"Smells Like Laurel Canyon" - part 5 - GET’N WEIRD IN SEATTLE: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CITY OF “GRUNGE”

“The northwest is the serial killer capital of the world! We have more unsolved serial killings up here than any other place the United States…” – Art Chantry – designer of Soundgarden & Mudhoney album covers/posters – quote from film “Hype!”
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Welcome back Folks of the Interwebs, if you peep’d the last chapter in this Seattle saga, you may have learned a bit about the history of “Grunge”, and a few anecdotes about the origins of the rock movement known as “Grunge”…but what is this history of Seattle?

 

How does a city such as Seattle adapt a lifestyle and culture that could produce such an enigmatic counter-culture as “Grunge”?

 

It appears to this dood, that the city of Seattle has a history of full blown weirdness, mashed with a bit of the macabre, sprinkled with some mystery…long, long before Double J’s (that’s me!) strange days in Seattle, see Chapter 2 of this Seattle saga.  Whether its’ “Grunge”, Bigfoot, UFOs, Serial Killers, or even the ol wild west…Seattle has a very unique history into the realm of the weird.  But maybe this undercurrent of wild weirdness long pre-exists the days of colonial expansion of the west, and in-turn the major western port city of Seattle.

 

Perhaps the city of “Grunge” has a much more wild & weird ancient past, you know sorta like the ancient history of the east coast of ‘Merica!  An ancient past filled to the brim, as in overflowing with meticulously designed and constructed earthen mounds, once numbering in the millions! across all regions east of the Mississippi River. (‘Merica’s “Founding Fathers” know what I’m talk’n about! – reference OpGCD Podcast)  These meticulously constructed “mounds” are nearly lost to modern history…including the culture or folks responsible for the construction, or the purpose of construction. But their “ancient architecture” still exists today in very few numbers, most of which are in ruins or undocumented altogether. What is left of these magnificent mounds that tell us in today’s age, that modern man may in fact be retarded, in relative comparison to the “Ancient ‘Mericans”.

 

A culture of people that once existed on the east coast of ‘Merica, that exhibited an advanced knowledge of mathematics and astronomy…a body of knowledge that modern Historians and text books teach, did not exist on this ‘Merican continent thousands of years ago.  In fact, many of these mounds are older than the Egyptian Pyramids & Sphinx.  The mounds are equally as intricately constructed and aligned with the stars in the night sky as the Giza Pyramids of Egypt, but this “ancient architecture” of ‘Merica appears to be of much greater antiquity.  Some of these mounds scattered across eastern ‘Merica seemed to have served a ritualistic or religious purpose for it’s builders and probably even later inhabitants.  As shown over the years many of these mounds served as the final resting place for the ancient folk, some mounds to this day exceed 70 feet in height (including ol George Washington’s favorite mound).

 

Perhaps the west coast of ‘Merica, and the city of Seattle share a role in that ancient history, a mound history…or perhaps even Seattle has its own unique ancient history?

 

But today let’s keep the HIGH-weirdness of Seattle to its modern times. In current Seattle news of the weird, Mayor and local Seattle scumbag, Ed Murray finally resigned his political post.  You may be think’n, politicians? Scumbags? Resigning? Perhaps you may be say’n…”that all sounds normal”…fair enough, please allow me to add the proper context of this specific politician’s resignation to bring it on home to some full blown HIGH-weirdness, Seattle style.

 

BOY MEETS ED MURRAY (…lots & lots of lil boys…)

 

I feel like we cannot properly begin a tale of get’n weird in Seattle without first discussing the current scandal of the recently resigned Seattle Mayor, Ed Murray.  Who apparently for about 3 decades has been grossly violating children in a sexual type manner?  Most recently, the now former-Mayor Murray has been pushing the moral boundaries by refusing to resign his position, even in the face of mounting evidence of deviant behaviors and a Michael Jackson-like line of accusers. (If you are unfamiliar with this pedophilic politician…google it, Johnny!)

 

How does this occur?  How does a man succeed in politics for decades, hiding these dark secrets?  Is this just another strange tale in a long long series of strange tales that erupt from the city we know today as Seattle? 

 

If you ask me Johnny, Seattle breeds the weird, like Iowa breeds corn.  It is in this strange, sometimes dark, underbelly of a coastal city such as Seattle that we find strange business of all sorts, shapes, & sizes.  In that mode of thought, perhaps the Seattle Mayor being a serial pedophile is simply par for the course?

