Letters

Letters from the week of September 18, 2003

Jazzed Up

"Vee" day: You should have known the "Vee" back in the late '70s and '80s when it was smaller and more seedy-looking ("Jazz Rift," Ilan Brat, September 11). It was The Bomb then. Times have changed and people have passed on, but places like the "Vee" exist more than you realize; you just got to know where to find them.

Deborah Johnson
Phoenix

A real loose cannon: I am surprised that the author of "Jazz Rift" did not report about the other "Sunday Jam" that's also been going on for a long time in south Phoenix. Located at the American Veterans' Post No. 5, 3805 South 16th Street (just north of Broadway), this jazz and blues jam also features low drink prices and no cover charge.

My band, the Loose Cannons Blues Band, plays there quite often, as well as jazz and R&B-based groups. It's always a jam with at least five or six different performers coming to sit in. We're playing at AmVets Post 5 there September 29 from 7 to 10 p.m. The atmosphere is just as electric as at the VFW with a larger room and more people enjoying jazz and blues.

Love to see you report on the jazz scene in Phoenix. It's a vital scene that's horribly neglected by the media.

James Bailey
Phoenix

All that jazz: As a "regular" at The Vee, I have to agree with Ilan Brat's description of the once-a-week little-known jazz night. Promoter Carolyn Clark certainly does make you feel like you've stepped into her living room to listen to some of the best music in town. Also, her husband Tony and Irvin Tate are sure to make you feel at home. The music is first-rate and played by local pros. It doesn't matter if it's "old school" jazz, salsa or rhythm and blues. It's just great music. It's sad to read that there is a rift between Dave Cook and Mrs. Clark. I think that all parties involved have the same goal, and that's to provide a type of music that is not heard enough, but should be, in a city as large as Phoenix.

Tom Valenzuela
Mesa

Street Wise

Blowing smoke up our . . . what?: Been reading your newspaper online for a while now. You are great! Your cigarette theft article is on the cutting edge ("Smoke Ring," The Street, September 11). Keep up the good work.

Ernie Costa
Clermont, Florida

This is your brain on drugs: From my experience in Child Protective Services, it is quite common to find children abandoned with drug families ("More Meth Madness," The Street, September 11). I had several of them, myself. Addicts will go off and leave their kids with whomever. Awfully unreal what these drug-damaged minds will do.

Meth users are the most horrid and nasty of the druggies. They are quite manic because of the drug's effect on ego. They all get a mental superiority complex. They are pure crap to deal with. Meth users are not rehabilitatable.

Violence rules their lives. All their children suffer. All should be severed of their parental rights.

Name withheld by request

Meth mania: I read with interest your article in The Street section concerning the meth labs ("Meth Mess," September 4). I think a far more interesting story might be written concerning the results of this raid.

You state that more than 100 officers from several Valley agencies gathered together to arrest six men and women who were in the process of killing themselves with stupid mixtures of chemicals available in any grocery or drug store. While I have no sympathy for these individuals, I cannot deny their right to live as they see fit, so long as it does not hurt other people. To sell something as stupid as a mixture of cold medicine and acetone is not much different from selling a mixture of grain and alcohol to an alcoholic.

Does anyone think that the arrest of these people is worth the expense of the manpower it took? Think of the expense to the public to arrest six people in the process of killing themselves. Our tax money is being used to pay more than 100 police specialists including chemists, laboratory workers, court costs, judges, lawyers and on and on, just to take these vicious criminals (well, homeless people) and put them away for life (well, years or months or weeks or days or perhaps hours).

I would like to see a follow-up story about how the situation has been terminated. Take, for instance, the family of four who lived in a storage shed. Are we going to put the mom and dad in prison and the two children in an orphans' home? If so, we can add the expense of feeding and clothing them for a long time. Of course, we will have relieved them of those expensive handguns that they carried.

Anyway, congratulations for the removal of these vicious criminals as well as the terrific reporting done. To all, keep up the good work!!

