Music Scene Stealers
In his Element: Great article! Element is the man! But I didn't realize I was shopping or "primping myself" for a major-label record deal until I read your story ("Quiet Riot," Jimmy Magahern, November 17).
I agree about people not paying attention to the locals in the AZ. That's what Z-Trip and I support and will always support. We need more articles like this, and for more people to check out the scene here. There's so much going on here, and a lot of national writers overlook this city. I think it's their loss!
It's a constant battle, but we need more writers like Jimmy Magahern out there, and we need more DJs like Element putting it down week after week, you know?
The overall DJ scene has declined a little the last few years; the scene seems to go through these cycles almost every decade. The last time I saw it decline like this was in '92, but then there was an underground explosion of hip-hop with groups like Leaders of the New School, Del, Wu-Tang, Souls of Mischief, and Gang Starr. Just from my experiences with the old-schoolers and talking to Flash, Bam, Premier, etc., they have noticed similar ups and downs. It's pretty fascinating.
To me, these are the best of times, when the limelight is off the scene! I really believe deep down from the traveling I've done that the best DJs, MCs, graf writers and b-boys live here in Phoenix. Thanks for the support!
DJ Radar, Phoenix
Editor's note: Read Brendan Joel Kelley's column on DJ Radar's exploits ("Radar Love," September 29).
A true artist: Lots of people think DJs aren't true musical artists, that you have to have a guitar in your hands to qualify as that. Your story on Element was refreshing in that it informed the public that DJs are consumed by what they do.
Although Element doesn't look like he's ever starved himself, I love his statement that he would "eat Cup o' Noodles for a month so [he] can have $500 worth of new records." (Only turntablists like Element are real artists in the DJ world!)
Mill Redus, Phoenix
For the Birds
Dissent stage: That story you ran in The Bird about Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain vs. President George W. Bush was telling. I've always thought that New Times was missing the boat by almost never mentioning national issues, even when they involve our band of senators and congressmen from Arizona. Your points on McCain's legislation to ban torture were completely on target ("Torturous Times," Robrt L. Pela, November 17).
It goes to show you how crazy the president is to cover himself on Iraq that he would oppose McCain on this. He's certainly very desperate, with his approval rating at an all-time low for a president! What Vice President Dick Cheney has been doing to further Bush's cause is almost unbelievable. Or it would be if it weren't Cheney doing the shilling. At least Cheney hasn't had the nerve to say that McCain is a traitor, like he's said about other congressional Vietnam vets who have opposed the administration.
Though very few people probably got them here in Phoenix (doubt very many people here saw the movie), I also loved your references to Team America. The only thing is, your headline should have been: "America, Fuck Yeah!" Because that's exactly what the Bush team is doing -- using lies and deception to justify the actions of this country, and then yelling that anybody who disagrees is a traitor.
Dubya is definitely the worst modern-day president we've had, and he may only be rivaled in history by Warren G. Harding.
Keep stories about the actions of our Washington delegation coming. McCain is a decent guy, but people like Senator Jon Kyl and Congressman J.D. Hayworth bear a close watch.
Cecilia Harnett, Phoenix
Supporting torture in the name of freedom: What the hell is this new feature, The Bird, all about?! I'd like to give New Times the bird after reading weeks of this. Every week, I've gotten so mad that I told everybody I knew not to ever read your hippie publication again! The latest one I read about the president's stance on torture is a real pile of shit.
Who cares if ragheads are tortured?! Even though I admire Senator John McCain immensely most of the time, he's got his head up his ass on this one. A lot of things have changed since he was a POW in Vietnam. These prisoners are from a culture that wants to stamp out ours. We need to deal with them as harshly as possible.
I doubt if many Americans are crying about the way the detainees have been treated by American forces, especially since you would have to be a fool to think our people would be treated even half as well if the circumstances were reversed. People don't think about that when they blindly support the views of somebody like McCain. They only think McCain must know what he's talking about because of his experiences.
Look, I know I may as well be pissing in the wind, because a paper that will publish, again in The Bird, an article blasting mothers for nursing in public ("Lactose Intolerants," November 10) obviously hasn't morality enough to agree with me about the need to torture people who hate us for our freedom.
Ed McBain, Phoenix
The cutthroat ambulance business: I love your new column, The Bird. The item on the firefighters union was interesting. I had no idea that things were so tense here in the ambulance business ("Shielding Billy," November 10). It really does sound like gangland Chicago or something. After reading The Bird, I went back and pored over your "Ambulance Chasers" article (Sarah Fenske, October 27) for the whole story on the battle between ambulance companies.
