It must be the delayed effects of the endless rain and bitter cold we've been enduring over the last couple of months, because something is bringing out the worst in people when it comes to postering around this city.
Kristin Finstad, one-half of Double Dutch Promotions, was recently told by Sudden Printing President Ron Bristol that the company would not print flyers for the next edition of Members Only, the popular bi-monthly event that Finstad and her partner Amy Dials throw at the Baltic Room. When Finstad submitted the artwork created by Canadian artist Danni Vachon, the Baltic Room received this e-mail response from Bristol: "I have decided not to quote this poster as I consider it offensive material. Thanks for thinking of us."
Aside from the fact that simply refusing to print the poster is unsettling, it seems odd that Sudden Printing had no problem printing the previous Members Only flyer—one that also included mention of DJ Fucking in the Streets. As of press time, Bristol had not responded to my requests for comment. Unsurprisingly, Finstad and Dials wasted no time in notifying the community about Sudden Printing's actions, and efforts for a grassroots boycott campaign are underway. Finstad has since taken her business to the infinitely more open-minded folks at C-K Graphics.
An even more disturbing development is the increasingly strong-arm techniques being deployed by Poster Giant, a local company that provides postering services for clubs like El Corazón, the Showbox, Neumo's, and Chop Suey (for a fee, PG plasters public surfaces like telephone poles and kiosks with the club or promoter's posters). Complaints from smaller promoters who cannot afford PG's services (or simply prefer their own DIY approach) are on the rise. Promoters and DJs like DJ Scorpio (who throws Psychotronic every Monday at Kincora) and Marcus Wilson (mastermind behind Comeback) say they've seen their flyers torn down or postered over by PG employees, sometimes weeks before their events have taken place. Wilson's belief that PG has been monopolizing these public advertising spaces was heightened last Friday, when one of Wilson's good friends saw a PG employee who was postering and also, suspiciously, had a large trash bag full of freshly discarded posters, including some for Wilson's upcoming Comeback night.
Reportedly things had gotten particularly ugly earlier that day when Wilson claims he was threatened with a staple gun by the same PG employee after confronting him about tearing down Comeback posters. Wilson voiced his heated opinion about PG on his MySpace site over the weekend: "I know some of you use Poster Giant, and I know they are convenient, but I think you should consider how totally fucked up and unethical their business practices are. They now act as if they own the public utility poles, and make it a habit of tearing down or 'clear-cutting' all posters on the poles... this is unfair, environmentally atrocious... and promotes a general lack of respect and distrust amongst promoters and venues."
When I called Poster Giant, office manager Caitlyn Moore confirmed that a contractor of theirs had an altercation with Wilson, but said he had not threatened Wilson and claimed that Wilson had been the aggressor. "I've discussed this at length with [the contractor] and I believe him [when he says we didn't threaten Wilson]."
As to Wilson's MySpace post, Moore says: "We poster like everybody posters, we're not the only game in town. Everybody just goes out there and tries to get their stuff up. Everybody posters over everybody."
Frankly, in a city that has historically fostered a supportive scene with a healthy sense of friendly competition, such an ugly standoff is disheartening.
In much more encouraging news, I love the Fucking Eagles. This is not an endorsement of a twisted Don Henley project, but a recommendation for a new Tacoma band I encountered via KEXP's Sonic Reducer show. Sounding like a more abrasive and chaotic version of Reigning Sound's garage-soul punk and operating with enough petulant attitude to erase Tacoma's reputation as a musicians' wasteland, the Fucking Eagles don't have anything recorded yet, but you can check out some rough MP3s and info about future shows at www.myspace.com/ihatethefuckingeagles.