Ring the Changes
What's hot and what's not: I've noted a lot of positive changes in New Times over the past year. It seems that you're returning to your former place as the paper to read to find out what's really going on in Arizona.
Michael Lacey has always been in and out of things, and it's great to see him writing more. I loved his blasts at Bishop O'Brien ("The Divine Sociopath," April 15) and Ralph Nader ("President Tofu," April 29), but he's shooting fish in a barrel compared to the great John Dougherty. I'm glad he's a columnist now so I can read his take on my former hometown every week. Dougherty has been the most hard-hitting of your paper's writers. He should have won major awards for his stuff on Fife Symington, and I'm sure he will win every award in sight for his polygamy series (see "Polygamy in Arizona" at www.phoenixnewtimes.com). That was the scariest stuff I've seen in years, and returned me to reading New Times, which a couple of years ago had become little more than a knockoff of the Arizona Banana Republic. State officials continuing to allow the rape of underage girls is criminal.
I left Phoenix for some of the very reasons that you cited in your downtown Phoenix series last year ("Exploding Downtown," on our Web site). I attended the Richard Florida event at the Orpheum Theatre ("Speech Therapy," October 30, 2003), and while I found him pompous, I did agree with most of his points. More than that, though, I agree with Dougherty's points in the series regarding Jerry Colangelo selling us down the river to get his sports stadiums built ("Jerry's World," October 10, 2003). That is, lining his own pockets first, and not worrying about whether he could make good on his promises to jazz up downtown. I notice that Dougherty has continued this richly deserving assault on Jerry in his column. Bravo! Somebody finally tells the truth about this guy. Also, Dougherty's claims seem to be getting some attention, since I see from a recent column that Jerry has backed off his downtown mall proposal ("Colangelo Eats Crow," May 6).
On a different note, I love Stephen Lemons, despite what all the hayseeds in the Valley think. I went to Uptown 713 and had the same reaction ("Bistro Bland," April 8). Best burger in the world. Give me a break! Loved Lemons' line: "Ronald McDonald might beg to differ." Last time I was in town, on Lemons' recommendation, I went to Blue Wasabi ("Wacky Wasabi," April 1) and found him on the money there. Best sushi I've had outside of L.A., and those drinks he described . . . I'm a girl, so I love sweet cocktails that knock you out.
Though I'm not a Scottsdale and Tempe clubs person anymore, I enjoy the writing in Lemons' other column (various Infernos, also by Elaine Bell). It's a bit contrived at times, but I think that's the style of the column. What's good about it, even for a duffer like me (I'm 42), is that it's filled with jokes, and I can live vicariously. I love hip-hop (great to dance to), and sadly there's more hip-hop writing in the clubs column than in your music section. By the way, where did you dig up (music columnist) Brendan Joel Kelley?!
Keep up the good job. Maybe you'll convince me that Phoenix is interesting enough to come back to.
P.S. Thanks for that Lemons piece ("Dubious Degas," March 18) and that other story highlighting gay fashion guy David Sheflin ("Fashion Victim," Michele Laudig, April 29). That Sheflin story really let those highbrow retirees at the Phoenix Arts Museum have it! I know all about them, and I know they deserve it.
Tina McMillan, Los Angeles
The new look: Congratulations to New Times for your new slick, sleek and stapled appearance. It sure is easier to read and handle! I've been enjoying your publication for all of the 11 years I've lived in Phoenix after moving from the great "corn" state of Iowa. Your newspaper is much better than New York's Village Voice. But I've always felt you guys were lacking something. So now I can finally say you've got it all together! Peace, love and happiness to your great staff!
Tom Fisher, Glendale
Something to write homo about: What the hell has happened to New Times over the past year or two? Just when I thought you guys had changed, grown up and stopped mouthing all that liberal, alternative crap, along comes all those stories on the queer culture (and I use that term loosely) in Phoenix. The latest was that story on the homosexual who's misunderstood at the Phoenix Art Museum. And you've even got some dyke co-writing that Inferno column.
I had hope for you recently when you put Jesus on the cover ("Jesus Christ Rap Superstar," Darren Keast, March 25), and then I realized you were just putting down people who believe in God. Disrespecting God's son. Good work! Your families must be proud, and you will have to answer for this later. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves because your paper is worthless again. Maybe homos like you will understand words like: "New Times blows!"
Anthony McClain, via the Internet
Slave to Fashion
Point not taken: What was the point of Michele Laudig's "Fashion Victim" piece? My takeaway was that there is a very large Frustrated Gay Man Scene in the Valley and not much of any fashion scene at all. Artistry is not the same as spectacle, and it appears that neither Mr. Sheflin nor Ms. Laudig understands this.
