BEST CAMPAIGN DIGS 2007 | Phil for Phoenix | People & Places | Phoenix
Phil Gordon doesn't have the best taste in town. That honor goes to his wife, Christa Severns. So maybe she's the one who decided the mayor should set up his re-election shop in the former 307, a one-time transvestite bar just east of the way-cool monOrchid gallery that has stood largely empty for years. We're not too interested in the ghosts of drag queens past; what we really dig is a mural stretching across one wall, painted by none other than Ted DeGrazia. You may not recognize the name, but you've seen DeGrazia's images of sad little Indian — or are they Mexican? — children. DeGrazia's dead, so we can't ask him (nor can we ask him if it's true he painted the mural to settle a bar tab), but there's a big show of his work up for the next several months at the DeGrazia Gallery of the Sun in Tucson — go to for details. As for Mayor Phil, we think it's sort of silly that he bothered to open a re-election HQ at all. Maybe he just wanted to look at that cool mural. Can't blame him. In any case, we're glad an elected official paid some attention to a cool old building, even if he hasn't provided the leadership — so far — to make sure the downtown art scene really thrives. You got four more years, Phil. Do it for Ted.
How does one become Greater PHX's best local nutbar? After all, the Valley's a veritable can of Planter's, what with all these right-wing loonies, Minutemen, and anti-immigrationists runnin' around. But Kent "Cow Killer" Knudson (a convicted felon for shooting someone else's cow on his property) gets the nod because as "chief cook and bottle washer" for 9/11 Truth AZ, he's taken the state version of a national fruitcake movement and driven it right into the ground.

As if it weren't enough that these freaks believe 9/11 was an inside job by our own government, Knudson embarrassed the unembarrassable by roping in Holocaust-denier Eric Williams to help organize Chandler's 9/11 Accountability Conference.

Once the news of Williams' participation hit, speakers started dropping out left and right. Knudson compounded the problem by assuring folks that Shoah-shirker Williams was out of the conference, even though he showed up to tend his booth, sell merch, and at one point, was invited up on the podium.

Many of Knudson's fellow kooks were disgusted, and the last we've heard, 9/11 Truth AZ was having financial probs. Gee, wonder why?

J.T. Ready's the Ernst Roehm of the East Valley, the Hermann Goering of Sand Land, the two-ton titan of AZ white supremacy. Ready's rep was already dirt after his disastrous campaign for Mesa City Council in 2006, wherein it was revealed that he'd fudged his CV a tad, omitting the fact that he'd been court-martialed twice while in the Marines and given a bad-conduct discharge. He also has a conviction in Florida for assault. Locally, he bumblefucked by firing his weapon on an illegal immigrant who may or may not have been up to no good.

Maybe Ready figured his days as a legitimate candidate for anything were over. How else to explain his embrace of white nationalist rhetoric, his visit to the neo-Nazi National Vanguard's Winterfest event, and his profile on, "an online community for whites by whites"? The guy even refers to his "headquarters" as "the Eagle's Nest," after the famous Adolf Hitler retreat. Rumor is J.T.'s got a Bertchesgarden in Mesa, too. No word on whether or not it's a double-wide.

Talk about your bloody Valentines. Tiffany Sutton, 23, outdid them all by allegedly trying to drink the blood of paramour Robert McDaniel, 46, back on February 14 of this year. According to police reports, after a night of boozing, meth, and sex, Sutton asked McDaniel if she could tie his ass up.

McDaniel, being a male of the species under the influence of this spacy little minx, allowed her to do so, after which Sutton stabbed him repeatedly with a knife and chased him with a pickax because she wanted to suck on an artery. Fortunately, a friend of McDaniel's happened to stop by the shack where these two lovebirds were playing Operation, saw his pal nearly unconscious from the loss of blood, and decided to phone the po-po.

Once the coppers got there, it was revealed that Sutton had gotten McDaniel to sign the back of a detective novel called The Eighth Circle with this statement, "You, Robert McDaniel, swear no wrong will come to me, Tiffany Lachelle Sutton, due to tonight's events." Now, because of the media coverage, Sutton has male fans worldwide who want her to pop a straw into their veins, including some fella who calls himself "Angelic Scar," who's set up this Web site, where he fantasizes about partying with that "crazy hot bitch who drinks blood."

The sweet life indeed. U.S. Airways CEO Doug Parker banked more than $11 million in his most recently reported compensation package. So, it's understandable that Parker would use a few of those hard-earned pennies to buy himself a cold one this past January 31. After all, Parker had just lost a $9.8 billion bid to take over Delta Airlines.

Problem is, according to media reports at the time, Parker bought himself a few too many consolatory drinks, and then he decided to drive himself and his drinking buddies home from the exclusive "Birds Nest" revelries at the FBR Open.

About 11:30 p.m., Scottsdale Police sergeant Mark Clark spotted Parker's speeding, swerving BMW and pulled him over. The police report tells the rest: "I observed/detected the following: bloodshot eyes, watery eyes, odor of alcohol on the driver's breath. Speech was: slurred," Clark wrote.

When the New York Stock Exchange closed that day, U.S. Airways stock (LCC) was selling for about $56 per share. Since Parker's DUI, the company's stock has plunged to about $30 per share.

You do the math.

Oh, okay, we'll do it.

Multiply U.S. Airways' 91.5 million outstanding shares by a loss of $26 per share, and crude math calculates the company has lost about $3 billion in market value. Granted, there are more factors at play than Parker's one-too-many. Still, we award Doug Parker a "Best of" for both the most expensive beer and for single-handedly manipulating a publicly traded stock.

Although mopeds will never be as hip and sexy as the Vespa, we decided to embrace the nerdy cool of the geeky vehicle after we started seeing members of the Tom Cruisers ambling around Tempe on their motorized velocipedes. Consisting of 15 or so twentysomething guys and other college-age males, with nicknames like "Designated Wizard" and "Gunther Pleasureman," the clique serves as the Valley's chapter of the Moped Army, a nationwide enthusiast group. Besides their weekly hangout session at their garage near Four Peaks Brewery, on Eighth Street in Tempe, we've spied the Cruisers piloting their putt-putts in slow-moving formations (top speed: 40 miles per hour) to nearby bars. This past January, they staged their first (and to date, only) "rally" at the Last Exit Bar & Grill, titled "Death Rides a Moped," which featured performances from such local bands as Back Ted N-Ted, Minibosses, and Get Down! to Brass Tacks. Let's hope the real Tom Cruise has a sense of humor and doesn't sue 'em over the name.
As much as we dislike Tom Cruise, we really love to loathe the so-called "sultan of smut" and all-around arrogant local blowhard David Hans Schmidt. So much so that when word reached us about how the Scientologist screwball and actor played a part in getting Schmidt thrown in the federal lockup on charges of alleged attempted extortion, our revulsion toward Mr. Top Gun diminished, if only temporarily.

As the story goes, Schmidt was busted by FBI agents in July after Cruise claimed the former Valley PR flack offered to not publish a series of stolen wedding photographs from TomKat's 2006 marriage in exchange for more than $1 million. The actor called in the G-men. This isn't the first time that Schmidt, who's built a career out of peddling celebrity sex tapes and helping fame whores like Tonya Harding get naked in skin rags like Playboy, has approached celebrities and offered to disappear some embarrassing material. Nor is it the first time he's seen the inside of a jail cell, as Schmidt did several stints in state and Maricopa County lockups for (among other charges) aggravated harassment of an ex-girlfriend over their children. This just in: In August, Schmidt entered in to a plea agreement, and now faces two years in the pen and a $250,000 fine. Let's just hope that this time, we won't be hearing about him for a long, long time.

Just when we thought ol' Joe Arpaio couldn't get any fruitier, the Maricopa County Sheriff came up with something that out-cheesed even the legendary pink underwear he forces inmates to wear in Tent City: an "Inmate Idle" competition in which non-violent offenders would sing bad karaoke in hopes of winning, uh, nothing. Media instantly went ga-ga for the gag. Maybe the puns were just too irresistible — "What a con-test!" quipped What a con, indeed! Here's how it worked: Sheriff Joke started by launching K-Joe radio in Tent City, which would broadcast "wholesome" music for inmates ("Rhinestone Cowboy," anyone?). Then, he launched the competition and aired preliminary rounds on the station, so other inmates could vote for their favorites. But Joe still needed judges, so he enlisted his publicist (natch), Lisa Allen, and Bret Kaiser, formerly of cheesy, bad '80s metal band Madame X. For the big finale, he got resident rock legend Alice Cooper to serve as the judge. It was all so gratuitously hyped that even our sister publication, LA Weekly, got lured into a masturbatory, seven-page cover story on the debacle. In case you're curious, an inmate named Corey Brothers won the final competition with a rendition of The Temptations' "My Girl." Joe gave him a vanilla cake. Really.


Heart Attack Grill

Heroes come from the strangest places. For instance, about a year ago, when Valley restaurateur Jon Basso opened the doors of the Heart Attack Grill — where sexy young waitresses dressed as naughty nurses serve up über-greasy burgers like the "Triple Bypass" and "Quadruple Bypass" — the eatery entrepreneur never thought he'd wind up battling the government and becoming the poster boy for the First Amendment. But that's just what happened last fall when the Arizona State Board of Nursing and the Maryland-based Center for Nursing Advocacy took umbrage with the joint's usage of medical costumes and its flaunting the sexy nurse stereotype. The Arizona attorney general's office even got involved, sending out threatening letters to Basso indicating he was in possible violation of state laws designed to keep quacks and con artists from passing themselves off as legitimate health care professionals since his servers were using the title of "nurse."

It was a laughable attempt at a legal smackdown, since no one in their right mind thought they were going to the Heart Attack Grill for medical attention (other than clogging their arteries). The brouhaha got worldwide media coverage — including appearances on Fox News, 20/20, Geraldo Rivera, and German and Japanese television — where Basso made like Hustler founder Larry Flynt and maintained the issue was one of free expression (albeit a rather salacious one) versus a misuse of power by the government. Eventually, the state backed off and Heart Attack Grill was free to keep slinging greasy beef and sexual innuendo at its new location in east Phoenix (the Chandler location closed in June). While we're not particular fans of Basso's burgers (they're really quite so-so), we dig the fact the dude's willing to stand up for free speech.

When writing about public-information officers, we're often reminded of the late baseball pitcher Lefty Grove, who won 300 games in his career despite throwing only about as hard as an average high-schooler. Someone once asked Lefty how in the world he'd been so successful when he threw so slowly.

"I guess I just try to keep their eye off the ball," he replied.

That's pretty much how most PIOs around these parts do their jobs — spinning, delaying, dancing, weaving, and keeping the likes of us at bay for as long as legally possible (and even after that, in certain, well-documented instances). Lord knows, we are loath to say anything too nice about a PIO, but if it's right, we write. Cari Gerchick works for the Supremes (no, not Diana Ross and company, those other big shots in the black robes).

An attorney herself (ASU College of Law, class of 2000), Gerchick is helpful to the max about the status of cases, where those cases may fit into the big scheme of things, and most attentive to our ever-impending deadlines. She's also super-friendly, and not in that phony way we reporters know too well. Gerchick has a terrific memory for detail, and consistently remembers to pass along the update she promised six months earlier. We like that!

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