Gentle bossa nova


leftovers & links
Saturday, April 29, 2023 

There's a two-track train tunnel downtown, built more than a century ago, and it fascinates me like I'm a little kid.

The tunnel fascinated me when I was a little kid, and as a teenager I walked through it once, doubtless one of the ten dumbest things I ever did. But maybe the coolest.

In 2023, my after-work bus stop is near the southern mouth of the Great Northern Tunnel, and whenever I see a train going into it or coming out, I have to stand and watch. I've missed a few buses, standing and watching the trains.

The tunnel was built for a whopping $1.5-million, in 1906. With inflation, the internet tells me that's about $45-million in present-day dollars.

Meanwhile, here in that present day, Sound Transit is going to spend multiple billions of dollars — no exact numbers yet — to dig a new light-rail tunnel through downtown.

Since it's Sound Transit and they're famously incompetent, they've already announced that the stations will be in stupid, inconvenient places, making transfers to different trains difficult. And of course, once construction gets underway, there will be huge cost overruns and "unexpected" delays, same as Sound Transit's perpetually-delayed Eastside and Tacoma rail projects.

But it's gonna be grand when it's done, and I hope to live long enough to ride through that new tunnel.

There are power-scooters all around Seattle, branded Lime and Bird, and available for rental and then abandonment. Flash a card or a smart phone, and you can drive away on a scooter for a one-way ride. When you're done, you leave the scooter and walk away. With GPS, the companies that own the scooters will find them, wherever you leave them.

Which is everywhere. The scooters are always parked haphazardly, blocking the sidewalk in random places, sometimes a dozen of them.

Downtown — always it's downtown — there's a bum who comes stomping past my morning bus stop once or twice a week, and saying nothing, he kicks each scooter over, then drags them to a big tree at the bus stop. He stacks the scooters one atop the other in a mountain of scooters, all leaning against the tree.

The sidewalk shouldn't be a parking lot for scooters. "I'm walkin' here." People never park their scooters out of the way; always it's right in the walking area of the sidewalk. You gotta dance your way past all the parked scooters.

So each of the three times I've seen that bum pile scooters against the tree, I've handed him five bucks. What he does is more beautiful than art, and fuck those scooters anyway.

Many times I've written about bums and lowlifes in the city, but generally I'm a bum-positive person. With a few turns of bad luck, almost anyone could be that bedraggled limping smelly guy at the corner. 

If you're not an ass about it, though, it's OK to laugh at the bums sometimes, and I laughed a few days ago.

I was at the Charles Bukowski Memorial Bus Stop, which is catty-cornered between three homeless shelters, and features broken bottles and cracked asphalt and wandering souls who get onto the buses without knowing or caring where they're going.

Some days there's a bald stubbly white bum there, maybe 50 but he seems much older, and he never rides the bus. He simply stands at the stop, smiling and waving at the bus drivers like they're old friends. He crouches, to make eye contact through the bus's windshield, and waves like bon voyage at the pier. And it's a very busy bus stop, with a bus or two always pulling up or rolling away, so the bum does plenty of waving.

Sometimes the drivers wave back. More often they ignore him. I've tried waving at the bum myself, but I'm a distraction, and he doesn't want to be distracted from his mission, which is waving at the bus drivers. 

A few days ago, I tried to talk to the guy. Started with hello, and he glanced at me and said hello, so I asked, "What bus are you waiting for?"

"All of them!" he said, like I'm the idiot who'd just broken the record for Stupidest Question of All Time. I nodded and walked several paces away, and then belly-laughed.

In case you can't tell, I like it downtown. Five mornings and afternoons a week, I ride a bus to the heart of the city, walk a few blocks to another bus stop, and wait for a bus that'll take me either to work (mornings) or home (evenings). Whichever direction, I'm not wild about where I'm going, but when I'm downtown I sure love where I am.

Downtown — especially in the scummy areas— feels more like home than when I'm literally at home.

Downtown is where I want to be. Living there would eliminate most of my commute time, but also it's just an interesting place. It's loud. It's alive. It's interesting. Anything might happen, and I love that.

Listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova. You'll be dancing to it too before the night is over…

40 years ago I lived in downtown Seattle, and I want to move outta the boring old south side, and live downtown again. Soon, I hope…

News you need,
whether you know it or not

Microsoft Edge is leaking the sites you visit to Bing 

The Epstein client list probably doesn't exist 

"Crimes against humanity": UN body calls for release of Guantanamo inmate 

Senate investigation into Brett Kavanaugh assault claims contained serious omissions, of course 

Roberts' wife made $10.3 million in commissions from elite law firms, whistleblower documents show 

Disney is shrinking FiveThirtyEight, and Nate Silver (and his models) are leaving 

Nate Silver's numbers fetish is only about the numbers. He's tediously fixated on who'll win each election, but has no interest in anything but those numbers. His site's been dead to me since he sold it to ESPN and Disney for a big number of his own.

Court OKs lawsuit over TSA groping 

"Too provocative" mermaid statue causes stir in southern Italy 

New Hampshire town tries to squelch doughnut mural 

Climate change caused catastrophic East Africa drought, scientists say 

Climate change linked to changes in gut microbiota and aging process 

Satellite maps warming impact on global glaciers 

Half of people injured in LAPD pursuits are bystanders, report says 

Officer lied, coerced witness in murder trial that put two in prison, CA officials say 

Former elementary school "resource officer" gets prison for producing child pornography 

For beating handcuffed woman, cop gets probation and sent to anger management class 

Tucker Carlson didn't just fuel far-right politics in the US. His rants have fed conspiracy theorists and extremists all over the world. 

Revived push for Equal Rights Amendment blocked by U.S. Senate Republicans 

Workers must wear genital-matching clothes or face termination, says Texas AG commissioner 

With conservatives in charge of the state supreme court, gerrymandering is AOK in North Carolina 

Republicans are worried legalizing weed will put police dogs out of work 

Republicans Republicans use debt ceiling bill to push work requirements for millions receiving Medicaid and food stamps 

Montana Republicans bar trans lawmaker from House floor over protest 

Montana governor signs law banning transgender care for minors 

Republicans keep taking credit for billions in broadband subsidies only made possible by the COVID relief and infrastructure bills they vehemently opposed 

Election lies morphed into a plague of hate in Arizona 

Mystery links
There's no knowing where you're going 

ClickClick • 

My browser history
without the porn

Is Canada poised for world domination due to climate change?
by Cecil Adams

YIMBY: A shelter for the homeless on your property 

Dame Edna and me
by Lee Goldberg

Long before trees overtook the land, earth was covered by giant mushrooms 

♫♬  It don't mean a thing  ♫
if it don't have that swing

Breakfast at Tiffany's — Deep Blue 

Centerfield Doubleheader — John Fogerty 

Hoedown — Aaron Copland 

Peter Gunn — The Art of Noise 

Super Chicken — Jay Ward 

Eventually, everyone
leaves the building

Carolyn Bryant 

Dick Groat 

Alton Maddox Jr

 • Jerry Springer


Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.  

Tip 'o the hat to ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, CaptCreate's Log, Katameme, Looking for My Perfect Sandwich, One Finger Medical, Two Finger Magical, Miss Miriam's Mirror, Nebulously Burnished, RanPrieur.com, Voenix Rising, and anywhere else I've stolen links, illustrations, or inspiration. 

Special thanks to Linden Arden, Becky Jo, Wynn Bruce, Joey Jo Jo, John the Basket, Dave S, Name Withheld, and always extra special thanks to my lovely late Stephanie, who gave me 21 years and proved that the world isn't always shitty.


  1. I effing LOVE the Seattle train tunnel. When I was a kid, it was the beginning point of great mysteries and adventures. I still feel that way. We used to go on the Great Northern Empire Builder to get to grandmas farm in North Dakoka and I rode it alone there when I was ten after convincing all the grown ups rhat, now be double digets, I was old enough to travel alone.

    1. I've known lots of train nuts, but other than myself you're my first confessed tunnel nut. Consider yourself smooched or handshook, your choice, dear anonymous.

      Tunnels are fascinating, ain't they? With dynamite and chisels they blasted a hole through a hill, reinforced it with cement, and trains have been rolling through that particular hole every few minutes for 117 years so far.

      I've only ridden the Empire Builder twice, but it was better both times than the other. Unless someone's in a hell of a hurry or the trains simply don't go where you're headed, there's no plausible reason to travel any other way than by rail.


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