 

UFOs

 

Let’s keep get’n weird, Seattle style.  Perhaps you already knew this, but it is the city of Seattle, more specifically Pugent Sound that was the location of the first “UFO” incidents.  While technically speaking the term “Unidentified Flying Object” appears to be a military designation, but it is the term “flying saucer” that is predates “UFO” in an attempt for witnesses to explain this strange aerial phenomenon.

 

It was June 21, 1947, when two-harbor patrolman were traversing the area of Puget Sound known then as Maury Island, but today is known as Vashon Island.  These two men were on duty in Puget Sound that particular night, tasked with recovery efforts for errant and lost lumber, to sell back to the appropriate lumber mill.  During these recovery efforts, the two men allegedly spotted a number of strange aircraft maneuvering at unfamiliar speeds and patterns.  In fact, as the legend goes one of these strange crafts was expending some sort of “sludge” like substance that allegedly hardened once it hit the water.  The two men claimed it appeared that craft was in distress, and the two men claimed to have collected the hardened “sludge” for purpose of turning over to the authorities.  As the legend goes that is exactly what occurred, and the two officers from the Army Air Corps (approx. 90 days post-Maury Island incident, it became the United States Air Force) met with the two men from the Maury Island incident and took receipt of the “sludge”.  Well, wouldn’t you know it…the B-25 Army Air Corps craft carrying the two officers and the “sludge”, just happened to abruptly land in a fiery mess in the regions of Kelso, WA, a brief flight due south of Seattle.

 

I am happy to report the weird tales of this saga did not end there.  Again as the legend goes, the two officers tasked with “sludge” recovery were dead in the aircraft.  Meanwhile, it appears the other occupants of this B-25 aircraft parachuted to safety…the location of the “sludge”, inconclusive.

 

Look here Folks of the Interwebs if we are get’n weird Seattle history style.  It is at this point that I will point out that one of the two men at the center of the Maury Island “UFO sighting”, was named Fred Crisman. It appears that Fred Crisman was a man of great mystery and experiences. Perhaps most notably, nearly 20 years to the date following the Maury Island incident, in 1967 Crisman became a central focus of New Orleans District Attorney, Jim Garrison’s investigation into the JFK Assassination. 

 

The events of Maury Island aside, the world’s knowledge of UFOs or “aliens” were all created by Hollywood.  In fact, this dood feels like that statement rings ever-more-so true today, as it appears that Hollywood generates the archetypal “alien” & “UFO” characters in the minds of millions.  This nexus point of June 1947 in Seattle appears to be the introduction of “UFO” biz onto the ‘Merican public at large…get’n REAL weird!

 

However, it would still be a few days before the world was introduced to the term so prevalent today in the field of anomalous aerial activity, that term being “flying saucer”.

 

It was June 24, 1947, when pilot Kenneth Arnold was conducting aerial maneuvers in and around the region of Mount Rainier.  Mount Rainier…you know the giant mountain that ominously towers over the city of Seattle?

 

It is local Seattle businessman and part-time pilot (mostly search and rescue efforts) Kenneth Arnold who allegedly witnessed another squadron of anomalous aircraft flying in formation, across the same Seattle skyline that just 3 days earlier and a stone’s throw away experienced the aforementioned Maury Island incident.  It was Arnold who reported these anomalous aircraft to be in the shape of a “pie plate” “with no tails”.  Arnold further described the movement of these aircraft to be “like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water”.  It was this comment that was taken by a local newspaper reporter and reiterated as “saucer-like”, and then as the media is known for sensationalizing events today, “flying saucer” was born!

 

HEAVEN’S GATE CULT (THE INTERWEBS 1ST UFO CULT)

 

Of course if we are gonna talk “flying saucer” biz & the city of Seattle, I would be remiss if I did not mention a UFO cult that is no stranger to Seattle & the Pacific Northwest, the Heaven’s Gate cult.

 

The Heaven’s Gate cult is easily my favorite UFO cult! Uhhhh, no not because my moral, ethical, or spiritual views are aligned with that of the Heaven’s Gate cult...get outta town Johnny! It’s because they got style...

