Friday, March 17, 2017

Future Islands on Fire at SXSW

Posted By on Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 9:21 PM

Future Islands front man Samuel T. Herring is raw emotion, making for a stunning performance at SXSW Thursday night Pandora showcase. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Future Islands front man Samuel T. Herring is raw emotion, making for a stunning performance at SXSW Thursday night Pandora showcase.

The lead singer of Future Islands reveals his soul while he performs. The persona most of us wear when in public, guarding our emotion, our inner selves—front man Samuel T. Herring motions pulling off his mask while on stage at Thursday night’s Pandora showcase at SXSW.

Under his mask, he’s crying unabashedly, in front of the hundreds in the audience. He pounds his chest. He growls in to the microphone. He reaches out a hand to the audience as if to say, “Be real. Be strong.” Sweat pours down his face. He reaches a hand to the sky. It’s a difficult time in our country, he told the audience when he stepped on stage, and he’s so excited to be here.

With band members Gerrit Welmers on keyboards, William Cashion on guitar and a hired drummer, Future Islands music is hard and emotional. The audience was lost in the moment as Herring danced across the stage and leaned into the crowd to sing directly to them—each and every one.

The Asterisk in Ducey's Plan to Fund All-Day Kindergarten in 'Lowest-Income Schools'

Posted By on Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 3:30 PM

  • Courtesy of
Need another reason to be wary of Ducey's promises? Here's one: his all-day kindergarten funding pledge. It's not quite what he said it is.

Here's what Ducey said in his 2017 State of the State address:
"My budget gives the lowest-income schools dollars to start or expand full-day kindergarten."
Note the word "schools" in the phrase "lowest-income schools." Apparently that's not what Ducey meant. He meant "lowest-income charter schools," but if the school is inside a district, that's not enough. The whole district has to qualify as "lowest income" or No Money For You.

This was news to me until someone sent me a story by Michael Hernandez, an intern at Arizona Public Media (Let's hear it for the future of journalism!): All-Day Kindergarten Funding Out of Reach for Tucson's Public Schools. For Ducey's funding pledge to kick in, 90 percent of your students qualify have to qualify for free or reduced lunch. If you're a charter school, it's just that simple—90 percent on free/reduced lunch, and you get the money. But a whole district has to meet that number to qualify. So TUSD doesn't qualify, or Flowing Wells. Even Sunnyside with 86 percent of its students on free/reduced lunch doesn't make the cut.

According to the article, no Pima County school district will get a penny from the program, but ten charters in the county qualify.

Even in this rare instance where Ducey puts together a plan that favors low-income schools, he makes sure charter schools get more than their share of the proceeds.

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Sheriff Mark Napier Says His Deputies Won't Be Taking Over the Work of Border Patrol

Posted By on Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 2:31 PM

Mark Napier
  • Mark Napier
Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier laid out his thoughts on how he will interact with federal authorities on immigration matters in a prepared statement earlier today:

The absence of a secure border presents a public safety concern for Pima County. We know significant quantities of illegal drugs are transported across the border for distribution throughout the United States. Human trafficking occurs across the border and results in the victimization of vulnerable populations. Transnational threats may also exploit the insecurity of the border to make undetected ingress into the United States, which potentially poses a national security threat. For these reasons, I fully support the increased emphasis on securing the border and providing additional federal resources to enhance our efforts to combat these public safety challenges. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department looks forward to increased cooperation with our federal partners to address public safety concerns relevant to our proximity to the International Border.

While I support the increased attention given to the border and welcome additional federal resources, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department does not have the capacity to engage in proactive enforcement of federal immigration laws. We have approximately 500 sworn personnel to provide law enforcement services to an area of 9,200 square miles. During the current fiscal year, we were facing a projected deficit of $6 million just to provide essential services to the people of our county. Our correctional facility currently houses approximately 1,825 inmates. We have the capacity for 2,000. We lack sufficient capacity to detain significant numbers of people for federal immigration violations. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department does not have the ability from either an operations or incarceration perspective to engage in active enforcement of federal immigration violations. Federal authorities best address these violations of federal law.

If local law enforcement becomes proactive in immigration enforcement, we will not enhance public safety, but rather deteriorate it. People in our community without legal documentation must be able to come forward and interact with law enforcement as victims and witnesses to criminal activity. If these people cannot interact with local law enforcement out of fear of deportation, we create an entire block of our community that will be victims of crime with no recourse and will not be partners with the community in reporting crime. All people of Pima County must be able to interact with law enforcement without fear.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department cooperates fully with our federal partners when, in the regular course of our duties, we develop a reasonable belief a person might be in this country without documentation. We contact federal law enforcement who then makes the determination about legal status and what steps might be required with respect to the enforcement of federal immigration laws. There are several thousand Border Patrol personnel in Pima County. They are able to respond rapidly to our requests for support. There is no need for personnel of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department to be cross-certified as immigration agents (287G Program).

