Tucson city voters: Do you ever feel like you're stuck in the middle of a Coen brothers movie, where the good guys are hopelessly flawed, and the bad guys (with the exception of Anton Chigurh) are far more inept than evil, prompting the victims to laugh even as they're being ripped off?
After spending the past couple of decades being buffeted by the ever-shifting winds of buffoonery, bureaucratic ass-covering and general indifference by elected officials to the populace they are supposed to be serving—plus the (in)actions of the dreamers who spend their spare time paving the road to hell with their good intentions—Tucsonans have found themselves existing in a community that's not exactly upside down, but is always, maddeningly, just a little bit sideways.
Where most big cities have Movers and Shakers, Tucson's political gridlock has left the Old Pueblo in the hands of the Unmoving and the Shaky. When a few good and modest ideas are gobbled up by the gaping maw that is Tucson's dysfunctional city government, what comes out the other side would cause even the most jaded political observer to ask, "Why is that human leg sticking out of that wood chipper?"
I watched True Grit the other night and was impressed with the interaction between the characters. In fact, the Mattie Ross character (played masterfully by Hailee Steinfeld) gave me the idea for this column, because she reminded me so much of Regina Romero. Just kidding. Mattie Ross strung more sensible words together in one sentence than Romero has in her entire political career.
In fact, when I hear Romero speak, it reminds me of another great filmmaker, Adam Sandler, whose Billy Madison character was told by the principal, "What you've just said is the most insanely idiotic thing I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought."
However, in keeping with the general theme of the column, I'm sure we could find Romero a spot in a remake of a Coen brothers' movie. She could provide a nails-on-a-chalkboard imitation of Jennifer Jason Leigh's nails-on-a-chalkboard imitation of Katharine Hepburn in The Hudsucker Proxy.
Or she could play Dot in Raising Arizona, who uttered the famous line, "I just love biblical names. If I have another little boy, I'll name him Jason, Caleb or Tab."
Actually, some of the examples suggested by the films (and their titles) are just too easy. Intolerable Cruelty?
A. Having to sit through an entire City Council meeting.
B. Listening to the police chief explain how his cops aren't going to investigate several categories of crimes anymore.
C. Trying to navigate that road (where Toole Avenue, Fourth Avenue and Congress Street merge) at the east end of downtown near the Rialto.
No Country for Old Men?
A. A city park after dark.
B. That road at the east end of downtown by the Rialto.
Burn After Reading?
A. The Fire Department's internal memos about sexual harassment.
B. Anything with the words "Rio Nuevo" on it.
C. An actual civil engineer's written explanation of (and/or excuse for) that road at the east end of downtown by the Rialto.
A. A pedestrian walkway (named for former Mayor George) right near the Lew Murphy Overpass.
B. A death race held at the east end of downtown to spice things up during Second Saturdays Downtown.
There are several other things that readily come to mind:
• Whenever I see Tucson City Manager Mike Letcher, I can't help but think of Marge Gunderson in Fargo. They both wear similar earrings. That's the only thing they have in common, because Marge is actually able to figure shit out.
• Lone Republican City Councilmember Steve Kozachik reminds me of Ed (Holly Hunter) in Raising Arizona. His heart's occasionally in the right place, but he's in love with the philosophical equivalent of Nicolas Cage. And that's only going to get him in trouble, especially when his philosophy tries to steal diapers from a convenience store.
• For reasons that it would take 10,000 psychiatrists (or one really good voodoo lady) to figure out, The Big Lebowski reminds me of Janos Wilder. While I like that movie, I don't worship it like some people do. However, it does remind me of Janos. Maybe it's because I tend to call him "Dude" a lot. Or maybe the size of the bowling implements reminds me of what it takes to try to start a successful restaurant in downtown Tucson, especially one adjacent to one of the biggest construction sites in Tucson history.
What's really amazing is that Janos could have stayed in the foothills and raked in the snowbirds' cash, but he chose to go back downtown. Dude.
• And finally there is Mayor Bob Walkup, the guy who is supposed to be in charge of this whole mess, the man who comes to mind when discussing the Coens' least-successful movie: The Man Who Wasn't There.