Monday, May 25, 2015



Copper State Katzenbergs

The Valley’s homegrown film industry relies on the kindness of strangers. Preferably, rich ones.

Where money is concerned, Arizona is no different than Tinseltown – it’s the thing that talks when you-know-what walks. Financing is the most elusive element of any movie project – except maybe a good script – and therefore the greenbacked flickfunder, more commonly known as the executive producer, is one of the rarest birds in Arizona, and one of the shyest.


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The Bunsen Burner Bieber

An industrious West Valley teen positions himself to be the next Bill Nye-style pop science guru.

Alec Owens cannot recall his very first question about the scientific mysteries of the universe. “Something like, ‘Where do rocks come from?’” the spiky-haired 13-year-old says. “What I do remember is going to an adult for an answer, getting an answer that wasn’t right, and the feeling you get when you’re like, ‘This is not a good answer.’”


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Palate to Palette

Born with a condition that limits use of his arms and legs, “mouth painter” Kirk O’Hara has to be creative both on and off the canvas.

Artist Kirk O’Hara leans forward, adding the finishing touches to a painting of a blond boy wearing leg braces and gripping crutches. Next to the boy is a brown dog, tongue out and tail wagging. The dog is in a wheelchair. As O’Hara makes a stroke through the boy’s hair, his face hovers so close to the canvas he’s almost cheek-to-cheek with his subject. For a second, it looks like he’s going to crawl head-first into the painting. In a sense, he’s already there: Like the boy and his dog, O’Hara is disabled. This painting is the first in a series of handicapped subjects titled Empathy.


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Don’t Kai for Me, Arizona

Culinary prince Michael O’Dowd – creator of the state’s most celebrated restaurant – leaves his castle for new digs Downtown.

“I need to keep creating, pushing,” Michael O’Dowd says. “If I can’t create anymore, then it’s time to roll.”


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A Need for Steed

Champion mounted markswoman Annie Bianco-Ellett knows her shoot.

It’s Sunday morning at the Arizona State Championships of the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association. One after another, the cowboys and cowgirls ride and shoot. While they wait for the signal, their restless mounts execute tight little circles, seeming almost to pirouette with eagerness. At last the buzzer sounds, and the contestants gallop into the covered arena at Horseshoe Park in Queen Creek, toward a diagonal row of 10 tall white pylons, each with a red or blue balloon on top.


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A Farewell to Layups

With a bloody Republican primary behind him, U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Flake sets his eyes on the prize.

Jeff Flake is no Steve Nash, but the six-time Arizona congressman – and former starting small forward for the Snowflake High School Lobos – held his own against President Barack Obama in a much-publicized, invite-only Beltway pickup game in 2009.  “That’s the nice thing


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Strictly Ballroom

Charlie Levy rode the indie-music revolution to the top of the Valley’s concert promotion biz. Now he has a venue of his own.

Sitting in Crescent Ballroom’s industrial-chic lounge on a sweltering Tuesday afternoon in June, with retro R&B playing over the speakers and a late-lunch crowd sipping cocktails, owner Charlie Levy fields texts and fires off emails constantly, at one point thinking aloud, “How do you think [country singer] Pat Green would do here? I am emailing him now. How much would you pay to see [Texas legends] The Flatlanders? Would you pay $25?”


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