Alice Does Live Here
For the record, I would like to comment on your article regarding Alice Cooper'stown ("Go Ask Alice," Gilbert Garcia) in the April 29 issue of New Times.
As the founder of Evening Star Productions, and producing concerts here for 25 years, I have been fortunate enough to have made some great friends in the music business all over the world. The friends who are among the closest to me are Alice Cooper and his longtime manager and confidant, Shep Gordon. We have in common our pride in our commitment to our careers and families.
From the start, I was happy to become involved with downtown's newest hot spot, Alice Cooper'stown, for a number of reasons: like a place to put some of the memorabilia Alice and I have collected over the years, as well as another fun thing for us to bond over, plus our love for music and sports, and, equally important, great food.
Alice has been an integral part of the restaurant from its inception. He has been in countless meetings, starting when the place was a broken-down warehouse destined for the wrecking ball. As a local, Alice is there all the time, always ready to sign an autograph, chat with complete strangers that he has become friendly with as we all come together to eat and hang out at Cooper'stown, as well as just going to eat at his favorite restaurant. To intimate, much less say, in your article that he is merely a figurehead, like B.B. King (God bless 'im) in the clubs that bear his name, is completely inaccurate, and we take this whole thing very personally.
Evening Star hasn't endured all of the changes in the business by screwing over bands, national or local. We have booked shows in every club in this area forever. Booking Cooper'stown is an ongoing work in progress. We learn new things as we go, like which nights are good for live music, and which are not; also, what kind of bands work before and after which sport's audiences, and which ones don't. Do we need live music all the time or some of the time? Should it be acoustic, hard or classic?
In doing this, while paying too much attention to the business side, a mistake happened recently where some local musicians were booked, then canceled. In a business where trust is so important, sometimes, as a talent buyer/promoter, you have to take it on the chin when things go wrong. In this case, in midstream, it became apparent that live music was not working on some nights, and something had to be done about it. This had nothing to do with the musicians, or the quality of their work. The mistake was not offering some of the affected musicians compensation or make-up shows. This will be corrected, as we have already begun this process with the affected musicians.
As far as the playing-for-free issue, it is what it is. It is a very hard thing these people do, playing in front of an audience, no question. Try it sometime. It is equally hard to get an audience to play in front of.
Likewise, there is a bottom line attached. As a rule, we do not charge a cover to watch and listen to the musicians performing. They can get known by playing at Cooper'stown, and if they are really good, find themselves in demand. They can use their appearances on their resume to get other work. If they are already beyond that, and are already in a position to be paid a performance fee, then they have the option of negotiating mutually acceptable terms, or not playing. This concept goes for anywhere. No band should be criticized because it plays for free, or less than someone else. You gotta do what you gotta do to get an edge in this business. I got fired from my night job cleaning doctors' and business offices for taking a night off to produce my first show in Phoenix (Herbie Hancock) in 1974. Like any occupation, it's hard to get established. It took me two years after that to land a job booking Dooley's for $80 a week. Hard work pays off.
Cooper'stown is a new vehicle for performers. We do pay musicians to play. We also are taking chances putting people, in many cases sight unseen, onstage. If we are wrong in our booking, people leave, so there is risk involved. It's a little more complicated than your article would leave one thinking.
I write you now, not only to defend myself, the people at Cooper'stown, or Alice, but to point out things are not as cut-and-dried as your article stated. Alice cares deeply that people are given fair treatment, no matter what the situation. We believe that this place is more than just a restaurant, sports bar, museum or nightclub. It's got Alice's name on it, which has been a source of pride for many Arizonans: He's one of us. He lives here. How many times do your friends from out of state ask you if you've seen Alice lately, or do you hear in conversation, "Yeah, I saw Coop the other day in the 7-Eleven"? The fact that he has lent his name to this place for all of us to enjoy is another bonus for living in this great area.
Along the way, some feathers may become ruffled when it comes to music and business colliding (wouldn't be the first time), but our promise is to always work things out and be fair. 'Nuff said.
Evening Star Productions
If some local bands suffer from such low self-esteem that they are willing to play Cooper'stown for free, so be it. Hans Olson playing there for free is like Marlon Brando auditioning for a community-college production of A Streetcar Named Desire.
The problem lies in Danny Zelisko and company promising a paid gig and then reneging on the promise. What's the matter, guys? Did you forget where we all came from? We were supposed to be the generation that could do business on a handshake and a promise. Now you've turned into the "over-30" crowd that we were admonished not to trust.
Some of us have long memories, and we don't do business with cheaters. So you can take your insults to the local music scene, and shove 'em up your royal Cooper'stown machine!
Well, finally it seems that Tempe bands got a well-deserved slap in the face when they left their Mill Avenue nest--and they only had to travel as far as downtown Phoenix to get it!
Art and Violence
I would like to comment on Gilbert Garcia's recent commentary titled "Rocky Mountain Low" (Soundcheck, April 29). The blame put upon musicians for "corrupting" youths into releasing their anger through violence is not a new subject. But people are very visually oriented, and the countless pictures of Dylan Klebold bearing a KMFDM hat just added another log to the fire.
