Lights Out
Tony Ortega's refreshingly sober and objective investigation into the "Phoenix Lights" was in the best journalistic tradition--confronting the differences between what we would like to believe versus what the facts show ("The Hack and the Quack," March 5).
Unfortunately, the other Valley media are listening more to their marketing departments than to their ethical senses in their relentless drive to exploit this story.

Bob Dunn

Mean Streets
I read "Meet the Crusties" (David Holthouse, February 26) with great interest and was struck by the scornful, one-sided responses it drew (Letters, March 5). Far from glorifying their lifestyle, Holthouse offered what I felt was balanced reportage of their one-day-at-a-time freedom, as well as the discomfort and insecurity which is the price they pay for it. Sure, many of them use drugs and alcohol, but so do many productive people with jobs.

The crusties' real crime, what evokes the wrath of citizens, is their lack of interest in the American dream. That indifference holds a mirror up to the rest of us and calls into question the central assumption of our culture, that everyone wants a job, a home, a car, and the identity that goes with them. If they would just value what the rest of us work so hard for, we could forgive them. But they don't, and that makes some people very angry. Maybe these kids show us part of ourselves we're afraid to look at: the part that would like to be as free as pigeons in the park.

Max Martin

"Meet the Crusties" was perhaps the most haunting and well-written article I have ever read in New Times. If I had more money, I'd go on Mill and take as many as I could out for something other than beer and fries. Thanks for making people more aware and less quick to dismiss them. Thanks for making people see what's beyond their front door that they may not want to see.

Penny Sokody

This article is overwhelming. I am a flower child of the '70s, and this was a time of awareness, rebellion and radical change. Why have the children of today lost this view, the drive to change what is unacceptable, to believe any one person can make a difference? I have three sons (teenagers), one in college, and I will send the story to them to make known how lucky they are to be on the right path. Life is worth fighting for. These children have lost the inner fire, something that is stamped out by having and being given too much at an early age.

Sharon Tyree

I just wanted to tell New Times how engulfing David Holthouse's story was. It delved into a world only scratched on the surface by most people, including myself. One thing I kept thinking, though: The story almost seemed to glorify what these kids and adults were doing with their lives, as far as they all seemed perfectly content with their way of life. True? Not true? Great story, either way.

Cody D

I have just finished reading David Holthouse's article on Mill rats. I am completely stunned by what Holthouse experienced firsthand. However, I am not totally surprised.

I am a senior at Arizona State University studying urban planning. Last semester I wrote a paper on anti-homeless city ordinances. During that semester, I observed a number of things on Mill Avenue that I had been completely ignorant about. I observed what I believe was a dealer servicing a number of kids with heroin. I just sat there in my chair at Burger King and watched these kids file out of the rest room in a condition that appeared highly sedated. One kid in particular appeared to be dragging one foot in the grave. He could not have been older than 18.

Based on my less-than-thorough research, I was unable to draw any hopeful conclusion to this problem.

I applaud Holthouse for having the courage to immerse himself in this subculture, and compliment him on an article that I found stirring and highly provocative. My heart goes out to these kids, their families and the communities afflicted with this epidemic.

Joseph Whipple

I found the article on the Mill rats of Tempe painted an honest and nonbiased view of the lifestyle these people live. I do find it sad that these people live this way and don't seem to know how to find a way into a more productive lifestyle. My heart goes out to them because it appears that they are all struggling with internal issues but are choosing to run from them. Somehow, they have found a sense of community with each other. It appears that most of them don't really believe in themselves and their self-worth. I hope programs like Tumbleweed stick around and grow stronger with more support from our communities in the Phoenix area. I know I would love to see some of these kids get another chance to make a life off the streets. Looking down on them is not the right attitude, but they have to meet the assistance halfway and really want to make it work for them. Some of the kids, I believe, will use the services to make a better life, and some may just drift along from city to city. Hopefully, they will find peace and happiness no matter what.

Name withheld by request

It took me three days to finish reading David Holthouse's article on the Mill kids. At first I wanted to believe it was a novel (put it down, pick it up to read in spare time)--what great fiction. I mean, it was better than most novels I have read. This morning I finished reading and just sat here and cried.

I have a 20-year-old wandering "rat" also. She was always surrounded with family that loved her so and wanted to see her have a happy and productive life. She attached herself at a very young age to the most needy people she could find. She always said she felt sad and wanted to help them. She could pick out the girls in class who lived in a special neighborhood homes for abused, sexually abused or that just had no family. She would bring them to our home, feed them and want them to move in with us!

My daughter ended up dropping out of school, doing drugs and going from relative to friend to anyone who would let her stay at their home. She could have stayed with us, but she kept doing drugs, even though she has been through Charter and outpatient long-term care. She said she did drugs because it helps her with the sadness she feels in life. My heart aches for her, and every day I think of how beautiful she is--inside and out. She only calls me occasionally. She always tells me she loves me and misses me, and we cry together and I say please stay safe.

She says she has stopped doing drugs. She says she is going to have everything in life she needs and wants someday. She is now working in a gift shop. She is a true gift to me, and I love her very much. Thanks to David Holthouse for his article, even though it brought up a tremendous amount of pain. I asked my daughter to read the article so that maybe she will stay with the steps that it takes to keep her off the streets.

Name withheld by request


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