Only sissies don't like Ozzy, and The Flash ain't no sissy. He's a hard-rockin', sun-soakin', beer-swillin' American heavy-metal fan, dammit, and the sweaty, besotted, meth-ridden throngs who took over Blockbuster Desert Sky Pavilion for OZZfest '97 last Thursday were beautiful people.
Overcome with nostalgia as he reeled past a bonfire in the lawn section, The Flash sucked in a lung full of air tainted with cheap Mexican pot smoke and bellowed that butt-rock battle cry of old--"Ozzzzz-eeeeee!"--watched his faded Bark at the Moon Tour '83 tee shirt slowly deflate, then went for more brew.
The lines at the concession stand were curiously short and--what's this? A hand-lettered sign above the beer taps read, "Alcohol sales will stop at 7:45." The Flash looked at his watch. 7:53. Sacrilege! For the love of rock, why would anyone cut off the beer at an Ozzy show?
The Flash surveyed the crowd. Oh--that's why. Everyone was drunk. Sloppy shoving matches were commonplace, and passed-out rockers were splayed out across the "Never, Never Land" vending pavilion; it looked like a scene from Platoon. It was ugly, but good for Ozzy. No one seemed to care that he acted like his back and feet hurt, that he couldn't hit the high, medium or low notes anymore, or that he tried to bite the head off a hummingbird but his dentures fell out. Actually, that last one was made up.
Just before Ozzy's set, one young rocker collapsed near the lemonade stand. Some of his fellows stepped or tripped over him, but a couple dozen formed a circle and stared down. "Hey," said one. "Hey, dude." Getting no response, the guy laughed. "I want whatever he's on, only half."
The murky circumstances of Jack Dillenberg's recent resignation as director of the state Department of Health Services remain shrouded in mystery: Was he or was he not forced to resign by the man who'd appointed him, Governor J. Fife Symington III?
The Flash will strive to answer that question at a later date.
On Thursday, June 26, in the rarefied atmosphere of the Phoenix Country Club, a few hundred people paid tribute to the bearded little man, a dentist by training.
"Arizona has lost another great one," an invitation for the shindig read. "And, as always, the people are the ultimate losers when political mischief is at work. But this time we're not going to take it lying down. . . ."
What exactly did that mean? At the party, the ebullient Dillenberg claimed he didn't have a clue. But he said it in such a way that indicated otherwise.
Dillenberg was unusual for a Fifester appointee. He was likable, engaging, bordering on progressive. Some of his ideas were innovative and consumer-oriented, and provided rare bright spots in Arizona's government-is-bad milieu; his highly publicized and controversial antitobacco program comes to mind.
Dillenberg also was a tireless self-promoter, who probably spent too little time cozying up to Symington's henchpeople. The Flash took note of this at Dillenberg's love fest: Several "noncovered" DHS employees--who conceivably could lose their jobs at the whim of bunker-mentality Symingtonites who still hold sway--were conspicuous by their absence at the fete.
"Jack was a pretty popular guy among the troops," a man who agreed only to be described as "a state employee" told The Flash, "but most of us figure that Symington sent over spies to see who was here. Things are really goofy these days."
The Memo of the Week was penned by Judge Ron Reinstein, who presides over Maricopa County Superior Courts' criminal division. You should know that Reinstein is not antimedia. In fact, he's one of the state's most approachable jurists. Reinstein has been known to actually own up to it when something goes wrong at his shop. That's what's unusual about his June 23 e-mail to the county's judges, commissioners and others regarding the Tribune's recent opus about the "system's" alleged leniency in handling child-molestation cases. To wit:
Some of you were contacted previously by the reporter, Kirk Mitchell, and had serious questions as to his lack of understanding of what you were saying. You were right. The report is filled with inaccuracies and incomplete examinations of cases. He couldn't even get simple things straight.
For example, he quotes me as referring to a law that says judges can only carry 71 cases and that all criminal judges carry 85, in violation of this supposed law. That will come as a big surprise to all the criminal judges who carry over 300 cases! That particular quote was supposed to have to do with the fact we have 71 judges and are well below the constitutional provision of one judge for every 30,000 residents, which would warrant about 85 judges. . . .
