Letters From the Issue of Thursday, May 18, 2006
Surely We Jest
The Wrigley Mansion Does Not Cook Dogs! A recent extensive article appeared in New Times asserting that the Wrigley Mansion hosted an event that served up "unconventional" cuisine such as dog, cat, penguin and other exotic meats ("Xtreme Cuisine," Stephen Lemons, May 11).
Although the article was intended to be a spoof, the Wrigley Mansion has been receiving hundreds of angry phone calls and e-mails from people around the country who believe the story to be true. One of the phone messages was from a person who promises to burn down the Wrigley Mansion this evening [May 15], and another has threatened the lives of our staff. We also received a phone call from the director of the Humane Society of America in Washington, D.C., who said that she has been receiving hundreds of phone calls as well.
In response to this, the New Times publisher claims that the article was written to prove to its readers that they should not [always] take what they read to be true. In publishing this totally irresponsible and selfish article, New Times has jeopardized the safety of my staff, and the safety of the Mansion, not to mention the financial loss of revenue from potential canceled reservations and events.
The Wrigley Mansion [would never] condone anything like this to take place within our facility.
Jill Hawkins, Wrigley Mansion
Editor's note: Of course the Wrigley Mansion doesn't cook dogs! And (for those of you who got to the end of the story, which became more and more ridiculous as it went along) Mayor Phil Gordon and Senator Jon Kyl didn't really pig out on human flesh, either. And news anchor Lin Sue Cooney's never even met Chef Kaz Yamamoto. "Xtreme Cuisine" is a satirical account of this faux Japanese chef's penchant for serving up exotic, sometimes endangered, animals to ritzy clientele. It was one in a long line of New Times parodies. The last was about taxidermied human beings ("Forever Yours," October 28, 2004). The article claimed that space in the huge mansion was rented by our fictional chef for a party there. The main course this comical chef supposedly served was Bichon Frise. Cook us up and serve us for dinner, but we thought this cute breed of canine had an edible-sounding name. We mean, we bet Great Dane would be mighty damn tough! As for our fake chef serving cat, come on! You'd have to eat a litter of 'em to get full. The article was reminiscent of fare from The Onion, Mad Magazine or National Lampoon; parody is a form of social commentary that dates back at least to Jonathan Swift. So don't go burning down the Wrigley, please! It's a great place where we recently hosted a party for Arizona Press Club Journalist of the Year Paul Rubin of our staff. What we were trying to do was poke fun at animal-rights wackos who'd send their turtles to MIT if not for the institute's acceptance policy. Also, it was to poke fun at a movement in the restaurant business around the world to serve up the most bizarre of cuisines. In Japan, they eat gold and poisonous fish, for Buddha's sake! Right here in Phoenix, you can buy leg of lion (no kidding, this time). Need we go on? Well, we plan to. In next week's installment of The Bird, we will further explore reaction to chef character Kaz Yamamoto's wacky world of penguin hunting and fricasseed pooch.
Cleaning Up the Mess
Joe Harvard: That Andy Thomas is all over the place with his extremist bullshit. Now he's throwing the book at teenage taggers! What a manly man ("Tag, You're It," The Bird," May 11)! What a waste of taxpayer money!
It's bad enough that Phoenix has had to put up with an imbecile like Sheriff Joe Arpaio; now it's got the Harvard-educated version of Joe.
Shouldn't [the County Attorney] be too busy with murderers and rapists in Maricopa County to go after taggers writing on a Catholic high school? Shouldn't these kids just be made to clean up what they did, slapped upside the head and allowed to move on with their young lives?
It may not seem like it, but a lot of people are fed up with certain right-wing fools in law enforcement! They do nothing but embarrass us, and more to the point, their publicity-seeking antics do nothing to solve the crime problem.
As The Bird pointed out, the real graffiti artists are laughing at these kids, and at the cops. Because the likes of Thomas' investigators will never be smart enough to catch real taggers. All they can do is bust a few little kids.
