DEAR STRANGER: "Out with the Old" [Chris Daikos and David Walega, Sept 28] brings to light an increasingly common situation in King County: the gentrification of rural areas to satisfy the ever-growing class of wealthy urbanites. As farms and forests disappear, the common man is being replaced by plastic people whose lives are bought and sold in the corporate marketplace. These are people who have no grasp of a reality not provided by an inflated paycheck, a QFC, and an online shopping network.

"Living amidst the environment?" A farmer lives "amidst the environment." A man or woman with a Range Rover, a condo at a ski resort, and $3,000 worth of REI gear most certainly does not. How many of these people have ever grown their own corn, killed their own meat, or chopped enough wood to heat their home for the winter? Do they not understand that they are destroying the way of life they are seeking? They are moving in and bringing their pollution, their traffic, and their goddamn Starbucks with them. Or do they simply not care, because they are gluttonous, self-serving capitalists who don't care about anything but themselves?

To the citizens of North Bend: Sorry folks, it's too late. They have decided they want it, and they will use their money, their influence, and their laws to take it. As everybody knows, he who has the most money always wins in King County.

M. K. Ohlinger, Seattle


EDITORS: Your feature on North Bend managed to nearly bring me to tears AND make my blood boil. The main problem is WHY and HOW does this happen to small towns? What can be done to stop it? Practically every paper I pick up has a heartbreaking story akin to the developments currently taking place in North Bend; insipid "planned communities" and strip malls built over open green space. Vapid Meredith Crastenberg-types (the cheerleader-gone-land-developer representative of Rock Creek) tend to fascinate me: HOW can they sell this blight? Why do people want to live there? Are these people made of circuitry and fiber optics? Crastenberg's comment about Rock Creek--"We like to think of ourselves as a breath away from Seattle"--says it all. North Bend will soon be run by the SUV-driving set, the types who bring their cell phones and laptops on camping trips. I hope Glen Cloud has a few boxes of ammo left before he's driven out.

Eric, a concerned Seattle native


EDITORS:You state that "Tourism did eventually pick up in North Bend, but that was only because I-90 came through in the late '70s, making it easier to get there from Seattle." Actually, the old I-90 ran right through downtown North Bend, and the concern was that when the highway was widened and relocated outside of town, North Bend would dry up and blow away. I have many memories of riding the ski bus up to the pass in the mid-'70s on the old I-90, and stopping in snowy North Bend for food and hot cocoa.

Chris Johnson, Legislative Aide to Councilman McKenna


EDITORS: I was extremely distressed by Dan Savage's article covering the Northwest AIDS Walk ["Why Didn't You Walk?" Sept 28]. While the article did a reasonable job at suggesting that there is a growing degree of complacency regarding the epidemic in the U.S., the overall tone of the article was simply myopic. Anti-retroviral therapy is hardly a magic bullet. Continuing with and affording the complex regimen of medication is hardly a piece of cake, and meanwhile, HIV is spreading throughout America's minority communities, primarily among African Americans and Latinos.

Rebecca Firestone, Seattle


DEAR DAN SAVAGE: I don't know what kind of world you're living in to say that "people aren't dropping like flies" anymore from AIDS, and that AIDS "isn't as deadly as it once was." In my world, which expands beyond the boundaries of our Western nation, infection rates are exploding at alarming rates in areas like Eastern and Southern Africa. People in the rest of the world are NOT living longer and better lives, because they don't have access to the fancy drugs and treatments that we take for granted here. We cannot allow ourselves to live under the illusion that just because things seem to be better for those lucky enough to live in the United States, AIDS is not still a crisis in our world.

Mandi Larsen, Seattle


EDITORS: I certainly appreciated Dan Savage's piece "Why Didn't You Walk?" Five years ago as a grad student in Madison, Wisconsin, I participated in the regional AIDS Walk. I scrounged up $100 from my fellow impoverished classmates, and hitched a 70-mile ride to Milwaukee. The next year, a less-than-gentle reminder arrived, which flatly stated that the worst news an AIDS victim would receive that year was that I didn't walk. I resent pressure tactics that abandon any appreciation of time, effort, and money. Thanks, Dan, for including in your article a reminder to AIDS Walk organizers that these events are better built on encouragement and empowerment. A hostile and accusatory approach will fail as well as alienate.

L. Saucedo, Seattle


EDITORS: This is the last straw. I have endured the rise of Adrian Ryan's "star" since his days of picking his nose and wiping it on the pages of a local high-school-level gay rag. Then there were the theater and gay fluff pieces for The Stranger. Now he gets lauded by a bunch of stupid actors for reviewing their exaggerated and embarrassing art form [Letters to the Editor, Oct 4]. Adrian Ryan is a stupid, juvenile prick, the kind Seattle loves to reward for deriding its overpaid hippie community. I am so sick of The Stranger's gay mafia triumvirate of cultural arbiters, the Schmader/Savage/Ryan monopoly on all things gay and artsy. You're cocksucking court jesters to a bunch of computer geeks.

Andrew LaBonte, Seattle

THE GAY MAFIA RESPONDS: You raise some interesting points, Andrew, and the family intends to do you the courtesy of discussing your points at our next meeting. In the meantime, don't be surprised if you wake up to find the head of My Pretty Pony in your bed.


DEAR STRANGER EDITORS: I just can't let Steve Thornton's letter on Heidi Wills' Toyota Prius go unanswered [Letters to the Editor, Sept 28]. While Mr. Thornton's criticism of electric vehicles--that they place the environmental damage somewhere else--is true of vehicles that rely solely on electricity, it does not apply to the Prius or other "hybrid" vehicles. These vehicles are powered by a combination of a gasoline engine, an electric motor, a generator, and batteries. They are never plugged into our power grid. Instead, the batteries are charged using kinetic energy when the car is being powered by gasoline or during braking (regenerative braking).

True, they still burn fossil fuel to get you around town, but they do so with dramatically improved miles per gallon (about 65 for the Prius) and much lower tailpipe emissions. Walking, riding a bike, or using mass transit are more environmentally responsible transportation methods, but if you're going to drive, a hybrid vehicle is a good choice. Readers can learn more about hybrid vehicles at and

Nancy Helm, City of Seattle, Urban Sustainability Initiative


DEAR STRANGER: Steve Thornton's letter stresses environmental responsibility in our daily transportation choices. He reminds us that there are environmental impacts from producing electricity for charging electric cars plugged into our power system. However, electricity used by the Toyota Prius does not come from the grid. It's generated internally by the car. The batteries that power the electric engine are charged by the braking system. This results in improved energy efficiency and much lower emissions compared to standard vehicles. This is why the City of Seattle is purchasing five Priuses for our city fleet. It's why I bought one, too.

Heidi Wills, Seattle City Council Member


EDITORS: I was about to write a lengthy rebuttal to Rick Levin's article "May the Best Man Win" [Sept 21], about how helping to put George W. into office might not really be the best way, even in the long run, to build a third party or convince the Democrats to come back home. Then, my partner pointed out the obvious to me. One need not engage in unsafe voting. On election night, simply wait until about 7:00 p.m. West-Coast time and see if the race is close back east. If not, go Nader. If it looks like Washington state will be important to the outcome, then hold your nose and vote Gore.

Bob Morgan, Seattle