What's up with Brian J. Pedersen hating on La Fiesta de los Vaqueros just a few days before the annual festivities begin (Pedersen on Sports, Feb. 13)? His argument is that soccer is not getting enough love because our local media and elected officials are obsessed with our cowboy ways and are participating in what he calls a "Keep Tucson Hickified" movement.
Yeah, this guy basically called us hicks because of our 89-year-old tradition of celebrating our vaquero culture. He even suggested that we join him in leaving town because, according to him, this is "the worst week to be in Tucson."
He will be in Disneyland with his family. Way to promote your town, bro.
Brian also said that "the rodeo has long outlived its sexiness (and that) it's like that great-grandmother you reluctantly bring out once a year for Mother's Day brunch."
Really? If my great-grandmother was still alive I would take her out every day just to find this Brian guy and point him out to her. I would say "Mira, bisabuelita, this is the guy that hates all your vaquero kids and grandkids because they make Tucson seem old."
"Oh and, abuelita, he's from New Jersey."
I don't think my great-grandmother would be at all impressed with this sportswriter.
Yes, I'm biased. I have enough cowboy in me to make me dangerous to myself and to others. Mostly to myself, if you ask my vaquero tios from El Rio Sonora, Mexico.
But my late father and grandfather were the real deal and I am proud of how their lives contributed to the cultural richness that built our Sonoran town.
These days it seems that some folks want to break up with local history. But you know they will be back with flowers 20 years from now when they want to replicate what they got rid of.
Now, about soccer. It's awesome. I have no problem with it.
I'm not one of those guys that will be up at 4 a.m. to watch a big international match live on TV, but I certainly get the economic and cultural impact soccer has on Tucson and I get all its potential. We should all encourage media and elected officials to support the effort to make Tucson a mecca for soccer.
The difference between Brian and me is that I don't want to hurt one Tucson asset in order to support another.
I want it all, baby: soccer, rodeo, golf, arts, baseball, etc. It's all good for our local economy and it defines us as desert dwellers with diverse interests.
It is so hilarious and sad to watch people trying to shake the "dust" out of Tucson because they feel there is only room for the new, "clean" stuff. Some folks think they are going to change Tucson by extracting that dirt somehow. It can't be done.
I'm going to take a wild guess and say that Mr. Pedersen has a problem with things that are old, dusty and, well, Tucsonish. He sounds kinda like that guy who recently wanted all of us to just stop calling our town the Old Pueblo.
We all thought that was the goofiest thing ever, right? I think the guy with that idea is from Las Vegas.
Sheesh. Out-of-towners. Right?!
Now here is where we start to debate about what it takes to have enough Tucson cred to talk convincingly about what is best for our Sonoran town. I measure residency by the summers you have survived. It's been almost 30 summers for me. Maricela, my third-generation native Tucsonan wife, often puts me in check if I get too cocky about that.
But I'm still pulling rank on Mr. Pedersen's 17 years in Tucson. And, actually, I'm going to slap him with a little-known penalty—little known because I just made it up: I'm gonna have to deduct 10 years from his residency for insulting a Tucson institution and for now living in Sahuarita.
So, Brian, no matter how much you try to sweep Tucson "clean," it's just not going to happen. And you can earn your 10 lost years of residency back if you return to Tucson and just embrace our city, dust and all.
This is Tucson, bro. Love it or learn it.