Monday night ended a bit dramatically in Downtown Phoenix, but perhaps not as much as it could have.
You’ve probably seen it on the news or the Twittersphere, which was blowing up with #ArpaioASU hashtags for most of the evening and into the next morning.
In case you haven’t, here’s the quick run-down: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was in the guest hot seat in a Meet the Press-style panel interview by three of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s heavy-hitter journalist-professors: Steve Elliott, Sue Green and Rick Rodriguez. The plan was to spend a solid hour questioning the Sheriff in the school’s packed First Amendment Forum. Nothing was off limits: immigration, his relationship with the media and accusations of threats and harassment.
That hour was cut short first by embarrasing mic troubles and Dean Chris Callahan’s remarks at the beginning, asking the audience in essence to save questions for afterward and to not disturb the panel, regardless of how much they did or did not care for the Sheriff.
But, the hour was really mutilated when (and here’s the part you’ve been waiting for) a small group of idiots broke out into song. Lots of songs. Annoying songs. Songs so loud the panel was forced to discontinue and end the evening roughly 15 minutes early. Despite boos from the crowd and stern pleading from the Dean, they simply wouldn’t shut up. And, of course, they were directed at Sheriff Joe.
Here’s the thing: Kids, in case your parents never taught you this or you were too bullheaded to learn it, there’s a time and a place for everything. There was a peaceful and energetic protest (both pro- and anti-Arpaio) taking place in the building’s lobby and on Taylor Mall. You could have joined that crowd and expressed your own First Amendment rights without stepping on the rights of everyone else in the forum who had come to hear the interview.
Oh, and everyone is allowed to have their own opinion, even if it happens to be different than your own. That includes the Sheriff. And, it includes myself (a current Cronkite grad student) and every other ASU student in attendance last evening. (Due to the protests and space limitations, the school stationed police at the doors and only let in those with an ASU ID.) What’s exceptionally frustrating is these singers had no idea what they were doing, what they were ruining and how counterproductive their little stunt was.
They were interrupting a holding of account and questioning of a controversial public official. They ruined months of preparation and the chance for students to see a well-researched, pointed and tough interview. And, their singing really screwed up that possibility and actually defeated their own cause.
Dumb, dumb, dumb.
I’m refering to these singers as kids because their act was absurd and childish. And, after reading a tweet from @joshsprague, a Cronkite alum, I’m not going to give them the mantle of protestor, either. He tweeted, “‘Protestors’ is not an accurate term for the anti-Arpaio singers. Nothing was protested other than discussion.”
As a journalism student, I had been looking forward to this evening. I know two of the professors well, having been in their classes and in fellowships directed by them. The chance to see my professors, who I’ve generally only seen in an editorial role, switch gears and become the investigative journalist, was what I really wanted to see. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one, gauging by how many other journalism students were around. I could have cared less what controversial public official they interviewed; I was more interested in seeing masters working their craft.
Anyone who does this type of in-depth interview, as the panel was well on their way to accomplishing Monday night, knows several things: one, the depth of research that goes into each and every possible question; two, the tact and control that must be wielded by the interviewer in order to get what he or she came for; and three, not starting off with your aha!, home-run questions. You build up to them.
Which, to me, signifies these singers were most likely not journalism students. Rumors were circulating they might have been from the College of Public Programs or student activist groups. But, really, where they came from doesn’t matter. The whole event looks terrible for the school and for ASU.
Right before the planned singing started, the panel was building up to the home runs and perhaps even a few ahas. What a shame.
Well, kiddos, hope you enjoyed your 15 moments in the spotlight. Idol and the rest of us are not at all interested in you.
Previous week’s games
11/19/09 Hornets 110, SUNS 103
11/22/09 SUNS 117, Pistons 91
11/25/09 SUNS 126, Grizzlies 111
This week’s games
11/27/09 SUNS @ Timberwolves, 7:30 p.m., My45 (NOTE: This game has been switched from ESPN)
11/29/09 SUNS @ Raptors, 1:30 p.m., My45
12/01/09 SUNS @ Knicks, 5:30 p.m., My45
12/02/09 SUNS @ Cavaliers, 5 p.m., My45
On this Thanksgiving, Suns fans have many things to be thankful for. Here are my top three things to be thankful for this holiday season in the Valley of the Sun.
3. Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley and the Suns’ second unit
The second unit for the Suns have been a huge surprise this year, and an even bigger reason for the Suns’ hot start. Jared Dudley is the glue that holds the bench together. His hustle and effort on the defensive end, along with his overall passion for the game, pushes the second string as well as the starters to play hard and leave it all on the court every time out. Add in his lights-out three-point shooting and you’ve got yourself a difference maker.
Goran Dragic isn’t far behind Dudley in what he brings to the table for this team. His vast improvement in play from a year ago gives the Suns something they’ve been lacking for years: a backup point guard. Dragic’s solid play has helped give Steve Nash plenty of rest, which explains why Nash’s minutes are at his lowest in over 10 years. Dragic has shown play-making ability and a nice touch from behind the arc. And, when the shot isn’t falling, Dragic still plays fantastic defensive night in and night out.
Despite his minutes being down, Leandro Barbosa has continued to do what he does: hit open threes and get to the basket at will. Lou Amundson still provides the dirty work in the form of rebounds and blocked shots. Jarron Collins has stepped in nicely when needed, adding a little toughness in the paint, and Earl Clark has impressed when on the floor. With Robin Lopez coming back from injury (perhaps later this week), Suns fans will soon have more reason to be excited about this bench.
2. No more Shaq
I didn’t really have a problem with Shaquille O’Neal while he was here, but it’s clear the impact he had on the team was a negative one. The team tried to run the offense through him, but that meant playing to the other players’ weaknesses. He clogged the paint and messed with the floor spacing on the offensive end. On the defensive end, he was so terrible with the pick and roll that opposing teams would kill us with it on a nightly basis. Shipping him out and bringing Channing Frye in to replace him has made a world of difference. The lane is once again open for Nash to operate and the Suns’ spacing has them on a record pace for three pointers made this season.
1. Making Alvin Gentry head coach and resigning Steve Nash (I couldn’t choose just one of these)
When Alvin Gentry took over the head coaching duties last year, we saw an entirely different Suns team from the one Terry Porter put on the floor every night. Gentry started playing the bench more, going 10-11 guys deep at times, while reintroducing us all the Phoenix Suns offense we had previously grown to love. This year, things have been much the same. Gentry has the Suns back on top in scoring average while getting the team to play with effort and energy on the defensive side of the ball. The bench continues to develop under Gentry, and the team chemistry appears to be at an all-time high since Steve Nash returned to Phoenix.
Once Gentry was made head coach, the next logical step was to resign Steve Nash. Many people doubted whether or not this was the right move for both Nash and the Suns, but 15 games into the season, it’s clear it was. Nash’s numbers are just as good as they were in his two MVP seasons, with his assist numbers actually up while his minutes are down. What Nash gives Phoenix in the stat sheet is only half of what he offers, though. He gives the Suns’ younger players someone to look up to and continues to provide great on-court leadership.
When you add these three things together, Suns fans have lots to be thankful for this holiday season, and it’s no wonder why their team currently sits atop the NBA with a 12-3 record.
We are blessed. Downtown Phoenix, I hope you realize this. Perched at the corner of Pierce Street and Central Avenue, we have a treasure trove of goodness. The Urban Grocery and Wine Bar is one of my favorite spots to come to, even if I am only stopping by outside to gaze longingly at what will become my dinner. Housing fresh produce and various delicacies from around the state, the market just makes this old Southern boy feel right at home.
Now, it was suggested one day to try out the lunch specials. This seems strange, when in the course of my walk, I pass local favorites like the Turf, the Breadfruit, Sens and PastaBAR. I suppose it is the allure of someplace new, a place that is immediately special to me, that pushes me past this conglomerate of eateries.
Scribbled on the chalkboard wall behind the counter is the list of the two specials the grocery has for the day. I select the tuna salad sandwich on honey wheat bread. OK, by now you are probably asking, “What’s the big deal? You are just ordering a normal sandwich that, if you weren’t lazy, you could make yourself.” True. I could make this sandwich, and a tuna salad sandwich can be found elsewhere, but it has its own specialness about it.
This is a downright delicious tuna salad. It is carefully put together and I just get the feeling like I’m at home while I eat it. It is the perfect blend of tuna and mayo dabbled with almond slices. The bread is fresh and seamless. Served on a bed of leafy greens, this is a lunchtime novelty to be reckoned with. I even complete the meal with a refreshing iced mocha from Royal at the Market (one of my vices).
So, if you are on the lookout for a place to make you feel special and give you a nice little jump start, then the Urban Grocery and Wine Bar might just be your spot. To make it feel all the more home grown, tell them Sips and Grub sent you.
