For the week of 06-22-2000

Scary Thoughts

Self-absorption: We have governors become presidential candidates who rush to execute a person with the mind of a 6-year-old (Clinton in 92) or who cruelly mock an executed woman who had uplifted her life (George W. in 98). If the media slide over such things, can we expect more with regard to CD1 congressional candidates who believe that public schools and public roads are creeping socialism -- or even with regard to The Scary Guy ("High Marks," Dewey Webb, June 8)?

The Scary Guy can't pass school dress codes, but he becomes a motivational school speaker; Randy Johnson makes more money than 400 teachers; Joe Arpaio exults in 85 percent approval ratings and his status as a symbol of the U.S. experiment in mass incarceration. These all contribute to a society of greed, materialism and violence.

The Scary Guy seeks "the total elimination of hate, violence and prejudice worldwide," but he has little history of really working for peace and social justice. A real peace and justice advocate -- like Ron Ridenour, the former New Times staffer and the soldier who exposed the My Lai massacre -- would probably not get in the schools. Like the immensely popular Arpaio, who recently announced he would provide air conditioning and spend almost twice the money for food for abused dogs as for human inmates, The Scary Guy is a showboat, and his analysis seems as shallow as Arpaio's.

The Scary Guy looks more dangerous than Hitler; the most dangerous place in Maricopa County is between Joe Arpaio and a TV camera. Will the TV cameras show up when Arpaio arrests me for keeping my little dog outside in the heat and on a food budget of only pennies a day?

A prototype to many peace and justice advocates is Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer, Agent of Grace was presented on PBS on June 14. Bonhoeffer, considered by some as the best theologian of this century, was active in the resistance against Hitler and was legally executed by the Nazi government in April 1945. However, while studying at Union Theological in New York in the 1930s, Bonhoeffer spoke of the "libertinism, egotism and indifference" so evident in the United States and as so practiced by presidents, candidates, The Scary Guy, Johnson and Arpaio.

Roland James

Soul man: I saw The Scary Guy's presentation for the first time during Memorial Day weekend in Kansas, as I now live in Kansas City, Missouri. I'm 35 years old, and one of the least prejudiced people that I know of. I'm a graduate of Sahuaro High School in Tucson. And The Scary Guy rivets his audience: Young and old, male and female, gay and straight, black and white, it doesn't matter. His message is universal.

That is part of its appeal: Everyone has been him and he has been every one of us. Sure, he has tattoos and piercings. He has gold teeth. He knows how to market himself to get his message through. And get through it does. His presentation causes you to hold a mirror up to your soul and occasionally not like what you find there. You find yourself leaving, thoughtful, rueful, remembering all the times you may have chuckled at a stupid joke, or kept silent in fear. He inspires, no, he demands, your attention, your thoughts. Once you've heard him speak, you never forget the message, and if he changes one heart, one person, then he has accomplished his mission.

The Scary Guy is only scary to those who want to hold on to their prejudice, their fear, their hatred; who want to feed it and breed it and nurture it. That's why he's scary. Not because of his appearance. Because he touches your soul.

Kim Krecek
Kansas City, Missouri

An inspiration: I am in awe that somebody has enough belief in our youth to do something about it. Hats off to The Scary Guy and his wife for walking the walk instead of talking the talk!

Judi Carlson
Saluda, Virginia

Institutional Memory

Monti's endures: Mill Avenue has changed significantly since my college days (Maricopa Community College, 78; Arizona State University, 82). But the one constant then and now is Monti's La Casa Vieja ("Mill Rut," Carey Sweet, June 15).

There are bars and restaurants along Mill today that won't have the half-life of a container of Monti's sour cream. Let's face facts -- you don't go to Monti's because of the food or ambiance. You go to Monti's for the same reasons people climb a mountain: because it's there. Yes, it's an institution, and guess what? From my first time there nearly 33 years ago to my last time there a year ago, the complaints remain the same: bad food, bad service, bad ambiance, etc.

Taking the time even to write a review on Monti's is an exercise in intellectual laziness. I could have written the same review while sitting here in Oklahoma City.

But for all the bad-mouthing of Monti's, I'll make you a bet. Five years from now Monti's will still be standing and the hottest restaurant in the Valley today will be a long-forgotten memory. Trendiness comes and goes, but institutions remain. So let's book our reservations at Monti's now. Loser buys.

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