Uptight in the Army?

Dear Uptightness,I've lived in Seattle for three years, having previously lived in the Bay Area and L.A. I love it here: the outdoors, the music, the friendly people. And like you, I'm a huge fan of NPR. However, I can't stand Steve Scher. I have to run to the radio at 9 a.m. to change the station to avoid his rambling and pointless introductions to dry segments that seem to waste everyone's time. (And why so many segments on gardening?) I've been told natives like him, but every other California transplant I know agrees with me. You were interviewed for his program, so maybe you have some insight. Should I get over myself? Or should I be the vanguard of the "Fire Scher" movement?Cali TransplantDear Transplant,Is that an inflated housing market in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? Sorry, I can't resist a good California joke, even though I know we're supposed to be beyond all that now. On a more serious note, that "interview" with "me" on KUOW's Weekday was the work of a third-rate fraud. I don't blame you for being taken in, nor am I suggesting that you suffer from an all-too-common gullibility when it comes to mainstream reality. But you shouldn't believe anything you hear. That's just a general FYI.But you were saying that you feel a certain resistance to Steve Scher. Do you also feel this resistance to such things as light and air? For Steve, despite being taken in by my "spokesperson," provides Seattle's warm and sunny center. You mean to insult his show when you call it "pointless," but that is in fact its great virtue: sharp points are removed from all discussions, leaving behind a cloud of chumminess and the understanding that we're all basically good people who all basically agree with each other.It will help, Transplant, if you change the way you think about NPR. It's not about actual content. We aren't really even listening, so it doesn't matter that All Things Considered segments always start with ambient noise ("I'm standing in a cinnamon doughnut factory in South Dakota...") and meander aimlessly for about 20 minutes before coming to a hazy nonconclusion ("...the future of cinnamon doughnuts in an increasingly virtual world remains unclear"). The point is the overall tone, the reassuring murmur of reasonable, sensitive people discussing things in a reasonable, sensitive way. We don't want specific information; we only want to slip into the warm bath of this tone.Weekday may ostensibly address certain topics—gardening, Canadian news, organic hiking—but the genius of Steve Scher is that he's distilled this murmuring NPR baritone into a thing that floats free of content altogether. His show has a languorous, luxuriously shapeless quality, like your favorite bathrobe. He may seem to be drifting comfortably away as his guests drone on about bird sanctuaries and the mayor of Vancouver. But don't think he's not listening. He's listening exactly as much as you are.Dear Uptight Seattleite,Why must you always be so smug? You know, there is really nothing wrong with you that three years in the infantry wouldn't cure. For your own good, you should think about signing up. See the world. Pay your dues. You can always grow your ponytail back when you get out. I did.Paul in SeattleDear Paul,You and I pass each other on the street. Perhaps we exchange wary glances. Whose ponytail, we wonder, radiates more sensitive power held in nonchalant reserve? Whose ponytail is more expressive of soulful, hard-won knowledge of the world? Gosh, I really don't know, Paul in Seattle. It seems silly to engage in some sort of silent ponytail contest, doesn't it? Pitting your military training against my tai chi? Especially on a beautiful day like this, with the promise of a new season coiled up in the little buds dotting tree branches all over the city. Buds that will unfold summer's green canopy, under which we will soon be happily biking, hiking, and Rollerblading.When I say that having a contest is silly and that we should instead focus our minds on the cycles of nature, I don't want you to think this is some kind of trick. Some kind of sly meta-move, a slow, sweeping motion like a white stork spreading its wings in the manner of Yang Lu-Chan himself, leaving you flat on your back while my ponytail disappears silently around the corner.Have a question for the Uptight Seattleite? Send it to uptight@seattleweekly.com.

 
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