By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
The article "Phoenix or Busted" (David Holthouse and Amanda Scioscia, April 6) was well done. I was born and raised in Douglas and my family still resides there. My brother-in-law is the director of the U.S. Customs port of entry there and I am very familiar with "a day in the life" of my hometown.
To say Douglas has been abandoned is an understatement. The town of my family was quiet and ideal. It bragged of monthly touring entertainers for the Community Concerts series, upper-class and upper-middle-class society events, primarily attended by Phelps Dodge executives and others associated with the company, and proud Latino traditions and events. These lost traditions are only small examples of a community whose decline started long ago when Phelps Dodge left and took with it its economic support.
An economy fueled by a state prison and hidden drug trafficking replaced the former, and the community today suffers 20 percent unemployment and the flood of undocumented aliens.
Your most expressive article saddened me because of its truth. Until economic conditions in Mexico change (which probably never will), some place along the U.S. border will suffer. If not my hometown, then someplace else. Thank you for your in-depth review. I feel helpless, but it is a step in the right direction to discuss these issues and inform the public about this deplorable human condition.
It continues to bewilder me how images of terrorizing "aliens" with hoods (cover page image) and "ruthless" smugglers make the news here once again. It is of primary importance to deconstruct the damage that you do.
I am confident the reporters' skills are extraordinary and your consciences are humane, but I am not a Republican, not conservative, but liberal, an activist, and a native of inner-city Los Angeles. Hence, I encourage you not to permit such mess to be printed. You see, the power of print media forms the ideological premises by which misinformed voters make decisions, and knuckleheads make attacks on people of color.
Furthermore, you need, with all due respect, to read up on the history of the "immigrant," specifically the Mexican immigrant, which you focused upon in the article. The Mexican is a human first, not an alien. Second, the Mexicans never crossed the border, but for many, the border crossed them. Third, they come here to work. Many do low-paying, blue-collar and service-sector jobs. The quality of life we all enjoy comes at the expense of the "exploitation" they receive by bosses and the media.
Alan Greenspan notes that immigration is good for our economy. Statistics confirm that immigrants put in more than they take out. Your terminology is so offensive. It is so misleading. It is so unnecessary. The images are distorted -- and paint most Hispanics as subhuman. Your intent was infotainment -- to entice the reader to read on, to grab New Times. I understand, but there are people who continue to be subverted under the haste of intentional, racist, dehumanizing tactics via the visual image and the written word. I expect your understanding. I encourage your look into the realities of the immigrant's history in Southwest, and the Mexican people in general.
I will encourage a boycott among my peers of New Times if change is not imminent.
Illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States has become so commonplace in Phoenix that many of us have forgotten how perilous the journey here can be for Mexican nationals. What piqued my interest in "Phoenix or Busted," however, was not the sheer number of illegal aliens who are returned to Mexico every day, nor the ruthless tactics of the coyote smugglers. Rather, in comparing the Mexican aliens' plight to the case of Elian Gonzalez, I found the disparity in American deportation tactics quite ironic. Most Mexican immigrants leave their country in search of better wages and a more stable economy. They see moving to the United States, albeit illegally, as their only hope of an optimistic financial future for themselves and their families. The Cuban immigrants who brave the violent weather of the Florida Keys are in almost the same predicament. Money is even scarcer than in Mexico and the economic horizon is more desperate.
Elian's mother left Cuba in the hopes of finding a better life for herself and a brighter future for Elian. If Elian and his mother had come from Mexico instead of Cuba, would it have taken this long for Elian to be returned to his father's custody? It seems obvious that the answer must be no. The boy would be deported as an illegal and returned to his father in Mexico before the press could even be involved.
I knew illegal immigration was bad, but, phew, the only way out I see is for someone to start filing lawsuits against the federal government, with high-profile lawyers to get the national media attention, to acquire the manpower to protect our borders. I do believe there is a constitutional command to have our borders protected. Start filing suits.
Your stories continue to impress me. Keep on describing some of the less well-known culture of our border state. Thanks!
G. Ivan Hannel, J.D.
In response to "Fowl Play" (David Holthouse, April 13): I am not an animal-rights activist. I do not feel that animals are my peers, or that I should not be eating them for any reason whatsoever. I am quite comfortable being at the top of my food chain, and I will eat what I please.
