To Jim DeRogatis:

Caught your “The Wesley Willis Fiasco” [Hitsville, May 17] article. That “exploitation” angle sure gets a lazy journalist some mileage, doesn’t it, Jim? Here’s a novel idea for you: Try catching some recent shows, meet the band and their fans, and attempt to pick up on the vibe. You’re so out of touch it’s pathetic.

I’m a fan of the Fiasco. They’re a refreshing change from the generic crap that alternative radio and MTV shoves down our throats. A Wesley Willis Fiasco show celebrates the excess of rock in all its glory with a most unique and enthusiastic front man. When Wesley asks the crowd “Those demons want me to smash my CD player, should I do it?” and they shout in unison “No” before the band launches into the next tune–that’s uplifting for Wesley, the band, and the fans. I challenge you to name a live band that achieves the level of audience interaction that Wesley and the Fiasco reach. They’re funny, bizarre, and electrifying and they rock. I’m not sure how familiar you are with “the rock,” Jim, but rock ‘n’ roll was never meant to be safe and nobody ever claimed it had to be sane either.

You end your article by suggesting that we “don’t believe the hype” as though there is something wrong with a band hiring a publicist to help them break into the music industry. Are you really that naive and ignorant? Or maybe just a hypocrite. I expect nothing less from the guy whose ticket out of Chicago was riding the “Pumpkins-Liz Phair-Veruca Salt-Urge Overkill” hype machine to greener rock-critic pastures. Face it, Jim, you’re not a social worker, and if the Wesley Willis Fiasco would’ve had the buzz then that it has now, you would’ve jumped right on the bandwagon. Chill out and rock on, Mr. Music Critic.

Phil Wolfe