When Gerard Baptiste shelled out $100 for a bucket-of-bolts 1979 750cc Honda motorcycle rusting away on the streets of the East Village, he probably never dreamed it would one day look as good as it does now. On Sept. 11--two weeks later--Baptiste lost his life in a series events that few people dreamed of. Baptiste, along with nine other firefighters from the Great Jones firehouse in Manhattan, died in the collapse of the World Trade Center.
Dream Bike co-producer John Allison moved to Tucson in 1997 after 11 years of working on Wall Street, and felt compelled to do something after Sept. 11. A New York City friend of Allison's--firefighter Michael Wernick, a co-worker of Baptiste's--asked Allison to make a documentary of the restoration of Baptiste's Honda, which friends and family of the firehouse had chipped in to make happen.
Alison enlisted the help of his Access Tucson class instructor, co-producer Timothy O'Grady, and pair quickly flew to New York to conduct interviews with the people involved in the restoration of Baptiste's bike and those who had known Baptiste himself. They returned to Tucson with 12 hours of tape and a daunting editing task before them. Their finished, 50-minute documentary will premiere Thursday at The Loft.
Special guests Wernick and Dan Rowan--also a New York City firefighter from Ladder 9--will be on hand to answer questions after the screening, and $20 raffle tickets for the "Dream Bike" itself will be on sale. All proceeds from the raffle will go to the firehouse, and the drawing will take place on Sept. 11.
Some people fight the summer slowdown with air conditioning; Elouise Rusk fights it with postcards.
"Every year," she says, "we get things going in the summertime by thinking up a theme that we think artists will enjoy responding to, and then we start mailing out postcards." If the chosen artist decides they want to participate in Obsidian's summer show, they return the postcard with an affirmative answer, and three months later, an original work walks in Rusk's door.
"It's a real challenge to hang the show," says Rusk, "because we don't know what to expect."
They certainly didn't expect the number of positive responses that flowed in after this year's mailing--a total of 50 artists will be on display through Sept. 11, with works that include painting, sculpture in metal, clay, found objects and fiber, jewelry, functional objects and more. The theme--"Here I Am"--works well for a show, because "art and ego are tied together so closely," says Rusk. "All artists in every medium are expressing themselves in one way or another, whether they're self-portraits or not. Some of the work we're getting is turning out to be really mysterious in terms of the theme, but it's all really, really interesting."
Among the featured artists are frequent Weekly illustrator Rand Carlson, Pima Community College ceramics professor Hirotsune Tashima, UA ceramics professor Aurore Chabot and former Dinnerware Gallery director Mauricio Toussaint. The opening "monsoon party" will run from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 10; regular summer gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Three Sacramento-area bands have teamed up for a nine-stop tour of Nevada, California and Arizona; collectively called the "Songwriters Tour," they'll be performing at Epic Café Wednesday.
Though I tend to be leery of most coffee shop singer/songwriters--a condition that would be alleviated if performers were required to let audiences know in advance whether or not they smelled of patchouli oil--the music of these three bands is a whole lot prettier (and better, in terms of original songwriting and lyrics) than most coffee shops have a right to expect.
Mike Rofé grew up in the San Fernando Valley, playing with various pop-rock and jam bands until he switched his focus to a solo career. His first release was a 2001 four-song EP (with such a terrible name that I refuse to type it), followed by his most recent release, the full-length Terms of Perfect. Selections from Terms of Perfect can be heard on Rofé's Web site, mikerofe.com.
SquishtheBadMan--another tough one--began as the duo of Julie Meyers and Dave Middleton, singer/songwriter/guitarists whose music was labeled "sexy librarian music" by West Coast Performer. Drummer Jimmy Brasier and bass player Kim Nguyen recently joined the band; selections from their latest release, How to Get to Heaven, can be heard at squishthebadman.com.
Adam Varona's Famous Celebrity Asses pulls in Middleton, Meyers and Rofé, as well as bass player Tyler Ragel; sound samples are supposedly available at adamverona.com, though the Web site was down every time I checked.
Summer can be hard on not-born-in-the-Southwest outdoor enthusiasts who find themselves stymied by the heat. The only solution--and it isn't without some pain, if you're anything like me--is to get up earlier. Not only will rising early give you back some of your missing outdoor hours; you'll also get to meet hordes of those astoundingly cheerful "morning people" who haven't invaded your a.m.-life since you left home. (Hi, Dad.)
Local birding guide John Higgins--a volunteer at Saguaro National Park--will lead a 7 a.m. hike through the habitat of some 20 kinds of birds on Saturday. As the beginning of monsoon season encourages many of the plants in the park to leaf out, the environment becomes more hospitable to the flying fauna of the region. Whether you're an experienced birdwatcher or a novice, you're sure to see something on this hike, and that "something"--even if it's a solitary cactus wren--will be worth getting out of bed for.
Besides cactus wrens, Louise Conrad--another Saguaro National Park volunteer--says the park is also currently home to two or three different kinds of doves, as well as flickers, Gila woodpeckers, hawks--mostly Harris and Red-tailed--and owls. (Bats are also common at the park, though their numbers are fewer now that saguaros are almost done blooming.)
Trail conditions are flat but rocky. Wear sensible shoes, bring sunscreen and water, and don't be late. Call the Red Hills Visitor Center at the above number for more information.