HOPE FOR THE 'SLOPE
See what happens when you listen to your parents?: I must admit that when I started reading your Sunnyslope story, I was in a state of disbelief ("Sunnyslopetopia," Robrt L. Pela, July 26). How could this sleazy neighborhood be the subject of what looked to be a highly positive cover story in New Times?
But then, I had to admit, I hadn't really spent much time in the neighborhood. A lifelong resident of the Phoenix area, I had been warned by my parents never to go to Sunnyslope, and I had probably only driven through it a time or two. To my parents, it was a den of iniquity, somewhere where you could score dope, see hookers all over the place, and maybe even get killed. It used to be one of the most crime-ridden areas in the city.
So, I read your story (mostly because I've been looking for an area where I could afford to buy a house), and then I drove up through Sunnyslope that afternoon. I see what you mean abut the vistas. It is beautiful in places, though still with some of the squalor you wrote about. Anyhow, thanks for turning me on to an emerging part of the city that I knew little or nothing about.
I hope I can afford to live there now that it's on the rise.
M.J. Riley, Phoenix
Down with anonymity and Pela: No matter if I'm at home or visiting another city, whenever I pick up a newspaper or magazine, I first read Letters to the Editor. They set the tone of the populace or, perhaps, just those who like to vent.
But under "Wack Attack" (July 19), of the eight letters submitted, only one letter-writer signed her name. The other seven were submitted by "Name Withheld by Request," which makes me wonder of what they're ashamed or hiding and why they use the cloak of anonymity.
If you have an opinion, say it and claim it as your own. Further, the readers were complaining that New Times columnist Stephen Lemons uses prejudicial words regarding the subjects of his writing, then proceed to use prejudicial words to attack him personally including about his weight, dietary habits, and personal grooming.
The lyric that comes to mind is: "Good authors now, who once used better words, now only use four-letter words."
Regarding your last Stage section, as a person who's been in theater for the past 60 years (professional and community), I really don't care to read any more of Robrt L. Pela's diatribes. His hatchet jobs, wherein he no doubt strives to be au courant and witty, become snide personal attacks and dismal. Dorothy Parker he's not, or even acid-wit John Simon.
The review of Footloose typifies this (Stage, July 19). As for "Xana-don't!" (also July 19), I, too, regret the staging of movie musicals on Broadway instead of new works waiting for their chance. However, to cast Xanadu into Pela's miasma is to denigrate its effect on those of us who have actually seen it. His comments about the show were written by listening to a recording of the production?
I, and many others, left that theater smiling, with the songs and some terrific one-liners still echoing in our brains. Robrt, you're a nice man. Stop trying so hard to be Robert Benchley and give us fair, honest opinions of shows you've seen.
Steve Schemmel, Phoenix
Calling all cowards: The one thing that set Betty Ruth Jones' letter apart from the others in your July 19 issue is that she signed her name. Most people would've been ashamed to sign their names to such racist drivel, but, apparently, Jones lacks the brain cells, much less the education, to understand that she endorsed Nazism in this country.
As for the letters from the others, they weren't much better. The authors had the good sense to write anonymously about their views, because any red-blooded American Latino would have taken serious issue with them. That is, if they were working side by side with any of us, we would've kicked their redneck asses in the parking lot after work.
But they knew this, and that's why they hid in the bushes like the pussies they are.
I have to wonder if Rusty Childress employs any Mexican-Americans or sells any of his shitty, little Kias to to us. How the hell could he hold his meetings, and include neo-Nazis like J.T. Ready if he does ("Rusty's World," The Bird, July 12)? Only because these Latinos don't read New Times, I guess.
But back to the letters. I loved the one labeled "You heard it right, Snuffy." Ha, that headline really put this idiot in his place. He, like the other letter-writers in this section, proved Stephen Lemons' point. They revealed themselves as the most hateful of racists. The "Snuffy" in the letter in question was such a stuck-up jerk that he made me sick to my stomach. He wrote, "If I were an illegal, I'd start packing up the old '81 Corolla for a road trip south. Real soon."
Sign your name, coward, and I may do just that (I need a vacation), but not before I drive over to your house in my new Ford Mustang convertible and bust you in the face.
Juan Marquez (U.S. citizen), Phoenix
Rednecks ruling the roost: Lord knows something must be done about the influx of illegal Mexican immigrants to our country. But to have the kind of people who wrote letters to the editor in your July 19 edition seemingly in charge of the situation is truly scary. It seems that these uneducated bigots are driving the agenda in this country like they have never before been able to do.
Back when such rhetoric was common during the civil rights movement of the '50s and '60s, such rednecks were marginalized. The federal government stepped in and ensured the rights of African Americans. Look, I know the situation is different today, in that illegal immigrants are the perceived enemy, but it's a shame that more rational heads aren't behind solving the problem.
I never thought I'd be saying this, but Senator Jon Kyl looks like a statesman on the immigration issue. The whole situation from Governor Janet Napolitano siding with State Representative Russell Pearce to the bigotry of these letter-writers in your paper is so sad.
Arlene Manning, address withheld by request
Dont buy the hype: What a great story by Ray Stern on the worthlessness of the great majority of identity-theft companies ("Money for Nothing," July 19)! Anybody who's even thinking of contracting with one of these firms needs to read this story first. I was considering plunking down my money (I thought I had to in order to keep my identity safe), and now I've reconsidered.
I didn't just read Stern's story and make my decision. I looked into the contentions Stern made, and I came away agreeing with the vast majority of them. Any of you out there who are buying into the hype that the ID-theft monster is about to eat you alive should check out the facts in the New Times story for yourself. Money is a terrible thing to waste.
Ted Parker, San Francisco
We give you journalism expert Rob Anderson: Ray Stern is absolutely clueless. He clearly has no idea about the concerns or effects of identity theft, as a whole. He's quick to point out some of the industry's perceived shortcomings but lacks the journalistic integrity and expertise to cover all sides fairly.
I guess that's par for the course for a paper that's more focused on selling advertising spots for massage parlors and hookers than it is for reporting accurate facts.
Rob Anderson, via the Internet
A most worthless industry: If the two stories Ray Stern has written about identity theft and ID-theft companies don't warn people off wasting their money on these "services," I don't know what will (the first story was "What Happened in Vegas," May 31).
Never have I read about an industry that is so worthless. But the truth is, nobody is forcing customers of firms like LifeLock to sign on. People are so lazy that it's unlikely many will take the trouble to ensure that their vital statistics and credit ratings are safe on their own. Enter LifeLock.
Also the basic American business principal that "a fool is born every minute" comes into play. Should LifeLock be forced out of business because it preys on the fools of the world? There's nothing illegal about dumb people throwing away their money, now is there? Scads of businesses would go under if there were a law against that.
Ann Gould, via the Internet
Cringe-worthy, indeed!: I followed your excellent article on ID theft in the July 19 issue. Long before your article, I cringed every time I heard or read about the LifeLock founder. I guess it always felt to me like what LifeLock offered was a rip-off, doing something customers could do on their own. LifeLock had a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal with a large photo of the founder. Keep up the good work.
Joseph Wermes, via the Internet
A spin doctor speaks: On behalf of LifeLock, I would like to provide for New Times readers some of the information that was given to the reporter in response to his questions, but not used or addressed in this story. We strongly believe that this information shows, in no uncertain terms, that LifeLock's protections do work to greatly reduce the chances of identity theft and that all but a small handful of LifeLock's 200,000-plus customers are satisfied with the service.
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According to a statistic reported in the original May 31 New Times story about LifeLock, an average of 3.7 percent of Americans were victims of identity theft, and FTC statistics show about 100 out of every 100,000 Americans have fallen victim. LifeLock is aware of only seven reported identity thefts among its well over 200,000 customers, or roughly .0003 percent. It's also just a fraction of a fraction of the national average reported in New Times on May 31. Seven is seven too many, but we believe this information pointed to a very important bottom line: LifeLock is effective in preventing identity theft.
LifeLock has six documented Better Business Bureau complaints in its history. While LifeLock also believes that six complaints are six too many, this is also a highly enviable record in the service industry where any growing company of LifeLock's size could easily generate hundreds of complaints without necessarily being tarnished. None of these complaints involved identity theft, all were addressed and all but two were resolved to the customer's satisfaction.
The average cancellation rate for LifeLock is 7 percent, again an enviable attrition rate for any service. None of the cancellations was the result of stolen identity.
Robbie Sherwood, Rose & Allyn Public Relations
Ray Stern responds: Who knows whether PR flack Robbie Sherwood's company statistics are true, given LifeLock's history of deception? Consider this: The company stated in a press release and news articles in late 2005 that it had 50,000 customers. But its sales literature claimed it had 22,000 customers in September 2006. LifeLock also told a survey company it had about 20,000 customers in December 2006. That's a cancellation rate of 60 percent, not 7 percent. LifeLock's response on Friday, July 27, via Sherwood's boss, Jason Rose, is that, well, the 50,000 number was just bullshit. Nothing but a brag. Rose claims the latest numbers are the trustworthy ones.