Early and Often
The Flash was button-poppin' proud to do patriotic duty in the polling booth on Tuesday. Actually, it wasn't a polling booth; it was more like a polling kiosk.
This Burst of Light developed writers' cramp while once again voting to turn out all the judges--and also found time to wonder: Is there some law that says all poll employees must have voted for FDR? Twice?
Just as the Flash was inking a defense of cockfighting, a spry old codger danced into the church hallway and inquired, "Where is everybody? Where are the lines?"
"Not here," a grizzled poll worker replied.
Wiseacre: "I thought there would be cocktails. Happy hour."
The poll worker didn't miss a beat: "That's on the ballot."
Brought to you by the wonder of anonymous e-mail, the Flash is pleased to repeat the Top 10 Things We Want to Hear Samuel L. Jackson (starring as Jedi Master Mace Windu) Say in the Star Wars Prequel:
10. "You don't need to see my goddamn identification, 'cause these aren't the motherfuckin' droids you're lookin' for!"
9. "Womp rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'll never know 'cause I'd never eat the filthy motherfuckers."
8. "This is your father's light saber. When you absolutely, positively have to kill every motherfuckin' stormtrooper in the room, accept no substitute."
7. "If Obi-wan's ass ain't home, then I don't know what the fuck we're gonna do 'cause I ain't got no other connections on Tattooine."
6. "Feel the Force, motherfucker."
5. "'What' ain't no planet I've ever heard of. Do they speak Bocce on 'What'?"
4. "You sendin' the Fett? Shit, Hutt, that's all you had to say!"
3. "Yeah Chewie Rocky Horror's got a hair problem. What's a brother gonna do? . . . He's a Wookiee."
2. "Does Jabba the Hutt look like a bitch?!"
1. "Hand me my light saber. It's the one that says 'Bad Motherfucker.'"
Florida's Own Joke
Elected in 1992, the sheriff quickly made a name for himself by taking away frills in his jails such as coffee and cable television, and later began charging inmates $1 a day for meals and other charges when they made doctor visits. He also got national press attention for using surplus military equipment, as well as stepping on human rights in his attempts at creative law enforcement.
Sheriff Joke Arpaio? No, his evil twin in Marion County, Florida, Sheriff Ken Ergle.
Like Arpaio, Ergle was a media hound and one of the most popular elected officials in central Florida. And, like Arpaio, he played fast and loose with a pot of public money that wasn't being watched very carefully.
In 1996, New Times discovered that the Jokester had used a little-known state fund intended for improving the jails for non-jail expenses. Arpaio had dipped into the fund to pay for parties for his posse members, videotapes of his television appearances, automobiles for his staff and payments to a private attorney in a lawsuit he promised wouldn't cost the taxpayers a cent. Despite catching the Crime Avenger red-handed, and after a state audit confirmed that Arpaio had misused more than $120,000 of taxpayer money, the Joke suffered no more than a scathing letter from the state.
In Florida, where prosecutors are actually required to have spines, Ergle wasn't so lucky.
On October 16, Ergle was arrested and resigned his post after the state of Florida accused him of stealing more than $170,000 in county funds from a special account. The money was supposed to be used to pay informants in undercover operations, so there was little or no oversight of Ergle's spending. Instead, he'd used it to bolster a lavish lifestyle. If he's convicted, Ergle faces up to 35 years in prison and $20,000 in fines. He bailed himself out of his own no-frills jail on a $15,000 bond and is currently awaiting trial.
The Jokenheimer would never be so stupid as to blow a lot of public scratch on his ownself. He's far too fond of his bully pulpit to take such a risk. But he certainly isn't shy about brazenly ignoring many laws he's sworn to uphold--especially those covering such inconveniences as civil rights, access to public records and lawful spending.
Live, Local, Latent
You say your workplace is an orgy of gossip, bitching and moaning? If you want to see how the other half lives, check out the whining on the Web site www.newsblues.com. The site contains rants from television types from around the nation--mostly from disgruntled lower-level employees. The whining on newsblues is every bit as bad as that on the print media's companion Web site, www.newsmait.com, excerpts from which this Glint of Glitter has featured on occasion.
Of course, several of the contributors to the print site can actually compose sentences. The spelling and grammatical errors on the TV site provide appropriate ambiance. Some samples of commentary on Valley stations:
* KNXV Channel 15: "Upper management has managed to chase away almost every talented person. In three-plus years, the place has gone through no less than five news directors. The last one was so fed up he actually left the business. The new one is in the GM's back pocket.
"Sports is really big in Phoenix, but not at KNXV. They do 'sports in a minute' and have hired a former high school coach to do commentary twice a day, five times a week. Can you say boring?"
