Week of September 8, 2004

Sep 8, 2004 at 4:00 am
Editor's note: "The Ten Most Hated Men in Rock," Mike Seely's music story last week, generated a blizzard of mail from readers nationwide. Some readers agreed with Seely's polemic, most gently begged to differ. Below is a sampling of the feedback; for more, tune in next week.

Hated Men
Rock on! Thank you for your scalding compilation of rock's current crop/crap. I wouldn't recall a single one of your nominees. Santana, Durst, G.E. Smith, Weir -- they're all so deserving! Paul McCartney sucks, but thankfully he doesn't really intrude on my consciousness these days.

As I scrolled down the page, I was excited to see you hadn't missed Dashboard Confessional. They're not the worst, but they symbolize a reprehensible type. During a small earthquake last year, I found myself in danger of being crushed by a huge Chris Carrabba billboard outside my office building. The idea of dying like that -- crushed by insincerity and soggy feelings. I shuddered and crept backwards into a more structurally sound part of the building, just in case.

I'm genuinely unsure if rock was once something special, or if it was just immortalized before it had a chance to show its utterly ordinary ambitions. The never-ending shock of those who've watched their idols betray their own shtick always reminds me of Charlie Brown's surprise when Lucy jerks the football away. Thanks again. I'll keep reading.
Sean Tejaratchi
Los Angeles

Add Byrne to the list: David Byrne? Step away from the bong. As Mojo magazine once said about Talking Heads, "It's hard to imagine that a band that seemed so relevant then could be so utterly and completely irrelevant now."

The only good thing he's done in the last twenty years is reissue the Shuggie Otis record.
Dan Carlson
New York, New York

Après Dan le deluge: Yo, dick, that article sucks, you no-talent ass clown. If you can do better, then do better. I just printed out your article and I think I am going to wipe my ass with it, or maybe line it on the floor for my dog. So let me guess: You are jealous that these artists are getting paid for what they like. They have sold millions of records and you are writing for a never-before-heard-of site. Do the world a favor and don't quit your day job. Your writing reads like a whiny little girl with a skinned knee.
Scott Wilson
Collingswood, New Jersey

But Meat Loaf didn't even make the list! Someone once said, "Opinions are like assholes; everybody's got one." But Mike Seely tries way too hard to be an asshole.

As Meat Loaf once said of a reviewer, "This guy just wanted to hear himself write."
Michael Ankelman
Webster Groves

Bring Mother Theresa into it, why don'tcha? Mikey, you have a gift. It is a gift of the old blarney. I see right through your plastic Mac. You are trying to stir up the populace. You pick the popular people, the ones a certain generation appreciates, and you dis them. For cryin' out loud, give us lads the names of your favorite groups and we'll write our own articles about their every indiscretion.

Anyone you can admire has made mistakes. Shame that you pick out the good ones and piss your stupid rant down on the pages of the RFT. Makes me wonder who the fuck they hire and why? What a jerkoff. You are entitled to your opinion, but at least be real about it. Picking out those artists all in a row, it's so obvious.

OK, here's your cookie crumb. Here's a rant you can print for the ages. You dumb bastard. Even Mother Theresa got the runs.
Rick Mason

John v. Paul: I'm not going to take the time to give you a Beatles history lesson, as there are a plethora of sources you could consult for the facts. I'm not going to go into the insanity of projecting the sins of a social contact on to the contacted [sic]. I'm not going to defend Paul's British sense of humor for those of you who just don't get it. And it is absolutely unnecessary to detail the accomplishments of Paul's musical career post-1970. But where in the hell do you get off insulting his current wife like that?

According to you, her youth, hair color and physical handicap are all good reasons to cross her off the decent-human-being list. For the record, Paul married Heather over four years after Linda's untimely death. Your application of the "exaggeration for impact" school holds no weight with me; it's just an excuse for lack of research.

Shall we take a look at the great John Lennon in this respect? Let's see, he fucked everything that walked while married to his first wife. Found the "love of his life" on one of these escapades, divorced his wife and married Yoko. They engaged in a lifestyle so disturbing it caused outsiders to blame her (if wrongfully) for the breakup of the Beatles. And then, oh yeah, he fucked around on her. If you want to bring up marriage as one of the factors for judging a musician, don't hold up Lennon as a comparison. You deify the dead, then blame the living for not measuring up to the golden statues you erect. I wonder what your label was for Linda while she was alive.

