Fife's Kitchen
It's back to school for two unlikely Arizona figures! Fife and Ann Symington began classes at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute on Monday.

Apparently, the Fifester considers restaurateuring as his next career move. Ann is already an investor in Roy's, a new Scottsdale restaurant.

Of course, there's the little issue of a 30-month prison sentence looming on the ex-guv's calendar--he's free while his conviction on six criminal bank and wire fraud counts is being appealed.

Once his conviction is upheld, however, the penal environment could offer Chef Fife plenty of practical experience behind the stove. Prisoners gotta eat! Nobody at the institute could confirm a rumor that the Fifester has enrolled in an introductory shingle-dressing course.

Shover Shoves Off
The last of the late Eugene C. Pulliam's inner circle dating back to the glory days of Phoenix Newspapers Incorporated is finally on his way out.

Bill Shover, 70, who's held various titles as the public relations mouthpiece for the Arizona Republic and the now-defunct Phoenix Gazette, announced his retirement last week.

Shover survived at PNI despite personal and professional crises and a string of publishers since Pulliam's death in the mid-1970s.

But if the amiable Shover was good for the corporate side of the newspapers as a glad-handing public relations man, he was never a favorite of journalists. Shover left the impression around town that he could help businessmen and politicians get access to the news and editorial pages.

Reporters still wonder how Shover survived the newspapers' greatest humiliation--the exposure in 1985 of publisher Darrow "Duke" Tully as a phony war hero. Tully had arrogantly paraded around the community in an Air Force colonel's dress uniform, dripping with medals and spinning tales about being shot down in Vietnam and Korea, although he'd never served a day in any military service.

Tully described Shover as his "shadow"--and, sure enough, the two were inseparable. Shover promoted speaking invitations and memberships on civic boards for Tully, and squired him around town to meet politicians and visiting VIPs.

And when Tully's counterfeit life as a war hero was about to be exposed, Shover rushed to meet with then-Maricopa County attorney Tom Collins in the hope of talking Collins out of revealing Tully's deceit. Collins was undeterred, and Tully resigned in disgrace.

Reporters reconstructing the Tully scandal concluded that Shover knew of Tully's fraudulent background long before it was publicly exposed, but said nothing. It was Shover who sanitized Tully's bio in the R/G library before Collins blew the whistle, removing photos of Tully in uniform and references to military decorations.

When asked at the time why he'd covered for Tully, Shover replied, "He was my boss." Asked why he shouldn't be fired for his part in the cover-up, Shover said, "Well, that's up to them."

"Them" R/G honchos chose to retain the loyal consigliere.
Republic wags speculate that Shover survived so long, despite successive publishers, because of a personal domestic miniscandal that was turned to his benefit. Along the way, Shover's longtime wife, Nancy, dumped him to marry Frank Russell, Shover's multimillionaire boss, then-chairman of Central Newspapers Incorporated, PNI's parent.

Conventional wisdom seems to be that Shover got a lifetime gig as compensation for the pain of losing his wife to his boss.

Beach Session
Not long ago, Republic columnist Marianne Moody Jennings explained why the movie Titanic, which she hadn't seen, was so obviously unworthy of her time. She carped that the flick depicted an idealized love affair rather than the higher sort of love she and her hubby--lucky fellow!--have found paying the bills and asserting their authority over their children, and stuff like that. Anyway, Titanic was a wildly popular movie, and seemed to please a lot of people, so there was no way she could refrain from griping about that.

More recently, MMJ published a new chapter in her upcoming collection, "Reviews of Movies I Haven't Seen." The target this time: Steven Spielberg and Saving Private Ryan. Actually, nowhere in MMJ's symphony of incoherent grumpiness does she come out and say she hadn't seen the film, but her only references to its content are the descriptions of it she's read in the "media elite."

What bugs her about Valley boy Spielberg is that the scoundrel made a graphic war picture: "Seeing the horrors of war will somehow prevent war in the future," she sneers. ". . . Are we to believe that if Spielberg had graced 1930s Hollywood we might not have had World War II?"

In Jennings' view, showing combat as something other than burnished with glory is the same as having a leftie-peacenik agenda--it couldn't possibly have to do with, say, honoring the sacrifice of those who died for freedom, or simply with having a mature, lucid world view.

"Spielberg and his adoring critics fail to grasp the notion that war is sometimes worth its costs," she avers. "Are they concluding that the loss of 400,414 lives in the Civil War was unnecessary?"

Yeah, just like that leftie-peacenik Stephen Crane did when he included the horrors of that war in The Red Badge of Courage.

Even though Spielberg based his film on testimonial accounts of the D-Day invasion, Jennings pronounces in closing that the director ". . . and other media elite will never understand my father and the men of WWII. War is horrifying, and that was clear to me from my father's hesitancy to discuss it."

Exactly why her understanding is superior to that of Spielberg--who, like Jennings, is the child of a WWII veteran--she doesn't explain.

The American Legion apparently didn't buy Jennings' bunk. Last week that leftie-peacenik cabal announced it would give Spielberg its "Spirit of Normandy" award.

Feed the Flash: voice, 229-8486; fax, 340-8806; online, [email protected]

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.