to the mall to shoplift a couple of small crowbars for manholes (forgetting flashlights, however), and we set off across Seattle, hunting subterranea.

small trees growing from the side of a crumbling brick building

The Pioneer Square area we wound up in was ripe with promise - old steam plants, evidence of tunnels everywhere. However, it was broad daylight and a weekday, and most of the manhole covers were in the street and sidewalk in plain view. We made do though - I showed them which covers were most likely to lead to tunnels, and how to read the various signs of the underground. Oliver had a glowstick on a sweatshirt string that he lowered down into manholes to see what was beneath, and they were quite happy to risk opening manholes while I served as the lookout.

The most promising potential steam tunnel entrances, however, proved slippery - too many people around, too hard to access, etc. When we noticed a man in a window, intently watching us trying manhole covers, I decided it was time to take a walk and see what we could find elsewhere. This brought us to a more heavily-travelled road, where I noticed tantalizing clues everywhere - areas of sidewalk 'decorated' with little purple colored bricks.

Binny, late Action Squad member - and albino squirrel
a huge expanse of 'sidewalk skylights' - the underground space here must be massive!

I recognized these as tunnel skylights from exploring the abandoned Cambridge Mental Institution - the blocks were glass, letting natural light into the spaces under the surface. I pointed this out to my guides, and we used the purple cubes to follow the tunnels up and down the streets, probing for an entrance.

Finally, we found a place where stairs led down to a metal grated door - and through it, we could see crumbling old brick tunnels beckoning. The door was, however, locked, so I quickly set to evaluating our chances of digging a chatterie through the rotten iron and brick tunnel wall. While I was at that, Oliver managed to reach through the grate of the door and somehow bare-handedly force the lock open - and just like that, we were in.

Without flashlights, we were at the mercy of the available light, plus a sweet light-up LED pen I'd gotten that morning as conference swag. Oliver was in love with everything we saw, and made me happy as he ignored the protests of Dez and, especially, Ashtray, who were not at all comfortable in the tunnels and really wanted us to get the hell out ASAP, before we got busted.

It quickly became clear that we'd broken into the very tunnel system that they used to give Seattle Underground tours in - there were signs and display cases all over. My cellphone camera was useless in the gloom - fortunately, there was light enough coming in from one of the sidewalk skylights to photograph the ferns and mosses that same light was nourishing. You can't really see it in the picture, but the ferns are festooned with cobwebs - a rare little piece of urban ecosystem.

underground undergrowth - mosses and ferns and cobwebs oh my - just beneath the downtown sidewalk

Since it was still afternoon, and a tunnel tour might come busting in at any moment, we explored hurriedly, trying to see everything - adjacent basement storage areas, dead end offshoots, sealed off passages, moldering signs - all the while, Ashtray begging Oliver and I to stop going deeper. Eventually, we'd seen everything we could get to quickly, and found ourselves at the end of the line - the tunnel tour entrance. We grudgingly turned back, retracing our route back through the tunnels with quick, light steps.

It was a minor exploration, as far as it goes - but considering this was my first day in Seattle, and I'd come without having done any research at all, I considered it a success, and worth celebrating. We took a free bus back to Pine, where I hung out in the park until a SPD squad car drove in and rousted everyone out.

I love moss.

The Twist Family gang returned to the abandoned house they lived in, while I went back to the hotel and tried my best to clean my clothes up for the conference - they smelled like sweat and had tunnel dirt smudged all over them - and in my zeal for light luggage, I hadn't brought any extras.


Google Dance

My calves were tight and throbbing from walking all over downtown for hours, which would have been a decent excuse for not dancing at the 'Google Dance' - the conference's big social networking event - if I'd needed one. Of course, I didn't - hardly anyone actually danced.

But it was interesting watching people think about it. The main party room was centered around a dance floor, with snack bars and drink stations all around the edges, and lots of room for people to mingle and stand around awkwardly. The drinks were served in translucent cups with built-in glowsticks, and the bartenders didn't seem to be asking anyone for drink tickets - they just gave it away.

