Clouds Over Sunnyslope
This is the second time I ever had the dubious pleasure of reading anything you publish, and it happened this time only because a friend drew our attention to that portion of Brian Smith's article ("Night in the City," December 3) relating to Sunnyslope.
I generally have no hang-ups related to stories that expose some of the underbelly of our city. I firmly believe that exposure is the only way to start the process of cleanup. I do, however, object to the use of vulgar language and pictures of overexposed ladies in a publication that is so readily available to minor children and young adults of mixed sexes.
Evidently, you and Mr. Smith have some misguided impression that the First Amendment blesses the use of any form of oral or written expression. Well, I don't think it does if it is deemed offensive to the senses of the community's moral values, and is without redeeming value. Other publications using the same type of language and photographs have been forced into an "Adults Only" status, which, in theory, restricts their availability to minors. All that aside, and assuming your constitutional interpretation is allowed to stand, it does not say you have to use that kind of language to get across your point.
Minimally, I would say you are most likely guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor; and more than likely, a major portion of your female readership would have qualms about any male using that sort of language in their presence. Hey, I spent seven years in the Navy. I have an intimate knowledge of the words. But I swear to you, I never used them with my wife and children, or in any setting where women were present, because, being from the old school, I believe that every woman is a lady, until she proves otherwise, by her own words and actions. Vulgar words and vulgar people exist. The only way to change that is by example.
But getting to the heart of the article, which, aside from the vulgarity, was not badly written: It once again points out the truths of poverty, a lack of an education and a low sense of self-esteem, all of which are passed by osmosis from generation to generation. Nobody can deny it. Old neighborhoods with run-down homes and apartments attract low-salaried people, unemployed people, people living on state or federal pensions, mentally ill people, alcoholic people, drug-addicted people, strip joints, adult book stores, rednecks, and sensationalist journalists. Poverty begets poverty, and in turn lures otherwise law-abiding people into a life of crime, alcoholism and the use of drugs, because they see no hope for the future. God help the young children who are raised in this environment.
By publishing Mr. Crockett's and his neighbors' sad stories verbatim, and using the broad brush of Sunnyslope, you may have given the impression that all of Sunnyslope's citizens and all of Sunnyslope's neighborhoods were filled with yahoos who choose to pile junk cars in their yards and desecrate the American flag that I served, by flying it under the Johnny Reb flag. It simply is not so.
Please, before you do another story about this community, how about checking with our Councilman Phil Gordon, the city's Neighborhood Services Department, the Sunnyslope Village Alliance, Sunnyslope Village Revitalization Incorporated or New North Town Fight Back, a neighborhood association, and let us show you that we are not all alike, and actually, there is some concerted effort to make this community better. But it takes time, money and a change of moral/social values held by inhabitants.
I was very disturbed after reading your article "Night in the City"--especially the part about Sunnyslope. My husband Paul and I were born in Phoenix 67 years ago and have lived in Sunnyslope for 40 years. It is a great place to live.
We are very involved neighborhood activists and invite you to come see our neighborhood, which is between Seventh and 12th streets, from Northern to Dunlap. It is nice. It wasn't so nice when we started five years ago. We have an after-school program at Desert View School with 90 wonderful children, first- to sixth-graders who also live in Sunnyslope.
I know some of the leaders and people in the other neighborhoods you criticized, particularly Garfield. I resented your treatment of them also. I suggest you call our councilman, Phil Gordon, who is marvelous. He can tell you about all of these neighborhoods.
I have never heard about this strange person who apparently is the self-designated "Mayor of Sunnyslope." Given Phil Gordon's reputation, along with Neighborhood Services, I am sure they would be fascinated with his living arrangements as described by you.
Even in "Snotsdale"--I mean Scottsdale--there are some pockets of homes and areas that would probably not meet your standards. Up north of us in the Paradise Valley and Moon Valley areas, there is always the "Square." Now there's a nice place! My point is for you to try to think about some of the people, like Vicky Criswell who has done so much for her neighborhood on 35th Avenue and McDowell, or Tina Snyder in the Square. All of us work very hard, and it hurts to be lumped into one general pile of trash.
My husband Paul is 67 and in very poor health. He and I go out every morning and check for, and cover, any graffiti in our neighborhood immediately. We spend a lot of time getting money and donations for our kids' programs. We just won the Hon Kachina Award this year, so I don't think we can be too bad, and guess what? WE LIVE IN SUNNYSLOPE! Before you tar all of us with your brush of intolerance, please check your facts. In fact, open your eyes. I think you are getting your leg pulled by the bull****, the so-called or self-appointed Mayor of Sunnyslope. Perhaps it is time for a recall.
I just wanted to send a comment about the up-front, in-your-face article by Brian Smith: People, new arrivals or "zonies" in this state will never wake up to the problems (a.k.a. metropolitan shit) a city always has and always will have, and the way we react to them.
Critiquing the Critics
I attend several movies a week and generally enjoy them. I can usually find something positive about most movies, because I see them as a form of entertainment. I don't attend for political reasons, or the quality of zoom shots, or because of previous films of the director or actors. I do short reviews for my office newsletter. We are a large agency, and my reviews seem to appeal to most employees. I give a brief synopsis of the film, not giving away any of the plot to spoil the movie for another. People have different tastes, and what one may love, another may not.
Most of your critics don't seem to like movies, at least as merely a form of entertainment. They seem to dissect every film and compare them to every movie that came down the pike. The average moviegoer probably doesn't give a whit about these comparisons. They go to a movie they are attracted to, and they either like it or not. Your reviewers, in my opinion, need to loosen up and remember: It's only a movie! It's fantasy. For two hours, you sit in a darkened room and forget your problems. You will laugh, cry, cringe or scream, but in the end, you know it's just a movie.
After reading your review "Enemy of the State: Totaliterrible" (Andy Klein, December 3), I wondered if maybe I had seen a different film from that of the reviewer. I am a big fan of Gene Hackman and can tolerate Will Smith, both of whom I felt gave good performances. I thought this film was very entertaining. It was a great escape, which is why I go to the movies to begin with.
I suppose that if all I had to do was watch a film and then pick it apart piece by piece, I could have found numerous flaws in even the best of films. This film provided exactly what I look for in a good "government against the average Joe" thriller.
Maybe you should take yourself and the films you review a little less seriously. It might make for a more realistic review.
Name withheld by request
Bob Mehr's article "Life After Death" (December 3) was another excellent examination of the music and arts scene here in Arizona. Musicians, bands and acts don't just suddenly appear on the front pages, nor do they immediately cease appearing. Our hindsight adds clearer perspectives.
Living in Tucson at the time, I never really was aware of, or heard of, the Gin Blossoms until after Doug Hopkins' death. I have been intrigued since then. Perhaps that explains a subconscious reason for my own videographic endeavors (including "Rock Club Rising") documenting the scene the past four years. There is so much happening, yet no one is assembling any record of these people and the events. I encourage Doug's family to bring us as much as they feel comfortable about his unreleased works. We can all learn from the music he created. We can also learn about his apparent personal psychology that led him to believe he was alone in the world, unable to see his friends trying to help him.
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Sharon Anne Nichols
I wanted to thank Bob Mehr for the great article about Doug Hopkins. My guitar idol is Brian Blush, and when I heard that his idol was Doug, I rushed to find anything by Doug, only to learn that he was no longer with us. I did not have the chance to see Doug perform onstage, and the closest I get to hearing him play at all is from a dubbed copy of Dusted that will probably be eaten by my player any day now.
The article helped me to get to know my idol's idol, and also learn of his idols. Thank you.