He's a Wanker

The Bird likes nothing better than seeing locals getting a little national recognition, especially when props don't involve somebody like Sheriff Joe Arpaio disgracing himself in public. And so this pretend pigeon was pleased when Glendale mom Alice Rubio, who can safely lay claim to being the biggest Howard Stern fan in the Valley of the Sun, had two very cool things happen to her the other day:

First, Howard Stern called her to talk. On air! Next, Howard -- who's notoriously critical of anyone who isn't blonde and bikini-ready -- told Rubio he thinks she's beautiful. On air!

And then, the not-so-cool part: Stern asked her son if he masturbated. On air!

Here's how it went down:

After Rubio was profiled in Sarah Fenske's New Times cover story ("After Shock," January 26), a producer from The Howard Stern Show phoned to see if Rubio was interested in being a call-in guest on his new Sirius Satellite Radio program. After several minutes of wild, gleeful shrieking, Rubio agreed. And, sure enough, Monday morning, January 30, at 5:15 a.m., Howard got in touch.

"She's gotta be the biggest Howard Stern fan ever!" Howard told listeners when he introduced Rubio. He then read, on air, the first 200 words of Fenske's story to prove it.

The Bird couldn't be prouder, since Howard praised the article as "very, very positive." But since he referred to New Times' Sarah as "the guy" who wrote the piece . . . hey, who reads bylines, right? Fenske figures Howard probably didn't read the entire opus, in which she exudes her lust for his on-air persona, and therefore probably isn't (as she'd hoped) harboring a secret crush on her.

But back to Alice Rubio.

In addition to calling her "beautiful," Howard promised Rubio $500 and a trip for two to the Lingerie Bowl, a Los Angeles-based pay-per-view event that aired during halftime of Super Bowl XL. But when Rubio cheerfully mentioned that her 21-year-old son, Matthew Rubio, is still a virgin, all chatter ceased.

"Why isn't your son getting laid?" Howard demanded. "I don't understand."

"He doesn't need it yet," Rubio explained.

"He needed it when he was 16," a horrified Howard hollered. "He's probably pleasuring himself right now."

"I don't think he does that," Rubio replied.

Yeah. Right. Because teenagers -- especially ones who aren't getting laid -- never wank off.

The Bird wasn't surprised that Howard insisted that Rubio put Matthew on the phone, where -- under tough questioning from Howard and sidekicks Artie Lange and Robin Quivers -- Matthew Rubio admitted to three million Sirius listeners that he does, indeed, masturbate.

But if Alice Rubio was stung by her son's public confession that he pulls his pudding, she wasn't letting on. She was still too busy swooning.

"Howard said I was beautiful!" she chirped to The Bird.

And Howard ought to know, Alice, since he's coaxed many the beautiful actress or stripper (not to mention lesbian) to show various -- or all -- of her anatomical parts to him in the studio. Good thing your interview was by phone, huh, Alice? Then again, baring all to the King of All Media might not be a bad thing.

Art Detoured

Okay, here's a big surprise: Our downtown visual arts community is in a tizzy. Again. This time, The Bird hears it's because Art Detour's been rescheduled.

For the past four years, the three-day walking tour of artists' studios and galleries was held during the first weekend in March to coincide with (read: feed off the popularity of) First Friday, which is essentially a mini, monthly Art Detour without the fanfare, the preprinted maps or the shuttle buses.

Art Detour has grown in recent years to where attendance along Roosevelt Row and Grand Avenue -- the art scene's home bases for the Friday-through-Sunday art event -- has been in the 20,000 to 25,000 range. The Bird's even seen mention of the deal in the Timeses of L.A. and New York.

Which is probably why some artisans and bird brains such as yours truly are scratching their noggins after learning that Artlink, the nonprofit group that coordinates both Art Detour and First Friday, crammed this year's event down at the end of the month, from March 24 through 26.

Michael 23, the man with a numerical nom de plume who's the interim president of Artlink, told The Bird that moving Art Detour to the end of the month has been in the works since last year. The big move, 23 swore, is an attempt to separate Art Detour from First Fridays to "preserve its integrity and special-ness as an annual event."

23 snitches to The Bird that "there's been a growing desire to separate the two events so that Art Detour has its own identity and isn't just a glorified First Friday."

Uh-huh, but what if that's exactly what it is? And what if it turns out that Art Detour doesn't have its own identity after 10 whole years?

What The Bird thinks is partially at play here is, the Artlink crowd wants to distance Art Detour from the legal dramas that surrounded First Friday in 2005: mainly run-ins with the Phoenix Police Department, which was concerned about unruly crowds, open-container-law violations and sale of alcohol to minors, and therefore has stepped up its presence along Roosevelt and Grand.

Also, throw into the mix zoning disputes and city code beefs concerning some of the art spaces.

By removing the event from First Friday, Artlink can delude the public into thinking that Art Detour is safer and more sanitized for downtown-fearing suburbanites than its rowdier cousin.

Whatever the reason, some downtown gallery owners worry that distancing Art Detour from First Friday will mean smaller crowds and fewer art sales. Which won't be good for anybody, since the vast majority of the art crowd in this town is struggling to stay alive.

Take Kathy Cone and Danny Montes, owners of the Cone Gallery, who say Roosevelt Row and Grand Avenue are like "deserted islands" during Artlink's monthly Saturday After (the very next day after First Friday) or Third Friday events.

"First Fridays are when we're getting the most people and the most business," Cone told The Bird. "Without the crowds, we don't think anyone's gonna be selling anything."

Randy Slack, owner of Legend City art gallery at Fifth Avenue and Van Buren Street, echoed Cone's sentiments, stating that Artlink's decision "doesn't make a lick of sense." He's also considering keeping his gallery shuttered during Art Detour.

If you ask The Bird, what's really baffling about the Artlink switcheroo is that it places Art Detour between the aforementioned Saturday After and Third Friday events and April's First Friday. (Who names these events, anyway?! You'd think artist types would be more creative.)

The likes of Michael 23 should get it through their thick skulls that there are only so many days of the month that the public is going to be lured downtown for an "art happening." Forget about the fact that it's unusual to see work of true artistic value at First Friday, Art Detour or the other events. (Who made The Bird an art critic, some of you might be saying about now? Well, fuck you!)

What people who attend these events come for is the scene. They want to see, be seen, get high and get laid. And if you keep jamming more and more events into the mix, there won't be any scene anymore. The whole thing gets cheapened.

Artlink had better hope that distancing Art Detour from First Friday will bring the washed masses downtown, because the unwashed hipsters who've made First Friday famous are unlikely to attend five downtown art events in five weeks.

That is, The Bird hopes that Artlink realizes that giving Art Detour its "own identity" might just, um, kill the goose that laid the golden egg.