Bear Essence

Cheap shot: So, Tony Fabriger sees this magnificent bear, and realized it was going to just walk right by him, still a little "dazed" from being in hibernation ("Kodiak Moment," Patti Epler, June 7). Did the "Great Hunter" need food or was he under attack? No, he just couldn't pass up the opportunity to kill, so he ambushed the bear and botched the job. Suddenly, he's such a humanitarian about the "poor animal suffering," so he keeps shooting him in the lungs, leaving him "struggling, semi-paralyzed and kind of rolling" down a slope to an agonizing death. Still, all he could think about was his trophy.

I've never been a fanatical anti-hunting person, but if this is typical of the kind of guy out there portraying himself as a "sportsman," the anti-hunting lobby is getting my vote. Why should anyone care about Mr. Fabriger's claim to the stuffed carcass of this bear?

Patricia Heater
via Internet

Guns 'n' Razzes

Heat rash: Edward Lebow's article on gun lockers missed its target ("Unpackin' Mama's Pistol," June 7). It has long been Arizona law that whenever government forbids the carrying of firearms in buildings, it is required to "check" and store the weapon for the patron. After all, why would I want to keep my gun in my car, where it can be stolen, when it is perfectly safe in my holster? The reason Brassroots Inc. became involved was that government entities began claiming, once again, that the law did not apply to them. Brassroots, the NRA, and pro-rights legislators at the Capitol wanted to send them yet another message that it did apply to them. Of course, even without Arizona statutes on our side, we have Arizona's Constitution, whose Declaration of Rights states, "The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the State shall not be impaired." That's not too vague, is it?

The protests that were cited in the article occurred six months after the law was passed. Most cities were not in compliance and had no plans to be. Those that made progress toward respecting the law and our rights after we discussed the issue with them were left alone. Some didn't want to play nicely. We protested in Glendale, Yuma and Tucson to show them we meant business.

There are three things politicos don't care for. They dislike being bothered, they hate being ignored, and they fear being embarrassed. We decided to use all three. We then spent the next few months testing various cities' procedures because many cities either could not or would not tell us what the full weapons-checking policy was. In Glendale last year, for example, when a peaceful gun owner wanted to check a gun at a public building, three police officers were dispatched SWAT-style, hands on their pistols telling the gun owner to: "Turn around. Put your hands on your head. You are not under arrest." It looked for all the world like a felony arrest to other library patrons who were seen scattering to avoid what they could only guess was a pending "suicide by cop." It should be noteworthy that none of the patrons were the least concerned about this man who had a properly holstered firearm until the police came to make a mess of things. One could only imagine what the cops might have done if the patron were (horrors) black or Hispanic.

The reason Tempe was not the site of protests or weapons-check tests is threefold. One, our discussions with Assistant Chief Spradling suggested that Tempe would shortly be in compliance with the law. We recently found it is not. Two, we were afraid that State Senator Harry Mitchell would steal our signs and put them in his Dumpster. The third reason is that Tempe's old and new checking policies were so out of compliance with the law that the unsuspecting gun owner risked theft of his property on the basis of a city ordinance. We were informed that in some cases, it could take 72 hours to get the firearm back, and ammunition would be confiscated, never to be seen again. Perhaps we should give Tempe another look and schedule a protest. So many government thugs, so little time.

Now, some cities are complaining about the expense of lockers. This is a self-inflicted wound. Our position was that they should only invoke the checking statute when they had a clear, articulable security requirement. Courts, jails and, perhaps, council chambers. All of these places already have armed guards in place since these areas contain dangerous suspects, felons, and City Council members. Libraries and other generic municipal buildings do not fit this mold and, as such, should not require the good guys from going unarmed. So, instead of Mesa (a city in complete compliance, by the way) buying 50 lock boxes for $2,500, they could buy four, and save $2,300. How many lock boxes could the City of Glendale buy if it wasn't milking the taxpayers to construct that hockey arena?

Name withheld by request

Exit, Stage Left

Once on this aisle: This letter is in response to Robrt L. Pela's critical review of the production Once on This Island (June 7). It saddens me to read yet another negative blast at the theatrical community. I know it is very important for a critic to prove how critical they can be, but this constant negativity has played a huge role in the progressive demise of live theater.

