Controversy 2000
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 The Feud Begins: 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2005

Controversy 2000:
The Feud Puts the Final Nail in My Marriage
Written by Rick Archer
Last Update: May 2005

In the final story from 1999, I detailed how HSDS first tried to manipulate the results of the Houston Press "Best Of" Poll, then lied about the results. As I was still fuming over the Houston Press results that named the obscure Club Picasso the Best Place to Swing Dance, another problem came along - in January 2000, Texas A&M threatened to sue SSQQ for teaching the "Aggie Jitterbug". 

I was tempted to tell A&M that I had gotten the Aggie Jitterbug from HSDS, but even I can't play that dirty.

The Shaggie Jitterbug Story

It turned out HSDS wasn't the only organization trying to make me miserable.

In January of 2000, Texas A&M decided to take a its own shot at SSQQ over some alleged copyright infringement concerning a silly little dance known locally as the "Aggie Jitterbug". 

This totally bizarre incident became the infamous
Shaggie Jitterbug story.

At least HSDS wasn't to blame for this one. Or were they?  (just kidding...)

However, through a weird twist of fate, the Shaggie Jitterbug event managed to bring into question the credibility of the Houston Press awards that SSQQ and HSDS had been arguing about for the past two years.

The Shaggie Jitterbug affair was so ridiculous that the Houston Press got wind of the story. Lauren Kern, a reporter from the Houston Press, called in the middle of April 2000 to ask me a few questions. 

As we talked I kept thinking her name was familiar.  Finally I remembered Ms. Kern from the "Best of" issue.  It turned out her name was familiar because she was the Editor.  After we finished the interview for the story she planned to write about Texas A&M lawsuit threat, I decided to ask her what ever happened to the SSQQ Plaque we were supposed to receive. 

You see, each winner of the "READER'S CHOICE" award is supposed to get a plaque commemorating the event. Ms. Kern was surprised we hadn't received ours since she remembered seeing it laying around at the Houston Press somewhere.

Since we were on the subject, I couldn't hold back any more.

asked Ms. Kern how on earth "Club Picasso" had ever managed to win.

In other words, I started interviewing the interviewer.  This club was such a loser that they had gone out of business one month after the Houston Press article. And all they did was have Swing music one night a week? 

I still couldn't accept the Houston Press decision to name "Club Picasso" its winner as "Best Place to Dance Swing"!! 

It made no sense. I had been told the place was practically deserted even on Swing Night.   Most HSDS people preferred another gay bar known as Numbers anyway.

 If the two lead Swing Organizations in Houston were in the dark on Club Picasso, how did it win? This still rankled me no end.  My sense of justice had been wronged.  I decided to ask Lauren Kern what she knew about the odd choice.

Ms. Kern laughed at my discomfort. She said there were actually two winners for each category: the Houston Press winner and the Reader's Choice.

Ms. Kern said one reporter was assigned to several "Best of" categories. She didn't know who it was, but one of their reporters had made the decision on Club Picasso.

In other words, despite the hundreds of reader votes, one person took it upon his or herself to declare Club Picasso "The Winner", thereby irritating the entire Swing community with a dubious selection.

Imagine having an election for the President where millions of people vote, then letting Jay Leno pick one of his buddies that wasn't even on the ballotActually, if I had known then in April 2000 what I found out later in November re Bush-Gore, this didn't sound like such a bad idea. 

C'mon, Jay, flip a core. Heads Gore, Tails Bush.

So one reporter makes the entire decision?  That's when I got suspicious. Or more to the point, I smelled a rat.  I began to suspect that some of these Houston Press victories are for sale.  Now I recalled that shortly before the 1999 "Best Of" issue came out, I received a phone call from a Houston Press advertising agent who strongly suggested an SSQQ advertisement would go a long way towards securing another favorable mention. 

Whether this was the action of a "rogue" salesman or general company policy I do not know.  However I went back and checked. Sure enough, there was a very large "Club Picasso" advertisement in the 1999 "Best Of" issue.  What a remarkable coincidence!

