BEST MEXICAN BASHER 2006 | Maricopa County Attorney Andy Thomas | People & Places | Phoenix
Where do we start with County Attorney Andy Thomas, whom we prefer calling Candy Thomas, because he's a wimpy-looking dude whom some have likened to (ahem . . . ) a candy-ass? Not that his tough-guy actions in office should've led them to believe this. At least not his actions against illegal immigrants. We suggested calling him Puffy Thomas, as in one of those puff pastries, but that just didn't stick. So Candy it is. Thing is, nobody told Thomas that his office has nothing to do with the illegal immigration issue; he not only got elected on that issue (he has scant experience as a prosecutor), but he proceeded to pick on the Mexicans in our midst in various ways. He tried to get Spanish banned in rehabilitative DUI courts. Why? 'Cause Spanish ain't the official Amer-cun language, partner! He refused to press charges against a vigilante who drew down on some illegals at a freeway rest stop. Don't get us started on these individual incidents! But his claim to fame is that he's taken to trying to prosecute regular old undocumented workers as coyotes. Get it?! They've smuggled themselves into the country. He hasn't had much success with this lunacy, even though Sheriff Joe Arpaio's been aiding and abetting with pickups of such lawbreakers so Candy can take a shot at 'em in the courts. Success or no success, don't expect Candy to stop with his Mexican-bashing; it got him elected, and it will probably get him elected again. Voters in this state are so fearful of the land down below that they'll probably elect this puff pastry governor before it's over. Unless the legal aliens among us in Maricopa County organize a massive voter-registration project and vote his candy ass out of office.
Veronica Newell has been working the patio bar on Friday and Saturday nights at Palazzo/Tranzylvania for two years, and in that time, she's accumulated quite a fan base partly because she's so fast and friendly, but mostly because she makes a mean mixed drink. Her most popular blend is the Miami Beach, a fruity mix of Hypnotiq, Malibu rum, and pineapple juice. If that's not your taste, don't worry Newell estimates that she knows how to make "about a hundred" different drinks, and she's not afraid to make up recipes on the spot, either. "I had one girl come in and say, 'I like raspberry vodka,'" Newell says. "So I thought, 'What could I make with that?' Boom vodka, 7UP, and a splash of cranberry juice. That's her favorite drink now." And if you find yourself sitting at the patio bar waiting for your late-ass friends, Newell's more than happy to pour you a stiff one and chat about everything from cat acne to what's on the news.
His gums rarely stop flapping, and sometimes that's a good thing. Like the time, early this year, when state Senator Jack Harper (R-Surprise) insisted on holding legislative hearings to investigate the controversial September 7, 2004, District 20 recount, after nearly 500 new votes magically appeared between the primary and the recount. Then again, there was the time Harper went after U.S. Senate candidate Jim Pederson after Pederson's 24-year-old son, James Robert Pederson, was busted on a "misconduct with weapons" charge and unlawful possession of narcotics, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. During a state Senate floor session last February, Harper blabbed that young Pederson's bust "points to a culture of corruption in the Pederson household," an opinion that put Harper on the hot seat with fellow legislators. Republican Neanderthal or well-tuned protector of the people? We say he's the best of both.
In these days of high-octane Red Bull and vodka, there's something infinitely charming about the long list of drinks they're serving up at Scottsdale's new and improved Trader Vic's. The parchment-colored menu features no less than 78 specialties, each one redolent of the bygone era when people used to sip rather than chug. Check out such retro delights as the Pogo Stick (gin, pineapple, grapefruit juice), the Suffering Bastard (rum, lime, liqueur), and our new favorite, the Munich Sour (brandy and sour mix). Feel like something really different? Try one of the bar's five "party libations," served ready to share in communal bowls. On the other hand, if you want a tried-and-true classic, you can't go wrong with the Mai Tai. Restaurant founder Victor Bergeron himself invented the Mai Tai back in 1944, and if you haven't had one in years (or ever), give it a try. You'll be surprised how glamorous it still tastes, 62 years after its invention.
If you're planning on visiting the G&D because you've heard the selection of English pub beers and great cozy feel is just scrummy, you might be surprised to find another great secret of the Dragon in addition to authentic pub drafts and grub, the G&D stocks one of the finest selections of cigars and scotch in the Valley. Put down a Balvenie single malt, one of 28 scotches in stock, while puffing away on a Fuente cigar to your heart's content. In fact, since the George and Dragon is a smoke-friendly bar, you can make like the English and tell anyone who complains about your smoking to just piss off. The Macanudo, a peppery and earthy Jamaican import, is perfect for stogie noobs who don't know that you're not supposed to inhale, while a swanky Partagas cigar is the luxury smoke of the house (it better be, at $12 apiece!). While you're sparking up, find out why the G&D consistently wins the Best English Pub award and try the award-winning fish and chips or shepherd's pie, and chase it down with one of the tubthumpin' 21 beers on tap.
