Single-File, Please!

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

After Diff'rent Strokes was canceled, The Bird gave up on sitcoms as a diversion. Fortunately, this squawker lives in Phoenix, where politicians provide almost endless yuks with their foolhardy antics, so who needs TV? The Bird's new laugh riot came from none other than Mayor Phil Gordon, who announced his deep distress following that big, noisy pro-immigration protest rally.

After he reportedly took heat from business owners who found their day disrupted by the 20,000 illegal alien demonstrators and their sympathizers who marched up 24th Street from McDowell Road to Camelback Road on March 24, our Phil issued a statement that he was "incredibly upset" that protest organizers had "trampled on the rights of others" by not obeying city laws and ordinances.

Phil stammered that the huge march -- which was headed for the office of Arizona U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, who's co-sponsoring legislation that would give illegal immigrants up to five years to leave the country -- endangered public safety and wrecked a whole lot of commerce by shutting down the stretch of North 24th Street.

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

Apparently, Phil was pissed because alleged shifty protest leaders told him that about 3,000 people would participate in the march. The mayor claimed they vowed that each of these 3,000 would stay on the sidewalks and not spill out into the street. When seven times that many marchers showed up and dared to step off the curbs, Phil went so nuts that certain city officials couldn't understand the babble that was coming out of his mouth (oh, wait a minute, even when he's calm and collected, nobody can understand much of what our tongue-tied municipal executive's trying to elucidate; most Mexican immigrants speak more coherent English)!

The Bird's view is that even the protest organizers were a little surprised at how many undocumented workers would hit the streets in outrage over nutball anti-immigration hypocrisy in this country. No more passive Mr. Nice Gardeners. Folks from below the border are rightly angry that they do a butt-load of dirty work in this country for slave wages and get nothing but grief.

The protest organizers appeared the next day on Channel 12's evening newscast saying they were offended by the mayor's accusations and demanding an apology from hizzoner. Phil's been stuttering some stuff since, which may have been that apology. Nobody can say for sure.

Since then, local Latino students have staged almost daily walkouts (at one high school in the East Valley, a Mexican flag was raised on the campus flagpole by Latino students and then taken down and burned by white students), and poor-slob business owners have been hogging call-in radio shows to bitch about how the big, bad 24th Street rally screwed up commerce for that entire afternoon.

Boo-hoo. The hilarious thing is, many of these bitchers (natch) are restaurant proprietors who employ illegal aliens in their kitchens. The Bird's saying, come on, have you ever peeked back into the kitchen of most any restaurant in the PHX and not seen a throng of workers who probably didn't have green cards? Any restaurateur in the tony 24th Street and Camelback area (where the protest march concluded) who can prove that he or she's never employed an illegal alien, please contact the Immigration and Naturalization Service for an instant inspection.

This is one reason all the outrage over the big march is so rib-splitting.

White-bread fools like to go around pretending that illegal aliens are taking away so many jobs from Americans, when Americans don't want 95 percent of the jobs that the mostly Mexicans do. For instance, sources in the Phoenix-area construction industry say that many projects would dry up here if only Americans could be employed. Many companies would go bankrupt if they had to pay higher wages to Americans, but that isn't even the larger problem. There simply aren't enough Americans interested in low-level construction jobs to keep many firms afloat.

The Bird's got to give President Bush props for insisting that any sweeping national anti-immigration legislation contain provisions for making undocumented workers who're already here legal, which would be a step toward admitting their contributions to our economy.

The Bird caught clean-cut Anderson Cooper's little CNN story about our lazy U.S. Border Patrol letting in all those illegal aliens who're clogging up our health-care system, etc. First off, the least we can do is give undocumented workers health care, since practically every upper-middle-class working homeowner with a yard and a messy house around here is exploiting Mexican labor. Hey, you Bill O'Reillys, imagine what it would cost you to employ Americans to do your shit work (provided you could find many who'd be willing).

