Text From South Lake Union

A Rat in South Lake Union

Text From South Lake Union

Kelly O

Yesterday, for the first time, I saw a rat in South Lake Union. Oh, I'd seen plenty of rat traps carefully placed in alley corners but had never seen one of our rodent neighbors. And this rat was small and surprisingly handsome. His fur looked like he'd just had a shampoo and blow-dry.

I was overjoyed to see the rat because South Lake Union is becoming too clean and organized. It is, demolished building by demolished building, losing that dank Seattle history of drunk white fishermen and loggers killing other drunk white fishermen and loggers because of, well, fishing and logging disputes.

Has there yet been a street fight in South Lake Union? Have two intoxicated white computer geniuses flailed at each other while their computer genius friends filmed it for Vimeo? Have two guys torn their skinny girl jeans while wrestling in the rain?

There is no sense of violence or danger in South Lake Union. But there is at least one rat. I'm thinking of making that rodent my spirit animal. recommended


Comments (41) RSS

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You're just hanging out in the wrong places Sherman. Citrus is keeping the blood warm and on the pavement.…
Posted by Keep SLU Violent on April 18, 2012 at 11:51 AM · Report this
You seem to have a hang up with identifying people as white. Does mentioning this ethnicity over and over make you more of a hipster? Is white people brawling more funny than other people brawling?
Posted by Matthew001 on April 18, 2012 at 4:16 PM · Report this
New places have no patterns, no well worn paths. Inevitable negative space is created when well worn paths and patterns are established. I'm guessing our rodent friends have had many of their forgotten pockets and untended crannies disturbed with all the churn. But once we predictably find our grooves and our ruts, the spaces inbetween will reappear. Our city, more than most, teems with life. We have temporarily disturbed it, bit it will come back. It's tougher than we or our creations are.
Posted by nullbull on April 18, 2012 at 4:40 PM · Report this
Wow does this guy think of anything not in terms of racial profiling? No wonder all his books are so one-note (well, two, if you count basketball).
Posted by Swearengen on April 18, 2012 at 5:07 PM · Report this
Zebes 5
They're even gentrifying our rats, man.
Posted by Zebes on April 18, 2012 at 5:25 PM · Report this
bedipped 6
If you confused the rat for a puppy and flew it home with you from a Caribbean island, you'd have a Gordon Lish story, but I like yours better. Also, that picture is a sea bird of some sort, spirit animal of your football team. And the melody for Ben continues to tiddle my earbrain. Your fault. Got plans?
Posted by bedipped on April 18, 2012 at 5:31 PM · Report this
Fnarf 7
White people brawling is inherently funnier than other people brawling, yes.
Posted by Fnarf on April 18, 2012 at 5:38 PM · Report this
RatGirl 8
Rats CAN be handsome, you know.
Posted by RatGirl on April 18, 2012 at 5:43 PM · Report this
sirkowski 9
Rats are awesome.
Posted by sirkowski on April 18, 2012 at 5:48 PM · Report this
dangerousgift 10
@#2, did you just call Sherman Alexie a hipster?
Posted by dangerousgift on April 18, 2012 at 5:52 PM · Report this
the duster 11
Trolls are no match for Sherman Alexie.
Posted by the duster on April 18, 2012 at 6:33 PM · Report this
angelguts 12
Head over to the cascade park bathrooms... They keepin it real over there almost all day.
Posted by angelguts on April 18, 2012 at 7:25 PM · Report this
Yes, let's all get nostalgic for the days when there were more rats in the city. Because nothing bad ever came of that. *cough* black death *cough*
Posted by Brandon J. on April 18, 2012 at 7:43 PM · Report this
Reply to Matthew001: Sherman Alexie makes it funny. And 'white people' generally have a habit (hang up) of identifying other cultures as they see fit. What's the problem with him doing the same? He's a writer, afterall. This article is cute, heheh :)
Posted by Zelda80 on April 18, 2012 at 8:08 PM · Report this
I saw a rat on Pine a month ago. It might have been my imagination, but he seemed to stop briefly and beg for food as if he had been regularly provisioned in this way.
Posted by kinaidos on April 18, 2012 at 8:28 PM · Report this
Slim pickings for rats in Amazon-town. Security got that covered.
Posted by nordicelt on April 18, 2012 at 9:23 PM · Report this
freesandbags 17
Tell it like it is Sherman!
Posted by freesandbags on April 18, 2012 at 9:30 PM · Report this
Mischa Vainburg 18
@2: Seattle's history is such that yes, many of the fishermen and loggers were white. The scene is being set.

Also, it's drawing attention to the fact that in general in our culture, white is the default assumption when someone's race isn't specified.

When white people talk about non-white people they tend to indicate whether the person is "black", "Asian", "native", "Mexican" etc.
Posted by Mischa Vainburg on April 18, 2012 at 10:55 PM · Report this
Mischa Vainburg 19
Also I love sleek glossy rats.
Posted by Mischa Vainburg on April 18, 2012 at 10:58 PM · Report this
seandr 20
Every neighborhood in Seattle, rich or poor, is crawling with rats. Rats are the great PNW equalizer.

