All Around Downtown

Chilly reception: I just got finished reading your "Cool Index" ("What's Cool," Amy Silverman, December 4) and I want to let you know how utterly disgusted I am by it. It is this sort of fawning, shoddy "journalism" that makes the downtown community look like a joke. What were you thinking? The story reads more like a grade-school crush letter then a newspaper article. Ms. Silverman, I accuse you of being high -- under the influence of Richard Florida -- and I suggest you check yourself into rehab ASAP!

I find myself so enraged that I can't find a place to start picking apart all its flaws, so I'll just hit the first couple before going to scrub myself clean.

The tipping point? You missed it; it ain't Lux (no one I know really likes that snotty place anyway), it ain't Modified, it wasn't even M.A.R.S. Phoenix started its climb to legitimacy before most of you were even here. The secret to the "rise of the creative class" is that it never starts, it just keeps evolving and refining itself. We're just lucky enough to be living in this current boom.

Here's an idea: Let's stop navel-gazing and get to work keeping it going and enjoying it! No one ever made it to the top of the mountain by talking about how great a climber they are, or by looking at the ground they covered on the way up.

Who's cool? Not you, Amy. And not me, and not Wayne, and not Kimber, and not Kim and Dana, and not any of the people who you designated "cool." Fact is, none of these people would amount to spit in the desert if it wasn't for the person working/living next to them. It is a collective effort. We are so sick of everyone trying to crown the king and queen of downtown.

I'm sure you've hurt a lot of feelings by failing to include some really great people, but I'm just as sure you've embarrassed and upset a lot of the ones you did include.

I've been in downtown Phoenix a long time, and we've survived stadiums, master plan art districts, Colangelos, Raineys, and God willing, we will survive this current fever of interest. That is, if our heads don't swell so full of hot air that we all float away.

Let's get to work, everybody, have fun!

Jack Sakes
Via e-mail

Frozen out: In Amy Silverman's recently released "What's Cool," I found it to be laughable at best. Even more amusing was the insert of a downtown map showing places to eat, drink, live, and to see and be seen. Has Silverman even been to any of the places she threw onto that "I wanna be cool" map? Some of those places are frequented by the plastic "I'm so important look at me" slugs of Snottsdale. Even more amusing was that she smeared New York at the top of the map as if trying to give people the impression that Phoenix actually has a cultural heartbeat of some kind.

Sure, Silverman's massive list of "I'm cool" places looks impressive, but it's just another moronic attempt at a Phoenician trying to illuminate the murky depths of a deserted concrete pit that has more trash and stench than a Salt River dump site. Phoenix will never be a real city because real cities don't demolish their history to put up buildings that sit vacant or are simply erected to give the illusion that there really is life down there.

Name withheld by request

Best kept secret: Downtown Phoenix has pedicabs ("Clan of the Bike Men," Susy Buchanan, December 4)? Wow! The things I'm missing by rarely (if ever) going to downtown Phoenix! (Being said with two fingers in mouth and tongue out.)

Terry A. Gardner
Via e-mail

Race way: I enjoyed your article "Operation Mickey Mouse" (John Dougherty, November 20). Having been born and raised on the south side of Milwaukee and doing my undergraduate work at Marquette, I too have seen the best and the worst of big city life.

My thoughts regarding taxpayer money for sports and entertainment venues are simple: It needs, unequivocally, to make good economic sense. I remember when I was the board chairperson for WESTMARC, and we were working on getting the new bridge over the Gila River in order to service Phoenix International Raceway. It was like pulling teeth, even though there was also a significant public safety issue linked to the economic benefits. Most people failed to realize that PIR, over the course of its yearly scheduled events and testing, generates the same revenue as three Super Bowls each and every year. And the major improvements made since the sale by Buddy Jobe to the France family has all been done with private money. Now that's an investment to be proud of.

Dave Iwanski

Urban outfitter: With regard to John Dougherty's article questioning the appropriateness of the Jerde Partnership as urban designers for downtown Phoenix, while it is true that their realized work is predominantly themed and consumer-oriented, current projects in the cities of Oxnard and Sacramento (both in California) suggest a shift in the firm's practice toward urban revitalization that is authentic to the region and inclusive of all people. If this evolution is indeed occurring within that firm's practice, it could potentially play a valuable role in the revitalization of downtown Phoenix. Truly successful community building, however, will also rely upon a public process that effectively and efficiently involves the larger community in the shaping of our city.

