Daily news blog for Seattle's University District neighborhood

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Aquarium Zen: a Meditation on Natural Aquatic Spaces for Your Home

September 13th, 2014 by Nico Lund

Steve Waldron: The Man Behind Aquarium Zen

Two Years in the Making, Steve Waldron has been growing plants, maintaining environments, designing space and dreaming for this day.

With the intention of introducing people to a more natural experience of fish aquarium care-taking, Aquarium Zen is more about stewardship of an ecosystem than just about fish.

Opening today, Saturday September 13, Waldron’s vision has come out of the depth of his imagination to the surface. The place is just beautiful! Even if you are not in the market for a home aquarium set-up, the environment is inspiring to be in.

Waldron says that Live Plant Aquariums are great for year-round garden lovers. With live plants you have to prune and weed just like an outside garden, but this garden you get to populate with amazing underwater creatures.

Aquarium Zen is located at 920 NE 64th St and open Wed – Fri 1pm – 8pm, Sat & Sun 11-6. Being a one man operation, AZ is closed on Mon & Tues.

Be an awesome neighbor and stop by and welcome Aquarium Zen to the Roosevelt Neighborhood (just a hop over from the U-district) Between the Sunlight Cafe and Bol.

all the plants are live and can take up to a year to fully sustain a fish population

Living Wall: a symbiotic environment where water is pumped from the tank and feeds the plants on the rock wall attachment

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Mugshot Monday #6 – Tea Republik: Where Tea Holds Supreme Power Over the Bean

September 8th, 2014 by Nico Lund

Welcome to #MugShot Monday: a caffeine inspired journey to uncover University Ave’s Cafés

I rolled down the Ave. on my bike past dense pockets of cannabis air, past Starbucks, past the Vape Store and found myself in front of Tea Republik.

Still on my coffee cleanse, I was thankful that my next MugShot Monday adventure would not be filled with the aroma of espresso while having to sip on a less-than-exciting cup of generic tea.

Tea Republic welcomed me with a nicely designed interior, warm lighting and a very friendly and helpful –would he still be considered a barista?– let’s just call him Tea-Guy!

I happened upon Tea Republik on a quiet morning, however, Manager Daniel a.k.a. the Tea-Guy said that once classes start up they get considerably more business. Although not strict about people ‘camping‘ with their laptops and school books, he occasionally has to remind patrons to help pay the rent!

While they have generous evening hours of operation, this republik is not for morning people:

Monday – Thursday 11am-11pm
Friday – 10am-12am
Saturday – 11am-12am
Sunday – 11am – 10pm

I ordered a London Fog, but after sitting down and looking at the tea menu I had buyers remorse and realized I should have ordered their Lavender Cream Earl Grey ($4.49 for a large pot, $3.99 for a small). Regardless, the tea arrived to my table and was delightful to sip. I had asked if he could sweeten it with honey instead of sugar of which he did without a blink of an eye.

In addition to House Specialties, Loose Leaf, Traditional, Caffeinated or Decaf, and an assortment of Flavored Teas, they also serve pre-made sandwiches and have bakery items if you have a hankering for something sweet.

I loved sipping and refilling my little tea cup. There is something so satisfying about pouring tea. I am sure I am tapping into the ancient art of the the Tea Ceremony. It’s a sweet reminder to slow down and breathe.

With its clean and inviting space (I even checked out the immaculate bathroom) the Tea Republic is the perfect atmosphere for students and people who need to get out of their home office. Daniel would like to add that this Republic is not a library, so make sure you purchase well and often if you plan to be there for a while — and I might add, tip your Tea Guy!

Tea Republik

4527 University Way NE

Seattle, Washington

(206) 497-7631

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Taste of India Unveils U-Districts Newest Cocktail Lounge Sept 7

September 5th, 2014 by Nico Lund

Nestled adjacent to the much loved Taste of India Restaurant, Owner Mohammed Bhatti wanted to offer a place for the 21+ crowd to comfortably hang out for a pre-dinner drink.

The grand opening will take place Sat September 7. You can order from the Taste of India menu or partake in Indian twists on classic American bar food.

I talked to Managers Jerred and Phillip about what they were hoping this autonomous extension of the popular Indian restaurant would be like. They were excited to offer the U-district another Custom Cocktail experience and hope it ends up being the best!

