DEAR EDITOR: It's always something with those poor corporate folks at Starbucks, isn't it? ["We're Banned," Pat Kearney, Sept 7.] They raise prices when world coffee prices are down by 40 percent. They're so lazy about getting their brand into national grocery stores that they sign a devil's distribution pact with Kraft, subsidiary of arch cancer purveyor Philip Morris. They push expansion of the chain to obsessive levels, knocking long-standing neighborhood coffee shops out of existence, then claim they need more "exposure." And now it's those pesky free newspapers "cluttering" the stores. Awww, gee. Somewhere along the line, Starbucks has forgotten why people frequent coffee shops to begin with. I wonder what Howie Schultz and his enforcers would do if I waltzed in and ordered a cookie, then sat down with a travel cup of Caffe Appassionato and proceeded to read my own free copy of the Ballard News or The Stranger.
Jef Jaisun, Bothell
EDITORS: I've been relatively happy with The Stranger as a local free paper since I moved to Seattle a month and a half ago--it's not quite what The Onion was to me in Madison, but that's perfectly fine as The Stranger offers more political insight. I was lucky enough to miss your infamous "Bones in the Garden" issue, but then wasn't quite lucky enough to miss Jeff DeRoche's article "When She Backs up She Beeps" [Music Quarterly, Aug 31]. When I began reading the article I had to wonder why someone would be writing an article about a decent band that died years ago with its drummer. After reading the article, I had to wonder why The Stranger bothered to include Mr. DeRoche's pointless bile. It seems like he was trying to make some ironic, humorous point in spewing out what few insults to both fat and thin people he could think up, while attributing the demise of Lush to Miki Berenyi's possible insult to Liz Fraser. The fact that this premise is moronic seems to be lost on Mr. DeRoche as he repeatedly stresses how fat Liz Fraser is (see the article's title) and makes a generally idiotic estimation of Lush's career. Please don't let this man write about bands he doesn't like ever again, or, should he turn against them, we'll have people reading that the reason the last Modest Mouse album didn't sell five million copies was because Isaac Brock once ate at a Jack in the Box and referred to the food as "tastier than fried chicken from a black man."
Ben Dagnon, Seattle
DEAR EDITOR: In response to the article "Vengeance Is Sublime!" by Rick Levin [Music Quarterly, Aug 31], I would like to point out some inaccuracies regarding the relationship between John and Paul. The song that is used as the basis for the article, "How Do You Sleep?," was written as a response to a picture on Paul's Ram album that depicted one beetle sodomizing another. Had Mr. Levin stopped rolling joints on Ram's gatefold cover for a moment, perhaps he would have gotten that joke. Another jab to Lennon on the Ram album was the song "Too Many People," where McCartney sings of his old songwriting partner, "Dear Boy, I hope you never know how much you missed me."
Mr. Levin calls John Lennon "nothing if not a responsible artist." Well, Mr. Levin, what kind of "responsible artist" allows Yoko Ono the opportunity to crowd up album side after album side with her wretched shrieking? Yes, Linda McCartney often shared the stage with her husband, but at least she was given easy, almost indecipherable keyboard parts. Most of John Lennon's post-Beatles catalog is awful.... Perhaps spending almost a decade switching back and forth from heroin to methadone to China White clouded John's judgment, but most [of his] albums were critical and commercial flops. Meanwhile, McCartney's Wings catalog greatly outsold the Beatles albums that preceded them. I dare Mr. Levin to re-expose himself to gems like "Venus and Mars" or "Band on the Run," and then compare them to the inferior Lennon albums like Sometime in New York City or Rock 'n' Roll.