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department cooperates and works collaboratively with all our federal law enforcement partners. We value these relationships. We recognize ICE Detainers and cooperate with them. We are required by state law to verify the immigration status of persons housed in our Adult Detention Center prior to their release. A relatively small portion of persons crosschecked through ICE result in an Immigration Detainer request. An ICE Detainer, as currently drafted, does not provide a legal basis for detaining a person. Therefore, we cannot engage an extension of detention based solely on the existence of an ICE Detainer. When we no longer have a legal basis to hold an inmate, and are aware of an ICE Detainer, we notify ICE that we are beginning out-processing of the inmate. This generally takes approximately two hours to complete. This provides sufficient time for ICE to take custody of the person. During calendar year 2016, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department processed approximately 35,000 persons into jail. Only 420 inmates had ICE Detainers. We acknowledged 100 percent of them and through collaboration/cooperation with ICE ensured that no person with an ICE Detainer was released into our community.

The human toll associated with immigration is real and a factor for our department. Every year, we recover approximately 150 bodies in the desert areas of Pima County. This necessitates we maintain an industrial refrigerator at our Ajo District Station, simply to store human remains. Victimization of undocumented border crossers is a significant issue and it goes largely unreported. We know that border bandits and Coyotes prey upon these people. Securing the border will prevent deaths and criminal victimization of border crossers. Dissuading illegal entry into this country is in fact compassionate public policy.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department is committed to providing the highest level of public safety services to the people of our County. We proactively attack crime problems and criminal behavior without regard to the immigration status of the bad actors involved and will continue to do so.

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"Kiss Me, I'm the Descendant of Irish Immigrants!"

Posted By on Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 9:26 AM

  • Courtesy of
Full disclosure: I don't have a drop of Irish blood in me that I know of. I don't wear green on St. Patrick's Day, or drink green beer. I don't kiss people because they're Irish. But that doesn't stop me from recommending a terrific op ed in today's New York Times by Fintan O'Toole, a columnist for The Irish Times: Green Beer and Rank Hypocrisy.

Stop reading this right now and link to his column! Or, if you prefer, stick around and read what I have to say about it.

O'Toole's basic thesis is, don't forget that most of the Irish-Americans we celebrate today are descendants of reviled immigrants.
[The Irish] were nobody’s ideal of the desirable immigrant. The typical Irish Catholic arrival in New York or Boston was a peasant with little formal education and few material resources. Worse, these people were religious aliens — the papist hordes who threatened to swamp Protestant civilization and, in their ignorance and superstition, destroy enlightened democratic American values.
Today in a proclamation, Trump celebrates "the achievements and contributions of Irish-Americans to our nation . . . overcoming poverty and discrimination and inspiring Americans from all walks of life with their indomitable and entrepreneurial spirit.”
Even by the crooked yardstick of the Trump administration, the disconnect is surreal: The president will salute the legacy of one wave of immigrants even as he deploys against other immigrants the same calumnies once heaped upon the Irish.
O'Toole says of those members of the Trump administration with Irish ancestry, like Sean Spicer, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway:

Continue reading »

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Streets of This Town: Smoke It If You Got It.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 10:00 PM

  • Brian Smith

"Streets of This Town" is a little daily photo series featuring random pics I take on long walks through Tucson—to sort of coincide with Tucson Salvage.

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Secret Sisters and Other Indie Heartbreakers

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 9:40 PM

The Secret Sisters play an Americana Ladies Night at SXSW. It's the first time Lydia and Laura Rogers bring their melancholy old-timey ballads to the festival in Austin, Texas. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • The Secret Sisters play an Americana Ladies Night at SXSW. It's the first time Lydia and Laura Rogers bring their melancholy old-timey ballads to the festival in Austin, Texas.

The Secret Sisters are as joyful on stage as their songs are depressing. Laura and Lydia Rogers love the dark days.

“We sell antidepressants at our shows,” Laura jokes on stage at Cooper’s BBQ’s Americana Music Association showcase, which became Americana Ladies’ Night when the organizers realized all their headliners were women.

In front of a brick wall with a neon Budweiser sign over the shape of Texas, the Alabama women sing “Bad Habit,” a song their mother calls “intense.”

The huge head of a longhorn bull looks down on them as they harmonize with a rapturous twang. Over 100 people sit on the floor, fill the tables and stand along the walls. The whole room is silent, enchanted.

Between songs, Lydia tunes her guitar, and Laura chats with the audience, joking and telling stories. Chewing gum, she tells them about meeting the Everly Brothers. Laura says she was so excited, she burst into tears, and they weren’t pretty tears. She looked like she’d “just been born—red and shiny and wet."

The sisters love music from another time, and most of their favorite musicians are dead. It shows in their music—an old-timey feel with a sadness that’s older than they are.

“And now we’re going to segue into happier material by playing a murder ballad,” Laura says. It’s a sequel to their first murder ballad and will be on their next album, “You Don’t Own Me Anymore,” produced by Brandi Carlile and out this summer.

“Don’t tell us if you don’t like it,” Laura tells the audience, laughing. “That’s like telling someone they have an ugly child.”

