The Dirty on Nik Richie, Post-it Note Ninjas, and SCA-Gate All Within This Owls Talons
HOO' DA MAN?
Okay, this naughty nightingale will come clean with you bird brains. Once in a long while, this wily woodpecker has reason to check out the trashy offerings on that wacky Web site TheDirty.com. Like, say, the pics of erstwhile Cards starting QB Matt Leinart helping a hottie with her beer bong, or those decade-old snaps of Billy Idol in his prime getting pleasured by three nekkid wenches.
The site's maestro, Hooman Karamian, better known to the masses by his nom de Web, Nik Richie, is always receiving tons of photos of half-clothed babes, asking Da Hoo-Man whether he'd do 'em. Ron Jeremy's job in his heyday is about the only gig that compares with what Karamian's got going for himself. Since starting his site by documenting Scottsdale's snotty young party animals and ragging on them, his operation's gone global, with Dirty sites in cities worldwide, from Ibiza to San Jose.
So The Bird was a little surprised to be contacted recently by flack Roxanne Romero of the mega-firm 5W PR, pitching a story about a made-up controversy involving a student at U of A who, along with her boyfriend, had dressed up for Halloween as an airplane (her) attacking one of the Twin Towers (him). After looking at the pics, which seemed silly at worst, this heron couldn't see what all the hubbub was about. Fake outrage over some 9/11 costume at a private Halloween party? Puh-lease.
Only later did this dodo learn that the only publicity 5W PR, which claims such clients as Starbucks, LifeStyles Condoms, Benny Hinn Ministries, and Ice Cube, had been able to find for this lame tale was on the radio show of local bigot Darrell Ankarlo. No wonder Romero jumped at the chance to have Karamian chat with this chirper. She was hoping for another easy placement for this dumbass non-news story.
On the horn, Karamian tried to get all moral with this mockingbird, insisting he was deeply offended by the homemade 9/11 outfit, which is why he and his site were dogging the gal in question, named on The Dirty as Nicole Cassese.
"I think they're disgusting," Da Hoo-Man said of the costumes, adding, "Lives were lost, and I think to make fun of something like that, it's really bad."
Karamian stated that wearing this costume was worse even than dressing up as Adolf Hitler. Even though under Hitler, the Nazis murdered about 6 million Jews. Also during WWII, about 20 million Russians and hundreds of thousands of Americans died fighting fascism. Karamian argued that 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were "not something that happened 60 years ago, or whatever" but something that happened in "modern times." Which made it more offensive.
Never mind the irony of some guy who peddles pics of nightlife denizens barfing, shedding their clothes, taking dumps, etc. being outraged by anything he sees. You might as well try to shock Howard Stern, for Chrissakes.
Plus, it's a little creepy how violent the anonymous, dillweed posters to Karamian's site are in reference to the girl dressed as the 9/11 airplane. Cassese, who U of A says is no longer a student at the school, has been repeatedly threatened by posters to The Dirty. One Internet tough guy, who calls himself "the man," opines, "Someone should just run her over with a car to put her out of her misery."
Or there's the "Spurs Fan," who suggests, "Somebody torch this girl's car, with her in it." Seems like a pretty harsh punishment for wearing an un-PC Halloween outfit.
"The premise of the Web site is for people to be held accountable for their actions," Karamian stated, later adding, "If The Dirty wasn't around, people would be just going on like nothing ever happened."
Holding Karamian accountable for his actions, well, that's a whole 'nother game o' pinochle. For instance, The Bird wanted to know about Karamian's attempt to join the ranks of the Fourth Estate by posting names of alleged johns in the Scottsdale Desert Divas prostitution ring. Back on September 8, Karamian published a few names of prominent individuals in the Valley who'd supposedly received the Eliot Spitzer treatment from these ladies of the evening.
But within hours, Karamian jerked the names down, following the complaints of those accused. Asked whether he'd made a mistake in posting the names of presumably innocent men in this context, Karamian expressed no remorse, stating his belief that these men were all guilty. Well, save for one, who had the same name as his son; "Junior" was the guy Karamian really meant to out.
"I posted just a couple of people that I just really don't care for because they don't have the greatest reputations," he explained. Karamian remained vague on why he had to take the names down if his source was accurate.
"I never claimed myself to be an investigative reporter, if that's what you're asking," he confessed.
Things really got tense when The Bird asked Karamian whether he'd ever done business as Corbin Grimes. According to the Better Business Bureau, Grimes was the CEO of Capitol Imaging Group. And according to Maricopa County Superior Court documents, Hooman Karamian was "doing business as" Corbin Grimes.
Seems CIG offered up-and-coming musicians the opportunity to get signed by a record label. For a fee, of course. If the act couldn't get signed, they were supposed to receive a refund. But various artists who did business with CIG are dissatisfied with the service they received. Montana hip-hop artist RBIZ called CIG — and its hip-hop-oriented subsidiary Rapvibe — the "biggest scam in the world," and he remembered Karamian's pitch specifically.
"He has everybody believing he had all these connections within the record industry and that something would happen for your band if you signed up," RBIZ rapped to this raven. "It was all bullshit."
RBIZ is but one of several former CIG clients who're pissed at Karamian, but when The Bird asked Karamian about his work as Corbin Grimes, he chuckled, saying, "This is so funny . . . The saddest part about this is that I'm the biggest supporter of New Times."
