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Fitz-ka-bob

The letters have been pouring in, and to say I can respond to all personally and/or in-depth would be to lieŠ

Which, by the content of some letters, is precisely what I was doing when I said in this space two weeks ago that the young punks associated with Good Guy Records were boycotting Fitzgerald's. It seems that after talking with Scott O'Doyle, president or whatever of Good Guy Records, the boycott isn't in fact a boycott after all. It's one underager's rage against the machine. Twenty-year-old O'Doyle is sole proprietor of the Good Guy label, and, according to him, simply an outspoken businesskid who never wanted anyone else to boycott Fitzgerald's, but who just wanted to let all know that he and his band, O'Doyle Rules, were. "I'm all about the scene," he writes me in an e-mail, one in a six-part series titled, "Re: HEY there ass hole" (which would be me, the person to whom he also attaches the sobriquet "shit head"). "And what good would it do to destroy Fitz's? It would kill the scene. I'm just going underground."

Though the differences between boycotting and going underground are vast, the idea O'Doyle was trying to get across is somewhat implicit: He doesn't want to play Fitzgerald's anymore. He doesn't want his band to. And if other bands follow suit, good for them.

But O'Doyle's by far wasn't the only letter re: Fitz's in my e-mailbox. There were others: some calling me rude names, the type of which I haven't heard since grade school; some accusing me of pandering to Fitzgerald's; and some attacking Fitzgerald's directly, like Jeremy Frazer's. He writes: "The place is a piece of shit and the first new live music club to open downtown (there is already one being opened by the owners of [Instant] Karma) [Fitzgerald's is] gonna be left with nothing but 15- to 16-year-olds on Friday and Saturday nights, playing their favorite punk covers to their girlfriends and parents."

And fellow Fitz-hater Laura Bishop says that just because Fitzgerald's is so damn old, doesn't mean the way it treats its customers has changed. It, according to her, is still the same ole den of discourteousness it's always been. Also, she writes: "This amusing little stink is really a keyhole view of a bigger issue. Why haven't more bands from the fourth largest city in the U.S. made a presence for themselves on the national scene? Why can you only hear local music on a radio station in Houston if your car is actually parked in the university parking lot with the antenna fully extended?"

Well, these rhetoricals beg a response: Maybe the fact that many Houston bands simply don't aspire to the Big Time has something to do with why many Houston bands haven't experienced national success. Maybe these bands are content just making great music. Or maybe an industry such as music just isn't as important in this neck of the dunes as it is in, say, Nashville, where at least three-quarters of the city's entire economy is in some way hinged on Vince Gill's latest record. What we have here in H-town is oil, big rockets and sports. And these industries are too integral to most Houstonians' ways of life to be interrupted by some sort of burgeoning music scene. If you want music and quality places to produce it and clubs to support it, go to New York, L.A. or Music Row. Otherwise, get comfy at Fitz's. That's the only type of support Houston will ever have. And, as far as I'm concerned, that's the only type of support it will ever need.

Now, about Fitzgerald's and our scene here: The club in question hasn't been a club for 20 or so years because of its bad business practices. This is America, where capitalism reigns. And what most of these local bands don't understand is that Fitzgerald's or any club for that matter is not obligated to support local acts. Period. They're not even obligated to be nice to their customers or the entertainment. It would be great if they were, hell, it would be heaven if just the beer wenches understood simple math, but that's not how bills get paid. That some bands get the unwanted feeling that Sara Fitzgerald has them by the ears and is just raking their naked backs over hot coals is a byproduct of the make-it-or-break-it world of music. The sick thing is that some bands, I think, like this treatment. They cultivate it, the way people cultivate cockroaches, because they need something to bitch about. They, in fact, set themselves up for failure (i.e., they goof off at rehearsals, don't take responsibility for advertising their shows, let their friends hang on their coattails, etc.). "The cream always rises" is not a cliche. It's a fact. What some of these bands could stand to do is simply become better; become so good that any club owner or record label stiff cannot deny the talent. Instead of whining, bitching and/or taking shit underground, ambitious local bands should do the opposite. Practice every day; flyer everywhere.

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