SLU is the first neighborhood that I'll have watched grow from birth. Interesting to see where it will go.
Posted by seandr on April 18, 2012 at 11:31 PM · Report this
Maverick Biceps 21
Hahahaha white people are uncomfortable being called white people because they're so used to just being "people".
Posted by Maverick Biceps on April 19, 2012 at 12:08 AM · Report this
As a New Yorker, inured to watching from the platform while waiting for a train, the somewhat tattered subway rats below (bits of fur falling out from all the rodenticide, its only effect now their grooming), scampering under the rails and over the ties, I find your description of a freshly-coifed rat refreshing. Ours are still evolving, though, expanding their place in our little commuter society, lately traversing the platforms themselves, taking little notice of the people waiting there. Soon, they'll be joining the blase riders in taking trains between stations, Bronx-Brooklyn rat alliances not far in the future.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on April 19, 2012 at 2:07 AM · Report this
Why no picture of the handsome rat? Now I don't believe your story. Sigh.
Posted by Patricia Kayden on April 19, 2012 at 3:37 AM · Report this
Vince 24
I bet that rat knows the fine taste of quality wine puke. That would be enough to make it feel all coiffed.
Posted by Vince on April 19, 2012 at 5:01 AM · Report this
lifesart 25
I understand the concept. New York City may be safer, and cleaner, but it has lost so much of its ethos, with chain stores conveying the obligatory merchandise of the 21st century and sameness everywhere. Give me the 70s and some personality to the streets!
Posted by lifesart on April 19, 2012 at 6:27 AM · Report this
Alexie Wrote:
"And this rat was small and surprisingly handsome. His fur looked like he'd just had a shampoo and blow-dry."

Honestly, why should anyone expect anything less in SLU than an a properly coiffured rat?

SLU used to be a rather pleasant neighborhood until it was sliced, diced and eventually destroyed by the buiding of I-5. Like plants that continue to flower in an old, abandoned garden, the remnants of that neighborhood are still occasionally visable among the overgrowth of new construction.

One of my favorite pastimes as a child was to wander the aisles and stalls of the St Vincent de Paul facility located just north of where Daniels Broiler is currently located. The treasures one could find!

All gone now...and not for the better.

Posted by Fairhaven on April 19, 2012 at 7:33 AM · Report this
Catherwood 27
@23: He wouldn't sign the release. Damn litigious culture.
Posted by Catherwood on April 19, 2012 at 8:20 AM · Report this
seanmichaelhurley 28
Sherman: There have been, like, two shootouts and a frat-brawl in the SLU within the past two months or so. However, your point is well taken; frat-violence is totally different than rat-violence, although I could not say exactly why.
Posted by seanmichaelhurley on April 19, 2012 at 9:02 AM · Report this
very much agree w @ 18 and 21.
Posted by impossibleprincess on April 19, 2012 at 9:41 AM · Report this
"...intoxicated white computer geniuses..."

Actually, walk around SLU and you're likely to see more Asian computer geniuses than white ones.
Posted by bigyaz on April 19, 2012 at 10:20 AM · Report this
One time a SLU... I laid on grass and took a fucking nap in the sun while the sounds of the city receded.

Top 5 naps, really. Great place on those 'wave hills'... Points you right at the afternoon sun...

No drunks, no rats, just motherfucking geese.
Posted by SweetDarkLord on April 19, 2012 at 10:56 AM · Report this
McJulie 32
Seattle has very charming rats. You see them when it gets quiet and dark.
Posted by McJulie on April 19, 2012 at 12:13 PM · Report this
If SLU gets too safe, you can rest assured that the U District is still a place where drunk hipsters can get mugged after dark.
Posted by Orv on April 19, 2012 at 1:40 PM · Report this
Dude, that's not a rat in that picture... it's a gull.

Anyway, a bunch of non-white people shot each other all up at the Citrus last month. Is that edgy enough for you?
Posted by srsly you don't know what a rat looks like? on April 19, 2012 at 7:56 PM · Report this
@7 @18 @21, right on!

"that dank Seattle history of drunk white fishermen and loggers killing other drunk white fishermen and loggers because of, well, fishing and logging disputes." Best description of Old Seattle I've read in a LONG time.

Alexie's Native American. It doesn't matter what ethnicity or skin color you are, when describing others not of your own people, you do so by observation... they were white, they were loggers & fishermen, they were down by the South Lake Union docks and mills...

I'm white, so maybe I wouldn't describe the color of their skin, but that's because they are my "people", so to speak.

That's not racist, that's just human nature.
Posted by drydrunk on April 20, 2012 at 2:39 PM · Report this
@23 got it so right!
Posted by cantwatchaliar on April 20, 2012 at 6:20 PM · Report this
I went to Gallup NM once. I saw a lot of drunk Native Americans on the street. There were also Native Americans at the liquor stores talking to other Native Americans about, you guessed it, Native American issues. Maybe later bunches of Native Americans would fight other Native Americans.

Absolutely hilarious and ironic.

I think I'll write a book.
Posted by Matthew001 on April 21, 2012 at 11:02 AM · Report this
Go easy on Alexie. 200 years ago his family was still stone age or at best had traded for some tools. We cut slack to guys whose backgrounds are only just now becoming modern.
Posted by certaindoom on April 21, 2012 at 11:50 AM · Report this
i once saw a homeless womn in " sow-fake union" digging in a can. she was wearing bright red pants, blue shir, yellow rain coat. thou to mysef, " geez even the homeless got dress happy here"
Posted by anonagqin on April 21, 2012 at 4:44 PM · Report this
The racism in the comments is sooo depressing.
Posted by ww on April 23, 2012 at 6:57 PM · Report this
@24- Once I puked $200 wine outside of Daniel's Broiler. Not my best moment, but at least I'm glad to contribute to the wellbeing of our bourgeois rats...
Posted by Newora on April 26, 2012 at 10:54 AM · Report this

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