Saturday, October 10, 2009

Attack of the Cones

Photo by Stephen Stalcup.

Judging by the increased use of photo radar throughout Tucson, it's pretty safe to say that everyone feels the need for speed occasionally. As someone who recently got snagged by an ominous white van parked on the side of our road, I tend to agree. Of course, I'm also an avid motorsport fan, and I'll watch pretty much any racing that I come across on TV that involves the horseless carriage. However, I know that speeding and city streets don't mix, so I don't usually speed in town. It's just not safe (and of course I'm not advocating it).

What I will do however is buy a small car for a specific purpose: the enjoyment of simply driving. In January I summoned a friend and the courage to visit Sierra Auctions in Tucson. What lead me there was a year long search for the perfect simple motorsport car. It turned out that was a black, mid-nineties Mazda Miata (pictured above) for a great deal. Auctions can be fun and exciting. Auto auctions even more so. Within 20 seconds of furious hand waving, it was mine. "Dude, you just bought a car!"

Eva and I have taken the car on several drives, as far as California on one occasion, but this September we began auto-crossing it at the Pima County dragstrip, an event organized by the Arizona Border Region SCCA club. You don't need to have a sports car however. You can race pretty much anything in autocross as long as it has working seat belts, nothing is falling off, the tires aren't bald, it's not leaking any fluids, and it's not stuffed with a bunch of stuff you keep forgetting to take to Goodwill. Helmets are provided, but Eva and I decided we'd make a semi-permanent investment and buy our own at Play-it-Again Sports. Be careful to pay attention to the helmet rating if you go this route, as only specific helmets will qualify. And anywhere your helmet isn't covering, slather on some sunscreen.

Autocross is a simple form motorsport involving a parking lot, timing lights, and a truckload of cones and organization. The tracks are laid out differently every month, so everyone has to learn the track on the day of racing, which is probably the most difficult and surprising part. Events are run/work, which means you race three to four quick heats and then work three to four, and only cost $35 to $40 for non-members. Working simply involves knowing a few flag and hand symbols, watching for hit cones and course deviations, and manning a walky-talkie or fire extinguisher if needed.

When you go, make sure you bring some water, some lunch, and even more sunblock. Even if you don't participate, you can still have alot of fun by riding along with experienced drivers, sometimes in pretty exotic and rare cars. After having a couple of course deviations (a 20 second penalty), I rode along with a veteran in a modest looking Subaru. I thought I knew what fast was: the ride blew my mind and I didn't even have to pay a fine.

Text by Andrew Haberbosch exclusively for Tucson Querido.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

What's Left to Salvage

With the economy in the dumps, the spirit of DIY is stronger than ever. People are finding ways to live just as comfortably without breaking the bank. The recent Cash for Clunkers popularity is certainly evidence. I was almost tempted to take the bait, as my car certainly qualified, but having no car payments rather than lower car payments was a little more appealing. In the “good old days” of a booming economy, I usually paid for automotive repair. But when my '97 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor recently broke yet again, this time I thought I'd do something I haven't done since high school: visit a salvage yard.

If you've been to an auto recycler, you may know their stereotype. Often they're on the edge of town, away from subdivisions, run by grumpy old men, and dirtier than sin. Tucson junk yards are no different. I've visited a couple so far, and have had the nicest experience at Arizona U-Pull & Save.

I talked to a couple of different junkyards on the phone, and everyone was helpful, but most of them directed me here. This seemed to be the place for 97 police interceptor parts. With a spare afternoon, I gave them a ring to make sure, and after a brief but polite phone call, grabbed a few tools to check it out. You need a buck just to get in, and cash is preferred for the entrance fee. After this small formality, they'll point you to the right place.

Junkyards like U-Pull are becoming rare in the United States. Most places will not let anyone off the street enter the yard for fear of liability. Many places I visited in high school changed their policies and now mandate they have their employees bring the part to you. Some places in Tucson have done this recently. To be fair, these places are not for the faint of heart. In the photo above, you can see rows of cars each perched precariously on old car rims. Many of these cars have been picked through. Who knows how the last person left it for you. But with a little experience, some courage and luck, you can save a lot of money, and Gary at U-Pull will help you.

Photos and text by contributor Andrew Haberbosch exclusively for Tucson Querido.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bike Rides from Central Tucson

These are photos of the Mercado District taken by Andrew Haberbosch.

This summer I find myself getting up at 4 or 5 in the morning to ride my bike. It's not the first summer I've developed what some of my friends call a hard-core habit.

I don't find it hard core. I roll out of bed, but on some clothes, pack in my wallet, phone, sunglasses, water and a breakfast bar. It's a five minute stumble. I usually take a nap later.

The moment I start pedaling it's all worth it.

The streets are quiet except for the birds. It's a cool 80 degrees. The sunrise is lovely.

I'm always hungry for new nearby routes (by that I mean ones I can begin around campus and complete in under 2 hours, that avoid major traffic, that are scenic or charming...) Suggestions?

Here's a description of a few favorite routes in no particular order:
(Check out the Tucson Metro Bike Map to orient yourself)

Santa Cruz Park
This is a shared-use path, and it is not highly used. I'm curious about why I usually come across mostly homeless people. (This is not a problem, in fact, they have been better at controlling their dogs than "mainstream" people.)

The wildlife is usually great, since this path is near the edge of town. I just saw two Ferruginous Hawks this morning.

The path ends sadly at a women's prison. I feel so free when I bike, seeing my sisters behind bars is a stark contrast.

Some of the cool side stops are the award-winning Mercado District (Gracias por mostrarmelo, Erika!) and The Garden of Gethsemane.

Aviation Bikeway
This shared-use path is super convenient for me. I just zip south on Highland to Aviation Bikeway and take that nearly all the way to Davis Monthan.

I like the view of the Catalinas near the end, and the wildlife around Freedom Park.

I like the privacy of this bikeway, especially if I just want to think. It's not very highly used and doesn't involve very much interaction with a.m. traffic.

River Park
This is yet another shared-use path. I take Mountain all the way up, and then follow the Rillito to La Cholla, I haven't make it all the way to the end yet. This is a marvelous path with quaint bridges and tree cover, but it's wildly popular with everyone--cyclists, walkers, runners, etc. NOT everyone knows how to share, either (I'm talking to YOU, path-hogging cyclists!).

Arroyo Chico/Reid Park a.k.a Dream Neighborhoods Ride
For a shorter ride, I like to take in some of desert oasis neighborhoods of Tucson by starting out east on 3rd St. First I let the Sam Hughes million dollar homes boggle my mind. Then I head South around Dodge and delight in El Montevideo historic neighborhood. I make a loop around the Randolph Golf Course (don't forget to take the shortcut with the duckies!). I then follow Arroyo Chico through Colonia Solana (another place I wouldn't mind living!) and then on to Campbell which I take home. This loop is easily expandable by taking Mountain up to Rillito, taking Rillito east, coming back down on Dodge all the way to Reid Park, etc.

I'm pretty familiar with every downtown route combination from doing the Tuesday Night Bike Rides, so I don't make this a morning target very often. My favorite parts involve Basket and Snake Bridges, La Placita, and Armory Park del Sol.

My Birthday Massage by Tania Rhodes

Dear Maisa,

The above is a picture of my birthday cake courtesy of Maynards. It was a great dinner.

However, what I really want to write about is the massage you gifted me. But I don't have a picture of that. Probably a good thing.

It was the first professional massage of my life, and it was transcendental.

I may have already been in a bit of a reflective mood after the hike from that morning, thinking about my life--all 31 years of it. But the massage took me to this nearly meditative state.

To me, the message became a ritualistic celebration of each of my limbs, muscles and organs. As Tania carefully tended to each one, I savored the sensation and thanked each part of my body for the work it has done for me, for its strength and beauty. I thanked God for my body and my life.

Being that I'm studying for comps, I find myself in my head a lot, and it was great to reconnect with this corporeality that is such a big part of my life, also.

And the fact that it was a gift from you made it all the sweeter.

Gracias, mi amiga del alma.



Thursday, July 02, 2009

On the Set of Public Enemies

It all began when Andrew and I were walking down a street in Chicago last summer. We were killing time while our friends were at the hospital with their baby for a routine check-up. We were walking down this street when I noticed how odd the signs were. Definitely retro. And "Tourists Welcome"? Weird. (See above.)
The next thing I noticed were the prices at this bakery. The food looked great and for 30 cents a dozen, what a steal!
Okay, so before we both totally tripped out and asked ourselves if time travel really is possible, we realized that the upon closer inspection, things were out of order. Peak past the baked goods to see that this was really a book store.
What detail! Here's a pic of a set designer in action.
This really was a modern pharmacy on the inside...
After asking around, we discovered that we were on the set of the John Dillinger movie, Public Enemies, which opened yesterday. I guess Michael Mann has a thing for shooting on location (but see my complaint below). He wanted to shoot at the exact spot where Dillinger was actually gunned down.
Lovely period-correct art deco design....

A convincing clothing store...

...but some tiny details go "unstitched"
The alley where Dillinger was shot. That cobblestone looks convincing, but it was fake! Made of rubber or something...
The Universal Studios sticker on a semi parked nearby.


Everyone in Tucson knows that Dillinger was finally captured here at Hotel Congress. It's the Chicago cops who let him escape.

I've always liked Tucson cops better, anyway.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tucson Querido's Favorite Things, Summer 2009

Andrew and Seth Appell of Old Bisbee Coffee Roasters

My best friend came to visit from Chicago last month. A great deal of Chicago/Tucson comparison ensued and it got us to talking about the broader issue of standard of living. In that spirit, I've created a list; the fruit of our conversations and recommendations to each other. This is a list of favorite things that are simple but make life better in their own special way. (Not listed in any particular order.)

1. Baby Spinach Salad. This is a surprisingly satisfying meal on it's own and takes ten minutes to throw together. Add ingredient in order listed and toss:
baby spinach
litehouse red wine olive oil vinagrette
(click here for a cupon)
crumbled feta
emerald glazed pecans

2. Aveda Skin Care. I know this sounds infomercialesque, but it's the truth: I used to have a ton of skin products under the bathroom sink just hibernating there because they didn't really work for me. I alternated between two products to do the job of one because neither suited my skin. I didn't break out a lot, but once in a while is already too much. Then, when I went to Elements in Balance to prep for my wedding, they convinced me to switch over to Aveda completely. It was expensive, but I splurged because it was my friggin' wedding I was getting ready for. It's a good thing I did because Aveda skin care is worth every penny. It's the skin on your friggin' face, you know??

