Twenty-two years ago, the music producer sent me a letter at the Chicago Reader, complaining about a piece I’d written on Liz Phair, the Smashing Pumpkins, and Urge Overkill. It was 1993 and those three acts were at the front of of a roller-coaster ride of fame as the city’s rock scene came to national attention.
The exchange has become part of Chicago rock lore — to this day it comes up regularly in writing about the scene.
His note created a months-long letters war in the paper, but I’ve never responded. Recently, a writer in the Reader (which is, sad to say, a shell of its former self) cited the note and dissed me in the process. I thought it was time to talk about some of the issues the letter raised, let folks know how ’93 unfolded from my perspective in the cheap seats, and, not least, settle a few scores.
New City, a competing paper in town, agreed to run the result. It was, editor and publisher Brian Hieggelke said, the longest piece they’d ever run.
You can read the piece — with major and cameo appearances by Phair, Albini, Urge, Billy Corgan, Jim DeRogatis, Brad Wood, Brigid Murphy, Jeff Tweedy, Sue Miller, Joe Shanahan, Jim Ellison, the Stalkers, Courtney Love, and Sheila Sachs — here.