"I am . . . annoyed by reporters writing reviews of electronic dance music . . . that choose to focus on drugs and stupid people at those events."

SEPARATE IS BETTER

Whoa! Hot topic; surely to raise the ire of citizens across the country ["One Nation Under God, If Not Zeus," July 11]. There are at least two, but realistically countless, ways to view this issue.

I'll be on the side of "Separation of Church and State." And as far as I can tell, the word "god" most certainly reflects the former. Thus, related verbiage should also be removed from national currency, songs, and any other secular content. Yes, there is definitely a place for your god: inside your homes, private schools, churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. And far be it from me to restrict your free speech in public. But do not force, coerce, or expect me to happily agree with your beliefs, just as I wouldn't ask that you adopt mine.

It's time the much touted rights of Americans also apply to those of us in the ever increasing minority with opposite philosophies of this administration. We are members of the community, as well, and should be appreciated as such.

S.S. Stansbury

via e-mail

CHOOSING TO PLEDGE

I am 34, and I grew up with the honor of being able to pledge allegiance to the flag in my school years ["One Nation Under God, If Not Zeus," July 11]. Religion has always been a concern for as long as I can remember, yet it has never been mandatory to participate in anything that made you uncomfortable. I remember a child standing in the hall until the pledge was over. I thought we had a right to make choices in America. What is happening to our world?

Jodi Harse

via e-mail

NOT A RAVE REVIEW

I received Ariel Meadow Stallings' July 11 piece, "Raving in Klickitat," with a mixture of sadness and frustration. After spending three days at Phoenix Festival this year, I found myself relaxed, refreshed, and impressed with the organizers' ability to pull off a highly professional, entertaining event that maintained an intimate, progressive atmosphere. While other articles on Phoenix Festival (like the P-I's) bolstered my hope for the future of events like this and impressed me with their intelligent, objective treatment of a decidedly odd phenomenon, the sensationalistic, clich餠language in Stallings' piece conjured memories of the judgmental, prejudiced, reactionary Midwest where I was raised.

I find myself returning to the phrase "near naked yoga" in the article's subtitle. In the context of the article, this sounds like something titillating and potentially illicit. Perhaps Stallings failed to notice that it was pushing 95 at the height of the day and most people were shedding clothes out of practical necessity as opposed to some sort of bacchanal. The guy "screaming about coke" was making a joke (albeit a stupid one). "Stiffy flipping"really is just a "term." Did she actually encounter anyone under the influence of that "designer cocktail"? Or was someone just being cute in a conversation?

Stallings doesn't perjure herself—truths cringe somewhere around the perimeter of her article, but my sadness and fear come from the fact that your average reader is not going to be able to see them in the face of glaring neon signs buzzing "sex," "coke," and "hollow-eyed and twitching."

OK . . . they're goofy weirdos, but Phoenix Festival drew a crowd of responsible goofy weirdos. The drive, unfavorable climate, cost, resources necessary for several days outdoors, and general atmosphere of the event discouraged younger individuals and those just looking to get high. The negative stereotype of raves and ravers is slowly but surely destroying opportunities for all-night, dance-oriented events. Stallings' overblown language and choice to emphasize some very personal, minor, trivial, and stupid aspects of the festival put the future of events like Phoenix Festival in the path of that destruction.

Phoenix Festival demonstrates how flamboyant people who like to stay up and dance can work together to create a safe, stimulating, supportive environment. It is a positive example of how things could be for the dance and fringe-arts community. It's a shame that Stallings' soap-opera handling of this review knocks the feet out from under that positive example.

Paul Ford

via e-mail

THERE ARE STUPID PEOPLE EVERYWHERE

This is a response to "Raving in Klickitat" [July 11] by Ariel Meadow Stallings. I am becoming increasingly annoyed by reporters writing reviews of electronic dance music (EDM) that choose to focus on drugs and stupid people at those events.

Sure there were drugs at the Phoenix Festival. But show me one event in this nation outside of a church picnic where there are NO drugs, and I'll show you an event where the writer either had her eyes closed to their presence or chose not to report it. Show me one event where there aren't stupid people, like the coked out kid in the truck.

You name the event, and there are drugs there—in abundance—along with stupid people: rock concerts, Hollywood debuts, football and basketball games, NASCAR races, street fairs, corporate dinners. . . . Yet I never read in the Seattle Weekly, "The football game was an exciting one, but the drug use was hard to miss, with dumb asses like the guy in a pickup truck screaming, "FUUUUUCK! FUUUUUCK! I'M SO HIGH ON [whatever]!"

So why did Stallings choose to emphasize drugs and stupid people at Phoenix Festival? Why did she choose to not emphasize the abundance of intelligent, peaceful, artistic, creative, independent people having a good time? Why did she fail to report that there were no fights, no deaths, no medical emergencies? Why did she not report on the phenomenal degree of communication and cooperation between all involved—including local officials—to facilitate a safe, fun, creative festival? Why didn't she write that even this 50-year-old had a kicking good time celebrating life, dancing all night to some of the best high-energy music on the planet that will get you high without drugs? (I speak from experience.)

Why? Because it has become de rigueur to bash "raves," that's why. America is looking for somewhere to put its discomfort about it's schizophrenic relationship to drugs, and its target has become EDM events, especially raves. And so, even though this event was an "art festival," not a "rave," she felt compelled to overly emphasize the drug use because the music was mostly EDM.

Alder Fuller, Ph.D.

Eugene, OR

SPARE ME THE LAMENESS, PUT DATEGIRL BACK

I don't really have a question—more like a complaint. But I won't be complaining about you [Judy McGuire]—you are fucking amazing! You are easily the best thing about that lame rag you work for. And therein lies my complaint. I was so pissed when they moved your column [Dategirl] from the back page, and I'm still really pissed. It was so easy to find you then—now I have to flip through lameness to get to your brilliance, and that sucks! Yeah, I could go to the table of contents and find out where you're located, but I'm lazy and I still would have to flip through lameness even then. So I decided to direct this to you and not only let you know what a fantastic writer I think you are but spout off about how shitty I think the higher-ups have been to you in relocating your column.

Thank you for sharing so much of your own travails in your column—it's given me a valuable insight into the female mind (well, at least valuable insight into your female mind).

Derek Stokes

via e-mail

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