Phillip and Jerred, Managers at the bar

The cozy lounge has a gas fireplace that is sure to heat up this winter along with any Indian spices you decide to partake in. I look forward to see if they fashion some custom cocktails with Indian flavors — the spicier the better!

Taste Of India Bar & Lounge is located at 5507 Roosevelt Way NE

(b/t 56th St & 55th St in University District)

Hours will be 11-11, but check the restaurant for any changes.

For more information check the website at tasteofindiaseattle.com

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Playing by the Book’s: Live Music Takes Over the U-District Library

September 4th, 2014 by Nico Lund

Expressions Without Limits Jazz ResidencyPresented by the Seattle Public Library and the Chamber Music America Residency Endowment Fund, the Steve Griggs Ensemble is playing a free concert at SPL branches.

On Sunday Sep 7, at 2pm at the U-District branch Griggs’ Ensemble will be performing “A Cup of Joe Brazil,” a program of original music and narration about jazz saxophonist Joe Brazil and his community organizing through music in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Fan’s of jazz and bibliophiles will come together for an afternoon and enjoy the sounds of live music in a Seattle Public Library branch. This performance is one of six free concerts that are taking place at different branches all over the city.

The ensemble features saxophonist Steve Griggs, trumpeter Jay Thomas, vibraphonist Susan Pascal, bassist Phil Sparks, and drummer Milo Petersen.

This program is part of the Steve Griggs Ensemble “Songs of Unsung Seattle” residency at the Seattle Public Library. For more information, check out the SPL Jazz Residency page.

A complete schedule of the residency is available at www.spl.org/jazz.

Steve Griggs photo by Daniel Sheehan

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Mischief, Dreams and the Unknowable Forces of Jim Woodring: Author Event This Thursday PM

September 3rd, 2014 by Nico Lund

“There are a lot of elements in the stories that mean something to me that shouldn’t mean anything to anybody else, though of course I hope they do.”

Jim Woodring, 2002 (from an interview with Gary Groth in the Comics Journal)

“Jim: Jim Woodring’s Notorious Autojournal” by Jim Woodring- Fantagraphics Books.

Jim Woodring will discuss and sign his new book Jim: Jim Woodring’s Notorious Autojournal at the University Book Store in the U District Thursday evening at 7pm.

Woodring is an award winning American comic artist, writer and designer. He has been creating fictitious and surreal worlds for decades using illustration, comic and fine art. This book is a collection of his ‘autojournals’ and explores the mischievous creatures, dreams and other realms of his strange worlds.

The Event is free and starts at 7pm. You can purchase your own copy of the book at the store, by phone or online.

Where: University bookstore (4326 University Way NE, Seattle)

When: 7pm, September 4th.

For more information contact the University Bookstore: (206) 634­-3400

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Mugshot Monday #5 – Remembering Long Lost Cafés of the Ave.

September 1st, 2014 by Nico Lund

Welcome to MugShot Monday: a caffeine inspired journey to uncover University Ave’s Cafés

Front view of the Last Exit on Brooklyn / Photo Cred:Moss Willow via Wikipedia

For Labor Day I felt it would be nice to take a break from visiting up-and-running cafés and look back at some Cafés of Old in the University District.

It was a time before the internet and laptop computers. Before people were glued to their social media and texts. Before a cafe had to advertise free wi-fi to have street-cred. Back then, going to a cafe was really about wanting connection, a conversation, a moment of reflection with a cup of coffee, a pen, journal and a thought. It was a place to read Kafka,  poetry or write your own story. We didn’t obsess about coffee brands, gluten-free or Grande vs. Venté.

Cafe culture was about getting out and listening to the buzz on the street; being open to a more colorful collection of faces and delving into the dark-roasted realm of coincidence and spontaneity.

I moved to Seattle when I was 20 years old and my first job was at the Espresso Roma Cafe (where the Cafe on the Ave. now sits). Back then it was the waning years of grunge. We had to keep a close watch on the bathroom since folks would duck in and shoot up and fall asleep in there. It seemed like every one of my co-workers was in a band….hmmmm I guess not a lot has changed.

