It's Materialism, Stupid
I just read Geov Parrish's "2005 Media Follies!" [Dec. 28, 2005], and I found Parrish, as I often do, almost but not quite right on. The item that I had the biggest problem with was his contention that the Bush administration's attacks on the environment were underreported. I don't contest that fact; the issue I have is that Parrish, like almost all pundits, is great at pointing the finger at those in authority but underreports the true driving force behind the ongoing destruction of the Earth's biosphere: the Western material privilege. I've seen countless books in the last few years decrying Bush and company for their many sins, but I've seen a disappointing few that bring attention to our own complicity in these events. I know many good liberals who vote Democratic, it being impractical to vote for someone who more accurately reflects their professed values since they have no chance of winning; who drive small cars, since not driving at all is "impossible"; and who march against war, or something, once a year if the weather is nice. Having taken these steps, they feel they have done all they can do and have no more responsibility. I've come to believe the main function of the president is to give us someone to blame.
I don't know if Parrish doesn't see what I do, if he doesn't want to alienate readers by calling attention to their part in the problems of the world, or if, given the fact that Seattle Weekly makes its money from advertising, he or his editors don't want to offend potential revenue sources. I do know that the problems we face are unlikely to resolve themselves until we face the fact that we can't have all our privileges and a just and peaceful world.
I appreciated Knute Berger's farewell column [Mossback, "Mossbacks Remembered: 2005," Dec. 28, 2005]. However, I was surprised to see no mention of guitarist Dudley Hill, who succumbed to cancer in early 2005. Dudley was a founding member of Pearl Django, and as such he was a huge influence on the Seattle area, and the entire gypsy jazz community in America, by extension. He was a great guitarist with an impeccable swing feel to every note he played, and he was a first-class human being as well. He will be greatly missed by many.
Nicole's last Project
Thanks to Knute Berger for remembering Nicole duFresne in last week's issue of Seattle Weekly [Mossback, "Mossbacks Remembered: 2005," Dec. 28, 2005]. It's true that I am dedicating myself to making a documentary about widows. However, more specifically, the film focuses on widows of the War on Terror. Ironically, this project was conceived and begun by Nicole before she was murdered. She was very determined to bring it to fruition as a docu-play, being very excited about the docu-theater movement. My background is not in theater, however, so I hope that she will be happy to see the same subject matter covered in a motion picture. Given the circumstances, the film will also tell my own story of being widowed and bringing Nicole's last work to fruition. Currently I am in New York after having spent time in Texas earlier this past year interviewing widows of American soldiers. My task now is to get the project funded so I can complete it. My intention is to travel to Europe and the Middle East to conduct interviews with widows on all sides of the war, just as was Nicole's original intention. She lived to create art that would raise consciousness of women's issues and stories. I hope that I can do it justice.
Although there is very little information currently posted, the Web site for the film is WidowedMovie.com.
Jeffrey R. Sparks
New York, NY
I'm writing for my partner, Terry (Tuff) Ryan, who wrote the book The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less. After she got back from the final wrap of the movie in Toronto in November 2004, Tuff was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer that had metastasized to the brain. Treatments have worked very well, but writing e-mails is still not easy, so she asked me to thank Tim Appelo for mentioning the crazy dichotomy between War of the Worlds and Prize Winner (the movie) at DreamWorks ["What Were They Thinking?" Dec. 28, 2005].
Appelo's comment that Prize Winner represented the very independent-thinking force that a giant corporate creature could not stomp on and smother was delicious.
DreamWorks switched marketing approaches (multiplex vs. art theater), stopped advertising, and dumped the distribution of Prize Winner before it reached 100 screens. Terry's nine brothers and sister like to think positively about things (following their mom's lead), so they know better than to lament the giant promotion for War of the Worlds while Prize Winner languishes. For all of us connected with the book, everything about the movie has just been a big bonus that we knew from the beginning could be dropped or left unsupported. So working with Jane Anderson (the screenwriter-director) and Julianne Moore, who were fabulous to the Ryan family, felt like so much gravy that nothing could wreck the outcome—or so we thought. Maybe it was the sale of DreamWorks to Viacom that did it, but the last days proved to be pretty brutal.
Thanks again for Appelo's comments, and here's to more beautifully stated critical appraisal.
Pat Holt, on behalf of Terry Ryan and family
San Francisco, CA
The Prancing Poser Cliché
I was disappointed by the cover of the Holiday Film issue [Dec. 21, 2005]. The movie Brokeback Mountain serves as an important reminder/educator that not all homosexuals are excitable, sibilant, limp-wristed, weak pansy boys. Yet this unfortunate and fallacious stereotype seems to be lost on illustrator Ismael Roldan and Seattle Weekly. Yet again we see the homosexual, portrayed by Heath Ledger, as a prancing poser, his blond gay fan dripping with cliché. Was this really the funniest thing you could think of? Perhaps in your next issue we will get to see a caricature of a thick-lipped African American eating fried chicken and watermelon while stealing a car. Shame on you!
I agree with Geov Parrish's assessment of the problems with the U District and will sign any petition that prevents a high-rise from opening up in the parking lot in front of Cafe Allegro ["The Future of the U District," Dec. 21, 2005]. But please don't lump "faculty" and "staff" together in "affording luxury." As a UW secretary (senior) for eight years, I have only just recently reached the $30,000-a-year mark, which is about $2,000 net a month, most of which goes for rent, utilities, debt, and prescriptions. Luxury for me is buying brand-name food.
Agree or disagree? Write to Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104; fax to 206-467-4377; or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters should be less than 250 words. By submission of a letter, you agree that we may edit the letter and publish and/or license the publication of it in print, electronically, and for archival purposes. Please include name, location, and phone number.