PUFFS 'N' STUFF
Quit now, Niki: I enjoyed your "Up in Smoke" article (Niki D'Andrea, July 19). I also enjoyed cigarettes, etc. many, many years ago. I don't mean to sound like Niki's mother (although I may be old enough), but smoking does really suck for your health. When she sees someone die from emphysema, her viewpoint could possibly change.
When I had first encountered a hookah lounge, it reminded me of some old '60s movie, except it was not jasmine, honey, or flavored tobacco they were interested in back then. The hookah atmosphere does have an ethereal feel to it, and if that's what people want, so be it. They aren't hurting anyone or breaking any "real" laws.
As for Niki's Arabic friend, she sounds like quite the liberated young woman. Good for her!
Carol D'Andrea (no relation to Niki), Tempe
Thanks for reading, but youre creepy: This will likely sound weird, but here goes nothing. First of all, I am a man. I read, with great interest, your smoking article. I also am a smoking enthusiast, even though I do not smoke. You see, I have a smoking fetish, which means that women who smoke, like Niki D'Andrea ("I was born with a pack of Camel Filters in one hand" and "I'd walk in to restaurants and ask to be seated in the chain-smoking section") are a huge turn-on.
The no-smoking law to which you referred was a great disappointment to me. Might you happen to know places around the Valley where I can go to watch women smoke?
Stu Rodriguez, via the Internet
OL' BOYS CLUB
Male members are tools: Country clubs! What kind of effete snob would belong to one in this day and time? I just don't get it. It's hard to believe that a bunch of cigar-chomping men would want to get together at the Phoenix Country Club's Men's Grill without any women around ("Men Behaving Badly," Sarah Fenske, July 19).
And when Logan and Barbara Van Sittert, two longtime members of the club, asked that women be allowed in this (arrgh!) rarefied chamber, you'd think the country club would suddenly realize it's the 21st century now and rescind its dumb policy. But no! Some of its male members instead called Barbara a "bitch" and a "whore" in graffiti on the golf course.
You read stories like this about country clubs in small towns in the South, but you'd think Phoenix's would have big-city standards nowadays. Well, wait a minute, Phoenix is the biggest small town in America, so why should I think it would be any different than, say, Selma, Alabama?
Carol Walker, Phoenix
Ditching the ball and chain: I just don't get it. Why would guys want to exclude women from a bar? The only reason I go to a bar is to see women. The last place I'd want to go is a place where I had to look at fat-assed old men all evening.
Oh, wait a minute, maybe it's because these dudes are forced to take their wives to the country club, and the last thing they want to do is sit around with the ball and chain when they're out and about? Now I get it.
Jack Woods, Phoenix
Keep fighting The Man: Go Barbara and Logan from Francine, Sam, and Chelsea. We all knew each other in the '60s and '70s, when John Hardaway and I belonged to the club. I tried to do this in the '70s and got my ass kicked out of the club. Keep fighting! I'm so sorry John isn't alive to see this.
Francine Hardaway, Phoenix
Rich bitches and hairy backs: Isn't it just perfect that the Men's Grill is so much nicer and well-equipped than the women's version at the Phoenix Country Club? Women have always been treated as second-class citizens at such places.
Yet I've got to admit that it's hard to feel sorry for rich bitches who'd even be members of a stupid country club, or be married to men who'd want to hang out in a bar at one with only their rich, balding, hairy-backed buds.
Jean Roberts, Phoenix
A man needs his space: Here we go with another woman pooh-poohing another "guys group." Anytime men have something exclusive to them and want to keep it that way, the ladies just can't wait to jump in and make them all seem like a bunch of immature, sexist cavemen.
Everywhere you go nowadays there are female-only clubs, groups, organizations. And I don't see the guys clamoring to get in. Even the gym I go to has a "women only" workout room, and you don't see me crying at the front desk because I'm not welcome in there.
Men need fraternity, and I don't see the harm in a little exclusivity. Like the author said, female reporters even go to the men's locker room now, for crying out loud! Is there anywhere men can go to be with men? Let the boys have their clubs. God knows the girls have got plenty of theirs.
Steve Stan, Mesa
Better than Bambi, right?: While I certainly don't agree with the tactics, I just don't get why men can't have a place of their own. I mean, has there ever been a guy at Curves Fitness? It states right on the front page of Curves Fitness' Web site: "Dedicated to women's fitness."
And how many female-only spas and gyms are there? If the women want a place to call their own, they have every right to open their own, and if it isn't as cool as the men's place, whose fault is that?
