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Monday, August 4, 2008

Letter of the Weekend

posted by on August 4 at 10:26 AM

We are still at war. AT WAR. WE ARE A COUNTRY AT WAR. This fact is not bold faced in daily life. But it is true. We are living in a warring state. Me, you, every American, and many others around the world. And today is my least favorite day of the year: the day I remember it. This morning, I awoke warm in my bed, brushed my teeth and shat, walked with my lover to the cafe, ate a croissant and drank a coffee, walked home and began the day’s work, at my desk, by my window. The clouds that had been plaguing the summer started to break, and the sun shown. And then I heard the sound of death and became as mad and as scared as I had not been since this day a year ago.

When I last heard it, for the first time, I thought the ground was breaking under me. I cannot remember ever being so physically scared, so confused, so reduced to instinct before in my life. I felt inhuman. I felt naked. I panicked. I was waiting for the bus, on the way to work, and this gripped me, in public, in the world where I am confident and intentional, and made me less than I am in my worst nightmare, in the darkness of night, tucked weeping under the covers of my bed. And I still did not know what had happened.

I was telling my co-worker Stephan about the morning. How I had felt. How no one had reacted. They boarded the bus silently, listening to their ipods. What was it, this gripping, growling noise?

It’s the Blue Angels. It’s the air show. Sea Fair. Happens every summer. He paused. Its the sound you hear right before you die.

And I felt it was true. Part of me had died. I felt a force of anger as deep and startling as the jets’ roar. We thought it our right to have and use instruments of death and more than that, to celebrate them as if that was not their purpose at all.

Stephan, who was usually quiet, continued. I remember a number of years ago, I was walking down E. John, on the steep part of the hill. An older woman was walking slowly in front of me. Old in the old-fashioned, old-world sense. She had a scarf over her head, tied neatly under her chin. I could see her going to market, on a cobblestone street, and coming home again with neat packages from the butcher and greengrocer. Her face was as wrinkled as a wet lunch bag and her thick hands curled around the small grocery sack she carried. And then the sound. Before the earth could fully split, this woman dropped with an instinct so urgent she didn’t brace herself, she didn’t clutch her bag, but she covered her head under her arm and laid on the sidewalk while the three blue planes looped in formation and the oranges in her sack tumbled down the hill and into the traffic at the intersection below.

Stephan went to her, helped her up. She was bleeding in several places, she had dirt on her face and runs in her stockings and the only thing she said was “I remember.”


The rest of the day the planes flew overhead at 20 minute intervals. I cried every time. I could not help it. I felt trapped. I could not escape the splitting roar and the thought that ‘this is what death sounds like’ before the rumble and crash of a bomb dropping, of life ending or changing irreparably. And this is something we celebrate? Take our kids to see? A spectacle suitable for a family outing on a summer day? Norman Rockwell America?

We are creating ignorance. Taking violence and the ramifications of political decisions out of context. Fostering misguided dreams in little boys and girls so that we have soldiers in years to come. Creating a celebration so we can admire the technology, the power, and the speed of these planes separate from their purpose as weapons. The F/A-18 Strike Fighter Jet is an instrument of force, warfare, death and fear. We should not ignore the fact that we are at war; we should feel it as it truly is: painful.

As I write this, every twenty minutes they fly over head, ripping the world open. I refuse to call them angels. There is a man next to me in the coffee shop, who is wearing ear plugs. We are a country at war. If we celebrate the instruments with which we wage it, if we create wonder at power for its own sake, and if we continue to separate technology from the lives and the world that we are changing with it, or if we simply plug our ears and ignore it, we will be a country at war for a long time to come.

Lauren E. Maxey

RSS icon Comments


a haunting and beautiful statement. i'm not from the seattle area, but i remember hearing airplanes re-routed after 9/11 flying over my campus, not 30 miles from new york, and being utterly terrified.

Posted by jayme | August 4, 2008 10:32 AM

I think Hank said it best:

"The problem with you people is that your cities have never been burned and your mother's have never been told to shut up."

-Charles Bukowski

Posted by Jeff | August 4, 2008 10:34 AM

I was impressed that the Slog had contained its hatred for the Blue Angels, everyone who thinks they are neat, and by extension, anyyone who feels they want to serve their country, to just one post last week.

This morning I woke up, got dressed, got into my wheelchair, got a cup of coffee and turned on my computer to catch up with the Slog, my home page.

Then I remembered. Some of the contributors of Slog are pussies who can't bare to pull the stick out of their ass for just three days a year.

Posted by elswinger | August 4, 2008 10:37 AM

Fuck you, Lauren E. Maxey. Take your self-righteousness and go somewhere where you can spend your time doing things besides pissing all over our summer fun.