SSQQ Wins the 1999 Best Place to Swing Dance Award After All

Not only did my story about the Texas A&M lawsuit get written up in the Houston Press to the undying joy of UT Grads across the state who needed a good laugh, my conversation with Lauren Kern resulted in a surprise for me.

One night while I was teaching class about two weeks after my interview with Laura Kern concerning the Shaggie Jitterbug story, a man from the Houston Press came in the studio one night to drop off a nice wooden plaque.

As you can clearly see, it said:

1999 Houston Press "Best of Houston"
Reader's Choice: Best Place to Swing Dance - SSQQ

Ah, it seems Life had presented me with one of those precious "He who laughs last" moments.  Brian Olson couldn't get anything right, could he?

I couldn't help but laugh as I recalled how Brian "I only have eyes for HSDS" Olson had immediately praised Club Picasso as the greatest place to Swing Dance since the fabled Orchid Lounge.  Here is a review of his immortal words:

I think Picasso deserves the fame!  They are cool, have a good dance floor, great atmosphere, live music, Heather's dance instruction, great staff and lots of HSDS people on Tuesday nights. I also think that this is a sign that my goal for next year, besides getting more silly pants, is to promote the HSDS and Swing for all it's worth!

We need to make a good showing at Club Picasso next week and congratulate them and show our community support. 

Nice plug, Brian.  Way to jump on that bandwagon.  Too bad about all that community support you promised from HSDS the following week.  If I remember, the place shut down for good right after you sent out the email. 

So much for those Houston Press kickbacks and Brian Olson's valuable hype.

I posted the story about the SSQQ Reader's Choice Victory in the Houston Press on the SSQQ Website in April 2000. 

Apparently quite a few people in the Swing Community read the story because I received many comments and compliments.

Besides the letters of congratulations, in response to my article I received two interesting replies from HSDS representatives.

One reply was silly.  Guess who was back?

The Last Word from Brian Olson

The first HSDS person who responded to the news was Brian (I only have eyes for HSDS) Olson.

I received his email shortly after I announced to the world that SSQQ was the real winner of the 1999 Contest after all.  Woowee! In case you have forgotten, here is a quick refresher on some of his statements back in 1999:

  • "I don't think SSQQ is what I'm looking for though.
    I was hoping for something a little more involved in the real Swing Scene."
  • "SSQQ did not win!  But neither did we..."
  • "I think Picasso deserves the fame!"

Here is what Brian's latest email had to say.

Mon 04/24/2000 10:33 AM


I read what you wrote about me on the SSQQ website. Although I must decline comment as you've shown that you will certainly take anything I say out of context and inflame it to your advantage, I would like to take a moment and thank you for mentioning me.  Even bad press is press and the people that know me, know me well.

For the record, nothing I've said, am saying or ever will say, is done as a representative of any organization, club, facility, or institution either public or private.  I communicate with you as a private citizen.

Thank you for your time.

Brian Olson"

Don't you think Brian has a good attitude about seeing his name in ink?

Even bad press is press and the people that know me, know me well!"  

How utterly brilliant!  And your point is?  

Artificial Intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

I don't know why Brian decided he was suddenly a private citizen.  For the record, Brian Olsen was the webmaster for the Houston Swing Dance Society.  He was their official spokesman.

That said, they have my sympathy.

Judy and I Continue to Disagree

If there was one theme that tied all these stories together, it was the constant tension between Judy Archer and myself over how best to handle the various attacks made by HSDS. 

Sometimes the attacks were silly like Brian   Other attacks were far more deadly like the Smear Campaign involving the Harvest Moon Ball.

No matter which incident it was, Judy and I engaged in a constant tug of war over whether to fight back or hold our tongue.

Judy got her way most of the time.  But sometimes I did things my way too. 

