Cafe Reviews


Admit it. Are you one of those people who equates dining on McDowell with free lunch at the Show Club? Is your McDowell eating experience confined to hot dogs at the coliseum during Suns games? Do you suffer from Fear of McDowell?

If you said "yes~" to any of these questions, read on. Contrary to what you may believe, McDowell Road is possibly one of the best streets for eating in this city. Affordable, authentic and, dare I say, "funky," it offers an exciting range of ethnic cuisines as well as solid American standards. Not that every restaurant on McDowell is a winner. There are shining stars like Indian Delhi Palace, San Carlos Bay Seafood Restaurant, and Gourmet House of Hong Kong. There are lesser luminaries like Rachel's Kitchen and Gina's Pizza. There are even places that are positively awful. But if I were condemned to eat on one street for the rest of my days in Phoenix, McDowell might just be it. "But," I hear you protest, "McDowell is, well, scary."

Not anymore. Both the City of Phoenix and local merchants have made a concerted effort to clean up the street. Sure, there are still places named the Dancing Sunshines and Club Me, but as David Stanfel, owner of Brookshire's, points out, "We all co-exist. The bars don't bother us." He and other merchants are determined to restore East McDowell to its halcyon days of 35 years ago, when the area encompassing 12th to 18th Streets was known as the "Miracle Mile." So, in light of its reemergence as a respectable and viable street, maybe it's time you reacquainted yourself with McDowell Road. In fact, allow me to give you a guided tour--from the eating perspective, of course.

We'll survey East and West McDowell restaurants from 52nd Street to 51st Avenue. Along the way, we'll be making some stops (31 to be exact) to check out McDowell's more noteworthy eateries. Yes, there's still construction, but it's really not as bad as it was. Besides, I'm driving, so don't worry about it.

Just so you know, for the purpose of our tour, I have excluded the following types of eating establishments: 1) national or regional fast-food chain restaurants; 2) any place listing "cocktails" above or larger than "food" on its sign; 3) any establishment in which a bar and pool table are the first things one sees upon entering--or that remind me of the college frat basements I used to frequent in the 1970s, full of the smell of stale beer, with sticky floors and rubbernecking patrons.

With these parameters established, let's get started.
Traveling McDowell east to west, we begin in the shadow of the Papago Buttes at 52nd Street. They're widening McDowell through the Papagos--orange-and-white reflective standards are in place from 48th Street through the pass--but don't let that scare you. The street is not impossible to negotiate. In a small strip mall on the northwest corner of the 52nd Street intersection (across from the Motorola plant) are two fine restaurants that deserve your attention.

Much has been said about Indian Delhi Palace [1], 5050 East McDowell, but that won't prevent me from saying more. (Formerly known simply as Delhi Palace, the name change differentiates it from the separately owned Delhi Palace in Tempe.) I love this place for its dim lighting, pastel murals and interesting clientele. We've spotted Meat Puppets, newspaper editors and professors dining here. We assume they come for the complimentary crispy papadum and incendiary green sauce, the tender and buttery chicken tikka masala or delicate lamb korma, the wholesomely satisfying vegetable biryani, the cooling cucumber-yogurt raita and lovely tandoori breads like naan or paratha. We do.

Order dishes any temperature you like: The excellent service staff will always double-check "very spicy" orders. (Server: You want it spicy? Me: Yes. Server: Very spicy? Me: Yes. Server: Super spicy? Me: Yes. Server: Okay, I'll bring it super, super spicy. Me: Great!) If you go the hot route, be sure to order an Indian beer, soft drink or tea to extinguish the fire. They serve a buffet during lunch--a great way to sample.

Rachel's Kitchen [2], 5024 East McDowell, is another restaurant I endorse wholeheartedly. So it's a little dingy, maybe even a little messy, but the food and service compensate. As New Times' own Cap'n Dave has noted, the hash here will change any naysayer's mind. Choose from eight kinds (corned beef, bacon and roast beef are just three): What you'll get is neither mushy nor wet, but more like New York-style home fries tossed with meat. As Rachel says, "You'll try it, you'll love it!" Deli sandwiches and hamburgers also are served, and don't miss the potato salad--it's the best I've ever eaten in a restaurant. Back in the car, we negotiate west through the orange-and-white construction standards. This is not a particularly interesting section of McDowell, comprised as it is of industrial strip malls, anonymous apartment complexes and high-tech institutes.

At 44th Street and McDowell, we'll debark at the Embassy Suites Hotel to pay a visit to Slickers Seafood Restaurant [3]. I'm not too wild about Slickers, though I suppose in a seafood emergency it would do. There's a blue-and-white nautical theme at work, but it's not enough to counteract the sterile hotel feel of the place. Portions are meager, vegetables cold and overcooked and service erratic the day of our visit. You know, I take it back: If you're in the grips of the fish jones--go anywhere else first, even (gulp) Red Lobster. Just west of 44th Street on the north side of McDowell is La Flora [4], 4310 East McDowell. La Flora serves plain old-fashioned Sonoran-style Mexican food. My companion tells me it's the way all Mexican restaurants looked around here twenty years ago. I like the wall mural of a Mexican seaside scene complete with factory. (Talk about realism!) La Flora's food is decent, but not spectacular. I like the salsa, guacamole and bottled sarsaparilla. Most impressive of all is the strawberry burrito we have for dessert!

Between 44th and 40th Streets, McDowell has an almost intimate residential feel. Shaggy trees, trailer parks and lack of sidewalks make the area seem more tropical than urban. We could be in Florida or Mexico.

As we cross 40th Street, look to the south. In addition to the new freeway, you'll notice a large fenced area inhabited by stark low-slung bungalows. In the early- to mid-1960s, this lot was the "future site" of a branch of Brigham Young University. Most recently the Good Samaritan Vocational Rehabilitation Center occupied the site. Now, it's anybody's guess. No one I talked to in the city or state bureaucracies could identify what's going on there.

Just past 36th Street and across the street from the Trinity TV 21 Studios (KPAZ) sits Viva Maria [5], 3510 East McDowell. This modest Mexican take-out stand opens at 11 a.m., and by 11:30 it's packed. The solid Sonoran grub at sensible prices is why. There's not a thing on the menu more than $4--including generous combination plates. Yeah, the food's a little heavy, but if you're like me, sometimes nothing else will do. Picnic tables in back provide seating if you're not in a hurry to go somewhere.

For the next four blocks, McDowell turns grease monkey and wholesale. Auto parts and supply stores, car rental agencies and restaurant supply companies populate the street. Nightclubs and show bars begin to crop up as well.

Just east of 32nd Street, a residential strip mall shimmers like an oasis before us. Newly painted, the Fairmont Pharmacy Plaza houses two restaurants on our tour. The first, Eight Immortals [6], 3275 East McDowell, serves (big surprise) Chinese food.

When a restaurant's major design feature is the particle board covering its windows and walls, how good can the food be? Since I've eaten at Eight Immortals, I can tell you: not very.Stay away.

Taqueria Ramona [7], 3237 East McDowell, a new fast-order Mexican restaurant, is neat, clean and pink inside. It feels like a chain enterprise, but the help swears it isn't. The menu emphasizes seafood cocktails and daring ingredients like tongue, head, brains and tripe, served in a variety of ways. I recommend the birria taco, but not the shrimp cocktail. Prices are low (tacos are 94 cents), but portions are tiny. Ecologically minded diners will be dismayed that everything is served on separate Styrofoam plates. I was.

Past 32nd Street, near the Grand Canal, is Red Devil Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria [8], 3102 East McDowell. Red Devil's been around since 1960--and boy, is it popular, especially with families. Notice how crowded the parking lot is? It's always like that. You can get fancier stuff here, but most people stick with pizza or pasta. The red sauce is decent: not too sweet, and prices are reasonable.

Storage and furniture warehouses, restaurant equipment and auto parts stores, a defunct flagstone U.S. Post Office and the Creighton School line McDowell between Red Devil and our next stop, Gina's Pizza [9], 2925 East McDowell. Gina's, located in an old strip mall, is a real winner. Plummy sweet homemade tomato sauce and chewy pizza dough made with distilled water make this New York-style (thin crust) pizza distinctive. Homemade tamales and desserts like chocolate brownies, New York cheesecake and amaretto cheesecake are also available.

Gina, a beautiful red-haired woman, runs the place with her husband. When I ask her why her flier says "Gino's Pizza," she confesses the sign outside is a mistake. "The sign painter," she says, shrugging. "He felt it should be Gina's because it's my name." So do I.

A cute laundry bearing images of Smurfs is our next landmark. We're approaching the intersection of 24th and McDowell. West of 26th Street the true flavor of McDowell begins to emerge. Here and there we see an occasional Spanish-styled bungalow--shades of things to come.

The Outrageous Sandwich and Tamale Shop [10], 2417 East McDowell, is almost hidden in an odd storefront strip east of 24th Street. Parking is tricky at this busy intersection: there's a driveway that leads to spaces at the back of the stores. It's a family-run place, well-meaning, but I'm not impressed with the product. The bland tamales are bested by Gina's; a smoked turkey sandwich tastes like it has been treated with formaldehyde.

We put mediocrity behind us as we approach prime eating territory on McDowell. The restaurants are coming thick and fast. Just past 24th Street, Adrian's Real Mexican Food Restaurant [11], occupies the site inhabited ten years ago by the beloved Demetra's Greek Restaurant. Adrian's is a funky little restaurant with outside grille work. Inside, the decor reminds me of someone's kitchen. The food offerings are similar to Taqueria Ramona: seafood cocktails, tongue, tripe, birria--as well as fish soups.

Notice the mix of people here? Cowboys with hats and silver belt buckles, hipsters dressed in black and purple, car mechanics with tooled leather belts. I'm not wild about Adrian's mariscos--my shrimp cocktail is mealy and drowning in V-8 juice. But the birria here is good, although portions seemed on the meager side. A few doors down is Rosita's Place [12], 2310 East McDowell. After Adrian's, Rosita's interior seems tame with its plain vinyl booths. This restaurant was much celebrated when it was in South Phoenix, but most people, including me, think it's been inconsistent since its move uptown to the former Asia House location. An interesting jukebox and good hot sauce don't compensate for hit-or-miss food and chips that'll cost you. The Squaw Peak Parkway looms ahead as we pull out of Rosita's Place. We have one more stop to make before we glide under the wide overpass: no, not the Phoenix Wedding Chapel or the Psychic Reader--Stanley's Polish Deli [13], 2201 East McDowell.

Stanley's, under new management, is a tiny place. A vast array of hanging sausages and smoked meats forms an impressive backdrop for cases holding delicacies like Bulgarian feta and homemade piroghi. Out front, the walls are packed with imported grocery items such as noodles, pudding and borscht mixes, pickles and paprika. There's even a rack in the corner with Polish and Yugoslavian newspapers and magazines for sale.

Stanley's has only four tables, so many people order pizza or sandwiches to go. Oddly, only two subs feature the homemade Polish sausage, which shouldn't be missed. Crackly fresh, smoky and nicely salted, the casing pops in your mouth when you bite into it. If you're craving a little bit of Eastern Europe, a visit to Stanley's will satisfy you.

After passing under the freeway, our first stop west of the Squaw Peak Parkway is San Carlos Bay Seafood Restaurant [14], 1901 East McDowell. This small white cottage has been a residence, attorney's office and real estate brokerage in the last four decades. Now it houses the best Mexican seafood restaurant in the city: authentic, delicious and a trifle exotic--you'll feel transported to the Sea of Cortez while dining here. (Regular Cafe readers will remember I raved about San Carlos in March.) Cheese lovers should be sure to try anything "culichi-style," and if you like it spicy, order the marinated fish fillet. The seafood cocktails and stews are excellent.

Leaving San Carlos, we enter the historic "Miracle Mile" section of McDowell. Notice how the storefronts give the impression of a village center? For several years in the mid-1950s, when Phoenix was not the megalopolis it is now, the Miracle Mile functioned as a major shopping center for the city. People came from all over to shop in this prestigious and highly touted commercial district.

When Park Central Mall opened in 1957, the vitality of the Miracle Mile began to drain away. The final blow occurred when the residential area south of McDowell was purchased to make way for the Papago Freeway. Without a residential neighborhood to support it, the shopping area's legs were cut off. Slowly, the adult bookstores and topless bars arrived.

To counteract McDowell's downslide, local merchants had banded together in 1979 to form the East McDowell Civic Association. Former association president Shelby Austin, a real estate broker, claims he led the original Mr. Brookshire to the corner of 16th Street and McDowell when it was the site of Helms Service Station.

Austin holds out high hopes for the street. "It's a unique boulevard and it's going to be a great boulevard," he says. "I think it lends itself to the nostalgia of old Phoenix--of the way it used to be."

