Welcome, Elliott Bay Books! Welcome, Elliott Bay Bookers! Capitol Hill and its various peoples embrace you in the warm folds of our collective and most cockley little heart.
And we foremostly want you to understand that we understand. Leaving Pioneer Square was traumatic. It scarred your bookish souls! You will deeply miss your steaming streams of tit-ripped frat roamers, your slightly overserved sidewalk nomads, your cracky-headed spangers, your bewildered herding tourists, and most of all, your delightful street whores. Ever so much.
But we think you're in for a most pleasant surprise.
We're all Capitol Hillbillies now, baby! And Capitol Hill is poised and prepared to make your transition as comfortable as possible, and we promise to provide everything you need. (Except for the tourists and frat boys.) Let's get acquainted.
For instance: Say howdy to Basic Plumbing! Basic Plumbing ("BP" to its friends) is your immediate next-door neighbor to the south. And they are very, very friendly neighbors indeed.
But wait! Don't you dare go barreling over there and ask to borrow a cup of sugar. If you do, you're certain to emerge utterly sans sugar, but with a nagging janky pube stuck in the back of your throat and your finer sensibilities utterly shattered.
And don't go poking around with intentions of purchasing fancy sculpted drawer pulls and designer wrenches and a stainless-steel-based pivot bathroom-mirror set from the Chatham collection with some absurd notion in your head that BP is merely one of those quaint upscale-urban-boutique hardware stores like City People's Mercantile or Restoration Hardware. For most veritably, you shall emerge equally pube-gagged and disappointed. Besides, you have to be a member to get in: six months for $10, plus a $10 entry fee, and if you're of the vagina-having persuasion, you're simply not allowed at all. No females! Ever! Ever-ever! Strictly enforced!
If you doubt me in any of this, please to try this fascinating experiment: Drill a hole in Elliott Bay's southernmost wall, marked at a point approximately 2.5 feet from the floor, with a hole saw ($69.99 at Home Depot) or something like it. Enlarge the circle to about 7 to 10 inches in circumference. When no one is looking, thread certain unspecified body parts through said hole (boys only! watch for splinters!), wait several minutes (depending on the time of day), and, well... GLORY! (On the other hand, slide a boob through and you'll atrophy where you stand.)
Because that's what Basic Plumbing is all about, you see. Glory. The holey kind. And various boy pieces. And threading those various boy pieces through said glorious holes. And just like Elliott Bay's fondly recalled old hood, Pioneer Square, Basic Plumbing is chock-full of hookers to make everyone feel nice and at home—the only difference is, they are all freelance boy hookers and they all work completely unpaid.
Now, breathe! Don't get the dizzy notion that Basic Plumbing is some sort of sickening gay bathhouse or something! Good heavens no. It is a charming "private club for men," where there is NO drinking, and NO drugs, and absolutely NO gum chewing allowed—of course, gluttonous quantities of fellatio with random strangers and indiscreet amounts of buttsex are not only allowed, but deeply encouraged. By which I mean they're the raison d'être of the whole damn place.
If I might paint a lyrical picture: dark corners and culs-de-sac, secret nooks and traps, rows upon rows of glory holes, private rooms ($28 if you want a teevee!), and guys... guys upon guys on guys, wandering, hooking up, making out, ignoring each other, blowjobbing in the open, ass-porking in the semiprivates, day and night, all to a relentless techno thrum. That's what BP is.
Elliott Bay... your neighbors. Elliott Bay... welcome home!
(Wear a condom.)
Greetings, sodomite! So you're all done fucking and sucking? Wipe off that spooge—you missed a spot, there, in your eyebrow—come on over next door and check out your new neighbor!
Elliott Bay Book Company is no replacement for the late, lamented Bailey/Coy Books, of course, but if you'll take a look around by the cafe, you'll find that it has a gay section, too. All right, it's not anywhere as comprehensive as Bailey/Coy's used to be, but give it time—they just moved these books up from Pioneer Square, where there are exactly zero gay sex clubs.
At the end of Elliott Bay's first day of business on Capitol Hill, the gay books were possibly the most fondled section in the whole store—clearly, they'll have to respond to the needs of their new community. So if there's something you think they need to carry, let them know; this isn't a Barnes & Noble, where the employees have no control over the books the store stocks. It's interactive! With your help, they'll build the best gay section in Seattle since Beyond the Closet closed five years ago. (And the new store's gay section is always busy; maybe you'll find somebody new to drag back to Basic Plumbing.)
You may ask why you should bother buying books for full price in an old-fashioned bookstore when they're available for a discount on Amazon. While thriftiness is a virtue, there are several good reasons: The first is that buying a book in public is a political act—do you really want to have your copy of The Meaning of Matthew, Judy Shepard's new book about her son's death at the hands of gay-bashers and her subsequent battles on behalf of the GLBTQ movement, delivered to your door anonymously, shamefully tucked away in a plain brown wrapper, the way your queer forefathers had to buy gay-themed books just 40 years ago? Fuck that shit! You want to read out loud—give money to a bookstore so they'll keep displaying the book so that other browsers can find it, and so they'll keep bringing queer and queer-friendly authors to town (Shepard is coming to Seattle to talk about Matthew Shepard's legacy on June 1).
The second reason is that just last year, Amazon (allegedly) accidentally mislabeled all its gay books so that they wound up listed as "adult [read: pornographic] material." This meant that books on coming out, academic books on queer theory and feminism, and gay-history titles wound up removed from sales rankings and other lists and displays on the site, tucked back into their own little dark corner where they couldn't offend anyone. After three days of silence, in the face of massive protests on Twitter and in the blogosphere, Amazon dismissed the issue as a "glitch" and restored things to normal. And maybe it was just a "glitch." But it's still a sobering reminder that if they want, or even if they (allegedly) fuck up again, Amazon could just shove a whole category of people into nonexistence at any time. Your buying choices make you an accomplice to that digital segregation.
The third reason is this: Your interests range all over the map. You're not just interested in gay books; you love steampunk zombie adventure and book-length interviews with Hal Hartley. The real pleasure of a bookstore—any of Seattle's many fantastic bookstores, not just Elliott Bay—is the joy of discovery, of browsing. With all these books sitting next to each other, you're likely to find a title just sitting there on the shelf that catches your eye. A moment before, you never knew it existed, and the next thing you know, you and it are getting intimate, and it's changing your life. That's something Amazon's too-literal recommendation engine can't accomplish, and that's something at which Elliott Bay Book Company—and Basic Plumbing, for that matter—excels.