I encourage you to seek psychiatric assistance. Living with this much hate can't be healthy.
Heather Cook
Spokane Valley, Washington

Somebody please help Seely: I don't understand why your article on Paul McCartney is so filled with hate and loathing. This is a man I've loved most of my life and looked up to. He has more talent in his little finger than most every other rock star has in all! John Lennon, whom I also love, considered it a privilege and an honor to work with Paul, as he should have.

Why you hate Paul so much is unknown, but what is clear is that he's not the one with the problem. You are. I hope you get help. You obviously need it!
Rachel Case
Lynchburg, Virginia

Incoming Parrothead: Buffett rocks. Greatest of all time. You suck. You are now destined to be the most hated man in the press. Way to go.
Adam Call
Manhattan, Kansas

In defense of Elton: I know that your "Ten Most Hated" article was probably done more for humor and entertainment and this info that I'm sharing is of no great importance. But, according to Elton John, he did not start doing drugs until after most of his adventurous music was finished in 1976. John Lennon had also mentioned this in an interview about Elton saying that "he drinks a lot but won't try anything else." Then while recording Rock of the Westies, members of the Beach Boys and the Eagles turned him on to cocaine.

That's all. I have never met the man and it could be that everyone interviewed about him lied through their teeth. I guess I wish that there were at least a few artists that did not think they had to use drugs to be creative. It's cheating anyway. It is sort of like not having enough of your own magic within or not being insane enough to be a musician in the first place. So you have to get out the paint-by-numbers drug kit and hope that by using it you will finally become creative. I don't know if this is a good thing or bad thing for you, but if Miles had not stopped shooting heroin there would have never been jazz fusion, Bitches Brew, Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra or Return to Forever, etc. He would still be playing "Porgy and Bess" for white people. And if Bowie kept doing cocaine, he would have just put out more disco records with David Sanborn and Luther Vandross and never would have taken Iggy with him to record with Eno in Berlin.

Anyway, I am not trying to be stupid or start something negative with you. Lately, though, I find myself getting into a lot of arguments with musicians about drugs. Where they don't think there's anything wrong with getting so fucked up that they cannot play the songs on stage. Or they miss rehearsals because they got stoned and fell asleep on the couch. Maybe you think that I need to chill out and do some drugs so I would stop arguing with people. Have a fun week.
Tory Z Starbuck
St. Louis

Long live Goo Goo Dolls! I think you are very wrong placing John Rzeznik on your "Most Hated Men in Rock" list. The Goo Goo Dolls are a phenomenal band, playing in front of thousands and thousands of fans, and selling lots of records! Did I mention they are even Grammy nominees? And how many times have they gone platinum? Not to mention the fact that they have a huge loyal fan base; most established writers know this, and top radio personnel know how large and strong the Goo Goo Dolls' fan following is!

I am writing you to let you know, there is no point in having Mr. Rzeznik or the Dolls on the list. Not that your opinion really matters; just wanted to enlighten you. Some songs I suggest you listen to: "Fallen Down," "Truth Is a Whisper," "All Eyes on Me," "Dizzy," "Already There," "Big Machine," "What a Scene."
Reanna Fugeman
Ashland, Kentucky

Weir you get off? Hey, asshat. Thanks for creating a terrible piece of work. Bob Weir, Carlos Santana (the day after Latin Grammys) -- get a life, man. Bob Weir plays over 1,260 songs in any given year and you give him shit for a TelePrompTer! You can't even remember what you had for dinner. And since I've seen the subpar bar band many times, I will look for his TelePrompTer next time, which is probably only brought out once in a while, like on [a] Dead tour.

You suck as a writer and can't find something better to do than shit on someone's headstone. Get a life!
Mark Hart
Minneapolis, Minnesota

The danger zone: Find a new career, something outside of the business of writing. You must have been really bored, or reaching when you wrote this. I don't know how long you have been at this, but from this article, I would guess too long.

FYI, Kenny Loggins is one of music's purest artists. True to his self, his fans, he has something called integrity. His career has spanned over 30 years regardless of people like yourself living inside the box. Like the record companies, I could not even begin to understand your thinking, nor would I want to. Music has become nothing but politics; you should have written an article on that. Radio stations do not represent what listeners want to hear, only what the big record companies preach. Furthermore, I think writers such as yourself should do more research before you write such ignorant rantings.