My Pleasure Cafe [15], 1837 East McDowell, sounds like G-strings might be involved, but they aren't. If your pleasure is St. Louis-style barbecue, mark this place on your map. Cap'n Dave has already given My Pleasure Cafe kudos, and let me concur. This is some of the best 'cue I've ever had. All three sauces--hot, mild and honey--are superior, the meat tender and tasty, the go-withs great. Place your to-go orders at the window outside or eat in My Pleasure Cafe's surprisingly charming dining room. And please note: your best bet for parking is to turn south on 19th Street, drive around the block and pull in through the back lot.

As we drive west from My Pleasure Cafe, we'll see the only establishment on McDowell that still uses the street's old nickname. The Miracle Mile Mart was once a famous shopping center, but no more. Old-timers may remember when long-departed Kern's Cafeteria was the eating attraction there in 1958. Just past the mart is the Sears Distribution Center: in 1952 on this very spot, the mansion of Arizona's first state Governor George W.P. Hunt was razed to make room for commercial progress.

Though many of the storefronts in the Miracle Mile section from 18th to 16th Streets stand empty, signs of the area's rebound are everywhere. See the new sidewalks and landscaping, the young trees, the newly painted lampposts? You can send your compliments to the East McDowell Civic Association. The city and the association worked together to pay for these upgrades.

You know, all it would take to turn this section of McDowell into the funky Mill Avenue area many residents long for in Phoenix is a few small business visionaries. Miracle Mile could be the Melrose Avenue of Phoenix if someone would provide a cafe for lunch or cappuccino, a shoe boutique, a bookstore, a bakery.

But enough daydreaming, our next stop is Brookshire's Coffee Shop [16], 1602 East McDowell. Established in 1951, Brookshire's serves up basic American food 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Talk about community service! What you'll get at this pre-Denny's coffee shop is down-home Arizona service (most of the help has been around for at least ten years) and solid home-style cooking. The next time you're feeling nostalgic for roast pork with applesauce or homemade vegetable soup, remember, there's a booth waiting for you at Brookshire's. There's no building at 1521 East McDowell anymore, but I'd like to point it out to you. This is where the Miracle Mile Deli originally stood (hence the name). You can find branches of this venerable cafeteria restaurant now at Park Central, Christown, and Camelview Plaza.

Gourmet House of Hong Kong [17], 1438 East McDowell, has been pulling people from all over the Valley to McDowell for five years. Located on the site of a 1960s-Dick's-Drive-In-turned-1970s-medical-supply-store, Gourmet House offers authentic and delicious Hong Kong-style Chinese cooking. It may not be glamorous, but it's real. I come here for the noodles, but the fresh seafood is always compelling, too. One of McDowell Road's shining stars, for sure.

Shall we stop at Rainbow Donuts [18], 1347 East McDowell, for a quick one? A former Dunkin' Donuts now privately owned and run, this place has the best assortment of beverages I've ever seen in a doughnut shop: Bigelow herb teas, OJ, chocolate and strawberry (!) milk as well as sodas and, of course, java.

As our drive west continues, the hospital and medical complex of Good Samaritan floats ahead of us on the horizon like the lost city of Atlantis. Across the street, the Tenth Street Deli [19], 1002 East McDowell, is perfectly poised to serve this burgeoning medical community. I'm not too impressed with the food here, but the atmosphere is pleasant and calm. Most of the seating is booths for two, so it's a good place to come if you're eating alone. We'll pass the Lois Grunow Memorial Clinic on our right as we leave McDowell's medical corridor. Open for nearly sixty years, the Grunow Clinic, among other claims to fame, once employed trunk murderess Winnie Ruth Judd as a medical secretary.

Starting at Seventh Street, giant palms line McDowell as we motor ever west. Small, green Townsend Park is on our left; glossy, circular Edward Oldsmobile on our right. We'll make two more stops before we cross Central Avenue.

Our first stop is The Courtyard Cafe [20], 202 East McDowell, in the Los Olivos Executive Hotel. Don't make a special trip to visit. The Courtyard Cafe is more like an airport snack bar than a restaurant. While the pastel and glass block decor is soothing, the food is strictly utilitarian. Probably because most of its customers are business travelers, it's a bit pricey, too.

Country Boys [21], 101 East McDowell, fails to be as charming or as good a coffee shop as Brookshire's. It seems, well, kind of dirty inside. The day we visit a particularly pesky fly keeps dive-bombing our table. Furthermore, our waitress just doesn't seem to care as much as our Brookshire's waitress did. Unless you're desperately hungry or out of gas, I'd save my appetite for somewhere else.

The Encanto-Palmcroft architecture really starts to kick in west of Central. We see more bungalows and more residential buildings with a sense of history and style. In fact, there's a very cute cottage for lease at 149 West McDowell which would make a charming little House of Tricks-style restaurant.

At Fifth Avenue, we brake for cocktails. Seafood cocktails, of course. Mariscos Chihuahua [22], located at 502 West McDowell, serves the best in town. Belly up to the bar in this tiny blue-and-white restaurant and place your order for octopus, shrimp, abalone, squid or even sea snail. You won't be disappointed. Cucumbers, tomatoes, onion and lots of fresh lime juice make this mariscos truly marvelous.

The continuing vitality of the Encanto-Palmcroft neighborhood has ensured survival for local merchants. As we approach Seventh Avenue, we'll see another row of storefronts with the small-town feel of the Miracle Mile. Unlike that area of East McDowell, however, My Florist, Hales Beauty Salon and Encanto Liquors continue to exist because of community support.

As does Long Wong's [23], 701 West McDowell, but why, I don't know. Not only have I been subjected to surly and rude service here, but the chicken wings I purchase are the worst I've ever attempted to eat--anywhere in the country, let alone Phoenix. Overpowering floral air freshener (gas station rest-room variety) and a customer smoking at the counter didn't improve my overall impression. Wave good-by--we're not stopping.

From Seventh to 15th Avenues, the Encanto Spanish-tiled bungalow architecture persists. Then, as we get closer to the Arizona State Fairgrounds, the Veterans' Memorial Coliseum and Six Points--the intersection of Grand Avenue, 19th Avenue and McDowell--the neighborhood declines into "quick-rent" apartments. By 19th Avenue, we've entered a whole new world--a stark area criss-crossed with railroad tracks and populated by warehouses and girlie bars.

Overpasses for I-10 and I-17 swoop above us and to the south at 23rd Avenue. We could be in Any Major City, USA. This area of McDowell takes on the look of a moonscape--or maybe a scene from Repo Man. We'll pass many truck rental places, auto detail shops, tire lots, body shops and "cocktail lounges" before we come to another restaurant on McDowell.

Bring your Spanish dictionary along if you stop at Playa del Sol [24], 3519 West McDowell. Unlike the staff at San Carlos Bay, which speaks some English, the waitresses here speak no English. It's very, very authentic. Like San Carlos Bay, Playa Del Sol specializes in seafood (mariscos). Ordering a fried fish here will net you an entire fish--eyeballs, teeth and all. Camarones en limon natural means shrimp so natural they're still raw. I've had some good meals here and some scary ones. If you're brave or facile with the language, by all means give it a try. They serve a mean seafood cocktail.

West McDowell starts to become more residential after 35th Avenue, but a few strip malls catering to local businesses still crop up. Rada's Mexican Foods [25], 3628 West McDowell, is in one such commercial strip. Rada's falls in the same category as La Flora: a family restaurant serving decent Sonoran-style Mexican food. I like the homemade chips and salsa as well as the eclectic jukebox. During one meal alone we hear Julio Iglesias, Percy Sledge, Sam and Dave, Gloria Estefan and even some country tunes.

After 37th Avenue, McDowell loses much of its character. Large, anonymous, two- and three-story apartment complexes crowd the street one after another. In terms of restaurants, there are none I'd recommend driving a long distance to visit. Quite simply, the restaurants this far west are serving the community--which seems to value quantity and convenience over quality.

Hong Kong Express [26] and Mixteca Mexican Food [27], both housed in the Mega Foods Plaza at 43rd Avenue and McDowell, are two such restaurants. Primarily take-out shops, both serve food better suited to satisfying hunger than pleasing the palate. I swear the Super Burrito we order at Mixteca weighs close to two pounds! If you like big food, go for it.

I like the soft noodle vegetable chow mein next-door at Hong Kong Express, but the Kung Pao Chicken reminds me of Chun King. Still, I'd recommend Hong Kong Express over the other far west McDowell Chinese restaurants. Between 43rd and 51st Avenues, McDowell's southern side is undeveloped. The entrance to a future industrial park sits waiting for the industry to materialize. On the northern side of the street, single-family homes are shielded by gray cement-block walls, patched with paint to cover graffiti.

Our incredible eating journey draws to a close at the crossroads of 51st Avenue and McDowell. From the southwest, a high-rise Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel towers above the intersection, but we aren't concerned with it. Our first stop is Little China [28], 5030 West McDowell, in the Crossroads Village mall on the northeast corner.

Little China falls into the quantity-over-quality category. You have a choice here: buffet line or menu. Unfortunately, I learn this only after going to the buffet. The food is strictly serviceable here; nothing thrilled me. McDowell Square, a huge aging plaza on the northwest corner of McDowell and 51st Avenue, houses the last three restaurants we'll check out on our tour. Los Navarros [29], 5124 West McDowell, has been around for nearly twenty years. The accumulation of grease in the air seems about as old. The food is Sonoran-style and portions are big and unappealing. Though a sour cream enchilada is decent, almost everything else isn't.

Rice to You [30], 5132 West McDowell, is another mediocre entry. You can eat in or take out at Rice to You, but most people have it delivered. This little storefront prints so many take-out fliers, it has its own photocopy machine in the back by the rest rooms. The food is average to below-average.

Finally, there's The Italian Corner [31], 5150 West McDowell. This roomy family restaurant would be a great place for hearing live music. Since I have no great expectations for the food, I'm pleasantly surprised when the baked ziti, lasagna and hot Italian sub are pretty good. Not great, but good. On the other hand, I didn't care for the pizza at all.

So that's it, the end of the road--for our gastronomic purposes.
If my tour of McDowell's culinary delights has stimulated your interest enough that you'd like to start exploring the street for yourself, remember: though we've made this tour in one sitting, the research for this article was gathered during several weeks. McDowell cannot be eaten in one day!

In fact, eating McDowell would make a fine summer project for those of you hanging around Phoenix during the hellish months. Get your a.c. cranking and head down the old Miracle Mile. Trust me, the miracle is still happening. If I were condemned to eat on one street for the rest of my days in Phoenix, McDowell might just be it.

Server: You want it spicy? Me: Yes. Server: Very spicy? Me: Yes. Server: Super spicy? Me: Yes.

When a restaurant's major design feature is the particle board covering its windows and walls, how good can the food be?

We put mediocrity behind us as we approach 24th Street, prime eating territory on McDowell. The restaurants are coming thick and fast.

The restaurants this far west are serving the community--which seems to value quantity and convenience over quality.

This McDowell area looks like a moonscape--or a scene from Repo Man: truck rental places, auto detail shops, tire lots and "cocktail lounges."


Pub:Publication:Phoenix New Times
Info:NV59-90 Category: Column
Page: 5
Keywords: Government
Correction Date: Correction:


Tom Fitzpatrick

I had just finished warning Sam Steiger what would happen if he ran for governor. "It won't be easy. They will come out of the dark corners to keep you from becoming governor." Steiger held his pipe tightly in the corner of his mouth. He remained silent for what seemed a long time. When he finally spoke, there was a shade of irony in his voice.

"They won't come after me until they think I'm winning," Steiger said. "But you're right. They'll come after me with guns blazing then."

Steiger jerked the pipe from his mouth. He smiled.
"Look, I'm not a boy," he said. "I understand how these things are done. I know the steps of the dance." Of course, he does. And along the way during his career as a state legislator and U.S. congressman, Steiger has even invented a few new steps.

Steiger's clearly leading the pack at this point. The polls show that, but more important, you can take your own political sounding. He's the only candidate anyone's talking about. He's on his way to winning the Republican party's primary. There's simply no one else in the race who anyone feels is capable of handling the job. Wherever Steiger goes, his candor, wit and obvious intelligence keep winning new supporters.

It's been an incredible campaign, in which Steiger is writing the greatest comeback story in Arizona political history.

Here's a man who Attorney General Bob Corbin tried to send to prison as part of his sweep of Evan Mecham's administration.

It didn't occur to Corbin or anyone else how ironic this would turn out to be. While trying to send Steiger to jail, Corbin was sitting on $50,000 of Charlie Keating's money. Corbin's daughter Laurie was working for Keating in setting up the physical fitness center at the Phoenician resort. And Corbin was leaping slavishly off speaking platforms to embrace Keating publicly at every opportunity.

Corbin failed for the obvious reason that Steiger wasn't guilty. The state Court of Appeals threw the case out.

At one point, Steve Twist, Corbin's top aide, said to reporters: "Why doesn't Steiger just stand up and take his medicine like everyone else?" Twist is now running for Corbin's vacated seat as attorney general. The only surprise is that he isn't running for the same office in the new united Germanies.

Corbin and Twist feared Steiger because he clearly looked down upon both of them and said so at every opportunity.

Steiger was called as a witness during Mecham's impeachment trial.
State Senator Alan Stephens asked Steiger if he perceived Corbin as playing a political role in Mecham's downfall.

"Mr. Corbin is not very bright but is a very effective politician," Steiger said. "He has deluded many of you into believing he is a competent person.

"Corbin has administered an agency that has become, under his guidance, the most expensive of its kind in the United States." Stephens followed up:

"Do you think Corbin might have set up Mecham?" Steiger simply shook his head. "These people are capable of setting up anybody," he said.

I have spent much of my time in this business in courtrooms. I have seen how the ordeal of sentencing affects human beings.

I saw one convicted murderess topple over backward like a fallen tree. She suffered a concussion when her head struck the courtroom floor.

A small-time mob boss who had shot a man in the face at point-blank range during a card game begged for another chance to become a productive member of society.

A former governor of a Midwestern state, who'd been a World War II general, dissolved into tears.

A Chicago city councilmember slumped into the chair at the defense table, unable to move.

A convicted Superior Court judge walked into the cloakroom, put on another man's hat and coat and walked through a forest of television cameras in a daze.

The immediate prospect of a prison term turns some of the toughest defendants into jelly.

In this situation, Steiger was the most courageous and outrageous man I have ever seen. Nobody comes close.

I clearly remember the morning of his sentencing. Steiger walked into the courtroom fully expecting to be sent to prison. His offense was giving orders to a member of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles. He was accused of trying to intimidate him. Steiger moved jauntily. He carried his blue blazer over his arm. He was wearing the bright-red suspenders that are his trademark. The courtroom was packed. It was like a public hanging.

Steiger's lawyer was Tom Karas, one of the best in the state.
"Today is not a day for lawyering," said Karas.
"The foreman of the jury told us that he didn't believe Sam intended to commit a crime. They looked for a way to acquit. The jury believed the attorney general had carried out a vindictive prosecution." Judge Ronald Reinstein invited Steiger to say a few words before sentencing.

Steiger was facing five years in prison. He also was standing before a tough and intelligent judge, who was a former career prosecutor. Not long before, Reinstein didn't blink an eye when sentencing a man to three consecutive life terms for drunken driving in a case which involved the paralysis of a former Mesa police chief.

Nearly 200 community leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, had written to the judge asking for leniency for Steiger.

So this was the perfect moment for Steiger to display the white feather. All he needed to do was tell Judge Reinstein he'd acted with excessive zeal as Evan Mecham's top aide. This would give the judge an easy way to grant probation with some time doing public service.

But Steiger approached the bench with anything but humility. He wasn't humble. He was, in fact about to go on the attack. Outraged because he'd been unjustly classed as a felon, he was fighting back. He was convinced he'd done nothing more than what is done routinely in political jobs all the time.

"I want the record to reflect what I feel," Steiger began.
"I'm not a thief. I'm not an extortionist. I'm not a liar.
"I lied to the attorney general for the same reason I would to a stickup man in an alley who asked me if I had any money." Some spectators broke into laughter, Judge Reinstein's expression didn't change. But some of the faint-hearted cringed at this opening. Steiger, they thought, was sure to be sent to jail now.

Steiger wheeled around and pointed directly at the two lawyers from the Attorney General's Office on hand to see him sentenced.

"It's my honest conviction that I was singled out for elimination from state government because my politics were distasteful to Bob Corbin. I will tell the court I have remorse that these people appear to be successful in singling out anybody who dares to criticize the Attorney General's Office.

"I am no longer important in this case," Steiger added. "What overwhelms me is the hypocrisy." He wasn't playing the game. In order to get probation, you must first admit your guilt and state your desire to become a law-abiding citizen.

All Steiger wanted to do was turn both Corbin and the conviction around.
He had been ordered by Mecham to clean up the mess at the parole board and had set about doing so.

Later, when Rose Mofford became governor, everyone thought it was just fine when she made the same moves that brought Corbin's wrath down on Steiger.

Steiger made his presentence speech, fully expecting that it might anger Judge Reinstein and prompt him to issue the jail term.

But Judge Reinstein surprised everyone by giving Steiger probation anyway. The judge even stated his own belief that it was Steiger's intention to clean up the situation at the parole board.

The conviction was later overturned by the Court of Appeals. The record was expunged. All that remains of the unjust prosecution now is Steiger's memory of what Corbin and Twist attempted to do to him.

Steiger was surrounded by reporters after the sentencing and was asked why he didn't express remorse rather than defiance.

"I have a difficult time saying what I don't feel," he said. "I have several ex-wives who will attest to that." It comes as no surprise that the Arizona Republic doesn't want Steiger to become governor.

J. Fife Symington III is much more to its liking. Symington has independent wealth, an Ivy League background and is a true country-club type. Symington is the other side of the coin to Terry Goddard, another member of the effete class.

The state's largest and most powerful newspaper has made it clear that Symington, the man who gave us the daily traffic jam at 24th Street and Camelback, is its choice for the Republican party nomination.

And so Steiger has become the target of regular attacks by Keven Willey, the Republic's political columnist.

The political editor at the Republic has always served as management's voice among the masses. This is the chief reason the column has little readership except among politicians. Readers have spotted it as nothing more than an attempt to move the editorial-page views into the news pages.

This past Sunday, Willey complained that Steiger was mean to her on the telephone. Steiger called Willey to ask that she explain her item which stated he had held a gun on a man from whom he was renting property in Prescott.

The explanation was less spectacular.
Steiger had put the house up for sale as part of a divorce settlement in 1979. The agreement was that the man who bought the house wouldn't take possession for ninety days and Steiger would rent it in the interim.

But the man sent workers in to do some remodeling while Steiger was away on a two-week trip.

"When I came back, the place was full of flies and workmen," Steiger says. "I ran them off." Steiger came home to find all the doors and windows open, too. He got his carbine and ordered everybody off the property.

A full-fledged feud was then in force between Steiger and the buyer. The man went to court. Steiger represented himself. The case, which is a fully documented part of the Steiger legend, resulted in a hung jury. The judge told Steiger he could have avoided a lot of trouble by merely calling the sheriff and going through normal channels.

Of course, Willey's column makes Steiger look bad. That was the clear intent. The attempt is part of a deliberate and continuing smear campaign which will continue until the primary in September.

Most politicians would ignore the Willey item, hoping it would go away. Not Steiger.

"I'm calling a press conference to explain my side of it," Steiger said.
"I have no problem with people who shoot at me," Steiger said. "I just insist they be accurate." Steiger is going to run his campaign, taking all the attendant risks that have brought him this far.

"I don't want the Republic for an enemy, but I'm not going to back down. We'll stop this thing right now. Every time they say something wrong at me, I'll be coming right back at them." Steiger's right. One of his charms is that there is a perception he will be a good governor because he won't back down under intimidation.

Voters who want Steiger on the ninth floor will be voting for the full Steiger package.

He's a Korean war hero who came back to Arizona with a Silver Star for gallantry under fire and the Purple Heart.

For a decade, he was one of the most effective Republican congressmen in Washington, D.C.

His confrontations with judges, police officers and other nincompoops are such well-known tales that only the moribund Republic would think they were worth repeating.

In short, Steiger will make it to the governor's office because of the accumulation of everything he's done on his way to the ninth floor.

Steiger can't be bought. He can't be cowed. He won't stroll silently into that good night.

I feel sorry for the Republic in this instance. Even it should see there's a terminal problem with Symington's candidacy. Voters simply can't and won't take Symington seriously. He could spend $10 million on television ads before people would start to realize he wasn't selling breakfast cereal.

The Republic doesn't have the clout to get Symington the nomination. The new rule about Arizona politics is that the Republic can't get you elected.

But if it attacks you often enough, it might keep you from getting elected.

We are now seeing that strategy in action.

Back in the old days, when Bernie Wynn was the Republic's political editor, he regularly went through a litany of Steiger's sins.

Wynn has been retired. Before clearing out his desk, however, Wynn apparently passed on his "Attack Steiger" file to Keven Willey, the present political editor.

The attack file includes all the famous anecdotes:
Steiger shot the burros.
Steiger ran the workers off his property with a .30-caliber carbine.

He painted a crosswalk on the street from the Prescott Courthouse to Whiskey Row.

He had a remarkable confrontation with a Department of Public Safety officer who stopped him for a traffic offense.

He once ran for governor on the Libertarian ticket.
He engaged in a vicious primary campaign for the Senate against John Conlan that made it possible for Dennis DeConcini to be elected.

He did all these things and much more. But he is also the one man in this state who can make a difference from the first day he sets foot in the governor's office.

Mecham has already been on the ninth floor. We saw how that ended.
Fred Koory is not a real candidate and Bob Barnes has gone over the edge. He is the only candidate who is campaigning on the results of a lie detector test that no one asked him to take. That one of the tests turned up with the results that he was apparently brain-dead only adds to the farcical aspects of his whole campaign.

Terry Goddard wouldn't even know where the men's rooms are at the State Capitol complex.

There is a possible downside to Steiger's decision to attack the Republic head-on.

It might start running editorial cartoons depicting Steiger as a man with .30-caliber carbine.

Steiger laughed when he heard that.
"I don't think that would be such a bad thing at all," he said.
And that's life in Arizona.

"I have no problem with people who shoot at me," Steiger said. "I just insist they be accurate." PRODUCTION: Please be sure to use this pullquote.

Thanks, cj

Terry Goddard wouldn't even know where the men's rooms are at the State Capitol complex.

Symington could spend $10 million on television ads before people would realize he wasn't selling breakfast cereal.

The new rule about Arizona politics is that the Republic can't get you elected.


Pub:Publication:Phoenix New Times
Info:NV-59-90 Category: News Shorts
Page: 99
Keywords: MOTHER
Correction Date: Correction:


Dewey Webb

If you (like Butterfly McQueen) don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies, look no farther than the pages of your supermarket tabloids.

Uncovering tales of bizarre childbirth that somehow never manage to make it into the mainstream media, these papers' intrepid reporters seemingly trek the globe, leaving no bassinet unturned.

Mothers of the world, we salute you!

BINGO BAMBINO! Source: Sun (May 1, 1990)

BLESSED EVENT: While vying for a $5,000 jackpot, self-described "bingo addict" Dorothy Minello calmly gave birth to a seven-pound eleven-ounce boy--and kept right on playing for another hour!

NATIVITY SCENE: Randwick, Australia NOTABLE QUOTES: "By the way she was screaming you couldn't tell if she was in pain or yelling `Bingo!'" GREAT MOMENTS IN MIDWIFERY: After selflessly abandoning their own cards to assist in the delivery, two fellow "bingoholics" were shocked when the new mother left the newborn infant in their care, refusing to be taken to a hospital until she'd lost another six games. POSTPARTUM IMPRESSION: "I was on a hot streak!" says the 37-year-old bingo madonna, who claims she'd do it all over again. "Nothing in the world can stop me when I get rolling and my numbers start coming up!" GIRL GIVES BIRTH ON ROLLER COASTER

Source: Sun (July 4, 1989)

BLESSED EVENT: Unaware that she was even pregnant, seventeen-year-old Dawn White delivered a six-pound seven-ounce boy while enjoying a hellish amusement-park ride.

NATIVITY SCENE: Wellington, New Zealand NOTABLE QUOTES: "I heard Dawn screaming like crazy, but everybody yells when they're on the roller coaster."

GREAT MOMENTS IN MIDWIFERY: "I couldn't believe it when I looked over and saw her baby coming out!" says a teenage friend who witnessed the high-speed delivery. "I thought I was dreaming or something--or that Dawn and her boyfriend Tommy were pulling one of their pranks on us." POSTPARTUM IMPRESSION: "I wouldn't recommend giving birth like this, but everything worked out okay this time," reports a doctor who examined the teen mom after she staggered off the ride. "Now the hard part will be telling her parents what happened at the amusement park." HALF-MAN HALF-WOMAN IS PREGNANT FOR SECOND TIME

Source: Sun (March 6, 1990)

BLESSED EVENT: Equipped with both male and female sex organs and unable to find a mate, handsome hermaphrodite Roy Newsom decided to start a family anyway by impregnating him/herself. After fathering (and mothering) one child, the 37-year-old weight trainer eagerly awaits the arrival of a second bundle of joy.

NATIVITY SCENE: Brisbane, Australia
NOTABLE QUOTES: Discussing his dual genitals, the proud parent(s) proclaims, "If you've got 'em, use 'em."

GREAT MOMENTS IN MIDWIFERY: Doctors monitoring the second pregnancy reported: "We have every reason to believe that the child will be like Roy's first: a happy, healthy hermaphrodite." POSTPARTUM IMPRESSION: Following the birth of the second child, Mr. Mom plans to have a vasectomy so he'll never have to worry about getting pregnant again. BABY BORN TALKING SAYS: "I'M LUCY BACK FROM THE DEAD" Source: Sun (January 23, 1990)

BLESSED EVENT: Hospital staffers gasped in disbelief as they helped deliver a redheaded baby girl who emerged from the womb wailing, "Ricky, I wanna be in the show!" When the infant proceeded to crack up the OB team with her comic antics and jokes, there was no doubt that the child was the reincarnation of zany comedienne Lucille Ball.

