Letters From the Issue of Thursday, November 23, 2006

Display Cases

Taste test: "Stunning"??? I'm sorry, did Wynter Holden really describe the effect of Jen Urso's In Place installation at the show "Phoenix: Land of Somewhere" at Modified Arts as "stunning" ("Going Nowhere," November 9)? Wynter, go with your first instinct. It looked like a Halloween decoration (and a bad one at that).

I am as hopeful as anyone that the downtown art scene will continue to grow and prosper, and Modified is a great place. However, I'm not about to drop my taste level to accept strings across a building as stunning, edgy, promising, dynamic, or any other adjective we would wish upon Phoenix's art scene.



On a side note: Agree or disagree on the art, I always enjoy Wynter's writing.
George Pasquel, Phoenix

Loft story: Leslie Barton, myself or curator Lara Taubman aren't as hopeful with Phoenix's Loftization, expressed in our video installation for the show "Phoenix: Land of Somewhere," as Wynter Holden would like us to be.

When Leslie and I first shot Endless Loft in 2002, brick structures in the warehouse district were being torn down as replica "lofts" were being constructed across the street. Evans Churchill was a viable neighborhood instead of vacant lots prepped for a canceled downtown football stadium.

Last and most pointedly, the laughable "from the low $300,000s" was a ridiculous sum that now could barely pay for a multi-flipped one-bedroom apartment turned "loft." Have you noticed how many purchased lofts are unused? The resale market created "lights out, nobody home" in the city center.

We didn't spray-paint "Resist Lofts" across the downtown, but there is a certain sympathy. The answer isn't spray paint; it's affordable housing models, authentic historic rehab and live/work potential for artists and small businesses. This would help make downtown Phoenix more livable and lively than the sterile highbrow loft-life we portrayed.

And no, it's not Lionel Richie and Diana Ross [singing "Endless Love"], it's a karaoke version with singers who "sound like" Lionel Richie and Diana Ross! The "empty voice" version is part of the statement.
Steve Weiss, Phoenix


Splendor in the bluegrass: Thank you for writing about one of my favorite local bands, The Breadwinners ("Mountain Music," Revolver, Brendan Joel Kelley, November 9). I love traditional bluegrass music, and alt-country and hippie jam bands, so they fit the bill for me on many levels. I agree with Kelley, I am surprised they don't have a larger following, but their regular fans are very loyal. Hopefully, the Rhythm Room show will give them more exposure. A lot of the bluegrass bands are promoted by Hillgrass Bluebilly, and I believe The Breadwinners self-promote, so that may have something to do with it, too. Word of mouth takes time, so your words are appreciated.
Pattee Spott, Tempe

Green Acres

My son, the chef: What a beautifully written article on the Quiessence Restaurant at The Farm at South Mountain ("Farm Fresh," Michele Laudig, November 9). I am the mother of sous chef Anthony Andiario, and it was overwhelming for me to read that story about Greg LaPrad and my son Tony and the restaurant. Greg and Tony both work very, very hard and have achieved so much in such a short period of time. You made me very proud.
Elizabeth Andiario, Kingston, Pennsylvania

Nurse Wretched

Outfit to be tied: I am writing in regard to The Bird's piece "Nursing Grudge" (Stephen Lemons, November 9). The Bird calls our organization, the Center for Nursing Advocacy, "a prudish national nursing-rights group." Obviously this was a hit piece. Had he taken the time to actually return my four telephone calls to him, then I would have been able to explain what our organization does. We work to improve public understanding of nursing. It is not our mission to remove naughty images of women in public or the media. Our concern is to remove the nurse from the "naughty nurse" images so commonly found in the media and more recently found in the outfits of Heart Attack Grill waitresses. We also work to increase accuracy in the portrayals of nursing in Hollywood television shows, books, music, print press and others. We applaud good images and work to fix the bad.

This was a shameful piece of "journalism." When The Bird ends up sick in a hospital and wonders why there are no nurses to care for him, he will only need to look in a mirror to find one of the many members of the media who have contributed to the deadly global nursing shortage.
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH, executive director, Center for Nursing Advocacy, Baltimore, Maryland

The Bird responds: This is a story about attempted censorship and political correctness. Ironically, there are more "sexy nurse" images on CNA's own Web site than on a soft-core pay site.

