"Seattle City Council Member Margaret Pageler lost her marbles Monday night.
"Watching Pageler get up from her seat and chase 24-year-old guitarist Rocky Votolato around the floor of Capitol Hill's Miller Community Center—her arms outstretched like Frankenstein's monster, grasping at air trying to get the singer to stop thumping out an acoustic version of an old Elvis Costello rock number, while 70-plus kids clapped and danced—was the saddest, funniest, and most embarrassing moment in Pageler's irrelevant attempt to block a mayor-endorsed repeal of the Teen Dance Ordinance (TDO). Indeed, Pageler organized the meeting, but her opponents far outnumbered Pageler's pathetic showing. The Stranger organized a teen dance protest, and 100 angry teenagers (some with their parents!) showed up and shut down Pageler's meeting for a 10-minute dance break." ["TDO Meeting Meltdown," Amy Jenniges, May 16, 2002.]
I remember that evening well. That Stranger-organized protest was just one more nail in the TDO's coffin, one more step to getting Pageler off the council. And it wasn't the only thing The Stranger did to help turn Seattle into a supportive all-ages music environment. Besides the hilarious Pageler protest, there was also that City Hall "dance in" where Sean Nelson and John Roderick sang to a crowd of dancing teens in the middle of a council meeting (I think they did a Costello song, too). There was also the "TDO Is Dead" dance party at the Sit & Spin, sponsored by The Stranger, which celebrated the fact that the TDO was finally replaced with the friendlier All-Ages Dance Ordinance. The Stranger has supported the Vera Project since before it even officially opened its doors at the Local 46 downtown, given tons of press to Redmond's Old Fire House, and profiled a number of local and enthusiastic all-ages activists. Oh, and this column, Underage, (a focus on the all-ages scene) has been running every week for five and a half years.
Shall I go on? Because I could. And the reason I would is a direct response to the criticism The Stranger has been receiving since the publication last week of "Atlas Clothing's Covert Concerts," a story that incidentally led to the (perhaps temporary) closure of Atlas Clothing's all-ages music space.
To cry out amid the firestorm that followed the story that The Stranger "ruined," "killed," "hates," and/or otherwise wishes away the all-ages music scene in this city is insulting, untrue, and laughable—but most of all, disheartening. I have no intention of unnecessarily tooting The Stranger's horn here, but I will point out, for those of you who were in middle school during the TDO controversy, that The Stranger has played a significant part in molding the current state of the city's all-ages scene (which, compared to what it was a decade ago, or even five years ago, is vastly improved). Seriously. Check our archives. To put it bluntly, you kids wouldn't have what you have today if it weren't for the support of this paper.
There's a lot to learn from this unfortunate situation; there's far too much energy being put into placing blame and killing the messenger. While there are some people focusing on throwing hissy fits, posting bulletins and fliers, and boycotting—there are other people focusing on continuing to make things happen and supporting the all-ages scene. Including The Stranger, including myself, including all the volunteers at Atlas. Those people are the ones who could really use your passion right now.