Mondo Fido
On New Times' Comics page (November 14), Ernie Pook's Comeek showed how it is for lots of innocent dogs in animal shelters: They are given out to torture laboratories!
A horrible betrayal of the trust dogs have in us. They are experimented on in fraud "testing," so that someone can get rich. New Times showed it all. Many thanks!

Flavia Sayner

Flunking Civics
A quotation from Peter Gilstrap's column about the Phoenix City Council (Screed, November 14): "I'd love to have dramatic tales of our local government at work . . ." Yeah, me, too. Then New Times wouldn't have wasted so much space on a pointless article. So now we understand that the city council members have to deal with tedious agendas and they do it quickly. Can you blame them? Maybe Gilstrap likes to spend lots of time on minutiae and thinks everyone else should as well.

The worst part is the ominous, eerie feeling Gilstrap tries to lend to his article. The "chamber" is "a sacred spherical dwelling where the light is dim and the curtains are always drawn." Peter Gilstrap is a much better writer than this, or so I used to think. Or how about, "Phoenix utilizes a Council-Manager form of local government. As opposed to, say, a totalitarian regime based on terror and mind control." No, Peter. How about as opposed to a Mayoral form of government?

If this is what it takes to be a New Times writer, let me submit a sample of my writing now. "I walked into the New Times Building. An ominous hush loomed throughout, portending a chamber wherein people pretend to be serious journalists."

Kelly L. Armstrong

Taxing Dilemma
The article "DOR Jam" appears to represent the most callous manifestation of bureaucracy (Amy Silverman, November 7). But there may be a solution. I would think that in all of the Phoenix metro area, there's at least one tax lawyer who could take up Vivian Martin's case, pro bono. A review of past cases might just find an exception to the deadline. Of course, the state must guard against large numbers of taxpayers filing late, with no penalty. But surely it can understand individual circumstances of the kind experienced by Mrs. Martin.

Gregg Moxhay
via Internet

Weighing In
New Times' front-page article on triathlete Dave Alexander has struck a strident chord among many of our different community factions ("Heavy Competition," Amy Silverman, October 17). I guess New Times wanted to offend everybody it could in this issue. The list includes the Arizona Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the local adult running community, the local triathlon community, the local high school running community, the fitness centers and health clubs, the local bicycle clubs, the local swimming clubs and, of course, our society in general. Especially when it was just announced that there are more overweight people in the U.S. than average-weight people. New Times' article says simply that it is okay to be very overweight and still race a triathlon. What a crock!

This sensationalist article only fuels the idea that fat is acceptable in the U.S. Don't worry that more people die in this country from coronary artery disease than all other types of death put together. We are all looking forward to the next front page with a picture of a runner who smokes three packs of cigarettes a day and runs marathons every year.

Ed Duba
via Internet

It's Showtime!
As I was cruising around the 'Net, I remembered that I had planned to go to the movies later in the evening with some friends and had not checked the movie listings yet. Since I was already online, I thought I would browse the movie listings in the Phoenix area on the computer rather than sign off to use the phone, go buy a newspaper or attempt to find my copy of the week's New Times.

As an employee of the sometimes-biased largest newspaper in Arizona, my first reaction was to zip over to the highly touted AZ Central Web page. When I arrived there, I followed the links to finally end up in the movie/film section, where the banner stated "Reviews, Listings & More." But there were no movie listings/times, etc., only reviews galore. Needless to say, I was unimpressed.

Nearly discouraged, I remembered reading about New Times' Web page and Web address. Quickly escaping from that "other page," I surfed on over to newtimes.com and found exactly what I was looking for, just as if I were to look up the movies in your actual publication! The pages were well-designed, not too graphics-heavy, and contain all the information that I usually look forward to reading weekly in paper format!

I'd like to thank New Times for making my search quick and simple, and I expect to come back often for more than just movie listings! Good luck and keep up the great work to stay in the forefront of publishing (paper, Internet and beyond).

Name withheld
via Internet

Mind Games
I had been a "lifestyler" at Synanon in Santa Monica, California, during the late '60s/early '70s ("Children of Synanon," John Dougherty, October 10). My "job" was to be its "fire inspector," as I was just that in the Los Angeles City Fire Department. I went to all the Synanon facilities and worked closely with its safety and security people to keep the facilities in conformance with local regulations.

As New Times has correctly surmised, Synanon was not too trusting of government, so my role was doubly important as a "translator" and go-between with fire regulatory agencies. At that time, Synanon was a seemingly functional outfit and I was happy to see my services utilized to the safety of all concerned. Synanon was helpful to me as a person in many ways with its "games," which were generally maligned by outsiders.

For a group of people who were quite intelligent but at the edge of society norms, this was a fast and novel way to clear the air and instill thought before action. There was a certain amount of management brainwashing, but, all in all, it was recognized and at times challenged if you had the guts to "game" Charles Dederich and the staff. Games were great learning and interaction tools that became the linchpin of Synanon's success.

I left Synanon to go to Vietnam and never actively participated after that. It was getting too militant and paranoid for my taste. History showed that "power corrupts" and "absolute power corrupts absolutely!"

All in all, Synanon did a whale of a job in making dysfunctional people functional again, and I applaud its efforts to that end. New Times did a great job of reporting the highlights of its history and demise. Arrogance and disregard for the outside rules characterized its style and eventually did it in.

Steve Stevenson
via Internet


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