You know it's bad when Nickel Bag Joe doesn't sell out in Sun City West. Yep, The Bird made the trek to the mythical land of geezers on golf carts to attend the Joe Arpaio Roast put on by local Republicans, and was surprised to see only about 400 or so alter kockers show for the much-hyped event at the Maricopa County Events Center.
Considering Sun City's a pro-Joe stronghold, the turnout must've been a disappointment for the bulbous-nosed lawman, who frowned through most of the faux Friars Club hoo-ha, which featured such non-luminaries as Minuteman Chris Simcox, wing-nut radio host from L.A. Terry Anderson, State House Speaker Jim Weiers, and Don "The Apple Fell Faaaar From the Tree" Goldwater. Mushmouth Goldwater came dressed as a walking parody of General George Patton. Ironic, considering Doofus Don is himself the parody of a real politician.
This feathered fiend was planning to tiptoe into the wingding for fear of getting escorted back out by the Selective Enforcement Unit if spotted, when this tweeter made eye contact with Sheriff Joe. He was sitting on a bench outside the hall, about to be interviewed by New York Times editorial writer Lawrence Downes, in town to cover the smoldering situation between nativists and day laborers at M.D. Pruitt's Home Furnishings store in Phoenix.
"These guys blast me all the time," grumbled Joe about this grackle's employer, after introducing The Bird to Downes. "This guy put my address right on the cover of the New Times!" (A reference to my Christmas card last year, "Joe Strikes Back," December 21.)
"If you're worried about your address being out there, Joe, why don't you move?" queried this quacker.
"Are you trying to drive me out of the county?!" exclaimed the unlovable lawman. Joe then tried to argue that The Bird's bloggin' bud, Feathered Bastard, misinterpreted a recent Cronkite-Eight poll that showed Arpaio's approval ratings at about 61 percent of likely voters, down from the 80-plus percent Arpaio's gotten in the past.
"That poll was mostly Democrats," he grumbled. "You better check your numbers."
The wacky warbler did just that, and guess what? The Cronkite-Eight poll states that its sample "was 43 percent Republican, 30 percent Democrat, and 27 percent Independents." Of the entire group, "61 percent had a very positive (32 percent) or generally positive (29 percent) opinion of Sheriff Arpaio."
Suck on that, Joe. That's a freakin' 20 percent dip, compared with your 80 percent highs of yesteryear. Maybe that's why you couldn't get more PoliGrip users out on a Saturday afternoon.
Standing next to us was Joe's wife, Ava Arpaio, who picked up the discussion as her hubby began his interview with the Big Apple Times dood.
"I didn't like that," she complained of the beak-bearer's Xmas card. "I'm there all the time at the house."
"The reason John Dougherty had your address in his column to begin with," explained this egret, "was that he was not able to get information on the up to $1 million in cash you guys plowed into local real estate."
"I can't imagine he couldn't get that," she replied coyly.
"Well, he couldn't," peeped this pecker. "Anyway, your home address is listed on the Web sites of the Arizona Corporation Commission and the Maricopa County elections department."
"But no one looks at those," protested Ava.
"How did you get so much money to invest in real estate?" wondered The Bird.
"We've been very lucky over the years," she muttered mysteriously.
The roast itself soon got under way, and as you might expect, it was pretty lame, mainly because several roasters were more intent on kissing Joe's rump than blistering it.
Brown-nosed Minuteman Simcox smooched the most top-cop heinie, dispensing with the jokes, and opining sans punch line that "the Sheriff makes a good case for cloning." Yeah, Chris, but only if we're discussing a remake of The Boys from Brazil.
Simcox's love affair with Arpaio's backside is understandable, considering Joe's Selective Enforcement Unit spent $500,000 investigating claims that immigrants-rights activist Elias Bermudez and the Minutemen plotted to have Joe whacked. As with all known Joe assassination plots, this one was bogus, but why take chances? "The Little Prince," as they call Simcox in his movement, is way too pretty for prison.
Terry Anderson also Frenched Joe's patootie, for the most part. Though he did get one good one off.
"One lady, when I was renting a car, asked, 'Why're you here in Phoenix?'" he stated. "I said, 'I'm here to roast Sheriff Joe.' She handed me a box of matches and some lighter fluid."
State House Speaker Jim Weiers lobbed a couple of grenades before leaving early for the ASU-Arizona football game.
"Do we have any reporters here?" asked the pudgy pol. "Well, the waiters won't be serving chicken, they'll be serving subpoenas."
Raymond Burr-esque emcee Peter Francis (a professional comedian) did some bona fide rib-ticklin', as did Sydney Hay, candidate for Congressional District 1, the district that embattled congressman Rick Renzi will be vacating next year.
Francis' best line actually fell flat with the crowd when he broke some bad news to Joe.
"The city of Ahwatukee just called," Francis informed him. "They're not going to have a Joe Arpaio Day. Guess burning down a citizen's house to keep the rest in line didn't go over that well."
That's a reference to an assault by the Sheriff's Office on an Ahwatukee home described in the John Dougherty story "Dog Day Afternoon" (August 5, 2004). An MCSO SWAT team set fire to some poor schmuck's abode while serving him with a misdemeanor warrant. In the process, they drove a pit bull puppy back into the burning home, where the critter got barbecued.
Francis handed out "Joe Arpaio Happy Meals" to all those on the dais. These included half a bologna sammy, a bottle of water, and a little plastic bag of "Nickel Bag Joe," actually oregano, which looks a tad like ganja.
The crowd was then entertained by a country trio called The Cartridge Family Band, which let rip with some pretty un-PC tunes.
