The True Boys of Summer

Baseball thrives in the desert: What a wonderful story by Robert Nelson on Phoenix as the baseball mecca of the world ("Fields of Dreams," May 13). I had no idea that all this was going on here. It was really eye-opening, and a wonderful story to behold in a world so full of strife. The national pastime, not in my hometown of Chicago, but right here in the desert! And so unlike New Times to print such a hopeful tale of our youth living -- and in some cases realizing -- their dreams.

Nelson has done so many fine stories over the years, many of them very moving. He is truly a fine writer and somebody to be relished in this sea of mediocrity called Phoenix. I could say that for others on the New Times staff, as well, but he is my personal favorite. I miss him now that he is no longer writing nearly every week.

My guess is that Robert is a dad himself, because he writes with such verve about kids. I've noticed this before, plus I heard him on the radio recently talking with such passion about youth baseball and about his story on the subject. He really made me recall my youth, the smell of fresh-cut grass and the crack of the bat (though nowadays, with the aluminum models that I think are blasphemy, it's a ping).

But, wow, are these kids ever lucky! To be coached by major leaguers, to learn the game the right way. These brats actually have a chance, unlike the brats of my day, to make it to "The Show."
Billy Carey, Scottsdale

Whoa, Nellie!: After reading your terrific capital-city-of-baseball story, I have to wonder if, with the benefit of the coaching of retired major leaguers, I could have been the second baseman for the White Sox -- the next Nellie Fox -- instead of a fucking insurance salesman. Hats off for a great story about the ultimate little boy's dream.
Jim Brenneman, Chicago

Empire Building

His majesty: I feel I must respond to the letter from Art Consoli regarding John Dougherty's "Colangelo Eats Crow" column on Jerry and his "contributions" to downtown Phoenix (Letters, May 20). Mr. Consoli, while the Phoenix 40 was not the optimal solution, certainly the Phoenix-One is not, either. As for the fate of Patriots Park if not for Jerry, I can tell you that as I write this letter, I am looking out my office window directly across from the park. There are no fewer than 11 men sleeping in the grass, eight sleeping on the benches, and more than half a dozen just milling around. Maybe I misunderstood you, though -- maybe Jerry has the park swept of the homeless before his guests arrive in His playground. His "efforts" certainly have not helped the city's homeless problem and/or reclaimed Patriots Park.

As for some of the professional athletes who have made Phoenix their home, some of them have been an embarrassment (Jason Kidd leaps to mind). But what really gets me, Mr. Consoli, is that you give credit to everyone but the taxpayers for building Jerry's downtown empire. You give recognition to Jerry for getting rich the "hard way," by "pulling in a ton of non-Arizona" money, and putting it at risk for something He believes in. What about every resident of Maricopa County who was taxed (most against his or her will) to pay for His ballpark? The majority of voters did not approve of the ballpark, but it was jammed down our throats anyway. Jerry continues to get richer the easy way, using everyone else's money and reaping the rewards.

Mr. Consoli, maybe if you would venture out of Scottsdale and come downtown on a regular basis when there aren't sporting events, you might notice the real downtown where homelessness is evident on nearly every block and bland commercial space sits empty. Let's see Jerry be a standup guy and risk a little of His publicly supported fortune doing something about the real problems that exist downtown.
Name withheld by request

Crow's feat: After reading "Colangelo Eats Crow," I can only say, "Huh? Is there another Michael Crow?" Surely this article was not about the same Crow who's in the process of destroying ASU and Tempe. This can't be the same prissy, prim Crow who's the worst thing to happen to higher education in this state for a long time; it must be a doppelg nger Crow who insisted that the proposed light-rail not go through ASU, and it is surely not the same Crow whose idea of education is to provide cheap research and development for private industry -- including those who design and build weapons systems.

John, have you actually seen what your "advocate of first-class urban design" has done to the urban landscape of Tempe? The new building going up on the corner of College and University is just his most egregious example. Smashed up against the sidewalk, with an oppressive overhang, the thing belongs in a high-density urban area, not the medium-density of University Drive.

Not that any of the other new buildings on campus are any better, but Crow needs those to remold ASU into a "first-class research institution." Call me old-fashioned, but I've always believed that the role of a university is education, not doing cheap R&D for private companies and the military. My master's in history from ASU is useless anyway, but I did learn enough to know that education and research aren't necessarily the same thing.

Your article mentions the proximity of the proposed downtown locations to light-rail stations. That's actually a great idea -- too bad Crow didn't want the light-rail coming anywhere near his precious research buildings on the main campus. The proposed station is nearly as far from the main classroom buildings as the infamous Lot 59, thereby rendering yet another blow to having students use the light-rail to commute to campus. Of course, it will be handy for those poor saps who have to attend classes in downtown Phoenix and have to get to the main campus to do silly stuff like visit the library.

Don't get me wrong -- I would have a moral crisis deciding whether to brake if I saw Colangelo crossing the street (that is, if I could afford a car. Thanks again, ASU), but St. Michael the Brilliant would fare no better in my path. I know that Colangelo is killing downtown Phoenix, but you can't save the town by calling a mortician like Crow.
Darin Price, Tempe

Upon Further Review

Giving the people what they want: Just read your article on my new restaurant. I've read better, I've read worse. I've been on both ends ("Browne's New Bag," Stephen Lemons, May 6).

First off, I think your review was fair. It reflects where we are today at the Rokerij. I am not a quitter, I will improve over time. I have no choice. I owe $1.75 million. It's my retirement plan.

When I opened Richardson's 16 years ago, I was a dreamer. I had no clue. I had never cooked in a restaurant. I was always in the dining room or behind the bar, but I had worked in restaurants from the time I was 14. I had blind desire and little skill on how to operate my own business. I did not appoint myself "culinary genius," nor did I really give a shit. I never advertised or participated in any event to publicize the business. I just cooked and finagled to keep the doors open and the staff paid. The staff grew and the crowds eventually came after years of struggle. Next came Dick's Hideaway, which also took years to build. Now it kicks ass.

So one day I'm having a drink with Timothy at Timothy's restaurant, and the next thing I'm designing my version of a neighborhood steak house [the Rokerij is in the building that once housed Timothy's]. Nothing too radical, just à la carte like the "big boys." I never once said to anybody that I was reinventing the wheel, just giving people a nice watering hole with high-quality food. Period.
Richardson Browne, Phoenix


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