DEAR MERCURY: Many are familiar with the Zen riddle "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Yet recently at the Blackbird a new riddle was created for our contemplation: "What is the sound of one hundred drunk socialites blathering so obnoxiously that they drown out the sounds of the American Analog Set?" And unlike the Zen riddle of old, I think I have an answer to this one: It is the sound of taking a shit on an angel's face.
SORRY, EAMONN... YOUR MOVIE STINKS
TO THE MERCURY: I am the distributor of Capturing the Friedmans. Far be it from me to tell a reviewer what to think about a film, but I think you're doing your readership a serious disservice with the complete lack of sophistication of Katie Shimer's review ["Pedophilic Butt Rapers," July 10].
This is probably the best-reviewed film of the year, the Sundance Grand Jury prize winner, it's performed terrifically at the box office, and has had remarkable national media coverage. To put a novice reviewer on the case is just plain wrong, and the review is so far removed from any other response to the film we've received that it stands out kind of pathetically. I have an appreciation for irreverence and dark humor (which is not absent from the film), but lame crassness ("the tearing of little boy's assholes") is pretty hard to get behind (pun unavoidable).
Just because Willamette Week called it the best film of the year and The Oregonian gave it four stars does not mean giving it a good review--but this review is bad and wrong.
Eamonn Bowles, Magnolia Pictures!
AA IS A LOAD OF CRAP
TO THE EDITOR: Katie Shimer's occasionally an interesting writer ["Off the Sauce," July 10], but you should restrict her musings to her own drunken activities and leave journalism to someone who can read a book--I'd suggest Heavy Drinking: the Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease by Herbert Fingarette.
After reading her AA/medical model puff piece, you might not realize it's ONLY IN AMERICA that someone who wants to reduce their drinking is almost automatically told by a (usually) religiously disturbed cult member that "You have a progressive and fatal disease and must quit or die from your drinking." This crapola is spouted not only in free AA meetings, but at almost all expensive treatment centers, which are commonly staffed by (para)professionals who got sober in AA and wouldn't know a critical idea if it jumped out from under their bible.
It's sloppy for Shimer to let the AA Zombie get away with an unsupported claim of a 50% "cure" rate. Fingarette's exhaustive review found something between 10 and 16% of those who go to an AA meeting get sober and stay that way. The other five out of six aren't all dying of drink. Most of us mature out of our dangerous habit in our 20's/30's/40's and continue to drink--but in a controlled fashion.
For those readers who suspect abstinence might be the way to go, there's a group called Rational Recovery which draws on the somewhat icky behaviorism of Dr. Albert Ellis. This is markedly less ludicrous than the Christianity of AA or the pathetic new attempts to make the 12-Steps less noxious by calling your Subaru your higher power.
Jeremy Szold Ginzberg
MERCURY PROFITS FROM FILE SHARING?
DEAR MERCURY: Once again the lack of depth in Julianne Shepherd's article ("Steal This Song") is kind of amazing [Feature, July 10]. She suggests that "copyright infringement" should no longer be illegal. Perhaps what Shepherd meant is that we should do away with copyright altogether. But if independent musicians stop signing their names to songs or stop claiming ownership over musical projects (the legally recognized equivalent of a copyright), then the Mercury couldn't sell bands or advertise shows. Independent music and its accompanying industry (e.g. the Mercury) is just as invested in the practice of private property as any major label. Shepherd's article promotes the vaguely defined superior qualities of independent music because when people spend their money on the "independent" entertainment industry, then it's good business for the Mercury.
Kathleen McConnell & Amy Neymeyr
Wm. Steven Humphrey responds: First of all, Julianne never even remotely suggested that "copyright infringement should no longer be illegal." Secondly, if Julianne promotes the "superior qualities of independent music" it's not because the Mercury profits from it, it's because she's an indierock dork. As for the Mercury, we stand behind downloading ALL music, whether major label (I suggest Beyonce's "Crazy in Love") or indie dork rock (!!!'s "Me and Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard). Oh, and congratulations, you win the Mercury "Letter of the Week" and two tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater.