News Let Me Give You Motherfuckers Some Help
posted by June 30 at 3:47 AMon
A couple hours ago, three girls—“hipster rats,” as they were described by someone who saw the scene unfold—stumbled into the Northwest Film Forum, where there were some people standing around waiting for a party for a filmmaker to start. The three girls had words scrawled all over themselves in Magic Markers, mighta been drunk, and were evidently looking for any group of people to shout their message to. Their message, as shouted by one of them: “Don’t read The Stranger because The Stranger wrote about Atlas and now Atlas is shut down!”
Commenters to this Slog post about Atlas being shut down—at least comments by the people who’ve been volunteering their time to put on these all-ages shows at Atlas—are saying much the same thing. Here’s “Bummer”:
Tonight, Atlas was shut down by the fire marshall/police, DIRECTLY DUE TO THE ARTICLE WRITTEN IN THE STRANGER BY ERIC GRANDY. Atlas was given an unnecesarilly destructive review by this writer… The article…has ruined what we have been working on. THANKS TO THE STRANGER, capitol hill NO LONGER HAS AN ALL AGES VENUE… Boycott the Stranger. FUCK ERIC GRANDY… It takes a lot of work, dedication and time to put something on that you believe in. We are of the age to go to shows at bars yet our main concern was to have a place for kids to go conviently located in the middle of the city where they could listen to music. That is ruined. I am both angry and unimpressed with the lack of concern, compassion or understanding involved in this article going to print. We asked them not to. Please repost and help us in boycotting Eric Grandy as a writer and The Stranger as an irresponsible, gossiping, desperate music news source.
Here’s “oh mighty pen”:
Way to go, “Scoop” Grandy. Think you’ll pick up a Pulitzer for this? What was your motivation for that article, anyway?
“R” calls Grandy “Seattle’s music douchebag extraordinaire” and goes on:
You are such a no-nothing clown, that you couldn’t resist blowing your wad the moment you could report something that wasn’t just re-typing a Pitchfork press release. No Josh Feit prank is going to allow you to weasel yourself out of this one, shithead. You fucked up royal, and now you’re going to have to fess up to people that you can’t just mock on the internet and walk away from. Welcome to actually being part of the music scene and not just some pseudo-omniscient observer. Hopefully you’ll learn something from it.
That’s just the beginning. There are lots more.
OK, R, I’ll bite: let’s see what we have “learned” from this. You have a venue that’s doing interesting stuff—putting on all-ages shows in a neighborhood that, dense as it is, doesn’t have an all-ages music venue. In addition to local bands, they’re bringing in out of town acts. Good ones. (I know because a band that came from Portland to Seattle just to play an all-ages show at Atlas spent the night on my couches.) Sure, all the people who go to shows at Atlas know about it, and so do all their friends, but it’s still basically a secret. And people from other cities know about Atlas too, because they drive all the way to Seattle to play shows and sell t-shirts and CDs at Atlas, but still it’s, more or less, you know, a secret. Or “covert,” or something.
So, what do you do? Well, frankly, the cat’s already out of the bag, but if it’s important to keep the venue a secret, there are things you can do to keep your profile low. You probably shouldn’t advertise the shows on MySpace, because lots of people have MySpace pages. (Including douchebag journalists, douchebag fire dept employees, etc.) You probably shouldn’t let your shows be written about in newspapers, and if for whatever reason you’re happy to have your shows written about in newspapers, you probably shouldn’t let newspapers print the name and address of your venue because, like, all kinds of people read newspapers. (Even douchebags like journalists and fire dept employees.) And, OK, say you’re advertising shows on MySpace and happily letting newspapers print information about your shows—you still probably shouldn’t make posters and put them on light poles because, like, all kinds of people pass light poles every day (including douchebag journalists and douchebag fire dept employees). And if you’re advertising your shows on MySpace, letting your venue info be printed in newspapers, and postering all over the place for your shows, but you still want the whole operation to be secret, you probably shouldn’t set up an A-frame sandwich board on the busiest street near the venue (for example, Broadway) that says “SHOW TONIGHT” with, below that, a poster for whatever show is happening on a given night.
