See, it’s cool — because there’s only one rail!

Kidding aside, I haven’t spent anywhere near enough time in the city of Seattle. The first time I was there, I was in my early twenties, at the tail end of a cross country Greyhound bus trip. And if you’ve never experienced the particular intersection of poverty and wanderlust that leads one to voluntarily travel cross country via Greyhound you should consider yourself lucky, but that’s another story. All I really remember about Seattle from that trip is that I stayed in a fleabag hotel above a strip club, and that it rained the entire time, and that I didn’t actually have enough money to do crazy tourist things like, you know, eat very much.

I hadn’t been there since, until this last year, when I made it out twice — once to give a talk for an ACLU event, and once for a booksigning at Elliott Bay. This time around, each time, I felt like an honored guest. KUOW in Seattle was one of only two NPR stations that gave me airtime on the last book tour (the other was WNYC in New York) — for whatever reason, NPR stations tend to give me the cold shoulder, but at KUOW I was greeted with open arms. They went so far as to record audio versions of several cartoons, which were mixed in during the live interview (there’s a podcast here, but you have to listen to the whole interview to hear them). The crowd at Elliot Bay was one of the most enthusiastic I’ve ever spoken to, and later that night I shared a hotel elevator with Stephen Hawking. All in all, much more fun than the whole Greyhound bus/fleabag hotel experience.

And of course, you can’t discuss Seattle (if by “you” I mean “I”) without giving a shout out to one of its greatest cultural treasures.