DEAR STRANGER: I read your publication every week. I know that advertising is what makes it happen, but stuffing in an AOL CD?
AOL has done enough to destroy this planet. Congratulate yourselves for contributing, jerks! You suck!
THANKS FOR SHARING
DEAR KATHLEEN WILSON: Thank you for the David Lee Roth interview ["Eyebrows to the Soul," June 26]. I always enjoy hearing what Diamond Dave's got to say. Here's a Van Halen anecdote that you might enjoy:
The first time I listened to Van Halen's first album in its entirety was in Anacortes, during Christmas break 1978. Three high-school buddies and I rocked out to it in my friend Johnny's bedroom, not realizing that the music on this extraordinary album was transforming each of us into something akin to the Hulk. We were all good kids, mind you--popular athlete-scholar-stoners in the Dazed and Confused tradition. Johnny lived near the garbage dump, and after the album finished playing, we set out whooping and hollering battle cries across the snowy ground on the way to the dump. We weren't high and hadn't had anything to drink, but we somehow decided it would be a good idea to set fire to the dump guy's metal shed. So we torched it, then stood around and watched in horror as it burned to the ground. We never got caught, but the four of us will never forget the day we became "Van Halenized."
Anonymous, via e-mail
DEAR MIN: I know you're not from here, but it's considered completely racist to refer to The Jeffersons in any way, in any article about black people [Chow, June 26]. This is a stereotype and you, I'm sure, are more intelligent than to use stereotypes about black people in your articles.
It's bad enough that The Stranger rarely has articles about black people other than for crime or entertainment purposes. But you need to watch the way you portray black people. You wouldn't want to be just like every other white-owned newspaper in this country, writing with blinders on, spewing out stereotypes like jizz and completely oblivious to the fact.
Personally, I stopped reading The Stranger on a regular basis because of the fact that I don't see myself reflected in the paper at all. But when someone sent me an article about the lovely Ms. Helen and I read "the Jeffersons" in the first paragraph, I just felt that twinge--I mean, it's just as if you had compared her to Aunt Jemima. Ignorant!
MIN LIAO RESPONDS: The Jeffersons comment in that article was clearly not a comparison about Ms. Helen, or black people in general. In my intro, I wrote that simple recipes "have the potential to go the way of The Jeffersons, and 'move on up.'" The Jeffersons reference was about how certain food items--and last time I checked, food items cannot be considered race-specific--will get the upscale treatment from ambitious chefs. There was no mention at all of Ms. Helen in that part of the article, so I'm not really sure what stereotype you're talking about. But I appreciate your insightful thoughts about racism; I suppose the first sentence in your letter--"I know you're not from here"--could be misconstrued and taken the wrong way, but I'm not offended at all. Jumping to conclusions about such an innocent comment would be reactionary and irrational, right?
EDMUND WHITE = FRED PHELPS
STRANGER: Edmund White's article is one of the worst I've read in your paper ["Appropriate Stupidity," June 26]. While he begs for persecution in the hope that gays would be forced into some old perceived stereotype (which was never the norm in any era), others are just trying to get equal rights so we can be ourselves. I think he's missing the obvious: Being gay means you have sex with others of your own gender--and that's it. Gay Pride = No Shame, NOT "I'm more learned, cultured, and attractive than non-gays." Queers like White don't seem to understand what "Celebrate Diversity" means. They're separatists, and they help block advancements in gay rights as much as Jesse Helms and Fred Phelps do.
DEAR EMILY HALL: I am so glad I read your review of art glass exhibitions ["Glass My Ass," June 19]. After the Olympics last year, some rich people here in Salt Lake City decided we should keep the Chihuly; now it's sitting there in the lobby of Symphony Hall looking out-of-place and expensive. I wonder how long it will be before some Mormon rams a baby stroller into it.
Sure, the sculpture is pretty, and it's big, and delicate, and all that. But the gentry's response to it ("Isn't that just gorgeous? And it's all glass: Isn't that amazing? Let's buy it!") represented everything that's wrong with art patrons. They've got $650,000 to spend on a Chihuly, but when it comes time to fund real, dynamic programs encouraging the development of local artists, the checkbooks stay closed.
Every time I look at it, I think, "Yep, it's glass." But it wasn't until I read your review that I realized how precious, how vapid it is: It's another piece about its own medium. Like those large wheel-thrown teacups on nonremovable ceramic pedestals ("Yep, it's big"). Like Vangelis music ("Yep, it's electronic"). An etching of the Lord's Prayer on a grain of rice doesn't take up nearly as much space, and it's much easier to dust.
Reading your review made me remember that art should be at least capable of being more than self-referential, even if it doesn't strive to be so. Thanks very much.
Brandon Burt, Salt Lake Cityl
24,536th MONORAIL CRITIC TO USE TERM "ONE-TRACK MIND" IN A LETTER
TO THE EDITOR: No one should be surprised at the Seattle Monorail Project's lack of commitment to its own stated pledge of openness and transparency ["Ironic Meeting," Erica C. Barnett, June 19]. Anyone who remembers board chair Tom Weeks' short tenure on the city council finds his tactics blunting public comment all too familiar. Then-Council Member Weeks engaged in similar actions to promote his friend (now SMP's executive director) Joel Horn's twice-failed Seattle Commons project. What a shock that he's now doing the same thing on a board he helped compose of mostly personal friends, compliant ETC holdovers, and unquestioning mono supporters, almost all of whom lack any experience in large-scale capital construction projects.
Nor should it come as a surprise that the retreat "in lieu of [July's] board meeting" was held on two days' notice 70 miles away in La Conner. Why a board retreat in La Conner? Perhaps they got tired of hearing me and others repeatedly complain about the onerous public comment rules at prior board meetings, among other things. At least board member Cindi Laws spoke out in support of the public on this issue.
Monorail supporters, with their one-track "just build it" mentality, will undoubtedly complain that this is a trivial issue. Hardly: The success of any public project rests directly on the public's trust in the project management's openness and honesty (see Sound Transit). If the board and staff are willing to go this far just to keep the public from a convenient comment period, meeting access, and internal board debate, what will they do with the really tough issues, such as the growing debacle over Seattle Center?