"...cheap transcendence, generational chauvinism, and flashy, just plain bad and empty writing are the hallmarks of your unenviable accomplishment."

Boss cool

This way cool thing happened recently. One of my cousins in North Bend found an old issue of The Helix, Seattle's "hippie" rag from the '60s. Inside the brittle, yellowing pages is a review of a Doors gig at the Eagles Auditorium—written by Tom Robbins! I'd set it aside and totally forgotten about it until yesterday morning when, on my way to work at the Cyclops Cafe, I saw your May 4 issue at my bus stop. Oh, honey, I love this cover story! I was especially touched by the wonderful, generous words of graceful praise that Mr. Robbins penned concerning one of my literary idols, Oscar Wilde, Esq. That was boss cool.

I rarely read the Weekly or other local publications because I have absolutely no interest in modern culture; but I'm certainly glad I picked up this issue. There are so many Northwest authors, in a multitude of genres, and yet, for such a writers' town, it seems I rarely see in-depth features on Seattle/Northwest writers. Thanks for a great cover story.




Cheap transcendence

Tom, you complain that your harshest critics, incapable of understanding your work, "unfamiliar with . . . Asian systems of liberation . . . and Greek mythology" (my own two minors in college) tend to hail from near home. All I see around here is the kind of hype that got you on the cover of last week's Weekly [5/4]. If that criticism exists (and I'm about to give you some), it is not out of resentment of your hollow success, but because cheap transcendence, generational chauvinism, and flashy, just plain bad and empty writing are the hallmarks of your unenviable accomplishment. Most shocking in your three-year old Bumbershoot acceptance speech (why are we reading this again?) was your glib attempt to front an "anticorporate" ethic while at the same time serving as an apologist for our princes regent Gates and Allen, and their court jester, Dale Chihuly. Well, you make Dale Chihuly look like Leonardo da Vinci.

If you think this is just another hippie-bashing from a 'Gen X-er,' let me note that we have had the shining example of elders W.S. Merwin, Adrienne Rich, and Patti Smith here this year, showing us how to maintain passion and relevance in the face of age and laurels. Your work is just another brick in the wall of complacency that surrounds many folks of your generation (and mine) who think they are part of a counterculture when they are really just sitting around reading their own auras as the commercials get louder and the forest is paved. This is not to say that art needs to be political; the best stuff usually isn't. Just stop being such a pothead! As Camper Van Beethoven once said, "Take off that jumpsuit, you look like Grace Slick." Nevertheless, I wish you well.




Re: R. Downey's "Bugged in Ballard" [5/4]: No Spray Zone met with Joe Dear, the Governor's Chief of Staff, on May 3 and presented the following information:

The governor needn't make a "lose-lose" choice (as Mr. Dear characterized it) between spraying or allowing a possible infestation of Asian gypsy moths ("AGMs") to develop. There are established procedures, documented by the USDA and supported by eminent scientists, to locate moths and eradicate them using traps. While written for European moths, they are applicable; it is unlikely the (purely hypothetical) AGM females flew very far, since they are strongly attracted to lights and the population would have been small. WSDA has said this publicly.

WSDA has never eradicated an AGM infestation, because they never determined if one existed. When they detect one moth, they dump spray all around it and declare an infestation eradicated without ever knowing if there was one. The WSDA invented this protocol. It is not backed by any science.

We don't know if any larvae exist in Ballard. It's unlikely, since WSDA performed an egg search last fall and found none. But if an egg mass magically appeared and hatched (producing about 5-10 moths, not hundreds), spraying Foray48B is not a perfect remedy. The record shows BT pesticides to be 60 percent effective at best; that's no better than high-density trapping. We urged the Governor to call for the latter method.

We've only been trapping gypsy moths since the '70s and differentiating Asian from European for the last 10 years. It' s almost certain that AGMs have been entering our ports for 100 years. Why haven't they established? It's irresponsibly unprofessional for the WSDA to claim AGMs could "quite likely" establish here without exploring why this hasn't happened yet.

Exposure to Foray 48B is a health risk for some, according to the Danish manufacturer. While some studies show little serious disease has occurred yet, they're often flawed. (Most people don't know what symptoms Btk produces, so spray-caused illnesses may be treated as non-spray related.) There is growing evidence that BTk infects humans, and some bacteria, like tuberculosis, can produce long-term infections with no immediate symptoms, but cause disease years later. BTk as an aerosol is not benign, and not always when it is eaten either.

