Thursday, July 17, 2008

Seattle's Caviar King and the Polish Barn Raising

Here's a video tour of David "Squirrelman" Csaky's treehouse, made by some folks at local rock station KISW the morning they helped take the structure down. Most people would probably assume that the City of Seattle, since they wanted Csaky gone so damn badly, were the ones who tore his treehouse down. They would be wrong. They told Csaky to take it down himself. If he didn't, they threatened, workers would simply come and cut down the three large Lindens that supported his home and say it was his fault.

Here in eco-obsessed Seattle, trees are often more beloved than people. This is why Mayor Greg Nickels likes to grind poor and homeless folks into the dirt. They make for an amazing mulch.

Shortly after receiving this threat, Csaky asked for demolition help during a radio interview on KISW. Around fifty people called in. A neighbor and friend of Csaky called them all back, and a work crew was assembled that included callers, radio staff, and friends from around the neighborhood. A friend of Csaky's describes the scene.
They went up in the treehouse, admired it, took photos of it and of Dave. Then they moved everything down the ladder in a kind of fire brigade. Using crowbars, they began taking the treehouse apart. It was well constructed. Dave used well beyond the required number of nails. They worked all day and got the treehouse down. At first they filled a pickup and did a couple of runs to the dump at their own expense. Later in the day, they began dropping everything to the ground below the trees. They worked extremely hard and didn't quit until the sun went down.

I talked the Lake Union Cafe into donating sodas to the crew. Our neighbors talked the Eastlake Bar and Grill into donating some hamburgers. I talked Romio's into donating a pizza, then I donated a couple of pizzas. The crew was great. Dave was moved by their generosity.
Perhaps you read Real Change Editor Adam Hyla's tale of two approaches to Squirrelman. Documents from one of our recent public disclosure requests revealed the name of the man who ratted out Csaky, but when Hyla dropped in for an interview, the local businessman declined to go on record.

Then the asshole got all chatty, which presented a dilemma. Hyla, being an ethical kind of guy, deliberated and decided it was more important to use the guy's words to tell the story than to out him to the community.

Happily, another neighbor saw the story in Real Change and sent a letter to the editor that ran in today's paper. I guess people were going to find out sooner or later.
I write to criticize the reporting in your story about Dave “Squirrelman” Csaky.

I believe Dale Sherrow to be the man you declined to reference. ... Certainly you could not have missed the fact that Mr. Sherrow is not just any man but the owner of the Seattle Caviar Co. Your story would have an added dimension and carried greater meaning with more impact if you had taken the time to note the ironic contrast. Squirrelman living in a tree house on the kindness of others lost a home because of the owner of a business stocking the quintessence of the all too “nouveau riche.”

You could have noted that the Seattle Caviar Co. grossed about $2 million last year in sales while Dave Csaky pulled in less than $1000. Your paper might have taken the time to explain that the little shop, just a short block from the famous tree-house, does not hesitate to charge up to $250 for a mere ounce of its named product. (at that rate a “quarter-pounder at McDonalds would be $1000 or, as Mr. Sherrow has been proudly quoted, "$50 a spoonful. Yummy." In other publications, Mr. Sherrow sagely comments that "an ounce of white truffles goes a lot further than an ounce of caviar."
Yet, to get the true flavor of Mr. Sharrow and his relationship to an evolving Seattle, one can do no better that to visit the About Us page of his own Seattle Caviar Co. website.
Dale and Betsy Sherrow opened the Seattle Caviar Company in 1990. Both Betsy and Dale are Seattle natives. They developed an appreciation for caviar through travel in Europe and decided that a thriving metropolis like Seattle, Washington was ready for the elegance and mystique of the world's finest Caviar.
Yep. Seattle has arrived. We deserve the elegance of fine caviar. Poor people, on the other hand, get shit sandwiches with extra mayo.

1 comment:

Pastor Rick said...

That does it. No more caviar for my family. And when Northwest Harvest offers it to Operation Nightwatch, we're going to turn it down then as well.