Monday, July 10, 2006

Snottsdale, My Home Town

I didn't see it when it first came out, but Ann Althouse links to a story in the Chicago Tribune, about Scottsdale, Arizona, where I grew up. (I also lived in Paradise Valley, a little enclave nestled between Scottsdale and Phoenix, that culture-wise is pretty much the same as Scottsdale.) I still go back a few times a year, and the rest of my family has deep roots there: many years ago, my brother took the mayor's daughter to prom, and my nephew goes to the high school where my sister was Homecoming Queen.

Seeing the article in the Chicago Tribune was a little weird. There are a lot of people from Chicago in the Phoenix-area, and many of them are snow birds, northern retirees who come down for the winters and who make a mess of traffic from October to April. It's a little lame to see one of their hometown papers making fun of Scottsdale, espeically since the story's title is "A new sin city: 'Snottsdale'". That doesn't sound at all like the Gold Coast, or Wilmette, or Lake Forest, or Naperville, or Glenview, etc., etc., ad infinitum.

The sub-head is "Arizona enclave of the rich and famous is gaining a national reputation as home of the vapid and lustful." That doesn't sound at all like the Gold Coast, or Wilmette, or Lake Forest, or Naperville, or Glenview, etc., etc., ad infinitum.

People in overpriced glass houses shouldn't throw condescending stones.

The story is a little cheesy, making fun of all the sinfulness of Scottsdale while subtly, like a good gossip, revelling all the talk about sin. But parts of the story are pretty funny, especially this quote from a local politician:

[Scottsdale City Councilwoman Betty] Drake, however, says she wasn't the least bit fazed by the show's depiction of Scottsdale's women as shopping-obsessed and plastic surgery-addicted.

"Oh, get over it," she said. "So what if people want to make fun of us? Every city has its own particular brand of strangeness. For some it may be gangs or drugs or troubled youth. We just happen to have some over-Botoxed blonds with oversexed tendencies."

The show she is referring to was a reality show about a Scottsdale women's book club, sort of an Arizona take on that show about Orange county housewives. It got pulled quick because of low ratings, but some of the low ratings stemmed from news that parts of the show were phony, and that some of the women didn't even live in Scottsdale.

What the story relates really isn't new. The town has always been rich and there's always been plenty of gossip. Several years ago there was a scandal surrounding some strip club owners who owned a gaudy home in the area. I don't recall what the scandal was, but I remember that part of the reports included descriptions of the owner's gaudy Scottsdale home -- I think it had a goat's head or a pentacle on the front gate. When I read the story I remembered regularly passing that house when I still lived in the area. I recall thinking to myself, "So that's what went on in there." But the town's now had more exposure, so the scandals there have a news currency.

But here's a story. After college, about 15 years ago, I went back to Phoenix to look for a job. For about 3 months I lived in a condo in Scottsdale that my parents owned, one that they'd rent out to snow birds in the winter. One afternoon I picked up a copy of the New Times, the local alternative paper, one that always had a lot of good features in it. That week's feature was on unsolved Arizona mysteries.

So I'm flipping through the article, reading little blurbs about the Lost Dutchman Mine and the like, and it gets to the murder of Bob Crane. Crane, you might recall, was the actor who played Captain Hogan on "Hogan's Heroes". He was brutally murdered in Scottsdale in 1978; he was in town performing at a local dinner theater. At the time I was living there, the case was still unsolved. In the blurb about Crane I read that the apartment where he was murdered was on Indian School Road and I think to myself, "Hey, I'm living on Indian School Road." Then it says the apartment complex was called Winfield, and I think, "Hey, that's the name of place where I'm living now." Then I look at a picture of the door of the apartment where he was killed and I notice the number on the door said 42A and I think to myself, "Hey, I live in 41A."

And then I think to myself, "Holy crap, Crane got his head bashed in next door." Sure enough, I later asked my parents and they confirmed that Crane was killed next door. They didn't want to think about it much, and they weren't even sure the guy who lived in that apartment when I was living next door knew the truth.

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