3. Goog 411. My current phone is P.O.S., so I don't have internet access. But even a P.O.S. can dial 1-800-GOOG-411 instead of 411 to get the same info for free.

4. Ross. Yes, you gotta dig and you gotta be ready to walk out empty handed sometimes, but once in a while you really do find something fun to wear and well worth the money. Recently, in one hour I located, tried on and purchased four dresses (from $12-$17 each). They've become the staples of my summer wardrobe. Avoid the crowds and go on a weekday.

5. La Paloma Urgent Care. I still don't have a regular physician in Tucson, so I found myself in a pinch when I got pink eye during finals week. My neighbor recommended La Paloma. The building is clean, new, inviting. The staff was hugely efficient and there were no lines. Zero waiting! With our insurance the visit was $30. It was exactly what I needed: lightening speed medical care at the spur of the moment. (That said, I just want you to know that what actually cured the pink eye a week later were honey drops: a few drops of 50% water, 50% honey in the eyes every 4 hours fixed me up for good within just two days, my sister-in-law's recipe :)

6. Purse hooks. Plain and simple: keeps your purse off the table, chairs and ground. Makes a great gift; everyone who carries a purse should have one. I have a friend who makes them herself, ($10 each), but you can also buy them in stores and online.

7. Netflix. A sophisticated selection of movies, they ship directly to your home, it's cheap, ($14/month for two DVDs at a time, unlimited rentals), the stock has weathered the recession awesomely...what more could you ask for in DVD rentals? A tip: do NOT share a queue with another human being, ever. It's a curse I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

8. My Label Machine. Andrew bought a label machine one day, (approx. 35$) and I thought he was nuts. This is a new level in O.C.D. I thought. Now I'm in love. Labeling = knowing what you have and finding it fast. It's a simple way to save time and time is something we're always struggling to find more of....

9. Coffee from Bisbee at I'm drinking a cup right now. No creamer, just a wee bit of sugar. All I ever wanted was affordable, fair trade, organic, tasty coffee. Safeway doesn't carry much that satisfies said criteria. Old Bisbee Roasters offers small family farm beans and includes a background of every bean they sell on the website: how it was grown, where, what environmental protection methods were used, etc. Most coffee is about $13/pound. Free shipping if you order 2 pounds at a time.

Patchouli Lotion. Living in Arizona makes moisturizing a priority, so I never use perfume. Scented lotions do double duty, and this one is my favorite. My mom gave me a bottle for my birthday one year ($10). Some comments
from a professor: "What are you wearing? It's giving me a flashback!"

from the guy at the laundromat: "What is that? It's wonderful--I've gotta buy some for my wife!"
from a colleague at the office: "Smells like weed in here!"

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tucson Querido Vacation Planning

It's too bad I'm unveiling this service in the hot months, but at least it's something to keep in mind for the future: personalized vacation planning by me! That's right, we get on the phone, you tell me about what kind of Tucson adventure you're looking for and I prep the itinerary. It's a custom fit designed by your very own Tucson expert. Email me at romeroe[at]email[dot]arizona[dot]edu to get your Tucson on!

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Mexico 2009: Hatch and Santa Fe

Photo taken in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

As the weather in Tucson gets hotter, we search for cooler places to escape to within driving distance. New Mexico is right next door, and it has so much to offer, as my Spring Break New Mexican Adventure with my mom reveals.

Our first stop was Hatch, a small town known for its chile pepper harvest. We had lunch at The Pepper Pot: I ordered a famous relleno (that's a green chile relleno, as pictured below to be precise). It was delicious. The Pepper Pot is owned by a woman who moved to Hatch from Mexico to harvest chiles, and ended up cooking them instead. The place was definitely bustling, (with local politicians even) which reminds me to advise: get there early if you can because when the daily food rations run out, that's it!

By night we arrived in Santa Fe, where we stayed at the Inn on the Alameda at the suggestion of our friends. The hotel is cozy, well located and affordable. Only drawback: no mini-fridge to put leftovers in.

Once checked into our hotel we went for a stroll and had a drink at Evangelo's, a bar owned by Nick Klonis, son of Angelo Klonis, a Greek who became an American icon of WWII. The entire bar is dedicated to his memory (see image below).

The next day we had a breakfast at The French Pastry Shop. It has great ambiance, but no chocolate-filled croissants. How can you have a French pastry shop with no chocolate croissants??? Harrumph.

Being that I had to make an emergency run to the CVS, we stopped at the Devargas Shopping Center and had a coffee at Java Joe's. Their motto is "Business is great, people are terrific, life is groovey." Later on I learned that they had won Best Independent Coffee House in 2008. I can see why.

Another Santa Fe eatery worth visiting is El Farol. Luckily, it was Monday night, and on Monday nights they offer a 40% discount on dinners and bottles of wine. (Well, at least at the time they did). For a killer price, we had a bottle of Guelbenzu Azul and a slew of very impressive, original tapas: codorniz (quail), pato (duck), gambas (shrimp), queso de cabra (goat cheese). Food: a variety of complex flavors. Service: genuinely friendly and attentive. Ambiance: historic, bohemian, cosy, a word--El Farol is sexy.
A shot from the front of El Farol.

