Flashes 06-01-2000

Coffee, Tea or Riunite?

Looks like restaurateur-cum-Phoenix magazine columnist Mark Tarbell better cool his jets. In the magazine's June issue, Tarbell turns his "By the Glass" column into a how-to guide on smuggling fine wine onto commercial airline flights and consuming it without raising flight attendants' eyebrows -- or hackles.

Turns out the Federal Aviation Administration isn't as high on the idea as Tarbell -- and even has a regulation forbidding passengers from imbibing alcoholic beverages they didn't purchase from the drink cart. (An FAA spokesperson says most violators are simply cut off from their own supply. Excessive drunkenness, however, could lead to stiffer penalties.)

All of this comes as news to Tarbell, who tells the Flash that -- despite the cloak-and-dagger tone of the column -- he was unaware that the practice is prohibited. He says he's successfully pulled off the ploy at least 25 times.

So why isn't the successful proprietor of two of the city's toniest eateries (Barmouche and Tarbell's) flying first-class, where the wine flows before the plane leaves the ground?

"I wish I could afford it," Tarbell says with a laugh.

Meanwhile, Phoenix magazine editor Robert Stieve took the sobering news with less humor, and tells the Flash he will run a correction in a future issue.

Now please return your champagne buckets to their upright, locked position.

One Hot Scoop

Despite KTVK-TV Channel 3's recent predilection for celebrity news and other trivial "stuff," the Flash is still a fan of the station. Liz Habib is as cute as a bug, and there are also some producers and editors at "The Place With More Stuff" who know how to pursue and report a news story. At its best, Channel 3 can still be the most fearless of all the local TV news crews.

So it pains the Flash to write of last Wednesday's Channel 3 report on a 4-year-old boy who got trapped in an abandoned car that lacked inside door handles. The tot died from the heat.

While Channel 3's camera was trained on the car of death, a female detective got inside to investigate and closed the door. A reporter, doing a voice-over, explained that the detective apparently didn't know there were no door handles, and that the car was shaking and rocking as the detective tried to get out. Indeed, it was. After about 10 minutes, a neighbor saw her distress and ran over to let her out.

The detective emerged flushed and upset. Detectives reported that their colleague began to panic when she realized she was trapped and was about to use her shoe to break the window.

Appropriately, the anchor asked the reporter why Channel 3's cameraman didn't just let the woman out of the car. The reporter responded that the camera jockey wasn't watching what he was filming and didn't realize the detective was in trouble until the tape was being edited.

Under these circumstances, the Flash has no choice but to bestow a Bill Close Award on KTVK -- for inattentive documentation, for shooting without looking, for video vapidity, for a lack of alacrity. The Flash periodically hands out the statuette -- named after the former Channel 10 anchor fossil -- to broadcasters who go below and beside the call of duty.

Mortal Synergy

Gregory Hague takes out a couple of full-page ads every week in the Paradise Valley Independent to tell people that a study at Arizona State University named him the best Realtor in Paradise Valley. He sponsors that newspaper's society pages, and when the paper is delivered to Paradise Valley residents, it bears an address label with his company's name, again reminding them of his bestness.

So perhaps it wasn't surprising to see an article about Hague's latest business venture on the front page of that august publication's May 10 issue and no questions asked.

Seems Hague bought a group of buildings on Lincoln Drive that once housed a design studio and intended to open a "Showcase of Homes."

The Flash thought that sounded like a real estate office, and so, apparently, did the Independent.

No, it's something else, Hague told the Flash, but he wouldn't say just what.

"Well, it doesn't matter, because I'm not going to do it," he says.

Whatever it was, Hague would have needed a zoning variance to open it, and the Town of Paradise Valley frowns on change. When the PV Board of Adjustments continued the case, Hague withdrew the application for a variance and announced in the Independent that he was opening his own design studio, which would not require a variance.

The Independent didn't question the double talk that followed.

"One of our synergies," Hague told the paper, "may be the design studio allowing its customers to view a wide array of the finest interior and exterior design ideas already existing in the Town of Paradise Valley through photographs of Hague Realtors Paradise Valley homes."

Then the paper added, "He said the design center may also be able to arrange for its customers to personally view the interior decor and exterior elevations of the Realtor's properties."

And that, Hague assured the Flash, is neither a real estate office nor a showcase of homes.

The Flash was apparently not the only Independent reader to say, "Wha . . . ?"

"We received quite a few calls on it," says Eva Cutro, senior planner with the Town of Paradise Valley.

"We did see the piece in the newspaper and we have given it to our attorney, who, I'm sure, will be investigating whether that is a change in use."

Oh, that ASU study proclaiming Hague as best Realtor in PV? It was done as a class project by a student at the business school, and ASU disavows any implication of endorsement.

Film School

Bob Fenster, we hardly knew ye. The Flash felt the first pang of nostalgia for the Arizona Republic's departed, perpetually benighted movie scribe last Friday, reading the introductory column by the Bobster's replacement, political reporter turned critic Bill Muller.Muller's credentials for the job are hard to argue with, however: In the column, he assures us that it was at college that he learned "the difference between screwball comedies and film noir." Thank God for higher education.

Tripp Wire

First Helen Thomas, now Steve Tripp. What a month for retiring journalistic institutions.A few weeks ago, Thomas, United Press International's 79-year-old dean of the White House press corps, ended a wire service career spanning nearly 60 years, saying she wouldn't work under new owners affiliated with the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.

And then on Monday, the East Valley Tribune announced the end of Tripp's "Around Town" column. The Flash admits to having barely noticed Tripp's weekly social ramblings, but they must have been pretty important, given all the attention devoted to his departure. So we carefully read the article about his last column as well as his actual last column. This is what we learned:

Puns are fun. "What a trip!" Tripp begins in his last missive. And the article about him was headlined "Tripp's final trip around town." Hee hee. We also learned that Tripp is still young and just wants to devote more time to his family and his new marketing business. He likes writing but doesn't want to have to do it every week. And he's worn out a tuxedo hobnobbing with local luminaries "such as Erma Bombeck and Cheryl Ladd." Therein, we learn that the Valley social scene is a huge bore, because Bombeck has been dead for four years -- nearly half of his "trip" -- and Ladd's biggest claim to fame was being a replacement Charlie's Angel more than 20 years ago. We also learned that journalism (maybe just society journalism) is a grueling job that eats up its participants and spits them out. Otherwise, why all the praise over the fact that he had the same job for almost 10 years?

"I mean, nine-plus years is one heck of a run," Tripp muses.

Here's to you and Helen.

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