Claudia's no ideal: I was completely surprised by your recent edition that featured Claudia DiFolco on its cover ("I, Claudia," Brian Smith, August 17). Since when did someone who isn't real become an ideal? Claudia simply stands for everything that is wrong with Phoenix. Your article lauds her for acting one way and being another. But isn't that exactly what Phoenix is struggling with? A city that can't figure out its own identity and instead is becoming a cheap imitation blend of L.A., Santa Fe and everything else that is mocked in most other cities?
The article speaks of little girls worshiping Claudia. It isn't Claudia they worship, it is TV. Claudia is on TV, Claudia can put them on TV, therefore, Claudia has the power. If those little girls truly do worship Claudia the person, then I feel for them, because she is not an ideal to which any young woman should aspire. Overdone makeup, acting like a "ditz," not being real . . . is this what we want young women to aim for? Even Claudia's friend, Bruce St. James, states, "I think she downplays it [her intelligence] because it's maybe not cool or it comes across a little egotistical." How sad is that? Since when did we go back to making our ideal a smart woman who acts stupid? Last time I looked at the calendar, we were in the year 2000.
And what happened to unbiased reporting? Why is the comment from the Zia employee who sees Claudia every week written off as a "quick judgment"? Because it was negative? Claudia believes "feminism just confused men. They don't know if they are coming or going." Well, no wonder, when women like Claudia continue to choose to rely on their looks and downplay their strong intellect because of an irrational fear of appearing too strong.
It is really too bad you decided to write a feature article on Claudia. I have come to expect more from New Times. Devoting a cover to something so lacking in intellectual stimulation and worth leads me to ask . . . has this summer really been that bad?
Fresh attitude: I loved your story, but I would have liked to know more about Claudia, like her hobbies, likes, dislikes, etc. I love watching her, and enjoy her fresh attitude on things. For the record, I'm a 54-year-old working, married woman.
Michal Ann Joyner
Script off: It has been said that the United States populace is the best entertained, least informed on Earth. When New Times goes to interview the hood ornament of the Channel 3 NewShow, one wonders.
How true the lead was. Claudia DiFolco may not be a ditz. But the guy you sent to write the story, Brian Smith, certainly is. He could have written that one without even leaving the house.
Your paper prides itself on attacking mediocrity, ranting against predictability. You murder movies for their, well, lack of creativity. You get cute whilst sitting in the stands, but once on the field, well, your mitt ain't quite that good.
Let me recap the quickly constructed, formulaic, wood veneer cheap Hollywood plot outline you tried to hide under Claudia's cover photo.
Introduce the heroine, make her likable. A slight dash of support from worthy friends: "She's all porn star." Carries us through Act II. Then add the deep-down, good-girl twist, parochial school, with the toughness, turning the heat up on Smokey Robinson, and this chick is good, tough and on your side. In Act III, the protagonist meets her undoing, or does she?
The "personal space" invasion, where the images tug at our soul. We are asked to be sympathetic to innocent beauty of body parts heaving mightily, stalked and hunted by the evil society that she not only feeds off and is held captive by, but which she needs for her survival.
Then there is the happy ending where the heroine is safe by virtue of the fact that "she is already taken." We can read the rest through the final credits, knowing all is well. But that's a shame. Maybe she has some talent other than the leather and the snippets of how, like, dude, she's so synthetic, how she always gets a reaction.
There are some of us who toil, who know mediocrity, who face it on a daily basis and yet continue the struggle to find the nugget of real chicken, not particle board pieces; we might have picked up the issue, saying, "There's a fresh, well-marketed face." Alas, we missed a chance to learn about the real Claudia.
Now there's an article that's begging to be written. Shame on you for sending that guy out on another assignment without sending one of your movie critics along to read the first draft.
Bilingual ed works: Caleb Correa's "Lost in the Translation" (July 6) has sparked a number of responses from Hispanophobic readers. Disdain for those who don't speak English is not much different from the disdain that Hispanics had for Native Americans who did not speak Spanish. In either case, the disdain was based on ignorance. Every Hispanic immigrant I have known in my 25 years as an English teacher was well aware of the value of spoken English and English literacy. If their parents were not fluent in English, it was because they worked in jobs that exercised their strong backs rather than their literacy skills.