The women get a lot of their inspiration from failed relationships, which is why Laura hasn’t written a song she likes since she got married to a “redneck from Alabama” last April. So they play the last good song she wrote: “He’s Fine,” about the last man who broke her heart.

Continue reading »

SXSW Day 4: Nogales-Bred Lights On Ceres Comes Up

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 9:18 PM

Lights on Ceres fom Nogales, Mexico plays a set at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 15. - NICK MEYERS
  • Nick Meyers
  • Lights on Ceres fom Nogales, Mexico plays a set at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 15.

Last night I decided to check out the closest thing to a local band South by Southwest has to offer those from Southern Arizona.

Hailing from the Mexico side of Nogales, Lights on Ceres is a three-piece band self-described as “space wave,” which must be in reference to their heavy use of electronic components and voice effects.

Comprised of 28-year-old Alberto Espinosa on lead vocals and guitar; drummer Roberto Garcia, 32; and Jorge Pablo Zarate, 26, on keyboard and backup vocals, Lights on Ceres offers a fresh sound with a solid beat.

Their music feels like something out of a 80’s night club with an updated style for the 21st century. The blend of throwback and fresh sounds makes for a set you can’t help but swing your hips to.

Espinosa’s experience stood out as he manipulated his voice to hit the effects just the right way, and Garcia’s affinity for the drums held up the backbone for each song as Zarate threw in the details for the full experience.

The band played an eight-song set with a few songs off their EP, Space Waves: “Moon Dance,” “Show me Love” and “Fly,” but most of the set was new compositions written since the release of the EP (recorded in Phoenix) last year.

Zarate said the SXSW show was a pretty big deal for the band as they drove 16 hours in a rented pickup just to stay in town for the night.

Lights on Ceres should have no trouble getting off the ground on their own merit, but Espinosa’s previous notoriety from Nikki Clan, which had a decent following in Mexico, along with Grammy-winning Gardner Cole, who has written songs for Cher, Tina Turner and Madonna, acting as producer, it should be no time at all before you start seeing these guys around.

The show at SXSW marks their fifth live gig together and the band hopes to make an appearance at Tucson’s Hotel Congress or The Rialto in the near future, so keep an eye out.

You can head to their website or check out their music on Spotify and Facebook.

Laughing Stock: Frank Powers' Life in the Funnies

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 5:53 PM

  • Photo by Daniel Sennett of Tao Photography AZ
  • Frank Powers and Friends
Frank Powers is a high-energy, action packed cartoon super hero of his own making. Tucson’s top comic strippers, David Fitzsimmons and Max Cannon, are joining Powers’ plot for WORLD DOMINATION, with help from stand-up comic Jacob Breckenridge and jack-of-all-trades Mark Zepezauer. The four are guests for the launch of Powers’ first live talk show, “After Hours with Frank Powers!” at The Screening Room, 8:30 p.m., Saturday, March 23, $5. A video of the event will follow, and Powers promises to repeat the format every other month.

Just a week later, Powers presents “Animated Arizona,” the state’s first animated short-film fest at the Screening Room, March 31 through April 1; $6.
“’You’ve always done all those things,’” Powers says, quoting his dad. “’Who knew you had to do them all at once to make it work?’” The Origin Story! Fast-forward to the present day!

Powers supports himself as a freelance graphic designer. Currently he’s rebranding a charter school and creating educational animated short films in superpower style. But he also runs a retail space and studio-rental operation, Constant Con ( at, 117 N 6th Ave. The building is home to ten Tucson graphic artists, and something like heaven for the Con-crazed Tucsonans who shop there for comics, costumes, props, posters, stickers, T-shirts, and ephemera for characters created by the space’s tenants.

“Pissed Off Panda” is Powers’ own trademark character, available in every format. Fans follow Panda’s provocations and the rest of Powers’ prodigious creative output by following @Frankenstylin, on every app he’s ever found. He also has a radio show from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. every Saturday at 99.1 FM Downtown Radio. That show has him jolly-ing it up in his turbo-charged Radio Man voice with whoever he thinks his audience might find interesting.

Powers says Steve Romo’s “Romo Tonight”, inspired the live version of “After Hours,” but he had always wanted to be in radio. “That’s a real career, though,” he says. “I knew I could never walk in and be a radio announcer.” He saw his chance when independent Downtown Radio begin to thrive. “I figured out how it worked, and I pitched them a show.”

At the time, the only slot the station had left was 7 to 9 a.m., Saturday mornings. He says, “That’s perfect! So I made a Saturday morning cartoon show, ‘Fun Times with Frankenstylin’. After Hours With Frank Powers debuted on the station at midnight last New Year’s Eve.

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Staff Pick

Artifact Dance Project: Surrounding Dillinger

Hardened by a decade-long prison sentence for a minor offense, a newly-released John Dillinger assembles a likable… More

@ UA Stevie Eller Dance Theatre Thu., March 23, 7:30-10 p.m., Fri., March 24, 7:30-10 p.m., Sat., March 25, 7:30-10 p.m. and Sun., March 26, 2-4:30 p.m. 1737 E. University Blvd.

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