"We live in a predatory world. If a buck is to be made, it will be, damn the human consequences."

20 albums from Mars

Where did the authors of this article ("The 20 albums that shaped the future of music," 12/9/99) come up with this stuff? Mars? What happened to, like, THE BEATLES? Steely Dan? Chuck Berry? All the obvious others that come to mind for most of us rockers that have lived through it all? Is this just another pretentious critics' idea of truth coming out of the Weekly? And just when I thought you folks were getting your act together and getting off your critical high horses. . . . Oh well, thanks for Geov Parrish. Tell these so-called music critics to go back to the roots of rock and do their homework!



20 albums, joke

"The 20 albums that shaped the future of music" (12/9/99) included the second-best double album (Exile) but left out the best and the most influential album on music in general: The Clash's London Calling. It also left out albums by Husker Du, Minutemen, and the Replacements, three bands that laid the groundwork for the Nirvanas and Pearl Jams of the world. Why isn't Remain In Light by the Talking Heads included—that is far more influential than Black Sabbath or the filth of NWA masquerading as an art form. Where is Never Mind the Bollocks, I guess Thriller is the real template for today's music.

This list is a joke . . . the Beach Boys, failed new wave acts such as Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, and Radiohead. These albums haven't shaped anything. David Bowie shaped more than all of those combined.



20 albums, blah, blah

Anyone who would even attempt a list of "The 20 albums that shaped the future of music" (12/9/99) must either be very bright [Thanks!--Eds.] or a glutton for punishment. Your mailbox must be very full!

Although you did show a definite slant toward works from the '80s and '90s, overall not too bad. However, if you truly did base your decisions on "timelessness, influence, and reverberations," you surely must include these two very important works:

1) Are You Experienced?, The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Mr. Hendrix ushered in the era of acid rock, and guitar players today still study his licks.

2) Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan: I was amazed that Dylan did not make the list and was reduced to a footnote in the last sentence. As songwriter and performer, he probably wrote more and influenced more artists than anyone in the business. His first all-electric work was not well-received but did mark a milestone in music history.

Maybe it should have been "the 22 albums that shaped the future of music"?



Crazy music formats

Here in the Philippines, and I've seen the same thing in Hong Kong, China, and Indonesia, MP3 CDs filled with usually six audio CDs' worth of pirated material are readily available for $2.50 to $3.75. Most are of good quality songs by top-rated artists.

Considering that it costs less to produce an audio CD than a tape cassette, the continued horrendous pricing by the music industry is the main cause of the rise in piracy. It used to be that legal LPs (vinyl) were available here for $2.50. Now, the music industry has phased it out for the super-expensive CDs: $10, with the low-quality cassettes still selling for $3. According to a music executive here, it costs them $.50 to produce a CD, but they charge a lot because "the market will bear it." Well, with the way MP3 pirated CDs are selling, and they'll sell even more with MP3 players (especially the ones that can play from CDs instead of memory cards) starting to become popular, the market is clearly shouting: We can't bear your greed anymore.



The WTO's day in court

Your article about the WTO prosecutions in Seattle Municipal Court ("Prosecute me, please!" 12/23/99) presented a distorted view of the role of defense attorneys, particularly public defenders.

You quote a California attorney advising the Direct Action Network: "In a normal case, she notes, a defense lawyer's job is to get their clients to rat on everyone else and save their own skin. 'Here we've got all for one and one for all,' she says. The result has been occasional friction between Komisaruk and the public defenders who've been assigned WTO cases."

It certainly is not a defender's goal to get his or her clients to "rat on everyone else." While sometimes a client may decide to provide evidence for the government, it is not a routine event in state courts. All accused persons are presumed innocent, and a significant number are found not guilty. The issue for people accused in many of the WTO prosecutions has more to do whether the actions of the government were lawful than whether one client will "rat" on another. These cases involve serious questions about the lawfulness of the mayoral proclamations, the reasonableness of police orders, and whether people heard orders to disperse.

While Seattle Municipal Court may have some resemblance to the world of a Dumas novel, Three Musketeers slogans do not help to understand this situation. The reality is that the three public defender associations involved have been meeting with a number of the private attorneys who have volunteered for these cases, and the defenders have been coordinating an exchange of ideas. But ultimately, individual clients will make their own decisions.

