Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Remembering 9-Year-Old Brisenia Flores: Murdered in 2009 by Anti-Immigration Activists in Arivaca, Ignored by the Media

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2016 at 3:00 PM

Brisenia Flores would be 16 this year—my youngest brother's age. Except seven years ago on May 30, as she slept with her puppy on the living room couch in her family's mobile home in Arivaca—about 60 miles south of Tucson—armed robbers broke in, and shot and killed Brisenia and her father, Raul, 29.

The home invasion was led by Shawna Forde, a former member of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, and founding member of the group Minutemen American Defense. Reports say she'd patrol the Arizona-México borderlands carrying weapons and protested against crime along the border, as well as the presence of undocumented immigrants in the country. Forde was reportedly kicked out of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps because she was "unstable." (Describing both groups as white supremacists is not far fetched.)

Forde and her two accomplices claimed to be law enforcement, which is how they were able to enter the Flores' home.

The day of the murder, as a CNN article from 2011 describes, Brisenia, Raul and mom Gina Gonzales went shopping for new shoes for Brisenia. She had just finished third grade and needed them for summer camp. 
She fell asleep watching television as her parents slept in their bedroom. A few hours later, she opened her eyes to the sight of her father, lying on the opposite couch. He had been shot in the chest and was choking on his own blood. Her mother was bleeding on the floor, a gunshot wound to her leg. The little girl was startled and cried out to intruders in her home, “Why did you shoot my mom?”
Brisenia's mom, Gina, cried and described the events in court back in 2011. She made it out alive seven years ago yesterday, after being shot in the leg. She called 911 and got a hold of her husband's gun.

"[Brisenia] was really scared. Her voice was shacking," Gina said in court, according to CNN. "I can hear her say, 'Please don't shoot me.'"

Forde and two accomplices, Jason Bush—at the time the national director of operations for the Minutemen American Defense—and Albert Gaxiola planned to raid the home to steal drugs, weapons and money to fund their anti-immigration group, according to CNN. Reportedly, they thought Raul was a drug dealer. No drugs were found.

On Feb. 22, 2011, a jury found Forde guilty of first-degree murder and gave her the death penalty.

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Into the Mild: So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish

Posted By on Thu, Mar 31, 2016 at 3:00 PM

Hey Amigos,

I'm pretty bad at goodbyes so I'll just cut to the chase: I'm no longer able to write the Into the Mild feature for Tucson Weekly. I've enjoyed writing it immensely and hope that you enjoyed reading it, but my time is simply stretched too thin to continue. I'm currently working, writing two books, looking for permanent work in the United States, dealing with banking issues, and trying to maintain a social life. I'm juggling all of this with very limited internet access. Writing for Tucson Weekly is a luxury that I can't squeeze into my schedule anymore.

I'm now using the lion's share of my writing time writing two books. The first will be a collection of short stories from my time exploring the world alone and the new perspective it puts on life's struggles. The other will be about working for grassroots charity groups, with sections on my stint living at refugee camps, my time in the Real Life SuperHero community, and the experience of working for several small organizations in the global south. I hope to have both books published sometime in 2017. I'll also post stories and photos on my personal site,, from time to time.

I owe many thanks to former TW editor Irene Messina for writing an article about a charity project I used to run (found here) and then allowing me to cut my teeth by writing the “Hero of the Week” column, despite my having zero training, experience, or skill in writing. I'm also extremely grateful to Chelo Grubb and the other current staff at Tucson Weekly for giving me another opportunity to share stories with TW, this time personal accounts of exorcisms and life at refugee camps. I hope that my stories added a unique flavor to TW and hope to someday, when life has slowed to a sprint, write for Tucson Weekly again.

May all your dreams come true,


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Monday, March 28, 2016

10 Interactive Photos Show Changes In Tucson's Skyline

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 2:40 PM

Rent Cafe, an apartment search website, and writer Ama Otet put together a remarkable collection of before and after images showcasing the recent transformations in Tucson's skyline. Hover over the images to see the year they were taken. 

Take a look for yourself:

1. Hub at Tucson, Sol Building and Luna Building at Speedway Boulevard and Euclid Avenue

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Into the Mild: The Adventures of Jason and Hobbes

Posted By on Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Traveling alone can be tough. When all of my snooty friends couldn’t join me because they had families or careers they couldn’t walk away from, I had to get creative in my search for a companion.

I left Tucson in June of 2014, traveling with a group of 500 soccer fanatics to watch the World Cup in Brasil. We were hundreds of strangers from across the US and everyone seemed to bond almost immediately

Then, after two weeks, they were gone.

I next stayed with a friend from Brasil, though she usually had school and I spoke no Portuguese at the time.

Then, after two weeks, I was on my own again.

I worked in Bahia for a month, then left and never saw my coworkers again. I repeated the experience in Salvador. And Ecuador. And Peru. You see the pattern. I was surrounded by people who wouldn't stay in my life. I was alone in a crowd. I wanted a permanent travel companion, flexible and adventurous.

So I made my own.

First came the pattern. I found this nifty guide, printed out a PDF of the design, bought some fleece, and got to work.


I started with the arms and legs. They were the easiest pattern, and as I had never sewn before, the least noticeable if/when something went wrong.

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Tucson Modernism Week Is Here

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 1:00 PM

The Firebird III will be on display at MOCA Tucson as part of Tucson Modernism Week, which starts tonight.
  • The Firebird III will be on display at MOCA Tucson as part of Tucson Modernism Week, which starts tonight.

Tucson Modernism Week kicks off today at the Tucson Convention Center with walking tours during the day and a cocktail party from 7 to 10 p.m. 

This weekend, you can find vintage trailers at the TCC, the Firebird III at MOCA Tucson and a whole bunch more fun.  Here's a complete schedule of tours, talks, exhibits and all the rest.

Demion Clinco of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation talks about Modernism Week in this week's TW.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ricky Martin Was in Tucson Last Night (And it Was Important for Some of Us)

Posted By on Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 1:19 PM

  • Noelle Haro-Gomez

Ricky Martin.

Some people remember him from his Menudo days, some learned who he was overnight because of his (let's just admit it it) electrifying performance at the 1999 Grammys, and some discovered him through hearing their friends and loved ones brutalize "Livin' La Vida Loca" when it came on radio.

I used to watch him on TV, with my Nana, on an anglo novela called "General Hospital," where he played Miguel, a character whose reason for being is explained on the GH Wiki as "going on a tour."

Taking his boy band days into consideration, Martin has been a performing, touring musician for about 30 years and last night his One World Tour stopped at AVA Amphitheater.

His concert was full of energy, and he kept his fans dancing all night, opening the show with one of his newer singles, "Mr. Put It Down." But the crowd went crazy when he went into his back catalog, singing classic songs like "Vuelve," "Livin’ La Vida Loca," and "Tú Recuerdo."

During the show, Martin announced that one of his newest songs, "Disparo al Corazón," from his album "A Quien Quiere Escuchar," has nominated for a Latin Grammy.

His next stop will be in Phoenix on Sept. 26. at Comerica Theater. Tickets are still on sale, for those of you who missed last night's show (or those of you who want a double-dose of Mr. Martin).

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Complete Your Summer Reading with this Sci-Fi Classic

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 11:00 AM

"The Birth of Venus" by Sandro Botticelli - the probable inspiration for the cover art of certain editions of the sci-fi novel "Venus on the Half-shell" by Philip Jose' Farmer using the pen name Kilgore Trout (a character from the novels of Kurt Vonnegut).
  • "The Birth of Venus" by Sandro Botticelli - the probable inspiration for the cover art of certain editions of the sci-fi novel "Venus on the Half-shell" by Philip Jose' Farmer using the pen name Kilgore Trout (a character from the novels of Kurt Vonnegut).

My friend Ron was halfway through a Kurt Vonnegut novel when he decided to reach out via Facebook for assurance that his particular book would get better. I replied, "It doesn't." A while later he replied saying that I was right. The subject of Vonnegut reminded me of one of his recurring characters, Kilgore Trout. Trout was himself a science fiction writer who could only achieve publication as filler for pornographic books and magazines (no internet in the 70's). Kilgore Trout, in turn, reminded me of a hilarious, wildly imaginative, and sometimes disturbing 1975 novel Venus on the Half-shell, by Phillip Jose' Farmer, originally published under the pen name "Kilgore Trout".