One of my favorite places to go for breakfast was The Black Cat (Brooklyn near Campus Parkway) The Black Cat was a vegan leaning vegetarian joint run by a collective of anarchy inspired punks and was operated for five years in the mid-90’s. The decor was a collection of remnants, mis-matched furniture and bike parts. It was a great place to go and feel apart of the Seattle sub-culture.

No posts about long-loved and lost cafes would be complete without an ode to Last Exit on Brooklyn. Appropriately situated on Brooklyn Ave., it opened in 1967 and sadly closed in 2000 not too long after a relocation to N. University Ave. According to Wikipedia, in 1985 it was deemed one of “Americas second oldest continuously run coffeehouses”. It was a spot you couldn’t help feel the vibe of the Grateful Dead, true hippy-dom and authentic bohemian round table conversation.  Body-odor shy people probably made a point to stay away because of an unspoken rule that with enough patchouli, showers were optional. It was also famously a meeting spot for chess players amateur and professional, including such players as  Peter BiyiasasViktors Pupols, and Yasser Seirawan. Last Exit remains a legend of Seattle café culture.

When Last Exit closed in 2000, many of the colorful grab-bag of patrons found their way down to The Pearl in the middle of the 4200 block of University Ave.

Saving the best for last, The Pearl was the beautifully inspired vision of Robynne Hawthorne whose love of literature, art and culture could be seen in every detail of the place. From the amazing mural her friend painted with magical and ghostly figures on the back wall to the beautiful finely crafted bar area. I saw Laura Viers play in her early years, and Jason Webley preformed his memorable musical performance art. The Jelly Rollers were frequent players and I always enjoyed doing my homework sitting next to the owner’s two beautiful young daughters.

Cafés will always be a place I crave to go and sit with a cup of coffee or chai. I still look for that independent café that offers an atmosphere that rises above the on-the-go coffee crowd, computer plug-ins and get-em-out the door vibe. In Seattle, a café that offers a warm interior with ambient light, an interesting staff, local offerings and consistently diverse music playing is where I will come back to.

Today, independent bookstores, video stores, record stores and cafés are all being challenged by today’s big business market. But it’s important to remember that they have been the backbone of youth culture, independent arts and creative expression in cities. In my opinion, independent cafés are needed to create a meeting space for people, ideas and diversity.

Today as we remember independent cafés of old, head out to your favorite spot and make sure you tip your barista extra good!

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MugShot Monday #4- 24/7 Love at Cafe De L’Amour

August 25th, 2014 by Nico Lund

Welcome to MugShot Monday: a caffeine inspired journey to uncover University Ave’s Cafe’s

The timing isn’t ideal. I lost a bet and now I am on a month long coffee cleanse. However, MugShot Monday must continue, and besides, it gives me an opportunity to sample other beverage items besides coffee.

Work in Progress, Cafe de L'amour is just getting started

I walked south down the ‘Ave’ on another hot day not knowing where I would end up. While scanning both sides of the street for signs of coffee I walked right past Cafe de L’amour. They are in the middle of a soft-opening so they haven’t quite nailed down their storefront. I backed-up, went in and chatted up the barista who was happy to tell me about the cafe’s future to come.

For one, Cafe De L’Amour is planning to be a 24/7 business. That means if you are cramming for a final or a deadline, or you are having that insomnia again, this is a destination you will want to know about.

Secondly, Cafe De L’Amour is hoping to connect with the art and music community by participating in the U-district Art Walk, hosting an open-mike and having other music acts put on shows. So if you are looking for a place to try out a new song or put some art up, give them a call!

James the Manager: Talk to him about getting a show or hanging your art!

I ordered an Earl Gray tea and sat down with James the manager to learn what he envisions for the cafe.

He told me that for now they are serving a Somalian French Roast(he wasn’t sure of the brand). They haven’t sourced a local baker yet, but he said that he hopes they will be able to carry some local brands and support local Famers Market sellers such as NuFlour, a gluten free bakery. James also added that Somali Owner Ahmed Ali will be installing a kitchen in the back so they can offer samosas and other menu items round the clock. The goal is for 24/7 hours of operation starting September 20, and until then they are open until 2 AM.

This cafe has a lot of space, brand new super comfortable seating and lot of potential. I really hope they are able to incorporate a local vibe through art, music and their menu offerings. In my opinion, having an independent coffee house in Seattle means supporting local coffee roasters, bakers, tea brewers and the like. I went ahead and put in my own personal requests for a Chai I hope they choose to carry. I encourage you to go down there and offer them some ideas too!