If you gather nothing from what I've written so far, you have probably noticed that we ate our way through Santa Fe. But Santa Fe is also a fun place to go jewelry shopping. There were 50% - 75% discounts on jewelry everywhere. I passed up a pair of green turqouise earrings that I still think about to this day :( BUT, I did get some cool huayruro seed earrings made by the delightful Patricia Angermuller of Macchu Picchu Jewelry. ( In Peru, Huayruro is said to bring good luck, fame and fortune while warding off envy.)

Generally, window shopping and hanging out in the Plaza are a laid-back way to spend an afternoon in Santa Fe. My favorite store was probably Yipee Yi Yo, where I got a Virgen de Guadalupe pot holder from Embudo Fabric Design.
Burro Alley and San Francisco Street, downtown Santa Fe.

What really started my mom and I on our trip is our mutual fandom of Georgia O'Keefe. We did the audio tour of The Georgia O'Keefe Museum. The tour includes a screening of footage of O'Keefe much like this. The whole thing was educational and inspiring. I hadn't known that she had originally developed her public persona as an artist much in the shadow of her husband, and her relationship with her husband, Alfred Stiglizt. It reminds me of how Frida spent so much time in Rivera's shadow, yet today is remembered as an artist who stands entirely autonomous in terms of her indelible mark on the art world.

We also really wanted to visit O'Keefe's houses: Ghost Ranch and the house in Abiquiu, but since they are on reservations and it was a time of religious holiday, we had to save that part for next time.

Our last stop in Santa Fe was Museum Hill; go there just for the views and a coffee if nothing else! We visited The Museum of International Folk Art, which I loved (I heart folk art). They also have a noteworthy gift shop.

Yours truly on Museum Hill in front of this piece by Spanish artist Martí Anson: Martí and the Flour Factory. The piece is a scaled down replica of an original old flour mill in Mataró, Spain and constitutes a fascinating commentary on art, urban space, preservation, identity, tradition and transnationalism. It's all that and more, but in this interview with Anson, he states: “All my work is stupid because I love wasting time.” Well I love you, Martí Anson.

This is the Artist's statement as it reads at the site of the piece:

"Astonished by the controversy that was stirred up by the proposed demolition of an old flour mill in my home town, I decided to take the building to New Mexico.

I carried out the whole project with my own hands, an act of faith to save the heritage of my home town. I built a copy of the original flour mill, brick by brick, in Santa Fe. After the exhibition, the building will be handed over to the city to take place among the existing adobe structures for any function other than being an artwork."

More on New Mexico (Taos, Truth or Concequences and Elephant Butte) to come...

Monday, April 06, 2009

Country Thunder 2009

I know I haven’t blogged in a long time, but this one’s so juicy you are gonna forgive my trespasses.

I went to Country Thunder last month. That’s right! One of the largest country music festivals in the nation and possibly the redneck spring break.

It reminds me a little of tubing the Salt River. Poor Arizonans don’t have any water. It sucks for us, okay? But we’re not going to let it keep us from having crazy beach parties.

So back at Country Thunder, every other girl is wearing a bikini—and daisy dukes, a cowgirl hat and boots. Every other guy is wearing jeans and a bare, sunburned chest. And there’s no water. It’s a little ridiculous, but like I said, not having water won’t keep us from pretending that we have water. Or at least filling up the bed of a pick-up truck with it.

Thus the theme of the most legendary campsite of the entire Country Thunder campground (a veritable sea of campers and tents): Get Lai’d. Yes, the décor screamed tropical: plastic plants, inflatable parrots and monkeys, a gigantic inflatable “aloha”, flower-painted beer pong tables, leis everywhere, Budweiser streamers, tiki torches, business cards, etc.

Generally the pace of life for the four days at Camp Get Lai’d goes something like this:

Start drinking beer at ten, when you happen to wake up to the sounds of a song about a country boy who can get you where you wanna go because he knows all the back roads being blared out of box speakers hooked up to an ipod.

Slowly go about cleaning the dust out of your crevices, peeing, brushing your teeth, trying to find clean clothes. (God, that place got so freaking dusty…)

Or take a five-minute, 6$ shower in a semi after waiting in line for an hour.

Maybe have a delicious, homemade breakfast burrito.

Watch the beer cruisers go by.

When you get tired of the steady parade of horn-honking, public nudity, intoxication, home-made parasail experiments, (see above) arrests, etc. go to the stage to see a show, maybe have an awesome Cajun Catfish Sandwich. (Damn that Cajun place is good.)

Or participate in a scavenger hunt mixer that has you asking neighboring campers for 3 different tampons, two types of condoms (used is not a type), blue spoons, Oreo cookies, pancakes with syrup, dryer lint, a lime Jell-O shot, an unsharpened pencil, a 1999 penny, a Christmas item, and the list goes on…for three pages.

Go back to the camper and have a nap.

Play ladder golf, or horseshoes, or some game with bean bags and a hole in a piece of wood.

Have something grilled for dinner.

Get dusted off, put on a jacket and watch a stoned Alan Jackson deliver a flawless performance.

Almost get into an altercation at the porta-potties culminating in a screaming match with some blond woman who you would not fight with because she is bigger than you.

Go back to Camp Lai’d after the show for a beer pong tournament followed by a live performance by The Larson Parks Band playing out of a blue pick-up truck.

