THE SEATTLE TIMES - March 27, 1985


It doesn't matter, I know.

But over there was a bowling alley run by a pornographer who once got arrested by telephone.

Down that way was a go-go joint with awful dancers, but if you complained, a barmaid swatted you with a stick.

That old topless bar at the end of the block? I forget the name. I only remember the blind man sitting there that one night, applauding.

Pike Street, old Pike Street. New Pike Street, now. This block across the way, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, a skyscraper is going in there, so most of it will be knocked down as the other places were knocked down over the years. And with the convention center going in up that way, the last Pike Street tombstones will be pulled down and paved over.

Not that it matters. I'm not saying that.

Let's see _ before the big hotel went in a few years ago, there was the Gay Nineties at the end of the block there, at Seventh and Pike. The Club Chi Chi was next to it, all run down and crappy and wonderful. And somewhere along there, the Flick XXX Theater . The Fun Zone, people called that block.

A man named Nick, who was ticket taker, popcorn vendor and film projectionist, called me up the day the Flick closed.

....After the last film ended, at 6:30 this morning,'' Nick said, ....I went down and woke up the last three customers.

....The workmen are starting to take out anything of value right now. They should be done in a coupla minutes.''

I asked Nick from the Flick what he thought of Pike Street's changes over the years. There were fewer prostitutes, fewer bars, fewer fights . Now its last porno house was folding.

....Oh! There's been a definite moral and spiritual decay,'' Nick said.

I like to remember those words.

Not that they mean anything, of course.

Around this side, now, what was here? The Magic Inn. A rough place. And Bob's Chili Parlor. Tough crew there. Over that way, across Sixth Avenue, I liked those places better. Let's go over there.

This is where the Nikko Garden was until recently. The Nikko had a bright awning and a striped front and a lot of little lights outlining the rooftop. It always had a sign in the window: ....Dancers wanted.'' Now, the sign says the Nikko has moved to another location, across the freeway, because the building is coming down. It says the Nikko would reopen on a Thursday. Thursday was spelled ....Thuresday'' twice. The sign also says:

....We hope to see there.''

I thought of going to see there myself. But didn't.

As I said, it's not important.

I walked over to where the old Orchard Room used to be. Once it was called Gabe's.

Gabe's was the first place in Seattle to do dope. Gabe's was where people went when they got out of Walla Walla and had no place else to go.

But Gabe did clean the place up after a while and it was more famous as a little rhythm-and-blues club.

Actually, there probably wasn't another place like it. Gabe had a jukebox with blues records that you could listen to with earphones.

You could sit at the bar or tables and plug in. The place would rock in silence.

Best remembered are the dirty blues songs.

Gabe collected the best of them, apparently in copyright violation, onto a record album. A lot of people still have copies.

....Gabe's Dirty Blues,'' it's called.

Which is probably irrelevant anyway.

Once on this corner, Sixth and Pike, I saw a man run by with a pulltab machine in his arms. I didn't ask.

I saw a man and woman having sex here, sort of, once.

This was the place for it. Once.

Years ago, they were already complaining that Pike Street was losing it.

One complainer owned a smoke shop called the Carcinogen. That means: Cancer-causing.

Actually, he sold dirty books and movies in the smoke shop, and always had a big sign in his window: ....Welcome Navy.''

The Navy never came, however.

....You know,'' he complained, ....some nights you could go out and throw a brick down this street and not hit anybody.''

People went out and threw bricks, anyway. It was that kind of street.

It has changed a lot since then. It was changing forever, yesterday. To the lament of I guess nobody.

Not that it matters any more. I should mention that.

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