NFT Radar: The Canterbury Ales & Eats

X-Posted from Not For Tourists.

Few literary scholars know Chaucer’s twenty-fifth lost Canterbury Tale, about the wretched hive of scum and villainy known as the Canterbury Ales and Eats. Lack of notoriety didn’t stop some Seattle entrepreneur from opening a tribute business. Though located on the north end of Capitol Hill’s quaint, huppie-inhabited (hipster + yuppie, ya’ll) 15th Ave section, The Canterbury is a true dive bar. Its darkness shrouds ripped upholstery but can’t mask the faint smell of human excrement. Most of the staff are surly as hell (apart from the sunny Shauna… does she still work there?). Still, there are untold treasures in its expanse of four rooms! The front room, with its tall booths, is good for large parties, but be prepared to freeze your ass off every time the door opens. On the left, past the juke box, is a cozy sitting room complete with a fireplace. To the right, past the barfly corral, is the vast game room. Here you can challenge another chap to such olde-timey favorites as shuffleboard, pinball and pool. All this plus great fries and Strongbow on tap! When I lived three blocks away this place was my rec room.

534 15th Ave E 98112
206-322-3130

Goodbye to Sunset

On Friday I went to the Sunset Bowl in Ballard for what I imagine will be the last time. I have fowl-weather patrons of the place to thank for an awkward and cold farewell to the place that we called home for so many weekends.

Where were all those crowds when Sunset seemed like it would be around forever? Granted, having droves of ex-greek types and general hard-partiers occupying the place on a regular basis would have kept us from feeling so at home there in the first place. But why do they feel the need to come to the Sunset now and prevent the die-hards from enjoying the last remaining days of a place that meant so much to them? I've been to the Sunset twice since they announced they were closing and both times people were forcibly removed from the premises. The first time, I don't doubt that the perpetrator was at fault. She was removed by two police officers and still hung around in the parking lot yelling at them and her companion for a long time after. We decided to leave before things possibly came to a head.

Last Saturday, it would appear that the ruckus was started by a Sunset employee, who became irrationally agitated when a patron, who was apparently there to promote the bar for a radio station, wouldn't stop loudly “wooing”. But everybody was making a lot of noise. That is one of the things that was making it hard for me to enjoy myself. I couldn't hear anybody or anything. Maybe that volume is the norm in Belltown and Pioneer square, but not at the Sunset Bowl Lounge. From our point of view, it would appear that this girl wasn't being any louder or more obnoxious than anyone else, but the Sunset employee suddenly couldn't take it anymore and exploded at the girl, screaming at her to “get the fuck out”. He also shook her table for emphasis. It was scary.

The air there has changed. It's no longer a comfortable place. It feels like people are ready to tear the place down with their bare hands, rather than a bulldozer.

The last song I sang at Sunset was “She's Like the Wind”. I dedicated it to its scribe and original performer, Patrick Swayze, who was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. Unless the grassroots effort to save it moves forward, Sunset also doesn't have long to live.

It's hard to say goodbye to something you love, but sometimes circumstances make it just a little bit easier.