Every time my friends and I are in Seattle, David insists that we go up the Space Needle, and Ian shoots him down. Too touristy, too expensive, waste of time. It’s been an ongoing joke — albeit not a very funny one — for years.
So when the day came last month that we were in Seattle and Ian was not, we each shelled out the $19 to shoot up 500 feet in a golden bullet elevator in a breathtaking 45 seconds. I had been up once when I was 5 years old, and, although I don’t remember it, I felt myself instantly revert to a state of childlike wonder when we stepped outside.
We couldn’t have picked a better day to go, with clear skies in every direction, including the snowy mountains we had just passed through earlier in the day. We stayed almost three hours — though I can imagine staying all day — watching ships come and go, northbound airplanes U-turn back toward SeaTac, families and friends also reverting to childhood.
The people-watching was almost as good as the people-listening. With everyone cramming elbow-to-elbow for balcony space, you don’t think too much about who else is listening to you. I am listening to you, and recording you like a creep.
I recorded for 17 minutes and cut it down to the loudest and clearest pieces of conversation. I tried to include different languages and recurring themes (i.e. the Ferris wheel, making sure someone doesn’t drop an electronic device through the wires).
Even though all the clips are in chronological order, I like how separate bits seems to be in coincidental conversation with each other (i.e. “Where’re you running from? I never saw you move so fast.” / “I wanna go in! I wanna go in!”).
People are pretty wonderful, aren’t they?
Last week I stayed with my friend Craig in Ellensburg, Washington, a tiny town in the middle of the state with a quaint downtown and a university. Although I arrived on the first day of spring, I hadn’t felt such wintry weather in years. Then it snowed, which I haven’t seen in 15 years! I put on four shirts, two jackets, two pairs of pants, and it was delightful.
Craig lives in probably one of the taller buildings in town, standing at a staggering four stories, with easy rooftop access. At the top of the A-frame roof is this open-air wind tunnel thing that seems to serve a sole purpose of a pigeon roost. They fly in and out all day, and at night you can here them cooing from inside. Craig calls them his upstairs neighbors.
So I left my Zoom at the opening of the tunnel for a full hour to record the birds’ departures and arrivals. Exactly 2.4 seconds after I turned it on, precariously perched at the edge of this opening, a pigeon flew out right in front of my face. The rest of the good bits are cut down to one tidy minute for your enjoyment:
After a Family Mart pit stop to buy almond Pocky and a monkey-man pear popsicle, we biked to this little shrine on the north side of Kyoto called Ota-jinja.
The best part was listening to these mystery insects (or birds?) sing:
Can anyone ID these? Maybe a different kind of cicada? More importantly, do you think they inspired the Boo sound in Super Mario World?
(When I was trying to find this, I realized that the Haunted House music from Mario 64 is totally like Balinese or Cambodian gamelan. It’s so sick.)
Also, I wanted to do something with these funny frogs at Fushimi Inari Shrine, but they didn’t match the beat of our mini jam:
When Lou was getting ready for his summer internship in Tokyo, we listened to the Pimsleur Japanese tapes. We robotically repeated many times:
Shinjuku dori wa doko desuka? Where is Shinjuku Street?
Koko desu! It’s here!
And the crosswalk signal plays this cool song!