WALKING AROUND ON THE VIADUCT
We saw you, a transportation worker in a reflective yellow jacket, walking around on the viaduct the first Saturday morning it was closed. You had just gotten out of your white pickup truck. There had been another white pickup next to yours, with orange cones in the back, but after that truck and its driver made off down the empty freeway, you had the place to yourself. You stood on one edge and looked over. You crossed four lanes to the opposite edge and looked over. You took out your cell phone and started taking pictures.
SEEING THE FUTURE FROM THE FERRY
On an impossibly sunny weekend afternoon, a group of people tucked their faces into jackets and scarfs to brace against the wind as the ferry arrived in Seattle from Bainbridge Island. You were a woman in your 20s in sunglasses and a peacoat. As the city got closer, the viaduct was impossible to miss, and you were staring straight at it. Quiet, completely free of rumbling cars and trucks spitting exhaust into the air and bay, belting the skyline, blue water below and blue sky above. When asked, you said you were wondering if it might stay closed forever.
SINGING "UNDER THE VIADUCT"
Just a few blocks away from the elevated freeway, on the second day of its closure, we saw video projected inside a dark room at Glass Box Gallery. Dashcam videos of police beating and shooting citizens flicked across a giant painting of an iPhone—a larger-than-life rendering of an iPhone made by the artist No Touching Ground. Then another video came on, the now notorious 1986 video made by a group of Seattle cops to the tune of "Under the Boardwalk," rewritten as "Under the Viaduct." In case you're not familiar (you can find it on YouTube), the song mocks homeless people living in the area, with some cops dressed as scraggly, drunken homeless men and other cops dressed as cops, hitting their batons and fists in their own palms as if readying for a fight. "Under the viaduct, we'll be drinking our booze," sing the cops dressed as homeless people. "Under the viaduct, our sores continue to ooze." Some people in the gallery had never seen this video before. We watched the cringeworthy "joke" all the way through.
UBER DRIVER REMEMBERS UBER MESS
Driving a passenger through Ballard three days after officials shut down the viaduct to allow Bertha to drill, you remarked to your passenger that you were there, on the viaduct, that memorable day of the fish truck clusterfuck in 2015, when an overturned semi full of salmon shut the freeway down from 2:30 to 11 p.m. You had to sit there for three hours with an Uber client in your backseat. So what happens if there's a fish truck clusterfuck in the tunnel, if they ever finish building it? Imagine being stuck behind an overturned truck of salmon in an underground tunnel. That is not good, you said, shaking your head. Not good at all.
WOULD YOU LIKE A LITTLE PANIC WITH YOUR COFFEE?
You recently moved from the East Coast to take a job at a company situated right on Western Avenue, with a scenic view of the waterfront and the viaduct. Only after you made the move did you see the video—you know, the one the Washington Department of Transportation put out in 2009 that simulates what would happen to the viaduct in the event of a major earthquake. You heard stories about pieces of debris flying off the highway. Now you're doing your best to get through the day without imagining full-scale Armageddon while Bertha is tunneling beneath the thing. You might join a chanting meditation class for extra measure.
FIRST AVENUE (NOT THE PURPLE RAIN ONE)
We appreciate a good bit of commiseration as much as anyone, so it was with a measure of gratitude that we stopped to listen to you busking a Prince song near the closed viaduct ramp at First and Seneca. You are not Prince, but then neither are we, and nor is anyone else, so really it's fine that you were comping together a simplified chord progression for the guitar part. And it's also completely understandable that your singing was a little scruffy. No one could sing like Prince, before or since, so your personal expression does count for something here. However, we did want to take you up on one small point vis-à-vis the lyrics. The line is "Little red Corvette / Baby, you're much too fast" and NOT "much too FAT," which is what you sang every time the chorus came around. Maybe you meant "phat," but we doubt it. We reckoned you were thinking about the relative size of a Stingray passenger seat, and wondered if you had enough class.
IGNORANT OF TRAFFIC AT THE SYMPHONY
The viaduct was closed? Wouldn't know. It was only a 10-minute trip from the bar at Nacho Borracho to the light rail station inside Benaroya Hall, where a few hundred Seattleites watched two of the most beguiling violinists—Long Beard Guy and Expressive Guy—perform pieces from Dutilleux, Beethoven, and Prokofiev. Expressive Guy plays violin in the back row. He's follically challenged, but what he lacks in hair production he makes up for in pure enthusiasm. With a stiff back, he rocks side to side with the music, really digging into the dramatic parts. He seems to know the music in his bones—as if at any moment he'll jump up, kick over the music stand, and emote all over the stage with his violin. Long Beard Guy has the exact opposite playing style. He sits a few rows up from Expressive Guy, wearing a long-tailed tux coat, and lays out the tunes without emotion. It's as if he just plays these symphonic gigs to make rent: He'd much rather be jamming with the Yellow Green Mountain Boys at the Grizzled Wizard. The woman who played piano for Beethoven's fourth—Imogen Cooper—poured herself over the piano like a living wave. With a long sweep of her hand, she'd toss off a note to the orchestra, who'd run with it for a while before throwing it back to her. Watching all these dynamics play out so far from traffic was enlivening, relaxing, delightful! Fuck driving—go to the symphony!