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April 18, 2011


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What is the greatest thing ever produced by the culture of the State of Arizona? What, if anything, will be remembered with admiration by future cultures?

A top-shelf post...
Too good really.
You actually answered a riddle of mine without me asking it first:


What's worse than having barbarians at the gate?


"One-party rule is now the norm, never a healthy situation and particularly when the one party is marked by extremism, wild reaction and supported by the outsized influence of the LDS."

Excellent piece, Jon. I would place the mobbed up part about the time Al Capone got convicted of income tax evasion. The mob's Jewish financial advisers in Chicago and Kansas City decided they needed new places to clean up their $$.

They found a prime smart clean candidate that didn’t look like a mobster guy and worked well with figures instead of a “Tommy Gun” and sent him onto the desert to invest. Booze, gambling, land and so on. An old Democrat poorly organized group was already in place in Globe, Miami and Phoenix, AZ handling minor gambling and prostitution. A divorce lawyer that I have known for 40 years advised places like 12th Street Auto Parts were where Greenbaum and my friend's dad ran the book for Bugsy Siegel. This group also bought a lot of Phoenix Property including where the Arizona Republic now sits.

As you know the Greenbaums were barbequing when they got killed at their home. Lt Larry Wetzel was a first responder and once told me that the killers ate the steaks after the slit the Greenbaums throats. Organized crime is much more efficient than most government so in Arizona and Hudson County NJ, crime marched on.

As you know I was involved in the Bolles investigation and still eat at the Clarendon Hotel where gruesome pictures of the killing adorn the wall. Bolles' car is now in the Smithsonian in DC. Anthem can be traced back to Del Webb. I would like to state that I kind of liked Del Webb as I see him as an early environmentalist. But the interesting part is that Bugsy and Gus were skimming the mob building the Flamingo and they died as a result. Webb was essential to the completion of the beginning of Las Vegas mob's garden of evil so I think he took the deal they offered, of course he would have been a fool to say no, too. Currently the legislators look like petty thieves. Old time politics usually went for some decent bucks but hell current politicians go down for a hot dog.

For you Urbanists out there, I recommend picking up a copy of the magazine “Good” issue 23. Has a very interesting article on how LA is moving forwarded and on water in LA. Also has a good story on the demise of the LA Times.

Rate Crimes asks: "What is the greatest thing ever produced by the culture of the State of Arizona? What, if anything, will be remembered with admiration by future cultures?"

To paraphrase Voltaire, you must define your terms. God/nature created one of the most magical and varied naturescapes on the planet. The federal government built perhaps the greatest hydrological society in history: It could never last, but future archeologists will look with wonder at its scope and folly.

"The state of Arizona" has created little if anything of lasting value.

Man is but a pimple of a bloodsucking leach on the galaxies. I still go with Saguaros as Arizona's greatest contribution. With regard to humans I like what the desert did for people like ED Abbey and Charles Bowden. Abbey's book "Desert Solitaire” is always by my side and I pass out copies to friend and foe alike.

In digression to Phoenix, 101. I ride the downtown corridors of Phoenix on my recumbent on Sunday mornings about 6 AM and I walk the same for lunch on occasion. I agree that City “Scrape” is an improvement over Pigeon Shit Park but it’s still uglier than a Yorkshire pig’s ass. You want City Scape look towards LA, where they are working on a copy set in the film, Blade Runner. I know at seventy I repeat myself a lot. But I am still in favor of the blade and reseeding with Sajuaros.

As a youngster working in the First Federal Savings building in the early 70's, I used to lunch at the Ivanhoe bar next door (good food, cold beer). When all the Bolles' murder suspects started to be named, they all happened to be the characters we used to see at the bar on a regular basis. We used to wonder what the hell they did that they mainly just hung around a bar all day. Now we know. They were a creepy bunch.

Post Script: We need to get Rate out of that humidity.

azrebel, I take it you walked to the Ivanhoe as Adamson made a living illegally towing cars out of the parking lot.

Yes, we walked. We would go to the International health club to burn off 500 calories, then go to the Ivanhoe to eat 1000 calories of food and beer. Over the years, that math ended up adding a few pounds.

