Letters From the Issue of Thursday, May 11, 2006

Heavy Meddle

Metal is as metal does: Kudos on your column ("Heavy Issues," Stiletto, Michele Laudig, April 27). It is simple-minded people in the local scene and even the national and international scenes that place a black mark on metal with their ignorant rants of what is deserved in their eyes.

To me, metal and the metal my bandmates and I create has always been about personal self-interests. If someone happens to dig it on the way, hell, yeah -- thanks for the support. If they have a need to be worshiped and constantly noticed, they should probably jump right over to the pop world, 'cause they are definitely in the wrong style.



Just a personal thanks for holding your ground; that is one thing metal has always shown me how to do.
Fran Scianna, Tempe

Media relations: As a metal-head myself, and a metal concert promoter in St. Paul/Minneapolis, my intent in writing is only to try to point out that not all in the metal community are jackasses. I can see you've locked horns with the ugly side of our genre. Sadly, there's way too many in our genre that lack in both intelligence and charity.

I hope that you haven't received too many nasty replies, but unfortunately, I suspect that you have. Marshall Beck does not seem to be the kind of person who knows how to properly develop a relationship with the local paper. This is not the way to do it. Try honey, not vinegar.
Name withheld by request

Name-dropper: Being in a metal-ish band, Toxic Knowledge, there is a bit of frustration out there about coverage of the heavy genres. Then I sit back and think about the huge following bands like Slayer have with virtually no airplay or mass media attention. (Well, aside from the suicide controversies and such.) Now, I do not know Rebirth, or their singer, but it sounds like they are using the old-school "no such thing as bad press" approach.

Anyway, as a member of a local heavy band, I thought I would drop a few names of locals I believe are some of the greatest live entertainment anywhere. My band Toxic Knowledge, of course. (Shameless self-promotion.) Our buddies Talk to Sheep. Crucio.

These bands range in styles between straight-up metal (TTS, some of our stuff, and Crucio) to heavily riffed stonerish grooves, and hard funk (my band). What sets the bands I mention apart is the absolute dedication to entertainment instead of talking shit. Another great band and scene supporter is Psychostick. Though somewhat of a humor-based band, they have the heavy feel I love. (Oh, and they bash every genre from metal to emo via spoof.)

So, while there is an abundance of hate out there, feel free to check around for those of us who are in it for the love, the music, and above all, to put on a high-energy, entertaining show.
James Ray, via the Internet

A legend in his own mind: When I first heard of Marshall Beck's short expository on your lack of attention to the local metal scene, I both laughed and extended a long-distance pat on the back.

I approved of his message because, even though I do not read New Times (and therefore had absolutely no clue whether he was being accurate), I praised his finger-wagging against what he perceived to be a slight of gigantic dimensions. I laughed because I enjoy heavy metal almost exclusively (except for some Journey, of course, can't do without that), and never before have I heard someone convinced of heavy metal's greatness wish it to be thrown into the caldron of popular music. Indeed, the death blow of a metal band is when it becomes popular, whether its sound actually changed or not.

To be honest, I have seen Rebirth live and can tell you that they do very little for me. In fact, just between you and me (as if I actually know you), I think Marshall Beck is the problem. He has a massive ax to grind against so many things. Had he only put it in the lyrics, it would not be a big deal (then we wouldn't actually know his message unless we really wanted to), but he goes into long speeches beginning with "this next song goes out to all those people . . ." hastening nothing more than eye-rolling from me and anyone smart enough to see that people aren't actually out to get them at every opportunity.

And lastly, I laughed because Beck's somewhat decent (if rough around the edges) prose could not hope to be matched by the people that I see going to metal shows. (For example, I had a shoe hit me in the face just a couple weeks ago, and anyone who cannot keep their shoe with laces on their foot isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, not to mention the idiot who got hit, what was he thinking? Oh, wait.)

The fact that someone actually called you the "c" word and then asked for you to be fair merely adds to the evidence.
Tristan Bigler, via the Internet

Friends in high places: Hah. You got poor (Rebirth) Marshall Beck crying to all of his beloved MySpace "friends." I love it! Your column is right on. I look forward to reading more of your reviews!
Todd Beck (no relation to Marshall), via the Internet

Rebirth redux: Your column made me laugh my ass off. Was that some feeble attempt to brush Rebirth, Arizona metal and myself by the wayside? You're going to need to do a lot more than that to silence this bad motherfucker. Thanks for the much-deserved publicity, it was about time.
Marshall Beck, Tempe

Conspiracy Theorists

On the offensive: When I read this article ("Goofball Shockumentary," The Bird, Robrt L. Pela, April 27), I had to wonder where this reporter was when the film was running. Did he fall asleep? Was he too busy watching coeds? Did someone else watch it for him? This was not some crackpot idea cooked up by three young men. They simply put together facts collected by researchers since 9/11, along with a theory as to what might have happened to flight 93 based on flight records and the fact that no bodies were found.

There is a growing number of Americans who question the validity of the oversimplified "official" version. I count myself among them. I worked in physics for the U.S. government for more than 10 years and I believe what I saw on 9/11 was a demolition.

Your reporter attacked an educator at Scottsdale Community College for doing what every good educator should do: Bring innovative ideas to the classroom. Encourage students to think. The last thing we need is another generation with members like the one who wrote "Goofball Shockumentary."

