Letters From the Issue of Thursday, January 19, 2006

Artists in Residences

Capital "A"-holes: There are Artists (with a capital A), and then there are artists. Unfortunately, The Bird paints them all with a very broad brush ("Those Crazy Artists," The Bird, Robrt L. Pela, December 29).

Everyone has to start somewhere, but in every vocation there is a time where you're simply paying your dues.

The supposed artists living at Holgas and other upscale downtown "lofts" may be artists in the technical sense, but they seem to be trying to buy their way into a scene. Some of them are even selling their now-valuable downtown spaces.

They are not paying their dues to be part of the scene. The sad thing is, this will probably work, as the real Artists continue to starve.

As always, Artists like Michael23 and his crew, who lived in their work area downtown (a real loft that truly exhibited their creativity), have been kicked to the curb, partly because they couldn't afford to buy their place.

Unfortunately, most of the people of the Phoenix area will never know what they've lost and will instead embrace the trendy people who replace the real Artists.
Andrew Ayers, Glendale

Downtown is unsafe -- for the crazy people: Now, isn't that just peachy that the Roosevelt Row artists don't have any concept of what a real downtown is all about, when they've been glorying in living in downtown Phoenix for all these years?

These guys love to criticize anybody who lives anywhere else in town as un-hip because these downtown denizens manage to brave the mean streets of the big city while the rest of us lounge in suburbia.

First of all, Phoenix barely has a downtown. And, secondly, now The Bird tells us what these poseurs are all about. Many of them are railing because it's supposedly unsafe to have so-called crazy people walking around in their midst.

Are these mamas' boys and girls naive, or what?! As The Bird said, all big cities have crazies walking around. That's one of the things that make the so-called mean streets interesting. Try walking around downtown San Francisco, Los Angeles or in Manhattan.

And the lack of compassion for people who are truly less fortunate is staggering.

These mentally disturbed people aren't walking around Roosevelt Row because they want to be there (like the so-called artists in question). They're not that crazy! They're doing it because they have no place else to go, because there's not much of a safety net to catch them anymore.

I remember that great story by Paul Rubin about the jazz saxophonist who wound up dead in the hot Phoenix summer sun ("Crying Shame," October 6, 2005). He just fell through the pitiful mental-health safety net here in Arizona. This guy was more of an artist than many of these people who hawk their shit on First Friday will ever be.

But a guy like him would've been the object of these artists' scorn because he was crazy.
Seth Best, Phoenix

An ear for talent: Boy, was The Bird right on the money when it said that some of the faux artists of First Friday would try to run Vincent Van Gogh out of the neighborhood.

I proffer that that's for two reasons: He'd be too crazy for these pampered little kids who pass themselves off as "artists" to tolerate, and he had real talent -- which is something you don't see much of on Roosevelt Row.
Martina Paul, Phoenix

Money for nothing: It was great to hear that someone agrees with me and my friends who work for a living that much of the crap shown on First Friday downtown is pure garbage.

It's the obvious reason they serve cheap wine, or even let you bring your own bottle down there so that you will buy some of their garbage they call "art." Then you wake up the next day and say, "Oh my God, what is it?!" And, "Can I get my money back 'cause it's all I've got left for food for the week?!"

At least some of us work and don't expect people to pay for whatever we do in our spare time to entertain ourselves -- which is what these artists do.

Most of what I've seen at First Friday borders on tasteless, and some of it is even vulgar. But most of it, to be honest with you, you can't tell what it is!

You're right that these artists quoted wouldn't want Vincent Van Gogh in their midst. Why? Because he was pure talent. His artwork was truly that of a gifted person. Their crap is the expression of their motto: I don't want a real job because I hate the four-letter word "w-o-r-k."
Roberta Bade, via the Internet

Candid camera: I loved your story in The Bird about Scottsdale's having to refund all the money from those screwed-up camera tickets. Serves the chiseling bastards right ("Ticket to Ride," December 29)!

