Lame Time, Last Year

Reeking havoc, Phoenix style, in the 12 months the millennium forgot

Stalk Market Crash

In March, police arrested accused serial stalker Gabriel Espinosa. Espinosa, who told police he was married to Mariah Carey, was also under investigation for stalking actress Christina Applegate, as well as writing a threatening postcard to Sheriff Joe Arpaio and local TV personalities Jineane Ford and Jana Bommersbach. The unemployed deliveryman had earlier been questioned in Beverly Hills after he left an envelope at Madonna's recording studio bearing a sticker that read, "Jesus Is Coming -- Look Busy."

Mondo Connie

Mitch O'Connell
Mitch O'Connell

On February 17, the Arizona Republic devoted its front page to a rambling, triple-bylined story that, some 6,955 words later, concluded that, no, presidential hopeful John McCain had never had an affair with ex-Hawaiian Eye starlet Connie Stevens. After offering no evidence to suggest that McCain was ever involved in the first place, the baffling saga also went on to absolve the politico of any participation in a sensational dismemberment murder then in local headlines.

Louie, Louie!

Claiming that news of the alleged scandal would "blow" the rotund comic's career, Richard John Gordon of Mesa was charged with attempting to extort $250,000 from comic Louie Anderson, after the entertainer allegedly sexually propositioned him in a casino several years ago. Prior to alerting FBI agents in April, Anderson reportedly had already ponied up $100,000 in blackmail payments.

"I see dead pupils!"

To draw attention to the perils of drinking and driving, 24 students at Rhodes Junior High in Mesa attended class dressed as corpses last March; although the students were to remain stone-faced and silent, some classmates spent the day trying to make them laugh.

The "Show Me" doctor

Following an investigation by the Arizona Board of Medical Examiners, Mesa doctor David G. Lawson was allowed to continue practicing in this state -- even though his license had been revoked in Missouri when several patients revealed he'd had sex with them in his office and his car in return for prescription drugs.

Not another Mickey Mouse operation

Jimmy Lee Naylor, a courier, was arrested in February when police who searched his home found a cache of stolen Disney memorabilia -- watches, plush toys, collectible figurines and animation cels -- worth more than $30,000.

No wonder they bury their heads in the sand

Headliners at this year's Chandler Ostrich Festival included Molly Hatchet and Little Feat.

Wet blanket

Paradise Valley cartoonist Bil Keane came under attack from local firefighters last summer, who claimed that a July strip involving a wading pool was insensitive to children's water safety issues. In the "Family Circus" cartoon, "Daddy," sitting a couple feet away from a wading pool, is constantly distracted from a magazine he's reading by his four children hollering, "Lookit!" and "Are you watching?"

It was the principal of the thing

Despite public outcry from parents and students, David Cummings, a first-grade teacher of 21 years at Chandler's Pomeroy Elementary School, was transferred to another school after he playfully shoved a piece of cake in the principal's face at a school's-out party.

"Backed-up cesspools, movie stars . . ."

Following 300 police calls to the property (incidents involved everything from burglary to violent crime) and more than 35 building-code violations (trash, cockroaches), officials discovered that one of the primary owners of the ramshackle Canyon Square Apartments in West Phoenix was Vicki Reynolds, mayor of Beverly Hills.

Mi vida logo

Members of Downtown Phoenix Partnership spent $800,000 in private and public funds to "rebrand" Phoenix downtown with the baffling appellation "Copper Square" -- replete with a virtually unreadable "CS" insignia that looked like Yves St. Laurent's logo.

What the "l"?

Following two potentially costly -- and highly embarrassing -- false arrests involving mistaken identities, Mesa police have decided to change the way they identify suspects. In one case, Ja'Mal Brown was taken into custody, even though work records proved he could not have been at the scene of an undercover drug buy. In another, Aaron Markley was erroneously arrested because police misspelled his name, adding an "l" to a suspect whose last name was "Markey."

"Grandma, what big feet you have!"

After deliberating for just 90 minutes, a jury convicted Amy Taylor, 75, of aggravated assault on a police officer. Described by one witness as the "Energizer Bunny," Taylor repeatedly kicked a cop who'd been called to City Hall to quiet her down during a tirade about the state's public health system.

"My, Grandma! What big rocks you have!"

"The cars came through there like she was giving it away." So one neighbor told police last July after Sarah Chandler Jones, 76, was arrested for selling crack out of her South Phoenix home.

Battery not included

Local domestic-violence groups expressed outrage when The Cajun House hosted a "wife beater" party in June, even when the Scottsdale nighterie explained the term refers to the nickname for the tight white tank tops worn by kids, not spousal abuse. Adding that the club was in no way "advocating wife beating," Cajun House manager Tom Welton told a reporter that the event was all in fun and that the idea was simply "for nice kids to dress up like low life."

Con film fest

Leaving no promotional venue unexploited, Sheriff Joe Arpaio hit the Internet this year with a live "Jail Cam" feed that allowed Web surfers to ogle up to 40 prisoners in a holding tank.

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