NATIVITY SCENE: Wolverhampton, England
NOTABLE QUOTES: "It's almost scary hearing all this from the mouth of a baby."

GREAT MOMENTS IN MIDWIFERY: "As we struggled to revive [the mother], the baby became upset at no longer being the center of attention and began crying," says one doctor at the scene. "She went `Waaaaah!' just like Lucy used to do."

POSTPARTUM IMPRESSION: When not repeating Ball's dialogue while watching I Love Lucy reruns, baby Lucy lies in her crib and badmouths Desi Arnaz.

CHEERLEADER, 12, HAS BABY DURING FOOTBALL GAME Source: Examiner (June 27, 1989)

BLESSED EVENT: During the third quarter of a junior high football game in Peru, twelve-year-old cheerleader Angelina Perez went into labor on the sidelines, giving birth to a ten-pound boy in full view of screaming fans.

NATIVITY SCENE: " . . . the village of Guyaco, nestled at an altitude of some 10,000 feet in an isolated region of the Andes Mountains in Peru."

NOTABLE QUOTES: "She was leading a cheer when she suddenly let out an ear-piercing scream. Everyone thought it was just part of a new cheer until she fell to the ground writhing in agony."

GREAT MOMENTS IN MIDWIFERY: Paulo Cruz, fourteen-year-old quarterback, rushed from the field and helped deliver his girlfriend's child. "I was rattled from then on," he later admitted. "It was difficult to concentrate on the game."


Source: Sun (June 6, 1989)

BLESSED EVENT: While taking a moonlight stroll through the countryside, 38-year-old spinster Monica Clergue was seduced by an extraterrestrial who'd landed in a field near her home. Two years and several dozen trysts later, Clergue conceived, giving birth to an ET a mere four months afterward.

NATIVITY SCENE: Caracassone, France
NOTABLE QUOTES: "He was short and bald with grayish skin and a head shaped like an upside-down pear," the mom said. "I guess he wasn't the most attractive creature in the universe, but then neither am I."

GREAT MOMENTS IN MIDWIFERY: None. Alien father didn't even show up in delivery room.

POSTPARTUM IMPRESSION: Currently embroiled in a legal battle because she stubbornly refuses to enroll six-year-old Zibish in school, the mom claims the boy's father will soon return to whisk his son away to another planet. (Mom says she'll have to stay behind--her lover has warned her she would die in his planet's atmosphere.)


BLESSED EVENT: After giving up their babies for adoption, poverty-stricken teenage moms lactate for a living in super-secret "human dairy" barns equipped with electric milking machines! Claiming that "human cows" produce a milk superior to that of their barnyard counterparts, heartless entrepreneurs package the milk in fancy bottles, then market the product as a gourmet dairy treat. NATIVITY SCENE: South America and India

NOTABLE QUOTES: "These human dairies are run by unscrupulous businessmen who only want to milk their employees for all they're worth."

GREAT MOMENTS IN MIDWIFERY: None. But this has to be some kind of first in farm machinery.

POSTPARTUM IMPRESSION: Fearing that imported mother's milk may soon be headed for America's specialty food shops, the head of a Finland women's organization urges a national boycott of the bizarre beverage.


Pub:Publication:Phoenix New Times
Info:nv-59-90 Category: Feature
Page: 99
Keywords: Sport
Correction Date: Correction:


Jack Keene stretches his 63-year-old body and steps out of the Turf Paradise jockey room into the midafternoon sun. Fallbrook Flyer, Keene's mount in the seventh race on this glorious Saturday, waits for his rider in stall twelve.

Keene, all 5-3, 108 pounds of him, cuts a dashing figure in green silks as he strides into the paddock with eleven other jockeys. He has the athletic gait of a much younger man. In case anyone doesn't know him, Keene's surname is sewn into the crotch of his white riding pants.

But something's missing. Race time is about the only time Keene doesn't have an unlighted stogy stuck in his mouth. Without the milelong cigar, it's easier to focus on his bumpy ride of a nose and an askew left eye.

He chats in the Turf Paradise paddock with retired track veterinarian Doc Hinshaw. The two men attended college together in the early 1950s.

"We were both gonna be vets," Doc says. "Then these ponies got the best of him, I guess, and he's rode ever since. Riding got stuck in Jack's blood. That's why he's still doing it, I guess."

Keene smiles politely, but his mind is on Fallbrook Flyer--a horse that defines the words "long shot." Keene's one or two mounts a day are usually average or below average. Fallbrook Flyer is below average.

"Gotta go," Keene tells his old pal, as the jockeys approach their mounts. Spectators crowd the paddock wall to stare at the talent. Dozens hold racing forms close to their faces, studying the horses' records like rabbis reading the Torah. Some mutter strange incantations: "Skahn Chei Lee. No way. Breu. Lousy post. Breaks early. Odds on. Box him."

Keene sidles up to Deb Meredith, who trains and co-owns Fallbrook Flyer.
"Did you tell him to win today?" Keene kiddingly asks the nervous woman. She nods, but doesn't stop chewing a thumbnail.

"If he goes out early like he did the last time, let him run, okay?" Meredith tells the jock. "I think he might want to run." She and her husband race six horses, and have another fourteen at their northeast Phoenix farm.

"You betcha," Keene replies. "Same old same old."
Someone shouts, "Go get 'em, old man." Keene hardly hears him. He's been called "old man" since Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play. That was in the 1960s.

The prerecorded trumpet call announces the post parade. Deb Meredith helps Keene onto his mount.

"Jack has really moved him up for us," she says after horse and jockey hit the track. "We feel good with Jack on him. He likes to run when Jack is up. I hope this one goes smooth."

Keene actually hopes for some rough going. "If it's a good horse, you want smooth sailing, no problems," he says. "With a horse that's not too shiny, you hope for a crowd and maybe you can sneak by."

The final odds are posted as the horses enter the starting gate for this six-and-a-half furlong, $3,200 claiming race. Fallbrook Flyer is rated an 18-to-1 shot, the ninth-best of the twelve horses.

He runs in the middle of the pack for the first half-mile, then Keene maneuvers the horse into position to make a stretch run. But Fallbrook Flyer doesn't respond to the jockey's whip. All the horse has in common with 1989 champion Sunday Silence is that both are four-year-old thoroughbreds. Fallbrook Flyer has won but once in fourteen career starts, and has earned only $1,139 in prize money. Even his sex life is a loser. He's a gelding.

His long-shot odds turn out to be too optimistic. He finishes dead last.
"Thought he'd do better than this," Keene says. "He sure wasn't too shiny. Not too shiny."

The 5,777 racing fans in attendance won't see this old man make his trademark jaunty leap off a winning mount today. Fallbrook Flyer is his only ride on the card.

Keene grabs his tack and hurries to the scale at the finish line. He's done this 15,000-and-then-some times, and he wants to keep doing it until they won't let him anymore. According to a racing guide, he's the nation's second-oldest active jockey. (A 68-year-old from West Virginia rode in a few races last year.)

Jack Keene has never ridden in a Triple Crown race. Though he's competed against the greats--the Bill Shoemakers, the Johnny Longdens--he's spent much of his career at minor tracks such as Turf Paradise.

"I'm not a big name," Keene says. "Never was. Never was. I didn't have to be `the best.' Hell, I laid up a lot of winters, and I've always gone at my own pace. I do what I want to do."

He's been doing it for nearly fifty years.
"An average jock goes less than three years," he says. "You make it ten, you'll probably go twenty, then quit if you got any sense. Then there's kooks like me."

JUMPIN' JACK KEENE officially won his first horse race in 1946. World War II had just ended. Joe Louis was the heavyweight champ. Donald Trump hadn't been born yet.

Keene had been riding horses for several years by then. "They say Dad put me on a horse before I could walk, but I can't remember that," he says. "I do know that I've always been around horses."

He's speaking from the jockey room at Turf Paradise. It's a sanctuary. Valets fold towels, a jockey concentrates on a jigsaw puzzle, and another reads a boxing magazine in front of his "stall"--what's elsewhere called a locker.

The son of a northern Indiana farmer, Keene started riding at county fairs when he was twelve. His diminutive stature was right for a jockey. In the summer of 1943, the sixteen-year-old took a train by himself to Chicago.

"I was the most ignorant, countrified kid who ever went into Chicago," Keene recalls. "It took me hours to find the racetrack. I thought you pulled into town and you were where you wanted to be."

Keene made $2 a day that summer as a "hot walker," leading horses around after a workout. He slept on a cot at the Hawthorne track's tack room. By the end of the season, he'd earned a promotion to exercise boy.

Keene returned to his hometown and high school that fall. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps, hoping, he says, for an opening in flight school. That didn't happen, and he started riding full-time at the Chicago track after he was graduated from high school.

"I was an indentured servant, like we all were, owned by a stable," Keene says, able to laugh about it now. "I was glad to be indentured at that time."

The racing circuit included Chicago in the summer, and New Orleans and Hot Springs, Arkansas, in the winter. Keene was not a rising star.

"I rode things that reasonably didn't have a chance to win," he says.
Keene also rode in the "Oklahoma bushes," out-of-the-way tracks that dotted the Sooner State's dusty landscape. "I won a lot of races there that didn't go into the books," he says. "I scrambled to make a buck."

In those days, Keene remembers, the term "jockeying for position" had a different meaning than it does now.

"When I started, there wasn't any film of a race," he says. "There was a hell of a lot more contact among jockeys. We all did it--elbow, whip, scratch, claw. We did it to survive. That's the way the game was played. As far as cheating, what was it that Mark Twain said? `You want a completely honest horse race, you'll need an honest human race first.'"

Like almost every jockey, he struggled to keep his weight down.
"We'd hit the sweat box a lot, and there is this thing called bulimia. It used to be an art form. Now, it's a disease. Around the tracks, it's a normal thing, even if no one brags about it. Weight is everything."

In the late 1940s and 1950s, Keene rode at tracks around the United States--in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, California, New Jersey, Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado and other states. He learned how to feel a horse beneath him, how to keep his balance, how to be in the right spot at the right time, when to let a pony run.

"All horses want to hurry," Keene says. "Trying to use them at the appropriate time is what this is all about."

Keene says he made--and spent--a good buck in the early 1950s. But he was considering changing careers, and attended Colorado A&M College as a preveterinary student.

"I'd go to school a quarter here and a quarter there," Keene says. "I ended up seven quarters short. But those horses pulled me away once and for all."

In 1959, Keene rode at Southern California's Santa Anita, one of the nation's most famous racetracks. His first outing there was memorable:

"I'm on a horse called Roryare. Shoemaker is riding in the race. I'm no kid, but I'm trying to stay cool. You work for so long for cool to be the norm. We beat Shoe by a length. I told everyone it was kind of easy out there, just like at the Oklahoma bushes. It was two weeks before I won again. That shut me up a while."

Keene settled down a bit in the early 1960s. He and his wife, Lois, started raising a family, and Keene made Denver's Centennial racetrack his home base. (Long divorced, he has three sons in their twenties. None is in the racing business.) Centennial is where he rode a majority of his 1,800-or-so winners.

JACK KEENE IS TALKING about the dangers inherent in a sport where 100-pound men ride 1,000-pound horses. He is sitting in the living room of the comfortable northeast Phoenix home he shares with his longtime friend Julie Sodowsky. The couple moved to Phoenix with her young daughter in 1982, after the Denver track shut down for good.

A world-class dressage performer and teacher--dressage is to horses as figure skating is to humans--Sodowsky opened a training barn in north Phoenix. She says she and Keene cannot imagine their lives without horses. Their home's decor bears that out.

There are photos of champion horses, porcelain horses, a wooden hobbyhorse, horse trophies and ribbons, videotapes of horse races, books about horses. Even the phone machine answers with the racetrack's trumpet call.

"It's all Julie's," Keene says of the home and what's in it. "Julie's the successful one in this family. I don't own a thing. Really. Just a bike."

He's overlooking the memorabilia of his years on the racetrack. Photographs of Keene and this season's winners will soon go into a new scrapbook at his home. His other scrapbooks already fill an entire living-room wall cabinet. Videotapes document another aspect of his career.

"Twice, I was in races where a jockey got killed," Jack Keene says. "One time, everybody was in close quarters and it was getting tighter and tighter. I knew one of the guys had went down, trampled.

"The other time, I was in front and I didn't even know there was a wreck."
He puts on a videotape of one of his spills at Centennial racetrack. That time, he jumped off his tumbling mount just in time.

"That was one interesting traffic pattern," he says casually of the close call. He deals with the danger philosophically.

"When the unforeseen happens, you're gonna have a wreck. This is a very tough business we're in."

