Tuesday, April 21, 2015

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Pilot Program

PHM0415 FlashPilotOf the many medical ripple effects of the Vietnam War, one of the most important was the advent of helicopter evacuations in medical emergencies.

And though the low deserts of Arizona couldn’t be  further from the bug-filled jungles of ‘Nam, the Grand Canyon State was the launch pad for the first medical helicopters in the U.S.

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Unborn Yesterday

PHM0415PF31BFifty-two years ago, Valley TV personality Sherri Finkbine terminated a tragic pregnancy – and unwittingly gave birth to a controversial legacy that lives on today.

It was the biggest medical story in Arizona history. And more than a half century later, it might still be – a watershed case replete with every imaginable intrigue: “An evil drug company, court battles, mercy killing, crime and religion,” in the words of a character in A Private Matter, a 1992 HBO docudrama based on the case and starring Sissy Spacek.

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Breaking Dawn

PHM0315LL01“Surprise me,” a man says to the bartender, before leaving to lounge poolside at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. It’s the early 1940s and the hotel register is composed solely of celebrities and the social elite who stay weeks at a time by invitation only. The bartender, Gene Sulit, takes a moment to think in the round, gold-leaf-ceilinged bar known as the Aztec Room.

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Sermon on the Track

PHM0315Flash-SermonA Phoenix church has conducted Easter sunrise services at Turf Paradise horse racetrack for the past 53 years.

On Easter morning in Phoenix, Jesus is off to the races, where his biblical resurrection is celebrated every year at a sunrise service at the Turf Paradise horse racetrack.

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Fantasy Football

PHM 500x500 FPOPhoenix barely missed landing an NFL expansion team in 1974, but the Valley’s pro pigskin aspirations later captured the Arizona Cardinals and the Super Bowl.

Clashes between the Arizona Cardinals and their division rival and defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks were hard-hitting, brutal affairs this season. But win or lose, each team had the comfort of knowing they’d be playing the next Sunday – or, at least, the next season.

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Steak through the Heart

PHM0115LL01After nearly 60 years of slinging steaks, the oldest restaurant in the Valley, Monti’s La Casa Vieja, closed on November 17. The historical building on the corner of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe will stay put, though the two men whose names are most associated with the property are long gone.

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Enter Stage Wright

PHM0115PF15The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Gammage Auditorium has changed a lot in 50 years, but quality performing arts programs are a mainstay.

It’s been called the “wedding cake” – the imposing, eight-stories-high circular structure that dominates the west end of Arizona State University’s Tempe campus. Driving past, one is struck by the grandness of the 50 concrete columns supporting the perfectly round roof, and the uniqueness of two pedestrian ramps extending for 200 feet on either side. Inside, the long arcs of seats, two balconies, and a cathedral-high ceiling produce a sense of comfortable expectation.

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