Posted by joykiller | August 4, 2008 10:39 AM

I agree with a previous post wanting a city/county dialogue on Blue Angel performances and the disruption they place on the area and thousands of citizens.

If, and I mean that loosely, the Blue Angel performances continue, why can't they practice elsewhere so the Lake Washington Bridges donít have to close, except for the shows themselves? And if, and I mean that even looser, the bridges have to close in conjunction with this pre-scheduled annual event, why can't the annual safety inspections be done on the bridges at the same time? At least then the inconvenience would be limited to what is absolutely necessary.

Itís time to rethink the impact of these air shows.

Posted by atlsea | August 4, 2008 10:39 AM

Get over it the Blue Angels are not the end of the world, or humanity. People need to shut up and stop their petty whining. I personally hope that next year their performance is extended to at least 4 hours and then maybe the Slog can have a live slog comment session during the event. Buy ear plugs and shut the fuck up.

Posted by Support Blue Angels | August 4, 2008 10:40 AM

8,000 gallons of fuel per show and practice session for a whopping total of about 30,000 gallons for the whole thing.
The hydroplanes burn about 4 gallons a minute.
All in all the weekend is an obscene celebration of fossil fuel combustion.

Posted by kinaidos | August 4, 2008 10:41 AM

This is like those whiny guys who come back with "ptsd." Pussies.

Posted by marco | August 4, 2008 10:44 AM

you lost me at "shat".

Posted by beejshan | August 4, 2008 10:45 AM

My grandmother is the same way. She used to describe the sound to me when I was little. And it is real, this war, just like hers was.

You know, I was almost getting sentimental for the Blue Angels this year, connecting them to Sea Fair and my childhood here in Seattle. And then I heard them. It's terrifying.

I've gotten shivers reading this letter. I feel like it needs to be published in the papers.

Posted by Glasses | August 4, 2008 10:46 AM

Definitely not thrilled about the Blue Angels, but what a nauseating letter. "I cried every time..." Jesus Christ, no one should feel so much unnecessary pain over the air show. Get off the cross, you've never suffered.

Posted by Nick | August 4, 2008 10:46 AM

It's all a bit of fun, of course. But there is an undeniable statement in this letter: these planes are instruments of death, and we are celebrating them as toys.

You can interpret that fact any way you want, and there are many valid arguments about how you *ought* to feel about it, but that's undeniably true.

Btw, kinaidos makes an excellent point. I mean, even NASCAR is making strides to move to ethanol . . .

Posted by Zelbinian | August 4, 2008 10:47 AM

I was telling a friend yesterday that I agree with every point everyone makes against them but I still think they are cool.

If they never come back I won't be bothered.

Posted by monkey | August 4, 2008 10:48 AM

The only thing more lame then an air show is Lauren E. Maxey

Posted by Jasen Comstock | August 4, 2008 10:51 AM

Man, if I were ever on the business end of military hardware, that kind of aerobatic masturbation would scare the shit out of me.

What's more disturbing is that some people will never truly understand what it's like to be on the business end of those things... and will never really fear them like they should.

Posted by demo kid | August 4, 2008 10:51 AM

Some of us can get over it.

But then, this is true of many, many, many, many other things in life.

If the Blue Angels trigger some sort of sense memory for someone out of a war-torn past... then the problem isn't the Blue Angels, but a psychological failure to reconcile with the past and move on in the present and the future.

Posted by Gomez | August 4, 2008 10:51 AM

While the Blue Angels were buzzing over my head on Saturday, I took a nap.

If Lauren Maxey is ignorant to the point that she only remembers we're at war when some stunt pilots put on their annual air show, then she deserves to get the shit scared out of her.

Posted by Hernandez | August 4, 2008 10:51 AM

As I read this story...a plane flew low and slow by the window...While I do think the war is terrible and sad...and I do imagine on the other side of the globe, people feel this every day...but I think that should make us all the while more thankful that we live and wake up every day in the USA.

Posted by Cattymaran | August 4, 2008 10:52 AM

@9 - Agreed. And if that didn't get about "lover"?

Posted by jean genie | August 4, 2008 10:52 AM

These planes are no more "instruments of death" than a Cessna. They carry no weapons, no electronic weaponry systems, nothing. They are stunt planes. They have about as much in common with the warplanes as Chopper 5 has with an Army helicopter.

Posted by joykiller | August 4, 2008 10:53 AM

To all the commenters who want Lauren Maxey to 'stop pissing on their summer fun':

Did you miss the part where the old lady dropped on the sidewalk in fear? Was that part printed in lemon juice on your screen?

