Jean, Jean, Critiquing Machine
Far be it from the Flash to quibble about the blurred boundary between art and ore, especially in light of the Phoenix Art Museum's recent and fabulous exhibition of old paintings on copper.

But state Representative Jean McGrath's view of the two doesn't leave us much choice.

When the Glendale Republican saw the current exhibition of works by nine contemporary Arizona artists that the Arizona Commission on the Arts had mounted in the newly renovated hallways of the House of Representatives, she reportedly blurted, "What is this crap?" and demanded it be replaced with a show depicting the aesthetically pleasing pursuit of mining in Arizona.

Asked about her alleged brusque critique, McGrath is silent for a moment, then says, "I don't think I said that."

She does, however, admit she didn't think the art that showed up at the end of January was "of a quality that should be displayed in the halls of state government." (At this point, the Flash suppressed the urge to ask her opinion of the immortal Dogs Playing Cards.)

McGrath asked House staffers in charge of arranging the exhibitions why the art was being displayed and where it had come from. "That's when they explained this program whereby members get to select the art that goes on the walls," she says.

Well, not exactly.
Representative Barry Wong--who along with House Speaker Jeff Groscost arranged to have the Commission on the Arts put on "Art in the House" exhibits--says the idea was to rotate shows featuring Arizona artists every three months.

To ease McGrath's allergy to the art, says Wong, Groscost agreed to let her put up a mining exhibition after the current pieces come down April 15. Groscost's office did not return phone calls.

This isn't McGrath's only recent effort to give state artists the shaft.
"If it were up to her," says Wong, "she'd wipe out the arts commission."
This year, McGrath co-sponsored a proposal to cut the Commission on the Arts' annual $3.6 million budget by $2 million over the next two years. That proposal hasn't succeeded. But for the moment, her antics have left the future of "Art in the House" in doubt.

Some of McGrath's other contributions to civilization: a "divinely inspired" bill that would have made Arizona a safe haven for banned Freon gas ("There is not one shred of physical evidence saying we are doing anything to the ozone," she pronounced); a bill that would have required the state to compensate ranchers for money they'd lost because too many elk were eating forest forage the Good Lord meant for cows; her insistence that gardeners tear out roses on the Capitol grounds and replace them with more "environmentally sensitive" blooms; her bill to make it okay for people to gather the fruit and seeds of endangered plant species (McGrath is a nursery owner).

Flash to Jean: I love you.

Good Sports
Everyone knows that professional sports is big business. It's big politics, too.

The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit organization that tracks money in politics, has released a list detailing the political largess dispensed by the owners, directors and employees of professional sports franchises.

Phoenix's pro baseball, basketball, football and hockey teams are fairly consistent--and middle-of-the-pack--when it comes to political giving.

The Arizona Diamondbanks are the most generous, the CRP data show, doling out $42,050 in soft money and to candidates for federal office during the 1997-98 contribution cycle. The CRP says the D-Banks rank 12th among baseball's 30 clubs, handing $25,550 to Republicans and a measly $1,500 to Democrats. Which means the balance, $15,000, was given as soft money to a party (wonder which one?) or interest group.

The San Francisco Giants, who are getting a new stadium, led baseball, lobbing $697,630 toward politicians and their causes ($548,430 went to Democrats, which may sound odd to Arizonans but is understandable for Californians since there actually are living, breathing Democrats in elective office there). The Giants were followed by the Angels ($609,500, mostly to Dems); the Braves ($415,012, mostly to Republicans [where's Jane Fonda?]); the Orioles ($327,485, only $500 to Republicans); and Yankees ($198,950; Steinbrenner, et al., split it almost evenly among the parties).

The Suns rank 16th among 29 basketball franchises, assisting the pols to the tune of $35,550, with only $2,500 going to Dems. The Orlando Magic were the top financiers, donating the obscene sum of $1,120,671--none of it to Democrats, which might explain why Magic players are always going to their right. Why is the Flash not surprised that the L.A. Clippers are dead last, having given $250 to (probably one) Democrat, who surely lost? C'mon, Clips, start acting like professionals!

The Arizona Cardinals passed out $37,790 (or roughly the amount Jake Plummer earns per snap), with $23,000 going to Democrats. The Cards rank fifth among NFL clubs; the New York Giants are No. 1, having plopped down $167,500.

Lastly, the Phoenix Peyotes gave $5,500, including $4,000 to Republicans. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, which are owned by Disney, led the pack with $609,500 in giving. The Peyotes rank 17th of 27 NHL teams.

Fogies Say the Darnedest Things
Overheard at last Thursday's Diamondbanks game against San Francisco:
"Well, I guess baseball must still be popular," one grizzled snowbird opined. "Hell, all these people coulda stayed home and watched a war on TV."

From two rows in front of him, another snowbird quipped, "Yeah, but on CNN you can never tell who's on first."

En Guard
Yes, bloodthirsty readers, the Flash is a fan of the fight game. But with boxing corrupted by frizzy-follicled fixers and judges fluent in Braille, the Flash has had to look elsewhere for fights that aren't predetermined.

In the midst of a typically lackluster performance by the Suns against the Lakers, the Flash nearly developed a case of the vapors in the excitement of an altercation. Homeboy rookie point guard Gerald Brown of the Suns took exception to being knocked to the floor by Laker Rick Fox on a drive to the basket. (Fox no doubt learned how to foul like a man while researching for his role on Oz, the HBO series about life in prison.)

Brown popped up to talk smack to Fox, only to find Laker freak Dennis Rodman and his neopolitan coif staring him down. The rookie showed some fire, standing his ground against Rodman, and the two were separated after some hand-slapping and malignant scowling.

A technical and flagrant foul later, the Suns had something to rally around and came back to beat the hated Lakers, on their floor.

Days later, the Flash wandered into the Suns clubhouse to see Rex Chapman, rummaging feverishly through his locker in search of his shooting touch. Brown showed up, and when this Burst of Light asked the former Carl Hayden High Falcon about the significance of his showdown with the Rodmanian, George McCloud looked up from his own rummaging to say, half-jokingly, "We wouldn't have won the game if that hadn't happened."

The Suns and Lakers square off again this Friday, and the Flash can only hope that Brown will bite off a chunk of Rodman's ear. Brown doesn't think that will be necessary, since peroxide leaks into his brain have left Rodman with the attention span of a stillborn Labrador.

"I doubt he even remembers who I am," says Brown. "He's probably been in three or four altercations since then anyway."

Brown's right. The Flash saw Rodman taunt a Knick into an ejection last Sunday.

Last week, New Times referred to Sheriff Joke Arpaio's nemesis Tom Bearup as the only announced candidate trying to unseat the Jokester in the 2000 elections.

The Flash regrets that the paper overlooked another former sheriff's office employee going after the Sher's plush seat: former lieutenant Jerry Robertson, who called to point out that he declared his candidacy in January.

Robertson admits that he's kept a low profile, but he says it's all part of his plan. He expects Bearup and the Joke to destroy each other in a hail of mud over the next year. Robertson then plans to clean up with a strategically timed blitz. Calling the Jokenheimer a "gimmick sheriff," Robertson says he wants to return the sheriff's office to "professional law enforcement and fiscal responsibility."

This Pulsating Strobe suggests that Robertson immediately exhibit his fiscal responsibility by piping his phone conversations through a public address system set up on his lawn, thereby sparing taxpayers the expense of having Arpaio's SS unit tap his phone.

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