Let me tell you a few words about both Kenny and Sting: Their music has evolved, progressed as in life, hopefully when one matures and grows. As with anything in life that is original, it is not about appealing to the masses, it is about being true to one's craft. They write music that touches one's heart, spirit, they write music that changes one's life.
Enough said.
Martita Hamilton
Cleveland, Ohio

Next week we trash chamber music: What qualifications does Mike Seely have as a music critic? Why would you publicly humiliate yourself with what you have written about some of the most talented men in history? Are you jealous of them, perhaps? Do you like any type of music? I think you missed out on trashing chamber music.
Sandy Heffel
Newmarket, Ontario

Mike Seely, pubescent perv: Wow. Using expletives is just so hip! So out there and cutting edge! I don't know about everyone else, but the overuse of expletives just shows me what a true literary giant a writer is. You know, really down with it, and a man of the people and all that.

"Overrated boy band known as the Beatles"? This statement about what is probably the most influential group to ever pick up a guitar pick only begins to illustrate Mike Seely's ignorance of rock history. To dismiss the Beatles' work as that of a boy band completely ignores their ground-breaking contributions to rock music. And let's not leave out his personal invective against Paul McCartney's wife -- the "one-legged starfucker." What kind of paper allows such childish verbal diarrhea to be published? Surely you can find a better rock critic than that, even in St. Louis. This one sounds like a twelve-year-old trying to impress his schoolyard buddies with how cool he is because he can swear a lot and dismiss any musician over thirty.
Libby Armstrong
Long Beach, California

Love is all you need: What a joke! I happen to be a huge Paul McCartney fan, and if this man is so hated as you have stated then why were his concerts in 2002 selected as the biggest event of 2002? I saw his concerts in 2002, and there was no one in that audience who seemed to be "hating" Mr. McCartney. You don't know what you are talking about.

The rest of the ones you selected are loved by millions as is Paul. Your list means nothing!
Cindy Brumback
Keokuk, Iowa

What's on Seely's iPod? What a horrible list. Band on the Run could've been written by a third grader? Hardly. The Beatles an "overrated boy band"? Makes me wonder what type of music you listen to. I think you can only plead ignorance. I got about halfway through your article and stopped reading. Thanks for playing.
Jason Pierce
Indianapolis, Indiana

Stung four times: I love Buffett! He obviously has a better way with words than you, because he is making millions and you're writing trash columns for a third-rate news rag. Sir Paul, Lars [Ulrich] and Max [Weinberg] are also among my favorites.
Rita Cabata
Southington, Connecticut

On the John again: I think you're dead wrong about Elton being one of the ten most hated men in rock. He is much liked and admired by millions of people -- ordinary and stars alike. His and Bernie's songs are still standing, better than they ever did.

As for cashing in on a dead princess, shame on you! Elton and Bernie rewrote "Candle in the Wind" as a tribute to a dear friend, and all the royalties went to Diana's charities, not Elton's pocket. Elton does not only write cheesy power ballads for animated movies -- he's got two hits on Broadway with two more coming next year, two more movies and a new CD. Plus he continues to raise money for AIDS and other charities. His garish awards show after-parties are to benefit his AIDS foundation, not his ego. He has single-handedly raised more money for AIDS than anyone. Apparently you haven't been to an Elton concert lately. He still belts out his rockin' hits with gusto. The buildings he plays in literally rock when he's onstage!

All in all, I think Elton should be on the list of the ten most admired men in rock. He's done and is doing much more than any other megastar in history.

By the way, it's not a toupee, and personally, I think Elton is quite handsome. We should all have Elton's energy and commitment, no matter what our age or path in life. Thank you, Sir Elton!
Patricia Gennario
Hewitt, New Jersey

Bob up: I'm not in the business of defending rock stars, but your take on Bob Weir was mean-spirited and not worthy of paper it was printed on [Mike Seely, "Rock's Ten Least Wanted," September 1]. By all accounts, Weir is a thoughtful musician who has been in the music business for 40 years. He has written some very good songs that have been vehicles for the Grateful Dead's improvisional approach as well as his own more R&B bands Ratdog and Kingfish.

While admittedly I am a big fan of his music, I'm not some fanatic who just hopped off the Dead Tour. Your statement that Rat Dog is just a below average bar band is just plain idiotic and not backed up by the facts or the music. Tell you what: I will send you a copy of a recent twelve-minute version of "Desolation Row" from a Ratdog show I attended at the Blue Note last fall. Upon listening no doubt you would be embarrassed about your sophomoric diatribe against Mr. Weir.

Finally, you really stepped over the line insinuating Weir was on the gravy train and using the language "defecating on Jerry's headstone." Not only was that in poor taste, it is totally misguided. Weir was not the spearhead behind the Dead's decision to use the name and start touring again, although I was happy they did. He was fairly ambivalent about that decision (one that has created some very good music -- again, I'll drop you a disc) but decided to go along for the ride. Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia were musical partners for 30 years. There is no one on the planet who respects Garcia's importance and contribution to the history of music more then Bob Weir, and there is no one doing a better job of bringing Jerry's music and spirit to life in a more thoughtful manner. While you are entitled to your opinion, I think you are dead (no pun intended) wrong.
Matt Parker
St. Louis

Bar Banned
Setting the record straight, Part 1: Shelley Smithson's usage of my quotations in "Shrill Thrills in Soulard" [August 25] did not accurately characterize my opinion about Carlos Weeden's proposed café and banquet hall. It is not the café and banquet hall I found shady, but the petitions themselves.

When the previous owners needed a license to sell alcohol, the employees went door to door to get signatures. Going door to door seems like a much more effective measure, since it is more difficult for people to say no to your face. These new petitions were simply issued by a law firm. I also remember the earlier petition being for a license which only allowed the sale of beer. I do not see a benefit to a café selling hard liquor, and since nobody had come to me explaining the need for liquor at a café, I decided to go with the path of least resistance, which was to not sign.

As for the second petition, the one for the banquet hall, it read: "Mr. Weeden would also like to use the currently vacant space located nearby at 706 Lafayette, St. Louis, Missouri for banquets, receptions, and other events that will generally be booked in advance."

To me that leaves vast amounts of room to do basically whatever he pleases with the liquor license, which means it could easily be used to convert the library into a dance hall.

I don't think Shelley's usage of my words helped his cause, or provided insight into my perspective on the situation.
Martin McGreal
St. Louis

Setting the record straight, Part 2: Shelley Smithson's article states that the Soulard Restoration Group's support is "essential to getting and keeping a liquor license in Soulard." This is not correct. Ordinance requires that a majority of property owners as well as a majority of the combination of registered voters and businesses within 350 feet sign a petition in favor of the proposed premises. It is certainly good practice to build as much consensus, support and goodwill as possible within the general neighborhood in proximity to a liquor license. However, no individual or group has veto power over the mandated majorities within the 350-foot area.

Practically speaking, neighborhood associations can and often do assert the influence in the liquor-licensing process. This influence comes from the association's ability to mobilize, organize and lobby for support or opposition (within the designated area) to a proposed or existing liquor license. In essence, community standards can be set by the community.

Also, I was disappointed that the article did not mention that a previous liquor license at the Carnegie Library building was a black-owned business. This young couple sought and received the necessary petitions of consent and was issued a liquor license. This is a clear indication that Soulard does not discriminate because of race. I stressed this fact several times during my interview with Ms. Smithson but it was not even mentioned.

Perhaps race-baiting is more interesting reading than reporting the facts.
Bob Kraiberg, liquor commissioner
St. Louis

Criticism 101
Critical miss: I am writing to respond to Deanna Jent's review of the First Run Theatre's production of Ain't Got Time to Die ["Playwriting 101," August 25]. I commend Ms. Jent for her attendance, but I'm not sure what show she saw.

Ms. Jent states that "the authentic gospel songs performed by the Community Church of God provides welcome relief from the difficult script." Racism, bigotry, lynching, misguided liberalism and racial profiling are difficult issues. The music was "designed" for that very reason. Don Weiss' direction and Sarah Thorowgood's set design respectively conveyed the claustrophobic existence of the Trueblood family excellently.

Ms. Jent offers narrow-minded, unimaginative and myopic criticism of the play. If she has resources and time she would like to donate to First Run and can provide them with professional actors, please contact them.

At the show's conclusion, there was a discussion for feedback. If Ms. Jent had stayed for this session, her comments would have been welcomed. The play is a work-in-progress and by no means a finished product.

Ms. Jent, please pay attention next time to issues like plot structure, themes and characters. These are the elements of concise, critical analysis of theater.
Gregory S. Carr, author
Ain't Got Time to Die
St. Louis

Owing to a layout glitch, half of a headline was omitted from half of last week's press run. Mike Seely's story about the basketball-playing Hansbrough brothers was entitled "Tallboys."