Bernard Thomas
San Francisco

Peter and Ray Redux
George Cothran's article on Shut Up Little Man (Aug. 2) was one of the most memorable pieces of fiction that I have read this year. At times, I almost didn't recognize the chain of events in which I have been a primary participant, for the article was riddled with misinformation and factual errors. Indeed, I almost didn't recognize myself, for in the 20-odd articles that have been written about or that have discussed Shut Up Little Man, never before have I been so thoroughly misrepresented and misquoted.

Initially, Cothran asked poignant and provocative questions concerning the larger issues of the Shut Up Little Man phenomenon and the significance of a subculture that would attach so much meaning to silly recordings featuring the arguments of two drunken old men. But Cothran shies away from postulating on what it is about the recordings that might induce such fanaticism. I mean, why do people bother to listen these recordings at all? Why do they travel across the country to get drunk in front of our old apartment? Why does the Shut Up Little Man PO box fill up every month with rhapsodic and enthusiastic letters? And why is it that there are four (not three) separate film projects in development based on the dialogues? It can't be merely hype and merchandising that fuels this behavior. Nor can it simply be greed, as Cothran suggests. It seems clear to me that there is something quite powerful and curiously compelling about the recorded material that inspires people to react so dramatically.

Furthermore, I was alarmed that Cothran's article was so singularly negatively cast. Indubitably, there are a few tales of pettiness to be told regarding the saga of Peter and Ray. But, there are just as many, if not more, tales of geniality and generosity, good faith and fun. When I personally think about Shut Up Little Man, I don't stew about legal battles or feel indignant about who claims that they own the rights to what. Rather, I think about how the recordings have inspired people to create music, visual art, and theatrical performances. I reflect on how much fun people have had with the material and about the remarkable friendships that have been generated. I think about how the phenomenon has enriched my relationship with my partner on the project, Mitchell D. You know -- significant, substantial, and pleasurable ways in which Shut Up Little Man has impacted my life and the lives of others. However, these affirmations, of which I informed Cothran, evidently do not constitute what is press-worthy.

Eddie Lee Sausage

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