Thanks for the excellent article on Dr. Brian "Kiss My Ass" Finkel ("The Terminator," Amy Silverman, June 17). It brought back memories from when I was active praying on the sidewalks as part of Children of the Rosary in the early Nineties with one of today's greatest social activists Kathy Sabelko and her gang of "hate-filled religionists" (which at various times consisted of myself, moms, teenagers, grandmothers, grandfathers, at least one successful Phoenix OB/GYN, and occasionally an off-duty cop).
Finkel would be a laughable, cartoonesque figure if his psychological pathology was not so deep and his opportunities to act it out not so available and legal. His comment about "the ejaculator that inseminated the cow that birthed me" should be an eye-opener for everyone when considering his career choice. I wish every New Times reader would take the time to read about Hitler's childhood and how he fought back at an unjust world when fate granted him a big opportunity in the 1930s. As I read this article, "killer" is the only word that kept coming to my mind to describe Brian Finkel.
Jonathan Massey, pastor
St. Andrew's United Methodist Church
I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the story about Cody Lynn Macy ("Cody Lynn Macy's Parade," Brian Smith, June 10). There was so much insight and detail that I think I know the girl and her family. Thank you.
Having read your paper for many years, I think I have at last discovered the secret of your music- and movie-review process. It seems obvious that the only films that will get your approval are low-budget efforts made by a clique of filmmakers nobody has ever heard of and no one with taste will see. Your recent review of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me bears this out ("A View to a Shill," Patrick Williams, June 10).
A local theater production had better have low to nonexistent production values and feature themes of flaming homosexuality and vice, or it has no chance of being reviewed, at least in a positive light.
And music? Well, when was the last time you seriously reviewed any music that workaday people have actually heard of? Most of the time you populate the (ahem) reviews with a bunch of glue-sniffing never-was bands that are so lousy in their style and composition no one would buy their CDs on a bet. Your Trashman diatribes easily could be replaced by just printing "Our Readers Are Tasteless and Stupid" in big letters across the page.
Please do us mere mortals a favor and come off your high horse. It may surprise you to learn that the majority of your readers would like to see intelligent reviews of mainstream material. The only reason you subject us to this dreck in the first place is to give your paper a sense of faux avant-garde moral superiority that gets real old real fast. Why not save time and newsprint, and just sit in a local bar, kiss each other's butts and repeat over and over to each other how wonderfully culturally enlightened you are? In the meantime, we in the real world will continue to ignore the crap passing as art in your paper, and do something you obviously do not understand: go to plays, movies and concerts that can stand on their own merits, regardless of how many of the unwashed heathen like them.
I am writing in response to your article criticizing the new Austin Powers movie. I have yet to see it, but I do find it amusing that your critic hated the movie, though it grossed more than $57 million in the theaters its first weekend. Maybe Mike Myers gained from product endorsement, but who is the millionaire and who is the critic for New Times? Makes you think that perhaps Myers is on the right track. Looks like he will continue to make money and movies. I think there have been numerous times that your critics have smashed movies that have been loved by the viewers. Perhaps your critics need a lesson in what the people want or like--and not what he or she wants or likes.
Name withheld by request
"How many times will you chuckle at the sight of a midget flipping a diminutive middle finger? If your answer is more than five, this movie is for you."
The movie is for me. And at least it's better than that overhyped snoozefest of a film Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace.
In Defense of GHB
I found your recently published article on GHB ("GHB.com," James Hibberd, June 10) to be fairly accurate in its references to the recent history of GHB as a fad pseudo-drug. However, I note that you have completely failed to note its very long-term study as a medicinal compound and the fact that it is a natural metabolite that can be found in every cell of every animal. This is pretty relevant information when you are discussing criminalization and prosecution.
Any substance can be abused. Take, for example, glue; it is still legal, and there are numerous cases of actual physical harm noted daily in every state from solvent abuse. Not so for GHB. GHB is safer for human consumption than acetaminophen or aspirin, which have numerous deaths attributed to them yearly.
I would very much like to see a follow-up article that isn't biased so clearly toward the negative view of GHB as a harmful "chemical."
Is it possible that you can note the abuse of this material by a very small minority of people and fully acknowledge its use and potential to so many others?
I am an American citizen, a veteran and an adult with free will and the ability to exercise common sense and to know what is socially and personally responsible. I am now living abroad, apparently to my benefit, as I can legally purchase or manufacture GHB for my own use.
I hope you can look into this topic and perhaps be a voice of reason, not a voice of the administration and pharmaceutical industry.
I want to commend Terry Greene Sterling on her excellent insight and reporting of her Longview Elementary School column ("A Principal Problem," May 27). As founder of the national network SESAME, Inc. (Survivors of Educator Sexual Abuse and Misconduct Emerge), and a parent of two adult sons who were sexually abused and harassed by their high school teacher, I am grateful to Phoenix New Times.
You captured the dynamics and the damage of this much-dismissed tragedy in our schools. Students are not sexually abused by school staff in a vacuum. Administrators, board members, the communities at large, state departments of education, legislators and even the U.S. Supreme Court (Vega v. Lago Vista, June 20, 1998) all give nods of complicity to this crime.
