Peabody here. TheSeattle Star asked me to set my way-back machine ahead to the year 2020 for a look at the future of the Emerald City. Last night, I attended the first sporting event at the Big Bertha Arena located in the International District. The new Seattle Freeze hosted the iconic Boston Bruins in a National Hockey League contest. My host was my good friend and fellow time-traveler, Marty McFly. In some ways things have drastically changed; in other ways not a bit.
“I left my home in Wallingford at noon so I could beat the traffic for a 7 PM game,” Marty explained when I met him in front of the arena. “Seattle’s still a bitch to get around. Especially since the Republican-controlled state legislature outlawed mass transit in 2018. They gave all the money formally earmarked for transit to right-wingers from Eastern Washington in the form of farm subsidies. People like Tea Partier Clint Didier, who used to play for the Washington Expletive Deleteds.”
We stepped over and around the many homeless Seattleites sleeping in the street (it was good to see so many former local journalists), bought our $25 beers and headed to our seats. Marty updated me on the comings-and-goings in our great city for the past five years (2015-2020). “It’s a shame about the homeless problem. I understand the Seattle Chamber of Commerce is backing a new twenty-year Plan To End Homelessness beginning next year. Fortunately, we have a Mayor like Kshama Sawant who won’t allow cops to shoot people for being homeless like they do in some red states. In Mississippi cops get a bonus if they gun down over 12 in a calendar year.
“The scary thing is Kshama might not have ever become mayor if Ed Murray didn’t surprise everyone by leaving his husband and running off with former City Council member Jean Godden,” Marty explained. “Last I heard they were honeymooning and celebrating Jean’s 88th birthday in Acapulco. Sawant faced a tough challenge in the election from superhero Phoenix Jones. In fact there was a whole superhero slate running against a socialist slate for City Council. Jones has his group – Rain City Superheroes – that includes Buster Doe, Green Reaper, No Name, Thunder 88 and Catastrophe.
“Just like wrestling; even though the superheroes lost the election, they showed up at City Hall and tried to physically take over the council. There was quite a brawl, superheroes versus socialists in City Council chambers. Just like 100 years ago when socialists and sailors slugged it out in Pioneer Square. The socialists were losing this battle as well, but the tide turned when they found old whiskey bottles under the desk where Jean Godden used to sit. They started whacking the bejeebers out of the superheroes with them. And City Council president, Alex Zimerman, still had some giant ‘Tim Burgess Is A Fucking Asshole’ signs, from when he first ran for council, and he pounded a few people into submission with them. Although, Zimerman seemed to be hitting people from both sides.”
I asked Marty why the arena is named after Big Bertha? “I think people feel bad about the stupid tunnel being named after our first female mayor before Sawant, Bertha Knight Landes. But to be fair, the bulldozer moves about an inch a year. They were talking about making the day it moved a holiday. Awhile back there was a movement to throw Christine Gregoire and Tom Rasmussen down into the tunnel. Sort of like human sacrifices. But it didn’t go anywhere.”
By this time, the game was about to begin. Mayor Sawant gave a nice speech where she urged the soda and popcorn vendors along with the janitorial staff to take over the arena and throw the NHL out. Governor Pete Carroll was nowhere to be seen. He was asked to attend the opening but replied, “I think I’ll pass.” Why does that sound oddly familiar?
“What really surprised me about the Sawant administration was the hiring of talk-show host Dori Monson as her press spokesman,” Marty noted. “Of course, Dori has changed a lot since he discovered The Stranger‘s Dan Savage was his long-lost brother. Dori said he discovered a new side of his own personality.”
How is The Stranger doing these days, I wondered. “You wouldn’t recognize it, not since gun enthusiast Alan Gottlieb bought the paper,” Marty bemoaned. “The staff has to wear funny bow ties now and they don’t even cover music any more. Well, except for that review they did of Senator Ted Nugent’s new album.”
On the ice, the Freeze have provided several exciting surprises for their fans. In an effort to draw big crowds, the team coaxed former Seattle Mariners’ manager Lou Piniella out of retirement. Another all-time Pacific Northwest sports favorite, Marshawn Lynch, has joined the Freeze as an active player. I notice the bullish Freeze left-winger doesn’t avoid defenseman trying to check him as he barrels down the ice, prefering to charge into them at full speed. Lynch even dove head first into the boards a few times for no apparent reason.
However, Lynch didn’t sustain the game’s only major injury. That occured late in the first period when referee Blaine Angus (who the fans always call “Blaine Anus”) disallowed a Seattle goal. Piniella jumped on to the ice, threw down his 1995 Mariner cap, and attempted to kick ice shavings onto the official. Unfortunately for Sweet Lou, kicking ice isn’t the same as kicking dirt. The local sports legend lost his balance and fell backwards, hitting his head on the skaiting surface. The game was held up for several minutes as Piniella was wheeled out on a stretcher to a tremendous ovation from the sellout crowd. That left in charge befuddled assistant coach Tyrone Willingham, who had never seen a hockey game in his life before being hired the previous day.
Sadly, the game was never finished. Midway through the contest, Lynch and Boston’s 6-9 250-pound defenseman Zdeno Chara, had a head-on collision and both fell through the ice. With two giant holes in the skating surface, the contest couldn’t be continued. The game was rescheduled for the following day, but two coal trains collided in downtown Seattle and there was too much pollution in the city for anyone to leave their house. The following day was the annual Salmon Tipping Contest. That’s a new Seattle tradition where every year a two-bed truck tips over on the viaduct and leaves all the salmon you can eat along the road.
After leaving the arena, Marty and I relaxed at a Capitol Hill drinking establishment. We talked about the game and life in general. I particularly liked the hand the zamboni driver got when he cleaned the ice after the first period. I’d always wondered what had happened to Richard Conlin. At the end of the night I said, “I believe every big city, at any time, has good things and bad things about it.”
“I know what you mean,” Marty replied. “Good news – all the bikers in the Fremont Parade ride naked now. Bad news – there are a lot of people in Seattle you don’t want to see naked. Good news – the minimum wage is being raised to $20 in 2021. Bad news – it costs a $100,000 a year now to live in Seattle.”