Death and the Maidens
Give 'em Hellen: While I do not harbor full confidence that, with their current musical output, the Sisters Duponte are peddling "the future of Phoenix death metal," kudos to the two young ladies for creating heavy music in a male-dominated genre, especially at such a young age. And kudos to New Times writer Niki D'Andrea for giving them some spotlight ("Twisted Sisters," November 30).
After listening to the songs on their MySpace page, it seems that though their band, Hellen, has the ability to produce guttural growls and roaring riffs, their music is more along the lines of nu-metal like Coal Chamber, Lacuna Coil, and Static X (influences they readily admit) than first-rate brutality in the vein of Death, Carcass, Pestilence.
Still, my sincere best wishes are extended and hopes encouraged that they abandon the nth generation mall angst routine and stick to drawing from their professed classical and opera loves, as well as the excellent crop of present-day technical/progressive death metal, in order to truly become the flag-bearers of Phoenix death, if that is even their own goal.
Finally, in regard to D'Andrea's assertion that "you can count the number of female singers who excel in the punishing death-grunt style on one hand," I beg to differ greatly. In the past decade alone, there have been numerous female vocalists who perform the traditional "Cookie Monster" style quite well. A sampling from the metal and hardcore scenes includes: Logan White (Undying), Marianne (Menelaus), Sara TYSB (This Time Tomorrow), Eva Genie (Gather), Ally French (Bloodlined Calligraphy), Candace Kucsulain (Walls of Jericho), Karyn Crisis (Crisis), the lovely Japanese gore grind gals of Flagitious Idiosyncrasy in the Dilapidation, and quite possibly the most in-your-face femme fatale in the game today, Zdenka Prado (Estuary).
Hopefully, the ranks of ladies in extreme music whether it be through starting a band/label/'zine, taking photos at shows or simply stage diving with everyone else will only continue to rise.
K. Nelson, Phoenix
Sister act: Great article on Mindy and Desiree Duponte. They are two very talented sisters, and I hope this article will open up some doors for a great music career for them. I hope to see the two of them here in Atlanta in the future.
Rosemary Thomas, Atlanta, Georgia
Breadwinners and circuses: Your article "Mountain Music: Bringing the Hoedown" by Brendan Joel Kelley (November 9) was awesome!
It's not often that someone from the press will go to listen to a bluegrass band (not like there's many places you can do that except The Loft in Tempe every Tuesday night) and have a clue about bluegrass music or the way it is performed.
Most music journalists think we're like the Beverly Hillbillies, complete with missing teeth and a family tree that goes straight up!
The Breadwinners are a professional band in every sense of the word, and Brendan picked up on that immediately. The only thing that Brendan hasn't seen is the crowds we've been having.
Candice Miracle, The Breadwinners, Glendale
Shock and awe: You guys used just about every funny clich possible in that Taser article in The Bird ("Tasered Talons," December 7). Well done!
After witnessing a friend get Tasered a few years ago, I also found it funny that the cop got porcupined during a training session. I only wish the thing had been attached to the gun so he could have gotten a full charge and seen how the other half lives.
Tasers really are terrible devices. The cops use them just so they don't have to get their hands dirty doing things the conventional way. That is, arguing with unruly suspects who aren't pointing weapons at them or being violent in any way. The tendency is for police to get trigger-happy with the devices and sometimes Taser people who merely talk back to an officer.
In the incident I mention, the cop objected to something my friend was doing, which was perfectly legal, though loud and obnoxious. My friend called the cop an asshole and told him to mind his own business, and then he gets Tasered! What the fuck happened to freedom of speech?! Neither the cop nor anybody else was in any danger.
From my standpoint, I just think Tasers make it easy for cops to abuse citizens, when before they might have just talked the whole thing out.
Tim Boyer, via the Internet
Lab dogs: Thank you so much for giving some clarity as to what Covance is ("Monkey Love," The Bird, Stephen Lemons, December 7). I am a member of Citizens Against Covance, and I believe this is one of the best articles I've read lately about Covance and its Big Brother tactics.
Thank you for getting the word out to the public. We need as many people as possible to be outraged by this greedy company.