The decision to spray is a panicked one. We expect our elected officials to act with due caution and prudence, not panic.



Neither sleet nor snow nor btk

I am a letter carrier at the Ballard station. I'm writing primarily concerning the claim by Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles that she, like her constituents, learned of Ag's plans only after reading the papers ["Bugged in Ballard," 5/4]. To date, Ballard letter carriers have delivered two coverages from WSDA concerning the spraying. "Coverages," in mailspeak, are mailings that reach every household on every route. The first was about mid-April, and the second was this past Friday, Cinco de Mayo.

I am a member of the station's safety committee and, upon first hearing of the spraying, brought my concerns to our union steward, since carriers are out there in rain, hail, sleet, seagull droppings, and whatever. Personally, I am satisfied with the fact that the spraying will end by 7am, before carriers hit the street, and management's offer of providing latex gloves for any carriers that choose to wear them.

Mainly though, I wanted you to be aware of the two coverages WSDA provided to the residents. WSDA can probably provide you with copies of these mailings, as leftover copies are discarded at the station.



Arbiter of the burrito

In casting himself as the arbiter of the burrito's Mexican authenticity, David Massengill ["The Burrito Manifesto," 5/4] overlooks something really important: Burritos aren't Mexican. They are more properly classified as a Mexican-American or Chicano dish. The burrito (known as the burro in the Southwestern US, where they presumably claim to make them bigger) was invented by migrant Mexican-American farmworkers who needed some type of portable food that they could take out into the fields with them, without need of plates or utensils. While you can probably find burritos in Mexico, it's for the same reason you can find McDonald's there: It came from here. And of course "authentic" Mexican cuisine does contain some very similar dishes.

So if burritos are authentic Mexican-American food, this must mean that Taco Bell is authentic American-Mexican food. So Massengill's guilty pleasure need not be so guilty.

Also, he describes the requirements for an authentic Mexican restaurant but doesn't name many places where they can be found. How about Taqueria Morelia (across from the Neptune in the U District) where there actually is a TV blaring Mexican soccer games? Or that big blue restaurant/tienda at the south end of Lake City Way? Or the dozens of places in White Center and South Park?

Finally, many thousands of people of color and immigrants in town would probably be offended by his characterization of Seattle as "a city with the ethnic diversity of an IKEA catalogue," not to mention Mexicans who would dispute his implication that all "real" Mexican food makes gringos sick.




Stupid, stupid burrito

What a waste of time reading that stupid Burrito article ["The Burrito Manifesto," 5/4]. It's obvious he didn't do any research, and was too afraid to express an opinion about any of the food. Only four restaurants were mentioned, and those were all common places, this should have and could have been a lot better, bigger, and at least a little informative. Reading this was a waste of 5 minutes and reinforces the only use for your weekly is to check movie times.



Nimble, corpulent grace

Knute Berger's column on the Boy Scouts [Editorial Comment, 5/4] sure brought back memories. Not just the casual sort of peeing-on-your-tent cruelties, though those were dismal enough. What keeps Scouting firmly on my list of horrific recollections is that it was the only time somebody ever really set out to kill me. It was when my Scout troop stayed for a week at Expo '74 in Spokane as a sort of live exhibit (each troop got one week of the summer). It began with what I considered a mild sort of running feud with this other Scout named Dan and escalated to the point where he just sort of snapped. As it turns out he was helped to that point by his good friend (another Scout), who whipped him into a psychotic lather over the course of one afternoon and evening.

Dan came into my tent after lights-out. I will never forget the oddly vacant look in his eyes as he gripped my throat through the sleeping bag with both hands and squeezed. I couldn't scream. My arms were trapped inside the bag, and if the Eagle Scout hadn't come in and dragged him off just as the sparkles in my vision were beginning to go gray, he probably would have succeeded. During the whole process, he never said a word. And the even more surreal companion image, related to me later by fellow Scouts, was that of psycho-Dan's friend skipping around the perimeter of the campsite with a sort of nimble, corpulent grace, singing, "Danny's killing Eric, Danny's killing Eric. . . ." I didn't stay in the Scouts very long after that.



