True story (unfortunately): Two weeks ago, when I got on a bike for the first time after a six- or seven-year hiatus, two teenage girls in my neighborhood laughed at me from their porch.
Wait, that's not even really the full truth. They came out of their house, presumably after seeing me struggle with even basic gear changes and the art of balance on the street in front of their window, then they laughed at me. They didn't even really make much of an effort to hide it.
Hey, it probably was funny, so how mad can I be? At the time, mad enough to try to appear casual while pedaling away from them, but now that a week and a half have passed, it's not a big deal. I probably do look sort of hilarious on the bike, considering I'm significantly overweight and suck at bicycling.
So, why the heck is a guy who generally dislikes physical activity as much he loves carne asada burritos for lunch and spends all day sitting at a desk staring at a computer on a bicycle to begin with? A good question and one I've been asking myself every time I try to ride a few miles on that infernal thing, but since my wife works at the local nonprofit Tu Nidito and one of their biggest fundraisers each year is El Tour de Tucson, I'm going to ride 42 miles as the slowest person in a pack with half of Southern Arizona. This might be the last thing I ever do, but hey, if I can raise some money for a program that helps grieving kids in the area, it seems worth pushing myself a bit.
While I struggle to push myself to a distance of ten miles this weekend (and try to block out my mind the fact that I still am, at my best, still less than a quarter of a way to the distance I'll be riding in November), at least, I can think of Aaliyah, the kid that I'm "riding" for and how Tu Nidito helped her when she lost an older brother. What she's gone through is a lot harder than some fat guy trying to ride a bike 42 miles by far.
We all know the Ooh-Aah Man.
Anyone who's ever gone to a UA men's basketball game at McKale Center — heck, even if they just watched one on TV — knows about Joseph Cavaleri, who for more than 30 years would entertain the crowd during a second half timeout with his odd-but-endearing U of A cheer that combined fan interaction with an old man slowly stripping.
Cavaleri finally hung up his collection of sweatshirts, sweatpants, T-shirts, tank tops and short shorts in March, the 61-year-old father of four and grandfather of many more no longer able to move around with the speed and agility needed to file up 14,000 fans.
Now the Ooh Aah Man faces an even more sobering reality: the possible loss of his home.
Considering how much this man is adored in the Tucson community, I wouldn't be surprised if a line is already forming to help Cavaleri and his family out. If you'd like to provide assistance, hit him up on his Facebook page.
UPDATE: The word of Cavaleri's plight is spreading through the community, and someone has started an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for his cause. Check it out and, if you can, fork over a few bucks.
Word came down earlier this week that the Arizona Interscholastic Association was looking to host the Division II and III state title games at Arizona Stadium on Nov. 29-30. This, after apparently JUST REALIZING Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe wasn't going to be available because of some little thing called the Duel in the Desert.
So, instead of the vast majority of the Tucson area's prep football teams battling for a chance to make a long bus ride and play in front of mostly their opponents' fans, the chance is now there to get to win a championship right here in town.
And Tucson's best shot for a champion (at least at the Division II level) might be getting a preview of who they'd face in that title game tonight.
Salpointe Catholic (4-0), which has absolutely demolished its opponents by a combined score of 190-21, hosts Tempe Marcos de Niza (4-0) at 7 p.m. in a game that should have a sizable crowd full of both fans and college scouts.
Marcos de Niza, considered among the best Division II clubs in Phoenix, is averaging more than 53 points per game — but also allowing 42.5 per game. The Padres beat Sierra Vista Buena 78-57 in an up-tempo basketball game two weeks ago.
Flag football ain't no joke, yo.
Just ask this Drexel University
washout alum as he pumps up his fraternity's intramural team before it's latest epic battle out on the flag football field.
I'm ready to run through a wall now, bro. Pass me a Smirnoff Ice so I can shotgun it before heading out into battle.