However, you did not mention that Covance may be the largest breeder of dogs in the world, for sale to other labs for testing. If animal testing were stopped, or slowed down a bit, imagine how much money they'd lose on the sale of those dogs.
This company is so despicable that it has to lie to make itself look legitimate.
Amy Atherton, Phoenix
A new fan: I think The Bird did a really good job on the Covance article. I like his writing style. I haven't read New Times in a few years, but will pick it up now to see what he's got to say.
Amy Green, Queen Creek
We have met the enemy, and it is us: Great Covance article. As a resident of Chandler, I'm strongly opposed to Covance and its plans to build in Chandler. I could go into all the reasons why I'm against Covance, but I think you said it best with: "Covance is its own worst enemy."
Michelle Lukasiewicz, Chandler
Hip-hip, hooey: Oh, hooray for the brave heroism of The Bird in saving poor Jon [Basso's] Heart Attack Grill ("Nursing Big Burgers," November 30)! See, you smut journalists really do make a difference. Inspiring that you could single-handedly take on the legal forces of Maricopa County and emerge victorious!
Your cutthroat reporting of Arizona AG Terry Goddard is to be admired by all. Why don't you see if [Sheriff Joe Alzheimer's'] tent-makers can whip you up a cape and a 4XL shiny blue stretchy jumpsuit with a giant "H" on the front? Except that, for me, it would signify "Hooey" instead of "Hero," because that's what you're full of.
Name withheld by request
You bet your sweet Aztlán: Why do you allow this? "Aztlán: The mythical birthplace of the Aztecs. Chicanos use this term to describe the southwestern United States. Chicanos are idiots." I deeply resent being called an idiot simply for referring to my ancestral homeland as Aztlán ("Ask a Mexican," Gustavo Arellano, June 8). Moreover, Aztlán being the birthplace of the Mexican people (Aztecs) is not a myth, but a fact.
While the precise location of Aztlán has not yet been identified, many scholars and academics, not just Chicanos, concur that Aztlán was indeed located in what is known today as the American Southwest.
I worry about what type of impact this will have on the millions of Chicano children whose minds are still developing. Surely, calling Chicanos "idiots" simply for knowing where they came from could be harmful.
It's bad enough that Chicanos are often characterized as gang members, drug dealers, drug users and other criminal elements of society when, in fact, the overwhelming majority of Chicanos are productive, taxpaying members of society, not to mention consumers.
I respectfully request that this clause: "Chicanos are idiots" in your definition be removed and that an apology be written by Mr. Arellano.
Daniel Maldonado, via the Internet
Thoroughly modern Mill: In reference to "The Devil Went Down to Phoenix" (Megan Irwin, November 23), I grew up in Tempe in the '60s and '70s, then lived in Phoenix for a while before I hightailed it to Tucson, then later to North Carolina. When I visit my family (who still live in the area), I avoid downtown Tempe because I know it has changed a lot, and heck, you can't go home again. I remember it as a collection of funky old buildings housing fun stores like Cookies From Home, Changing Hands Bookstore, and Lotions & Potions.
I don't know what overtook me, but I took the plunge today. The Valley Art Theatre is still there, and so is Lotions & Potions, but it's a glitzy tourist gift shop now. The new buildings designed to look old are tired, and so many of the retail spaces are empty. And don't get me started on that ugly glass thing that sits on the side of the Town Lake. Some developer's idea of a la-la resort? Yeah, Muffy, let's forgo that trip to Cancun and stay on the banks of the Salt in beautiful Tempe next to the abandoned flour mill.
After my stroll down memory lane, I picked up your paper. Glad to see New Times is still kicking butt and wondering the same thing I am: Where is the sense of history?
Jamie Anderson, Durham, North Carolina
The happiest downtown on Earth: I read both of Megan Irwin's articles "The Devil Went Down to Phoenix" and "Phoenix Rising?" (November 30). Both were thoughtful, well-researched and well-written.
It's refreshing to read an article that isn't constantly whining about why we can't get it right and why we will never get it right. Your perspective of what can go wrong coupled with how it can be done right, while interviewing people who are trying to do it better, gives one hope.
But more important, it has the effect of calling forth the community to support new visionaries who want to make downtown Phoenix a unique integrated experience. We need to avoid solely the development of individual (large development) monoliths without connectivity, or worse, a "Disneyland" placebo in place of a real downtown.
