My So-Called Indie Life

Turn it into a goddamn party.

Warm Budweiser cans on lukewarm summer nights. Punk houses with pretty pictures of birds hung above sagging couches rescued from dumpsters. Friends cramped on stairways, usually laughing. Someone's ex-girlfriend wearing a T-shirt of the band. The band. The band. I'm at a house party in Northgate, of all infernal places. The Spits are playing, and they're great. Seems like most people around here don't really get them, which is probably because there's not really anything to get. Outside, the stars shine bright, and no one here knows my name. These are some of the best things, the best things I've ever seen.

Afterward, several cars' worth of people head toward Industrial Coffee (5503 Airport Way, 763-0354) to see the Cripples. We get there only to discover that they had to cancel, so we try the action next door at Stella (5511-13 Airport Way, 763-1660). Thwarted again: Some sort of Vespa convention, complete with matching jackets and a mediocre band. These things are often hit-and-miss. But it's warm outside, and we'd still rather be here on these fringes than stuck inside the same old bar.

The next morning, we meet up with some friends from Portland who played earlier in the weekend at the Crocodile. We take them to Flap Jacks Too (9655 16th S.W., 762-4073) in White Center, because the hash browns are really good there and it's the only place we know of where you can eavesdrop on things like, "Well, yeah, she had that shock treatment, but it didn't get rid of the manic depression, it just made her forget her kids' names." They ask about record stores, and someone says that the only one that really matters is Fallout (1506 E. Olive Way, 323-BOMB). In many ways, he's right, but we also write down the address for Sonic Boom (3414 Fremont N., 547-BOOM), adding that while in Fremont, it's highly advisable to stop by Jive Time (3506 Fremont N., 632-5483) for some used vinyl and also the Antique Mall (3419 Fremont Place N., 548-9140), where treasures are uncovered daily by ordinary citizens like you and me.

Later, with $14 burning a hole in my pocket, I stop by Atlas Clothing (1515 Broadway, 323-0960) and pick out a perfect brown skirt and a belt the color of shallow seawater. In the dressing room mirror, my hair looks unkempt and overgrown, so after completing the transaction, I steer myself toward Ivory's (2521 Sixth, 448-7778), where Tara Thomas, hairdresser of the coolest cool, does her part to keep this town looking good. Jenny and Shaun at Vain (2018 First, 441-3441) are superstars, too. If you haven't had your hair cut by one of these three, you're definitely not looking as fabulous as you could be.

That night, DJs Lacey Panties and Ruby Knuckles take the relaxed rec-room atmosphere at Linda's (707 E. Pine, 325-1220) and turn it into a goddamn party. Ruby hits the hipsters with "Hostage Crisis" from the brand-new A-Frames album, and Ms. Panties follows with "Fire in Cairo" from the Cure's Three Imaginary Boys. Brilliant. Bartender, I think I'll have another.

A few days later, I run into Tara Thomas at Pho Bang (Thursday nights at Re-Bar, 1114 Howell, 233-9873), where her wig-dressing services are put to task with Jackie and Ursula, and again I'm thinking of the best things. Lots of people have lately bemoaned the modern incarnation of Pho Bang. No, it's not Foxes, and there are no wheelchair-bound trannies doing lines off the back of the toilets. But it's still the only place where I can consistently run into good friends, and it's the only place where I occasionally feel like dancing my ass off with those friends until they kick us all out. And those are the best things. Those are the best things to me.

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