Joseph F. Dwyer
Phoenix

Radio Waves

The man behind the mike: "True Believer" (Susy Buchanan, September 11) was really an enjoyable article, and thanks for taking the time to do a little research and a personal interview. I have been listening to the Mike Newcomb show, and it adds another dimension to get to know the man behind the microphone. Please let us know more about the network you spoke of that will hit the airwaves in January and any other liberal talk show programs in the Phoenix area. Remember, contrary to popular opinion, Democrats have carried this state in past presidential elections and conservatives like to ignore that fact.

Marvin Clark
Phoenix

Art Attack

When it Raineys, it pours: Regarding The Spike's "Artistic Discord" in the September 4 issue of New Times, a sizable group of artists and non-artists very vocally opposed the Arizona Cardinals' downtown stadium site. Wayne Rainey took no active role in speaking out against the stadium at anycrucial neighborhood planning, zoning or council meetings. He did work actively behind the scenes with the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, the Phoenix Community Alliance and the city to save his Holga's complex (to hell with the rest of the neighborhood) and to leverage himself into a position to develop a subsidized live/work project for artists -- without including other artists/arts groups in the neighborhood in that dialogue, until confronted about his deviousness.

Distrust of Rainey goes way beyond jealousy. What conclusion can one come to regarding someone who moves into an interesting, multicultural inner-city neighborhood, pays three times too much for his property (monOrchid), immediately has huge portraits of himself and his white buddies painted on the exterior, and within a couple of years sneakily backs a project (the stadium) that will eliminate a fourth of his new neighborhood (both historic properties and longtime residents)?

Thirty years ago, that approach would have been called white imperialism; today it is merely considered good-ol'-boy ingenuity.

Shade magazine has continued in this tradition by primarily serving as a vehicle to further Rainey's downtown agenda and to repair the damage done to his "rep" during the stadium brouhaha, including self-promoting editorials accompanied by embarrassing self-portraits. Also, it's a bit difficult to support an arts publication whose founder was not even willing to stand up for freedom of expression when Artfit Gallery was censored several times as his tenant because of very tame "controversial" exhibits, one of which "smelled bad"!

Some in the local arts community have bought into this charade because they don't know any better or because they are hoping to 1) get into print, 2) get invited to theparties, 3) get free drinks and free food, 4) to hobnob with other arty social climbers, or 5) all of the above. However, there is a diverse group of folks "that ain't going for that." When we see the Wayne Raineys of the world coming, we run for cover and lament "there goes the neighborhood!"

Name withheld by request

That DAM Rainey: I just read your article "Artistic Discord" and the two-faced, weaseling behavior of Wayne Rainey.

You couldn't be more right. He is all that DAM thinks he is and worse. He is personally and professionally corrupt and self-interested. I know about this from personal and professional experience, so please withhold my name.

Name withheld by request

Feeling cocky: In response to the recent Spiked column debunking the flower theory of monOrchid, I would ask: How should I be less of "a dick"?

Although my aspirations to be a savior are dampened, I am concerned that the window of time when artists' housing is financially possible downtown is quickly closing and would like to hear ideas from New Times and perhaps even DAM (if only we knew who they were) on how we might plan for the future.

Also, it would be a huge step forward for Phoenix in general if New Times began to take its responsibility more seriously in regard to coverage of the arts and good journalism in general.

Wayne Rainey

Nattering nabobs of negativism: I just wanted to say that I find it very odd that you would publish something about the DAM report which is just so negative and so hateful when it comes to art and downtown artists. The anonymous cowards behind this rag say they want to publish something that is more than just "frosting on the cake," but what they really want to do is say horrible things about other people, which is something that some artists in this town seem to find tremendously appealing.

Envy is a horrible thing. I continually struggle with the reality that it is such a frequent motivator in creative fields and why it seems to have such a hold over some people. But for you to give credence to such pettiness and to publicize it even more is simply absurd. If you love artists as much as you say you do in the article, then why don't you write about them? Go review one of the many exhibits that artists put up each month a block away from your building. Go interview Beatrice Moore or many of the other artists who have moved to Grand Avenue, cleaned it up and made it a viable location after decades of blight. Go talk to gallery owners who are risking their own personal financial future for the cultural future of this city. Do something!