Many of the cases that he writes about would have had these defendants walking the streets without any supervision at all but for being placed on life probation. . . . The County Attorney's Office will put together some stats to show how off this guy is. We'll keep you posted.
Mitchell, who was not aware of Reinstein's missive, says of the numbers mix-up, "If I got it wrong--and it looks like I did--I'll correct it. I feel bad about it."
He adds that the premise of his work was that the courts were drowning in cases, and that the correct figures cited by Reinstein would have bolstered his theme.
Aliens Conquer Media
Last Wednesday night, KPNX-TV Channel 12 breathlessly led its 10 o'clock broadcast by announcing that it had the first plausible theory for the March 13 lights sighted over several Arizona towns. Channel 12's theory was neither first nor plausible.
That morning, New Times had reported that Mitch Stanley's telescopic sighting of the lights identified them as airplanes, a sighting that he passed on to UFO media princess Frances Emma Barwood and the star-struck Arizona Republic. Neither bothered to call back after Stanley's friend Jack Jones notified them of Stanley's viewing.
Channel 12 hypothesized that the lights were likely flares fired over a gunnery range south of Phoenix.
What the station didn't bother to explain: how flares falling to the ground south of Phoenix could be seen by people from Prescott to Tucson.
The Arizona Republic, meanwhile, pressed on with more alien frippery, reporting on Thursday, June 26, that aliens had landed in Paradise Valley in 1947. The evidence? Some guy was nervous about people looking in his freezer; there was a shiny observatory dome in a field somewhere; and "ufologist" Jim Dilettoso had found a pencil drawing of swimmers in his attic.
While the Republic continues to celebrate flying saucers--including promoting UFOs on its Web site and investigating the March 13 lights by asking readers if they think they saw an alien craft--the state's largest paper doesn't seem concerned that it might lose some credibility as a reporter of, you know, facts.
The Republic played catch-up Monday, reporting Stanley's account without mentioning that it had ignored him months earlier. Once again, however, apparently doubting Stanley, the flares theory was brought up.
The Flash has the only plausible explanation: swamp gas.
A Flash of Evidence
Wasting time between breaks at the Fifester's trial, The Flash recently rummaged through cases filed at the federal courthouse only to find a Flashes column entered as evidence in a lawsuit.
In March, guards at the state prison in Florence opened inmate Richard Rossi's legal mail in front of him to check it for contraband. By the Department of Corrections' own policy, even condemned murderers such as Rossi have the right to receive, uncensored, mail from their attorneys after envelopes have been searched for drugs, maps or files in birthday cakes.
But when corrections officer Harold Ulmer ran across a document detailing the minute-by-minute process by which Rossi would be put to death, he confiscated it, saying that it was a restricted document.
Rossi's attorney, Dale Baich, objected, saying that Ulmer had violated the DOC's own policy of not censoring mail. And just for good measure, Baich included in a motion for an injunction New Times' May 22 publication of the lethal-injection procedures, including The Flash's italicized annotations, to show that the document (already obsolete when Ulmer confiscated it) was not a carefully guarded state secret.
The Flash is only too happy to help. But he finds it quaint that the state wouldn't want a man on death row to know just how he's going to be put to death. That might be unsettling for him.
Nuts & Dolts
What fun managing editor Jim Fickess had in last week's Arizona Business Gazette, relating anonymous stories from his employer buddies of how stupid Arizona's workers can be.
Take this howler, for example: "A woman riding the bus into work wanted to fit in with the rest of the riders, so she brought a paperback book that she 'read.' Imagine her embarrassment when a fellow commuter told her she didn't seem like the type of person who reads X-rated books."
Fickess had so much fun relating these stories--all true, he asserts, but we'll have to take his word for it--that he's asking bosses to send in a lot more, and he'll protect their identities!
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That's right, you too can trash your workers, some of whom may be struggling to learn a new language, and not have to back it up with any evidence!
Fickess will compile the examples of worker stupidity for a July 24 issue dedicated to--get this--education.
In the meantime, workers are encouraged to send stories of employer boorishness and idiocy to The Flash. Oh, and make sure to include names.
Feed The Flash: voice, 229-8486; fax, 340-8806; online, firstname.lastname@example.org