'Preciate ya, Scott
Thanks for the article on Scott McCaughey ["For he's a jolly good fellow," 3/15]. Fifteen or so years ago, I attended Whitman College, and we brought tons of Seattle bands out for shows—Soundgarden, the Screaming Trees, the Posies, Pure Joy, the Walkabouts, etc. I remember being surprised when the Fellows came out and Scott told me they didn't have a sound man. I did sound for them, and of all the shows I did back then—hundreds over the course of several years—Scott was the only person, other than my own brother, who ever thanked me during the show over the sound system and asked the crowd to give me a hand.
I don't know Scott, but I appreciate the person he is. Thanks for shedding some light on that for us.
Vanilla Ice, ha ha
I am reading Seattle Weekly on the Web from my office in Dallas, Texas. Does the scoring of the Seattle Music Aptitude Test [3/15] change at all for out-of-towners? I follow some Washington-and-vicinity bands, and I've been around the block, but I know I can't score as high as the locals there. Anyway, this is a brilliant idea, and I'll use it to learn some things I might not have known. Something like the SMAT would probably be cool for a publication such as the Dallas Observer. We have some music history here, too. You remember Vanilla Ice, don't you? Ha ha.
True or False: There were so many references to Silkworm in this quiz [Seattle Music Aptitude Test, 3/15], you would think they sold over 5,000 records.
Canuck defends Radiohead
Hello from Vancouver! In response to the Culture Bunker of March 8 ["Trashing Radiohead, Volume 2 1/2"]: In typical hateful fashion, Mr. Krugman and Mr. Cohen bombard us with their idea of multimedia hype surrounding the combo known as Radiohead. Why are you so fucking impatient? Bands are doing this all the time. And I know you enjoy them (hello, MBV and Elastica for a start). Giant Lemon, give me a fucking break! I guess in the States one has to put up with even more hype than up in Canuckville. Don't let it get to you, for fuck's sake. These guys are talented, Kid A is very well-executed weirdness!
What is racist
I do not know from what font of wisdom Nina Shapiro [see "Race judgment," 3/15] and the white media in general draws from to make judgments on who or what is "racist," but it certainly isn't because they know—or want to know—anything about what factors drive the psychology in black neighborhoods. Being called "animals," "mud people," "less intelligent," and "lazy" has a remarkable way of coloring one's perspective of the world they live in. For a race that claims to be the epitome of human development, Caucasians (in general) can be shockingly and willfully ignorant about the world just outside their doorstep that they in large part propagated.
Rather than venture into central or south Seattle to discover why there is so much anger and festering resentment among many in the black community, Shapiro and many, many others try to explain what they saw by relying on what they "heard" and various second-, third-, and fourth-hand information—and when that fails, various visceral theories about the "culture of violence" that is always about the personal safety of whites and their property. For these people, black neighborhoods are a place to fear, a place where things must be done to rather than for things to be done for.
As far as the charge of racism is concerned, I for one will go out on a limb and say that yes, for many the Fat Tuesday mayhem was racially motivated. But anger toward what white people have done through willful ignorance and denial is not what was racist. Reacting to racism is not racist.
Nina Shapiro's "Race judgment" [3/15] ends this way: "Given how little we know so far, African-American and religious leaders seem justified in trying to downplay race as an issue, which they have done while generally deploring the violence and organizing a vigil for its victims. Unfortunately, their corresponding attempt to deny what people could see with their own eyes will likely make race more of an issue, not less."
This is an awkward ending. My own point of view is that BLACK RACISM is rampant and the only way to tone it down is to acknowledge it and talk it through, especially in black churches. This, in my opinion, is what gave rise to the gangs of black thugs attacking and sometimes maiming white individuals at the Mardi Gras melee.
If you want to see evidence of black racism, pick up black newspapers, or better yet, go to a bookstore and stand in front of the African-American section and pick out book after book on black history, black politics, and even black poetry and see how far you can get before you can come across something free of hatred towards whites, the blaming of whites for this that or other misfortune, or the white mistreatment of blacks carried to the present day. This is a black obsession. We whites are lucky we are not in the minority—we would have been wiped out.
The attitude of the black leaders [see "Race judgment," 3/15] sucks big time. The double standard they live by and want people to accept is just as bad as the white double standard that existed 30 years ago. That's one of the major problems that has evolved over the years in racial situations. If a white person or people do something to a black person or people, it is blown all out of proportion as racially motivated; if is black on white, even when the blacks use racial slurs and indicate this is their motive, it is not considered "socially correct" to mention it. This attitude has done more to cause white against black prejudice in today's world than is caused by upbringing.
There is no rational reason why black bigotry should be tolerated any more than bigotry towards blacks is. It's about time people started speaking out about how we are expected to turn a blind eye to the truth.
At least here in Seattle we aren't afraid of offending people with the truth. Now we just have to make sure the black leaders get the message that we aren't going to let them get away with playing their games here. When they are so biased and two-faced in a situation like this, it takes away their credibility and they will not be listened to when they speak on legitimate problems.
Racism and sexism
White people get beat up, stop the presses. Gross manifestations of sexual violence against women, hardly a blink of an eye. White people "targeted" by blacks, cries of "reverse racism" and "black on white crime." Skinheads in the streets prior to Tuesday's breakdown making racially threatening comments towards blacks, not a word is mentioned. What does all this have in common? They all were components of the Mardi Gras outbreak. Manifestations of racism and sexism are festering under the surface of the coverage of the "riots" and the conversations that followed.
