The Nose

The Nose: That stink in Seattle didn’t smell like teen spirit, it reeked of revenge

Nobody can quite describe the ripe odor that pervaded Seattle earlier this week.

A broken sewer line? A pile of rotting fish heads behind Pike Place Market? A burning bag of Seahawks sweat socks at CenturyLink Field?

Perhaps a bomb went off at one of the city’s exclusive hipster bars, releasing a fragrant melange of vintage clothing, dreadlocks, cannabis, hummus and pretentiousness.

Reporters at the Seattle Weekly struggled to sniff out an explanation for the fetid fog that rolled in Tuesday night and stuck around Wednesday morning, silent but deadly (so to speak) and funkier than a George Clinton greatest hits album.

"We've been trying to figure it out all morning,” Johnny Burg, a Seattle meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Weekly.

Alas, our finely tuned proboscis was down here as usual in T-Town, so we couldn’t help identify the source.

But we know this much: It carried the sweet smell of revenge.

The City of Destiny has endured years of jeers about the Tacoma Aroma, even long after the boilers at the Simpson pulp mill were upgraded. Many of the catcalls came from up north.

Cliff Mass, a weather guru at the University of Washington, told the Weekly that this week’s Seattle stench was probably caused by a strong, low-level inversion that trapped pollutants underneath.

Mass said this atmospheric phenomenon is not unique to Needletown. He told The Nose that cool, low-level air tends to settle more often in the South Sound. He also said we have “a lot of potential pungent wetlands” down here. Ouch.

But how refreshing to know that the malodorous shoe was worn on the other foot, if only for a day.

As Weekly writer Kelton Sears poignantly put it: “The fog acted as a giant toilet bowl lid on Seattle, closing the vents on our cesspool city and forcing us all to smell our own stank.”

Quite an admission for a city that acts like it has no stank.

Millions flushed down the loo? This webcam shot shows the repair pit for Bertha, the downtown Seattle highway tunnel-digging machine. (Washington Department of Transportation.)

Speaking of toilet bowls: We never noticed how much the Bertha hole looks like one. This aerial view from above the downtown Seattle rescue pit cinches it.

How rude that tunnel contractors keep leaving the seat up.

And speaking of the stalled tunnel project: We think it’s about time WSDOT tried calling Roto Rooter or one of its fine competitors.

Listen to the sage advice of Marshawn Lynch, “Stop Freakin’, Call Beacon.”

Here comes the Liberty Avenger: What happens when you put well over 100 medical marijuana activists in the Tacoma City Council chambers to fight for their rights?

You get people spilling into the hallway and an overflow room, their service dogs snapping at each other and a certain musky smell wafting from their clothes.

You also get a two-minute fire-and-brimstone rant from an activist who calls herself Liberty Avenger.

Most of those who testified Tuesday night were thoughtful and respectful. Not the Avenger.

Before she was cut off by the mayor, she recounted human history from the Garden of Eden through the founding of America. She also referred to the City Council as the Papal Beast, the Seed of Cain, the Wicked Seed – and one more term of endearment.

“We don’t want to pay money, Babylon Whore, for anything that God gave us for free!” the Avenger said, arms waving.

“Thank you, your time is up,” said Mayor Marilyn Strickland.

“What’s your name? Have you ever smoked pot?” the Avenger demanded, fingers jabbing.

“Your time is up!” the mayor repeated, before firmly asking the Avenger to leave the room.

And leave she did, just in time. Because the tension was clearly harshing everyone’s mellow.

Ahoy matey! The streamlined 1913 Alfa Romeo, above, was a submarine on wheels. But will it float? A rendering of Karl Anderson's proposed Kia Kalakala, below, which he’d like to see displayed at the LeMay car museum in Tacoma.

There goes the Kalakala: To the scrapyard, that is. It almost makes us regret all the jokes we made over the years about the once glorious art-deco ferry/ now rusty chumbucket.


We assumed Tacoma industrialist (and reluctant Kalakala owner) Karl Anderson was making his own joke when he told the TNT he wants to salvage pieces for a possible special-edition car, the Kia Kalakala.

Turns out he’s serious. Anderson wants to pay homage to the streamlined nautical style pioneered by cars such as Count Ricotti’s Alfa Romeo, circa 1913.

It’s more practical than you might think. Passengers can use the portholes to spot potholes. And land sharks.