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Letters 05-25-2000

Anarchism Schism

Freeform meddlers: The term "anarchist" has become an oxymoron on the order of "military intelligence" ("Anarchy How?" James Hibberd, May 11). Most dictionaries define the term as somebody who advocates little or no government, but all the "anarchists" I read about lately want to impose their vision of justice on the rest of society, by force if necessary.

A good example of an "anarcho-authoritarian" is Randall Amster, who complains that Tempe let Starbucks and Gordon Biersch into downtown. Hey, if someone buys private property and builds a restaurant, what is the big deal?

What does Amster propose, some kind of extra government body (on top of the already top-heavy Tempe planning bureaucracy)? If he is an anarchist, can he just let people build restaurants and let people visit them as they see fit? Wouldn't an anarchist propose more freedom for businesses? I guess business owners (or people who want to do business with them) don't count.

People like me sometimes want to visit Starbucks. We are corporate shills too brainwashed to know better. Therefore, we need the enlightened anarchist to step in with additional control, saving us from our own bad choices. Hey, what was the matter with the old coffee shops? Weren't they just fine? Anarchists claim to hate government control, but they don't consider economic activity to count -- thus where you eat or your choice of housing is fair game for their meddling.

As for the "A" Mountain development, three points: The amount of land being developed is small, and will not change the look of the mountain much. Currently, the land behind the silos is a mess, and can only be improved on. Finally, this is not Yosemite, it is an urban area, and will actually be improved. I routinely climb this mountain and would not mind this at all.

The ironic but sad truth can be summed up with the saying, "Anarchy is a bitch if the wrong person is in charge."

Andrew McNeil
Scottsdale

Give 'em an "A": I am writing to you on behalf of the members of Move That Big Butte! ("What a Butte!" Edward Lebow, May 11). We are a small group of like-minded professionals and anarchists who believe that "A" Mountain should be moved elsewhere, possibly to Scottsdale, where open space and big buttes receive more funding and better care. "A" Mountain would live on just a few miles up the road and it might still be visible from some parts of ASU. Those who wish to visit it could do so. Those who favor commercial development could forget that the butte ever existed. Move That Big Butte! is neutral on the "A" Mountain issue and we just want people to go on with their lives.

Jeff Case
Phoenix

House of Blues

Smiley in your face: Have a Nice Day Cafe looks forward to becoming a prominent member in the Valley nightclub scene, as well as the Tempe community. Unfortunately, it seems that when we try something new, we can't get a break from New Times, specifically music columnist Bob Mehr ("Had a Nice Day," May 4). One would think that when a venue that does not cater to live music decides to break format and help support the local music scene, we would get some support. Not in our case. Mehr instead decided to focus on his perception of our club. We were referred to as a house of "crass commercialism." We were the one place Mehr "dreaded going."

New Times approached us to be a venue for its Music Showcase. We let New Times know we were not a live music venue, but we decided it would be fun, and it is important to support local bands. We made quite a financial investment in an event that historically has been a bomb. We put our faith in New Times, the bands and our staff that we would pack the place.

Mehr referred to the bands' disparaging remarks regarding our club. We did not see these comments quoted in the column as negative. We took them as sarcasm, and pretty damn funny sarcasm. We know we are a bright, happy environment, and, yes, punk and industrial bands are an odd fit. We found the bands to be professional, friendly and cooperative. We extend great appreciation to Glass Heroes, who not only got the crowd pumped but asked them not to mosh or slam dance once they saw our floor design would not allow it to be done safely.

Mehr wrote that we didn't think ahead and decorate our place as all '70s, and we had to throw in some '80s stuff to cover for it. This points out the difference between a journalist and a columnist. A journalist would have made it a point to find out the facts. We have always billed ourselves as a 70s- and 80s-themed nightclub. Our set list of music bounces around the 70s and 80s. A columnist only finds it necessary to rip down anything that is a success. A columnist sets himself apart by being more negative than the next columnist. When was the last time Mehr wrote something positive about Mill Avenue? Or the Arizona nightlife scene in general?

 

How strong is an opinion if that opinion was formed prior to an experience? Instead of ripping us before seeing what we are about, Mehr should come in on a Friday night, when the vibe here is incredible and the crowd is electric. Three thousand people think we're pretty cool, and we always have room for one more. Mehr only has to call us to get on our guest list.

Next time, we may not be as eager to support live music. And every band in the area, from a garage band practicing in Gilbert to Megadeth, has one person to thank: Bob Mehr.

Brian Coffey
Thomas Madgewick
Gerard Hockenberry
David May
Charles Eisenstein
Management team of Have a Nice Day Cafe

Bob Mehr Responds: I did not prejudge your establishment. I made a pair of visits to the Have a Nice Day Cafe (both for professional reasons) prior the Music Showcase. So my judgment was not an uninformed one, nor was it based solely on my Showcase experience. Some careful reading of my piece would have revealed that my ultimate assessment of your establishment was that it had the best sound of any of the venues and thus was an ideal place for live music.