The DJ played a mix of 80s tunes, blended together. It was a potent mix, but the dance floor stood empty for quite some time. Then, finally, a couple of google gals took to the floor, one wearing roller skates. They spun in circles and tried to rally the crowd to boogie. More people started to look expectantly at the dance floor, but it took awhile before anyone joined them. The 'exhibitionist lady' was the first real dancer. OK, so she wasn't showing skin, but you could tell how she fed off the attention of the crowd - and she moved well enough to get it.

When she started dancing, the energy in the room palpably changed - throughout the entire room, men's faces broke out into huge smiles as they looked on approvingly from their conversations at the sidelines. Then a few other women got out there, and the energy was cresting rapidly.

Smelling the chance to do some real world linkbaiting, bearded pixie Rand Fishkin got out on the floor and shook his ass. He wasn't a good dancer - but he didn't care, and regardless - he was dancing. The same sea of unconsciously-smiling male faces all went abruptly unconsciously-grim - perhaps as they realized that the dancefloor gaunlet had been thrown down, and that there was no way in hell they were going to meet the challenge. I wish I had this transition on video - it was really amazing to witness.

As more people trickled out onto the floor, the DJ sensed that it was now or never, and threw on that "Everybody Dance Now" song, explictly demanding that we all surrender to the beat. However, the crowd proved far too stiff, resisting the siren song and thus breaking the rising energy before it could turn into something worth calling a party.

After spending some time out on the balcony with the smokers, watching the bay, it was time to head back to the hotel to get some sleep for Day 2 ... my feet were already damn sore, and I knew I had a lot more of Seattle to see.

Tuesday - 6/05/07

rubber ducky you're the One

view from the hotel window - the Bay is almost visible over the rooftops

I woke up around seven something and walked to the conference center through the rain, which was the heaviest I'd seen here yet not a downpour by any means, but not the list misting rain from yesterday, either. Being a Minnesotan, the chill was no problem - but I didn't really want to have to sit through the afternoon sessions with puddles in my pants. Crossing over the tracks and Alaskan Way on the "skybridge" (aren't they all?), I made a note to self and reality that I could use an umbrella I'd pay attention on my end, and reality should provide on its end.

After breakfast, I was going to skip the morning debate Bid Management is not a part of my job, and I needed to spend some time by the water. Even though it's next to impossible to find an inch of shoreline in Seattle that isn't piers or docks or otherwise developed, I was determined to make due with whatever I could find.

Magic, negative ions or evo-psychological programming, there's simply something about the water that kicks ass, whatever it is. And being from a landlocked homeland, I was starved for the refreshing that only time spent with Big Water can provide.

But first I needed to ditch the laptop I was carrying a friend of mine was staying at the Edgewater Hotel, right next to the conference, and she'd agreed to hold onto the laptop while I traipsed up the shoreline. We met in the lobby, where I noticed a blue umbrella propped in the corner behind the concierge podium. No one objected when I befriended it on my way back out, and so my new umbrella and I started walking along the waterline, with downtown Seattle to my right and Puget Sound to my right. Jellyfish bobbed in the waves, unconcernedly straddling the imagined line between a colony of single celled organisms and a multicellular organism.

I hadn't gone far when the rainfall started to slowly taper away just as the shoreline turned from piers and docks to a rocky shore. I was glad to be able to fold up the umbrella and use it as a walking stick, as I left the running path and clambered down among the stones which were slippery with a varigated green scum of seaweeds and algae. Finally, I felt like I'd gotten close to the water no railing or 15 foot drop preventing me from getting near enough to feel the spray. I moved slowly up the shoreline, looking to see what the waves might have washed ashore for me.

rocks slippery with life

As it often seems to do, the ocean began to strip away my normal perspectives, and I found myself idly pondering the umbrella, and how almost as soon as I'd put the mental call out for one, one had appeared. Most me me wasn't having any of it, though finding the umbrella was nothing weird, not even really a coincidence rainy Seatlle had to be the umbrella capital of the world, after all.  (or so I'd thought - as natives emailed me to tell me, almos tno one in Seattle actually uses umbrellas.)

