Letters 05-04-2000

Laugh, Don't Cry

I was trying to explain how Phoenix works, or rather doesn't work, to my out-of-country sister and brother-in-law before Sunday's baseball game. Reaching for a New Times at Filiberto's on Broadway in Tempe, I read aloud to them David Holthouse's column on Mayor Skip Rimsza's "State of the City" luncheon ("Rimsza Job," April 20). They nearly choked laughing on their breakfast burritos. The cosmic humor of our situation can sometimes only be appreciated through visitors' eyes.

But for a brief interlude during Terry Goddard's administration, the corporate oligarchy has always controlled this town. Today it has such confidence that it does not even bother to script its puppet. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain; he's paying no attention, either.

Michael Dollin
via Internet

Bad Chemistry

Just wanted to add my (informed) two cents ("Chemistry Decree," James Hibberd, April 20). First, GHB is not the so-called date-rape drug. That name was reserved years ago for Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam). (See many articles in Yahoo http://www.health.org/pubs/factsht/rohypnol.htm)

About a year and a half ago, the FDA got the idea to remove GHB from the U.S. market and make its possession or importation a crime so the major drug companies could introduce some new patented drugs for alcohol/drug withdrawal and senility. As there are already many sleeping pills, the FDA/federal government decided to start calling GHB the date-rape drug. The only connection possible is that if you take enough, you get very sleepy. The best time to take GHB is at bedtime (as the instructions say). But since the government's plan was to get it removed, it needed some major issue to rally unaware people around. (The 1990 act only served to remove it from health-food stores, and a few states outlawed it based on the FDA allegations at that time.)

Next came the stories of deaths. I defy you to find one death caused by taking GHB. At best the FDA can claim that the death may have been related to GHB and alcohol consumption. We all know the risk of alcohol. It causes deaths every day. There have been several claims of death in the media, but every time I checked, there was no autopsy or hard medical evidence. GHB is a naturally occurring substance in every cell in your body. In higher doses, it suppresses the production of dopamine so the serotonin-to-dopamine ratio is changed, and this makes you sleepy. In very high doses, it can induce a comalike sleep that can last for several hours.

It is still sold in many European countries (both over the counter and by prescription) for alcohol/drug withdrawal, sleep disorders and depression, and it is great when traveling through many time zones (better than the hormone melatonin) to readjust your body clock. Until recently I used this product for years and learned of it overseas many years ago. It has also been used by weightlifters/bodybuilders because it is the most powerful single chemical growth hormone releasing agent presently known. Growth hormone plays many roles, but is best known for body contouring (by changing body composition from fat to muscle), anti-aging properties, improved healing, etc.

The story here is the same as with tryptophan, which is a safe and required (read: essential) amino acid that has been removed from the market because a single supplier delivered a tainted batch that did, in fact, cause a death. Every year thousands die from FDA-approved drugs and, of course, both Tylenol and Advil have had tainted batches that caused deaths, but they are still on the market. The moral here is that if you have a patent or a way to control the profits interest, then a few deaths here and there are okay, but if your product is natural and can't be patented, then neither the FDA nor the drug companies want it on the market.

Sorry to harp on this subject and correct your facts, but I am sick of seeing good products, remedies and non-prescription drugs removed from the market in the U.S. to our detriment so GLAXO, Pfizer or Merck can make more money while the puppets at the FDA help them however possible.

Rick M.

Scottsdale

James Hibberd responds: Having followed GHB's growing popularity since Newsweek incorrectly suggested that it may have killed River Phoenix in 1993, I'm familiar with the details of its controversial history. And while it's true that many news stories borrow heavily from the FDA's propaganda campaign against GHB and GBL, my story is accurate. Rohypnol ("Roofies") was the first substance to earn the nickname "date-rape drug" (aside from alcohol, of course), but using GHB as a Mickey is so common that the term is now standard for both drugs -- a database search of "date-rape drug" and "GHB" recalls thousands of stories.

Second, whether the drug is entirely to blame or not, several deaths have been "attributed to GHB" -- which is what I wrote in my story. The truth is that GHB is very powerful medication that can be deadly if abused -- just as sleeping pills can be lethal if taken in high doses and/or mixed with alcohol and/or used in any environment where sudden unconsciousness would be unwise. The best argument against the demonization of GHB is that by turning a once-common health-food-store product into an unregulated and unlabeled sexy black-market drug, the government may be the biggest culprit in inspiring irresponsible GHB use.