Garcia's analogy to The Catcher in the Rye seemed to put the art aspect into focus. But again, when people read J.D. Salinger, they do not have the visual image that, say, Marilyn Manson would give. People are scared; and who else would they look at to blame but the people who scare them most, pop stars?
Parents should look at the real matter at hand. Maybe it's not the art that is corrupting young minds. Maybe it's the constant images of Kosovo refugees lying in pools of blood, America's leaders condoning the constant barrage of missile launches, the whole idea that America is doing well because we are killing off those who offend us.
We live in a society of instant access. If somebody wants to learn how to make a pipe bomb, all they have to do is look it up. On the other hand, if someone was concerned about Klebold and Eric Harris running around screaming, "Heil Hitler," and buying guns, they could have instantly done something about it, as well.
There are always going to be people pointing fingers of blame, mostly because they don't want to face up to the fact that we are all to blame. Accusing musicians of feeding the fire is getting old; the majority of people see the accusations and merely forget about them the next day.
It's sad that a musician has to put his or her career on hold just to please somebody who pointed a finger. Again, thanks to Garcia for informing the public, and showing them the truth.
Does the legal remedy intentional infliction of emotional distress mean anything to you? David Holthouse seems to believe that it is appropriate to imply that my friend Cris Kirkwood is somehow responsible for the deaths of his wife, Michelle Tardiff, and friend, Pete Sievert ("Lake of Fire," April 29). In the legal system, those accusations would be termed murder or manslaughter. Those are very serious accusations with very serious consequences. I am so disappointed at Holthouse's carelessness with this delicate situation.
With regard to the two competing theories about Sito, he did join Cris in "junkieland" months before he committed suicide. I spoke with Sito a week before he died, and he was moving out of his apartment that day (I will not give the exact street address, as that would be tasteless). He told me that he was going to a six-month rehab program. Unfortunately, the next time I saw him, he was pretty wasted.
Can we blame Cris for Pete's lifelong battle with addiction and depression? Here is another theory you might want to consider: Misery loves company.
In Holthouse's November 1998 article ("Shooting Star"), he blamed Cris' wife, Michelle, for his self-destructive descent into addiction. Now he finds Cris responsible for Pete's decision to self-destruct. If one person can cause another person to decide to end his own life, and Cris, tragically, makes that decision, then you, too, will need to accept a part of the blame.
I believe you have gone too far. You are far more evil, David Holthouse, than Cris' house.
You were wondering if Cris is laughing or crying. He is crying--more tears than I have ever seen a fellow human being cry. What did you think he would be laughing about?
You say that you are not looking forward to writing Cris' obituary. Yeah, right!
Your latest intrusion into Cris' life has struck horror in many people who now are terrified of how Cris might respond to having all that dirt heaped upon him. Fortuitously, Cris left his home one day before your defamatory article hit the stands. He was in a safe place when you launched your missile--so you have missed your target, David Holthouse. Cris is still alive, and I believe that, in time, he will be well.
Thanks for the open letter to Cris Kirkwood. As a friend of Sito's, I'm not sure if I feel better or worse knowing some of the specifics at which I had heretofore only guessed. One thing is certain: No one that I have known had more of a knack of making you feel good about yourself than did Sito; I will miss him immensely.
As someone who has watched the tragedy unfold from afar and hoped and prayed that logic and reason would somehow prevail, and Cris Kirkwood would regain sanity, this piece was incredibly moving. It is an incredibly beautiful and incredibly sad piece of work by David Holthouse.
Regarding David Holthouse's article on Cris Kirkwood and Sito: I wanted to write to you after the "Shooting Star" article appeared. My heart goes out to Curt Kirkwood. I can only begin to imagine. What a tragedy.
David Holthouse is a very gifted writer. I'm grateful that he moved from Alaska to Phoenix. New Times is better for it, and so is the local music scene.
I'm sorry that Cris seems to want to check out. I've had a lot of friends check out over the last 10 years. I still retain my youthful enthusiasm; I still believe anyone can change his destiny. I don't think it's ever too late, mentally or spiritually.
I wish the pen could make all the pain go away; let someone else write the obituaries. Your hard work doesn't go unnoticed. Thanks for caring, David.
How sad it makes me when I read about how great and talented people (like Kurt Cobain and the countless others) can't handle their own greatness and have to escape into the endless abyss of drugs and, eventually, suicide. I hope David Holthouse's letter reaches Cris, but I doubt that at this point it would make any difference. At least Holthouse attempted to reach into Cris' abyss and help pull him back into life. I don't know him, but I still want to cry for him. I feel that you'll be writing his obituary very soon, and I feel for you as well.
How dare you! It is one thing to lament a fallen hero, but to bring in the death of someone you obviously were not friends with, and did not know, is another. I am speaking of David Holthouse's open letter to Cris Kirkwood, and while I have never met Kirkwood, and never want to, I was friends with Pete Sievert, "Sito" as you refer to him in your article.
