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Don't Make Them Beg

Red Cross Blood Drive
Now through end of Summer
Various donor centers
917-2820/800-448-3543

Things are getting desperate in the struggle to recruit new blood donors. The American Red Cross has "transformed its blood donation centers into Beach Paradise," now through Sunday, July 11, and are plying you with promises of Beach Bash T-shirts and free ice cream.

Beach Bash and the Red Cross' other summer program, "Summer Superhero," are a response to frighteningly low blood collections. As Robin Southern of the Red Cross says, "We're always short, but this year, we're short before we're supposed to be short."

Part of the problem is that this year--unlike past years--the Red Cross can't rely on Fort Huachuca and Davis Monthan, which traditionally organized huge drives that resulted in many units of blood. Not only are much of their forces currently deployed, but returning troops who've been overseas can't donate for several months. A series of recent rollover accidents has also severely depleted the supplies of local hospitals, and Fourth of July weekend can be counted on to provide additional casualties.

Children with leukemia, cancer patients and premature babies all need blood from a living donor to survive, and should you or someone you love be involved in an accident, you may suddenly learn more about the current shortage than you ever wanted to. (Contrary to popular belief, your life won't be saved by a willing relative--all donations take a minimum of three days to be processed.)

Fill in for a loved one overseas; save the life of someone you've never met; be a good citizen. Call the numbers above to schedule a donation appointment at either of the Red Cross' two locations.


Independence Extravaganza

Tucson's Official Fourth Of July
6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, July 4
Tucson Convention Center
260 S. Church Ave.
791-4101

We're so independent, it's scary. We're independent of common sense (as evidenced by the fact that George Bush has not been impeached), independent of the obligation to take care of each other (as evidenced by the Red Cross' desperate need for blood donors) and independent of any appreciation for the fact that we're celebrating our liberation from a meddling, oppressive overlord while ignoring the reality that we, as a country, have become everything we once hated. (At least, we hated it until we met some Indians, after which we started to understand how frustrating it is when people don't do what you tell them.)

What the heck--let's watch some fireworks.

Happy Fourth of July, Tucson! Even if you, like me, have moments of darkness during which you contemplate how very, very sick it makes you to be guilty--by association--of policy and action that leaves women, children and good men dead (or rotting in secret prisons), go outside and put yourself in the middle of your community on Sunday, July 4. Because people, you know, are actually sort of wonderful, and they're particularly nice when a holiday reminds them that we really are all in this together.

There are several Fourth of July celebrations planned for Sunday--take your pick from the Special Events section of our listings. "Red, White and Tucson," the city's official celebration, is the largest. From bike races to concerts, car shows to fireworks, the day couldn't be more American. For a complete calendar of events, visit tucsonconventioncenter.org.


Blood Drive No. 2

Roller Derby Recruitment
Now through Summer
tucsonrollerderby.com
390-1454

Roller derby, like life, isn't a question of if you'll get hurt, just when. But unlike life--at least most people's lives--it's an absolute that your roller derby pain will be delivered by a cheerfully fierce, eight-wheeled female who's just waiting to throw an elbow in your face.

Sound like fun? You're in luck--Tucson Roller Derby is currently recruiting skaters, referees, scorekeepers, trainers and more. It's a girls-only league, though boys are tolerated in other capacities.

Roller derby started way back in 1935, originally as an endurance contest for male/female couples. (The points system and concept of physical contact--elbowing, pushing, tripping, crushing into walls, etc. --were added later.) It grew in popularity through the '60s and '70s, eventually falling victim--as many good ideas do--to mishandling by people who smelled money (a lá RollerJam, which was canceled in less than two years).

It's been revived, cooler than ever, by groups of women around the country who form teams, practice as often as four times a week, teach injury prevention, require skaters to have health insurance and lust after the ultimate dream--a stadium of their very own. All while kicking each others' asses and showing up to work or school the next morning with the occasional shiner.

Women of all size and skating ability are welcome. No insurance? They'll steer you toward some inexpensive options and help you develop your costume and skate name. All you have to do commit to a grueling training schedule and swear never, ever to cry.


Take Home a Superhero

National Free Comic Book Day
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, July 3
Fantasy Comics
2595 N. First Ave.
670-0100

Fantasy Comics owner Tom Struck fell in love with comics as a kid, and he never recovered.

"The hardest part about having a store now," he says, "is that when you see something really good, you have to let the customer have it."

Struck will literally let customers have it this Saturday, when his store joins thousands of others around the country in celebrating the "unique American art that is comic books." Free Comic Book day--now in its third year--is designed to let the public know that comic books are alive and well, and to expose them to stories and characters they didn't know were out there.

Fantasy Comics will have a variety of free comics on hand for visitors of all ages to choose from. Illustrator Patrick Zircher, who has drawn everyone from Spider-Man, Green Lantern and the cast of Star Trek to Nightwing and Cable/Deadpool, will be in-store signing his comics from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Fantasy Comics is one of the oldest continuously operating comic book stores in the country, and with industry failure rates that match those of the restaurant business, that's something to be proud of. It's also something worth supporting, whether you're a 6-year-old fan of Minnie Mouse, a 16-year-old fan of anything with cleavage or a 60-year-old fan of both.

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