MOST OBNOXIOUS POLITICAL EMAILS
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
You write a fair and exhaustively-researched profile of an up-and-coming Arizona lawmaker, waaaaay back when she was a scrub in the AZ legislature. You exchange a few emails while doing so. And what do you get for your trouble? Years of daily inbox spam with breathless, apocalyptic subject lines like “All Hope is Lost,” “BOEHNER WINS” and “We’ve Got Nothing Left,” followed by a mewling demand to “chip in $5 immediately.” Really, DCCC? Robot-generated mass emails? That’s your idea of cutting-edge fundraising? We thought you were supposed to be the tech-savvy ones.
BEST POLITICAL ENDORSEMENT
George Takei for Fred DuVal
Huh? We weren’t even aware the social media titan and sometime Howard Stern cohost lived in Arizona (he’s got a house in Show Low), much less gave a tribble who won the Arizona governor’s race. But there he was at a pricey Old Town fundraiser in August, gamely trading Vulcan peace signs with Democratic donors who paid as much as $2,500 a plate to dine with the man. The irony: A decade ago, before Takei became a Facebook meme god, only die-hard Trekkies would think to do that. Now he’s a king-maker.
WORST POLITICAL ENDORSEMENT
Tim & Willy for Christine Jones
We don’t recall Tim Hattrick and Willy D. Loon wading into politics as likeable drive-time personalities on KNIX and KMLE, but that’s not why their recent endorsement of the former GoDaddy executive sniffs of something odd. Here’s why: Tim & Willy went off the air in June. Having parted ways with terrestrial radio in 2012, the duo continued their partnership via a daily podcast on their website until pulling the plug this past summer. Predictably, Jones’ courtship of a defunct radio team did little in the way of boosting her campaign for Arizona governor, and she was drummed out of the race in August.
BEST SPORTS TALK SHOW
The Drive with Jody, MJ & Bauer
When Fox Sports 910 mainstay Dan Bickley decamped for crosstown rival KTAR 98.7 last year, it seemed a sports-talk power-shift was in the works. But not really. Fox brass merely cast their line south, snapping up rising Old Pueblo gabber Jody Oehler to pair with longtime Bickley battery-mate Mike Jurecki. The results have been terrific. Oehler’s smooth clock management and millennial sensibilities are ideal foils for Jurecki’s game-tape wonkiness, and sports talk continues to be the sector of Valley radio that most rises above expectations.
COOLEST RESTAURATEUR BACKSTORY
Dana Mule of Hula’s Modern Tiki
Few restaurant personalities are more interesting than the Hula’s Modern Tiki owner. Before launching the neo-Polynesian hotspot in uptown Phoenix five years ago – and its Old Town Scottsdale sister location this past summer – Mule made his living, in part, running security for New Kids on the Block during their world tours. Wonder why you’ve never seen a screaming teenager attack a server at Hula’s? Boom. This guy.
BEST GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY
Gammage Auditorium’s 50th Season
We love the story of how Frank Lloyd Wright, back in the swinging pre-Saddam 1950s, designed an opera house for a client in Baghdad. The commission fell through, and Wright flipped the design to his buddy, longtime ASU President Grady Gammage. So, today, instead of getting raked with gunfire, Gammage Auditorium is celebrating a half-century of hosting Broadway theater and other big-ticket performing arts under its classy proscenium arch. And all with circa-1964 washroom facilities. That will change, hopefully, after this season, when the fruits of a years-long fundraising drive will be used to renovate this old gem of a theater.
SLICKEST CAMPAIGN PHOTOS
Admittedly, Arizona’s Congressional delegation isn’t the most photogenic group of lawmakers around – sorry, all you Raul Grijalva groupies – but the Congresswoman from District 9 is the one possible exception. In her “official portrait” at sinema.house.gov, the openly bisexual, evidently blonde politico rocks the geek-girl-next-door look, with a triple-wrap obsidian necklace, diamond earrings and expertly-matched designer eyeglasses. Sinema is just as natty in her campaign photos (kyrstensinema.com), sporting a variety of sleeveless summer dresses – and matching eyewear, natch – while casually mingling with children and seniors. Sure, it’s all theater, but at least she takes pains to make it look good.
BEST ATHLETE: RETIRED DIVISION
Though we Phoenicians would love to claim the shuffling, sharp-tongued Ali of his boxing heyday, that would be capricious – the champ only moved to Paradise Valley in 2006, long after his final bout in 1981. Still, the Ali we can claim is a profound figure in his own right, a symbol of quiet dignity whose composure and courage in the face of a devastating foe have done much to further the cause of Parkinson’s disease research. Celebrity Fight Night, the annual gala benefiting his eponymous research center at Barrow Neurological Institute, is the Valley’s premier charity event. celebrityfightnight.org
MOST ENTERTAINING COMMENTATOR
Ann Meyers Drysdale
As VP of the Phoenix Mercury, Ann Meyers Drysdale might be just a bit biased when providing color commentary for Mercury games on ESPN and WNBA Live Access. Is she qualified? No doubt. In addition to her own storied, Hall of Fame career, Drysdale has been the women’s basketball analyst for NBC at every Summer Olympics since 2000. But it’s her frequently-used phrases that make her commentary so distinctive. Here’s a fun drinking game: Every time Drysdale mentions Mercury forward Candice Dupree’s “great hands,” take a drink. When Drysdale says one of the Merc has “great penetration on the inside,” take two drinks. And three drinks when she laments a “rim-out.” With commentary from Drysdale, everybody wins – regardless of the score.
BEST HISTORY BUFF/BARTENDER
How much does Brandon Casey, mixologist for Citizen Public House, love the history of libations? Enough to be asked to participate in the Smithsonian Institution’s “Raise a Glass” 15-week series of cocktails commemorating the 200th anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” His contribution: “This Conflagration Nation,” a cocktail composed of American bourbon and rye whiskey, Italian liqueur, French brandy and British port, and infused with gunpowdery tobacco smoke. The guy’s just an encyclopedia of alcohol education, down to the proper way to “spank” a mint for garnishing your Mai Tai.
MOST ADMIRABLE ATHLETE
The Arizona Cardinals wide receiver wins on so many levels: recipient of both the Fred Biletnikoff Award and the Walter Camp Award in college, eight-time Pro-Bowl selection as an NFL star, and charitable community member. Fitz doesn’t always get enough credit for the latter part of his accomplishments, but his philanthropic record is impressive: His First Down Fund sponsors activities for kids and families in crisis and supports health-related organizations for families; his Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund (named after his mother) promotes breast cancer awareness and education about HIV/AIDs issues to urban youth; and he frequently travels overseas to do charity work in the offseason (he recently worked with Bill Clinton in Uganda).
Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald isn’t just our BOV athlete – he’s also one of the best-traveled Phoenicians we know. Friend and fellow travel bug Tara Hitchcock quizzed him on his globetrotting ways.
Where did your love of travel start?
My parents. We didn’t travel internationally, but we would travel a lot domestically. We would go on a cruise, or Disneyland, the Statue of Liberty, Mt. Rushmore. I just thought it was fascinating. As soon as I had the means to venture out on my own, I started going.
Who’s your favorite travel companion?
Right now, [fellow Cardinals receiver] Andre [Roberts]. He’ll pretty much let me tailor the trip. He knows that I’m going to do it right. He just says, “Come on, Fitz. You gotta keep this budget right.” The only thing he doesn’t like is museums. I can spend a long time in a museum. I like going on a Monday, when it's not crowded.
Do people recognize you in a European museum?
Not really… I’m just a tourist, doing my thing.
Any big travel disasters? What happens when Larry’s luggage is lost?
(Laughs) I’ve been lucky. This year my golf clubs didn’t make it to Australia so me and Dre couldn’t play the first day. But that’s it.
What’s the most you’ve spent on a plane ticket?
I had to charter a plane once for an emergency. That was a lot. I guess, first class to Australia [which was around $13,000]. I’m Diamond on Delta, Platinum on US Airways, the highest on Southwest. If it’s within two hours, I get my A boarding pass on Southwest, my right window seat on the exit row, I’m fine.
Are you chatty on the plane?
I can’t stay awake to save my life! I’lI sit next to [Cardinals cornerback] Patrick Peterson. People ask, “What do you guys talk about?” We don’t talk about anything (laughs). I mean, he falls asleep, I fall asleep, maybe two or three words. I just need to lean my head and I’m done. The plane is the best.
Where to next?
I really want to get to Russia. I want to see some of the Scandinavian countries: Finland, Norway, even Iceland. I just can’t go in February or March. I don’t want to freeze my ass off (laughs).