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Posts tagged: downtown spokane

Downtown Spokane at 5:33 a.m.

I'm headed west on Sprague, riding my bike toward the back entrance to the Review Tower.

A guy in a hoodie calls out to me in the dark. But his speech is so slurred it takes me half a block to figure out what he said.

“You wouldn't happen to have a smoke, would you?”

A scenic workout

I wonder if any downtown resident or worker has already incorporated the numerous stairs at the new waterfalls park/plaza in a daily exercise regimen. 

Only downside to new waterfalls park

It is so amazingly cool that I fear people will henceforth allow distant friends and relatives to come here for a visit only during spring, so the hosts can take them down to check out the falls at full roar. 

Agree or disagree

Spokane's inner Hooterville really comes out when people start talking about the state of downtown.

It must be Laura Petrie Pants Day

On a short round-trip from the Review Tower to the post office across the street and back, I saw two women wearing capri pants.

Is this how your family entertains at home?

Downtown Spokane, 12/12/12

1. An old guy in a parka complained about parking downtown and explained to an Apple store employee that he never comes downtown because of it.

2. The wide garage-like door that opens Nordstrom to the rest of the River Park Square's ground floor was not working this morning. See No. 3.

3. Boo Radley's has note paper topped with “WTF.” Not sure if it is sticky-backed. But if so, it would have been fine for attaching to the Nordstrom door.

4. Anyone interested in unusual views of downtown really ought to check out the windows surrounding Macy's sixth-floor clearance area.

5. Demand for Europa's petits fours apparently outstrips supply by a factor of 10.

6. Overheard a guy saying he wanted to meet Shawn Vestal.

This date in Slice history (1995)

It was about 6 a.m., and it was cold, dark and quiet.

Downtown was just waking up. A car here. Apartment lights flicking on there. Stuff you barely notice.

Then we heard it. Someone was singing. Singing loud.

You could tell it was a man. He's plastered, we thought.

Maybe. But this guy a block away could halfway carry a tune.

The singer was on First. We were on Sprague. We were both walking east, at about the same pace. And when cross-streets or space between buildings allowed, we could hear this man belting out a song. You know how sound carries when it's cold.

Still, it wasn't quite possible to make out the lyrics.

A time or two we even caught sight of him. But he was too far away for a positive assessment. Probably drunk.

Then, near Monroe, we had to reconsider. Wasn't that a Christmas carol he was singing? Sure, it sounded like — could it be? — “We Three Kings.”

We stopped and soaked in a Hallmark Moment.

We looked for the guy in the predawn darkness. There he was. Walking and singing in a big coat.

And then there came a line we could definitely make out.

“You're my l-a-a-a-dy.”

So it wasn't a carol.

We watched the singer cross Monroe and then walk out of view.

Probably drunk. 

How many still call Macy’s “The Bon”?

I still hear that now and then when people are talking about downtown Spokane's signature Christmas decorations.

Having a feline as a backseat driver

On my way home this afternoon, before I even got out of downtown, I saw another cyclist.

She looked like she might be in the 18-21 age range. She wasn't wearing a helmet but she had on a backpack.

Inside the backpack was an adult cat. Only the head of this gray and white pet was visible out of the top of the pack. My first reaction was a silently disapproving “That's not a good idea.”

But as I studied the scene from a distance, I realized the cat seemed perfectly calm. Maybe he or she has been riding with that girl since kittenhood.

Wonder what sort of backseat driver that cat is. What does it say to the girl as they cruise along?

“If you see a tuna stand, be sure to pull over.” 

The Spokane way

A friend with a somewhat cynical view of forward-thinking urban planning's role in decisions shaping downtown Spokane said he wonders when the Ridpath will become a parking lot.

You can forget all your troubles

If your schedule is a little different, it's possible to go downtown every day and still miss Spokane's version of daily bustle.

That's true for me. I'm always at my desk before the morning rush and headed home hours before most call it a day.

I was reminded of this dynamic this morning, a day off for me. I drove one of our cars out to Spokane Valley to drop it off for servicing. And though someone at the dealership would have driven me home, I opted instead to take the bus.

According to the transfer I got from the driver, I boarded the downtown bound No. 90 at 7:16.

A preschool-age boy across from me asked this guy who looked to be about 70 what he had in a bag he was holding. “I got me a chicken leg,” the man said, before turning his attention to the youngster's snow/rain apparel. “Say, are those new boots?”

Anyway, after arriving downtown and waiting to head home, I couldn't help but notice that Spokane seemed wide awake and ready to go. Maybe the wet streets added to the sense of a city shifitng into gear.

Even the sparrows outside the STA Plaza seemed a bit more urban than when I normally see them. Not having a schedule with me, I asked one of the birds when the No. 43 would arrive. But as it didn't know me, it declined to make eye contact and continued about its business.  

She wasn’t having a fine day

When you fleetingly see someone crying in public, your imagination has to provide the context.

This girl looked like she was 17 or 18. She had just gotten off an STA bus that had parked at the northeast corner of Sprague and Post.

Her face was a mushed up mess of still-bubbling emotion. Some anger. Some hurt.

And maybe there was some feeling of being out of control because she had momentarily lost her ability to maintain the mask she usually shows the world.

But there was no mistaking the tears.

Maybe it was no big thing. Perhaps that kid has a meltdown every other day.

It would be pointless to guess about what triggered it.

Still, it was impossible not to wonder. And to wonder how many people are crying in downtown Spokane at any given time.

Things usually get better, of course. But as a stranger, you don't really get to see that.

By then, the faces are dry and the masks are back in place.

Walking the walk

The pedestrian stylings of those walking in downtown Spokane often leave a bit to be desired in the best weather conditions.

Sidewalk hogs, distracted phone yakkers, jaywalkers…I'm sure you could draw up your own list.

But when there's snow, ice and slush to contend with, things get even more iffy.

People understandably wanting to see where they are stepping have a tendency to look down while walking. And that can lead to scenes that resemble rival rams about to butt heads. Then there's the situation where someone walks up behind an individual who has stopped. That can look like a full-bodied goosing, a clumsy attempt to simulate intimate social congress or, at least, start a conga line.

Better to look up and see where you are going. Even if your shoes get wet.

Ghost of Christmas Past

“Hello Paul,

“My wife, Sandy, and I were having a latte at Madeleine's Wednesday morning and it all of a sudden dawned on us that we were sitting right where the amazing and magical mechanized Christmas displays were in The Crescent window,” wrote Jeff Nadeau.

“What a difference a few decades make. From staring in through the windows in rapt fascination as children, to staring out through the windows with pangs of nostalgia as adults.”

Season of miracles

One problem with avoiding downtown Spokane because you don't like the parking options is that this policy rules out the possibility that you will experience the minor thrill of happening onto a miracle spot.

You know — a legit, roomy streetside opening right in front of your destination.

I was off work last week but still had occasion to drive downtown just about every day. And time after time, the perfect parking spot beckoned just as I arrived at my destination.

Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket. 

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About this blog

Features writer Paul Turner is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review in the Features department. He writes "The Slice" column, which appears six times a week and produces general features stories for the Today section.

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