The Hippest Town in the West

My little city looks on the sea. Furrowed fjords carved by the saliferous deep that pushes into the land, carving out beautiful bluffs, the mist lie low on the water underneath them. Laced with muddy-sulfide flats and rocky beaches, where shells collect and get white washed by the weather and scattered like bones. In the winter everything lies still under a blanket of fog and drizzle. The emerald trees drip down over the waters edge, and in places the mountains seem to lean right over the banks to admire their reflections in the dark, shiny, briny mirror.

Sometimes I would mention all the interesting things about my home town to JJ. He would sneer a little and say, “every place has that”. I don’t think he ever got my point – Olympia is Cool Concentrate. Time magazine touted Olympia as “The Hippest Town In The West” (August 2000) and one of the  “100 Best Small Art Towns In America” (1996). Not that we didn’t already know. The Procession of the Species was named by Readers Digest Magazine as “The Best Community Based Parade in America”. Not that anyone here gave a shit about their opinion. Olympia has “art and music festivals that draw a crowd from all over the world such as the International Pop Underground festival (IPU), Yo-Yo A Go-Go, Homo A Go-Go, the Experimental Music Festival and Ladyfest. Ladyfest started here in 2000 and has since happened in over 50 cities around the world” (from WIP).

Nirvana, North Shore Surf Club 1990 - Oly

Nikki McClure, Thomas Anderson, Kasey Keller, Thom Jones, Gretchen Kristopher, Kurt Cobain, Kimya Dawson, Stephanie Coontz, Rachel Corrie, Matt Groening, Kathleen Hanna, Calvin Johnson, Gary Locke, Slim Moon, Michael Richards, Chief Seattle, Mike Sellers, Jared Warren, Allison Wolfe and Janet Weiss. If you don’t recognize those names you might recognize theses: Nirvana, Bikini Kill, Kill Rock Stars, Sleater-Kinney, Karp, The Fleetwoods, The Simpsons (TV Show), The Gossip,  School Yard Hero’s, Riot Grrl, Bratmobile, K Records, Wolfs in the Throne Room, Olympia Beer, Fishtale Brewery, Fuzi Shoes, Beat Happening, Melvins, Juno, The Pugilist at Rest, The Highest Tide.

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when Seattle was littered with discarded heroin needles, dark, depressed and dismal, Olympia was incubating the sound of the next century. Not too bad for a city of 46,000 people. Why does such a small, demographically challenged town have such an impressive role call of very cool and famous people? Some might say, “it’s the water”. I think it might be the food.

The quintessential place for food in Olympia is Darby’s – 211 5th Ave SE, Olympia, Wa 98501  Tel: 360.357.6229

There is rarely a time when there isn’t a line.  This is what they have to say about themselves:

“A place to share friendship, diversity and great foods.” We strive to offer a balanced fare for vegans, vegetarians and non.  Made from the freshest and best quality ingredients, not from a can or box.  Fresh foods prepared and cooked individually for each order.  In doing so we are NOT a fast food restaurant.  Be patient and enjoy.

The food is amazing in both taste and portions. You wish your hippy mama cooked like this at home. Garlic might be minced at Darby’s, but words are not. If you are not patient you might just be told to shut the fuck up or go somewhere else. I’ve read lots of reviews of the place and they all say the same thing – great food, terrible service. I don’t think they get the point any more than JJ got mine. This is our local place.  It’s organic, unapologetic, noisy, liberal, homemade and proudly, loudly gay. If you don’t like it, go away so we can have your table.

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