Yes, best ever. Thank god these guys are in my neighborhood and a way better alternative to Viva, or taco shop. Buen Taco!
---In before Mark Beef! I no longer live in Tucson, but it will always be home to me. This rant will come off somehow crotchety- but I intend it with chiding love, mostly. ---
Please don't be so quick to back pedal, everybody. I'm pretty sure that, although the history may be a mix of a cute joke, an homage to Austin's old motto, and/or a bit of old 4th ave. underpass graffiti, plenty of us really actually mean exactly what it sounds like. It does not mean (necessarily) "fuck everything new", but "Keep Tucson Shitty" is something that Tucsonans latch on to because the best parts of this city, past and present, are the things that aren't polished, clean, or perfect.
I remember when I was a young lady of 16 and working at the Rialto after it had recently reopened (1997). My then bosses Paul and Jeb would attend the Rio Nuevo meetings and fill my head with all sorts of silly stories. Snake Bridge? Close the old Greyhound station? New underpass? Aviation extension? It all seemed impossible, and I guess some of it was (new arena in the shape of a desert tortoise, anyone?). But some of that nonsense turned out to be good, bungling and gross mismanagement of funds aside. I don't think anyone misses the old crumbling tiny Broadway underpass, the Greyhound, PLEASURE WORLD? (Naw, I'm sure plenty of people miss that place.)
But some really good common sense, and cheap things that made Tucson a really notable and special place were de-funded, mothballed, or strangled in the name of cleanliness and progress. Businesses that had gotten by for years closed through the YEARS of ongoing downtown construction, and as those businesses were pushed out sweetheart deals were made for popular developers. The city gave money and tax breaks to those who already had plenty, and starved our local Tucson artists and small business owners out of their shops and homes.
As a dumb kid making bad decisions, kicking around the avenue in the 90's I watched the city make all ages shows illegal, forcing the hand of Steve Eye to close the DPC, watched them bus the homeless out of Tucson in time for the snowbirds arrival (free one way greyhound tickets to anywhere in the continental US), make newspaper hawking illegal in an effort to keep people from panhandling on the roadside, and remove all of the benches off of fourth ave. to keep kids from loitering and spare changing. I watched private security- first the "Purple People" (DABA), then the A-Team- hired for the 4th avenue street fair, and finally the "Yellow Shirts" (FAMA) beat the shit out of under age street kids, the homeless, and gutterpunks fairly regularly. These guys would photograph and stalk anyone with impunity, and apparently had the authority to dole out punishment as they saw fit. (I never saw police intervene in either direction) I recall back then the common complaint amongst downtown and fourth avenue businesses alike was (maybe still is?) that the funding for DABA and FAMA (Downtown Arts and Business Alliance and the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association, I think?) came from a compulsory fee that provided no actual voting power as to how those moneys were used. (Taxation without representation, right?)
At the same time Tucson set to killing most public funding for things like the food line that used to be downtown on Toole, next to where Solar Culture now sits. Is it way cooler to have venues and artist's studios on Toole? Definitely. But it's sickening that there's no centralized place for people to get a free meal any longer, and that the city pulled its funding and walked away from the only soup kitchen it operated. All of Tucson's soup kitchen's are now privately operated (almost entirely by churches) and only two are open to the public. ( http://tucsoncitizen.com/morgue2/2000/04/1… )
While some good things disappeared and some good things struggled to continue to exist, the city opted to give free rent to Maynards (yeah, that food IS incredible.), build a new hotel at the TCC (You know those other adjacent hotels are empty most of the year, right?) and re-lay the trolley tracks three times for a streetcar of dubious need. The TCC is falling apart and can no longer attract shows, and has lacked the funding for over a decade to repair its own equipment, but all the funding went elsewhere. A lot of it directly into the hotel in the TCC's parking lot.
Having been an employee of Tucson Parks and Rec's Events and Theater Services Division I watched from the inside as the City of Tucson slowly defunded what was longtime hailed as the city's most successful recreation program. In its heyday E&TS recreated over a million people a year for less money than any other program, while providing free festivals and events in parks all over the city. (I cannot fucking believe how much support the El Rio golf course has right now... any idea how expensive municipal golf is and how few people it serves? But anywho...) The DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center and all of the gear it held, and the crew that supported it were provided by the city at tax payer expense to support the arts and the community. That funding has all but dried up these days.
