Culture Shock

Prophet margin: A very strong case can be made that the polygamists of northern Arizona and southern Utah are, at their core, a criminal cult subsidized -- in large part -- by tax dollars ("Dirty Tricks," John Dougherty, July 31). It is a truly shocking and generally underexamined chapter of the American Southwest.

And now to have the story politicized for cheap and cynical electoral gain is not only reprehensible -- it is also heartbreaking.

Like the Taliban, the polygamists of Colorado City are victimizing women and girls. It is victimization that has gone on for generations and it is going on today.

Thanks to some bold reporting -- including the recent work of John Dougherty -- plus some gutsy police investigative work, the states of Arizona and Utah now seem on the verge of doing something positive about this very serious issue.

But the dissemination of silly and fraudulent memos and the playing of political dirty tricks are not going to help the situation -- and they are certainly not going to protect the next little 15-year-old girl from being called before the polygamists' prophet and given as a plural wife to a 45-year-old pedophile.

Mike Watkiss

Excommunication breakdown: I am a 30-year-old member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often referred to as the "Mormons" because of our belief in the Book of Mormon, a companion to the Bible. I simply wanted to ask if you would be cautious of how you connect the fundamentalist polygamists to the "actual" LDS church. These particular people are not acting within the teachings of the Mormon faith, and will have been excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As I have mentioned, I am an acting member of the LDS church, and do not believe, even remotely, the beliefs and practices that these polygamist fundamentalists do. We believe in being married in the temple to one person only, and remaining faithful to that partner for eternity.

Please don't paint a bad picture of the LDS church. FLDS are not at all the same thing as LDS. As fundamentalist terrorists are a break-off of the peaceful religion of Islam, so are the FLDS a sadly misled and confused people, broken off and astray from the true Mormon church. They have taken the true, Christian teachings of the church and twisted them drastically. Again, I ask that you might please be sensitive to us "real" Mormons, who are living a Christian religion whose beliefs include obeying the laws of the land.

Jared Haddock

Article of faith: "Bound by Fear: Polygamy in Arizona" (John Dougherty, March 13) was just an amazing article. I want to thank you for what appears to be a ton of quality research and interviewing. I passed through this town (Colorado City) about a week ago and stopped to have breakfast at an unmarked cafe. Suffice it to say it was one of the most uncomfortable eating experiences I've ever had. I became anxious to learn a little more about this culture before making up my mind about just what I had seen.

I'm a non-Mormon from Salt Lake City who had always looked at the fundamentalist polygamists as the poor unfortunate offspring of the all-controlling Mormon machine. I thought they should be left alone because they aren't hurting anyone or taking anything from anyone. I'm starting to see them as one and the same.

I teach a high school class called Psychology of Prejudice and I plan to use this article for our classwork. Thank you for your excellent work.

Bill Lawrence
Santa Monica, California

Road Warriors

Zen and the art of bicycle maintenance: I just wanted to write New Times and let you all know that it's awesome to see art and function collide in such a great way as these custom bikes ("Road Show," Michele Laudig, July 24). I am from Los Angeles and have just recently moved to Phoenix. I seriously thought I would be ditching my hometown full of art and culture for a giant dust bowl. It's great to see smart, innovative, fairly young men making something of their lives that demand an imagination. See? We need more people doing what they love instead of doing what others demand from them! I find people like this brilliant and sexy and always worth the time to view their art. I want to know about showings!! Educate me on more culture out here!! Let me know where I can see the local underground art scene for myself without having to buy my own art gallery (not that I wouldn't mind owning the cow bike).

Thanks for the keyhole peek into Arizona's art scene!

Yasameen Entesari

Missing links: Michele Laudig missed the most important leaders of the custom bike culture in Tempe -- Keith Dagen and Givan Walton. If we want the obvious reported, we can read the Arizona Republic. An alternative newspaper should dig a little deeper and deliver an insider's perspective. "Road Show" was only a tiny part of the story. How unfortunate.

Terry Helm

The Restaurant

Salt for an open wound: I read the recent Spiked pieces on the sudden closure of longtime Camelback Bore-idor eatery RoxSand and chuckled sardonically ("Ironic Chef," July 10, and "She Is Not a Crook," July 24). I was strangely pleased to hear of the blatant, meat-hook truths behind the polished façade of this much-touted establishment. All I have ever heard about this pretentious yuppie nightmare outfit have been accolades to the owner/executive chef RoxSand What's-her-latest-married-name for her so-called "cutting-edge-fusion cuisine." I visited this establishment exactly once, in 1990, and found it to be the most overpriced, overhyped and dissatisfactory restaurant in which I have ever had the misfortune of dining. I do not remember what lyrically described fare my companions ordered, but I do remember my "seafood pasta" as a $24 (in 1990) bowl of clamshells over limp linguini (and I'm no big fan of "al dente"). The least the chef could have done was tighten up the sauce to conceal the fact that there was no meat in the shells. I do lucidly remember all at the table staring at each other with incredibly disbelieving looks, lamenting the fact that this was the "fabulous" RoxSand!

After having had many years myself in the "business," what eventually happened at RoxSand was not at all surprising: The employees were left in the lurch, with no warning of impending closure, and to fend for themselves. That is so typical of the sort of restaurant owner who feels that the (ever-shrinking) working class is her personal herd of cattle upon which to feed (with Cajun-béchamel-mole sauce, no doubt).

