A Recent Rediscovering of the Emerald City

Written by: Colin Offenbacker

In the wake of the most loaded news week to hit our feeds, TV screens and computer screens in recent memory, I’ve strangely found myself at a loss as to what to write for my blog post this week. So I have fallen back to safety of writing about something I can relate to personally. I’ve mentioned it a time or two on the podcast but a couple of weeks ago I spent a long weekend in the city of Seattle, where I spent time at a live podcast recording of the Meateater podcast with my brother and then turned around and attended an event they call “Emerald City Comic-Con” with my wife. In other words I went from hanging with a crowd of camo wearing hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts to surrounding myself with people dressed up in every comic book, video game and pop culture characters under the sun, a lot of which seemed to have questionable levels of personal hygiene. Talk about polar opposite demographics.

To start my adventure for the weekend, I began as I also do with a full day at work, after working a nice 9 hour day I grabbed my prepped go-bag and headed to the ferry boat and before I knew it I was in the great cultural melting pot of the Pacific Northwest, the Emerald City herself, Seattle. There is a lot that I love about Seattle, there local politics doesn’t make that list, but as far as just about everything else…I’m a fan. I was meeting my brother there to attend a live podcast recording of a show that we both love, the Meateater podcast.

At it’s core it’s a hunting podcast, hosted by a man named Steven Rinella, it is also a very popular show on Netflix and a large hunting and fishing news/online magazine. The show was at the Moore theater, one of Seattle’s historical theaters. As my brother and I approached the marquee proudly advertising the evenings event, we noticed that the line wrapped around the corner of the block. Without thought or hesitation we walked down the line of mostly camo-clad, burly-beard sporting attendees only to find that the line wrapped around yet another block corner. There was something about that crowd that just seemed out of place in the leftist Utopian city of Seattle. I mean Seattle is home to a very outdoorsie population who often sport the top of the line outdoor gear from Patagonia, Columbia, North Face or Mountain Hardware, but these people attending this show were hunters and anglers. These were people who don’t just disappear for a weekend in the woods with a backpack on the shoulders, these were people who do that but generally speaking would also be carrying a rifle, shotgun or bow with them while they do it. They would also be heading into the woods with the mindset of tracking, killing and bringing an animal back with them. Two very different types of outdoor adventurers.

After finally finding the end of the line, we struck up some light conversation with the people in front of us and soon with the people that followed behind us in line. Most seemed to be blue collar working people, both men and women, who themselves talked about feeling out of place in a city like Seattle. Though I’m sure there had to be some local people there, some had come from across state lines just to attend this podcast recording. As the line slowly but evenly crawled forward as people passed through the front security checkpoint a group of costume clad cos-players walked by, obviously here to attend the comic book convention happening that same weekend. If Don or my wife was with me I’m sure they could have recognized the other characters walking down the street across from our line, but the only one I could recognize was a semi-overweight man dressed in a skin tight Wolverine costume from the Marvel comics, movies, video games and TV shows. And just like that my two worlds collided, though, ever so slightly. I could hear slight chuckles and saw head nods towards the passing cos-players as people struggled to understand what they were seeing across the street. I don’t blame them for immediately turning to humor when suddenly faced with something these hunters and fishers just couldn’t comprehend, but I did bring me to the reality that these types of interactions between two totally different interest groups happen all the time. I myself can feel just at home in either of these groups, but it was interesting to see it in person like that. Again, I harbor no ill will toward my fellow camo clad woodland warriors but the duality was palpable, it wasn’t but 30 seconds earlier that these same people were talking about how out of place THEY felt in the city, and the speed at which they projected the same exact feeling towards others in a place they weren’t even from felt strange.

The actual show itself was great, I don’t want to get into all the details because I want to use some of the topics covered in it on the podcast over the next couple of weeks, especially since it was surprisingly political, for a hunting podcast at least. After the show my brother and I parted ways, he left to catch the ferry boat so he could head home for the night while I walked the few blocks to my hotel for some much needed rest, rest I didn’t get.

After living a decent amount of time in New York City, spending time in my local city of Seattle felt good. I remember waking up early after a sleepless night alone in my hotel room a block away from the cities convention center feeling strangely energized. I got dressed in a fitted tee-shirt, slim fitting khaki jeans and my favorite blue suede shoes and headed to a coffee shop on the corner across the street from my hotel for a quick spot of breakfast, and believe it or not it wasn’t even a Starbucks. I got an iced black coffee and a croissant, sat at a little table out on the porch, popped in my headphones and began one of my favorite city past-times, people watching. Like I said, my hotel was a block away from the convention center which was where the comic-con was being held all weekend so the people watching was better than average. Costume clad con goers in every costume imaginable streamed endlessly just below my chosen breakfast spot, I was a wash in a river of glorious geekdom and it was fascinating.

I knew that my wife was on her way over and I didn’t feel like going back to my hotel room so after finishing my breakfast I decided to crank the tunes and just stroll around the city to continue my people watching. I walked blocks and blocks and still found myself drowning in a sea of con goers. It just never seemed to end. Every hotel I walked by, out would come a group of costumed con goers. Marvel character, DC characters, video game and anime characters, just endless amounts of endless variety, hundreds, thousands, all of them everyday normal people like you or I deciding to drop reality for a day or two and walk the streets of Seattle as their fictional alias.

Once I finally met up with my wife, we too entered into the strange yet comforting world of “the con”, mind you we were one of the non-costume sporting crowd, which there were a great number of by the way, and we had a great time too. Even if your not a die hard comic fan, it’s an experience that is hard to rival. After spending the day at the convention, we left with more merchandise than I’d care to share but more importantly with some great memories.

Reflecting on that weekend, now being a couple weeks removed, really made me think about the nature of our city. It is such a strange place when you really stop to think about it. It stands apart from my other familiar city, New York, in so many ways but I think it’s in the simple diversity that it really shines on it’s own. From hemp fest to Jordan Peterson, from Steven Rinella’s Meateater to Emerald City comic-con, every time I go there I get a different vibe, the entire demographic of the city seems to shift and change depending on what big even is happening that day. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve never actually lived there, but I still can’t get a solid read on “what” kind of city Seattle really is, but then again maybe that is Seattle. The true melting pot of the great Pacific Northwest.