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I do, however, agree with individuality and great original ideas, but this is a franchise and is owned by a very artistic fellow from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. So, before you criticize a place, make sure you've been there before you knock it because doing so makes you as uncool as any "chain" restaurant that I know of.

Chris Lentz

Sky Pilot

Sad excuse: Your story was one of the most depressing I've read in a long time ("Unfriendly Skies," Robert Nelson, December 11). It seems, just like the woman who uses her pregnancy as an excuse to overeat, September 11 gave some Americans an excuse to become bigots. I hope that Frank Nickman gets all his money back plus the chance to realize his dream of being a pilot.

Marggie Dalton
Lakewood, Colorado

True grit: Thank you for a well-written human-interest story. Frank Nickman's is a classic American story of immigration, grit and accomplishment.

I am one of those Americans whose ancestors were unwilling immigrants to this great country. (They came by slave ship.) I have always thrilled to the theme of American opportunity as embodied in the accomplishments of striving immigrants.

Qasim Abdul-Tawwab
Boston, Massachusetts

Time for a Change

Helping hand, part 1: I enjoyed reading Amy Silverman's article about the real people who are trying to make Phoenix a better place to live for us normal people and not the rich socialites who are just trying to make their wallets fat like Jerry Colangelo and his cronies ("The Cool Index," December 4).

I agree that art, music, good places to eat and/or a combination of these examples as one are important for the development of downtown Phoenix. As for me personally, I would like to see a coffee house that sells pastries with art from local artists on the walls and an open acoustic jam stage or a nice restaurant with a stage that has a piano, drums, acoustic guitars, and even a saxophone playing some flowing jams while I eat a nice steak and shrimp. And both would be open until like 3 a.m. or 4 a.m.

As for Colangelo and his cronies -- as I said, their only concern is to do what it takes to make their wallets fat. They claim to care, but why, then, won't Colangelo show us his "master plan" without anyone having to buy in? Because, bottom line, the truth is as I have said it.

Now I have a question: How can I get involved, even in a limited way if necessary, to help the local artists and business owners listed and unlisted in Ms. Silverman's article to stop Colangelo and his cronies from ruining downtown Phoenix?

Scott Smith

Helping hand, part 2: You guys are doing a kick-ass job on this series ("Exploding Downtown"). Getting downtown to be what it should be is a particular passion of mine. Is there any way to get involved in the process? I am looking to start a design firm and I want it to be located downtown. Thanks for the insightful articles, and I truly hope people wake up and see how much potential is in the downtown area, and take advantage.

Tiffani Rozier

Hands off, yuppie scum: It would seem that a new generation of yuppies has its eyes on downtown Phoenix. Following in the tradition of yuppie scum in San Francisco and elsewhere around the country, they continue on their quixotic quest for coolness, in the process displacing and criminalizing the poor and homeless left in their wake.

In the November 20 issue of New Times, letter writer Steven Capes bemoans the panhandlers and lack of high-priced grocery stores that preclude him from relocating to downtown from his home in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, where he undoubtedly feels guilt (and maybe a bit of arson-inspired fear) over his contribution to sprawl and the destruction of open space.

In the November 27 issue, John Rattray compares the challenges of downtown Phoenix to that of Mill Avenue, which the Tempe City Council has successfully gentrified. According to Mr. Rattray, Mill was "filled with crap" back in the day when it was deprived of yuppie institutions like the Gap and populated by the homeless. But now, thankfully for the yuppie parasites in the Valley, the homeless have been successfully criminalized in Tempe with the sidewalk-sitting ban and the urban camping ordinance.

Fortunately for those of us at the losing end of rising rent and displacement, not all hope is lost. San Francisco provides an example of the destructive nature of gentrification, but it also offers examples of resistance.

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