Keystone Clowns

Keystone Klowns

Who needs Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey when Maricopa County's got its own version of the Insane Clown Posse on call, 24/7? Yep, these clowns wear brown instead of round red noses and greasepaint, and they've even got shiny badges instead of water-spittin' daisies on their shirts! Just like Ringling's jugglin' jesters, these local-yokel yuksters graduate from clown college, too, although they matriculate through clown king Sheriff Joe's Deputy Training Academy. So rest assured that whenever our beloved Krusty the Clown-like lawman meets his maker (which in Joe's case is probably Mattel Toys, Inc. ), the bumblefucks who are his underlings will continue the proud tradition begun long ago by the Boss Buffoon.

Why, these wanna-be Ronald McDonalds staged a dress rehearsal last week in Sun City when Joe's provincial Pagliacci responded to a call for backup from the Town of Surprise po-po. (The Bird pictures 30 of these clowns showing up, all packed into a tiny, daisy-decaled Volkswagen Beetle. Apparently, though, they arrived in pairs and in separate patrol cars.) Seems officers needed help in apprehending a 60-year-old woman who, after a low-speed chase that began in Surprise, had barricaded herself inside her Sun City home and was threatening suicide.

One of the Bozos who turned up was a K-9 deputy, so he had a specially trained canine with him. (The Bird can't help but wonder if the tail-wagger in question was wearing a ruffled paper collar and had been taught to balance a ball on its nose.) When the woman suddenly bolted from her home, Deputy Dawg leapt from his vehicle with the engine still running. But, as Lieutenant Paul Chagolla, the Maricopa County sheriff's spokesman, told Channel 12 News later that night, the deputy "didn't quite get the vehicle into 'park'" before exiting the car, which was headed straight for the suicidal woman and the police officer she was tussling with. Insert wild calliope music here! You know, the kind that must've been playing when Sheriff Slapstick totaled his cop clownmobile outside that Fountain Hills Osco last year ("Enemies List," April 28, 2005), or when his not-so-swift SWAT team wrecked a car with a runaway tank and burned a defenseless dog alive in a raid on an Ahwatukee traffic-ticket scofflaw the year before ("Dog Day Afternoon," August 5, 2004).

When one of Joe's Big Top boys saw the cop car headed for the crazy crone, he tried to stop it by shoving his foot under the wheel. Curses! The clown's big, floppy shoe wasn't enough to stop the vehicle, which struck the woman and the cop who was trying to subdue her. Bang! Splat! And the imaginary crowd roars!

But wait -- there's more! Chagolla told TV cameras that when another sheriff's deputy hopped into the patrol car in an attempt to stop it from hitting anyone else, he was bitten by the K-9 pooch.

The official story seems to be that nobody -- not the deputy who was bitten, nor the cop and geezer gal hit by the patrol car -- was seriously injured. But The Bird's funny bone is still sore after considering this Three Stooges routine from Sheriff Joe's Insane Clown Posse. The Bird seriously hopes that one of these carnival comics remembered to switch on his dashboard surveillance camera, so that we can watch this whole mess played out in perpetual cable reruns on Cops or maybe even America's Funniest Home Videos. On the other hand, no one who hasn't previously experienced our local law enforcement would believe that this clip wasn't staged by a retired circus troupe. So, uh, never mind.

Damn Skippy

It's not quite time for New Times' annual "Best of Phoenix" supplement, but The Bird has to give early props to this year's sure winner of the Most Bizarre Political Sign award to former Phoenix mayor/would-be Arizona Secretary of State Skip Rimsza.

If you haven't seen the sign, well, you've missed a few laughs. It features a huge photo of ex-mayor Skip (looking really quite un-chic in Nancy Reagan red) and a simple exhortation to the reader: "Want experience? Google Skip Rimsza."

In fact, The Bird does want experience. Not that it's got a problem with Jan Brewer or anything. (Brewer, who's been lambasted in these pages by New Times' own John Dougherty, is the pol Rimsza hopes to take out in the GOP primary this September.) But pretend pigeons generally have trouble resisting temptation, and this one's no exception. So "Skip Rimsza" -- with quotation marks as indicated by the sign, because this friendly fowl is nothing if not conscientious -- was Googled.

And, as it turns out, The Bird did find experience. Unfortunately for Skip, it wasn't all positive.