White people love to call out reverse racism whenever there is an opportune time to do so. Never mind that white people and people of color were beating up whomever. Focusing on images of people of color acting violently towards white people, the media helped to undermine the ways in which violence is glorified in nearly every aspect of contemporary American society and its effects on all sectors of the U.S. population, regardless of race or class. And what of the violence that is perpetuated against people of color daily because of white supremacy and white privilege? Too institutionalized to prompt conversation? Or at least too difficult to capture in a few photos.
And what of the mass sexual assaults and violence against women by white men and men of color during Mardi Gras? Has molestation, rape, and violence against women become so naturalized and normalized in our society that we just come to expect it to happen, blame the victims, and not even deign to mention it?
Where are the calls for an end to sexual violence and gross misogyny? There is one account of a women who was held down by 15 men who molested her body and ripped off her clothes while cameras stood idly by. Men of this community should be outraged.
Finally, while there are calls for healing (roughly translated into brushing racism and sexism under the rug), we should be calling for deeper conversations and actions against the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy that is the real fuel behind the Mardi Gras fire.
Thanks to Rick Anderson for a succinct and informative synopsis of Governor Locke's reckless proposal to cut back on this state's already inadequate mental health resources ["Crazy cuts," 3/1]. The motivation is the supposed savings that will accrue to the state when 400 of the sickest and most impaired patients of Western and Eastern state hospitals are sent back to their respective communities for "treatment." A slight problem arises of course, given that the facilities wherein such critical treatment would be administered do not exist anywhere. The impending disaster that will inevitably follow the precipitous discharge of hundreds of severely mentally ill persons will then become the problem of the municipalities of Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, and so forth. The state will presumably save $15 million while causing havoc for the courts, jails, and emergency rooms throughout the state—not to mention the indignity and hardship foisted upon the disabled patients themselves.
What is needed desperately is more—and not less—treatment options. By all means let us have adequate and humane treatment readily available in communities throughout the state. Let us build the facilities and provide the staffing.
But let us also keep our state hospitals open, and keep them well-staffed and well-prepared in order to properly care for those severely impaired citizens who occasionally require long-term hospitalization. A mental health system that is at once comprehensive and humane will cost money. There is no way whatsoever around that fact. The alternative is increased systemic chaos punctuated by the occasional horror show in which an untreated mentally disturbed individual precipitates a tragedy.
Hypocritical and galling
Thank you, Mr. Parrish! I agree that the sudden turnaround of former drug war hawks [Geov Parrish, "A diversionary tactic," 3/1] is hypocritical and galling. I also think that many of them need to be held accountable for their previous actions, in the same way that other war crime perpetrators have had to answer for their crimes against humanity. But right now I'm just happy that the American sheeple are finally waking up to what has been a decades-long assault on the Constitution, minority families, and individuals whose only "crime" was using substances that were unacceptable to puritanistic moralists like William Bennet. The winds of common sense are finally blowing. Breathe deeply!
Cheap and hackneyed
It's too bad that in your satiric projection of cost-cutting at Nordstrom, "May we help you?" [News clips, 3/1], the oh-so-politically-correct Seattle Weekly had to resort to a cheap, hackneyed ethnic slur: "Sure, you can have a full refund—if you can get past our new Returns Department bouncers: Guido 'No Neck' Gambino and Freddie 'Fractures' LaMotta."
May I suggest a little creative versatility in the future, if only to spread the stereotyping around a little; how about Armando "Bitch Slapper" LaFontaine, Pedro "The Blade" Alvarez, and maybe even Yoshi "Yellow Peril" Yoshimura?
I'm sure you get the idea.
Missed the mark
The cover article "What lies beneath" [2/22] missed the mark by not presenting a pro-environmental position as commonly understood by environmental groups in this country for the last two decades. In order to make "polluters pay," activist groups have long campaigned for joint and several liability. This makes it hard for polluters to sell their polluted land to innocent parties as a way to escape liability for their environmental crimes.
None of the parties in the Weekly's article were truly innocent landowners. Many of the landowners had made huge, stupid (and totally avoidable) mistakes. While not all were the original polluters, their actions after the fact made them accomplices. If they were not accomplices after the fact, they would not be sharing financial responsibility for remediation.
The big story is how these landowners failed to do what all purchasers of property should do: have environmental site assessments conducted during the process of property transfer. The fact that some of the landowners featured by the Weekly tried to save money by not paying for site assessments before they bought their properties should not and does not absolve them from joint and several liability. How many other potential purchasers of property in the Seattle region have site assessments conducted and then walk away after finding pollution?
Environmental site assessments have become commodified, which lowers their cost but leads to inadequate research being conducted. When environmental site assessments became widespread in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the standard fee of $5,000 per site allowed instruments such as organic vapor analyzers to be brought on site to detect whether petroleum and other chemical vapors were permeating through the soil. With purchasers now reluctant to pay more than $1,200 to $1,500, there are no resources available for rigorous on-site investigations. If a check of government records during a site assessment now does not turn up any past environmental enforcement actions at a site, then it could mistakenly be given a clean bill of health.
Purchasers of property who have been hauled into court as jointly and severably liable soon learn from their experiences and frequently insist on a $5,000 or greater level of effort in future site assessments. Perhaps the Weekly could afford some coverage to the lessons learned from these efforts and thereby reinforce the need for tough standards against pollution. If we can maintain joint and several liability, it will create incentives for preventing pollution before it occurs.
ANTHONY E. MITCHELL
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