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Monday, July 14, 2008

Letter to the Editor of the Day

posted by on July 14 at 7:46 AM

It’s been a few weeks since you guys at the Stranger have given me any good ammunition to fire back at you. I mean I could have gone off on the queer issue for rolling years of fighting for equal rights into a giant rainbow colored cliche henceforth marginalizing and degrading a serious issue into the journalistic equivalent of a plastic feather boa, but why bother? This week’s issue, however gave me everything I needed to write you a truly heartfelt and hateful letter.

Michaelangelo Matos’ review of Modern Guilt, Beck’s latest release, is indicative of everything I hate about the Stranger. I just got and listened to Modern Guilt the night before I read the review. The album not only is fantastic, but it’s easily the best release of 2008 so far (yes, it’s better than LP3 by Ratatat which is really good.) Modern Guilt is the best thing Beck’s done since Midnight Vultures, and that’s saying a lot since the three albums between them are all damn good. But Mikey didn’t see it that way. Nope, he’s still comparing Beck’s efforts to Mellow Gold and has written Beck off because he’s moved on. Dude, Mellow Gold was released 14 years ago. In case you haven’t noticed the world is a different fucking place than it was then. But that’s pretty much the thing about the Stranger, isn’t it? You guys all really love reveling in the early ’90s when Seattle was the hottest thing around. You might as well rename your paper “I Wish Kurt Cobain Was Still Alive”, or “Wasn’t Grunge Great?”

The part that really bothers me is that the reason Modern Guilt got panned has nothing to do with the album itself. It’s obvious by the review that Mike already wrote it off before even listening to it. Then when he got around to the chore of it he didn’t hear the music at all, all he heard was minuscule shit like the compression on the drums. Mike didn’t like Modern Guilt because it was Beck and he doesn’t like Beck because he’s a big name. I’d bet a thousand dollars that if the same album had been released by some 22-year old Ritalin babies with bad beards and a stupid band name like “Arms Made of Legs” Mike and all the rest of you would be drooling all over it.

But the true irony doesn’t lie in the obvious notion that the Stranger’s basis for what makes good music isn’t the music at all, but whether or not the band’s aesthetic jives with the current scene. No, it’s that while Mike Matos is dissing Beck for not doing the same thing he did in 1994 the whole rest of the staff is cumming in their ugly hipster pants over Sub-we-haven’t-released-a-good-record-in-15-years-Pop’s 20th (25th? 22nd? Some random ass number?) anniversary party. Wow. You guys are so quick to tear down anything truly and legitimately successful while at the same time hoisting the banner of mediocrity so high that it’s all the kids who don’t know any better can see.

Between Eric Grandy waving his dick around town while (I’m assuming) riding the “it’s hip to be gay!” bandwagon, Megan Seling virtually begging to be gang-fucked by all the worst bands in Seattle, and William Steven Humpfrey (or whateverthefuck his name is) masturbating to his own reflection it’s a wonder your staff has any time at all to maintain all the lowest common denominator bullshit that keeps Seattle from ever actually being a world-class city. You’re all a bunch of no-talent yuppie hacks.

Finneas Maxwell

RSS icon Comments



Posted by als | July 14, 2008 8:09 AM

I love this letter.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 14, 2008 8:10 AM

Well, I never!

Posted by SubPopsmama | July 14, 2008 8:12 AM

couldn't disagree more about subpop

Posted by laurel | July 14, 2008 8:12 AM

Arms made of legs! Now I have a name for my band, as soon as my beard comes in.

Posted by MonkeyNose | July 14, 2008 8:13 AM

The Stranger isn't as bad as Finneas makes it out to be. It was acgtually worse in the early 90's. Back then it might as well have been the West Beverly BLAZE with every staff member being a collective Andrea Zuckerman (Matt Richter especially. He's a nice guy, but his theatre reviews either tinkled all over his friends, or were snarkier-than-thou for the sake of being so). Nowadays, the city beat is pretty good, but reviews like the one mentioned here require one to ultimately take The Stranger with a grain of salt.

Posted by Frank Sinclair | July 14, 2008 8:18 AM

ugly hipster pants? what? not on the stranger staffers i know. somebody isn't getting enough fiber/sex, methinks.

Posted by scary tyler moore | July 14, 2008 8:23 AM

Fair assessment.

Posted by Judah | July 14, 2008 8:36 AM
22-year old Ritalin babies with bad beards and a stupid band name like “Arms Made of Legs”

Heh. That pretty much sums up every band on KEXP.