I do, however, consider myself a human being, and I feel this is an obligation I have to live up to. This is the basic premise for my being against cockfighting, as well as dogfighting, bear baiting, and any of the other blood sports that mankind has lowered himself to throughout history. It is not about animal rights, but what it means to be humane.
You can glaze it over with descriptions of "tradition," "history" and such if you like. However, the basic problem with this is that lots of things mankind has done are steeped in history and tradition (such as human sacrifice and slavery), but this is not an excuse for them.
Holthouse paints a picture of good ol' homespun family fun. However, it cannot be discounted that it is also an inflammation of primeval aspects of human nature that I don't think are worth celebrating. I don't think we want to celebrate, build up or brag about them any more than I think we should brag that we get a thrill out of seeing one animal of any kind kill another. Holthouse talks about the fighting birds being "instinctive technicians that stick and move." Well, I'm sure that serial killers consider some of their best "work" an example of being a great technician, too.
Yeah, I eat whatever I want, but I don't work up my appetite by getting all excited watching it die.
Tee H. Combs
I am glad to hear that the owner of Hi-Health, Sy Chalpin, is finally being held responsible for his actions as an employer ("Demean Machine," Patti Epler, April 13). When I first moved to the Valley six years ago, I was tempted to apply for a job at Hi-Health in its marketing department. With big ad agency experience in Chicago and Milwaukee, and having helped work with the team that launched NutriSweet, Triaminic Syrup, Metamucil and other over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, I figured I had a few skills to offer this company. With very few well-paying marketing jobs in Phoenix, each new classified ad published in the Sunday paper made Hi-Health seem more and more attractive. But time and again I was warned by professionals in this market that working for Mr. Chalpin has driven many a qualified employee into therapy. Since that time, I have worked with many printers, media representatives and other marketing professionals in this city, and every single time Hi-Health is mentioned, horror stories spill out of people's mouths as if they are having uncontrollable vomiting attacks. Good luck to Jill Lansdale in her fight to take down this terrible troll.
Thank you so very much for your well-written article on my favorite beverage ("Martini Bopper," Kathleen Vanesian, April 6). Make that a double. I can't tell you how happy I was to see someone describe the Merc Bar as it really is. I walked in once, and walked right back out. I'm praying your article sobers the brutes of their self-satisfied stupor. There was one place, near and dear to my heart, that you neglected: Durant's, on Central Avenue. Straight outta the 1950s, it's the best combination of class and comfort I've found in the Valley thus far. Their martini? To die for. Give it a whirl.
Ah, yes, I was once a nerdy record store clerk ("Bin There," Brian Smith, April 6). I even purposely left poppy crap that I really liked off my end-of-the-year Top 10 lists. And once, a nerdy former record store clerk came in and traded some stuff, and signed his name on the slip as "Henry Chinaski," which I recognized from Bukowski. But it was okay, I knew it was Brian Smith.
As a local musician, I consider it a privilege, a rite of passage, if you will, to play in a club with a history as rich as that of the "world famous" Mason Jar ("Franco's Wild Years," Brian Smith, March 23). To have been able to play on the same stage as some of my favorite bands is something I will always treasure.
Franco, for all his faults and alleged sneakiness, has done for local music what few other club owners in town were willing to do. He always gave you a shot, no matter whether you had a following, a demo, or even decent material. You always had a place to play at the Jar. My former band played there a bunch of times. We debuted there and we ended there as well. We opened for a national act at our second gig! What other club would give an upstart band that kind of opportunity without a demo or management? My wish for the Jar is for it to stay exactly the way it is. It's the epitome of gritty, real rock n' roll and I wouldn't want it any other way.
I raise my 75-cent kamikaze in salute to Franco and the Jar!
In response to the unsigned April 13 letter to the editor concerning the article "Hood Winked" (Edward Lebow, March 30), if the residents and other volunteers were not doing periodic community cleanups in these neighborhoods, we would be totally covered with trash. The roads, alleys and vacant lots would be blocked with trash. There would be trash piled as high as the City Hall building; the only thing different is that it wouldn't have a crown on top.
