We're making a list
And checking it twice
Gonna find out
Who's naughty or nice ...
This week, it's time for the naughty.
While there are innumerable things we love about Tucson, there are some things that--frankly--annoy the shit out of us: stupid things, hateful things, harmful things, noisy things.
As a community service, and with an eye toward economic development and an overall increase in our quality of life, we present to you this list of 19 people, organizations and things that Tucson would be better off without. We're taking 'em and escorting them outta town--metaphorically, of course, since we have not yet been granted banishment powers.
We hope you enjoy our fourth annual Get Out of Town! issue. Next week: Our nice list, aka our fourth annual Local Heroes issue.
"A" MOUNTAIN COLORSThe red, white and blue on Sentinel Peak has lasted too long, and it is time for these colors to fade.
Painted in a 2003 burst of war fervor, the "A" has become a local symbol for a catastrophic error that has cost the lives of almost 3,000 U.S. troops and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, while making refugees of millions more.
At the start of the Iraq war, local activists painted the white "A" black as a sign of protest. Loudly declaring their patriotism, others responded with the tri-colors. The City Council stepped in and decided to go with the red, white and blue until "the current conflict in the Middle East is resolved."
Almost four years later, that naiveté seems almost as quaint as those who declared victory in Iraq after the capture of Baghdad. This "conflict," whether the United States is directly involved or not, will go on for decades and is being recognized as the biggest foreign policy blunder in this country's history.
To make partial amends to the people of Iraq, the "A" should be repainted black, the traditional color of mourning. Short of that, let it return to pure white, since the red, white and blue "A" is too much of a reminder of a tragic American mistake.
BILL ARNOLDFinley Peter Dunne once observed that "politics ain't beanbag." We'd certainly agree that it's a contact sport.
But that doesn't mean that some acts can't cross over the line. It's one thing to bust on a politician for misusing campaign funds. It's another to go sneaking around her home taking pictures through the windows.
That's what local real estate broker Bill Arnold evidently did to outgoing state Sen. Toni Hellon when he came to the conclusion that she used campaign contributions to remodel parts of her home. Hellon maintains she used the money to remodel a home office; Arnold, according to a lawsuit filed against him by Hellon, attempted to disprove her assertions by snooping around her property and snapping pictures that he then anonymously posted on the Internet, along with a floorplan of her home.
That's not politics. That's a creepy invasion of privacy.
In his only statement since Hellon filed her lawsuit against him, Arnold called the charges "baseless." But if someone were saying those things about you, and you knew they weren't true, wouldn't you be out talking to every TV station and newspaper, telling them that these were crazy and false accusations? Of course you would--unless you knew that you'd be shown to be a liar in an upcoming legal case.
Get out of town, Bill Arnold--and take your camera with you.
AUGUSTA RESOURCE CORPORATION AND YORAM LEVYAnyone who has driven down State Highway 83 to Sonoita knows how beautiful the Santa Rita Mountains are. Well, enjoy 'em while you can--because a Canadian mining company is planning to rip a big chunk of them to shreds to extract copper.
Augusta Resource Corporation has to get federal approval to proceed with the mining operation--but something tells us that, given the environmental sensitivity of the Bush administration, that's not going to be a real tough sell.
How'd we get into this mess? Augusta purchased a 2,700-acre parcel from Yoram Levy, a local developer who bought it back in June 2004 for $4.8 million. Then--in what he described as a charitable stab at doing the right thing--he offered it to Pima County for just $11.5 million. When the county passed on the offer, he turned around and sold it to Augusta last year for $20.8 million.
A tidy profit--and all it will cost the rest of us is an irreplaceable mountain range. How utterly greedheaded can you get?
Get out of town, Augusta Resource Corporation--and take Yoram Levy with you!
CHAIN RESTAURANTS PATRONS WHO ARE WILLING TO WAITAs you may have read (and if you didn't read ... SHAME!!!), I recently reviewed a chain restaurant. This particular chain serves decent steaks, cooked to order about half of the time, for decent prices. It serves barbecue sauce that not only sucks, but covered the back of one of the booth seats at which we had the pleasure to sit. This restaurant is not all that.
Despite this eatery's mediocrity, Tucsonans have been flocking to it in droves. While we were doing our review, we attempted to eat there on a Friday. Well, we left, because there was an 80-minute wait to eat there.
Yes, an 80-minute wait. Almost an hour and a half. Enough time to take in a movie or three episodes of The Office. Enough time to drive from Oro Valley to Ikea, if you speed a bit.
We ditched the place and went to one of Tucson's finer locally owned joints. It was only about two-thirds full, and we ended up having a fantastic meal at prices similar to those at the chain. And there were no sticky substances on our seats.
I am not averse to the charms of chains. Even though some local coffee-shop owners hate me for this, I like Starbucks coffee (even though I frequent the local joints far more often). About once every six months, my body apparently feels that it is lacking in highly processed artificial fat and tells me I need a Moons Over My Hammy from Denny's. But I would never, ever wait 80 minutes to get one.
Come on, Tucson. Support locally owned, independent businesses. If you absolutely feel the need to go to a chain restaurant, fine. But if it's packed with idiots willing to wait to eat there, go somewhere else--chances are, you'll have a better dining experience.
And to those cretins willing to wait to eat at a chain ... hasta la vista. You're outta here.
CHICAGO WHITE SOXLike a bed-hopping cad, the Chicago White Sox bolted Sarasota, Fla., for a new spring training home in Tucson less than a decade ago. So it shouldn't be surprising that the team has now succumbed to the siren song of big bucks being sung by the megalopolis to the north.
As advice columnists often warn, "If he cheats once, he's likely to cheat again."
While Pima County politicians run around bemoaning our baseball fate, fans who actually attend spring training games at Tucson Electric Park probably could care less. If the White Sox don't want to be here, they should motor up Interstate 10--and not look back.
Even if another major league club isn't found to replace the White Sox, it won't be the end of the world. Springtime in Tucson is too beautiful to worry about whether the community has three, two, one or even zero big-league clubs training in town.
The Chicago team and its owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, have shown their true loyalties--and they are no longer welcome here. It was nice having the club for a short stay, and Tucson will miss them. But we'll get over the loss, and now it is time for the final breakup and to say adios. So hit the road, Sox.
THE CHRISTIAN RIGHTThey have dogged us since the Reagan days. But it was Karl Rove who corralled the Christian right into a political juggernaut, squeaking President Bush into office twice. Since then, Republicans have repaid the favor by plumping the righteous, who then revel in shoving their holy crap down our throats.
The Short List: Terri Schiavo; staunching stem-cell research; banning gay marriage; restricting adoptions by gay and lesbian couples; Christian rock; school prayer; the Ten Commandments in Alabama's state court building; shenanigans with Third World family-planning funds; The Passion of the Christ.
Meanwhile, top Christian champions have been exposed as prime bullshit artists. Take Florida GOP Congressman Mark Foley, who made much hay about safeguarding children from "exploitation by adults using the Internet." Of course, that was before he got caught pursuing young congressional pages via e-mail. Or consider the Rev. Ted Haggard, former head of the National Association of Evangelicals and leader of Colorado's 14,000-member New Life Church. Despite building a career by railing against gays, a haggard Haggard resigned his posts after admitting to meth binges while being banged by a male prostitute.
Fortunately, recent election victories--including a thorough thumping of the "Protect Marriage Arizona" proposition--reveal a slipping Christian right. And we thank the Lord for that. But either way, we think they should get the heck out of town.
FOURTH AVENUE UNDERPASS HONKERSIt's a beautiful evening in Tucson. You're walking south on Fourth Avenue, minding your own business as you enter the underpass. You're so deep in thought that you're oblivious to the painted-over graffiti on the walls, the stained concrete beneath your feet, and even the faint smell of urine that hangs in the air. Everything is silent except for the dull sound of your shoes hitting the sidewalk. You're able to give all your energy to the important matters on your mind--finding a cure for cancer, maybe, or figuring out the meaning of life.
But not for long.
A car zooms past, almost rupturing your eardrums. Not only do you lose your train of thought, but you also come very close to a heart attack. Why do some people have such a compelling need to lean on the horn as they drive through the Fourth Avenue underpass?
The urge seems to affect all kinds of individuals--drivers of every race, political leaning and economic class. Sure, a lot of young frat guys in Jeeps do it--but so do hippies in Volkswagen Rabbits! The only type of person who can be absolutely guaranteed not to honk is an old lady. Probably because she can't hear at all.
Yes, loud noises are thrilling, and yes, the physical dynamic of echoing sound is fascinating. But most people get over that when they're about 4 years old.
GRASS IN FRONT OF OFFICE BUILDINGS THAT SERVES NO PURPOSEYears ago, you'd look down many residential streets, and all you'd see was grass, grass and more grass. Eventually, we got wise to the fact that we live in a desert, and we passed some restrictions on lawns. As in: You shouldn't have one. They suck up water and are a bitch to maintain. So people started planting low-water-use native desert vegetation, and eventually, the city started to look more like a desert. Sure, there's the occasional archaic lawn owned by some family from the Midwest in denial of the fact that they LIVE IN A DESERT, but for the most part, homeowners have gotten with the times.
Lots of businesses, though, have not.
Grass is nice; don't get me wrong. It's nice to run on and roll around in. That's what parks and small backyards are for. But the areas outside of office buildings are mostly ornamental--you don't see kids, dogs and families lollygagging around, playing Frisbee in front of a bank, now, do you? So why on Earth do some businesses still maintain small purposeless bumps of grass?
The whole point of business landscaping is to make the place look nice. Grass in Tucson does not make anything look nice. It makes you look like a water hog, and it makes you look like you care nothing about the rest of us. You also look foolish, because you spend so much money watering grass that will never get enough water anyway. To these businesses: Suck it!
INFLATABLE, ENORMOUS HOLIDAY SNOW GLOBESThey are enormous, with cartoonish characters smiling out from plastic convex walls, fake snow circling their heads in an endless electronic repetition. Who would pay $80 for such an unsightly thing? Haunting, they are: Santa and a few token elves, encased in latex, mechanical lights flashing, the air inside vibrating with the hum of the generator that keeps the air flowing.
The whole concept behind a regular snow globe is simple: You turn it upside down and then right side up, and the snow falls. It's small and secret, a tiny glimpse of a world we in Tucson only experience fleetingly on vacations. The smallness of a snow globe makes the fakeness OK. It's a whole other world: magical, mystical, beautiful.
On a large scale, without the physical interaction, snow globes become something terrifying. You could fit inside if you wanted. It's almost like a glimpse of a warped world where we have to live in our own plastic bubble, with fake snow circulating for some idiotic reason--yet these globes are passed off as festive decorations for the kiddies.
How much energy does one of these things suck up? Could it be that these globes will tip our carbon emissions over the top, and we'll end up living inside of them, because of them? Seriously: Whose idea were these globes? Is this some kind of sick joke?
KMXZ 94.9 FM, aka MIX-FMI must admit that I listen to 94.9 MIXfm. Most of the year, I like the station. It's even one of my presets in the car. But from Nov. 23 through Dec. 25, I don't listen at all.
Why? Because it's holiday music, 24 hours a day. That's 33 days and 792 hours of jingling, sleighing and drumming. Please, program director, say it ain't so.
The Weekly received a press release announcing the format change on Nov. 22. The explanation of the change read, "While you battle parking lot traffic all over town, Soft Rock 94.9 MIXfm can help provide holiday cheer with all your favorite holiday songs."
It would be one thing if we didn't hear holiday music anywhere else. But that isn't the case. "Frosty" is heard at grocery stores, retail stores, doctor's offices and on television. And those sleigh bells can be heard as early as October, it seems.
So when I get into my car to get away from Santa, Grandma and Bing at the mall, I want to hear regular music. Something soothing, even. But my soft rock is gone. Santa's come to town and has taken over my radio.
Please, Santa, bring back my soft rock. I haven't been naughty this year. Except for kicking this station out of town ...
LEAF BLOWERS"A nasty wind always blows in Tucson," my late mother-in-law often said. Not only does that seem true, but we also don't have many trees around here that produce leaves worth sweeping up.
So why are leaf blowers so obnoxiously omnipresent?
One of the most worthless inventions of all time, these extremely noisy machines are used in Tucson to clean parking lots and other paved areas. But they don't really do that. Instead, all they do is move dirt around. The tiny dust storms created by these nasty contraptions are a sign of their uselessness: The next burst of wind will simply redeposit the dirt from whence it came.
A better way to collect dirt would be the old-fashioned broom and dustpan. But in our technology-crazed society, that would just be so out of touch.
Rather than creating machine-made clouds of dust, their owners should be creating mailing labels instead. These labels could then be affixed to boxes, which would be used to mail these crappy devices out of town.
CAPT. AL MELVINThankfully, Capt. Al Melvin barely lost the November election for the state Senate seat in Legislative District 26 to Democrat Charlene Pesquiera--even though Pesquiera hadn't voted before this election year (tsk, tsk).