"[Joe] works real hard to treat everybody fair," members sang to The Beverly Hillbillies theme music. "And if you don't like it, he'll put you in the chair. The restraint chair, that is. Leather straps. A little tight around your airway."
Then they struck up a blues number, crooning, "You won't see Paris Hilton [in Tent City], but you might see Mike Lacey or Jim Larkin or Glen Campbell. You won't see Scott Norberg, but you might see Mike Tyson."
Actually, Campbell got the luxury cell, boys. And neither Lacey nor Larkin made it to the tents, though they were both behind bars. Here's hoping you dorkwads meet up with members of the Norberg family in a dark alley one of these days. Norberg was asphyxiated while in Joe's custody, you see.
Joe himself took the stage for his "rebuttal," and blathered on in a rambling monologue reminiscent of Grampa Simpson of the show by that surname. He griped about not getting Paris Hilton from Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, and bitched about New Times always being in a rack in front of his favorite restaurant, Luby's. "New Times, they've been roasting me for 15 years!" he quipped.
That's right, Joe, and there's more to come. A lot more!
This PHX phoenix happens to know that some roasters were advised not to piss off the sheriff and to tailor their jokes for the event's antique audience. "This is not Comedy Central," one roaster was admonished. The roaster in question relayed to this plumed penman a few of the Top Ten Joe Arpaio Pick-up Lines, which were cut, including:
"Hey, baby, I've got a Tent City — in my pants!"
"Hey, baby, you put the hot in hot line."
"Hey, baby, you wanna see my green bologna?"
"Hey, baby, after one night with me, you'll expect the max."
Alas, these were not meant for the tender ears of Joe or his aged audience. Nor were the ones that follow, the product of this cuckoo cock-of-the-rock, here submitted for your perusal:
• Joe's getting old. His hearing's shot. The other day a reporter asked him if he'd been in the Klan, and he said, "No, I go potty after lunch."
• I'm not saying Joe's senile, but he's the only person I know who has a paid subscription to New Times.
• Yep, Joe's Alzheimer's has gotten so bad, he wants to arrest Mike Lacey again.
• Some people claim Arpaio's a racist, but we know that's not true. In his jails, he treats everyone like a Mexican.
• Arpaio hates it when Hispanic leaders compare him to Adolf Hitler. He's right; they're nothing alike. Hitler had one ball and a gal pal named Eva. And Joe can't remember the last time he balled his Ava.
• Joe said he wanted to get Paris Hilton in handcuffs. But she told him she already has a boyfriend.
• Yeah, Joe's deputies kill more inmates than sharpened toothbrushes.
• Know why the MCSO can no longer afford to buy posse members uniforms? The price of Depends is through the roof!
• To save on processing illegals, sheriff's deputies will now shoot 'em on sight and charge 'em after the fact with releasing sensitive grand jury information.
• They say old enemies Arpaio and Russell Pearce have made up. But who knew we'd find them French-kissing in the parking lot of Pruitt's?
• I'm not saying Arpaio's old, but I've seen younger faces on money.
• County Attorney Candy Thomas and Joe used to be bosom buddies. Then Joe tried deporting Thomas' in-laws.
• Actually, Governor Janet Napolitano was supposed to be here, but she had a doctor's appointment. She's being screened for prostate cancer.
• You know Joe's started dying his hair. There's more 40-weight on his scalp than a Valvoline commercial. The only place there's more dying is in his jails.
• Joe's so dumb he thinks César Chávez is a salad dressing.
• Joe's so old, he looks like W.C. Fields — now.
• I'm not saying Joe likes to drink, but his nose is so purple and veiny, the other day a wino tried to lick it.
• Joe's so stupid he thinks the Spanish word for sheriff is "pendejo."
• Did you hear Joe deputized Spider-Man? Joe showed him how to spin a web of lies.
• They call Joe "America's toughest sheriff." And that's just his stool sample.
Oddly, state Representative Russell Pearce wasn't on the stage shish-kebabing his old boss, Sheriff Joe, but he was in the lobby afterward. And since it's not every day that you get to grill one of Sand Land's most prejudiced pols, this beak-bearer made its way over to Pearce to see if he would disavow his own personal Willie Horton-like albatross: Mesa neo-Nazi J.T. Ready.
"There was a point where I thought J.T. was a good guy," the bullet-headed legislator confessed. "But I was disappointed by that picture I saw [of J.T. demonstrating with neo-Nazis in Omaha, Nebraska]."
So was Ready the fella who sent Pearce that neo-Nazi National Alliance e-mail that got Pearce in such a pickle last year when he forwarded it to followers?
"I'm not going to get into that," he said, shaking his head. "That's old history. It doesn't matter who sent it. That's my job to be alert when I read."
In journalism, that's what they call a non-denial denial.
"I don't think J.T.'s a bad guy, I think his association with these groups is wrong," insisted Pearce.
Really? So what about the vicious, anti-Semitic screeds J.T. posts on NewSaxon.com, "an online community for whites, by whites"? Is Pearce okay with that? Pearce said no, so The Bird advised the lawmaker not to hang out with J.T. anymore.
"I never did," Pearce shot back.
This tallywhacker told Pearce that's a lie because The Bird was at that June rally, watched Pearce and Ready work the crowd together arm-in-arm, and has the photos to prove it.
"That's not my fault," cried Pearce. "I don't push people away. I was also at the side of Al Rodriguez and J.D. Hayworth. You didn't take those pictures."
That's because neither Rodriguez, an anti-illegal immigrant activist, nor former Congressman Hayworth is a neo-Nazi.
Pearce is readying himself (pun intended) for a run against Congressman Jeff Flake next year. And what he'd better learn fast is that there's some scum, like J.T. Ready, whom he needs to push away. He'd better, 'cause The Bird will be watching.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.