Larry S. Lazarus, Phoenix
Embrace sprawl: In describing the struggle for our city's soul, we're urged to be who we are instead of wrecking and rebuilding. Which begs the question: Who are we? What identifies Phoenix? What makes us us?
At first glance, Phoenix is a jungle of cross streets and freeways. Here, far is near; we jet miles between stops without thinking. It's not ugly it's amazing! Visitors view Phoenix in shock and awe. It's a wonder to behold. Unconfined by more than 515 square miles of land, Phoenix is the world's most awesome urban sprawl.
But our sprawl has attitude Old West swagger and big-city sass.
Like an urban theme park with sections named for shopping centers, Phoenix has "hot spots" like the Biltmore serving as gateways. Every freeway exit is a new adventure!
Like an awkward teenager, have we been hiding our best feature? Is Phoenix defined by . . . sprawl? (There, I said it.) How can we embrace that within the context of the city center?
A world-class Copper Square would be a foyer to the city, a launch pad to the many attractions. Imagine tourists flocking to the "city of a thousand cities," buzzing to and from our malls, golf courses and recreation; imagine locals enjoying the culture of a rich urban nightlife; connected by the streets where it all started.
Phoenix is America's fifth-largest city, and downtown Phoenix must show her distinction as the wellspring of this desert oasis. My hope is that we can unite behind a positive vision of Phoenix that includes a vibrant downtown. After all, we've got everything else within a 20-minute drive.
Name withheld by request
Taking a dive: You paint a gloomy portrait of our skyline fallen prey to development. As a 20-year resident of the Valley, I share your concern. But the Palmcroft Apartments are not even in Copper Square!
Furthermore, if King's Crossing bar is historic architecture, then your standards are way too low. Yes, King's does have nostalgia, in a dive-bar kind of way, and dive bars will always be dear to our hearts but are they historic architecture? Let's not confuse the two.
One can still experience a dive-bar atmosphere at Monroe's, and Burn, Majerle's, and Sky Lounge are much better examples of small-scale architecture being preserved downtown.
I believe in preservation, too, but in light of recent eminent domain rulings, be sensible! Private property rights are one cornerstone of our freedoms, and this is somebody's land. The power to preserve is the power to condemn. How much power should the city have? Something to think about.
Mike Shipley, Phoenix
Culture clash: As someone who works full-time in the arts in this city, I find it so disappointing that you would print a letter stating that "Phoenix has no culture," regardless of the content of the article to which the letter writer was responding ("Culturally Challenged," Tracey Hunter, December 7). This girl invalidates my life in four words, and you give her a public voice?
Yes, the arts do struggle in this town, mostly because of their perennial underfunding. And it is true that the majority of the citizens of the Valley are largely indifferent to our existence. But it's just inaccurate, and stupid, to say that there's no culture here. Publishing such letters just champions and encourages her brand of ignorant cynicism. We have enough of that here already.
Gregory Falkenstein, Phoenix
Body by Liz
We love her for her mind: Just met Liz Cohen in person. I was blubber-mouthed practically, because I find her compelling in the way she was described in "Hard Body" by Megan Irwin (October 5). I am thrilled that I was able to compliment her accomplishments face-to-face, as I have thought of stopping by to commend her at her shop. Kudos for exposing such a sexy intellect.
Lydia Fourmy, Phoenix
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SHOW ME HOW
Run from the border: You are correct when you call ICE a disaster ("Meltdown," Ray Stern, November 16). It is reflective of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in general. Those of us in INS who moved to ICE always thought that an immigration disaster would be the DHS' first black eye, rather than the mishandling of Katrina by FEMA.
Wherever you stand on the issue of immigration reform, can you imagine the problems that will ensue when three separate immigration agencies try to implement the new laws and regulations? Especially when two of the agencies (Border Patrol and ICE) are largely run by former Customs officials who have no sincere interest in Immigration.
Unlike Lee Morgan, who I believe spent most of his INS/Customs career in Arizona, I spent my 34-year career in various locations throughout the United States. I found INS folks to be among the most dedicated and hardest-working people in the federal government, but they never were provided the resources and leadership that they deserved.
Thomas M. Baranick, via the Internet