Part of being a good reporter is being a pain in the butt when necessary. Part of being a good public information officer for a police department is not taking public records requests personally, and not losing one's cool when someone like us insists on getting his or her grubby little hands on the juicy stuff. We've met dozens of PIOs over the years some outstanding, some not so good (we define "good" as responding promptly, keeping us informed of the status of our requests and just being upfront with us at all times) and we're not easily fooled by glad-handers. Sergeant Dan Masters obviously loves his department, but he's not about to lie for it, or to keep us (or the rest of the public) from getting what's coming to us under the law. Consistent, always cordial and professional, the sarge does Tempe PD proud day after day.
It doesn't get much cooler than Camus. Not only is the bar/restaurant named after the French existentialist Albert Camus, author of The Stranger and The Plague, it's set in the renovated, boutique-y Clarendon Hotel, which is illuminated by red and blue lights in the evening, and exudes a studied hipster charm. The Clarendon's also a historic site, where investigative reporter Don Bolles took one for the team when a bomb exploded beneath his car in the Clarendon's parking lot back in 1976. Care to share a drink with the ghosts of both Camus and Bolles? Then you'd best saddle up to the red granite bar and let mixologist/owner Carson Quinn whip you up one of his signature concoctions, maybe a white chocolate almond martini, a lychee white sangria, or a mango mojito. Our preferred potation, however, is the Carson City Martini, which purists might sneer at, but which we love to inhale on an all-too-regular basis. The Carson City is a magnificent blend of Absolut citron, Stoli vanilla, Frangelico, crème de cacao, and shaved almonds. A martini that tastes like marzipan! Sheer genius. We always order them in triplicate one for us, one for Albert, and one for Don. And if Albert and Don aren't thirsty, well, we'll just have to drink for three.
Some years ago, the great science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury was asked by an audience member after a speech at Arizona State University, "What's the first thing that you'd tell one of your space aliens after they landed on Earth?" Bradbury didn't miss a beat. "Don't watch local TV news," he replied, to a rousing ovation. That said, we are pleased to report that Mike Watkiss passes our overly honed smell test as the real deal, a truly dogged reporter who loves to be first and right. His work on the polygamy scandal topped all other non-print types by a mile, and that's just one example of many. Maybe it's all those years doing the tabloid stuff on A Current Affair and Hard Copy. Or maybe it's the impressive education undergrad work at Stanford, and a master's degree in journalism from Columbia. Whatever the reason, we're happy to have this guy in town.
This popular establishment, located way up at DC Ranch, is well worth the trip on two engaging fronts. The sushi is excellent. And the signature martinis? Well, bet you'll have at least two. We especially love the "Mowie Wowie," a creative blend of Van Gogh pineapple vodka, tropical schnapps and a pineapple splash. Goes swimmingly with the yellowtail rolls. For more traditional types, the "Dean Martini" fits the bill your choice of a good vodka or gin, shaken and served straight up with a choice of specialty olives. And if you need a legal bump, try the "Clockwork Orange," which combines Player's Extreme Mandtango vodka with a blend of orange and tangerine juices, a splash of cherry juices, and here's the kicker Red Bull energy drink.
We don't know whether it's that '80s hair, the fact that she's Asian or that she projects that motherly TV charm, but Channel 12's Lin Sue Cooney gets our nod this year. We were always turned on by Donna Summer and the other disco queens of the day, and Saturday Night Fever is one of our all-time favorite films. We can just see the young, lithesome Lin Sue getting swirled around by John Travolta (before he chowed down too much and got the man teats) as Bee Gees falsetto blared. The gal's got great gams! Sure, Lin Sue has a little wear and tear on that face (she's been on TV here for 20 years), but it just gives you the impression that she's seen trouble and survived to pontificate about it on the tube. Maybe some of it's got to do with her husband's past legal troubles, but let's not get into that here. And maybe that warmth is just as much a fantasy as our dreams of her twirling around on the dance floor in high heels with her petticoats around her waist. Who cares? Come on, you've got to admit that Cooney is still hot, especially when she and co-anchor Mark Curtis (he of the porn-star mustache obviously touched up with Just for Men) sit on those high stools and all casual-like talk about the fun things that are going on in our fair metropolis. Like the arrests of a couple of serial killers, or how certain restaurants are really dirty. But the winning quality that Cooney possesses is that she really makes us think she cares about our little lives. Hey, if we came up a little short at Starbucks, we bet she'd pay for our double-decaf soy latte. We bet she really cares about those animals at the shelters she's always talking about, because when you look up "earnest" in the dictionary, there's her picture. Just kidding, of course.

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