Fit As a Fife

A great article on the "Fifester" ("He's Back," John Dougherty, April 20). I hope his back gets better for the next round. Even better, I can only hope this drags out like the national media hype on Darva Conger!

Kerry Robinson
Phoenix

Unholy Campaign

In your April 20 issue, you printed an ad for the Consistency in Compassion Campaign. This organization claims eating animals for food somehow compares to the Nazi Holocaust. It promotes its cause by running ads in newspapers like yours showing pictures of dead cows alongside pictures of dead people. And worse, a large swastika is displayed in the middle of the ad. Does this organization really think killing millions of innocent people just for the heck of it can compare to the need for the human race to eat animals to survive? Or (I can't even believe I'm going to say this) does it think that the Holocaust victims are no different from animals and they should have been eaten? Is it aware that the pope blessed a bunch of animals that were about to be eaten by people the week before Easter?

As we all know, New Times is a paper that will print things that the mainstream papers like the Arizona Republic will not print. And that is why I have enjoyed reading it for so long. But this time I think New Times has gone a little too far. This is one of the most offensive ads I have ever seen, and I wish New Times had exercised its right to refuse to run this ad.

Glenn Siegel
Phoenix

Wall-eyed

Regarding the flood of illegals swarming over the border ("Phoenix or Busted," David Holthouse and Amanda Scioscia, April 6): I think it's disgusting that the people of Douglas are being left to their own devices to cope. In my opinion, the wetbacks should be kept out of the USA. Even if it means building a Berlin Wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Marc V. Ridenour
Phoenix

Fight Club

I cannot believe your newspaper printed a pro-cockfighting column ("Fowl Play," David Holthouse, April 13) that was so gruesome. It's no wonder kids today are so violent with the crap that some adults come up with.

The person (if you can call him human) who wrote the article is probably (if not already) going to become a world-class serial killer with the level of violence he portrays.

In today's world, we should be trying to put a stop to violence, not encourage it. There is too much already without more encouragement. These roosters have never hurt anyone and do not deserve to be forced to butcher one another. This idiot keeps going on and on about how they have such a better life than hens on farm factories, like that is supposed to make it okay. Well, it doesn't. I don't agree with any form of animal abuse, and neither should anyone else in this world.

This person who loves violence so much should, instead of watching it, be a part of it. Let's see him get into a ring with someone else just as violent and fight to the death! Now there's a show worth watching!!! One less violent person in the world, one step closer to peace!!

Tracy Jordan

Phoenix

It is sad enough that such cruelties continue, that there are so many people who actually can think of such as a sport, entertainment, hobby, or any such thing. But for a community newspaper to print a column condoning such, and giving support to such ideas, I feel is pretty outrageous.

Is this really the kind of sport, or whatever you want to call it, the people of your community want their families reading about? Is this how they want them to spend their Saturday nights?

At least, in fairness, the "other side" should be allowed its free say.

Peggy Breidenbach
Phoenix

Becoming Famous

I just wanted to compliment you on your article ("Get a Grip!", Gilbert Garcia, April 13). It really hit home with me, as I'm an independent filmmaker here in the Valley. Ross Corsair actually worked with me on my first feature, a comedy about the celebrity fringe called How to Become Famous.

We're still in postproduction, and although we do have the movie on video, we hope to have a theatrical screening as soon as it's feasible.

Ed Sweet
via Internet

Calling Ralph Brekan "breathtakingly pretentious" in the April 13 article "Get a Grip!" is a gross understatement. I've met him on two occasions and have yet to come across a person less deserving of an illustrious career in art. The article came off as an opportunity for him to tell the world about all the famous people he's met while working on various movie sets. I find your assessment of him as the "self-conscious, apprentice bohemian" to be very true. He tries desperately to be something he's not capable of being and feeds the public with nonsense in the process. He would serve the art community better working behind the scenes as a representative or spokesperson than as an artist. He could learn a lesson from his own career as a stagehand. There's a reason he isn't getting any of those starring roles.

Sarah Stevens
Phoenix

Nader's Grader

I was glad to see your Flashes note (April 6) on Ralph Nader's presidential candidacy and local speech. Interestingly enough, you counted 200 in the audience and the Arizona Republic reported 100. Someone can't count. There would have been one more if I'd known about it.

