Taking the edge off

Thanks for the article "Get wasted, want not" (10/28). Next time you do a story on drinking please include the following:


". . . the personal lives of artists are very often messy and even ugly. If you're looking to listen to some tunes by good, clean-living types, let me suggest Donnie and Marie, Pat Boone, and Whitney Houston for starters."

Taking the edge off

Thanks for the article "Get wasted, want not" (10/28). Next time you do a story on drinking please include the following:

1) Color photographs, subjects to include dead bodies from auto accidents and shootings. Grief-stricken faces of people who woke next to a stranger and a follow-up assortment of pictures depicting venereal diseased organs.

2) Interviews. Suggestions are: A police officer from any department after a fun-filled Friday or Saturday night shift; maybe you could help swamp out vomit from the back of a squad car. I also have the address of a battered women's center; I bet if you brought a bag of ice for a swollen lip, their stories would crack you up with details from an encounter with a drunk boyfriend or husband. I also know several kids who could entertain you for hours with the funny stories from the antics of a drunken parent; some of the stories are so precious, so memorable, that I wouldn't be surprised to see them shared with their own kids in the years to come.

3) A rundown of what it's costing us in the form of higher health and auto insurance rates. Make it personal; send someone to each of our homes to collect this money in cash. "Mr. Smith, I'm collecting X dollars this month as a result of your neighbor's inability to control him/herself in their consumption of alcohol. . . ."

4) Please list the health benefits of drinking for those of us who want to fit them into our current workout regime.

Let's face it. We are a nation of addicted fools, afraid to face ourselves or our world for more than a day or two without taking the edge off what we have become and what we've turned this world into. Instead of looking for life's answers in a bottle, perhaps we'd all be better off looking in a mirror.



Stretch of the truth

As a regular of the Capitol Club not only in drink but in FOOD I was stunned and completely offended by Michael A. Stusser's assertion that the Capitol Club's food would send one to the hospital ("Get wasted, want not," 10/28). Where does he get off saying that? I have only ever received the best food there, not to mention great service. If it takes this much of a stretch of the truth to appear hip, then I suggest Mr. Stusser shut up or at least keep it to himself so as not to slander a reputable restaurant.



Stusser, scourge of modern society

This letter is to complain about a statement with which I take exception in your otherwise mostly enjoyable if sometimes tryingly trying-too-hard-to-be-cool article on the bar scene in Seattle, "Get wasted, want not," (10/28) by Michael A. Stusser. Under "Tipplers," you printed the following: "BIG PICTURE... This half-assed beer and wine... 'lounge' can't hold a candle to their upstairs neighbor, El Gaucho. Then again you can't watch a flick while getting blasted on the upper floor either (but you can do blow in the bathroom)." Is one to infer that doing blow in the bathroom at El Gaucho is acceptable? It's not. Need more be said?

I come from a long line of bartenders. I served my first drink when I was nine years old. Trust me on this, I know a lot about the functioning of a good bar.

There are three rules to running a good bar: 1) The bartender is always right—and he pours an honest shot and aims to please. 2) A patron can do or say whatever he/she likes as long as they don't break the law (as in getting publicly intoxicated or, say, doing illegal drugs on the premises) and as long as their behavior doesn't infringe on any other patron's reasonable chances of having a pleasant experience. 3) If the bartender appears to be wrong, refer back to rule #1.

I can only speak of the house where I work, but here's the fact: If someone is known to be doing drugs at El Gaucho, they will be shown to the door and asked not to return. I just wanted to clarify that point.

So going back to the Weekly's assessment of The Big Picture, I don't think that place is "half-assed" at all. Certainly not so much as certain so-called journalists. Understand, The Big Picture has nothing to do with El Gaucho; it just happens to be in the same neighborhood—one that tries to practice the good-neighbor policy. Yet again, why in the name of hipness do some writers choose to be cruel? I don't get it.

Cynicism is the scourge of modern society. Weekly, get over it.