Three of his mounts have died of heart attacks during races. "When they go, they lay on you heavier and heavier. But they run a straight line. They must have some kind of reflex action. They finally stop. You pull so hard on them to keep their heads up."

And he's had "a whole lot" of horses break down on him during races.
"The majority of them seem to stay up after they snap a leg," Keene says. "They just seem to jab that stump into the ground. They are bred to run, even when they can't. They are fighters."

All jockeys get injured if they stay in the game, Keene says, but in June 1980, he had an especially terrible spill. He was 53 at the time.

"I saw the pictures later and I put it together in reverse," he recalls. "I was coming up on a horse, and I saw a rider rear up and start to steady his horse. I couldn't see everything, but his horse and my horse went over a fallen horse, and I was on the belly side of it. It's kind of like the world has dropped out from under you. His horse was strugglin' to get up, but he wasn't making it. My first thought was to get away from him. I started to move, but my leg didn't go with me."

The broken leg was the least serious of Keene's injuries.
"I remember the other rider saying, `Are you . . . ,' then boomp, he fainted," Keene says. His left eye had popped out of its socket.

"I still didn't know my eye was laying on my cheek. It's a bad sign when everyone comes up to you and says, `Goddd!' My kid kept saying, `You're gonna be all right,' but I could see he didn't believe it. Nobody seemed to want to talk with me. Finally, I figured that I'd broke my head, too."

Doctors put Keene's eye back into place with wire and silicon. He still can't feel much in the left side of his face ("I won't drink coffee out of that side of my mouth because I can't feel nothing. Big deal."), but he can see out of the eye. As soon as his body healed enough months later, Keene returned to his job of maneuvering speedy, high-strung, half-ton animals through perilously narrow spaces.

"I've seen riders' careers ruined by a wreck, but I don't think it was the rider," Keene says. The jockeys were willing to ride, but owners were leery of giving them mounts. "It was people's attitudes toward them--scared attitudes."

Keene has been around racing far too long not to recognize how callous the business is.

"You got to go through hundreds of horses to find a Triple Crown horse," he says. "To get a three-year-old to run 1 1/4 miles without falling apart mentally or physically isn't easy. All of them are on the edge. Some go berserk. Can't stand the pressure. Most of these cheap horses out here at TP either couldn't stand the pressure, or they never even got that far."

That, Keene naturally adds, doesn't hold true for the track's jockeys.
"This is an awfully nice place to winter, and we have over a hundred riders trying to get mounts," he says. "Maybe twenty or so are making a good living--$2,000 is a bad week. Maybe another thirty are breaking even. The rest better not be depending on it."

Keene is one of "the rest" these days. He's been aboard the winner in eleven races during Turf Paradise's current meet, which ends May 20. By contrast, leading jockey Sandi Gann has brought home more than 130 winners.

Keene became a regular rider at the Phoenix track in the 1980s. The number of his mounts has tapered off only in the past few years. These days he takes what he can get.

"Jack's old enough to be grandfather to some of these jocks," says former track publicist Stephen Reilly, "but he still beats them now and again. To say Jack is experienced is about as big an understatement as I can think of."

He's experienced, but not famous.
"If he had wanted to push the fame aspect, he could have been as big as any of them, Shoemaker or Eddie Arcaro," Julie Sodowsky says. "I feel a little bad that he's not famous, because he's a really good rider. He's able to squeeze it out of a horse better than almost anyone. What's important to Jack is his self-image, and he has that."

Like the danger, Keene deals with his lack of fame philosophically. A jockey, he says, is often only as good as the horse he's riding.

"As far as ability, there's not that much difference between a lot of the guys at Turf Paradise and the big names," he says. "Put Shoe on Fallbrook Flyer and what do you have? That's not to take anything away from him. But it all depends on the tools you have to work with."

Sodowsky says she has tried to get Keene to quit racing. A few years ago, she stopped trying.

"I realized how fascinated he still is with the thrill of riding and of winning," she says. "I kind of imagine the end for him will come on the track. He'll probably go in a crash. That's how he'll go."

TURF PARADISE IS the perfect name for this track at 7 a.m. The early morning symphony of the resident birds meshes sweetly with the smell of fresh coffee and cigars.

A handful of railbirds, horse owners and trainers watch horses and their jockeys go through their workouts. Some tote a stopwatch, a pair of binoculars, a notebook.

Jack Keene, his humorously long, unlighted cigar in his mouth, sits atop a thoroughbred. "I'm gonna ride until they kill me or I just die," he says. "I hope I go quick. I don't want to become an old man."

He nudges the horse and leads him onto the track. He glances at the empty grandstands, at the lush infield landscaping, at the galloping mounts.

"Welcome to paradise," Keene says to no one in particular. "Welcome to paradise."

"Riding got stuck in Jack's blood. That's why he's still doing it, I guess."

Keene's one or two mounts a day are usually average or below average. Fallbrook Flyer is below average.

Even his sex life is a loser. He's a gelding.

"What was it that Mark Twain said? `You want a completely honest horse race, you'll need an honest human race first.'"

"I still didn't know my eye was laying on my cheek. It's a bad sign when everyone comes up to you and says, `Goddd!'"

"Welcome to paradise," Keene says to no one in particular. "Welcome to paradise."

DISREGARD previous correx
This is the third and final version.
Thanks, cj


Fallbrook Flyer finally won a race April 28. Jack Keene was aboard.
"He's hardly a great horse, that's for sure," said Fallbrook Flyer co-owner Deb Meredith. The public apparently agreed--the 46-to-1 long shot paid $94.80 on a $2 ticket.

"But Jack did wonders with him," Meredith added.


Pub:Publication:Phoenix New Times
Info:nv-59-90 Category: News Shorts
Page: 99
Keywords: Military
Correction Date: Correction:


Young Jay Knauss once was captivated by the U.S. Army ad campaign that exhorts the youth of America to "be all you can be!"

Now, he's had all he can take.
In late 1984, Knauss was a down-and-out senior at Arizona State University watching late-night TV to pass the time during Christmas break. Knauss, then 23, was another college student struggling to get by. He was broke, facing another semester of borrowing money from family, friends and working a full-time job. His circumstances looked bleak, but he had only one semester to go.

A commercial came on that broke his train of thought. A father was hugging his son. The son was going into the U.S. Army to get a little discipline and a wad of cash to pay for his education. The ad was seductive.

It didn't take much time for Knauss to make up his mind. He decided that green was his color of choice--the Army and school greenbacks.

Five years after enlisting, however, Jay Knauss still is being hounded for a mistake the Army admits making.

A screw-up in pay on his last check in the service gave rise to a fight with the Veterans Administration, military bureaucrats and, ultimately, the loss of a $100,000 savings program. Now, he is facing the power of the U.S. Attorney's Office over a disputed debt of only $38. And the government is claiming immunity from being sued for its errors.

The key to this mess? A $600 check Knauss never received that turned into a debt he could never repay. It cost him. And, it must have cost Army officials a bundle trying to recover, but they say they will not comment on Jay's problems--even with his permission.

"I got screwed out of school and had to sell everything I had because of their incompetence and errors," Knauss says.

JAY KNAUSS ENLISTED for a two-year service stint starting in April 1985 because of a program called the Army College Fund.

According to the agreement, he was to serve two years in the service and get $20,100 from the Army to go back to college. He would have $2,400 deducted from his paychecks at $100 a month for his two-year stint. At the end of his service, the government would kick in $17,700.

Knauss was a good soldier, according to his discharge records. He chauffeured the company commander for more than a year and then moved German dirt in a dump truck for the rest of his tour. Jay earned a good conduct medal, overseas service medal and various other awards while in Baumholder, West Germany. He was honorably discharged April 15, 1987.

Before returning home, he decided to take one last European holiday. One week into his leave, however, Knauss ran out of money. His last paycheck had not been deposited into his account. He spent the last days of his leave time untangling Army red tape trying to figure out what happened.

The payroll department had tried to deposit his check into his bank account, but somehow the account was closed two weeks before his discharge. The check, amounting to approximately $600, was sent back to the military. After some checking, the company commander signed a pay inquiry which stated his soldier had not been paid. It seems that someone somewhere had mistakenly scheduled his discharge date prematurely.

When he got back to the States, the paycheck debacle spiraled. He was informed at Fort Jackson, Arkansas, that he was $200 short to complete his education benefits' contribution. He paid the $200 despite explaining his paycheck problem. At other times in the next three months, the Army would claim he was $100 short or $200 over in his payment plan. The Army, it seemed, didn't have a clue as to what had happened.

Knauss returned to Arizona and signed up for fall 1987 classes at ASU. The local Veterans Administration, which doles out the benefits, told him there would be no problem getting his college money, but a six- to eight-week wait would be necessary for the program to kick in. So, he took out a temporary loan to cover books and tuition until the money flowed.

Eight weeks came and went; the money never came. He went back to the VA. Staffers said they would put a tracer on the check and it would probably be another six to eight weeks. Knauss recalls: "They kept telling me, `The money's coming anytime now.'"

By the end of the semester, Knauss was getting desperate for money. He hocked almost everything he owned, again borrowed from family and friends and even sold his U.S. savings bonds, which he had bought while serving his country.

"I didn't have much money--even to live," he recalls. Finally, Knauss went to Senator John McCain's office for help. "Just before Christmas," he recalls, "I got a check for $180. I was expecting to get $2,400."

Broke and dejected, Knauss sold the last thing he owned--his military assurance policy, which was an annuity he was paying $50 a month on. The ten-year savings plan would have given him $200,000 at the end of the policy.

He enrolled in one class and got an art gallery job. It wasn't until October 1988, twenty months after applying, that the VA finally acknowledged his benefits and put him on a regular payment schedule.

Knauss earned a fine arts degree and returned to add a degree in political science. He wasn't a great student. B's and C's cover his transcript. Similar to his Army performance, he did his job.

But he was fighting a two-front war. The Army's collection agency was still hounding him about the $600 paycheck he had never received.

In September 1987, four months after the Army acknowledged they had not paid him for his last month of service, the U.S. Army Finance and Accounting Center had demanded the $600 back. Knauss tried to explain, but no one listened. He received bills with no phone numbers to call, no names of people to ask for.

The Army apparently didn't believe him. Knauss says the letters painted him as a manipulative thief trying to hustle the military out of a few bucks. He was vexed by what he believed was the Army collection agency's attitude of guilty even when proven innocent. "There is no way I should be tied to that money in any way, shape or form," Knauss says angrily.

He sent the Army his pay vouchers, W-2 tax forms, his commanding officer's statement, bank statements and other documents to show he had never received the $600 paycheck.

Stuck, he turned to his father, Herb Knauss, a non-lawyer who practices small claims law as a hobby. After two years of fruitless letter writing, father and son filed suit January 10, 1990, in U.S. District Court in Phoenix.

They charged that the Army's collection agency threatened to damage Jay's credit rating and turn him over to the Internal Revenue Service. Through his father's court filing, Jay is asking the court to award approximately $5,000 plus anything else the judge is willing to give to punish the Army.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Arkfeld says he hasn't looked into the merits of the case. He wants the lawsuit dismissed because he says the U.S. government is immune from the bill-collecting law private Americans have to abide by. (The law, "Consumers, Collectors and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act," passed in 1982, was written to protect people from roughshod collection agencies.)

The Army changed its mind. The latest bill Jay Knauss received was for $38. The ex-soldier says he believes the money is part of a "fine" for collecting a paycheck he is still owed.

Arkfeld says he wants to settle the case. He has offered to get the Army to void the debt. Now, it may not be simple. "It's not just the $38 to him [Knauss]," says Arkfeld. "He wants $6,000 or something."

The case has been submitted to a federal judge for a ruling. Arkfeld has asked the judge to throw out the Knausses' case and award the U.S. Attorney's Office legal fees because Herb Knauss is not an attorney and filed the case using the wrong law.

Jay and Herb think the legal threat is an intimidation tactic--it worked. They're scared. For them, the government's attempt to collect legal fees is the final bitter irony.

The three-year fight has taken its toll. The father bites his lip nervously while talking about the case. The son just shakes his head in bewilderment hoping the commercial will end. He's been all he wants to be--except left alone.


Pub:Publication:Phoenix New Times
Info:nv-59-90 Category: Suntracks
Page: 99
Keywords: Music
Correction Date: Correction:


The Wonder Stuff burst onto the British music scene two years back with the noise and fury of a poll tax riot. The working-class blokes' savage pop debut The Eight Legged Groove Machine raged against the social malaise of the Margaret Thatcher era.

But the Wolverhampton act apparently tired quickly of being seen as the mouthpiece for Britain's malcontents and rabble-rousers. In fact, you won't find the band slagging off Thatcher or reviling U.K. social mores anywhere on their new LP Hup. The Stuffies--as they like to be called--would rather put their Angry Young Man image to rest.

