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Best of Olympia 2015 City Living: SAGE, Downtown Ambassador Program, Macaulay Culkin, Eric M. Collier ...

Weekly Volcano staff names the best in Olympia city living for 2015

BEST LOCAL CELEBRITY: Lauren O'Neill is the go-to hostess in the South Sound, according to our readers' poll. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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BEST THING EVER FOR OLD QUEERS

SAGE

Life for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders can be hell. While celebrating equal marriage rights and the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, older gays are being forced back in the closet again. They face loss of benefits because they were not able to marry their now-deceased life partners, and they are being forced to move into senior living situations that are not LGBT friendly. In Olympia, a small group of caring citizens has started a local chapter of SAGE, the national organization headquartered in New York City that provides services and advocacy for LGBT senior citizens. The Olympia group (see www.sageolympia.org) provides trainings for service providers and offers social and educational activities such as "Pints and Pool" at local watering hole O'Malley's Lounge at Westside Lanes, "Womyn Rock," a dance for elders at Jakes on 4th, and movies screen free of charge at the Olympia Senior Center. {ALEC CLAYTON}

BEST JUDGE TO PULL ON YOUR SEVENTH DUI ARREST

Judge Christine Schaller

Recall the fast and furious events of December 29, 2013, when Henry Griffen accepted a ride home from the Westside Tavern in a Ferrari F360 owned by Joshua Shaun Goodman, a fiber-optics millionaire. Goodman was drunk enough to blow a 0.16, a fact that came to light when he elected to elude police downtown at speeds of over 100 mph. Griffen bailed from the moving car, Goodman was arrested in a church parking lot and Vin Diesel vowed he'd come back for one ... last ... job. Remarkably, that was Goodman's seventh DUI arrest. He'd already been convicted five times and graduated from Thurston County DUI Court. The Washington Courts DUI Sentencing Grid demands four months to a year of jail time for such an offense. Kudos, then, to Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Schaller, who slapped Goodman's wrist instead with a year of work release. Prior to that, Judge James Dixon allowed Goodman to travel to New York to attend the Super Bowl. Fun fact: both Schaller and Dixon are up for reelection next year. {CHRISTIAN CARVAJAL}

BEST AMBASSADORS FOR A COOL DOWNTOWN

Downtown Ambassador Program

You've probably heard that downtown Olympia is dirty and dangerous. Chances are you avoid downtown - especially at night - and you particularly avoid places where young street people gather, such as the Artesian Commons Park, because you've seen scary dudes down there or you've seen or heard about used needles and human waste in doorways. But downtown is not really as bad as all that. In many ways, it is super cool, and helping to keep it cool and safe are the Downtown Ambassadors. The Olympia Downtown Ambassador Program is an innovative and creative partnership with the city of Olympia. The Mission of the program is to foster an atmosphere of great cooperation between downtown stakeholders by providing a variety of services including responding to business concerns, cleaning, litter removal, helping people access resources, and maintaining a friendly, positive presence on the streets.  The ambassadors roam the streets talking to people and help out in a myriad of ways, such as cleaning up graffiti and organizing activities for the youth who hang out by the artesian well. {AC}

BEST ACT OF DRINKING CAMARADERIE

Every bar

Here's the scene: You've just finished your third drink and you have to hit the ladies room. You hang your purse, peel down your pants and begin the sweet release of pressurized piss. Maybe you grab your phone to shoot a text; maybe you're closing one eye to reduce the spins; maybe you are just chillaxing as nature takes its course. Then BOOM - you reach for the toilet paper, and there is nothing but a bare roll. What to do? Do you try and shake it dry? Do you shred a piece of seat cover with its crinkly, thin texture to do the job? As panic and innovation sets in, a lady enters the stall next to you. "Hey," you practically shout, "you got TP over there?!" Then, the hand of a goddess reaches under the stall and gives you the biggest wad of toilet paper, ever. This minor act is a serious blessing, and you may never even meet your savior, but you know she's got your back, (and your tush). And for that, women of Olympia, we thank you. {NIKKI MCCOY}

BEST VISITOR FROM SHELTON

Eric M. Collier

Generally, we latte-soaked Olympians maintain an awkward camaraderie with our conservative neighbors to the northwest. We're fond of seeing Mason County folk cruising past in jacked-up, hemi-powered trucks on their way to Cabela's in Lacey. We do object, however, to one audacious Sheltonian who saw fit to make frequent stops in our city last year. Eric M. Collier, 35, was arrested last month on seven counts of first-degree robbery with a deadly weapon. Um, allegedly (happy, lawyers?), Collier's the guy who held up a Taco Bell, a Bank of America, several Pizza Time locations, and, last November, an Umpqua Bank. Since that Umpqua heist alone, a guy who looked and acted very much like Eric Collier has robbed five banks at gunpoint. Despite being trailed by detectives, Collier was arrested for walking, armed, into the same Westside OlyFed a guy who matched Eric Collier's description robbed the day after Christmas. My wife is a banker and I enjoy pizza, so here's to you, Eric Collier, for not switching careers before you were caught perpetrating this one. ALLEGEDLY. {CC}

BEST TWEET

Macaulay Culkin

"So, dude, did you hear? Macaulay Culkin was totally at Obsidian a couple months ago." Pauses. Pulls drag of cigarette. "His band, Pizza Underground - you know, the one that's all Velvet Underground songs redone about pizza - well, I guess they stopped in and grabbed some food." Sips whiskey. "I wonder if he had the massaged kale, or the waffles?" Snubs out cigarette. Lights another. "Anyway, he totally tweeted that Obsidian in Olympia was the best food they had all tour. Have you been there yet? The place looks really cool, and has yummy drinks. They should have a drink called ‘Never Never Land.' Ha! Anyway, let's go get another round. Oh, and I'm totally going to follow Pizza Underground on Twitter now." https://twitter.com/cheesedayz/status/536287791429459968 {NM}

BEST LEAP OF FAITH

Downtown Ambassadors Program

There's no proof that the stand-alone building that now houses the Downtown Ambassadors Program is haunted, but it sure has plenty of ghosts. Located on what should be a prime piece of restaurant real estate on Fourth Avenue in downtown Olympia, 301 E. Fourth Ave., it has had an amazing amount of turnover in the last seven years: The Creperie, Whodunit? Books, Little Roni's Sandwich Shop, The Cornerstone vegetarian restaurant and Paprika Café and Catering. The Olympia Ambassadors Program is either brave or clueless. Our bet is brave, since the organization's mission is to provide customer service and hospitality to everyone in downtown Olympia - including general information, directions, business check-ins and social service referrals. And with the "Clean Team" in the house, too, with the mission of beautification, the location's skeletons might be completely buried. {RON SWARNER}

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