EDITORS: I was surprised to find that the experience of having someone ask you for spare change can be so traumatic to some people that (gasp!) it would make them stop shopping ["Broadway Hit," Amy Jenniges, Aug 16]. Who knew that such free speech and open displays of class differences could be so upsetting that they could cause dive bars like Ileen's to close, force away customers from the Body Scent, and inspire Amy Jenniges and her editors at The Stranger to basically make the presence of homeless people the social equivalent of an overflowing dumpster?
Silly me. I thought the declining sales on Broadway might have something to do with recent layoffs and economic insecurity in the region. I thought that empty storefronts might be caused by gentrification. I thought the misuse of Broadway businesses' toilets was, in part, an issue of the lack of public toilets in the Broadway area.
Apparently I was wrong. It turns out that, according to The Stranger, the real culprits keeping businesses on Broadway from wanting to pay high rent and keeping customers from wanting to shop are the area's homeless people. So The Stranger advocates more cops and rent-a-cops to keep homeless people away.
Some kind of renewal that will be. It won't stop a recession. But maybe it will ease the discomfort of wealthy people who, on second thought, would rather not have public space after all, if that space has to include poor people.
Trevor Griffey, Seattle
AMY JENNIGES: Nice job on the ills of Broadway. I used to live in Seattle, and when I [visited] a month ago, I could not believe how shabby Broadway appears. It just seems like no one cares anymore. Well done.
Jonathan Pont, New York City
AMY JENNIGES: Why is the emphasis always put on harassing "marginal" people rather than finding real solutions for their predicaments? I barely live on Capitol Hill. I say "barely" because [very high] rent is, indeed, making it impossible. My neighborhood is full of chronic drunks roaming in packs, street kids, and most heartbreaking of all, crazy people. The other day I saw a well-dressed arty woman in her 50s screeching at a pathetic homeless man, "Stop pissing on our building!" What did this woman think [she would accomplish by] humiliating this man? He's already as low as he can go, lady. Get a clue.
Until we are prepared to elect officials with a conscience, who are willing to spend some real public money to provide for people who are unable--for whatever reason--to take care of themselves, panhandling and public drunkenness will be the real "Seattle experience," and our streets will reek of piss. People are kinder to DOGS in the street than they are to homeless people. Whether you want to see it or not, these are PEOPLE, and they deserve better than being herded, blamed, and harassed.
Anonymous, via e-mail
DEAR EDITORS: Just a couple of things regarding the article "Broadway Hit," by Amy Jenniges: Street youths in the Capitol Hill neighborhood are not a new thing, and as someone who frequently walks down Broadway, I have not found them to be a problem. My personal experience with young people who panhandle has been that they are, in general, much more mellow than older people. The aggressive panhandling that people cross the street to avoid comes from older alcoholics who have moved into the neighborhood as a direct result of neighborhood-planning actions in Pioneer Square. And while it is certainly true that Capitol Hill needs more social services, the neighborhood businesses haven't been all that supportive of services that currently exist. The Capitol Hill Youth Center, for example (which operates in the basement of a local church and provides food, sanitary supplies, clothing, and a safe place to be during certain hours), has encountered a lot of resistance from local business leaders.
I was disappointed that the skyrocketing rents for both retail and living space, as well as the uncertain future of the area due to Sound Transit's inconclusive plans, were not discussed more in the article, and the older homeless people who have started panhandling on Capitol Hill more recently were not discussed at all. It's easy to blame things on the kids, but the fact remains that street youths have been a part of the diverse life on Broadway for quite some time.
EDITORS: Josh Feit doesn't give Seattleites enough credit [Five to Four, Aug 16]. Saying Mark Sidran is funny is "like saying Norm Rice is a 'soulful' speaker'"??!! Not even the lily-whitest Laurelhurstian could have ever described Norm Rice as a "soulful" speaker. The man sounds like Kermit the Frog.
See, Sidran's "Jewish humor" is new to Seattle WASPS. It's the "other," that's all. That's why it's funny to so many. And it got me thinking--maybe Jews would think Seattleites are funny. Josh, let's get Steve Pool and the corpse of Emmett Watson booked at the Catskill hotels. They'd kill!
Seth Kolloen, Brooklyn, New York
EDITOR: I read Emily Hall's recent gloss-over of "what bad art is," taking inspiration from her experiences in the local scene ["Why Most Painting Is Bad," Aug 16]. I agree--but not as a relevant story. With the exception of the obvious point about other media gaining a strong foothold, her main point has been common chatter since long before the Munch revolution.
Simply, people have echoed the thought that the prevailing style (whatever period that may be) as we know it is dead, and it is no longer relevant. This is very often true; however, Emily coming out of nowhere to break us this news is like Evening Magazine doing a story on "how fun sunny weather can be." Her focus is on something that is a constant: Ninety percent of all art at a given time is bad.
Sal Ripple, Seattle
HI EDITORS: How nice to finally see something in The Stranger about the Storm ["Lightning Storm," In Other News, Nancy Drew, Aug 16]. Michelle Marciniak (could you get a cooler name??) is definitely a rising star. Not to mention that she's a complete and total BABE, and has both women and men at the games all atwitter every time she so much as puts a toe on the floor.
Sue, via e-mail
"JOSH, HI. I'm Dewey Potter from Parks and Recreation. I'm the public relations manager. It just came to my attention that you have on your website information saying that the Alki Music Fest is going forward this weekend, and to call Virginia Swanson for ticket information [Stranger Suggests, Nancy Drew, Aug 16]. As I'm pretty sure you know, that [event] has been canceled, and I need you to remove that from your website immediately. If you need to reach me, I'm at 548-0795. Thank you."
Dewey Potter, Seattle Parks and Recreation, via voice-mail
DEAR EDITOR: As a target of the Democratic Party's "Green-Baiting" as reported by Josh Feit [In Other News, Aug 16], I wish to offer a few observations: (1) The Democratic Party allows endorsed candidates to accept campaign contributions from Republicans, and in past years, endorsed Democrats have supported Republicans for election. The conservative wing of the Democratic Party is willing to allow Democrats to be cozy with Republicans (10 Democratic Party U.S. senators voted for Attorney General Ashcroft with no repercussions). Yet, progressive Democrats are raked over the coals for associating with the Green Party. A double standard.
(2) The Green Party requires all Democratic Party candidates requesting endorsement to be Green Party members also. No Green questions your vote for president. All questions relate to your issues and the Green Party's 10 key values.
The partisanship in this campaign is not between Greens and Democrats. It is between those who want progressives on the city council and those who prefer conservatives. Large corporate donations and anti-environmentalists support the conservatives. The progressives are working people trying to ensure that everyone enjoys the riches of this society.
I ask that all progressive residents join with me to bring innovative new leadership to Seattle.
Curt Firestone, Candidate, Seattle City Council Position #4