Joe Watson, the Salon Bandit?

Joe Watson in custody...

Some Mondays are crazier than others, and this one was particularly whack, with the news that ex-New Times staff writer Joe Watson was popped Friday for allegedly sticking up six Valley businesses, including three salons in Scottsdale, hence the catchy sobriquet "the salon bandit." Scottsdale detectives arrested Watson 1:40 p.m. on March 30, doing one of his favorite things -- playing poker at Casino Arizona. No surprise to that part of it, at least. Watson confided to having a gambling addiction to other New Times writers before he resigned his position with the paper a year ago. According to Scottsdale PD flack, Sgt. Mark Clark, Watson admitted his problem to detectives, stating that he'd committed the robberies to feed his gambling habit. He's currently being held by the MCSO on five counts of armed robbery. A sixth charge is pending. And cops suspect Watson of robberies in Phoenix and Tempe as well.

During his tenure at New Times, Watson penned what's become one of the most popular NT cover stories ever, the tale of "Baby Man," a Phoenix eccentric who wears nothing but diapers 'round town and sleeps in a crib the size of a Volkswagen. Watson was well-connected in PHX journalism circles, having worked as an editor for ASU's State Press Magazine and State Press newspaper. He also worked on the East Valley Tribune's sports desk, until famously being fired for skipping work to attend the World Series, when he'd been emphatically warned not to do so by his boss, then sports editor Slim Smith, who, ironically, is currently doing four months for extreme DUI. He had a brief stint as the editor of the glossy Scottsdale mag 944, and once sat on the board of the Arizona Press Club. (He also did a spate of sports stories back in 2002/2003 for the Arizona Republic.) In addition, Watson'd freelanced under the pseudonym "Zachary Best" for Phoenix magazine, where his fiancee Managing Editor Ashlea Deahl still works. Deahl declined comment when contacted for this post. They were engaged to be wed later this year.

According to Sgt. Clark, Watson wore a hat as some sort of disguise during the robberies, and used what may have been a simulated weapon in a paper bag or with a towel over it. Close friends of Watson's did not know whether or not he owned a gun. Video surveillance footage from one of the robberies was shown on a 10 p.m. newscast, Thursday. Someone recognized Joe and dropped a dime. Clark stated that Watson didn't resist arrest at the casino. (Wonder what kind of hand he was holding?) Watson's made threats of suicide in the past. Hopefully, authorities are aware that his mental state can be volatile.

Personally, I'm in a state of shock. I knew Watson had been battling an obsession with gambling for some time (he once spoke rapturously of the seedy 1998 poker flick Rounders with Matt Damon and Ed Norton), and I know he'd sunk low in the past because of it. But I had no idea he'd go so far. Watson's a talented guy, and had been working at some sort of medical publishing house in Phoenix of late. I kept in touch with him, and played pool with him once or twice. He was upfront about his addiction, and I told him that it was beyond me. I can understand physical addiction to illicit substances, food or sex, but to gambling? It's all in your head, which perhaps makes it even more dangerous. The reality that he's facing some hard time if convicted is chilling. Nothing excuses what's been done. But I hope the dude finds a way to turn his life around and doesn't spend the rest of it in the pen.

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10 comments
QueZ
QueZ

Yes, crimes. Violent crimes no. The use of the words "violent" and "violence" is overdone, per usual when talking about these sort of situations.

It is possible to have sympathy for everyone involved. Differing levels perhaps, but sympathy nevertheless. Either/or is not a requirement.

It does not matter how other people would feel if it were their mothers, sisters, or daughters. Anyone who decides what should happen to an accused person based upon how they felt when being victimized, or how they would feel if it were them in the victims' shoes should never have a deciding vote. That is normal, but it is emotional and it is biased. Therefore, such decisions really should be made by calm, unemotional, rational, unbiased, fairness-minded parties with no stake in the outcome. Too bad it rarely happens that way.

I suspect everything volunteered by people who actually know him is true to one extent or another. Charming, nice, talented people can also be weak, or narcissistic, or sick, or desperate. Again, not either/or. Regardless, though, nothing about his relationships are relevant to the actual crimes of which he is accused.

QueZ
QueZ

Aside from the personal information you shared about your relative, the most important to the public you shared is that you changed your mind about being so conservatively staunch about justice crime and punishment. If only more people in our society would get out of their narrow minded, vengeful, know-it-all mindset Before we further destroy our communities, thereby our country, pursuing and supporting institutional violence against those who don't really require it. It won't happen though, depressingly.

QueZ
QueZ

Regardless of whether we are talking about this case or any other, that is a stupid, outrageous law. Doing away with distinctions in state after state doesn't make it right, healthy, practical, or just. It just means we are stupid, callous, and shortsighted as a people.

QueZ
QueZ

You raise a good point, and it can also be applied to situations where people are hurt, even killed, without the perpetrator intending to hurt them.

Many people we incarcerate now are not predatory, violent criminals but increasingly we treat all as if they are. Our revenge-driven justice system and the public, whipped up by irresponsible media coverage and crime shows for entertainment, believe that the Only consequence must be a severely, negatively life-altering one. However, even if we do not care about the future viability of the perpetrator (whether he or she will be a drain on society, an ongoing destructive force, or redeemed and valuable to society in the future instead) that doesn't make anything better for victims or society at large.

A sane, logical, productive citizenry would demand we figure out a better approach with better outcomes for everyone. Restitution of some form would be Much more productive and healthy for all than what we hand down as consequences now.

Unfortunately, those already making profit from the current system do not yet see the potential dollar signs they could make from a different sort of system, so it isn't going to happen. At least not until most of us are locked up for something and subjected to the dehumanizing, scary, dangerous, and illness-creating world of incarceration.

QueZ
QueZ

Excellent!

doonung
doonung

I am looking for a good article on it. It's to let other people know more and more.

Guest
Guest

Is this the same Joe Watson that owns Sharpest Image Printing? That guy scammed my friend recently, so I wouldn't doubt it.

wrong diagnosis
wrong diagnosis

There are many genuine reasons and excuses for the wrong diagnosis of an illness, and it could be any one of many people involved in your health care who is liable. If you believe that you have been injured or your health has deteriorated due to the wrong diagnosis of an illness, you should speak with a solicitor in regard to making a wrong diagnosis claim for compensation.

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