Letters to the Editor

Lapre de Corps

I just read your article on Don Lapre ("Don Wan," Leigh Farr, January 13). I am married to one of his former employees, who has not been paid the $2,000-plus she is owed by Mr. Lapre. Therefore, it makes me sick to read about his spending a million dollars on lawyers' fees and making a salary of $500,000. Mr. Lapre is a snake-oil salesman, nothing more. Since June 29, 1999, I have listened to constant excuses and put-offs from this man. If he is so guilt-ridden about his bankruptcy, then why not pay his ex-employees what he owes them from his own pocket? He says he doesn't care what people think about him. Then he won't mind me saying that I think he is a worthless piece of shit. His lack of a conscience regarding what he has put my household through, and the households of the other employees he is turning his back on, makes me want to hurl. If there is any justice, I hope and pray that Mr. Lapre burns in hell for his arrogance and callousness.

Alex Scheer

Several years ago, I knew someone who worked at a girls' shelter for a nonprofit agency. This agency serves children and adolescents who have mental illnesses, or who have been abandoned, neglected, or physically or sexually abused. One shelter in particular serves girls from about 7 to 18 years of age.

Don Lapre somehow heard about the agency and decided to adopt the girls from this shelter for Christmas. He took all 10 of them to Toys "R" Us and told them that the only rule they had to follow was not to look at the prices on anything. Each girl returned to the shelter with a basket piled high with dolls, toys and games. Don spent around $15,000 to $20,000 that day.

Don also wanted to give the shelter staff around $250 each as a bonus for the difficult, caring job that they do. This bonus was turned down by the administrators because Don had 900-number businesses and they were afraid of any negative association with this. Seems to me that if they were so afraid of negative charity, they wouldn't have let him take the girls shopping.

Don was a very nice, giving person and said that he wanted to do this because he had been through hard times himself.

Name withheld by request

The front-page picture shows Don Lapre holding a banded stack of bills. The top bill is a $20; however, the band says $250. It is impossible for a stack of $20s to equal $250. If you look carefully, you can see the corner of a $5 bill in the stack. He has just replaced the top bill to make us think the stack is all $20s. Wasn't this an old confidence game, too?

Tim Thompson
via Internet

Caribbean There

David Holthouse's "Tequila Sunrise" (January 13) was a great story! I am now content in the knowledge that there are like-minded souls out there who are willing, in a drunken stupor, to throw themselves off a cliff in pursuit of a 50-cent hat with an incalculable worth in memories. I wish I had been able to toast Pablo with him on Isla Mujeres, but thanks to his column, I now know that it exists, and it's where I am going for the ushering in of the true millennium in 2001. Thanks for sharing.

Greg Ritter

I always enjoy House, but I had to write about "Tequila Sunrise." I will be brief... cool, very cool! I'm going to save this one. After reading numerous accounts of the passing of the 20th century, your small article was the very best of the lot.

Courtney Russell
via Internet

For Art's Sake

I picked up the January 13 New Times and, to my surprise, I found two visual arts stories in one issue. Thank you for your added coverage of visual arts events in the Valley; it is really appreciated. With new spaces in town like Barlow and Straker, Volume, Modified, SMOCA and Michael Levine's revamping of his Decompression space, the Phoenix area is, hopefully, on a cultural upswing. Keep up the great job; we are reading.

John Spiak
Arizona State University Art Museum

Fight of the Phoenix

Like a scene out of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Barry Graham appears, a wispy apparition ("Time Transients," January 6), the once-upon-a-time "writer you most love to hate at NT," trashing myths like Mother Teresa and dead Princess Di in great fashion. He now has been reduced to word babble, waxing nostalgic about "the city we love to hate." Just as the ghosts of Christmas predicted the future, it's easy to predict Graham's latest foray into the world of binding: sophomoric, with a touch of self-righteousness and a whole lot of Scottish shit. Barry loves Babylon. Babylon fading . . .  

