American Wake

Oh, this funny little town. People come, people go. People stay, people return. Sometimes people die and we miss them. Or else they just go back to Limerick. Ireland, that is.

Even though Peadar MacMahon isn’t returning to Limerick exactly, there is a certain romantic appeal to believing he is going home to a magical place named after an often bawdy poem. In the end, he was at least born in Ireland and he is definitely going back. And that is a sad turn and tall loss indeed, for this funny little town.

Anyone who remembers a Bellingham without Peadar MacMahon is either  native to this place or else is older than they look.  The 1990s were only weeks old when our young Irishman first pulled into town, seeking a new life in America like centuries of immigrants before him. There was extended family in southern Washington and a cousin working on the slopes of Mt. Baker. Peadar’s intent was to spend a season working on the mountain before making his way to the promised land of San Francisco.

He never left.

“My main reason in coming to the USA was so that  I could live openly as a gay man” said Peadar, absently strumming the guitar that is always in his lap in idle moments. “Ireland was not a very good place for the gays in 1990. I had wanted to live in San Fran and just visit here for a while but the beauty of Bellingham and meeting musicians kept me here.”

TRUE enough. Bellingham was a different place back then, too. Camber wasn’t open yet. No one had free WiFi. Hell, there probably wasn’t even a cash machine in town at that point.

One thing Bellingham did have, though, was the 3B Tavern.

“Working at the 3B was amazing,” Peadar recalled. “Nobody died. A wealth of good music and bad business kept it going for years.”

Lots of residents and alum of Bellingham still associate Peadar with the 3B and vice versa. My own first recollection of Peadar was of standing in the back hallway, smoking of course (smoking! inside the bar! can you imagine?!). Peadar was telling about having recently spent his 40th birthday on a beach in Mexico. I recall thinking that 40 sounded old. (Can you also imagine…)

Peadar worked at Cicchitti’s and The Mt. Bakery, too, and eventually Trader Joe’s. He went through the surveying program at BTC and later wore the orange vest. Recently, he has returned to the taps and can be seen smiling ryely behind the bar of what many consider to be this century’s 3B– the Cabin Tavern on Holly.

More than anything, of course, Peadar will be recalled for his songs.

smoking tough with The Nowhere Garden

A multi-instrumentalist and touched songsmith, Peadar is one of those players who just seems to have been born doing this. He wasn’t. When he got to Bellingham, he was a reasonably-accomplished player, but he was no singer. He’d grown up at the piano and had played most anything with strings along with bagpipes. But Bellingham was where a young Peadar MacMahon honed his craft– adding not only songs, but styles to his repertoire, finding his voice and learning to write.

The Elvi’s

 

 

Shortly after arriving, Peadar fell in with some like-minded players and formed The Nowhere Garden. Lots of other bands and collaborations followed, from Cotton Mouth to The Elvi’s with countryman Michael Costelloe, MacArra and 8 Hand Reel. All during this time, he was also nonchalantly building a reputation for himself as a solo artist and storyteller. And whether he recognized it at the time or not, everything he was doing was leading him to the project that would define him and serve as a gateway to the Peadar MacMahon who will offer the first of what we can only hope is a series of farewell performances tonight at the Firefly.

The Legacy of Percy French was an immersive project which found Peadar atop a peak from which he could see both his future and his past. An ambitious work detailing the songs, sketches & stories of the great Irish artist, TLoPF was more than a record. It was more than a record with a multi-media live accompaniment. It was a revisitation of Peadar’s childhood during which his entire family would sing these same songs jammed into a stationwagon headed to the coast. And it was a pathway forward into what Peadar considers his most-informing musical collaboration, with Richard Sholtz.

“My most important Bellingham musical moment was at the Jamboree four years ago when Richard dropped in to my camp to hear what I was doing with the Percy French music,” Peadar said, explaining that Mike Marker had told Sholtz what Peadar was up to. “I feel that meeting Richard and having him as a mentor has changed how I feel about and play music.”

The Legacy package itself is a rewarding work of art, with pieces of Percy integrated into the booklet designed by Bellingham’s Jim Ward Morris. The sounds are rounded out by two other trusted musical confidants in Bruce Sparrow Shaw and Aaron Harmonson in addition to Sholtz of course. One can expect to hear selections from this document tonight at the Firefly along with Irish & Folk Night co-host Jan Peters, Sholtz, and guest Danny Vogel.