Ol' Blue Eyes

Michael Stusser may know something about the "cocktail scene" in Seattle ("Get wasted, want not," 10/28), but as a commentator on Frank Sinatra ("Ol' Blue Eyes was a mafia thug with some bad politics"), he would have been better off writing about how many olives Frankie liked in his martinis. I suppose Billie Holiday was just a drunk, drugged-out slut, too, right, Michael?

First of all, it's just plain lazy and naive to sum up this very complex man as a mafia thug. I'm reminded of one of my slightly ditzy great aunts, who many years ago refused to watch any TV shows starring divorced entertainers. Because they were divorced they were therefore "bad" people and she didn't want to "endorse" them by watching their work.

No doubt he had a very unattractive thuggish side and well-documented Mafia connections, but I don't know of many Mafia thugs who could sing of heartache and loneliness with the haunting poignancy and tenderness that Sinatra brought to a song. Let's just say he was obviously doing a little more than breaking kneecaps with his fellow "goombas".

The truth is that the personal lives of artists are very often messy and even ugly. If you're looking to listen to some tunes by good, clean-living types, Michael, let me suggest Donnie and Marie, Pat Boone, and Whitney Houston for starters. Hold the cocktails, though, and get out the cherry Kool-Aid.

On the topic of Sinatra's politics, I'll just mention that he was one of the very first white entertainers to publicly oppose the racism against blacks that used to be so blatant in the entertainment industry. Sammy Davis Jr. was, among other indignities, blackballed in Hollywood when he married a white woman, and who was the best man at his wedding? Sinatra. Pretty ugly politics, huh, Michael? Not to mention that Sinatra was an early supporter of JFK, whose politics I'm assuming Mr. Stusser doesn't consider "ugly." And then there's the matter of Sinatra's huge donations to various charities over the years, but why go on. It's obvious that Michael Stusser hasn't done his homework here.



Dept. of omissions

A Seattle boozing guide ("Get wasted, want not," 10/28) without the Wedgwood Broiler is like a porno flick without strap-on dildos. After all, life begins north of 45th Street.



Do everyone a favor—stay home

I am writing regarding the article "Diner's Bill of Rights" by Michael Hood (10/28). As a veteran of many years as both employee and customer in fine dining establishments, I would like to respond to the article by addressing my fellow diners.

Now that we have our rights, let us ensure that we deserve them. Our behavior in the dining room can be a mitigating factor that affects the entire restaurant. As a result, the quality of the dining experience may not be entirely up to the staff.

Some areas where we can be of assistance are:

Reservations: Of equal importance to your being seated promptly is to know when to leave. Remember that a fellow customer will be waiting for your table.

Special requests: The restaurant is not a parental substitute. Special requests take time. Religious, allergic, and dietetic related requests should be respected. Redesigning the chef's creation in your mother's memory should not be.

Bringing your own wine: Why not extend the logic of this "right" and bring your own food as well? Good restaurants know about both food and wine. That's why you choose them. Order from the wine list.

Cell phones and smoking: If you really need this explained, you don't deserve the other rights. Stay home and do everyone a favor.

Sending back ill-prepared food or drink and complaining: Of course you should, but don't be a bitter pill about it. The staff's mistake was not malicious.

Remember that the staff members are service employees, not servants. A belittled employee will not be inclined to serve others well.

Low tipping for poor service: Communicating your concerns to the manager in the proper manner should eliminate the need for this (see above).

A final word to the staff of Seattle's many fine restaurants: When the meal is over and you pick up the check, please don't ask us if we would like change back. Throughout the meal you were the picture of professionalism. Don't make us short you on the tip you worked so hard to deserve.



Cook it yourself

I've just read Michael Hood's column "Diner's Bill of Rights" (10/28) and I just need to get something off my chest. Having worked in restaurants for several years, I've seen customers who deserved to be booted out of the restaurant on their ass and staff who could use the same treatment. I doubt many people would argue that good business practice dictates that a restaurant be run with the singular goal of pleasing their customers so as to encourage repeat business, word of mouth, etc.

