It's tearing apart the music scene I scrapped the column I"d originally written for this issue because something came up over the weekend that I can"t ignore. A friend sent me a link to a posting on a local music message board where a prominent local musician felt the need to defend himself against a string of vicious charges about his personal life. The person in question was forced to go on the record with some embarrassing admissions in order to defuse even more scandalous charges leveled against him. As someone who"s been slammed on message boards in the past over issues in my personal life, I felt empathy for this person. He may have made a strategic mistake, though; once you feed the gossip hounds one tidbit of information, they come back 10 times harder with even more scurrilous charges. At the same time, my admiration for this person grew even more, because he took the time to fight back against the Internet shit-talkers. In the music scene, shit-talking and libelous charges are pandemic right now. You can"t read the message boards anymore without seeing someone attacked for something that, by all accounts, is nobody"s damn business. I"ve kept quiet about this until now, seeing as I have an entire family of skeletons in my own closet. After having been attacked for months over it, and now seeing someone else I respect attacked, I can"t remain silent anymore. This is addressed to the local music scene, which I know better than I do other scenes in the city, but I think it"s applicable for the visual arts community, the theater community and even the journalistic community. Shut the fuck up and mind your own business, OK? Just four months ago, the local music scene was at its most positive spot in years. Bands were getting along with each other; new leaders like The Slurs and Greg Brenner had emerged to help unite people. Even the shit-talkers in dearnt. were working to bring people together, by enlisting everyone around in their "armee." Here we are in late September and the situation has swung around 180 degrees. There"s malicious charges flying around. Some people hate each others" guts and get on the Internet daily to tell everyone else how much they hate someone else. Instead of writing, recording and touring, some musicians now seem to spend their entire day talking smack about their fellow musicians. The end result is that the scene is dying out once again. All of the positive energy from a few months ago has dissipated. We"re now back to where we were two years ago, when bands pretty much hated each other. Audiences can sense negative energy and have responded by staying away in droves. You"ll find more musicians than fans at a lot of local venues, and the shit-talking and negativity have been the reason. The poison emitted by these people has overtaken the scene. Whereas just a few months ago, the local music message boards were havens of positive thinking, now they"re orgies of recrimination. Band X thinks band Y is full of assholes. Band Z wants to make sure band A doesn"t get any more gigs in the city. And band B wants everyone to know that a member of band C is an amoral fool endangering the lives of dozens. Several musicians have made it their project to spread information and misinformation about my personal life to people I care for very deeply. Admittedly, I haven"t helped my cause by trying to obfuscate and cloud the issue, but that"s only because it"s nobody"s business but mine. Does musician A use drugs? Does musician B cheat on her taxes? Is musician C dying of AIDS? Unless you"re involved on an intimate level with these people, you shouldn"t care one bit. This makes me angry because I saw, a few months ago, the opportunity for this city"s music scene to become something the entire nation would notice. We have some of the best garage-punk bands, rap crews, straight-ahead rock bands and singer/songwriters in the country. Most of the prominent musicians here were contributing to the Internet local music boards, giving less experienced bands the benefit of their knowledge. And they were encouraging new bands to share their music with others. It"s all different now. Post something on one of the boards and the same four or five shit-talkers will ridicule you if your views don"t coincide with theirs. Make a halfway critical comment about someone"s performance and they"ll tell all your friends malicious crap about your personal life. This stuff reached its lowest point last week with the revelation that some moron called the cops with an anonymous (and false) allegation that a musician was involved in drug manufacturing. After a three-month investigation, the cops found nothing. But the lives of the musician and his family had been turned upside down. I"m putting the local music scene on notice. This shit has got to stop. It"s over. If you want to attack me because you think I"m a crappy writer, or critic, fine. I"ll listen to what you have to say. But take me on because of shit that was never any of your business to begin with, and I"m going to bomb back. It"s a war between players and haters. I"d recommend you get on the right side on this one.