Phil, your complaints are just plain stupid. Did you really expect illegal immigrant protesters to act like a bunch of subservient maids and quietly march single-file down the sidewalk during a rally against federal laws against them? You did, didn't you? But it was a freaking protest rally! Remember those? Remember when black people staged huge protest rallies? Now, another disadvantaged minority's complaining. Come on, think back, Mayor. You used to be a liberal with convictions before you turned into the worst kind of kiss-ass politician.

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.

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.

"We did discuss calling it Across From Bianco," McCarville wagged. "Then we'd never have to give directions."

Susan Poole didn't want to comment on any disagreements she may have had with Dawson. But Hoskins sure wanted to discuss the alleged slapping incident Dawson described.

"She's completely off her rocker!" Hoskins declared. "That night she was in a screaming match with Susan over at Pizzeria Bianco. It was like a bad episode of Jerry Springer. When she stepped back into the restaurant, she got on the phone with the city and was leaving a message at the top of her lungs, screaming. That's when I told her I could no longer be associated with her and left out the back door."

The ex-partner said she left Dawson all the money in the Ruby Beet bank account. "I was thinking along the lines that she would be buying me out," Hoskins stated. "What she did was change the locks on the door."

Paper Chase

If you're living in the East Valley, The Bird's guessing you've noticed something different about your "community" edition of the Arizona Republic. Namely, that it looks more like New Times.

Yep, the Republic's envied us for a long time. The East Valley community inserts tucked into the Republic have gone tabloid. And, if unreliable sources can be trusted (more on that later), the entire Republic may soon follow.

Here's the skinny: Last June, the Republic debuted this new all-tabloid format in some West Valley 'burbs. Instead of devoting a section of the paper to zoned local news, it offered West Valley readers a special "community newspaper" in tabloid format, three or four days a week, depending on the location. Sort of like YES!, but without beautiful people, and, alas, with the same old boring stuff about city council zoning hearings.

The remaining West Valley suburbs followed in October. On March 15, the Republic released similar tabloids for Tempe, Gilbert, Chandler, Ahwatukee and Mesa.

The goal, according to Republic publisher John Zidich, is to "extend our footprint." Rather than being buried in a fat daily, the new tabs can stand alone. And that means the Republic can use 'em to sell local ads. (Which's what the Republic's all about; it sure ain't about stellar news coverage, too.)

Zidich said the Republic's now distributing an estimated 50,000 tabloids, four days a week, to targeted households and to grocery stores and Laundromats (huh?) everywhere.

"It all goes back to what we can do better than anybody in the marketplace, which is deliver quality local news," he twittered, without a note of irony. "But to do it with greater frequency and reach into the market."

The première editions in the East Valley included a letter from Paul Maryniak, the Republic's general manager for the Southeast Valley, touting the new compact style and attempting to head off reader complaints.

"Our research shows that most readers find [the new format's] a more dynamic and cleaner presentation of all the news you want about the people, issues, and events in your community," Maryniak wrote in the Tempe version. "Readers have told us they think the compact form is easier to store . . . and they appreciate how our concise, fact-packed format fits their busy lifestyle."

Now, considering its employer, this faux falcon's always been more than a little fond of tabloids. But it's got to ask: If tabloids are so great, why is the Arizona Republic itself still a broadsheet?

Maryniak wasn't talking. But he was writing e-mails, one of which was leaked to The Bird. In the missive, Maryniak was apparently responding to an annoyed Chandler Republic reader. "I think it's absolutely awful," the reader concluded. "If this format were really better, you'd do it to the entire newspaper."

To which (get this!) Maryniak responded: By the end of the year, the Scottsdale Republic will go tabloid. And after that, who knows?

"We have discussed taking the entire paper to a compact," Maryniak wrote, "but obviously there are huge considerations given the bulk of certain days when we publish."

Maryniak acknowledged, though, that he didn't know exactly where discussions by the paper's hierarchy stood on the issue.

Publisher Zidich insists they've not even gotten started.

"We haven't discussed the main sections of the paper becoming tabloid," he said, flatly. As for the Scottsdale edition, even, Zidich insisted, "We haven't discussed any further rollouts at this time."

At this time? Does The Bird detect wiggle room? After all, don't Scottsdale residents deserve something concise and fact-packed, too? Don't they deserve a product that's at least shaped like New Times?

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