Karamian's flacks, who were still on the phone listening in, quickly shut down the interview and ended the call. This toucan gives Karamian props for copping to his real identity earlier this year, when he was exposed as having pleaded guilty to DUI and had to do a few days in Tent City. So why is Karamian afraid of his other alter ego, Corbin Grimes? That's what The Bird wants to know.
Off with their heads! This Bird's ready for a revolution against the government and the corporations who're jamming their Orwellian worldview right down his gullet, making him long for the days of loppin' off the noggin of King Louis XVI via the dreaded guillotine.
Hey, a beaker can daydream, can't he? And that's what this avian does every time he's cruising down the 51, only to have to jam on the brakes as his T-Bird rolls by the photo-enforcement cameras set up along the freeway to catch speeders doing 10 miles or more over the limit.
The tall devices look like storks with big heads and no wings, and as this warbler passes them, he imagines a special guillotine rigged up just for these cameras, ready to decapitate these newfangled instruments of oppression, which the Arizona Department of Public Safety is installing higgledy-piggledy all over the place.
But as The Bird recently discovered by reading the local Libertarian news site FreedomsPhoenix.com, some low-tech rebels have come up with an even more ingenious way of rendering the photo-enforcement units impotent, if only briefly: Post-it notes. Seems there's been a rash of Post-it note attacks, in which the yellow sticky things are used to block the cameras' lenses.
DPS spokesman Lieutenant James Warriner confirmed that Post-it note ninjas are at work, with at least five incidents taking place recently on State Route 51, Interstate 10, and Loop 101. DPS has an investigator assigned to catch the plucky roadside rebels, though the department isn't sure what the Post-it note perps would be prosecuted for, if and when they're nabbed.
"It is considered vandalism," stated Warriner. "I think [we're] trying to figure out with the county attorney exactly what they can charge them with."
The Bird bets Andy Thomas has jumped right on it, which would give Candy bunches of other chickenshit cases he can take all the way to jury trials. And lose. At taxpayer expense.
That is, how could the authorities make any vandalism charge, um, stick? After all, there's no permanent damage done to the cameras. All DPS has to do is peel the Post-its off. It ain't like someone is spray-painting the camera lenses black, or (dare to dream) bashing them in with baseball bats.
Warriner said the DPS might have to stake out the cameras' locations. Perhaps even install hidden cameras to watch the devices. That's right, cameras to watch the cameras.
DPS says it has no choice. These photo enforcement cameras are raking in beaucoup bucks for the budget-challenged state. If you're nabbed by one of them, it's a $165 fine, plus a 10 percent surcharge for the Clean Elections Fund, which makes for a total of about $181 and change.
And they wonder why people hate these things. The Bird says: Long live the sticker rebellion! DPS should just be glad we don't get that camera-guillotine a-goin'.
The SCA-gate ball is now squarely in Attorney General Terry Goddard's court. As you'll recall from a recent Bird item ("Arpaio's Watergate," November 11), this ornery owl broke the news that Goddard was looking into a complaint concerning the $105,000 contribution that the Sheriff's Command Association donated to the Arizona Republican Party.
See, Sheriff's Office Captain Joel Fox, the MCSO's version of Watergate's G. Gordon Liddy, wrote two checks to the Arizona Republican Party totaling the $105K. State party chairman Randy Pullen used the lion's share of that moolah to pay for attack ads against county attorney hopeful Tim Nelson and Sheriff Joe Arpaio's election rival, Dan Saban.
Thing is, the shadowy SCA never revealed its donor list to Pullen, as required by state law. So Pullen ended up having to return the funds to the SCA. By then, of course, the ads had long been paid for. The source of the cash remains a mystery, as does the question of whether the funds were illegally earmarked beforehand for use by Pullen in the county attorney and sheriff races. Pullen has denied this was the case.
Recently, it was confirmed through this canary's colleague Sarah Fenske that Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer's office had found "reasonable cause" to believe the Arizona Republican Party broke the law by accepting the $105,000 contribution.
It's a class 6 felony to "knowingly" accept such a contribution on behalf of another. So this could mean that Pullen may have to take one for the team, depending on whatever Goddard discovers in his probe.
Republican Party executive director Sean McCaffrey put his best spin on the situation, telling New Times that the complaint to Brewer's office, which originated with the Arizona Democratic Party, was "essentially dismissed in its entirety." Pardon this parakeet, but, huh? You do know the line about denial and Egypt, don'tcha, Sean?
McCaffrey contends that the state GOP complied with the law and returned the money when the names of SCA donors weren't forthcoming.
"While we did everything we could to follow both the letter and spirit of the law," explained McCaffrey in an e-mail, "SCA still has much explaining to do and will presumably get their chance."
Maybe, assuming Goddard has a set of huevos the size of Jan Brewer's. After all, Brewer did the right thing here in kicking this over to the AG's office. And doing the right thing, when it's better for oneself to play Greek dodgeball with an item that's against the interests of one's own party, is not a common occurrence in Arizona — by a damn sight.
In other states, attorneys general make their names on public corruption cases involving individuals such as Arpaio and Pullen. Goddard should be looking at Arpaio's office and the state GOP the way a tiger looks at a limping antelope. And as in the wild, if Goddard (a Democratic gubernatorial hopeful) doesn't go for the kill, we'll have to assume he ain't the predator he should be.
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