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No New Roads

To the Editor,

For some time I have been walking past a shopkeepers' window that has a "No new roads" sticker in the window urging people to vote no on May 21 on the proposed tax increase to fund road building.

I can understand that the shopkeeper doesn't want to have to collect taxes. I also understand that the shopkeeper spends most of the day in the shop and not going back and forth on Grant Road to take care of business.

As a pedestrian I think that we should build light rail. In the meantime it seems that the current chaos is only going to get worse. We are polluting the central Tucson area more and more. From the Foothills you can see the pale brown nasty cloud of pollutants that hangs over downtown Tucson. This can not be good.

We need to focus on getting more people to participate in the political process. We become less and less of a representative democracy and more and more of a government of vested interests. This is sad...

--Cletis Harry Beegle

Roadless chasm ahead

To the Editor,

As I see it, virtually every "solution" to Tucson traffic congestion--from light rail, to improved bus service, to street widening, to restricted driving privileges by plate number--is a poison pill to some segment of the community, primarily the business community.

I imagine Tucson business leaders and City Hall heads have been wringing their hands over this issue for years, knowing full well that no workable solution exists. They know the transportation bomb is ticking, and are powerless to defuse it.

They have therefore embarked upon a lost cause by means of street-widening proposals, hoping against hope to be somehow saved from the monster they themselves have created.

Community leaders know that commuter mayhem is inevitable, and pray this won't occur on their shifts, or even in their lifetimes. But it will happen, because the seeds of car-culture self-destruction have already germinated, with visible sprouts of commuter discontent protruding from below the surface of social order.

Yet Tucson government and business run headlong toward the precipice, turning a blind eye to the roadless chasm ahead.

Perhaps it's time to start getting out of our cars, a little bit at a time. Maybe we'll learn to live without our cars before Tucson business and government, with their myopic growth goals, make commuter transportation impossible anyway.

--Denny Banks

Freeway is Our Destiny

To the Editor,

I have only been driving for a year now, and already I hate traffic in Tucson. For a period I rode the public bus, and although that was somewhat decent, I did get to my destination with plenty of time to spare and I do see legitimacy in Tucsonans' claims that Tucson needs a better mass transit system. The solution lies in more than just one or two fields, and one thing I can say is for sure: Light rail is NOT the solution, and light rail would NEVER work.

Let's look at a few quick stats--it costs at least $30 million per mile of light rail track, not to mention the labor costs, road overlay, etc. ... the 13 miles of proposed light rail would end up costing $390 million, and we can already see where this road to nowhere leads. Light rail would never pay for itself, the yearly costs would be enormous and in effect the city of Tucson would go bankrupt. That's not a pretty phrase. A bankruptcy in Tucson would mean VERY HIGH taxes and everyone would be adversely affected, no matter what area of Tucson they are from or how much they make or what their job is.

So then, what is the solution? An east-west freeway is the solution, my friends. It is our final destiny. Whether it be now or 20 years from now, eventually we will be forced to build a freeway through Tucson, or the Arizona Department of Transportation or the federal government will step in to save us. Although a freeway would cost upwards of $40 million per mile, that is a definite cost and there are no underlying or high-rate maintenance costs associated with a freeway. Only the traditional costs, which would not amount to even one-eighth of the light rail costs per year.

So I guess it boils down to this: If you support light rail then you support the bankruptcy of Tucson, and anyone who supports that cannot call themselves true Tucsonans. The freeway is the solution, my friends, and whether or not you realize it today or a thousand days from now, it will soon come to our fair city.

--T Greene

FYI, This is Not an Acronym

To the Editor,

Renée Downing deserves the H. W. Fowler Award for Herculean Effort to Save English from the Slobs, except for one error it seems most of the English-speaking world makes. In her piece (Grammar Goddess, April 25) about the apostrophe, she wrote, "This goes for acronyms, too." She cites, as examples, CD's TV's and SUV's, none of which is an acronym.

