11.07.08

Last Call for ‘Pomp and Circumstance’

Posted in music, The World Of Entertainment, When Mascots Attack at 10:40 pm by

Seattle’s Tuba Man, R.I.P.

For the record, I didn’t like the guy when he was alive. I mean, I got the joke… a man, a grown man, at seemingly every single sporting and most non-sporting civic event in Seattle, in the fucking rain, at night, all the time, busking for dough, playing a fucking tuba. Two days ago the Facebook “status reports” of a few Seattle pals referred to Tuba Man’s brutal beating and subsequent death, and it has taken me 48 hours to kinda process what this all means, to me, anyway… And while The Seattle P-I’s Art Thiel does a much better job, here goes some typing of mine on the same subject:

Many years ago, very many, but cannot remember when, exactly, early 90s maybe/maybe not, Ed the Tuba Guy entered my consciousness and has remained there ever since. The guy was, to put it kindly, differently-abled. It took me awhile to figure this out, that he was “slow” or, I dunno, not “with it”, whatever IT came to mean. I slipped him a dollar or ten over the years in dollar bill increments, but his shtick was dumb and I hated it. His non-sardonic deadpan, the non-ironic jokes, and the ironic-hokey songs he played were dumb and I hated them, even as I know the rule: every song is funny if played on a tuba; yeah, well, after 10 years, fuck you.

The title of this CSTB posting was the one-sentence joke Ed The Tuba Man would tell as you’d run by him moving South to avoid the rain and wind, past the Qwest Field landing where he’d crouch or sit during inclement weather, with his tuba and his bucket of wet change.  It was his one joke, again and again.

It would be a disservice to humanity to add the sad news of the ruined life of Edward McMichael, Seattle’s “Tuba Man,” to a list of the reasons why the Seattle sports scene has been a bummer this year, but even as a human life shouldn’t be subject to this comparison, I will do so anyway:

The Mariners (61 and 101 in ’08, g-d did they suck)
The Sonics (worst or near-worst in the NBA / owned by greedy motherfucker Clay Bennett / are no more)
The Seahawks (jesus, this is depressing)
The T-Birds (4-10-1. next-to-last- Western Division, WHL; moving to KENT(!) next season)

I have since followed the flow of my paymaster’s teat to Silicon Valley, and in spite of all of the charitably “colorful” dopes I see frequently see around AT&T Park, HP Pavilion, and the the g-ddammed Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, or even The Castro and Mission districts on a good night, nothing really matched the strange, slightly antagonizing charm of Seattle’s Tuba Man.  I could go on and on, but I don’t want to paste html links to similarly miserable Tacoma Rainers, Portland Trailblazers, Vancouver Canucks, and, eternally, the Seattle Music Scene. Nah, I’ll just say that Seattle lost some of its charm on Wednesday when The Tuba Guy bit it.

(photo:  Karen Ducey; P-I / 2006; used w/o permission)
Requiescat, Tuba Man of Seattle.  I miss you already.

2 Responses to “Last Call for ‘Pomp and Circumstance’”

  1. David Roth says:

    That’s just the right kind of eloquent, Tim. I liked it a lot, and know that I wouldn’t be able to do anywhere near as well for the guy who plays electric bass outside Shea Stadium. Mostly because it’s like, where’s the rest of your band?

  2. Mike Treacy says:

    Cooksy,
    I don’t care about the tuba man, but I am in full agreement with you that 2008 is the irrefutable nadir of Seattle sports-and I didn’t even know the T-Birds were migrating to Kent. Without spewing too much bile, I’d like to add a couple talking points to your rant.

    1) UW Football-after years of disappointing on-field and institutional failure, year 2 of the much-hyped Jake Locker renaissance is aborted when the golden boy QB breaks his thumb in the fourth game of the season. He’s out for the year and the coach has been told he won’t be returning, but insists on lame-ducking the rest of the season-Oh, and the rest of the team is mostly underclassmen. Last week’s 56-0 loss at USC brought the Huskies to 0-8.(Staying out of the Pac10 cellar only because WSU has one more conference loss!)

    2) Here’s the silver lining: All of the gloom that we’re talking about is setting the stage for Seattle to fall in love with it’s newest team-Major League Soccer expansion side Seattle Sounders FC. Sounders FC starts playing at Qwest field next March and I can’t wait.
    I’ll spare you the global utopianist fantasy that many soccer lovers promote. The fact is that the team already has the most season-ticket holders in MLS, a financial windfall of a kit-sponsor in XBOX, and an imported pretty-boy merch-hustler in Freddie Ljungberg.
    What I’m most excited about is the way the organization is reaching out to the fans. Their “democracy in sports” concept promoted by minority owner Drew Carey(don’t laugh) means that fans selected the team name and that every four years they will vote to decide the fate of the GM. Perhaps the most refreshing thing about Sounders FC is the fact that you can get GA season tickets for $288! Remember when sports fans could afford to go to the game?
    At this point, the club is doing everything right. Unlike some other past and present Seattle teams I can think of, Sounders FC is an intelligent, fan-first organization that is being built from the ground up to succeed. I don’t know where you stand on soccer in America, but if you like Seattle sports, take some comfort in the fact that next year Qwest field will be packed with singing, chanting sports fans.

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