Jesus. It's one thing to enjoy the Blue Angels, another to piss on the serious, legitimate problem someone else might have with them. Surely you can house two opposing thoughts in your mind without short-circuiting.

Posted by Tina | August 4, 2008 10:53 AM

SeaFair is lame. 30,000 gallons of fuel just for the jets and the hydros, and then all the extra gas people are burning taking out their yachts and SUVs to ooggle the Northwest equivalent of NASCAR... Dumb.

Posted by Lobot | August 4, 2008 10:55 AM

The UK have an equivalent called the 'Red Devils'.

Not sure what the history is there behind the Red Devil/Blue Angel naming thing, whether one country copied the other or if it's pure coincidence, but Devil does seem more honest!

Posted by Sto | August 4, 2008 10:56 AM

While I do have genuine sympathy for the old woman returning home from the "butcher and greengrocer," I think Lauren needs to lighten up and distinguish between a bombing mission and a demonstration flight.

Also, if you're going to resort to flowery prose, get it right. The sun shone, not shown. Had the sun not shone, by the way, the Blue Angels would have performed a lower altitude show. As General Buck Turgidson once described it, "Fryin' chickens in the barnyard!"

Posted by Joe M | August 4, 2008 10:56 AM

The Blue Angels' act is awfully pretty and manly at the same time, but it's designed to be that. All propaganda is designed to appeal to instincts that make people turn off their brains to reasoned responses. All the folks who talk about "summer fun" either are pro-military or have bought into the propaganda. I have cognitive dissonance. I enjoy the beauty and skill of the fliers and their technology, but I would prefer that my children aren't exposed to an ice show version of deadly, deadly war.

@20: Stunt planes. Right. Because they can't possibly be a symbol for fiery raining death that warplanes inflict. There's no way in which these pretty planes could be designed and deployed to have an effect on people that lets them disassociate non-deadly precision airshows with bombs dropping and killing people.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman | August 4, 2008 10:58 AM

So some pretentious hipster woke up and took a shit (why is that important?) and walked with her trick to a pretentious restaurant, had a pretentious breakfast and a big crybaby fit because some old immigrant (who had to have been living under a rock to not know that we were going to have our annual military-industrial circle jerk this weekend) fell down.

Letter of the weekend, my ass. You guys must get really stupid mail.

Posted by Give me a break. | August 4, 2008 11:00 AM

@16: If the Blue Angels trigger some sort of sense memory for someone out of a war-torn past... then the problem isn't the Blue Angels, but a psychological failure to reconcile with the past and move on in the present and the future.

For your next trick, are you going to tell sex abuse survivors to just "get over it"?

Douchebaggery, thy name is Gomez. What a fucking idiot.

Posted by demo kid | August 4, 2008 11:02 AM

@4 and @6 nailed it.

What whiny ass shit that is. Seriously.

I can never ever remember anyone "diving to the ground" and then getting "bloody" over hearing them pass overhead.

That is just a pathetic attempt at exagerrating and building up your story to impress some readership and jerk their emotions for the gain of they story.

Those planes protect all your fucking pathetic wussy asses from certain destruction at the hands of our enemies. To think that we have people in this country who would piss and moan about a show of display of our military strength, and to entertain the viewing public.

So many of you have such little realistic concepts of what is going on in the real world. You live in little isolated protected bubbles, with your worldwide multimedia websites at your fingertips, gleaning information from a variety of biased sources. You then pass judgements on things you truly know little about, yet pass yourselves off as "experts" with an opinion that has little if any credibility.


The holier than thou libs have no end to their almightiness

Posted by Reality Check | August 4, 2008 11:07 AM

Dear Lauren:

People who live in a country that is the center of a vast global military empire should know what war looks and sounds like. Everything you enjoyed on the morning you heard the Blue Angels is brought to you courtesy of the military power that the United States has projected over the globe for the past 70 years. If you can't handle being reminded of that for three days out of every year, you're worse than a whiner -- you're a hypocrite.

And just as a point of comparison: most countries in Europe fly continuous combat air patrols. When my wife and I hiked the coast of Wales we were overflown by fighter jets every day. When we were in France, there were soldiers with submachineguns patrolling the train stations around the clock. When we were in Spain we saw the weekly march for all the Basque political prisoners in Spanish jails. There were monuments in Rome to the innocent civilians killed by Mafia bombs. Most train stations in Europe haven't had garbage cans in them since the '70s: they're all afraid terrorists will hide bombs in them. Most of the Western World is much more militarized than the United States. You're just too ethnocentric to realize how comparatively easy you've got it.