In the last three years as an employee of Phoenix Revitalization Corporation, I have organized cleanups with the help of many neighborhood residents and business owners, removing as much as 300 tons of trash. It goes beyond just trash in vacant lots. It also includes used drug needles, human feces from the homeless problem in this area and the irresponsible land owners that don't take responsibility of cleaning their own properties. I sure wish the person who wrote the letter berating the residents for not taking care of their neighborhood had signed his/her name so I would know who to invite to our next cleanup.
Julian Sodari, Community Organizer
Phoenix Revitalization Corporation
I read with interest the article by Edward Lebow titled "Hood Winked," regarding the area of the city called Central City South. I have lost my naivet' of believing that elected officials are actually representing their constituents. But I was surprised to see that employees of the City of Phoenix so blatantly ignore what is expected of them in their jobs with the city.
I have been through the neighborhood covered in this article. Yes, some of the houses need replacing and repair, but the people who live there are good people. They have good family values and a sense of place because a lot of them have lived their whole lives in the area. For city officials to portray them as lazy and uncaring about their homes and neighborhood is unfair and disrespectful. The City of Phoenix should not ignore a natural resource of cultural heritage this close to downtown when it could play upon that heritage to make the area a place of pride for the city. However, don't gentrify the area and force the longtime residents out in order to placate a bunch of "yuppie" sensibilities. Help them build decent homes and work with the residents to make the neighborhood what they want it to be, not what some "white bread" Anglo thinks it should be. This city should reflect the culture of its citizens and stop trying to homogenize itself.
Let em Eat Cake
I write regarding your Flashes item "How Much Is Enough?" (April 13), a small article pimping www.responsiblewealth.com and other sites and organizations espousing a mission statement of "seeing that all Americans share in the incredible economic growth this great nation is experiencing." Since we are all so dramatically concerned with "fairness," I feel the readers of New Times should have the chance to examine a more comprehensive, non-socialist point of view.
These cries for equality may initially sound noble and courageous in their glossed-over, candy-coated, shortsighted rhetoric, but don't be misled. Who is Responsible Wealth, these self-proclaimed advocates of the poor? What do they want? Oh, nothing more than a commitment from all wage-paying Americans to voluntarily raise minimum wage to $8 an hour, encourage anyone who will listen to do the same, coercively encourage all their suppliers and clients to join them in overpaying their employees, and to only patronize other business establishments that also overpay for labor. This commitment would be solemnized by signing a "Living Wage Covenant." They also want us to sign a "Tax Fairness Pledge," an act that would also demonstrate nothing more than an egregious display of ignorance. The signers of this pledge commit to forfeit any tax advantages they receive in the name of injustice since some of their neighbors didn't receive the same treatment, regardless of circumstance. (It would be interesting to know how many of these declarants received a tax write-off for their pious forfeiture, as if it were, ironically, a charitable donation.) RW also wants the top tax rate to return to 70 percent as it was in 1970; it wishes for the percentage of the federal government's revenue that consists of income taxes to return to 20 percent, as it was in 1969; it wants the estate tax to affect far more people than the current 1.4 percent of taxpayers it already does. That's progressive? Wow, these are definitely the people I want to be listening to when it comes to "fairness." And I'm sure there is a completely logical explanation why only "the top 5 percent of income earners and/or asset holders in the U.S. (i.e., over $135,000 household income and/or over $650,000 net assets)" are invited to their propaganda-filled, inspirational seminars.
From Responsible Wealth: ". . . the prosperity of this economic boom is not being shared broadly. The economy has worked well for asset owners, but not for wage earners. The new wealth created has overwhelmingly gone into the pockets of the very wealthy, while many others have lost ground economically. This trend is dangerously weakening our social fabric and undermining our democracy."
