By David Leibowitz
In Arizona’s formative years — say before the Valley constructed an actual freeway system — the state’s economy and reputation rested on what early Arizonans called “the five Cs.”
Copper, cattle, cotton, citrus and climate were mainstays in these parts, and people were proud of it.
Now it’s 2021, and while Arizona’s weather remains a huge deal, some of the other Cs are withering. Cattle, which once comprised half the Arizona economy, is down to a modest 5%. We also used to grow most of the world’s Pima cotton. Today? Arizona accounts for only about 2% of the global supply.
Fear not, however. Arizona has an abundance of a new C I’d like to add to the mix — crazies.
I’ve been chronicling this state’s culture and newsmakers since 1995, and if there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s this: Whenever some big national story involving insane behavior erupts, Arizona will make news.
Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber? Of course, he lived in a Kingman trailer park.
Hani Hanjour, one of the 9/11 hijackers? Of course, he got flight training in Mesa.
Sexual predator and Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein begets the #MeToo movement? Of course, he goes to sex addiction rehab in Wickenburg.
And of course, when a bunch of morons stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the idiot front and center — the 33-year-old shirtless “shaman” sporting buffalo horns, a fur headdress and red, white and blue face paint — had to hail from the Valley.
You may have heard about Jake Angeli, “the QAnon Shaman” whose given name is Jacob Chansley.
Once a student at Moon Valley High School, Angeli became a regular at political protests in metro Phoenix over the past two years.
He often carried a sign that said “Q Sent Me” and spouted lots of conspiracy nonsense. An unemployed actor by trade, Angeli owns an online business called Star Seed Academy, where for $55.55 you can take a “Spiritual Self Defense Course” and learn “How to Create Healing Plant Remedies for Illness & Gain Plant Spirit Allies.”
I’m guessing someone has been a little too closely allied with magic mushrooms and weed for the last 15 years.
Even addled, Angeli managed to become one of the faces of the Capitol raid, pictured at the dais in the Senate, using a bullhorn to lead his fellow Looney Tunes in prayer. Angeli even left a note for then-Vice President Mike Pence: “It’s only a matter of time. Justice is coming.”
Speaking of justice, while Angeli awaits his day in court — he faces six felonies and 28 years in prison — he’s apparently been on a hunger strike.
Who knew shamans only ate organic food? That’s how Angeli and his lawyer explained it to a federal judge during a Feb. 3 court demanding that the D.C. Department of Corrections adhere to Angeli’s dietary needs.
Eating “nonorganic food,” Angeli’s lawyer argued, “which contains unnatural chemicals, would act as an ‘object intrusion’ onto his body and cause serious illness if he were to eat it.”
Naturally — pun intended — Judge Royce Lamberth ruled in Angeli’s favor.
So be it. Give the man his organic chow, stat. In a very Arizona twist to this tale, we ought to ship the hometown antihero one of his home state’s staple crops to help him gain back the 20 pounds Angeli claims to have lost.
Few things are more organic than pecans and pistachios. A study last year by the UA detailed that these tasty crops now account for nearly $100 million in annual economic impact.
That’s hardly a surprise. It’s Arizona. We grow nuts here.