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Are Artists Being Used, Abused by Rio Nuevo?

After closely following the developments in the Rio Nuevo story over the past nine months, I and others find ourselves in complete agreement with John Kromko's assessments ("A Longer Life?" Currents, Jan. 12), especially when he observes, "A lot of people who wanted to restore downtown jumped on the bandwagon. ... Those people have been tricked."

Certainly, many in the Tucson Downtown Alliance have been, but so have the individual low-income artists of the Warehouse Arts District who are now coming to realize that in the formulas of Rio Nuevo's gentrification process, they will eventually be evicted and displaced. If Warehouse Arts Management Organization leaders can not effectively advocate for leases and organize anti-eviction ordinances by the time the extension is passed, then 300-400 artist/tenants--whose role it has been to serve as props in the cultural screening perpetrated by Rio Nuevo's hardcore developers--will be very short-lived indeed.

Robert Steigert


Use MMORPGs in Moderation, Please

In response to your article on Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (Guest Commentary, Jan. 12), I'd like to offer a different perspective. MMORPGs, like many video games, are about stimulating the imagination. I've seen (but not played) "World of Warcraft," and it is definitely a beautiful game with colorful landscapes and detailed creatures.

One aspect of MMORPGs that is often overlooked is the focus on teamwork. You may not know those other people you are playing alongside, but it is nevertheless beneficial to work as a group to overcome obstacles. Different characters band together, using their respective strengths to defeat a common foe. It's certainly a lesson in cooperation. Working together in a video game is no substitute for face-to-face interaction, but this aspect of MMORPGs should not be ignored.

I don't mean to dismiss your criticism of MMORPGs--they can be dangerously addictive. But like any other hobby, they are fun and rewarding when practiced in moderation. Let's give them a fair shake.

Mike Townsend


Those in Wyoming Marched Against Comments From Reviewers, Not Hatred?!?

I've largely stopped reading James DiGiovanna's movie reviews, but was coaxed to this week's review of Ang Lee's film Brokeback Mountain based on the titillating comments about its positive nature on the contents page ("Riveting Romance," Cinema, Jan. 12). Imagine my surprise when a third of the way through, I was greeted by a snide and completely gratuitous slam against my home state, and the completely unnecessary involvement of Matthew Shepard's memory in an attempt to denigrate the nature of people in the state of Wyoming. Not only am I a native of Wyoming and the granddaughter of a sheepherder; I was a childhood friend of Matthew Shepard's and a student at the University of Wyoming at the time of his murder.

I assure the staff and readers of the Tucson Weekly that the people of Wyoming are not, as Mr. DiGiovanna alludes, inclined to "... beat, pistol-whip, tie to a fence, and leave to die ... suspected (shepherds)."

Wyoming is a live-and-let-live state, with a healthy and surprisingly large community of comfortable gay men and women living side by side with their straight neighbors--some even going so far as to (GASP!) raise livestock. No one forced Matthew to return to Wyoming to attend university; in fact, he chose to return after several years living and studying abroad. The fact that he fell victim to two meth-addicted creeps bent on robbing him for drug money is an extremely sad footnote to his short life. I can remember thinking as a fifth-grader that Matt would be famous someday, though at the time I hoped it would be for his talent as an actor.

In the six years I've lived in Tucson, I can think of two blatant hate crimes against gay men (one resulting in the man's death at the hands of a skinhead), and both in what most would consider "gay friendly" parts of town. There have probably been more incidents that I cannot recall. While the citizens of Tucson did express outrage following those crimes, it was on nowhere near the scale following Matt's murder.

While Wyoming has a reputation as a conservative state populated with conservative people, Arizona very closely mirrors my home state's politics. I would argue that an openly gay man faces just as much danger on the streets of Tucson, Mesa or Prescott as he does in Casper, Cheyenne or Gillette.

Perhaps before Mr. DiGiovanna decides to use his film review column as a sounding board for his misguided opinions again, he should do a little more homework. Comments such as his are exactly what we marched against in the days following Matthew Shepard's death.

Alicia Larson


'The Fever' Was Indeed Fantastic!

James Reel's review of The Fever ("One Man's Malady," Performing Arts, Jan. 12) was fabulous. After reading it, I knew I had to see the play, and I wasn't disappointed--it is brilliant.

If you've ever spent much time in Latin America, or at least seen the grinding poverty 70 miles away in Nogales, Sonora, this play is a must-see. The internal struggle that comes from being a "have" among the "have-nots" is powerfully depicted. The actor, J. Andrew McGrath, masterfully captures the conflict of conscience that results after exposure to harsh and painful realities.

Despite the disturbing nature of the play, it can be of therapeutic value by helping one confront those thoughts and emotions that painfully surface after witnessing the depth of suffering and injustice of the masses in whatever country. By confronting those feelings that are usually kept hidden away, it may be possible to find a greater degree of inner peace and avoid the plight so intensely portrayed in the play.

Richard Boren


Graffiti Is Nothing to Fear; Thrill-Seeking Police Are

Call it propaganda, hubristic lying, ignorance or myopia: Whatever your viewpoint, bad writing by Lee Allen is a big problem in Tucson Weekly ("Tucson Tagging," Jan. 12).

I find it ridiculous that bullshit like this is printed in a paper that features Tucson's culture, music and art. Maybe the best writing is now saved for the movie reviews and uncensored personals.

I don't believe the police graffiti specialists, Lee Allen and these abatement program directors understand any form of art. I don't believe they attend art galleries or museum exhibitions. I don't think they rate graffiti against any art category or cultural aesthetic.

Graffiti deserves more respect and understanding than what is given by the opposing forces. When I read "Tucson Tagging," I felt like I was watching Reefer Madness adapted for graffiti.

In some ways, it's good the punishing factors don't understand the graffiti culture fully; the kids may reign longer. On the other hand, if the law and its regulators had a better idea of the culture, the disciplinary actions might adjust to become more fair. Vandalism or not, it's absurd to send people who paint illegally to prison. And it's just as stupid to group every type of vandalism together. The people painting racist remarks or hateful messages aren't the ones painting entire murals and colorful pieces.

The graffiti writers who do paint illegally don't terrify me. I'm much more worried about the thrill-seeking police who carry guns than the thrill-seeking kids who carry spray paint. I also worry: If a veteran officer in the TPD Special Investigation Section can be so utterly confused and out of logic with something as small as graffiti, what else can he be confounded by?

Isaiah Camacho

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