But regardless, something was building in me, or around me, through me and in spite of myself, I felt the ocean vibe sinking in a mystical flashback from my experience on the Point Reyes coast, maybe and I soon found myself pondering our self-generated realities, and the evidence for unaccountable blurring between our minds and our 'external' environments.

Which was, itself, was just one step toward blurring of all distinctions the hallmark mystical experience the 'oneness of all things.'

I wasn't there yet, but I was on the path.

I watched the sky and the waves and thought about rainy day weather how here, in a different city, by the water, a grey, cloudy & rainy sky was both beautiful and stimulating yet a grey day at home could create a bad mood that seemed mandated by the sky, an internalized gloom both inevitable and inescapable.

I determined to try to remember this vista and feeling the next time I was feeling flatlined by a grey day that euphoria is found where you make it, and beauty where you look for it, and that this is just as true in rainy weather as it is when it's gorgeous you can't change the weather, but you can change your mind. (Hopefully, anyway.)

Suddenly, my wandering thoughts were derailed as I was struck with a powerful compulsion to bend over and examine a particular patch of rocks and debris.

Although I told myself I'd probably subconsciously seen something interesting down there, the intuitive voice I was 'hearing' felt familiar from my last visit to the west coast the one that eventually led me from California to a paradigm knocked off its foundations, in the crawlspace beneath my own house.

I immediately picked up a rounded rock marked by several intersecting rings of various thicknesses it was pretty cool, I'd keep it and I didn't see anything else noteworthy and yet, I felt rooted there, bent over at the waist, eyeing the ground. So I picked up a piece of seaweed that interested me an algal surface surrounding a twin-lobed pocket of trapped air, a living green ballon. This was neat, but it wasn't what I was looking for, either.

Then I glanced to my right, back toward the walking path and, beyond that, Seattle's skyline. There was a bright yellow something in a crack, a couple of feet beneath a boulder, only visible due to my low angle. I couldn't be sure, but it looked an awful lot like a rubber ducky.

Hmmm hadn't Mandelbrot (my girlfriend) told me about how as  a girl she used to take baths with several rubber duckies at a time? I'd just decided that I would go retrieve it to bring back as a gift from Seattle, when doubt crept in.

My memory is a hole, and I can't usually trust it. Was this something I made up, or worse, was it actually some ex that had a thing for rubber duckies? Just as this question crossed my mind, my cellphone started to vibrate in my pocket. In the mental state I was in, I was convinced that it had to be Mandelbrot, calling just at the moment I was wondering about her.

When it was, I laughed aloud, and the sense of some kind of moment building grew stronger. "Do you like rubber duckies?", I asked, by way of greeting.

My memory hadn't misled me - she'd had a collection of them as a girl. I told her how good the timing was, her calling me just then, and she explained that she was at work, when she was hit by a sudden urge to call me even though she'd figured I was in a conference session.

As I picked my way toward the duckie crack, I brought her up to speed where I was, the rain and grey skies, and the seredipitous umbrella. By the time I'd caught her up, I'd started groping in the crack, trying to pull out the duckie.

However, I could just barely get my fingers on the base, and when I tried to pull it out there was no room for both the duck and my fingers on it. So I propped the cellphone to my head with one shoulder, and used a rock to knock out a brick that was part of the problem.

"OK, I think I've got it now," I said, and reached in.

There's always a part of me, no matter how mystical I get with this serendipity/synchronicity stuff, that remains a skeptic. But at least he's able to smile, not sneer, at the things the rest of me gets up to believing, which is nice.

I wish I could have seen my face when I pulled it out and discovered that the smiling duck was, itself, holding an umbrella. Mandelbrot didn't believe me at first, as I laughed and babbled I'd already thought her call was weird, then to find this smiling duck marked on the bottom as a "Rainy Day Duck" while on the phone with her talking about having fun in spite of rainy weather and of umbrellas was enough to convince me again, at least for that moment that yes, the universe was all one thing, and you bet it was alive, and of course it was talking to itself, all around and through us.

