"Pimp 'n' Ho night" was the advertised theme at Club 411 in Tempe on May 17. "Bust a Cap night" was more like it. Here's the haps, culled from Tempe PD reports and witness accounts.
Shortly before closing, patron Troy Ware--presumably dressed as a pimp, not a ho--was forcibly ejected from the club by several white bouncers (Ware is black). The bouncers told police Ware was being "disruptive" and "obnoxious." Ware's friends say that's because at least one bouncer called Ware a "nigger" for no reason, save, perhaps, the ravages of roid-rage.
By either account, when the club closed at 1 a.m. on May 18, the usual large, rowdy crowd gathered on the northeast corner of Fourth Street and Mill. Ware was there, pissed off, and talking smack.
Ware argued with several white Club 411 security guards who were trying to disperse the predominantly black crowd. According to several clubgoers, the "N" word was used by several bouncers. Club 411 employees told police the trash talk concluded when Ware shouted, "Fuck all you bouncers, I'm going to get my gun and kill you all."
According to the police report, Ware ran to Club 411's parking lot and retrieved a .40-caliber Glock semiautomatic handgun from a car. Ware then ran toward the bouncers--and a crowd of about 100 people--and squeezed off several shots. Some witnesses say Ware fired into the air, but bouncer Christian Thrash told police Ware fired into the crowd. Although nobody was hit, Thrash said he heard two rounds whistle just above his head.
As most of the crowd hit the deck, Thrash ran to his car and retrieved his own heater, a .40-caliber Smith and Wesson semiautomatic. Thrash told police he saw three other dudes with guns run toward Ware. He described them as: a white guy in a black shirt carrying a black semiautomatic; another white guy in a black muscle shirt carrying a black semiauto; and a white guy in a white muscle shirt carrying a silver revolver.
Thrash says he heard one of them shout, "Get that fucking nigger." Ware, he says, threw down his gun and ran about 30 feet until the three men cornered him against a wall in the parking lot. Let's cut to the police report:
"Thrash saw the three subjects with guns were pointing them at Ware. He heard one of the subjects with the black, sleeveless shirt yelling, 'I got a head shot! I got him marked! I'm going to take him!'
"Thrash said he was afraid someone would shoot Ware, so he pointed his gun in the air, shot 2-3 times and yelled, 'Freeze, police! Get on the ground before you get shot!'"
According to at least a dozen witnesses, the three crackers with guns took off, and six to eight Club 411 bouncers--all white, all wearing Club 411 shirts--grabbed Ware, handcuffed him, dragged him to the sidewalk and started pounding on him. Witnesses say the kicks and punches were punctuated with racial epithets. Several black onlookers tried to intervene, and were repelled by the bouncers. Quincy Ross says he was slammed to the pavement, head first--he had cuts on his head and face to back up his claim.
According to police reports, when the real cops arrived on the scene, about 50 people were gathered around "a subject lying on the ground with blood on his face" (Ware). Ware was transported to the Tempe St. Luke's emergency room. Thrash's and Ware's guns were impounded, but no arrests were made.
When Sheriff Joke Arpaio stopped in recently for a treat at A Touch of Yogurt, a shop at the intersection of First Avenue and Washington Street, he didn't like what he found on the counter: nominating petitions for sheriff's candidate Tom Bearup.
"He told us it was illegal to put them on the counter," says shop owner Christina Monacelli, who didn't like the Joke's intimidating manner. "He asked us if we were afraid to have them out. He implied that we should be afraid to have them. If he thought he was going to intimidate any of us, it bombed. I won't be intimidated."
Instead, when the Crime Avenger blustered about the petitions, Monacelli refreshed his memory that she had done the same thing for him four years ago.
"I made sure it was legal. I called a person at the election board," the yogurt mogul explained. "As long as the petitions are in a place where I can see them and who's filling them out, it's legal."
Monacelli, who once sold pink underwear in her downtown shop, explains why she's no longer a Joke supporter: "It's various things. I want somebody new. I don't like all of the controversy swirling around Jo[k]e, and all of the publicity stunts. So I decided it's time for someone new. And Arpaio can complain all he wants, but the petitions are perfectly legal."
As of this writing, the Arizona Diamondbanks are no longer in the league's cellar. The Florida Marlins are.
But the dissing just won't stop. First, the San Francisco Giants zinged our boys by setting up a hot tub in the outfield at 3-Com Park, a dig at that hokey swimming pool in Park One Ballbank.
Then the June 5 issue of Sports Illustrated ripped the organization, both on and off the field, with a piece titled "Diamondhacks." SI pronounced $6.8 million-a-year shortstop Jay Bell "a bust," and goes on to note that other teams revel in the Diamondbanks' torpor.
"Before the season started," SI writes, "general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. predicted that Arizona could finish with a .500 record. That bravado, combined with [Jerry] Colangelo's wide open wallet and [Buck] Showalter's imperiousness, didn't sit well with many owners and general managers, who now love to refer to Arizona mockingly as 'the team that invented baseball.'
"'Those guys make me sick,' says one rival G.M. 'You talk about the Dodgers organization being arrogant. They've got nothing on these guys. I already told my manager that if he has a chance to run it up, do it.'"
Don't count on Colangelo being voted baseball executive of the year during this millennium.
Baseball's miracle man, Tony Gwynn, spent a few hours on May 25 signing copies of his new book, The Art of Hitting, at Borders. The San Diego Padres outfielder was in town for a series against our imitation major-league baseball team.
Gwynn is a roly-poly guy in his late 30s who has won more batting titles--eight--than anyone but the legendary Ty Cobb. He's known for his genuinely sunny disposition, and someone who will talk hitting with anyone who raises the subject nicely. As the hit-man prepared to ink a copy of his book for Yours Truly, the Flash put him to the test.
"Interesting at-bat last night, wasn't it?" the Flash probed.
It was a nationally televised game at Houston, and Gwynn had pinch-hit late in the game (a knee's been bothering him). The bases were loaded. Two balls, one strike. The pitcher threw a hard slider that appeared to be outside by four to six inches. Strike two! Wisely, the pitcher came back with precisely the same pitch, if anything an inch or two closer to the plate. Gwynn took it. Ball three! There aren't five guys in Organized Baseball who wouldn't have hacked at that pitch. Gwynn hits the full-count pitch hard to the second baseman, and that's it, just one at-bat of more than 8,500 at-bats in 16 big-league seasons.
"What was so interesting about it to you?" Gwynn parried, looking his inquisitor in the eye.
"Man, how the heck did you take that 2-2 pitch after the bad call right before it?" the Flash asked.
Smiling, Gwynn spoke for almost a minute--about how he couldn't have hit either pitch (the called strike or the called ball) if he'd wanted to, how he resolves not to "give in" to an umpire on a call that's obviously a bad one, and how he likes to think he knows the difference between a strike and a ball. So, the Flash asked, as the Hall of Fame moment ended, where had Gwynn thought the 3-2 pitch was going to be?
"Hell, I didn't know," he said. "Just whaled at it."
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