Bradley

CHANGE can come slowly in Bellingham. It’s precisely the thing that some people find so comforting about this place, while others are driven quite insane by the very same stillness. But things changed abruptly for Peadar in 2007 when he met Bradley Leckron at Avellino. The courtship wasn’t long.

“It was 7 in the morning,” Bradley recalled, mixing a vodka tonic for a regular at the Cabin (he works there also sometimes). “We were making out by like 8:30.”

August 24, 2013– Elizabeth Park

Newer to town at the time, Bradley had arrived in Bellingham by way of Kansas, San Diego and Singapore– that familiar route traveled by so many before him. An artist and musician also, Bradley’s experimental work in Maneken Hand & PRND was the perfect yang to Peadar’s traditional yin. Tall & boyish, he was similarly a natural compliment to Peadar– not tall and entering that gnomish sage stage which featured the long chin beard and prominent topknot.

The two were married as soon as it was legal, in August 2013 at a ceremony in Elizabeth Park. A raucous reception of karaoke and furious drinking followed on State Street, of course– at the Shakedown.

But Why? Why do you guys have to go? With 40 years’ combined residency, isn’t it more trouble to have to say goodbye to everyone? Wouldn’t it just be easier to stay? What’s the rush?

Both our heroes were working behind the bar on that fateful night in November 2016 when life outside Bellingham changed forever. Honestly, Bellingham’s bubbly crust seems pretty intact, but judging by what you see on social media, things have grown fairly ugly outside the city’s invisible walls. I remember that night, as the unimaginable results dropped in and Michigan or Ohio or whatever in the fuck clincher state was finally called, that Peadar had a very sober look about him and an uncharacteristic worry in his eye. He was thinking about healthcare.

The fate of non-citizens in Trump’s America still isn’t clear. But the couple definitely feels there are governments that take better care of their people than the one in power here. Ireland’s, for instance…

“You feel like you’re making progress culturally,” Bradley said, mixing another vodka tonic, referring to a time not so long ago when the US was not ruled by a racist, sub-literate red-butted nincompoop. “But America is just not going to recover in time for us…”

“Moving to Ireland will allow us to live a life more committed to the arts,” Peadar adds from the high road. But still, there is more to it. “Ireland has a queer prime minister who is not white!” It’s complicated.

Moving really is kind of a bitch. Moving internationally is that much harder– especially with cats. There are preparations to be made. Items to cull. Notices to be given. Houses to sell.

Well, this is  a real estate website, after all. If you don’t wish to read about real estate, kindly skip ahead to the coda.

But if you’re interested in real estate, then get a load of this:

Bohemian 2-house urban compound in A+ Bellingham neighborhood walking distance from the blossoming Fountain District. Main 2-bedroom house has much Craftsman character including built-ins and hard & soft wood floors. Sunny auxiliary 1+ bedroom house features grand atria gathering space, vintage kitchenette and mid-century rose 3-piece bath. Usable basement, loft storage and lots of surprises. Masterfully-planted courtyard is lush yet manageable with new deck, old porches and lots of stories. This rad package has privacy, personality and pedigree. 

$470,000

If you’re reading this story, you’ve probably spent time in this house. But if you’d like to see it, just give me a shout. I’ll be open Sunday afternoon…

I’m very happy to be marketing this wonderful property, but I’d totally prefer that Peadar & Bradley were just not moving in the first place. It’s fitting that Peadar’s show tonight is at the old Green Frog, where the marquee consoled mourners after its closure late last year with an apt thought from Dr. Seuss.

“Don’t cry because it’s over,” the sign read. “Smile because it happened.”

So let’s not cry because Peadar & Bradley are leaving. Let’s smile because we know them. Here. Now.

Plus it gives us all an excuse to visit Ireland!

“I will miss so many people,” Peadar admitted, his bright Irish eyes glancing away. But then again, from the high road: “… at the same time we hope that all those that we miss will come and spend quality time with us In Ireland!”

Elvi’s singer Michael Costelloe told me that in Ireland, when someone is preparing to visit the US, the traveller’s friends and family throw what is known as an Irish Wake. The idea is that even though the move is not intended to be permanent, it is often the truth that the traveller is not seen in Ireland again.

