Locally, it's been pretty much the same as always: Babies die in parked cars; new chain stores open; Summerhaven residents feel upset about losing their homes (well, duh); Tucsonans are cruel to animals; Tucsonans are kind to animals; Tucsonans flock to country music concerts; new residents of Marana seek jobs to pay their hefty mortgages. Except for athletic events, weather and a couple of homicides a week, that's all the news there is in Southern Arizona.
Of course, the local news still has its mysteries. For example: Why, even in pet-obsessed Pima County, did a story about kittens appear above the fold on the front page of the July 15 Star? (Can you say, "Dying paper?") And when did "effort" become a verb? ("Volunteers efforted to save rare native fish in Sabino Canyon"--KVOA at 10, late June). Why, during the long weeks of the fire, didn't anyone produce a graphic of Catalina Mountain landmarks as seen from the mid-valley floor? (You know, we watched it every night from down here, not from 10,000 feet above Mount Lemmon.) And, above all, who are these people who give a crap what color paint gets slopped on Sentinel Peak, and how did they get to be that way?
But day in, day out, Tucson news is so ritualized that not even Patty Weiss' urgency can make me want to learn the answers to her gripping questions: "Could fast food be affecting our children's health!?!" (You know, I recall hearing some decades ago that that might be the case.)
A refreshing break in the unruffled flow of obviousness, though, came on July 11, when Tom McNamara reported that somebody had told someone that al-Qaeda was planning to undermine our national security by setting forest fires. It was a rockin' news item, assigning as it did the most hated random evil-doer of the moment--the dolt smoking in the woods--into the most hated evil-doing organization of the decade. At last, someone to blame for everything!
The only thing wrong with this flash, which somehow never reappeared, was that it didn't go nearly far enough. Personally, I hold al-Qaeda responsible not only for fires, but for the fire-season itself--that is, for El Niño and the five-year Western drought. What could be more heinous than changing your enemy's weather?
OK, so here's how they're doing it: All that oil they pump out and ship abroad is not creating enough airborne hydrocarbons for these fiends, so they've acquired huge fleets of SUVs, giant pickups and Hummer IIs that they race around the desert endlessly, contributing to the vast clouds of greenhouse gases that are melting the polar icecaps. Obviously, this is working better than Lex Luthor's laser rays ever did.
Furthermore, I have neighbors who are clearly deep embeds. One household has more vehicles than humans, each of them monstrous (the trucks, not the people). I'm not kidding--the guy's pickup dwarfs the house. And they have all these so-called friends with similar vehicular tastes, who come over and let those babies idle while they load and offload ATVs and dirt bikes, hitch and unhitch trailers and wrestle with the refrigerators they keep taking in and out. (How many refrigerators have ever come through your house? Think about it.) There's a compressor that gets a lot of use, brilliant outdoor lighting everywhere, and every power tool known to man stashed in the backyard. The other day, the "dad" was up on the roof with a leaf-blower. Honestly.
Tell me, was I wrong to report him to Homeland Security?
All fun aside, things truly have become lively on the national level. Watching great flocks of chickens flapping home to roost is such a blast.
I'm referring to the media's awakening to the astounding fact that the president of the United States lied in the State of the Union Address: Specifically, that he fibbed about Saddam Hussein's attempts to acquire kryptonite--whoops, make that "uranium."
Or, maybe, according to spokespersons, he didn't lie. Maybe he was just sounding out the words phonetically, and if he didn't understand what he was reading, he wasn't really fibbing. Sorry, but I'm old fashioned enough to feel that's not an acceptable defense: A president who won't admit to basic comprehension of what he tells the public is a president who isn't really earning his pay. And the job does pay a lot.
Those of us who weren't that taken with the marketing campaign for the war to begin with--in other words, all us killjoy hippie French-loving surrender-monkey traitor bitches--have been mystified that it took so long for anyone else to notice that the administration's evidence was always laughable, its motives transparently cynical, its arguments consistently bogus and its recklessness with American lives horrifying. But then, we're people who've felt like the last humans at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers for years. What happened to everybody?
Knowing, as I do, that nothing I can do or say or vote on will have the slightest effect on how many troops will suffer and die in Iraq, I'm just settling in for the long, cannibalistic media extravaganza in the offing. Will Colin outlast Condoleezza? (My guess is that she's the last man standing.) What will happen to Cheney? The forged papers seem to carry the whiff of his dark machinations: Will he swing? Or bow out because of his "heart?" And what about those wacky Democrats? Will they ever locate their long-lost private parts? And if they do, how convincing will the reattachment be? Hey, and what about Osama?
Stay tuned, folks--for the rest of the decade.