Pass out somewhere at 5:00 a.m. Wake up with huge hickies on your neck right next to the hickie your girlfriend/boyfriend left before you came out here. Oops.

Lose your boots. Ask around for your boots the next day.

Realize your favorite beer was stolen. Blame someone else for leaving it in plain sight of mischievous drunkards. Go back to drinking PBR.

Yes, the infamous redneck stereotype of strict exclusion of anyone “different” made me nervous before I got there as well. I have some country “cred” of my own, being the daughter of an Iowa farm girl and, having started riding when I was young, having a horse and spending a college summer in Estes Park taking people on horseback rides through the Rockies six days a week, I wasn’t exactly a stranger to the cowgirl boots and the hat, but I felt I was on a polar opposite from most ideology that “country” stands for. What I realized is that we may have been conditioned to assume that polarity. “Liberals” should not make rigid assumptions about what it means to be “country”, “redneck” or whatever you want to call it. Equally, “conservatives” should resist knee jerk reactions against liberals. I see us managing the same symbols and key words, but not everyone ascribes to those symbols and key words in the same manner. In fact, I wrote an op-ed piece about it in The Arizona Daily Star.

On a final note, I'd like to mention something about "country culture" that I really appreciate. As the tee shirt below espouses, a common theme in country music is not having much materially, but making the most of it. (I personally relate to the Alan Jackson song, "Little Bitty": our home, dog and car are tiny. I also despise large portions.) In today's version of capitalism with so much pressure to participate in a culture of branding and consumption, making the most of a little and DIY pride are a point of resistance.

Friday, February 20, 2009

21st Annual Arizona Renaissance Festival and Artisan Marketplace

Ah yes, the Ren Fest: a way to get drunk and stare at cleavage under the more intellectual pretext of historical appreciation. Not to mention, sell shit. What does this weird blue guy have to do with the Renaissance?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not slamming our Ren fest. It was very entertaining (structure your day around the stages--don't miss Adam Crack the Whip Master), the weather was almost perfect, and the setting definitely beautiful: good ingredients for a satisfying mini-vacation. About two hours from Tucson (if you take the scenic route), the drive gives you a sense of geographical separation and the festival itself gives you a sense of temporal separation. I'm talking crazy time travel, biatches!
The Artisan Marketplace part is a bit of an excuse to sell people more stuff they don't need, but where else can an honest women satisfy her desire for centauroerotica? Personally, the centaur loving doesn't do it for me, but I bought some really well-crafted fragrant candles and a great "body souffle" produced by small-scale local artisans at a reasonable price.
The thing I love about Ren Fests is that the workers and entertainers are great, but the public is also SO into it. Just sprawling out on the grass and people-watching for a spell is great fun. Check out this Renaissance mother and baby. (It makes my uterus hurt.)
One last thing, but very important! The food is mostly crap: know it. However, the giant turkey legs are pretty okay. The chocolate covered strawberries are a must!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Free Secret German Film Series at the UA

This is Andrew. He has a German last name that means "oat bush" in English.

"Secret" screening of a different German film every other Thursday night at 7:30pm, free of charge. Here are the upcoming dates:

Feb. 19th

March 5

March 26

April 9

April 23

I cannot openly advertise these films due to copyright law. But if you contact me I will email you the titles.

For a map and directions:

The Integrated Learning Center is just west of the main library. It is underground. When you get to the bottom of the stairs, past the lounge with the big picture windows, take a left and go all the way down to the end of the hall. There will be double doors to your left and just inside the doors you will find room 140.

Lunafest Short Film Festival--March 3

LUNAFEST, an evening of film shorts that celebrate women
(all films are by, for, about women). It's also a great
benefit for the UA Women’s Studies Department,
Women's Studies Advisory Council (WOSAC), and
the Breast Cancer Fund. Here is the info for this year:

Tuesday, March 3rd, 7-9:30pm
The Loft Cinemas
$5 Student/$10 Community Member

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Burger City

Here's info on Burger City, reprinted almost exactly as it came to my inbox:

, Music Entertainment and Culinary Arts development program, is an ArtFare program offering participants unique entrepreneurial opportunities (since Jan 2006) wherein ArtFare staff and 25 volunteers offer assistance developing a business model for artists. Two new ArtFare projects developed in 2008 provide funding for the arts in the Cultural Arts Corridor of Downtown Tucson.

Burger City offers gourmet burgers and unexpected side dishes as well as a pickle bar. There is a large screen TV set up for viewing both the kitchen (food performance art?) as well as for viewing other specially scheduled programs. The full menu is available for takeout. A hip and exciting hangout which attracts downtown city employees as well as the college after-sports, after-theater crowd, Burger City features hand pressed burgers and locally baked buns with fresh, hand cut fries or a side of street roasted corn. Everything on the menu is ala carte, and, a new and exciting dessert is featured weekly. Several tables are designated "creativity tables" and art supplies are offered for up and coming DiVinci's to create on the wooden surfaces.

Chef Jesse Andre and Manager Roy Schaefer, are pleased to invite you to enjoy a burger and support the Tucson arts at the same time. Now that's a donation you can wrap around! Located at 47 N. 6th Avenue in the heart of downtown, the restaurant is open from 11 am until 10 pm Monday through Wednesday and from 11 am until 3 am Thursday through Saturday to accommodate the club crowd. The restaurant is closed on Sunday.