Obviously it’s harder for all of us to go to Ireland than it is for Peadar & Bradley to return for a visit in Bellingham. So let’s hope this is not an American Wake.

“I have felt deeply loved here,” Peadar concluded. “I have met amazing people, been shown kindness beyond measure.”

Safe travels, friends.

Much Love,

Bellingham, WA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Sell a Real Estate House

 

It’s no secret that the current real estate market in Bellingham is a friendly one to sellers. With mobs of ready, able & willing buyers practically going door-to-door, all sellers need to do is ink a listing agreement and blow town for a couple of days. Upon their tanned & rested return, their Realtor arrives with a stack of offers to review, submitted in their absence. PENDING!

Or not. It isn’t exactly April 2017 anymore, after all. The jets have cooled considerably from the Hysterical Spring to the point where the current market almost resembles one that is if not fair then at least not a mass ripoff.  There are still more buyers than there is inventory to satisfy, and prices certainly haven’t come down. But it’s not the melee it was earlier this year.

And that is generally a good thing (said the Realtor). Having a wagered frontyard fistfight over every listing that comes on the market wears buyers down and makes everyone feel gross– sometimes even the seller who presumably benefits from the competition. Still– no one wants to be the last leaf on the tree. Autumn is upon us. Thanksgiving is less than a week away, and you know what happens after that. The bar is closing. Last call…

So what does the seller who’s been overlooked do– leaning into the holidays? How does one sell the house that buyers– even in a seller’s market– have passed on?

The answer is simple: voodoo! 

Some might call it Christianity, and indeed our hero does also appear in popular Christian science fiction literature. But make no mistake– this is Real Estate Sorcery of the highest order. Of course I am talking about the hardest working statue in the real estate business– Saint Joseph the Homeseller!

Joeseph is the Patron Saint of home improvement. He was also Jesus Christ’s stepdad– the standup guy who schlepped his unfaithful wife Mary and the infant Jesus between Bethlehem, Egypt and Nazareth even though he wasn’t the father. That’s kind of another story, but the point is that the family had to move a lot– and thus Joe had a lot of experience selling houses.

Leveraging a hardmagic 4″ plastic figurine (made in China) to help attract a buyer to your listing has never been simpler. Here are eight simple steps to a commission check. Let’s bring him out!

 

 

1. GET YOUR HANDS ON A STATUE OF SAINT JOSEPH the HOMESELLER 

This should be easy. If you have a Christian Superstore Outlet in your town, they will probably stock them. Sometimes these stores will place a limit on how many Saint Joseph the Homeseller kits a customer can buy in one day. If you have some listings piling up, you may want to draft some neighborhood kids to go in and buy for you. Kids will usually provide this service if you score them alcohol later. (editor’s note: DO NOT drink with neighborhood kids. It’s OK to buy them beer, just don’t drink it with them..)

 

2. DIG A HOLE IN THE GROUND FOR SAINT JOSEPH the HOMESELLER

Opinions vary on where exactly you should bury Saint Joseph the Homeseller. Some say he should go near the front door; others say near the FOR SALE sign; still others recommend the place on the property with the best view (if applicable). Clearly, the precise location is open to some interpretation, but it is universally recommended not to bury Saint Joseph the Homeseller near the septic drainfield…

 

 

3. WRAP SAINT JOSEPH the HOME SELLER IN AN OLD RED TOWEL FROM THE TRUNK OF YOUR CAR 

Don’t worry if you don’t have an old red towel in your trunk. Any old towel from your trunk will do. Saints like red and they look good in it– but a floral or striped towel is just as good and even a solid-colored towel will do in a pinch. We’re trying to make a real estate transaction here– be creative. A tissue from the glovebox or sock from the backseat will do if necessary. But please have a little respect– this is a Saint we’re talking about, after all…

 

4. PUT THE SHROUDED SAINT JOSEPH the HOMESELLER INTO A ZIPLOCK BAG

My personal take on this is that the old towel should suffice for two reasons. Firstly, Saint Joseph the Homeseller is so potent he’s not going to be in the ground long before the house is under contract. Secondly, I despise plastic bags. But I didn’t invent the rules, and all versions seem to indicate it’s important to protect Saint Joseph the Homeseller from whatever it is that lives in the dirt–so just get a bag and put him in there. You probably have one of those in your car, too– unfortunately…

