After reading Barry Graham's work during the past few months, I was not surprised at all to see him singing the praises of a no-talent literary thief like Kathy Acker ("The Fury of Kathy Acker," December 18). Only Graham, with his dysfunctional viewpoint on life and minimal writing talents, could find anything good in the trash spewed by that woman. Maybe Graham should take the time to read works by good writers, instead of the cadre of self-important has-been and never-was hacks he craves so desperately. Nothing is as boring as a mutual-admiration society, especially when the rest of the planet knows full well how full of bull the members really are.
I pick up New Times each week because it is softer and fluffier than most newspapers, and it is free. I seldom read it because it is so factually incorrect.
In the piece about Paradise Valley, the Flash (December 11) refers to a state statute about keeping executive sessions of public bodies confidential as obscure. This law is to protect the reputations of individuals from ignorant/hypocritical locally elected public officials.
The article goes on to refer to refusing to pay extortion to Scottsdale any longer as a blunder. Scottsdale had been extorting more than $3 million annually to transport PV sewage to a primarily federally funded regional sewer-treatment system. Parts of PV were tied into Scottsdale because of historical location--a history that goes back to PV suing Scottsdale to actually exist. PV as a "snooty" urban enclave was meant originally to abate Scottsdale's and Phoenix's hell-bent commitments to growth and total destruction of the pristine desert environment. It became attractive and exclusive because PV said no to uncontrolled and environmentally destructive growth. The desert environment is fragile, like the truth. It appears New Times respects neither, but at least it is biodegradable.
Regarding the recent blasting of Cajun House (Soundcheck, December 11), I offer the following: When I learned back in September that Todd Rundgren was making a stop here on his "With a Twist Tour," I contacted Cajun House. I spoke with Glen Parrish about our devotion to Rundgren and inquired about the possibility of coming in early to decorate the dressing room and bring food and gifts for the band.
I was overwhelmed by Parrish's sincere desire to accommodate us. I distinctly remember this response, "You can do anything but paint the place." When we arrived that afternoon, we were welcomed with open arms. Never once did we experience any attitude, much as we have in other cities when making a similar request. Everyone from the sound crew down to the wait staff was cordial and helpful. Keep in mind we aren't local dignitaries, celebrities or musicians--we were just trying to help some friends feel welcome in our town. Cajun House, and Glen Parrish in particular, was instrumental in making that happen for all of us.
Ann M. Sanders
Past Life Regression
Howard Stansfield's article about Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum ("History Lessens," December 4) presented both "sides" of the issues fairly and accurately. However, he missed important elements that contribute to the decades-long deterioration of the museum: the nonresponsiveness and absolute power of the board of directors.
No one can doubt the commitment, idealism or vision of the founders. The history details the painstaking efforts taken to ensure the historical accuracy and living-history aspects. Unfortunately, by the time the museum officially opened in 1969, only two of these visionaries were still living. Unfortunately, the bylaws they left behind seem to have doomed the museum to failure.
The Pioneer Foundation has no voting members. People who buy a membership in the museum have no voice. The board meetings are held privately and exclusively. New board members are solicited by the current board members, and the board reelects itself--for eternity, if it so chooses. If any staff member, volunteer, museum member or member of the public has a question about the income, debts, resources, policies or future of this public trust which is supposed to be educating our children, there is no channel by which to obtain an answer or to offer input.
A group of volunteers in the 1996-97 season spent most of the entire season attempting to persuade the board of directors to meet with its members. It had concerns about the staff turnover, the lack of support for the volunteer program, the visible deterioration of the museum and rumors regarding plans. The board finally allowed a small group of invited guests to meet with it after the museum had closed for the season. When the 1997-98 season began, hardly any volunteers were made aware of an orientation, and, as far as I know, none of the suggestions discussed at that June meeting was acted upon. The board should not be surprised at the lack of volunteers this season, given what little it has done to make any volunteer feel appreciated or welcome.
Diane Helms is a very generous, caring individual. She means well in her one-woman attempt to save Pioneer. However, she is misguided, and, sadly, there is no guidance to be given by anybody in authority. The current director has no background in museum curation or history.
The founders meticulously researched appropriate period tools, plantings, customs and methods. Surely, they are spinning in their graves. They had a vision, articulated in their Articles of Incorporation--to preserve the artifacts and buildings of Pioneer and to educate the public through the portrayal of accurate living history. This board has no apparent vision--certainly not the same one. It seems to feel that the "purists" (who have never complained about water fountains or Porta-johns, necessary for public health and safety) refuse to compromise. My opinion is that the board refuses not only to compromise but even to consider the opinions of others with the welfare of Pioneer museum at heart.
If the members of the board truly care about Pioneer and want to see it last into the next decade, let them prove it by having the courage to change their own self-perpetuating bylaws. Let them give museum members a vote. Let them become accountable to the members; let them explain to the members what their plans are; and let the museum members decide, through democratic principles (voting), what the future of Pioneer will be and who will lead it there. Let them give Arizona back its history.
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Patricia A. Cox
With Pun in Hand
That "kiss-off" line on John Dougherty's account of the Bank One Ballpark stadium ("Problems of Roofian Proportion," December 11) that stated, "Time will tell," could well have read: New Times will tell.