(See Stephen Lemons' blog, Feathered Bastard, for much more of this exchange.)

Society's Children

Gimme shelter: A massive increase in children torn away from everyone loving and familiar. Infants filed away and forgotten in institutions. No evidence that children are safer. And Arizona Child Protective Services administrator Janice Mickens calls it "the best four years I've had in the whole time I've been at the agency" ("Suffer the Children," Sarah Fenske, October 26).

Thanks to some outstanding reporting by New Times, we know that the children the agency is supposed to serve can't say the same. On the contrary, Sarah Fenske's story makes clear that three and a half years of trying still haven't undone the harm caused by Governor Napolitano's slash-and-burn, take-the-child-and-run rhetoric in her first four months in office.

A few footnotes to the story:

The Minnesota study cited in the story isn't the only one showing the enormous harm of needless foster care. A recent study of foster care alumni, from systems better than Arizona's, found they had twice the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder as Gulf War veterans, and only 20 percent were doing well.

Official figures on the rate of abuse in foster care are worthless because they involve agencies investigating themselves, creating an enormous incentive to see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil and write no evil in the case file. That same study of foster care alumni found that one-third said they'd been abused by a foster parent or another adult in a foster home. The study didn't even ask about one of the most common forms of abuse: foster children abusing each other. Other studies find similar high rates of abuse in foster care. The record of group homes and institutions is even worse.

Some shelter operators and their allies were not just innocent bystanders who had children dumped at their doors. Some fomented the Arizona Foster-Care Panic at every turn, rushing to feed horror stories to reporters and tell them that every child taken away really needed to be in foster care. One shelter advocate even said they were necessary in order to take children from mothers whose only crime was to be beaten by their husbands or boyfriends — even though, as one leading expert put it, the harm done to children when they are taken away under such circumstances is "tantamount to pouring salt into an open wound."

You don't need to go to Romania to find out such places are bad for children. A comprehensive study of shelters designed specifically for foster children in Connecticut found that children who went through shelters tended to have worse outcomes than those who didn't. The only thing the shelters were good at was wasting huge sums of money.

All this means any notion that the foster care panic would have been okay if only there had been the resources to back it up is nonsense. No amount of money can make up for the harm done to a child when his or her family is needlessly destroyed. That's why there are, in fact, "completely innocent victims" in all this. They're the thousands of children taken from homes that were safe or could have been made safe with the right kinds of help, who instead were shoveled into a system that churns out walking wounded four times out of five.
Richard Wexler, executive director, National Coalition for Child Protection Reform

Homo Sapient

Gay pride: Now that Janet Napolitano has been reelected, I think she should come out as a lesbian ("Reality Check," The Bird, Stephen Lemons, November 2). There's nothing to lose, and it's the only fair thing to do. It would prove that she stands up for her people.

Some of my gay and lesbian friends accused The Bird of gross sensationalism for mentioning the gay question concerning the governor, but it is something that is on the minds of most people who encounter her, especially those of us who are gay. It definitely becomes an issue when a politician opposes something so important to the gay community as gay marriage.
Zachery John, Phoenix

Nobody's business: As a former Arizona resident, I can agree that Janet Napolitano definitely comes off as a closeted lesbian. However, I think your question of the governor was offensive for a couple of reasons.

First off, Janet's sexual preferences are private and none of anyone's business. Now, if she had been caught committing ethically questionable acts (like U.S. congressmen Mark Foley and maybe Jim Kolbe), it would become public business. Until then, Janet should be able to choose how much she shares with the public.

Secondly, imagine for just a moment if Janet were straight. How potentially hurtful would your question be?

Finally, I think your question and column are sexist. You're insinuating that if Janet isn't gay, she needs to do more to look like a woman. That if her image changed, you could accept that she was straight. Doesn't a woman have the right to dress/act/carry herself however she chooses? Hillary Clinton, for years, has faced questions over her sexuality, even being very publicly married. Many liberals have wondered, over the years, if the rampant rumors of Mrs. Clinton's lesbianism were a gut reaction on the part of right-wing males secretly afraid of powerful women. Is that your problem, I wonder?

Being a political geek, I can tell you that Napolitano is, hands down, one of the five best governors in the nation. Maybe you should stop looking a gift horse in the mouth. Or maybe you'd like a return to Mecham/Symington politics?
Ryan Tobias, Portland, Oregon

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