The Coolness Factor

Chains of cool: When did chains become cool? I was shocked to see on the map in the article "What's Cool" (Amy Silverman, December 4) you included IHOP as a "cool place" in downtown Phoenix.

What exactly makes a restaurant that is part of a chain "cool"?

The article talks about what individuals in Phoenix are doing to change the character from uncool to cool, by opening up independent venues, galleries, restaurants, and shops that are different from what one would expect in the suburbs and uncool cities. Having relocated to Phoenix after living in "cool" cities such as San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Houston, I can safely say that the restaurants (and stores) in those cities that are patronized by "cool" people, looking for "cool" places, are certainly not chains.

What makes a restaurant or store "cool" is when it is different from every other restaurant or store, not when it is identical to every other one with the same name. If Phoenix wants to move forward and become "cool," then its citizens need to give up the mentality that chains are "cool." I hope this does not mean that we can look forward to a map of the "cool" fast-food restaurants in Phoenix. I doubt there is enough paper in the world to compile a list of all the fast-food restaurants we have here.

Richard Carr

Cool geeks: When I was in junior high, all the popular kids, the cheerleaders and jocks, etc., would get together and write the school newspaper and vote themselves the prettiest, the smartest, the most "team spirited" (gag!!). Now I see artists in downtown Phoenix behaving the same way. Congratulations and how uncool of you.

Name withheld by request

On the shoulders of giants: I read Amy Silverman's article about "Phoenix Cool" and was surprised to find myself on the list. This feeling quickly turned to embarrassment as I thought about what it meant. I'm sure I took the spot of someone a lot more deserving of "coolness."

I have only been in Phoenix for three years. I enjoy working here, doing my art (wouldn't do it anywhere else), seeing the scene grow and get respect. But there are a lot of people who've had their shoulder to this grindstone a lot longer, and who have done a lot more for the arts in our town.

I bet I'm not the only one who feels this way, and on behalf of "the cool people" I'd like to say that that list would be a whole lot longer if we'd all been asked who we'd put on it.

Thank you, New Times, for all the attention you've given to all of us. Now let's all go downtown and enjoy all the cool people and places, so we can keep it happening and growing for a long, long time.


Round 'em all up: While I deeply regret the gentrification and displacement of the poor -- particularly poor people of color -- that the influx of ignorant yuppie scum to downtown Phoenix brings, perhaps there is an upside to it after all. With the invading nouveaux riches so heavily concentrated, packed into their newly sanitized "urban" environs along with their willing accomplices, the Phoenix art community, they will be all the easier to round up and execute when the class war finally comes and both these sorry cliques get their well-deserved comeuppance. I, for one, can't wait.

Brian Tomasi

Signs of life: I recently made my first visit to the burgeoning downtown arts district. My friend, artist QueenBritta, was displaying some of her work at Thoughtcrime gallery, which coincided nicely with her birthday. Until that night (December 5), I had not been aware of the mosaic of nearby galleries and events. For the first time in many years, I viewed and enjoyed real art done by real people! In addition to the several galleries featuring the work of local artists, I witnessed a number of performance arts (rope tricks, puppet shows, comedy, etc.), enjoyed a set of fine young musical talent in the form of Army of Robots, and savored a fantastic meal at nearby Fate restaurant, skillfully prepared by chef Johnny Chu. Later, I had perhaps the most intellectually stimulating conversation in a long time with an amazingly bright and well-spoken young woman (I am frustrated that I cannot remember her name, but would welcome the opportunity to speak with her again . . .)

I would like to take this opportunity to express gratitude to the dedicated few persons responsible for the impetus of this new cultural events district, in particular Kimber Lanning, owner of Modified Arts downtown, and Stinkweeds Records in Tempe; she is a pearl of wisdom amid a sea of corporate monotony, possessing not only crystalline foresight, but the firm resolve to get things done. I am impressed by the fact that there is finally some decent culture in this giant strip mall/suburb of a city where I have lived most of my life.

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