Perhaps Mr. Sheflin should have taken the hint that when the "ladies who lunch" wanted "to talk about floral arrangements for their luncheons," as the first and only gay man on their board, it was his very expertise they were trying to engage. Why didn't he rejoice in the opportunity to guide these inexperienced dowagers in the decorative arts? Couldn't he see that they were trying to embrace him?
Perhaps it's because gay is not necessarily synonymous with a masterful knowledge of floral arrangements, artistry, style or sartorial combinations. Gay is just gay. Better men in the Valley rejected offers to be on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It's easy to welcome the nearest gay man if his sole purpose is to make you a better-looking person. What were those board members thinking?
Yet this shouldn't be about homosexuality. Mr. Sheflin is so busy squealing, "Homophobe!" and Ms. Laudig is so eager to pander to him that neither of them establishes his authority on style, fashion or anything in particular. I was acquainted with his partners in the Vintage Modern Gallery, and that endeavor is the last thing that should be used to cement his credibility. How dare he be so quick to judge so many others who are proven patrons of the arts!
The irony is that, in contrast to the story's biased position, it is this staid support group that has diligently and passionately amassed a very important collection with wisdom, foresight and care. The quality of PAM's Costume Department is significant both historically and geographically, but its value is beyond the comprehension, thus appreciation, of the masses that Sheflin would have congregate on his behalf.
True fashion isn't inaccessible or discriminating. It is -- like all fine art -- subjective to the untrained eye. Which explains why this entire article summed up the work of nine local designers in only two sentences!
Finally, that Ms. Laudig furthers Mr. Sheflin's nauseating cause through scrounging up 26-year-old temporary-transplant Mishika Ruffin's discomfort due to race and age discrimination pushes this entire article into the realm of the absurd. I'm glad that both Ruffin and [PAM Curator of Fashion Design] Dennita Sewell's former assistant, Ryan McNamara, are pursuing fashion careers in New York City. That proves they truly know the fashion industry and proves why Arizona is the last place they should be if they want a career in it. I only hope Ruffin grows up enough to realize that her problems of finding the perfect fit in a fashion career here had nothing to do with race, age or sexuality.
It was a case of looking for style in all the wrong places.
Name withheld by request
What's the problem?: I can't count how many articles I've read by John Dougherty that tear up Jerry Colangelo, and I just can't figure out what he is so upset about.
Is it that he wishes Colangelo had not done what he did?
Does he want downtown to be like it was back in the early '70s? Does he want The Deuce back? Does he want the city being run by the Phoenix 40? Does he want a bunch of homeless and winos sleeping on ground that is now Patriots Park? Does he want no one living downtown and no one going there after dark? Does he want a bunch of arcade/porno dives along Washington, east and west of Central? Does he want a failing Adams Hotel smelling of urine and all but scaring off any visitors who needed to be downtown?
Maybe he wants the Arizona Center to go away?
Maybe he wants all the professional athletes who live here to move somewhere else? Maybe he wants their wives, who get involved with the community and the charities, and make Phoenix home for their families, to move away? Maybe he thinks the Suns and the Diamondbacks charities should go away, too?
Maybe he's upset because there were no labor strikes or walkouts during the construction of two of the largest projects the state has ever had? Maybe he wanted to learn about graft, corruption and kickbacks in the contract-awarding process and he's upset because there were none!
Is Dougherty upset because Colangelo made a lot of money?
What if he did? He risked a lot, too. He didn't bring just one success to town, but two. No one gave him a guarantee, but we sure did give the Bidwills one, and they still haven't made us proud of the Cardinals. And many of us are just waiting for the announcement that they are movin' on.
Yes, John, Jerry may very well have gotten rich, but he did it the hard way. He pulled together all the resources he could find, brought in a ton of non-Arizona money and risked his and theirs to produce products that he believes in, stands behind and is doing all in his power to keep here.
I wonder if Dougherty ever built anything, started from scratch, created organizations that employ thousands or saw his peers in several different fields honor him and hold him up as the best!
Sure, Jerry made mistakes. Nothing comes with a failure-proof blueprint. The key is, how do you deal with a mistake?
Do you keep paying for something that isn't working, that violates what you stand for, or do you make the tough decisions and get rid of the problem?
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When things get really tough, and the bills are piling up, do you keep your money in your pocket and declare bankruptcy or do you forget your ego, reduce your role and percentage and bring in help?
What would you do, Dougherty? Twenty-twenty hindsight doesn't fix anything today!
I wonder if Jerry's fortunes would be different if Bank One Ballpark had been built at 40th Street and McDowell, as he wanted, instead of downtown where everybody else wanted it. Do you think the difference in cost might have been just enough to have allowed his plan to succeed?
And last, John, don't talk about how great Michael Crow is until 25 years have past. I'll bet, right now, there are more upset faculty members at ASU than there have ever been upset employees on Jerry's teams.
Art Consoli, Scottsdale