Letters From the Issue of Thursday, March 2, 2006

Coyotes Ugly

Filling a need: It's amazing how the Phoenix press, except for New Times, mostly misses the point of what's going on. The Arizona Republic and local TV seldom try to get beyond what's easy to report. I'm speaking of how there's so much more to the Phoenix Coyotes' problems than the little betting saga involving hockey legend Wayne Gretzky's wife and assistant coach Rick Tocchet ("Howling Financial Woes,"
John Dougherty, February 16

Almost everything surrounding the Coyotes has been a boondoggle from the start, as Dougherty wrote. That the huge and suspect legal problems of a majority owner like Jerry Moyes have not even been highlighted, in relation to the betting scandal, by any of the rest of the local press is appalling! Like New Times wrote, the betting scandal is another -- this time, small -- financial brouhaha involving an owner of the hockey team (the Gretzky family -- Wayne is a minority owner).

But this is what we in Phoenix have come to rely on New Times to do. That is, tell us what's really going on with a situation, not just what little surface thing is happening. As you pointed out, what's going on in Moyes' world is much more financially significant than whether Gretzky's movie actress wife placed $75,000 worth of bets on some football games, and even whether some assistant hockey coach nobody's ever heard of engineered the betting.
John King, via the Internet

Gone to Pot

Still up in smoke: I read with interest your article in The Bird titled "Head Games" (Robrt L. Pela, February 16). It was heartening that the cops didn't seem intent on busting Phoenix-area head shops for merely selling paraphernalia for smoking marijuana, or even crack.

That it takes a lot more than that for the cops here to make an arrest -- like the actual presence of drugs -- is a good thing.

But authorities really threw the book at Tommy Chong, didn't they?! But that was the feds, and with the current administration in power in Washington, any kind of Bible-belt bullshit is possible.

It's good to know, anyway, that Tommy Chong is alive and well after his stint in the slammer. Thanks for that report! I still enjoy his old movies.
Billy Eisen, via the Internet

The righteous herb: Your article in The Bird was spot-on. Yes, it is 1984 for real. It's been heading in that direction since the days of "politically correct."

There is absolutely nothing wrong with pot. Just the opposite, in fact. Pot has a large number of medicinal uses. Read Jack Herer's book The Emperor Wears No Clothes, if you haven't already. It's an eye-opener.

I saw Tommy Chong at a comedy club in Vegas three days after the raid and got pictures that I posted on my Web site,

Goddamn self-righteous scum is about the nicest thing I can say about the feds! Marijuana paraphernalia's only a problem because they make it a problem!

Abraham Lincoln was strongly opposed to prohibition, saying it made a crime out of things that are not a crime. Want to wipe out drug abuse? Start with all the over-the-drugstore-counter crap with hazardous side effects, and leave herb alone.
J.J. Vicars, Tokyo, Japan

Pipe dreams: After reading "Head Games," I went over to Hippie Gypsy in Tempe and did something I've been wanting to do for years -- buy a bong. And man, was I surprised at all the variety. I was used to those little acrylic jobbies, and they stocked those, for sure, but they were back in a corner.

What they really had in huge store were all kinds of glass bongs (ha, water pipes). It was amazing. The lady behind the counter tried to shoo me away from the acrylic ones, saying the glass ones were so high-tech that the smoke hardly did any damage to your throat and lungs.

But I bought an acrylic one anyhow. That the acrylic ones were a fraction of the cost of the glass ones had nothing to do with it. I wanted it to feel like the old days when my buddies and I at Arizona State University would sit in our dorm rooms and fire one up. With Michael Crow around as president of ASU, those days are certainly over!

Anyhow, I don't know how I got along without a bong all these years. Smoking dope through water, even if I don't own a high-tech device, is going to allow me to smoke more of the good stuff than ever.

And, brother, with the way things are going in the world these days, that's a good thing!
Name withheld by request

Bloody Good

Crime fact, not fiction: Your "Murder City" series is a great idea, one I'm sure other publications would do if they could gain the huge access to murder investigations that Paul Rubin has gotten. Most of the time when you read stuff like Rubin's, it's made up. Or based on what the subjects might have said. That "Murder City" contains the actual language of the cops and criminals is truly special.

I thought "The Case of the Grim Tweaker" (February 2) was great, and I also enjoyed "The Case of the Jealous Lover Boy" (February 16), but for different reasons. It was interesting to be on the inside of a domestic dispute in the latter story, and the fact that there were lots of sex toys around made it especially titillating.

Neither story, however, has been a true whodunit. I'm hoping that the stories in the rest of the series expose us to the murder cops solving really difficult cases.

Anyway, Rubin's writing has been without parallel in any journalistic publication I've ever read. I had to pinch myself to realize I wasn't reading crime fiction.
Alvin Sloan, Phoenix

Sex toys "R" us: Come on, New Times! Isn't it a bit homophobic for Paul Rubin, in "The Case of the Jealous Lover Boy," to go on and on about all the sex toys present in Tim Contreraz and Shawn Drake's house, when straight people use sex toys just as much?

I kept thinking the sex toys were going to figure into the killing somehow, but no, they didn't. They were nothing more than a red herring.

This was the classic domestic dispute, and it demeans domestic violence to try to trick up a journalistic article with gratuitous sleaze. Just give us the facts and leave out all the graphic detail about what devices these two men in a homosexual relationship employed in the privacy of their own home.

That sex toys are lying around is hardly shocking in this day and time!
Calvin Smith, Phoenix

Variety show: Jeez, those guys sure did have some big dildos! All the crime-scene stuff in Paul Rubin's "The Case of the Jealous Lover Boy" was very interesting, like an episode of Law & Order.

The Shawn Drake case, though, was truly a slam dunk for the cops. If Phoenix detectives couldn't solve that puppy, they should be banished to the outback of the Mesa PD.

Luckily, Paul Rubin had a gay murder to work with on this one, or there wouldn't have been much to extol. But I enjoyed it anyway, and I guess it shows some variety in the kinds of cases the homicide squad catches.
Jim Leonard, Phoenix

A view to a kill: I have been reading and enjoying Paul Rubin's stories for years, and I just wanted him to know how much I've been loving his "Murder City" stories.

The story of Officer Dave Uribe was straight out of a movie script, and I couldn't stop reading this new one about the lover boys. The dialogue was amazing!
Janice Rodriguez, Glendale