No-class act by a bunch of overpaid, immature, arrogant, spoiled brats! "The #Dodgers are idiots" http://t.co/KfZZliBFBV
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) September 20, 2013
Senator McComplain knows a thing or two about coming in second and watching someone take a plunge in the pool (I mean poll) #POoLITICS
— Brian Wilson (@BrianWilson38) September 20, 2013
It looks like we were caught with our pants down at the Tucson Weekly offices because we forgot to wish Lute Olson a happy 79th birthday yesterday. I blame Facebook for not reminding me.
I remember the first and last time I saw good old Lute. I was sweeping the floor at Park Place Century Theaters and I looked up and Olson was munching on a bag of popcorn with one of ex-wives. My hands dropped my broom and dustpan, my legs automatically ran over to open the door because god forbid they open their own door. As they walked by, I reached out to shake Lute's hand and he just walked by. Maybe he couldn't see me because I was face-to-face with his belt line or maybe he doesn't talk to the help. I'll never know.
Happy belated birthday, Lute. This Luther Campbell is for you:
Let's be honest, alright? No one actually goes to a football game, whatever the level, in hopes of seeing a bunch of zeros on the scoreboard. Believe me, I've been there, having done my best to block out the memories of covering a 3-0 triple overtime game between Marana and Palo Verde in the late 1990s.
We all prefer a bunch of scoring, it's what makes for an exciting night out.
So, unless you just have an aversion to offense, the place to be tonight is Ironwood Ridge High School. The defending Division II champs are 3-1 on the season, winning games by an average score of 37-29, which isn't that explosive.
But the Nighthawks are hosting Sierra Vista Buena (1-2), which so far this year is redefining the term shootout. The Colts are scoring almost 44 per game ... and giving up just under 63 a night. That includes a 78-57 loss last week at Tempe Marcos de Niza — which happens to be coming to Tucson next week to face Salpointe Catholic.
If this game has under 100 points I'll be shocked.
Southern Arizona's most explosive team, Salpointe, is off this week. But another high-scoring outfit, Tucson High, has scored 67 and 52 in back-to-back wins heading into a game at Sunnyside (2-1). A win for the Badgers would be their third straight over the Blue Devils.
The other top games this week are at the lowel levels, where upstart Catalina Foothills (2-1) hosts Sahuarita (3-1) and three Division IV squads: Palo Verde, Rio Rico and Santa Rita have chances to get off to unexpected 4-0 starts.
Palo Verde, with Todd Mayfield back at the helm, hosts Amphitheater (2-1) in a sectional game, while Rio Rico visits Safford (2-1) and Santa Rita hosts Phoenix's Arizona Lutheran Academy (3-0).
Ken Brazzle attended most of the biggest sports events in Tucson during the last 20 or so years that the print version of the Tucson Citizen existed. But you'd never know it unless you read the paper the next day.
Brazz, as most everyone knew him, was one of those blend-into-the-background media types. He was there to cover the story, not be a part of it. He had no biases—except maybe to have those late-summer Tucson Sidewinders games end a little earlier, and without causing him to have to change his lede—and would cover pretty much whatever you wanted him to.
Ken Brazzle passed away last week, right around his 63rd birthday. Word of his death didn't start spreading until the weekend, when former Citizen sports editor Mike Chesnick posted the news and the remembrances from ex-Citizen staffers started flooding in.
Brazz was just finishing up a six-month stint with USA Today when I started my journalism career in Tucson, back in 1995 at the Citizen as a high school football "correspondent." He'd been the prep editor before that, and was glad to pass on guidance and advice for covering high school kids. Though I moved over to the morning daily in 1999, I still saw Brazz all over, and loved every moment of it.
Brazz, a native Texan, left the business when the Citizen folded but remained in Tucson, where among other things he served as a deacon in his church.
A memorial service for Brazzle is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Grace Temple Baptist Church, 1018 E. 31st St.
An art auction to benefit Bicycle Inter Community Art and Salvage (BICAS) opens with a preview reception… More