DEAR EDITORS: As a devout Mormon and avid Stranger reader (such a person must exist somewhere in Seattle), I have to say "well done" to your new column, "Clean Your Tongue with Brigham Young" [Aug 16]. You guys are doing a wonderful job at getting under the skin of every religion around. I laughed and laughed over that one as well as "Sexy , Sexy Mormon Girl." Keep it up, but beware of the conservative Baptists; they don't seem to know how to take a joke.
Brad Hawkins, via e-mail
HEY GUYS: In her article on the sad state of painting ["Why Most Painting is Bad," Aug 16], Emily Hall writes: "Meghan Trainor's investigation into the consequences and biology of the genome project has found its latest form in a set of 23 cubes that tie together who we are biologically with who we are culturally (the human gene has 23 chromosomes)."
First off, a set of chromosomes is called a genome, not a gene; genes are units of DNA found inside the chromosomes. Second, a typical human genome contains 46 chromosomes, not 23--although they are arranged in pairs, so if you're just skimming the Biology for Dummies book, it's easy to miscount. Third, what the heck does this have to do with art? You want to see some nice paint jobs, go check out the Pigs on Parade: they're cute, they're funny, and you don't have to know the first thing about animal husbandry in order to enjoy them.
Matt Ruff, Seattle
DEAR EMILY HALL: Thank you for last week's article on the difficulties of painting ["Why Most Painting is Bad," Emily Hall, Aug 16]. It was admirable of you to tackle the subject.
We can view art as progression, as "evolutionary arcs," as you say, implying that it always grows [and gets] better. Or, we can see art as a human activity which does not necessarily follow, and sometimes betrays, the ever onward, upward course with which modern history flatters itself. I agree with you that art must push against our limits, but our limits are many--and many of them lie exactly in those places we think we "know very well."
Marion Peck, artist, via e-mail
EMILY HALL: The "English" word for "theater" is theater [In Arts News, Aug 23]. That applies to the BUILDING or ARENA where the performance is taking place. The ACTIVITY which takes place there is "theatre."
This would be in English-English AND American-English. Oh, and thank you for the pissy quip about the IRA... ever think it might be the UVF? They have their knickers in a twist these days, too.
Mary Jane M. Gibbons, Fine Arts major, college graduate, and Irish Republican
EDITORS: This letter is in regards to the piece about On the Boards written by Bret Fetzer [In Arts News, Aug 16]. Perhaps Fetzer didn't know that Mark Murphy has been artistic director for 16 years, and that over the last few seasons, OTB has seen less-than-enthusiastic attendance and subscription renewal while other arts organizations have increased ticket sales. Could the programming have something to do with that? One wonders if perhaps Mark Murphy's [preference for] booking the same performers year after year rather than searching out and finding new talent led to the current situation.
Fetzer's involvement with OTB's Studio Series also casts a shadow over his comments and guesswork. He writes that the "immediate response of the artistic community is largely one of depression." This begs the question of when the artistic community sat down, talked amongst themselves about the situation, and then called Fetzer and said that they were "largely depressed." Since he is part of this community, one must question his objectivity as a reporter.
The fact remains that with declining attendance and regurgitated performances, OTB rightfully decided that the priority would be to stay in business rather than massage egos and continue down a path that was proving to be very detrimental to the organization.
Bret: Please stick to guessing about issues and hyperbole in regards to OTB's Studio Series. When you know both sides of the story, then you won't need to rely on the journalist's crutch of guesswork, hyperbole, and perhaps even a conflict of interest. A professional writer doesn't need to make oblique references to "artistic community" and "damage" and "differences" and other gossip-column estimations. A professional writer would simply report on the story and not have a slant or angle--which is obviously not the case here.
William Geach, On the Boards patron for eight years, via e-mailBRET FETZER RESPONDS: Please see my news article on page 10 for a broader discussion of the situation. However, there are a couple of points to be addressed here: (1) Over the past three years, more than 50 percent of the programming of the New Performance series at On the Boards has been artists who had never performed at On the Boards before; and of the artists who have been "regurgitated," most of them--such as Spalding Gray, Pat Graney, and Wim Vandekeybus--presented some of the best attended shows in their respective seasons. Furthermore, it's to be expected that, over 22 years, an increasing percentage of the performances would be returning artists; isn't forming relationships with artists, both local and international, part of what On the Boards is about? (2) Yes, I potentially have a program in the Studio Series, in collaboration with Juliet Waller; this is unaffected by whether or not Murphy is there, as both Managing Director Diane Ragsdale and interim Studio Series Director Andy Jensen have informed me of their intention to honoring Murphy's agreements. If anything, I'm risking that agreement by questioning the actions of the board. That does not, to my mind, qualify as a conflict of interest. Incidentally, I've been an On the Boards patron for 14 years.
EDITORS: Someone should wake Charles Mudede up from his dream that he's a writer ["Bad Dreams," Aug 23]. His complete ignorance concerning the significance of the works of Buñuel, Dali, and Kafka (a surrealist?), as well as surrealism in general, would be laughable if not for the sad fact that some people actually take your paper seriously.
I guess I might be angry like him if all my dreams revolved around dark closets, incestuous episodes, and dead relatives. If I were Mudede, I would be looking for a good therapist instead of criticizing what I don't understand. In his "article," he writes that "nothing is worse than being subjected to a sequence of silly situations that add up to nothing." Well that's how I feel every time I read your paper.
Rusty Sprinkler, via e-mail
CHARLES MUDEDE: I was completely amazed and horrified by "Blast Off" [Aug 23]. I am so happy that someone has brought these events to a public surface. To think that I ever enjoyed a Disney movie makes me want to vomit. I've never heard even a hint of the facts you discussed. Our government does rotten things all the time, but this really tops anything I've ever heard about.
Jennifer Levinson, via e-mail
EDITOR: Rebecca Brown says, "Playwright Michael Frayn may be best known in the U.S. as the author of Copenhagen..." ["Brit Lit Hit," Aug 23]. Maybe, if your theatrical memory only goes back to last year. Frayn's far more famous play, the frenzied and amazing Noises Off, won both the Tony and the Drama Desk award for Best Play, as did Copenhagen. Noises Off, though, became a major-release motion picture (if an inept and badly miscast one, with Carol Burnett and John Ritter as lovers--eew). It's currently running in London, and is scheduled to reopen on Broadway this fall. That's one of the dangers of doing all your research on Yahoo.
Jeff Resta, via e-mail
Although Michael Frayn's Noises Off was nominated at both awards ceremonies, it did not win the Drama Desk Award or the Tony Award for Best Play in 1984. --Eds.
EDITOR: All is not gloom on Broadway. The Deluxe still serves the best Cobb salad in Seattle, and not every young person is asking for alms. Picture this: Two old men walking on Broadway after supper at the Deluxe, when a happy young man, sans tattoos, baggy pants, and facial hardware, smiles and says, "Good evening, youngsters." This greeting made our day. We will be back to Broadway.