David C. Bracherd

Just read "Time Transients." I left Phoenix for Seattle in 1993. Tucson was my birthplace; I grew up in Ajo, the middle of nowhere. Even out in nowhere, there was a hatred of Phoenix. Our neighbor, proud of his title as the first white baby born in our racist little mining town, called Phoenix "Pig City" because of the slaughterhouse that used to be on Van Buren. I only regret I didn't leave sooner. Except for isolated areas, where the land is still sacred, it's an angry place, not fit for permanent habitation. I moved because I wanted civility: a place where there wasn't a Circle K on every corner, a place where people didn't threaten you if you were walking, if you were fat or just different. My grown son now complains that Seattle is too wealthy, too yuppified. Perhaps your story will convince him otherwise.

Wendy Gallacci

Wow! Barry Graham has hit the nail on the head. I was duped into a move here three years ago by an employer. As I found out after a month, the laws here allow an employer to do whatever he wants to an employee with no recourse by that person at all. No one has ever articulated my feelings about this place like Mr. Graham. Everyone seems to have a past here (criminal) and they are always trying to get something from you. To the people who bad-mouth Mr. Graham's article, you are just trying to justify your actions and your being here. I can't wait to get the "F" out of this place.

Name withheld by request

Gallo Whine

Thumbs down for Bill Gallo's review of Snow Falling on Cedars ("The Blizzard of Ooze," January 13). Gallo shows he can use words like "multifarious" and the hip "acid trip" clichÈ. He shows that he's either been to one too many film-school seminars or wants us to think he has. He makes it plain that he dislikes director Scott Hicks and cinematographer Robert Richardson, and that he has for a while.

I do not begrudge Gallo his dislikes or his vocabulary. What angers me is that a bile-filled review may influence parents not to take 12-year-olds to see a film that this country needs to see and take in at the dawn of this new era. David Guterson and Harper Lee before him wrote about ordinary people, one at a time, with the power to choose justice and fellowship over pettiness and fear.

The trouble is not with the lighting, scene sequencing or "glazed eyed dreaminess" of the film. It is in a critic who prejudged a film so he could no longer hear or see the story the film tried to gift him with.

James Foley

A Grateful Notion

It is with the most profound gratitude I write this belated thank you letter. Prior to the Baptist Foundation articles written by Terry Greene Sterling ("The MoneyChangers"), I hardly ever read New Times. I never realized the public interest and investigating that was done to write these articles. To date, not one newspaper in Arizona has covered the subject matter in the same depth as New Times. I'm sure many BFA investors are as grateful as I am. Thank you for having the courage to withstand the scorn and false criticism the BFA tried -- unsuccessfully -- to provoke.

Joe and Anne Cacace
Sun City

Free Bard

I was extremely angry with the Flash for his comments (Flashes, December 16) regarding Lynyrd Skynyrd following their recent ass-kicking concert. But since the Flash named himself after Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane's dog on The Dukes of Hazzard, to give credibility to himself as one with the inside information on our own Sheriff Joe, I guess we have to take anything he writes with half a grain of salt. In reality, Flash's untrue and unkind remarks about Skynyrd have totally blown his credibility regarding our excellent and beloved sheriff!

In Jacksonville, late 1960s, all aspiring young musicians sat around on Shorty Medlocke's back porch, honing their songwriting and playing skills under the tutelage of a master musician. Al Kooper, discoverer of the group, and producer of much of its best-loved material, has said that this is where the music came from. So when you have a group of family and friends who were all there in the beginning, carrying on in the spirit of the departed ones, you can't call it a cover band. Gary Rossington has insisted that all of the old songs be sung and played note for note just as originally conceived, and the current band members, including Shorty's grandson, Rickey, know exactly how to do that. Although it is a wonderful surprise to hear Hank Jr. or Travis Tritt do an old Skynyrd tune, when they do so, that would be defined as "covering."  

I do agree that Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top is right up there with Stevie Ray as a guitar player. However, the members of ZZ Top turned into a cartoon caricature of themselves in the 80s with their furry guitars, Yosemite Sam beards, and all their sound-alike Top 40 MTV-oriented hits. Usually the stronger act is the headliner of the show, and ZZ Top at best never did anything as strong as "Free Bird."

Bob Evans

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