Kelly's Market is conveniently located next door and in the finest tradition of bodegas and delis will offer deli foods (prepared in the Burger City kitchen )as well as stocking some of life's necessities. Downtown and running late from work but have to pick up some milk and puppy chow on the way home? Call it in, pay with credit or debit, and drive up to the front of the market. They'll have it bagged ready for you to pay and dash home.

Profits from both Burger City and Kelly's will support the non-profit endeavors of ArtFare, after costs and wages for its cheerful employees. For more information, contact Executive Director Tig Collins at space[at]artfare[dot]org.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

How Not to be a Fat Ass in 2009

Andrew's New Year's resolution is "to not be a fat ass". Mind you, he isn't a fat ass, but I know how he feels. I suggest we re-frame this common resolution in a more positive light. Repeat after me: I resolve to be active in ways that are fun for me this year.

Climbing at Rocks and Ropes
Tucson has a lot to offer when it comes to being active. One of the options I recently found out about is climbing at Rocks and Ropes. A number of my friends climb there, including those pictured above (Kawena) and below (Shane).

Getting started at Rocks and Ropes is not as intimidating as it may seem. There really are people of all ages, sizes, sexes and body types there. The first time they teach you the basics in a super clear, fool-proof intro lesson. The most important thing is to be fairly sober and to have a belayer who is also fairly sober. Dropping 50 feet because your belayer let go of the rope is not fun I hear.

Don't be intimidated by the gear, either. You can use Rocks and Ropes' gear first. If you get really into it, you may find yourself purchasing your own (insert color of choice) shoes, belt, chalk, etc.

The climbs are classified into different levels, so start of with something easy to get your feet wet, so to speak. It's a major adrenaline rush no matter what. I mean, you're scaling a wall, hanging from little rock-like pegs. You could fall at any minute. But the difference is, if you fall here, your rope, harness and belayer will catch you. It's a security blanket that gives you the opportunity to make the most daring climbs you've ever imagined, but without the slipping and dying part! How cool is that?

The Tuesday Night Bike Ride
Another active option is the Tuesday Night Ride. (And it's free!) It got me through the hardest parts of last semester. Like when I was freaking out during finals, and all I wanted to do was get away from it for a few hours. I went on the ride on thought "Wouldn't it be nice to see some Christmas lights?" My wish came true on the spot. We rode though Winterhaven in its full regalia. It was my first time. It was absolutely magical.
This is our bike posse. Well, most of it at least. As you can see, I'm the woman with the dog in a basket. If you see us, do NOT make any Taco Bell references. They got old a long time ago.

For more info on the Tuesday Night Ride check my post and the links therein.

I heart yoga--hard. For more info check out the post on my yoga journey.

Dance Lessons

We've taken a Flamenco class through Pima Community College Activities, a Latin Dance class through The University of Arizona Rec Center and tomorrow we're starting Argentine tango at Shall We Dance. I love to dance with Andrew anyway, but tommorow is especially exciting since I've been wanting to learn tango ever since I began teaching about its sociocultural and political context some years ago. (Wanna learn more? Take TRAD 103: Art and Politics of Latin America with me over the summer. Shameless self promo me? Never!)

Winter in Tucson is the perfect time to hike, and hiking is one of the most perfect exercises for mind body and soul.
This is the wild roaming chihuahua we spotted on our last hike: the 50 year trail at Catalina State Park. I'd like to mountainbike, or horseback ride it next.

Check out some of my past hike posts by clicking on this here link.

One of my favorite things to do is just plug my ipod in, saddle up my wild chihuahua and go for a long walk at dusk. I like to walk around campus, around the neighborhoods nearby, especially Sam Hughes--it can be so charming at night. I also recommend The Local Couples Walks.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Murder Mystery Dinner Theater New Years Eve Debacle

From left to right: Maisa, Keith, Liz, Chris, Me, Andrew. This is our "before" photo. Unfortunately, I never got around to the "after" shot. But that's par for the course on New Years Eve.

That's us. Mostly unsuspecting victims of the Murder Mystery Dinner Theater at the Four Points Sheraton. I say "mostly unsuspecting" because I had a hunch the thing might turn out to be a bust. I invited friends who I knew would make the most of it no matter what, and who wouldn't hold the fiasco against me after they dropped $94.58 on the evening--not including alcohol.

So where did my hunch come from? First clue: I read about the event in Tucson Weekly, but found no details about it on their website, The only details I could find online were on Craig's and Metromix.

When I called Ross Horwitz to get some more info, he wasn't entirely forthcoming and was a little too eager to get me to buy. I knew something was up when I realized that the $75 ticket came up to a whole $94.58 with tax and service fee. Something I did not find out from Ross, but rather from Liz after she had purchased. Why hadn't he told me the total when I paid over the phone? (He told me there was a fee, but not what it came to.) What else wasn't he telling me?

What he wasn't telling me was "Welcome to the chintziest New Years Eve Murder Mystery Theater Dinner you could ever envision." At least it makes for a great story. Which is why I've invited every member of our party to post their rendition of the night's events on this blog. But first, let me run you through some photos.