When student/victims are ignored, tremendous harm follows. "Christopher" is definitely one sad example. A 19-year-old, Michael, wastes his life away in an Ohio prison for an uninformed plea to manslaughter for the murder of his sexually abusive Cleveland High School guidance counselor. This certified teacher had been passed on to three different Ohio schools after "rumors" of his misconduct kept erupting. During the investigation of this crime (which the then-17-year-old swears he did not commit), the schools were never questioned. Only because journalists brought this history forward does any of the community know . . . and they still don't seem to give a darn.
Mary Ann Werner
Life of Brian
Brian Smith is at the top of his form. Loved the Circle K bit in this week's New Times ("Knight Watchman," June 17). I sent a link out to several friends who know that area. I used to live just up from there on McDowell. That place scares out-of-towners stiff. And nobody can understand Arizonans and their guns until a story like this comes out. This is it. This is what we deal with and how the people feel. The Bob Dylan quote (at the beginning of Brian's column) captures it all.
Thank you, Brian Smith, for your report on our vets ("Black Monday," June 10). I am a veteran of the U.S. Army from 1984-1992. I was not "fortunate to be a 'hero' during Desert Storm" or the arrest of Manuel Noriega during "Just Cause." I did my best to serve my country. My father served in World War II and saw more bloodshed in his five years as a combat medic and did pretty well as John Q. Public in the afteryears--as opposed to Saving Private Ryan and Platoon revelers. My advice to the cronies at the VFW--suck it up and drive on. Live each day for tomorrow, forget about the past if it troubles you. I wish my dad were alive today; he would personally kick the bejesus out of you snivelers.
The Play's the Thing
After reading only a few lines of "Robrt's" review of The Waiting Room ("Is There a Script Doctor in the House?" Robrt L. Pela, May 20), even in the warm comfort of my own home, I found myself wondering about the chances of a dental appointment myself. Although he blamed his boredom on the play, it was obvious that his sense of terminal ennui would never be overcome by a well-received, thought-provoking piece of theatrical bravery.
"Why is the audience applauding after every scene? Haven't they been to the theater before?" Thoughts like that amaze me. It was my understanding that, as an audience member, it was my responsibility to let the actors know of my appreciation by making noise with my hands. We call it applause. I remember once having someone tell me how gauche it was in a symphony to hear the "hicks" applauding between movements. I was happy that there are still "hicks" that are so overwhelmed by a symphony that they are moved to applause. I always remember Beethoven couldn't hear the applause any more than the symphony, but what the hell?
So "Robrt" seems to have a big problem with Japanese women with bound feet. I do, too. It seems really rotten that even though those Asian people all look alike, it would make little sense to pay enough attention to the story to differentiate the details--or even make an attempt to sound like he researched the subject. (Not to be obscure, Bob, but try Chinese!)
I like theater. I go less and less, but I hate the fact that people like "Robrt" are the only voice I have to listen to! I am offended by the glib presumptuousness and catty claptrap he has spewed out trying to be jaded and vicious, and that doesn't even begin to touch the disgust he evokes.
Is it something we learn in higher education to always sit on a higher pedestal? I wonder if there is any responsibility on the part of a publication to serve a community. Could you have a critic who enjoys theater? One who could impart even the attempt of the production, so that its potential audience could find it? Might he spend a little time actually watching the play instead of the hardness of his nipples and let us know that there was a very relevant message being presented in an entertaining, devastating and even humorous package? Could he stop thinking about his little attitude long enough to be present at the event? I am tired of critics being compelled to criticize. I hate it even more when they obviously have to work as hard as "Robrt" did to the point of totally overlooking any merit to anything besides his agenda. I saw the same freezing opening-night performance. It was moving, relevant, impassioned. It was a play of great impact for me as a female. (Yet another precinct heard from!) His disregard for the In Mixed Company agenda--to give a voice to the less-heard voices--is flippant and appalling.
If this critic can throw such extremes as, "I'll never see a show more sloppily mounted than this . . . ," I am convinced his experience with "seeing shows" is maybe a little limited, and he should see a few more before he sits in front of his word processor again, and you take his tripe to print!
In response to the letter titled "Teens, Screens" in New Times' June 3 edition, I'd like to share that what's described is not new. I am a 1962 graduate of Garden City High, Garden City, New York (Long Island), and, while the snappy cars, hip attire, the snooty/bratty attitudes, the vandalism and raids on parents' liquor cabinets were based on somewhat different models and influences, they were, indeed, very much in evidence, along with the permissiveness and the irresponsible indulge-the-child and latchkey-kid practices that the writer reports at contemporary "local high schools."
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And, as a teacher for more than 30 years, I'd like to report that such has been the case, as well, from 1967 to present. I don't think matters have become all that much worse regarding violence, either. Same goes for sex. The letter writer also remarks, ". . . my fellow teachers and I have been trying to answer that one [reference, "Where did all the adults go?"] for the past two years." Well! My fellow teachers and I have been asking the same--for better than a quarter century! And I had occasion to visit with one of my dad's former teachers, and, yes, he and his colleagues asked the same (Dad was class of '31).
Is there a lesson here? Perhaps. Perhaps teachers will just have to acclimate. Same as always.