Nan Ellin
School of Architecture
Arizona State University

Wake-up call: The downtown artists need to wake up. Jerry Colangelo is a big friend to their downtown efforts. They need to learn to work with him. Point: All artists need patrons to survive, and not just the fearless young hipsters who enjoy venturing into dark downtown streets to discover a hidden gallery, but actually the suburban masses who bring their checkbooks and Visa cards. Art is art, but art must also pay the bills to continue creating art. The masses with Visa cards will not come until an area is cleaned up and safe at night. Big, huge, Disney-esque retail developments bring the city money for cleanup, infrastructure, police, schools and public safety. This brings people who can spend money on art.

Artists have always been conflicted over "commercialism," but smart artists know they can't stay artists without commercialism. The "soccer moms" who might now venture downtown for a cutesy, Jerde-designed retail experience are the same people who, once downtown, like to explore, and often stroll to a nearby downtown gallery and buy that piece of "art" for $10,000. The downtown artists need to quit carping and create a statue to their newest patron saint, Mr. Colangelo.

Barron Thomas

Working the system: Great work on the downtown series. I and many others appreciate your tackling these issues, doing great research and presenting strong, independent views.

For what it's worth, though, I'm not convinced the story is about Jerry Colangelo and the other players to the extent you've presented it that way. I'm not surprised or offended about how he and they are going about things. Sounds to me like how everything gets done around here. It's not a perfect system, and it's great that you've presented a window into how things work, but I don't think the highly cynical tone about the leaders/decision-makers was merited.

The problem for me with the tone is that I think it unfairly encourages distrust in how our city is run. We have a good council -- real people who care about the city. Sure, the downtown partnership works the system to the disadvantage of others, but in large part that's because the others don't participate in the system.

In my view, whatever problems we have as a city stem as much, if not more, from paranoid or lazy or apathetic or intimidated or disenfranchised or whatever people not participating in the system as influential people manipulating it. I'm afraid the cynicism of the work gives people the sense that they're going to get run over, no matter what, which in my experience with this council is not true.

You arm people with great information and opinions that could really vitalize the process. I just wish you'd complement that with a sense that they, just like the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, have the opportunity to learn and work the system to their advantage.

Thanks again for chiming in on the direction of downtown. This type of work is really New Times in full bloom.

Name withheld by request

Fiddling while Phoenix burns: I recently moved down to Tempe from Minneapolis at the end of October. I'd never been to Arizona before moving here, so I researched on the Web, and my choosing Tempe above anywhere else in the Valley was based mainly on wanting a part of town that seemed to have music venues and a vibrant nightlife. So far I haven't been disappointed, seeing as I'm within walking distance of places such as Long Wong's, the Marquee Theatre, Nita's, and the Big Fish Pub, not to mention having a ton of places where I can grab some grub at all hours of the night.

Do I have a point? Yes.

I've been scoring New Times every Thursday, and it seems like there's this massive agenda to broadcast the idea that downtown Phoenix is dead and it needs to be revitalized. My question is: Why?

If anything, New Times is supposed to be a rag of "the people," a paper free of the constraints of the giant daily newspaper conglomerate monsters, and, let's face it, downtown is about Corporate America. It's home to the faceless land of big, expensive block skyscrapers and soulless cubicles, so why should we expect people to want to live there? Fuck, downtown is business. Downtown is the hellhole we should all want to avoid at all costs, so what's the point in trying to "hip" it up and make it a home?

We have hip. We have Tempe. We have the "posh-hip" Scottsdale. It makes no sense to try to turn a place that's all business "white shirt and tie" by day into Bohemia by night, and frankly, as somebody who wants to avoid Corporate America as much as possible, I don't live 24/7 in a cool area like Tempe only to be forced to drive into downtown for a couple hours to catch a band I love or go to a hot art gallery because some civic planners have decided to force revitalization of an urban core that obviously doesn't want to be revitalized.

Please stop propagating this madness. Let downtown Phoenix burn for all I care. It doesn't seem like it was ever anything to write home about anyway.

Toby Zyskowski

Metal Smiths

Spread the word: I applaud New Times for publishing an article on black metal ("Borgir Kings," Serene Dominic, November 20). Although hard to tell if Serene is an actual fan or simply reporting. Several bands and song names were misspelled throughout the article, though. Children of Gloom is actually Children of Bodom, etc. Since this genre is mostly explored by word of mouth, I feel there should be more accuracy in your article to allow for others to explore these different bands and songs. In a world run by corporate rock/pop crap, I applaud your vision of exploring different genres of music and hope this will continue in the future.

Brian Olson


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