But aren't we forgetting one simple thing here? These are private businesses. They have the right to treat their clientele as crappy or as wonderfully as they please. They have the right to not accept reservations on Friday or Saturday night. We may not like it. But WE DON'T HAVE TO EAT THERE! Take your business someplace else. Complain to everyone you know and maybe you'll shut them down.

Certainly there's no excuse for rude service, poor food, and a generally lousy experience. And most restaurants who are guilty of this don't do too well in the long run.

But why is it not allowed to point out that customers can be just as crappy as the service? The customer is NOT always right. Sometimes they are plain idiots. Restaurants are businesses. If you want your dinner prepared to your precise idiosyncratic specifications, cook it yourself, at home. When you dine out, you're entering someone else's turf. Yes, you're paying for it. But this feeling of entitlement to make up some new dish because you don't feel like having what's already on the menu is nothing more than childish. Dietary needs are one thing. Fickle yuppies on cell phones who want a mushroom risotto at a Mexican restaurant and can't understand why it can't be done should not be appeased.

The restaurant owner has the right to run their business any way they like, short of putting people's health in danger and violating civil rights. Customers have the right to choose to not eat there if they're displeased. It's as simple as that.




Mikey will eat anything! And that inspires me to bite off a little more of life. I hope you pay Michael Hood lots of money—first you make him go to a Republican picnic then eat scorpions while everyone watches ("Insectisidedish," 10/28). I have to admit—his offbeat pieces and your senseless exploitation of his talents are reason to look forward to your paper every week. I'm waiting to see, what will he eat next?



Credit where credit is . . .

I have observed the three reactions that Mark Fefer refers to in his "Howdy, pardner" article (10/28) on public-private partnerships. I also remember reading other articles, editorials, and letters from citizens criticizing the shocking public price tag for the baseball stadium and Pacific Place parking garage. Given these past financial disasters, what I did not observe, at a recent public meeting, were representatives from these three categories willing to say anything about the future of public-private partnerships in Seattle.

"Neighborhood rebels" and most future (and present) council members either didn't know or didn't care that there was a public hearing before Sue Donaldson's Education & Labor Committee on October 18, 1999, on the newly released Public-Private Task Force recommendations (PPPTF). This was a great opportunity for citizens to comment on a 17-member report "to establish a set of standards for future public-private partnerships between the City of Seattle and private entities."

For those who missed this opportunity to have your mouths say something about where your money goes, let me catch you up on a few public (or private) projects that you all should be aware of. The new Seattle Center Hotel PPP is currently being reviewed under the new guidelines (and it sounds like a good, honest deal). But just down the street on Pier 88, the Immunex/Galer Street Flyover PPP has somehow managed to evade the public spotlight. The public price tag for this development continues to escalate, yet the return on investment, in terms of tax benefits, remains unchanged.

Funny thing, Fefer fails to mention in his article that council member Peter Steinbrueck is the only member of City Council who voted against an otherwise unanimous decision to double the city's contribution to the Immunex/Galer street flyover (to the tune of $12 million). He was also the only member to suggest that this project be measured against the PPPTF guidelines (before the council committed the additional funds).

Mr. Fefer, please give credit where credit is due. Steinbrueck is making a one-man stand to protect us all. Let's throw some support behind his efforts and also ask other council members to do the same.



What the hell we're talking about

As a long-time writer and journalist, I know it is generally unwise to start fights with people who buy ink by the barrel, but having suffered through Geov Parrish's continual distortions of reality for some time now, I thought it was long past due for the editorial honchos at the Seattle Weekly to suggest to Parrish that he grow up.

Regarding the statement in his October 28 column (Impolitics), "In a democracy, we need not just the vague paternalism of the First Amendment . . ."—as John McEnroe used to say, "You can't be serious!"

