His oft-rockin' colleagues at the UW Daily and the Northwest rock magazine The Rocket were amused by Charles R. Cross' presumption—he was forever hitting up publications you're supposed to wind up at, not start at. Instantly discovered by hipster Esquire editor Adam Moss (future culture majordomo of The New York Times and New York), Cross promptly began writing for Esquire and all major music mags, bought The Rocket from his fellow anarcho- syndicalist co-founders, and batted out biographies of Springsteen and Zeppelin. Under him, The Rocket became the school paper of the grunge scene, arguably making it all possible (with help from SW's then-editor, David Brewster, who became grunge's inadvertent godfather by virtually banning pop music from SW, funneling ad dollars into Cross' rock-crazed mitts). Incredibly, Cross persuaded the stern mullahs of grunge to break their silence on Kurt Cobain, and published the definitive, prizewinning New York Times best-seller bio Heavier Than Heaven, followed by this summer's opus Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix. Cross' contribution to Northwest music is unique— he gave Nirvana its first magazine cover and erstwhile Rocket intern Ann Powers a boost en route to becoming the nation's best rock critic. He's also one of the most accomplished authors on any topic in local history. A working title for his Cobain book was The Will of Instinct. Cross has it, too. www.charlesrcross.com.
Charles R. Cross' Picks
Best Seattle Jimi Hendrix Site:
Hendrix's grave in Renton's Greenwood Memorial Park. "Contrast his million-dollar monument with his mother's unmarked welfare grave."
Best Celeb Grave:
Bruce and Brandon Lee's (at Lakeview Cemetery, next to Volunteer Park in Capitol Hill). "Not only are their monuments gorgeous, the view is the best in Seattle."
Best Music Venue:
The Triple Door, downtown. "Nonsmoking, great food, and eclectic lineup of acts. If only they rocked out a bit more."
Bick's in Greenwood. "Consistently excellent fare at prices that are more akin to Ballard than Belltown."
Best Nonfiction Writer:
Erik Larsen of Bainbridge Island (The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America). "A very talented writer. But Erik suggested a book to me titled Praying for Sheetrock, by Melissa Fay Greene, that I would argue is one of the best pieces of nonfiction writing of this century."
Best Local Institution Immortalized by Hendrix:
"Spanish Castle, of course. The club used to be out in Federal Way and is talked about by musicians who played there as the Valhalla of Northwest clubs."
Best Wi-Fi Place:
Chaco Canyon Cafe in the U District. "Great vegan fare, great coffee or chai, fast Wi-Fi, and funky music. You'll feel like you were back in the '70s at Mother Morgan's."
Best Place of Worship (as if Some Folks Don't Worship Wi-Fi):
Center for Spiritual Living in Sand Point. "They don't even call themselves a church, so as not to scare off the timid."
The Cabin Tavern in Richmond Beach. "Good food, funky surroundings, and the feeling like you're saddling up to your grandfather's favorite bar."
Best Place to Take a Lively Kid:
Art auctions. "I've had much fun this year letting my 5-year-old bid at charity auctions. I let him buy one item, usually a cheap one, but he loves the process. Thank God there's no local Sotheby's."