Among Skippy's top Google hits were these gems:

• From Skip's tenure as mayor: "I, therefore, Skip Rimsza, Mayor of the City of Phoenix, Arizona, do hereby proclaim the week of September 1-7, 2001, as STOP ON RED WEEK."

• From the site of blogger Espresso Pundit, who calls Rimsza's "Google" sign the worst he's ever seen: "What is Skip Rimsza thinking? Is it a joke? Did he lose a bet?"

• From the Toxic Universe online forums: "I tried Googling Skip Rimsza and didn't see anything that stands out . . ."

Not exactly the kind of "experience" you want your own campaign ads touting. But best of all, in a sick way, was Google's 10th recommendation, which comes from this paper's very own pages, circa 1999: "Skip Rimsza's not a bad mayor, per se. I'd say he's been more of a non-mayor."


In the interest of fairness, The Bird also tried Googling Skip Rimsza without the quotation marks around his name. But that, too, proved bad news for Skippy: basically the same stuff, along with the unfortunate inclusion of the transcripts from a speech given by oh-so-popular George W. Bush at the Dodge Theatre in 2002.

Why unfortunate? Well, it's not just the fact that no one these days wants to be linked to Dubya, not even Republicans. It's that, apparently, Ole Mayor Skip was MIA during an Important Political Event. No, really. According to, the prez told the crowd, "I know we've got the mayor here, Skip Rimsza, from the city of Phoenix. I want to thank you for coming, Skip. I'm proud to --"

And then the president breaks off.

"I don't see you anywhere, but I'm proud that you're here --"

He breaks off again, apparently with one of those Bush-ian smirks.

"You're not Skip." (As the transcript notes, for some reason the crowd laughed at this.) "You're not even old enough to vote."

Again, laughter.

So, you want "experience"? The Bird suggests Googling "Jan Brewer."

Then again, maybe not.

Ball Busters

If you ask this sports-lovin' sparrow, the best part about baseball is knocking back a few brew-ha-has and heckling the other team -- that's what makes the "great American pastime" so great. How else are fans supposed to endure a game where players go entire innings without scoring a single run? So you can imagine how bored this feathered fiend gets at Chase Field, where it takes a good half-hour to grab an overpriced beer (nine bucks for a Bud Light!), and where "impolite" heckling of players will get you booted from the stadium.

The stadium's official rule, according to director of security Sean McGuire, is that heckling is okay as long as "a fan is yelling at a player in good taste." Comments that are "rude, derogatory or use profanity," that bother people seated near you or "offend" a player's tender feelings (aren't athletes supposed to be tough?) will get you a warning, and maybe even kicked out on your baseball-loving keister.

So what the heck does "in good taste" mean at a baseball game? "It's fine to shout baseball-related terms," states Milquetoast McGuire. "But nothing derogatory. Nothing condescending."

Boooooring! How are fans supposed to make fun of someone without being condescending? Speaking of condescending, The Bird has also got a bone to pick with the senile old farts who act as an ersatz Hat Police during the off-key warbling of the pre-game national anthem. Note to half-wit security people: If The Bird doesn't want to remove its hat -- or stand up, for that matter -- it doesn't friggin' have to. And both McGuire and the Bill of Rights say so!

"The game announcer makes an announcement [before the anthem] asking people to stand, but that doesn't mean they have to," McGuire concedes. "Some people believe it's a sign of respect, but it's certainly not our policy."

Good thing, too, since some of the people who actually attend games at the former Bank One Ballpark are there to have fun. Which is becoming increasingly more difficult to do without having some Nazi kindergarten teacher land on your head because you dared to shout something other than encouragement to the guys on the field. Like the time when this extended middle digit saw some poor slob in a Red Sox uniform tossed out of the stands because he was heckling Johnny "Caveman" Damon. Guess this guy didn't get the memo about not using the word "fuck" when addressing a player. He'd have kept his seat if only he'd shouted, "Excuse me, Mr. Damon, sir, would you mind terribly sort of hitting that ball the tiniest bit harder, please? Thank you!"

The Bird thinks that the brain surgeons at Chase Field need to put a little less energy into maintaining audience gentility and a little more into generating more excitement from the stands. This beak-bearin' ink-slinger has heard more commotion from a Library Club meeting than usually goes on these days among Diamondbacks fans. Screaming profanity at the players is just part of baseball, folks. What's next? Diamondback Dogs replaced by pâté? Perrier instead of MGD? Oh, Death, where is thy ever-lovin' sting!?

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela