Where's My Purse Again?

Does Jimmy eat purses? Only if you blink at America West Arena.

The Spike has gotten used to getting publicly patted down, probed, searched and scrutinized in the months since 9/11.

But The Spike never expected extreme measures at a Blink 182 concert, where the guys like to run around naked, or nearly so, under all those tattoos. No need to friskthem, although a body cavity search might be in order.

With national security possibly at stake, America West Arena staff went a little far at the recent pop-punk concert featuring Blink 182, Green Day and the Valley's own Jimmy Eat World. The MTV Pop Disaster Tour stop on April 19 wasa disaster for girls (and possibly some boys) who unknowingly tried to bring their purses with them.

There were long lines to get in, while pat-downs and such were carried out. And hundreds of concertgoers were surprised to find their purses confiscated by security guards if the bags were larger than wallet-size. Girls were allowed to take the contents of their purses with them but had to leave the bag with the guards.

Who simply tossed the bags, empty or not, into a pile. A very large pile.

The crack security staff also told bag owners that the purses might not be there after the show. And they were right about that.

What a shock: The pile of purses was gone when the concert let out.

Several angry concertgoers began searching around the arena and found dozens (at least) of purses stuffed inside garbage bins.

The Spike called America West security a few days after the concert and was told no one knew anythingabout confiscated purses. Attempts to reach the head of the security staff were unsuccessful.

Now, The Spike appreciates public safety as much as the next guy, but it seems like somewhere -- on the tickets, on the Web site, on a big sign in front of the arena -- there should have been an alert: "NO PURSES ALLOWED."

And what's the purpose of letting people keep the stuff that was in the bag, while leaving the bag behind? The Spike thinks people would be safer if they did away with mosh pits and crowd surfing.

As the Blink boys would say, it's all the small things.

It Takes a Villa

The Spike was among the, ahem, esteemed journalists pounding back copious quantities of alcohol at the annual Arizona Press Clubawards banquet, held Saturday night at the Heard Museum.

Great place for a party, by the way, even if the neighbors don't like the traffic, the noise and, The Spike is sure, the nicely dressed couple (undoubtedly reporters) openly having sex against the side of a large burgundy SUV in the Heard's parking lot just before the banquet ended. The Spike's pretty sure it wasn't emcee David Leibowitz, even though he warmed up the crowd by reporting, and The Spike is forced to paraphrase here, that he'd either worked with, fought with, gotten drunk with, hit on or slept with just about everyone in the room.

Still, journalists who stayed until the end couldn't help but notice that La Voz, one of the city's Spanish-language newspapers, and especially reporter Juan Villa, kicked butt, winning numerous awards, not only for reporting and writing but also for design.

Local media types should have been looking at La Voz a bit more closely in recent weeks. They would have seen that it was Villa who, on April 17, actually broke the story about a legislative aide accusing her legislator boss of sexual harassment.

Villa reported that the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is investigating the untimely departure of Kimberly Lujan from her position as a secretary in the state House of Representatives. As with most secretaries at the capitol, Lujan was assigned to two lawmakers -- Representative Bobby Lugo, a Bisbee Democrat, and Representative Albert Tom, a Democrat from Chambers.

Lujan, according to La Voz, says that Lugo was physically and verbally abusive to her -- in public -- pretty much the whole time she worked for him, which was February 2001 until November, when she was either fired (she says) or quit (the official version). Lujan says she was canned after her female supervisor accused her of inventing the incidents.

Tom, meanwhile, has taken Lujan's side on this, as La Voz reported. Tom even wrote a memo to House Speaker Jim Weiers, protesting Lujan's dismissal and noting that many people were witnesses to the way Lugo treated Lujan. The January 9 memo, which The Spike obtained from Villa, also points out that legislative leadership should be concerned that the head secretary is condoning bad behavior toward secretaries, which would tend to give obnoxious elected power-trippers a license to be even more annoying.

"Ms. Lujan was ridiculed for her inappropriate dress, wearing perfume and other insignificant ridiculous things," Tom wrote to Weiers. "This is comparison to Ms. Kay Dennis practicing her 'putting' with her golf club in the hallway during working hours. What's the difference?"

A week later, local dailies were playing it as if it were their own scoop, although it's not clear whether the other reporters scored the Tom memo, since there was no mention of the journalistically irresistible Kay Dennis golf quote.

Now, that's not unusual in the shark-infested waters occupied by reporters, who, The Spike can tell you, are the biggest sharks of all. Journalists are notoriously competitive, some would say back-stabbing, and absolutely hate to credit the competition if they think they can get away without doing so. (Hey, that's what the Associated Press is for.)

What's interesting this time, however, is that Lujan shopped the story around to capitol reporters for weeks before it appeared in La Voz. Her people tell The Spike that she tried to get The Arizona Republic and other legislative reporters to write about it weeks ago. But the mainstream media took a pass, until Villa's story prompted an angry press release from Lugo, denying all. That hit the press room on April 22; on April 23 both the Republic and the Arizona Daily Star, closer to Lugo's home turf, published pieces.

The Spike would think the roomful of reporters that is the capitol press corps would have snapped up first dibs on an interesting little dalliance like this in the face of otherwise boring (but important) budget bickering. (Note to self: Spike, take your clubs to the capitol more often.)

Perhaps the capitol press just needs to learn español.

With reporting from Laura Laughlin.

Spike us! Call 602-229-8451 or e-mail spiked@newtimes.com

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