A pic of Ashlea Deahl from her www.faceofms.org profile. Deahl suffers from the affliction.
Take a gander at Sarah Fenske's story this week on everyone's fave jailbird Joe Watson, aka, the Salon Bandit. Fenske nabbed a scoop on what a lot of folks suspected from jump -- that Watson's fiancee Ashlea Deahl dropped dime on Joe after recognizing the dope in surveillance footage knocking over a tanning salon. (Talk about cherchez la femme!) Fenske also got Deahl to sing via e-mail. Other than a couple of brief e-mails I got from her, Deahl had ignored my requests for comment. Well, up until today.
Seems Deahl's now editor of Phoenix Magazine, picking up where her long-time boss Robert Stieve left off. Deahl was managing editor under Stieve until he left the mag recently. Stieve's the editor over at Arizona Highways as of this Monday according to publisher Win Holden. I don't think I ever realized this, but Arizona Highways is a division of the Arizona Department of Transportation. So Stieve's now a state employee. (I'm sure his mom's very proud.) The two pubs compete on the newsstand, but not for advertising, according to Holden, as Arizona Highways has none. Holden says his mag has something like 200,000 subscribers, and Phoenix Magazine has around 60,000. How this impacts Stieve's salary is unclear. But no doubt the government benefits over at Arizona Highways are smashing.
Interestingly, Deahl herself had a hand in Joe's departure from New Times. As managing editor, she and her superiors allowed Watson to freelance stories for Phoenix Magazine under the pseudonym "Zachary Best." When Joe was confronted about the moonlighting by a fellow staffer, he denied it, then disappeared on deadline and never came back. You might say, in a way, Zachary Best killed off Joe Watson's New Times career.
The Watson-Deahl relationship had its ups and downs. They lived together on and off, so I don't know if they were living together at the time Watson left New Times. But Deahl certainly knew her then boyfriend was freelancing for her under an assumed name, while he maintained a full time staff writer gig with another local publication. Asked about it, Deahl had this to say in an e-mail to me:
It was Joe's decision to write under a pen name, and he did so with the knowledge and consent of myself AND the editor at the time. Joe pitched stories as any other writer would, and I assigned stories as any managing editor would, so yes, as an editor I facilitated his freelance work, but I did not give Joe work simply because I had a relationship with him.
Yeah, but would Deahl have "facilitated his freelance work" if Joe had not been her boo? I mean, does Phoenix Magazine normally let their scribes pen stuff under these circumstances? Deahl offered this as her "final comment on anything Joe related":
We don't consider New Times a competing pub simply due to different demographics, and while it's not common practice by any means, we have allowed a writer on the very rare occasion over several decades to write under a pen name as long as it does no harm to the reader, i.e., the writer's true identity doesn't introduce a bias to the story that the reader then isn't aware of due to a pseudonym.
Deahl put up with a lot of shit from Joe, or so I've heard second hand. And I'm sure it was rough having to turn the dood in. But the long-suffering jazz only works so much for me in light of the Zachary Best deception.
Is there an enduring lesson to the Joe drama? After all, as Fenske points out, his heists, though many, were penny-ante. And the only reason we in the press give a fuck is because we worked with the guy. Phil Spector, Joe ain't. If he hadn't worked for nearly every pub in the Valley, he would've gotten a few graphs in the Rep, a segment on the local news, and that'd be it. So what's it all about, Alfie? What's the big pic?
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Well, I'd personally be skeptical of any dood pulling the bag-over-the-hand trick in the future. I mean, why wouldn't someone show you the gat? Doesn't make any sense. Other than that, the whole thing makes me wanna whistle the theme song from Baretta (ironic in light of Robert Blake's far more serious brush with the law). You know, "Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time, yeah. Don't do it!" Or there's that classic tune from Bobby Fuller (also covered by The Clash), 'cept Joe had no "six gun":
Breakin' rocks in the ... hot sun I Fought the Law and the ... law won I Fought the Law and the ... law won I needed money, 'cause I ... had none I Fought the Law and the ... law won I Fought the Law and the ... law won
I left my baby and I feel so bad I guess my race is run Well, she's the best girl ... I've ever had I Fought the Law and the ... law won I Fought the Law and the ... law won