River Dance
Regarding John Dougherty's "A Fortune Runs Through It" of May 20--am I just idealistic and naive? Am I naive enough to be confused by why we continue to build lakes in the desert?

Am I so idealistic that I don't understand why we can't reduce our use of water in needless golf courses and swimming pools and just let the natural rivers flow, thus creating spaces where culture and business will grow naturally?

Am I too quixotic to believe that massive preplanned, Disney-fied business and "culture" districts add no soul to a city (reference downtown Phoenix)?

Am I so romantic that I would rather live in a Phoenix that respects the fact that it is a desert city, knowing that I could enjoy a natural river and riparian area running year-round?

The problem with Town Lake is not the money. Every long-term project goes through such squabbles. The problem is twofold. First, governments in Arizona think that we can turn the desert into New Hampshire, thus creating more problems in our local environment and less-pleasant cities. The simple fact that the Town Lake requires underground tanks to pump water back into the lake should be a hint that maybe, just maybe, the lake should not be there!

Second, city planners want so badly to have cultural centers that are profitable that they create antiseptic, contrived, inhuman zones of chain-store mercantilism. They never took the time to study other cities where cultural and business activity is rich and diverse, such as London or San Francisco. Had they done so, they would see that such richness is not built in six days by Del Webb, et al., but nourished by good urban planning, public transportation and attention to nonfranchised private businesses.

Somewhere along the way, we were convinced in Arizona that "culture" means a place where you park your car, visit stores that you could have seen in any other mall in America, and leave before it gets dark outside. Rich culture requires people living in downtown districts, spontaneous street activity and, yes, street people.

Kenneth Clark

Finally, somebody gets the scoop and poop on what's really going on, and you have the backbone to put it into print. Refreshing. Good for you!

Name withheld by request
Great piece of work, John Dougherty!
Arthur D. Jacobs
via Internet

The Rio Salado project story was absolutely right on the money (no pun intended). My only question is, why didn't you write it years ago before the waste occurred to this degree?

Hercel Spears

Editor's note: Actually, John Dougherty wrote a prescient piece on the subject six years ago, "Tempe's Shore Thing," April 4, 1993. A link to it can be found at: www.phoenixnewtimes.com/1999/052099/feature1-4.html

Flash Point
Like your "Daily Flash, A Reader's Guide to the Arizona Republic," but hope that you broaden it to cover other media. Don't limit yourselves. Give us the old Flash content, but on a daily basis.

Paul Weich

I almost laughed my head off when I read the Flash's brilliant review of the Arizona Republic and its resident gorgon, Marianne Moody Jennings (May 20). Her grumpy whining made me cancel my subscription more than a year ago. I'm glad New Times had the guts to call her like she is!

Name withheld by request

Great to see the Flash on a daily basis. Editorial cartoons to go along with it would be nice. Good work.

Name withheld by request

Editor's note: "The Daily Flash, A Reader's Guide to the Arizona Republic," can be seen daily at www.phoenixnewtimes.com

Teens, Screens
Glenn Gaslin, might I ask, when was the last time you visited a high school? As a high school teacher, I can honestly say that the fictionalized "sunny, semi-urban land(s) with no adults" described in your article ("The Teen Commandments," May 20) are not all that different from the real thing.

I urge you to take a stroll through a local high school parking lot. Notice the garden of BMWs, Mercedeses and '99 Honda Accords. These sweet rides do not belong to the faculty or to the administration, they belong to the teenagers described in your article. I would bet my teeth that their minimum-wage jobs do not cover the monthly payments of these vehicles. Nor does the Taco Bell paycheck cover the Kenneth Cole loafers and bebe dresses. Rather, mom and dad supply the "giant wad of disposable income."

As for your question, "Where did all the adults go?" my fellow teachers and I have been trying to answer that one for the past two years. Around 75 percent of my students go home to empty houses where they may entertain whomever they please until a parent returns home from work. I have three students who live in their own apartments, because their parents have asked them to leave. As you may imagine, these pads become the happening place to hang after school and are welcoming for co-ed overnighters. One of my students returned from a spring-break vacation in Las Vegas with photos of her hotel suite at Caesars Palace. Her father thought that this would be a nice gift for her and her friends. After all, this gave him the time to entertain his lady friend while his 16-year-old daughter walked the Strip with no chaperone.

