NOT BLOWING SMOKE
DEAR MIKE SEELY: This was such a fantastic idea for a feature ["The F-Word," March 14], and it was expertly handled. I am now going to go through all your previous articles and soak in the rock-write greatness I have obviously been tragically missing. Thanks so much, Mike!
P.S. Not just blowing smoke up your butt—this was a great concept, great execution.
FRATS A TRAINING GROUND
DEAR MIKE: I enjoyed your piece on the indie/fraternity divide. Having gone to a local liberal arts university with a strong Greek system, I must have been either: (a) über-protected from the hostilities mentioned in your piece, (b) naive, or (c) part of the problem. Greek life gave folks of many stripes the chance to meet others with whom they shared common values, and many with whom they didn't. It can be seen as a training ground for getting along.
"Johnny Utah" was not merely a member of a fraternity, he was the president of his house. I recognize that he is embarrassed by this now, but that is his problem. The fact is that this experience probably affected his ability to be a leader in the Seattle business (and music) community.
Your article paid little attention to the symbiosis that has always existed between Greeks and musicians—indie or otherwise. Especially in towns with colleges, we literally cannot have one without the other. Not only did Greeks often provide some of the only all-ages venues for some of this city's best parties, they've also been instrumental in supporting bands at their shows when the crowd in attendance might otherwise be less than enthusiastic. I can recall a few Calobo shows in which the audience was pretty much all Greek. Whether it was the Crazy 8's in Oregon ('80s and '90s) or Sweetwater in Washington ('90s), etc., someone kept those bands rockin' into the night. And as much as it might pain some to admit it, often we were Greek.
WHERE WERE THE WOMEN?
DEAR MIKE: Just read your "F-Word" story on the indie-vs.-frat cavern. Where were the women in this article? A few got groped by John Roderick (lovely!) and another hypothetical one was hypothetically hit on by a publicist. In real life, ladyfolk do comprise a large sector of the hipster and indie-rock contingent that could be defined as creative types. And in many cases, yeah, they're anti–Greek conformist. Just like they're anti-football. Or anti-beer. Or just decidedly pro-cat.
To me, this is what fuels the divide between creatives and Greeks. Creatives build many of their social groups around gender neutrality, usually because the music and art they flock to do as well. Greeks, meanwhile, live and usually hang out in all-dude or all-chick packs.
Now, I don't mean to come off like I just finished a feminist studies lecture at Evergreen State. I graduated from the largest public university in Missouri in 1997. I look back at the bands I played at the college radio station, drove to St. Louis to see, and ultimately used to help build my circle of friends, and all either had women in their lineups (Sonic Youth, Pixies, Sleater-Kinney), came off as adorable pussies who wouldn't physically mess with us (Sebadoh, Pavement, Elliott Smith), or were fags (Magnetic Fields, REM). Girls listened to these bands. Guys listened to these bands. We had nothing else to do, so we all hung out together.
Rereading the last two paragraphs of your article, I do see that you're trying to liberate the term "frat boy" from being a blanket term for "idiot." OK. But why use "hipsters" and "creative types" as the counterpoint and defendant of the blanket use of the term without bringing a single woman into the argument? We fucking run the hipster planet, dude. It is all about sex.
AN ONSTAGE ATROCITY
DEAR EDITOR: I have to ask if Richard Morin saw the same play I did ["Dionysus in Crisis," March 14] or if he is on [playwright Scot] Augustson's payroll. His review of Girls & Gods is absolutely preposterous. I attended the opening night and sought refuge from the sheer dreadfulness of this play after the first act. While Mr. Morin describes the narrative as having "intelligence, originality, and sheer brio," I would have to depict it as utterly lacking any wit and forced to rely on the obvious and crude. I do not recall many people in the audience laughing out loud, as Morin says. In fact, most people looked as if they wanted to gouge out their eyes to prevent having to watch another moment of the atrocity being acted out onstage.
If you package something under the guise of mythology, it does not make it more sophisticated, it merely rapes great literature. Then again, Augustson seems to have no respect for rape, either, so one should not be surprised. I also found the groping and face-sucking by the male lead with each and every female onstage to be a bit much. One can allude to such things without actually having to swap copious amounts of spit and flesh-grabbing. There is an art to subtlety and allusion, an art that is completely lost on Augustson. Seriously, even though the word "pen" exists within "penis," it does not mean that one should write an entire play with his dick.
Laurel S. Barton