Now, taking a cue from his boyfriend Andy Thomas, crazy old Joe is patrolling the desert for illegal aliens. What a fucking waste of time! Arpaio is too senile and evil to be ashamed of himself, but Thomas is supposed to be an intelligent fellow. He should clean up his act.
John Elias, via the Internet
Devils May Care A call for justice: Kudos to John Dougherty for the article "Fire HIM!" (May 4). It was a long-awaited exposé, and a severely overdue call for justice!
Coach Dirk Koetter should be charged as an accomplice in the murder of Brandon Rashad Falkner. The coach, without remorse, made a gluttonous decision to obstruct justice by not reporting Loren Wade's criminal behavior to the authorities. Koetter's self-serving inaction took Brandon's life and endangered the lives of the women who feared the unstable Wade.
How Koetter, ASU President Michael Crow, athletic director Lisa Love and the other ASU administrative gang members sleep at night, I'll never know.
Had Brandon Falkner been the child of one of Arizona's white affluent residents, Koetter would be Wade's bunk buddy in jail. After all, race and socioeconomic posturing is really what this situation is all about. Speaking of which, the thought that ASU will most likely spend tax and tuition contributions for Koetter's court fees against Falkner's father, an ASU employee, sickens me.
Before John Dougherty's article, Brandon's death had been trivialized in the media as that of just another ex-player, ex-ASU student and victim of "black on black" crime over a white girl.
Well, that is not how it was!
Haley van Blommestein (Wade's girlfriend) had been a friend of Brandon's and the Falkner family for years. She met brothers Brandon and Jelani Falkner when they were undergrad athletes at ASU many years ago. They were just friends.
Brandon had returned only months earlier from Germany where he played football for the Schwaebisch Hall Unicorns. With the team and on his own time, Brandon had traveled all over Europe and was thrilled with all of the sights, sounds and cultural adventures he had experienced. He returned to Phoenix more mature, well versed about things European and super seasoned by a great energy and a new depth.
Haley hadn't seen Brandon since his return to the Valley. Who knew the brief reunion would be deadly?
Had you met him, you would have known Brandon to be physically beautiful, sincere, charming, personable, articulate, polite and intelligent. He had a smile that was so bright, warm and inviting.
Was Wade jealous? Yes! Unstable? Without question!
When Brandon was killed, words were not "exchanged" as has been repeatedly reported. Why do the media get this wrong? They have only to interview any one of the young men who were in the car with Brandon that night. Wade walked up to Brandon, hit him in the head with the gun and then shot him.
When Brandon was slain, I insisted on speaking with Coach Koetter. He told me repeatedly during phone conversations that he was "sorry." Koetter said there was no way anyone could predict another's actions. He phoned a few times, gave me his numbers and had his representatives call to tell me what they were trying to do (at the time) to help Brandon's family.
ASU didn't want to publicly assist because this might look like an admission of guilt. Then, news reports revealed that Koetter had indeed known about Wade's proclivities. I never heard from Koetter or his office again.
When I spoke at Brandon's funeral, I noticed Koetter was not in attendance.
When the coach was rewarded for his bad behavior with a raise and a new contract, I felt really helpless and began to wonder, when, if ever, do the bad guys stop profiting? When I saw the New Times article, I felt it necessary to write this letter. The truth of the matter is, instead of being fired, Koetter should just resign. It would be his first right move in all of this mess, unless he knows how to return to B. Lee Falkner his son and Jelani Falkner his only brother.
Congratulations to John Dougherty. Thank God someone is telling it like it is!
Jamise Liddell, Brandon Falkner's cousin
The truth hurts: I just read your article on Sun Devils football coach Dirk Koetter, and you hit the nail on the head about the real problems with Arizona State University athletics.
I have been a supporter of ASU football for more than 40 years, but this year I dropped my loge tickets that I've had on the 50-yard line after seeing the way the program is going.
