Two friends are pondering their futures. It's a hot summer night. They're beginning their final push at Pepperdine University, gearing up for the annoying question their relatives are sure to ask in that whiney tone, "So now what are you going to do with your life?"
Mike Marriner and Nathan Gebhard grew up together in Southern California. Mike breaks into hives every time he goes into a hospital--so much for following the family path of medicine. Nathan feels choked whenever he puts on a tie--that won't work with his family's lineage of entrepreneurs.
The two decide to scrap their summer internships, drive across the country in a rented RV and begin cold-calling film directors, entrepreneurs, scientists, CEOs, designers and others with fascinating careers to find out how they survived and thrived.
What they came up with was a book--Roadtrip Nation: A Guide to Discovering Your Path in Life--co-authored with writer Joanne Gordon; a how-to college course; and a documentary. The Open Road travels to Tucson and airs on our PBS affiliate this week.
What they learned from this journey is that most of the remarkable people they talked to were just as lost as they were in the beginning. The film features Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Computers; Boston Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Ben Zander; Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor; and Saturday Night Live director Beth McCarthy Miller, among many others. Their stories are seen through the eyes of Marriner and Gebhard, who both discovered that thinking outside the box is scary, but living a life that's hollow is even more frightening.
If you want to meet the Roadtrip crew, they'll roll into town and set up the RV on the UA Mall during the day, and they'll screen and discuss documentary footage from other student road trips in a campus classroom in the evening.
Or flop in front of the tube and tune in their documentary later that night.
No, it's not a parade of lawn mowers. It's Tucson's motor scooter rally, celebrating their sweet 16 of vroom.
It started in 1987 as a spooky Halloween ride. The putt-o-rama has grown into the biggest West Coast scooter confab. People show up riding new and vintage scooters, including those much-coveted Vespas, Lambrettas, Stellas, Bajajs, Kymcos, Aprillias and Italjets.
Give them a decent send-off on Friday at Hotel Congress. Five bands provide the entertainment beginning around 9 p.m. The parking lot is scooter exclusive. Meet the machines and their quirky aficionado owners. If you're registering, do it in the lobby starting at 6 p.m., and get raffle tickets for a chance to win scooter merchandise. There's also a 7:45 p.m. night ride in the desert before the frivolity revs up.
To accommodate the partyers' sleep cycles, the scooter ride starts at a relatively reasonable hour, at 11 a.m. Saturday, at Grill (100 E. Congress St.). Meet for a breakfast of champions before getting started. Then it's off to Nogales for the 100-mile jaunt. (Let's see, at 35 mph, they'll get there É ah, there's no rush.) Their route down Old Spanish Trail takes them through Sonoita and Patagonia to the Calabasas Campground. Scooters take over as dusk falls. They return to Tucson on Sunday and meet back at Armory Park (12th Street and Sixth Avenue) for a Grill-catered barbecue and raffle.
Cheer them on or celebrate their return. Or hop on your own machine and join the cavalcade.
I love my purple, Belle of Paris five-speed with the custom-fit handlebars and very cushiony seat. Did I mention the über-fenders on this baby?
The tinkerers at BICAS were never irritated each time I showed up to reconfigure the already-refurbished bicycle to the very nuance of my wide bottom. They always had some bike wisdom for me while I waited for adjustments, too.
This weekend, they gear up for the annual bike swap and bike-related art auction. The fun begins in the morning, when select auction items are displayed at Winsett Park during the GABA Bicycle Swap Meet. Trade in the old chassis for a less-old or more-new cycle, and take a peek at the art that's up on the auction block later.
The evening festivities start with a potluck at sunset over at BICAS (that stands for Bicycle Inter-Community Art + Salvage). Take a chance and bid on that quirky gearshift thingie that serves as a toothbrush holder. I've seen stranger items.
At 10 p.m., the action heats up. Bid on jewelry made of bike chains, chairs made of inner tubes and intricate toys made from bicycle parts.
You still have a couple days to donate your bicycle-related art to the cause of keeping BICAS rolling next year. Drop off your donations 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Nov. 14 at the BICAS shop.
Ever rub a pig's belly or scratch a friendly snout? Here's your chance.
Ironwood swings open its doors and offers a tour of the area's largest sanctuary for abused, neglected and rescued pot bellied pigs. Staff and volunteers can answer your pig-related questions. Nibble on the free food and beverages, too.
Ironwood opened on 40 acres of land in Pinal County two years ago due to overcrowding at three other regional sanctuaries. They provide a permanent home for more than 360 pigs of all ages and sizes. Want to adopt one? They're neutered or spayed, given vaccines and medical care before going home with you. The sanctuary also offers services for current pig owners, often at no cost.
Call for directions--and say hi to Wilbur for me.
Usually dark alleys are not so inviting. You just get through them as fast as you can.
But during the Back Alley Film Festival, the dark, weedy thoroughfare is its theater du jour. For the fourth year running, Jerseyboy Productions features screenings of independent films from Tucson and beyond. This year, they're even bringing in films produced internationally. They're calling it the Fall Back Alley Film Festival. Three of the films in past programs have gone on to be official selections of Sundance and Slamdance.
Films are projected onto a huge, white screen painted onto the side of a Fourth Avenue building. It's free, but donations support future festivals and any quirky cinema projects Jerseyboy happens to be producing at the moment.
Dress warmly. Bring popcorn. Hang until midnight.
See you in the back alley.
Delicious, filling and a little decadent. That could be the description for most desserts. But a novel?
Bharti Kirchner serves up her new work with the delectable title, Pastries: A Novel of Desserts and Discoveries. Kirchner is the author of several award-winning cookbooks, including The Flavors of India and Vegetarian Burgers. Periodically, she exchanges her chef's hat for a novelist's notebook, leading to the creation of several works of fiction, including Shiva Dancing and Darjeeling.
In her newest novel, Kirchner combines her passions for food and fiction-like ingredients in a classically satisfying recipe. Not surprisingly, the plot centers on the tumultuous life of a Seattle bakery owner where East meets West and sweetness triumphs over heartbreak.
Come hear the Indian-born, Seattle resident, chef and author read you her layer cakes, pastries and other sweet tales.