Dan Rather was standing at the food trough at downtown Phoenix's magnificent Orpheum Theatre before last week's television gabfest about children and violence.
Between Texas-size gulps of Brie and bread, the veteran newshound held court with the anchorstruck about covering just about every major story from the JFK assassination to Princess Di's death. The Flash suppressed the urge to ask His Anchorness whassup with the time he tried to sing with R.E.M. Or the period in his career when he insisted on signing off each newscast by staring intensely at the camera and uttering, "Courage." How did he keep a straight face?
Rather's presence overshadowed the fact that almost anyone who's anyone was congregated in the proverbial "green room" before showtime. Radio blabberpuss Pat McMahon sucked up to Jerry Colangelo in one corner. Dressed very much like a Bone Matron, the Bone Mama--a.k.a. Mary McCann of KZON-FM--collected her insights into rock's role in the approaching adolescent Apocalypse. (Lyrics don't make kids violent, she averred. But BM, whassup with that "Sex and Candy" song?)
Arizona Republic editor-type David Fritze memorized his answer to Rather's prearranged question about the paper's "Saving Arizona's Children" project. The Flash could almost hear Fritze thinking, "Hmm, how about, 'They've all been saved, thanks to us!'" Check that. He was most assuredly thinking, "That was Steve Knickmeyer's baby. Under my guidance, we've moved on to new logos."
Even non-panelists thought they would gain something by putting in an appearance. Congressman J.D. Hayworth showed up, sat in the audience, and got himself a momentary profile shot on the TV, brow furrowed, looking exceedingly concerned.
Oh, about the show: mediocre production values, nothing earthshaking uttered by the panelists, heartfelt accounts of personal violence by members of the audience. Politician-cum-lobbyist Alfredo Gutierrez stood out as irreverent and witty.
Conspicuous by his absence was Sheriff Joke Arpaio, whose idea of curbing teen violence is to make kids sleep overnight in Tent City and get them on TV. Word was that the event's organizers had gone out of their way to avoid inviting the old windbag.
It's a tragedy that the Jokenheimer didn't get to schmooze with Rather. The Sher could've recounted the time he buried JFK.
The Joke's crack intelligence team was able to find out about the anti-methamphetamine hearings U.S. Senator Jon Kyl brought to the Valley recently. The Jokemeister showed up.
Outgoing Phoenix police chief Dennis Garrett was minding his own business during a break when the Crime Avenger sidled up to the chief and asked him how he was doing.
"Doing fine, Jo[k]e," Garrett replied. "Just getting ready for retirement."
The Sher then pointed to the four stars--two on each shoulder--on Garrett's sparkling police chief's uniform.
"Only four, huh?" Joke noted. "I got eight."
"Eight what?" Garrett asked.
"Eight stars," the Crime Avenger replied.
"That's great, Jo[k]e," the chief deadpanned.
And with that, Garrett and the Joke ran out of things to talk about.
A Gloss for Words
An attractive blonde of a certain age once told the Flash that in order to survive in Los Angeles, one needs at least two of the following three attributes: youth, looks and money. Literacy, on the other hand, can be a disadvantage: Remember the story about the Hollywood starlet who was so dumb that she slept with the screenwriter?
So the Californication of Arizona has brought its own magazine: CITY AZ whose motto is "Hot Not Humid," and whose publishers brag that they've bought their own corporate jet with "creative financing. . . . So now the next time a story comes to our attention in Bisbee, Sedona or Globe, Bullhead City, CITY AZ can be the first on the scene, mobilizing our writers, photographers and editors via jet."
Good luck finding a jetport in Globe.
Pity those less confident publishers who try to turn a profit--or even learn to edit--before making the big buy. How hard can it be?
"Spring has finally sprung, and not a moment too soon," gushes co-publisher and editor-in-chief Richard Phillips in the introduction to the Spring issue. Yadda, yadda, yadda, cut to mission statement: "Apart from trying to deliver great editorial (check out our local newswomen in one of our style stories--you won't believe your eyes [You also won't believe Lin Sue Cooney's eyes--she looks like a coatimundi!]) and the coolest advertisers (welcome Calvin Klein and Gucci), we're also about creating excitement--best exhibited by our 'Get on the Bus' party recently, delivering 50 Partygoers via a double decker open-air British style bus to the opening of the new Boa Restaurant in North Scottsdale--thanks guys and good luck."
Just sprinkle those pretty punctuation marks like so many desert wildflower seeds. They'll take root wherever they want and no one will be the wiser.
Then there's contributor Jude LaCava's gripping prose: "Spring training is six weeks of drills, conditioning and practice games. Fans and industry players will be looking to discover the next budding star . . ."
Can we spell National Magazine Awards? I didn't think so.
And that stuff, like, about great editorial and cool advertisers? Who cares if the readers can't tell one from the other? Oh, did we say "readers"? Silly us. The rich and/or young and/or beautiful don't have time to read between salon appointments, big deals and major purchases. They need glossy flip-it books and other bright, shiny objects.
Besides, as someone once said on TV, a picture's worth a thousand words. Or maybe it was someone we met in a bar in the Esplanade. What-ever!
Here Pussy, Pussy, Pussy ...
The local gay community's reaction to the Arizona Republic's coverage of last weekend's gay pride revelries at Margaret Hance Park?
Or, more precisely, a "LeHoot."
After noting that the day's debaucheries were generally "about as exciting as any small-town parade," the "good-time-was-had-by-all" reportage concluded with a brief interview with the event's reigning Miss Gay Arizona--a Valley drag-scene war-horse identified in the article as "Miss LeHoot."
Maybe it was all the lack of excitement, but somehow the paper failed to catch Miss LeHoot's first name. Or, more likely, was too you-know-what to print it.
For the record, the departing queen has worked the drag circuit for years as "Pussy LeHoot."
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