So lighten up: summer's beautiful, and our train stations still have garbage cans in them.

Posted by Judah | August 4, 2008 11:08 AM

#26 for the win. Thread complete.

Everyone else can go home now.

Posted by Jeff | August 4, 2008 11:09 AM

"Those planes protect all your fucking pathetic wussy asses from certain destruction at the hands of our enemies."

No. They don't.

You don't understand anything at all about our conflicts in the world. You don't have a realistic concept of what's going on.

If we're passing ourselves off as 'experts' it's because, compared to people like you, we are.

Maybe the story's exaggerated, maybe 'crying every time they flew over' is a dumb response. But those things kill hundreds and thousands of people a year, and not to 'protect our wussy asses' from anything.

May you wind up on the receiving end of their payload someday and realize how truly idiotic you are.

Posted by Will | August 4, 2008 11:14 AM

@20: They are actually not stunt planes. If I remember correctly all they need to become combat-ready is to load em up with some weaponry, and give a repaint. I think they said it takes a day to do the fleet.

Posted by A | August 4, 2008 11:15 AM

Lauren is likely under the age of 23.

Posted by fremontian | August 4, 2008 11:16 AM

When the Blue Angles become PLEVs with the mission of spreading peace, kindness to animals and carbon control, my pleasure over them will be slightly less guilty.

Posted by DJSauvage | August 4, 2008 11:17 AM

Oh fuck it all. Let's just dance in the streets while the world burns. The bottom line is all you BA lovers deserve to die a fiery death in whatever form it takes, crashing planes, bombing planes, falling down a hill, getting drunk and driving your boat into a log,whatever. SeaFair pirates? Lame. Hydroplanes? Lame. Blue Angels? Lame. Seattle tradition? Lame. I'm gonna go crack open another beer and roll around in the street for a while.

Posted by M | August 4, 2008 11:18 AM

"Everything you enjoyed on the morning you heard the Blue Angels is brought to you courtesy of the military power that the United States has projected over the globe for the past 70 years."

Oh Bullshit. Since VJ day, we've been throwing dollars into a rathole called "National Defense", and what do we have to show for it? A huge debt, a bunch of dead people, both soldiers and civilians, and the Blue Angels.

Oh, and Tang. Can't forget about Tang.

Make no mistake: The original letter was a peacenik version of a Peggy Noonan speech, but don't kid yourself that our ridiculous military fixation will ever do anything but eventually bankrupt us. Empires never last.

Posted by Give me a break. | August 4, 2008 11:19 AM


Thank you Judah.

You put it much more eloquently than I ever could.

Posted by Reality Check | August 4, 2008 11:21 AM

some of you seattle babies need to get over yourselves. so fricking what if the angels rip up the sky here for like a combined three hours over the course of the year? i'm tired of the sound of your constant whining about this and that perceived insult to your little urban moonbeam dreams--if it's not the angels it'll be something else. ban cars, they are too loud! ban buses, they scare me cuz they are so large. and so on.

get a life people. pay your taxes. enjoy the glory of americans flying badass jets.

Posted by Harry Callahan | August 4, 2008 11:24 AM

The alleged story about the old woman who lost her groceries occurred "a few years ago" if you read closely.

She's probably dead and buried now anyway, so she didn't mind yesterday's flyovers.

Posted by HL | August 4, 2008 11:27 AM

The Blue Angels made my dog shit in the middle of the sidewalk.

So, yeah, fuck the blue angels.

Posted by Bryce Beamish | August 4, 2008 11:28 AM

Yeah, what a bunch of whiners. If the worst thing you have to complain about is a bunch of loud noises in the sky, your life is already better than that of 99% of the earth's population. Fuck you, and fuck your self-righteousness. And if you're really concerned about our foreign policy, try volunteering or donating to organizations that actually help people.

Posted by F | August 4, 2008 11:34 AM

You lefties are a strange bunch.

Posted by wow | August 4, 2008 11:35 AM

Now, imagine that you're a cute little deer. A cute deer with your little ears and precious tale. You just had cute deer sex and need to get a drink for your parched deer throat. And, as you put your little deer lips to the water,


A BULLET RIPS THROUGH YOUR HEAD. And, as your brains fall out onto the ground, would you really give a fuck what the asshole who shot you was wearing?

- With much apologies to My Cousin Vinny.

Posted by TheMisanthrope | August 4, 2008 11:37 AM

I love the sound of the blue angels. I didn't like taking an hour to get across 520 but c'est la vie.

Fact is war has created some awesome shit, rockets, jets, dynomite. DYNOMITE! I love fireworks too.