Have you guys ever considered doing an exposé on those traffic cameras? I'm sure the subject is ripe for that. I've read that all the municipal claims that the cameras cause motorists to reduce speeds, and thereby save lives, are complete bullshit. I hear it's all about making rich cities like Scottsdale and Paradise Valley richer. You should check it out.

Now, Scottsdale wants to put those cameras on a major freeway. Outrageous! And what you said about the company RedFlex being able to afford losing all that money (I just wish it was Scottsdale losing it directly from city coffers!) was right on. "Fuck you very much!" indeed.
Tom Rose, Phoenix

Hurricane Andrew

Justice isn't served: What is this guy Andrew Thomas all about, anyway? Is he just about kicking the hell out of Latinos? If he's a fair man, then how can he continue to go after Louie Arriaga ("Unequal Justice," Michael Lacey, December 29)?

Arriaga, the facts show, was railroaded in the first place. He only swung at the police officer after a traffic stop because he felt his life was in jeopardy. Now he's spent years in prison for something that any affluent white person would've been let off the hook for, and Andy Thomas wants Louie to serve two and a half more years in prison?!
Telly Rodriguez, Phoenix

A future millionaire: Louie Arriaga should be released from prison, and the state should pay him compensation.

Can you believe that Andrew Thomas' office continues to throw the book at this innocent man? And do you know why the County Attorney's Office is doing this? Because the county lawyers know that Arriaga will hit them with a lawsuit the minute he gets out of prison.

And do you know what else? A jury will award Louie Arriaga millions of dollars in damages.
Antonio Rivera, via the Internet

Don't call him Andrés Tomás: It's hard to believe that County Attorney Andrew Thomas has Latinos in his family. He has done nothing but exhibit hatred for them since he first started running for office.

Why would somebody running for County Attorney run on an anti-immigration platform? That office has nothing to do with that issue. Then, he didn't prosecute that nut who drew down on those Mexican immigrants at the truck stop.

Now he's throwing the book at Louie Arriaga. If I were Thomas' family, I would disown him. He is a disgrace to them. I don't know how he sleeps at night.
Tony Enriquz, Phoenix

Worse than the criminals: All I can say regarding "Unequal Justice" is fuck the justice system in Maricopa County, and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office along with it. They're worse than the criminals they prosecute.
Jim Cozzolino, Peoria

Bible Thumpers and Cousin Humpers

Deficient, indeed: I just finished reading your recent article regarding the FLDS communities in Arizona and Utah. I was absolutely appalled by the complete lack of concern these people display by continuing to marry close relatives after they are aware of the fumarase deficiency problem ("Forbidden Fruit," John Dougherty, December 29).

While it's apparently not possible to prevent them from continuing this practice, it should be possible to stop funding it. I hate to sound like money is the only issue -- obviously my tax dollars are not nearly as important as these poor children. But at the same time, the community has been educated about the problem and advised how to prevent it, but it remains unwilling to take any action.

This may be its right and choice, but why is the state of Arizona continuing to send funds or provide medical help, when the situation is occurring by informed choice?

These are not people who have been afflicted mysteriously through no fault of their own. They're aware that inbreeding is the problem, and they continue to do it.

I would prefer that state assistance, which is already limited, be allocated to those who haven't created their own burdens.
Diane Joralmon, via the Internet

Google dandy: I just wanted to comment on your article "Forbidden Fruit," which a friend of mine in Mesa sent to me. I found it very unsettling.

The fact that this has been going on so long and that the governor of Arizona is aiding this religious calamity -- instead of ending it -- is disturbing enough.

After doing a little Googling, I realized how graphically disturbing it really is. If the state and national authorities have this knowledge in hand, why has nothing been done by some agency of government?

We'll send troops halfway across the world to take out a dictator who was killing his own people for money and fun. Why, then, has this polygamy problem not been put under the same microscope/boot-heel?
Diezal Murphy, Apple Valley, California

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