In addition, the price of my four loge tickets this year was raised to $2,200, and for a nothing team.
You're right that Koetter's record does not merit any salary increase. Your article was great; it's nice to hear the truth about what's going on with ASU football. I hope somebody in charge reads it and wakes up.
Athletic director Lisa Love and Koetter should go!
Howard Covey, Phoenix
Devils' advocate: Maybe you should stick to covering the arts at New Times because you obviously don't know a great deal about how athletic teams work.
First off, I have to say I did like ASU basketball coach Rob Evans, but he didn't produce the results that the school wanted.
I'm not saying I like Dirk Koetter a whole lot, but to basically blame him for what Loren Wade did is wrong. Let's say Koetter reported him: Chances are Wade would have been kicked off the team and/or suspended. Everyone says this guy is on the angry side, so taking that kind of drastic action might have resulted in more than the one death.
You must also realize that Dirk Koetter has more players on one season's roster than Rob Evans had in his entire tenure at ASU. Koetter can't be expected to keep close watch over all of them.
I am not defending the actions of the players you mention in this story -- I do think they should be more accountable for their actions -- but this is college, and to expect them to be perfect is a little unfair.
If ASU has another poor year in football, I can guarantee Koetter will be replaced. But he took the team to a successful bowl game, even if it was only the Insight Bowl.
Steve Compton, Glendale
Glad it will serve another purpose: It seems like it had all been said, but not in one place, comprehensively. For that, this article on Dirk Koetter was needed. But then you used the public records so effectively that the legitimacy of a vague sentiment among fans skyrocketed. It solidified this issue as central to the direction of our public universities and to Arizona's highest-paid public employee [Koetter].
Well done. I have a "Cut Koetter" tee shirt, and now I will take your article to the games and hand it to anyone who questions that statement.
Josh Waltman, Goodyear
Better late than never: I would consider myself one of Coach Dirk Koetter's biggest critics. I don't appreciate the lack of defense he's brought to the program, his lackluster personality or (of course) the problems off the field he's dealt with.
Did I feel they should've fired him last year? Absolutely! After the Stanford game, to be more specific.
What confuses me about your article is, we're five months after his extension was announced. What is the point of running an article titled "Fire HIM!" when you know good and well it's not going to happen?
I understand your valid points in the article, although I don't know that the head coach should be held accountable for players' conduct off the field 100 percent of the time.
If this article had surfaced in November of last year, I would've been frothing at the mouth with excitement. All this article will do is fuel the fire of frustrated fans who already don't like Koetter.
When I was sitting in my seats at the Insight Bowl last year, some fans repeatedly made fun of Koetter. Look, I'm not thrilled with the guy either, but I'm also a lifelong Arizona State athletics supporter and will continue to be. So does this article have a positive impact on the football team? Probably no more than a player hearing a fan heckle the coach.
Michael Adams, Tempe
The "wow" factor: I just read your story on Dirk Koetter, and all I have to say is WOW! Great article!
James Lambert, Tempe
Critical thinking: First off, I am not the type to criticize anything that doesn't warrant it. With that said, I think your article on Dirk Koetter warrants all the negative reaction possible.
For you to criticize Coach Koetter for giving a troubled football player a second chance is crazy.
Loren Wade was a troubled student who was given the chance to go to counseling but saw fit not to. Ordering counseling for him was unsuccessful. If you are so concerned about ASU spending money, why would you want the university to waste funds on more counseling for him?
I'm surprised that, based on all the research you did on the football and basketball teams, you didn't accurately portray Rob Evans. Some players left Evans' team because they thought his program was making no progress. A college coach must win games as well as build character.
Also, in case you did not know it, it's much easier to resurrect a basketball program than a football program.
And about your criticism of ASU athletic director Lisa Love: I will be the first to admit that I was critical of ASU President Michael Crow's hiring of her in the beginning, but I have since been very pleased with what she has done for the school.
