TO THE EDITOR: I love A. Birch Steen. Please bring him back! So witty, so scathing; a brutish, bitter note to balance The Stranger's sweet tones.

Kristin Gannon

EDITORS: How on earth do a bunch of business and society folk involved in ConWorks as essentially hobbyists have the power to eject the founder who devoted his life to the organization and who was the soul and the brain of the place ["Artless Leadership," Christopher Frizzelle, Feb 17]? Why do they have any role whatsoever in this organization, let alone such outrageous power? How do they steal a man's life and work out from under him and then waltz off with the dazzling stick-up-our-ass flair of Krieg, tossing off buzzwords and vague, meaningless corporate phrases? The question has to be asked: Who do these people think they are? And why can they get away with this crap?

Dana Sweeney

DEAR STRANGER: Not too long ago, ConWorks held a lecture called, "When Things Die." It was about arts organizations that cease to exist and the lessons learned. Maybe the board should have attended. It seems like arts-management lesson number one: Don't piss off and disregard the community that supports you. It seems like ConWorks is already dead. At least to me it is.

Please keep us all up-to-date on this story. The mere fact that the ConWorks website isn't updated is enough proof that the board has no idea what it is doing.

Jessica Obrist

STRANGER: I will no longer support or play at ConWorks. It's impossible for me to believe that anyone who helped Matt make ConWorks so successful over the years would continue to participate at all.

Ron Carnell

HEY, ANONYMOUS: I can understand why you thought it was important to hide behind anonymity when you chose to call out a person who was murdered vs. writing a letter to The Stranger that might have your name in it [I Anonymous, Feb 17]. What would your friends (if you have any) and neighbors think of you if they knew what a callous asshole you are?

Nicole duFresne had once been raped, and maybe she decided that she wasn't going to be a victim again. None of us can know for sure what she was thinking or how it all went down. But rather than just chortle at what you regard as a bad decision, how about some fucking empathy for someone who was victimized twice--once in a way that can crush a person's spirit, and once in a way that silences them forever.

And Stranger, while I support the I, Anonymous concept, when the identity of the person the message is intended for is so obvious, and when a tragedy involving loss of life is involved, it seems like you could've just chosen another letter where someone confesses to using their roommate's boyfriend's toothbrush to clean the toilet.

Bob Rousseau

TO THE EDITOR: After reading this week's I, Anonymous, I am in agreement with one thing: Perhaps you should consider abolishing the column altogether. I am all for free speech. And I believe we should have the courage to get behind our words and our actions. Saying something presumptuous and hateful about someone who lived her life "balls-to-the-wall-brave" (to quote Tamara Paris' review of Nicole's co-collaboration with Mary Jane Gibson, "Burning Cage") is cowardly and callous.

You want to start a debate about whether or not we should fight back against people who use guns to terrorize other people? Fine. I think it's a worthy topic. But what does it say about you, I wonder, that you respond to Nicole's death with such sarcasm and superiority? Perhaps it just says you didn't know her, so you don't really care. You can afford to be removed and flippant. But if you are Charles Mudede, that wouldn't matter, apparently, even if she were your sister.

Although it's easier to say that when it's hypothetical, isn't it?

Which brings me to the next thing: blaming Nicole. Blaming Nicole for being angry that this stranger had just beaten her boyfriend and was terrorizing her best friend. Blaming Nicole for being right. Because she was. That boy had no right. Does that not matter to anyone? He walked up to this group of strangers and demanded their money, and threatened and physically assaulted them. He was wrong. Why aren't we blaming Rudy Fleming for shooting her? Why aren't we blaming the person who sold this kid a gun? Why aren't we blaming a culture that makes it so easy to get your hands on a weapon? Why aren't we blaming the gun makers? Or an administration that panders to the NRA?

It's interesting that the person who submitted this rant about Nicole feels the need to do so anonymously. He doesn't even have the courage to sign his name to his declaration of smugness. He may not die the way she did, but how is he living? I think that is the more interesting question. How are we all living? Do any of us have such conviction that we are willing to put our lives on the line for what we believe? Nicole did. It's one of the things we loved about her. It's why we were inspired by her. It's why she lived more fully in her 28 years than most people ever will. And she's being used as an example of why we should not be brave. Because courage can cost you your life.

Yes. But so can cowardice.

Dina Maugeri

TO THE EDITOR: I found it interesting that Mr. Mudede stated Nicole [duFresne] "said something stupid that got her shot" [Last Days, Feb 17].

Thanks, Mr. Mudede, for informing us all that if you're a white woman, getting too uppity means your murder is your own fault. Of course if you're a black man you can be a gun-wielding psycho, and if you end up dead as a result, you are the victim. Did Mr. Mudede ever make such strongly worded criticisms of the numerous (dead) African American men of shitty character who were shot as a result of their actions and have elicited protests over the years in Seattle? If a writer at The Stranger had made such similar flippant remarks, such as saying that the African American man who was dragged to death in Texas "got himself killed" by selling bunk drugs to his friends, they would be fired. Yeah, Nicole got killed because she mouthed off and refused to cower. The same could be said for Emmett Till. In reality, that dumb quote was just Mr. Mudede's Trent Lott moment.

