John's Gone

The John Oppedahl era is over at the Millennial Arizona Republic. The publisher resigned last Friday. The sky wept inconsolably all day. Speculation has him taking the job as publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Rumors are also rampant of an impending downsizing at the Republic. The Flash has heard up to 200 people could be cashiered. It's the inevitable purge that comes after a huge, faceless news conglomerate like Gannett acquires a smaller, less efficient operation like the Republic's.

The Flash was astonished by the Republic's Page One story about Oppedahl's resignation, how in his farewell address to the assembled journalists he joked with apparent pride about killing E.J. Montini columns as well as a dicey story on the day the newspaper's board of directors was convening. There was no mention of the hilarity of the many Benson cartoons spiked under his watch, or that laff riot insider stock-trading witch hunt. What a joker, that Oppedahl. What a legacy.

It's been a revolving door in the publisher's office since 1975, when Gene Pulliam died. Oppedahl was the seventh.

He always leaves his indelible mark. The last two newspapers he helped manage -- the Dallas Times Herald and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner -- both went belly up. The Republic merely sold out. The Flash gives the Chronicle 18 months.

A Fair Shooter

The Flash is relieved that the Arizona State Fair is over. Each year, you see, the Flash takes on extra work as a carny during the fair. It does wonders for the self-esteem, and you can't beat the food on a stick. The highlight of the Flash's tenure this year was the sight of Suns scoring machine Rodney Rogers, bricking up ball after ball at the hoop-shooting booth.

Rogers has been one of the Flash's favorite hoopsters since he was a Wake Forest Demon Deacon. But the career .660 pro free-thrower was no match for the win-a-stuffed-animal rip-off stand at the fair on Sunday.

He paid his $2, grabbed a ball, flipped it in the air above his head to gauge its symmetry, then shot at the goal. Clank. He peeled off another $2 and tried again. Short. Another $2. Clunk. Another $2. An amused onlooker actually shouted some shooting tips. Rogers was not amused. Doink. Disgusted, Mr. Rogers stalked off, probably in search of a corn dog.


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