It's amazing how you pick on the little things she did, like ringing the bell at the stock exchange. If you were at all educated about the college athletic world, you know that no matter what exposure your school is getting, it's still helping out in some form (unless, of course, you are talking about the Wade situation).
Funny how you didn't mention how Love has hired a softball coach that has the Devils in the top 10.
Get your head out of the sand and start looking at facts. I find it ironic that you write about how troubled Koetter and his program are when you are a paper that runs advertisements for strip clubs and such in the Valley. How do you justify that one?
Brian Knowlton, Chandler
F.U.: Just one correction in your "Fire HIM!" article. It's Indiana University, not the University of Indiana. If it's your mistake, I'll forgive you this time.
If consulting firm Baker Parker & Associates said the University of Indiana, it might help explain how we Hoosiers got stuck with Kelvin Sampson as basketball coach.
When you're through with Dirk Koetter, could you please investigate the Indiana University/Baker Parker/Lisa Love/Kelvin Sampson link? Please, anything to help explain his hiring!
Thanks to John Dougherty for all the great information his articles furnish.
Dean M. Brayton, via the Internet
Substance analysis: What a trash article! I guess controversy is all you're looking for. Congrats on your lack of substance and horrible analysis.
Jeff Bosch, via the Internet
Humble opinion: Wow, if you consider this hatchet job legitimate journalism, I suggest you go back to school and reexamine the basics. In the real world, performing at the level of professionalism exhibited in this piece of ____ would get you fired.
In your world, where evidently opinion can masquerade as fact, I imagine you will get some kudos. How sad. Much like a dung beetle, you will benefit from a messy situation.
Paul Williams, Scottsdale
Don't blame coach for players' actions: If you think Dirk Koetter is the type of coach who gives special treatment to star players, then you are sadly mistaken. If this were the case, why would he sit three or four of his defensive starters two years ago against the University of Arizona for breaking unspecified team rules?
If you know anything about ASU athletics, you know that the UofA game is the most important of the season, no matter what either school's record is.
It's funny that you expect a head coach who's in charge of nearly 100 players to predict the future, to know what his players are going to do when away from school-related activities.
Who's to say that if Koetter got rid of Wade earlier, Wade wouldn't have done the same thing or even worse, like killing more than one person?
I think your article was out of line, especially the title of it ["Fire HIM!"], only because you have no idea what it's like to be in his shoes. I just think it's poor judgment to blame Koetter instead of society as a whole.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that the only person to blame here is Loren Wade!
David Terzich, via the Internet
More problems should bring more titles: With problems of this magnitude, ASU should be winning national championships.
I went to the University of Oklahoma, and they were winning the Big 8 and playing for the championship almost every year when their program got out of control. Football coach Barry Switzer got the boot for it. So, why not Dirk?
Ed Fancher, Tempe
Give the Devils their due: You bring up some good points. It is indeed unfortunate that Loren Wade entered the situation he did. However, if you decide to act in rage at a bar out of jealousy, should your boss be penalized for that?
I understand that Wade had a string of instances, but the fact of the matter is, this happens at every Division I school. Just because you don't hear anything about ASU's basketball team doesn't mean the players are all angels.
I haven't missed a home ASU football game in 14 years. I can tell you firsthand we are playing much more aggressively now than ever. It would be one thing if Koetter had dragged the program into the mud. Fact is, we were shit when he took over.
I think ASU has kept Koetter around because he is right around the corner to busting this program open. He is getting better recruits than before and makes progress every year. You're forgetting ASU should have been killed by USC and LSU last season, but we put up a fight unlike any other school they played.
Steve Olson, via the Internet
It comes with the territory: Nice story. When you have more than 100 young men you're responsible for, there might be a bad egg or two every now and again. Name a college football program that has not had a problem.
Coach K was extended because we are going in the right direction. Rob Evans was fired because we were a disgrace to the Pac-10.
Cale Ackerley, Gilbert
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