Thursday, December 18, 2014

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A Sun-Roof Over His Head

Steve May made waves as a brash Arizona lawmaker. Now the pseudo-homeless pol’s a vagabond advocate for minority groups.

When former Arizona congressman Steve May announced on Facebook last September that he was shuffling off his possessions and calling his Cadillac Escalade home, many of his 4,700-plus friends freaked out, offering their couches, carports and condolences.
But May says the plan – dubbed “DWNSIZE,” after the vanity plate on his Escalade – was entirely by design. “I did DWNSIZE for many reasons, none of them out of necessity,” May says. “It has been a learning experience for me.”

 

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Star of Stage and Cuisine

One-man chef/waiter/busboy Christopher Van Arsdale creates thrilling culinary theater at his beloved Scottsdale café.


When chef/owner Christopher Van Arsdale opened Café Monarch in 2007, he didn’t envision the restaurant – set in a converted extended-stay motel on the western edge of Old Town Scottsdale – as a one-man operation. It just turned out that way.

“After the first year, I ended up with a revolving door of employees flaking out or bringing chaos,” says the charismatic 50-year-old, running a hand over his close-cropped, salt-and-pepper hair. “I thought, ‘I’ve had enough of this, I’m just going to clean house and do it all myself.’”

 

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Thai On

BACK OF THE HOUSE
For Yupha Dequenne, owner of Yupha’s Thai Kitchen in Tempe, opening a restaurant was always a dream, but her late husband would have “nothing to do with it, she said.

She moved to the United States from Bangkok 40 years ago, earned two master’s degrees and had a longtime banking career. But she always loved to cook, and owning a restaurant was a dream she could never seem to get out of her system. So after she retired, she and her niece started the business in 2004.

 

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Sports mogul Jerry Colangelo

Semi-retirement notwithstanding, legendary Valley sports and entertainment mogul Jerry Colangelo has a full lineup card.

Jerry Colangelo says he’s tried to back away from the spotlight. It just hasn’t worked. “People ask me what I’m doing now that I’m retired,” Colangelo says from his office near the Arizona Biltmore. “But I’m as busy as I’ve ever been. Now, I only do what I enjoy doing. I have the flexibility now.”

 

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Dave Pratt

Radio Personality

Dave Pratt is a hard rock-jock to keep down. After a mettle-testing six-year stretch that saw him beat prostate cancer just in time for his much-publicized sacking by country radio station KMLE, the Valley’s own “Morning Mayor” is back on the air for the first time since 2008. His new no-format show, Dave Pratt Live, debuted on 103.9 FM in August.

 

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Les Lawrence

ARTIST OF THE MONTH

Les Lawrence is not necessarily a household name – unless you happened to purchase the artist’s individually signed dinnerware from Neiman Marcus in the ’80s. The Carefree resident is a big wheel in pottery circles, where fans spin tales about the talents and innovative techniques he applies to a discipline that dates back to ancient times.

 

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Jewell Parker Rhodes

Novelist/ASU Professor
Booksellers must scratch their heads over where to shelve prolific Pittsburgh-born author Jewell Parker Rhodes. She’s penned historical novels (Voodoo Dreams, Magic City), a memoir (Porch Stories), and two books on writing for African Americans. Her trilogy about a sexy New Orleans ER doctor who solves murders by vampires, ghosts and human monsters – Season, Moon and Hurricane – has enough cinematic sizzle to make you wonder why it’s not on cable yet. Current projects include a stage adaptation of her historical novel about the private life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass’ Women, as well as a young-adult novel. Rhodes, 57, is the Virginia G. Piper Chair in Creative Writing and Artistic Director of Piper Global Engagement at Arizona State University. We caught up with her by phone as she was packing for a trip to New Orleans to receive the American Library Association’s 2011 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book Award for her latest, Ninth Ward, a children’s novel set in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

 

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