 

Perhaps, also it is because Heaven’s Gate cult came into my purview, along with most of ‘Merica, when (circa 1997) the cult became an Interwebs sensation, courtesy of their public antics and web presence.  These folks may have gone “viral”, before going “viral” was even a thing.  For those of you unfamiliar with all of the ins & outs, or what-have-yous of the Heaven’s Gate cult, I highly recommend you peep it via the Google.  This cult’s claim to fame is “drink’n the Kool-aid”, whilst wearing matching purple robes & some factory fresh Nikes…their destination?  Oh you know, in the “afterlife” this cult apparently hopped aboard the Halle Bopp comet and sailed off to another galaxy…

 

However, before this specific UFO cult went intergalactic, this group & and its predecessor deeply entangled themselves with the city of Seattle.  One such entanglement into the history of Seattle, the Heaven’s Gate cult purchased a tile at Pikes Place market, during a 1980s fundraising renovation effort of the Seattle landmark and central region of the city (visit it upstairs by the produce section to see the Heaven’s Gate cult’s tile).  You may be questioning this seemingly tenuous connection between the Heaven’s Gate and the Pike Place Market.  Well, fair enough Johnny…perhaps you may consider the following set of facts far less tenuous, relative to the Heaven’s Gate cult’s Pike Place Market tile.

 

The Pike Place market is named after an architect & carpenter of the Univ of Washington (then Columbia Territory Univ.), John Pike.  John Pike’s son also worked as a painter of the University, and in-turn Seattle is graced with “Pike Street” in their namesake, with a later namesake attribution to Pike Place Market.  Following his time in Seattle it is John Pike, who is then later credited as the founder of Corvallis, Oregon.  It is in Corvallis, OR that we locate a nexus point in the Heaven’s Gate cult-Seattle saga…a nexus point that will send you, the reader, on a circuitous trip back to Seattle…

 

It was May 7, 1906, a Corvallis, Oregon cult leader was just shot dead on the streets of Seattle, in the immediate vicinity of Pike Place market.  That cult leader, Edmund Creffield, had fled to Seattle from Corvallis on account of an angry mob of men who felt Creffield violated their wives/daughters/sisters.  Well, turns out Creffield probably did…his cult the Holy Rollers were known to get naked and roll on the ground, in addition to the apparent requirement for all women to copulate with Creffield in order to gain “initiation” into the cult.

 

Of course the Holy Rollers cult disbanded it appears when Creffield fled to Seattle, but as legend goes the bulk of the former cult members moved to Waldport, Oregon.  Waldport is a small town on the Oregon coast, approximately 50 miles due west of Corvallis, or roughly a 90-minute drive.  It is here in Waldport, a sleepy Oregon beach town with a population of 2,000 today, but in 1906, Waldport’s population was the Holy Rollers cult. This bit of history appears suspiciously absent from either the Rollers or Waldport’s Wikipedia…and here I thought Wikipedia was the source of all knowledge on the Interwebs.

 

What’s that? What do the Holy Rollers have to do with the Heaven’s Gate cult?? 

 

It was September 14, 1975; the then-brand new to the UFO cult scene, the Heaven’s Gate cult came to tiny Waldport, OR for an apparent recruiting session.  Where the Heaven’s Gate cult leader and full-time-looney-tune, Marshall Applewhite, packed a quarter of the town’s population into a motel conference meeting area, approx. 150 folks.  Apparently, Applewhite’s sales pitch had apparently reached its pinnacle that evening, as he left that motel with roughly 100 followers to his burgeoning UFO cult, the Heaven’s Gate. 

 

The new additions to the cult…the majority of which were descendants of the Holy Rollers cult…you know that cult leader that was murdered in & around Pike Place Market…the same market the Heaven’s Gate is honored for their donation to the market’s 1980s renovation.  Hmmmmm, weird…

 

Sasquatch

 

The Pacific Northwest regions have long been home to various legends of “wild folk” who essentially disturb and disrupt the activities of the locals, a boogey man of sorts.  However, it is the local natives to the Seattle region that coined the “Sasquatch”, a term commonly used by folks today to describe this same phenomenon.  Well, if I am being honest about it, it was the usual ‘Merican misinterpretation of the word that appears to have spawned the term “Sasquatch” (Just ask Japan or should I say Nippon how that worked out for them!).  The locals had a term for these “wild folk”, that term was “Sesquac”, which translated to the English is “wild folk” or “wild man” (potato/potatoe). It was indeed this term that was later pronounced “Sasquatch” and voila! we have thousands of modern day residents/visitors to Seattle regions, reporting their own sightings of the “Sasquatch” phenomenon.

 

In fact, to this day Seattle appears to be an epi-center of sorts when it comes to “Squatch” sightings.  Just in Seattle’s King county and the surrounding counties alone, there have been hundreds of “Squatch” or “Bigfoot” sightings in our modern era.  The top of that list is the one and only, Rainier County, home to the origin story of “flying saucers” & “UFO sludge”, as mentioned above.