This type of AZ history intrigues me and am I set on picking up some books on Phoenix's shady side. Whenever I ask my family about this type of Phoenix corruption they just say something uninformed like; "just a bunch of pendejo Anglos killing each other and stealing money." Maybe that sums up a lot of the Hispanic (and non-crazy White) reaction to today's AZ politics and why apathy and non-voting lifestyles have taken hold?

Phxsunfan, Dije tu familia, este. One of those Pendejos was a Hispanic high ranking Police officer. In the late sixties I stopped a guy running the proceeds from the day’s illegal gambling proceeds and took him to the police station at 17 N 2nd avenue. With only a year on the PD and rather naive I didn’t know what I had at the time and was seeking advice from the night Sergeant while the runner made a telephone call. Soon there was a call for me and this high ranking Hispanic police officer who definitely was not a pubic hair in the world of corruption, said, “Officer Lash, you give that man that money and let him go.”
Much later I learned the facts of this incident. Oh and you are going to like this senor. That non pubic hair (Pendejo) Hispanic cop ended up owning the whole downtown city block now called CityScape.

Interesting story Cal. I didn't know there were Hispanic cops in Phoenix in the 60's (I kid).

That's why I called my family's (usually older generation) explanations uninformed. I don't think Hispanic ownership of downtown lots is unheard of and if I recall correctly, the site of St. Mary's Basilica was owned by a "Mexican" before being sold to the Church.

I served on a jury for a first-degree murder trial last year. The defendant was a thug and well-known gang member who hired three 14 year-old boys to kill a guy who owed him money. All the protagonists were Hispanic and gang members. The victim was 20 years old, worked seven days a week at an Arizona Mills kiosk, sold some weed out of there, but was, given his social milieu, virtually a straight arrow. Why he didn't pay his debt was never really explained. The cockiness of youth, I suppose.

I sat there for three weeks relishing every bit of cultural and sociological information that emerged in the testimony. These kids were not evil, at least in some made-for-TV-movie kind of way. There were clear standards of behavior they followed and a sense of right and wrong. Being disrespected by someone was nearly the worst wrong there was.

Just about everyone on the jury was middle class and white (a black women was, perhaps, upper-middle class). Our world was safe, predictable and relatively pain free. The south Phoenix kids' lives were chaotic and often dangerous. I felt our judgment about the defendant also extended to his environment. Law was our tool to keep their chaos at a safe distance.

This is what most of us think law is supposed to do: make us feel safe in our ordinary lives. But what happens when the thuggery is applied in antiseptic and unseen strokes? Do we feel threatened by people like Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon? Do we think Andrew Thomas misusing the legal system is a threat to our existential security? Do we worry when a Karl Rove subverts the Department of Justice to help elect Republicans? Probably not.

It's this kind of corruption that should worry us more than it does. The concentration of wealth in this country comes with a rider: money will not only find a way, it will use every tool at its disposal to legitimize its acquisition, its power, and its authority. It will hire lawyers to argue before the US Supreme Court that corporations have free-speech rights. It will tell us through its media that we have no rights to health care or - increasingly - any rights to a decent retirement. It takes our political discourse and turns it into a circus to distract us while its custodians loot this nation.

I was 10 years old when the Greenbaums were murdered. I still remember the banner headline in the Gazette with a picture of two bodies on gurneys. I also recall the the bodies of mafiosi being found in the desert or in the Arizona Canal, usually in Scottsdale. And I recall how it all seemed to recede as a problem as time went on. Yes, Keating was a flamboyant crook but he hated porn and loved Mother Teresa. It seemed we had turned a corner.

The truth is that the corruption infected us at a cellular level. We didn't notice how the quid pro quos of political wheeler dealing always involved large campaign contributions. We didn't care that millionaires almost always got what they wanted, the public interest be damned. It's true, we'd chortle in delight when a Mary Rose Wilcox was caught doing what virtually every rock-ribbed Republican was doing. But that's the point: people who look decent and respectable tended to get a pass. Why else would we elect someone like Fife Symington governor?

Law is a shelter for something deeper and older than reason. It's a mansion with many rooms, with corridors zig-zagging in unexpected ways. We revere law but we can scarcely explain its principles, let alone its divergences and exceptions. We also have a finely-honed sense of social justice that demands good things for ourselves and harsh punishment for others. We know who the bad people are and it's never ourselves.

phxsunfan, not to worry, Hispanic, Anglo, whatever we are probably blood relatives to Attila the Hun.
Soleri, very Kafkaesque. Reminds me of the “Trial” and his one page “Before the Law” I used to hand “Before The Law” a long with copies of The Art of War to young persons about to become supervisors of others. I am not sure justice exists. What we in the US take as justice appears to me to be very unjust and in many instances, revenge. Justice like High Sheriffs is a way for most people to not lay awake at night worrying about much more that what’s for breakfast. Following are a couple of Quotes from the most hated lawyer in America.

"When we talk about justice in America we're really talking about justice brought about by the people, not by judges who are tools of the establishment or prosecutors who are equally tools of the establishment or the wardens or the police officers." William Kunstler

"As you know, the American Revolution was not a revolution engineered by poor people or by people who sold rats for a penny a pound down on the Long Wharf in Boston. It was engineered by the wealthy who wanted to transfer the power of wealth from London to New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. The people who fought it were those people who sold rats on the Long Wharf--the tinsmiths, the blacksmiths, and so on. But those who gained the most from it were the wealthy, the slave owners. From William Kunstler’s last Speech."

And here I thought America was started so I escape religious nut jobs.

Soleri said:

"Do we feel threatened by people like Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon? Do we think Andrew Thomas misusing the legal system is a threat to our existential security? Do we worry when a Karl Rove subverts the Department of Justice to help elect Republicans?"

Indeed, I do, and many agree with me. I found the entire Bush administration much more terrifying than walking or driving through Phoenix's toughtest neighborhoods. A street thug can take your money or your life. The Bush administration very nearly took the life of America.

Cal, nice job picking up on the Kafkaesque thread in my comment. I wasn't really thinking of The Trial so much as The Castle. We enter thinking our lives are solid and entirely rational. By the end, there's just the hell of one's mind constantly examining each and every premise for an escape clause from its punishing phantoms. Grace, when it comes, is just exhaustion from these efforts.

One of my favorite books is Walter Kaufmann's Without Guilt and Justice. Kaufmann, who was a Nietzsche scholar, made the point that justice does not exist except as a subjective ideal. By focusing on it as an actual possibility, we get caught in useless fantasies about guilt, retribution, and self-improvement. In fact, there's nothing to do except live as consciously and creatively as we can.

Kafka's nightmares are ultimately about the solitary individual not choosing his own life. His writings describe a desolate, interior terrain where every self-assertion is ruthlessly obstructed by some mysterious other. Who is this? Kafka won't name him, but his relentless exploration is like the story of Isaac on his sacrificial altar.

The Arizona system has severe sentencing laws and prosecutor friendly judges and juries. The brunt of the system is directed at the poor and disadvantaged. The draconian laws were much promoted by Fife Symington and Charles Keating. At least the mob in the east acknowledges its criminality.

One thought: we could use the Bolles murder and suppressed scandal as a test of how long one has been in Phoenix. I remember the sounds of scurrying and butt-covering that followed. Nobody wanted to talk about the folks in high places who felt the hot breath of the Newsday reporters . . . .

On the 4/10 Sunday morning KPNX news magazine show, a young woman from the Goldwater Institute who took great pride in being an "extreme right winger" seemed to blame the Fiesta Bowl scandal on Clean Elections. I kid you not.

When an incident of corruption is brought to light it temporarily pulls back the curtain on the myth that all are created equal, we have a level playing field, cheaters never win, justice prevails, etc. You know, all the crap we are fed from childhood. Then the curtain closes, not because the corruption was fixed. It closes because society doesn't want it open. Out of sight, out of mind.

Here's a word game:

"Clean elections"

"Military Intelligence"

"Watch your kids around water"

"Don't drink and drive"

Don't text and drive"

"I'll respect you in the morning"


The game: words or groups of words that are a waste of the air it takes to get them out of your mouth.

The Castle: Everyman including Overman and Superman should have one. During my annual watch of films like “Quest for Fire" and “Elmer Gantry”, I speculate about how elaborate early mans cave were, did he dream of a city of caves. And in these caves as the gods of nature roared outside did he "Ram the fear of God" into one of his many companions. I think Kafka better handles existentialism than most but Camus is still my favorite. I have always yearned to sit in an Algerian coffee shop, smoke a little hash and contemplate if the OAS had succeeded in killing Charles de Gaulle if France would still rule Algeria.
“I suspect Kafka’s ‘other’ was mankind of which Kafka found himself a part of and no way to escape.”

Cal, one of the greatest movies of all time: The Battles of Algiers. Even without De Gaulle, the Algerians would have prevailed.

In other news, Roger Ailes of Fox News not only channels crazy, he's a source for it as well:!5793012/roger-ailes-caught-spying-on-the-reporters-at-his-small+town-newspaper

Ailes political career started with Richard Nixon back in 1968. Given that, you might wonder if the puppetmasters of the white right are merely cynical about the truth or if their own demons find the largest projection screen on which to cavort. Certainly, Nixon acted out of his own resentments and paranoia. At the height of his powers, he even engineered his own downfall. Funny how that works.

Corruption is the genie that says there's never enough. There always has to be more because somebody else might get the better of you. How it plays out depends on the battlefield - economic, political, or even social. It's the scandal that is intrinsic to our species. It's Lord Acton's maxim lived each day inside our furrowed brows.

Morecleanair: I was working as an EMT/paramedic out of downtown the day Don Bolles was bombed. In the call rotation, I missed it by one. We picked up a 962 (auto accident w. injuries) at Southern and 16th Street (then a rural area). My friend got Bolles...and was beside him when he called out, "They finally got me...Adamson, Emprise, Mafia..." or words to that effect.

The city was traumatized, but this wasn't the only mob-related bombing in the '70s in Phoenix. My next-door neighbor, whose father had been a Chicago goombah killed in a bombing, said, "He'd been warned. They always warn you." He was so paranoid that he would drive around the block again and again at night before coming to his apartment.

Old-timers said, "They never would have done this if Old Man Pulliam were still alive." Probably true. But the powers that be -- which back then were real powers -- quickly circled the wagons when the IRE came to town and started digging, including into Goldmar, the citrus-and-land empire of the Goldwater family (particularly Bob). The Republic never published IRE's Arizona Project, although New Times did.

Much hanky-panky ensued. Bolles files were supposedly rifled. Lots of odd jurisdictional stumbling and fighting over turf. Rivalry between PD Chief Wetzel and Sheriff (and former chief) Blubaum. The County Attorney at the time, a bit of a goofball, had the case taken away by AG Bruce Babbitt. But who were the white hats? Did the trail really stop at, allegedly, Kemper Marley, much less small-time hood Adamson? Somebody knows. I don't.

Is it also true that Tom Sanford, one of Bolles' editors who decided to look into the case on his own, turned up dead?

Footnote: And true to tradition, those whose closets were the most corrupt have had a cleaning. Just check the walls of places like Childrens Hospital and other civic institutions where a buck will get you the appearance of an angel with your name forever "good" in history.

The Plumber, Jimmy Robison, was the guy some good investigator should have cracked. But like Max Dunlap, John Adamson, Kemper Marley (with whom I spent 5 hours being grilled by his attorney Murray Miller) and others, they are DEAD. I would like to ask Raul Castro a few questions but he probably would tell me his biographer had already covered that material about nothing.

I have been waiting patiently for a detailed history starting in Chicago about 1928 up to date on the Killing of Bolles. Talton has referred to a number of historical issues in this area but there is still a need for a 900 page gorilla in the room. BOOK.

Who could forget Chief Ortega and his secret files?

Nice little piece on legality and its framework.

electricdog, Since I was Ruben Ortega's Classmate in 54 and his Administrative assistant when he was police chief are you sure it was Ruben that had secret files? YOU TUBE Piece. And Kuntsler was as close as one can get to justice but like Mother Teresa even he had his doubts

Since AZREBEL and I had the first unofficial Jon Talton fan club meeting at a Mesa Mexican joint that doesnt serve alcohol, I think it's time for a 2nd. How about America's?


As I remember, when Ortega retired, there was much (muffled) mention of secret files he had been keeping in his office.

how about we try for a mid-afternoon meeting at that coffee place in your neck of the woods. Would like for soleri and anyone else interested to attend. I'm available tomorrow and Thursday. The club needs officers badly. We are a ship without a rudder.

Well, All chiefs got files but i think what you were referring to had to do with Bolles. As I became keeper of the intelligence files after Bolles was killed I did find files that were being secreted. It's a long sorry ass story.

How about Gallo Blanco inside the Clarendon Hotel at 4th and Clarendon.
We can look at pictures of Don Bolles and John Harvey Adamson.
I am good any day. And 2-4 PM is good quiet time at Gallo Blanco.

Thanks Cal. I'll take first-hand testimony over my fuzzy synapses. I'd like to attend a fan club meeting, but need later times as lunches conflict with work (except on weekends).

AZRebel, since you and I dont really work.How about a Saturday or Sunday?

I don't work either but I do evening runs on weekdays. The weekend would work better for me.

"The San Fernando Valley would be the sixth largest city in the US if it were not in L.A. The Times has one reporter there... it used to have more than 30."
A quote from, The L.A. Times is Dead. Long Live The L.A. Times by David Greene in the Magazine, "Good" issue 23.

A CNN 'news' reporter said this morning, "either side of the spectrum". I don't think he was mixing metaphors as a joke. The spectrum has a gaping chasm between each 'side'.

Our culture in a nut shell.

Cal, a Mexican joint with no alcohol??? That deserves some investigating!

Here's something to consider: our lack of trust in one another relates directly to the scale of corruption in society itself. Rules are more easily manipulated or violated when there's too much economic stratification and hierarchy. Social divisions create a fundamental social pathology that leads ultimately to ineffective government.

"Hell is other Arizonians"

If you're of an existentialist bent, you may enjoy the film "Sartre, l'âge des passions".

Cal, for me, the images that Camus created are indelible. Camus' images seem integral to the feelings he engendered. Kafka provoked feelings that are equally indelible, but more raw and primal, and perhaps even more persistent; also, less cinematic. Camus played more in the phenomenological realm that Alain Robbe-Grillet epitomizes.

It is interesting that most of those countries with high levels of trust are also nations that are very homogenous racially.

Homogenous should read homogeneous; and perhaps, that is one reason why (Northern) European nations developed great social safety nets. Fellow countrymen all look the same and therefore, it is harder to deny someone like you some help when needed. More than a few economist have argued this point.

absurdism 2011

What's the difference between absurdism, nihilism, and existentialism?

PSF, homogeneity has a lot to do with trust but there must be other factors. Some of it is simple social conditioning from cultural or historical influences. Japan, for example, is not that trusting but it's highly homogeneous (to the point of out-and-out xenophobia). Chile is relatively unified in terms of race (they simply exterminated their aboriginals) but its recent history still casts a long shadow. Mexico's lack of trust may relate to its unhappy history with Catholicism and European social distance from the ethnically dominant mestizos.

American history contains some deep faultlines. Republicans routinely exploit them in order to divide and conquer. You begin with a lack of trust, keep setting one group against another, and eventually you get a nation that no longer coheres.

And they call themselves patriots.

How about some real big AZ/US corruption.

Step one: take a race of people and almost exterminate them.

Step two: say you're sorry and promise them reparation.

Step three: Create a bureauracy, BIA, to siphon off the money promised as reparation, so that it goes everywhere else other than it's intended people.

Step four: sell off those people's resources to oil and gas companies.

Step five: Say, oops, sorry AGAIN.

Soleri, great answer...I'm surprised you didn't mention great and dense cities with a semblance of "European-like" social cohesion. In the U.S I’d list NYC, Seattle, Boston, and Portland: Though, except for NYC, those cities are very white. Since mass urbanization is still new to Americans (Phoenix is a great example) therein lies hope for more social progress. Those fault lines you speak of must first break before they stabilize; I believe that is what's occurring today. I know this isn't yours or many others on this blogs belief about our current situation since many have mentioned a sense of resignation. It is just my...theory.