James seemed to be super excited to have this clean slate to work with. It’ll be great to see how he is able to bring it all together!

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Fold The Flock: A Weekend of Remembering the Passenger Pigeon this Labor Day

August 19th, 2014 by Nico Lund

The Burke marks the 100-year anniversary of the extinction of the Passenger pigeon, once the most populous bird in North America, on Sept. 1. with Fold the Flock.

Join the Burke in folding origami passenger pigeons this Labor Day Weekend. Image courtesy of the Lost Bird Project.

Fold the Flock Flies on Saturday, Aug. 30 – Monday, Sept. 1, 10 AM – 5 PM Included with museum admission; FREE for Burke members or with UW ID

Meet Martha, the last survivor of the species who passed away in the Cincinnati Zoo on September 1, 1914. To commemorate this anniversary, the Burke Museum will offer a special suite of activities during Labor Day Weekend, Saturday, August 30 – Monday, September 1, in partnership with the Lost Bird Project.

Visitors can participate in a world-wide initiative called “Fold the Flock” by making origami Passenger pigeons. Fold the Flock aims to symbolically recreate the astounding size of former Passenger pigeon flocks by facilitating the creation of one million paper birds. Birds folded at the museum throughout the weekend will be displayed and the final total will be registered on the Fold the Flock website.

In a rare viewing opportunity, the Burke will display its Passenger pigeon specimen, one of the 1,532 specimens left on earth.

A one-hour, award-winning documentary, The “Lost Bird Project” will be shown Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at 11 a.m.

Visitors will also be invited to reflect on the history of this once abundant species, and share their own thoughts about species or places they want to protect.

Those who want to participate from home can download a template here and record their contribution at foldtheflock.org.

Participants are encouraged to share photos of their creations on social media: #burkeflock #foldtheflock.

The Passenger Pigeons Story

At the time of European arrival in America, Passenger pigeons accounted for up to forty percent of the land birds of North America, and probably represented the largest population of a species of bird the earth has ever known.  They flew in vast flocks, numbering in the billions, sometimes eclipsing the sun from noon until nightfall. Flying sixty miles an hour, they migrated across their geographic range, which stretched from the northeastern and mid-western states and into Canada to the southern states. The sound from the flapping of billions of wings was deafening.

In the 19th Century, as American’s urban population grew and the demand for wild meat increased, thousands of men became full-time pigeon hunters. In addition to being hunted for food and sport, habitat loss was an important factor in the extinction of the Passenger pigeon.  As the population spread rapidly across the country, the bird’s habitat, low-lying areas of nut and beech trees, was converted into farmland.

In the span of fifty years, the Passenger pigeon became nearly extinct. On March 24, 1900, a boy in Pike County, Ohio shot the last recorded wild Passenger pigeon. In 1914, under the watchful eyes of her keepers, the last captive Passenger pigeon, Martha, died in her cage at the Cincinnati Zoo.

About the Lost Bird Project

The Lost Bird Project recognizes the tragedy of modern extinction by immortalizing North American birds that have been driven to extinction.  Artist Todd McGrain has created bronze memorial sculpture dedicated to the Passenger pigeon, the Carolina parakeet, the Labrador duck, the great auk, and the Heath hen. These sculptures are placed at locations directly related to each bird’s decline.

In response to this centennial anniversary of the Passenger pigeon’s extinction, the Lost Bird Project created Fold the Flock—The Passenger pigeon Origami Project. The Fold the Flock initiative is based on the belief that origami is a perfect activity to engage creatively with and celebrate the history of the Passenger pigeon. No individual alone could symbolically recreate the vast flocks of Passenger pigeons that once flew over this continent. The scale and scope of Fold the Flock requires a large number of people of all ages to succeed.  It is an endeavor that asks parents, teachers, friends and family, young and old to gather together, think about our natural heritage, and assist each other in learning to fold an origami Passenger pigeon.

