MARKET FORCESOne of The Skinny's favorite haunts, the Book Stop, is leaving Campbell Avenue after four decades.
Why? Because the center's leasing agent/part owner, Richard "Dick" Shenkarow, is a total tool.
Book Stop owners Claire Fellows and Tina Bailey are gonna walk before he makes them run, escaping to Fourth Avenue before Shenkarow raises the rent.
The unassuming bookstore, just north of the intersection with Grant Road, was full of an ever-changing collection of treasures--shelf after shelf of classics, pulp fiction, best-sellers, obscure lit mags, hideous cookbooks, old yearbooks and so much more.
We've been marveling at the musty merchandise since we discovered the place back in the mid-'70s. Open until 10 p.m., it was a great haven whenever we tried to quit drinking. A good chunk of our library--the John Steinbeck, the Harry Crews, the Iceberg Slim--was found there. Even stuff we didn't want to own--say, a 20-volume hardbound collection of government correspondence from the Civil War--was fun to flip through. And then there was the crazy stuff we'd find in the drawers when we pulled them open.
Here's wishing Claire and Tina the best of luck at their new location on Fourth Avenue when they reopen this summer.
The Book Stop is the latest casualty of Shenkarow's push to squeeze more money out of his Campbell Avenue strip center. His greed has now driven out three of our favorite spots along the avenue. Besides the Book Stop, we've also lost Hear's Music, which has shut its doors, and Santa Barbara Ice Creamery, which has relocated closer to campus, at 1058 N. Campbell Ave., just south of Speedway Boulevard, where Jo Jensen is still dishing out gourmet ice cream. With summer bearing down on us, isn't it time to stop in for a scoop?
The last time we talked to Shenkarow, by the way, he insisted he wanted to see the Book Stop remain in the strip center. Guess he was scooping a big load of crap.
SCRAMBLEWATCH '08: FREEFALL EDITIONHe's in! Sen. John McCain really, really made it official last week with a campaign "kickoff" that stretched from New Hampshire to Tempe. McCain tried to turn one negative (his age) into a positive (his experience) and continued to stress his support for the war in Iraq.
McCain's announcement comes as he's struggled with some bad news, including those lousy fundraising numbers released earlier this month.
Polls are also showing him struggling nationally and here in Arizona. The latest Cronkite-Eight survey from Maricopa County PBS affiliate KAET-TV and the Arizona State University journalism school shows that while McCain was still ahead of other GOP candidates in Arizona, only 32 percent of Republicans surveyed were supporting him. That was down from 44 percent two months ago.
The poll showed that 27 percent of Republicans were supporting Rudy Giuliani; 11 percent were supporting Mitt Romney (whose support has nearly doubled since February); 9 percent were supporting Newt Gingrich; and 6 percent liked Fred Thompson, who wasn't included in the last poll.
It appears that McCain may also be struggling to keep control of that Straight Talk Express, at least when it comes to those folks he's tossing underneath it. The watchdogs at Media Matters--mediamatters.org--reported last week that McCain told Mike Allen of The Politico that he thought it was past time for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to go.
"Out of loyalty to the president, he (Gonzales) should obviously step down," McCain was quoted as saying in the article. "He's not serving the president well. I reached that conclusion a long time ago. I just haven't been asked."
Except, as Media Matters noted, McCain was asked by The New York Times, New Hampshire's Union Leader and The Associated Press--and our senior senator either declined to answer or said Gonzales deserved a chance to defend himself before Congress.
Guess it can be hard to keep all the straight talk, well, straight.
SURVEY SCRAPSThe Cronkite-Eight Poll also asked Democrats about their presidential preference. One-quarter of them said they like Hillary Clinton; 20 percent said they liked Barack Obama; 18 percent liked John Edwards; and 17 percent like Al Gore. One-fifth of Democrats were undecided.
Other results from the survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent:
• Arizonans remain split on the Iraq war. More than half--51 percent--liked the idea of a withdrawal timetable, while 42 percent oppose it.
• They're also split on the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding a federal law banning "partial-birth" abortions, with 46 percent disagreeing with the court, and 44 percent agreeing with the decision.
• President George W. Bush has hit his lowest approval rating yet, at 36 percent. Almost one-third of voters--31 percent--say he'll go down in history as one of the worst presidents, while only 3 percent say he'll be remembered as one of the best.
• Bad news for businesses: 63 percent of those surveyed say that they'd support state Rep. Russell Pearce's ballot initiative that would put employers permanently out of business if they knowingly employ illegal immigrants. If that one passes, we'll bet many business owners will be studying up on Alberto Gonzales' memory tricks.
• Asked to rank the one thing they'd like to see done to address illegal immigration, 29 percent said they want tougher border security; 17 percent said they want a guest-worker program; 15 percent said they wanted stronger enforcement of current laws; and only 5 percent said they wanted a big ol' wall on the border.
Can we just mention that this strikes us as a stupid question? It seems to us that making voters choose one option makes no sense at all. It's entirely possible that people who want more security could also want a guest-worker program. That's why Congress is talking about comprehensive reform.
• Finally, 39 percent agreed with the decision to fire Don Imus, while 43 percent said he shouldn't have been canned.
ROADBLOCKSo we read the other day in the East Valley Tribune that a Scottsdale photo-radar company--the folks who put the cameras on the streets to bust speeders and red-light runners--is lobbying Arizona lawmakers to shift responsibility for violations from drivers to the car owner.
Evidently, too many folks must be getting out of having to pay their tickets by proving they weren't driving the car that was photographed racing through the red light.
Given the Legislature's general skepticism toward photo-radar law enforcement, we don't think there's much of a chance they're going to agree to shift the burden of guilt from lawbreakers to property owners in order to help out the profits of a private company.
THANK-YOU NOTEThe Arizona Legislature gave us a wonderful gift last week: They moved the September Arizona primary back one week, extending the political season an extra week.
We wished they'd moved it a month earlier, of course, but we'll take what we got. For political junkies, this is like an extra week of the NFL season.
The move was prompted by complaints from election officials who said they didn't have enough time to settle close races or legal challenges between the mid-September primary and the start of early voting in the early October.
Lawmakers also trimmed a week out of early voting, which may make it easier for campaigns to work mail-in ballots.