Harsh but true: Your "My Super Sweet Six" cover story was deliciously mean. Yet right on the money. Kudos to the author (Robrt L. Pela, March 29).
I think these rich parents need to get a life and stop trying to live vicariously through their kids. It's purely disgusting. Imagine spending that much money on a party for little kids? Absurd!
The most interesting thing about the story was how the kids are so bored by the parties. They just want to play and be kids, but their mothers make them sit still and be hostesses to their guests, as any polite grown-up would do. It's so ironic that these parties feature everything adults think kids would enjoy!
That TV show My Super Sweet 16 was disgusting enough. Leave it to New Times to come up with a trend even more disgusting. You editors at NT are missing your calling: You should be coming up with sickening TV shows for MTV that the ghoulish public can't take its eyes off of.
Tony Gregg, Phoenix
Too much too soon: I read with interest your article on ultra-elaborate birthday parties. I just was wondering a few things about it. Are the parties being held for the benefit of the child or for the parents living their lives vicariously through their children (as they often do in sports)? I'm inclined to think the latter.
Also, how will a child be inclined to remember these über-parties 10 or 20 years down the road? Will the child remember them with fondness or (as I suspect) either not remember them or remember them as some of the most uncomfortable times of his or her life?
In my mind, this is too much too soon for such young children.
Michael Stezer, via the Internet
Poor little rich people: What a funny story! And it made a huge point at the same time. For the first time, I actually felt sorry for rich people, because all that money has made them so shallow that they must throw status-symbol parties even for their kids. These millionaires need to grow up!
Tilda Green, via the Internet
Its their party, let them vamp if they want to: Thank you for the article about young girls'/boys' birthday parties. I am an elementary P.E. teacher. My best friend is a first-grade teacher at the same school. We have discussed the issue surrounding young girls, parties, expressing their "girliness" and so on.
My opinion is that this is a somewhat "healthy" stage. Expressing your feminine side so outrageously is juvenile and immature. So why not express it when you are juvenile and immature? The girls need to get this stage out of the way to move on to explore their academic strengths, as well as (in my curriculum) their physical ones.
As for the mothers, maybe they're acting out many feminine taboos that they finally get to celebrate.
Let the kids and parents explore and grow. Life is a learning process.
Ariana Kenny, Mesa
Social distortion: I was disgusted by your slant on these birthday parties. You basically made any birthday bash sound as if a parent was spoiling their child. It's not. I find your distortion of these parties misleading to the public.
Also, girls dressing up and putting on makeup is a rite of passage. I did it when I was little, and it didn't make me "grow up too fast." Why not have these little boutiques for girls? It's better than them going with Mom to an adult spa and being treated with products that are not designed for a child.
I wish I had parties at places like Girly Girlz or Libby Lu when I was little. Sure, I think parents need to stop and think what their children want, but I think many girls have these parties because they want them, not because their parents are trying to live vicariously.
We are in a time when both parents work. Planning a party is hard, and many of these specialty boutiques help with all the semantics like invitations, games and favors.
Name withheld by request
Caught in the trappings: I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. Words escape me when trying to describe my disgust at these parties.
This is a prime example of how excess money spoils people, both parents and children. It creates greed and competition and raises the next generation with a foul sense of values. Kids grow up with a sense of entitlement and don't understand the value of hard work.
People who make enough to pay their bills and have a modest entertainment budget seem to be more humble and take more pleasure in the simple things in life. We secretly wish we made more money, but when we read stories like this, we remember the scary, paltry, annoying trappings of wealth.
Advice to the wealthy: Take some time to develop some meaningful social relationships that aren't built on transparent, empty status symbols. Or else you'll find yourselves consumed.
Name withheld by request
Damn Alliterative Albatross
Reader resents recycled rhetoric: Every time I read one of Stephen Lemons' Bird columns, I am reminded of a sci-fi short story I read years ago about a computer that learned to appreciate humor and even tell jokes but was completely incapable of distinguishing between jokes that were funny only the first time they were told and those that could stand repeated telling.
Lemons' Bird-related alliterations may have been funny once, but numerous variations of the same, tired old joke week after week? Gimme a break! At the risk of being accused of plagiarism, I'll say that the sooner that moronic mallard vanishes up his avian asshole, the better!
