Jan Brewer's Blast from the Past, Courtesy of New Times

We at New Times have fond memories of Secretary of State Jan Brewer -- we simply love foul-mouthed women like her.

As the state prepares for a possible Brewer regime if Janet Napolitano flies the coop to be Homeland Security chief, we can't help but skip down Memory Lane to the less complicated year of 1990. Back then, the state's biggest problems included how to stop kids from listening to music with the word "fuck" in it. And Brewer was on the case.

Then a state lawmaker, the conservative Brewer sponsored a bill to make it a jailable crime to sell albums (they had CDs back then, but people still listened to a lot of vinyl) with lyrics containing profane language or references to violence or illegal drugs. To make a strong statement about Brewer's censoring scheme -- and, to be blunt, mainly just for shits and grins -- New Times editors cooked up a clever (albeit somewhat devious) plan.

David Koen, former New Times music editor, phoned Brewer (pictured at right) and said he was reporter Doug MacEachern of the East Valley Tribune (then just called the Mesa Tribune). Brewer trusted MacEachern (now a Republic editorial writer) and when Koen asked her to say aloud some of the words that offended her, Brewer swore like a sailor.

Koen dutifully recorded her on tape. He wrote a tongue-in-cheek article about Brewer's use of obscenities. And he mixed her spoken profanities into a rap song that Koen later played on the lawn of the State Capitol, while New Times employees staged a mock protest that included signs like the one pictured above.

As Michael Lacey, New Times executive editor, wrote in a 1990 article, critics came down on New Times like a ton of 2 Live Crew CDs. The local PBS station fired former New Times writer Jana Bommersbach as its commentator because of the flap. Lacey points out in his article that much of the criticism by other members of the media was self-serving hypocrisy.

We don't know what happened to the tape of Brewer's expletive-ridden interview, but you'll be the first to know if we find it. Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, (something only geeks knew about in 1990), people worldwide may someday hear the woman who may be Arizona's next governor say "'Fucking' is what we're concerned about."

And wouldn't that be funny? -- Ray Stern

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern