Star pit: I will never understand the American proclivity for failing to "get a life" ("Down Memory Lame," Dewey Webb, November 2). All involved in this article most surely need to. If your 15 minutes of fame are up, go do something else and then you won't look like a parody of your former selves. Some personal observations, though: Good for Jim Nabors, ugh to Adam West, and I guess that Steve Allen's being "pissed off" is kind of a moot point now.
Mark A. Hoffman
Gas pains: The alternative fuel vehicle subsidy debacle has everyone in an uproar ("What a Gas!" John Dougherty, October 12). Blame is heaped upon legislators, auto dealers, the governor and even consumer greed.
There is indeed a lesson to be learned here, but most pundits are missing the mark. It's the system, stupid. If you tax it, you get less of it, and if you subsidize it, you get more of it.
America won the Cold War in large measure because we have an economy and a society based upon free markets and individual freedom. So soon we forget.
Using tax systems to manipulate individual behavior is certainly efficient. Who can dispute that fact, especially when you view the results of this current debacle? But this isn't the first time that tax policy has generated unintended consequences. Examples abound. Many people believe the real estate depression of the late '80s and early '90s was greatly influenced by unsound tax policy.
Central planning in Moscow was unwise, inefficient and unsuccessful. We are foolish to believe that central planning in Washington, D.C., or in Phoenix, Arizona, is likely to be any better.
America is a successful society because of our tradition of free markets and individual freedom. It is time we quit using tax policy to manipulate behavior.
Craig C. Lindsay
Wheeler dealers: I wonder how many of the state legislators purchased new vehicles under this program. Just a thought. These people should be removed from office. How incompetent can you get? What other kind of job could you get that would allow you to make a $400 million error and not be held accountable or be fired? It appears to me that most of the vehicles purchased under this program are large, gas-guzzling vehicles that only the most affluent can afford to purchase because of the way the rebate works. Now the average working person will end up paying the price for all of these people who could afford to participate in the program. How about asking the federal government to bail out the citizens of the state of Arizona? This is a state disaster.
No tanks: Our legislators passing this outrageous bill was business as usual, only this time their personal greed got them caught. They have routinely hidden special interests' agenda in bills to serve themselves and their lobbyists. This should be a wake-up call to all of us in Arizona. What our senators and representatives did here is what they do every legislative session -- cater to special interests and fat cats. Their mistake was, while throwing pork to retrofit companies and fleet owners -- and themselves -- they left the door open for Joe Citizen. And the greedy ones jumped at the opportunity.
Action should be taken to retroactively rescind this bill, paying only for the conversion kit.
Station break: I read your article about the Mobil dealer and all the other dealers ("Paying the Price," Bob Burtman, October 26). It's so very true. I was a Mobil dealer for more than 23 years. Mobil told me they didn't want me anymore, after many years of success, just because I had a mind of my own and knew how to make money and do it my way, instead of theirs.
I opened an unbranded gas station at the end of July, totally automated, to keep the overhead down and bring the price of gas to the consumer cheaper. Now I am paying the price. My cost is higher than the majors before I can even sell it. Officials of some of the oil companies have said they want to get rid of us so they can control the margins on the gas prices. Why? Because we're taking their volume away and bringing the same product to the consumer cheaper. Whatever happened to free enterprise?
What a joke. I think the state should look into what's really going on with big business and the oil companies. I think it's time to take action, maybe a class-action lawsuit, to wake these guys up. They have no hearts, just plain greed.
Pans and Needles
Poison pen: Robrt L. Pela's terribly harsh review of Phoenix Theatre's production of Arsenic and Old Lace ("Maim Your Poison," November 2) was typical of his writing in that he harped upon the weaker points of the show nonstop and completely ignored the best aspects of it. Not once did Pela mention the wonderful performances put in by Elizabeth Dimon and Randy Klein as the two ladies who have taken to poisoning friendless bachelors as a "charity," nor did he note David Vining's fine performance as their nephew, Teddy, who thinks he's a Roosevelt. Pela simply trashed the set design and lighting and considered his job done.
Critics are supposed to have strong opinions about this sort of thing, I realize, but this, along with his scathing commentary concerning the ensemble cast at large, came across as downright mean-spirited. PT's Arsenic and Old Lace is worth seeing, and no amount of critical whining should deter anyone who wants to see this "well-worn classic."
Ian C. Carter
Switch signals: This letter is in response to Zac Crain's irresponsible review of Radiohead's new album Kid A (Recordings, October 19). It would seem, unfortunately, that Mr. Crain has no concept of good music -- to take the stance that a departure from the "popular formula" is generally career suicide. Tell that to Brian Wilson, the man who made one of the most revolutionary albums in music history. Musical greatness is not found in the mold designed by popular music today, trust me. Musical greatness is found on the road less traveled. By recording Kid A, Radiohead has broken the mold and separated itself from anything that we've heard to date.
It is Mr. Crain's contention that to love this album is to feign musical savvy. It is mine that to deny Kid A's greatness is to admit a closed mind musically. It is time that we stopped relying on the ineptitude of people such as Mr. Crain. It is time that we admitted to liking what we like and quit jumping into the moronic sea of music with the other lemmings. Mr. Crain may not have liked the album, I'll give him that. But couldn't he have just said that instead of spouting off his pretentious, self-serving crap? I thought that a music review was based on the quality of the music, not the state of musical appreciation across the country.
It is because of people like Mr. Crain that great music never gets heard. Forget Napster; the industry should be after the moronic scribblings of certain music "critics."
Life With Lucianne
Solid Goldberg: So Lucianne Goldberg (Lunch Meet, M.V. Moorhead, October 19) started out as basically an intern in Kennedy's White House, was promoted to script writer, though nobody used her stuff, left the White House the day after Kennedy was shot. Then, 35 years later she hears a story about an intern in Clinton's White House having sexual relations with the president. Any chance she was having flashbacks the moment prior to suggesting that Linda T. turn on the tape recorder?
Pay check: Gregory Weinkauf's review of Pay It Forward ("Milk of Human Blindness," October 19) was on the mark about how the industry heaps a ration of shit on a good chance to produce a socially redeeming vehicle for entertainment and provide a dose of reality. Instead, Hollywood, as usual, went for the syrup and cast Kevin Spacey, a sure thing at the box office, in a role that writer Catherine Ryan Hyde's novel says is an African American. That sucked. Weinkauf could have had a lot of fun with that.
Sun City West
Stadium checker: Good column on the latest house of Cards ("Silk Purse," Jeremy Voas, October 26). It seems with Proposition 302 and last year's Rio Salado Crossing in Mesa, stadium backers have resorted to camouflaging the stadium for Bill Bidwill's Cardinals in anything but a stadium. Whatever stadium backers call their proposals -- a convention center, tourism promotion, youth sports, etc. -- this whole thing is for the birds. (In this case, it's Cardinal road kill on the turf at Sun Devil Stadium.)
Tax max: The exposition by Jeremy Voas of the Proposition 302 welfare package for the Cardinals is a must-read for every Maricopa County voter -- regardless of how the balloting scored.
If 302 passed, a warning should be posted on the Internet, reading: VISITORS ENTERING MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA, BEWARE! TAXES LEVIED ON HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS AND ON RENTAL VEHICLES YOU PATRONIZE WILL BE USED TO FUND A PROPOSED STADIUM THAT YOUR MONEY WILL FINANCE.
Rental rap: Great column! This is why I don't read/subscribe to the Arizona Republic(an). It consistently whores itself to special interests so it can ensure its sports reporters can get into the locker room. What surprises me is the fact that insurance companies that do business in Arizona have not lined up to shoot this thing down. How many residents of the state have to rent a car, especially with the overwhelming number of accidents in Maricopa County alone? Who is going to cover the cost of a good chunk of that "tourist tax"? The insurance companies, initially, but they will pass the increased cost right on back to policy holders. I'd like to lynch the fool who told me it never snows in Phoenix!
Keep up the great work!
Name withheld by request
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Race paper: Do black athletes dominate sports ("Race Tracks," Gilbert Garcia, October 26)? They don't dominate archery, hockey, gymnastics, biathlons, triathlons, wrestling, fencing, strong-man competitions, cross country, skiing and so on. Let's look at culture, nature, nurture, environmental conditions, socioeconomic opportunities and on and on. In the 1930s, Jewish folk were the basketball players of the day. Ever heard of the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association? For an objective look -- from both sides -- I suggest readers check out Skeptic Magazine Vol. 8 No. 1. Nothing wrong with a little critical thinking, huh? And just what is black or white? Is black Manute Bol's dark chocolate color or Dennis Johnson's sandy beige color? Is Bol .9 black/.1 white and Johnson .2 black/.8 white? Is "race" nothing more than a social construction? Or is it a commodity the media sell to us to further divide us? And what about those black folks who, if given a guitar, couldn't play a decent blues lick if their life depended on it? Hmm.