Anonymous Knave

Remaining nameless: Even though Jeff Ofstedahl may share his views, he has at least had the courage to admit to being HIV-positive and is an advocate of safer sex. He also is willing to put his name behind his words, unlike some people who feel the need to try to libel a longtime advocate of the community. The person who attacked him in your May 11 Letters page is a coward for not standing behind what he said, and so is anyone who agrees with that person.

Jeff Adler
Phoenix

Battle Royalty

MP3s A-OK: Ten thousand years ago, man first unleashed the power of song, and later, of organized music. When this occurred, the furthest thing from his mind was a royalty payment ("Pirates of the Cyberspace," Brian Smith, May 11).

The recent development and rise of popularity of the MP3 format should be a tremendous wake-up call to the recording industry. It is not that "teen geeks" are unwilling to pay for CDs and cassettes; it is that they are tired of paying upward of $14 for a CD that cost a record label no more than $1 or $2 to produce, an absurd and unheard-of markup.

Yes, Lou Reed and many other artists do deserve to get paid for their work, but a large part of my MP3 catalogue consists of out-of-print recordings, and I would not be able to find them elsewhere. In the best case, the average artist gets only about 25 cents from a $15 CD.

How fair is the Recording Industry Association of America to its artists? If Lou Reed's catalogue is out of print, how else is anyone going to be able to hear his music, and how will he see any royalty? We aren't taking food out of his kid's mouth, we are taking it out of the pockets of the bloated old music industry and building a new one.

The issue is not that artists aren't getting paid (ask the members of Metallica if their royalty checks have gotten any smaller since the start-up of Napster); it's that the industry is searching for a copy-proof medium. LPs, cassettes and CDs are not copy-proof, and the industry hates this. Record companies have long tolerated (grudgingly) the taping of tracks from the radio and copying of LPs for personal use.

Smith mentions that music in the MP3 download process becomes no more than "digital information" and "product." This truly only became the case in 1981 when MTV debuted; a band's success was determined by how many viewers hung around to watch the Pepsi commercial after the video.

Who decides who is worthy of the big MTV push: the fan buying the CD that can cost as much as three hours' pay, or the fat, out-of-touch industry bean counter, who doesn't know that Boz Scaggs is no longer popular? I say we put that decision in the consumers' hands. I and others like me are buying. We should decide how, where, when and from whom we are buying.

 

Smith mentioned the Beastie Boys. It's a well-known fact to Beastie and MP3 fans that the Beasties made their most recent album Hello Nasty available in a more raw format for free download prior to its release last year. The indie rock band Ween recently commented on the availability of its new album White Pepper on Napster by saying: "We're not sure how we feel about that, but we aren't going to go suing anybody."

The Beasties' own record label made the group take all its MP3 files down, as it was in violation of their contract. Ween recently released a double live CD called Paintin' the Town Brown on Elektra Records. The band originally wanted to release it in MP3 format only as a thank you to its hard-core fans on the Internet, who avidly listen to their 24-hour MP3 shoutcast station weenradio.com, where the material from every album, and nearly every show, can be had for free, 24-7. Music ceases to be an art form and becomes a commodity only when the focus becomes "how much money is it making?". Culture cannot be owned, no matter the price.

Musicians should be paid according to their works; I don't deny this, but I don't think we should be fleeced in the process.

Michael Perkins
Tempe

Proud Plainsman

Husker due: In "The Spice of Death" ( Flashes, May 4), I assume that the Flash's reference to the two "mature" couples as "possibly from Nebraska" was meant to be funny. Your "mature" couples could have been from California, New York, Florida or any other state in the U.S. Gosh, considering the level of intelligence demonstrated in the Arizona Legislature or the degree of class at the Arizona State Fair (where there are more tattoos and toothless smiles than anywhere else I have seen), those "mature" couples could have been your Arizona-born grandparents.

Maybe you think that people from Nebraska are simple-minded farm folk who do nothing but tend to the crops, obsess on college football and spend Saturday nights at the pool hall eating turkey fries and swilling beer. I've traveled to 25 countries on five continents, and I have never found it embarrassing to say that I was born and reared in Nebraska. Considering a few individuals -- Fred Astaire, Marlon Brando, William Jennings Bryan, Warren Buffett, Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, Willa Cather, Montgomery Clift, James Coburn, Sandy Dennis, Henry Fonda, Gerald Ford, Marg Helgenberger, Swoosie Kurtz, Nick Nolte, Hilary Swank and Robert Taylor -- from the long list of native Nebraskans, I think I'm in great company.

Ken Jackman
Phoenix


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