Since the April 20 shootings at Columbine High School, most of us have heard about the harassment of anyone whose clothes bear even the slightest resemblance to the ones favored by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. But Rachel Fulmer, manager of the dark-sounding act decanonizeD, has lived it.
"A few weeks ago, it was snowing out, and I was wearing this wonderful New York black wool trench coat," she notes. "It's not a duster, like the Trenchcoat Mafia wore. And someone came up to me and said, 'Isn't it a little bit sick for you to wear that?' And I said, 'This is my winter coat, and I'm cold. Would you like it better if I froze to death?'"
Probably so. Few doubt that the alleged verbal abuse directed at Harris and Klebold for daring to dress differently than their classmates was a major contributing factor to their ultimate explosion. But instead of embracing such folks in an effort to understand (and minimize) their alienation, all too many people in Colorado and beyond have actually become more intolerant than before. And goths, the vast majority of whom are peaceful in the extreme, are winding up on the short end of the stick. Fulmer has been collecting stories from local goths who've been ostracized for their fashion sense, and there are plenty of them: a woman in her forties who was hounded by hecklers from one end of a north metro mall to the other, a high school student who's been slammed into lockers and accused of being a racist, and so on. "It's like there's a witch-hunt going on," Fulmer says. "And what makes it even worse is that we're not violent. We're outcasts, because we've never fit in, so we've gathered with other people like ourselves. But we don't want to cause any harm--because everyone else has been harming us all our lives."
In an effort to get this message out, Fulmer has organized a show called "Underground Against Violence" that's scheduled to take place Tuesday, June 29, at the Soiled Dove. The event, featuring decanonizeD, Annick, Fiction 8 and the F.E.W.W., is both a fundraiser for assorted Columbine-related charities and an attempt to remind the public that judging others for what they wear rather than who they are causes infinitely more problems than it solves. Afterward, the musicians plan to gather at the Snakepit, 608 E. 13th Avenue, so that fans and members of the media alike can hear the stories of mistreated goths firsthand.
"Basically, we want to help with healing--and we don't want to keep the wounds open," Fulmer says. "Just because two confused kids who did some awful things wore black doesn't mean that an entire culture of people who are disgusted by senseless violence should be punished."
It was only a matter of time before KVOD, Denver's only commercial purveyor of classical music, was shoved off the FM dial in favor of so-called jammin' oldies. After all, classical fanciers can tune to KCFR-FM/90.1 when they want to hear Beethoven's greatest hits--and even though such devotees are generally more affluent than the average shmuck, there aren't enough of them to generate the profits expected by Chancellor Media Corporation, KVOD's Texas-based owner. So the only thing even slightly surprising about the May 21 disappearance of the classical format from the 92.5 FM frequency was its instantaneous reappearance at 1280 AM, another Chancellor-owned signal. And since 1280 was basically in limbo--it was simulcasting Chancellor's KXKL-FM/105.1 (KOOL 105)--the move makes short-term sense from a business, if not an aesthetic, standpoint.
Just as inevitable was the entry of jammin' oldies, a blend of Motown, disco and Seventies/ Eighties R&B, into the Denver market. The approach has been a huge ratings winner in a slew of major American cities, and when KXPK-FM/96.5 (the Peak) was in the doldrums last year, the rumor mill had Chancellor silencing its alterna-sound in favor of this suddenly popular flavor. The Peak picked up Howard Stern instead--an irony that thrills KVOD boosters to no end.
Chancellor's subsequent decision to satellite in 92.5's music from WTJM-FM, a New York station, for the better part of its first week on the air was exceedingly lazy. During the afternoon of May 25, Denverites were warned away from a traffic tangle in New Jersey--counsel they wouldn't have been able to heed unless they owned a Star Trek-style transporter. The following day, locals finally took control, but rather than employing a soulful tone that would match the music, the jocks sounded perkily Caucasian in the KOOL 105 mode. As for 92.5's music, it's a blend of terrific tunes that seldom make the airwaves here, such as James Brown's "Hot Pants," and comparatively predictable fodder, like Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools," which often turns up on other area outlets. This wouldn't be such a problem if the station's rotation weren't so tight, but because the playlist is relatively small, songs that seem fresh one day are all but guaranteed to return a day or two later, when they'll be considerably less so.
While KDKO-AM/1510, a locally owned R&B station, can be erratic, especially when its main man, James "Dr. Daddio" Walker, is at the controls, at least it feels authentic. By contrast, 92.5 is an efficient, nostalgia-powered money machine. But since the music it's playing is so enjoyable (especially for someone like me, who feels that the O'Jays's "Back Stabbers" represents popular music at its peak), expect it to be around in one form or another for a long, long time.
KVOD, however, is probably grave-bound. Classical broadcasts demand high fidelity, and AM can't deliver it. As a result, even KVOD loyalists are likely to abandon ship before long, thereby speeding the station to the scrap heap. That's the media biz in the Nineties, my friends.
Last year, Skull Flux was on the verge of breaking up when its nomination for the fourth Westword Music Awards Showcase convinced the members to stick together a while longer. But contributor Kelly Lemieux's ensuing profile of the act ("Skull Session," February 11) and my positive review of the act's recent CD project (Feedback, May 20) weren't enough to save the group a second time. According to guitarist Greg Stretton, "It was just time to call it quits." Obviously, there's only so much that any single publication can do...
Another Feedback crime-stoppers special: The folks in Friction had several pieces of equipment stolen on May 22 at the Iliff Park Saloon. Among the gadgets swiped were an Alesis Quadraverb, a Sabine rack-mounted tuner and more--and most of the stuff can be identified because of various travel stickers or the presence of bandmember Jason Olson's name on them. Anyone who's spotted this gear is asked to contact the Aurora Police Department; refer to case number 99-22760.
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The annual CHUN Capitol Hill People's Fair takes place on Saturday and Sunday, June 5 and 6, at Civic Center Park, and attendees can expect to see a load of bands for absolutely nothing. Nearby, on Colfax between 14th and 15th streets, the ESPN X Games Xperience will feature Hollywood Records signee Simon Says and, in all likelihood, a lot of folks who've broken bones doing the half-pipe. No guts, no goriness. On the same days at the Greenway and Nature Center in Pueblo, Front Range, the Bluegrass Patriots, High Plains Tradition and others participate in the tenth annual Bluegrass on the River Festival. Call 719-549-2414 for additional info.
In case you're curious. On Thursday, June 3, Junis Ponds drops a line or two at Boulder's Redfish Brewery; Adrian Legg steps up at the Soiled Dove; and Stir Fried, featuring Vassar Clements, begins a four-night run at Quixote's (for the June 6 turn, Sherri Jackson subs for Clements). On Friday, June 4, Rainbow Sugar is in the bag at Seven South. On Saturday, June 5, Siucra provides quality Irish music at the Mercury Cafe, and the Planina Balkan Women's Choir hosts a fundraiser for Balkan relief agencies at the Depot in Boulder (call 303-733-1120 for details). On Tuesday, June 8, the Saw Doctors patch things up at the Fox Theatre. And on Wednesday, June 9, Roger Manning returns to the Lion's Lair, and Coolio and artists from his Crowbar Records imprint attempt to turn the Ogden Theatre into a gangsta's paradise. A dangerous mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Backbeat's e-mail address is: Michael_Roberts@westword.com.