Sheesh, I'd like to consider myself an environmentalist but then I hear folks whining about fossil fuels at hydro races. What's the per-spectactor carbon total for these things? It's a lot like public transportation: a lot of people get together and collectively enjoy the fruits of burning some fossile fuel, it's actually quite sweet.

But for you fundamentalists oil is laden with sin. It can't be enjoyed responsibily, it's just a painful burden and the idea of recreation that uses it is impossible.

And really the skeleton in the closet is that environmentalism and climate change turn to provide sainthood to a bunch of people for doing what they wanted to do in the first place. You don't like races, you don't like airshows, you don't like suburbs or big cars and what do you know it turns out that w/o any actual sacrifice you're morally righteous.

It could be me, I mean 20 years ago before I'd ever heard of climate change I wanted to live in the city. My big sister had a studio apartment and growing up in the suburbs a STUDIO was my dream! I moved to Seattle and rode the bus everywhere, I loved it, watched people, read. This I did because I wanted to and before realizing that in fact I was a moral fucking example to the benighted of the world.

Posted by daniel | August 4, 2008 11:37 AM
Make no mistake: The original letter was a peacenik version of a Peggy Noonan speech, but don't kid yourself that our ridiculous military fixation will ever do anything but eventually bankrupt us. Empires never last.

As it happens, I basically agree with this sentiment. But you're mistaken if you think this is mutually exclusive with the notion that much of our current economic prosperity is supported by our military empire.

The United States has a much higher standard of consumption and civil liberties than any other Western country. That's not to say we have a higher standard of living; we have longer work days, less vacation, shorter life expectancy and so on. But just in terms of how much we consume and how spend, we're definitely at the apex of a powerful and long-standing global empire. This has all been had at a cost that will soon bankrupt us, just like it bankrupted the British Empire. But, broadly speaking, there's no denying that Britain itself had a grander and more cosmopolitan culture prior to the collapse of its Empire. The same is currently true for us.

Posted by Judah | August 4, 2008 11:38 AM

I don't mind the sentiment so much, but why does she have to tell us about her bowl movement? Does she fancy it gives her some sort of "street creds" Real writers know that there's no need to work brown.

I can just see her reading this at some sort of "literary" gathering at an ironically divey bar: All sweaty and angry in a vintage dress that would make Amy Winehouse wince, and a whiney, self-righteous voice. I wish I had a dime for every one of those sorts of things I attended during my tender years.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | August 4, 2008 11:38 AM

Oh, right--let's get rid of everything that's loud and uses a lot of gas and makes a few too-tightly-wrapped folks cry. Like every goddamn rock concert, particularly those at The Gorge. Or all the NFL and MLB games. I'll be holding my breath.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Posted by tiktok | August 4, 2008 11:41 AM

Oh dear. I meant "bowel movement", instead of "bowl movement", of course. If she had written about how she had rearranged her kitchen cupboards that would have been much more interesting.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | August 4, 2008 11:43 AM

@ 16, and all, I guess the point is that the "war torn past" the old lady remembers and that we are celebrating is the war torn present brought to Iraq and Afghanistan by your tax dollars. It does seem kind of shallow for us to waste all that gas while shouting "hooray for planes" when we are currently using planes just like these for destruction/terror elsewhere. But yeah, the "shat" and "lover" statement made me kind of hate this person more than a little. And the crying. Seriously?

Posted by scharrera | August 4, 2008 11:44 AM

Fuck the Blue Angels. Their whole platoon or fleet or whatever-the-fuck those flying jackasses call themselves had their stinking-ass laundry done in one of our fine city's laundromat. Do you know what they tipped the attendant? A Blue Angel's commemorative coin.

Posted by tabletop_joe | August 4, 2008 11:46 AM

27. Whatever opinion you choose to overlay upon it, my conclusion isn't wrong.

How that person elects to deal with it is their prerogative and is a whole complex issue... but it's not the Blue Angels' fault that person feels that way.

Posted by Gomez | August 4, 2008 11:55 AM

Bowel movements, bowl movements, either one is more interesting to me than the fucking Blue Angels... Top Gun is so yesterday.

Posted by M | August 4, 2008 11:56 AM

I've always felt the Blue Angels as a show of power meant to remind people like me who's in charge and who is supposed do what they are told or else.

Plus, I hated having to go pick up my son from day care and then kindergarten when they were flying. Totally unconsolable.

Posted by cracked | August 4, 2008 11:59 AM

#21 Let's all a just our behavior because of one old lady who has a fear of loud noises. You give the rest of us liberals a bad name.

