From the week of August 30, 2001

Name withheld by request

What About Bob?

Like a holy roller: While I myself feel reticent to accept "Bible-thumping" as a form of entertainment, your story on Bob Dylan's return to his former commercial and critical glory ("Desolation Row," Gilbert Garcia, August 16) was tainted by your obvious distaste regarding his finding Christianity in the first place. We all have the right to our opinions and value systems, provided they don't infringe on those of others, but it seems as though you were on a thinly veiled crusade to remind the reader or fan how poorly things went for Bob in '79 at ASU, as if to say, "Yeah, I know you all like him now, but here's a few reasons to change your mind. . . . After all, remember he's a Christian!" I'm aware that Christians are fair game for public ridicule, along with fat folks and men who are not of color, but at least consider your journalistic integrity before writing again.

Hayes Conner
via Internet

Mr. Tambourine fan: Perhaps this is an effort in vain, but the article is so misleading and careless that I felt a response was necessary. Gilbert Garcia states that Bob Dylan spent "two solid decades in pop-culture purgatory," and he claims this period lasted from the late '70s into the '80s and much of the '90s. During this so-called purgatory period, Dylan won a Grammy for best male performance, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, was inducted into the American Society of Composers, was awarded the Commander of Arts and Letters in France, received a Grammy for lifetime achievement, won a Grammy for best traditional folk album, received several other Grammy nominations, and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature. Mr. Garcia also makes the absurd claim that attention returned to Dylan because of health problems. This is so far-fetched that it is shocking to read. Personally, I have not yet purchased anything because someone was dying, and I do not know anyone who has. Of course, Mr. Garcia overlooks the fact that since the so-called soul-crushing Tempe '79 experience, Dylan has been on the road constantly and picking up the pace as well as recording (nearly 20 albums during the two solid decades). I do hope that the editors at the Phoenix New Times will exhibit more tact and taste in future articles.

Julio Peralta-Paulino
New York, New York

Dylan pickle: Fascinating article. Thanks so much. The scars of Dylan's public rejection in 1979-'80 are still evident. From that point on, Dylan seemed to withdraw from the modern world. I first saw Bob Dylan live in Florida on the second leg of the Rolling Thunder Review in the late '70s. It was an unbelievable show and a transcendent experience. However, one of the feelings I came away with was how withdrawn Dylan seemed. Desire was his current album -- well before his Christian conversion Slow Train Coming period.

Rather than being withdrawn, Dylan appears much more comfortable with his audiences nowadays than he ever did in the past. I think experiences like the ones in Tempe may have contributed to his public silence, but I don't think ultimately they hurt Dylan's connection with his audience at all.

In retrospect, this story is another example of Dylan's fearless refusal to conform to his audience's expectations, and maybe it is also one of his most honest and open public moments.

Maybe Bob Dylan isn't giving us more of what we want these days; maybe our wants and needs are finally starting to come together a little.

Name withheld by request

Shot to Hell

Point blank: Joel B. Robbins tells people in a letter to the editor (Letters, August 16, about "A Life That Almost Happened," Amanda Scioscia, July 26), "If you don't know the 'facts,' please don't make them up to fit your view of the world." Yet he conveniently does just that to get his view across. He states that "the vast majority of the witnesses stated he (Alfonso Celaya) was pointing the gun at the ground and not at anyone." This does not make it a fact. These are opinions from witnesses. Most of them were friends of the victim. Do you really think they would tell the police if Celaya was pointing it at someone?

Mr. Robbins also claims that "Alfonso was shot from the side. He never saw or heard the police who shot him." The only person who knows for a fact what he saw or heard is Mr. Celaya, and unfortunately he was killed. So, Mr. Robbins, you do not know for a "fact" what Mr. Celaya heard or saw. Take your own advice concerning making up facts.

I just love how lawyers spend months, sometimes years, dissecting a decision that a police officer must make in an instant. Had it turned out differently, say Mr. Celaya had pointed the gun and shot the person fighting with his friend, Mr. Robbins would then be claiming that the police didn't do enough to stop it.

Name withheld by request

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