Jack Mitz, via e-mail
DEAR EDITOR: I am one of the remaining 14 Beatles fans left in post-grunge Seattle, and I must take gentle umbrage with Rick Levin's literary/literate defense of John's primal screaming toward his collaborator in song and culture, Sir Paul. "Vengeance Is Mine"--or may be--but forgiveness and perspective are all, in my humble opinion. If only one can accept them. McCartney's loving answer to the contradictions of John's transparent rock-and-roller life is summed up nicely and melodically in his "Here Today" cut on the Tug of War album. A silly love song? And imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as Nietzsche's evil twin once noted: So go listen to Lennon's "Cold Turkey" single and then listen to McCartney's "Let Me Roll It," released shortly after. You definitely have a point, Rick. But it doesn't end there--not in Beatleland anyway. And yes, still, all we need is love....
James Warren, Des Moines, WA
EDITORS: Congratulations to Kathleen Wilson on the fine hatchet job she did on the Las Vegas Shakedown ["Festival of Shit," Aug 31]. Her judgment of the Gold Coast as sleazy and depressing could not have been more off base. I found the hotel rooms to be quite nice.
According to Kathleen, the bands from the Northwest saved Vegas Shakedown from being a total "Festival of Shit." I suppose by Northwest bands, she means those cute boys from the Murder City Devils and the Catheters whose names she can't keep from dropping. If the bands from the Northwest saved the festival, why no mention of ass-kickin' Valentine Killers? Probably either, (A) Not her friends, or (B) Not cute enough for her to notice. Don't get me wrong, I like the Catheters and the Murder City Devils quite a bit, but Wilson's doe-eyed fawning over them is making even that a chore. The bands she dissed were all name bands, easy targets (Nashville Pussy, the Donnas). Why no mention of the really good bands, like the Dictators, Real Kids, Lazy Cowgirls, the Onyas, the Von Zippers, Throwrag, Flash Express, Horrors, Necessary Evils, and Andre Williams?
It's almost as if Kathleen knew she was going to trash the event before seeing any of the bands. Hell, I'll admit a majority of the bands were not great. A lot of them were mediocre at best, but I enjoyed most of them for what they were and had a damn good time, as did everyone I knew or met while there.
The Gold Coast Avenger, Seattle
EDITORS: In the interview with Dave Meinert ["Dancing Lessons," Aug 31], Mayor Schell alludes to the need to "give comfort to the parents" of kids under 15. Shouldn't parents be deciding where and when their children can go out? A supervised dance is a safe alternative to hanging out on the street, inventing ways to entertain oneself. I also find it disturbing that the mayor could veto a measure he knew so little about, regulating a culture that he clearly doesn't even attempt to understand. The "problem" venues and incidences he bases his reservations on don't even seem to exist. As a young adult not quite a month away from my 21st birthday, I look back at my teen years in the Seattle area with some disappointment. I think of all the bands my friends and I wanted to see, and places we wanted to go dance at, but couldn't because we were too young. There were many Friday nights spent contemplating the mall, the movies (again), or cable. We also entertained ourselves with alcohol and drugs. It seems to me that going dancing would have been a much healthier, useful alternative.
Jessica Barkas, Seattle
DEAR EDITOR: Isn't it amazing just how out of touch our public officials are in this city? ["Dancing Fool," Aug 31.] When Mayor Schell vetoed the All-Ages Dance Ordinance, he dismissed an 18-month process that he had endorsed. Considering my previous experiences with several "citizen's panels" (the Noise Ordinance Panel, the Music and Youth Task Force, the Mayor's Arts Task Force, etc.), I should not have been surprised to hear about Schell's opposition. It has become clear to me that most of our city's mothers and fathers have no interest in encouraging citizen participation in local governance. Nor are they, for the most part, supportive of efforts to improve the local culture. We are in danger of becoming the laughingstock of the world as our city continues to ignore the concerns of minority and poor communities, as well as artists, musicians, and citizens living "alternative lifestyles."
Mark Taylor-Canfield, Seattle
EDITOR'S NOTE: We neglected to mention last week that Samantha Shapiro's wonderful feature about Israel ["The Department of Lost Objects," Sept 7] was originally published by an upstart website called Open Letters (www.openletters.net). Check it out. It's cool.