Being Jewish, I was incredibly offended that an image like Hitler's would be used so irresponsibly and for something that is so petty and personal. It was disgusting and hateful and I find it hard to believe that responsible journalists would think it newsworthy. How does making a cool art space and opening it, free of charge, to artists to show their work each month and renovating a torn-down eyesore hotel and making it affordable live/work spaces for artists translate to Hitler? I think if Wayne was truly an investment-happy capitalist dead set on pulling in stacks of cash, he would've picked a field other than art and artist housing to do so.

The murals on the side of monOrchid were painted by a local artist named Steve Yazzie. A few years ago he painted another mural, this one inside the Ullman Learning Center at the Heard Museum that deals with forced relocation of Native Americans in this state. His latest painting was just sold out of a Santa Fe gallery for a large sum of money, and he is definitely the next Phoenix artist to gain some kind of prominence on the national art scene. This is important because he has struggled and earned his dues around downtown for almost 10 years. For Phoenix to have original Yazzie murals in a downtown area would have become a huge feather in the cap of a young and growing city. Sadly, they are now ruined and will never be seen again. I'm not being dramatic. This is the truth, plain and simple.

Joshua Rose
Phoenix

Editor's note: Joshua Rose is the editor of Shade magazine, which is owned by Wayne Rainey.

Randy Andy

Journalism 101: In the great coliseum of journalism, as in the arena of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, the wordsmith is judged not only by the content of his writing, but the extent of his readership as well ("Shut Up, Andy!" Joe Watson, September 4).

Andy Rooney I know. I've seen him on television, I've read a couple of his books and, although he's not always funny, I enjoy his wit. He's almost a household name. And Joe Russomanno? Who the hell is he? Sounds like another loudmouth liberal vying for his 15 minutes of fame, just another rebel without a real cause.

And it seems as though we have a conundrum here, indeed. Just as a house divided against itself cannot stand, I don't see how in the hell a proponent of free speech can boycott a fellow free-speaking American. This would be like the Mormons in Colorado City protesting against Saudi Arabians for being polygamous.

And as for Rooney, well, the man has gone where mainstream journalism seldom ventures: into the realm of political incorrectness. The backbone of American journalism has turned to gristle and, unlike the cigar-chewing ass-kickers of the muckraker era, mainstream newsmen are little more than slack-jawed, obsequious bootlickers who dare not write anything that might lose them an advertising account or hurt middle-class America's little feelings (New Times excluded, of course).

I wonder if Russomanno has stopped to wonder if perhaps some minorities, women and gays laugh at Rooney's antics, too. And Rooney does poke fun at us straight, white Americans, too, with our fabric softener, gas-guzzling SUVs, odd kitchen gizmos and unexplainable eccentricities. Hell, people in general are funny.

And why pick on an old guy like Rooney when there are tons of hardened rap artists blatantly badmouthing women and gays unchallenged? I'll tell you why: because Russomanno knows that a guy like Rooney won't sock his teeth down his throat.

I don't think Rooney's barbs are intended to be hurtful. After all, we're talking about a man who grew up in an era when "gay" still meant "happy" and rap was something you did on wood for good luck. I think if Joe were to read a couple of Rooney's books, he'd see that if the old journalist oversteps the sacred bounds of political correctness, it is usually a rare, daring exception, not the norm.

Have a little fun and stop being such a candy-ass, Russomanno. You're just jealous because you've worked so hard and your shitty book isn't selling, while Rooney just farts and his books fly off the bookstore shelves. If you were a real journalist, you'd have the guts to interview the old man for an objective, fair news story. At least then we'd know who the hell Joe Russomanno was -- he'd be the guy who interviewed that famous satirist, Andy Rooney.

Robert Stevens
Phoenix

Search and destroy: It's no surprise to me that an ASU professor has decided that freedom of speech only applies to some people. After all, most public universities today are nothing more than domains of left-wing, feminist ideology.

And what is feminism but the promotion and elevation of some people, at the expense of others?

Joe Russomanno is just being a good little masculine apologist and doing what he has been trained to do -- seek out and destroy (or at least hamper) independent thought everywhere!