The Harvest Moon Ball episode in October 1998 came right on the heals of the first time I ever posted an article which embarrassed HSDS.  SSQQ had just won the 1998 Houston Press award as the Best Swing Studio.  When I published this article, I added some digs which rankled HSDS no end.  This article ratcheted up the tension something fierce.

Just days after I published that article in early October, Carnell made his infamous phone call regarding the Zoot Suit Party that started the Harvest Moon Ball Controversy.  I wouldn't be surprised if that whole incident was some sort of retaliation for my story.

As you remember, Carnell told the world how Rick and Judy snubbed him which led to the Harvest Moon Ball controversy.  Now Judy refused to let me talk about that one.  One reason she cited was that Carnell had come after her immediately after I posted my story.  There was no way she was going to let me post another story after that! 

Her decision to muzzle me upset me greatly.  To my mind, our 1998 fight on how to handle the Harvest Moon problem marked the beginning of the end.

Carnell Pipkin pretty much stayed out of our hair in 1999 until August when he sent out his Get Out the Vote email to try and win the upcoming Houston Press BEST OF award.  My response to his email embarrassed him quite a bit.  I was always able to get under their skin if Judy let me.

So when I published a story in 2000 about SSQQ's delayed victory for the 1999 Houston Press Best Swing Studio award, I went ahead and added a lot of gory details about the events from 1997 for the first time. 

(Chapter One - 1995/1996/1997 is what I am referring to.)

If you check back, you see my story was pretty negative.  
This was the first time Judy had ever allowed me to air all that dirty laundry in public.  A lot of that nastiness from 1997 and 1998 was now out there for the world to see. 

Not surprisingly, Carnell wasn't happy at all.  I don't think he liked my expose one bit.  His reputation was on the line and he wanted to whitewash my version of the story as quickly as possible.  I guess Carnell didn't have a woman telling him what he could and could not write because he didn't seem to hold anything back in his response.


Note: A word of warning - Carnell's letter is so complicated that even I am not always sure what he is referring to.

I doubt seriously the casual reader will be able to follow the issues without some help on my part. 

Even though his email was written in April 2000, Carnell was responding mostly to incidents in 1997 that were from Chapter One of  HSDS-SSQQ Feud.  This three year gap makes it tough for the reader to follow what Carnell is talking about.   I will do my best to direct you to the original story on each issue Carnell brings up.

Furthermore it is difficult to identify who is saying what without some color help. 
What Carnell Replies is printed in BLUE
What Carnell is REFERRING TO is in RED.

Rick is Red, Carnell is Blue) 

From: Carnell Louis Pipkin
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2000 8:44 PM
Subject: What's your problem?


    I can't believe that after 3 years you are still keeping this nonsense alive.  Normally, I would simply ignore such knuckle-headed smear tactics.  But, since my name is being lam-blasted all over the place, I have no other recourse, but to defend myself.  Is this all you have to do, but to fester in your own insecurities and beliefs that WE (HSDS) ARE OUT TO GET YOU?  Man, you are a trip!  However, I personally would like to say that you are excellent at completely misrepresenting the truth in order to put yourself in a good light.  But, I can't remain silent on these BALD-FACED LIES any further.  Let me address a few of those lies that I take particular offense to.  Your statements are in red and italicized!

1)  In the beginning, SSQQ was supportive of the formation of HSDS. Actually we were quite supportive until we discovered its birth was intended to be at our expense. 
(Click Here to see what Carnell is referring to)

