Ebon Appétit

No soul: I won't go into a rant or rave or try to use big words to prove my point. I'll keep it very simple: Do you guys ever go to black restaurants? I pick up New Times every week, and this week I'm looking in the Best of Phoenix (September 21), and I didn't see anything abo ut the best soul food. But I did find Best Place for a Grease-Soaked Hangover Breakfast, Best Place to Get Aroused While Waiting for Your Burro, Best Place to Take Your Harley to Dinner, etc. So I know you could have found a place in your 192-page Best of Phoenix to put a few soul-food restaurants. Black people do read New Times, and, amazingly enough, we also eat.

Tremayne J. Fontenot

Editor's note: Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe, an establishment that bills itself as a soul-food restaurant, was featured in the Best of Phoenix, under the heading "Best Place to Eat If You're Starting a Diet Tomorrow."

Penalty Flag

Coaches should quit: I played for current Scottsdale Community College football coaches Ken Giovando and Sanford Rodgers in 1990-91, when they were coaching at Phoenix College. Giovando and Rodgers were the offensive line coaches. I played on the offensive line.

Your story is right on the mark ("Speared," John Dougherty, September 14). Contrary to school policy, I was recruited out of the state of Illinois. Of the 80-man roster at Phoenix College, probably one-third were recruited from out of state. We had players from Florida, Illinois, New York, Nebraska and Indiana.

Although I never was a part of, nor did I witness, an act like the one you wrote about involving Jamie Warren at SCC, Giovando and Rodgers did encourage unsportsmanlike activity. Among other things, we were taught to chop-block our opponents (chop-blocking is when you block low and try to take out your opponent's knees); verbal taunting was encouraged. During the 1991 season, the Phoenix College/Snow College game ended much the same as it did for SCC in 1996. Five players were ejected and the game was called late in the fourth quarter. It was embarrassing.

Giovando and Rodgers should not be coaching. I have said this since playing for them. They are the epitome of what is wrong with sports. Their bullying and encouragement of unfair and unsportsmanlike play should stop.

Name withheld by request

Face the Music

On, vixen: Thank you, Bob Mehr, for "Oooooo Canada" (Bash & Pop, September 14). Some of your facetious comments really struck home, so I'd like to make some of my own comments. When it comes to Canadians, we should show them the same friendly attitude they show us. With their "Canadians first" policy, Americans have to spend money before working in that country. No matter how much they know their way around, local bands would get nowhere unless they had a Canadian in their employ first -- whether as booking agent, management, roadie, etc.

And in regard to the "News Tart," Claudia DiFolco, she seems to be window dressing to make a pathetically "unhip" TV station look good. In fact, she even looks as though a plastic surgeon formed her from the image created by some octogenarian moneybags who thought she was what a young woman should be like. With all that unhealthy crisp-fried skin, more layers of makeup than Queen Elizabeth I died in and mush for brains, she could very well make it into the next issue of Playboy. But when it comes to fitting into the Phoenix scene, DiFolco couldn't squeeze in if she took a bath in KY Jelly. She and her big-bucks bosses know absolutely nothing about the Phoenix scene, local talent or Phoenix and music in general.

Because she was new and different, though, we listened to her talking up lousy bands no one's ever heard of or raving about the wonders of clubs in Tempe and Scottsdale. Other media sources took note because it was so surprising that an outsider could break through the local good-ol'-boys barrier. Only the power of money can do that in a place where no one gets a chance to do or be anything without being "connected." Even the usually perceptive Brian Smith was taken with her ("I, Claudia," August 17). But his story needs to be taken with a grain of salt, because although Smith is a fine writer, he does have his quirks, one being an affinity for all things tawdry. On one page he'll write a sensitive piece with grace and aplomb, but turn the page and find one of his "bloodshot reviews" singing the praises of porn stars and ham-cam queens. And why not? He does tend to sink into a mire of smarminess every now and then. So it was with his piece on DiFolco.

I try to give KTVK the benefit of the doubt and not accuse it of conspiring to make Phoenix the cultural ghost town it's becoming. Granted, Tempe has the college and Scottsdale's got the money. Phoenix is still alive and kicking, but no one cares about supporting locals anymore. Even New Times, Phoenix-based, is sometimes guilty of giving too much attention outside our city.

So I have to ask, if Phoenix-based KTVK and its resident airhead don't like it here, why not pack up and relocate to Snottsdale where they can hobnob all they want with the Snobsdalians they so avidly support? And as for all the plastic bimbos the media push on us, go home!

