Arizona’s first poet laureate balances cultures and finds connections among dividing lines.
Alberto Álvaro Rios stood before a small gathering of South Phoenicians at South Mountain Community Library, preparing to read a poem they wrote together. To honor its one-year anniversary in 2012, the library had asked locals to submit phrases, images and memories about South Phoenix – to contribute a verse, Walt Whitman might say, to the powerful play. As Rios had sewed the snatches together, the emerging ode surprised him. It wasn’t patched with the area’s history of segregation and violence. “‘Baseline Blooms,’” he says, “turned out to be a pastoral, gentle, quiet poem. And this was the community writing itself.”
In the foyer of Fred DuVal’s home, there’s a framed photo and piece of paper with names scrawled on it. From a passing glance, it could be a family heirloom – a well-preserved photo of spiffy, suit-clad ancestors in front of a big building, with their handwritten notes beneath. A closer look, though, reveals a scene of international magnitude: The photo was taken outside the White House on September 13, 1993, at the signing ceremony of the Oslo I Accord. President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and a host of highly-placed officials are gathered around the table where representatives signed the peace accord. The paper underneath the photo bears their signatures. DuVal was there that day and, in fact, led the procession of political powerhouses out onto the lawn.
World yo-yo champion Tyler Severance has the world on a string.
“Yo-yo groupies do exist,” Tyler Severance says. “But there are groupies for every facet of skill in the world. If you can set yourself apart from the pack and have any sort of small talent or skill, it will definitely attract women.”
“Being good at yo-yo isn’t an instant hookup, though,” he adds with a laugh.
Severance should know. The 22-year-old Valley resident is one of the world’s foremost competitive yo-yoists, currently ranked number 2 in both U.S. and global yo-yo standings. His talent has taken him everywhere from Denver to Prague, where the next World Yo-Yo Contest, in which he plans to participate, is slated for August. During his rise, he’s slept on the subway in Tokyo, been robbed in Budapest, and performed for exotic dancers in Vegas.
Former White House head physician Connie Mariano provides presidential care to Valley patients.
Last year, when CNN asked Dr. Connie Mariano for a quote about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie eating a doughnut on the Late Show with David Letterman, the Scottsdale-based physician – after carefully stipulating she had never reviewed Christie’s medical records – said she’d be “very worried about him dying in office” if she were his presidential physician, adding that the portly politico was “almost like a time bomb waiting to happen.” True to form, Christie went off like a bomb, calling Mariano “just another hack who wants five minutes on TV.” Undaunted, Mariano defended herself and her remarks. “I’m not a hack,” she told Bloomberg. “If you look up my resume, I’ve been in the White House for nine years. I’m a retired Navy rear admiral. I’m board-certified in internal medicine.”
Gardner 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.
"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.
U.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.