CAVALIER TOWARD THE NEEDY
DEAR JOHN METCALFE: This is the most egregious example of cruelty and blatant disregard for those in need that I have seen in a long time and particularly in print ["The Pike Street All-Stars," Nov. 28]. I don't usually dole out "for shames," but for shame—on you, and on the Seattle Weekly. Instead of making homelessness into Seattle's personal circus sideshow (which should only embarrass those who find it funny), why not take the more difficult, thoughtful first step in grappling with the bigger issue: the circumstances of our society that could bring someone to need to make the streets their home. I don't know if you've looked out the window today, but it's near freezing with hurricane-strength winds and rain—not exactly fun or funny for those who have to live in it. We should all chew on that while contemplating Mr. Metcalfe's cavalier description of these "dazzling denizens." And then go out and do something good for this city, to make up for the harm the Seattle Weekly has just done.
Claire B. Cole
WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?
DEAR EDITOR: Whoa! To get this printed, I'll refrain from speaking in the same vernacular Metcalfe wrote in his screed the editor OK'd, and James Hungaski so insultingly caricatured in the recent publication of the Weekly.
I've slept under bridges, bushes, trees, on docks, cement ledges, beaches, in friends' backyards, empty lots, in the rain, on park trails, all over this city for years. I've slept in the rain, in the cold, in the summer, fall, winter....Who the hell are you people at the Weekly?
I'll tell you this, absolutely and for certain: I'd sleep on the ground next to any of the peeps Metcalfe wrote about rather than down the hall in a separate room of a mansion with him.
Dumpsters? Read about the 1929 crash, fool.
Artis the Spoonman
DON'T LOOK DOWN
DEAR JOHN METCALFE: I was appalled at your disparagement of the homeless people in our community. Poverty and homelessness could happen to any of us—all it takes is a major illness (mental or physical), a job loss, a war that causes a disability. I found it interesting that the authors of this story think they are exempt from life's disasters—just wait! Maybe this old Irish proverb is a different perspective that you could think about: "Never look down on someone unless you are picking him up."
DEGRADED FOR A JOKE
DEAR EDITOR: I don't have the language to adequately express my disgust for "Pike Street All-Stars." You have chosen the weakest among us, those without any access to power, and you have held them up to public ridicule. Each little bio is accompanied by an insulting cartoon—stereotypical caricatures with crossed eyes, buck teeth, glazed looks on their faces—all telling us that these are people who deserve what they get. Look at them, you say, aren't they funny, digging through the garbage, sleeping in alleys, getting arrested. You are such cowards.
One of your subjects, Farrel Thomas, is a personal friend of mine. As an organizer of the Pike Market Buskers' Festival—and a stage manager at Bumbershoot—I have booked him to perform and have introduced him onstage several times. He is a fine entertainer and a great artist in his field. You—the Weekly, John Metcalfe, and James Hungaski—have no right to insult his character like this. Same with the others—people who have lost family members, fallen on hard times, attempted suicide, been forced to survive in whatever way they could—all of them degraded for the sake of a joke.
Local right-wing radio big mouth Michael Medved recently suggested that homeless people be outlawed. Outlawed! Lose your job and go directly to jail. How medieval. How arrogant, stupid, and dangerously petty. And now you join in. All the cameras, all the private security, all the gentrification, all the class-war guns of big-money Seattle cannot erase the stain of your "progress." The success of these times is built on the misfortune of those who simply could not make the payments.
We should be better than this. Maybe the Weekly is beyond hope.
Editor Mark D. Fefer responds: John's story wasn't meant to be scornful or contemptuous. It was meant to turn the tables on a city that has targeted these people for removal. John sought to give them, and their brutal reality, the aura of sports heroes. No disrespect was intended, but it was clearly felt among some readers, particularly in light of the harsh illustrations. For that, I apologize.
KEEPING UP WITH THE JOHNSES
DEAR HANNAH LEVIN: I would like to point out a few errors in your piece on my friend Ben Kersten [Rocket Queen, "Sonic Seducer," Nov. 14]. He never recorded the Lights or Blood Brothers. Those bands were recorded by Eric Blood. And the famous producer that he worked with in L.A. was none other than Andy "'When-the-Levee-Breaks'-drum-sound" Johns, younger brother of Olympic Studios engineer Glyn Johns. Unfortunately, this Andy "Jones" you mention does not exist.
It sucks that Ben has worked so hard for so long to get to where he is, finally gets some press, and has pertinent information misrepresented. Sloppy work indeed.
Hannah Levin responds: That Ben didn't work directly with the Blood Brothers is true (they recorded at his studio, Mysterious Red X, but with a different engineer). However, Ben himself told me he helped out with the Lights record as an engineer, and the band itself had plenty of great things to say about his contributions, as did Eric Blood. The misspelling of "Johns" as "Jones" was a simple error, not a creation of a fictional mentor.
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