Suzanne Farrelle

TO THE EDITOR: For a good joke, go to www.caseycorr.com and click on "Corr Values."

Bill McCorkle

DEAR HIPMONGERS: I am still undecided. Zac Pennington's Doctrine on "Fabricating the Great Indie Rock Hope" ["It's Totally Bob Dylan," Feb 17] was either a stirring '99 thesis directed at your trivial hipster cum-rag of a city paper or just a cheap, fail-safe attempt to wipe his hands clean of young talent inevitably diving head-long into the laps of pop culture. Either way, I'm sure it burst that seemingly impervious and ultra cool bubble many of your readers walk around in. I'm new in town, so please fill me in: When did you people become the self-proclaimed IRA (Indie Rock Authority)? I bet it was the day JCPenny started selling "pre-manipulated" flannel shirts. Just a guess. To be fair though, I find your agile ability to chew up and subsequently spit out talent once it rears it's photogenic face quite impressive. Unfortunately, what you fail to realize as you trot around Seattle on that high fucking horse of cool, is that you are just as guilty of exposing and exploiting these indie rock debutantes as magazines such as Spin. Admit it, you have helped create these skinny, melodramatic, second-hand-clothes-wearing monsters with boyish good looks; NOW DEAL WITH IT.

I'm not quite sure if Mr. Pennington's piece was righteous or reprehensible. Either way, fuck Bob Dylan.

N. A. G.

TO THE EDITORS: When a once-obscure band becomes suddenly big, we can always count on The Stranger to appoint some disappointed "critic" the duty of writing the article telling us (1) how the writer has been listening to them BEFORE they were popular, probably since before the reader has even heard of them, and (2) how they suck now. Thank you, Stranger, for being one of those constants we can count on in this crazy, chaotic world we live in. You guys really ARE the coolest.

Michael Moscheck

DEAR EDITOR: I have been fascinated with the Messages from "the Messenger," Jeff Fairhall. The dude is touched, and probably loaded (money for those full-page ads). He's outlining various pieces of NEW Age conspiracy theory (but hasn't touched on the Grays or Reptilian Agenda (á la David Icke), and while I don't agree with everything he's come up with, it's fascinating to consider.

I'm intrigued. Is there any way to contact the Messenger via a website or e-mail?

Curious Reader

EDITOR'S NOTE: Readers can contact Jeff Fairhall at www.isaacsword.com.

TO DAVID SCHMADER AND THE EDITORS: Mr. Schmader's article on Michael Jackson ["Among the Faithful," Feb 17] asks the right questions. Are artists and their work separable entities? Can a great criminal create great art? Are we allowed, in good conscience, to celebrate the work of a criminal, a man whose actions in other arenas of his life are reprehensible? Michael Jackson may be the supreme embodiment of these questions in our lifetime, but there have been others before.

In the 1930s and 1940s, a German master conductor staked his early career on identifying himself as the human manifestation of German musical superiority. Herbert von Karajan, one of the greatest musicians of all time, registered early with the Nazi Party, and lent his image and persona to the propaganda machine of the Third Reich. After the war, he never publicly apologized.

A serious record collector cannot avoid von Karajan's work--he is one of the supreme exponents of the Austro-German canon, and several dozens of his recordings from the '50s to the '80s are benchmarks. I avoided him for years, until I needed a great recording of Arnold Schönberg's "Verklarte Nacht." Von Karajan's vintage recording has been the best for over three decades, and my conscience was calmed knowing that my first von Karajan record would be of music by a self-exiled Austrian Jew.

On a larger scale, the whole Nazi movement begs the questions you ask of Jackson. How could a culture so artistically sophisticated create the Holocaust? Polanski's film The Pianist probes these questions superbly. After surviving the genocide, our hero plays a concert in Berlin, shown during the closing credits. What does he play? A Mozart concerto.

Josef Krebs

DEAR R. J. C.: If it offends you to read The Stranger [Letters, Feb 17], may I suggest that you stop? If you must, however, and since you feel compelled to share your anger with the rest of us, let me offer a rejoinder to your comments. I have had enough of Christians scolding everyone else like shrill governesses.

Neither the staff nor the readers of The Stranger (Christian and non-Christian alike) are well-served by your ill-mannered rant; perhaps reflecting on Christ's love for you would lead you to have more love and respect for those who don't believe in Jesus, or the Christian God, or God in general. Strictly speaking, after all, from the Christian standpoint, what matters is not "what you did for Christ," it's what Christ did for you. Also, writing in CAPS for emphasis is lame.

I mention all this only because we share initials. If there's one thing I dislike more than Christians yelling at people to believe, it's people thinking the Christian doing the yelling is me.

Robert J. Cantoni

TO THE EDITOR: You guys need to find errors better in your paper. This week's Up & Coming More section has shows from the February 6, 2003 Stranger, exactly the same as it was written then. I got all excited for the shows, but then noticed the dates were all fucked up. Thanks! I don't know if it was done on purpose or not, but that's a pretty sick joke. Just thought you should know.

Sydni Gibson

DAN SAVAGE RESPONDS: A production error resulted in a year-old "More" box running in last week's Up & Coming section. We would like to apologize to Sydni and everyone else out there who got excited about shows that it's way too late to see.