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I originally wrote this for inclusion in a Northwest music web zine entitled Pandomag, but for various reasons it never went through. Thus, I decided to include it here for your enjoyment. If you're not familiar with Sleater-Kinney, they are an exceptionally crappy indie band who take their name from a street in Lacey, Washington. Armed with that knowledge you should get the overall humor of this piece.
I was gladdened and a little bit confused recently, when PandoMag approached me with the opportunity to review Sleater Kinney. An especially prominent throughway that travels the length of Lacey, Washington, Sleater Kinney Road offers both drivers and pedestrians quick access to Washington's state capitol, Olympia. But such a road would hardly seem of interest to an online magazine that focuses on the local music of Seattle. Nonetheless, PandoMag sweetened the deal by sending me tickets to the performance of some sort of all girl popular music group (which I traded to my neighbor for some fresh garlic and a half bottle of cooking sherry) thereby firming up my commitment to give the asphalt of Sleater Kinney a thorough once over.
I felt that I was an especially legitimate choice to review Sleater Kinney, as I had rented a room in a house along the road some ten years ago, until the residence had unfortunately burned down. As such, I had many fond memories of the area, including strolling down the Sleater Kinney sidewalk while drinking 40 ouncers and discussing the hidden meanings of RUSH lyrics, or being pulled off the road by a police vehicle during my first ever traffic stop for drunk driving. I even returned to that neighborhood years following the fire, when I left a late night party in Olympia and embarked on what turned out to be a six hour expedition to find my car. The journey found me drunkenly wandering the gamut of the Olympia/Lacey area including several hours traversing down Sleater Kinney Road while having an embittered argument with a mailbox that kept following me. (A journey that also ended in failure when I climbed atop a local AM/PM and fell asleep underneath a plastic sheet.)
Awash in such memories, you can understand why my eyes grew moist when I drove down the I-5 corridor to Lacey, determined to return to this place of my youth. At milepost 104, Sleater Kinney beckoned me like a siren, and soon I was cruising down her well-worn, suburban concrete. (On a side note, several days later I overheard three lesbians on Broadway discussing "cruising Sleater Kinney " but they seemed remarkably uninterested when I shared my story.) Finding a parking spot near my old house, I parked the car and set out on a more thorough examination of the roadway. To the consternation of local drivers, I began by lying down in the middle of the road, trying to get a feel of the roads grainy texture and sunny warmth. After an 1989 Peugot ran over my left arm I decided to focus on a more direct analysis. Thus, I retrieved a handheld pick axe from my car and began laboriously removing several pavement samples from the road, until a police officer approached, demanding I replaced them. Angrily, I chastised her, "You don't know who you're messing with, I work for PandoMag!" but the words fell upon deaf ears.
At that point I decided to get some feedback from the locals about the state of their neighborhood boulevard, and began knocking on doors, presenting a street-usability quiz to those who answered. Responses ranges from the benign ("Go away you ugly, ugly man") to the more enthused and excited. (One woman made a point to offer me the opinions of her Doberman Pinscher, who seemed more intent on knawing my leg off than offering the underappreciated "dog's-eye-view" of the roadway.)
The resulting hospital stay gave me the opportunity to compile my final analysis and I offer it here: Sleater Kinney is a road. It is no better or no worse than most American roads. Certainly, it doesn't not offer the trim, granite beauty of downtown Las Vegas' Bonanza Way, but it is also far removed from the moldy, decadence of Atlanta, Georgia's Memorial Drive (Note to Atlanta city planners: You do not fill potholes with hardened clam chowder and then call it a day.) No, I would say Sleater Kinney is just about average in the pantheon of American throughways. Say, five on scale of one through ten.
On a more personal note, I would like to say that I'm quite glad to see an entertainment magazine like PandoMag offering more than just commentary on music and culture, but taking an interest in the state of local streets and avenues. Who hasn't wanted to read substantive reporting on the University District's University Ave. or Spokane's Jefferson Street. I'm sure you'll join me in encouraging PandoMag to make road analysis an essential part of their magazine.