Posted by elswinger | August 4, 2008 12:13 PM

Saw the venerable Super Sonic Soul Pimps at King Cobra on Friday night and they were all wearing Navy jumpsuits. I could only guess that they were dressed as the Blue Angels. Homage? Mocking? Only the SSSP know for sure.

Posted by Bee | August 4, 2008 12:19 PM

@27 Please note that "get over it" is absolutely NOT the same thing as "forget about it". Yes, people who have suffered trauma should "get over it", would you really want to live the rest of your life being controlled by something from your past? Overcoming your fears and demons should be a constant goal for everybody. To do otherwise is to linger in a perpetual state of denial of the world around you, to abdicate your authority to make your own decisions.

Does abuse and trauma suck?, Yes. Can it be difficult to overcome?, Yes. Will you ever be the same?, No. Should you just give up and cower in your closet for the rest of your life?, NO!

Posted by Super Jesse | August 4, 2008 12:25 PM

I've lived in this city and area all my life. My parents have too. My mother was on the barge in Stan Sayers pit when it went down. I remember as a kid hearing the piston powered hydro's from my house in West Seattle - the FAR side of West Seattle. I remember them fondly and those quirks are the things that to me are Seattle.

I've gone to the hydros and witnessed the Blue Angels practice and fly over the lake and Elliot Bay. Get over it. Give us who actually have Seattle in our blood and not just some starbucks dream of high tech tom foolery our ONE FRIGGIN WEEK to remember our roots. Let people celebrate our local heritage. Remember the community icons that made Seattle great before things like Whole Foods, Fry's, WalMart, and all those places replaced our PCC, corner radio shack and Chubby & Tubby.

and for God's sake, dont' let Portland be the last major quirky town around!

Posted by nos | August 4, 2008 12:28 PM

Every fucking year, people bitch and moan and, in Lauren Maxy's case, get really worked up and super dramatic about Seafair.

If you hate it so much, try to do something about it. Seafair happens every year. Don't wail about it while it's going on. Organize your legions of crybabies and at least try to make a change. Public outrage can be very effective.

You can't deny the pollution and waste and noise. But, man, it is still spectacular to see those big birds. Seattle is, at its core, an old-timey sea port. Deal with it.

Posted by kerri harrop | August 4, 2008 12:31 PM

When I read this letter, i curled up into a fetal position and put my hands over my ears. Suddenly I was back again, trapped in a roomful of activists bickering about getting the skin color balance right in the contingent planning a sit in somewhere over something that nobody can remember anymore, the whining drone of everyone speaking their truth getting louder and louder, until I realized, "This is the sound of brain death." And I felt as small and frightened as I am in my worst nightmares. And then I looked up at my cubicle-mate and said, "I remember."

Seriously, if this is the worst thing that happens to this person all year long, I want her life.

Posted by John | August 4, 2008 12:34 PM

I don't know if the internet has completely corrupted me, and I'm sure the author imagined something to the tune of that old lady story could happen, but I'm calling b.s. on that story.

Posted by Dougsf | August 4, 2008 12:34 PM

Yeah man, lighten up. It's just a war.

Posted by Gurldoggie | August 4, 2008 12:41 PM

@33: I was going to say "Lauren is under 25 and enrolled in a creative writing program." A for effort, D- for hackneyed cliches. "Lover"? Bish, plz.

I can't muster up sympathy for those who are willfully out of touch with what's going on in their city. Don't like the Blue Angels? Write to Seafair, get some earplugs, leave town, etc.

Posted by Jessica | August 4, 2008 12:42 PM
If Lauren Maxey is ignorant to the point that she only remembers we're at war when some stunt pilots put on their annual air show, then she deserves to get the shit scared out of her.

Some things are worth repeating ...

Posted by Man in the Street | August 4, 2008 12:46 PM

It's pretty easy to call others "pathetic" and "wussy" and type like a bad ass when you've never actually lived through being bombed (and don't include 9/11 if you live on the West Coast and/or were NOT at ground zero). You have no idea what you're talking about. None! Do you think that elderly woman wanted to drop to the ground in the middle of public? Do you think people want to plagued by nightmares and flashbacks? This is what severe trauma does to people. Have a fucking heart, and grow a brain too for that matter!

@7 - Thanks for making this great point:
"8,000 gallons of fuel per show and practice session for a whopping total of about 30,000 gallons for the whole thing.
The hydroplanes burn about 4 gallons a minute.
All in all the weekend is an obscene celebration of fossil fuel combustion." Well said. I would add: all this to celebrate the fact that we can bomb the shit out of other people. If that makes me a pussy, I embrace the label.

And why is it such a problem that the writer mentions that she "shat"? Last I heard, everybody does it.