However, after looking at his four-letter vocabulary, I must say I think he was right about one thing: The scenario was too complex for him. You should consider trading that old crow in for an eagle.
Sarah Sanders, Phoenix

Film schooled: There are two movies that everyone should see. The first is United 93, and the other one is Loose Change. United 93 is now playing at theaters around the Valley. Loose Change is a DVD that can be purchased over the Internet.

Both movies are about September 11, 2001. They were not made by the same people. Those who prefer to hide their heads in the sand will not see either of these movies, and could very well suffer the same fates as those murdered on September 11, 2001. See these movies and pay attention to what is going on in the world around you before it is too late.
David Postgate, Sun City

Presenting its case: What The Bird neglects to mention in his pan of Loose Change is that more than 400 people attended the viewing at Harkins Shea 14 and only three or four people walked out. The rest watched the movie present its case.

The Bird also neglects to mention that a large portion of the evidence presented is taken from the major news outlets' reporting of the event within the first 24 hours, as well as photographs and video from other eyewitness sources.

The fact that they come to the conclusion that they do (the one that The Bird finds so laughable) is that, given the facts, and I stress facts, not the ad nauseam repetition of the official story, it is the most likely conclusion.
Mark Mansfield, Cave Creek

Park Swap

Preserve and protect Papago: Time to rethink Papago Park ("Cash Cabal," John Dougherty, April 27)? Thank you, Grady Gammage! First of all, Papago is not Balboa, Central or Lincoln Park. It is desert treasure in the middle of the metropolitan area.

Before retiring, I was responsible for the Tempe portion of Papago Park. Over a period of 30 years, I heard of many schemes to make Papago more of an asset. Interestingly, some ideas were the same as listed by Gammage. Fortunately, Tempe mayors and city councils didn't bite. I would hope that this mayor and city council would do likewise. Communication and coordination with the other cities involved would be advisable. Papago came to Tempe from the federal government with conditions. Public purposes and recreation don't include high-priced golf resorts for the privileged, or major event venues that will destroy the fragile desert.

Papago needs protection and preservation. Getting rid of the National Guard doesn't make sense. They have been good neighbors, and we don't need the additional expense of relocation added to the military budget.

Speaking of budget, I see no need to create another layer of government. The cities have the mechanism and staff to communicate and coordinate. I agree that we need to do something, but not develop any more commercial or high traffic venues.
Ron Pies, Tempe

Just Say No

See no evil: What works in Montana to deter our youth from using meth should also work in Arizona. But it won't ("Meth Madness," Sarah Fenske, April 27).

It won't work in Arizona because the people warning our youth about the evils of meth are the same people who used lies and gross exaggerations about the so-called evils of marijuana. Thus they have lost their credibility.

Credibility is the most important aspect of persuasion. Once it is gone, your ability to persuade is gone.

The biggest danger of anti-marijuana hype is that when children and others find out that they have been lied to about marijuana, they then make the logical assumption that all information about other drugs like meth are either gross exaggerations or outright lies.

This is a recipe for disaster.
Kirk Muse, Mesa

A mistake in priorities: I think you did a good job in covering many of the issues about the Montana Meth Prevention Project. I do think I may have miscommunicated a couple of points.

I did say that "reefer madness" approaches are thought to be counterproductive. To the extent that the Montana Meth Project promulgates inaccurate, scare-based information, I agree it is probably not going to be effective and may be counterproductive.

However, I have not studied the Montana Meth Project materials and, except for a piece on the national news, I haven't seen any of the materials.

From what I have learned, there was considerable target group input into the creation of some (or all?) of the materials, and this is very positive and important.

Until you told me about the data collection being done to evaluate the program, I didn't know there was an evaluation being done. This is an extremely important and positive aspect of this program. In many areas, media are used to present anti-drug messages with absolutely no evaluation. It is good to see that a quality evaluation is being done.

Clearly, it is too early to expect to see dramatic effects on meth use, but some data do appear to be tentatively positive.

After doing a bit of reading about the overall campaign in Montana, which includes community-based activities and cooperation across many stakeholders, I can see that this campaign is not a one-note "reefer madness" campaign. I still don't know the nature of all the media spots, and I think it is safe to say that media spots that use dramatic, high-quality production approaches are not necessarily "reefer madness" scare tactics, but may, in fact, be communicating in an MTV-like language, which may, in fact, be extremely effective with the target groups.

I spend most of my life going around the U.S. speaking on meth and its harmful impact on people and communities inside the U.S. and outside. One of my very strong messages is that we have done a horrible job of communicating to potential users about the dangers of meth. I think the Montana project is an extraordinary experiment in drug prevention. However, it is, at present, an experiment that has not been completed, and while the investment of private dollars in Montana is a laudable and praiseworthy effort, in my opinion, the initiative needs to show that it works before large amounts of taxpayer dollars should be invested to replicate it elsewhere.

Unfortunately, tax dollars spent in one area typically mean that they are taken from other areas. There are thousands of meth-addicted individuals in Arizona who need treatment today. If the money for an unproven prevention campaign is taken from funds that could go to effective treatment services, I think this is premature and a mistake in priorities.

I do think the project is one of the most important drug-prevention programs undertaken in the U.S. in recent memory. I do think it goes far beyond reefer madness (although some of the elements may have this flavor). I think the organizers should be praised for their concern over the severe meth problem in Montana, and I applaud their willingness to invest their own private money into this effort. I am very impressed with their evaluation effort, as this is the component that is critical for us to learn from this investment, and it is the part that is often neglected.
Richard A. Rawson, Los Angeles


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