Trudy W. Schuett
Yuma

Gay Writes

Is he or isn't he?: Where in the world did Michael Lacey get the idea that Terry Goddard's sexual identity was in question ("Grooms on the Cupcake," August 28)? As someone who has known him since 1977, when he was for all intents and purposes living across the street from me with the woman who is now his wife, I am telling you he is straight.

I would accuse Lacey of trying to sell more papers by making up inflammatory garbage, but I just remembered. Your newspaper is free.

Lynn Gehr
Via e-mail

Judge not: I realize that as a community at large, Arizonans tend to be a bit conservative. I mean, heck, we all act like the church runs the world sometimes. No, really, I mean, who cares if gays and lesbians marry?

Well, I have read the letters that say that gay men abused a little girl (okay, sounds more like a sexually frustrated bi-male with emotional issues) and the letters asking who would pay child support (who pays it now?). Mostly I have to wonder something.

If gay or lesbian couples are hurting someone, would they not be hurting them whether they are married or single? I mean, consider this, people: If a married couple is financially responsible for their children, taxes and all other aspects of their lives, would not the gay/lesbian couple have the same responsibility? As it stands now, if a gay or lesbian couple splits up, who gets the kids and the bills? The biological parent of the children.

Okay, now to children. Across the United States, gay/lesbian homes have adopted and cared for and loved children that so-called straight compassionate Christians had no desire to help. These homes are scrutinized in the same fashion as straight homes and, unlike straight homes, they take the children who truly need homes.

Before we judge, we must ask ourselves if it is really our business. Does it really matter to anyone but the couple? I doubt it.

Lori Trevino
Via e-mail

God's will: As a regular reader, I have watched over the years how, as a "united" people, we have run each other down for our beliefs. Finally, it has become too much for me to bear and I must comment. As a Christian, we make mistakes. We are not actually Christ, we are Christians. We unfortunately lie, steal, cheat, molest and have adulterous relationships (did I miss anything?) just like other human beings. The difference is that we hold ourselves and others to a higher standard, and we try to attain that standard. Again and again and again. We shouldn't hate anyone, ever. Skin color, sexual orientation, race or religion shouldn't matter; true Christians are about showing others the love of Christ. We hate the sin but love the sinner.

On same-sex marriages: God's word calls these relationships a sin and because I believe His word, I think that it is wrong for same-sex couples to raise children and teach them by example to violate God's will. Life is hard enough without bucking the Almighty God. That being said, lying or stealing is a sin and I would not want a child to be raised by parents who condone these acts, either. I love my gay brothers and lesbian sisters, and I apologize to anyone who has been wronged in the name of Christ.

On the subject of our civil rights: This country was founded on the principles of Christianity. Please feel free to not worship or worship as you see fit. However, if you don't like the American way and what that has represented for more than 200 years, please feel free to go some other place and leave this country alone. God loves you.

Brian Mooney
Queen Creek

A public outing: In search of less conservative rhetoric, I usually look forward to reading your publication. However, your writers' credibility is fast diminishing since I read your August 28 issue. Michael Lacey's column on gay marriage was shrill in tone and unrealistic. I was offended at his poor attempt at "outing" any public figure. Just because the governor and the attorney general don't fall under his criteria of gender norms doesn't make them gay. As for leadership on the issue, the gay community's support of marriage is mixed. Mr. Lacey, you don't see any leadership on this issue from the gay community or anywhere else because there isn't any. There's a reason for that and it's not the governor or attorney general's fault. I don't know of any politician in Arizona, including the openly gay ones, who would take this issue to the Legislature or to the people's vote without a public mandate.

As for Susy Buchanan's article on Jessica Florez, I was offended by the extreme bias and the portrayal of Florez as an immature, ambitious, fame-seeking politician. (What elected official could pass that test?) I don't know Florez. I know Phil Gordon and Tom Simplot a little better. My experience with most politicians is that they don't take risks unless they have a majority of support and then they take credit when they join the majority. Perhaps your writers would do well to write less hyperbole and could benefit from a course in Arizona Politics 101. Until then I will search the Net for better news coverage.

Dilia Loe
Phoenix

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