Posted by Funny, because it's true | July 14, 2008 8:40 AM

This should be printed on the cover of next week's cover, nay, every cover of The Stranger from now on.

Posted by Dylan! | July 14, 2008 8:44 AM

Yeah, that "Arms Made of Legs" bit is hilarious. I haven't heard the Beck record, so I won't speak to that, but dude is way wrong about Sub Pop.

Posted by Levislade | July 14, 2008 8:45 AM

Wow, if we could harness the energy it took to write that letter we could solve the energy crisis. Finneas Maxwell... do something productive with your time. Your intense hatred of something that you obviously can't leave alone is akin to an Evangelist preacher lying and rationalizing his way through scads of call-boys, only to preach hellfire for homos on Sunday. If you don't love it, then leave it alone.

Posted by Carollani | July 14, 2008 8:45 AM

If I lived in Olympia I'd hang myself.

Posted by SeMe | July 14, 2008 8:45 AM

Give that man a column.

Posted by heywhatsit | July 14, 2008 8:48 AM

Somewhere in Austin, a The Shins fan just cried a little bit.

Words hurt, mmmmmmkay?

Posted by Jason Petersen | July 14, 2008 8:56 AM

Wow, I love this letter. Ah yes. I remember... it was back in 1994 (or was it '95? '96? Probably all of the above). The Stranger got a letter exactly like this! We all laughed, then sat down and enjoyed a cold can of OK Soda in the shade the old oak tree. Then Grampa broke out his harmonica, and Humpy danced a jig!

Finneas, thanks for the memories.

Posted by sara | July 14, 2008 9:05 AM

What 14 said.

Posted by hillpagan | July 14, 2008 9:07 AM

Between Eric Grandy waving his dick around town while (I’m assuming) riding the “it’s hip to be gay!” bandwagon

No shit! I still have the bruises and the hip gayness. BEWARE CAPHILLERS OF WAVING HIPSTER GAY DICK

Posted by mackro mackro | July 14, 2008 9:08 AM

Like all good rants, he takes a while to get going. But the payoff was worth it.

Posted by mistermix | July 14, 2008 9:13 AM

Finneas, dnftt

Posted by blank12357 | July 14, 2008 9:16 AM

I think Beck started to go down when he joined Scientology.

Posted by Sirkowski | July 14, 2008 9:18 AM

Give him a column indeed. Wrong about Sub Pop, wrong about Beck putting out the best album of the year, but right about so much more. Stranger writers trying to review music is always absurd.

Posted by Nick | July 14, 2008 9:21 AM

"(25th? 22nd? Some random ass number?)"

Good line. It's kinda the way they run their operations over there at SP.

Posted by In the Know | July 14, 2008 9:22 AM

I’d bet a thousand dollars that if the same album had been released by some 22-year old Ritalin babies with bad beards and a stupid band name like “Arms Made of Legs” Mike and all the rest of you would be drooling all over it.


I’d bet a thousand dollars that if the same album had been released by some 22-year old Ritalin babies with bad beards and a stupid band name like “Arms Made of Legs” Mike and all the rest of you would be drooling all over it.


I’d bet a thousand dollars that if the same album had been released by some 22-year old Ritalin babies with bad beards and a stupid band name like “Arms Made of Legs” Mike and all the rest of you would be drooling all over it.

Posted by We needed to hear this three more times. | July 14, 2008 9:26 AM

Finneas, dnftt.

Posted by blank12357 | July 14, 2008 9:27 AM

This letter is why Olympia is our capital city.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | July 14, 2008 9:27 AM

I'd add to that ECB's bizarre obsession with Zipcar ads. But maybe another letter from Finneas is a comin'.

Posted by rb | July 14, 2008 9:30 AM

I'll tell you what arm's made of enormous whozeewhatsit!!!

Posted by Christopher Frizzelle's Enormous Whozeewhatsit | July 14, 2008 9:33 AM

1)Beck is a second-generation Scientologist...

2)Oh, if you don't love something or disapprove of something you shouldn't say anything?!?!? WTF, Carollani?

3)Well written letter which has it's points.

Posted by michael strangeways | July 14, 2008 9:34 AM

The Stranger is so tired. They don't realize it. Free newspapers people pick up for the ads and such... are, to use a Bushian term, QUAINT. The early 90s were good to the Stranger, hell Dan's been writing the exact same column week after week since long before then.

