Crystal Not-So-Clear

Crystal Not-So-Clear

The Bird wouldn't be surprised if readers who've been following New Times' series "The Perfect Drug," on crystal meth in Arizona (the final installment of which is in this issue), are left with a certain distrust of the so-called "facts" presented by our fearless civic leaders.

After all, politicians from Attorney General Terry Goddard on down have played loose with statistics as they've sounded the siren about Arizona's meth crisis. Consider this: Goddard's Web site claims that babies exposed to meth in the womb are six times more likely to suffer birth defects. As New Times staff writer Robert Nelson pointed out in his cover story ("Ice, Ice, Baby," November 24), that simply isn't true. And, as Sarah Fenske reported in "Bad Medicine" (December 8), Goddard frequently cites a statistic claiming Arizona kids ages 12 to 17 lead the nation in meth use. The Arizona Republic's repeated the false statistic numerous times.

And speaking of a blatant disregard for the truth, the Republic's December 4 issue may have offered the best example. That day, a Sunday, the newspaper ran an embarrassing correction. Reporter Kerry Fehr-Snyder's piece from earlier in the week ("Study: Meth Linked to Kids' Deaths") reported that, in one of every five cases where an Arizona child died because of mistreatment in 2004, meth was a factor.

You guessed it! It's not true.

If you look at the study, or if you even kept reading the article, the facts turn out to be much different. In fact, meth was only a factor in one of every 50 child fatalities, or 21 in 1,048.

The Republic ran a correction on the story that played down the error by reporting that "a headline overstated the role of methamphetamine," without bothering to mention that the second paragraph of the story contained the exact same mistake.

Okay, a weaselly correction is one thing, but what the Republic did elsewhere in that day's newspaper is another.

In its lead editorial on December 4, "Put Meth to Death," the paper published an impassioned plea to enact a tough state law restricting sales of pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in tabletop meth labs.

The Bird could certainly quibble with the newspaper's argument. But rather than pick that fight, it'll stick to the stats. Like, for instance, the bogus one the Republic repeated, for the sixth time, about Arizona's teenagers leading the nation in meth use.

Or, perhaps, the equally bogus one about the deaths of children.

That's right. The editorial writers claimed once again that, according to a recent report, "one in five child deaths caused by mistreatment in 2004 involved methamphetamine use."

And yes, that was the same statistic they had just corrected.

Chirp it with this avian, people: One in 50! One in 50!

And pundits wonder why the public's confidence in news publications is plummeting.

Tranzylvania Tussle

Here's one that won't make the evening news: DJ Donnie Burbank says he got his arm broken by a bouncer at goth club Tranzylvania.

Burbank, a.k.a. DJ Dr. Father, is half of the creative team behind the wildly popular club night Sadisco, where whacked-out themes like Serial Killers Convention (at which clubgoers dressed as Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy) are the norm. Previously, Sadisco has popped off monthly at venues like Jugheads and .anti_space, though it's currently looking for a new home.

Tranzylvania is the dark-trance/goth night at the downtown hot spot Palazzo, the pride of club guru Steven Rogers, who also either owns or part-owns most of the clubs on that stretch of Central Avenue, including Miami and Amsterdam.

Sadisco Donnie has always struck this winged wordsmith as a most placid guy, so what gives with this hullabaloo?

Burbank showed The Bird his scarred-up arm and claims the injury -- which required surgery -- was sustained when a Tranz bouncer pushed Donnie out onto the sidewalk outside. Seems Burbank had been slam-dancing with a pal when some chick complained to the Tranz staff about Burbank bumping into her.

This extended middle finger's got to ask . . . just how much is too much at the city's goth mecca, for Satan's sake?!

According to Burbank, he was willing to go along quietly, but the bouncer twisted Burbank's arm behind his back and gave him the old heave-ho. Burbank says he didn't realize at first how badly he was injured.

"I was in so much pain," Burbank whimpered to The Bird. "I went to the hospital early Saturday morning, and I didn't get out until Monday evening."

Burbank has since been laid off by his employer until he has a full recovery, which could take as long as four months. He's facing Xmas on unemployment, and applying for food stamps until he can work again.

The fuzz has forwarded a report to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, which may charge the bouncer with aggravated assault. Lines have been drawn in the trance/goth/industrial community, and a handful of Tranz fans are boycotting the club because of the incident.