As for Billy Shields, he must have some really stupid union members in his organization if he expects them to believe he can back a non-union outfit over a union one and get away with it. If this were my union, I would organize a campaign to run him out on a rail. When union members are losing jobs because of your friends, that's when you part company with your friends.
I also enjoyed the funny item you published the next week on public breast-feeding moms. I know what you were saying was tongue-in-cheek, but some of your points were well taken all the same. That is, nobody wants to watch most of the mothers you see out and about feeding their babies in public. Is there any real reason that they have to do this? Anyway, that one made me laugh.
Steve Brody, Phoenix
Garden party: What does New Times have against Gilbert, anyhow? To say in The Bird that a homeowner should be allowed to plant a huge garden in his front yard, when neighbors are offended by his actions, is absurd. I'll bet the editors of your paper wouldn't like this if it happened in their neighborhoods! There's nothing "Stepford" about his neighbors' opposing this insanity!
For years, I've detected an anti-suburban bias in New Times. Words like "Stepford" are bandied about when it comes to places like Gilbert, Mesa and Chandler. You cool-in-your-own-minds people at New Times act as if these places are in the middle of nowhere, or that they are populated by a bunch of robots who insist on manicured lawns, cookie-cut subdivisions and a church on every corner.
Well, I, for one, never darken the door of a church.
We are no more like this than the average Phoenician. We are just hardworking people who like our communities orderly and clean. No cornstalks allowed in front yards! We don't need the crime and disgusting filth of, say, downtown Phoenix, which has to be one of the ugliest urban areas on Earth.
So cut us a break. Just because we don't enjoy some hippie letting his yard grow to high heaven doesn't mean we aren't intelligent, tasteful people. I dare say we are smarter than you inner-city folks because we had the good sense to raise our kids in decent communities.
Name withheld by request
Smoke gets in your eyes: Why the harsh criticism of the Smoke Free Arizona initiative ("Buttheaded Crusade," November 10) in The Bird?
Your point was ridiculous that passage of the initiative would turn us into stool pigeons, because we would turn in smokers for violating the law. Okay, maybe you're right in some cases. But who cares? Do smokers have the right to kill the rest of us because they insist on lighting up?!
I live in Tempe, and I think banning smoking in restaurants and bars was the best thing that ever happened to this city.
You know, the only thing my teenage son and his friends read is New Times (I think they're probably only looking at the girlie ads in the back), so don't you think it's wrong to come out in favor of smoking? It's one thing to be edgy; it's another to be irresponsible.
Name withheld by request
Somebody's watching me: Great article on the Smoke Free Arizona initiative. I couldn't agree more. First of all, I live in Tempe, and I find it crazy that I can't smoke in bars. Now, if I light up anywhere, I will get turned in to Big Brother. Where will it all end?
Tom Frank, Tempe
Inside job: You've been trying to bring down the sheriff for more than 10 years now, and you're now trying to do it in The Bird ("Talon of the Law," November 3). You frequently bash employees of the sheriff's office in your publication as well, calling deputies "Barney Fifes" and accusing detention officers of murder.
If corruption is so pervasive in the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, why haven't you had one of your investigative journalists hire on with the MCSO? You've had 10 years, after all! Can none of your staff pass the background check?! With an organization that's allegedly corrupt from top to bottom, it shouldn't be too hard to expose any corruption as an insider.
Name withheld by request
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"Blowing" it out of proportion: I'd never heard of Sheriff Joe Arpaio until recently when the incident with NASCAR driver Kurt Busch came up. Looking into it a bit, I noticed the reports that his blood-alcohol content was only .017. Would it be your opinion that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office blew this out of proportion to gain the momentary spotlight?
From what I've read about the sheriff online in your column, The Bird, I'd donate to the campaign of his opponent in the next election, and I've never even been to Arizona!
Ron Crouch, via the Internet
The real Robrt: I've been a fan of Robrt L. Pela's writing since he signed on with New Times. I find his theater reviews an excellent guide when selecting what I might want to see, and I loved his Speakeasy column. My question is, what have you done with the real Robrt Pela?
I was appalled when I read The Bird. I found it hard to believe that this vicious column was written by someone who has always, even when he was being critical, nevertheless been fair.
Barbara Cerepanya, Phoenix