Dead Man Driving

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And if it isn't James Hamburg, who in the name of Frankenstein is it?

The guy driving the car (see photograph) looks uncannily like the late James Hamburg (see inset photograph, of Hamburg with his wife). And James Hamburg didn't have a twin brother. He didn't have a brother, period.

Unless, of course, he really had an identical twin brother he kept hidden from his kids, but not his wife. And so she met up with the secret brother five years after her husband's death, and he took her for a spin down Country Club Drive -- and blew through a red light.

But right now, Mesa's sticking to its story. If bird brains wanna believe a ghost was driving that sedan, then so be it.

Because if its "flawless" photo contraption screwed up this time, how many other times has it screwed up? And is such photo equipment in other cities, say, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, screwing up, too? How much fine money from supposed red-light runners could those dratted attorneys get back?

Talk about scary.

Mexican Standoff

Speaking of dead guys, this feathered fiend went to a funeral the other day. Now, The Bird is hardly what you'd call a professional wrestling fan (truth be told, it'd have a hard time telling the difference between a pile driver and a screwdriver). So when word reached it that World Wrestling Entertainment superstar and Valley of the Sun resident Eddie Guerrero was headed for his dirt nap at Green Acres Mortuary and Cemetery in Scottsdale, the beaked wonder swooped in to survey the scene -- if for no other reason than to hear the fanatical flappings of local rasslin' fans.

The scene wasn't disappointing. This may-he-wrestle-upstairs-in-peace party was as fun-filled as a three-hour pay-per-view extravaganza.

And despite the efforts of the Guerrero family to keep the event's location on the down-low, the details were the worst-kept secret since wrestling was revealed as a theatrical sham. Local grappling groupies (and members of the media, natch) camped out early at the cemetery fence to catch a glimpse of such heroes and villains as Rey Mysterio, Rob Van Dam and John Bradshaw Layfield. (Oddly enough, The Undertaker was a no-show.)

Some fans dragged along their video cameras, because nothing says "Kodak moment" like a fare-thee-well to a dead wrestler. Among the not-so-bereaved was 25-year-old Joe Fax of Mesa, who regularly stalks WWE wrestlers whenever they mosey into town, ambushing them at restaurants and at the airport.

WWE security permitted some of the less-gross groupies to get as close to the corpse as the cemetery's parking lot, where The Bird spotted 42-year-old Maureen Cavallaro, who'd ditched her secretarial post that day to get a ghoulish glance at the proceedings. Maureen even dragged along her 15-year-old daughter for the ride.

Cavallaro told this taloned tussler that she'd pissed off a posse of about 20 "rowdy Mexicans" who'd dared to pull up in pimped-out rides to pay tribute to their fallen hero, Guerrero, who went by the nickname Latino Heat and regularly drove a low-rider into the ring.

"We came prepared," Jimmy Arbizu sneered in Cavallaro's direction. "We got sandwiches in the truck, and we got some Corona." The Bird could tell that the 43-year-old municipal worker was a wrestling fan even before he explained that he rented his vintage 1966 ice-blue Chevy Impala to Guerrero when WWE last visited the Valley. "This is Eddie's last ride, man. He woulda wanted us here."

No doubt. But Cavallaro sure didn't. She pouted to The Bird that she was "mad the Mexicans were going to screw it up for the rest of us," but she was ready with her own smarter-than-you plan: She convinced the Latinos she worked for the WWE and told them to keep a distance from the proceedings, as though she were ordained by WWE chieftain Vincent K. McMahon himself (who attended the funeral with his whole family) to enforce security.

"I just kinda gave the impression that I [worked for WWE] because we didn't want them trying to worm their way past us," Cavallaro spewed. "We were here since 9:30 in the morning, and they arrived after they saw [the funeral] on the 12 o'clock news. And they're calling all their friends to come out."

Okay, but what's wrong with that, Maureen? After all, Eddie's motto was: "Lie, cheat and steal."

But in a comeback worthy of Hulk Hogan himself, Arbizu one-upped Cavallaro and spoke with actual security officials, as well as members of the Guerrero family, and got to park his ride next door to the Green Acres chapel. His sons, James, 11, and Andrew, 8, even got to shake hands with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.

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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