PAT KEARNEY: Good job on the TV news [story]. ["Spin Sauce," Pat Kearney, March 1.] Those KOMO, KING, and KIRO newscasts are such nauseating celebrations of ignorance that only the vapid, under-educated narcissists [who sit at] the anchor desks could stand to present them to people.
Doug Edelstein, via e-mail
THE STRANGER: Seeking a way to work at home as a stay-at-home dad, I chanced upon an industry known as the "clip service," a trade devoted to gathering and selling features from TV news to clients--most of whom, as pointed out by Pat Kearney, are public relations firms representing the entire Fortune 500. Our essential task is to compile and market advertising-agency-produced videotapes and transcripts of "news" to P.R. firms, corporations, and governments. Although I appreciate the (relatively) easy money, the wear on my mind often compels an otherwise intelligent guy to hit the Vicodin as an ersatz form of therapy. My frustration stems from the undeniable realization that TV news has been... merged with the sales department. As Kearney correctly posits, 40 to 60 percent of TV news is a sales pitch.
TV news is a diet of goulash dished up for all from the same corporate sources, augmented with worthless fillers.
Robert Glenn, Edmonds
EDITORS: In "Mo' Money" [In Arts News, March 1], Jamie Hook has taken complex arts issues and reduced them with skewed, oversimplified statements. Hook takes the King County Arts Commission to task for funding certain digital media equipment to local arts organizations. While I agree that it would be a help if more money came from corporate sources like Microsoft, I disagree with his cries of "redundancy" and "Is it really so hard to share?" Is this his own special trickle-down theory of government subsidies? Give money to the "established" nonprofit organizations, and they will serve all the people? If we read between the lines of his casual quips, WigglyWorld/ Northwest Film Forum would be the only film nonprofit in Seattle to receive public funding. His opinions, casually tossed about, become potentially dangerous to the arts community. His editorial comments serve to support established institutions at the expense of other arts organizations and their need to fulfill their mission. It is every nonprofit's responsibility to share--but how public money for fixed assets is adjudicated, and who has a "right" to use these publicly funded assets, are bigger issues and demand a more detailed conversation.
Nikki Appino, Artistic Director, House of Dames Productions
JAMIE HOOK RESPONDS: You misread my brief editorial. I did not take the King County Arts Commission "to task"; I congratulated it for distributing money and singled out a few of the more interesting projects it funded to praise. I remain critical, however, of the larger consumerist system that puts arts organizations in competition with each other for digital technologies that are by design redundant, expensive, and quickly obsolete. I did not criticize King County so much as I noted the situation to be sad. House of Dames is an "established" nonprofit organization in its own right, with a nine-year history of producing challenging, original, and often quite excellent work in Seattle: It has every right to apply for and use assets funding as it sees fit.
TO THE EDITOR: Public Health-- Seattle & King County applauds The Stranger for helping to publicize the dangers of syphilis ["Dangers of Our Modern World: Trading Card Series," March 1]. King County is in the midst of an epidemic of syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases, primarily affecting men who have sex with men. Every alert to the dangers of STDs is welcome. Unfortunately, the statement that syphilis cannot be cured is a serious error, one that may be alarming to many people who have been infected in the current outbreak. Syphilis is easily treated and cured with penicillin or other antibiotics. However, once complications occur, sometimes they cannot be reversed. Prompt, early treatment is essential. Readers with questions about syphilis or other STDs may contact Public Health's HIV/STD hotline at (206) 205-STDs, or go to our STD program website at www.metrokc.gov/ health/apu/std/index.htm.
H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D., Director, STD Control Program, Public Health--Seattle & King County
TRACI VOGEL: Thanks for your elegant account of the mariachi experience ["Que Venga la Noche," Music Quarterly, March 1]. During the Cerventino cultural festival in Guanajuato last October, I wandered along the packed streets with my Mexican cohorts in a deep tequila stupor. A group of teenagers with a broken guitar distracted us long enough for us to join them in singing. The songs were sloppy and shouted, and came from the youths' collective memory of their parents dancing in kitchens and courtyards to Vicente Fernandez and Jose Jose. Within 20 minutes we were marching through the streets, collecting anybody who knew the songs. From corner to corner in the downtown plaza, every mouth screamed the old melodies in ecstatic unison while new hands grabbed for the guitar between each verse.
Mariachi evokes much more than the sadness of lost love or forgotten homelands. The thundering voices and eruptive horns weigh down upon me. These songs aren't learned in the bedrooms of broken-hearted 15-year-olds. They are the culmination of an entire people's simultaneous eruption of emotion. The pain evoked in these songs is not an individual matter; it is shared by everyone who grew up hearing and feeling this music.
Benjamin Wildenhaus, Olympia
EDITORS: Nathan Thornburgh thinks that responsible, descriptive journalism [means] having the license to use words like "shit" and "fuck" and say things like "cheap steaks and other cheese-covered delights" to [sufficiently] cover one of the most extensive menus around [Club Directory Box, March 1]. The difference between humorous, honest reporting and unreasonably belittling someone's job and workplace (and perhaps costing them income and business) might be something that needs to be on the agenda at the next staff meeting of The Stranger, whose one redeeming quality at this point may be having the balls to print this letter.
The cafe, by the way, is the Hurricane Cafe. The lounge is the Beach Bar, and our fine staff welcome The Stranger's readers and staff to come on in to our "shithole location" and form their own opinion.
Peyton Coffin, Seattle
EDITORS: Over the past few weeks, my fervently frequent film viewing has fallen into an almost non-existent lull. The Stranger is at least in part, if not entirely, responsible for this dramatic downturn in my movie-going. Recently, your Movie Times page has featured such grotesquely horrifying and disturbing photos, I have been unable to check showtimes without promptly seeking therapy.
James Adamson, Seattle
JENNIFER VOGEL: I can't believe the incredibly poor judgment demonstrated by The Stranger in publishing last week's I, Anonymous ["A Modest Proposal," March 8], which called for the murder of Seattle's homeless. There is a line between good journalism and sensationalism, and you crossed it. After talking with you, I understand that you believe this is a wake-up call to your readership that there are people out there who feel hatred toward homeless people. Although I feel sure that most readers are appalled and completely opposed to the violence called for in this piece, many people do feel angry, hostile, and judgmental when approached by people on the street. Homeless people and advocates are constantly struggling against hostile media stories and inaccurate information. When we talked, you asked me if I really thought someone would read the column and kill someone. Maybe. Each year there are senseless and brutal murders and rapes of homeless people. But even if it does not immediately put the idea into someone's head, it is dangerous. I think The Stranger is responsible for feeding the hate, not ending it.
Erin Katz, Seattle
EDITOR JENNIFER VOGEL RESPONDS: This column rankled homeless advocates across the city. And I can see why. Taken literally, it's offensive and downright ugly. That's why it was important to publish it. I, Anonymous is one of the only places in our paper where people can air their secret, sometimes horrible, thoughts. While I certainly don't agree with what the column said--The Stranger's coverage of low-income and homeless issues should make that clear--I'd rather these thoughts become part of a dialogue than be kept buried deep and festering.
DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS: In last week's Club Directory Box [March 8], the photo of Al's Tavern was taken by Bootsy Holler, not Annie Marie Musselman. We regret the error.