Because guess what? Once an A-frame sandwich board is involved, your venue is no longer a secret.
I understand why you’re blaming The Stranger—because you’re upset, because this thing you’ve been volunteering all this time to make happen has been abruptly shut down by municipal scolds, because you actually like music and believe young people should have a place they can see shows in a neighborhood that has no dedicated space for them—but, uh, guys? You realize how disingenuous and bankrupt your argument is, right?
Lemme give you a sense of this from Grandy’s perspective: I was frustrated that Grandy hadn’t written about Atlas sooner. The three full-time staffers in the music department at The Stranger—Zwickel, Grandy, and Seling—report to me, the arts editor, and I report to Dan Savage, the editor in chief. Dan Savage was frustrated that we hadn’t written about Atlas sooner. He said so in a staff meeting a couple days ago.
Newspapers exist to tell people what’s going on. What’s happening in the city where they live. What shows should they go spend money on, yeah, but also lots of other things too that have nothing to do with telling people what to spend money on—like what local bands are getting back together, what local clubs are consolidating booking responsibilities, what bands are making really interesting music but haven’t been signed yet, what the guy who does sound at the Crocodile is like as a person, and so on.
A venue that puts on all-ages shows in a neighborhood that doesn’t have an all-ages venue? That’s a story. Oh, and they’re figuring out a way to convince good bands to be involved? Wow, cool. And they have these meetings that are sort of like the meetings in communal punk houses, except that they’re getting stuff done? How exactly are they pulling that off? And the owner of the space is willing to take a risk on a far-fetched proposition (the economics of all-ages venues are brutal), in a neighborhood where most business owners are too worried about the bottom line (rent is expensive on Capitol Hill) to let cool shit happen, because he thinks it might actually be good for his business to be associated with all the awesome stuff that’s going on in the back room? Man, that’s fascinating.
Grandy has been sitting on this story for months. At least since February. Early on, his contact at Atlas—Matt Fuller, who has joined the disingenuous chorus in the comments of that other slog post—asked Grandy to wait before publishing the story until Atlas had had its inspection. Grandy agreed to wait until there was an inspection so long as Fuller kept in touch about how things were progressing. Then Fuller dropped out of contact. Phone call after phone call went unreturned. Around the office, I was pressuring Grandy and Zwickel to get the story into the paper, because lots of people were talking about the clothing-store-turned-music-venue, even people far outside of the music community.
For a while we were going to do the story and not tell anyone what the venue was called or what neighborhood it was in. Because, like, we respected what they were doing and had no interest in shutting them down. But, more and more that seemed unnecessary, especially because we were printing all the venue info in the music section week after week. And, you know, A-frame sandwich board. And because when Grandy called the owner of Atlas—the guy without whom any of this would have existed—he seemed happy to talk about what he hoped the shows were going to do for his clothing business and not worried about being written about. Meanwhile, Fuller—who’d told Grandy he’d keep in touch—had dropped out of touch, so it wasn’t as like he seemed to care a whole lot one way or another.
So we decided to print what we knew. Grandy was just doing his job—and he waited until there was a gun pointed to his head on this one. But sure, blame him, boycott him, “fuck him”—whatever you gotta do, Bummer. Cuz you’re right, Atlas getting shut down is all Grandy’s fault.
John from a band called the Quiet Ones just emailed a letter to the editor that starts:
Eric Grandy can suck my dick. Do you know what the best part about covert all ages shows is? The fact that they are fucking covert all ages shows. Thanks asshole for sacrificing other people’s entertainment to get something printed beyond your usual boring weekly column. I sat there last week reading that article, thinking about the show that I had booked there in two weeks with two touring bands thinking to myself “This shit head is going to ruin our show” and it fucking happened…
Then, 17 minutes later, not-so-quiet John from the Quiet Ones wrote another letter to the editor, this time to say:
Dan, if you need someone who isn’t a fuck wit (though I am when I’m drunk) to write instead of Eric Grandy, I have plenty of experience as an altweekly music editor and plenty more journalism experience. I can give you samples if you care.
Sure, John, we’d be glad to have you on board. But, uh, how would you feel about having your desk be right next to Grandy’s? Cuz he’s not going anywhere.