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Todd Herman


Seattle the ‘Oakland of the north?’

KIRO Radio's Jason Rantz is not pleased about a description of Seattle featured in The New York Times. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Taken from Thursday’s edition of The Jason Rantz Show on KIRO Radio.

There was an article in The New York Times about the Seahawks victory parade that has a lot of folks in Seattle wondering if the author has ever even been here.

I’m questioning whether or not he even knows Seattle is in the state of Washington. I seriously question whether he knows where Washington is, if we’re even one of the 50 states. I read this and was like what is he talking about?

The author is named Kirk Johnson. Here’s how he starts the article:

“Drivers here often smile and wave at one another for no obvious reason,” he writes.

When has that ever happened to you? I did an informal poll in the office and no one can remember that ever happening.

Ironically, the author then writes in the same paragraph, “For many, “Seattle chill” sums up the conflicted local soul: polite but cool.”

Maybe if he knew what the “Seattle chill” was he’d realize how ironic that statement is. The “Seattle chill” is about us being cold to strangers. It’s nothing about being polite. It’s rude. In fact, it’s a turnoff for a lot of people who come to visit or move here. We are dismissive outwardly, then once you get to know us, once you break that chill factor, we’re some of the nicest people in the world. But outwardly we’re a little rude, which is why this waving at people out the car window is so remarkably untrue.

He goes on and says this: “A study last year found that Washington residents were less likely than people elsewhere to swear at strangers.”

I kid you not, I was reading this article in my office, and at the exact time I got done with this paragraph, I hear someone on Eastlake Avenue screaming an expletive, apparently at a car. It happened just 10 seconds after I read that piece.

He continues: “That a city priding itself on a nerdy-but-nice blend of socially liberal consciousness — Oakland of the north, some have called it -”

Seattle has never, ever been called the “Oakland of the north.” I defy anyone to find proof in any case of Seattle being called the “Oakland of the north.” I asked Producer Mac to do a quick search. Did you find any evidence that we are called the “Oakland of the north?”

“It was a pretty extensive search,” says Mac. “I didn’t find a single reference.”

It doesn’t exist. I don’t even know what that means. Is it an insult? If it’s an insult, well screw you. But if it’s just about Oakland being close to San Francisco, wouldn’t Tacoma be the “Oakland of the north?” Tacoma is the closest big city to Seattle. But I don’t think Tacoma is anywhere near as crappy as Oakland. I’ve been to Oakland before. It’s not a great city. But bottom line, Seattle has never been called the “Oakland of the north.”

The article continues:

“It [Seattle] has also been saddled with sports teams that mostly stank. The SuperSonics of the NBA last won a national championship when Jimmy Carter was in the White House, in 1979, while the Seattle Storm of the WNBA won championships in 2004 and 2010.”

First of all, the sentence doesn’t even make any sense. He’s saying we have sports teams that mostly suck and yet in that same exact sentence he points out the WNBA won two championships in the last few years. Let’s not forget, even though it’s easy to, the Mariners were a great team not too long ago. There’s a reason we remember Randy Johnson. There’s a reason we remember Ken Griffey Jr. They were actually a good team. By the way, the Sounders FC who are an incredibly dominant force, an incredibly dominant soccer team in this country, consistently doing well.

I was annoyed first reading this and then I got angry. It shows how much I’ve come to just love this city, to love this state.

“This city has crazy pride compared to other cities,” says producer Mac. “The 12th Man stole Super Bowl headlines. It was about the city, not the team. It was us.”

We have pride because we’ve earned it, because we live in an amazing city. We live in an amazing region, Western Washington as a whole. I’m talking about Tacoma. I’m talking about Redmond. I’m talking about Lynnwood and Everett and Shoreline. I’m talking about Bremerton and Bainbridge Island. I’m talking about Bellevue and Mercer Island. I’m talking about all these areas.

We live in an amazing region, in an amazing city, and I’m not going to sit back and let some guy, Kirk Johnson, some guy I’ve never heard of go on The New York Times, the newspaper of record, try to define what we are.

Taken from Thursday’s edition of The Jason Rantz Show on KIRO Radio.


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