When I decided to use the umbrella as a specimen bag an over-the-shoulder hobo-style carryall for the rocks and driftwood and detritus I was rapidly accumulating I noticed for the first time that the umbrella had a logo on it  - a swirling, wavey logo with the all-too-apt "Seattle Waterfront."

seattle waterfront umbrella and seattle waterfront duckie with umbrella
(the handle had broken off from the weight of the rocks, so I gutted the umbrella to take the fabric home with me)

None of the coincidences the found umbrella, the intuition that led me to see the duck, the phone call just then, the rainy day duck with umbrella, the apt umbrella logo were a big deal on their own. Some of them are barely coincidences. And even strung together into one long chain as they were as I experienced them, I know they aren't objectively amazing especially to a skeptical mind.

So I'm not surprised or offended if none of this means shit to you, gentle reader but to me, it was a confirmation, a blessing, a 'what's up' from the omniverse.

In that moment, caught up as I was in such thoughts of synchronicity and intuition and reality-creation, high on life, the water, and everything - it was as though I'd peeked beneath the skirts of reality just the tiniest bit and I'd really liked what I saw there.

"Thanks, Seattle," I muttered aloud through a huge grin. Then I felt like I should turn to face the water - and so I did - adding, "thanks, ocean." (Yeah, it's only a bay but whatever.)

But this was still too narrow, I realized - I should be thanking reality itself, all of it, the big om, the unified shebang.

So I did. "Thanks, reality!" and then added - "I appreciate it." This struck me as somehow important, so I repeated it aloud, truly feeling deep appreciation for my life and times. The "it" I was appreciating was Everything - and the chance I'd been given to exist as me.

At that exact moment, waves started crashing into the rocks, hard. After a few moments these abated - in my entire time walking along the shore, before and afterward, this phenomenon was not repeated. I had to laugh out loud - it was just too much. Teapots or not, I simply couldn't let myself believe that the crashing waves were really the universe saying "you're welcome," and so the mystical moment crested, and broke.

I spent about an hour on the shore, sometimes roaming, sometimes sitting, and constantly collecting rocks, which I have always had a thing for. Quickly, the large coffee cup I'd been using for a specimen bag was filled to bursting, so I transformed the umbrella into a carryall by loading it up with rocks and driftwood, then closing the strap tight. Held over the shoulder like a hobo's hankerchiefed belongings, it worked out great.

Seattle rocks, seaweed, driftwood, shells, rusty Underground iron, and a chunk of barnacled & eroded brick with mortar.

Some seagulls reminded me that my mom - who is currently undergoing radiation treatment for aggressive cancer - also loves big water. I called her from the shore and made plans to bring her to Lake Superior this summer.

(She didn't remember to remind me that when I was little we'd had a dishtowel embroidered with a umbrella-wielding duckling - but later, when I did a google search for "rainy day duckie" and the first result was this, I remembered it immediately - and yeah, I bought it. I'll ponder the deeper meaning of a bird that's built for the water walking around beneath an umbrella some other time ... I'm sure some very instructive metaphors are in there ...)

Soon enough, it was time to head back toward the conference - I wanted to meet up with my friend, grab some lunch, and get back to the hotel to drop off my umbrella full of rocks before the afternoon sessions began.

Binny, late Action Squad member - and albino squirrel
back toward the SMX conference

SMX Final Sessions

Back at the conference, I spent the afternoon listening to the speakers and taking occasional notes.

Note to Danny Sullivan: more former blackhats please - and also, less of the old guard fuddy duddies. You know who they are.

Every one of these SEO conferences I've gone to seems to get infected with a phrase that is repeated and used ad naseum by the speakers in their presentations and answers to questions. At SMX, the Word of the Conference was "brand evangelist." I don't know who used it first, but by the end of the conference it seemed to be used about once every five minutes. If you learned just one thing at SMX Seattle, it was probably the Importance of Exploiting Brand Evangelists.

Binny, late Action Squad member - and albino squirrel
the SMX "Give it Up" Panel

There are also guaranteed laugh lines that evolve in each conference - SMX Seattle speakers were guaranteed a room full of chortling if they mentioned either 1) Wikipedia results in Google results pages or 2) someone wanting to do a site all in Flash. I didn't think either were laugh-out-loud funny, but I'm probably defective.

