I Read ‘Seattle Metropolitan’ (So You Don’t Have To)
Hey guys! Hey! Hey! Didja know that it rains a lot in Seattle? And didja know that we sure do like our coffee! Here? It’s true! Ha! Ha! That shit is cray-zee! And Bill Gates lives here—that guy sure is rich!
For some reason, I get excited by magazine launches—I bought myself a charter subscription to the late, unlamentable Radar magazine, sight unseen—which means that I’m a person who perversely enjoys being disappointed. Magazines almost always suck, and, really, only the Believer has ever consistently managed to exceed my expectations. But in that ever-optimistic sense that in every magazine launch there’s a little bit of hope, I was looking forward to Seattle Metropolitan. I was hoping that, somehow, Met magazine would manage to be political and witty, opinionated and absurd. I knew that these hopes were a little much, and so I held onto my basest hope: Surely the goddamn thing had to be better than Seattle Magazine?
Well, I just read it, last night and this morning and, no. No, it was not better than Seattle Magazine. It makes Seattle Magazine look like… well, maybe Radar magazine. In fact, Seattle Metropolitan pissed me off so much that I’m going to explain everything I hate about it, from cover to cover.
The appearance and layout of Seattle Metropolitan (hereafter referred to as SM), from the cover on through, seems to imply a mission statement of: “We’re the magazine you pick up by mistake when you’re trying to buy Seattle Magazine!” There’s very little going on inside SM to make me believe anything other than that they’re just attempting to poach Seattle readers, play Tully’s to Seattle Magazine’s Starbucks, if you will (hey! a coffee metaphor! I should work there!). And is it just me, or is the cover text—“65 Best Ways to Love Our City”—very grammatically wrong? (“Best Ways to Love”? Doesn’t that imply a sort of city-banging Kamasutra?) The only thing that SM really tries to do differently is aggressively employ this rah-rah cheerleader shtick that, frankly, gets cloying from the editor’s note on in. Which is not to say that I don’t think there are things to love about Seattle; I moved here six years ago and I intend to remain here until I get kicked out. But SM’s Pollyanna-humjob attitude is ridiculous, and it allows them to fall back on cliché far too easily.
We begin with the aforementioned “A Note from the Editor.” Firstly, if the editor-in-chief writes and publishes a sentence like the following:
“More than ever, Seattle has finally become the metropolis we’ve been becoming since, oh, about 1907…”
…it really makes me worry about the editorial content of the magazine. Really. Seriously. Graph that sentence. Then there’s the sentence, “We’ve grown up, even if we don’t always act our age,” which is a sentence that I think that I’ve read in the Seattle Times every week since 2001, and this is immediately followed with, “Note to Eeyores in the room:…” I stopped reading “A Note from the Editor” at that point. I refuse to enter into intellectual discourse with anyone who refers to a cynic as an “Eeyore,” unless that person is 5 years old. Perhaps next month the editor will give a “shout out” to all the “Grumpy Guses” out there to “Turn their frowns upside down."
From there, we enter…The Mudroom. This is apparently the place to stick all the charticles and advertorial content that the interns scrub together. The inaugural charticle, which offers up pithy little nicknames for Seattle neighborhoods, is titled “Naming Nabes.” It perhaps should have been titled “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here.” It does include the cliché soufflé “Clearly the time has come to zero in with a little Doppler-like precision,” which I think I might have read as a punch line in Dilbert several months ago. Then there’s an “in/out” list. Apparently, it’s “in” to earnestly inform tourists that “it rains all the time here,” but “That whole I’m-cool-walking-without-an-umbrella-thing” is totally “out.” Thanks for letting us know, SM!â?¨ There’s an up-and-coming event charticle that’s organized by whom SM would invite to create “The Perfect Party.” Apparently, March’s perfect Seattle party features a dead woman, Jon Bon Jovi, and “anarchic folkster” Arlo Guthrie. Be sure to invite firstname.lastname@example.org, guys! Also, in other news, the Lusty Lady puts puns up on their billboards, and this makes them endearing. Also, Paul Schell is a big fan of the Lusty Lady. Omygod, he’s pro-stripper! Why didn’t we elect this man for, like, a billionth term, again? Oh, yeah. Sorry. Forgot.
Then there’s the, um, society pages.
Then there’s a bunch of shit that you can buy that’s green. Seriously.
Then there are some profile pieces and stuff.
And then there’s this totally creepy ad featuring a guy who’s like 50 or 60, but he’s totally buff and shirtless and lying in bed with this blowjob smile on his face, and I finally figured out what this magazine is for: It’s porn for the Angela Lansbury set.
There’s a decent article about public transit.
Charles Cross, who wrote a couple good rock biographies, writes about waiting in line for Paul McCartney at his children’s book signing at Third Place Books. Cross brought his 6-year-old son along with him. As they waited in line, Cross explained to him “…what the Beatles—and the ’60s—were about.” My parents grew up in the ’50s, and I never got this speech. I hope that one day Charles Cross can explain about the ’60s to me, because I’ve never fucking heard about how Crosby Stills Nash and fucking Young saved the world that one time. The article includes the creepy line: “My son was almost touched by a Beatle."
Moving on, it’s the cover “story”! Condensed from the list of 65 things: “Seattle is Brain City, a place where dreams and ideas and inventions really do come true, frequently and often.” “This is a town that knows its blackberries.” On public transit, emphasis mine: “…so many people have contributed so many ideas, it’s literally a train wreck.” “Seattle has always yearned to be a football town; now it is one.” Did you know that “…vaccinations, malaria, infant health in Africa…” are “unsexy needs”? You do now! And: “Just because grunge is so over doesn’t mean the music died.” “Only in Seattle—or rather, Renton.” (Emphasis, again, mine.) There’s the regrettable term “Pugetropolis,” which sounds like a rash, and we finally learn that “It takes a village—University Village—to marry hunting and gathering with sophistication.”
Then there are long articles that are, you know, fine. There’s a weird little sidebar to the Northwest Ballet article that features an SM author riding in a flying harness, which made me feel mysteriously touched in the bikini lines.
Then there’s an advertising section that’s fairly indistinguishable from some of the other sections.
Then there’s the food and lifestyles section (a charticle helpfully informs us that in remodeling one’s home, we should remember that “Scale and proportion are like King Kong and Popeye.” No I can’t explain why. If you’re genuinely interested, you really should buy a copy of the magazine).
Little restaurant reviews follow, and an article titled “Outside the Box,” which I couldn’t read because of the title, and then real estate listings, with the cheapest house going for just over $400,000.
Then there’s a cartoon, and then you’re staring at a Rolex ad and you’re done.
You’ve successfully read Seattle Metropolitan’s premiere issue. I have the taste of acrid coffee in my mouth and a small, whispering part of me wants to kill myself. I want to buy some shit and then feel bad about it. I want to get divorced. I want to move to Renton. I’ve just read the younger, sluttier, more vapid cousin of Seattle Magazine and I hate everything. And I will read the next issue. And the next. And the next. Until it goes out of business. Because it’s so fucking glossy, you know?