By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
The letters appeared one Saturday morning last month on the southern side of the mountain like one of the gods wrote them with a giant stick of chalk. On Tempe's once-doomed "A" Mountain, the letter G was interlocked with ASU's infamous A, and then an E (with a slightly crooked spine) beneath it to the right. The mountain had been tagged by the ubiquitous graffiti writer AGE ("All Girls Evil") right within spitting distance of the Tempe Police Department.
Turns out one of the town's best-known graffiti artists had turned to a new medium for this prank -- bleached white flour -- much more eco-friendly than paint and totally fitting for a tag next to the Hayden Flour Mill.
"I'm somewhat of an environmentalist -- I do give a shit," AGE explains. "It is a Tempe landmark, so I tried to give respect."
Tagging a mountain takes some planning. AGE bought a 10-pound bag of flour to do a test run in his alley, slicing the bag with a razor for a test spray and estimating the amount of flour he'd need for the sketch he'd made. He ended up at more than 300 pounds of flour.
It also takes some help. "I call a bunch of people to help me out, I thought I had some friends, thought I knew some people that were down, but everybody declined except for two people," he grumps.
The trio humped the flour up the mountain in shopping bags and backpacks around 9 one evening, only to encounter curious onlookers at the top. So they stashed the bags in garbage pails and bushes and left, the mission aborted.
"I'm panicking," AGE says. "My flour's up there, that's my fuckin' investment now -- like 85 bucks' worth. I can't pull out."
He returned alone the next night, hauling the remainder of the flour bags up the hill on his own. With the "G" accomplished and the "E" in progress, he noticed a group of figures near the police station looking his direction and hurriedly tried to finish the last letter.
Unfortunately, it looked like "AGF," and he had to return the next day at lunchtime, in broad daylight, to correct it.
The tag didn't last as long as AGE would have liked. So a few days later he sneaked up the mountain again, this time with a Super Soaker loaded with an industrialized paint compound.
But the paint ate through the plastic water gun. And cops swarming the flour mill with flashlights also put a damper on AGE's plans.
Now, it seems AGE has let the mountain get the best of him. "I fucking hate that mountain, I'm done with it," he says.
So Sue Us
You've gotta love lawyers. No one does dissension within their own ranks better than attorneys. And not even a client to bill in this case.
It seems the State Bar of Arizona's ironically named World Peace Through Law section is having difficulty achieving local peace among lawyers, let alone solving the world's woes.
The dustup stems from Bar President Ernest Calderon's decision to cancel a panel, at this week's annual convention, on international law as it relates to conflicts in the Middle East. Calderon, in an e-mail to lawyers, says he yanked the presentation from the official program because of "calls by concerned and angry State Bar members" that the panel was lopsided in its views on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Meaning he believes the panelists are pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel. At least one critic apparently argued that the panel was anti-George Bush.
The cancellation two weeks before the annual confab of a panel that has been in the works for six months has people, primarily those on the World Peace committee, well, anything but peaceful -- and in an amusingly lawyerly way.
"To our knowledge, this action is unprecedented, and perhaps ultra vires," wrote section chair Steve Doncaster in an e-mail to other attorneys. (We had to consult our own legal counsel, who thankfully does not bill by the hour, to find out that ultra vires means beyond the scope of someone's power.)
"No other Section has suffered this indignity," Doncaster continues. "Nothing this Section has ever done warrants such an exhibition of mistrust, suspicion and derision."
Doncaster argues that Calderon has insulted the speakers, including two university law school professors, both of whom are Jewish. One of them, Stephen Zunes from the University of San Francisco, declared in a widely disseminated e-mail that he planned to be in the specified room at the prescribed time giving the speech he was asked to give, Bar-sanctioned or not.
Doncaster, et al., want the State Bar's board of governors to repeal Calderon's "directive." But, at least as of earlier this week, the program was still officially dismissed with prejudice.
Calderon could not be reached for comment. He was reportedly on a camping trip with the Cub Scouts who likely don't use much Latin legalese around the campfire.
But Bar spokesman Matt Silverman concedes the panel was too political for the organization. And politics, he says, are not allowed under the State Bar's bylaws. "The bylaws say we can't be engaged in funding political activities," he says, adding that all lawyers are forced to join the Bar and pay dues so it's not fair to use their coerced cash to support one side of a highly charged issue.