Lots of people in Tucson knew 16-year-old McKenzie Harrison through her work at Piney Hollow, the jewelry and bead store co-owned and managed by her mother, Shannon Harrison. Described as someone who "led a life beyond many souls"--having "spent a summer in France, lived in Central America with a Mayan Shaman, sailed the Caribbean, Panama Canal and the eastern Central Pacific" and who was "an accomplished jeweler, fire spinner, Spanish speaker, fashionista, vegan cook, activist, writer, drama queen, clown and buddy gypsy pirate"--McKenzie was killed in a car accident Sept. 7.
In a spirit of exuberance meant to honor life the way McKenzie lived it, several groups have come together to create an event that will both celebrate the memory of McKenzie as well as help defray the medical bills that her mother, Shannon, was left with.
The Friends of McKenzie include Molehill Orkestra, Spirit Familia, the Shaharzad Belly Dancers and Capoeira--an Afro-Brazilian martial arts exhibition.
Among the happy sounds of mandolins, euphoniums, cellos, violins, saxophones, upright bass, flutes, trumpets, guitars and percussive instruments in a variety of shapes and sizes, those close to McKenzie may feel closer still, and those who simply appreciate the beauty and possibility of life--especially that inherent in the life of any 16-year-old--can take part in a worthy tribute to it.
Admission is a suggested $10 donation.
Jeff Grubic compares himself to Lars von Trier in The Five Obstructions--"I just basically like to torture people, I guess," he says. (Grubic also goes by "Mr. Tidypaws," a name taken from a children's book that is, he relates gleefully, very embarrassing for the serious musicians he sometimes plays with to announce publicly.)
Grubic is the organizer of the Ad Nauseam project. "The way I describe it is a group of musicians who I get together and have them play a snippet of song over and over and over again--ad nauseam--for two or three hours. For the one that's coming up, I have more than 25 musicians, and I'm going to layer them so that I have five starting, and then half-an-hour later, I'll add another five, until there's 25 of them up there.
" ... It's really amazing how the audience members react. It'll become just pleasant background noise while everyone's talking, then something will catch everyone's attention and they'll all be rapt for about five minutes, then they'll go back to talking."
Visual art and performance art are also a part of the event: Santa Cruz artists will decorate the lobby and parking lot of Club Congress prior to the show, and others will be stamping blank documents--over and over again.
"It's a minimalist aesthetic, if you want to get into it," says Grubic, "meant to show ... the vapidity of commercial music."
Participating musicians include Joey Burns of Calexico, members of The Zsa Zsas, George Squier Orchestra, La Cerca, The Fashionistas and Amor plus Al Perry, Tom Walbank, Matt Mitchell and more.
The Southern Arizona Koi Association's Debby Young hesitates at first when I ask her what's exciting about koi fish.
"Well jeez," says Young. Finally, "they're very relaxing to sit and watch, for one thing, and it's a proven fact that you can lower your blood pressure just by watching fish. Plus, they can be tamed to eat out of your hand, and they all have different personalities, just like your dog or cat."
Young, who fell for koi more than 20 years ago and who now travels the country as a koi judge, owns a few herself. Among her current stock are Fanshe, Sparky, Tomadachi ("Friendly") and Buta San ("Miss Piggy"), some as old as 20 and as big as 25 pounds.
Koi in Japan can grow as long as 4 feet, but the American version, Young points out, tend to be smaller.
"It's a very old hobby that originated in Japan a good 200 years ago," Young says. "First, there was just a common carp, and then someone noticed it had red spots and tried to breed for those red spots, and that became one variety. It goes on and on."
Kohaku (a white fish with red spots), Sanke (a white fish with black and red spots) and Showa (a black fish with white and red spots) are just some of the koi that the judges on hand for this weekend's competition will be looking at--a total of about 200 fish are expected to be presented.
A vendor fair, lecture, koi auction and raffle are also a part of the event, which is free and open to the public.
The phrase "I wanna be sedated" may be the only cool thing that 99 percent of all Americans under the age of 35 have said in their lives, the only respectable cultural reference ever to pass their lips. And the band to which they owe their only breath of cool is largely an enigma in this country, despite the prevalence of rip-off, "re-issued" Ramones T-shirts that hipsters--who can sort of smell cool, but not create it--can buy online.
If the Ramones have even once made you happy in your life--whether with the aforementioned, super-radio-friendly "I Wanna Be Sedated" or "The KKK Took My Baby Away" or "Rockaway Beach"--you owe it to them to see End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones.
The film includes interviews with Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, Joey, Marky, Ritchie and C.J. Ramone, plus an array of other musicians and personalities, from John Frusciante to Deborah Harry to Rob Zombie. And while it's not a totally comprehensive look at the band (no references to the feature film Rock 'n' Roll High School; some missing years), it does what it sets out to do, profiling not only individual members (who talk candidly about the difficulties of keeping the band together, covering some of the most well known disputes and disasters) but going beyond easy adjectives like "loud" and "fast" to show a punk rock band that was also professional, prolific |and dead serious about the worthiness of their material. Their philosophy (in Tommy's words): "Eliminate the unnecessary and focus on the substance."