Letters From the Issue of Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pros and Neo-Cons

Shameless exploitation: I guess I wasn't surprised when neo-con author Ann Coulter was blasted for her views on the shameless exploitation of the 9/11 tragedy carried out by some of the relatives of those killed. Whenever you speak the un-PC truth in this country, the "thought police," as The Bird said, come out en masse and try to destroy you ("Monument Valley," August 3).

And the truth about the local memorial is: Either Arizona feels like it must jump on the bandwagon and have a 9/11 memorial just like other "big" cities (a penis-envy kind of thing) or it's all so politicians like Governor Janet Napolitano can get easy TV coverage during an election year.



The Bird's absolutely correct in his assessment that we need to stop whining about 9/11! Far more Iraqis plus Afghans have been killed now by our troops than died in the Twin Towers. We have exacted our revenge in spades!

Yes, 9/11 was a terrible assault on our country and its freedom, but we have a new tragedy (Hurricane Katrina) since then, with more tragedies to come very soon, I'm sure. We need to get past 9/11. We need to stop catering to the likes of Janet, who only wants to milk this for her own purposes.

There are indeed plenty of 9/11 memorials at places where there should be memorials. Why in Arizona?! We're about as far from the tragedy scene as it gets.

But, you know, it's typical of Arizona to come in with a memorial long after the trend has passed. For Christ's sake, there've been endless documentaries and a couple of movies made about the tragedy. There's even a TV show starring Denis Leary [Rescue Me]! Another monument in a far-removed place like Phoenix — after 9/11 has become a sad cliché — is ridiculous.
Conner Young, via the Internet

Sects and the city: It amazes me that something that's so obvious to fanatical Muslims halfway around the world has completely escaped the birdbrain of The Bird. Perhaps it's the intensive study that terrorists have made of the psyche of their targets, but New York City, besides being the financial capital of the United States, has so many residents that there's a connection between the City and virtually every state in the Union.

This is what made it such a large target and 9/11 such an effective maneuver.

I was born in New York City and have a very large family there. It was, therefore, almost inevitable that I would lose a close relative in a tragedy that included such a large number of people — and I did. I lost a first cousin, Vernon Richard, who was a lieutenant in the Fire Department of New York (he was made a captain posthumously). My very first instinct upon hearing of the tragedy on that infamous day was to go home. Never mind that I'd lived in Arizona for more than 20 years at that time.

Instead of making the effort to consider whether the 9/11 memorial will help grieving relatives of 9/11 victims here in Arizona, The Bird took the opportunity to slam Governor Napolitano and proceeded to bash her on other matters. I personally am insulted by the cavalier attitude toward us. We don't have the visibility of the "Jersey Girls," but The Bird took his potshots at us anyway.

Even more stupid was The Bird's ignorant attempt to compare 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina. We Phoenicians have helped Katrina victims. We clothed them, fed them, housed them and employed them. What can be done for people who are dead? Nothing, except, perhaps, erecting a memorial so they won't be forgotten.
Marian Richard-Calkins, Phoenix

Ann frank: Sophistication has gone off the deep end when your resident hipster starts quoting — favorably — slime-ball fascist Ann Coulter. The Bird explains that some art installation commemorating 9/11 must in actuality be a sop to political correctness. Oh, please!

Whatever you think of the "art" or the idea, it has as much to do with liberal PC as hating illegal aliens. Does the writer consider even for a brief moment which party has taken that pony for a ride in the last two election cycles? Remember "9/11 changed everything"? The Bird's memory is either conveniently pre-9/11 or juiced on the filler in Coulter's augmented mammaries.

Finally, since The Bird finds fascism so insightful, he should approvingly quote Coulter's charge of Bill Clinton as "gay," and gays in general as "fags."
Walter Hall, Phoenix

The nasty truth: In its wacky way, The Bird can always be counted on to speak the nasty truth. At first, I was angry at the tweeter when I read "Monument Valley," but once I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that the feathered one is right: It's time to stop moaning about 9/11 after five long years!

I guess I can't fault Arizona for jumping on the bandwagon and putting up a memorial to the World Trade Center tragedy (as The Bird pointed out, there's a memorial here for everything else under the sun), but why anybody would think this is special at this late date is beyond me. We've got to be about the last major city to do this.