John Rycraft, Phoenix
John, youre so conflicted: When are these anti-immigration advocates going to wake up? Illegals and, in particular, Mexicans come here for one reason and one reason only: work. If no one was prepared to offer them work, they'd have no incentive whatsoever to come.
Spare your vitriol for those who are more than happy to employ migrants for far less than they'd have to pay Americans.
Regarding Stephen Lemons, I agree completely with the editor that The Bird is an opinion column, not an objective piece of reporting, and that Lemons is free to write whatever he wants ("Accountabilibuddies," Letters, March 29). I also have no problem with him pretending to be someone else in order to get on Darrell Ankarlo's radio show ("AnKKKarlo Pride," The Bird, March 15). Try calling that oxymoron Rush Limbaugh's show and telling them you're a liberal and see how far that gets you!
As far as the 9/11 Conference goes, however, pretending to be open-minded when you're there and then writing a complete hatchet job, which was obviously always Lemons' intention, smacks of hypocrisy ("Prevaricators Powwow," The Bird, March 1).
John Rycraft, Phoenix
Questions aplenty: Regarding your story "The Fire Inside" (Sarah Fenske, March 15), former Phoenix Fire Chief Alan Brunacini provided remarkable leadership that created what is acknowledged as one of the finest fire departments in the country.
He brought leading-edge services to the community at less cost than in virtually any other metropolitan city in the country. The citizens of Phoenix were well-served by this man. I know; I'm a Phoenix firefighter.
Brunacini was all about quality service. He cared little about power or politics. New Chief Bob Khan, on the other hand, is all about power and politics. His efforts to kill the king (Brunacini), remove all Brunacini family members from the department, and isolate any chief officer that was closely associated with Brunacini prove it. But Khan's efforts to erase Chief Brunacini's legacy are only a minor part of the story.
The real question for Phoenix taxpayers is how much union control over the fire department and city politics they will accept and how much they are ready to pay.
The firefighters union, United Firefighters Local 493, "owns" the Phoenix City Council. It also own the mayor's office. It has considerable influence with Governor Janet Napolitano. The mayor's chief of staff was hired from the union headquarters.
New Times' article correctly alluded to the fact that the union basically told Khan that he had the chief's job if he would bend to union demands. The union wants total control, and they are out to get it.
The ethics of current union president Billy Shields and former president Pat Cantelme also come under question. They seem to be in the newspapers a lot recently and they are generally associated with questionable activities.
Union president Cantelme (unbeknown to the membership) took $2.5 million from Bob Ramsey to be a partner in Ramsey's company, PMT Ambulance. Ramsey bought him for his political connections.
Cantelme never revealed this payment to the union membership while he was president. This arrangement was revealed by New Times after he left office. The hypocritical aspect is that PMT is a nonunion company. Why any union member would support this guy is a puzzle.
Cantelme and Ramsey got an ambulance contract from the city of Scottsdale using questionable "giveaways" to the city. He used his union ties with the Chandler Fire Department to split the city in half between PMT and the existing Southwest Ambulance. That concept returns to the way ambulance services operated decades ago.
Even the Arizona Department of Health Services (which regulates ambulance services) expressed concern about both the Scottsdale and Chandler contracts.
Billy Shields comes under question also. Shields was the chair of the 9/11 Memorial committee that allowed distasteful and unpatriotic quotes to be engraved on the memorial on the state Capitol grounds ("Shrine Whine," The Bird, October 5, 2006). He and Cantelme used their influence with the governor's office to eliminate any competition in their efforts to form a student loan company. Again, questionable ethics.
Billy Shields is a union thug. Cantelme picked him as his replacement at the union. These two men are going to influence how the Phoenix Fire Department operates. All indicators are that the department's performance will be weakened and controlled to the detriment of the community. And taxpayers are going to pay for it.
Name withheld by request
Loco motives: I read "Backdraft" (Sarah Fenske, also March 15) and the related article, "The Fire Inside," with great amusement. I'm not a regular reader of New Times, but I was told that there was an article that quoted Chris Medrea as a reliable source. I have known Chris for years, and to say that he's an inefficient, incapable egomaniac is a compliment.
On another note, Steve Hart represents the company that is competing with Pat Cantelme for ambulance service. What is his incentive to speak honestly about Pat Cantelme or Billy Shields? It seems that the article would have benefited greatly by simply spending a little time checking the credibility and motives of those cited.
Name withheld by request