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Friday, May 25, 2007

The Seattle You Know Will Be Assassinated

posted by on May 25 at 9:52 AM

… this Monday, at 111 Pike Street, at high noon, by a small statue. From the press release:

8-ft. kinetic statue of coffee-drinker to be unveiled at café grand opening… the new Coffee Drinking Man statue playfully refers to Jonathan Borofsky’s 48-foot tall Hammering Man sculpture.

Um, how exactly? Sebastian Simsch, co-founder of Seattle Coffee Works, explains:

Despite its large size, the statue is cute, in a boy-next-door sort of way…

Wrong, Sebastian. Coffee Drinking Man isn’t a playful reference, it’s a mocking opposite, a kick in the dick—Hammering Man is a minimalist pop monument. Coffee Drinking Man is simpering kitschy toy.

Here are the last two sentences of Mr. Borofsky’s artist’s statement:

At its heart, society reveres the worker. The Hammering Man is the worker in all of us.


If that was ever true, Joe, it ain’t so now. Society doesn’t revere the laborer, it reveres the layabout, the lounger. So says Seattle Coffee Works:

“Coffee Drinking Man encourages people to savor the fruits of their labor and enjoy their leisure time.”

The gap between the reference and the referent has grown too wide—this parody doesn’t even understand it’s a parody.

On Monday, Coffee Drinking Man will symbolically kill Hammering Man and the city will cease to recognize itself. There will be nothing left to be precious about, nothing left to feel nostalgic for or preserve.

Seattle will be senile.

RSS icon Comments



Posted by Mr. Poe | May 25, 2007 10:04 AM

They're really just ripping off the Blue Moon's Beer-Drinking Man.

Posted by Levislade | May 25, 2007 10:13 AM
On Monday, when Coffee Drinking Man “will beckon passers-by to try one of the ten different locally roasted coffees that Seattle Coffee Works keeps on tap,” Coffee Drinking Man will symbolically kill Hammering Man and the city will cease to recognize itself. There will be nothing left to be precious about, nothing left to feel nostalgic for or preserve.

And here again, I have to ask, so fucking what? For most intents and purposes the history of Seattle ends and begins 1992. That’s about the year that the influx of California yuppies overbalanced the native population, grunge went mainstream enough to start attracting hipsters from all over the country, and the economic boom jacked rent and real estate through the roof. It’s also the year we traded in our nice little local art museum for SAM and built an aggrandized “icon” to tell the world, for the millionth fucking time, that we’re a “world class city”. It’s also around that time that Seattle became the coffee town and people started having enough money to have leisure time to sit around drinking the stuff. Hammering Man’s arrival basically heralded the death of blue collar labor in Seattle, so it seems perfectly appropriate to me to make a Coffee Man satire.

Posted by Judah | May 25, 2007 10:18 AM

Brendan, you're either trying to be ironic, or you take art way too seriously. Not clear which.

Posted by Sean | May 25, 2007 10:32 AM

I agree with #2

What Seattle actually reveres is the drunk, hence the Blue Moon Tavern's famous "Hammered Man" animated statue.

Really though, lighten up a little bit, It's satire. If anything it's just giving a nod to SAM, and will pique more tourists interest to go visit the newly remodeled art museum. I don't think "the city will cease to recognize itself" any more than it already has in the past, and it's probably a more appropriate representation of the current make up of downtown's workforce. It's not like construction workers are going to quit their jobs over this statue, or Seattle will have no need for blue collar labor because of this. Construction workers like to drink coffee too, and believe it or not some of them actually like going to SAM as well.

Posted by hammered man | May 25, 2007 10:33 AM

I'm not saying Monday will necessarily be a sad day. I'm no cover-everything-in-shellac preservationist. Once the city goes senile we can rename it, ditch our Seattle Exceptionalism, roll our sleeves up and get some shit done.

The weirdness of Coffee Drinking Man is that it's a satire that thinks it's an homage, satire that doesn't know it's satire. (Unlike the Blue Moon's Hammered Man, which is self-aware satire.)

I concede the point: Hammering Man marked the beginning of the end of an era. But Coffee Drinking Man marks the end of the end of an era. That's worth noting, isn't it?

Posted by Brendan Kiley | May 25, 2007 10:34 AM

Did someone spike your coffee with Mudede?

Posted by Explorer | May 25, 2007 10:45 AM

Explorer @7 said it before I could.

Posted by Andy | May 25, 2007 10:49 AM

Actually, coffee is good for you. Just look at the latest scientific research.

Especially for your brain.

I had a nice caramel macchiatto at the Starbucks last night they had at SIFF, after drinking way too many fine vodka drinks ... and it was a good choice!

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 25, 2007 10:52 AM

Being publicly and profoundly disappointed by insignificant local art on a Friday before a three day weekend is so Emo.

Posted by jackie treehorn | May 25, 2007 10:54 AM
Once the city goes senile we can rename it, ditch our Seattle Exceptionalism, roll our sleeves up and get some shit done.

Of course, it's New Seattle more than Old Seattle that has the "process" hang-up we've all been dealing with for the last 10 years-- and "Seattle Exceptionalism" in particular is a product of the Seattle branding campaign (see Selling Seattle by James Lyons) that brought people here in the 1990s. It's kind of like that thing about how people who buy German cars brake and swerve at the drop of a hat to prove to themselves that the money they spent on the car was worth it: people who move to Seattle from elsewhere and buy into our obnoxiously inflated real estate market need to believe that Seattle Is Special. And it seems pretty unlikely that an attempt to promulgate self-referential cultural iconography would take us away from Seattle Exceptionalism.

