Seattle from the Air
by Russ Heinl (photographer)
and Eric Scigliano
(Graphic Arts Center Publishing)
$29.95 hardcover

Seattle from the Air is part of the Bird's Eye View Series, which is problematic in itself. The whole idea of a bird's-eye view implies the eye of God, or the eye of nature--that is, an indifferent eye. A bird observes the city sans discrimination. It flies and shits everywhere: on an indigent boozer sleeping in the streets of Pioneer Square; on the roof of Bill Gates' Eastside Xanadu. Seattle from the Air does not look at our city with this type of eye--the eye of God--but with the eye of Satan. Satan is selective, making specific investments in the world, which is precisely what this book does: It selects parts of the city that represent its most splendid investments, its fantastic successes, its bloated worldliness.

You will not see wasted boozers on park benches in this book, nor will you see the brown people who populate the southern, nether parts of the city. Instead, you will see the corporate summits of Two Union Square and the Washington Mutual Tower; a gated community of palaces and crystal-blue swimming pools; a baseball field named after a giant insurance company; the Space Needle... Satan.

Everything I hate about this city is celebrated in Seattle from the Air. It's the antithesis of all that breathes and brilliantly thrives in the dense, multivocal, multisexual, multiracial quarters of Seattle--and Federal Way, SeaTac, and Tacoma, for that matter. Eric Scigliano's accompanying essay attempts to give a more colorful account of the city, but the pressure to glorify (or advertise) the lifestyles and architectures of the white and wealthy consumes several passages.

Seattle, hate this book.