By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Local-music black hole: I must admit--for once in my life, Zac--I agree with you. Your article "Mechanic Needed" (October 24) about the state of the Dallas music scene was right on the money. In my opinion, there are two things majorly wrong with the Dallas music "scene"...and I use that term lightly. First of all, the club owners, booking agents, label owners and even band members are one big incestuous group all united with one common thread: Not one of them has an ear for decent music! What casual fan could listen to the likes of Doosu, Slow Roosevelt, Valve or any of the other mainstays of our "scene" and decide anything other than they are just not very good? I understand that music--nay, art (sic)--is subjective, but give me a break! If the same club owners keep the same booking agents who are friends with the same bands, we will always have this vicious circle of crap permeating our clubs.
The second thing wrong with local music is the fact that the average listener or "fan" out there is not very educated. They are force-fed the Creeds, Linkin Parks and Staineds and bands of that ilk day in and day out via our limited local radio stations, so who can blame them for only wanting to experience that type of stuff? That's all they know! If it's not Pantera or the Dixie Chicks or the bland country rock of Denton, Dallasites don't want to know about it and won't support anything that falls outside of that circle.
So, if you have an audience that is only receptive to bad music and a group of club owners, indie labels, etc. that are only interested in selling bad music because that's all Dallas will buy, then where does that leave us? In a local-music black hole, that's where.
My suggestion is that it is going to take a completely new entity focused on making good music cool in Dallas to change the hearts and minds of the people in our "scene." The Door is probably doing the most commendable job of that, as well as the great folks at Good Records, and the Gypsy is booking some decent acts, but unfortunately, unless you go out to the clubs every night, a casual fan never gets to experience anything new and/or different. Plus, most of these indie bands have no promotion vehicle whatsoever, so you just never find out about them unless you are an indie mag or online junkie...or hang out at CD World on Mockingbird a lot.
Anyway, kudos to you for trying to light a fire under the asses of some of our local music dignitaries in the hopes that the word "Pimpadelic" gets stricken from the local music vocabulary.
Stale and homogenous: Some of the blame for the current state of Deep Ellum (Scene, Heard, November 7) should be shouldered by those willing to keep booking the same acts week after week. The scene here is stale and homogenous as a result. The lineup for this year's North Texas New Music Festival looks a whole lot like last year's, because it's a risky investment for club owners to give artists who are actually new a legitimate chance. It's hard to blame the powers that be for protecting their bottom line, but don't be surprised in a short time when there is no one left in Dallas to take the spots vacated by the current Deep Ellum regulars.
Deep Ellum's decline: The recent comments concerning Deep Ellum's demise have been very interesting. I have watched the evolution of the scene for well over 10 years. In the beginning, I was an underage kid who wanted to see all the bands my big sister was telling me about (Three on a Hill, The Spin, 4 Reasons Unknown). These days I wonder what the hell happened to the Deep Ellum I used to know.
In the grand scheme, I think there is a major trickle-down factor we have to consider, and it starts from the very top. It is no secret that commercial rock radio has been in a slump, and life has been imitating art. And let's face it: The rock is bad. Sure, there will always be poor music, but when bad music is being imitated by poorer musicians, people are not gonna stick around. Besides, there's enough bad news around (poor economy, an upcoming war, possible terrorism). Who the hell wants to see some hack with facial piercings sing about not fitting in?
Lately there have been signs of radio turning things around and playing better bands. I just wish they were a bit more aggressive about it.
The music industry can blame poor rock sales on MP3s or whatever else they want, but personally, I think they are putting money behind the wrong bands, isolating a large part of an audience. Now every bedroom guitarist with a penchant for metal wants to make it big as the next Bizkit or Creed. Now they are flooding the country's rock venues. I am in no way implying that a ragtag band such as mine is the answer, but there are better bands out there that go overlooked.
Then again, who needs to worry about it? Great rock-and-roll movements never start from the top anyway. They always start underground.
But I think there are rock clubs across America facing the same problems as Deep Ellum. Maybe our problems here can be mitigated with some of the solutions Matt offered (Scene, Heard, November 14).
By the way--I really liked the article about Slobberbone ("Bar Exam," November 14). They are one of my favorites.
Robot Monster Weekend
Onward Christian Soldiers
Let them rot: If the evangelists are willing to die just to bring others to "die in Christ," and if they are prepared to break the laws of other countries to preach their beliefs, then they should be willing to rot in the jails they find themselves in ("Crusaders," November 14). I don't want my tax dollars to be spent to save their arrogant behinds.
Christian extremist: Greg Self's comments reflect a poor understanding of Islam and show an extremist attitude of Christianity. Self asserts that Islam is a "tool of the devil." Apparently, his degree in Islamic Studies overlooked the verses in the Qur'an that reply to critics who would make such an assertion.
I would pose the following questions to Self: Is this how the devil misleads a people? That he asks his followers to worship none but the creator of the heavens and the earth? That he asks his followers to fast regularly, to give to the needy and to donate to charity every year? That he requires them to prostrate themselves before their creator after being cleaned (both physically and spiritually)?
Self apparently feels he has the power to judge who should live and who should die when he declares that "people in the Islamic faith will not go to heaven." You will not find a Muslim promising heaven or hell to anyone on this earth, be he Muslim or not. God alone knows who shall enter heaven and who will not, and we have no authority to declare and condemn a people. To do so would be blasphemy, as you would be comparing yourself to God.
But all of this was lost on Self, who apparently has benefited little from his degree.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
W, the missing link: Gregory Weinkauf's bizarre reference to the president as a "retarded monkey" was as inappropriate as it was inapposite ("Wonder Boy," November 14). No one reading a movie review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets could give a rat's ass what the reviewer thinks of George Bush; you, as editors, should have known that and exercised a little judgment. While I understand that Weinkauf is frustrated that 50.5 million people slipped on banana peels and "accidentally" pulled the lever for Bush in 2000, then compounded their error by "accidentally" kicking Democratic candidates to the curb en masse two weeks ago, it's your job to make sure his proselytizing is published in some portion of the paper that's not intended merely to help people decide whether to spend eight bucks on Harry Potter or not. The letters page would do nicely.
Dangerous When Wet
Muddy waters: Thanks to Jim Schutze for the great, truthful article in the November 14 issue ("Go Dump in the Lake"). He brought to light the problems out there at Lake Ray Hubbard, with the city and the illegal dumping going on in our water supply. He brought up lots of questions that need answers. Thanks, Jim.
Eminem's film debut: Your review of 8 Mile was insightful ("Run, Rabbit, Run," November 7), and what's more important, hilarious. I usually don't write reviewers, but you're an exception. I was in a computer lab checking the old e-mail, and I read your comment about half-expecting Eminem to jump on a tree stump and start rhyming on one leg, and it made me laugh out loud. That, and Em's mom being the hottest piece of trash to blow through the trailer park was excellent. Keep up the good work.