In any event, Nader is one of my heroes. I'll never forget his call to action more than 25 years ago: "Let it not be said by future generations we were a people so without hope we didn't even try."

Nader's accomplishments include increased access to the files of our government under the Freedom of Information Act, the push for campaign-finance reform and continued work for environmental protection and public safety.

I suggest if you feel depressed and frustrated, don't blame Nader, blame your inaction, and do what I did -- join Nader's Public Citizen and visit its Web site at www.citizen.org. You'll feel better because then you, and Nader, are really making the world a better place.

Carl Retter
Scottsdale

Psycho Babble

We are responding to the April 13 letter about local band Victims in Ecstacy. We feel that the letter from John Candlin was very mean-spirited and without purpose. Had he simply critiqued the band, that would have been commendable, but we sense his letter is coming from something a little more personal. Perhaps a dissed girlfriend? Or maybe your band had to open up for them because you have no draw. It is more than obvious that John is a "musician" with a band that is going nowhere and he can't stand that something you deem as being uncool is actually making a scene. In his letter, he stated that VIE should not use the fact that its bass player was on MTV's Fanatic because the show had nothing to do with the "band." Regardless of why he was on the show, it gave the press an angle, thus keeping the band's name in print.

Our band, Psycho Gypsy, pulled a similar stunt a few years ago, and next thing you know, we were on our way to New York as guests on The Charles Perez Show.

While the show had nothing to do with our "band," either, local press picked up on it and within a matter of weeks, we, too, had a feature article in New Times and other local and national press. Maybe if John were a little more creative with his band, he could experience the same.

The members of Psycho Gypsy
Tempe

Abomination State

This letter is in response to T.J Gibson's comments (Letters, April 13) about the Chute, homosexuality and the Bible. He said if we didn't like what you had to say to "argue with God, not you." All of the verses he spewed are not actual "spoken words" of God but rather visions, or in some cases (depending on which verse you're referring to) beliefs/opinions of so-called "holy men." Why should we wholeheartedly believe in some self-proclaimed "holy man" from more than 1,000 years ago just because his message is nicely packaged in a book?

I find it rather interesting that the entire time Jesus Christ was on Earth, there is nothing documented in the Bible or elsewhere regarding Christ's stance on this issue of homosexuality. Now surely if this was truly an issue with God, an "abomination," Jesus would most certainly have mentioned this. He did mention plenty of things pertaining to heterosexual activity, though. Among other things considered to be an "abomination" are eating shellfish (been to Red Lobster lately?) and wearing clothing made of more than one fiber (are you wearing a cotton/polyester mix?). Of course, when it's to your advantage, you'll say, "Oh, that was the Old Testament." The Bible, if you're going to go by it, is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. It does not change to accommodate you, either. For some reason, certain prudish Christians like yourself think that "sex sins" are worse than other sins. The Bible clearly states that all sins are equal in the sense that they will all be forgiven by asking for forgiveness. None of us is free of sin, whether it be that harmless little "white lie" you tell when so-and-so gets a horrible new haircut and wants your opinion, or the prostitutes walking the street. So next time you judge someone (which is a sin), feasibly you are in the same boat as a murderer in God's eyes, because all sin is equal.

Name withheld by request

Ticced Off

While I enjoy Dave McElfresh's salty style and assessments in his jazz column ("Upbeat," April 13), I would caution him on the overly casual use of Tourette's syndrome. Without realizing it, he's perpetuating an unfounded prejudice that hurts people who have Tourette's syndrome.

Fewer than one-third of the people with Tourette's actually have coprolalia, the compulsive swearing component of the disorder. Tourette's has thousands of symptoms, and many people with Tourette's go through their lives blinking their eyes and clearing their throats -- mild symptoms. Moreover, people with Tourette's score 15 percent higher on intelligence tests than people without Tourette's. Studies show they can perform complex tasks 40 percent faster than people without Tourette's. If Tourette's makes us appear weird to some people, it also makes us smarter and more capable than most.

If I knew McElfresh and considered him a friend, I might joke with him about it. But I would like to see him learn more about Tourette's instead of perpetuating ignorance and prejudice about it.

Vernon Frazer
via Internet

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