Death, drugs, and dumb-asses. Those are the weighty topics that compelled you, dear reader, to click in 2018. Okay, there were also protests and tweets. Always the tweets.
Here are our most-read stories this year, according to Google Analytics, as well as brief updates on what happened after they were originally published.
While running for U.S. Senate, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio appeared on the Showtime series Who Is America?, in which comedian Sacha Baron Cohen pranks unsuspecting politicians to do and say stupid stuff. Arpaio got hoodwinked in one of the more ridiculous segments of the show, in which Cohen, dressed as a Finnish talk-show host, exposed the former sheriff as an imbecile who did not know the meaning of "handjob," "blowjob," or "golden shower." The bit was comedy gold, and as Phoenix New Times news editor Ray Stern wrote, proved that the former sheriff does not have the mental acumen to represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate.
Update: Arpaio handily lost his Senate primary, coming in last out of three candidates. He has since spent his days railing against Ben and Jerry’s in a column he writes for Western Journal, and launching futile lawsuits against multiple publications for erroneously reporting that he is a “convicted felon."
Mesa Republican Kelly Townsend could not have known she would turn into a meme when she asked Twitter users to educate her in the ways of the furry.
Update: Townsend briefly changed her Facebook profile picture to a custom-made “Fursona” avatar. It's unknown whether Townsend has done any further exploration of furry culture.
Republican congressman Paul Gosar grabbed some attention when he flew to London to vilify Muslims during a rally for a far-right English activist, but it was the other Gosar children who got their brother big-time media coverage. Tim, Jennifer, Gaston, Joan, Grace, and David Gosar all appeared in ads for their brother's election opponent, David Brill. New Times staff writer Joseph Flaherty broke the story.
Update: Gosar dismissed his six siblings as "liberal Democrats who hate President Trump," adding, "Stalin would be proud." He coasted to re-election.
Arizona legalized medical marijuana in 2010, but that hasn't stopped prosecutors from going after card-carrying marijuana patients for possessing hashish oil and other cannabis extracts, which can be found in stores across the state. That's thanks to some ambiguous language in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. In June, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that prosecutors weren't in the wrong when they sentenced a Chino Valley man to 2.5 years in prison for possessing a small jar of hashish.
Update: Dispensaries continued selling extracts despite the ruling, saying that they will wait to see if the Arizona Supreme Court hears the case before making any decisions. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich weighed in, urging the Supreme Court to let the Appeals Court decision stand before backtracking. The Supreme Court has not yet stated whether it will hear the case.
Six people died when a plane crashed into the TPC Scottsdale Champions Golf Course. Readers were interested in short video clips from within the plane that were shot minutes before the crash, which were subsequently posted on Facebook by a victim's friend.
Update: The pilot had cocaine in his system.
6. Arizona Election 2018: Who Won, Who Lost, What’s Too Close to Call (November 15)
This November there weren't too many surprises in Congressional races, but several statewide races were too close to call on election night, including races for U.S. Senate, Secretary of State, and State Superintendent.
Fox 10 Anchor Kari Lake tweeted an idiotic conspiracy theory that the #RedForEd movement was a Trojan horse campaign orchestrated by a bunch of stoners. She based her tweet on a #GreenForEd T-shirt sold by an independent vendor on the website Teepublic. "This is a big push to legalize pot and to make it more savory by tossing teachers a bone with a substantial raise," Lake wrote, adding the hashtag #IHateTheDishonesty.
Update: Lake apologized for her tweet on-air. Seven months later she re-tweeted an unverified claim that someone received a pre-filled Maricopa County election ballot.
"Was anybody above us that passed us like 30 seconds ago?" a Phoenix Air Group small-jet pilot asked an air traffic controller in February, according to a recording obtained by New Times. "Negative," the Federal Aviation Administration official responded. Then an American Airlines pilot saw the same unidentified flying object about 40,000 feet above the Sonoran Desert.
Update: We still don't know what those pilots saw that day. The pilot described the thing in the sky as a "very bright" object that definitely wasn't an airplane.
In what would be his first racist comments to come under public scrutiny, State Representative David Stringer in June told a gathering of Yavapai County Republicans: "If we don't do something about immigration very, very soon, the demographics of our country will be irrevocably changed and we will be a very different country."
He also said: "60 percent of public school children in the state of Arizona today are minorities. That complicates racial integration because there aren't enough white kids to go around."
David Schapira, a Democratic candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, posted video of Stringer's remarks on Facebook.
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Update: Governor Doug Ducey called on Stringer to resign. He did not, but kinda, sorta apologized for his remarks at LoLo's Chicken and Waffles. Stringer was subsequently caught on tape telling ASU students that African-Americans "don't blend in," among other racist comments. Ducey called on Stringer to resign again. He did not, but was stripped of all but one of his committee assignments.
For the second year in a row, LGBTQ and migrant activists disrupted Phoenix's annual pride parade over its corporate sponsorship and police presence. No one was arrested.
Update: It's unclear whether Trans Queer Pueblo, the activist group that organized this year's protest, plans to do the same again next year.