Posted by Judah | May 25, 2007 10:56 AM

Ha ha. "the native population"?

Which one? The most recent one before the current one, or the previous one ousted by the most recent one? Or the current one, which will be considered native at some point.

I scanned some of your blog posts, Judah - I think make some great points about trade imbalance, the benefits of economic diversity, etc. Have you ever read "Suburban Nation? Great book.

It's too bad that all your intolerant whining about khakis and lattes ruins otherwise good writing.

I have lived in both San Francisco and Seattle and I will tell you that people who are outspokenly liberal and progressive can also be surprisingly intolerant and biased -- supposedly "non-progressive" attitudes.

Posted by pffft | May 25, 2007 11:03 AM

This might be the dumbest thing I've ever read on Slog. Get some perspective.

Posted by Noob | May 25, 2007 11:14 AM


Will someone please tell mossback to go back to whining on the crosscut forums? Jesus fuck, whine whine whine 'oh my god the city is DIFFERENT now than in the past!' cry cry cry. I was born and raised in this city ("native"? what, like Duwamish?) and it's sentiment like that that makes me determined to move as soon as I'm done with university because this town is so fucking full of itself.

Like, oh my god, you're from out of town? Fail.

Posted by juris | May 25, 2007 11:20 AM
It's too bad that all your intolerant whining about khakis and lattes ruins otherwise good writing.

Ha! You know, I'm actually sitting at my desk in a pair of khakis with an empty latte cup next to my comptuer as I read this. So basically-- and I mean this in the most literal sense possible --you have no idea what you're talking about.

And just as a point of order, the "native population" I was refering to is the one that was attached to the economic and social institutions that were created when the city established itself around the turn of the last century. None of those institutions were sacred, but the fact remains that they had been here for a good long time and, prior to gruge and the IT boom, constituted the core of Seattle's "identity." So it's always a little galling to me to see people who've moved here in the last 15 years lamenting the death of some formerly-famous grunge bar or something on the principle that it represents the death of "the real" Seattle. "The real" Seattle was a pointless little mudhole in the cold wet armpit of the country, populated by a bunch of knuckle-dragging sister-fuckers who loved cheap piss-yellow mass-produced beer and a good tailgate party, and couldn't give a fuck about the environment or social justice or any of that other shit. I didn't prefer that Seattle to this one, but if we're talking authenticity, that's "the real" Seattle. Everything that's come since is basically just North North California.

Posted by Judah | May 25, 2007 11:31 AM

i liked it when hammering man fell over.

Posted by kerri harrop | May 25, 2007 11:39 AM

Uh, guys @2 & @5, you do realize that the Blue Moon's "drinking man" is in fact a parody of Hammering Man, and appeared several years after Borofsky's piece?

Talk about missing the irony...

Posted by COMTE | May 25, 2007 11:42 AM


Yes I do realize it's a parody. I'm not even familiar with Borofsky's piece, but it's pretty obvious it's a parody. I had a funny conversation with Gus about it over a couple of beers about five years ago. I was joking around and being sarcastic.

Posted by hammered man | May 25, 2007 12:01 PM

#17 again,

Do you know if they ever got that think fixed yet? I was laughing my ass off the first time I saw it, but the last I remember it's been broken.

Posted by hammered man | May 25, 2007 12:11 PM

Once we run all Hammering Man kitsch out of town, I propose we start working on all those appropriated images of the Space Needle.

Truly, this towering artistic statement about how one glorious future day we will all live in the sky with flying cars and moving sidewalks and robot maids has been mocked long enough by all the imposters. Especially those that sell coffee.

Posted by Actual Size | May 25, 2007 12:16 PM

19 -- The Hammered Man still continues to drink outside the Moon, if that's what you mean, although if you know Gus you probably know that already.

(I have an animated GIF of it, but Slog won't let me link to it here. You can find it at the end of the pics on, though.)

Posted by Jason Josephes | May 25, 2007 12:41 PM


Good to hear, thanks. I haven't been by there for awhile, so I wouldn't know. I don't know Gus that well, but some friends of mine worked for him. He's a funny guy.

Posted by hammered man | May 25, 2007 12:46 PM

Now that Gus has his hard liquor license, he should give Hammered Man a martini.

Or at least a Boilermaker.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | May 25, 2007 1:08 PM


Definitely. Make him a two-fisted "hammered man"...

Posted by COMTE | May 25, 2007 1:22 PM

@12 - my son is a native Seattleite. Born and bred. And quadrilingual.

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 26, 2007 12:01 AM

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Posted by wohcquz rqsjdc | June 6, 2007 12:48 PM

Coffee Drinking Man, like Hammered Man is about common denominators. Sebastian of Seattle Coffee Works is from Germany. I'm from Ohio. We're both Seattleites, no less than any of the "Washington Native" or "Seattle Native" snobs. Maybe we're more Seattle because we chose to live here. Our shared experience of Seattle iconography is at least as valid.

Posted by brian glanz | June 7, 2007 4:31 PM

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