Capturing Seattle, in words and photos

It’s a fun surprise when I hear a friend’s name mentioned as part of the “coming up next on KPLU we’ll be talking to….” teaser during my daily dose of NPR radio. This morning, that friend was Joel Rogers, a Seattle photographer and writer whose book Seattlewas released last year. It was a project long in the making, encompassing a lifetime of experience in, and visual impressions of, Seattle.

Not just architecture and ferries and Pike Place Market (though all are included, of course), this book highlights many more layers of Seattle’s character. WTO riots. The Torchlight Run that closes lanes of the Alaska Way Viaduct. The Gay Pride Parade. Swearing in of new citizens on July 4. Locals reading books while waiting in line for a movie during the Seattle International Film Festival.

There is plenty of personal reflection in Joel’s writing. I love the story about his grandfather, of Swedish-Finnish background, who “had his own idea of church–renting a skiff at Ray’s Boathouse [back when it really was a boat house] and communing with the salmon of Puget Sound.” Joel taught me something new about this city in writing that Seattle ranks second only to nearby Portland in major American cities that has the least number of church-goers. At least “church” in the traditional sense. Joel goes on to draft his conjuring of what might constitute Seattle’s own set of Ten Commandments, including “thou shalt garden with native species,” “thou shalt partake of local microbrew,” “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s Subaru,” and–my favorite–“thou shalt love hiking in the rain,” which I do very much.

I always find it a bit odd to be on the receiving end of an interview rather than the one spitting out the questions. Joel contacted me while working on this book to get some perspectives on our Seattle-area cuisine. In his “The Northwest Table” essay in the book, I get to riff on one of my favorite subjects, what it is that constitutes “Northwest cuisine.”

While a Seattle coffee table sporting a Seattle picture book may seem a bit cliché (especially for non-conformist Seattle), this really is a book that locals will want to devour themselves, and have on hand to share with visitors. A view of the city through the compelling and studied lens of a native.

P.S. On a side note. A small grievance I just can’t contain any longer. A pet peeve that makes me crazy. It’s Pike Place Market. Not Pike Street. Not Pike’s Place. Just Pike Place Market. We walked by a parking garage downtown last night advertising that they served “Pike’s Place Market” customers. I vote for a law that fines Seattle businesses that can’t get the name of the city’s hallmark gathering place correct! OK, I feel better. Rant’s over.


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