Letters

Letters from the week of December 25, 2003

Wheels of Progress

Waste not: Thank you for your article ("Big Scam Theory," Michael Lacey, December 18). Extremely interesting and insightful. As a native son, I am often appalled at what passes for progress in this city. Interesting that what is professed to be such an economic boon to Phoenix must rely on tax subsidy. It begs the same questions that came to mind when the taxpayers shouldered much of the load for America West Arena and Bank One Ballpark, those being where is all the private capital for these projects? We now know the answer, don't we? Anyway, thanks again and keep up the great work.

Pat Mertz
Phoenix

The King and I

No beating around the Bush: I enjoyed reading your review of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, a movie I am looking forward to seeing with great anticipation ("Upper Middle Earth," Gregory Weinkauf, December 18). That is, up until the point that I had to endure your vitriolic ranting about our current president.

Excuse me, but as you're an entertainment reviewer, I don't understand your desire to include your own personal political views in a movie review. Referring to our current president as a "total nutcase fraud" clearly disqualifies you as somebody who can give any type of non-biased opinion on anything. To then suggest suicide via conflagration is simply tasteless.

Why so much venom that you feel you must include such hatred in your "supposed" movie review? After all, a majority of Americans have a favorable opinion of our president, which is not to suggest a silencing of the minority, but simply a request to offer dissent based on reason and fact versus simple partisan hatred. I never did agree with most of what President Clinton did, but I never felt hatred toward him, and most certainly never wished him dead. At least President Bush has returned a sense of leadership, dignity and morality to the highest political office in the world. On that point there is simply no argument. Unless, of course, you are a liberal journalist who is simply titillated by the thoughts of illicit sexual activities taking place in the Oval Office. In the future, please do us a favor and keep your personal rantings to yourself, and instead focus on the subject at hand.

Steve Ryan
Via e-mail

Bush whacked: Needless to say, I immediately stopped reading your review of The Return of the King when you suggested that President Bush commit suicide. It's a shame you had to ruin what seemed like a pretty good piece with your snide and totally inappropriate political venom. Maybe you think it is cool, like the Dixie Chicks and the Hollywood types, to make egregious remarks about our president, but it is way out of line. I will be sure to "give it a miss" whenever I see your byline again.

Bruce Hitchcock
Via e-mail

Presidential pardon: If I wanted political commentary, I'd read the politics section. Comments (and certainly unflattering ones) such as insinuating our president jump off a large cliff in a "movie" review are wholly uncalled for.

Perhaps the author should consider the fact that our president is actually "rooting out evil" in a similar fashion to the heroes of this movie, which he lauds.

Very disappointing.

Name withheld by request

Mind games: Gregory, I love you for your mind!!!

Cynthia Prator
Scottsdale

Elijah would: I am writing in regard to Gregory Weinkauf's review of The Return of the King and his criticism of Elijah Wood as too young for the role of Frodo.

Perhaps Mr. Weinkauf should reread the first two chapters of The Lord of the Rings. In the first chapter, J.R.R. Tolkien states that, at the age of 33, Frodo was only just coming of age. At the age of 50, he says that Frodo "retained the appearance of a robust and energetic hobbit just out of his tweens," just as Bilbo, at age 90, was "much the same as at 50."

Why? Because of the Ring, says Gandalf. "A mortal, Frodo, who keeps one of the Great Rings, does not die, but he does not grow or obtain more life, he merely continues, until at last every minute is a weariness."

Name withheld by request

Think piece: Finally, a review with teeth. Either slavish devotion with a few caveats, or weightless arguments about the very things other critics love. That's what's de rigueur. But, for once, a reality check: You are spot-on about Saruman. You're wrong about Frodo/Elijah Wood, though, he's fine. Another opinion.

At least you thought about your review. Thanks.

Dale Emery
Via e-mail

Medical Examiner

The write stuff: Great story on the rent-a-patients ("Hypocritic Oath," Paul Rubin, December 18). I plan on having my journalism class (at a west Phoenix high school) read the entire series as an example of what real reporting and writing is all about. The writer, Paul Rubin, makes it look easy, but having been in the business at one time, I'm in awe of how he got all of this stuff and put it into a very readable and coherent form. Here's hoping that they bust the bastards -- doctors, clinics, and the stupid patients.

Amber Wayne
Phoenix

Artless Community

Artistic direction: Thank you for your thoughtful article ("Abstract Art Cuts," Paul Kix, December 18). I feel passionately about this subject and wish to comment.

I moved from Mesa to Gilbert with my parents in 1988 (population approximately 25,000). Although I now have a home in Mesa with my wife and children, my parents still live in Gilbert, and I have a semi-vested interest in its happenings, which is why I am pleased to have councilman Dave Petersen as a member of Gilbert's Town Council.

Art is an important addition to any community's culture, but its creation and purchase should not come from public dollars but from private contributions. If an art advisory board desires to purchase art for public display, then let the board creatively discover new funding sources that lie outside of our tax revenue (e.g., private grants). In other words, make them work for their money. Tax dollars are better spent on more meaningful investments, such as programs for the impoverished, public repairs, education, etc.

