Saturday, November 01, 2008
El Ciudad De Las Turistas
I motored the 25 or so miles from Port Ludlow up the peninsula to Port Townsend this morning, for a visit to Don's Pharmacy, a sort of old-fashioned drugstore in a strip mall, and also for the once-a-month trip to my "other" bank.
The road up and back was breathtakingly beautiful, and very sparsely traveled up until the five miles or so just before one arrives at the town. A gray overcast and light drizzle were interspersed with wan sunlight weakly attempting to shine through the low ceiling, and the tranquil evergreens lining both sides of the road alternated with Pacific maples whose leaves are mostly yellow now, and beginning to fall fast and litter the roadway. I was in awe of the tranquility and quiet emanating from these thick, damp woods, and can't help contrasting these scenes to my recent surroundings in hot, hectic Southern Cal.
I wandered to the core of downtown Port Townsend while I was there, looking for the hemp clothing store, only to find that it closed five or six years ago. I guess I missed a few beats.
Port Townsend has avoided the ruin that has befallen the majority of small towns in the American west by turning to the tourist trade. The result -- a remodeled, gentrified downtown shopping district that's excessively boutiquey, chi-chi, and cute, is unsatisfying, but certainly not as depressing as the rows of boarded-up storefronts of Winslow, Arizona. Neither is it as self-contradicting as the working-class, simultaneous dilapidation and Wal-Martization of places like Cottage Grove, Oregon.
However, November is the beginning of the deep part of the off season in Port Townsend, which means the town is left with idle and trafficless boutique and restaurant operators, and the substratum of poor-to-modestly-prosperous hippies who populate the place, making their marginal living off the same seasonal resource as everyone else plus various and sundry above-ground and underground sidelines.
Townsend has the advantages of being beautifully sited, with salt water on three sides and a vital travel connection (Washington State Ferries), a wealth of well-preserved and extensively renovated Victorian architecture, both residential and commercial, and a climate which is warmer and sunnier than most of the rest of the region during summer. The Olympic Peninsula thus serves as a kind of funnel with the narrow end at Port Townsend naturally routing all the region's summertime tourists into this small and attractive city. It has survived and avoided the desolation common to 90 percent of the other villages in this part of the world only by paying a price. A place such as this can only get by pretending to be cuter than it really is.
I'll be coming back here regularly in the late fall, winter, and early spring, but will probably avoid the place during the time of warm weather.
I guess they're still planning to have that election people have been talking about. I think it's on Tuesday. Our long national nightmare is just about over.
I already voted -- for the Democrat -- and I hope he wins. Other than that, I don't intend paying too much attention to it until Wednesday morning, when somebody will have one. And somebody will have won, also. And, it goes without saying, somebody will have lost, also.
It's turned into real moon madness, and has brought out some of the most unattractive traits imaginable in the various humans and others who are obsessed with it.
Meanwhile, Bill Kristol, one of the stupidest morons on the planet, and an outstanding candidate for the Stupid Olympics decathlon, was back on the Daily Show again the other night, and The E&P Pub reports:
Appearing once again on The Daily Show, Bill Kristol, Jon Stewart's favorite whipping boy ("Bill Kristol, aren't you ever right?"), tonight defended the McCain-Palin ticket, at one point informing the show's host that he was getting his news from suspect sources. "You're reading The New York Times too much," he declared.
"Bill, you work for The New York Times," Stewart pointed out.
It's true. Kristol writes a column for the New York Times. I haven't ever actually read it, since I'm not a masochist, but I've heard there are some people who do.
So much for the Times's Liberal Media cred.
Photo of downtown Port Townsend by Paul, 2004.