The reeking stench of this pseudo-progressiveness is what is undermining our democracy. Whining for a handout is the most unbecoming thing a wage earner, or anyone, can do, and even more pitiful than that is someone doing it on his behalf. These are the individuals who blame the wealth gap -- and, in essence, capitalism -- that more minority men are in prison than are attending college, one out of five children live in poverty, and 44 million Americans do not have health coverage. Robert Reich, U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1979 to 1995, Oxford classmate of Bill Clinton, one of the facilitators and strong proponents of the RW "fairness" faÁade called Alan Greenspan, perhaps the economist with the most impact of the 20th century, "the Darth Vader of blue-collar America," missing the fact that we, blue-collar America, are the greatest beneficiaries of Greenspan's policy and knowledge, including his days prior to being appointed Federal Reserve Chairman. Reich also said: "The economy is strong. The share of profits in national output is unsurpassed in almost three decades. . . . But a just society requires more. The fruits of this rich economy must be within the reach of all hardworking Americans."
He and RW would do well to examine what principles this "strong" bull economy is built on. Surely one would not find overpaying for labor one of them. And last I checked, anyone, save those whose civil rights have been revoked, can become anything they want, do anything they want, and accomplish anything they want, including putting limitations on themselves by complaining that their employer should be required to pay him higher wages since he lives in a larger home. I hope this sheds some light on the players and thoughts behind RW and its movement.
I stand in awe of the elements in this country that wish to undermine the very system that has provided nearly every morsel of convenience and livelihood that they ungratefully enjoy every day. In their arrogant endeavor to become the savior of the wage earner, a worker such as myself, they contradict the very laws of economics that will continue to operate whether we adhere to them or not regardless of the political coloring of the reasons not to bide them. If one were to truly believe that he, as a wage-earning employee of Honeywell, for example, were being exploited "unfairly" while its CEO rakes in tens of millions each year, he should either put in an application for the CEO's position and hope for the best, or he should quit, since he believes so deeply that it is he who is in demand. He'll soon find himself either raking in millions as CEO or at home watching Judge Judy reruns until he comes to terms with the cruelly brilliant nature of free market economics.
Is it true that the wealth gap is growing? Yes. Is this a negative side effect of capitalism. Partly. But do we incorporate The Dole to any open palm in order to fix it? Absolutely not. The Dole, when unmasked and pursued to its inevitable end, is nothing short of a fatal disease to any nation. The Dole has been around for centuries, the most well-known of all the promoters of this form of "fairness" being a German philosopher named Karl Marx. Mr. Marx, as we all well know, wrote a book, Das Kapital, a significant, valued contribution to modern sociopolitical schools of thought, espousing equality before freedom. Its overly optimistic aim is to enable a community or nation to realize a supposed state of utopia best known as "communism." I feel safe in assuming that "utopia" would not be the descriptive word of choice we would hear were we to ask any former or current inhabitant of the former Soviet bloc, Cuba, or China how they feel about Marxism. (In all fairness to Marx, these countries never even got past an introductory level of socialism and instead used it to hide their insane versions of totalitarianism and dictatorships.) There is a very valid reason that minds like Aristotle and James Madison reject Marxist ideologies. Freedom must be solidly established as first priority. We cannot ensure that all Americans share in the wealth, we can only ensure that all Americans are provided at least a chance to take the initiative to share in the wealth; the only way to do this is to focus on freedom before focusing on equality. Those who think that paying artificially inflated wages is right simply do not understand the principles upon which our economy operates, and are, in short, suggesting a complete abandonment of our current system. If that is what they want, fine, but don't color it as a reformation of capitalist-America-gone-bad, for it is not. Socialistic elements have their place in a society, even a democratic society, specifically concerning medicine and health care, but, by principle, they do not belong in the economy. There exists a problem, but it cannot be rightfully cured with handouts. So, Responsible Wealth and its comrades are advocating "fairness" and "equality." Fine. I can already hear the first statement that will be uttered by all corporate America nasties, greedy small business owners, all evil seekers of money and all wanna-be socialists everywhere: "You first." It would be in America's best interest if RW and its kind were to exercise a bit of what Raymond Aron, French theoretician and political sociologist, termed "Aristotelian prudence," lest the country of Horatio Alger be replaced by the country of Even Steven. As a member of the working class, I say, to all of those "kindred to the working class": Please, don't do me any favors.
The Flash responds: Karl Marx? Raymond Aron? Judge Judy? You name-dropper! History is littered with the prematurely exposed bones of autocrats who hoarded wealth while their countrymen starved. I get the impression that Responsible Wealth prefers to discourage the rise of the next Robespierre.