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Letters From the Issue of Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Mexican Knowledge

Honky please!: I love your new "Ask a Mexican!" column. I've noticed that there are New Times readers who completely miss the point about the column. These well-meaning, liberal Anglo idiots seem to think the column's demeaning to Mexicans (for example, "Distant Relations," Stephen D. Saulka, Letters, June 15). Far from it — we love the points it's making.

The central one is that a lot of white people have the fucking dumbest ideas imaginable about Mexicans! It's no wonder that the not-so-well-meaning anti-immigrationists have been able to spread so many falsehoods about us; we've lived among Anglos for hundreds of years, but they haven't bothered to find out much at all about us. As the letters prove, even the Anglos who're on our side are so clueless that they think your column is playing a joke on us — when it's playing a joke on them!

I love it when your columnist puts dumb-as-dirt white people in their places. Hey, all you Minutemen types: If you're going to hate us, at least try not to come across as ignorant crackers in the process. To all you politically correct liberals out there (at least the ones who're writing to New Times): You don't get it!
Arturo Ruiz, Phoenix

Look homeward, Anglo: Regarding the letters to the editor from readers who're offended by your new "Ask a Mexican!" column, I don't think it's offensive to Mexicanos at all. In fact, it's a great way correct all you ignorant white people — finally!

The more ignorant your question, the more condescending the answer. I love it, love it, love it!

The letter-writers are insulted because by reading the column, they realize how stupid and racist they really are. The truth does hurt. Look, whiteys, stop asking us to go home! This is our home! We're here! Love us!
Cande of the Mexican Flavor, Peoria

House Warming

Beadle mania: It feels as though I've experienced more hot air from reading your "Haute Houses" article than has any homeowner you described (Robrt L. Pela, June 15). Your story shows a complete lack of understanding of the issues that you are trying to sensationalize.

My wife and I live in a Beadle project known as the Triad. It was built in 1964 as one part of the Case Study House Program and is still highly regarded today. Our unit features eight-foot-high sliding glass doors that stretch the entire 27-foot length of our living, dining and kitchen areas. Using your theory, with that large surface area of metal-framed glass, we should be screaming for mercy from the relentless heat of the desert sun.

Fortunately, your naive theory does not account for important variables like solar orientation and shading elements. These pieces of information were there in the interviews for your story if you had only chosen to ignore your obvious bias and listen objectively to some of the architects you interviewed.

Our unit faces due north and features a 10-foot overhang. These elements combine to eliminate any direct solar heat gain while providing plenty of natural daylight and a connection to the outdoor courtyard that makes our unit feel twice as large as it really is. Oh, and by the way, our electric bill in the summertime is rarely more than $100.

Another piece of your article that I find curious is your paranoid visions of Phoenix becoming a city of glass boxes. I am not quite sure what city you are seeing (perhaps you live in a place without windows to protect yourself from that evil sunlight), but the Phoenix in which I live is still a city where taco-deco (clay-tile-roofed builder homes) dominates the landscape. This is where the real problem lies.

Maybe you should take a moment to come out of the shadows and notice the home-construction boom happening in places like Verrado, Desert Ridge and Queen Creek. No attention is paid to the proper orientation of windows or shading elements in these new homes. Drive through any new subdivision and you'll see black-out screens and plantation shutters erected by the inhabitants to gain a little relief from the sun blazing through poorly placed, unprotected windows.

These houses are certainly less about this place than any of the modern houses you vilify.

Sure, there are some mediocre, if not poor, architects and designers doing work in our city. That doesn't mean that you should lump some truly innovative talents into the same category because they share a similar aesthetic. A wheelbarrow and a Porsche aren't the same just because they both have wheels.
David Grass, Adapt Architecture, Phoenix

Trend setters and trend followers: Applause to New Times for exposing the frivolity that passes for substance in our community's architectural culture. "Haute Houses" exposes what was once spoken only in subdued whispers among those "in the know."  

Architects like Eddie Jones have only been interested (the proof is in his buildings) in whatever trend of the moment will result in elevated status.

Haute houses are much akin to haute couture. However, unlike practitioners of haute couture — who at least have the honesty to admit that they are solely interested in setting trends — haute architects insist on dismissing and/or hiding their ignorance of context-sensitive building behind lofty pretensions. The result is trendy fluff.
Effie Bouras, Phoenix

Style over substance: Your feature story "Haute Houses" hit the nail on the head. These structures are impractical for a variety of space and privacy reasons. But in Phoenix's climate, they border on farcical.