Romance is a whole new game. The "hook up" at the prom is as important as a long-term relationship. After all, in the age of STDs and unwanted pregnancy, one must call it love to rationalize such a risk. Although there is literature about these things, most teens do not talk to their parents about such issues, and it is dangerous for a publicly funded school to discuss sex with minors.

Don't get me wrong. I am a Generation Xer who spent hours laughing at the surreal environment portrayed in shows like 90210 while comparing it to my own "strict" upbringing. I wished my parents would get a clue and go on vacation so that I could impress my friends with their liquor cabinet (no such luck). After spending several years away from teenagers, I came back to teach high school and found that things had changed drastically. Look around, Mr. Gaslin, and you, too, will see that the New Teen Cinema is scarily close to reality.

Name withheld by request

Glenn Gaslin, your teenager piece was an editorial. It had some valid and funny points. But I'm gonna have to get you on one thing. Where do you get off busting on the choice of chastity? Yeah, I was one of the seeming minority of folks who wasn't getting "it" when I was in high school--and you know, that was just fine with me. Teenage guys can really blow, and a lot of them care as much for the chicks they fuck as they do toilet tissue. Not being thrilled by the options, I simply avoided "it" those years, had plenty of girl and guy friends and walked away without a baby, without AIDS and with a diploma.

You say though Kat from 10 Things I Hate About You is rebellious, she practices celibacy. Why does one negate the other? Your article revisited the shame I felt in being different. I knew how to masturbate--believe it or not, cocks don't make the world go round, they just enhance it. And as proud as I was of my independence, I remember how damn difficult it is to feel completely comfortable with one's adolescent self in an age of such extreme awkwardness. In fact, I think it's pretty damn rebellious to be celibate when everyone supposedly is knee deep in the hay, when everyone on TV is fucked up and fucking, and you're not. So why don't you give Dawson and Felicity and Moxon their damn decisions, chill with the name-calling and move along to some real insight, 'cause frankly it's about time some nontraditional teenage behavior got some airtime. It hardly hurts.

I know how I felt emotionally back then--keep in mind the level of suicide for that age group, and give fair care to the more fragile in your audience. You do a great job on the whole, but sometimes some of it can be plain awful, and your readers just have to respond. Thanks for the soapbox time.

Name withheld by request

On Offspring
What is Gilbert Garcia's problem? His absolute trashing of the Offspring ("Pretty Flawed," May 20) is not only totally uncalled for, it's a pathetic cry for help. His "review" is overshadowed only by his nontransparent disdain for this type of music. What kind of idiot would proclaim a Backstreet Boys tune to be the best one played at an Offspring concert? Did he get beat up a lot as a kid? He pulls apart every popular song sung by Offspring, practically calling their lyrics juvenile--but has he really listened to "Everybody" by Backstreet Boys? Or is he just too busy fantasizing about their tight young backsides to pay attention to the stupid words to this idiotic song? If he likes that crap, I'll wager he gets really wet over ditties by Puff Daddy and Will Smith. Yeah, two real originals there.

As a critic, he obviously doesn't get the clever satire sung in "Pretty Fly for a White Guy." Any person with a brain and quick wit can decipher the slap in the face to the suburban white wanna-bes--the rest don't get it. Mr. Garcia and his ilk fall, obviously, into the latter realm. You discredit yourself immensely by printing his bargain-bin slop.

Mike Raines
Seattle, Washington

I read your "Pretty Flawed" article about how the Offspring is "dragging 'punk' into the mire of mindlessness." Well, I think that the article was very cynical and rude. Yes, I am a fan, not only of Americana, but the band's earlier stuff, too.

If the Offspring's music isn't punk enough or just flat-out not good, then why do all those people who were at all those concerts listen to it?

Rachel Cruz

My children like Americana so much that they each had to have their own CD because they could not share it. I have listened to their CDs, which include Smash mouth, Aquarium/Aqua, Insane Clown Posse, Spice Girls and Offspring. I find Offspring to be better than the others.

I played "Ob-la-di Ob-la-da" for them on the turntable while "Get a Job" was playing, and I switched between them to show the kids the similarity. They didn't care. My feeling is that it doesn't matter how you categorize the Offspring. A lot of New Wave artists were grouped together just because they came out at the same time, not for their musical similarities. I think the tone of Offspring compares well to Devo and the B-52's. It's just for fun.

Anyway, there is a musical law of karma you should know about, which is that if a group really plays crappy music, it will be cursed to play it night after night, year after year, and that should be sufficient punishment for all parties. Lighten up. I can think of a lot of bands who are better than Offspring and who never got a record deal. Offspring paid their dues and deserve their time onstage.

