Sit down with someone who's living on the streets or has done so for a portion of their troubled lives and you'll discover the obvious: They're just like you, except they've experienced a harsher life.
Some say it's easy to ignore Tucson's homeless population. Perhaps it's due to everything being spread out in this town. Homeless folks aren't just dragging their feet down Fourth Avenue or at El Presidio Park behind City Hall.
Disenfranchised members of our community have stories to tell and the artistic ability to tell them. And now, someone has gathered those stories into a new poetry chapbook, To a Child in the Arizona Sun. Gloria McMillan, a writing professor at Pima Community College, wanted to share these voices with the rest of us in the hopes of making the unthinkable more understandable. The book holds the words and artwork of currently and formerly homeless writers and artists. But it also contains works by acclaimed (and nonhomeless) poets, including former Tucson Poet Laureate William Pitt Root, Pamela Uschuk and Will Inman. They take a stab at expressing the struggles of being homeless in the beautiful but unforgiving Sonoran Desert.
McMillan got an avalanche of poetry when she put out the call. She also dipped into the archives of homeless poets at Primavera Foundation to create what she calls this "people symphony."
All proceeds from sales of the book go back to Primavera--an organization dedicated to getting people out of the cycle of poverty and homelessness.
A reading with some of the poets included in the chapbook starts at 7 p.m. It's free, as is the discussion that follows. Call 319-7887 for more information.
Saturday, Aug. 2
Mason Audubon Center
8751 N. Thornydale Road
Would you like to attract more jewels of the insect world to your yard? The MAC butterfly garden invites scads of them and offers secrets for getting them into your garden.
Learn how to identify popular butterfly plants that will attract more flitting around the outside of your house. A MAC naturalist offers a brief history of the property, a tour of the grounds, a nature walk on the one-mile trail and, of course, hints on how to spot a few of Arizona's 330 butterfly species.
The discussion and tour get underway bright and early at 8 a.m., and the walk rounds out the morning. You'll be done by 10 a.m. Bring plenty of water, a hat and sunscreen. Admission costs $5 general and $3 for Tucson Audubon Society members. Kids under 10 get in free. Call 622-2230 to register--only 30 folks get a chance to peek at the butterflies.
YITZAK WAS HIS NAME-O
Sunday, Aug. 3
KTKT 990 AM
Edward Asner is everybody's favorite curmudgeon. An excellent contrast to Mary Tyler Moore's Miss Perfect character, Lou Grant exuded contrariness and irritability in one of my favorite TV shows from the '70s.
Asner has had a long and vital career, beginning in theater, both on and off Broadway. Born in 1929, he chopped off his Yiddish first name when he stepped on stage. From 1970, when he became Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and through the spin-off series, we all got used to his cranky exasperation.
And off camera, Asner seems to have been equally irritated. His tenure as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1981 to 1985 solidified his political outspokenness. He was a charter member of Medical Aid for El Salvador and is fearless in his advocacy of left-wing causes. As expected, Hollywood big wigs didn't much like this whiff of activism. It hasn't let up.
Hear what the actor has to say about the Bush administration and Israeli settlements on the Left Bank, among other subjects, on Tucson's only Jewish radio show. As a matter of fact, the "Too Jewish Radio Show" celebrates its first anniversary on the air where it's been offering a blend of news, opinion, discussion, inspiration and arts and culture.
Tune in from 10 to 11 a.m. Questions? Call Temple Emanu-El at 327-4501.
A YEN FOR OPIATES
Tuesday, Aug. 5
101 N. Stone Ave.
Anyone who's driven to 7-Eleven in the middle of the night to satisfy their chocolate obsession may already suspect that their mania is physiologically driven.
Dr. Neal Barnard's research shines a night light not only on the infamous chocolate addiction, but also addictions to foods like cheese, meats and sugar. What he's found is that these foods release an opiate-like substance that triggers the brain's pleasure center and seduces us into eating them again and again. A carob cookie just doesn't cut it.
"It's not a lack of willpower that keeps us tied to certain foods, but biochemistry," explains Barnard. "With the right dietary and lifestyle modifications, we can kick the strongest food cravings."
Barnard's new book, Breaking the Food Seduction, includes plenty of information on how to get unhooked from these foods. He teaches at the George Washington University School of Medicine and is the president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. His six previous books include Foods that Fight Pain and Food for Life.
Hear what he has to say at 6:30 p.m. His lecture is free and open to the public. Call 791-4393 for details.
Tuesday, Aug. 5
Pima Community College Desert Vista Campus
5109 S. Calle Santa Cruz
How will city-run children's programs be affected by the current city budget? Will Tucson's working families be burdened even more? How are candidates addressing issues affecting Latinas?
Tucson Latina Action hosts a community forum with all the candidates who will try to answer these questions and any others you may have. Mayor Bob Walkup and Tom Volgy are scheduled to be there as well as all City Council candidates, including Armando Rios and José Ibarra from Ward 1; Ward 2's Lianda Ludwig and Carol West; and Shirley Scott and Michael Jenkins from Ward 4.
TLA has been busy since its Summer Internship project began last year, working to promote the leadership skills of young Latinas, improve the quality of life in the community by encouraging political involvement and educating and mobilizing people to vote. TLA meets the challenge head-on, trying to dissipate the marginalization experienced by Latinas.
Practice your translation skills. (Just what language are those candidates speaking?) Meet them, ask questions and get some free food. The free forum goes from 5:30 to 7 p.m. For more details, call 884-7797.
YOU'RE MY SUPERHERO
Thursday, Aug. 7
UA Music Building, Room 146
Speedway Boulevard and Park Avenue
The artist that conceives and draws a comic book is not the same as the one that churns out a comic strip each week. Different creatures entirely, I'm told.
Patrick Zircher is a local guy who publishes his comic books internationally. The artist's work has been used by two of the largest comic publishers in the industry--MARVEL and DC Comics. Recently, his credits have included X2, the official movie adaptation of a graphic novel written as a sequel to the X-Men film, and the next story arc in "Detective Comics," starring Batman.
The UA's Summerfest 2003 lecture and performance series--a quarter of which has comprehensively highlighted everything comic-related, from lectures by comic historians and comic strip artists to an on-the-fly performance by Live Action Cartoonists--ends with a discussion by Zircher. He'll talk about his beginnings in the wild world of comic book art and how he's honed his technique and specific approach to the format.
His discussion gets underway at 6 p.m. It's free. Call the UA School of Art at 626-7639 for all the info.