Cold shiver

Do Michael Krugman and Jason Cohen [The Culture Bunker, 5/4] actually know anything about the all-too-pervasive racism that exists in the UK against Asian people in general and Indians and Pakistanis in particular? Their shameful remarks concerning the Asian Dub Foundation send a very cold shiver down the spine of anyone who has ever witnessed such frightening prejudice firsthand. I know that the column is intended to be jokey but this is really not funny, especially against a group of people trying to seriously confront some of these issues. Shame on Krugman and Cohen.



If we all acted like Bill

Re: "An open appeal to Joel Klein" [5/4]:

Bill Gates, "america's favorite entrepreneur". Harvard Business School teaches his zero ethics approach.

Remember, Kant's law states that an action is wrong if everyone doing it collapses the system. Well guess what...

If we all acted like Bill Gates,




Uncle Sam, can you say something in support of your free market policy now?




Fire him!

Re: "An open appeal to Joel Klein" [5/4]:

Please fire this writer for suggesting more antitrust. It is absurd on its face, has wiped out hundreds of billions of dollars in retirement assets and from Micro$oft. Even IF it was true (and it isn't) that Microsoft was a monopoly and overcharged me (gasp!) $5 bucks on the OS while giving me a FREE browser, the foolish antitrust actions have wiped out THOUSANDS from my portfolio.

My only comment to the author is: Get the government out of the economy and read up on Capitalism by George Reisman.



ps. And maybe we can get the .gov out of healthcare too.

Don't fire him!

Re: "An open appeal to Joel Klein" [5/4]:

Yes! Yes! The exact truth! Thank you!

Remember the way the Bizmark [sic] got sunk: One tiny little plane spotted it, and then another little ship jammed it's rudder, and then they sank it! I know this makes me sound like Mr. Rogers fighting the Hydra, but the story is true. And your story is not an "opinion," it is the simple truth!

Hoping you don't lose your job reporting the facts, I am

Sincerely yours,



State of the union

David Massengill's piece on performance artist Tim Miller ["Traveling second class," 5/4] contained an interesting examination of Miller's evolving views on marriage for same-sex couples. There was one error, however: The article cited a figure of 1,049 laws that Miller and his Australian partner are denied equal access to. That number covers only those at the federal level. They are denied access to additional hundreds of laws at the state level—360 of them in Washington state.



State of the state patrol

I recently read "Inside the WTO command center" [4/27]. I take exception with much of the tone and tenor of this article, which inflates concerns to gigantic, nonconstructive proportions.

The most glaring factual flaw is where you report that Governor Gary Locke and Mayor Paul Schell "argued privately for more than 15 minutes." No such thing occurred to my knowledge. In fact, when asked by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Review Panel, I indicated I had no knowledge of what was said or what occurred in that meeting. I was very clear on the fact that I was not present in the meeting, nor do I know what was discussed at this meeting.

The article gives the impression that the information I provided was entirely negative. During the nearly three-hour meeting, I provided both positive accomplishments and constructive criticism of the events surrounding the security at the WTO meeting.

My purpose in meeting with the WTO Review Panel was to provide constructive information that would allow all parties involved insight from my experience. This, along with others' input, would prepare the law enforcement community for future event security preparation.

The information I provided was never intended to be released and sensationalized to sell a newspaper. The fact that it was will only diminish the communications between law enforcement participants and the WTO Review Panel in the future—that is truly unfortunate.



Rick Anderson responds: It's not clear which "such thing" didn't occur. As both her comments and our report state, there was a meeting between Schell and Locke, alone in an office. It was therefore private. In the heat of WTO, they were not exchanging pleasantries, said the reviewers.

Fuzzy brothers

Thank you for your article on the "Monkey business in the Regrade" and to Roger Downey for raising another great concern that residents share regarding the location of the UW's Primate Center ["But Koko love Belltown..." 4/27]. Yes, Mr. Downey, we are very concerned about "a daring midnight raid by camouflage-clad eco-crazies on a do-or-die mission to set their fuzzy brothers free." You nailed just another one of our numerous concerns about locating a primate center attached to a residential building. (I must emphasize, not "next to" but "attached" to.) If you think that a major daily hazard for cars exiting out of the Alexandria garages, construction commencing without a building permit, storage of potentially dangerous chemicals on sight, lack of an emergency plan on file, and a total loss of views for six condominiums, with six others losing all natural light (not four, as per UW press release), in addition to the fact the primate center moved in and undertook a major expansion without any prior notification to be "little more than a quibble," I would like to know what you would consider a legitimate quibble.

