Out of the Woods
Aside from Amy Silverman's richly earned triumph as the state's Journalist of the Year, the clear highlight of Saturday's Arizona Press Club banquet was emcee Grant Woods' riffing.
The Flash -- who attended the Burton Barr Central Library function disguised as a shelf of classic fiction -- was impressed by the sharp, informed patter dispensed by the attorney general-cum-talk show savant. Highlights:
Announcing a winning story from Prescott titled "[Sam] Steiger: the man, the myth, the mayor," Woods tacked on ". . . the piece of shit."
Conveying a judge's comments on a winning article about some guy named Steve Wilson, Woods quipped, "It's nice that Steve Wilson got mentioned here tonight" -- a dig at the Arizona Republic columnist of the same name who didn't otherwise merit a mention.
A sports story about the dénouement of Suns coach Danny Ainge was headlined, "Head coach opts to resign for wife, 6 kids." Woods remarked, "This story was also nominated in the fiction category."
Woods joked that Tribune reporter and noted Fife Symington apologist Mark Flatten was suffering from a broken nose. "It seems Fife stopped suddenly while he was walking into court," Woods needled.
The Humble Snow-White Rat
The Flash has always referred to U.S. Senator John McCain as "Humble John" or the "Snowy Haired Senator." It seems Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has his own moniker for Arizona's senior senator. Washingtonian magazine reports that when McCain "returned to the Senate after his attempt to win the GOP presidential nomination, he was greeted with a standing ovation by fellow Republican senators at a luncheon hosted by majority leader Trent Lott, who said, 'Senator McCain is one of our brothers.'
"But on Super Tuesday, when Lott called up McCain's long-fought-for airport-authorization bill that called for more long-distance slots at Reagan National Airport, Lott told a group of Republican senators, 'We're going to take this legislation up today while the white rat isn't in town so he can't take credit for it.'"
Stand By for Clues
It was the kind of news tidbit that radio fossil Paul Harvey should have loved: the well-known head of a chain of health-food stores stung by a $1.1 million verdict in a sexual harassment case for making really stupid comments about how inferior women are. The tale of the lawsuit, filed by one of Hi-Health's former female managers against the chain and founder Sy Chalpin, was first reported in New Times on April 13. The jury's verdict made the front page of last Friday's Arizona Republic. And that morning, KTAR listeners -- Harvey's Phoenix radio outlet -- heard the story during the regular news at 8:30 a.m.
Then Valley resident Harvey came on and chatted about the stories from that morning he found newsworthy. Those, however, did not include the large verdict against Hi-Health. This may be because the company is a main sponsor of Harvey's radio show and Chalpin is often touted as some sort of genius and not the primordial boor the jury found him to be. Harvey did laud the virtues of some of Hi-Health's products, though, during a commercial break.
Meanwhile, the one who's in the pink of health these days is Jill Lansdale, the plaintiff in the case. She'll get a big check from Hi-Health if Chalpin loses an appeal his lawyers say they'll file. "I am feeling great, I am feeling very good," she told the Flash last week after the verdict was returned. The trial lasted eight days, but jurors deliberated less than five hours before sticking it to Chalpin.
And now you know the rest of the story.
J.D.'s Really, Really Big Tent
The biggest story in the national media over the past few weeks has been the saga of Elian Gonzalez. For the benefit of anyone who's been hibernating, Elian is the 6-year-old Cuban boy whose mother died while a group of refugees was floating to the United States. He was rescued by fishermen and given to relatives in Miami, who have been resisting any attempt to return the kid to his father in Cuba.
The debate over whether to send him home or keep him here has been raging, and one trenchant commentator has been Arizona's very own J.D. Hayworth.
The Haystack, one of our more photogenic politicians, has a seat in Congress. A very BIG seat. But we shouldn't expect him to waste his time representing Arizona there when he could be fighting godless communism instead. When federal agents forcibly took the boy from his U.S. relatives and handed him back to his old man, J.D. had a thing or two to say. And he said it on KTAR.
The day after the federal agents' raid, The Haystack declared that Elian should remain here. Why? Because the quality of life is better in this here U.S. of A. than it is in that there Cuba under those Commies, that's why. J.D. pointed out that Elian will end up working in the fields, by God.
The Flash was eager to hear more, but J.D. didn't return calls. Probably too busy waging war against pinkos who want their children back. But since he apparently believes that the U.S. should welcome all furriners who'd have an inferior standard of living back home, the Flash is passing his number along to Chicanos por la Causa, which will doubtless appreciate his views on immigration.
NAFTA has reinforced Mexico's status as a Third World country by allowing American businesses to relocate there and pay workers 60 cents an hour -- although the cost of living in Mexican border towns is hardly less than that of border towns on the U.S. side. Many of the workers in the maquiladoras live in makeshift shacks among garbage piles and spend hours traveling to work each day. The Flash assumes that J.D. will be introducing legislation to allow all working-class Mexicans to immigrate to the U.S.
Phoenix is a fast-growing city. It'll grow even faster once most of the population of Ju#aacute;rez is living here. Or is poverty only a problem in Communist countries?
Institutional Flop houses
Just when the Flash thinks the new-and-improved Millennial Arizona Republic couldn't sink any lower in its shameless boosterism, it rises to the challenge and succeeds. Witness last Wednesday's story on the front of the "Valley & State" section.
The story breezily tells us how "Phoenix business leaders want to build low-rent apartments downtown that they're calling 'workforce housing.'"
Astute readers -- actually, any reader who isn't missing a chromosome -- will realize immediately that the term "workforce" doesn't apply to anyone working for a living wage. They're talking about single-room occupancy, the traditional euphemism for flop houses.
"We need this kind of housing downtown," the paper quotes Councilman Doug Lingner as saying. "Many people in service jobs downtown need a place they can afford."
No kidding, Doug.
We need this kind of housing downtown because downtown is booming, and the suits and ties need peons to run after them. Phoenix Community Alliance Director Donald Keuth is quoted as saying, "With the new downtown growth, there is a huge need for safe, affordable, decent places to live."
The Flash thought Phoenix's visionaries had already approved a billion-dollar housing facility for these folks downtown. It's called a jail.
Actually, downtown is full of safe, decent places to live. But they're only affordable if you're being paid a living wage.
The Flash was also tickled by the Republic's Monday headline: "Girl 'good' after lion attack." Never better, no doubt.
Rich & Famous
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Valley gossip mongers have long spread the word that Jordan Rich must have hired a PR firm to get her name in the papers -- after all, the young zoning attorney's name and photo are ubiquitous in the society columns. She's even penned her own pieces for the Republic and the Tribune. Rich denies the rumor about hiring a flack. In any case, she's got her own full-time representative now in political spinmeister Jason Rose; the two are set to marry this month.
Rich's legion of fans can soon partake of her via another medium: television. She confirms another rumor that she'll make weekly appearances on Channel 15's new woman-oriented mid-morning show, set to première this summer in the 9-10 a.m. slot, just before the popular national program The View.
Rich says Rose thinks the segment should be called Center Court With Jordan, but as yet it's unnamed. Hey, how about Hair Jordan? Or, to guarantee viewership, the Flash suggests: Center Court With Jordan, Totally Nude.
Feed the Flash: voice, 602-2298486; fax, 602-3408806; online, firstname.lastname@example.org