Even in a bad economy, celebrating the best of Seattle is actually pretty easy. The hard part is whittling down the best of the best—from the hottest new indie rock band to the coolest new flower shop—so that it all fits into a finite number of pages. This year, we also wanted to give a shout out to the best of the decade. What better way to show our appreciation than with word clouds, aka tag clouds—those ubiquitous representations of what’s popular? Of course, we can’t let a review of the year pass without mentioning a few clunkers. But even then, we focus only on the “best” of the worst.
Seattle’s best new alt-country band
Seattle has been swooning this year to the sweet sounds of The Head and The Heart (theheadandtheheart.com). The sextet’s self-titled debut LP was released in June and met with immediate praise for its surprisingly seasoned sound. The band members play with a synergistic cohesion that suggests they’ve been together for years. Beautifully harmonized vocals, sweet piano and violin accents with down-home guitar riffs decorate timeless music that moves our heads and our hearts.
Finest approximation of a tree museum
With apologies to Joyce Kilmer, we think that we shall never see a poem lovely as a piece of furniture made from a reclaimed tree by the Seattle firm Meyer Wells (Interbay, 1600 West Armory Way, Building 269; 206.282.0076; meyerwells.com). Seth Meyer and John Wells take trees (and parts of trees) that have had their useful lives ended by storm or disease and turn them into stunning examples of superior woodcraft. The pain of losing a living thing is thus alleviated by an appreciation for their beautiful transition to celebrations of form and function.
Best online daily deals site
Bargain buys on everything from apparel and accessories to baby gear and mama wear have never been so easy to come by since Zulily.com started popping into our inbox this year. The members-only sale website sends daily dedicated e-mails with discount details, and most are for 50 to 70 percent off designer brands, plus deals on Seattle-area entertainment.
Food rock star of the year
Part of the current wave of elevating mundane kitchen tasks of yesteryear to hipster social gatherings (baking! canning! pickling!), Kate McDermott’s Art of the Pie series is no ordinary cooking class. Part therapy, part instruction, her sessions are like scenes out of Like Water for Chocolate (“You've got to put some love in your pie!”). You’ll learn plenty about making amazing pies, but also about letting go of the need to make the perfect crust, the perfect pie, the perfect home, the perfect person. As she helps you roll and tweak a pie crust into submission, McDermott’s stop-you-in-your-tracks, look-you-in-the-eye and tell-you-it's-going-to-be-OK style will leave you feeling as warm as the freshly baked pie you take home.
Best case of life imitating art
Love, fear, pleasure, lust, pain, glamour, death. But enough about you. Seattle Art Museum patrons could see pictures of us and several thousand other visitors at the Andy Warhol exhibit (called love fear pleasure lust pain glamour death) on the gallery’s wall of photo booth strips. Because of inflation (and Facebook), our 15 minutes of fame have been extended indefinitely. See the results at facebook.com/seattleartmuseum (click on “Photos,” then “Andy Warhol Photo Wall").
Most drag-fabulous designs
Like a stylist to the stars, Mark Mitchell (itsmarkmitchell.com) shines as a designer to burlesque beauties, his wildly intricate, comical gowns sported onstage by local dancer The Swedish Housewife and boylesque star Waxie Moon. The Capitol Hill–based costumer (who also designs men’s shirts) made a splash at this year’s Thaw fashion show in lighthearted sets modeled by the Housewife, patriotic in a glimmering blue cape and what Mitchell calls the quintessential Mitchell garment, “an over-the-top gown with bolts of tulle ruffles and an unforgiving waist.” Piling on the drama, Mitchell’s creative wear will appear onstage in the coming months, donned by local band The Ononos and featuring a mix of stage wear and high fashion that Mitchell describes as “fabulous and totally nuts.”
Best dressing-room perk
We’ve seen our share of luxe spa changing rooms, but it’s hard to resist the siren-like lure of the circular shower tucked into the Woodmark Hotel’s newly renovated Northwest Face Spa (Kirkland, 1200 Carillon Point; 425.803.9000; woodmark.com/spa). The 12 (count ’em) rotating, massaging heads mounted on the walls of the stall, along with the cascading overhead spout, provide such a euphoric freshening session, it’s tempting to go back for round two. And three.
Best local pop culture hero
TV newscasts can be pretty grim, but not when Jesse Jones is in front of the camera. Dealing with a corrupt roofer? Need to road test a miracle grill? Then get Jesse, the ebullient KING-TV consumer reporter who goes to bat for the little guy and usually wins. His segment (“Get Jesse!”) and dramatically explosive sign-off (“Jesse Jones!”) have become part of Seattle’s vernacular, and a spate of public appearances, such as hosting charity auctions, has secured his star on our local walk of fame. Jones cops to getting the occasional scoff for his bit, but he’s undeterred. “I don’t mind people being critical of my style,” he says. “I mind them being critical of the work. And if we’re not getting the job done, I’ll listen to that.”
Best new microhood
Architectural preservationists and food nerds nationwide went nuts when Capitol Hill’s Melrose Market (Capitol Hill, 1501–1535 Melrose Ave.; melrosemarketseattle.com) opened earlier this year. The triangular block of a remodeled 1920s-era automotive shop won our hearts for giving local food purveyors an urban refuge amid old-growth-timber beams and exposed brick. Home to farm-to-table favorites, including Matt Dillon’s Sitka & Spruce, local butcher shop Rain Shadow Meats, cheese boutique The Calf & Kid and others, the market is breathing new culinary life into the area.
SPORTS + FITNESS
Finest example of a sports franchise owner with a clue
When the Seattle Sounders FC stunk up Qwest Field last May in a dispiriting 4-nil loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy, team co-owner Adrian Hanauer said fans shouldn't have to pay to watch such dreck, so he announced that season-ticket holders—all 32,000—would receive one-game credits toward the purchase of next year's season-ticket packages. We can only hope the Seattle Mariners’ “brain trust” was paying attention.
Favorite pop culture trend
Seattle flash mobs danced up a storm in 2010, thanks to the organizational skills of local producer Egan Orion and a team of choreographers. Recent events included a Glee-inspired routine at Westlake Center and a Seahawks halftime performance melding stadium anthems and popular dance. The mobs might look spontaneous, but planning the actual routine can take weeks of rehearsal and coordination. “It's a chance to get out of your comfort zone and connect with people through music and dance,” says Orion. What’s next for Seattle’s army of flash mobbers? Orion isn’t tipping his hand yet, but don’t be surprised if you see a new Glee-ful routine in the spring
MORE BEST OF 2010
From beauty to travel, here are your picks for the very best of the year
Worst of 2010
Some things just don’t qualify for the “best” list
Our edit team bids farewell to important people, places and things in the city
Pick A Number
It’s nice being numero uno, but we can’t win ’em all. Our annual roundup of city lists.