We should feel flattered.
That would be the gracious reaction from a normal Tacoman after picking up the August issue of Sunset magazine and reading a travel article called “Why you’ll love Tacoma, Wa.”
So why don’t we feel flattered? Perhaps it’s because we’re neither gracious nor normal. Or perhaps deep down in our angst-ridden 253 heart we don’t want tourists to love us. Too much hype to live up to, and too much pressure to say “I love you” back.
Face it, our city’s collective desire is for outsiders to hold us in only moderate esteem. This has been true ever since those 20-foot-tall block letters at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909 famously proclaimed “You’ll like Tacoma.”
Oh, and there’s one more thing about the Sunset article that bent our Schnoz out of joint.
Of all the Tacoma attractions it could promote, it gives a rave review to an eatery/drinkery that doesn’t yet exist.
Time-traveling travel writer?: The Sunset scribe does get some things right. She gushes about some of T-Town’s daytripping charms: kayaking past the Museum of Glass, grabbing a nosh at the Art House Cafe or the Social Bar and Grill, and shopping in the Triangle District.
But her random fandom of Hilltop Kitchen seems downright odd, considering it wasn’t in business when she wrote it.
Maybe she had a premonition. Or maybe her travel-writing experience allowed her to travel through time before she wrote this:
“Once a rough city outskirt, the Hilltop neighborhood has embraced a growing number of cocktail lounges, including newcomer Hilltop Kitchen.”
By some miracle of mixology and quantum mechanics, the magazine somehow even includes a photo of a cocktail that has not been served there but presumably will be in the future. Maybe any day now.
Granted, Hilltop Kitchen owner Chris Keil had hoped to be open early this summer. And yes, he did wonderful things at his former haunt, 1022 South, and promises to stir up great botanical libations at his new joint.
Until then, a memo to Sunset: How about next time you actually come to our former rough city outskirt. While you’re there, check out some real Hilltop establishments both young (Peterson Brothers 1111 and Broken Spoke) and old (Le-Le Restaurant and Bob’s Bar-B-Q Pit).
You may love what you find. Or better yet, like it.
Coming in next month’s Sunset: A four-star review of the Western art wing at Tacoma Art Museum?
And now let’s time-travel down memory lane: You’ve seen Tacoma’s tourist future. Now let’s take a look at the past.
We recently dug up a dog-eared copy of Holiday, the monthly American travel mag that published from 1946 to 1977. This issue, from September 1947, has a special section promoting Washington state with articles on Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma.
Some of the florid prose by the uncredited writer is breathtakingly timeless. It characterizes Tacoma as the “‘little brother’ city of the State of Washington” that “for decades has feared becoming a mere appendage of Seattle.”
It is the place where Englishman Rudyard Kipling once wrote: “They are all mad here, all mad.”
Tell us something we don’t know.
Where did we put our polo mallet?: The Holiday writer also saw 1947 Tacoma as an Arcadian place where polo and tennis were played “earlier than almost anywhere else in the West. These genteel sports seem to express the city’s personality better than a game like baseball, where one may hoot the umpires and participants.”
The article paints a picture of a city overlooked by a 76-foot totem pole and the magnificent summit of Mount Rainier. A city teeming with sawmill workers making doors and broom handles.
Where quiet neighborhoods blend gently into colorful bulb fields. Where you can get good food at fair prices at the Winthrop Hotel.
A wholesome city where “a young woman who makes a living by strip-teasing at banquets for males” could go broke.
And then there’s this pearl of nostalgia: “Tacoma’s schools are celebrated for long-legged girls with Swedish names who set national swimming records.”
Ah, well. At least we still have our mountain and our totem pole.
All we need are some sheikhs: All in all, the magazine describes a city you’d be a fool not to visit.
Then again, the same issue also has a three-page spread on Baghdad.Got news for The Nose? Write to TheNose@thenewstribune.com. Twitter: @thenosetribune