By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
I just read your article on Don Lapre ("Don Wan," Leigh Farr, January 13). I am married to one of his former employees, who has not been paid the $2,000-plus she is owed by Mr. Lapre. Therefore, it makes me sick to read about his spending a million dollars on lawyers' fees and making a salary of $500,000. Mr. Lapre is a snake-oil salesman, nothing more. Since June 29, 1999, I have listened to constant excuses and put-offs from this man. If he is so guilt-ridden about his bankruptcy, then why not pay his ex-employees what he owes them from his own pocket? He says he doesn't care what people think about him. Then he won't mind me saying that I think he is a worthless piece of shit. His lack of a conscience regarding what he has put my household through, and the households of the other employees he is turning his back on, makes me want to hurl. If there is any justice, I hope and pray that Mr. Lapre burns in hell for his arrogance and callousness.
Several years ago, I knew someone who worked at a girls' shelter for a nonprofit agency. This agency serves children and adolescents who have mental illnesses, or who have been abandoned, neglected, or physically or sexually abused. One shelter in particular serves girls from about 7 to 18 years of age.
Don Lapre somehow heard about the agency and decided to adopt the girls from this shelter for Christmas. He took all 10 of them to Toys "R" Us and told them that the only rule they had to follow was not to look at the prices on anything. Each girl returned to the shelter with a basket piled high with dolls, toys and games. Don spent around $15,000 to $20,000 that day.
Don also wanted to give the shelter staff around $250 each as a bonus for the difficult, caring job that they do. This bonus was turned down by the administrators because Don had 900-number businesses and they were afraid of any negative association with this. Seems to me that if they were so afraid of negative charity, they wouldn't have let him take the girls shopping.
Don was a very nice, giving person and said that he wanted to do this because he had been through hard times himself.
Name withheld by request
The front-page picture shows Don Lapre holding a banded stack of bills. The top bill is a $20; however, the band says $250. It is impossible for a stack of $20s to equal $250. If you look carefully, you can see the corner of a $5 bill in the stack. He has just replaced the top bill to make us think the stack is all $20s. Wasn't this an old confidence game, too?
David Holthouse's "Tequila Sunrise" (January 13) was a great story! I am now content in the knowledge that there are like-minded souls out there who are willing, in a drunken stupor, to throw themselves off a cliff in pursuit of a 50-cent hat with an incalculable worth in memories. I wish I had been able to toast Pablo with him on Isla Mujeres, but thanks to his column, I now know that it exists, and it's where I am going for the ushering in of the true millennium in 2001. Thanks for sharing.
I always enjoy House, but I had to write about "Tequila Sunrise." I will be brief... cool, very cool! I'm going to save this one. After reading numerous accounts of the passing of the 20th century, your small article was the very best of the lot.
For Art's Sake
I picked up the January 13 New Timesand, to my surprise, I found two visual arts stories in one issue. Thank you for your added coverage of visual arts events in the Valley; it is really appreciated. With new spaces in town like Barlow and Straker, Volume, Modified, SMOCA and Michael Levine's revamping of his Decompression space, the Phoenix area is, hopefully, on a cultural upswing. Keep up the great job; we are reading.
Arizona State University Art Museum
Fight of the Phoenix
Like a scene out of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Barry Graham appears, a wispy apparition ("Time Transients," January 6), the once-upon-a-time "writer you most love to hate at NT," trashing myths like Mother Teresa and dead Princess Di in great fashion. He now has been reduced to word babble, waxing nostalgic about "the city we love to hate." Just as the ghosts of Christmas predicted the future, it's easy to predict Graham's latest foray into the world of binding: sophomoric, with a touch of self-righteousness and a whole lot of Scottish shit. Barry loves Babylon. Babylon fading . . .
David C. Bracherd
Just read "Time Transients." I left Phoenix for Seattle in 1993. Tucson was my birthplace; I grew up in Ajo, the middle of nowhere. Even out in nowhere, there was a hatred of Phoenix. Our neighbor, proud of his title as the first white baby born in our racist little mining town, called Phoenix "Pig City" because of the slaughterhouse that used to be on Van Buren. I only regret I didn't leave sooner. Except for isolated areas, where the land is still sacred, it's an angry place, not fit for permanent habitation. I moved because I wanted civility: a place where there wasn't a Circle K on every corner, a place where people didn't threaten you if you were walking, if you were fat or just different. My grown son now complains that Seattle is too wealthy, too yuppified. Perhaps your story will convince him otherwise.