"We never wanted to be deemed the bad boys who were always pissed off," insists Stuffies guitarist Malcolm Treece in a telephone interview from a tour stop in Montreal. "People went too far looking for the anti-Thatcherism statements on our first album. I think they missed the humor a lot of the time."

In fairness, there were punch lines throughout the Mother-England bashing on Groove Machine. You couldn't help but pick up on the sarcasm in the band's tirade against money-hungry Me-generation Brits, "Give, Give, Give Me More, More, More," which smirkingly discussed prospects for increased cash flow in the afterlife.

On that song and another Groove Machine track, "It's Yer Money I'm After, Baby," Treece admits his band was also making light of its own weakness for the greenback. "We had just signed with Polygram and they were jerking us off at the time," explains the guitarist. "So those songs were written by people who had more and wanted more, really."

On the band's latest album, Hup, the lyrics are still a bit caustic, but they lack Groove Machine's political edge. "There's nothing aimed at the Thatcherites," notes Treece. But the band does include a trashing of the closed-minded British radio system on "Radio Ass Kiss." That snotty gem serves as a companion piece to Groove Machine's "Astley in a Noose," where the band fantasized about rubbing out British schlockster Rick Astley.

The cynical "Radio Ass Kiss" stands out on Hup, an album where the Stuffies otherwise sound abnormally sensitive and introspective. "I've been seen as the money-mad topical bore," reflects lead singer Miles Hunt on "Them, Big Oak Trees," a reply to listeners who took the song "It's Yer Money I'm After, Baby" too literally. On another cut, "Unfaithful," Hunt sounds almost tender, crooning about the heartbreak and deceptions of a disintegrating relationship.

Musically, Hup doesn't have the hard edge of Groove Machine's raucous, adrenaline-rush pop. But the band still has an instinctive sense of what makes a song click, jumbling together jagged-but-hummable melodies, breathless vocals and fuzz-grind guitars.

Instead of the straightforward and aggressive two guitars/bass/drums formula of the debut, Hup includes hillbilly flourishes of fiddle and banjo. These homey touches bump up against occasional high-tech studio effects like sampling. The band even takes a few cues from London house music on "30 Years in the Bathroom," which begins with a sonic collage of song snippets and movie dialogue.

The centerpiece of Hup, though, is "Don't Let Me Down, Gently," a ridiculously catchy number that has grown into a sizable dance hit. Credit for that song's boogie ability has to go to former band member Rob Jones--a.k.a. the Bass Thing--who lays down an irresistible groove.

Dance hits? Sensitive breakup ballads? These can't be the same angry pop anarchists who used to begin their concerts by telling audiences, "Shut the fuck up!" Is it possible that the sharp-tongued Stuffies actually might be mellowing?

"We've definitely grown," admits Treece. "It was easy to be pissed off at people in the beginning when we had fuck-all going for us. But it's different now. I wouldn't say we've mellowed, though. The music's still aggressive, even if we're not as pissed off."

The Wonder Stuff will perform at Club Rio on Sunday, May 13. Show time is 8:30 p.m.

On "Astley in a Noose," the band fantasized about rubbing out British schlockster Rick Astley.

Dance hits? Sensitive breakup ballads? Is it possible that the sharp-tongued Stuffies actually might be mellowing?


Pub:Publication:Phoenix New Times
Info:nv-59-90 Category: Cafe Review
Page: 99
Keywords: Food
Correction Date: Correction:


Penelope Corcoran

Penelope stares at the shallow ceramic bowl on the table in front of her. Several shrimp lie under clear citrus juice, surrounded by toothpick-stabbed slices of cucumber dabbed with salsa picante. The shrimp are still translucent. In other words, still raw.

Her dining accomplice gazes in equal dismay at his pescado frito. Fried fish, right? Right. Two whole fried fish--teeth, tail, fins. Eyeballs. Everything.

Welcome to Playa del Sol on West McDowell Road. I have just been served camarones ahogados en limon natural which (in my best menu Spanish) I mistakenly translate as "shrimp--something--in natural lemon." Natural doesn't begin to describe these former swimmers.

I call our waitress over and attempt to ask her why the shrimp aren't cooked. Since she speaks no English beyond "Okay," we do not understand each other. Finally, a kind gentleman at a nearby table asks if he can translate for me. Gratefully, I explain the problem to him.

A flurry of rapid-fire Spanish ensues. My translator turns to me and smiles. "She says this is how the dish is prepared." Noting the dubious look on my face, he adds, "It's okay. This is how we eat them in Mexico."

Oh. Boy, do I feel stupid now.
The waitress directs some more Spanish at me. My translator says, "She wants to know if you want something else." No, I say resolutely, I'm going to eat this.

Which I do. Once I obtain a fork (natives apparently make do with the toothpicks) I eat some of the shrimp, anyway. They taste like ceviche--fresh and citrusy. They're fleshy and large, but I definitely wish they were opaque.

My poor accomplice is still befuddled by the fish fry in front of him. Not only does he fear fish bones, but it seems he has a thing about fish heads. He doesn't feel comfortable eating any pescado capable of watching him do it. He confesses he's never eaten fish not already filleted for him.

Though my Spanish language skills may have shriveled from years of disuse, I'm pretty hardy where fish bones are concerned. (I had no choice in the matter: I grew up on fresh-caught, fresh-cooked fish.) I show my accomplice how to tackle the pesky pescado.

We're both pleased with the result. The fried fish is steaming hot inside and the meat is flaky-white with a nice, subtle flavor. I like it. I can't identify the type of fish, but it's one with a mean underbite.

In spite of this rather too exciting episode in dining, I am somehow enchanted enough by Playa del Sol to return once more--this time with hefty Spanish-English dictionary and Spanish phrase book in hand. I am convinced the language problem has prevented me from experiencing the best this restaurant has to offer. I've even talked the trepid dining accomplice from my previous visit into joining me there for another meal. I promise him this time things will be different.

Don't let me steer you wrong. Playa del Sol isn't strictly a Mexican seafood restaurant. You can order tacos, burritos, Mexican combination plates--even liver and onions! My main interest is its seafood, however, as McDowell restaurants serving mariscos maravillosos keep multiplying. And the look of the place immediately charmed me. Mexican seashell wind chimes float from the ceiling. Fishing nets swoop gently above the cash register. A wall mural, the length of the restaurant, represents a playa y mar (beach and sea) scene where colorful fish cavort above a straw mat sewn with shells. Somehow this effort avoids being kitschy or hokey. This time I don't have to ask our waitress about different preparations. I simply look up any unfamiliar words in my trusty (concealed) dictionary. I feel clever and pitiful at the same time.

After we place our order, our waitress brings us complimentary cups of fish soup chock-full of fresh vegetables. I think the soup is very nice. My dining accomplice isn't quite so gung ho. "It's got bones," he whines, carefully extracting one from his mouth.

But it's smooth sailing for the rest of this trip. The coctel de camaron--chico (small shrimp cocktail) delights me. The citrus-fresh tomato cocktail liquid is packed with chopped cucumber, onion, tomato and hot chiles. It is very good.

Caldo 7 mares (seven seas soup) satisfies as well. It is a meal in itself. Ingredients include crab legs, squid, fish, shrimp, octopus, carrots, tomato, celery and seasonings. There's so much here I'm not even too upset when I can't extract the crab meat from its shell. Without a nutcracker and the proper utensils, this is nearly impossible.

The camarones al mojo de ajo (shrimp in garlic sauce) are plentiful and garlicy. I count sixteen medium-size shrimp curled up next to the rice, beans and salad. Brocheta de camarones offers the same number of shrimp split onto two skewers and interspersed with spicy green anaheim pepper, tomato and onion. There's a slightly sweet tomato and onion sauce over the top of them.

I think Playa del Sol is a real kick, but forewarned is forearmed. If you decide to visit, please keep in mind my experience. Seriously: Maybe you'd like to brush up on your Spanish or bring along a translator. Ahogados, by the way, means smothered. Or drowned. I'm still not sure.

Phoenix presents so many opportunities to eat great Mexican, I'm going to squeeze two more restaurants into this half of the Cafe review.

Zendejas Mexican Restaurant and La Familia are related in a sense. One is owned and operated by a famous family; the other's name means family and caters to that social unit.

Football fans and ASU alums are sure to know who the Zendejas brothers are. I'm not a member of either category, but even I know that Tony, Max, and Luis Zendejas are field-goal kickers. In case you miss the point, posters of Max and Luis are hanging in the kitchen. In fact, Max himself might be in the kitchen. Someone named Max is, anyway. The Zendejas family's restaurant in Tempe is more of a carryout stand than a full-service restaurant, but the food is so good it deserves mention.

Located just north of University on Farmer, the Zendejas clan cooks it up Michoacan-style. If Michoacan doesn't ring a bell, it's because this Mexican state is not nearly so well known as the neighboring Jalisco (Guadalajara), Mexico (Mexico City and Cuernavaca), and Guerrero (Acapulco). Michoacan is lake and valley country. From what I've sampled at Zendejas, Michoacan people like their food spicy.

As a result, there's no need for hot sauce or salsa at Zendejas. While not as incendiary as, say, New Mexico's offerings, Michoacan-style is much spicier than Arizona's traditional Sonoran-style Mexican food. (Then again, what isn't?)

For example, simple chicken and beef tacos feature meat marinated in a red bath of spices. A carne asada taco is spicy in a different way: It's pepper-flavored, thanks to the sauteed green and red peppers and onion which come with the grilled sirloin. Red-tinged beef barbacoa is spicy in yet another way. The difference in sauces is subtle, yet definitely discernible.

The Zendejas family claims to use only fresh ingredients and homemade sauces, and I believe them. Lettuce on the items above is green and fresh; tomatoes red and tasty. The refried beans are nothing short of marvelous. Cafe con leche-colored, they are a fine, smoky puree of pinto beans.

When asked, one of the Zendejas men tells me proudly, "I make them ten ways. Every day it's different." I can't vouch for what they're like on other days, but today they're darn good.

There are only four tables on the outdoor patio at Zendejas Mexican Restaurant. Cottonwoods and umbrellas provide shade. Even if the food doesn't improve your athletic performance, I dare say you'll get a kick out of it. La Familia is a west-side story. Nearly hidden in a strip mall facing Indian School Road in front of the Price and Home Clubs around 31st Avenue, this family restaurant specializes in good old Sonoran-style Mexican food. It's exactly the kind of place that could become your Friday night regular. If I lived closer, it might be mine. As far as interior decor goes, I've seen much worse. La Familia has covered its cream-colored walls with black-iron grille work, cacti and dried flower wreaths. A large stained-glass sign reading "La Familia" hangs over the entrance to the kitchen.

It's crowded and busy the night I visit with a dining accomplice, but the service is good. Mexican folk music pumps out of the PA. Our chips are hot and thick and I like them a lot. In fact, I can't stop eating them. When our dinners arrive, I'm finally forced to turn my attention to the bubbling-hot plate in front of me.

Would you believe me if I told you everything I sample is very good? La Familia's chile relleno is the best I've ever had in Phoenix: Topped with melting cheese and green sauce, it lacks the usual too-eggy coating. The side of guacamole I order is similarly outstanding. It tastes of cilantro, tomato, lemon and avocado; the chef has thrown in some hot chile seeds to make it spicy. A bean-and-red-chili popover is a Navajo taco: The greasy, crispy, six-inch flattened sopapilla is smeared with yummy refried beans, then smothered in mild-spiced red chili. Even the deep-fried shredded beef taco is a cut above, thanks to flavorful peanut oil.

In fact, rather than give you my usual detailed run-down of everything I consume at La Familia, I'll just say this: I have serious doubts that one could order anything here that wouldn't be far above average.

I can't wait to go back and try.

Playa del Sol, 3519 West McDowell, Phoenix, 272-6155. Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.

Zendejas Mexican Restaurant, 740 South Farmer, Tempe, 731-9211. Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

La Familia, 3145 West Indian School, Phoenix, 265-2912. Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; closed Sunday.

He has a thing about fish heads. He doesn't feel comfortable eating any pescado capable of watching him do it.

Even I know that Tony, Max, and Luis Zendejas are field-goal kickers. In case you miss the point, posters of Max and Luis are hanging in the kitchen.


Pub:Publication:Phoenix New Times
Info:nv-59-90 Category: News Shorts
Page: 99
Keywords: Study
Correction Date: Correction:


Heather Lineberry

Just days after a national study decried the problem of alcoholism on American campuses, Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey sponsored a design contest on six college campuses--including Arizona State University--to help the distiller market more liquor.

The Crown Royal Kinetic Contraption Competition, aimed at yielding a Rube Goldbergian whiskey-pouring machine for use as a marketing tool by the distiller, has the potential to be a success, according to a recent poll on campus alcohol consumption. University presidents across the country rated the problem in the "moderate" to "serious" range.

"We were fully aware of the critical ground, but we had to evaluate the challenge to compete with other universities and take on the creative challenge of building a machine like this," says ASU design professor Thomas Bley.

