THRILLVILLE: Will "the Thrill" Viharo's weird, wild world of Pulp Fiction, B Movies, & the Lounge Lizard Lifestyle.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer 2014: Southwest by Northwest

At Pike's Place Brewery
It's been an interesting summer - life-changing, if not exactly game-changing. At least not yet. After successfully selling our beloved, beachside Alameda condo, we finally made the Big Move North right on the Summer Solstice, driving directly to Seattle from the Bay Area overnight, with our two cats Googie and Tiki snugly ensconced in a carrier cage taking up the entire back of our Mini Cooper, Monica and me switching turns at the wheel, literally driven by adrenalin and anticipation, in one long rush, like Kowalski in Vanishing Point. Fortunately our movie had a happier ending. Or beginning.
An original Space Needle lighter from the 1962 World's Fair

The real deal

There is a thriving indie/rep movie theater scene in Seattle, not to mention a plethora of ultra-cool cafes and incredible indie bookstores and bountiful bars. But I already knew that. That's why I'm here. In some ways, Seattle is like a condensed combination of San Francisco, the East Bay, and Lake Tahoe, where Monica and I were married back in 2001. But it's smaller, and prettier, and the pace is slower, exactly what I need at this stage of my life. I crave peace of mind as well as body and spirit. I'm still desperately seeking professional if not creative fulfillment as a writer, but that's a lifelong quest. I've finally found my new headquarters, and that in itself is very satisfying. It's just in the air, everywhere I go, from the University District to Downtown to Capitol Hill to Queen Anne and beyond. It's home, sweet home.
Welcome to beautiful Lake Washington - basically my backyard!
Unfortunately, July was the second hottest on record in Seattle - a bitter irony, since we moved from Northern California mainly to escape the incessant dry heat - but there were also some welcome thunderstorms mixed in for good measure, keeping the Emerald City green, if steamy, like a giant hothouse. We are very happy here. There is also a great deal of midcentury modern architecture - appropriate, given the fact the Space Needle is the city's international iconic symbol - which was a surprising bonus.

Professor Tiki Goddess in training
Monica begins her PhD program at the University of Washington School of Drama this fall, and she is very excited. We are both looking forward to autumn. It's my favorite season, and this will be my first true autumn in decades, since the Bay Area suffers from Indian Summer in September and October, typically ruining my Halloween spirit. I was raised in New Jersey. I miss my season. I can stand the heat - but only in the summer. Bring on the clouds and rain and inspiration and famous Seattle gloom. I'm more than ready.

Below is a photographic summary of our summer in Seattle so far:

Our "sailor statue stalker" Ivar finally comes home - to Ivar's!
Go A's (and Mariners)! At Safeco Field.
At a favorite local spot, The Ram in University Village
At one of my many great local bars, Canon
And yet another, Zig Zag

Digging the Pacific Mambo Orchestra at one of our favorite joints, Jazz Alley
Musiquarium at The Triple Door
Lucha and libations at Bimbo's Cantina

Ivar's Salmon House, perhaps our favorite spot so far.

Another favorite, the Twins Peaks style diner Lost Lake Cafe
Capital Grille  is an old school thrill!
At one of local celebrity chef Tom Douglas's many fine establishments, Palace Kitchen
A Tiki sushi bar! Ohana.
Aloha from Hula Hula!
Aloha from the Lava Lounge!
Aloha from Tacoma Cabana!
Cheers to Batman's 75th! (Liam's Bistro)
Third Place Bookstore - books, coffee, food, booze, all in one place!
Grand Illusion Cinema - a thrilling throwback to the glory days of repertory cinema
Representing The New Parkway at Seattle's excellent equivalent, Central Cinema

Going "Ape" for the swingin' 60s landmark Cinerama Theater
At SIFF's headquarters near the Space Needle
The main branch of the Seattle Public Library downtown is a marvel of futuristic architecture
Lounging otter-style at Seattle Aquarium
Channeling Jackson Pollock at the Seattle Art Museum

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Robby the Robot and me, EMP Museum

Burke Museum of Natural History

Nordic Heritage Museum

Biking off all that booze on the gorgeous Burke Gilman Trail

The world famous Scarecrow Video is Mecca for film geeks

The highlight of our Seattle adventures so far - meeting wonderful artist Lisa Petrucci in the amazing home she shared with the late great Mike Vraney, founder of Something Weird Video
Another personal milestone: I also visited my father, Robert Viharo, in his new home of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Actually not that new. He's been living there a few years now. He doesn't like me writing about him in public, but suffice to say he's happily retired from his long acting career, focused on his own creative projects. Our reunion was very cathartic, with a pastoral setting. Though I appreciate the adobe ambience and artful mix of Native American/Latino cultures, I could never live in Santa Fe. The Southwest is just not my style. But I was there mainly as a son on a voyage of self discovery, not just as a tourist - though of course I took lots of pretty pictures.

Pop and me, New York City, 1963
Pop and me, Los Angeles, 1978

Pop and me, Parkway Theater, Oakland, 2005

Pop and me, Santa Fe, 2014
Santa Fe Plaza

Downtown Santa Fe:

Cowgirl BBQ
Del Charro Saloon
With Robby the Robot for a special anniversary screening of Forbidden Planet
Jacques Cocteau Cinema

Santa Fe Railroad Station

Tiny Cerrillos, NM, where they shot Young Guns

Tikis - in Madrid, NM!
Salud from Madrid, NM

Santa Fe at sunset

Pop romps in bed with bombshells Gina Lollobrigida (top) and Marisa Mell in the 1968 Italian film Stuntman.

Pop in the '70s grindhouse classic Bare Knuckles

We also recently returned to Portland, one of my favorite towns. Though it isn't as cosmopolitan as Seattle, I dig the bohemian nature of this smaller burg.We revisited some of our favorite haunts, while discovering some new ones. We stayed at the absolutely incredible McMenamin's Kennedy School, a renovated elementary school with its own hotel, restaurant, several bars, pool, and movie theater, part of Portland's amazingly conceived chain of restaurant/theater resorts, which provided inspiration for Speakeasy Theaters.

In the Boiler Room bar
The Detention Bar
Monica enjoys a cigar in the Detention Bar 
Monica discovers some of the best donuts in the world at Blue Star
Hawthorne Street Fair
With my old friend, famed cartoonist Shannon Wheeler
At the midcentury modern oasis Gold Dust Meridian

Literary Mecca: Powell's Bookstore
Aloha from Hale Pele! 
With friends Karl Middlebrooks and his gal pal Brianna at Hale Pele

Aloha from Trader Vic's Portland!
With friend Justin DuPre at Trader Vic's

At Portland's oldest bar, Huber's Cafe

More old school cool at Jake's Grill

Table side bar service at Multhomah Whiskey Library
With friends Katie and Paddy

One of our favorite spots anywhere, the Driftwood Room in the Hotel deLuxe, Portland

Doing our bit...

So...not sure what comes next. Monica and I will keep following that dream, wherever that dream may lead...

Monica and me, circa 1998
In our new Seattle digs.
Meantime, I need to find a job...any job...

Maybe a superhero? I already have a "beautiful Indian companion"...

Naw...I'll just keep writing. Cheers.

Daring to dream...

Teaser artwork by Scooter Harris for the sixth Vic Valentine novel "Hard-Boiled Heart," 
now in progress
The "Vic Valentine" cocktail is my liquid legacy in the Bay Area, served exclusively at
Forbidden Island in Alameda

Screening of the Director's Cut of Jeff M. Giordano's documentary The Thrill Is Gone,
Monday, November 17, 2014, 5:30pm at the Alameda Free Library