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
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.
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
At least HSDS wasn't to blame for this one. Or were they? (just
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.
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
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
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.
I 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
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 ballot. Actually, 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.
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
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
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
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
So much for those Houston Press kickbacks and Brian Olson's valuable
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
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:
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..."
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.
Don't you think Brian has a good attitude about seeing his name in
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
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
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 Macaroni.org.
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
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.
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
APRIL 28 2000 LETTER TO RICK AND JUDY
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.
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
Furthermore it is difficult to identify who is saying what
without some color help.
Replies is printed in BLUE.
What Carnell is
REFERRING TO is in RED.
Rick is Red,
Carnell is Blue)
From: Carnell Louis
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!
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
(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?
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!)
Carnell 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!
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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!"
RICK AND JUDY'S REACTION TO CARNELL'S
was upset after reading what Carnell had to say. This marked the
fourth time Judy had been burned by Carnell.
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.
third time was the Harvest Moon Ball accusation.
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
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
Judy refused to cooperate. She said she would not be part of yet another
fight. You don't believe me? Read this:
Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2000 9:48 AM
To: 'Rick Archer hypercon'
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.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 even softened your statements as much as I could and asked you
not to do this
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
How Carnell's Letter Finished Off a Marriage
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!
still not allow me to publish it. We went head to toe on this
one. Judy was determined to run
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
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
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
Carnell would come back to haunt us until we finally did
something about him.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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?
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.