To dismiss our concerns as NIMBYs syndrome is simply not true. We at the Alexandria and other surrounding residents have weathered a major expansion of the building that housed Bristol-Meyers Squibb (now the home of the UW primate research facility) and Unocal's environmental cleanup across the street. Both projects were disruptive, but unlike the UW, both corporations went out of their way to keep us informed and involve us in the process. We didn't like either activity, but we worked with both companies to make the finished project beneficial for the community. All we ask is for the City of Seattle to do what they should have done in the first place: Provide leadership and mandate an immediate environmental evaluation of the primate facility. Mr. Downey, I expect that you would accept nothing less if a primate facility were attached to your house.



Losing touch

The Weekly article about the Mountains to Sound Greenway ["Big green money machine," 4/27] illustrated to me how easy it is to lose touch with people who bring the news to the public. When Jim Ellis and I agreed 10 years ago to cochair the Mountains to Sound March, the Greenway was a vision to only a few people, like Harvey Manning and Bill Longwell. Trails Club members were trying to keep the "string of Pearls" of Issaquah Alps undeveloped, and the March was conceived as a convergence around protecting the environmental qualities of the hillsides and the linkages between them. Yes, a few of the 90-some marchers were Republicans, and the Greenway sprang out of that five-day encounter.

Many of us worked together, when I was State Lands Commissioner, to acquire Mt. Si as a state conservation area, Tiger Mountain as a state forest (some of it to be logged), Squak Mountain as a state park, and Cougar Mountain as a country regional park. For the Weekly to call the Greenway a "private preservation project" is a pretty strange observation.

The Weekly waded into Greenway history, showing that employees of industry giants like Weyerhaeuser and Microsoft are on the Board, yet ignoring that Trails Clubs, the Mountaineers, and various public officials such as Gary Locke also serve. But your most hilarious misconception is that Jim Ellis somehow leads a junta of Republicans who are bent on spending every last federal environmental dollar on I-90.

As you point out, there are many critical environmental projects that could use the money the Greenway gets for land acquisition. Land prices in the Greenway are becoming so costly that we need to question priorities. But the price pressure on the land in the Greenway mirrors similar urban areas elsewhere, and the Greenway has become a national model for citizen action to protect elements of our natural environment along corridors besieged with urban demands.

I look back over 20 years of trying to protect elements of the I-90 corridor and 10 years since we started the Greenway Trust, and am amazed at how much we accomplished. We have become a strong citizen-driven organization, led by a remarkable man, Jim Ellis, who has brought his unique leadership and persuasion skills to the Greenway when we needed those talents. That kind of accomplishment makes some people nervous when they see the power that assembles around a catalytic idea. I hope the Weekly resists that and begins to view the Greenway in terms of its accomplishments and as a unifying force for helping citizens protect critical resources in our state. We have a great deal to gain in the region if you could.



Mark D. Fefer responds: Mr. Boyle seems to believe that the merits of the Greenway project somehow entitle it to celebratory coverage only. My piece was an attempt to detail the Greenway's accomplishments while also pointing out that the its particular brand of environmentalism may actually be coming at the expense of other ecological concerns, which are less Republican-friendly. As Mr. Boyle says, "we need to question priorities," and that, in a nutshell, is all my story suggested.

Goons grease larder

Thank you for printing Mark D. Fefer's article "Big green money machine," [4/27]. It is nice to see some investigative reporting about environmental issues from "alternative" sources. I especially liked that the article revealed the circle-jerk policy methods that Slade Gorton and his goons employ to grease up the larder of timber companies and developers. This was not an article The Seattle Times would touch with any length stick—let alone with a Weyerhaeuser 2x4.

Perhaps in some future article Mr. Fefer could explain to us how timber companies are able to shift their properties from zoned Commercial Forestry lands into lands zoned as Urban Areas? I am increasingly under the impression that the gang of collie molesters that run our local timber companies are behind this region's sprawling advance toward the wilderness and, furthermore, that they are getting richer in that process.

Pretty freeways might be nice—especially along the ecologically battered I-90 corridor—but the larger issues in the Pacific Northwest are undoubtedly hiding a bit deeper in the woods.



Letters may be edited for length, clarity, and legal considerations. Please include name, location, and daytime telephone number. We frown on self-adhesive stamps. 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

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