Monday, March 26, 2007

Dan Savage Rocks!

Everyone but everyone in Seattle has heard of the alternative weekly newspaper, The Stranger. Politically liberal, culturally edgy, and completely uninhibited, the little paper has become a symbol of Seattle's vibrant alternative scene. The Rock/Pop band Presidents of the United States even did a song based on the "I saw U" section from the back of the paper. Many have a soft spot for this local tradition. What most people don't know is that much of the creative force behind The Stranger comes from none other than local celebrity, Dan Savage.

Dan Savage first came to the attention of most Seattle residents when he began writing the sex advice column "Savage Love." Totally unfazed by any strange question, Savage is usually encouraging of people with strange predictions (in one of his books, for example, he tells the story of the man with the cake smashing fetish) so long as they do not harm anyone else. However, he is also often brutally honest with those who engage in physically or psychologically dangerous behaviors. His message is usually "feel free to be who and what you are, but do not lie to others about it, and do not make excuses for your behavior." This is very refreshing stuff in the world of advice columns.

Since beginning with "Savage Love" (now nationally syndicated) Dan Savage has broken out into the literary world as well. Aside from his editorship of The Stranger, he has also written several books about his columns, his relationship with his long-time boyfriend, and their adoption and parenting of their son. His writing has incredible (even shocking) candor, wonderful dry humor, and a way of being incredibly sweet when you least expect it. I would highly recommend The Kid and The Commitment, and I am looking forward to reading Skipping Toward Gomorrah. These books are not for the faint of heart, but they are excellent reading if you can take the raunchier bits.

I was reminded of my fondness for Dan Savage when we saw him on stage recently as part of the "This American Life" show. I tried to include a section about his performance at the time, but it turns out that his is too big a topic to fit comfortably. One might say that he is fast becoming a major landmark on the Seattle cultural scene. Personally, I hope there is much more to come.

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