Up on a Pedestal
Regarding Edward Lebow's article about Lawrence Tenney Stevens ("The Amazing Colossal Sculptor," October 31) . . . Brilliant!

John Faubion,
Lawrence Tenney Stevens Trust

The Ugly Toxin
Residents of the Valley of the Sun need to wake up and see that the departments of Environmental Quality and Health Services continue to fail at their jobs because they do not provide actual environmental quality and competent health services for the residents of Arizona ("The Pain of Maryvale," Terry Greene Sterling, October 24).

Our state's so-called "environmental experts" ran tests and asserted that Maryvale was free of any environmental pollutant that might make children sick. Only after the Centers for Disease Control investigated and proved statistically that a higher-than-average rate of childhood leukemia was occurring in Maryvale did DHS promise to conduct a study. DHS has owed the Maryvale area this report since 1991; a five-year wait is unacceptable.

The same "experts" refuse to admit that the death rate in South Phoenix is statistically significantly higher since the toxic QPC fire in 1992. These victims of toxic-chemical contamination have been waiting four long years for assistance in addressing serious health problems and in decontaminating their homes. Perhaps a five-year wait is a minimum requirement in Arizona!

Is it a wonder that the residents of northeast Phoenix do not want the "high tech" (another phrase for "toxic chemical emitting") Sumitomo-Sitix industrial complex in their residential community? Industry does not belong in residential neighborhoods. Children should be raised next to parks, not toxic chemicals.

Big corporations, not people, are protected by Arizona's "environmental experts." It is time for DEQ to do the right thing. How many people have to die before DEQ realizes that people are more important than the polluting industries that may have caused those deaths?

Name withheld

Havoc Jam
In defense of "teen anarchists" the Deftones, a few bits of information should have been included in David Holthouse's article ("Stage Fright," October 17). Less than two months prior to the Desert Sky Pavilion show, the Deftones left their tour in Canada and flew to Phoenix to help bury my son, their close friend. Not only did they come to pay respects, but the lead singer, Chino, was the lead pallbearer for someone very special to the band members. Phoenix at one time was a very happy city for them, but to return so soon with such an emotionally sad memory made it very difficult.

It is my personal knowledge that some of the members do not drink alcohol at all, and most of the alcohol consumed on the day in question was done by sneaking fans, and some were invited into the group's dressing rooms. I have the utmost respect for the Deftones, and always will. Remember, there are always two sides to every story.

Gloria Cavalera

David Holthouse responds: Unless slurring and stumbling are Chino Moreno's usual modes of speech and locomotion, he was shitfaced onstage at U-Fest. That much is clear from video footage of the Deftones' performance and the mayhem that followed. As to the backstage drinking, three sources who were in and around Moreno's dressing room that day said he and other members of the Deftones were guzzling rum like pirates. How much help they got from groupies and road crew in plowing through a cooler of beer, I don't know.

Beyond Therapy
"Deadly Panacea" commits a grievous injustice against a brilliant, courageous physician and compounds the difficulties faced by terminally ill people who choose potentially life-saving experimental therapies (Howard Stansfield, September 19). For more than a decade, and virtually alone among all health-care providers in the Valley, Dr. David Payne has refused to accept death as the inevitable consequence of HIV infection. Hundreds of people are alive today, beyond the normal life expectancy of persons with HIV disease, because of his valiant efforts.

Leslie Burroughs knew that medical science and its practitioners could not help her. Death because of AIDS was imminent. She went to Payne because of his reputed willingness to inform patients about experimental therapies that may prolong life. She made the gamble to which people with AIDS or any other terminal illnesses are entitled: Try an experimental therapy which may help, and at the worst, you'll die anyway.

People with terminal illnesses should have two choices: accept the medical prognosis, go along with the medical establishment which offers no alternatives and die on schedule or gamble on experimental therapies, knowing that the worst consequence is shortening life by a few months, versus the hope of extending life by months and possibly years.

Terminally ill people are allowed the first choice and forbidden the second. A medical establishment, bolstered by the media's slanted, sensational treatment of complex life-and-death issues, bars them from making their own choices--fighting for their own lives.

The physician who wants to support a patient's desire to engage in aggressive treatment is confronted by a swamp of antiquated regulations and blatant self-interests. The medical establishment insists that doctors only prescribe approved therapies. Yet, until a few months ago, no therapy was proved effective for HIV disease. Physicians are permitted to support a patient's choice to use experimental drugs if comprehensive records are kept. But a doctor who keeps such records is presumed by the state Board of Medical Examiners to have prescribed the drugs, which board regulations do not permit. In fact, nowhere in board regulations is any provision made for a physician to support a patient's choice without risking professional liability.

Patients are permitted to participate in experimental drug research sponsored by drug companies for commercial purposes, but rarely for substances for which there is no potential profit. Even then, many participants are blindly taking placebos and receiving no drug benefit. Further, the results of such "approved" research takes years to be known--longer than many people with HIV can hope to live.

So, those who opt to fight for their lives must find out about and evaluate promising therapies through word of mouth and rumor rather than from competent medical professionals. They must obtain those therapies through underground and other unmonitored sources and administer them to themselves in the absence of a doctor's watchful eye.

Common sense and compassion say that terminally ill patients should have the right to make their own choices in the absence of effective therapies and be supported by all of the skill and knowledge their physicians can bring to bear. Leslie Burroughs died because of AIDS, not physician misconduct. Unfortunately, because of misplaced blame, many others will die too soon, too tragically. It is the Board of Medical Examiners that should be censured, not a decent, caring man in Mesa who is a heroic by-product of a diseased health-care bureaucracy.

Robert M. Aronin
Laguna Beach, California