I was giddy with glee the other day when billionaire Richard Branson kept his promise and flew in his Buck Rogers space plane near the edge of outer space to beat Jeff Bezos to it. He did flinch a little and didn’t get to the official 100-kilometer mark. But he got to 85 kilometers, which isn’t too shabby. I think he’s entitled to call himself a genuine junior space cadet.
Jeff Bezos himself will take his turn at it next. The winner of the auction for the Blue Origin spare seat will go on another trip because of a scheduling conflict for this one. So now the Bezos’ crew consists of Bezos, his brother, an 82-year-old Mercury 13 astronaut who never got to go into space for NASA and an 18-year-old runner-up for the auction whose millionaire dad paid his bid. Those last two will be respectively the oldest and youngest persons ever to be shot into space.
It’s a plot for a TV sitcom.
Here on the ground, in Seattle, I’m starting to hear more and more people call it Seatown. This is a disturbing trend and threatens to gag me and make me lose my lunch. Please, everyone, stop.
I sort of get where this is coming from. We don’t even know how to pronounce Chief Seattle’s name. He was friends with Doc Maynard, a known Democrat at a time when Democrats were the Republicans of their day, and vice versa. They were drinking buddies. Why not just rename the city after the sea, something easy to pronounce and not wrapped up in funky mid-19th century politics? Well, why not don’t.
At least, if we’re going to stop calling it Seattle, let’s all get together and work on a new name, the way we named the tunnel borer. We had a process. There was a contest. And somebody’s kid said we should name it Bertha because machines shouldn’t always get men’s names, or some such argument, and besides Bertha was the name of a former mayor. And the kid won. I don’t know why. I’m sure it was all legit.
Likewise, if people are done with Seattle, we should have an equally open and legit process to rename the city.
While I’m fine with keeping the name Seattle, I don’t mind suggesting alternatives. Some suggestions off the top of my head: Grungetown, City McCityface (naturally), Crane City, North Tacoma, West Bellevue or Ninety’s End.
Then, after everyone submits nominations, by some means unknown to any of us, judges will decide that some kid’s suggestion to name the city after her cat Moppy is the absolute best, and that’s what we’ll get. But there will have been an open and legit process.
Another reason why there may be a push to rename the city is because there’s a push to kick-start downtown Seattle now that the pandemic measures are getting lifted. When people want to kick start businesses, where do their minds go? Branding, that’s where.
Our mayor is talking about “Welcome Back Weeks,” consisting of four weeks of events in downtown spread from July to September, to encourage people to climb out of their bunkers, rub their eyes and walk around and look at downtown and remember what it is. Imagine their surprise when they see all the signs welcoming them back, not to Seattle, but to Seatown.
Advanced exercises for the exceptional reader:
Name the sitcom with Bezos, his brother, the 82-year-old astronaut and the 18-year-old son of a millionaire. I think they should hit it off and decide to live together in one of Bezos’ smaller residences. They’ll say it’s at his house in Medina, but all the filming will be done in Sausalito. Should the Bezos character find a genie’s bottle, or would that be too derivative? If the latter, justify how a TV sitcom can be called derivative.
If we rename the city, I think we should go whole hog and rename all the neighborhoods, too. Wikipedia has a list of 127 Seattle neighborhoods, such as Pigeon Point, not to be confused with nearby North Delridge, which is also on the list. Modern bird lovers call those Rock Doves. So we ought to change that to Rock Dove Point. And so forth. Carry on from there.
Dr. Wes is the Real Change Circulation Specialist, but, in addition to his skills with a spreadsheet, he writes this weekly column about whatever recent going-ons caught his attention. Dr. Wes has contributed to the paper since 1994. Curious about his process or have a response to one of his columns? Connect with him at [email protected].
Read more of the July 21-27, 2021 issue.