The Bird's nested in Phoenix long enough to know that this place has its share of shady, self-important, half-witted yokels. Even so, it's still occasionally surprised by how Mayberry this backward burg can be.
Take our fearful leaders' recent response to a city council vote that will allow Donald Trump and building partner the Bayrock Group to erect a massive condominium hotel on East Camelback Road in the city's posh Biltmore district -- please.
No less than Mayor Phil "No Elevators Please, We're Phoenix!" Gordon, Vice Mayor Mike "I Luv District 8" Johnson and Councilman Tom "Which One's the Girl?" Simplot voted against a zoning change that will allow tall buildings (the kind that most real cities have) to tower over the modest, mid-century brick homes in the adjacent Brentwood Estates.
Surprise! These anti-evolutionists lost 5-4, and have been backpedaling ever since, blabbing the sort of let's-come-together-as-a-community double-talk that only the mother of a politician could love.
Councilman Greg "Conflict of Interest? What Conflict of Interest?" Stanton, who represents the district where Trump plans to tower and who also voted against the zoning change, has spent the past couple of weeks hogging airtime on every TV and radio show that will have him, bemoaning the loss of Biltmore flatlands and whining about allegations that he was ineligible to vote on the rezoning request because his attorney wife, Nicole French Stanton, works for the firm representing two different creditors involved in the project.
Among The Bird's favorite quotes from Stanton on the subject: "My job is to do my job," which this extended middle finger takes to mean that Stanton's job is not, therefore, to make much fucking sense.
Too bad Trump can't herd this quartet of City Hall Gomers into a boardroom and fire their asses with a flick of his manicured fingers. Or worse.
Stanton and the other political clowns are, needless to say, backed by the usual sticky clump of armchair activists with too much time on their hands and a burning desire to keep progress at bay. What's really amused The Bird is how these neighborhood chumps believe that because New Times is an alternative paper, the likes of this taloned columnist will of course be against The Man, even when doing so is insane.
The only thing more embarrassing than the blustery bullshit of these Neanderthals is the, uh, bird-brained acronyms they've created for their various PACs and pity parties.
There's PROTECT, which stands for People Restoring Our Totally Endangered City Trust but should instead stand for Pigheaded Reprobates Obscuring Trump's Endless Cash Train. This is the PAC formed to file an initiative action requiring a public vote if building heights are to be excessively increased, as were The Donald's when he submitted plans for a 150-foot high-rise in a neighborhood where the limit was half that height -- because God forbid anything should obscure our view of the Bamboo Club or that glorious pile of dirt formerly known as Squaw Peak.
And then there's P-Oed, a group of crybabies whose name stands for People Organized Exercising Democracy but would be more accurate if it stood for Pissing on Every Development or maybe even Phoenicians Only Express Dimwittedness. P-Oed hopes to (dare I say?) trump the city council's pro-Donald vote and take it to a citywide ballot in March. Both PACs are commandeered by Paul "Squatters' Rights!" Barnes, president of the Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix, from whom we last heard when he got behind an Arizona House of Representatives bill banning government-sponsored day-labor centers. Because the only thing worse than a tall building in the middle of a big city is a bunch of Mexicans hanging out in front of Lowe's, looking for work.
"We'll need to collect about 13,000 signatures in a month to get this thing on the ballot," Barnes says about the would-be anti-Trump initiative, "and raise $130,000 to pay signature-gatherers."
And maybe after that, Barnes and his pals can purée a camel and cure cancer and suck the mildew out of New Orleans.
But please, guys, not before you do everything you can to ensure that Phoenix doesn't become one of those cities that actually grows and changes and remains (or, in our case, becomes) viable by adding upscale housing to one of its core shopping, dining and business neighborhoods. Please make sure you prevent city planners from increasing the density in our existing urban core, thereby forcing a more rapid consumption of the surrounding pristine desert.
And please, whatever you do, ignore those reports that say that -- no matter how hard we try to scare them off with news about our brain-dead sheriff and our profoundly insufferable summer weather -- three million people will move to the Phoenix area over the next two decades.
Because what we really want is for our city to remain a small town for as long as we can force it to. Right?
Talon of the Law
The Bird was never so happy to have talons as when it heard about Sheriff Joe "Gimme Gimme Head(lines)" Arpaio's latest outrage.
Seems the scariest sheriff in America's run out of ways to fuck with the electorate and, in his endless hunt for publicity, has decided that all motorists pulled over for "criminal" traffic violations -- like driving drunk, drag racing or failing to stop for a school bus -- will be fingerprinted.
Resistors will be hauled off to the poky, posthaste, as if we don't have enough small-potatoes miscreants living in Tent City already.
Remember when Arpaio wanted to stop every car headed into Maricopa County and search it for drugs? He was shouted down for that insane idea, and he should be shouted down for this one. But who besides this feathered fiend is gonna have the stones to do it?
Asked by TV news boobs why he's instituting the bold new policy, The Bird's favorite breaker of minor lawbreakers bellowed, "We're number-one in the nation for identity theft!" Which is apparently meant to explain to the morons who keep electing him why thumb-printing traffic violators is a good idea.