The issues with these houses will only surface later when people see their utility bills, when they find out they do not need a barbecue grill to cook outside. All they need are the metal stairs.

What I'm saying is that good construction techniques have been sacrificed in the name of style.
Name withheld by request

The coolness factor: "Haute Houses" attempts to make the point that modern buildings containing a lot of glass and/or exterior metal surfaces are either impossible or extremely expensive to keep cool. Three buildings are offered as proof of this contention: the Sandra Day O'Connor Courthouse, the House of Earth and Light, and Leesa Stuck's home in Paradise Valley.

Having used these examples to set up the argument, the article then proceeds to lump together any and all modern buildings in the Phoenix area that feature glass and/or metal, including The Boardwalk.

The contention is that they run up high utility bills in the summer.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that each building is unique in its massing, materials and site orientation. Intelligent architectural design that considers all these factors results in buildings that are very livable.

For example, take the Loloma 5. We can vouch for Will Bruder's comments with direct, firsthand knowledge. Having lived there since July 2004, we can tell you that our electricity bill in the summer is only about $150 per month — the same as Will's unit.

Loloma 5 was designed and built according to principles of sustainable architecture, under Scottsdale's Green Building Program (see the Loloma 5's project profile under www.scottsdaleaz.gov/greenbuilding). We find the omission of this fact from your article to be quite dishonest, given its overall theme.

Rather than making such sweeping generalizations (including calling into question the motives, intelligence and sophistication of the developers, builders and consumers), the public would have been better served had you taken a more objective approach to your subject.
Adrian and Lisa De Leon, Scottsdale

Louver story: I work in the Burton Barr Central Library you mention, one of Will Bruder's creations. One photo caption refers to its "massive glass walls" and its "electronic cooling system."

Well, the photo you took is out the north window, the only place the sun does not hit, and that one isn't cooled electronically. It's the south-facing window-wall that has electronic louvers that were designed to move in synch with the sun to keep the building maximally shaded with minimal obstruction of view.

It should be noted that the "electronic shading system" on the south wall does not function. Sexy idea, lousy execution. The system was supposed to shift automatically, shading the south-facing windows from the broiling Arizona sun, but it doesn't. It no longer shifts at all; the machinery is unfixable. Apparently, for the brief time the louvers did shift, they were as likely to reflect light into the building as to shade it.

I could go on, but I like my job. Suffice it to say that Robrt L. Pela would be hard-pressed to find employees complimentary to the building. Every one of us has his or her complaints about boneheaded designs affecting our work and productivity.
Name withheld by request

More tile!: I thought a lot about your article, and you're completely right. I think you should lead a movement to tear down these glass-and-metal boxes and, in their place, erect some more planned subdivisions of redundant stucco box-tiled roof bullshit.

Because these stucco homes are so energy-efficient!

Let's tear down all of these silly, colorful, cutting-edge modern projects because they don't blend in properly like the beige stucco monsters and the Tuscan rip-offs. Let's stop the modern movement right away — before people start thinking diversity is acceptable.

I like Robrt Pela. He's funny, like a clown.
Joel Contreras, Tempe

Lambasting Lemons  

Criticism is the name of the game: Apparently, reader Greg Brownell's unclear on the function of a restaurant reviewer ("You Don't Know Our Copy Girl," Letters, June 15). He seems to think that it's unheard-of for a food critic to actually go to restaurants and tell readers whether they should bother to dine there or not.

To Brownell, this is the height of audacity to inform the public that a cafe sucks donkey dick. Brownell seems to think that when new places open up, they are off limits to restaurant reviewers. He thinks that it's a rule that the masses must go to these shithole grubeterias for several months before a critic is allowed in.

Quite the contrary, your eminence!

What Mr. Lemons is paid to do is pulverize such places; indeed, if I were his boss, I would fire him if he didn't run such places out of business. It's a public service to give new restaurants no more than a passing chance at serving decent food. Personally, I'm tempted to burn down places that charge an arm and a leg for lousy food and/or service. It's Lemons' duty to spare us.

Methinks, Lord Brownell, you protest too much! Did your brother's joint get slammed, or something? Or maybe a cafe you've got a stake in? Or, dear Brownell, maybe your own taste is severely lacking. Maybe you should just stick to the Burger King franchises you mention.

And you criticize Lemons for pomposity!? Look in the mirror!
George Mahoney, via the Internet


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