Quite to the contrary.  From our organization's inception, Judy has felt needlessly threatened by the existence of The Houston Swing Dance Society.  It was not our intention to "compete" with your dance studio or any other dance studio for that matter.  Our only desire was to provide an additional avenue that would reach out to the community and assist in making Houston one of the premiere places for swing dancing.  (And might I say with much pride, that thanks to the hard work and dedication that the members of the Houston Swing Dance Society have unselfishly given, through their concerted efforts, Houston is now known around the world as one of THE places to swing dance and that we throw the best parties around!  Check out the Yehoodi website for yourself if you don't believe me.)  We had NO desire to teach the dance.  But, Judy's childish insecurities would not allow her to accept that simple fact.  To quote Ms. Archer, she let it be known to the members of her dance team that she "would not let anyone else take the credit for bringing the Lindy Hop to Houston!"  How ludicrous and arrogant for anyone other then the likes of Mr. Frankie Manning or Ms. Norma Miller to assume that they are single-handedly responsible for bringing a dance that is over 80 years old to a major metropolitan area.  And now YOU state that she is taking claim for bringing Salsa to the forefront!  My!  Oh!  My!  How old is Judy?  Will she be taking credit for Houston's interest in Zydeco as well?

2)  Over the course of 1997 Rowena took it upon herself to persuade all of Judy's Swing team to join HSDS ("all" that is except for Maureen Brunetti who resisted Rowena's pleadings to leave, bless her heart).
(Click Here to see what Carnell is referring to)

In no way shape, form or fashion did Rowena Young "persuade" anyone to join HSDS.  This was a decision that was made individually by mature adults that shared a common interest in the Lindy Hop.  Nor was anyone coerced into leaving SSQQ.  The members of Judy's dance team could simply not understand what the problem was. (And for the record, we NEVER begged Maureen to be a part of HSDS and we have no plans of doing so to this day.  As a matter of fact, while HSDS was in its formative stage, Ms. Brunetti was unable to dance due to a leg injury and completely out of the picture.  We did not know who she was at that time and never sought her out.  She was not and has not been asked to be part of HSDS.)  We never intended to leave SSQQ, initially.  But, we were compelled to do so by Judy Archer's unreasonable DEMANDS.  How dare she have the audacity to even think to try to tell grown men and women what they can and can not do.  We were not to be treated as little children and had no intentions of letting Judy think that we could be treated in that manner.  Instead of attempting to smear Rowena with your vicious lies and malicious falsehoods, why not explain to your "loyal" students why Ms. Archer FIRED the MUGS and Skirts and then changed the locks on the studio doors?  That would be an interesting tale to tell. (By the way, they came running to HSDS and volunteered all the nasty little details.  So watch what you say.  I know the REAL DEAL!)

3Carnell was told it was against studio policy to teach for another organization while he was a member of our staff and he "assured us" he wouldn't do that. Despite our concerns that he was teaching behind our backs, Carnell continued to service both camps.
(Click Here to see what Carnell is referring to)

Under no circumstance was I teaching behind your backs.  You were well aware that I was assisting with teaching aspect of our club.  When you and your dear sweet wife (I trust you can recognize the sarcasm!) refused to work along with us, we had no other recourse but to provide dance instruction for our members.  And furthermore, I didn't begin teaching for HSDS until I resigned from SSQQ.  To set the record straight, both organizations had dance instruction on Sunday nights.  And there is no way on God's green earth that I can be in two places at once.  Hence, I resigned from SSQQ.  Your attempt to make me seem unethical is ludicrous at best.  Why would someone without ethics quit a paying position in order to work free of charge for a non-profit organization?  I have never received any compensation for the hundreds of hours that I have volunteered to teaching for the Houston Swing Dance Society.  The only source of income that I have ever received from teaching is from the many national and statewide workshops that my dance partner, Tena Morales, and I have been invited to and accepted.  HSDS does not pay me a dime!

4)  I can only say that Judy took Carnell under her wing and spent many hours sharing with him the knowledge she had worked hard to obtain on her own. ... To say she trusted him is an understatement and to say she was hurt when he left is putting it mildly.
(Click Here to see what Carnell is referring to)

