Sheriff Joe Arpaio, haggard and worn at the Sun City book signing.
Jeez, Joe, take a nap, will ya? You're too old to keep up this pace...
Ancient oldsters being wheeled around by their 70-year-old "children." Blue-hairs lugging about their own oxygen tanks. A withered old crone with literally one tooth in her mouth, eager to get her book signed. The occasional redneck. Some broad from former KIA-peddler Rusty Childress' bike outfit Riders U.S.A. buying a half dozen copies of Joe's new tome. This is what the line looked like at the Barnes and Noble in Surprise on Saturday. Like you needed proof that Joe's big in the Sun City area, Joe's core audience of alter kockers bought an estimated 80 or so books during the book signing.
Joe's fans are so old, when they went to school, they didn't have history...
I say "estimated" because the bookstore employees acted like they were scared witless of press, and clammed up over even the most picayune of factoids. Remember back when people who worked in bookstores were not pathetic corporate drones? That's a subject for a different day, of course, but real bookstores used to employ a more independent breed. Nowadays, they seem mostly cowed and obedient. They might as well be selling plumbing supplies instead of books.
A lone Riders USA Member loading up on books. Who knew they could read?
Joe himself looked tired, washed-out, beat. Although a few sign-wielding protesters were out in the 100-degree heat, representin' por la causa, there was no one on the inside intent on interrupting the geriatric love-fest with an embarrassing question, as in the past. Nor were there any TV news cameras around. I got there a little late, with Joe wrapping up his remarks to the living cemetery before him.
"Real criminals," like Joe and his flunkies.
"Here's that guy from the New Times," announced Joe when he saw me. "He follows me around. Yeah, the one in the green shirt...That was a very vicious article you wrote about my book signing, slander and everything else. Keep it up."
"It's the real truth, Joe," I shot back. Joe was referring to my review of his book Joe's Law in New Times' most recent issue.
The grannies in attendance booed and yelled, "Remove him!" Some dough-faced alter kocker dood told me to, "Get out of here." I told him, politely, that it's still a free country, despite what he wants it to be. Do all old people end up this way, or is it just that authority-worshipping a-holes retire to Sand Land? There certainly are a butt-load of them around. And, sadly, they vote, though many barely know what day it is or where they are.
You'll get no argument here...
Some idiot lady stood up and thanked Joe for sending the illegals back to Mexico.
"They are here illegally," growled Joe. "And it is a federal crime, regardless of what anyone says."
I pointed out that it's a civil offense to be in the country illegally. There's a potential fine, and the government can remove you. Big whoop. It ain't a crime. You don't go to prison for it. Allow me to quote none other than nativist hero and Colorado Republican Representative Tom Tancredo, who wrote in USA Today two years ago, "Right now, illegal presence in the USA is not a crime; it is a civil infraction."
There is a part of the U.S. Code called "improper entry by alien," for which you can receive up to six months in jail and a fine for crossing the border illegally, but they have to catch you in the act. Otherwise, it's difficult to prove. It's as if Joe and his Geritol-addled posse have never heard of people coming to this country on a visa, and then overstaying it.
William Crum, giving the Sheriff what for...
Anyway, Joe finally finished his blather, and took up his autograph pen at a table in the music section, which was cut off from the rest of the bookstore. Joe sat next to his wife, Ava, as a line of the aged shuffled forward to greet him. While this was going on, I ducked outside to talk to the anti-Joe demonstrators out on the sidewalk. These included Green Party candidate William Crum, who's running for Congress against incumbent Republican Trent Franks from the 2nd Congressional District, as well as local activists Andy Hernandez and Sunshine Watson.
Activist Andy Hernandez finds some shade while blasting Joe...
"I'm just disgusted with Arpaio," said Watson, when asked why she was braving the scorching temps. "I'm disgusted with the racial profiling. He's pretty much instilling fear in people. I shudder to think what crimes are going unreported because people are afraid to call the police, maybe because they have family members who are illegal or they're illegal themselves."
Just say no to Joe...
Nearby, Andy Hernandez concurred.
"I think he's racist," explained Hernandez of Arpaio. "It's just not right what he represents."
As fat men are likely to spontaneously combust in that kind of heat, I scooted back to the B&N, and some sweet AC. Inside, Joe looked like he was about to pass out. Hey, the guy is 76. And it'd been a rough week, what with Mesa Police Chief George Gascon stealing his spotlight, forcing the MCSO to keep a low profile as they hunted Hispanics in the streets of Mesa. I stood a couple of yards away from Arpaio, waiting for him to finish with his antique fans before sparring with him verbally, as we've done many times in the past. But as soon as he was finished, he slunk out a backdoor exit with his bodyguards, so enervated he lacked the pep to banter with a reporter.
The figure continually gets larger...
I don't know if there are any other book signings. Seems like Joe's finished, in more ways than one. The guy doesn't have the luxury of retiring. There's so much corruption in the MCSO, that Joe has to stay in office till he croaks of old age. Otherwise, his regime's books will get a good going-over by his successor. And that likely wouldn't be pretty for Joe, Chief Deputy David Hendershott and others.
The once-mighty Joe is now a sad, little man, imprisoned by all his misdeeds. If he weren't so evil, I'd almost feel sorry for him.
Anyone remember this cat from Woodstock?