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Monday, May 23, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Jean Godden

Today, It's New York; Next, It's . . .

Is Seattle a disease or what? New York magazine reports that the Big Apple is acquiring a taste for Big Coffee and "the city suddenly has been Seattleized."

New York's May 23 edition features six pages of coffee stories, all laced with references to Seattle and to Seattle-based Starbucks. There's even a gee-whiz account of what it's like to attend Starbucks' "boot camp."

Writer Corby Kummer editorializes, "Seattle needed coffee. It rains all the time and people had to figure out some way to stay awake during the long gray days. They could stand a little caffeine, maybe even a lot.

"But New Yorkers? Can they make several daily trips to their local espresso dispensary without endangering pedestrians from out of town? The answer appears to be yes, judging by the coffee-bar boom."

The magazine says that in the past 18 months, the number of Manhattan coffee bars has gone from a handful to 100. Viewed from Seattle, which has around 400 espresso stands, that seems a mere drop in the latte cup. Particularly when one realizes that the first person sentenced here under the "three strikes, you're out" law was found guilty - wouldn't you know? - of robbing an espresso stand.

No cane do: The Puget Sound Business Journal reports the 13-story Olympic Savings Tower at 217 Pine St. has been acquired by Duchess Properties Ltd., a corporation controlled by a well-to-do Singaporean, Liu Shek Yuen.

It's not the first such investment. In March, Singapore-based Kresendo Investments Inc. bought the commercial areas at the Watermark Tower at First Avenue and Spring Street.

All this leads one to wonder: How will the Singapore investors respond to graffiti?

Scrabble scuffle: The Seattle Scrabble Club has joined a revolt against the manufacturer's decision to clean up the game. Hasbro recently said it was removing 75 politically incorrect words from the official Scrabble dictionary. Wayne Charness, the Hasbro spokesman, wouldn't release a list of offending words, identifying them merely as "ethnic slurs and other offensive terms."

Doug Honig, a Seattle club member, said a petition circulated last week and, as far as he could tell, everyone signed it. He said, "We're outraged. Part of the fun of Scrabble is that nothing is out of bounds. You could call it an attempt to p-o-l-a-r-i-z-e."

Six feet in all: Rachel Swerdlow, a Seattle Symphony violist, gave birth last week to triplets - three nonidentical bouncing boys, each around 5 1/2 lbs. Proud dad is Bruce Lesnick. No word on whether Swerdlow was influenced by listening to Beethoven trios.

Picky, picky: The good news is that the old Lake Washington Steam Plant at the South end of Lake Union has been handsomely refurbished. It soon will become the headquarters of ZymoGenetics Inc.

But there is a downside. Although the old smokestacks are being replaced (thanks to the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board), traditionalists are being shortchanged. Instead of seven smokestacks, there are only six. Also they're 20 feet shorter and painted blue gray so they'll blend into the sky. Nothing like an invisible landmark.

Vanity fare: The car that was stuck in the middle of the I-90 bridge during rush-hour traffic last week had an ironic vanity plate. It read: TAKAHIK. Jean Godden's column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the Local News section of The Times. Her phone is 464-8300.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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