June Is Caveat Emptor Month
Last week, John Hays, director of the Arizona Weights and Measures department, issued a memo informing his employees that the department had run out of money for the fiscal year, which ends June 30.
Weights and Measures sleuths are supposed to check the veracity of devices such as scales and electronic scanners at supermarkets and gas pumps at service stations--devices that determine millions of dollars in transactions every day.
The Flash wonders where all the department's cash went. As New Times disclosed last year, the department has shed its adversarial role with business and drastically scaled back inspections.
Still, the budget went somewhere (public relations, perhaps?), so Hays canceled all sampling of gasoline and used oil for the month, all out-of-town travel (meaning the bulk of the state is up for grabs in the consumer-fraud arena), shut down the department's 800 number (which fields consumer complaints), and announced that "inspectors will be assigned to projects in the office." Do they do windows?
Maybe He'll Do John Hays
Executives, beware! TV Nation is coming to Phoenix. The year-old series is the spawn of multimedia troublemaker Michael Moore--former print journalist and creator of the 1989 documentary Roger and Me, a tragicomical visit to Moore's hometown of Flint, Michigan, which had been economically devastated by General Motors' decision to slash production there.
Through TV Nation, Moore has continued to explore corporate greed with the same irony. Last season--the show's first--Moore held a benefit for Exxon, to help the company pay off a $5 billion debt for its role in the Valdez oil spill. He called it Corp Aid.
This season, TV Nation has moved from NBC to Fox; producers promise the same irreverence. They're filming the show's eight episodes this summer in eight cities across the country, including Phoenix.
Why Phoenix? TV Nation associate producer Tia Lessin says it's strictly demographics. Moore and Co. should be pleasantly surprised. The Flash can think of lots of possible titles for the episode: Jerry and Me, Chip and Me, Fife and Me, Dry Heat and Me. . . . Someone Still Blew It
Forty-five minutes before the Suns' season-ending playoff game against the Houston Rockets, Phoenix police received word from police in Greensboro, North Carolina, that a car bomb was set to go off near America West Arena. The threat was phoned to Greensboro-based First Data Corporation, which alerted authorities there.
The threatener, a man with a foreign accent, told First Data that his organization intended to wreak havoc.
Phoenix police Sergeant Mike McCullough says an arena security detail composed of off-duty police officers "conducted a search and cursory inspection on the outside and the inside, and there was nothing found."
Arena employees tell The Flash that a few days after the Suns were eliminated, another bomb threat was made, and someone shot out the venue's ticket windows. Arena officials refused to confirm or deny the latter incidents. McCullough says if they occurred, they were never reported to Phoenix police.
But getting back to that initial bomb threat--has anyone questioned Hakeem Olajuwon?
Clancy and Co. Aliens!
A Sherlock Holmes Deduction Award goes to Clancy & Co., the "column" of press-release puffery the Arizona Republic plays on the back of its B section. The ever-watchful C&C noticed that the June 15 issue of Rolling Stone devoted a page of print to the Valley's hot spots for summer fun. Somehow, those witty C&C folks managed not to notice that the articles describing those spots were written by New Times' music scribe Peter Gilstrap.
But that oversight is not actually what sickens The Flash about Clancy & Co. It's the tone, kids. This column reads, consistently, as if it were written at Chamber of Commerce headquarters and edited by the Downtown Phoenix Partnership. To wit (or is it witless?): C&C describes the Stone piece breathlessly, as if it were an exclusive paean to the joys of Phoenix. Without mentioning that 11 other cities were similarly profiled. Without noting that much of Gilstrap's "best of summer" list was written with tongue stapled in cheek (example: best hearse to use, if the summer heat kills you).
And, for some reason, Clancy & Co. does not repeat this vivid description of Phoenix during summer, provided by Meat Puppets bassist Cris Kirkwood: "One big fucking butt blister."
Keven Willey an Alien!
In her Sunday column, Republic political columnist Keven Willey commits the most significant error of her career. She writes: "I feel like John Daly on the old What's My Line? game show: 'Will the real Bob Dole please stand up.'"
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Okay, first of all, she should have had a question mark at the end of the "Bob Dole please stand up" part. But The Flash forgives her for that. Punctuation is hard.
That's not the really scandalous boo-boo. Are you ready? Here it is:
It wasn't John Daly who regularly uttered that famous TV line, it was Bud Collyer. And the show wasn't What's My Line?.
Of course, The Flash could have predicted that Kev was never a big fan of Collyer's game show. It was called To Tell the Truth.