I took this one of Andrew while we were standing in line. You can see there was a decent crowd. I was relieved about this, being that I half expected to get to the Sheraton to find a gutted out shell, wind blowing through it and a wall spray painted with the phrase: "We got you, suckers!"

As you can see, the tables were nicely set with some nye party favors and such. The room was decorated with murder mystery themed posters. So far so good.

Keith and Maisa enjoy the show with some weak drinks.

The kindly tranny.

Andrew drags me on stage, I dress him like a baby and he wins the dance off.

The dance contest turns out to be the chicken dance contest. I still have the rubber chicken key chains to show for it.

After the magic show, Andrew sympathizes with the bunny and gives it some of his champagne. Maisa celebrates this.

The Hungarian/Oklahoman fortune teller vocalist singing "Age of Aquarius" acapella.

Andrew is completely crazed by the end of it.

Liz and Chris feign amazement at the theater troupe's accomplishments.

Keith's account:

*****the sheraton 4 points nye magic murder mystery dinner theater gala ****

the evening opened with us seated at a table directly under the pa system which blasted a set of 6 songs containing the word magic in the lyric over and over and over.

we donned our festive hats, put on our murder mystery character name tags, switched on the blinking cop car/ice cube lights provided by the local dui task force and sipped a delightful ice tea.

the "show" then opened. if one were to take some of the more average talent from a high school play, provide them with no plot and have the characters defined by a wacky voice, it might approximate the next 2 hours. while "enjoying' the first act we were served our first course, a slightly wilted handful of iceberg lettuce awash with ranch dressing. the first act concluded with one of the actors dropping a knife on the floor, this was somehow supposed to be her murder; the only thing dying was the audience’s expectations.

next course: fishwhicken served with a rice pilaf coated in a mix of mustard and ketchup, and a lone stalk of steamed broccoli, in the words of rachel ray, "yummo!" chris asserted that it HAD to be chicken because fish doesn't get as tough when its over cooked. the next act began, new wacky voices were introduced, somehow andrew and eva were volunteered to participate on stage. andrew did a quick-change into baby clothes then performed an erotic dance and strip tease much to our horror/delight. i believe he won a set of 2 card monte cards for his effort.

the second act closed as we were served an out of the box 3/4 inch slice of strawberry cheesecake and given out ballots to vote on the murderer. the winner was announced and we all felt at this point that the worst was over. we were wrong. so very wrong.

what followed next feels like a fever dream. if salvador dali created a film of lounge act wanna-be's and said film was viewed while a steady drip of pcp and a distillation of the adrenal glands of a rabid skunk was administered intravenously it might come close to the experience. i may have blessedly forgotten a detail or two in what follows but hopefully my fellow travelers will fill in what i miss

1. a woman who had been reading fortunes in the back came to the stage which she shared which a rabbit, sitting in a pot on a stool. this entertainer was of hungarian origin or perhaps it was oklahoma, or maybe to hungarian part of oklahoma. she proceeded to sing patsy cline's crazy to a backing track. then killed the music and gave us 3 more numbers accapella. these included somewhere over the rainbow, and the age of aquarius which was helped along by the audience.

2. one of the actors returned to the stage to treat us to his comedy act. the act consisted of a set of racial stereotypes. maisa found this part depressing, we had to agree that this was the biggest buzz-kill of the night, happy friggen new year. whooo!

3. next up was the light and sound guy who manipulated several balls then juggled and dropped some pins.

4. we were now served a thimble full of champagne from a 3 dollar bottle. noisemakers were twirled a popper was launched into andrew’s cheek, streamers flew and balloons dropped. they launched inexplicably into michael jackson’s billie jean. maybe this was a tribute to a has been from the wanna-be's.

the night over (though the memories will linger till the sweet release of the grave) we strolled back to andrew and eva's making a stop at the quickie mart for beer and candy(is spray candy really candy? how DO they get the flavor of ass and blueberry into a spray bottle?) we then drank our way thru cannonball run as drinking game while chris desperately called every pizza place in tucson to no avail.

the evening truly demonstrated that there is bad, there is good, there is "so bad" it's good, there is "so bad" you can't believe it hurts so good and there is bad "so bad" that it can only be enjoyed with good friends.

Andrew's account:

5th Dimension's “Age of Aquarius” has a special place in my heart. It seems to evoke a true “mystic crystal revelation”, a time of love ins, protests, LSD, and other shit like that. Although I respect the songs proper place in our nations pop culture history, I still find it extremely annoying to listen to, and avoid it whenever I can by either changing the channel, or drinking until I can't hear. Imagine my horror then, when it was placed squarely in the middle of my New Year's Eve celebration.

To be sure, this song was almost a perfect lyrical match to our evening at the Magic Murder Mystery dinner theater me and my close friends signed up for. Like the song begins, “when the moon is in the Seventh House, and Jupiter aligns with mars...”, celestial orbs had aligned for a truly cosmic abomination of magic, murder, mystery, dinner, theater, comedy,... “entertainment” in general.