 

Crimps & Pimps

 

Seattle is infamously known for a violent past, but in all honesty this is not an aberration from other cities of the “old west”.  Seattle just as much as every other western city port, be it San Francisco or Portland, have experienced similar activities in each respective city’s journey from past to present.  Long before there were airplanes to fly to Seattle, or roads to drive, or hell even railroads for which to traverse in a westerly manner…if you wanted to get to Seattle it was by ship or by horseback, neither of which offered a direct route as our modern day travel.  It was the logistical reasons such as lack of direct and rapid means of travel that made port western cities like Seattle, to be difficult to reach.  Given the fortitude one must have to travel these difficult routes of travel to reach Seattle, many folks who settled down in this region during the mid-19th century, did so in order to run away from a life on the east coast or even another nation.

 

Seattle was literally the end of the road for such folks seeking fortune & a new existence in this uncharted land.  In some of those instances, Seattle was the end of the road because folks needed to escape a violent or criminal past.  It was these reasons combined, that seems to make Seattle a breeding ground for violence; the secluded nature of the city, sordid past of its newly inhabited residents, and the accessibility of the port to sea (every criminal needs a rapid getaway!).

 

Two of the most heinous acts of violence committed in Seattle’s history are arguably the acts of kidnapping into slave labor, known get’n “Shanghai’d”.  This basically consisted of snatching up able-bodied men, and selling them into indentured servitude as crew of a ship departing the port of Seattle. The other heinous acts of violence that Seattle is infamously known for, a lengthy list of “serial killers”.

 

For this dood…it seems that “serial killers” and “Shanghai’n” folks have a common nexus point in their relationship with prostitution, “hookers” if you will.  Based upon my conclusion of look’n at a large sample size of “serial killers” and their victims, it seems to be the victims area often those considered throw-aways of society, you know “hookers”.  Whereas the act of “Shanghai’n” some unsuspecting fella into a life of servitude was often associated with transient men, like prostitution is to indentured servitude of transient women.  It was no surprise to see some of the most prominent “Shanghai’rs” or as the individual known to get you some ship slaves was called at this time in Seattle, a Crimp.  The “Crimp” could get you the men, and the “Pimp” could get you the women.   Those searching for such activities, willing or unwillingly, could visit a Boarding House (or motel, brothel, “bang shack”, etc.) and the proprietor of that Boarding House would facilitate.  I am not say’n the Boarding House was the Crimp or the Pimp, rather they were the men to talk to in order to get such business accomplished.  However, I am certain in some instances that the Boarding House proprietors of Seattle did a fair deal of crimp’n & pimp’n!

 

The question in this dood’s mind then becomes, what does this violent and dark history of Seattle breed for its future?

 

 

SERIAL KILLERS

 

Seattle has a lengthy list of “serial killers” to offer up from its history.  Dating from the early days of Seattle, there are many infamous “serial killers” who have stalked Seattle’s streets, and its’ citizens. Once such early example is Billy Gohl (not to be confused with Nirvana drummer, Dave Grohl), who operated as a Crimp’r at the turn of the 20th century, but when the money was not good to sell the men into slavery…he apparently just killed them & robbed them of their possessions.  Gohl would then take their bodies and dump them in the River.  While Gohl (again not Grohl!) operated out of Aberdeen, Washington, just across the Puget Sound from Seattle proper, the killing of the transient folks in and around Seattle has continued until this day.

 

In fact, one of the Seattle regions most infamous “serial killers” of the modern era, a killer forever tied into the Seattle “Grunge” scene, the “Green River Killer” was still dumping his victims into the river as recently as 20 years ago.  The “Green River Killer” will forever be tied to the Seattle “Grunge” scene, courtesy of the “Green River” band, whose namesake is derived from the deranged killer(s) tormenting the Seattle streets when the band formed, circa 1984.  It was the ritual aspect associated to many of the “GRK” victims that lead one Seattle-area clinical psychologist, the “Green River Killer(s)” may be responsible for numerous more deaths.  At least according to that Seattle-area doctor, a lead singer of a “Grunge” band may have been victim to “GRK” in 1994, at the height of the “Grunge” scene’s worldwide invasion.

 

I suppose it should be noted that a man by name of Gary Ridgway confessed to these crimes of approx. 48 dead “hookers” circa 2002, but as it often occurs in these “serial killing” cases…the forensic evidence does not link Ridgway to all 48+ victims/sites of disposal. In fact, would you believe Ridgway is only connected by the evidence to what appears to be no more than 2 of the victims?  If you want this dood’s two cents…it appears that a different suspect in the crimes who died from cancer while still a “GRK” suspect, is a far greater candidate for the crimes.  It was this other suspect that appears to have been a psychology student at the University of Washington at the very same time as Ted Bundy, another “serial killer” of the Seattle area.  Perhaps the “other GRK suspect” & Ted Bundy crossed paths there on the Univ of WA campus back in 1971?