Once again, let me set the record straight.  I do appreciate wholeheartedly that your organization was available as I was searching to find that sort of swing that I remembered seeing own television as a little boy.  And I do appreciate the fact that Judy recognized my talent for the dance.  However, I will not let her take any credit for what I have achieved.  Nor will I allow you to imply such.  The dancing skill that I have and that has been recognized by numerous top professional dancers around the world was molded and shaped by my late aunt, Mrs. Louella Mouton.  My late aunt was the one that introduced me to 6-count swing and taught me what it was to "dance to the music."   She was the one that showed me how to become a part of the music and put wings on my feet.  Everything that I have accomplished to date is due primarily to her and no one else.  It was my late aunt who laid the foundation that would later prove to be my greatest asset.  However, I joined your dance studio after much hesitation, because I doubted seriously that your anyone on your staff could show me anything that I didn't already know. (And I was correct on that assumption, by the way!)  Had it not been for Judy showing the "Can't Top the Lindy Hop" video, I would have left your studio feeling that I had wasted my time and money.  None of your Jitterbug classes presented anything new or challenging to me.  But, I do owe Judy a debt of gratitude for having a great video collection.  That one clip of the "Jivin' Lindy Hoppers" changed my whole attitude.  From that one incident and my association with Judy, the Houston Swing Dance Society was formed and thanks to the efforts of the HSDS Board of Directors, we were the first and only ones to bring Mr. Frankie Manning to Houston and to Texas.  And it was through that liaison with Mr. Manning that I finally learned the dance that I recalled seeing as a young boy on the Ed Sullivan show.

5)  It was this series of events that led us to conclude that the founders of HSDS had no desire to work with us, but rather preferred to take advantage of us. I have little doubt their rebuttal would be they were simply being aggressive and broke no laws. I would agree this is correct.
(Click Here to see what Carnell is referring to)

Man!  This just makes me sick.  Rick, you and Judy both know damn well that we have done everything possible to work with the two of you.  We have promoted your events and even suggested that people go to your studio.  We did NOT want to get into the teaching business.  But, your constant and continual refusal to hear anything we had to say, put an end to that.  We had no desire to "compete" with you then and we still have no desire to "compete" with you now.  Our work stands for itself.  We have produced numerous dancers that have received national acclaim.  We have world-class instructors constantly asking us to participate in our many annual workshops.  Our membership continues to grow.  Houston is big enough for everyone to teach swing.  We do not promote isolationism.

6)  There was one more ugly incident involving Carnell. In the fall of 1998, Carnell informed us that he intended to come to one of our Swing Extravaganza parties at the studio. Based on previous incidents, we were concerned he intended to once again promote HSDS at our expense.

First of all, I have much more respect for someone else's property than that.  And I do not appreciate your feeble attempts to make me seem to be unethical and conniving. I have never tried to sneak HSDS material into your dance studio nor have I ever encouraged others to do so.  And you know that to be a fact.  As the owner of the SSQQ dance studio, you have every right to say what can and cannot go on your property.  When Judy asked me not to wear HSDS-related clothing while I taught at your studio.  I complied.  When Judy asked that I not bring HSDS-related material to your studio.  Again, I complied.  So, I don't know what previous incidents you are referring too.  As Judy was woman enough to make her desires known and I was man enough to respect them, I wish you would be man enough to state exactly what incident you are talking about and not continually hide behind vague assertions that you have created.  I don't appreciate anyone attempting to besmirch my character on baseless accusations.

7)  We simply said we preferred that he leave us alone. Ever since, Carnell has blasted SSQQ for our disrespect towards him. I have heard through the Grapevine Carnell feels we owe him an apology. If this is indeed true, then Carnell, wherever you are, here is your apology:
(I was unable to find this passage. I will confirm however that I wrote it.)

Let me say this, Rick.  You are correct on one point here.  You did show me a great deal of disrespect.  Something that I nor any member of HSDS' board of directors would have never done to you or your wife.  And I did let my displeasure be known to those that mattered.  But to say that I feel as though you owe me an apology?  Man!  Get a life!  Apologies are meant to be shared between individuals with a common bond in hopes of further cementing that bond and repairing any damage caused by harsh words.  You and I both know that you could care less about my feelings.  Clearly your kind and gentle wife, Judy, doesn't. (Please note the sarcasm, once again!) So trust me.  An apology from you is neither DESIRED OR REQUIRED!