What we don't need up in Phoenix right now is a man well-versed in the Karl Rove School of Politics, where one of the guiding philosophies is "no compromise." To Melvin, being a Republican conveniently means sharing only his views on every issue.
For a time, his Web site featured purported quotes from William McKinley, Ronald Reagan and Melvin himself deriding moderates as being the scum of the Earth. We may surmise two things from the quotes: First, Melvin has quite a high opinion of himself to be elevating his utterances to the level of two presidents, one of whom was the "The Great Communicator," and second, Melvin exhibits a disturbing unwillingness to question his own views. Total ideological rigidity isn't a good quality for a politician to have in a representative democracy. Just look at Iraq.
If you ever make it to the state Senate, Capt. Melvin, you'll have to represent everyone in your district--not just your personal dittoheads. In the meantime, get out of town.
"I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"
These are phrases you might be used to saying if you live in a certain part of town--actually, pretty much anywhere from Rita Ranch to the UA and beyond. That's because this whole area is now what is politely termed "the sound corridor" for the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. This means, essentially, that huge, deafening jets have made a habit of zooming back and forth over innocent Tucson neighborhoods every 10 minutes or so, disrupting conversations, contributing to hearing loss and drastically reducing property values. Not surprisingly, Davis-Monthan gets more noise complaints than any other Arizona base.
It didn't used to be this way. While D-M planes have certainly made their presence known ever since the base was established, the area over which they flew used to be about four times smaller, and the planes used to be a lot quieter. Now, A-10s, F-16s, C-130s and other creatively named aircraft fly wherever they need to, with as much sonic ado as it takes.
"Is this allowed?" you may ask. You bet!
Actually, when the sound corridor was being expanded in 2004, there was public protest. But to no avail. The law mandates that Tucson plan and zone around military airports to protect them--no matter how much it screws up the lives of city residents.
Don't get me wrong--I have nothing against Davis-Monthan. The base was built before I was born, and I know it contributes to Tucson's economic well-being. But this is too much. Don't they make mufflers for airplanes?
MORONS WHO REFER TO JOHN McCAIN AS A MODERATESen. John McCain is an early front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in two years. Ever since he ran for president six years ago--in a race in which George W. Bush used some of the most underhanded campaign tactics that you'll ever see, falsely accusing McCain of fathering an African-American child out of wedlock--he's been practically deified, touted as a centrist who is willing to reach across the aisle and compromise.
And make no mistake: McCain's done some great things, teaming up with Russ Feingold, D-Wis., in an attempt to ever so slightly clean up campaign-contribution laws. And how can you not admire McCain's service to our country?
But let's call a spade a spade. And a right-wing sellout a right-wing sellout.
No matter how much some media types try to paint McCain as a heroic moderate, he is not. He's a freaking conservative, through and through. This was a man who was willing to stump for Randy Graf. And Len Munsil. And Proposition 107, which would have taken away rights afforded by governments who recognize domestic partnerships. A true moderate would not support bigots like Munsil and Graf, and would not support something as discriminatory and hateful as Prop 107. Repeat after me: John McCain is a conservative. The bad kind.
Now, repeat after me again: John McCain is a sellout political hack. Yes, McCain has become the kind of self-preserving Washington insider Americans have grown to hate. Witness: He recently spoke at Bob Jones University, a place where interracial dating was banned as recently as this century. He supported Bush for re-election--even though this man fucked him royally during the 2000 campaign. And worst of all, he practically signed off on torture. Yes, the man who himself was tortured said it was OK for the Bush administration to decide what constitutes torture. Screw the Geneva Conventions!
The next time someone refers to John McCain as a virtuous politician or as a moderate, do us all a favor: Put them on a plane, train or automobile headed out of Tucson--and make sure they have a one-way ticket.
MOSQUITOESFolklore has it that these disease-carrying pests didn't always inhabit this area. There was supposedly a time when people could actually enjoy their outdoor summer evenings without the fear of bites and buzzing harassment.
That seems hard to believe now. In these times of insect terrorism, the peaceful pleasure of the natural environment sounds like a fairy tale. The only way Tucsonans presently can endure is by smothering themselves in repellant and spraying the sweet, sickly smelling fog of pesticide to keep the blood suckers away.
That is no way to live. Mosquitoes need to hear our message and get out of town fast.
Short of that, local residents risk illness or even death from the West Nile virus and dengue fever. As a result, our splendid outdoors has become a battleground between pests and people, and the mosquitoes are winning.