In fact, the whole evening seemed to be orchestrated with very little of the best of any of those things. The highlight of the magical portion of the evening? A bunny that did not commit suicide by jumping several bunny-feet from the edge of its cake container. The most intriguing murder event? Someone dies somehow, I think with a strategically placed plastic knife. The pinnacle of mystery? A word jumble. The penultimate of our dining experience? Having two salad dressings to choose from. The highlight of the craftwork of theater? A convincing kind and gentle drag queen. The piece-de-resistance of comedy? A portion of the plot described by the host as “a wardrobe malfunction.”( I mean really, Super Bowl XXXVIII?). And finally, the singing of “Age of Aquarius,” by a woman, who goes by the name of “fortune teller/vocalist”, not so much presented as entertainment, but as a means to fill the time gap between hell and 2009.

The evening was not completely devoid of special moments, however. The tables were well stocked with new year's eve trinkets, some of which were worth pretending to steal. The typical noisemakers and streamers were abundant and pleasant to operate. The balloon drop with actual balloons dropping provided enough for every show-goer to take out their aggression thru balloon strangling therapy. And there was plenty of helium filled champagne glasses so that everyone could “let the sun shine” by getting lightheaded and screaming in a falsetto.

There were more details to make up the night, and maybe all of them added up could be considered the value of admission at $90+. But we may never know for sure, for as soon as the event was over, I promptly drank until I could not hear.

Maisa's Account:

For the last several years, I've made a concerted effort to celebrate each new year in a meaningful, mindful way. To me, January has been a time of new beginnings, of meaningful and mindful reflections on life. My birthday falls early in the month and so, lends weight to the meaning- and mindfulness of the season. Feeling the years slip past seems an increasingly somber endeavor—one to mark with meaningful, mindful awareness.

To wit:
For 2005-06, I stayed home and made myself dinner, lit candles, listened to music and drew a postcard as a New Year's greeting for friends and family. Meaningful and mindful rating: 10.

For 2006-07, I attended a party hosted by friends of my housemate. I considered it a chance to meet new people and expand my social circles. Meaningful and mindful rating: 7.

For 2007-08, I drove 11 hours straight to be with dear friends. Meaningful and mindful rating: 9 (with penalties for watching Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve: 8.

Each of these activities speaks to the sentimentalist in me, to the nostalgic who wonders what her grandchildren will say about the content of her diaries after she's gone (and who therefore can't bring herself to write down much of anything at all). This New Year's, however, as the clock ticked from 11:59 to 12:00 in the Mountain Time Zone and 2008 turned into 2009, I was party to a party that strip-searched my soul, confiscated its carefully stowed sentimentalism, and then slammed it up against the Great Brick Wall of Life, cuffed its whispy little wrists and growled into its ear, "Life is flippin' weird. Get flippin' used to it."

Hyperbole and anthropomorphism are both in order here, as is hyperbolic anthropomorphism. My appreciation to this New Year's party runs deep. On this side of December 31st, I am no longer a girl-child hoping for a magic show, but a grown woman staring into the cold light of each new day.

But, truth be told, a magic show is exactly what my friends and I had hoped for when we bought our razzle-dazzle dinner theater tickets to "Murder at Magic Mansion." What we got was so much more, including but not limited to the following:

1. A thinly scripted murder mystery on a rickety stage. The murder victim was a Swedish hottie. Swedish hotties are funny. Get it? (Set pieces and other trappings available from the ACME murder mystery dinner theater company.)

2. A man in a blue velveteen costume coat with red piping and gold buttons—a Napoleanic reference? An homage to marching bands?—who bustled from one side of the room to another, ran the spotlight, served as emcee, played sound effect clips from his laptop, and stopped by diners' tables to promote the on-site fortune teller services available for a fee. He made me feel sad.

3. Sad cheesecake, but not as sad as the man in the blue coat, on account of it had a cherry on top.

4. Audience participation, in the form of a hypnosis (i.e., act like an animal of your choice) scene and a dress-your-husband-like-a-giant-baby-in-bloomers-and-a-bib scene.

5. A 12-year-old girl in a pink chiffon princess dress, all dolled up for New Year's Eve, who stole the show outright and who thoroughly enjoyed herself. Instructed by the man in the sad blue coat, she helped produce a black-and-white bunny rabbit from a flaming dutch oven.

6. Tables sprinkled with party favors, including blinking red and blue plastic "ice cubes," donated by the Arizona DUI task force and intended to make you think of cop car lights in the rear view mirror as you drive home sloshed—which you shouldn't do, and which you probably didn't do at this party, because the cash bar was, well, a cash bar. The man in the sad blue coat pointed out that the plastic ice cubes were a safety reminder and that, even better, they could be placed in drink glasses to dramatic effect.

7. A stand-up comedy attempt by the guy who played Mostly Magnificent Steve in the play. He prefaced his bit by saying, "Well, some people might think that these jokes are racist, but I don't think of them that way."

8. A buxom woman in a flowing purple gown—presumably the idle fortuneteller—who sang show tunes. Early on, she announced, "Oh, who needs music! We'll do this a cappella!" And with gusto, she launched into "The Age of Aquarius." After "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and a hodgepodge of others, she was just hitting her stride when, to everyone's relief, the man in the blue coat pulled the microphone out of her hand. She looked a little p.o.'ed.

On balance, I'd recommend this show to any member of the 12-year-old demographic in the confidence that they would enjoy it as much as the girl in the pink princess dress did. I've established that I can no longer be that girl, and so I'll opt for a champagne toast with friends at midnight and maybe even a well-timed kiss. Meaningful and mindful ratings be damned. I'm sure the man in the sad blue coat would understand.

Liz's Account: