Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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Hit Man

PHM0314Flash-1bGardner Cole, the creative wizard behind Liquid Sol Music Fest, wants you to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Gardner Cole's talent is bigger than his ego. He's penned or produced more than 50 international hit songs, garnered more than 63 platinum album awards and four Grammy nods, and worked with a slew of legendary artists, but he blows away like a wispy wallflower when we arrive at his Arcadia offices to talk about Liquid Sol, the much-anticipated and oft-rescheduled music festival he's helping put on March 15 at Sportsman's Park outside University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

 

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Kevin Caron

LARGE-SCALE SCULPTOR

"I'm an honorary [Phoenix] native," says Kevin Caron, who moved here from Florida with his parents at age 13. "I can open a car door in the summer and not burn myself. Of course, I don't have any feeling in my fingertips, either." Caron's numb digits stem from decades of welding metal to make abstract and geometrically shaped sculptures, many of which dwarf the tallest Phoenix Suns player, and some of which were commissioned for public spaces by the cities of Chandler, Avondale, Litchfield Park and Tucson. His work's been shown at notable spots including Phoenix Art Museum and Broome Street Gallery in New York City, and he was named "Sculptor of the Year" in 2012 and 2013 by Art Trends magazine. We recently sat down with the artist at the Paradise Valley home he shares with his wife and business partner, Mary Westheimer, their cat and dog, and several of Caron's curvy creations.

 

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The Ice Man

PHM0214Flash-1-1U.S. men's figure skating champion Max Aaron wants to warm the podium at the Winter Olympics.

With his dark, curly locks, big brown eyes and boyish smile, Max Aaron may look like one of the Jonas Brothers or some other teen heartthrob, but make no mistake: He's a serious athlete, from the top of his well-coiffed head to the bottom of his ice skate blades.

The 22-year-old Scottsdale native is one of the top male figure skaters in the world leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. He celebrated his 21st birthday last February not by doing double shots of flaming alcohol, but by practicing triple axels. And though his spot on the Olympic team wasn't confirmed before this issue went to press – the Olympic trials took place in early January in Boston – he's likely in Sochi as you read this. Aaron is the reigning U.S. men's figure skating champion, a title he won in Salt Lake City in 2013. He helped lead Team USA to gold in the World Team Trophy in Japan. Even ESPN says Aaron's considered "something of a lock for the U.S. team," but there are two men's figure skating spots to fill, and an estimated 22 athletes competing for them.

 

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Appetite of Destruction

Competitive eater Jeff "The Beast Man" Butler devours the competition one wiener at a time.

Jeff "The Beast Man" Butler eyes his opponents warily, his gregarious, gap-toothed smile melting into a hardened line. To his left, a petite blonde gauges the mountain of food in front of her like a seasoned climber at Everest's base. Another participant rolls his shoulders and flexes his jaw. As the countdown ends, Butler opens his mouth wide, crams a stuffed tortilla inside and gnashes his chompers up and down like a wood chipper disintegrating a log. He gulps some water to wash the grub down. Butler crams and sips, crams and sips. Ten minutes later, he places fourth at the Western Days Festival World Tamale Eating Championships in Lewisville, Texas, taking home a purse of $250.

 

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Points in the Paint

“Original Phoenix Sun” Dick Van Arsdale rebounds from a stroke with an assist from painting..

In the world of sports, they like to say “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” Few careers, or lives, illustrate this maxim as startlingly as the past few years in the life of Phoenix Suns legend Dick Van Arsdale. The old line about one door closing and another door opening gets a pretty spectacular demonstration from Van Arsdale, too.

 

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Badge Company

Former undercover homicide cop Jack Ballentine sparks up a second career as a fire marshal – and a TV hero?

Jack Ballentine. It already sounds like the title of a cop show. Can’t you hear it? “This fall on CBS, action has a new name: Jack Ballentine.”

 

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Playing Detective

The Valley’s most decorated investigative reporter embarks on a second career as a
private eye.

The spunky West Valley divorcee with a passion for ballroom dancing is in a grateful mood. Yes, she’s broke. Yes, a Nigerian flimflam artist stole her heart and cleaned out her bank account. But things could be worse. She might not have met Paul Rubin.

 

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