Torcher Chamber

Match game: I am reading the article "Burn, Baby, Burn" (James Hibberd, January 11) and I am shaking my head in disbelief over the casual attitude that so many people have toward the arsonist, who feels he is justified in doing this crime to make a point.

I do not think it is okay for someone who thinks his way is right, and if you don't do it my way, I'm going to destroy you. Activists feel that we are building so much, so quickly, and depleting our natural resources and land. I agree that we are building quite a bit, but to burn down someone's home because you don't think it should be built in certain areas is not okay.

I live in the Arrowhead area in the northwest side of the Valley. I remember 10 years ago when it was mostly desert from 67th Avenue (on Bell Road) until you hit Sun City. The same goes for much of the land in the East Valley and the South Valley. Some people objected to the destruction of desert land; however, they did not go out and burn down all the subdivisions going up. Face facts, growth is essential for a city to survive and attract more citizens. As the city grows, so do many people's paychecks (mine and the arsonist's). I am a middle-class resident who would love to buy or build a house up on a mountain overlooking a beautiful city. However, my paycheck does not support that style of living. Am I envious of those who can afford that lifestyle? Damn right I am! Would I burn down their home to prove it? I don't think so. They worked just as hard for their home as I have. What right does someone have to take it away from them?

This arsonist(s) believes he is speaking for lots of people and how they feel. I don't think so. He doesn't speak for the thousands of us who have to shell out more money to an insurance company to help rebuild the houses he is destroying. Who do you think pays for such destruction? I am having to pay more taxes as the city needs to employ more firefighters to put out more arson fires, because they have taught others that this is the only way to fight this problem. And yes, more money will have to be collected as we have to set up studies to figure out how much damage all this black smoke that comes from these burning homes affects the air we breathe. Good going.

This arsonist is sending a message, a message that says, "If you want to prove your point, then destruction is the way to do it." I suppose this arsonist thinks it's okay for a child to take a gun to school and hold classmates hostage just so long as "he is trying to prove a point."

I hope when they catch these arsonists that we see them as they really are: low-down, thieving, danger to society criminals.

Cheryl Lang

Blaze star: A hiking friend of mine suggested (in jest, I think) that I'm the arsonist responsible for the Phoenix Mountains Preserve home burnings. I am not, but would like to shake the hand(s) of whoever's responsible for those "dirty deeds done dirt cheap." I object to the risk of lives, but it appears the arsonist(s) targets homes under construction, when no one else is around. I'm sure my father, a 32-year retiree from the Cleveland Fire Department, would bitch-slap me for this. Sorry, Dad.

Roberto Sonoyta

Burning man: Thank you for finally saying something about the potential loss of life -- a real possibility with the steady acceleration of the time frame between fires. I would expect that many of the people fighting these fires support saving the environment and are actively involved with the peaceful protests process.

Cynthia Nordstrom
via Internet

Picture Perfect

Darkroom with a view: Imagine my surprise when I read Edward Lebow's story about photographer Morris Berman ("Shooting Star," January 11). I expected another nothing article, since it was not on politics or an exposé, but was not prepared for what I read. I found myself feeling sorry when I came to the end. I know you can't just keep writing about the same person, but is there a bio or memoirs on your subject? Excellent writing and excellent subject.

Jerry Feldner

Rush to Judgment

Dis band: Fred Mills' criticism of Rush and Geddy Lee's new album ( Recordings, January 18) is possibly the most ignorant and juvenile music review I have ever read. While I am a fan of Rush (and I also breathe through my nose, thank you), anyone who is going to write about the band's history should also know what he is talking about. The only reason that Rush is not currently recording is because of the deaths of Neil Peart's wife and daughter, which occurred less than a year apart. Also, if Rush and its fans missed the boat and came on the scene years too late, where does that leave Pink Floyd, another "ex-genre" band that wrote possibly the greatest theme album of all time, The Wall, in 1979? Anyone who has listened to these bands knows that with their thematic albums and untraditional musical styles, they belong in the same "genre."

As to the Matt Cameron reference, any musician as accomplished as Cameron would not just be a hired gun as Mills so implied. Cameron (along with Sean Kinney and Chad Smith) is among the most talented drummers since John Bonham, Ringo Starr and Nick Mason, and I sincerely doubt he needs a job as a session player. If Mills feels it necessary to continue writing music reviews, maybe he should stick to the music instead of using his column to poke fun at musicians and their fans' musical tastes.

Jake Burris

Skip My Dog

Pet peeve: I am not an opponent of animal research; neither am I a doctor nor a scientist. Having had the good fortune to have only had to personally sacrifice one mouse in my former career as a research assistant -- the doctor/scientist's miserably low-paid "hands in the lab" -- I know that animal research is not fun, nor is it taken lightly by most researchers. Nor, for that matter, do most research staffs get paid even half as much as the average American, although some scientists and most doctors and pharmaceutical companies clean up.

I have to agree with psychologist Patricia Haight that perhaps Dr. Michael Berens needs to reevaluate his technique ( Letters, January 18). Given his rejection by ASU, I'd have thought he would have come to that realization himself by now. Since Dr. Joan Shapiro, his superior, has seen fit to dig in her heels along with Dr. Berens, perhaps her superior needs to take interest in this issue.

Barring that, it would seem to be in the best interest of Dr. Berens' peers in the scientific and medical communities to give Barrow Neurological Institute a nudge in that direction. Scientists and doctors often complain about their public image, but do very little to improve it, either by monitoring their own community or by educating the community at large. Not surprising that the public sees them as ivory tower elitists, and begrudges its huge outlay in tax and health-care dollars to support them.

Linda Wilson
via Internet

Serves You Right

Gratuities comment: I'm a caterer in the Scottsdale area, and was a server for many years. "The Server Is Down" ( Eater's Digest, January 18) made me laugh. Everything Alex Neville wrote is so true. Very well put. Maybe his next article can be on the art of tipping and how it's done correctly -- for all our friends in Europe and Canada.

Robbin E. Grodberg


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