Alan Rhodes

A Downtown Odyssey: Mr. Cranky’s Excellent Adventure

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Not having what one would call a responsible job, I wander around a lot looking for things to write about. I didn’t come up with any good ideas for a column on my last downtown jaunt, but here are some things I noticed.

The most interesting exterior of an edifice might be the apartment building at the corner of Billy Frank, Jr. and Holly streets, where William Carlos Williams’ eight-line poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” is painted on the wall. In addition to being a major 20th century American poet, Williams was also a full-time pediatrician. I, on the other hand, can’t even find time to straighten my underwear drawer.

I’ve passed the Holly Street store called Wise Awakenings many times without paying much attention, so today I drop in. They have all kinds of stuff made from crystal. The saleslady tells me that crystals have metaphysical properties that enhance meditation. But I don’t meditate. It hinders my crankiness. I spot a crystal orb the size of a bowling ball. If I drill holes in it I can probably be the only guy in Bellingham with a crystal bowling ball. But I don’t bowl. I can never hit the pins. Apparently that’s a fairly important part of the game. I’m told that the orb costs around $5,000. Wow, by not meditating or bowling I just saved five thousand bucks.

I like the building across the street from Wise Awakenings. It features a gray façade with gray stairs leading up to a gray entryway. Over the entrance is a big gray five-pointed star that makes the place look like Communist Party Headquarters in a provincial Romanian city during Nicolae Ceausescu’s brutal reign. After they overthrew Communism, one of the first acts of the new Romanian government was to abolish capital punishment. But just before they did that they executed Ceausescu. I love a government with a sense of humor.

On Grand Avenue (which isn’t really all that grand) I see Sabbath Tattoo. I’ve advanced well into geezerhood without getting tattooed, even though tattoo is one of my favorite words, along with kazoo, igloo, wazoo and Kalamazoo. Maybe it’s time. I go inside and am helped by Patrick, a man of seemingly infinite patience. I inquire about getting William Carlos Williams’ poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” tattooed on my chest, backwards, of course, so I can read it in the mirror while I’m shaving.

Patrick tells me it would cost around $200 and take a couple of hours. When I ask if it would hurt, he tells me that in a worst case scenario it might feel like a cat scratch on a sunburn. Whoa, two hours of cat scratches on a sunburn? Deal breaker!

Across from the Lightcatcher Museum I see the law office of Aaron M. Lukoff. I decide on the spot that if I’m ever in trouble this is where I’m heading because every lawyer here is described on the window as a “Hammer.” Aaron’s the Hammer of Truth, another guy is the Hammer of Justice, and so forth. When I’m in hot water I don’t want some Gucci-wearing East Coast toff. I want a hammer. As a bonus, through the window I spot what looks like a video game in the waiting room. At long last I’ve found a waiting room where I wouldn’t get bored.

The best downtown window is at Jes’ Barber Shop at 1301 Commercial St., where there is a large display of antique toys. There are some real treasures here: a Betty Boop figurine, a blackjack-dealing bear, a tiny television set with a still shot of a Honeymooners episode, a 9” by 4” pool table complete with cues and balls, and a gorilla and rabbit on a date cruising in a vintage convertible. There’s a lot more inside, along with a gregarious cat named Rosie. Oh, and you can also get a haircut.

At 204 Commercial St. sits a squatty little brick building that used to be an insurance office, but now has a sign next to the door that says Consulat de Monte Cristo. Monte Cristo is a tiny, largely uninhabited island in the Tyrrhenian Sea. And this is its consulat! I might like to ride out the Trump administration on Monte Cristo. Maybe I could get a residency permit and move there. But the door is locked. I’ll definitely be back.

During the day I had more adventures than I have space to tell you about. And they call us the City of Subdued Excitement? Not a chance.

Past Columns
Mr. Cranky’s Files

July 11, 2018

Can We Talk?

June 20, 2018

Midnight Musings

May 16, 2018

April Fools

April 4, 2018

Rollo and Me

March 7, 2018

Egregious linguistic offenses

February 14, 2018

Sharing Beauty

December 13, 2017

Subdued City Shakespeare

October 25, 2017

Events
Today
Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Northwest Raspberry Festival

10:00am|Lynden

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Summer of Blood

7:00pm|Rexville Grange Amphitheater

LOL-apalooza

9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Raspberry Pancake Breakfast

7:00am|Lynden Community Center

Tour de Whatcom

7:30am|Boundary Bay Brewery

Ferndale Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Mount Vernon Farmers Market

9:00am|Riverwalk Park

Christmas in July Bazaar

9:00am|Bellingham Masonic Center

Twin Sisters Market

9:00am|Nugent's Corner, North Fork Library

Four Democrats seek election in the Skagit

9:00am

Primary Election Forum

9:30am|Bellingham High School

NW Art Beat Studio Tour

10:00am|Skagit County

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|H Street Plaza

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Summer Seersucker Bicycle Ride

10:00am|Gilkey Square

Lynden Farmers Market

10:00am|Centennial Park

Lummi Island Saturday Market

10:00am|Islander Grocery Store

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am| Depot Market Square

Correspondence Club

10:30am|Mindport Exhibits

Downtown Market Walk

11:00am|Downtown Bellingham

Street Food Saturdays

11:00am|Zuanich Point Park

Show & Shine

11:00am|BelleWood Acres

Hot Ticket

11:00am|North Fork Library

Public Sail

12:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

The Nandia Trilogy

1:00pm|Barnes & Noble

Craftapalooza

1:00pm|Point Roberts Library

Concrete Saturday Market

1:00pm|Concrete Community Center

Field Games

1:00pm|VanderYacht Park

Wren and Della

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Lynden Cemetery Tour

1:00pm|Lynden Cemetery

State Street History Tour

1:30pm|Depot Market Square

The Secret Garden

3:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Ferndale Uncorked and Uncapped

3:00pm|Centennial Riverwalk Park

Nooksack River Walk

3:00pm|Horseshoe Bend Trailhead

Whatcom Democrats Country Picnic

4:00pm|Hovander Homestead Park

Seafood Boil

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Seafood Boil

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Feast and Frolic

5:30pm|Viva Farms

Saturday Seafood Boil

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Music at Maritime

6:00pm|Maritime Heritage Park

Austin Jenckes

7:00pm|Eagle Haven Winery

Bellingham Youth Jazz Band

7:00pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Nelson Mandela Tribute Concert

7:30pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

Bebel Gilberto

7:30pm| Lincoln Theatre

Gerrymandering Update

7:30pm|Island Library

Village Books
Tomorrow
Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Summer of Blood

7:00pm|Rexville Grange Amphitheater

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

NW Art Beat Studio Tour

10:00am|Skagit County

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Vietnam Veterans Car Show

10:00am|Barkley Village

Edison Farmers Market

10:00am|Edison Granary

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Langar in Lynden

11:00am|Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

La Conner Live!

1:00pm|Gilkey Square

Skulls and Skins

1:00pm|Tennant Lake

Mosaic Stepping Stone Workshop

1:00pm|Chuckanut Center

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Fiddlin' Fox Summer Concerts

2:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Trivia Time

3:30pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Trivia Time

3:30pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Village Books Trove Web
Monday
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Rainbow Reads

12:00pm|Ferndale Library

Plant Diagnostic Clinics

5:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Paddling Whatcom County

6:00pm|REI

Cuban Salsa

6:00pm|Bell Tower Studios

Books on Tap Two

6:30pm|Tino's Pizza & Pasta Co.

Guffawingham

9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

see our complete calendar »

2018 Cascadia Kids Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books Trove Web