Kelly Kline
Via e-mail

Bar None

Stupid is as stupid does: I am writing to express my disgust for the two men who purchased Bandersnatch in Tempe ("Bander Snatched," Joe Watson, December 11). Matt Engstrom and Barrett Rinzler are sorry-ass excuses for businessmen. They bought Bandersnatch with the intent to make it a ritzy Scottsdale-like bar, but if they had stepped foot into Bandersnatch in the first place they would have seen that Bandersnatch is not fancy drinks and beautiful, scantily dressed women. Bandersnatch is about tradition, the daily specials (they couldn't have re-created Addie Mocca's delicious dishes; money doesn't buy talent), and the brewery and home brews. So everybody who was associated with Bandersnatch knew that tearing out Arizona's first microbrewery was an idiotic discussion.

However, it is pretty obvious that Engstrom and Rinzler are complete idiots. Engstrom stated that they are closing Bandersnatch and opening it for events only because "Bander's just wasn't doing anything as far as revenue goes." Well, did you ever think that tearing down Bandersnatch's tradition and pissing off its regulars would bring in revenue?

As far as the city of Tempe goes, they are just as stupid as Engstrom and Rinzler. They claim that they were not threatening the Moccas, but why else would the Moccas, who had been so devoted to Bandersnatch for 16 years and who had made it their lives and had put their hearts and souls into keeping it the way it was, just up and sell it?

Tempe: You're lucky Club Rio is right by ASU, because if not, 95 percent of ASU would go elsewhere to party instead of 70 percent. Because of you, and Engstrom and Rinzler, 15 or so good people are out of work and the best place to go and party in Tempe is now closed. And as for Engstrom and Rinzler, you wouldn't be anywhere if it weren't for your rich daddies.

Brittany Davis
Scottsdale

Freaks and Geeks

Strange but true: Steven Strange on the cover of New Times ("Dark Impulses," Jimmy Magahern, December 11)! Very exciting for his many fans and friends who are fascinated with his putting a giant black scorpion into his mouth and walking on glass, as well as firebreathing. But where's the article about Steve? Where's one single word about Steve?

During December's First Friday, the directions on the invitations to my art exhibit at the Celtica Art Gallery stated, "We're down the street from Steven Strange's firebreathing, glass walking." Everyone found us, thanks to Steve.

Steve's strange, off-center -- and the kindest, gentlest soul. Next summer he's off to Coney Island.

Jimmy Magahern, Steven alone would make a fascinating article. (Ask him about "bowling.")

Diana DeMille
Phoenix

City Management

White elephant man: Based on what New Times has recently published, what I can't understand is why Jerry Colangelo carries so much weight in this town. All I see is one big loser whose downtown projects are nothing but huge financial failures. How can anyone have even one iota of confidence in this man's abilities? His only valid claim to success is his ability to obtain the use of OPM (other people's money), which consists mostly of that of the taxpayers, and high-end investors who want to be in on the "big deals" regardless of the financial risk they represent. Any person with any smarts would run the other way whenever they see Jerry coming. So why isn't that happening? Are people that stupid or are they just plain scared?

Name withheld by request

Anything for a price: I have lived in Phoenix since 1973, and in 1972, came here on a vacation. At that time, there was a downtown with stores and restaurants and other activities. I lived in Phoenix from 1945-46, and attended Osborn #1 School. I was in Phoenix off and on from 1948-1953. In those days you could go downtown and get anything you wanted, even illegal activity. There were stores and restaurants -- from coffee shops and lunch counters to high-class restaurants. There were movie theaters and other activities to participate in. Now, you have to go to the mall to buy a spool of thread, or go a couple of miles to pick up a jar of coffee.

My mother referred to Phoenix as a "cotton housedress town," and I have heard Phoenix described as a " hick town" from different people, most of whom are recent arrivals. While I didn't agree with my mom at the time she gave that opinion, I agree with her now, as well as people describing it as a "hick town." Phoenix is a "cotton housedress town" and also a "hick town," and things have to change from within to bring forth a vibrant downtown for young, middle-aged and senior citizens.

Ruth Morgan
Phoenix

Jailhouse Crock

The mother of all prisons: Arizona is not alone in facing the dual crises of prison overcrowding and budget shortfalls ("Clink!" Robert Nelson, October 23). As states and localities across the country grapple with revenue gaps, the number of people in prison has reached two million, with women the fastest-growing segment of that population.

But another trend is emerging: In the past year, policymakers in 25 states have replaced strict mandatory minimum sentencing laws with correctional alternatives like drug treatment -- at a fraction of the cost of incarceration, and without compromising public safety. This is the real opportunity for Arizona.

Women offer some of the best evidence for why curbing incarceration makes sense. More than three-quarters of Arizona's women prisoners were convicted of nonviolent offenses. They don't present a risk to public safety. But they are poor and often have substance-abuse problems. More than two-thirds of incarcerated women are mothers. Incarceration does little to aid them in becoming productive, and it does a great deal -- at great public expense -- to harm their children and their communities.

This is especially true when mothers are sent to out-of-state prisons, hundreds of miles from their families and neighborhoods.

The governor was right to halt the development of a new 3,200-bed women's prison. Cycling more people through more prison beds does nothing to strengthen families or make our communities safer. Now, policymakers can show true leadership by investing in community corrections with treatment, job training and family preservation services. This would not only create savings for government and taxpayers, but it would provide the resources that people need to live self-sufficient and law-abiding lives.

Ann Jacobs, executive director
Women's Prison Association and Home, Inc.
New York, New York

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