Visitors to the Orpheum on October 25 were witness to what surely must have been one of the most surreal evenings in the history of Arizona theater, or of Arizona law--the single performance of Hamlet on Trial.
The Great Dane, played by Valley actor Matthew Mazurowski (probably best known for his thrilling work in an Ugly Duckling Car Sales TV ad), was placed in the dock for the murder of Polonius. Presiding was retired Arizona chief justice Frank X. Gordon, who was plainly having a ball; the Johnnie Cochranish defense was by Court of Appeals Judge Ruth McGregor; striving to fry the Prince was radio host and part-time Attorney General Grant Woods.
The liveliest part of the evening was a prologue by actor-comedian Billy Connolly (a substitute for Michael York), who also took the short role of the hapless Polonius. Connolly, who probably agreed to the gig in his recent, unlikely capacity as unofficial stateside apologist for the Windsors, turned his appearance into a very funny 10-minute miniconcert: noting that Hamlet was to be tried under Arizona law, Connolly ominously hummed a few bars of the Deliverance theme.
Yet as a ham, even Connolly isn't a match for the AG, who clowned shamelessly, and even worked in a corny plug for his anti-tobacco campaign. The alarming thing is that he was actually pretty funny--both vocally and physically, he's become quite reminiscent of Charles Grodin. Maybe he should consider Hollywood after his political career is over. Can't you just see him in Beethoven 3?
By the way, the jury of Valley big shots, ranging from KEZ's Beth McDonald to Mary Rose Wilcox, found the Dane not guilty, leading him to let out a relieved whoop of, "What a piece of work is man!" (What line did he have ready if he was convicted? The same one, perhaps, with a different inflection?)
The evening's big lesson was that some Teutonic knights can get acquitted in an Arizona court.
Fife Flees Country
Sighted on an America West flight from Phoenix to Cabo San Lucas on October 16: convicted felon and former Arizona governor J. Fife Symington III.
The Fifester was sitting in First Class, too.
What's he doing in Cabo? Probably scuba diving and scouting for melon deals.
Until he's sentenced in February, he's free to move about the globe, as long as he checks in weekly with an officer of the court, in this case, Fife's attorney, John Dowd.
Cabo's beautiful this time of year. So we're told. We guess we need to rip off some people, declare bankruptcy, break some laws, resign in disgrace and inherit millions.
What's the latest form of protection against road rage on Phoenix streets? How about trying a large sign with the word "Explosives" in red on the back of your vehicle? It seemed to be doing the trick for the pictured truck heading north on Seventh Street during evening rush hour; not another vehicle within 20 feet, not even the one carrying The Flash.
The truck had tinted windows and, on the front, the warning was displayed in reverse to make it legible in rearview mirrors.
It's probably just someone trying to stop tailgaters, said John Stanley, of the state Department of Public Safety's HazMat division. Individuals transporting explosives are not required to label their vehicles, according to Stanley. Only commercial vehicles require signage, and even those signs aren't as big or imposing as the one on this truck.
That slick organ of cosmopolitan gossip and the low-down on sophisticates, Vanity Fair magazine, has included three Arizonans in its October listings of Who's Who in Washington--"A Constellation of 800 Powers, Pundits and Places"--with a special rating for each.
Arizona's premier ex-politician and best-known country-club golfer, former veep Dan Quayle, gets a real thumbs-down. VF describes Quayle as one of Washington's leading "White Dwarves . . . extremely dense, giving off little light." He joins fellow dwarves representatives Sonny Bono and Joe Kennedy, Senator Larry Pressler and former congressman Michael Huffington of California, who spent more than $20 million only to lose in his quest for the Senate.
Senator John McCain is regarded as so-so, paired with Senator Russell Feingold (Democratic co-sponsor of McCain's doomed campaign-reform bill): one of the "pairs of orbitless stars held together by mutual gravitation." McCain is lumped with others such as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Senator Jesse Helms.
Then there's the lion of Washington's icons, former senator Barry Goldwater, whom VF institutionalizes as one of the alltime greats with the title "The Herdsman"--also accorded 25 grand elder statesmen such as Henry Kissinger, George Bush, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, economist Milton Friedman and Zbigniew Brzezinski, to name a few.
And, alas, the mag gives Texas Senator Phil Gramm--the favorite of McCain and Fife Symington for the 1996 GOP presidential nomination--the ultimate put-down: one of Washington's "falling stars," alongside the White House cat, Socks.
We'll Drink to That
U.S. Senator John McCain has signed on to a campaign to stop underage drinking. According to a recent press release from the Century Council ("Funded by America's Leading Distillers") McCain and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix are pushing a video titled Ready or Not: Talking With Kids About Alcohol. The video can be borrowed at no cost from any local Blockbuster Video store.
Frankly, we're surprised McCain isn't touting a video titled Talking to Your Wife About Narcotics.
But still and all, The Flash thinks the anti-alcohol video is an excellent cause. Kids shouldn't start destroying their livers until they're old enough to join frats and sororities. Besides, when teens drink, there's that much less for the rest of us.
McCain, apparently, is well-qualified to speak on the subject. In his best seller The Nightingale's Song," author Robert Timberg reports McCain was the leader of a "lusty band of carousers and partygoers known as the 'Bad Bunch'" when he attended Annapolis. A classmate of McCain's says that being on liberty with John McCain was like being in a train wreck. The year before he graduated, McCain cruised aboard a destroyer that docked in Rio de Janeiro where McCain and his buddies rented an apartment. Writes Timberg: "The next four days were a blur, involving liquor, women, and nightclubs, everything except sleep, as Rio embraced McCain and his pals in its many charms, X-rated and otherwise."
Furthermore, conspicuously absent from the press release was any mention of the fact that Humble John's better half, Cindy Hensley McCain, is heir to "the Hensley liquor fortune," a.k.a. the giant Phoenix beer distributorship Hensley and Co.
McCain's 1995 financial disclosure report indicates that his wife and children are the owners of more than $1 million in Hensley & Co. stock. His children also are the owners of between $50,000 and $100,000 in Anheuser-Busch stock, according to the report. Some $500,000 to $1 million in Anheuser-Busch convertible debentures belong to the wife and kids, as well.
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