Petey, as we knew him, was a wonderfully funny, thoughtful, kind person who, perhaps because he was such a loyal friend, got caught up with one of the demons that plagued Kirkwood. You did not mention any of the things that made Pete such a wonderful friend. Your knowledge of him was limited to what you may have read in his obituary and from police reports.
So how dare you! Pete has many friends who are struggling to find out the answer to what may have happened that caused his death. Your callousness in trying to answer why your hero may have fallen does not give you the right to injure so many others. No one knows what may have happened. As you mention, the police and coroner reports are not in.
At the funeral, Brophy chapel was packed, standing-room only, to mourn the loss of a much-beloved man. Family and friends will miss him. We cannot say the same for Cris Kirkwood. I only wish it had not been Pete who passed away.
If only you had known him, perhaps your article would have been written much differently. Petey, we will miss you.
This is regarding the piece on Cris Kirkwood in your April 29 issue. Seeing Peter Sievert's name in the article was as painful as hearing the news of his death again. I now have the nightmare of this image of the repulsive hell where Peter spent his last hours on this Earth burned into my brain.
Of course, Peter's mother and father and sisters and brothers have it as well.
Name withheld by request
We will eventually know whether Cris Kirkwood read David Holthouse's insightful open letter and sought guidance. This supportive music fan hopes he will walk out alive. Maybe he will take that restful return trip to Alaska, not to escape, but to recover.
Otherwise, and unfortunately, the public will read how he joined a too-long list of others whose final trip was that of being carted from their death scene inside a black plastic, zippered bag--their trip ticket tied to a toe.
As former Xavier students, we were always told that our educational experience would take us to a higher level than what other schools (public or private) could provide. We were told that many of us would be famous for our achievements. I don't suppose the priests and nuns at Xavier/Brophy had this Meat Puppets definition in mind during those pep talks.
Name withheld by request
After reading yet another account of the pitiful downfall of Cris Kirkwood, after watching the slow downward descent of Kurt Cobain, and now after reading your letter to Cris, whatever thoughts I have had or will ever have about experimenting with harsher drugs will be dashed from my mind with one simple recollection of what will actually happen. You have done more than a lifetime's worth of watching those "Drugs are for losers" commercials.
Name withheld by request
I just read your open letter to Cris Kirkwood online. I can't really say, "Nice piece, man," about such a piece of writing. As one who used to write a weekly column, I recognize how much craft, as well as personal pain, went into that piece. As a fellow fan of the Meat Puppets and human being, I can only say I wish it would help. I wish something would help. So, although it sounds hollow, thanks. Good work.
"State Representative Steve May is a walking, talking contradiction," is the perfect description of him and his politics ("Confessions of a Gay, Right-Wing Mormon," Amy Silverman, April 29). So it should be no surprise that he is about as effective as the Tinky Winkys on his desk.
The thrust of May's argument with Karen Johnson over her ignorant (he was right to call her ignorant, but then he was stupid to apologize for it) remarks were focused more on money than morals ("my gay tax dollars"). Although paying taxes is a point, it's not the point. Luckily for the community, there were straight people both in government and in the media who saw it as the moral and ethical issue it was, and spoke up. And if paying taxes were enough, what about all the taxpaying gay people who want the right to get married? May is against gay marriage. He just doesn't get it, but then, what self-serving conservative ever does?
Steve May's blatant remarks about taking all this money from the community and not having to represent them is about as arrogant as I've heard. "They don't care if you fight for gay causes. . . . I don't have to do a single thing." He couldn't be more wrong! The queer community is demanding to be heard and represented, and they expect their donations to be respected. I guess the people who gave to his campaign got their money's worth, but the rest of us are paying for it. He is out of touch with the community, and this is why he will never be able to represent it. But then again, he is not a leader. He is just a naive politician who is afraid of his own queer shadow.
Michael Wayne Miles
I truly enjoyed Amy Silverman's story on Representative Steve May. I don't believe your cover did him any great service, however, as labels can be so destructive.
Let's face it. May is far too nice and intelligent to be a Mormon. Oh, sure, they want to claim him as one of their own. But isn't that the nature of such cults--to recruit? And everyone knows that the unnatural progression of polygamy leads to cannibalism and bestiality. It's all there in the history books. Look it up! Check under "out-of-this-world.blewster.com"
What next? Representative Karen Johnson is going to hit on him to make him husband No. 6? I know these people are into their families, and I applaud the fact that Johnson has gone to great lengths to instill her brand of family values in all five of her own. One has to admire that kind of dedication. But honey, cute as he is, leave your mitts off poor Stevie.
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And why do these Mormons have to flaunt their lifestyle? I believe everyone has a right to believe what they will, but can't they just do it in the privacy of their own homes? No, they've gone too far. I say, "No special state-funded genealogical archive rights for non-coffee drinkers."
It's time to draw the line in the sand.
In the April 29 issue, you printed an extensive profile of a gay state representative along with an article about a local dominatrix and her trussed-up submissive. On the same page as the dominatrix, you featured a cartoon ("Book of Sick") guffawing over the hilarious possibilities of repeated prison rape, while the sex ads appear to be spreading like kudzu. I had to check the front page: Did I pick up a New Times, or does Bachelor Beat come free these days?