A fabulous birthday weekend, starting with Youssou N’Dour
at the Paramount Friday night. I’ve never been to the Paramount before (unless forced to testify under oath, I will deny having seen Miss Saigon
there; it would be an insult to the sublime Madama Butterfly
—and the tickets were free, so since I didn’t hand over any dosh, I feel that my position is morally defensible), and I wasn’t quite sure how the whole no-seats thing would work. It was outrageously simple—seats in the upper tier and the downstairs cleared for dancing.
Unfortunately, it seemed like the setup confused more than just me; until pretty far into the set, when some of the upstairs people came downstairs to dance, the room was only about one-third full.
Still, people were into it. With four percussionists, two guitars, two keyboards, a backup singer (an insult to her role, but words fail me), and his longtime bassist/side man Habib Faye, they rocked out. Africans were dancing alongside Swedes. I doubt there have ever been so many returned Peace Corps volunteers in one Seattle room. Robert Christgau wasn’t far out when he called N’Dour “the world’s greatest pop voice,” and he put on a hell of a show—despite the relatively thin audience.
On Saturday morning, we headed down to Portland. It was a hideous day for the ride—the temperature reached 100º F, and traffic was snarled almost all the way. Both R and I were reminded of Lisbon—triple-digit temperatures and trams whizzing by. It’s been a long time since I lived in a warm climate, and I’ve definitely softened up. The heat was nothing compared to D.C., where I lived for five years—none of that hideous humidity—but it’s enervating to walk through a door into what feels like a fan blowing hot air into your face.
Because of the weather and my general lightweight-ness, we didn’t get a lot done or wander very far—the weekend was basically about 12 hours in Powell’s
, two meals in Manzana, Saturday night supper snagged at Whole Foods (not a patch on the Seattle store, BTW, living proof that layout is everything) and eaten in the hotel room, and quick pops to Oblation, Reading Frenzy
, and the comic/p0rn store two doors down. Fabulous!