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Back Buzz - January 1, 1999

Gorilla Coffee House, 10410-A Greenwood Avenue North, North Park

Gorilla Coffee House is located on the corner of Holman Road, right on the border of Broadview. I'd never been to Broadview before, much less even heard of it! Obviously it's next to Crown Hill and North Park, just north of Greenwood. Perhaps Broadview is the same as North Park; I admit I'm a bit lacking on north Seattle geography. Oh well, regardless of the neighborhood Gorilla calls home, it strikes me as a converted minimart which may have started life as a self-serve gas station. The seating consists of two large wooden tables surrounded by chairs, a somewhat uninviting grouping of bar stools crowded against two walls, and one little round table with a rattan chair in the corner, over by the children's play area. This is where I sat, surrounded by juvenile blackboard sketches and simple drawings of gorillas. There are plenty of gorillas here; "gorilla" is obviously the decor motif, along with "National Geographic" -- there are piles of National Geographics everywhere. Actually, the reading material, aside from a stack of Strangers and Rockets and the daily Seattle Times, seems to consist solely of National Geographic and Surfer magazines; an odd choice, especially on this cold-enough-to-snow day. But I have to admit I do like the little straw awning over the coffee bar. It's quite tropical and brings to mind...hmm, I guess gorillas, surfing, and National Geographic.

The two shots making up my double short cappuccino were surprisingly good. Gorilla uses Caffé D'Arte beans, and the shots are made well. But my drink was served in a glass mug. I do so hate glass mugs and mugs in general -- way too much milk foam ends up hiding one's espresso. And I had to ask for a spoon and was given a tablespoon. Of course, the plate of apple "scones" on the counter looked more like flat apple tarts. Perhaps the coffeehouse style is different up here in Broadview or North Park or Crown Hill or Broad Crown or Green Crown Park View or North Hillwood or wherever Gorilla is located. For now let's just call it Northern North Seattle...

Gorilla definitely has a unique charm. The barista who prepared my drink seemed very sweet, and somehow the decor definitely...grew on me. And it was a nice, strong cappuccino -- in fact, thinking about it now gets me quite excited! Yes, it had a good dose of caffeine to spark my engine. And it was a gorgeous cold day as well -- I, along with the barista and another customer, were hoping it would snow by the weekend. (And it did!)

As I was sipping my drink a woman sporting blue pants, a purple jacket, and red and green Santa socks walked in. Is this how they dress in Northern North Seattle? I must have looked quite out of place in my blue jeans and black shirt. And my black socks and shoes? How positively gaudy! (Okay, okay, I'll stop being so cruel; I think the cruelly long holiday season's getting to me. And things could have been worse: I could have been in Ballard or Kent...)

Speaking of Seattle neighborhoods, following is an e-mail exchange from a couple months ago with my Bay Area friend when he was embarking on a business trip to Seattle and we were to meet him for a beer:

At first I thought next week's trip would just be a day trip, but my boss just told me we'll be spending Monday night in Redmond at the Courtyard Marriott, giving a demo at Microsoft Tuesday afternoon, and flying back to Oakland late Tuesday.

Is the recommended route to Redmond from Sea-Tac Airport up I-5 to 520, as Yahoo suggests?

Yes, I believe you can get to Redmond from Sea-Tac by taking I-5 north and then 520 east. It looks like you can also catch the 405 east (or north?) from Sea-Tac, and this takes you to Bellevue where you catch the 520 east to Redmond.

Of course, you could also take the Century Freeway west to I-405 and then go north to I-101, but that would be slower. Perhaps the I-5 would be the best as long as there's no ice on the Grapevine; in that case you can always take the 10 east to the 15, and once you're in Barstow catch I-40 east, but this is more likely to get you to Reading PA. Oh, wait -- perhaps you should go south on I-5. And then you could catch the 97 north at Weed, go about 150 miles, and that should put you in Redmond -- Oregon. Oh, wait, did you want Washington? Well, it looks like I-40 east is your best bet, changing to the 81 in Knoxville and then catching I-66 into DC. Or wait -- did you need to convert from AC to DC? I think I have a plug that converts to 220, but you won't need that until you land at Gatwick. But even then, you shouldn't have any problem with lefthand drive on the M-40, but the traffic might be pretty bad as you get near London, so you might want to take the train instead. And then at Victoria you can take the Tube to Charing Cross -- this should only be 60P or so -- and catch the Eurostar to Gare Nord, and then you can catch the Orient Express which should put you in Istanbul in a few hours. But by then you might not have time to meet us for a beer.

Hmm, whatever...would you rather Max and I meet you in Tokyo for a sake?

...and since this is the last day of the year and I'm on the subject of gorillas, here's another e-mail exchange from a year ago:

In the interest of International Orangutan Awareness Week, Max and I were trying to determine just who are the apes and who are the monkeys. The main difference seems to be the absence or presence of a tail. Obviously chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans are apes, and monkeys are monkeys. And siamangs are apes. What about baboons? Apparently they're monkeys because they have short tails. So what does that make Rush Limbaugh? Does he have a tail? And what about Mickey Dolenz? Do Monkees have tails?

I think it's an ancestral thing. In Anthro 101 at UCLA I learned that other than man -- excepting perhaps Rush Limbaugh, who is sort of an amphibian like Newt Gingrich, isn't he? -- there are four great apes: chimps, gorillas, orangs, and siamangs. Everything else is a monkey, even those with diminutive tails like baboons, Peter, Davey and Mickey. (Michael Nesmith, I believe, is of a higher order but tried acting down when the doors of opportunity opened.)