Looking back...and forward...at "Grunge Redux"

It has been months since my last post here. Months. Yet don't let that absence of content fool you. I've been focusing myself on other outlets, including my work with Atlas Obscura. The work I'm doing there...and just did in that capacity last night leading a walking-and-talking event I called "Grunge Redux"...is what I want to expound upon here. All the work I put in should cross-pollenate my prior work, in a perfect world. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I'm feeling like the world is rather perfect right now. So why not write about it, mmmkay?

I start from the top. I loved grunge music. There. I embrace the idiom. Grunge has been vilified and come back in fashion and seen all sorts of wrong-headed attempts at burial or resurrection. But for me, the music I experienced both here in Seattle and during my college years in Minnesota holds a special place in my memory bank. So I planned an event with our Seattle chapter of Atlas Obscura meant to focus upon what and where Seattle's music was in the mid-'80s to later-'90s. It was a rather bold move. Anything easily mockable can be flipped as being called bold. But if I was going to do it, I was going to jump into the mosh pit with reckless abandon. I'm glad to say that I managed to come out the other side with nary a scratch on me.

If you want another person's view of what I did in preview form, check out the feature that ran in "The Stranger" this week. For the record, I've done the other tour featured. That one's more for tourists. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I had a nice couple from Ecuador in the van with me and the tour guide, Charity, on the day I did it. They were all lovely. But I wasn't going to get into a discussion about "grunge" as a noun and "Seattle" as an adjective there. That was the sort of thing I tried to do during my Seattle Obscura Society event, as we made our way through Belltown on a lovely early Spring Friday evening. 

Some bottom line logistics, first of all. With regard to my gig as a "Field Agent" with Atlas Obscura. I am tasked with coming up with original programming that currently amounts to one event per month on average. I like to think of it as "immersive longform journalism" that focuses very much upon places and the history behind those physical locations. Because I work with the Seattle Obscura Society, my events are all about Seattle. I've got a wide berth with AO. I'm very impressed with the NYC-based leadership of the company, along with our local talent and leadership. Please check out the website for upcoming events. Often. Because things will be going up there with expanding variety in the months ahead. I'm pleased to say that my next event sold out just a few days after being announced. It takes some time to build a brand, and AO's built something good since launching in 2009. I'm proud to be a part of what we're building here in Seattle. 

Secondly, I want to offer a very quick overview of the actual places we visited during a 2+ hour tour. We started at the historic Moore Theatre. We walked to Sub Pop Records' current World Headquarters...as always with Sub Pop...the grandiosity shtick comes with their very hip and hilarious tongue firmly planted in their cheek. We stopped for a quick drink in the backbar at The Crocodile. We walked past some sights in Belltown, and had to skip a planned stop at The 5 Point Cafe because we were running late. We walked through the Seattle Center, passing by landmarks like the Mural Amphitheatre. And we got a full tour of KEXP's gorgeous new studios and public spaces. 

I could have talked for twice as long, given the amount of material I'd prepared in the course of my research. Seattle during the grunge era was a helluva thing to behold, and I fully realize that I only truly experienced the tail end of it. Thankfully, many of the people who were here then and longer are still around, and proved willing in some cases to talk about it. But even more impressive to me in the course of researching this event was the realization that Seattle's ongoing music and cultural contributions are so varied and full of positivity. This really was an event that drew from the past, looked around at the present, and allowed for a healthy consideration of the future. 

With that said, I'm moving onto my next obsessions for AO. I have many people to thank for helping me wrap my brain around "Grunge Redux" as a concept that became a formative reality. They know who they are, and they continue to rock. I'll leave it at that. Other than to say that I'm going to offer this event again on down the road. After I do some thinking about how to better tell the stories that I now hold so dear, while still pointing to the experts and professionals who really do the work that allows for the vinyl to get on the turntables and the musicians to crush it in front of the fans, day after glorious day.

Blogs fall by the wayside every day. Energy gets focused elsewhere, you don't think anyone's reading, life invades. I get it. Even as I fight against it. But I just want everyone who somehow found this to know that I'm not letting this one go entirely. I've spent years posting things on this and a hardy handful of blogs prior. I'll (hopefully) always do so. It just may seem fewer and farther between posts. Don't question the sincerity, though. I'm just focused elsewhere, much of the time. 

Be well, dear reader. More later.

My Atlas Obscura obsession, running, and on-the-road research

I've been meaning to promote a new healthy obsession of mine, even if the relation to my broader work for Pelting Out seems tenuous. I'm a big fan of Atlas Obscura. If you're not familiar with what they do, you should poke around their catalog of over 10,000 places across the globe. The unique locales and stories they collect are right up my alley. In addition to the website, AO has plans for world domination. Or at least hopes of opening compelling "Societies" in various cities. Such as NYC...where they began. LA. Chicago. You get the idea. Thankfully, Seattle's also launched an Obscura Society. And I'm starting a new gig with them as a Field Agent, developing local events that will offer some unique insights into Seattle's quirky awesomeness. Stay tuned for details related to my first events in early 2017...a walking tour of Seattle musical influences in the '90s...a dichotomous tour of the Klondike Gold Rush influence on Pioneer Square and the site of the Alaska-Yukon Expedition originally meant to celebrate the 10th anniversary of that rush. The history I've found in putting these ideas together fascinates me. Odds are it might have the same effect upon you.

I've been somewhat remiss in posting here the last few weeks. Grand plans delayed not derailed...in part because of my AO thinking...along with the prep work needed to head out on my current trip. My current struggles with the in-flight WiFi over Wisconsin are just part of the journey to NYC. I've got equal parts research and running lined up. Running-wise, I'm doing the TCSNYC Marathon on Sunday. Research-wise, I'm also neck deep in plans for a few busy days of interviewing and exploring. Check back for some shared fruits of those labors. I promise.

Here's hoping your own gig also currently fills you with great promise.

"Cover Me Up" in old scene memories

I moved to Seattle 20 years ago this week. I saw more than my fair share of shows back in those days. Even though that era was so overburdened by a focus upon the Seattle scene, this City's clubs and bars filled me with memories. Those days continue to come up in conversation - fondly, more often than not. I just had a long sought after conversation with a source this week that largely began with us articulating our recollection of music and the scene here in the 90s. Whatever the style or the venue, those of us who grew up going to shows will probably always use those filters.

That's partly why it was such a delightful reminder to catch a show at Neumo's on Capitol Hill last night. Not because it was an epic show - Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit felt a bit deflated. Isbell admitted playing gigs both for Amazon and on "the radio" earlier in the day. Isbell's become a critical darling for his first solo effort. I was certainly there because I'd played that album ("Southeastern") dozens of times while roadtripping this summer. I didn't have a connection with Isbell's earlier band (Drive-By Truckers). But I surely recalled my prior sentiments about Neumo's. Hence the delight.

Jason Isbell at Neumo's. Unlike in the old Moe's, you'll only find clowns up near the stage in Neumo's (yours truly included in that particular nostalgia joke). Not that any of these guys were that bad...

Jason Isbell at Neumo's. Unlike in the old Moe's, you'll only find clowns up near the stage in Neumo's (yours truly included in that particular nostalgia joke). Not that any of these guys were that bad...

So if I have a point, it's somewhere amidst staying out until 1am on a school night,  seeing Neumo's through the filter of when it was just Moe's with the terrifying clown motif, thinking back to my recent research roadtrip when Isbell was on almost constant "shuffle/repeat," and just generally digging the energy of a nostalgic flashback. Since so many people on this particular day are focused upon a very different sort of look back, I'm glad to have a legitimate reason to look fondly backward.