I’m a fan of Bill Wyman, both in print and in the air, but his March 17th Hitsville column begs a number of questions.

He reports that he found Courtney Love of the band Hole on America Online and then quotes some of her comments. He also reports that he “ran into Love in cyberspace.”

How does he know that it was Mrs. Love who he was typing phone calls with? After a bit of research into her character and a few seconds of computer twiddling I could very easily be Mrs. Love, or anyone else I wanted to be on-line. Unless you have a mutual code word or a key to an encryption system there is no way to know who you are talking to on the Nerdnet.

Aside from that, Mr. Wyman merely transcribed the typing of “Mrs. Love.” The first problem with that is her comments are almost incomprehensible and need some follow-up questions. That’s not easy when you have to type them instead of speaking them, so I guess he thought it wasn’t worth the trouble. Too bad for the reader who hoped he would be a journalist and get and tell the story.

Worse than the transcription was the sense that Mrs. Love’s comments came over the Internet and were thus glorious and miraculous. There was the same sense of technological awe in Mr. Wyman’s column as there was when people watched TV test patterns just because they were being broadcast. It’s one thing to go on-line to get information and another to present that information raw just because it popped up on a computer screen. You wouldn’t run a verbatim transcript of a phone call, would you, Mr. Wyman? Nah, that’s old tech.

Finally Mr. Wyman failed to address the big question prompted by his column. Are we to shun and exile Mrs. Love because she said some bad words or are we to fight the bastards who would have us shun her? Which side are you on?

Mark Johnson

S. Blackstone

Bill Wyman replies:

That’s a fair question. Besides her distinctive and inimitable writing style, Love knew everything she should have–about a friend of mine who wrote a book on Nirvana, for example, but also stuff about Veruca Salt and Catherine, with whom she’d toured, and even the Days Inn on Diversey, where she and Kurt Cobain had stayed. So I was pretty sure it was her.