Posted by proud to be a pussy | August 4, 2008 12:46 PM

I have a Vietnamese friend who gets anxious at the sound of helicopters because of her experiences during that war. Her daughter, raised in the U.S., loves to run outside and wave when she hears one. My friend doesn't tell her daughter about her fears, she is happy her little girl doesn't have to feel them too. Since Lauren doesn't mention any personal experience with war zones it strikes me that she may be someone who could benefit from some therapy to help her confront what sounds like problems dealing with ambient fear. If she regularly has nightmares that leave her weeping under the covers at night and parts of herself die in reaction to a noise she might find counseling helpful. I also advise a writing class. Hyperbole is difficult to handle and quotation marks are not that difficult to deploy once you know what they are. The Blue Angels are a regular occurance and if she cannot deal with them I urge her to work on that. I don't particularily like the Angels nor do I hold any hatred for them. They are a bit annoying but they aren't much noisier than emergency vehicle sirens and the part of Cap Hill where I live I get a lot of those, almost every day, often many times a day. Each of those sirens announce a tragedy, more or less severe, for someone. Perhaps someone very near is dying completely, rather than a little inside.

Posted by inkweary | August 4, 2008 12:47 PM

I'm not particularly excited about the performance itself, but I think this hand-wringing about "death machines" is a little too much.

It's true that innocent people die at the hands of these things, and that's often because military personnel aren't being careful enough about their use.

At the same time, the people on the receiving of violence from an F/A-18 are generally pretty richly deserving of it: like Taliban nutjobs who hold a set of beliefs pretty antithetical to any sort of liberal value system, and are willing to target any number of innocent people to impose those beliefs on anyone they can reach.

From a less universalist perspective, F/A-18 pilots are out there protecting soldiers which we have sent, through our imperfect democratic system, into harm's way. You don't have to be related to one of those soldiers to have a preference for which side wins out in this struggle, whether or not you thought going there was a good idea in the first place.

Posted by Martin H. Duke | August 4, 2008 1:04 PM

it's not so much we don't like the blue angels, it's more that the blue angels are evil and anyone who likes them is a sociopath.

Posted by girlgerms | August 4, 2008 1:12 PM

Lauren might find that she is more effective at making her point if she bothered to learn how to write. I've come to expect overwrought, hackneyed crap from the Stranger - but that which Lauren shat was beyond the pale.

Posted by 4th grade teacher | August 4, 2008 1:14 PM

@64, you're missing the point: 99% of the complainers have never been remotely near a combat zone. To compare the noise of an air show to an experience you've only read about is totally disingenuous.

Posted by joykiller | August 4, 2008 1:14 PM

...and as he helped the woman up, he saw a small gathering of doe-eyed woodland creatures surrounding a nest that had fallen. The nest, made of small sticks and down, contained a tiny wingless bird who stretched its neck out at him and chirped a feeble, "I remember...what it was to fly..." As the dwindling light of hope faded from the dying bird's eyes, the woodland creatures slowly turned away, heads bowed in shame. It was at that moment, as the bunnies and squirrels and chipmunks scurried sadly to their was at that moment that he truly knew War.

Posted by meggers | August 4, 2008 1:18 PM

56. Thanks, Super Jesse. That's exactly what I'm getting at when I say 'get over it'.

Posted by Gomez | August 4, 2008 1:26 PM

Totally faulty premise.
Planes can CARRY instruments of death ... or not. They are not themselves instruments of death.
Unlike guns, which have no purpose other than to kill.

Posted by something more worth fearing | August 4, 2008 1:32 PM

I actually watched the airshow for the first time this year. Despite standing next to a guy that had the show memorized and narrated it for everyone (helpful), it was pretty boring.

Nothing would have made the show better than if the Blue Angels could strafe the bridge deck (and spectators) and blow up some of the palatial houses on the ridge with missle fire.

Posted by long-time listener, first time... viewer? | August 4, 2008 1:37 PM

What country could this old woman possibly be from where jet fighters flew over on military missions?

1. Bosnia
2. Iraq
3. Vietnam
4. Korea
5. Grenada

The letter writer should have curb stomped the frail old bitch and done us all a favor.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 4, 2008 1:43 PM

6. Israel
7. The Falklands
8. Afghanistan
9. Chechnya

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 4, 2008 1:53 PM

Perhaps you don't like the Blue Angels because they remind you that this country really is at war. It's a war you don't like, but really haven't tried to stop. It's a war you haven't had to suffer for.

You people who whine about the Blue Angles should know that you sound like pampered children, angry at even being REMINDED that others must deal with a war that your country sponsors.

