Tuesday, June 07, 2011

U2 and me too in Seattle

Just back from Seattle where I had the honor of broadcasting a week of Mariners’ baseball. As the song goes, “the bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle” … just not every day.

Stayed at the Silver Cloud – a terrific hotel even if it sounds like the name of Tonto’s father. It’s directly across the street from Safeco Field. I opened my window and there was a giant mural of pitcher Felix Hernandez staring directly into my room. Now that’s a wake-up call. Every morning I pulled back the drapes and, “AAAAAAAA!!!”

Note to myself: Learn the difference between a hotel room safe and a microwave.

Missed by one day the streaker who ran across the outfield during a game (and it wasn’t even “70s Night”). He spent two nights in jail, faces multiple charges, and a scout from the Pittsburgh Pirates, impressed with his speed, wants to sign him. Actually, there were several cretins who ran out onto the field that night. One was a military man (now spending the rest of his life cleaning urinals with a toothbrush), and the other buffoon was scheduled to get married the next day. “Uh, honey, any chance we could move the venue from your church to the city drunk tank?”

When in Pioneer Square, try some Cow Chip Cookies – just don’t ask what’s in ‘em.

For a fundraiser, one charity is offering the opportunity to rappel a major skyscraper. That’s right. For a sizeable donation they’ll hook you up to a harness and you get to scale a thirty-story building. Jesus! You get local group, Death Cab for Cutie to sing a few songs, honor Bill Gates, have a silent auction, and call it a year. No one ever risked their life bidding on ferry passes.

Here’s something they don’t have in Manhattan: At the Woodland Park Zoo on Saturday they offered a class on how to bear-proof your yard.

As a tribute to Elvis Presley, the city has kept the Space Needle, constructed for the 1962 Elvis movie classic, IT HAPPENED AT THE WORLD’S FAIR. From it’s revolving rooftop restaurant you can see the city, Puget Sound, and the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges while you dine. Perfect for sightseers and bulimics.

Must see: The Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Every guitar that’s not in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame or Conan O’Brien’s garage is on display in this virtual music library. Imagine if the Louvre had a wing for Grunge. There’s a permanent display for Seattle homeboy Jimi Hendrix (featuring his music – tributes to the other aspect of his life are found everywhere. They’re called pharmacies.), Star Trek and Battlestar Galicata memorabilia, and a new exhibit honoring AVATAR just started. Cast member Michelle Rodriguez was in town for the opening so no pedestrian was safe.

Fabulous steaks at the Metropolitan Grill… right next door to a weight loss clinic.

Why I love Seattle: A movie theater all week was showing ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN.

Not only does the Elliott Bay Oyster House serve a great cracked crab and have finger bowls -- from 3:00-3:30, oysters are just fifty cents. They go up a quarter every half hour until 6:00 so you’re gonna wanna get there exactly at 3.

The Elliott Bay Book Company has moved downtown. Booo! Pioneer Square is just not the same without this classic landmark and all the Popeye-looking guys in sailor hats who used to mill about drinking spinach lattes. The new bookstore has high ceilings and impressive wood beams but Bluto would never be caught dead in it.

Saturday was insane. U2 performed at Qwest Field (also across the street from my hotel) so try getting a cab when 70,000 people are arriving at the same time. You could hear the show from my room (hell, you could hear it from Alaska) and Bono sounded pretty good. I can now say I’ve been to a U2 concert. I just had a somewhat obstructed view. But I imagine so did a lot of people who spent big bucks to actually be inside the stadium. A giant stage was erected in the middle of the field, called “the Claw” that featured state-of-the-art video board presentations. This Erector Set marvel requires 120 trucks to transport. So we’re not talking an intimate cabaret show here. If this “Claw” was between you and the group, the only way you’ll see U2 is when you get home and watch YouTube.

Meanwhile, outside the stadium there was a nimrod in the parking lot playing a set of drums to the music. “Yeah, I jammed with Bono”, he can now boast to his new friend, the streaker, in the holding cell.

The weather over the weekend was absolutely glorious! The bluest skies! When it’s not raining, there is no more beautiful part of the country than the Pacific Northwest. But it’s been a cold wet winter so when the sun finally did come out the population emerged liked the Munchkins after Margaret Hamilton croaked.

