Cutting It Close

Unified Conspiracy Theorists will love this one, which the Flash is not making up:

Ron Bianchi, a former magazine publisher and columnist for the Phoenix Gazette, was murdered in September 1999. His bullet-riddled body was found in the woods near Payson. Bianchi apparently had some financial problems.

Valerie Pape, a wanna-be Scottsdale socialite and hair-salon diva, was arrested in January and charged with murdering her husband, Ira Pomerantz, whose torso was found in a Dumpster behind a grocery store in Mesa.

It became a celebrated case; one local TV station dubbed it "The Torso Murder" -- as though the head and limbs are doing fine.

The Flash has discovered an article about Pape that appeared in the March/April edition of a publication known as ScottsdaleLife.

It was written by Bianchi.

And it quotes Luddite state senator and sensitive art scenester Russell "Rusty" Bowers.

(Insert theme from The Twilight Zone.)

Bianchi's paean to Pape appeared in a column titled "The A-List." To wit:

Shave & A Hair Cut

& Your Two Bits

Valerie Pape's Beauty Gallery reminds one of the famous Algonquin Round Table of the 1920s, a true American salon atmosphere, which featured such writers as Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and Eugene O'Neill.

As you wait to get your hair cut, you never know who you're going to run into.

Ummm. Let me guess. Jeffrey Dahmer?

A powerful state senator, an expert in 19th century French furniture, assorted actors, dancers, writers, painters and sculptors.

Sounds like a veritable meat market.

In fact, Valerie Pape's Beauty Gallery is more than just a hair salon. It also showcases artists of diverse and international backgrounds. And why not? It's in the heart of Scottsdale's gallery row, at 4200 Marshall Way.

"My dream has always been to offer a background of art, music, wine and the finer aspects of life, including stimulating conversation, as you lose yourself in the hands of our beauty counselors and hair stylists," says Pape, a Casablanca-reared, attractive blond woman, who has become a fine painter in her own right.

As they say in Casablanca: "Round up the usual suspects."

Born in Paris and later educated at its best schools, Pape forged an early career as a ballet dancer. "I believe in living life as an art form," she says, "and I always knew I would bring my interests and talents together on a canvas of service and art."

Excuse me while I barf. That quote alone constitutes a felony!

One of the artists Pape spotlights is Arizona State Sen. Russell "Rusty" Bowers, (R-Mesa), currently Majority Leader of the Senate and past chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

"Two of my passions are politics and art," says Bowers, whose sculpture is currently on display in the eclectic salon. "With my art, I try to define humanity, and with my politics, I try to refine it."

Excuse me while I barf again. But, hey, at least Pape had the good taste to dispose of her husband's trunk in Bowers' district!

A good mix, we think. So, next time you're in the mood for a good scalp massage . . .

. . . or dismemberment . . .

. . . consider a shampoo and set at Pape's. Listen to opera. Talk politics. Have a glass of wine. After all, there's more to a pretty head than just mousse. There's muse, too.

Authorities have made no arrests in Bianchi's murder. They might want to consider questioning ScottsdaleLife readers.

Driving Miss Dazy

This spasm of electrochemical energy wonders: What if 92-year-old Sun City motorist Clara Robinson had dragged a cop to his death, instead of simply a fellow senior citizen, when she unintentionally turned a Sun City arts-and-crafts fair into a high-scoring round of Death Race 2000 on February 29?

If she'd hit a lawman, would Robinson have been charged with a crime? As it was, she was merely released to the care of her family.

Furthermore, what if 22-year-old Robert Stravers had been 70 years older when he smashed into the back of Department of Public Safety Officer Floyd "Skip" Fink's patrol car February 18 on U.S. Highway 60?

Would Stravers still have been charged with manslaughter?

The Flash couldn't help but notice the disparity in treatment of the two accidental killers, and wishes someone with a title would clarify whether the age of the driver or the status of the victim accounted for the difference. Stravers was also charged with drug possession, but not, it should be noted, driving under the influence. Robinson blamed her sudden acceleration on a fast-food bag which became tangled with her gas pedal.

Or maybe she was just really, really stoned.

No Fare

At first, the Flash thought that scruffy-looking guy at the Transit 2000 press conference last week was a plant. After all, one of the arguments in favor of the proposed transit tax is that Phoenix's bus system is so bad, it doesn't even run on Sundays and holidays. And that was one of the arguments the panhandler was making as he made his rounds in the crowd gathered at the downtown transit terminal, asking for donations of $1.

"I've got to get to work, and the buses don't run on Sunday," he pleaded.

But the suits who had gathered to urge support of the March 14 ballot measure -- and who had managed to pledge $1.4 million toward the campaign -- didn't need the likes of sketchy dude to demonstrate how lacking the transit system is.

He was escorted away from the media event by security guards.

Flackaholics Anonymous

Two veteran Arizona Republic journalists have landed cushy PR jobs here in town.

Kimberly Crockett -- who spent seven years editing, writing and consulting for the paper -- left the paper this week to join the Arizona Education Association as public relations director.

Political writer/columnist Michael Murphy signed on as the Arizona Department of Health Services public information officer, where he will fill the large shoes of canned Brad Christensen ("Sack-A-Flack," Paul Rubin, February 3).

Feed the Flash: voice, 602-229-8486; fax, 602-340-8806; online,

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