For individual clients, the best decision may be to go to trial, which they have an absolute right to do. They are entitled to a trial within the time limits prescribed by state law and rules. For others, particularly those who live out of town, accepting a pretrial diversion or "dispositional continuance," which would keep their record clean if they complete the terms of the continuance, may be the best resolution. When dismissal is possible, that is an appropriate remedy for clients to consider as well.

Any lawyer who accepts the awesome responsibility of defending an individual against the government must advise that individual on the full range of their options. Lawyers also should seek the best possible disposition for their individual clients. Zealous advocacy, which every citizen would demand if they or a loved one faced criminal charges, requires that the lawyer seek dismissal of charges when the client wants it, particularly when those charges are not supported by the law or the evidence. To maintain its own integrity, a court should dismiss charges which are not supported.

Maintaining solidarity with others accused of crimes, particularly charges stemming from political actions, often can be consistent with the best possible individual defense. Clients may choose to maintain solidarity on principle even to their own detriment. But lawyers and clients who make individual decisions, based on a thoughtful and informed review of the law and the facts, should not be scorned by others whose political agendas or personal perspectives may differ.

The fundamentals of the American legal structure were assaulted during the WTO week. The right to counsel for arrested people was denied by the police in their holding center at Sand Point. The basic right to expression was denied in a major section of our city. Fortunately, the core strength of our legal system, the jury trial, will allow these issues to be sorted out, and the hundreds of people charged with failure to disperse and pedestrian interference can have their day in court.



Instant WTO experts?

Nina Shapiro's article on Third World development and the WTO ("The battle within," 12/9/99) raised some important issues. I especially appreciate her calling attention to dilemmas that will face the US labor movement as it tries to become genuinely international.

At the same time, I can't help feeling a certain irritation with this piece and much of your WTO coverage. I think it stems from frustration at seeing these issues essentially ignored for so long, only to have instant experts in the press begin lecturing the movement on its flaws and shortcomings and contradictions. As though nobody who's concerned about global labor issues had ever thought of this before! It's certainly true, as Shapiro points out, that the no-WTO movement in this country has tended to focus on the simple morality tales of sweatshops and sea turtles, but this is at least in part the fault of a media, both mainstream and "alternative," with the attention span of a gnat. Many of the issues that Shapiro raises are of long duration, and it has been an uphill battle for those who are knowledgeable about them to get any press at all, even during the recent barrage. Some of the Third World poverty that trade is supposed to alleviate is itself the product of long-standing IMF policies imposed on Third World countries with little attention or concern from the United States outside a small group of dedicated activists—"open" markets, abolition of support for subsistence farmers, agricultural policies designed by and for multinationals, to speak of just one area. Shapiro quotes one Indian delegate as saying that there "will be" millions, not thousands, of demonstrators if people's livelihoods are threatened—but there already are, protesting the patenting of traditional knowledge and the imposition of Monsanto's "Terminator" seed technology, among other things. A lot of the opposition to WTO in the First World is really opposition to precisely the same treatment that the Third World's been getting for years, with scarcely a peep from anyone here.

I don't mind Shapiro and others pointing out the contradictions that the WTO opponents will have to grapple with; in fact, I think it's an important service. I just wish it could be done with a little more history and context. But her final question—will the week's events in Seattle help or hinder the process of international dialog among workers—answers itself. They have already begun to help, and her article, incomplete as it is, is the evidence.



Labor, WTO style

Roger Downey and Nina Shapiro's perspectives on labor standards in the context of the WTO controversy ("Clinton throws brick" and "The battle within," 12/9/99) are at variance with the truth as I experienced it. I had the unique privilege of providing direct advocacy assistance to over 1,200 international contract workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). I worked directly with Chinese and Filipino garment factory workers who were, in the main, subject to horrific working and living conditions.

The conditions I witnessed between 1993-95 engendered a lawsuit that Rick Anderson wrote about in the Weekly ("The new apparel line," 9/16/99). The abusive labor practices of concern to many of those of us who participate in anti-WTO activities have and are now taking place in a Commonwealth of the US.

The reason horrific conditions of labor exist in CNMI's garment industry resides primarily with corrupt local elite in and out of government who benefit financially from the garment industry. The garment industry in the CNMI would not exist if not for the cooperation of the Peoples Republic of China. Their agents play rough. I know of workers imprisoned in China for protesting inhumane working conditions in the CNMI. I have since 1994 been assisting two Chinese citizens facing imprisonment if forced to return to China for their involvement in a labor dispute with a garment factory operating in the CNMI owned by employees of the Chinese textile ministry.