"The author of the previous article wasn't lying when he said KNXV was chasing away its best people. One need look no further than their investigative unit for proof. The award-winning reporter-producer team was one of the best in the nation and one of the big reasons KNXV was starting to make the top dog sweat. Then the brain trust in Cincinnati started tinkering and broke something that didn't need fixing."
* KTVK Channel 3: "The news director and news VP have been in Phoenix their whole careers, but that doesn't mean they're smalltown. Who else could take a station that had lost its ABC affiliation and make it the number one indy in the country? Creativity and determination drive these folks.
"You wanna talk money? Be an anchor or reporter. Our main anchor makes over $200,000 a year. If you have a pretty face, management will make you a star. . . .
"I mentioned before that anchors are the 'stars.' Prima donnas are more like it. There's no real reporting going into their work; it's all about face time. Our health reporter/anchor has earned the internal nickname 'beauty reporter' for the shallow stories she airs. Then you've got the fresh-faced college grads. It's unfathomable that these people, who have the least experience, are put on the number-one morning show in the state. The errors made daily are horrendous, the writing is atrocious. And neither the executive producer nor the news director seem to care."
* KPNX Channel 12: A consultant "told management, reporters and anchors have to hold something in their hands to make the story more important. Every reporter had a document in their stand up or set piece. Anchors were holding glasses of water or books on the set to get the idea across. We looked like idiots."
"Everyone in the market knows that the pay at KPNX is ridiculous. Pretty much across the board, the pay is terrible.
"Morale in the newsroom is mixed. Many staffers just keep plugging away at their jobs, doing the best work they can day in and day out. Others are depressed because they see what potential the station has.
"The reporters are frustrated because of the often-goofy stories they're forced to do. In a recent ratings period, one of our promoted pieces was how to select the right lipstick. In another book, we did a piece on what causes flatulence. (I'm not kidding.)
"If you can be satisfied with doing quality work for low pay for management that may or may not know you exist, then come join us."
A Channel 12 manager responds: "I'm the incredibly condescending and egotistical news director mentioned above. . . . To comfort the writer, I make an awful lot of mistakes. Bad ones. So have many, many other managers who, over the years, have worked at KPNX. Occasionally, things go so right that employees are pleased with our performance. Go figure. Human nature, perhaps? Maybe things may get even better? Stay tuned. . . ."
* KPHO Channel 5: "Compared to KPHO's days as an indy with Andy Griffith and I Love Lucy, it's doing better--oh, wait. Andy and Lucy are back, and a full 10 p.m. show is nowhere on the horizon. On our way to number one? In Mayberry, maybe, as long as Floyd leaves the barbershop TV set to Channel 5."
* KSAZ Channel 10: "The management staff is laughable, the assistant news director is queen of the obvious. A plane could crash, the U.S. could go to war, or President Clinton could be impeached, and she just stands shrieking in the newsroom, 'we need to go live,' or 'get it on now!' She used to be some PR shill, now she's just shrill."
Food for Thoughtlessness
"Can too much fast food be bad for you?" Unless the Flash's ears were deceived, that was the teaser line with which Channel 5's Roger Downey promoted a midday news broadcast last week.
Alas, the crack investigative team never got to air this sizzling expose--unless it played while the Flash was blinking--because of a cutaway to CBS News national coverage of the launch of astro-Senator John Glenn. So the question of whether or not a steady diet of fast food is healthy remains maddeningly unanswered. How can they toy with us like this?
And speaking of members of the Keating Five: The election's over, and U.S. Senator John McCain, R-Hanoi, can heave a sigh of relief--he won. What a shock! It must have been all that last-minute campaigning.
Our online cousin, www.phoenixnewtimes.com, sponsored a successful hunt for the Snowy-Haired Senator. Site visitors were asked to show proof that McCain was actually out on the campaign trail. Proof continues to pour in, even though the deadline was October 27. As of press time, 31 entries had come in. Most entrants sent a picture of themselves with the senator. One entrant offered up McCain's campaign Web site as proof that Humble John was giving it the old college try.
Our favorite entry came from Fred Pulve of Fountain Hills, who made sure McCain emerged from this campaign with one less Snowy Hair. Pulve sent in a snap with a hideous-looking white hair taped to it and the caption, "This campaign is getting 'hairy' John!" Hardy har har, Fred. You'll get a special reward for creativity. The Flash earnestly hopes the hair came from Humble John's head!
Check in at www.phoenixnewtimes.com/extra/running_john
Feed the Flash: voice, 229-8486; fax, 340-8806; online, email@example.com
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