Even though I've spent almost my entire life in the Northwest, I have had pitifully few excursions to Seattle. Some of this can be blamed on my adapting of a common Portland mindset of trying to pretend Seattle doesn't exist ('You want coffee? We've got coffee! You want water, look over there! You want less rain, hell yeah we've got that too!'). This thinking started to cultivate in the mid-90s when national praise started to be regularly thrown Portland's way in the form of those Best Cities to... lists, many of which put the City of Roses near the top. Well this weekend ending my extended absence from the Emerald City and put an end to any anti-Seattle snobbery I may have had from living in Portland for so long.
I haven't seen much written about it, but Seattle seems to be in the midst of some golden age. It's always had some well-known attractions (Experience Music Project, Pike Place Market, Starbucks), but recent projects have put the city into another plane of modern cool: a city hall, sculpture park and library from the year 2099, not to mention the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, which contains many views of what the year 2099 may look like. But to me, all that is in the background to a pair of Seattle destinations I had been hoping to visit for years, and as soon as I made plans to attend a cousin's wedding outside Seattle, they were at the top of my to-do list. Scarecrow Video and The Maltese Falcon have both intrigued me since the moment I heard about them, and until this weekend I considered myself a lesser-Northwest film fan for not having any experience with them. Join me and my (crappy) camera as I take you through my maiden voyage with these two pantheon video stores.
Scarecrow Video: 72,000 movies can't be wrong
My knowledge of Scarecrow started when I picked up The Scarecrow Video Movie Guide a couple years ago. It's a very entertaining and well put-together 800-page guide book, with fun takes on movies brilliant and awful. More than anything it gives you a look into what the video store's credo is, showing you that Scarecrow is the Video Mecca created by and for movie fans. Getting off the bus in Seattle's beautiful University District, I didn't have to look far to find Scarecrow, as its large yellow sign was peeking through some of the city's trademark tall trees. I had this image in my head of Scarecrow being a huge warehouse, but it really doesn't stick out as much as any other business in the area, and when you walk in you know you've found the right place.
Despite the fact that every square foot of Scarecrow seems to be either covered by a movie case or a poster, it's easy to navigate and never seems very cramped. Wandering through the shelves, it's a bit like the scene in Willy Wonka where the kids are invited into the candy room, there's so much stuff everywhere that you really don't know where to start. The ground floor is devoted to DVD sales, new releases, foreign movies (they have movies from Martinique, so I'm pretty sure they have everything) and movies by director. Upstairs movies are broken down into different rooms, which have genre wall that are broken down even further by subgenres on the shelves (for example, if you wanted to find the 1974 television movie Bad Ronald you would enter the Psychotronic room, find the Horror Walls and then the Stalker shelves).
at Scarecrow Video. Someday I'll see it!
Ha! Okay, I can take a hint, I'll look for
Michael Jordan's Playground elsewhere.
Scarecrow is a true treasure to Seattle and now I'm even more jealous of my cousin who lives within walking distance of it! Stay tuned for my post about The Maltese Falcon, another legendary Seattle video store that has a completely different philosophy than Scarecrow.