"My question is why they have to go on college campuses," says Donna Pickering, local chapter administrator of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "If they want to get the overage drinkers, they should open it up to the general public. On campus, the majority of students are underage. When they go into an area of predominantly underage people, it doesn't seem real responsible."

Jill Brenner, a spokesman for Seagram's PR agency, says the contest was "to give students the opportunity to be innovative and challenged." One set of parents, she says, personally thanked her for encouraging their son's design ambitions. "We're not asking the students to drink Crown Royal, just to be creative."

Bley, a well-known figure in the design world who assisted Seagram in selecting the schools, acknowledges that there was a great deal of discussion among ASU's administrators and students about the "booze" factor in the competition. But he added, "Nobody forced us to promote this project. . . . All the students volunteered."

The design department also received compensation for its role--money to build the winning entries and a "grant" for materials--although Bley was vague about the specifics. In return, the department has encouraged students to participate in the national advertisement campaign of an alcoholic beverage.

You can't blame the students for participating. Mark Beutler took home the top prize of $1,200, enough to keep him in pizza for at least a semester, and a trip to New York to compete for the national prize of $5,000.

Sixteen design students--all over 21 years of age, of course--submitted plans and scale models of contraptions designed to pour liquid from a Crown Royal bottle into a glass. Four of the students won cash prizes on May 1 after being judged by a panel of ASU faculty members, a patent lawyer and a banker.

The contest was inspired by a machine of brass pipes and kitschy objects used with great success in Crown's 1989 advertisements. Seagram decided to revive the idea with a competition on campuses.

There's one thing to keep in mind, says Bley. ASU is a dry campus, so the students' contraptions poured water instead of whiskey. "They'll have to go to an independent place to pour booze," he says.

And they probably will.--


Pub:Publication:Phoenix New Times
Info:nv-59-90 Category: Suntracks
Page: 99
Keywords: Music
Correction Date: Correction:


Picture a wild night of heck-raising at a previously calm Southern California bar. The voluptuous and feisty Screaming Sirens are intent on shaking the foundations and rocking the house down. Lead Siren Pleasant (yes, that's her real name) Gehman wails from her perch atop the pool table as a gang of worshipful male admirers bow down, chanting, "Ah-salaam, ah-salaam." Meanwhile, guitarist Laura Bennett is getting twirled around by another young patron, and a rowdy 25-person conga line is bopping in a parade across the room.

Such is the stuff of typical Sirens performances--shocking shindigs where band and audience whoop it up together, says Gehman. These bodacious bad girls always have liked the crowd to join the act, she says, and thus have seen countless outrageous sideshows during their colorful six-year rock 'n' roll career.

"We can be just as entertained by what the audience is doing as they can by what we're doing," says Gehman. "We like to encourage craziness at our shows."

No doubt the singer means what she says. Why else would the Sirens perform a doo-wop blues tune that's little more than an excuse to practice humiliation and bondage techniques on eager fans?

"We used to do this song called `Love Slave,' where we had men tied up on stage," she says. "We had this guy that volunteered to do it in Vancouver, Canada. So we handcuffed him to the pole, and we were giving him cigarettes and he'd open his mouth and we'd pour beer inside. Then his friends came and unzipped his fly, and they were sticking lit matches between his toes, and they drew this big peace sign on his stomach and stuff. He came to every one of our shows after that."

Gehman does admit this is a rather unusual way to capture fans, but for the Sirens, this method is just another part of the madness they first showcased on their 1985 debut album Fiesta! Their new LP Voodoo is another platterful of satirical smuttiness. Take, for instance, the sultry 'n' suggestive song "Queen of Kingdom Come," where Gehman cries, "My soldiers are brave and true/Wild warriors they're not/But they like shooting arrows/At targets burning hot." Then there's the hard-rocking temptation of "I've Got the Love," in which Gehman sings, "I got the apple if you got the snake/ . . . /I got the outlet if you got the plug."

Such innuendos may seem naughty, but Gehman insists they're meant to amuse, not to abuse. The singer claims her lyrics never exceed the bounds of subtlety and good taste.

"None of my sexual images are violent," she says. "I'm usually not saying the man is just a piece of meat or `Let's kick this poor bastard in the balls.' I'm not advocating sexism at all. I consider men and women to be equal."

Believe it or not, the Sirens do have a sensitive side. The Voodoo song "Somewhere U.S.A." pays tribute to their on-the-road romances.

"That song's about meeting someone and not knowing if you're ever going to see them again," Gehman says. "Like feeling really strongly about someone and knowing the next morning that you're leaving."

The Sirens may be as infatuated with boys on Voodoo as they were on 1985's Fiesta!, but the band's music has undergone some dramatic changes since the debut disc. Where the group dabbled in cow-punk on its first outing, the Sirens have evolved through appearances on several soundtracks and compilation albums into a raunchy, hard-driving rock 'n' roll band. Gehman says time and new personnel were both factors in the Sirens' stylistic switch.

"Of course you're going to change musically," she reflects. "It wasn't like we decided, `Oh, maybe we should go in that direction.'"

Gehman says that she's also acquired different influences since the first record. The singer listened to early Elvis, the Everly Brothers, the Andrews Sisters, and even Hank Williams prior to Fiesta!, but now she grooves to groups like the New York Dolls, Aerosmith, and AC/DC.

And just to make sure audiences realize how serious they are about their new sound, the Sirens even have revamped their look. The band has traded in its petticoats, pointy toed boots and cowgirl hats for jeans, tee shirts, miniskirts and "way too much make-up," the singer says.

Of course, the band's sweaty stage show takes its toll on the touchups, but Gehman reasons that the Sirens' drippy faces actually go a long way toward earning them their audience's admiration. "That's when they like it the most," she says. "They think, `This one's not going to be worrying about running her mascara or ruining her face.'"

"We used to do this song called `Love Slave,' where we had men tied up on stage."


Pub:Publication:Phoenix New Times
Info:nv-59-90 Category: News Shorts
Page: 99
Keywords: COUNTRY
Correction Date: Correction:


Kathleen Stanton
Helen Davis Melmed's most haunting memory of apartheid is a black man standing before her in handcuffs, blood dripping from his wrists, flanked by two tall policemen. Even now, as she sits chatting on a sunny patio in Phoenix 32 years after the fact, the image floods her mind with remembered sorrow at a moment's notice.

She was then a nine-year-old schoolgirl in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Petrus Goma was her friend and protector, a family servant who played with the children and told them stories of his own far-away children.

He had come to the city from the south of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), hundreds of miles to the north, and found work in her father's house. His wife and children remained behind, because the South African government only allowed blacks with jobs into the country.

Every afternoon he came to meet Helen and her sisters at school and walked them home. And then one day he wasn't there. The children waited a bit before deciding to walk home on their own, expecting to meet him along the way. "All of a sudden I spotted him standing with two men in uniform and I ran up to him saying, `Where were you? You were supposed to meet us,'" Melmed recalls. "He just looked at me, and then I saw the handcuffs and the blood. I burst into tears and ran the whole way home."

He was someone special to Helen and her family, but to the South African authorities, he was just another black who couldn't produce the proper papers upon demand. So he was arrested and taken to jail. Later that day, Melmed's father went to the jail and vouchsafed his release, but neither time nor distance has blunted her horror at the memory.

"I was utterly grief-stricken, just overcome, seeing him like that," she says. "I shall never forget it." Whites like Helen had no reason to fear such indignities under apartheid. She could look forward to leading a sheltered, pampered life in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The best homes, the best food, the best schools. "As a white, you would pay less to go to [a good] school than it cost a black family to educate their child at an inferior school," she adds.

But, as she came to learn, such privilege had a price, even for whites.
"I went to college to study social work," she says. "On the first day of class, my professor handed out a list of about two hundred books. `These were what we were going to study,' he said. `But they've all been banned.'

"I knew then that I would leave South Africa. I couldn't get an education in such a repressive, backward system."

Reform movements would spring up inside the country, she says, but the majority of whites refused to support them. For people like Helen, one of a significant number of white South Africans who've quietly immigrated to Phoenix and other U.S. cities in the past decade, the choice became clear. To remain was to participate, however reluctantly, in a system they could no longer abide.

Hungry for an atmosphere of intellectual freedom, Helen broke loose from her roots while still in her teens and joined the growing tide of South Africa's brain drain. Like other sons and daughters of successful urban whites, the very people apartheid was intended to benefit, she became an exile of conscience.

Now, however, those very emigres face another dilemma: Nelson Mandela has called them home. Following his release after thirty years as a political prisoner, the revered black leader issued a direct appeal for all the Helen Melmeds to return and help rebuild the country. And the hope that there will be a country to rebuild has been heightened in the last few weeks as the South African government opened up talks with Mandela.

In the midst of their elation over Mandela's release, and the hope for justice it symbolizes, a numbing realization takes hold. No country in Africa has yet managed to throw off the legacy of colonialism without shedding rivers of blood. As much as they would like to believe their homeland will be different, few in Phoenix's emigre community believe South Africa can avoid such a fate.

As strong a pull as they feel--to their families still there, to their roots and their memories--most see a permanent move back as just a dream.

"WITH SOUTH AFRICANS, you're looking at a different type of immigrant," says wildlife artist Paul Bosman, another emigre from Johannesburg. "Usually you think of someone coming to America looking for the land of opportunity, and being very underprivileged wherever they came from."

South Africa, to the contrary, has lost thousands of its most educated and talented citizens, say emigres living in Phoenix. In the mid-Seventies, for instance, South Africa lost the entire graduating class of its leading medical school to emigration.

Facts about the phenomenon are nevertheless hard to find. Officials at the South African consulate in Los Angeles, which handles the Phoenix area, told New Times they have no idea how many of their countrymen are here. Officials of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in L.A., which renews visas for South Africans living in Arizona, say their most recent records are for 1988, when 775 South Africans immigrated to the U.S. They have no records on the intended destination of these emigres except those headed for the largest population centers.

Those who've settled in Phoenix are mostly established professionals or business people, including many physicians, says Elaine Bosman, Paul's wife. "Despite the fact our roots are more English, as a South African you relate more to the U.S.," she says. "You've grown up on American movies, you're a go-getter, as are the Americans. And it's bigger [than England], more affluent."

The South Africans, in contrast to Southeast Asian and Latin American immigrants entering the Phoenix area, are strangers to the social service agencies helping with resettlement because they seldom need help, Paul Bosman says. "They are equipped to fit in the moment they arrive, so there is no need to seek help, or to seek out other South Africans for security."

No particular clubs, churches or community organizations act as magnets; the South African community exists almost entirely as a network of friendships, he explains. And when friends gather for a "big South African do," it is almost always around someone's backyard barbecue, rather than a more public setting like a cultural center.

Phoenix's South African community eludes easy description, say its members. "You really can't generalize about it," says Melmed, who has settled in the Phoenix area with her husband and three (soon to be four) children. "Some left for political reasons, some are total materialists."

Elaine and Paul Bosman are among the former. They moved to Arizona in 1982 and live on a quiet street in Scottsdale. From the outside, their ranch-style home is indistinguishable from its neighbors. Inside the front door, however, is another world, at once redolent of old Spanish California and yet tantalizing in its differences. "It's a South African house," explains Elaine Bosman. The whitewashed walls and cool tile floors of the interior give way to a roofed backyard patio, as wide and deep as a second living room, where an unfinished painting waits on its easel. The rooms are furnished with antique pieces from the couple's families, who've been in South Africa since the eighteenth century.

Despite strong ties to their homeland, the Bosmans say they left South Africa after trying in vain to rally support for apartheid reforms among fellow whites. Their decision was also influenced by living through the bloody upheavals after independence in neighboring Zimbabwe, where they had gone after giving up successful advertising careers in Johannesburg in 1969.

"In 1960 we joined the Progressive party, but it never got the support of a majority of whites," Elaine Bosman says. "It didn't even advocate majority rule, it just said blacks should have a voice in the government. But when we canvassed for support, people would say, `It's too early for that.' They just wanted to hang on to all the good things for themselves."

To the north, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) seemed poised to make a peaceful transition from British colony, ruled by whites, to an independent nation with representational government. The Bosmans bought land deep in the bush, 200 miles from the nearest city, and built a safari lodge.

In the remote corner where they lived, there were no politics, only people, says Elaine Bosman. "There was good feeling between blacks and whites, right up until the very end," she says. "People treated each other as people."

Closer to urban centers, however, the new society was breaking down into factional warfare, primarily along tribal lines, and by 1975 the violence had spread to the Bosmans' peaceful region. "We went because we thought they had achieved [political] parity, only to find we'd landed in the middle of a bloodbath," Paul Bosman recalls. "The ranches around us were being attacked and we were lucky to get out when we did. We managed to sell our place, but the new government wouldn't allow people to take more than $5,000 out of the country."

"We arrived back in South Africa with $5,000 and a six-month-old baby," says Elaine Bosman. "We had to start over from scratch."

