Letters

Letters from the week of October 23, 2003

Downtown Deluge

Artistic statement: Thank you very much for the in-depth articles on downtown Phoenix. ("Exploding Downtown," October 2 and "Jerry's World," October 16) Your special project deserves kudos for bringing to light the many opportunities that the Phoenix metropolitan area has to create a vibrant, creative, and "live-able" downtown.

I saw (and heard) Ray Bradbury speak about 20 years ago, and he summarized many of the key points found in Richard Florida's important book, Rise Of The Creative Class. Mr. Bradbury's definition of civilization was that the quality of the civilization was directly proportional to the number of excellent restaurants a person can walk to within two miles of their front door. He went on to enumerate virtually the same list of lower-case "arts" and "cultural" items that Professor Florida indicates. In Bradbury's condensed and efficient analysis, once you have a critical mass of people living, shopping, eating, and drinking within an area, the artistic, cultural, musical and social benefits appear.

The key to any "creative" space development is to provide the "creative class" with the time to pursue their muse, by providing low-cost living quarters and readily available spaces for them to purvey the objects of their labor, be it art, music, or incredible cuisine. As you so aptly state: "What's hugely missing in downtown Phoenix are enough cafes, bars, coffee houses, lofts, music showcases and retail outlets to form the day-to-day fabric of urban life."

In Paris, Cannes, and other "highly civilized" cities in France, there are up to five brasseries (restaurants) per lineal block of city, with compact housing in abundance. One characteristic of older cities in Europe appears to be that families have owned their residences for several generations, so their "rent" is very low, basically what it cost for upkeep and heating, cooling and cooking necessities. This "low rent" lifestyle makes it possible for "creatives" to hang out in the neighborhood and be creative, because they don't actually need a lot of cash flow to survive. In some European cities, "artists colonies" have been in existence for hundreds of years, providing low-cost living areas and ready-made local markets for one-of-a-kind handmade products. In most of the United States, rents and mortgage payments prohibit the kind of "creative" lifestyle, because artists cannot make enough money from their art to pay their monthly living costs.

The municipal tax structure in Phoenix is against building any kind of "creative class" in a downtown Phoenix urban renewal zone, because what the city really wants are big-bucks yuppies who buy quarter-million-dollar condo "lofts" and, inevitably, drive their Porsches, Mercedes, and BMWs out to the trendy restaurants in Scottsdale to eat and drink.

Gerry Kaufhold
Kearny

You can't go back again:Does the Editor of New Timesever read the Letters to the Editor to look at the big picture?

Don't you find it the least bit strange that all six letters included in your October 9 issue all carry the same boring theme that downtown Phoenix stinks? ("Exploding Downtown," October 2) They unanimously agree how downtown Phoenix pales to New York, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, etc.

All six letters were written by people who left those cities to come to Phoenix, and now want to change them to be like what they left.

Don't you find something very strange about that?

You should!

Jim Sparks
Phoenix

Experimenting with downtown:Thanks so much for addressing the downtown issue and spurring the debate by bringing Richard Florida to the Valley.

I recently moved back after 13 years in Minneapolis. It was great to see that city had reversed its course from falling population and property values to the opposite in just that short time. My own hood in "Uptown", the largest urban area outside the downtown, went from formerly redlined to the hottest real estate market in the Twin Cities, where people who bought homes for $80,000 20 years ago were selling them for half a million. The reason was simple: anything you wanted was in walking distance, from the Chain of Lakes, to the best restaurants, nightspots, shops and movie theatres in town, including five coffee shops within as many blocks of my home. And the downtown was a short bus ride away.

Meanwhile, it's truly painful to see the decline of my old hood, south Scottsdale, and the continued decay of vast areas of Phoenix. The current vision of growing endlessly like mold in a petri dish, leaving the core dead and empty, is a failed one, and Phoenix and Scottsdale have unfortunately become textbook examples. But until people decide they've had enough of a dead downtown and urban sprawl and vote accordingly, how can that change?

Ken Jacobsen
Tempe

Daydream believer:As a person considering moving to Phoenix from Washington state, I appreciated your overview of downtown Phoenix, its shortcomings, and its potential.

I take issue, though, with your implied disparagement of mariachi music. As a former Los Angeleno, I grew to love the stuff. The vocals can be heartfelt and haunting. I no longer cringe when they approach the table in a Mexican restaurant.

Here's hoping my husband and I make it to Phoenix, and that your dreams for downtown come true, and soon!

Caroline Collins
Point Roberts, Washington

The Press and Polygamy

Bible school:It doesn't work that way. For Rick Barrs ("Politics Over Principle," October 9) to expect Latter-day Saints to renounce Joseph Smith and Brigham Young over their position on polygamy is to expect:

Christians to repudiate their apostle John because he spoke against sex without marriage (Rev. 22:15). Or Paul the Apostle because he said women were not to speak in church (1 Corin. 14:34), and husbands were to be supreme over wives (1 Corin. 11:3). Or Jude who opposed homosexuality (Jude 1:7). Or Jesus who condemned the pleasures of porn (Matt 5:28). Or to expect Jews to toss out Abraham (Gen. 16:3), as well as Jacob (Gen 30:4) because they were polygamists. Or to disavow Moses because he condemned homosexuals (Lev. 20:13). Or for that matter, Muslims to distance themselves from Muhammad because he too denounced homosexuality (Koran -- Surah 4:15-16).

Prophets and the Gods they represent have always been the nemesis of change agents.

