Ring Down the Curtain
Robrt L. Pela's review of The Wedding Present ("Between a Frock and a Hard Place," January 22), a play by Marilyn H. Allen which has been four years in development at PlayWright's Theatre, gives us ample reason that life is so difficult for new playwrights. Pela is fast earning the nickname I have bestowed on him: "The Barracuda." He sneers at Allen's "movie-of-the-week treatment," implying that he is above such sentiments, being the great intellect that he is. If he is so brilliant, what is he doing writing reviews for New Times, which must earn him a pittance? Allen has persisted mightily in learning to write plays. I have seen several versions of The Wedding Present and was surprised each time with new improvements. Allen did this play with a different cast and director last spring, but wanted to bring it back with a different fix, thus earning a look-see from local critics.
I enjoyed this play. It was a pleasant, entertaining evening. Most of all, I was overjoyed that a new local playwright could rival writers of movie-of-the-week movies with entertaining dialogue and engaging plot lines. Much of the play I saw was topical and up to date in today's headlines. Hillary Rodham Clinton must be wondering just as hard why her famous husband does what he does. She would probably be as articulate as Allen's beleaguered wife of the cross-dresser politician. Perhaps the cross-dresser was a metaphor, which seems not to have occurred to our critic. We are all baffled at Clinton's behavior. So somebody is supposed to know why people cross-dress? Pela has no respect for anyone else's thinking and opinions if they should differ from his, and he is perfectly willing to insult and demean to get his point across. This is criticism we should respect and find intellectually stimulating? Pela found nothing to praise in Allen's writing. I vehemently disagree that this play had no merit. I would say he came with some big teeth to do the lady in.
The Winner's Tale
A belated congratulations to Paul Rubin on another great job of reporting ("Winner Takes All," January 15). I just happened to pick up New Times the same day the Herminia Rodriguez story was in the other papers and on TV, etc. It's probably safe to assume New Times broke the story first, as usual.
More important, Rubin's reporting was much better. It went further into depth of details and gave the casino side quite well rather than just making it out as the bad guy (as other papers did). As such, it allowed me to formulate a much better picture of the situation and decide for myself what the heck was going on.
A Badge Too Far
Tony Ortega's outstanding piece on Sheriff Joe Arpaio's latest jail imbroglio ("Hog-Tied by the Truth," January 15) should give thinking citizens pause for thought. Arpaio has been marketing himself for these past five years as the epitome of frugality, the veritable high priest of parsimony--all the while being the cause of millions of dollars in civil suits that will far exceed whatever scant savings result from tent jails, or pastel shades of foodstuffs or underwear.
Not since the dark days of Joe McCarthy or Huey Long has the public shown such a high level of acceptance for such a low level of aptitude. The frightening thing is not that Joe Arpaio ever had a serious chance at a successful bid for governor, but that the question of such a candidacy was ever broached to begin with. But stranger things have happened. Who would have ever thought that an obscure federal bureaucrat turned travel agent, turned merchant of interplanetary travel, would ever head a public agency having a nearly $100 million budget? Whoever, indeed.
Hopefully, the informal KPHO-TV survey regarding Arpaio's suitability for higher office marks the turning point in the public's perception of Joe as hero. After all, even Joe McCarthy eventually fell from public grace. Perhaps there's hope yet.
Lieutenant Kelley Waldrip (retired)
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Barry Graham was trying to express praise for Quentin Tarantino ("San Quentin," January 8). If I were the movie maestro, I'd take it as a slap in the face. What the hell is Graham thinking? Pulp Fiction lacks depth? Did he see the movie? Discussing giving up the "life" to walk the earth in search of inner peace doesn't strike him as deep? The problem, I think, is one of interpretation. Graham obviously doesn't realize that all the praise for the director's writing isn't for what he's saying, but rather how he is saying it. The dialogue is how Tarantino won his fans. When discussing his trip to Europe (in Pulp Fiction), Vincent tells of subtle differences. Jules asks at one point, "What do they call a Whopper?" and Vincent replies, "I don't know--I didn't go in the Burger King." In print, that isn't all that impressive. But that, coupled with the tepid topic they discuss while they're on their way to kill people in violent hails of gunfire, qualifies as imaginative, thoughtful, ironic, hilarious, original and, yes, deep.
Finally, a review I can keep from throwing into the trash. I really would like to see Jackie Brown now, thanks to Barry Graham's column "San Quentin."
Everybody knows that the world is full of stupid people ("Good Year for Bad Days," Michael Kiefer, January 15). Here are a few I'd like to mention: Ted Simons--Mr. Know-It-All isn't a big fan of clever because he's obviously not. I guess to qualify as "honest, artistic stuff," a band has to sound like every other dreary band in the land.
Mark Zubia--has this guy never listened to "Nada" or "Sin Nombre"? Saying that the Refreshments lack soul is like saying that Arizona lacks sunshine. Mercury Records--these fellas don't know how to react to original talent without the rock-star egos and attitude to go along with it. Don't they realize that people are tired of hearing depressing songs coming from the same tired-looking clones? So they don't want to comment on their efforts to promote The Bottle & Fresh Horses? Seems to me there was no effort at all.
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People who label the Refreshments' music as "quick, quirky pop tunes" just don't get it. These are four guys kicking out damn good rock 'n' roll, pure and simple. No message, no statement, no bull. They're on the adventure of a lifetime, and they've invited us along for the ride. Here's to life!
The Refreshments. Four lovable, middle-class guys playing in another crappy Tempe frat band. Who cares?