 

Ted Bundy of course took his “serial killing” on a road show of sorts…a road show that included numerous prison breaks and the ability to fly around on commercial aircraft, completely undetected! However, prior to that ol Ted just killed locally you know in the Seattle region, responsible for a still yet to be determined number of murders.  Consequently, he was the personal assistant to the head of the Washington State Republican Party, and was personal friends with the Governor and Attorney General…nothin to see here…move along Johnny!

 

“GRK” & Ted are not the only infamous Seattle “serial killers”.  In fact, in the spirit of this dood’s inquisition, it is important here to note that Laurel Canyon…yes, that Laurel Canyon…shares multiple serial killers with the Seattle “serial killer” scene.  Say what Johnny!? You got to be fuck’n kidding me Johnny!

 

I cannot make this schtuff up!  Seattle and Laurel Canyon have not one, not two, but 3 “serial killers” in common!  Standby for more on that tale in a future installment of this tale…

 

Get’n Shanghai’d in Seattle

 

It was primarily the Klondike Gold rush that had brought a significant population increase to Seattle, at the time Seattle served as the port of entry into the Klondike Gold rush.  With the gold rush came a need to for lodging, gambling, “hookers”, and a litany of other crimes. 

 

The Gold Rush brought them to town…and apparently the “serial killers” & “Shanghai’rs” took them outta town.  That of course is a very simplistic and sarcastic look at the crime and violence of the era.  An era that most certainly seemed to be chalked full of violence and for lack of a better term or phrase, lets call it “Human trafficking”.

 

So…“Hookers” & “Shanghai’n” sailors, that’s apparently where the money was in 1890s-era Seattle. It should then be no surprise to see numerous financial success stories, fortunes made on the trade of what would be considered illicit type activities in our modern era.  Low & behold, its right here at “illicit activities” where we find one of those success stories…the King of the Seattle “Shanghai”, Maxwell Levy.

 

Maxwell Levy ran a “Boarding House” on the shores of Pudget sound in the 1890s, and is infamously known as the most prolific “human traffickers” in the sordid history of Seattle’s Puget Sound.  While he may be known to the annals of history as the best “Crimp” on Puget Sound, there is no way Levy was the only “game” in town.  There was at least one other man running a “Boarding House” on Puget Sound at the very same time that Maxwell Levy was dominating Puget Sound’s trade of “Shanghai’n” sailors.  This man’s “Boarding House” was located on the shores of Seattle in the vicinity of Pike Place Market, and that man’s name was Frederick Trump. 

 

But before we end this thing the right way, in a very Trump-tastic manner…

 

You may be wondering how is the act of kidnapping and selling someone into slavery legal in 1890s Seattle?  Well, it is and it isn’t…who are you gonna call once you have been kidnapped on a boat? Who is going to say that is not the kidnapped man’s signature on the ship’s manifest? There were no forensic experts to examine signatures…

 

Once the “Shanghai’d” man’s name/signature was placed on the ship’s manifest, along with the man, that man essentially became the ships’s property and may be imprisoned or killed for attempting to desert his post on the ship.   As for the “hookers”…well it was 1890s…women has less rights than the men…you know those men who had gotten “Shanghai’d” against their will.

 

A man named Trumpf?

 

Frederich Trump (or Trumpf according to Ellis Island records), came to ‘Merica in search for opportunity in the late 19th century, but found none in the bustling metropolis of New York City.  Fred may be best known today as President Donald J. Trump’s grandfather, but in the 1890s ol Fred was a “Boarding House” operator in Seattle, with sights on fortune in the Yukon Gold Rush. 

Fred did not dream to dig for gold, but rather provide services for the folks associated with this large influx of people into Seattle.  As legend has it Fred has some of the best prostitutes in town.  Gee, I wonder if Fred dabbled in a bit of “Shanghai’n” at his “Boarding House”?? 

 

Fred made his fortune providing services during the Yukon Gold Rush, and Seattle serving as the port of travel, Fred picked an excellent spot.  This appears to have yielded Fred very positive results monetarily speaking, and also seems to be the Trump family’s foray into the hotel and real estate business…’Merica!

 

Well…Folks of the Interwebs, thanks for join’n me today to get a lil GCD.  Catch yall soon, with next installment of “Smells like Laurel Canyon”: One dood’s inquisition into the possible manufactured nature of the 1990s “Grunge” counterculture, as compared to the 1960s “Hippie” counterculture.