Garrett Holway

Image-conscious: As a former employee of RoxSand, it is really nice to see her made out to be the unscrupulous owner that she was! It was absolutely hilarious that she would get so upset about her "image" that she would tell her lawyer to write a demand letter when there was nothing to demand -- what, that she got her feelings hurt? The lawyer was probably thinking what a crazy lady, but then again if the lawyer has worked with RoxSand for any length of time, he or she is already aware of how unreasonable RoxSand can be. Just check out the spelling of her name, among other things! On my second day of training, RoxSand came up to me and said: "You have a peculiar odor, do you bathe correctly?" I WAS FLABBERGASTED! Any normal person would have said you smell like cigarettes, this is a nonsmoking restaurant and could you please refrain from smoking prior to getting here.

RoxSand is an egotistical woman who always has to be right, no matter if she is or not. When I first arrived in Phoenix, I had interviews with RoxSand and Vincent's. The first thing I noticed were the walls in RoxSand were covered with articles and awards about her yet she was hardly ever in the restaurant during business hours. Kinda like saying: "Look at me, look what I did!" Very similar to the behavior of a child. Whereas when you walked into Vincent's, you saw nothing. He probably has three times the coverage RoxSand had! You get the point.

The funny part is if she would have kept her mouth shut and not retaliated against the article, everything probably would have blown over. But now everybody knows what kind of person she really is.

Besides, who really got hurt? The woman who ran around yelling "Look at me" or the 30 or so employees who lost their jobs?

Thanks for letting me vent.

Name withheld by request

Lo Blows

The best of the worst: I've been thoroughly entertained reading the reviews of Gigli ("Bad Asses," Luke Y. Thompson, July 31). It may be one of the worst movies ever, but it's inspired some of the best movie critic reviews I've ever read! Kudos to you!

Kelly Glenfield
Via e-mail

The Lo-down: Excellent review on Gigli. Initially, watching the commercials, I am compelled to get my teeth pulled out without any anesthetics than have to see J.Lo portray herself as a "gangsta." It disheartens me to see that obvious box office flops are still being made. Thank you for your insightfulness.

Evan MacKinnon
Edmonton, Alberta

Brest enhancement: I just want to let you know that I enjoyed your review. A couple of your quips really stood out and got my attention for being especially true. First, that Martin Brest's filmography brings to my mind nothing but "star-vanity projects" (thank you for that; I now have a term to use). And second, that Jennifer Lopez, once upon a time, had a distinguished acting résumé (even with U-Turn. People can say what they want about Oliver Stone, but at least he has an Oscar). Of course, it's inevitable that Brest, helmsman of such movies, would eventually tap Lopez: The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan, Enough and Angel Eyes might as well be series titled "J.Lo's Excuses to Show Herself Off, Parts I-IV."

Mico Polotan
Via e-mail

Dance Fever

Light on their toes: In the article on Cabaret ("German Hairlift," Robrt L. Pela, July 24), you said "harshly lit and danced by non-dancers." Obviously you didn't notice the pirouettes, turns, leaps, flips, and not to mention taps by those you call "non-dancers." If you read the bios on the six dancers who happen to do all these dance moves, you would realize that we are not amateurs. I for one have studied RAD ballet, tap and jazz my whole life. And definitely none of the other dancers appreciate being called non-dancers. So on behalf of me and the other five so-called non-dancers, we are DANCERS!!!! You would not like to be called a non-writer writing stories (or would you?).

Christy Zandlo

Dennnis the Menace

Out to lunch: I was waiting for my lunch companion. Dennnis Skolnick was blabbing away ("Dinnner' Companion," Spiked, July 24), blowing smoke up the new eatery owner's ass. He argued and ranted and denied it was intimidation.

I was embarrassed for Tempe. "How can I recommend your place if I don't know if it is good or not?" He would not take no for an answer. The owner was trying to get rid of him but Dennnis blabbed on. He had quite the list of former jobs. I calculated him to be 175 years old to have done all that he claimed.

Finally, the guy gave in. He gave him a sample entree. Dennnis said something very sage and incisive re: the freebie: "This is good."

Dennnis is a blight on Tempe streets. He was dropping names of people I am sure would rather be left out of his diatribes.

Name withheld by request

Taking Issue

The court of public opinion: How sad it is that those who did not agree with Mary Durand and/or support the death penalty, regardless of the defendant's individual history and background, were too cowardly to have their names printed along with their letters in the July 17 issue. Since it is the United States and Arizona supreme courts that have issued directions to those who impose or do not impose the death penalty as to what information they must consider, the attacks on Ms. Durand were off base and sadly uneducated. Ms. Durand doesn't make up the rules, she just follows them. Or at least she tries, when she's not being thwarted in her efforts. And anyone who thinks either mitigation specialists or attorneys get rich on death penalty cases is living on another planet.

I double-dare the people who sent those "anonymous" letters to make themselves known. Again, I say you are cowards, not for voicing your opinions, but for not having sufficient conviction in your beliefs to let the world know who you are.

Eleanor L. Miller

Skin Deep

Dumb and dumberer: I enjoyed reading your story "Skinhead Slayer." This is a great follow-up to "Local Hero." I believe this story further reinforces the ignorance, stupidity and evil of the skinhead movement. I fully support Cole Bailey Sr.'s determination to put away these sick, twisted, mindless, stupid, ignorant wastes of human space. No matter what it takes.

I agree with an eye for an eye, and I believe that the individuals who committed this senseless murder should die no less tragically than Cole Bailey Jr. did. Receiving a death sentence and dying by lethal injection is too good in comparison to what they did to Cole Bailey Jr. It's about time someone went after these mongrels, but too bad it takes this sort of tragic event to make it happen.

Good for you, Cole Bailey Sr. I praise you for taking action but I am sorry that it took the death of your son to push you to this point.

Name withheld by request

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