The Urban Grocery and Wine Bar is located at 14 E. Pierce St. — light rail station at Central/Roosevelt.
First off, let it be known that I’m not a wino. Sure, I appreciate a good pinot noir now and again, but I couldn’t tell you the difference between a viognier and a zinfandel. Having said that, I’m learning to appreciate wine. Events like the Arizona Wine Growers Festival at the Farm are helping me reach that goal.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. Hundreds of wines, over a dozen wineries… from Arizona? I heard the lead singer of Tool has a vineyard near Jerome, but up until Saturday’s event, I had little knowledge of Arizona wine culture beyond that. Man, was I off base. What went down was a fantastic affair on one of the most beautiful days of the year in one of Phoenix’s prized locales, the Farm at South Mountain. What I realized is Arizona’s wine culture is not only budding, but also experiencing a grassroots explosion of sorts.
Yes, I tasted the 2008 Primer Paso from Verde Valley’s Caduceus Cellars, made famous when a few rock journalists traveled to the Arizona high country to check out Tool’s Maynard James Keenan’s personal vineyard. Caduceus was one of the few wineries that had rock concert-style t-shirts for sale (I should have known), but the wine was the true star here. Blood red with citrus and pine notes, it was hefty, but went down surprisingly smooth. It paired well with the hummus I snacked on from the Urban Grocery and Wine Bar.
Up next, Elgin’s Canelo Hills Vineyard 2007 Sangiovese. Wow, that’s a mouthful. Good thing it tasted delicious. The host told me this stuff goes well with Italian fare. It made me want some Chicken Parmesan, so they’re doing something right. It was bright and fruity, and much less intimidating than the previous taste.
The other star of the show? Local favorite Su Vino Winery out of Old Town Scottsdale. Yeah, it’s not so earthy there, but hey, these people make killer wines. The Ruby, the lone red at the table, was like sangria in a bottle, minus the floating fruit. Big, punchy bursts of fruity flavor in that sucker. And, though I usually don’t care for white wine, the Summer Rain (which, luckily, is available at the Urban Grocery), really fit the description of tasting like “a day by the pool.” It was like apple juice with an alcohol kick. Yes, it’s that dangerous. Beware.
As the pictures below attest, the event was masterfully organized, and the attendees really lucked out on the weather. What a perfect day to be outside enjoying a nice Gewurztraminer. Yes, I just said that.
Minneapolis has 13. San Francisco has 11. Indianapolis has 25. Houston has nine. Chicago has 50. Los Angeles has 15, and New York has 51.
Phoenix has 8.
We’re talking city council districts. Some call them wards, and some call their representatives aldermen, but most have representation relative to their population. And, in addition to region-bound representation, many cities have elected officials serving the population at-large (Indianapolis has four, Houston has five).
But these are just numbers… what does it mean in real life? It means that District 8 (Councilman Mike Johnson) serves both the Downtown Phoenix business community and the South Phoenix residential community. It means that District 4 (Vice Mayor Tom Simplot) serves both Central Phoenix and portions of Maryvale and West Phoenix. It means that city councilors are asked to represented different segments of our population with extremely different needs.
In other words, the issues that residents of Ahwatukee are dealing with (an expansion of the Loop 202, for instance), have little to no effect on the residents of Arcadia. Except, of course, that their voice in City Hall is focused on tasks other than those pertinent then their own. Both populations are served by District 6 (Councilman Sal Diciccio), whose council map looks like this.
Phoenix has a population of more than 1.5 million people, which means on average, each city councilor is responsible for shepherding a flock of close to 200,000 people — many times made up of dozens of smaller communities with uniquely individual needs.
The argument can be made that we elect people competent enough to multi-task and have the best interest of all their residents in mind, but I challenge you to look at the district map and tell me that the residents of Downtown Phoenix’s historic neighborhoods like Willo, Coronado, Roosevelt and Encanto-Palmcroft have the same municipal needs as Laveen or Maryvale — which explains the daily challenge of District 7 and Councilman Michael Nowakowski.
This conversation is not new. Representative Chad Campbell (District 14) has been working with the O’Connor House in developing a comprehensive plan to redistrict the city of Phoenix in a more intuitive and common-sense way. With the 2010 census right around the corner, now is the perfect time to start thinking about this — and many other issues affecting our city. I’m looking forward to your thoughts below, and can’t wait to see you at RadiatePhx tomorrow night, where there will be all sorts of discussion about making our city a better place to live, work and play.