My kids loved their show, and everyone around me seemed to also enjoy the show. There's no use defying popular music, especially when it may not have anything to do with people our age. Maybe you could review the Cher or Dylan/Simon concerts because you would have a clue what they are about. I am 47, and I happen to hate Aerosmith, Sting and U2, but I like Gwar, Marilyn Manson and the Cramps. So cut Offspring some slack, or at least don't criticize what you can't understand.

Ian Snyder

Gilbert Garcia's article was right on! My sentiments exactly. I have been complaining about the Offspring for years now, especially so after the Americana album. It is especially painful for me, being someone living in Southern California and having seen this band dozens of times over the past 10 years. I am quite embarrassed to think about how much I once enjoyed the Offspring.

Now I cannot stand listening to them being played every hour on the hour of commercial radio. I am amazed at what a farce they have become. I cannot accept that they take themselves seriously. Are they this naive? I wish they would just come out and admit that they just formulate their songs from computer programs in order to move the most product possible. These guys are simply product whores. There is no art, no sincerity in what they do; it is all about capitalism.

Walt Lutz
Los Angeles

Deputy Dogged
I wish I had the courage to put my name on this letter, but because of conditions within the sheriff's office I do not want to end up like countless other "dime droppers" and get fired. I have worked for MCSO for many years.

I would like to commend your paper and Tony Ortega for taking a stand against Sheriff "Joke" Arpaio ("Blowing His Cool," May 27). Your newspaper accounts have been accurate on the inner workings of the office and the games that Joe and David Hendershott have played.

Over the past several years, we have lost a number of great officers, both in detention and sworn, because they came forward in presenting internal memos of suspected wrongdoing. I have worked closely with Sergeant Cool on several projects. He is a very loyal, dedicated individual. It is a shame that he is being hung out to dry for telling the truth!

Please keep up the fine work you are doing, as you're the lone voice standing up for us!

Name withheld by request

Usually one must visit "pseudo Christian" circles in order to experience the degree of hatred and intolerance so proudly displayed by the Mesa woman Jennifer Alcock in her letter of May 20 ("Good Riddance") in which she praises the death by torture of a jail inmate.

Lance Hawthorne died because his cellmate ruffled the feathers of a Maricopa County corrections officer. That guard, a cowardly bully out for revenge against a caged man, shut off the fresh-air supply, killing the overweight heart patient. This action should not be applauded or tolerated in our community. If the reports are accurate, the guard himself needs to be tried and, if convicted, shut away.

Alcock would have us believe she sheds alligator tears for the innocent victims who stood in front of a camera, ". . . being operated by this joker [Hawthorne] or some other idiot." What she will sadly never realize is that she is the "other idiot." Had she been a neighbor of Hawthorne's, I'm sure she would have teased him for his size and belittled him at every opportunity, assisting him in making his eventual behavioral choices and in no small way contributing to the suffering of his victims.

Alcock rushes on to tell us that if she had been the mother of Lance Hawthorne, she would be glad that he was dead and ashamed to have given birth to him. My God, I wonder what sort of weaponry her children will be toting to school someday.

Daniel Craig

Gig Deal
This is in response to Mr. Tucker Woodbury, who listed Sistah Blue as one of the bands to have played or opened for a national act at Rockin' Horse Saloon ("Music Man," Letters, May 20). We've never had the pleasure, I'm afraid, but we're open to the idea!

Claire Griese, drummer
Sistah Blue

Yankee Lure
It is true that the photographs are public record and should not be censored, and I hope Scott Stanley prevails in his quest to show the atrocities occurring on the border ("Border Censors," House, May 13). But he, like many others, is not looking at the big picture: These people are coming to the United States for a reason, and that reason is life. The Mexican government is controlled by a number of families who couldn't care less about Mexican citizens dying in the desert; their main concern is gathering wealth and keeping the people ignorant and oppressed so they don't revolt and find themselves and their offspring hanging from a tree or standing against a wall wearing a blindfold. The second part of the problem is that here in the U.S., we have major corporations and many small businesses that depend on this labor pool to maintain their profit margins, and also to keep wages low for those of us who are U.S. citizens. And it is my personal belief that the past and present federal administrations (Roosevelt through Clinton) are working hand in hand with these wealthy and evil Mexican families to maintain the status quo.

Jim Garfias
via Internet


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