If you have yet to read it, Venus on the Half-shell makes for an absorbing, fast paced, escape from our crazy times. I told Ron as much.

Most authors will start a novel by painting a picture of the setting, then begin the introduction of the characters. Farmer starts Venus with the protagonist, Simon Wagstaff, having sex atop the Great Pyramid of Giza. Next came the great flood, literally. An alien race called the Hoonhor traveled from planet to planet checking out the state of evolution. If the state was not well, they cleansed it. Earth was one of these. The Hoonhor caused all the water vapor in the atmosphere to precipitate at once, washing the planet, and giving evolution another shot. 

Our hero, Simon Wagstaff, managed to float around long enough to float by an abandoned Chinese spacecraft which he boarded shortly before running aground on, where else, Mount Ararat. After learning how to fly the craft, Simon left Earth and traveled the galaxy far and wide to find the answers to unanswerable questions, like, "Why are we created only to suffer and die?"

The novel starts out with a bang, but that is only the first in a number of sexual adventures. There was, for example, the planet Dokal where all the people were identical to humans with the exception of possessing a five to six foot long prehensile tail, naked, save for a tuft of fur at the end. The Dokals insisted on fixing his lack of tail problem, and after the installation, he found it to be quite useful. Useful, he found, in ways he had not imagined, like when the King's young daughter named Tunc (an anagram) seduced him and... well, I'll leave it there.

Occasionally the humor could be a bit disturbing. As it turned out, faster-than-light travel was made possible by sucking energy from a parallel universe to feed the engine. Unfortunately, the globs of energy were actually living beings. They died in the process. The engine, in fact, transmitted the sound of their wailing death cries - the faster he went, the louder they became. Simon found it terribly unnerving.

Farmer was a great admirer of Vonnegut, and through the persona of Kilgore Trout he was able to take the Vonnegut style to far higher level of humor and creativity. Writing Venus was a joy for Farmer, and it shows in the writing. He speaks of laughing out loud while typing it, and concluded, "What a blast it was!"

Venus is a great escape novel for the science fiction buff, and the joy of the author in its creation touches you. Finish your summer reading with this!

Oh yeah, Ron's book that did not get better was Slaughterhouse Five.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

In the Day We Sweat It Out on the Streets...

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 1:30 PM

Born to Run turns 40 years old today. Slate looks back at Springsteen's struggle to get the album recorded in the early days of his career:
Bruce kept struggling to get on tape the sound he had in his head, and at times it seemed like he was ready to give up. Long nights at the studio ended in misery, the atmosphere tense and rancorous. To stay awake, engineer Jimmy Iovine would take a piece of gum, throw it away, and chew on the aluminum wrapping. In the end, Springsteen was miserable: “After it was finished? I hated it! I couldn't stand to listen to it. I thought it was the worst piece of garbage I'd ever heard.”

He almost didn't release it. But Jon Landau, who had stepped in as a producer, helped persuade him to let go. According to writer Dave Marsh, Landau called Springsteen and said, “Look, you're not supposed to like it. You think Chuck Berry sits around listening to ‘Maybellene’? And when he does hear it, don't you think he wishes a few things could be [changed]? Now c'mon, it's time to put the record out.” The album appeared in 1975, and it launched Springsteen toward megastardom, getting him on the covers of Time and Newsweek simultaneously. Reviewing the album in Rolling Stone, Greil Marcus proclaimed, “It is a magnificent album that pays off on every bet ever placed on him—a '57 Chevy running on melted down Crystals records that shuts down every claim that has been made. And it should crack his future wide open.”
The Wall Street Journal assembles vintage performances of all the songs on the album here, Michael Calia notes:

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@ Loft Cinema Tue., Feb. 21, 7:30 p.m. and Sat., Feb. 25, 2 p.m. 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.

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