Rogers informed this avian that he isn't worried: "I'm convinced this did not happen. He did fall inside the club, but his statement to the police is a fabrication."

Rogers believes his security guy's story: Burbank had been drinking and was out of control when escorted outside the club. The bouncer told coppers that Burbank was belligerent and cursing, and even slapped the security goon, who's six-foot-four and weighs 265 pounds, to Burbank's slight five-foot-seven, 171 pounds.

The bouncer says he only shoved back and that Burbank eventually apologized for his behavior and walked away.

Meanwhile, Rogers has hired a private eye to look into the matter.

"When did he go to the hospital -- the next morning?" asks Rogers, after reading the police report. "I think he may have had a long evening after leaving that club."

The accused security dude is still working at Tranz, and Rogers says he remains confident in his staff and plans no personnel changes. Meantime, The Bird's sources swear that business is as good as ever for Rogers and company on Friday nights.

Could this prove that Tranzylvania's as immortal as Count Dracula?

Yaser, That's My Baby!

As Arizona State University student body president, Yaser Alamoodi's first 100 days in office have been much like Dubya's last hundred: not good, to say the least.

After narrowly winning a disputed election in the spring, Alamoodi was skewered by students when he vetoed a new meal plan proposal before it was sent to the Arizona Board of Regents -- a no-no according to ASU procedure. Then, Alamoodi had his pay suspended for a week in mid-November after he failed to nominate three student government Supreme Court justices by an October 1 deadline.

Now, it seems to The Bird, Alamoodi wants to polish his tarnished image with a campaign to save his school's lousy reputation. And he's starting with all those featherless coeds that ASU's known for.

In response to Playboy's recent announcement that ASU has once again made its list of top party schools (due out in the magazine's May issue) and after Hugh Hefner released his latest Girls of the Pac-10 issue in October, Alamoodi told the State Press at ASU that he wants to pass new legislation that will "prohibit males and females from posing in magazines [that Alamoodi says are] damaging to ASU's reputation."

"Hopefully, coming close to [expulsion or suspension] would be enough of a deterrent for males or females to engage in this," the 28-year-old Saudi national told the campus paper.

But college students feel strongly about exposed bosoms, apparently, and made it clear in the pages of the State Press that they don't appreciate their student president's prudishness. Even ASU's real prez, Michael Crow, doesn't agree with Alamoodi's squawking. In a Press article, he said, of students who doff their plumage for photographers, "If they're over 18, they can do what they want."

What?! Will the real Michael Crow -- he of the political campaign poster ban, the Nipplegate affair (where he went crazy because the State Press Magazine ran a photo of a pierced nipple on its cover) and the booting of amateur porn star/ex-ASU student government veep Brian Buck off campus -- please stand up?

But Crow isn't the only one changing his ultra-conservative tune all of a sudden. Now, Alamoodi's saying he isn't so concerned with ASU gals yanking off their tops in magazines as much as he is with the unauthorized use of ASU's logo. The trouble, Alamoodi says, is that Playboy tends to portray naked coeds in their dorm rooms surrounded by the college's mascot, Sparky, and other Sun Devil paraphernalia.

See, all this leads to the perpetuation of ASU's terrible party school reputation. Which it wouldn't have if students would just keep their clothes on and their Sparkys out of the picture.

"Those publications make a mockery of our efforts to improve our image," he chirped to The Bird. "The public misunderstands the association of our logo with those girls and those publications."

Really? So how come, according to ASU spokeswoman Terri Schafer, ASU's legal department found no unauthorized use of the ASU logo in the recent Girls of the Pac-10 issue? Is it because, as Playboy spokeswoman Theresa Hennessey explained to this tweeter, the nudie book goes way out of its way to cover its ass on copyright infringement?

"Our legal department goes through every page of every issue before it goes to press," Hennessey told The Bird, "to make sure that all the images and logos we run are within the bounds of fair use."

If Alamoodi is really looking for misuse of the sacred Sparky, he might want to consider the school's current copyright-infringement case, which Schafer says is in the works.

The case is against Gina Lynn Productions, which's distributing a new-ish porno called Double Dutch starring former ASU cheerleader Courtney Cox (not to be confused with the former Friends star -- this one's a porn queen who's, in fact, just changed her name to Courtney Simpson). In Double Dutch, Courtney appears in her ASU cheerleader uniform doing just about everything but skipping rope.

Now that should raise school spirit.

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela