Tuesday, January 27, 2015



Les Lawrence


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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Marine Turned Politician

A West Valley lawmaker with an Ivy League education wants to outflank Arizona’s budget cuts to support poor families and fellow veterans. Can he win?

When Ruben Gallego first returned from his Iraq deployment in 2005, he no longer cared about politics or helping his community.

After losing his best friend in combat, Gallego grew angry from his war experiences and the lack of services he saw for veterans back home. After all, he served in the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Lima Company, an infantry unit Gallego says saw more combat than most. The 3/25 – as it’s often called – lost 46 Marines and two Navy corpsmen between January 2005 and January 2006, according to the Marines’ website.


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Silvana Salcido Esparza

Chef/Creator and Owner of barrio cafÉ

Silvana Salcido Esparza thinks Scottsdale could stand an infusion of Mexican spice. And the James Beard-nominated chef is just the chica to administer it.

“The truth is, I’m a little bit ghetto,” she confides. “I’m gonna roll up on my low-rider motorcycle with lots of attitude and have a great time. You know when the economy tanks and a house goes for nothing and the Mexicans move in? Same thing here.”


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Police Chief Jack Harris

Former Phoenix Police Chief Jack F. Harris is waiving his right to remain silent on the stormy ending to his storybook career.

Office politics and almost 40 years of chasing bad guys should have left Jack F. Harris a husk of a man. Instead, he has just gone for a 20-mile bike ride from Bell Road down into Paradise Valley, and now he’s ready to talk about why he is no longer Phoenix’s top cop. The reason involves illegal immigrants, he says. But on top of that, there’s a dead police sergeant, an internal fraud investigation, an officer accused of murdering a suspect (and the suspect’s dog) and accusations of falsifying crime statistics to obtain federal funds. Harris was chief for almost seven years, but he says the last 18 months were the most difficult period of his career. 


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Lenard Rubin of The Vig/The Vig Uptown


Lenard Rubin brings global influences and a fine dining background to the menu at the The Vig and The Vig Uptown, where he is a chef and partner.

The Vig, a funky Arcadia hangout, and the classy yet casual Vig Uptown, with its bocce ball court and bank vault (a remnant of the building’s past life) are ideal venues for his creative bar fare, featuring a ’round-the-world tour of tastes: carne asada on a potato pancake, flatbread pizza with tandoori chicken, Seoul sliders.


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Chrysa Robertson of Rancho Pinot


Chrysa Robertson, owner and chef at Rancho Pinot in Paradise Valley, is a legend in the local food scene. She started Rancho Pinot in 1993, and it quickly racked up critical awards and mentions in national food magazines. She’s cooked at the James Beard House in New York and, in the late 1990s, founded the first Phoenix chapter of Slow Food, an international organization devoted to local, sustainable eating. In March, the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame named her “chef extraordinaire.”


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