An acronym is a word, not simply a group of initials. Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language puts it this way: "1. a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters or words in a set phrase, as WAC from Women's Army Corps." Thus IBM is not an acronym, but NATO is.

--Richard W. Bruner

Work Load

To the Editor,

We didn't care for much of James Reel's review of Work Song ("The Master Builder," April 28), but an erroneous statement in the second paragraph gave us pause. In the play, it was not Olgivanna Lloyd Wright who said Frank Lloyd Wright needed a deadline and not a muse; it was Britta, the fictitious German apprentice. Olgivanna implores Britta to stay on at the fellowship if she can be the muse that motivates Wright to work. It is Britta, not Olgivanna, who states, "Mr. Wright does not need a muse, he needs a deadline."

In his review, Reel has followed the example of the authors of Work Song, whose mission seems not to have been the telling of the story of the extraordinary life of America's greatest architect (Reel at least got that right), but the distortion of that man's character and ideas. The play's authors have taken extraordinary dramatic license in their portrayal of Wright, and we can only hope that our fellow audience members have done their own reading, or now plan to (An Autobiography by Frank Lloyd Wright is a fine place to start), to clear up the distortions that were exacted by the authors of this play, and your reviewer.

--Sara Lomasz
Erik Flesch

Wrighting wrongs

To the Editor,

As your reviewer, James Reel, pointed out (April 25), Work Song as presented by the Arizona Theatre Company was a well cast, well performed, well staged play. Sadly, it does not begin to scratch the surface of Frank Lloyd Wright's extraordinary creative life. The playwright has chosen to substitute cheap sensationalism for accuracy. (Clearly the chief source of information must have been Ayn Rand's sensationalist novel The Fountainhead.) For a more accurate version I refer you to Ken Burns' PBS portrayal, Frank Lloyd Wright: Life and Work. It is available on video:

It would have helped had James Reel and the author of this play done more homework on Frank Lloyd Wright. Both seem to have preferred to focus on the spectacular notoriety of Wright's tragic affair with Mameh Cheney rather than presenting a rounded portrayal of this protean intelligence. As a man he was no better than many who are less creative (or than that other protean intelligence, Picasso). He was also the greatest American artist since James McNeil Whistler. Wright maintained that "architecture is the mother of the arts," and Frank Lloyd Wright was more creative than Gropius or Mies van der Rohe or Corbuzier (sic) or any architect of the 20th century.

So let's set the record straight:

1) It was Louis Sullivan who first said "Form Ever Follows Function." Wright made that sentence his watchword and he credited Sullivan with the idea. (In the play it is presented as "Form and Function are One." Wright later wrote about what he called "organic architecture." He was inspired by Sullivan's writings in the early 20th century. Wright always referred reverently to Sullivan as "l'Maitre," and "Lieber Meister" even after leaving Sullivan's firm. That has been omitted from the play, unfortunately.

2) Wright was a structural engineer (which enabled him to create incredibly strong and durable structures). He was never a licensed architect. When plan approval required the signature of a licensed architect Wright had someone who was so licensed sign the plans.

3) In the third act of the play the author has a German Jewish female apprentice of Wright's say that he needed "a deadline, not a muse." Reel mistakenly attributes this statement to Olgivanna.

4) Several characters in the play ask Wright why he "never designed a church." Wright did design the very famous Unity Church--in Oak Park, Ill., in 1904. (He had been raised as a Unitarian.) This church "pioneered poured-concrete construction." (Check the following web site for more information about this distinctive structure: The church is distinctively a Wright structure. He built the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church (1956) in Wawatosa, Wisc., and the Beth Sholom Synagogue (1954), in Elkins Park, Pa. How could the playwright not have known this?

Wright philosophized that the automobile would free Americans and designed the Lindholm filling station in Cloquet, Minn. It is still in service.

Let us hope that the playwright will do better homework next time he writes a play about a well known public figure. And I encourage Mr. Reel to take better notes (and perhaps do some homework of his own) before writing another review.

--Patricia A. McKnight

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