"In America we love to kill people. Sometimes it is legal, more often it is not. But, legal or not, the killing is steady. Sometimes it is in self-defense, sometimes it is in a frenzy of rage or fear, and sometimes it is premeditated, planned for hours and days and months in advance.  

I’ve watched two killings.  I’ve looked in the men’s faces as they died. And many of the other killings happen near me.”

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse in Arizona - Arpaio is threatening to run for Governor.

This has been feared since 1997, but this is the first time he’s announced it, though he told me in 2000 that he thought he’d make a good governor. Back then, he also said, talking about his age, “I’m getting up there.”

In those days, he seemed to enjoy the rumor, and admitted privately that he didn’t intend to run for Governor. I think he just liked scaring Governors Jane Hull and Janet Napolitano, reminding them of the power he had over them. So, this announcement makes it seem likely that he’s serious about doing it. If he runs, he’ll almost certainly win.

Recently, Steven Seagal also declared his interest in running for the same office, and he’s been nationally ridiculed for it. Those doing the mocking clearly don’t understand Arizona; I think Seagal has a solid chance of winning. I don’t know which of the two would be worse.

Disguises I Have Worn: Why Subterfuge Is Necessary for Investigative Journalism

Great Eastern Hotel, Glasgow

I’ve been following The Guardian’s coverage of the News International phone-hacking scandal. While I think hacking a person’s phone is criminal and should be treated as such, I disagree with The Guardian's apparent position that subterfuge should never be committed by journalists.

I’ve misrepresented myself several times: I dressed in rags and pretended to be homeless in order to get admitted to the Great Eastern Hotel in Glasgow, because I wanted to examine the conditions there. When I heard that a nursing home was neglecting its residents, I pretended that I had an elderly relative I wanted to find a place for.  I’ve gone on ride-along with cops who didn’t know I was a journalist, because I wanted to report what they actually said when they didn’t expect consequences. When Sheriff Joe Arpaio was acting as a “celebrity waiter” at a charity event, I went to the restaurant for dinner, pretending to be a tourist from Scotland, and asked him whether he was going to run for governor. There have been other such deceptions - these are only the ones that spring to mind right now - and the sad fact is that they are often necessary in matters of public interest. It should be exceptional, and a last resort, but as long as the privacy of individuals is not being violated, I see no ethical problem with it.

Why Phil Gordon Is the Best Thing That’s Happened to Phoenix in Decades

Phil Gordon
Phoenix New Times has an article that’s a selectively-accurate summary of Phil Gordon’s soon-to-end stint as Mayor of Phoenix. But, despite Gordon’s corruption - which few dispute unless he’s paying them or sleeping with them - his being elected Mayor was a godsend for this city, and the article doesn’t mention it.

While rightly crediting him for standing up to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and for the opening of A.S.U.’s downtown campus, the reporter, Monica Alonzo, overlooks his most significant achievement - the implementation of the light rail.

Journalists at Phoenix New Times opposed the light rail before and after it opened, but it has worked well, and the actuality is that it is the city’s only chance of survival. It needs to be expanded much farther, no matter the cost, because as this car-culture collapses, the various parts of this vast city - and its outposts like Tempe and Scottsdale - will have to become self-contained, compact communities. To think otherwise is the logic of the ostrich. History may remember Phil Gordon as Phoenix’s savior.

Just Published: Why I Watch People Die


"Graham has a visual style and writerly voice that are all his own: timely, urban and powerful."
- Booklist

Barry Graham’s nonfiction is a unique hybrid of hard reporting and harsh autobiography. Since 1995, his home base has been Phoenix, Arizona, a sprawling desert metropolis where development, corruption and violence have grown together, aided and abetted by a dysfunctional media.

Since moving to the U.S. from his native Scotland, Graham has staked out the Southwest as his territory, and written about it in a way that no one else has. His is not the Southwest of scenic natural wonders, petroglyphs and ancient Indian civilizations juxtaposed with modern spiritual seekers. His is the Southwest as gritty emblem of 21st Century America, of urban blight and the dispossessed, of the people left behind.
Graham writes with corrosive honesty, giving no quarter to anyone, especially himself. This book contains his award-winning story of the two executions he has witnessed, along with other pieces that form a beautiful and terrifying portrait of a civilization in the process of collapse.



Arpaio Cans Hendershott - Will They Testify Against Each Other?

David Hendershott
Phoenix New Times reports that today Sheriff Joe Arpaio fired his long-time enforcer David Hendershott.

The ramifications of this could be interesting. A few months ago, Nick Hentoff and I were speculating as to whether Hendershott might try to save his own skin by giving evidence against Arpaio. Hentoff thought it was likely. I disagreed somewhat; I said that even though I didn’t think Hendershott would hesitate to sell out Arpaio (or anyone else) if it seemed expedient, he’s so arrogant, so used to getting away with anything he does, that he’d be unlikely to feel desperate enough to turn on his nominal boss. I say “nominal” because it’s always been Hendershott who’s run things in Arpaio’s office.

It never occurred to me that Arpaio might fire Hendershott - again, not because of any integrity on Arpaio’s part - they’re both amoral - but out of the same arrogance, and also needing Hendershott to keep running his corrupt administration.

Now, having been fired by Arpaio, and in legal trouble, and in need of money, he’s not only angry and desperate, but may have nothing to lose by giving the Feds what they need to nail Arpaio. It’s looking more and more likely that “America’s Toughest Sheriff” will end his days wearing a prison uniform.

I wonder if Arpaio will try to avoid that by blaming Hendershott and testifying against him. I’d guess right now that’s the strategy he’s laying in place by firing him.

Joe Arpaio Launches “Air Posse” to Hunt Immigrants at Border

"We’re going to use our automatic weapons if we have to, and I’m tired of my deputies having to chase these people and I’m sure the air posse will be able to spot these guys running as they do constantly from us,” Arpaio said.

Read the rest.

So, Arpaio intends to have vigilantes use automatic weapons against people who are already risking their lives walking through the desert in order to get jobs that most Americans don’t want.

Respectability For Phoenix: The Stupidest Prediction I Ever Made

The Arizona Republic reports that the Phoenix Police Department wastes hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars paying officers accused of misconduct to wait at home as internal investigations drag on for as long as a year, even when there is no dispute about the misconduct the cops are accused of.

Nine years ago, just after the Diamondbacks had won the World Series, I was about to leave Phoenix. I remarked to M.V. Moorhead, “I think the jig’s up here. Colangelo has bought Phoenix the one thing it didn’t need and should never, ever have - respectability.”

How wrong I was. Phoenix has always been corrupt, was actually founded as a hustle, but in the last decade it’s gotten worse beyond my most feverish imaginings, worse to the point of near-apocalypse. We have elected officials who belong in a mental ward, led by a governor who’s barely literate and whose education, such as it was, ended in high school. We have cold-blooded murder by cops, we have cops involved in organized fraud, we have a sheriff who behaves like a regional warlord, we have a new law that’s so racist as to be unconstitutional, we have vast wealth in a state that’s so broke that education and health care aren’t being adequately funded…

As bad as things were here before, the current state of the state makes me almost nostalgic for how innocent and just a little bit mischievous things were back then.

Respectability? That was stupid, even for me.