8)  Our alleged discourtesy towards Mr. Pipkin was cited as the main reason that the SSQQ Swing team was no longer welcome.  (Nice move, HSDS.)
(Click Here to see what Carnell is referring to)

Why use the term "alleged," Rick?  Once again, I ask you to be a man and stand behind your words and stop playing games!  You stated earlier that you did show me disrespect.  And anyone with common sense knows that to be disrespectful is to be discourteous.  But, as much as I would have liked that to have been the reason for your now defunct dance troupe's non-appearance at our Harvest Moon Ball, alas, such is not the case.  The Harvest Moon Ball is an HSDS sponsored event.  NO groups are allowed to perform without first getting an okay from the board of directors and we determine the performance line-up.  That is the rule.  Although HSDS DID NOT extend an invitation to the now defunct Mugs and Skirts, we graciously welcomed them to perform.  However, your group did not like the time slot that was given and they chose NOT to perform.  Despite the fact that the Board of Directors were upset about Judy's nasty little phone call to me, we still had planned on letting them dance.  But, they decided not to.  It was their decision, not ours.

9)  I did not appreciate Carnell telling the world that HSDS was the "ONLY" place in Houston to Swing Dance. Although he was entitled to his opinion about HSDS being the "best", I think his capitalized use of the word "ONLY" was unnecessary as well as inaccurate. The feud was back.
(Click Here to see what Carnell is referring to)

That email that you speak of was directed to the members of the Houston Swing Dance Society.  It was not meant for "the world" as you put it, although our membership does exceed 800.  How you got your little hands on it is unimportant.  But that letter was sent to OUR email list.  And I have every right to say whatever the fuck I please to the members of HSDS.  Just as they have a right to voice whatever concerns they may have.  There is nothing wrong with any organization trying to pump up enthusiasm among its membership. 

When it comes down to your opinion about how I conduct myself among the membership of HSDS, "Well! Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn!"


Judy was upset after reading what Carnell had to say. This marked the fourth time Judy had been burned by Carnell. 

  • The first time was when he used his influence to persuade Judy's first Swing team into performing as HSDS members.

  • The second time was when he lied to Judy's face that he wasn't teaching for HSDS behind her back.

  • The third time was the Harvest Moon Ball accusation.

  • Now Judy faced bitter accusations in this email including his threat to reveal the truth behind the Pizza Rebellion.

Carnell's original betrayal in 1997 had hurt Judy deeply. She had once had a special camaraderie with Carnell. Due to his prodigious dance talent, Judy had made Carnell her protégé. 

But as you remember things didn't work out once Rowena came along. The loss of her first Swing team to Rowena hurt Judy. Those were her friends who left her.  Nor was Judy happy about losing a child at the same time.  Adding insult to injury, Ms. Rowena Young's clear superiority in the realm of politics had neatly removed Judy from any participation in the mainstream Swing Scene. After Judy was neatly outflanked by Rowena in 1997, this meant the opinions of the person who had personally brought Lindy to Houston Texas were now cast aside.

As you have read, Judy lost one skirmish after another with HSDS because she refused to fight back.

And as I have written, I could not have disagreed MORE with Judy's position each time.  I had let her handle the politics back in 1997. I had let her handle the politics in 1998 and in 1999.  I was forced to watch Judy get the short end of the stick in every one of these political struggles.

I explained to Judy that these HSDS people behaved like thugs. They stole our dance team. They stole our class syllabuses. They stole our teachers.  They handed out HSDS flyers on our premises, recruited our students to come dance at their place, and solicited SSQQ student email addresses right under our noses. They lied about Judy's alleged racial slur, they misconstrued facts in the media (Brian Olson) and even had the nerve to interrogate me through email under false pretenses (Brian Olson).

Carnell's letter was the last straw for me.  I wanted to fight back!  We had done it Judy's way for the past three years and had lost an enormous amount of turf and prestige in the process.  I told Judy this had to stop once and for all. I put my foot down and insisted we publish this letter.