I am all for women's rights, but can't a guy just be a guy at a guy's place without having a two-drink minimum and a stripper pole in the middle? I would think women would rather us be at a country club than having us see Bambi shake her tits for a fistful of dollars.
Name withheld by request
Life without Lemons?: I noticed that you didn't publish The Bird in the current issue (July 19), which got me to wondering if you have finally fired blowhard Stephen Lemons. If so, it's high time!
The garbage he's been writing about Kia dealer/patriot Rusty Childress and his good friend [white supremacist] J.T. Ready, also a patriot, are repugnant ("Rusty's World," July 12). These two men are a credit to their race, which is more than I can say for Lemons. In fact, I doubt Lemons is really a part of the white race. He certainly doesn't act like he is. I say we send him to Mexico along with the spics he loves so dearly!
I see that many of the letter-writers in this current issue sure got Lemons' number, especially Betty Ruth Jones ("What's wrong with Nazis, anyhoo?")! Jones is right that Lemons is a racist against white people, somebody who hates the people who are trying to keep America pure. I hope never to be subjected to any of his bigoted rants again.
Bill Earl, Phoenix
Editors note: Unfortunately for you, Bill, Lemons will be back writing The Bird in a few weeks. He's working on a New Times cover story and continuing to post on his Feathered Bastard blog.
Lovin it, Kiwi-style: This is a really great article. It's great to read highlights of Stephenie Meyer's career ("Charmed," Megan Irwin, July 12). Living on the other side of the world, I haven't had the chance to meet her yet, but I love her books so much that I think there's still an indent in the chair at the book shop where I first started reading them. I cannot wait for Eclipse and will follow her loyally through any books thereafter.
Sophie Miller, Auckland, New Zealand
May we suggest some adult reading: This is a great article! I love seeing Stephenie Meyer in such a personal light. I just wanted to say that not all her fans are teenage girls. There are many who are nearly 30, like me, and older.
Twilight and New Moon are so captivating. Once you start reading them, you cannot put them down. They draw you in and make you feel like you're a part of the story. You can relate to the characters so easily. The way Stephenie describes things, you see a clear picture of everything going on. She's amazing!
Jennifer Blaser, Provo, Utah
See, Mormons aint so bad: Stephenie Meyer has changed my opinion of Mormons. I had always thought people of that faith too repressed to be brilliant writers. And the idea of a member of the Mormon Church writing vampire novels just knocked me for a loop!
I guess I'm saying that I was prepared to hate Meyer's work when a friend recommended one of her books to me, but once I was a few pages into it, I was hooked forever. Now I can't wait for the next one to come out.
It's true that Stephenie Meyer may be the next J.K. Rowling. For me, I like Stephenie's characters better than Rowling's.
Jenna Davis, Salt Lake City, Utah
Were all pulling for you: This was a wonderful article explaining so much about Stephenie Meyer and the Twilight series. I'm a huge fan of the series, and I would definitely say I'm actually more excited for the release of Eclipse than for the final Harry Potter book.
Stephenie inspires me as a writer and a fellow Latter Day Saint, and I hope that I can someday be as wonderful of a writer as she is.
Dawn Edelen, via the Internet
More big love Steph: Stephenie Meyer certainly is an amazing author, as well as an amazing person. I fell in love with her books about 15 pages into the first one, and I have to admit I've become a bit obsessed.
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I've had the pleasure of meeting her, and she is so nice; she acts like one of the girls. I've seen Stephenie in New York, gone to a satellite Eclipse prom in New Jersey, and, in September, I'm driving to Pennsylvania for an Eclipse book signing.
Name withheld by request
Enough already!: I'm a huge fan of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. I was introduced to the books by my best friend, who bought a copy for her 14-year-old niece, read it, and loved it. She knew I was a big fan of vampire fiction Bram Stoker to Laurell Hamilton so she recommended I check it out.
The series is great fun and so are the signings. My husband was kind enough to take me to the prom mentioned in your story, and it was only then that he was able to understand just how popular the books really are. Stephenie is quite an inspiration. Popularity aside, she has managed to become a published writer while maintaining her family life, faith, and sense of self. It has been a pleasure to meet her, and I can honestly say that I am happy to be one of her fans.
I'm in my mid-20s, and I know lots of girls in their 20s and 30s who love characters Edward Cullen and Bella Swan as much as any teen girl. Something about them really resonates to the readers, and we couldn't be happier that others see that, too. I look forward to the upcoming books and am excited for Eclipse later this summer. Thanks to New Times for showcasing such a great writer.
Name withheld by request