Alice Wheeler
A man of few words, Youssef Noussa is nonetheless a gentleman and a philosopher. Of his work vending hot dogs at the flank of Seattle's venerable music venue the Showbox, he says: "It's good." It's good even on an objectively horrible Sunday night; a cold, lurid rain is falling and the marquee itself has given up the proverbial ghost. Tonight it is a restive, ominous crowd, black-clad and leather-jacketed, overwhelmingly male, out on a night that would make a normal human weep. These are the fanatics of the band Motörhead, and Noussa is here, under a dripping canopy, to feed them.

Noussa 's philosophy is a simple one: patience, and plenty of it. He is resolute in his sanguine worldview. "Nice people, all the time," he says, and "I never have any problem with anyone." When pressed, his estimate is that 1 in 100 customers presents any sort of problem at all; just 1 percent of humanity is ever so slightly difficult.

Polish sausage is the runaway favorite at Noussa 's mobile grill, and people, in general, like onions. In this respect, the fans of Motörhead do not deviate from the societal norm. They are, at this juncture, fairly lucid about their choices and in, overall, a fine humor. One overhears a repor- torial inquiry of Noussa: Do you ever eat your own hot dogs?

"If I could do that," quips this heavy-metal wag, "I wouldn't leave the house."

Another patron appears eager to share his thoughts--and, as it will emerge, his own Weltanschauung. His opening gambit: declaring his hot dog to be "Fuckin' excellent. Fuckin' excellent." Between bites, he reveals his identity: "My name is Shane Brooks. I sing for A Lesson in Chaos." The self-serving nature of his eagerness grows sadly apparent as he discusses the finer points of his band. Redirected to the topic of the show tonight, he is unassailably enthused: "Oh, fuck yeah. I'm here for Motörhead, fucking-A. Hey, you gotta be a fan way before you can be a star. Know what I mean?"

Noussa estimates that 1 in 10 of his customers tip him. Motörhead fans, it appears, are less generous than the norm. Spirits seem to be deteriorating rapidly; one young man professes indifference to his hot dog, declaring that he just got fuckin' punched in the face. Even the cream cheese on his dog ("a Seattle thing," according to Noussa) cannot assuage his existential ennui.

"It's a fuckin' hot dog," he says. "Who gives a shit. I'd rather fuckin' go home, myself. But what can I do?"

There are no hot dogs in Morocco, Noussa's homeland. The idea, however, inspires an atypical verbosity: "In Marrakech, the south of the city, they have a big square, and they have everything, anything you want to eat…." He trails off longingly. "I like a special food, which is they cook the cow, the leg"--he gestures tenderly to his own calf--"they take all the skin out, and they put a lot of spices on it, and they put it in a pot, and they cook it with a lot of onion and all kinds of stuff."

Steps away, the scene in front of the Showbox turns sour. Those who have been banished from the festivities plead for reentry; a melee occurs as several rush the door. A security employee prevents a total stranger from scooping up a female fan--barefoot, incredibly inebriated--who has become but a puddle on the pavement. The man wants, abominably, to abscond with this pool of human misery for his own nefarious purposes. Minutes later, the partner of the pool/person appears, legitimized, prince-like, by possession of her shoes.

More concertgoers emerge, zombified yet filled with incipient violence. Two more women weep, separately. A man holds a debilitated friend upright by pinning him to a wall in a sort of twisted lovers' embrace. Under his shelter nearby, Noussa, steadfast, puts another hotdog on the grill.

More hot dog carts near: Chop Suey (14th Ave and E Madison St); Aurafice Coffee (Boylston Ave and E Pine St); the Tractor (Ballard Ave); Larry's (First Ave in Pioneer Square); and the Ballroom (N 36th St and Dayton Ave).