The events that are left at the Outdoor Performance Center now rent a space that is visibly crumbling, and must hire staff and bring in lighting and sound equipment to fill it. As recently as 1998 the city invested time and dollars to purchase a sound system that fit the space, and to refit the auditorium with diffusion panels designed by Mr Mark Miceli, in an effort to make the bandshell sound better than it ever had, and to keep the neighbors happy. Less than a decade later they would begin a process to destroy what could have so easily been cheaply maintained. They have opted again and again to step over a "shitty" dollar bill for a shiny new dime.
The things about Tucson that absolutely made me who I am today remain the DPC, Toxic Ranch, Skrappy's, Downtown Saturday Night, the Thursday Night Artwalk, The Outdoor Performance Center, The MUSE, Tucson Puppetworks, The Airplane Lounge, Las Sin Fronteras, The Youth Storefront, Dry River, Wingspan, The Luna Loca, The Oddvarks, Cafe Quebec, Shoe City, The Rialto, Radio Limbo, The Hoff House, The Dodge House, 7 Black Cats, The Punk House, Mr LuLu, The Sculpture Resource Center, ORTS and even and especially the filthy and disgusting Grill. The people who made all of those places exist and thrive taught me that art, music, and being of service to one another are the most important things you might ever do, because most of the rest of the world will put them last. Mr Dewey, and Mr Mark Beef are definitely counted in their numbers.
The things about Tucson that made me leave are the people who want to strangle that kind of fun out of a city, or sanitize it, and especially these people that despise the poor. One of the most shocking things I've ever seen in my life was city councilperson Carol West screaming at the newspaper hawkers at a city council meeting back in 2000, to "shut-up", and making jokes about opening more rehab centers for them to go to once they were out of jobs. This was our elected official (a democrat) plainly sponsoring legislation to get the poor and homeless off of the street because it was unsavory and hurt tourism, while barely trying to mask her contempt as she spoke vaguely of some safety issue. It is burned into my memory, that screaming.
There seems to be this false argument that you have to pick one or the other, new or old Tucson, and I just absolutely reject it. Sure, Tucson used to be a far shittier place, and some of the new sheen is welcomed, but at what cost? How could there not be room for the things that make Tucson different? And why do we favor spending money on new development of venues and restaurants over making art, music, and culture accessible to everyone and feeding our own poor and homeless? There must be a way that both Tucsons can exist.
It may be my own interpretation, but a part of "Keep Tucson Shitty" to me means don't try and whitewash over the uglier bits. Please, Tucson stop cannibalizing yourself in the name of progress. It's nice to be new and shiny and beautiful, but you have to find a way to feed your soul, too.
maxw wrote: "Seems to me that an emotionally and sexually confused (he's not even a real gay!) male who's unsure of how close he is allowed to be to Max, is going to be a worse father than none at all."
Oh my lord, what in the world could a "real gay" be? The idea that everyone has to be perfectly gay is just as ridiculous as the idea that ANYONE is perfectly straight. Max clearly will be raised by people that love him and will teach him not to post nasty comments about people he doesn't know. Maybe if your dad had been a real gay you'd be nicer. Or even a fake gay?
Carlee, Christopher, I love you guys, and I'm super glad you're doing this together. What a lucky baby. :)
"Facebook group is shortsighted, destructive " Funny, I think that the Arizona Daily Star is short sighted and destructive. And come to think about it... what's more destructive; talking about how all these businesses can successfully coexist, or, um destructing them!? I expect a lot of knee jerk reactions from people who aren't aware of the Rio Nuevo charter, or the fact that at least one of those businesses is protected by a year lease, but ADS should really investigate if they want to play investigative reporter games. Yay facebook! This is the greatest thing we can do with our social network tools, that is, fix our communities. Can't wait to see what you all report, Tucson Weekly.
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