When I first settled in Seattle in the early '90s, Capitol Hill was stunningly affordable (I actually lived in a house on 17th and East Galer with Charles Peterson and Carrie Akre and don't recall having a steady job during that time), cheap drinks were very easy to find, and drag queens danced to pump-loud Italo-disco in a second-floor display window on Broadway. That world is gone. And the one that is replacing it is only sad because it seems to lack any kind of magic. And urban magic is about spaces that are not pressured into a state of desperation by the interest payments that must be made right away on big investments.
“There are certain areas that I have started to avoid,” says Adé Cônnére in a Seattle Times article about the culture clashes sparked by recent gentrification. “I can deal with crackheads, but some of these frat boys that come into town … they behave so badly.” Crackheads can only exist in places that have the potential for magic. Frat boys tend to shun such places. They don't look like fun. The space open to drag queens can never be that desperate. One relying on homophobic and culturally bland heterosexuals for business always has to be. The two spaces cannot coexist. It will always be one or the other. This is what history tells us. You only need to read Charles Baudelaire's mid-19th-century poem "The Swan" or, better yet, his prose poem "Eyes of the Poor" to see what I mean. These problems are not new.
But all is not over yet. There are still islands of magic here and there on Capitol Hill...
And what about the artist Dani Blackwell?