Wednesday, February 22, 2017

TUSD Suspense Continues

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 5:33 PM

Tucson Unified School District Governing Board, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, postponed for the second week in a row publicly discussing an agenda item which brings into question the Superintendent H.T. Sánchez's job. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Tucson Unified School District Governing Board, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, postponed for the second week in a row publicly discussing an agenda item which brings into question the Superintendent H.T. Sánchez's job.

The Duffy Community center was overflowing with concerned parents, public officials and community members, weighing in on the work of TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sánchez.  At the special TUSD Governing Board meeting Tuesday night, many spoke in support of and against the superintendent. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • The Duffy Community center was overflowing with concerned parents, public officials and community members, weighing in on the work of TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sánchez. At the special TUSD Governing Board meeting Tuesday night, many spoke in support of and against the superintendent.
The Tucson Unified School District Governing Board announced last night they were once again postponing the agenda item concerning Superintendent H.T. Sánchez’s job.

The Duffy Community Center was so packed that overflow crowds had to wait outside. For over three hours, the board and superintendent were in executive session. At about 7:45 p.m., Sánchez somberly took his seat with the board and was met by loud applause from the audience. But not everyone was clapping.

For an hour, community members spoke for and against Sánchez with either raised-voice rancor or grateful tears on topics such as superintendent turnover rates, student-enrollment numbers, Prop 301 spending, childhood bullying, dropout rates, race and unsuccessful desegregation measures.

Several people spoke in Spanish with an English translator, accounting times Sánchez had personally helped their children.

Cassandra Becerra, a mother of TUSD students, is one of Sánchez’s supporters. While waiting for the meeting to start, she told the Tucson Weekly she’s seen the superintendent in the schools and fighting for the good of the district.

“I strongly believe he’s here because he cares about this district,” she said, holding a sign with a red, white and blue drawing of Sánchez, copying the iconic “hope” poster representing Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.

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Did the TUSD Board Come To Bury Sanchez Or To Praise Him? (Answer: C, None Of the Above)

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 1:44 PM

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At the second TUSD board meeting in as many weeks, the board punted on the topic of keeping or firing Superintendent Sanchez. Last week, on Feb. 14, the action item was removed from the board's agenda. On Tuesday, Feb. 21, it was the meeting's sole agenda item. After an executive session which ran hours longer than scheduled, the board members walked into the standing-room-only meeting room, listened to members of the audience speak out for and against Sanchez, then told the audience the item had been tabled. See y'all next week!

None of us regular folks know exactly why a vote on Sanchez's future was delayed. The decision was made in executive session, and the board members are supposed to keep those sessions confidential. So the next step is anyone's guess. Sanchez may yet be fired; he may be allowed to remain with conditions; or the board may simply vote against the call to get rid of him and be done with it. I have a feeling the board doesn't know much more about the outcome than the rest of us.

So, nothing happened. But I observed something and drew a conclusion which may or may not be accurate. What I observed was, there's not a whole lot of passionate community support for the "Fire Sanchez" movement. There are probably a significant number of people in the community who are dissatisfied with his performance as superintendent, people who wouldn't be unhappy to see him go, but if the meeting is any indication, the core group of Sanchez haters, the people with fire in their bellies, is reasonably small.

Full disclosure: I think Sanchez should stick around at least until his contract runs out in 2018, so that may color my subjective, anecdotal observations. I claim no scientific rigor here. That being said, I watched carefully, and this is what I observed. If I'm wrong, I'm sure others will let me know.

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Cinema Clips: The Red Turtle

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 11:15 AM


Finding Dory got snubbed for this year’s Best Animated Film nominations. While I still find that a little shocking, the Academy did manage to nominate some decent films in its place, including this delightful, traditionally drawn effort from Michael Dudok de Wit.

There’s no dialogue in The Red Turtle, and it doesn’t need it.

A castaway washes up on a deserted island, occupied by only a few birds and curious crabs. He tries to make rafts to take him out to sea but a large, red turtle, one that will figure prominently in his life, destroys them.

The movie tells a story of the journey through life in a simple, enchanting way that winds up being quite moving. Out of nowhere, it becomes an effective tale about love, fatherhood and death. It doesn’t boast all of the technical wizardry and pretty colors of your average Pixar ventures, or the talking animals of Disney films. It’s just a plainly drawn, semi-magical, pleasurable movie experience that deserves its Oscar nomination.

Song of the Day: Billy Sedlmayr on Rolling His First Kid Joint to Grand Funk, and 'We're An American Band!'