Posted by put a fork in it | July 14, 2008 9:35 AM


I hope this gets put in the print edition... but...

Steve works for the Mercury, not the Stranger. Small little quibble.

Posted by Graham | July 14, 2008 9:36 AM

@14 for the win.

That said, I wish Mr. Cobain was still alive too.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 14, 2008 9:41 AM

Yeah, "If you don't love it, then leave it alone" is a weird thing to say. Couldn't we say the same thing to all the music critics? It would be a much shorter section, that's for sure . . .

Posted by Levislade | July 14, 2008 9:47 AM

I wish I had named my baby Finneas Maxwell.

Posted by Gloria | July 14, 2008 9:56 AM

If you wouldn't say it in person, why would you say it online?

Delete cyber-bullying.

Posted by | July 14, 2008 10:01 AM

@16 OK Soda FTW!

The hotline (1-800-I-FEEL-OK) is a phone sex line now.

Posted by Super Jesse | July 14, 2008 10:11 AM

That was fantastic! I think I need a cigarette.

Posted by Matthew | July 14, 2008 10:11 AM

Awesome letter. Nothing like a little indignation and inadvertent humor to start my morning.

Posted by Hernandez | July 14, 2008 10:15 AM

I started to read this. Then I realized it was written buy somebody who apparently deigns to give Beck - BECK - more than a nanosecond of rational, let alone critical, thought. Then I stopped and moved on.

Posted by Beck Hansen Is The Most Overrated Simpleton In The Known Universe - Got it? Good. | July 14, 2008 10:19 AM

hear hear.

isn't there an opening for a new ombudsman at this rag?

Posted by chops | July 14, 2008 10:25 AM

Grunge is not dead. Grunge lives on. My dreads and stretched out stocking hat are proof.
(takes massive toke.....)
so, like, relax...
and whoooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!
Arms Made of Legs are playing at the Lake Union Pub! sweet!!!

Posted by turkeymonkey | July 14, 2008 10:28 AM

Damn it, Finneas is stealing my thunder-- back in the '90s I came up with "These Arms Are Legs" as an obtuse slam/not-slam on guess-which local band years ago. Also, it should be noted that hipster pants aren't usually ugly-- it's the way they fit around hipster legs/crotches that is evil.

Posted by christopher h | July 14, 2008 10:30 AM

Finneas Maxwell: suck it, you bitter old shrew. also, please do not reproduce.

Posted by jim fexley-feed | July 14, 2008 10:39 AM

"Mike" Matos? As long as we're renaming him, why not call him Two Turntables and a Mike Matos?

Posted by Tim Appelo | July 14, 2008 10:48 AM

So awesome. "Arms Made of Legs" pretty much made my day.

Posted by Boosh Clown | July 14, 2008 10:57 AM

A resounding nay, 42 - You can put that hipster on its back, on its side, even on its greasy, crusty, emo noodle, but from any which angle them hipster pants are just fuggin' fug.

Posted by ab-fab | July 14, 2008 10:58 AM

Supreme pwnage of the Stranger.

Posted by Disco is not punk | July 14, 2008 11:00 AM

I disagree.

Iron & Wine's "Our Endless Numbered Days" is a very good record, and it came out on SubPop in the last 5 yeas.

Posted by rtm | July 14, 2008 11:01 AM

I like the letter but can we stop using the term "world class" to describe what a city should be aspiring to be. It always sounds like a word local government uses to make people feel like they are not living in a small town anymore, that they are now a big city.

Posted by -B- | July 14, 2008 11:03 AM

Sub Pop have only released a handful of good records -- "Manos" by the Spinanes, a Sukpatch single, and that's about it for me.

Posted by Fnarf | July 14, 2008 11:25 AM

Oh, yeah, they released a couple of St. Etienne discs in the US as well.

Posted by Fnarf | July 14, 2008 11:30 AM

That letter made my day.

In addition, even our radio stations still think its the 90's. *cough*TheEnd*cough*

Posted by JesseJB | July 14, 2008 11:31 AM

St. Etienne rules!

JesseJB's right about commercial radio around here, tho.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 14, 2008 11:38 AM

See, Fnarf, saying "that's about it for me" is very different from saying "Sub Pop have only released a handful of good records." One is you stating your opinion, which is fine (albeit narrow and, in my opinion, ignorant). The other sounds like you're trying to make a statement of fact, which is patently ridiculous. Sub Pop, like any label, has released its share of crap records. But they have also released some of the most interesting, vital, diverse records (within the rock/indie rock world) of the last 20 years - and far more than a handful.