 

5. PUT SAINT JOSEPH the HOMESELLER IN THE FUCKING GROUND 

There are lots of varying opinions on this step, too: feet down facing out; feet up facing home; feet up facing view, etc. My advice is to make up your mind as to what position you think is right and then confidently justify it. In a raised voice, say something like “the moths have no wings” or “We Know About This” and just act like you know what you’re doing. Hopefully there’s no one around to hear you, but if your seller is hovering nervously nearby, wringing her hands, just give her that million-dollar wink scoop up a trowel’s worth of soil.

 

6. SHOVEL THE DIRT RIGHT OVER THE TOP OF SAINT JOSEPH the HOMESELLER AS IF HE HAD NEVER LIVED LET ALONE DIED FOR YOUR LISTING

This may be the most-difficult part of the process for agents who are behind on their car insurance payments or who may recently have lost a pet. It needn’t be. Realtors need dough like anyone– and if burying an action figure in the front yard is going to appease our sellers, I say let’s start digging. I never knew Saint Joseph the Homeseller, but I have a feeling– considering his roots– that his HGTV show would widely-viewed and that he wouldn’t mind a little vivisepulture humor.

 

7. PRAY

This step may prove to come easier to some agents than others, also. If you’re rusty or just plain agnostic, there is a stock prayer on the box that ought to do the trick:

Dear Saint Joseph, God the Father chose you from all men to be the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. You cared thoughtfully and wholeheartedly for them while on Earth. It was through you that Jesus first learned of His Heavenly Father’s gentleness, compassion, and protection. So close were you that He was known simply as the Carpenter’s son. 

We now ask your help in these our requests. Please intercede before our Heavenly Father for His protection, provision and peace. Help us sell our home and find a new one, suitable for our needs. 

Grant us harmony and grace on our home, and we may be ever hospitable to family, friends and neighbors. Amen. 

 

8. REDUCE THE PRICE 

The importance of this step of course cannot be overstated. No matter what market you are in, price heals all ills. Odors? Functional Obsolescence? Ratty neighbors? Get the pricing in-line and step back and watch the miracles fly. Throw away those crutches. You can walk.  Oh, Thank you Saint Joseph the Price Reducer– thank you

Blessings

 

WHILE YOU’RE HERE

Thoroughly refreshed Samish Ridge rambler has pleasing Bay view and wonderfully private setting. With 3 true bedrooms and 2 full baths all on one level, this is a very usable home. All new paint inside and brand new stainless steel appliances in the efficient kitchen. Thoughtfully planted gardens in front & back provide lush privacy and feature secret trail network and contemplation station with lovely sunset views. Two-car attached garage, easy I5 access and mouthwatering Southside Bellingham schools.

   Built 1994                                                              1101 sqft and 12k+ sqft lot                                  walk-in closets and pantry                              great Bay view corridor                                      NO stairs!                                                                Southside schools                                              Vaulted ceilings                                                  Brand new appliances                                        Fresh paint and trim                                          Private view porch                                            New price $379,900                 

 

For Sale Cheap

“Sellers sell houses,” I tell my buyers (in the kitchen when possible). “But buyers buy homes.”

Neither statement is exclusively true or untrue, of course. But there is a difference between a house and a home—a wholly emotional one. Both buildings have front doors, a roof, a bathroom and the afore-mentioned kitchen. Some have bowling alleys and wine cellars, but not most.

In fact, houses with indoor shooting ranges and heliports are generally viewed as less inviting than those without. It doesn’t make them bad. Just not as homey.

Tom Waits sang “… if there’s love in a house, it’s a palace for sure.”  And it’s true. Even if a place is stone vacant. If you Continue reading

Deep in the heart of Columbia

Orange-faced, baggy-suited baboons notwithstanding, it’s true that most people on Earth secretly or otherwise want to live in the United States. True also, that all Americans would prefer to live on the West Coast. Well-documented that everyone on the West Coast wishes to come in Bellingham. And we all know that everyone in Bellingham wants to live in Columbia.

So that means that everyone on the planet wants to live in Columbia.