Mr. Pela's review seemed to be more about his disappointment instead of the Black Theater Troupe's adaptation of the play. More times than not, a critic has the power to control the success of a play and ultimately the success of a production company. To me this is very unfair!

Why should one person's perspective be allowed to control the masses? Why should a wonderful paper like this New Times aid in the demise of live theater? The New Times should embrace this struggling profession and try to help it, not dig a deeper hole for it.

One possible solution might be to do away with the critic (who has to be critical) and have that person review the story of the play instead. Use a numerical or letter grade scale to show the play's degree of quality. Give the public a chance to see the show! Let them have the opportunity to form their own conclusions about the play.

I am not asking that the New Times and its critics sugarcoat their reviews. What I am asking is that this great paper evaluate themselves and their effect on theater as a whole. It is amazing what a positive perspective could do for this endangered art.

Joseph D. Nask

Dangling Participants

Really hung: Our culture's already got enough twisted and mutilated cheap shock material -- without your May 31 issue's cover photo spread all over town ("Hook, Line & Sinner," James Hibberd).

Please stick your pseudo-porn cover behind the counter, or in a discreet brown paper wrapper, where it belongs.

Kevin Maloney

Modify this: Let me start by saying once again that the Church of Body Modification and the Life Suspended group are two totally different groups. Not all who suspend are church members and not all who are church members suspend. I found some of the letters published in your June 14 issue to be disturbing and close-minded. Whether the cover of the issue is obscene is in the eye of the beholder; if we censor this, what's next? The Venus de Milo? Michelangelo's David? People have to realize that art is not all Bob Ross paintings and clay pots.

As for the letter writer who called the photo and story "gruesome," how about murder, rape, war? And for the last several weeks our headlines have been all about the execution of a mass murderer. Is this not gruesome? The writer goes on to say that the Church mocks other people's beliefs. Aren't you mocking ours? Are your beliefs more important than what we believe?

Yes, I am a member of Life Suspended and as it happens I am an ordained minister in the Church of Body Modification. I've done several suspensions, some for performance, others for more personal reasons. I have to say that I never got high from a suspension, nor do I care to. However, I would never say that someone who is searching for that doesn't get it. I can also assure you that I need no psychological help; I am well-adjusted, hardworking and college educated and, not that it matters, but I am also completely drug-free and sober!

On a final note, the writer of this letter mentions gazing at a photo of what society is coming to. I believe I am doing that by reading his letter. Society is made of different groups; it is this diversity which makes it so great. When I hear of someone trying to say that the beliefs or practices of a particular group are wrong and subversive and should be locked away and hidden from society, it leads me to believe that they would rather see a Hitleresque society in which only what they deem to be acceptable should be allowed and everything else is sick or strange. That is what I believe society is coming to. So keep your beliefs to yourself and if you don't like what you see, turn the page. It's just that easy.

Rev. Jeffrey M Goldblatt
CBM, Life Suspended

Flesh wounded: The cover story "Hook, Line & Sinner" was what I expected. A story meant to shock rather than educate, where those mentioned were misrepresented and often misquoted. But the part that bothers me is that despite the many hours that James Hibberd spent with these groups, he still managed to make two glaring mistakes.

First, the Church of Body Modification and Life Suspended are two very separate entities. It's Life Suspended that does the public performances, private suspensions and flesh-hook pulls, not the Church. Second, while the name for Flesh Club may have been inspired by the movie Fight Club, suspension groups and individuals have been doing flesh-hook pulls for far longer than that movie has been in existence. And before someone asks, the "suspension" portrayed in The Cell was not a true suspension. And no, you cannot suspend from body piercings.

Pj Akhavan

James Hibberd responds: I wrote: "Several Church members also participate in a performance group called Life Suspended." This is true. To say they are "very" separate would be very misleading, as Life Suspended performance earnings fund the Church, and Life Suspended consists almost exclusively of Church members. At the backyard event I attended, there was no distinction made as to which group was "in charge," presumably because it's the same core group of people. If the Church does not conduct fleshplay, it's a new rule -- an official Church meeting I attended was concluded with hook pulls in the Church parking lot.

I never wrote that suspensions or hook pulls were new phenomena. Church leaders said their competitive version of one-on-one hook pulls for spectators was inspired by Fight Club, which is what I described.


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