Atlas Obscura and Grunge Redux with Eric Magnuson

The "Kurt Cobain Bench" at Viretta Park, Seattle
The “Kurt Cobain Bench” at Viretta Park, Seattle – by Etsy Ketsy – CC BY-SA 2.0

Eric Magnuson is a Seattle field agent for Atlas Obscura – an online guide to discover amazing, hidden spots. We discuss his walking tour tracing the emergence of the Grunge musical movement in Seattle during the early 1990s.

Atlas Obscura is a vital online destination for explorers that has also grown in the analog world by establishing societies in cities such as Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and more. With a dedicated crew of “Field Agents,” Atlas Obscura also offers personal, face-to-face interactions with knowledgeable guides who uncover unique and unusual nooks and crannies.

Eric Magnuson in the alley outside Black Dog Forge
Eric Magnuson outside Black Dog Forge – a practice space used by Pearl Jam and Soundgarden

Eric Magnuson describes himself as a writer, master griller, and silence filler. He also is the driving force behind the “Grunge Redux” tour in Seattle. The tour looks “beyond the bleached-out remnants of Seattle’s highs (and lows) while keeping our eyes and ears peeled for the future of the true local sound.” It’s a two hour exploration of the Belltown neighborhood – epicenter of the last major music scene of the 20th century.

Sub Pop Mini Mart & Gallery, Georgetown, WA
Sub Pop Mini Mart & Gallery, Georgetown, WA by Jeff Few – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

We also spend some time trying to solve the tension between appreciating a unique, grassroots movement such as Grunge, but at the same time treating it as a cultural moment that is encased in glass. Whether there is a danger of “killing what you love” by organizing activities that bring tourist-like attention to them.

The real danger is to represent something as definitive…All you can try to do is provide an earnest, real, and clear window.

Inside the Crocodile Cafe circa 2007
Inside the Crocodile Cafe circa 2007 – photo courtesy of Eric T. Williams

Episode Links

Atlas Obscura

Obscura Day 2017

Eric Magnuson

Sub Pop Records

Anthony Bourdain Part Unknown – Roads & Kingdoms/CNN

Podcast intro music: “Mister S” by Luc Marcotte
Podcast exit music: “Neogrotesque” by Luc Marcotte
Photography courtesy of Atlas Obscura unless otherwise noted
Marquee image on home page:
Crocodile Cafe” by A. Jesse Jiryu Davis

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