Linda Ardito

Sky Writing

Tales from the script: Regarding Robrt L. Pela's article "Not Quite Cloud Nine," a September 14 review of Dale Wasserman's play A Walk in the Sky: Wasserman's churlish comments about the actors in his play deserve further comment. I attended the preview night and was quite impressed with the performers' abilities to rise above what is very poorly written and ill-conceived material. If this was adapted from a 1957 drama, it certainly should have remained in that era.

The play abounds in stereotypes, with occasional forays into strange and inexplicable sequences, such as when the young boy sings and dances with the mountain men immediately after his parents have been slaughtered, or when a Scotsman in plaid kilt dances into a dream sequence.

The sole female role appears to have been written by a misogynist who believes that the only redemption for a thoroughly disagreeable woman lies in the love of a child. Heidi Ewart soared above her role in both voice and acting ability.

Several of the actors had Broadway-quality vocal range, and all performed credibly and enthusiastically in what was one of the strangest theater productions I have ever seen. In fact, I would actually recommend that you see A Walk in the Sky purely for the fun of experiencing this talented ensemble.

In case you're wondering, I do not know nor have I ever personally met any of these performers.

Michele St. George

Trans I Am

Ginger spice: I would like to thank Brian Smith for his wonderful profile on me and the White Trash Debutantes ("Coyote Lovely," September 21). However, I would like to make clear a few facts for the readers. I am now a female, and "she" is the most appropriate pronoun to be used. I applaud Smith for his politeness for not asking me directly. However, I feel the need to set the record straight.

I also would like everyone to know that my answer regarding punk rock and The Golden Girls was a statement I had made about a White Trash Debutantes show being canceled at Camp Pendleton's beach after a director felt we had too much of a sexual edge with our lyrics and image for the under-21-year-old Marines, which I found amusing. We had played an SPCA pet fair not long before which was designed for families to adopt pets, and had no problems with our image or lyrics.

Ginger Coyote
Hollywood, California

Stew, Stew, Studio

Outfoxed: I would like to comment on "Suspended Animation" (Serene Dominic, September 14) featuring Pearse Cullinane. I, too, am a former Fox Animation employee. I was given the opportunity to join Fox at its inception as one of 10 original employees. I quickly fell in love not only with my job, but also with the company and its diverse group of employees. Never before had I seen so much talent, so much potential and so much determination in one arena. But then, never before had I seen such gross neglect infect and kill a would-be contender as that which I witnessed in my six years of employment at Fox. Words cannot adequately describe the tremendous disappointment I carry with me in the closure of Fox Animation and the dismissal of its unique work force. A textbook case of deficient leadership, poor planning and gross misuse of resources paved the way for the studio's untimely demise.

I sit comfortably now, employed full-time in a managerial position within another entertainment company in San Jose, California. And while I am happy with my career and current job, I cannot help but imagine what could have been, what goals could have been exceeded, and what fabulous products could have been generated from that studio in Phoenix. I am not a disgruntled employee who was laid off at the whims of executives at the studio and beyond, but rather a former employee who, after countless failed attempts to alert and realign a misguided management team, saw no other option but to part ways with a flailing organization.

As an MBA graduate (which Fox partially funded), it became evident in the early years that the studio was heading for disaster and gaining momentum at each stop. It was a studio led by management more concerned with who their sleeping partners would be rather than what needed to be done to spearhead a successful organization, and who could best perform needed leadership roles. Nepotism, "political favors" and a solid "ol' boys network" dictated who would fill what position and for how long, regardless of skill, education or ability.

As both a desperately loyal and observant employee, as well as a trained, educated business professional, I voiced my concerns through each possible medium ranging from letters to phone calls to personal meetings. In each case, nobody wanted to listen. My concerns and observations were voiced to my immediate supervisor, to the production supervisor, each of our three successive general managers (a story within itself) and even to Mr. Mechanic (at that time, Twentieth Century Fox chairman and CEO). Whether it was just gross error in their judgment, their lack of perceived sex appeal in myself, or fear of actually taking action, nobody wanted to listen. The ship that was Fox Animation Studios continued to sink.

While there are so many examples and evident reasons this company failed, I will leave that to a business textbook editor. I hope that future entertainment leaders can study and learn how not to run a thriving, capable and ambitious organization into the ground and destroy hundreds of lives in the process.

As for Pearse Cullinane, I know him both as a friend and a professional and am deeply saddened to see the impact Fox and its demise has had on him. While misfortune of a tragic (yet avoidable) closure has clearly affected him, his family and his career, your article fails to disclose the far-reaching impacts of the hundreds of other workers who were courted by Fox, erroneously led, and quickly abandoned. I will never forget the wonderful people and the accomplishments we made as a team in the shortened life at Fox Animation Studios.

Jeff Lujan
Mountain View, California


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