Cafe Racer

renjith krishnan / freedigitalphotos.net

In the wake of the recent murder spree at Café Racer, there have been questions about how to get help for someone whose mental health is deteriorating. Social service agencies are filling part of the gap, by training volunteers to provide what they call "mental health first aid."

The idea comes by comparison to CPR – a type of first aid any of us can learn. The mental health version is a 12-hour course for anyone who wants to be better equipped to help someone in a mental health crisis.

Ed Skoog

In this first person piece, Ed Skoog, a Northwest poet and musician and a regular at the Café Racer, shares his impressions of the local arts and music hangout before the shooting on Wednesday that killed four and wounded another.

Skoog said Drew Keriakedes and Joe "Vito" Albanese, two of the victims, were well known at the café and that Drew especially was a raconteur character who was “always on,” always ready with a dirty joke and a gritty blues song from the ’20s and ’30s, with plenty of songs he’d created himself.

“He was a magnetic performer,” Skoog said of Drew.

Skoog said he’d seen the man identified as the shooter around the bar from time to time, hanging out in the alley “a little out of sight.”

“He was a freaky dude, but normal looking enough to pass,” Skoog said.

Here’s Skoog writing about the Café Racer and its vibe:

The two morning shootings in Seattle – leaving four dead and one wounded from the Cafe Racer Espresso on Roosevelt Way near the U-District and one dead on First Hill during a carjacking – were apparently committed by the same suspect, said Seattle Police Department Assistant Chief James Pugel.

The suspect shot himself in West Seattle later in the afternoon as police approached him, Pugel said. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center. The hospital reported Wednesday night that he was dead. A fourth victim at the Cafe Racer shooting also died Wednesday night, according to Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Greg.

One man wounded in the cafe shooting remained at Harborview. He was in critical but stable condition following surgery earlier in the day

We all know where to go to see “great” art. But what about really “bad” art? Where do you see that collection?Well, you are in luck because Seattle has its very own Official Bad Art Museum of Art. It’s The “OBAMA.” The collection’s curators are the Seattle couple Marlow Harris and Jo David.

Club House for the Creative

The museum is housed inside Cafe Racer, a blue, nondescript coffee house and bar right at the edge of the University District in Seattle.

The people who hang out here are burlesque artists, cartoonists, musicians and the occasional sword swallower. It’s a club house for the creative. To get into the “OBAMA” isn’t easy. Joe David says the artwork has to meet a certain standard."

“It’s a piece that started out with the right intentions and then something horribly went wrong along the way.”

Yes, the pieces are bad, but they are still interesting to view. The collection goes well beyond "Dogs Playing Poker."