They all can’t. There just isn’t the inventory…

Oh, we get it alright: The picturesque tree-lined streets. Melancholy Elizabeth Park with its Saturday Evening Post  brocade. The eclectic yet Continue reading

Nouvelle marque sur le marché !



Averses d’avril apportent des fleurs de mai–et nouvel inventaire !

Découvrez cette nouvellement cotées 3 lits 2-salle de baincontemporaine dans quartier familial idéal. Tout près le point de départpour le parc de Northridge, ce 1700sqft propre & ensoleillé maison asurprises à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur…

Mise à jour de cuisine a nouvelles surf-aces et appareils en acierinoxydable. Les chambres de l’étage ont voûtée plafonds et loftsconfortables pour lire ou faire la sieste. Chambre de maître de  niveauinférieur a sa propre terrasse privée pour le café du matin ou     unefumee tard dans la nuit.

Terrain entièrement clôturé a amplement d’espace Continue reading

Saltmarsh Harvest Mouse

 

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Oh, shit– it’s March.

I should have known this would happen. It’s the same thing every year: New Year’s, recovery, resolution, resignation, Super Bowl, February– March!

I loathe March. Nothing good happens this month, ever. The weather in February is always interesting, and March always just sucks. “Spring” begins on the 20th, but we all know what that means or doesn’t mean. No legal holidays. No illegal holidays, unless you’re Irish. College basketball all over the place– GROSS!

I adore April, but it doesn’t start until four weeks from Saturday. I need Continue reading

Those Now Eating Will Soon Be Eaten

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It’s true, what you’ve heard: Bellingham’s real estate market is sticky. And maybe no neighborhood’s door is harder to unlock than that of historic South Hill.

Tucked discreetly between heady Western Washington University at the top of the hill, and the too-dear shopping district of Fairhaven at the bottom, South Hill is picturesque in any season. With elm-lined lanes named after Continue reading

How to Get Balled in Bellingham

There are lots of different ways to organize real estate listings. Price is  a popular and practical measure, of course. But listings can also be grouped according to geography, size, age or even color. Blue houses over there; yellow houses here. That sort of thing.

My favorite way to order real estate houses this week, however, is alphabetically. Because then my new listing is #1, meaning all other listings are #2 or lower.

Introducing 2309 A Street… 

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Voguing demurely at the top of A Street, adjacent to Cornwall Avenue and across from picturesque Assumption Church, this little honey has all the charm you’d hope to find intact in a house of its vintage. When this home was built in 1918, White City amusement park was still thrilling locals on the north shore, and the population of Bellingham was less Continue reading

When Everybody Wins

 

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Just in time for the holidays, this happened. 

A Papa Murphy’s pizza restaurant in Bellingham, WA partnered with a local job placement service to re-assign and elevate a popular disabled neighborhood panhandler, creating a win-win-win situation for the ages. 

Joe Beadles made a decent supplemental living for years working the southeast corner of James and Alabama Streets in Bellingham’s up-and-coming Sunnyland neighborhood with a cardboard sign that read NO DRUGS. In October, thanks in part to the creativity of a forward-thinking caseworker, Joe was handed a W2 and issued a uniform and a foamcore arrow sign advertising Papa’s famous pizza dough (baked fresh daily). Joe’s territory hadn’t changed– but everything else had.

“Before Joe and I began applying to barker jobs, we looked for warehouse work for him,” said Isaac Folkerts, an Employment Specialist at Service Alternatives, a multi-faceted human services agency based in Whatcom County.  “I came across an ad for a different restaurant barker position. I talked to Joe about it and he agreed to apply. “ Continue reading

Sympathy for the Realtor

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Blake and Teresa bought a house this summer– a darling little Craftsman in outer Birchwood with a Wolf range for him and a shop for her. And as happy as I am for them, I could not be more furious and disgusted. I’m also a little embarrassed to say this isn’t the first time this has happened.

To be clear, this is the first time these two have purchased a home. The part that’s happened before and which turns my guts is that they’re acquaintances of mine and they didn’t use me as their realtor.

Not that everyone has to. If you’ve lived in this little town more than about 20 minutes you probably know three real estate agents. If you bowl, drink, or have kids in school, that number is probably more than a dozen. There are 588 other agents in town besides me, and many of them are excellent. Continue reading