While not every "poor" country that has Downey and Shapiro's sympathy is run for and by corrupt elites, only the most willfully naive or self-serving would suggest that the interests represented by most of the delegates from these countries to the WTO are the interests of those slaving in the manufacturing segments of their economies.

We live in a predatory world. If a buck is to be made, it will be, damn the human consequences. Contrary to Shapiro's uninformed belief, the vast majority of Western companies do not own the factories in these "poor" countries that produce their products. Western companies as a rule contract with the owners of these factories to have their products produced. For these factories to operate, they must have the cooperation of local governmental bodies. With rare exception, the owners of the factories and their friends in government share common financial interests. Even if there are laws in place to protect workers from abuse, they are seldom enforced for obvious reasons.

Paying low wages is but one way profit is made. That which most shocks the conscience is the conditions of employment in the vast majority of factories serving international trading interests. Most of those employed in the service of trade are made to suffer conditions of employment which are physically, emotionally, and spiritually destructive. The reasons conditions are so intolerable go beyond saving of some bucks on the installation of ventilation systems, for example. Abusive conditions of employment are integral to a culture of the workplace, which allows coercive practices necessary to insure optimum levels of productivity from oppressed and demoralized workforces.

What Shapiro and Downey's friends most fear is the enforcement of minimal standards of employment, which could threatened the class and/or caste privileges these elites hold and the wealth they are accumulating.



Anarchists or punks?

Geov Parrish's "Anarchists, go home!" (11/9/99) is right on the mark! We all have suffered at the hands of these immature so-called anarchists. The protest movement's demand for nonviolent change to the ruling elite—read WTO—was lost to the violence and chaos. Geov has written a sad but truthful commentary of our struggles against both parties. But it is a call for us to deal with those false anarchists who would subvert our goal for a just and peaceful world for their own childish fantasies of ruling power. Throw the truth in their faces, they are losing the struggle for all of us.



Schell's rights

Geov Parrish (Impolitics, "Get the Schell out," 12/16/99) needs to study the concept of American rights a little more before he writes about it. A basic concept, which he doesn't seem to understand, is that your rights end when they interfere with others' rights. Therefore it's not legal to cry "fire" in a crowded theater when there is no fire.

The reason a "no-protest" zone was established in downtown during the WTO was that the protesters interfered with the delegates' right to assemble for the opening ceremony. Some of the protesters didn't seem to think that the rules apply to them because the stakes are so high (where has that type of thinking led to trouble?). Play by the rules, or you can't play. It's a very simple, but in Geov's case, apparently overlooked concept of American life.

I do agree that there were police excesses, and those responsible should be held accountable, and the Mayor didn't handle the situation particularly well. If Geov wants to lead a holy crusade to throw Schell out, that's his right and I hope he goes for it. However, the rights of the delegates were being denied, and whatever you think of the WTO, those rights HAD to be protected, as everyone else's need to be.



A scolding

Gavin Borchert's review of Dominick Argento's "Miss Manners on Music" (Classical, 12/2) was disappointing to say the least. In his judgement the Northwest premiere of this Pulitzer prize-winning composer's new composition was "truly dreadful." But this criticism had less to do with the intrinsic qualities of the composition and its excellent performance by pianist Jane Harty and tenor Stuart Lutzenhiser than with Borchert's own musical prejudices.

This innovative piece by Argento is a musical setting of sample letters from the widely read newspaper column called "Miss Manners." But Borchert says such a musical project is "problematic" from the get-go.

But this judgement is preposterous! The reason is that the audience loved the performance! Their enthusiastic applause and punctuated laughter at the exact moments of musical and textual humor proved it. How could this have happened if the composition was so "numbing" musically and so damaging to its words? In light of the audience's response, should not have Borchert reconsidered his key complaint? Should he not have supposed that he was barking up the wrong tree and his prejudices were running wild?

Well, yes, he should have if he were an agile critic! But trapped in his own prejudices he bucked the facts and pursued his own hobby horse. (He might even have supposed that classical music ought not be funny!) As a result his readers were cheated out of an informed and honest review of Dominick Argento's new composition featured in the opening concert of ArtsWest's creative concert series for this their ninth season.



We welcome succinct letters commenting on articles in Seattle Weekly. Letters may be edited for length, clarity, and legal considerations. Please include name and daytime telephone number for verification. Write to Letters Editor, Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Avenue, Suite 300, Seattle, WA 98104; fax to 206-467-4377; or e-mail to letters@seattleweekly.com

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow