As an ex-homeless Grapevine vendor, I want to thank those people responsible for such papers on the streets today ("Median Income," Marc Ramirez, October 12). Lest we forget, a person who is homeless and surviving on the streets is still a human being--a fact that will be with all of us until death.
When I was given the opportunity to sell the Grapevine, I started to feel better about myself. I had a job that earned me some money. Even though I looked bad, people who bought the paper helped me to change and feel worthwhile. Most people I encountered were courteous and said "thank you" when they bought that newspaper. This, in turn, made me begin to feel I can make it. I can earn some money and get my self-respect back. It was the people I met who reached out to me in a time of my life when I was unable to help myself. For their kindness and generosity, I am eternally grateful.
Today I have a job, a place to live, food in my stomach, a shower and an actual bed to sleep on. I consider myself fortunate to have so much. Selling the Grapevine was a beginning in my journey back to society. I do not want to forget those who handed me money for the newspaper. Today I can say, "thank you."
If I ever become homeless again, I know that I can exist and have a chance to make it back by saying to cars stopped at intersections in the Valley: "Grapevine, get your Grapevine right here." Thanks, people of Phoenix.
Fife Support System
I'm concerned about what our governor and his family plan to do this Thanksgiving ("Collateral Damage," John Dougherty, October 12). He's broke, but I'd hate to think of him going hungry, too. I invite him to contact Nick's Cuisine of Southern Europe/Nick's on Central to participate in the tenth annual Feed the Hungry Thanksgiving Feast. More than 22,000 less fortunate Arizona citizens will enjoy a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings, thanks to donations and the efforts of 3,500 volunteers. I'm sure they'd be happy to drop off dinner at Fife's, if they can get past the guard gate at The Village.
Should I bother to express surprise at Peter Gilstrap's choice of subject matter (Screed, September 28)? I am surprised, however, that these beer-slamming, popcorn-grubbing and probably belching and farting good ol' boys belong to the staff at New Times. Oh, well. Did I expect enlightenment in the wrong place?
You don't have to be a "screechy, uptight feminist" to see that these guys are going to a place like Hooters to consume someone's sexuality the way they would consume a social drink. It's a product now, like everything else in America these days. Places like that will probably always exist because the base element in human nature always exists. But don't try to sell me this stuff as innocent and harmless fun!
Those bimbos who play up to these guys as if they were sultans are truly birds of a feather. They'll get what they've got coming to them when they've got one of those guys lounging on their couch every night for the next 20 years. All I can say is thank God we women have the ultimate power of natural selection! All you thinking women out there: For God's sake, consider carefully which men's genes you pass along to your children!
Vidi Vici Venue
David Holthouse doesn't want to hear, "Man, that place sucks," in reference to Electric Ballroom (Coda, October 5). "Not unless you can back it up," he adds. So, here goes.
I play in a band that has played in most of the major clubs in Tempe/Phoenix, including Electric Ballroom (more than once, even!), and I went to play there for the first time with an open mind, expecting to have a good show. I left that night at 1a.m. without getting paid a cent. In addition, various pieces of my equipment (guitars, amps) were enrobed in white, greasy cake frosting which the drunken Ballroom employees had been flinging around the stage to celebrate the birthday of another drunken employee (a deejay, I think). This latter character also added impromptu vocal improvisations over our music (much to our surprise and disgust), played air guitar and posed and mugged foolishly onstage during our set. When he was finished with these escapades, he joined our drummer on the riser, his gyrations toppling over several pieces of the drum set.
Is this the future the owners predict for their club? If they expect it to become "the Fillmore West of the Nineties," they should start by trying to actualize the professionalism they're now struggling to imitate. A big stage with a big, expensive curtain doesn't turn a show featuring five Pearl Jam imitators into a big show. A good reputation has to start with good shows. Most established Tempe bands don't play at Electric Ballroom. They are unaccustomed to the Ballroom's payment policy, and, consequently, like to play at other clubs where the rules are fair. Having to draw a minimum before getting paid works only in favor of the club. Most of the so-called "Mill Avenue"-type bands don't like to play there because they're used to getting paid at the end of the night. Certainly, it is sometimes less than desired, but at least it's something.
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Also, in clubs like Nita's Hideaway and Long Wong's, the employees are friendly. They make you feel at home. Most musicians I know don't want to be treated like you'd be treated in L.A. That's one of the reasons I live here, that it's not L.A. If I wanted to be treated like crap every place I played, I'd just head west on I10. Or play the Ballroom.
It's not just as a performer at the Ballroom that the unfriendly, downright rude behavior of Ballroom employees has left me cursing back. Take the "parking-lot gestapo" (try sitting in your parked car longer than 15 seconds) and delightful staff of bouncers (try using a door labeled "exit"). I have attended few shows at Electric Ballroom, but have experienced only what can be termed as "attitude" from virtually every person employed there every time I've been there. I suppose this repulsive element works to the advantage of the club, however, guaranteeing a low draw for the bands and consequently saving the club money it should be paying them.
Before David Seven and Jim Torgeson laugh themselves to death over New Times' Best of Phoenix pick of Nita's Hideaway as Best Rock 'n' Roll Club for Local Bands, and refer to aspects of the local scene not associated with them as "cute," they should try a friendlier approach with patrons and musicians alike. Instead of trying to laugh them off as trite, they should recognize that Nita's Hideaway and Long Wong's are models for the way things work in Tempe. If they want to be in L.A. so bad, why don't they just go back?
And take the vest with them!