On Wednesday I attended Ari Hoffman's "win or lose" election party, which he held the day after he definitely lost his race for Seattle City Council in District 2.
True to form, Hoffman, who runs a bouncy house business, hosted the event in an inflatable tavern. My plan was to bounce in the inflatable tavern and ask him about his distant third-place finish between bounces.
Despite sending out a media alert with details, he wouldn't give me the event location when I asked for it. He also accused The Stranger of making jokes about death threats against his family. The Stranger did not make jokes about death threats against Hoffman's family.
I was a little bummed about getting snubbed, but I was determined to bounce. I wrote to local journalists to see if they were covering Hoffman's party. Most responded with either a "Haha" or "lol." I also got a "nope, haven't looked into it," and an "honestly, I'm just glad we never have to talk about Ari Hoffman again."
The clock was ticking. The inflatable tavern was probably already filling up with air. So I reached deeper into my bag of investigative journalism tricks. I asked my boyfriend, Harry, to RSVP to Hoffman's event and get the address. He did as he was told, and very tactful. (He started out by asking if there would be a cash bar. There wasn't.)
Hoffman set up the tavern in a Georgetown alley next to a multi-colored food truck. I drove by the scene and parked down the road to case the joint. Two Seattle Police Department officers guarded the party. People flitted in and out of the tent. The words "The Pub" were written on a big green inflatable sign hanging above the doorway. Seemed kinda fun, but, much to my disappointment, there was no bouncing happening. Not one single bounce. The tavern was definitely inflatable, but it was basically just a glorified tent. In an alley. In Georgetown. I thought to report the tent to the city's "Find It, Fix It" app, but then I remembered I had a job to do.
I sat in the car for a solid 20 minutes, working up my confidence to go to a party I was not invited to. Eventually, I stepped out of my car, walked over to the tent, and then chickened out and kept walking. And kept walking. And kept walking. And kept walking. Until I had circled the whole block.
Finally, I walked into the inflatable tavern. Tables were jammed in next to each other inside. I couldn't see a spot for me to sit down, even I wanted to, and I definitely did not want to. But I did, however, find Hoffman.
We shook hands. He had very piercing eyes. He didn't blink as he told me that he thought he was very clear about my invite to the party. Or lack thereof. He declined an interview with The Stranger, but we chatted for a little while off the record. As we talked, a couple waved goodbye to Hoffman. He called after them, "Sorry I couldn't do better."
At the end of our chat, Hoffman invited me to stick around and grab some food, but I didn't trust the sincerity of his offer.
Wanting to stay but also wanting desperately to leave, I sat on a curb next to the SPD officers, who were showing each other photos on their phones.
I craned my neck to see their screens. The one closest to me was showing off some cars on his photo roll. The other one was showing a picture of an assault rifle.
The party was pretty uneventful. Hoffman didn't want to talk, and I had some leftovers to get back to. Plus, there was no bouncing—there was nary a skip in anyone's step—so I got the hell out of Dodge.
Before I left, I asked a guest if he could point me to the bathroom.
"I'm not sure. There might be one inside," he said, as he nodded toward the warehouse behind the tavern. "But this is Seattle. You can pretty much go anywhere."