Never mind the fact that I'm willing to wager that neither you nor Finneas has listened to anything close to all of their output, so what are you even basing that on?

Sorry, but something about opinions stated as fact really bugs the crap out of me.

Posted by Levislade | July 14, 2008 11:48 AM


Aw, c'mon, who DOESN'T miss Everett True's drunken bloviating? Tell the truth now. Ol' Finneas is just nostalgic.

Eric ("Gay") Grandy. Heh.

Posted by MichaelPgh | July 14, 2008 11:52 AM

We DO need a new ombudsman....but I don't think we can hire in good conscience a man who gets this inflamed over BECK.

Or maybe that's exactly who we need...

Posted by David Schmader | July 14, 2008 12:02 PM

I dunno. It was all fun and laughable until "...virtually begging to be gang-fucked." Hello?! Am I the only one who doesn't think that's exactly on par with waving one's gay dick around or masturbating to your own reflection?

Posted by leek | July 14, 2008 12:10 PM

Leek, that was either an attempt to be funny, or you're just fucking stoopid.

Posted by stupid bitch | July 14, 2008 12:18 PM

@50: There was also Jamboree by Beat Happening, and that Tsunami/Velocity Girl 7". Oh yeah, and the Vaselines retrospective.

@54: Fnarf isn't part of the "rock/indie rock" world so his opinions might be a bit narrow in that sense. But please don't get him started.

Posted by Mrs. Fnarf | July 14, 2008 12:21 PM

What do you mean nothing good has come out in the last 15 years? What about The Postal Service and Band of Horses? Take that Mr. Maxell.

Posted by The Ordinary Hipster | July 14, 2008 12:36 PM

beat happening - jamboree?

i hope you mean as a sub pop singles club!

Posted by olympia | July 14, 2008 12:37 PM

Someone should tell Mr. Hipster-Hating Hipster that there are far more important things going on in the world than the latest Beck CD.

For example, there's yet another war brewing in the Middle East, and Arcade Fire, according to rumor, are currently recording the follow-up to Neon Bible. Finneas Maxwell, get your priorities straight!

Posted by Jeff Stevens | July 14, 2008 12:50 PM

"Taxicab Drivers Make Groovy Graves For The Competition Over The Longest Possible Seattle Circa-1997 Hipster Band Name."

What an urban-legendarily awesome Seattle band that was. Too bad the lead singer ignited himself to death by attempting to use a can of Rize to smoke pot with before they began recording their debut album.

Posted by Jeff Stevens | July 14, 2008 12:58 PM

You tell'em Finneas! Hacks! Dick waving no less.

Posted by Vince | July 14, 2008 1:55 PM

The text of this letter may become Wackistan's national anthem.

Posted by Wackistan | July 14, 2008 2:22 PM

@61: Do you mean "Red Head Walking"?

But you're right - Jamboree was actually originally a K/Rough Trade release on LP, later re-released on CD by SubPop. "Dreamy" and "You Turn Me On" were put out jointly by K/SubPop. I hope I'm correct on that.

Posted by Mrs. Fnarf | July 14, 2008 2:28 PM

Yeah, see, K is a whole 'nuther kettle of fish.

But Mrs. Fnarf is right, you really don't want to get me started on the unbelievable, unmitigated awfulness of all that Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Fluid, whatever grunge garbage that Sub Pop is largely responsible for.

Posted by Fnarf | July 14, 2008 2:37 PM

Just goes to show that the standard long form letter still beats trolling comments on blogs. Wow.

Posted by urban | July 14, 2008 5:14 PM

15 wrote: "Somewhere in Austin, a The Shins fan just cried a little bit."

From, the only porn blog you need to read:

In an entertaining Behind the Scenes featurette edited by Winkytiki and featuring the charming interview style of Ashley Blue, the latter defines punk in context as being opposite from today's emo, characterized by "sucking all the masculinity out of a person."

Posted by rob campbell | July 14, 2008 7:22 PM

Whereas I just ignore the Stranger's music section entirely. I don't need to know that Eric Grandy doesn't like the music I listen to; he's not my mom.

Posted by Greg | July 15, 2008 4:21 PM

Hey guys! Did I miss anything?

Posted by Michaelangelo Matos | July 15, 2008 11:41 PM

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