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No more Mr. Nice Gardeners: The feathered fiend on Mayor Phil's idiot stammerings after the big undocumented-workers' march

Tagger Tagged

Downtown Phoenix gallery owners thought they knew full well why graffiti artist Bobby Castaneda, who owns Se Vende gallery at the west end of Roosevelt Row, had gotten himself arrested.

The rumor circulating through the downtown arts district was that Castaneda got put in the poky on Sunday, March 26, thanks to a tip from Greg Esser, co-owner of eye lounge.

Phoenix proved it can have a protest just like a real city.
Phoenix proved it can have a protest just like a real city.

Seems Esser was so certain that it was Castaneda who'd spray-painted the words "RESIST," "PIGS," and "LOFTZILLA" across the Retail Laboratory storefront in the Artisan Village lofts at Seventh Street and Roosevelt that he left a message with the Phoenix Police Department to call him back. He was planning to rat out Castaneda as the infamous RESIST tagger (as in "resist the gentrification" of Roosevelt Row).

Roosevelt gallery owners and artists sang to The Bird that it's common knowledge that Castaneda's the RESISTer. But Castaneda couldn't be reached for comment, and his brother Eddie Castaneda would neither confirm nor deny that Bobby's The Man.

"I don't know about that," was all Eddie would say on the subject.

Esser was one of several Roosevelt art bunnies duped by RetLab owners Kurt DeMunbrun and Chris Bale, when they tagged their own store as a publicity stunt at the opening of Art Detour ("Tag Team," Joe Watson, March 30). Once Esser learned that the RetLab "vandals" were none other than DeMunbrun and Bale, he canceled his call to the cops.

Still, when Castaneda ended up at the Durango jail, it looked like more than a coincidence. It wasn't. Castaneda was actually busted on two outstanding warrants: driving on a suspended license and having an open container in a moving vehicle.

News of Castaneda's arrest spread when his brother began begging gallery owners to chip in for Bobby's $1,600 bail.

Eddie went to the owners of Mainstay, Holgas and monOrchid -- which had all been tagging victims -- and came away empty. But Eddie must have gotten the bail money somewhere because Bobby was out of jail before this column went to press.

As for the gallery owners not wanting to chip in, what's the expression about not shitting where you eat? If Bobby Castaneda had been a model citizen in the arts community, one gallery owner told The Bird, he might have had better luck getting a handout:

"Four years of defacing our property, and he comes to us for help?!"

Culinary Catfight

The Bird's been getting an earful lately over the apparent demise of the downtown "slow-food" grub-shack Ruby Beet Gourmet. In Heritage Square's Silva House right across from Chris Bianco's high-end pizza palace, Ruby Beet has been dark since the beginning of the year now, a sign stuck on the door stating "Temporarily Closed Due To an Unfortunate Situation."

The property's jointly managed by the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department and the Rosson House Heritage Square Foundation, but neither seemed to know what the deal was. A weird state of affairs considering that this time of the year is usually when hash-slingers Valleywide rake in the most dough.

Ruby Beet started in 2002 as a partnership between two ex-employees of the fine Coup Des Tartes restaurant: Karen Dawson and Marjorie Hoskins. Together they renovated the century-old Silva House, eventually turning the bungalow into a critically acclaimed restaurant. Their inspiration was California chef Alice Waters and the slow-food movement, which emphasizes organic and locally grown produce, free-range livestock, that sort of thing.

Hoskins departed the biz last year, leaving Dawson in charge, so this feathered foodie tracked down Dawson at home a month ago to ask her about the status of The Beet. Dawson said she was in ill health and wasn't sure what was going to happen to the biz. Fair enough. But this plumed gourmand kept hearing scuttlebutt about some beef between Dawson and her ex-partner, so it rang up Hoskins, who painted Dawson as a cross between Martha Stewart and Condoleezza Rice. According to Hoskins, Dawson would threaten lawsuits and routinely get into screaming matches, including with Bianco's girlfriend Susan Poole over parking.

Hoskins claimed to The Bird last week, "On the advice of my attorney and taxman, I had to walk away from the business. Karen's solution to this was to simply lock the doors of the restaurant, thereby requiring me to sue her for my personal items, not to mention my half of the business."

Dawson eventually went to work as a consultant at Cheuvront's Wine and Cheese Bar, where The Bird phoned Dawson up again so it could run Hoskins' claims by her.

"Marjorie walked out on June 29 of 2004, after slapping me in the face, and she has never been in contact with me since," Dawson squawked. "So her accusations are completely wrong."

Dawson said her health's the issue, and Ruby Beet didn't go under: "I closed the restaurant. I need to pay attention to my health."

Dawson acknowledged that the popular Coronado Café is interested in buying her out, and Bob McCarville, a Coronado co-owner, confirmed as much. McCarville said negotiations are ongoing, but that Coronado's already bringing in California chef Christopher Curtis for the new venture, which it hopes to open in May. McCarville added that the menu will be French-inspired, and the name of the new eatery will be something like The House at Heritage Square.

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