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Smoked Out

To the Editor,

Regarding "Chewing the Fat" (August 1): Tom Danehy is far off base when he states that any person who took up smoking after the warnings by the Surgeon General deserved the ill effects, including cancer, he got. Actually, cigarette manufacturers hook these people in their early teens by ad campaigns, product placement in the movies and other methods which make children feel cool and sophisticated if they smoke.

Our society recognizes that people in their early teens need to be protected from their lack of judgment. If an adult seduces one of them sexually he is, rightly, charged with rape. The same should apply to cigarette smoking. The insidious campaigns waged by the tobacco industry seduce children so that by 13 or 14 they are addicted. We all know how difficult it is to break this habit.

Like Tom Danehy, I feel that mature adults bear responsibility for choices which are deleterious to their health. However, the tobacco industry and its henchmen should be held criminally liable for their successful efforts to make our teen-agers into smokers. As a retired thoracic surgeon I will never forget the damage done by them.

--Donald Pearlman, MD


Blame the Schools

To the Editor,

The Weekly fell into that obviously tempting trap, so loved by mainstream media, "Let's find a way to blame the schools for every societal ill" ("Epidemic of Fat Kids," August 15).

Eating habits are formed at home, and two of the three meals young people eat, even after reaching school age (unless the parents don't provide breakfast) are served away from school, but obesity must be the fault of the schools? Does no one question this assumption? What about the weekend, holidays, aren't there a few meals eaten during this time which might establish eating and nutritional habits. Is nutrition not the responsibility of parents?

Yes, schools serve some popular foods and beverages, as any food service looks for what sells. Maybe we ought to question our society and culture, as well as habits our students form off their campuses to discover why we feel we need to promote gluttony in portion size, but please, Weekly, don't keep falling for the stale theme of if something is wrong it must be the fault of the schools. I expect, if mourn, the tendency in mainstream press, but you should hold yourself to a higher standard than that cheap trick.

--Hollis Hemingway


What's the Alternative?

To the Editor,

The next time you print the full-page ad declaring the demographics of The Weekly's subscribers--six out of 10 earn $35 K; they're affluent, educated, etc.--you ought to print that adjacent to the Hightower class-warfare column. You ought to print it adjacent to every "we defend the little guy" propaganda. You ought to print it next to every paragraph that has some hint of The Weekly's self-asserting "alternate" focus. Your publication is wonderfully duplicitous. Keep printing the "why you should place ads in our paper." It is a comfort knowing that the "alternative" community--do you have any demographics on them?--is truly marginal and practically lifeless in its own defenders' publication. Bravo!

--Jeff Calabrese


Dizzy Danehy

To the Editor,

Tom Danehy is a Tucson "must read" for me every week. He really clunked (August 22), however, dogging D-back announcer Rod Allen and suggesting himself as a replacement.

It would have been far better to go after pompous baseball blueblood Thom Brenneman, who calls every pitch as though God himself was at the plate and would declare Rapture if they come inside on him.

Allen, on the other hand, doesn't have the blow-dried sameness of today's breed. He is fun to invite home on the radio. He's a nice guest, and makes up for his lack of polish with a genuine interest in sharing what he knows. He's like those non-tenured professors we all had--wrong initials after the name and few published articles, but great teachers. Listeners get a great baseball education from the man. Better, he doesn't lose his cool in exciting moments--ask anybody in the business about him saving broadcasts during critical calls in the playoffs last year.

Then again, I may have underestimated Danehy. He probably remembers what happened when the English teachers went after a former Cardinal pitcher turned radio guy. Maybe Danehy secretly wants Allen to have a career as long as Dizzy Dean's.

--Steve Nash


You Get What You Pay For

To the Editor,

"We don't pay properly" is a Tucson mantra... but this is nothing new. However, in response to your article ("The Picture Dims," August 22), I was disappointed to see you didn't cover what I perceive to be the main problem with Tucson's local news shows, and that's the programming. HDTV, etc., isn't going to save the networks; what they need is a program worth watching as opposed to the drivel currently being served.

Inexperienced anchors aside, the majority of the local news stories covered are either not worth covering, are offered up in a half-assed manner, or are too local to bother with. For instance, one station insists on making the "Tucson Connection" with every national news story that happens, no matter how irrelevant or inane (example, interviewing a resident who attended Columbine High School 10 years ago who said, "I felt safe when I went there." Oy!)

This surely results in the rolling of eyes from reasonably intelligent viewers everywhere... and then the switching of stations. Why can't they just accept the fact that things happen outside of Tucson and leave it at that. Stop trying to make news where there isn't any. And why not cover more things outside Tucson. Just because I live here doesn't mean I'm not interested in what's going on elsewhere.

In addition, not one of the stations does in-depth reporting. My guess is either they don't know how to ask an intelligent, thought-out question, or they're afraid of stepping on someone's toes. And since there are so many issues in Tucson that need addressing, I just don't understand why they seem to lack decent material. So, in case they are as "news challenged" as I fear, here are a few stories I'd like to see on the local news in depth.

I'd like to see someone interview local and state politicians and ask why Arizona remains a "right to work state" (who is benefiting from this? Not the employees) and continues to have the lowest-paid workers in nearly every profession. On that same note, I'd like to know why big companies like AOL come to town and pay people squat (someone should compare AOL salaries from state to state).

I'd like to know why strip malls continue to be built when the ones built six months ago still haven't been rented. I'd like to know whose pocket the builders are in. I'd like to know why the city would approve Rio Nuevo when they've yet to figure out how to get more tourists, etc., to come to town. Now, we all know why medication for seniors (and others) is so expensive--greedy drug companies. But I'd like to know why so many seniors are on so many drugs in the first place, and are they all really necessary. Or is this just part of the scam? This is a big medical town, surely someone wonders the same thing? I could go on and on, and if the news stations want to hire me as a consultant to think up story ideas for them, I'm available, but not for what they're paying. Which makes me ask, I'd like to know why no one in Arizona has heard the old adage, "You get what you pay for."

--Lorraine A. DarConte

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