The Bird's on the money that just as fitting a memorial would be to Hurricane Katrina victims, but Arizona's never going to put up a monument to poor black folks. Or, at least, it will be a cold day in July before that happens!
Paula Straub, Tucson

Attack piece: I'm flabbergasted at your writer's enormous ability to show himself as a weakling. I asked Stephen Lemons [The Bird's alter ego] if this was going to be an "attack article." He tried to dodge the question. He said, "It's not about the design."

He couldn't stand up to someone in person and say what his intentions were. He couldn't even say, "I plan to question the need for a memorial such as this." He just sort of whimpered away, like a sparrow with a broken wing.

Then he goes and writes an article that is so obviously an attack on the governor, and he decides to trash the memorial along the way, design included, simply to make Janet seem worse off.

The thing is, he never really sought the answer to why we would build a memorial here. He doesn't seem to understand the purpose of memorials, especially the purpose of this one. I guess because this article isn't really about the memorial — which seemed obvious to me.

If he had bothered to understand anything about this memorial, he should have attempted to understand that it's about learning from past mistakes so that we do not repeat them in the future. It's a way of marking the past in a profound manner to remind our citizens of these tragic events and the way communities across the state came together for relief efforts to New York City and Washington, D.C., as well as for each other here at home.

We memorialize this so that in the unfortunate occurrence of a repeat, we will be better prepared to stand up and contribute to help each other, to be stronger, and to understand the best of humanity during storms that demonstrate the worst of it.

And, apparently, your writer simply thinks the memorial will be a good place to defecate in public. What a strong man you are, Mr. Lemons.
Matthew Salenger, Phoenix

Editor's note: Need we point out that it was none of Matthew Salenger's business what type of commentary we planned about the Arizona 9/11 memorial and events surrounding it. We simply asked him for architectural renderings of a piece of public art; the memorial's being erected at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza across from the state Capitol. The Bird had already spoken at length to Salenger's colleague, prominent architect Eddie Jones, about matters Salenger's sore about.

We're partly responsible: I actually think Arizona's the perfect place for a 9/11 memorial, but not for the same reason that the governor has stated. My reason has to do with something The Bird alluded to — the very fact that some of the hijackers directly responsible for September 11 trained in Arizona.

Just like how Germany has all those memorials to the Jewish people it slaughtered during World War II, Arizona is right to erect a memorial to the dead whom one of its flight schools spawned by training at least one of the hijackers.

We owe it to the rest of the country to say we are truly sorry. The fact that so little screening was done on these men who turned out to be terrorists is horrible.
Mary Hansen, Phoenix

Ruffled feathers: Kudos to New Times for having the courage, once again, to speak the truth — no matter how many people it pisses off. The Bird couldn't be more right on the subject of 9/11 memorials. I, too, hate to agree with Ann Coulter on anything (I, also, am a lifelong Democrat), but on the subject of September 11, she is exactly right. Enough, already!
Name withheld by request

How dare we exercise our protected freedoms!: Once again, New Times shows its true colors. Your paper's always on the wrong side of right and wrong. Just as The Bird has his head up his ass concerning goddamned illegal immigrant criminals, he has his head up his ass concerning 9/11. This terrible tragedy must be avenged, and its victims memorialized everywhere.

I'm just happy that our state has finally gotten its act together with what appears to be a beautiful memorial. Thanks for providing those pictures, at least.

What The Bird said on the subject is close to treason. I'd like to see whoever wrote The Bird put on trial alongside Ann Coulter. How can they be allowed to write what they write in a country that protects their freedoms?
Name withheld by request

Or at least it rhymes with "witch": Ann Coulter's a fucking witch! Her views on the World Trade Center widows are reprehensible. I can't believe that New Times would condone what she said. Shame!
Name withheld by request

Poking and prodding: For the past two or three months, The Bird's column has only been in the paper off and on. For a minute, I thought you had offed him. Anyhow, I'm happy to see that he's back with a scathing review of the 9/11 memorial in Phoenix. I couldn't disagree with him more on the subject, but I'm glad The Bird and [fellow New Times columnist] John Dougherty are around poking politicians with sharp sticks. We're better off for it.
Joel Thompson, via the Internet

Crime Dogged

A killer story: New Times writer Paul Rubin's story on the two serial killers was truly terrifying ("Fear Factor," July 27). I felt as if I were reading a crime novel, but then I awoke quickly to the reality that the Baseline Killer could be outside my window, for all I knew.