Judy refused to cooperate. She said she would not be part of yet another fight.  You don't believe me?  Read this:

From: Judy Archer []
Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2000  9:48 AM
To: 'Rick Archer hypercon'
Subject: HSDS


This (letter from Carnell) makes me sick to my stomach. I have waited a long time for this controversy to die down and for HSDS and SSQQ to simply go their own ways, but now it's really hit the fan. You may thrive on this sort of thing, but I'm not cut from the same cloth.  Did HSDS do us wrong?  Yes.  Can we get over it?  I sure as hell hope so.

I even softened your statements as much as I could and asked you not to do this
(i.e. print the first story about the HSDS/SSQQ bad blood) but you did it anyway and now I'm once again victimized with no recourse.  Maybe it's time I got out of the dance game altogether; my life has more than its share of unhappiness and strife, why go looking for more?

I HATE BEING THE BAD GUY!!!!!  HSDS used SSQQ, then went into competition with us. So did Debbie Reynolds (an ex-teacher who left the studio) but what are we going to do about it? Lindy has brought me extreme joy and extreme sadness. I've lost many friends because of it. I'm tired of it all and I wash my hands of it. I guess my fun trip to Dallas (a Swing Event) is off since I'm not willing to travel there and confront Carnell alone and his gang alone.  Thanks, Rick.

Now you and I will fight (AGAIN) because of this thing. My life sucks.


How Carnell's Letter Finished Off a Marriage

Judy was right about a lot of things in her letter above to me.  Judy was particularly prescient about one issue - she predicted she and I would have a bitter fight about Carnell's letter.  Boy, did we ever!  I was determined to fight back.  We weren't going to do this the Harvest Moon way.  Not surprisingly, I wanted to counterattack and write a letter in response to his. 

When you are attacked, fight back!

Judy would still not allow me to publish it.  We went head to toe on this one.  Judy was determined to run and hide.

I did everything I could to see Judy's point of view.  You might be surprised to know I actually have studied the Pacifist approach on many occasions.

As far as I can tell, most sensible people prefer to live in peace.  However from time to time even peaceful people get attacked.  Even though I was raised as a Quaker and even though I studied carefully the Pacifist triumphs of Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King, it has seemed to me that Pacifism doesn't always work.

The problem with the Pacifist Position in War is that if you are attacked and you don't fight back, you lose.  You either get killed or become subjugated.  Death is not pleasant, but neither is slavery and humiliation.  I think I would rather live free or die trying.

I know what you say. Pacifism succeeded for Ghandi and Martin Luther King.  That is true.  It does work sometimes.  It also worked for the Christians against the Romans, but if you recall a lot of Christians died horrible deaths in the process.

A modern example of when Pacifism doesn't work would have to be over in Iraq.  In 2005, terrorists mutilated and beheaded several defenseless kidnap victims who were actually aid workers simply trying to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people.

Now in my case, I lived in a home where the person who should have been the Pacifist was actually a hawk, but the hawk could never fight freely because the Dove begged him not to.


I told Judy we would never get rid of Carnell until we stood up to him!

You know the Western movies where the bad guy keeps coming around again and again till someone has the guts to fight back? 

Carnell loomed in my imagination as Yul Brynner in Who Shot Liberty Valance? 

Carnell would come back to haunt us until we finally did something about him.

Why not publish the letter?  Why not let some other people take a peek and make up their own minds?

However I did not publish a word of Carnell's letter at the time I received it. 
Judy would not let me publish the letter nor would she let me respond to even certain pieces of it!

Most people prefer to fight back when unfairly attacked, but not Judy Archer.  Carnell escaped my fury again and got off scott-free.

The End of my Ten Year Marriage

The Rule in the Archer house was that we face the world as a team.  Judy said it would destroy her to fight any more battles in public.  Her obstinacy on this issue was so profoundly out of touch with reality that I actually began to wonder if Carnell held something over Judy that she wasn't telling me.  Wouldn't that make for an interesting plot twist? 