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 10:15 AM

The first marijuana cigarette I ever saw rolled was in the inner fold of a terrible Grand Funk compilation called Mark, Mel & Don, or was it Mark, Don, Mel? They were Flint, Michigan’s finest, and had nothing to do with Detroit's Motown or The MC5/Stooges trip.
Dudes.
  • Dudes.
Nope, these three hooked up with manager, singer, producer, Beatles hanger-on, moneyman Terry Knight who did get them a deal with Capitol Records in late ’69, where they began making a bunch of fairly shitty records with a redeeming single now and again, including "Footstompin' Music" and "I'm Your Captain," and even had a great album cover for 1971’s Survival, that showed them shirtless, chewin' on some dinosaur bones. (That same year they sold out Shea Stadium faster than The Beatles, with no press, only "underground" FM radio play and word of mouth.)

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It was arena-rock in its infancy, but so plodding and a feel like the engineer had swallowed his weight in Seconal and Hamm's beer. But their fans were not as picky and followed them down the road to stardom. Grand Funk were always a fave for critics to bash.

Well, as the wheels of both rock ’n’ roll turned, in ’72 Mark, Don, Mel fired Mr. Knight and lawsuits ensued. But then something very smart happened. Todd Rundgren was the flavor of the year for his mad studio skills and songwriting acumen, plus he was hip, young, eccentric, and, as some would sa y, a maverick. They gave the status quo to him for a new way of getting things done. The end result? The We're An American Band LP.

The album came in kickass yellow vinyl, and gnarly quadraphonic 8-track tapes. A brand! It sported a shiny golden cover, with just the name in black letters. The inner fold showed long-haired rock group nude (now a four-piece with an added keyboard player Craig Frost), laying in a barn of straw—red, white and blue stickers with their finger logo.

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The title song (written and sung by drummer Don Brewer) managed to preserve the old guard while reaching a whole new audience. With dangerous whacks of a cowbell, and that wicked drum-fill of a perfect rock ’n’ roll hit, and guitars sending age-old chills up the neck—what unfolds is a little singsong diary of a debauched dream few will ever know. But the song invites us in for a taste, no irony at all. And that’s what makes it an incredible time piece—no irony.

Lear jets, hotel rooms, groupies, adulation, a sonic moment on every radio station: Up all night with Freddy King/I got to tell you/Poker’s his thing/Booze and ladies keep me right/As long as we can make it to the show tonight … Were an American Band Yeah, what lyrics! Every vocal strong, the lead guitar sounds like Rundgren took a pass, all the while the organ just filling the cocktail up.
This wasn't a washed-up hippie band, this was the most accessible, creative record they’d ever done, or would do. The single topped out the American pop charts at numero uno.

Back in the day I bought that record and loved it, I think now how in '73 at some roller-rink anywhere in the U.S. of A ... Two kids must a been skating, hands held, backwards, mouthing the chorus and forgetting where they were for four minuets.

Live:


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The Fetching, Saucy Black Cherry Burlesque Nails its 11th Anniversary Show With Some True Elegance and Beauty

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 9:10 AM

XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
A history lesson: By definition, Burlesque is a literary, dramatic or musical work meant to humor, and challenge by it’s ludicrous treatment of subject matter. The word derives from the Italian word burlesco, meaning a joke, ridicule or mockery, popularized during the Victorian era ... like any great art it was reactionary and had some sexual tension.

Said art form has grown from the ribald of Lysistrata to neo-burlesque—a subtype that allows the performer to use their bodies and costumes to deliver a political or social statement.

Today's burlesque has a wider arc. Encompassing a range of performance styles. From the Folies Bergeres and the Moulin Rouge, the classic tease of vedette Gypsy Rose Lee to the contemporary hussy-glam of Dita Von Teese, the latest in a line of great performers spanning centuries, and everything imaginable in between.

OK ...

XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
And so it was, last Thursday night at the Rialto Theater when a conglomeration of revelers gathered to celebrate the 11th Anniversary of Black Cherry Burlesque, Tucson’s longest running burlesque show.

The “sometimes outrageous and always entertaining” host, drag queen Natalia Flores, prepped the enthusiastic audience by leading them in a call and response—“Shit, Goddamn …” —at various points throughout the show, providing numerous moments of unadulterated comedic repartee, before welcoming to the stage, one-by-one, the evening’s performers: Molly Teasely, Ms. Midnight, The Big Bang McGillicuddy, Kitty Catatonic, Fiametta Mink, Kitten Minx La Femme, Scarlotta Sparkle, Bunny Boom Boom and Lola Torch. 

XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
Moments of elegance and beauty—when a graceful dancer glided upon the resplendently lit stage costumed with the incandescent wings of an angel—were tempered with those of hilarity. As when a vivacious performer finished her act by igniting her twirling pasties, Flores quipped, “Shit, this bitch just set her titties on fire,” adding, while twisting a lock of curly hair around her fingers, “There is so much hairspray in this shit...poof!”

Black Cherry started as a troupe run by Inga Kaboom and Stephka Von Snatch after Kaboom saw a traveling burlesque show and was inspired to create a show based here in Tucson. The burgeoning troupe performed almost exclusively at The Surly Wench (on Tucson's 4th Avenue), but has evolved a lot over the years. Torch (née, Emilie Marchand), Black Cherry Burlesque’s producer/president, says, “We currently operate as a production company [and] strive to offer a platform for burlesque artists of all types and backgrounds to express themselves without censorship. We encourage people to tell a story using this art form .. to really connect with the audience in a unique way.”

XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
With a background in music, theater and modern/interpretive dance, Torch adds, “I'm very influenced by Weimar era cabaret and old movies featuring Marlene Dietrich. That's what motivated me when I first started burlesque. But my influences outside of that are varied. Everything from Bob Fosse to PJ Harvey. I love old movies and musicals, punk rock, ballet … Honestly, I'm influenced by anything that really moves me and that comes from so many places.”

Over the years, Black Cherry Burlesque has shared the stage with local musicians and DJ's and burlesque performers of note: Satan's Angel, La Cholita, Miss Astrid, Scotty The Blue Bunny.

As for the future, “We currently only perform at The Rialto and 191 Toole but we'd like to travel more,” Torch says.

Black Cherry Burlesque lit the stage with dazzling artistry, sultry acts, slamming music and moments of social consciousness, and provided the audience with an unforgettable party to commemorate the occasion.

“An all around great time!” Torch says. But of course.

XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

'Enemy of the People': The Phrase's Ironic and Instructive Literary History

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 5:05 PM

IMAGES COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA
  • Images courtesy of Wikimedia
In a recent tweet, Trump called the press "the enemy of the American people." Days earlier, though he didn't use the phrase, he made a similar accusation about our courts when they ruled against his Muslim ban. I'm sure Trump had no idea he was quoting the title of a 19th century play, An Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen, in his tweet, nor could he know how ironic the play's title is or how clearly it reveals his intentions. The "enemy" in the play is a man who dared speak truth to power. Power, as it often does, did everything it could to suppress the truth.

We're not very familiar with Ibsen these days, but we know Steven Spielberg, and most of us have seen Jaws. The opening of the movie is based loosely on Ibsen's play.

Late one night in Spielberg's little tourist beach town, we see a swimmer killed by a shark. When the coroner confirms to the police chief that it was a shark attack, the chief decides to close the beaches until they're safe. The mayor disagrees. It's the beginning of the summer tourist season, he says, and closing the beaches would be disastrous for the town's economy. The mayor convinces the coroner to change the cause of death, to say the swimmer was caught in the blades of a boat's propeller — in other words, to lie. The mayor forbids the police chief from closing the beaches. It takes two more shark attacks before the mayor acknowledges that the police chief was right and closes the beaches, which is when the hunt for the Great White begins.

Ibsen's original Enemy of the People has a similar setup. A small town's economy is based around its health baths. A local doctor discovers that the water is contaminated and writes an article which he submits to the editor of the local paper. The editor is eager to print it, both to report the problems with the baths and to use it as a way to expose the corruption running rampant in the town's government. But the mayor intervenes. He convinces the editor that printing the truth would be bad for the town, so the editor pulls the doctor's article. In its place, he runs a statement by the mayor praising the quality of the baths.

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Get Lost in the (Buffalo) Sauce

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 12:30 PM

The competition will be fierce, but only one can be the Lord of the Wings.

click image TUCSON MEDIA WORKS
  • Tucson Media Works

40 local restaurants and 30 breweries will be coming together at this year's Tucson Wing Festival on Saturday, March 4, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Rillito Park Race Track to provide the best wings and beer the Southwest has to offer. The chefs will be able to compete for the Lord of the Wings title by whipping up their finest creations for a panel of judges. Not only will guests be allowed to sample wings from every booth, but they can also learn about the best pairing techniques from the brewers.

Two bands and a DJ will also be there to encourage guests to resist the inevitable food coma by moving, dancing and staying active after feasting. As if this event needed any more entertainment options besides booze, food and music, there will also be carnival rides and interactive games on site.

As much food and beer samples your heart desires are included in the ticket price. General admission is $40 and VIP admission, which includes a private seating area, servers, exclusive beers and extra food, is $85. You can purchase tickets on this Eventbrite page. Guests must be 21 years old or over.

click image GIPHY
  • GIPHY

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Director Alex Cox Taps XIXA For Some Kickass Western Sonic Voodoo

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 11:38 AM

Spirited, trailblazing director Alex Cox has tackled the OK Corral shootout yarn (and local locations) for his new flick Tombstone Rashomon. (Jim Nintzel yakked with Cox about said film here.) Cox is, you'll note, known for upending certain filmic tropes. He's clever that way. So it makes sense he chose dusty hypnotic hooks by Tucson's XIXA for the soundtrack.

XIXA made made it into the film's lovely new trailer too:

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Staff Pick

Frida al Fresco

On the fourth Friday of every month, the Gardens will be the center of all things Frida… More

@ Tucson Botanical Gardens Fourth Friday of every month, 5-8 p.m. Continues through May 26 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

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