TO THE EDITORS: Christopher Frizzelle's article "The Texas Chain Store Massacre" [May 8] doesn't tell us much. Lots of questions come to mind: How important is the life of a small, locally owned business to its community? How do we revitalize a neighborhood in transition like Capitol Hill? What makes for a good bookstore and why is that important to the residents of Capitol Hill, indeed, to the life of any urban population? Mr. Frizzelle doesn't work very hard to address any of these issues. Instead, he falls back on glib, callow generalizations. And he cruelly attempts to marginalize Jamie Lutton, owner of Twice Sold Tales, who has had an enormous effect on the pleasure Seattleites take from books for a number of years now.

There are many stories to be told here. It's too bad that none of them were explored. The article is a disservice to Capitol Hill residents. And it falls far short of The Stranger's usual standards.

Michael Wells,

Bailey/Coy Books


DEAR STRANGER: Hey, how can you say my store stinks? We change the cat boxes three times a day. Come in and sniff for yourself. Can't The Stranger get its facts right even on the simple stuff?

Jamie Lutton, Twice Sold Tales


TO THE EDITOR: How ironic that Jamie Lutton is decrying the end of independent businesses on Capitol Hill due to the expansion of Half Price Books. I walk down the Ave on my way home every day and notice that there were four used-book stores on this street before she expanded into the neighborhood. I wonder if Ms. Lutton asked all their permission before opening up shop at 45th and U-Way?

James, via e-mail


STRANGER: It comes as no surprise that the hiphop column is being written by some obnoxious new-jack college boy. Such is the way of things. I am under no illusion that such a position would ever be awarded to someone who has paid dues and is qualified to write about Seattle hiphop. But could you please select a different obnoxious new-jack college boy? Mr. Chesneau's writing is laughably poor and muddled--especially when the extent of the material is "This is what's going on, this is what's dope, this is what's wack." Please make it stop. The Seattle hiphop community deserves better.

Herman P. Williams


EDITORS: As a Tacoma native I was moved immediately to respond to Charles Mudede's article ["City of Destiny," May 8] the moment I read it, but not with the standard and expected type of "how dare you" response he has apparently received so often in the past. Rather, I would like to say to Mr. Mudede a very spirited "RIGHT THE FUCK ON!"

I was born and raised in Tacoma and I will tell you the thing that I love the most about it (and the thing that makes me reminisce about it in a quasi-mythological way now that I have moved on) is that you CAN shoot stumps as target practice without raising an eyebrow in a two-mile radius. In my tenure in Tacoma, my family has shot empty black-powder rifles to ring in the new year, heard meth labs blow up at 3:00 in the morning, and I, as a teenager, had multiple raging parties to which no police were ever alerted. And that, dear readers, is what Tacoma is all about. Build[ing] some museums and start[ing] a new convention center does not make you an urban center. (Every time I go home, my friends and I have to laugh and ask, "Who wants to hold a convention in Tacoma?") Tacoma is a working-class, down-home, great place to live and raise a family. Yes, we have a great community-theater scene, there are excellent restaurants everywhere, and our public library system is one of the best. That doesn't mean, however, that we are somehow a major metropolis.

Elenka Janegova, via e-mail


JENNIFER MAERZ: "Only a fool speaks of that which he does not know." Zak's USED TO BE a "punk haven" ["Crusty Treasure," May 8]. Now, with rare exceptions, it's just the hangout du jour for a bunch of wannabe "can't wait to tell my friends how daring and cool I am" scenesters. The REAL punks have long since moved on. To where? We know, but you and the rest of this poseur town are the LAST people in the world we'd tell!

The SDPC (Seattle Displaced Punk Coalition), via e-mail


DEAR STRANGER: It's really late, and I've been pacing all night. I've been thinking about your article on Zak's Fifth Ave. You know, the NEW punk bar. This letter isn't geared to "slam" Brian Foss or Jennifer Maerz. It's to INFORM you of a shitload of PUNK bands from here and abroad, who spilled their fucking guts out at Zak's for five fucking years before Mr. Foss took over booking duties from Troy. AND, about the bands who refused to play there because they were afraid to lose their Seattle rock 'n' roller seal of approval from the music police for entertaining all of us "low-life scum."

Have you ever been to Zak's on a Friday night, jumping around like a wild monkey while the Idol Threats are belting out "Blacked out, fucked up, WASTED!!!"??? I didn't think so. How about the Really Rottens? Watch out for that body that just flew through your table. Wait, that's not punk. How about Quick 66? SPLASH!! Here comes a pitcher of beer out of Ian's mouth!! EEwwww.... That's not punk. And check out Joey Pissdrunk. Sittin' at the bar lookin' all distinguished in his long overcoat like the bad mutha fucka he is. He's just keepin' it real, yelling, "YOU SUCK!!" at Old Man Smithers while they destroy every last piece of equipment they got. Not to mention Old Man Joe running around with blood squirting out of his head, laughing like a wild beast! OOoowwWWWwwWWwwww!!!! Nah. That shit ain't punk. Being an individual ain't punk. So I've compiled a list of bands who regularly showed up to play Zak's Fifth Ave. and splattered their BLOOD, GUTS, and BEERS all over those walls for five fucking years. And guess what. THEY ARE ALL PUNK ROCK BANDS!!!!

Bands: Agent 86; Old Man Smithers; Six Beer Bladder; Millhous; Flamethrower; the Deefs; the Schmidtaholics; Idol Threats; the Really Rottens; Quick 66; the HollowPoints; 26,000 Volts; the Cavity Creeps; the Seals Club; the Heavy Metal Faggots; Hell Monkeys; the Amazombies; Stampede; Ward-A; the Wannabes; Hung Dice; the Daryls; Bottles and Skulls; the Load Levelers; Undisputed Heavyweight Champions; Danarchy's Dick; DJ Royal Brohamms (sorry, no retarded big rock); Chief--and there's a shitload more.

These were the regulars. And they are all PUNK ROCK bands who saved Zak's from goin' down the shitter many, many times. This shit ain't new. These are bands that don't give a fuck what you think about their music, hair, or clothes. Or, for roughly five years, the bar they played in.

Jimmy Flame, via e-mail

JENNIFER MAERZ RESPONDS: Let me just make it clear that my article on Zak's current booker, Brian Foss, was not (a) a statement on what is punk in this city versus what is not, or (b) a complete history of Zak's and every band that's ever played the place. Either of those angles would make for a completely different article.

As anyone who read my piece should realize, the article was a profile of Foss, someone who has brought (and continues to bring, as long as Zak's stays afloat) a lot of good bands through the door of that place since starting there in August. My angle was to spotlight someone doing good work in this city, not to write a whole chapter on every facet of punk happening in Seattle, and just because I spotlight one booker/one bar doesn't mean there aren't other clubs/bookers doing good work as well.

The whole issue of "real punks" versus "scenester punks" is such bullshit when you're talking about it on the level of a bar like Zak's, and nitpicking about what's punk/who's more punk is a complete waste of time--the issue is the music, not the "cooler than thou" attitude that punk supposedly aims to leave to the squabbling hipsters--especially when I would hardly call groups like the Amazombies, the HollowPoints, or Mea Culpa, all of whom I've seen play Zak's, "scenesters."

We could all compile lists of what we think are good punk bands in this city and it wouldn't change the fact that Brian's booking talents are bringing a lot of good bands to Zak's. End of story.