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MugShot Monday #3-Ringing the Cowbell for Sound Coffee & Morsel

August 18th, 2014 by Nico Lund

Welcome to MugShot Monday: a caffeine inspired journey to uncover University Ave’s Cafe’s

Have you Been Meaning to Stop in at Sound Coffee and Morsel Cafe? Did you Hear a Cowbell Ring Out and Wonder Why? Does the Idea of Bacon Jam do Anything For You? Doesn’t A Biscuit Sound Perfect Right About Now?

Entrance to Biscuit Heaven

I had been hearing about Morsel for a while now and was curious about what it had to offer. So, as I biked  down University Avenue in search of the next coffee spot, I was excited that it was going to be my next stop!

It was a hot morning and quickly moving its way to an 80 degree day. I wasn’t sure if hot coffee and a biscuit was going to hit the spot, but in the name of MugShot Monday, I dared to partake. I stepped into Morsel and was immediately greeted by 2014 U.S. Latte Art 3rd place winner Kyle Dols who had a contagiously spirited smile and immediately got me up to speed on all things biscuit.

Based on what Dols said was the most popular menu item, I ordered a “Spanish Fly” ($6.75) with the Rosemary/basil biscuit-of-the-day, and my usual double tall Americano ($2.75).

As I was waiting for my Biscuit to arrive Dols prepared me a sample of their housemade soda. He created a blackberry, rosemary and vanilla just for me! It paired perfectly with my biscuit and was a nice refresher as it was really getting sweaty at my booth! My biscuit arrived looking glorious, albeit a little tall for my eating geometry, but once I figured out how to consume it I was in a biscuit heaven that I didn’t even know existed. Consisting of proscuitto, fried egg, manchego, arugula, and mama lil’s pepper aioli, this beauty (pictured below) ended up hitting the spot in a big way!

Morsel has a lively environment, good music, great staff and just a few house rules!

  • Enjoy the comfortable first-come-first-serve seating, but please order first before sitting down
  • Free wi-fi, but don’t be that lame person taking up a four top to yourself — share your table if you’re gunna be on your computer!
  • Bus your own dishes!
  • Don’t forget to ask about the Bacon Jam!
  • And hit the Cowbell on your way out!
  • Serving Veltons Coffee from Everett Wa. This Americano was perfectly poured, smooth and sweet!

    The Spanish Fly and sample of housemade soda

    On their website, Owner Kekow Chin-Hidano says that “Our customers are awesome, they like our food and they like us…and we like them. I really couldn’t ask for better customers.”

    I found this to be a truly delightful cafe to spend some time. I look forward to visiting in the colder months when some comfort food will really be just the thing! And for those of you on the West side, Morsel now has a Ballard location called the Morsel and Bean that I hear has a drive-thru!

    Cowbell is for Awesome!

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Outdoor Movie at Magnuson Park Tonight

August 14th, 2014 by Nico Lund

It’s still summer, albeit the weather is a little cooler right now.

But enjoy the fact that there are still plenty of fun outdoor events happening in our neck of the woods. Outdoor Movies at Magnusun Park is ready to entertain you and your whole family.

In their fourth season, Seattle outdoor cinema at Magnuson Park is pleased to announce Pitch Perfect as tonights show.  Events run weekly at 7 pm on Thursdays evenings from July 10 – Aug. 28, 2014.

Free Movie (or $5 if you arrive for pre-show entertainment), Free Parking, Pet and Kid Friendly, Contests and Food Trucks! Sounds like a fun Night!

Just bring your low back lawn chairs or blankets, friends, family, dogs and money for fun and food.

There are Still Three More Showtimes on their Schedule:

Thur. August, 14: Pitch Perfect
Entertainment: The Cabiri plus movie trivia
Food Trucks: Caramia’s Sweetie Treaties, Kettle Corn, Raney Brothers BBQ, Contigo, Wicked Pies

Thur. August 21: The Little Mermaid
Entertainment: The Cabiri plus movie trivia
Food Trucks: Caramia’s Sweetie Treaties, Kettle Corn, Raney Brothers BBQ, Contigo, Wicked Pies

Thur. August 28: Ghostbusters
Entertainment: The Cabiri plus movie trivia
Food Trucks: Caramia’s Sweetie Treaties, Kettle Corn, Raney Brothers BBQ, Contigo, Wicked Pies

2014 Outdoor Movies at Magnuson Park is Presented by Seattle Children’s.
Magnuson Park – 7400 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA



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