Even suggesting that the faithful pick and chose among their teachings means turning them into nothing more than philosophers inspired by well developed imaginations.

It doesn't work that way.

John Keeler
Phoenix

Kids on the Skids

Guarding the guardians:Excellent report on the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections ("Worse Than Ever," Amy Silverman, October 2) I would personally not trust a division of the Department of Justice to investigate anything concerning Justice issues. It is like the fox guarding the hen house. Oversight is sorely lacking in the prison system -- both federal and state. DOJ is a self-serving and powerful bureaucracy. The investigative arm should not be in the same agency. Congress needs to act on this issue, and be held accountable for allowing DOJ to grow and function with such self-empowerment.

Roma Thomas
Sun City West

Deeper problems:It is great to have a newspaper in our city that is not afraid to name names and to follow-up on past columns.

Amy Silverman's "Worse Than Ever" is a good example of how New Times reporters keep telling the story of child abuse in Arizona.

Thank you for Silverman's articles and John Dougherty's excellent reports on polygamy/child abuse.

Dougherty's articles have surely spurred Attorney General Terry Goddard to insist he will act on the child abuse existing for years in that outlying area.

The question we're left with, is when will Arizona's Attorney General and the Governor get together to fix the things happening right under their noses, here in the Valley and around the state?

When will the heads of state get the idea that they need to stop padding the cells and give disadvantaged kids constructive activities? Children languishing, even dying, right under the noses of government officials is appalling. So is the litigation against the state. Taxpayers keep paying for "civil rights" violations and litigation at every level of government. And children keep being abused and dying.

Virginia Chaffin
Phoenix

Music Man

Waxing nostalgic:Although I would call myself a Bandersnatch (semi-) regular, it was not until the first week of October that I found out that the old Bandersnatch closed its doors as such on September 21. I almost missed Christopher O'Connor's article, "Snatching Tempe," (September 25) completely except for an e-mail from a buddy. Although I would agree with Mr. O'Connor that a lot of folks overreacted to the news, I think that it is important to understand why Bandersnatch as it was is so important to so many people.

I still remember my first plate of nachos and tipping back a milk stout at Bandersnatch over 10 years ago -- from that time I was hooked. Bandersnatch was a rarity at the time. No one else around brewed beer on site and the beers crafted by the brewmeister are truly a thing of beauty. Milk Stout, Irish Amber, Barley Wine, Cardinal Red, German Rye. For me, the heart and soul of Bandersnatch was the beer brewed on site. Add to that a lot of good people, countless debates on beer, politics, and whatnot, and many fond memories of hanging out with friends for a good bull session at the end of a long week over the best beer in Arizona. And the food was not bad either.

Bandersnatch was one of my favorite places to hang my hat and toss down a brew with good friends. I say, "was" because Bandersnatch was the whole package -- take away part of the inner soul and the place is never the same. As Mr. O'Connor pointed out, not all change is bad or nearly as traumatic as is first believed. However, in a region where the past is usually ignored, especially when it comes to development and re-development, saving a little piece intact becomes a contentious issue. Whether you went there for the beer, music, people, or whatever, Bandersnatch was a little enclave away from all the pretense of the "new" Mill Avenue. A little something real in a sea of glitter.

No, the sky won't fall as the new Bandersnatch replaces the old, but the soul of the old Bandersnatch will not be there. Yes, things often change but we don't have to like it.

Jared Smith
Mesa

Shock Wave

Poor taste: I was engrossed by the investigative reporting on Katheryn Howard ("Dying for Love," Paul Rubin, September 25). It was a well-written article. As shocking as the story was, however, nothing prepared me for the bad taste shown by New Times when I turned to the last page and was hit by the three large pictures of Ms. Howard's cadaver. The description in the narrative was sufficient; there was no need, other than prurient journalistic sensationalism and extremely bad taste, to publish these pictures. It is an assault on the reader as well as an inexcusable indignity to this tragic affair and the memory of this poor woman.

Kathleen Williamson
Tucson

Radio Gaga

Music fan: Congratulations on a wonderful story ("Ghost Radio," Jimmy Magahern, September 18)! I have put 103.1 in my station lineup on my car stereo, and about the only time I put it on anything else is when reception goes out because of my location. I had described it to people as kind of like early KDKB, so I find it interesting that I am not the only one who saw that parallel. I do have to say that this station is not unique, though. In the summer of '97, I worked at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and I happened to discover a very similar station being broadcast out of Williams. About the only difference was that the station ID would run over the top of the music when the hour came up, but you could barely hear it even when there happened to be a blank spot, so it really didn't ruin the music.

This is what music radio should be about -- music! No DJs walking all over the beginning or end of a song when they should just shut up for a few extra seconds. Nobody interrupts the music to tell me that I am in the middle of an "uninterrupted block of nonstop music" (so why did they interrupt?). No Howard Stern, no screaming car commercials. Just music. About the only reason I would even want a live person on the other end is that sometimes these tracks go so deep into rock history that I have no idea what the song was called, let alone who recorded it, but I think I can live with that minor inconvenience.

Once again, great story, and a special thank you to Ted Tucker, my new hero, for providing me one of the most unpredictable (thank God!) radio stations I have ever listened to!

Mike Wells
Phoenix

Prisoner of love:I am writing to say how happy I am with your newspaper article, "Ghost Radio." The radio station KCDX 103.1 is great with all the really neat music. We work on a bus, collecting blood, and listen to the station on a regular basis. They play wonderful music. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Do you really think the correctional department thing is true?

Jeffrey L. Knapp
Mesa

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