The Mariners won five of the seven games I called. In one dramatic inning our pitcher struck out a guy to end a big threat and I blurted out, “Wow, if I had a catchphrase I’d be saying it RIGHT NOW!” As it happened, I didn’t need a catchphrase very much. In the series with Tampa Bay, the Mariners hit eight home runs. My partner, Rick Rizzs called all of them. But I did have a squeeze bunt and a pick off throw to third.

Still, just being a part of the Mariners’ broadcast team again has been a thrill. Hope you like what you hear. If so, I’d say please let the Mariners know, but I just have this awful sinking feeling that someone will make a banner and run across the outfield in the middle of a game.


David said...

It's not Paul Revere, but... the Munchkins came out when the Wicked Witch of the East was crushed by Dorothy's house. Hamilton played her sister, the W.W. of the West.

Unknown said...

I love the Silver Cloud, I stay there whenever I visit Seattle. I can understand about the Felix Hernandez banner staring at you from Safeco Field. Last time I was there I had Ichiro giving me the stink-eye the entire time directly across from my window. But it was worth it though to watch them close the roof each night at the ballpark, very cool! Thanks for the update on Seattle Ken, glad you got to see blue skies!

Unknown said...

Oh yeah, and from a distant fan living in the corn fields of Iowa, GO M's!!

Mike Barer said...

Thank you to KIRO's Shannon Drayer for tweeting the news that your blog was picked as one of the top 25. It's good to have you back on the broadcasts and it's also good to hear Ken Wilson, who was Dave's original partner. His voice really bring's back memories of the days when he did live spots for Langendorf Bread and some of the other original sponsors. Also fun to hear Rick (who I think is an outstanding announcer) work for the first time with the man that he replaced (Ken Wilson) and the man who replaced him (Ken Levine).

Mary Stella said...

The Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

I went there on my recent stay in Seattle before I went on the cruise. Loved the exhibits, particularly the room where you could listen to hundreds of short interview segments from musical artists of all ages, eras and genres -- and a few by Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek fame.

She relates an amazing story of deciding to leave the show after the first year but then attending a fundraising event later in the day that she gave notice to Gene Rodenberry. At that event, she was introduced to a big fan of the event - Dr. Martin Luther King. He told her that Uhura was such a groundbreaking role for African Americans that she couldn't quit.

How's that for career advice?

Mac said...

Sounds like a great trip. I laughed at the idea of that guy telling people he'd once jammed with U2.
This woman, on the other hand, will have a seriously cool story to tell her grandchildren -


laughsew said...

I loved listening to you the first time you were in Seattle calling the Mariners games. And I love listening to you again. Glad you had a good time in Seattle.

Anonymous said...

Is there a joke I don't get in using repel in place of rappel?

LarryA said...

Loved listening to you, Ken. Maybe the fact that the Ms won a bunch of those games helped, but I actually doubt it.

I hope the Mariners' brass read their emails, even if they don't ever respond to them.

Forest Cummings said...

Ken, I really enjoyed hearing you on the radio again.I am a huge fan. I even bought your book and sat through mannequin 2. I hope to hear you screwing up calls again soon.

Jon J said...

If there truly are "blue skies" in Seattle then the producers of The Killing did the city a terrible disservice by actually shooting the story in Vancouber that is set in Seattle. Rain, rain and more rain and nary a blue sky to be seen. Seattle should demand a disclaimer.

Blair Ivey said...

As a former Seattle resident now in Portland, I agree that there isn't a more beautiful place in the country than the Northwest, when you can see it. It's remarkable how much difference 200 miles makes in terms of sunshine.

As for catchphrases, as much as I enjoy Rick Rizzs calls, I'm not sure about his appellation of the first baseman's dingers as 'Smoakbombs'.

Jake said...

Damn, as a Seattle ex-pat living in LA, this post really made me homesick. Thanks, Ken. If you're still announcing M's games (or just in Seattle) in September, you should check out the scene at a Seahawks game; if you thought U2 was loud, then The 12th Man might change your definition of "loud."

Steve G said...

Have to agree with you about the Elliot Bay bookstore. They turned one of the remaining jewels of independent bookstores into a shadow of itself retaining the wood beams but leaving its soul behind. Too bad Portland doesn't have a MLB team. Then you'd have a reason to go to Powell's.