Posted by Brandon J. | August 4, 2008 1:58 PM

The Blue Angels demonstrate the uncompromising force and strength with which America and Israel must deal with our enemies. Without the superior force of the American and Israeli military Jews around the world would suffer another holocaust at the hands of Muslim terrorists. Bush is the most pro-Israel president we have ever had. America needs to stand strong with Israel now. The Stranger has gone against conventional Seattle wisdom and been pro-war. Bush is the best American president Israel has ever known, and many in the Seattle Jewish community show our appreciation for Bush with our support of the Blue Angels.

Posted by Josh | August 4, 2008 2:11 PM

B.Ave- you so crazy!

Posted by cattymaran | August 4, 2008 2:12 PM

Josh is crazy. It's kind of sad to see someone reinforce the Jews = Zionists stereotype.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 4, 2008 2:22 PM

couldn't agree more! at the *same time* some of you cheered for the blue angles, in other parts of the world people ran from the same sound.

i'm talking now, not in the past.


"These planes are no more "instruments of death" than a Cessna. They carry no weapons, no electronic weaponry systems, nothing. They are stunt planes. They have about as much in common with the warplanes as Chopper 5 has with an Army helicopter."

not true, they are combat-ready within 48 hours, dumbass.

don't we laugh at the old videos of the soviet troop-parades? how is this different again??

Posted by M | August 4, 2008 2:47 PM

I'm sick of people who move to Seattle then want to change everything that makes it Seattle.

Posted by elswinger | August 4, 2008 2:56 PM

This is different because stunts are awesome and marching is lame. I'll watch a soviet soldier do tricks any day of the week.

Posted by daniel | August 4, 2008 3:09 PM

Give me 48 hours, a Cessna, and a machine gun and I'll make an "instrument of death."

The point is that neither weapons nor weapons systems are installed in the Blue Angels when they perform shows, nor have the Blue Angels ever actually been used in combat. So no, they are not currently nor have they ever been "instruments of death." They're a bunch of fun for area families and a Seattle tradition. If you don't like it, leave town for the 6 hours they're in the air.

Also, to echo #81, you signed up for this when you moved here.

Posted by joykiller | August 4, 2008 3:21 PM

Does the olde-world-immigrant-hitting-the-deck story strike anyone else as fake?

The only details she forgot was that the world shifted into sepia tones while an Edith Piaf song drifted in the background.

Posted by mint chocolate chip | August 4, 2008 3:35 PM

i thought it was fake because of the lack of jet fucking aircraft in a european theatre of war. Unless she was a fucking serbian in which case shes deserves to be curbed stomped.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 4, 2008 3:44 PM

okay, all you pro-BA'ers have won me over. I want to fuck each and every one of those dudes. Right here. Right now. Damn I love a good show of force.

Posted by M | August 4, 2008 4:34 PM

Someone should make Lauren the next guest Slogger. Things have been entirely too civil and polite around here since Chelsea had her snit and left.

Posted by Chum for the sharks | August 4, 2008 7:01 PM

What I don't like is the way the Blue Angels deploy "corkers" and keep the bigger planes from taking off. Last time they did an airshow a bunch of them surrounded some 747 that was trying to take off. When the passengers slid down the escape slide there was an Air Force guy with a lock hitting each one in the head.

Someone should do something about those anarchist Blue Angels.

Posted by Mikeblanco | August 4, 2008 7:48 PM

Whether or not the original story is embellished or even fabricated, Seattle does in fact have a large refugee and immigrant population from war-torn countries, and many of them do, in fact, have PTSD. The sound of the Blue Angels is TERRIFYING for them - not annoying, not bothersome - terrifying.

In my neighborhood there are a lot of folks from Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. Many of them are refugees, which means they didn't choose to come here... they were sent here so they wouldn't DIE at home. I've talked with quite a few of them and asked them how they feel about the Blue Angels. Most of them confirmed that the sound of the jets scares the crap out of them.

I'd argue that the real "pussies" are not the people who are, for good reason, terrified of the sound of the BAs, but rather that the true "pussies" are the people who are so unwilling to let go of their weekend fun (watching the BAs) that they don't give a rat's ass about the impact it has on their neighbors.

Are all you BA fans so attached to your Blue Angels entertainment that you'd tell an East African family with PTSD to "get over it," rather than find something else to do with your weekend? Can you imagine making the small sacrifice of NOT watching the Blue Angels so folks who have lived through war can NOT spend the weekend crapping their pants in their basements? If the U.S. is the great nation that you BA fans claim it is, shouldn't it be a place to which people can escape military repression without having to be reminded of it once a year?

Posted by cranky pants | August 5, 2008 7:40 PM

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