In the part of town where I live, people are cowering in fear all the time. Other women I know are afraid to go to the corner convenience store alone at night. Every time I see somebody who looks something like the sketch you ran of the Baseline Killer, my heart starts to race. And there are so many people who resemble that sketch in south Phoenix!

The scariest part of Rubin's story was where Pete, the man with the catering business, runs back inside his place, locks the door and then sees the door handle turn a couple of times. This after seeing the Baseline Killer shoot poor Tina Washington to death on the street outside his back door. Too bad Pete didn't get a good look at the piece of crap.

My heart goes out to all the victims of these cold-blooded killers. I saw Phoenix homicide Detective Alex Femenia on TV, along with Paul Rubin. They were talking about the cases, and Femenia said how the Baseline Killer is a coward to kill the kind of defenseless women he's killed. Maybe that insult will scare the murderer out into the open, but I doubt it.

Meanwhile, I'm doing all I can to make sure I don't become one of his victims, which includes carrying a handgun in my purse at all times. Heaven help any skinny guy with a mustache who threatens me on the street!
Name withheld by request

Editor's note: Phoenix police have made two arrests in the Serial Shooter cases.

Police announced that they arrested Dale Hausner, 33, a freelance boxing photographer who was working as a janitor at Sky Harbor Airport, and Samuel J. Dieteman, 30, an unemployed electrician. The two men were roommates.

Still, no one has been arrested in the Baseline Killer cases.

Murder mystery: Thank God, somebody finally put all the information on the two serial killers in context! Now I can tell them apart. The hit-and-miss coverage in the [daily] press has been very confusing.

Also, I enjoyed (more like, was captivated by) the rest of Paul Rubin's nail-biter of an article on how the first Phoenix victim of the Baseline Killer met her sad, tragic death. Terrific writing, as usual, by the master New Times crime reporter.
R.J. Southern, Phoenix

Prize-worthy: I've been reading New Times ever since we moved to Arizona about 14 years ago, and I have always enjoyed Paul Rubin's writing. However, his recent articles on crimes in the area have been masterpieces (also see the "Murder City" series). As far as I am concerned, they are good enough to be considered for a Pulitzer Prize.
Jerry Feldner, Tempe

Correction: The attribution on a quote from Tempe police Sergeant Dan Masters that he didn't know anymore whether a murder suspect was telling the truth disappeared from the "Fear Factor" cover story because of an editing error. It should have read that the quote first appeared in the Arizona Republic.

Artistic Integrity

If we have to ask . . . : I am the artist featured in "Bait and Switch" (Wynter Holden, July 20). When the author visited my show, I was present and more than happy to answer any of her questions. She had none, which I thought odd at the time. If the author did not understand one or more pieces and how they fit into the overall puzzle, I could have possibly cleared that up, given the chance.

Art criticism is as powerful a medium as art itself. It can do damage when in the hands of the inexperienced. The author's opinion should have been supported by knowledge and analysis of art history, yet there is no critical reinforcement of her statements. Ignorance, or (at best) sheepishness, has led to a shoddy review.

When artists make themselves eagerly available to answer questions, why not ask?
Allison Wear, Phoenix

Schoolhouse Rocked

Middle management: I've followed with interest your coverage of the Pappas Schools ("Flunk'd," Sarah Fenske, June 29). I was a math teacher for two years at the Pappas Middle School in Phoenix. I was expected to teach math skills to classes with 45 to 50 students crammed into a room designed for 20.

These children don't get an education, but County Superintendent of Schools Sandra Dowling got publicity. The middle school is a dreary place never featured on media tours.
Judith Labrozzi, Ajijic, Mexico

Identifying the problem: Lest anybody miss the point, the problem with the Pappas Schools is: Sandra Dowling.

She is a true Arizona character. Somebody who, because she has bigger balls than Sheriff Joke, is allowed to run roughshod over defenseless children. She is the one who has put Pappas in jeopardy.

Sure, the schools have problems that are inherent in trying to educate the (because of their dire circumstances) largely uneducable. But the problems could be overcome if a crazy person weren't in charge.

Dowling would be ridden out on a rail in a civilized state. Here, because expectations are low, she thrives. That and the fact that the county Board of Supervisors is scared of her. Don't close Pappas, for heaven's sake! Reform its governing body.
Talia Morgan, Phoenix


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