Before long, however, they began to see the same signs of coming unrest that heralded the violence in Zimbabwe. "You could very definitely sense the same pattern emerging," she says. "We were living in a tiny resort town in a picturesque part of the country, because Paul by then was a full-time artist. But the more remote you are, the more vulnerable you feel, especially with a young child. I mean, if something happened, could they run into the bush and hide?"

They were affected, as well, when their two older children, both sons, grew old enough to be drafted into the South African military forces. "When our oldest, Chris, was seventeen or eighteen, he was conscripted and sent to fight on the northern border [of Namibia] with Angola," Elaine Bosman says. "He thought he'd be fighting outsiders and Cubans, but he came to feel he was fighting his own countrymen.

"At that time, Sowetan kids were going to East Germany and Moscow for training, and returning in some cases to fight with the SWAPO (Russian-aligned guerrillas in Angola) forces," she says. "He just felt sick about it, he was very uncomfortable with the situation. And the kids his age who were called up to police service had to fire on kids in the black townships.

"It was very much like the Vietnam situation, but even more futile."
"You've always taught your kids if they find a bird with an injured wing to bring it in and help it, and then they're sent off and taught to kill," she says. "If I believed in apartheid, I would willingly see either of my sons fight for their country, but when you believe it's wrong, it kills you to see them get maimed or killed just because a bunch of old men at the head of government have got this policy."

Apartheid, however, seemed entrenched, and with two sons of conscription age, the Bosmans decided their only choice was emigration. "Leaving was very difficult," says Paul Bosman. "I love South Africa. I was born in South Africa, it's part of me. I can't forget the bush, the wilds; they will remain with me forever."

Bosman (a well-known and respected artist in Africa, according to other emigres) still returns for visits and to work. Most recently, he did the illustrations for a just-published book Elephants of Africa. Bosman says he has seen many changes, particularly in people's attitudes, in a very short time.

But even with the recent reforms by President F.W. deKlerk, and the release of Nelson Mandela, what the Bosmans witnessed in Zimbabwe has deeply affected their hopes for South Africa's future. "There are so many things that could go wrong, especially now with the rise of factions, radicals," Paul Bosman says carefully. "It will take very statesmanlike people to accomplish the transition."

"When we get together with other South Africans, there's always someone who'll say they think the worst is over," says Elaine Bosman, pulling her face into a mask of skepticism. "`Oh, surrrrre,' I say."

PAT RYAN, SENIOR vice president of Phelps Dodge Mining Company, is even more doubtful about South Africa's future. Ryan, who moved his family from South Africa to Phoenix in 1985, returns to his homeland frequently as head of the company's overseas mining operations.

"There's been an unbelievable rise in chaos since apartheid was taken out," Ryan said after a recent business trip to South Africa. "A lot of people are taking it as a signal they can do anything they like, so there's much more common crime. There've also been mass resignations from the police force, both blacks and whites, because they feel their hands have been tied. And now you've got the lunatic right wing forming vigilante groups.

"I think there is a real opportunity for blacks and whites to sit down and talk, especially now that the Russians are no longer interfering in the region," Ryan says, "But [President George] Bush needs to send a signal to reinforce deKlerk because right now he is out on a limb all by himself in advocating these reforms; he needs support or I'm afraid he won't be able to sustain them."

Ryan was born and spent his early years in an isolated gold mining settlement in the western Transvaal, the son and grandson of mining engineers who helped unlock the country's mineral riches. "It was fairly austere, probably a lot like mining camps in this country," he says. "We lived in a small house right on the mine, with a coal stove which we'd get up in the morning and stoke."

As a child, Ryan's view of blacks was at once more intimate, yet less personal, than that of Helen Melmed or other whites who developed friendships with individual blacks. Ryan grew up surrounded by blacks, and speaks fluent Zulu. He recalls hundreds of black workers living near his home in company-owned dormitories, yet their inner lives were elsewhere.

"It was almost identical to the Mexican workers who come up to work in the fields, but return to their homes and families in Mexico at the end of each season," Ryan says.

As a youth, he frequently accompanied his father on trips deep into the bush. The blacks they encountered lived in traditional tribal societies. "We had a farm in Swaziland [on South Africa's northeastern border with Mozambique] and all of the Africans around us were in loinclothes, doing their hair up with mud, I mean really tribal peoples," he says. "It amused us to see a black in a suit carrying a briefcase, not because we felt there was anything wrong with it, but because it was so unusual.

"It's amazing to look back at those days, only forty years ago, and to see the differences today," Ryan says. "So many blacks have cars, houses with all the modcons--you know, TV and so forth. Despite all the repression, so many have progressed."

Ryan says he first became conscious of apartheid at the beginning of his university career, in the mid-Fifties. Across the Atlantic Ocean, the U.S. civil rights movement was beginning to emerge as a political force but in South Africa just the opposite was happening.

"This fellow Verwoed was elected prime minister, and he had this grand scheme to solve South Africa's race problems by creating separate this and that," Ryan says, referring to the instigation of apartheid in 1947. "It really was kind of a ridiculous idea."

It is not apartheid, however, but his country's growing involvement with the Angolan civil war that dominates Ryan's memories of those years. And unlike the younger, urban whites who faced conscription, he feels South Africa faced a real threat from the outside. "When I came out of school, I got drafted into the Army," he says. "The Angolan conflict had been going on for fifteen years when the first SWAPO guerrillas came across the border and began blowing up farms and slaughtering people-- including their own "brothers" in Ovamboland, which straddles the border between Namibia and Angola .

"When the Portuguese [Angola's colonial rulers] walked out, the Russians came pouring in," he says of Angola's postindependence days. "People don't generally realize there were 15,000 Cubans in Angola, equipped with the finest weapons-- MIGs, tanks. There was a full-scale war going on along the border, and South Africa got help from no one."

Ryan, however, says his reasons for immigrating to the U.S. relate more to his career than to politics. He joined Phelps Dodge in 1970, and was appointed to head the company's fledgling South African operation. Ryan, who received his university degree in mining geology, launched the operation successfully with the discovery of several rich mineral deposits. His job subsequently was expanded to include Phelps Dodge operations in Australia and South America.

"In 1984 the company was in serious financial straits and (former chairman) George Munroe asked me to come up to New York," he says. "I went up there wondering if he was going to tell me they were closing their South African operations and, in essence, firing me. Instead, he said he wanted to bring me over here to help form the team faced with restructuring the company with a view to bringing it back to profitability.

"You always love the country you're born in, and South Africa is a beautiful country, but to me it was a real challenge to be asked to come and take this job," Ryan explains. "When you are with a company for fourteen years, you feel a lot of loyalty to it. My family saw it as a great adventure, we see ourselves as being basically American."

THE SOUTH AFRICANS most closely associated with apartheid are the Afrikaners, descendants of Dutch, German, and French settlers who settled the central grasslands, or veld, on farflung farms and ranches. Despite their dominance of the political system since World War II, the Afrikaners remain mainly rural, with less education and lower income than British-descended South Africans who dominate the ranks of urban professionals.

Most Afrikaners still worship in the Dutch Reformed Church, whose Calvinist values eased their transition into the system of white supremacy originally set up by the British. Yet among those who have emigrated for reasons of conscience are Afrikaners, like Scottsdale veterinarian Christoffel "Chris" Visser, whose religious convictions forced them to oppose apartheid.

Visser, the son of a farmer in the ultraconservative Orange Free State, gave up a successful veterinary practice in Pretoria to bring his family to the U.S. in 1976. He remembers apartheid as a series of increasingly bizarre laws, and deepening rifts between black and white groups in South Africa.

"Apartheid wasn't just making an official policy of the status quo, it actually made things worse as time went on," he says. "I felt the apartheid laws were damaging relations between the groups, as well as being un-Christian and inhumane.

"When you live in a society like that, you grow used to it," Visser says. "But I came to the United States several times before emigrating, and I could see how small South Africa was and how wrong the racial laws were. Until the new prime minister, deKlerk, the white people made no effort to change."

Despite his opposition to apartheid, Visser held no romantic visions of majority [black] rule as he considered what to do. "I had seen the way things went in Zimbabwe, where my parents had a ranch they were forced to flee because of violence," he says. "I just didn't see any future in South Africa, especially with three sons who faced conscription."

Visser lived on a sheep farm until he was twelve, when his father bought a cattle ranch in southern Rhodesia in hopes that Chris would someday help run it. "According to tradition, the Afrikaner farmer buys a farm for each of his sons and I was the youngest," Visser says.

Two of his brothers still own sheep ranches in the Orange Free State, he says, and at the time he believed his future would unfold much as theirs have done. The farm in Rhodesia was surrounded by terrain "like you see on Channel 8," Visser says. "There was a lot of wild game, elephants, lions, giraffes."

Everyone in his family spoke Afrikaans including Visser, who didn't learn English until he went to college. The closest town was 45 miles away, the nearest big city more than 100 miles away. If a farmer got lonely, he could take his family to church or to the settlement "club," a sort of grange hall with a bar and perhaps a pool table for entertainment.

"I loved the farm, loved being in the bush," he says. But the older he got, the more uncomfortable he began to feel with the casual racism around him. "My dad said we should treat blacks fairly, but I went further than that," Visser says. "I used to feel I was really different, because people my own age would speak really down about blacks. I taught my kids to speak to everyone with respect, but you would see white kids speak to black adults terribly disrespectfully. It was just wrong, but they were getting it from their parents."

After finishing school in South Africa ("There were no Afrikaans-speaking schools in Rhodesia," he says), Visser returned to his father's farm in 1965. But his plans to farm and to open a large-animal practice did not work out. "It had nothing to do with politics," he confesses. "I couldn't get along with my dad. Two different ways of doing things, I guess."

Visser returned to Pretoria, where he had attended college, and established a veterinary practice. He had married an English-speaking South African woman, whom he met while at college, and they had three children.

His practice was flourishing and his young family thriving, Visser says, but he could feel the tension building around him. "The racial situation really bothered me," he says. "The thing that worried me was the attitude of whites towards blacks. I mean, there were arguments over things like, `If a white dies, can his black servants come to his funeral?'"

Visser's decision to emigrate, however, was cemented in place by the experiences of people close to him. He vividly recalls an incident in which his children's nanny, a black woman, was humiliated by whites while vacationing with the family.

"She was very much a part of our family," he says. "She lived with us, ate at our table with us. One time we went to the coast on vacation, and along the way we stopped to eat. We all got out and filed into the restaurant, but she was stopped and refused entrance. It was so pointless and petty; but that was the system. We were so furious we got our food and all went and sat in the car with her to eat it."

He also felt the political chaos in Zimbabwe would eventually repeat itself in South Africa because the government was so adamant in excluding black participation. Indeed, South African liberals contend traditional tribal rivalries had been tolerated, even fed, under colonial rule because they precluded the threat of a united black opposition.

In 1976, Visser's parents were forced to abandon their ranch in Zimbabwe because factional violence had reached their neighborhood. "It was completely unsafe," he says. "They got their furniture out in two cars."

Even now that Zimbabwe has stabilized, he says, its economy remains a shambles, making survival difficult for families. "Nowhere in postindependence Africa has foreign investment returned once it has left," he says. "I worry the same would be true if political unrest forces the foreign companies to pull out of South Africa. They want a secure environment for their money, which is understandable. But in today's world economy, a country just can't stand by itself."

VISSER AND OTHER South Africans in Phoenix say they were not shocked by American culture. If anything, they are exuberantly at ease with it. "When I decided to leave South Africa and began looking at other countries, I knew immediately the U.S. was the place," Visser says. "It's easier to be accepted here than in Europe. I knew I could have a higher standard of living. My kids could have a full range of opportunities and I felt I could achieve my maximum potential professionally."

"The government is so efficient," he says cheerfully. Told that many people would disagree with that statement, Visser says, "You Americans don't realize how good you've got it. If you didn't have immigration quotas, you'd have everyone in the world at your doorstep."

A look of intense longing fills his face as he talks of the resurgence of hope in his native country. Among exiles of conscience, Mandela's appeal for their return echoes with compelling power.

It is not an easy call to ignore, Visser and others say, yet neither is it a simple matter to heed it. For Helen Melmed, no longer an idealistic girl but a woman surrounded by a little brood of vulnerable young, there are issues besides political ideals to consider.

"We would like to return and I think someday the situation will be safe enough to make that possible, but I don't think it will happen in my lifetime," she says.

For others, like Visser, the call simply comes too late. "My children have grown up here, they are completely American," he says. "My future is here."

end part 2 of 2

He was someone special to Helen, but to the South African authorities, he was just another black who couldn't produce the proper papers.

To remain was to participate, however reluctantly, in a system they could no longer abide.

"Bush needs to send a signal to reinforce deKlerk because right now he is out on a limb all by himself in advocating these reforms."

"I taught my kids to speak to everyone with respect, but you would see white kids speak to black adults terribly disrespectfully. It was just wrong."

A look of intense longing fills his face as he talks of the resurgence of hope in his native country.

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Penelope Corcoran