Letters 04-13-2000

Village Voices

The article "Hood Winked" (Edward Lebow, March 30) is a wake-up call. However, has anyone taken the time to stop moaning and groaning about what the city won't do, and post fliers around the "neighborhoods" asking for volunteers to clean up their own neighborhoods? It only takes one person to get up and gather a group of volunteers and do something. I am sure that business owners in all parts of the city would be willing to donate. Try it! It is better than grumbling and wasting more time and energy fighting about who is responsible for cleanup.

Name withheld by request

I've traveled to a lot of places during my life, and seen much poverty. We may never extend prosperity to everyone, especially if the population continues to increase. But for a public official -- or anyone -- to degrade the unfortunate people who have to endure such an existence is a mean, lowdown insult to human beings who have many talents, and intelligence. They're not lazy dummies who want to be in such a state of depravation.

Why anyone would be so critical of these people is beyond me. If we could develop their innate capacities instead, our rewards would be great, indeed.

James T. Sizemore
via Internet

This past Saturday, approximately 100 of our employees from Sprint took part in Make A Difference Day Arizona. Our project this year was to clean up some vacant lots around 13th Avenue and Yuma. I am very proud to say we all accomplished a great deal, but the day left me with some very disturbing thoughts. Why aren't the landowners cleaning up their messes? Why must it take one special day for this special need to be attended to?

We worked in conjunction with the Phoenix Revitalization Corporation to bring this project to fruition, and I spoke at length with Julian at the PRC. I asked Julian why the landowners are still allowed to keep the land if they are not taking care of it. Julian and the PRC have been working extensively to improve these neighborhoods, but what about the landowners?

I believe the city should take the land away if the owners are not being responsible and cleaning up these overgrown and trash-infested vacant lots. These vacant lots have a very negative physical impact on the neighborhoods and until we do something about it, like take it away from the owners or fine the heck out of them, it will continue to degrade the neighborhood. I am fearful of going back to the areas where we each spent four hours of hard labor (400 hours total) to make it look better, only to find these vacant lots again to be trash-infested. There could be playgrounds for our children on these vacant lots, but instead we have greedy landowners sitting pretty in their own neighborhoods, holding onto property in hopes of it one day flourishing into a profitable asset. I don't want our efforts, or the efforts of the PRC and the neighbors who helped us on Saturday, to be all for nothing. I don't want to drive back there in a month and see the same thing we saw before the project. This isn't fair to the residents, and we should do something positive about it! The neighborhood needs a face-lift -- take these vacant lots away from the lazy landowners and let's give it back to the residents.

Tina Pace
Phoenix

Mission Implausible

Every so often I find myself wistfully contemplating the good fortune of those who are endowed with the gift of P.T. Barnum ("Mission to Marcia," James Hibberd, March 30). The world is hopping with credulous folks who have $159 that they desperately need to be relieved of, but people like Werner Erhard, Uri Geller, et al., always seem to beat me to it. Marcia Schafer is apparently Phoenix's latest such entrepreneur; the phrase "galactic networking" gave the lie to this fact. After reading James Hibberd's account of this particular flimflam artist, I began to indulge in my usual envy and resentment, but then I realized that feeling sorry for myself wasn't going to get me into the sucker-money loop any quicker.

I believe that I've finally devised the ultimate New Age cash cow, and here's how it works: Ever heard of a little thing called "The Randi Challenge"? It's a fat purse -- more than $1 million, if I recall correctly -- pledged to the first person or organization that can bring an ooky-spooky "paranormal" phenomenon to a place where it can be reproduced and confirmed by scientific observation. The challenge was started back in 1964 by James Randi, former prestidigitator, advocate of the scientific method, skeptic and debunker of charlatans.

Now here's where I enter the picture: You, the metaphysical/New Age/psychic/snake charmer/faith healer/mystical ufologist, pay me the paltry sum of $159 (same as what Schafer charges for whatever the hell it is she's peddling) plus the cost of transportation and incidentals. I will take the Randi Challenge on your behalf and, per contract, give you the whole thing if I win it. This should be much more attractive to the faithful than the gaseous intangibility that all these other hucksters are selling, don't you think? There's a meaningful opportunity to vindicate your extraterrestrial/supernatural fantasies, you just might gain the 'clat of having beaten the Randi Challenge and, most important, imagine all the "galactic networking" server time you could buy!

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