I hope that we Arizonans have learned enough from our mistakes in the past -- including our efforts to eradicate Native American languages -- to understand that initiatives like Proposition 203 will only place additional roadblocks in the path of those trying to learn English. Prop 203 would limit more than bilingual education. It would cut English preparation to 180 days instead of the traditional three years (beginning, intermediate and advanced ESL) that has helped immigrants from all over the world learn our beautiful language. If we truly believe in the importance of learning to read and write well in English, we will ultimately reject any effort to use the force of law to grind down the least powerful among us in order to do what we espouse to be "good for them."
Balkan Mind Meld
Land of the flee: I enjoyed your story "Serb Service" (Caleb Correa, July 27), but think it should have been given another title, because the employees were Croatian, Bosnian and Serb.
Also, the story lacked one concise paragraph about how and when Yugoslavia began to fall apart in 1991, first with Slovenia, then Croatia, Bosnia and finally, Kosovo. Balkan peoples tend to live too much in history, and I won't bother you with that.
In the end, it doesn't matter who is to blame, but who are the victims. It is a humiliating life experience to leave one's country and end up slopping up food in that meaningless expanse of desert, sidewalk and mall, unified by a relentless sun and the hum of air-conditioners.
My well-intentioned advice to the refugees: Go back to the cobblestones, before it's too late. You will evaporate in Arizona.
Don't Know Jack
In denial: Just finished Jack Martin's rebuttal to the rebuttals of his earlier letter in your August 10 edition. Let me get this straight, Jack. You expect us to believe you over the eyewitness accounts of soldiers (American, Russian and German), perpetrators who testified at war crime trials and actual prisoners of the camps? You state that no hard, verifiable evidence exists that the Holocaust occurred, yet you expect us to take the word of some author who wasn't even there? Who's the fool, Jack? The hoax of the 20th century is on you!
J. Patrick Mertz
Gullible's travails: A point regarding the views expressed by Jack Martin in his recent letters challenging the Holocaust orthodoxy: Weak and underdeveloped intellects are invariably drawn to unpopular views that by their very grotesqueness continue to attract misanthropes of all types with enough brains to grasp, and be titillated by, the revisionist arguments such views encompass. Unfortunately, they lack enough insight to see their own need to use such beliefs as a desperate means of being respected as iconoclasts. This category of adolescent intellectual vanity has created the Holocaust revisionists along with certain government conspiracy theorists, as well as many of the HIV-theory dissenters.
Scrutiny of the tenets underpinning these views inevitably reveals mother lodes of logical fallacies and weak, self-serving scholarship. Such beliefs are usually harmless enough when the person espousing them is crippled by his overpowering need to be hated and therefore justified in his own hatred (most of which is sadly and unknowingly directed at himself). However, when combined with political ambition and true guile, it appears to me that these quasi-truths become part of the horrible mechanism that creates Holocausts in the first place.
Consider source: As justification for denying the Holocaust, Jack Martin cites The Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Arthur R. Butz, a protagonist in the neo-Nazi movement and an adviser to the vehemently anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby. His book has been so thoroughly debunked and discredited that it is merely bad fiction. By referring to it, Martin destroys his own credibility. Had he read any real history texts, he would have learned that the Holocaust is one of the most documented events in human history. Indeed, only a liar, hate monger, ignoramus or fool would pretend that it did not occur.
Mad About Dad
Green with envy: I read Stephen Paul Green's poorly written letter in the July 20 issue. He seems to be an angry, frustrated man, and for that I am sorry. Sure, there's a lot of hype about the new Daggers craze, and sure, there aren't girls lined up at Green's shows to watch him shake his ass -- not everyone can be the Daggers. All his letter did was release some repressed feelings of jealousy; deep down inside, he knows that those leather pants would not have looked as good on him.
I hate people who sit around and talk about punk rock and how this "era" is so terrible because no one understands what Stiv Bators really meant. Who cares about what Stiv Bators really meant? People like Green take all the fun out of rock 'n' roll.
I was at the Daggers show Green wrote about, and they lived up to every bit of the hype surrounding them. Brendan Kelley, who wrote the New Times piece on the Daggers ("Slash City Rockers," June 15), portrayed the evening exactly as I remembered it. Green takes everything way too seriously, as though everything was just so painful for him as a child. Next time he gets these pent-up childhood frustrations, he must realize whom he is really angry with. The Daggers are not his father.
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Maybe It's Your Breath
Kickin' Ace: Just a quick note on Andy Madison's comment ("Ace Venture," Brian Smith, July 20): "We're having a hard time booking with bands. I don't know if they are afraid of us when we play live or what." Um, Andy, no one wants to book shows with your band because YOU GUYS SUCK!