Be that as it may, our relationship never recovered from this fight.  We had been distant before, but now an Arctic frost developed between us.  We shared a home but barely spoke.

Seven months later on Christmas Eve 2000 we called it quits. The fight over Carnell's email was the final blow that split us up after a ten-year marriage. We never resolved our disagreement.  Instead the tension just built up and coldness grew colder till it became obvious we had reached the point of no return.

It is hard to believe that something as stupid as the SSQQ-HSDS Swing Controversy could cost us a marriage, but the truth was our arguments about the best way to handle the never-ending pressure were the most bitter fights of our marriage. Until HSDS came along, Judy and I had never had a fight.  Let me repeat that: From 1989 to 1997, we never had a fight.  But once HSDS came along, we began to fight all the time.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.

What was strange about our arguments was that Judy would fight me tooth and nail, but she wouldn't fight Carnell.  You figure it out.

The strife caused from our divergent views on how to handle what seemed to be the never-ending pressure from Carnell and HSDS ripped us apart. We agreed that we were under attack, but we could not agree on how to handle it. Judy wanted to hide; I wanted to counter-attack.

Judy won the argument, SSQQ lost the war, I blamed Judy for losing, and we split up.  Don't get me wrong. I don't blame Rowena and Carnell for my divorce. Judy and I simply didn't see eye to eye at a very fundamental level. Carnell's shenanigans simply exposed our emotional fault lines.

But don't tell me the Swing Feud was a figment of my imagination. There may not have been any bullets fired and certainly no blood was shed, but the attacks were real, the accusations stung, the attempts to steal credit hurt, reputations were damaged and relationships were lost.

The ordeal was indeed a modern-day Montague-Capulet, Hatfield and McCoy rivalry.



2000 was definitely an action-packed year.  First came the Shaggie Jitterbug, then Carnell's letter.  But the real story was that 2000 was the biggest attendance year in SSQQ history.  This was the year we saw the convergence of two huge dance energies - the Swing Era was still going strong while Living La Vida Loca poured Salsa students into the studio in record numbers.  Western dancing was doing well too.  We barely had space for all the students.

I should have been happy.  But due to my bitterness I was unable to appreciate the success of the studio.  2000 was a long and very angry year for me.  I lost my temper on more occasions that year than I would like to admit. 

In fact, the day Judy wrote me her 'life sucks' email, it put me in such a bad mood that the same night at the studio I completely lost control and threw the worst temper tantrum of my career.  I was miserable throughout the entire year.

But you know what was really eating at me - Carnell's constant bullying tactics, Judy's constant Ostrich behavior, and my inability to get Judy to allow me to fight back.  I felt like Judy tied me in knots and prevented me from speaking up.

Some people might say, "C'mon, Rick, be a man.  Do what you think is right.  Who really wears the pants in your family?" 

This really had nothing to do with manhood.   What good would I accomplish trying to stand up for someone who didn't want me to stand up for her?

I would not fight back without Judy's permission for several reasons.  One, Judy was my wife and she asked me not to.  Second, Carnell attacked Judy, not me.  It was not directly my fight.  I asked permission to intercede and Judy denied it.  She said it would hurt her too much.  Third, Judy worked at the studio too.  I wanted to keep her happy at the studio.  What good would it do to go after Carnell and alienate the woman who was the mother of my child and the person who helped me run the studio?

So I remained furious at my helplessness all year long.  But let me say this - I did not ask for the divorce.  I was willing to honor my commitment to the marriage.  But at the end of the year when Judy asked to call it quits, I agreed it was the right thing to do.

As for the Feud, theoretically the Christian idea of turning the other cheek should have ended the fight right then and there when Judy prevented me from publishing Carnell's letter.  By not sending the letter and fighting back, I figured that would be the end of the animosity.  I should have known better.  HSDS came at me again in 2001 anyway. 

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