Meanwhile in downtown Seattle:

Jon, I actually like those towers. If the street level retail and ground floor actually come out looking like that, it will be a great addition to downtown Seattle. Likewise, in Roosevelt, the Row will finally be getting a smaller version of a "twin-towers" apartment building. It will be on the Corner of 3rd St/4th St and Roosevelt; it won't have 600 units but will have about 300. phxdowntowner has the link and very detailed information concerning the project.

Gotta love it . . .

"Matt Griffin, Pine Street's managing partner, said the apartments will target young people - 'people who want to walk to work. We truly believe this is a place people could live without owning a car.'"

However, I and many others I know lived in many places in and around Seattle without owning a car; and I ain't the "young" they're talkin' about.

And before we leave the subject of corruption, here's hoping that the whole BCS system merits scrutiny. There are STILL some bona fide investigative reporters around, aren't they? Opinion: Howard Cosell was right in describing sports as "life's candy store", only there's much more to the sickness than just the transfixation of the raggedy- assed masses!

PHXSUNFAN. Your question: What's the difference between absurdism, nihilism, and existentialism?
Given your youth and Idealism I think you are in a great position to answer your own question. If I am around when the your thesis is published i promise to read it. Catch you later I got a rock to roll.

Rate Crimes, "Sartre, lager des passions”. I will add it to my list. Sartre and I got along OK and I'kinda admired Genet. There are actually a lot of films, many European that get in the act, but one of my favorites is "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Nicholson is as usual crazy as Hell but I love that big Indian and watching him rip the toilet off the floor. Reminds me of my early youth when I worked the AZ State Hospital with the likes of Winnie Ruth Judd and when we were still doing the brutal version of shock therapy. They quit lobotomies a year or two before.

As this subject winds down, I would like to make a nomination for the worst product to result from the decades and decades and decades of corruption in Arizona:

John McCain.

It is fitting that other than plants, since the dawn of time, no homo sapiens are from here. We all came here from some other continent.

So, after countless generations, it is only appropriate that a corrupt carpet-bagger be our pre-eminent politician.

Along with Arpaio being grilled for 5 hours today, some more good news for bike commuters headed south from North Central. Central Ave's "road diet" will expand the rest of the way up to Murphy's Bridle Path. Currently, between Camelback Transit Station and Bethany Home Rd, Central is up to three lanes in each direction but after the diet will be reduced to two lanes. Each direction will have a dedicated bike path where a lane of traffic once existed.

Would be great if this was done to every major arterial street in Central Phoenix between 15th Ave-16th St and McDowell to Bethany Home...

I dont ride the dirt path on Central I ride the street. I generally ride Central early in the AM on the week end going from downtown to Sunnyslope.
During the week I ride 12st to Sunny slope or Osborn and Campbell to Scottsdale or the Grand canal to 56st by the airport and back on Washington. However Washington is kinda of a nightmare with all the lights bells and whistles.

Well, we're talking about bi-cycles, so I guess we done wrung all we're going to get out of the corruption thing.

Guess I'll jump on the band wagon.

"I rode a bike once."

AZREBEL, My back doctor recommends you should be riding one NOW.

OK AZREBEL, lets ask who wants to meet SAT 043011 or SUN 050111 at 9 AM or 2 PM at Gallo Blanco. I can go anytime.
cal at
6023161755 or

I am going to be on the look out for a gentleman on a recumbent from now on. I haven't seen many out there so I'm sure you won't be too hard to spot, Cal...especially if you have your dog spot along for the ride. I usually ride to Tempe and then run around the lake and up A Mountain. I cannot wait for the pedestrian bridge over the dam by the Tempe Center for the Arts!

"Here's a word game:" - azrebel

"Political will"

I was talking to a Dem legislator recently who had been contacted by a young local reporter about the Fiesta Bowl. The reporter asked him several times about a trip he'd taken to Boston for a sports event. He said she asked him repeatedly if he had been in Boston or Massachusetts. The legislator said he had to explain a couple of times that Boston is IN Massachusetts. Finally, he said the reporter said, "Oh yeah. Someone told me that the other day. I forgot." Incurious is an understatement.

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