Jeff_Grubb said...

Not to pick nits, but Elliott Bay Books is not downtown, but rather up on Cap Hill. Downtown Seattle is so surrounded by neighborhoods and specific sub-localities (West Seattle, SoDo, the International District, Cap Hill, First Hill, Queen Anne's Hill, Belltown, etc), that the true down consists of only the 25 feet around the Ivar's on the waterfront.

Mike Schryver said...

The "catchphrase" line killed me.

tales from the pole said...

i love seattle. i have never tasted water more clean or out than when i stayed out there a few years back. although my southern accent and corduroy overalls had me mistaken for a spokane resident and drew up a few eyebrows i have nothing but fond memories of that beautiful, pristine city. lovely description. didn't catch any games as am not a sports fan but defiantly hung on for the music scene. seattle was the first CITY i lived in where even the bums looked well taken care of and the sidewalks suffered from a LACK of assorted trash and scattered debris. they were one of the first to adopt the no smoking ban--to their benefit --many years before NYC. oh, and that rainbow-hued gigantic produce and those heaven-scent, heavenly scented huge fresh flowers at the fish market ....ah, memories...also, one of the first places where i saw a higher standard of living on display for ALL TYPES of people, something you don't see a lot in the south.

tales from the pole said...

p.s. "repelling down a skyscraper" = i am always amazed at what people will pay to do that i will always most certainly pay NOT to ever have to do... ;)

Janet T said...

when I saw the picture of the claw- I thought it was a spider and just more of Bono promoting his musical

VP81955 said...

Ken, hope you'll be making the trip to D.C. with the M's later this month. Johnny Holliday and Phil Wood can't wait to say hello.

scottmc said...

I am not sure that I've ever seen a runner picked off 3rd.(A catcher throwing down, yes-but a pitcher, I don't think so.)
I remember that last year you had the chance to see David Hyde Pierce on Broadway. Chip Zien is now appearing in a musical at the old Studio 54 location. Unfortunately, the show will end its run before the Mariners come to New York next month.

Cap'n Bob said...

Pioneer Square has the Seattle Mystery Book Store, which is a good place to shop.

bean said...

My earlier invitation to take you to lunch on one of the Seattle home stands you work has been greeted with silence so far but still stands if you get time later in the year, Ken.

I'm a big radio and baseball fan and it'd be fun. For me, anyway!

Best, bean@kroq.com

MattA said...

I guess the Mariners should have learned how to "bare-proof" their outfield. (I'll understand if this is replaced by one of those ""comment deleted by author" notes, Ken.)

Pat Reeder said...

I was working in radio, partnered up with one of the few jocks in America who was playing British new wave music when U2 first came on the scene. I never understood why they became so big and are still around when so many bands I thought were 100x better aren't. I'd still rather listen to the Stranglers or the Lambrettas any day.

I guess U2 fans just like being lectured to about how their SUVs are destroying the environment by a band that can't give a concert without 120 semi-trucks full of equipment. Or maybe they enjoy the lectures about greedy capitalists from a millionaire rock star who's stiffing his own near-bankrupt homeland to avoid paying taxes there. Or possibly, they just can't get enough of the unforgettable melodies from "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark."

VW: Velystic - Of or pertaining to the Velvet Underground, who were also better than U2.

Jim said...

ANY Mariners announcer is better than Ron Fairly. Sorry, that's not much of a compliment. Hard for anybody to beat Rick Rizz. I actually liked him better than Dave Niehaus.
fellow area blogger(Olympia)at www.accordingtosamandjim.blogspot.com

Knuckles Buchanan said...

Having you back on the broadcasts is fantastic. You and Ken Wilson are, by far, my favorite part of listening to games on the radio this season (although Dave Henderson's proclivity for making up words on the fly and acting like everyone should know what they mean can be quite entertaining).

Hannah Kali said...

Ken- I was listening from my office in Tysons Corner, VA to one of the games you called last week- I'm from the Seattle area but moved east for work a year ago. When I heard you were calling the game I stayed at work much longer than I intended to listening with my MLBtv account. It was great! Please come back! I'll happily send a note begging the Mariners- I'd love to hear you more often!

PS- I'm off to watch some MASH. My favorite show. :-)

-Hannah Johnson