We need a new course of action to combat them, with the first step being their total elimination, possibly by encouraging the critters to fly north to Phoenix.
Whether getting rid of mosquitoes is done with their cooperation, or through an aggressive eradication program, it is time for them to go. People before pests must be our ultimate goal!
OPEN PARKING SPACES THAT ARE "VALET ONLY"I appreciate the convenience of valet parking. I really do. I mean, who doesn't want to hand their vehicle over to a hormonal young male in shorts--and pay for the privilege to do it?
However, I don't appreciate the annoyance of searching for a parking space at a mall or a hotel, only to find one--and then see a sign that says, "VALET ONLY." What in the hell?
I need to find a space to park. I am in a hurry. I am IMPORTANT. (OK, give me the first two, will ya?) There is an OPEN parking space here in this publicly accessible parking lot, which I need, and I am more than willing to park the car myself, freeing up the valets to get other cars and flirt with geriatric women in hopes of getting a bigger tip. I am performing a freakin' public service here. But NO. I am not allowed to take this space.
Screw this. New rule: If there's an open space in a crowded parking lot that I can access, I am taking it. Because we're kicking "VALET ONLY" spaces OUT!
RED HAT SOCIETY LADIES (THE GRUMPY ONES)There are probably a few members of the 100-plus Tucson chapters of the Red Hat Society who know what it means to have fun while still being considerate of others. Maybe I've just been unlucky, because whenever I walk into a restaurant where a group of these purple-clad, red-chapeaued chicks gather, I cringe.
These women of a certain age--please note I am eligible to be one of them--tend to suck the air out of a place. They run servers ragged demanding this, that and the other thing. Parties of 50 or more sometimes expect separate checks, and I know my meal may be delayed because the kitchen is swamped with their special orders. Plus, the noise level reaches near deafening with each woman trying to outdo the other with some boring story. They've even been known play "Happy Birthday" on kazoos during lunch hour! And watching them figuring out their 10 percent tip is sickening.
I'm not against anyone having a good time, but there seems to be a "damn everybody else--I deserve to be treated special" attitude that goes beyond rude all the way to obnoxious with some chapters of this group. Face it, ladies: You're giving older dames a bad reputation.
SOLICITORS AND BIBLE THUMPERSDon't you just hate it when you're hanging out in your pajamas or making dinner when the damn doorbell rings? It better be UPS or Publishers Clearing House with my million-dollar check.
It's not. It's someone going door to door selling carpet cleaning, or some kid--who has been fed a bunch of bull about winning a trip to the Caribbean--wanting you to buy stale candy at 20 times the original price. (Yeah, like he even knows island geography.)
Then there's a bored teen walking around with a spray bottle who wants to clean my house. Why? She says it's for a school project, but when I ask what school, she just shrugs her shoulders. She most likely wants to come in and determine whether my home is worth coming back to burglarize.
While all these are offensive and annoying, the worst is door-to-door Bible class. I should know just by looking through the peephole that these men wearing starched white shirts with ties, and women in dresses and pantyhose, want to save my soul. I tell them I'm an atheist and slam the door.
These intrusions are like door-to-door spam. Now I see the value of gated communities.
ROY WARDENIt's like Christmas morning whenever an e-mail from Roy Warden hits our inboxes.
He's the Tucsonan best known for burning Mexican flags and chanting anti-immigrant slogans using a bullhorn at a large pro-immigrant rally in April. Warden, along with members of a group calling themselves Border Guardians, royally pissed off some people attending the rally, and a scuffle broke out with police after tensions boiled over.
If he's not announcing yet another flag-burning party in an attempt to "help" illegal immigrants (your guess is as good as ours as to the cause-and-effect relationship there), he's calling Congressman Jim Kolbe a "butt-bustin' bareback riding" pervert. Labeling Teri Hayt, the Arizona Daily Star's managing editor, a "hairy-breasted Amazon" and other choice terms during an e-mail exchange--that was sent all over Pima County--is still the favorite of two Weekly staffers. It's impossible to take the man seriously, because he lives in this strange little world where theatricality and schoolyard-quality comebacks substitute for sincere public discourse and action.
We understand that some people do take him seriously, and, furthermore, find him offensive. And we understand why. So even though Warden, if he reads this, will probably get a little moist in his pants from all the attention, we're kicking him out of town as a public service to you, dear reader.