The sheriff would've made it big in the old Soviet Bloc (last time The Bird checked, good Amer-cuns don't cotton to Big Brother gettin' in our shit for a traffic beef). Arpaio's policy means that if you throw a cigarette butt out the window of your car, you can be asked for prints. And if you refuse, Charlie Manson, it's the slammer for you, freak! Uncle Joe Stalin would've loved Uncle Joe Arpaio.
Joke, why not just require fingerprints from every citizen at birth? Everybody's a potential criminal, right? It would save a lot of time and tax money if pediatricians just took care of that right after they snip the umbilical cord.
Also, just how's Arpaio gonna connect the dots between, say, reckless drivers and identity thieves? The Bird's gonna go out on a limb here and bet its birdseed supply that 99.9 percent of those Joe fingerprints don't turn out to be identity thieves. Which means his dumb-ass idea will cost taxpayers money for nothing. Which's nothing new for him.
When Arpaio's jive-ass plan was first implemented last February, the thumb-print nonsense was optional, thanks to some bellowing from the local ACLU. The ACLU's interim director, Dawn "Will Somebody Get That, Please?" Wyland, didn't bother to return The Bird's several phone messages concerning this latest announced intrusion. And County Attorney Andrew Thomas' office isn't about to intercede on behalf of concerned motorists since, according to special assistant county attorney Barnett Lotstein, "this isn't our thing."
The Bird would've liked to have Wyland talk about what an idiot publicity-monger our sheriff once again is being. But since she wouldn't (no wonder people hate the ACLU -- its Phoenix staffer isn't even forthcoming with those of us who want to be friendly), this avian has no choice but to feather out on its own what's wrong with chaining up motorists who won't submit to KGB tactics.
What Arpaio's doing is a violation of a citizen's right to privacy! It's not done by any other law enforcement agency in the United States. You know why? Because other heads of police agencies don't subscribe to the policies of former Soviet regimes, like Uncle Joe Arpaio. And even if you don't care about any of that (in other words, if you're not a good Commie-hatin' Amer-cun), do we need any more lawsuits against the county because of Arpaio's moronic attempts to foster his tough-guy public image at any cost to those of us who pay his bills?
Sheriff, we get it: You're bad to the arthritic bone! Can you please move on with what's left of your misspent life? Bottom line: Stop costing us taxpayers so much money, or . . .
(Remember that Alfred Hitchcock movie, Joke?) The Bird's gonna land atop your toupee and peck off your stupid face. Got it? Good! (Okay, okay, this is a desperate attempt to scare the bug-eyed geezer, but nothing else has worked.)
And about the local ACLU, the only thing more insulting than Arpaio's latest stupidity is the snotty outgoing message you get when you telephone Wyland's office. The Bird suggests you call the ACLU (602-650-1967) right away, before somebody over there reads this and rerecords the greeting! Don't worry, you won't get a live person on the horn; these pinkie-extended local ACLU pussies are too busy laughing at the little people to actually answer the phone.
The Bird's favorite bit from this canned "greeting" goes: "If you're calling regarding an employment matter, please do not bother (exasperated chuckle) to write us."
Don't worry, doll, with that tone of voice, no one will! In fact, nobody will call or write you for any reason. And won't that be just perfect, because you won't be able to make many cases without sympathetic witnesses coming forward. And Commie-imitating cowboys like Arpaio can do whatever the hell they please.
What The Bird's chirping is, keep hiding out, Dawn. Because even your rhetoric against Arpaio's stupid fingerprinting idea is nothing but talk. There's not a chance in hell that a fainting flower like the local ACLU would make a big enough stink about it to make him stop. That is -- if recent history's any indication -- actually sue him into submission.
Candy and Condoms
Speaking of beaks in the air, The Bird would like to apologize to the folks in its snooty neighborhood at whom it squawked insults from its front perch on Halloween night.
Especially to all the little kids it frightened with blistering critiques of their "costumes," many of which just plain sucked ass. (Note to soccer moms: A rag on the end of a stick isn't a hobo suit, you lazy pumpkin-headed tightwads!)
The Bird was feeling cranky that night because several aforementioned snooty neighbors (who're legion!) had confided their disdain at the number of barrio kids who're bused into our fine historic 'hood, because the people here reportedly hand out the finer treats.
What, the streets aren't safe for their pampered brats on Halloween if they have to share them with junior migrant workers?!
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The Bird isn't too proud to cop to roosting in one of our better parts of town, although since October 31, it's been thinking of flying this coop for someplace where "historic status" doesn't translate to sniffy paleface intolerance.
The last time The Bird checked, you don't need a damn green card to accept a handful of Twizzlers from affluent honkies. And if the neighbors are truly miffed at the number of offspring our brown-skinned brethren are hauling onto our hallowed historic ground, this boulevardier of Birdland would like to suggest that they, next Halloween, hand out sample packs of condoms to all the grown-up Josés and Marias who stop by looking for fun-size Snickers. Nothing says "Trick or treat!" like a fistful of Trojan Vibra-Ribbed Tinglers.
For its part, The Bird plans next year to paper the barrio from one end to the other with jack-o'-lantern-adorned fliers promoting the fine candy handed out by the gringos in los distritos históricos. ¡Arriba!