I was also interested to note that the weird Belgian-looking guy I'd seen at previous conferences (SES Chicago, maybe San Jose?) had reproduced - perhaps by spores, or budding. If you've been to an SEO conference, you may know the guy I mean - spiky hair, designer eyeglasses with thick, decorative ear pieces, and a little soul patch goatee. There were three of them this time, and they were all sporting the same look.

What are they? Where are they from? What does it mean? I had a nice sketch of their archetype, but I can't find it anywhere now - I'll scan it later if I do.

And I'll try to capture a specimen at the next conference, for science.

Post Conference - Beginning of the End

Soon the conference was all over, and I met with my longtime associate Andy Filer - although he'd hosted the Action Squad site for several years (for free!), and although we'd talked plenty in emails and such, I'd never met the guy in person. He'd moved out to Seattle a couple of years earlier, so it was here that we met, even though we first got in touch back in Minneapolis.

His car was toasted so I walked up to Capitol Hill with him for hot BBQ sandwiches and margaritas.

I don't usually care much about tags, but I had to get a shot of this switchblade comb high up a downtown wall (crap digi-zoom)

After food we walked through the city, observing and appreciating. We got into a talk about interpreting the urban environment, in which Andy opened my mind to the relationship between persistent old brick building commericial nodes in Minneapolis and the streetcar routes that had been flourishing at the time these durable structures were built.

Later, Andy sent me an email with some of his thoughts, which I thought I'd post here:

Pattern Recognition in the Built Environment

On a long walk through Seattle with my friend Max Action, Max pointed
out to me distinctive markers of tunnels, from purple glass
sidewalk-windows to giant grates. To him, I couldn't help but point out
vestiges of long-dead businesses painted, carved, and built into

On my walk home, while listening to Evan Doorbell narrate a
phone trip, I noticed curved lines in the sidewalk concrete, and
changes in the material of the curb. As I looked, I could see that the
business on this block had changed over time, and driveway/alley
cutouts had been added and removed. This is a tiny, tiny thing, but as
we walk over ground (literally or figuratively) hundreds and hundreds
of times, we start to recognize patterns, whether it's conscious or

Max's recognition of subterranean patterns from above is
excellent; similarly, Evan Doorbell can hear the smallest click,
thunk, or ka-chunk in the old analog phone system and know just what
it is. For me, once I saw how these old urban commercial nodes mapped
so directly to the Minneapolis streetcar system, I couldn't stop
seeing urban design patterns that persisted 50 years after the end of
the streetcars.

Now I'm back in Minneapolis, and I can't stop seeing the legacy of the streetcars, either. Thanks Andy!

Wednesday - 6/06/07

Loose Ends

dead wharf rat

My final morning in Seattle was pretty uneventful, other than walking my feet past 'sore' and well into 'blistered' territory.

I wandered around just soaking in the city, taking a cellphone pic now and then, but mostly just seeing and being.

I really like Seattle.

I meandered back past Westlake park to buy a hotdog, and Dez was hanging out there again, with his girlfriend. He let me know that Oliver and Ashtray were still 'frying' from the previous night's dose of Dramamine, which they'd taken after returning to their squat (while I was at the SMX Google Dance). I gave him my website address and told him to look me up if any of them came through Minneapolis in their travels.

We chilled for awhile, until he had to run - to catch a pipe full of "shards" - methamphetamines. He was an interesting guy - I hope the meth doesn't get its claws into him - although the contorted junkie face he unconsciously made when he got the 'shards' phone call made me fear it was already too late. Oh well - what doesn't kill you, makes you. Good luck, Dez, Oliver, Ashtray - all of the Westlake park weirdos.

And thanks.

Dez has his dreadlocks groomed in Westlake Park

For my final hours in Seattle, I bought a ferry ticket to some island, just to get out onto the water. I stood in the stiff, chilly wind out on the deck, watching the water and clouds churn, while everyone else huddled indoors.

When we landed, I turned around and rode back to Seattle on the same ferry, then took a bus to the airport - where I of course had my bags searched, due to the suspicious image that a bag of rocks presents to an x-ray.

It was a great time - thanks, Seattle.

I'll be back.

- Max Action



Postscript: Update on the Twist Family Mafia 02/26009




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