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as has the sport of positioning on the crushed ice a nasty-looking brute in the shape of an open-mo

Time:2018-07-04 19:02Shoes websites Click:

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A prudent first consideration when trying to understand Seattle is that it is not Athens, Rome or, for that matter, Stratford-upon-Avon. The seed of Western Civilization was planted in classical Athens, blew westward on a storm toward ancient Rome, was miraculously grafted onto stronger roots during the Renaissance in Florence and Siena and, one thing following another, kept going until it hit Seattle, where it stopped, the broad Pacific being too great a barrier for its further transit.

Instead, Asian culture came east, and although Seattle remains heavily European in population and influence, it doesn’t completely fit a classical definition of what is Western; in fact, it doesn’t quite fit any classical definition. It is, in a word, “whatever,” in the very contemporary use of that word to mean: “If that works for you, I’m OK with it.”

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The result is something as unique in the United States as a gourmet hamburger in Verona. The downtown looks respectably North American, save for an overall cleanliness that is maintained despite the conspicuous homeless population. They are familiar to the point that, over a few days, they came to appear as integral to the sidewalks as fire hydrants. Exiting the Convention Center one morning, I approached a man seated on his rolled sleeping bag. He had a gentle face under wavy hair that disappeared behind his back. He wore pinstriped suit pants and old running shoes and held out a baseball cap with a floridly embroidered rim. His nearly empty Starbucks vente cooled on the ground next to him. I gave him money — not to be beneficent or to make a. political statement; I just thought he could use a refill.

As hosts to a transient population of sailors, port cities trade commercially in goods but socially in many shades of tolerance. In Seattle, that shows best at Pike Place Market, the home of Seattle’s renowned flying fish. Many edible species of marine life go airborne here, all of them quite dead when they do. You can catch sight of them by ordering something from the fishmonger who stands on the opposite side of a sales island at the large seafood booth. Observe as a colleague behind the main counter gives a shout and, on hearing a boisterous reply, hurls your carefully wrapped dinner over 20 feet, into the hands of your salesman, who proves as skilled as a wide receiver in the NFL.

That has been going on at the market a very long time, as has the sport of positioning on the crushed ice a nasty-looking brute in the shape of an open-mouthed monkfish. As a credulous visitor draws close, it lunges forward and lets out a fiendish growl (the handiwork of the nearest salesman, turned puppeteer), as if to take revenge for the imminent consumption of its neighbours.

The rest of the market is the usual mix of flower vendors, crafts people and memorabilia sellers, but there is a refreshing absence of chainstore predictability. I bought my nine-year-old son a brace of diecast toy airplanes at a compact specialty store. Nearby, a Chinese restaurant as long and narrow as a railroad car (but with a permanent waterfront view) served me an agreeable impromptu lunch of steamed chicken and vegetables.

I have a debt of a kind to Seattle: I never drank coffee until before Starbucks opened its first store in my adopted hometown of New York City — and I haven’t stopped since. The first Starbucks in the entire chain is still on Pike Place, across the street from the fish sellers. It is about the size of a comfortable Manhattan living room and still looks more like a place to warehouse coffee than a place to drink it. You have to wait to get inside, as is appropriate for any shrine, whether in service to God, art (The Last Supper), an ideal (the Liberty Bell) or caffeine. Entering with Asian tourists, I did as they did and entered just to say I did so, then popped out. Then I was straight off to another Starbucks. Talk about a shrine, though; if there had been a box for offerings, before exiting, I would have dropped some change into a metal box and lit a votive candle.

I was in town this time for a legal conference. By a long tradition of a quirkiness that Seattle would appreciate, my friend and fellow attendee Axel, an internationally recognized authority on intellectual-property law who works in Berlin, meets me wherever the conference may be held annually throughout the world — always at a Starbucks. That was why I hurried from the first of its kind to the newest of its kind: a prototype Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. Large, double-storeyed and comfortable, it includes its own-coffee brewing machines, table service at the downstairs level on Japanese-style wooden trays, and it has enough coffee paraphernalia on sale to outfit a couple of rival artisanal coffee shops, competition from which has spurred this agreeable refinement to the standard Starbucks model.

Axel had the honour and burden of being in charge of our meeting this year — which compresses more than 10,000 intellectual-property lawyers from around the world into a single, utterly overrun place. You could measure Axel’s importance to us by the ribbons hanging from his name badge, each representing a distinguished but distinct role — like the battle ribbons on a field marshal’s dress uniform. Over our fragrant and complex brews, I asked him his thoughts on Seattle. “I love the city,” he said, soon adding, “The homeless problem is a bit disturbing, quite different from where I am in Europe.” Then he smiled. “I find it, as a tourist, disappointing that you cannot buy a big fish, take it back to your hotel and cook it.”

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