Without the legal mandate of the First Amendment (its importance emphasized by how and why it is continually violated), all of the civil rights revolutions in our country's history (enforceable contracts, property rights, slavery, child labor laws, monopoly and anti-trust laws, the right of labor to organize, health protections for our food and medical supplies, women's rights, voting rights, laws against discrimination, environmental protections, integration, equal pay, etc., etc., etc.) would haven taken years longer to accomplish.

I know of no other country on the planet with those same legal guarantees. With all of our weaknesses, hypocrisies, and inequities (and no matter how often those rights of free expression are violated), Parrish's dismissal of the First Amendment as "vague paternalism" dismisses him as a grown-up. Some of us have long since dismissed him as a writer, journalist, or thinker.

The most important political right we have is the right to exchange information freely. No other political right has any meaning without those rights of free expression, as outlined in the First Amendment.

That First Amendment establishes a legal framework for all of us to voice our views—even immature ideologues and lovers of cop-killers. What the First Amendment does not do is guarantee that others have to agree with us, nor does it mandate that writers and speakers have to know what the hell they are talking about.

In another culture Parrish would be hung for being a perennial juvenile delinquent. Count your blessings, Geov.



Cruelty to George

I remained silent after last week's Air Supply diatribe ("Countdown: Worst albums. . .," 10/21), even though it was a pointless attack on a sitting duck. However, it looks as though "Worst albums of the millennium" is set to be a regular feature. So let me formally ask: What's the point? George Harrison's Gone Troppo may suck eggs ("Countdown," 10/28). But what service are you performing by even bringing it up? It's one thing to give a bad review to a new record, another to praise an overlooked classic, but to go out of your way to slam a 20-year-old release is cruel and stupid. Should I now pluck these records out of my collection and destroy them? Or maybe you are protecting me from a disappointing experience at the cutout bin.

Please find a more relevant use for this space.



Zenon puts us in our place

In regards to the October 28 "At Large" column written by Mike Gerber and Jon Schwarz ("The sound of one hand cramping"): This section of your paper has been so good lately that it was downright depressing to read this incorrigible, Buddhist-chic, high-brow shit.

This section is supposed to be FUNNY! Get back to basics, you're not The New Yorker.



Defining progress

Given your paper's role in Seattle, host of the WTO meetings, I think that the stories and information you feature on the WTO are very important and should be placed in some clear contexts. These comments by Roger Downey ("Moore power or less?" 10/14) need some clarification: "The problem is, that is not what the United States government wants to do. The US government wants to see 'progress,' by which it means new binding rules about fair labor practices (to appease American organized labor) and intellectual property (to appease Disney and Microsoft) and agricultural exports (to please the farm lobby and Archer Daniels Midland) and rain forest preservation (to please the Sierra Club)."

Downey is correct that the US government wants to see progress at the WTO. So does everyone else! However, we all know that those inside the WTO have a different definition of progress than those on the outside. In addition, even those on the inside (the EU, Japan, APEC, developing countries) all have different definitions of progress. Last but not least, within the US government there are different definitions of progress between the Administration, the Senate, and the Congress! To be honest, it is the lack of consensus in US society, including the US government, that is the source of much of what may play out at the WTO meetings in Seattle.

The US government's definition of progress on the question of labor is not having "new binding rules about fair labor practices." That is a long-term goal of some in the labor movement. The US government's definition of progress is to get the other WTO members to agree to create a working group on trade and labor in the WTO to "study" the issues and relationships between labor and trade. Even this definition of progress will have to be fought for in the WTO. To say that the US government at this stage has the same definition of progress as the AFL-CIO is a stretch.

Downey is correct on the US government definition of progress on the issues of intellectual property and agricultural exports. However, Downey may not be correct on the US government's definition of progress on rain forest protection. The USTR is supporting the APEC led proposal to accelerate world tariff liberalization in eight sectors, one of which is forest products. There is serious debate whether such a course of action at this stage of the WTO will help or hinder worldwide efforts for a more environmentally sustainable approach to consuming and protecting forests around the world.

See you in Seattle.



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