Craig Childs' new book, House of Rain, is definitely not a mystery novel--but it's so enthralling, it might as well be.
In fact, the book revolves around a mystery much more interesting than any old murder or larceny case--it's the mystery surrounding the Anasazi, a prehistoric Native American civilization that popped up in the Four Corners region around 1200 B.C. Famous for their unique pottery, intricate petroglyphs and pictographs and--most of all--their spectacular cliff dwellings, the Anasazi developed an empire as amazing and sophisticated as that of the Mayans. But within 200 years of their emergence, the people vanished. To Anglos who found their artifacts much later, it looked as if they had just walked away.
In House of Rain, naturalist and adventurer Childs chronicles his 1,000-mile journey through the region that was once the Anasazis' home as he traces their steps from settlement to settlement, interviewing archaeologists and other Anasazi experts along the way. He discovers that there are many, many theories about the people's disappearance--involving everything from famine to mass murder. But Childs never comes to a conclusion of his own.
"He doesn't provide answers," says Keith Kleber, owner of Silverbell Trading, where Childs will lead a reading and book-signing next Thursday. "He only provides room for more exploration. ... To my knowledge, he's one of the first individuals to have followed the migratory routes of the Anasazi in such an extensive manner. He walks on their great roads, climbs their stone staircases and witnesses the same astronomical phenomena the Anasazi did."
The talk and book-signing are free, and House of Rain will be available for sale at the event. About Childs, Kleber promises, "He weaves a great story." --A.M.
Do you like watching Dancing With the Stars? Does the thought of local bigshots potentially embarrassing themselves appeal to you? Do you support helping babies and others in need?
If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, then you should attend the upcoming "Dancing With Our Stars" event, to be hosted this Friday by the Southern Arizona Community Diaper Bank. All evening, you can watch local celebrities--including Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, Tucson City Council Member Nina Trasoff, traffic reporter Allen Kath and many others--get out on the dance floor to show off their swing, foxtrot, rumba and/or tango steps. Then, you (along with three professional judges and the rest of the audience) can vote on who's the best.
Cheryl Smith, the co-chair of the event, says that the participants' levels of dance experience are as varied as their professions. According to Smith, former local football star LaMonte Hunley has declared this to be one of the most challenging things he has ever done. And Diana Madaras, local artist and owner of the Madaras Gallery, has reportedly been spotted practicing solo in her backyard. (There may or may not have been a broomstick involved.)
"Celebrities were chosen in a variety of ways," says Smith. "We first looked at people in this community who support the mission of the Diaper Bank and represent the diversity of our community--in terms of professions, age and ethnicity. All were thrilled to help because of the benefit to the Diaper Bank."
Music for the event will be provided by the versatile Tom Patrick Band, who'll play dance tunes both for those competing and those attending. In addition, mystery items will be auctioned off in a live auction. Tickets are $150 per person. And it's for a great cause: More than 2 million diapers are provided annually by the Diaper Bank. --A.M.
Those of you who are into yoga are probably familiar with the "downward dog" position. But have you ever seen a dog do the downward dog? Actually, you probably have, because the pose was inspired by the movement of a dog stretching.
Believe it or not, dogs are great at yoga--they go into lots of positions fairly naturally. In addition, the practice is great for their health, because it helps them relax and stay limber, just like it does with people. And apparently, practicing yoga with one's dog is all the rage right now. You and Fido can try it yourself this weekend at a class to be hosted by the folks at Muttropolis. They call it "doga yoga."
"I was first exposed to it in California," says Amy Tucker, the store's manager. "And we wanted to create an experience that pets and owners can have together and that they can do at home as well. ... As hot as it is now, it's hard to find things to do with your dog, and these moves are things you can do in your own home with your own music. It gives you an opportunity for bonding. It also relaxes the dog. The first time we did this class, by the end, it was really very cute, because one golden retriever puppy had actually fallen asleep."
Make sure your dog is "park friendly" before you bring him. And bring a yoga mat, too, although Muttropolis will have a few to lend out. The event will cost $10, and the money will benefit Wet Noses, a local animal-rescue organization. --A.M.
Let's face it--the opinions of young people are often ignored. At the same time, youth are often the targets of a lot of the mainstream media. Being bombarded with messages about what to buy, do and think about, without being given a voice of one's own, can't be good. What's a kid to do?
This is an issue that City High School and Pan Left Productions, a nonprofit production company for local artists and activists, are determined to address. For the past two years, students from the high school have been working with Pan Left to produce their own short videos. Some are personal reflection pieces; some are social commentaries; others are a little more experimental. They cover a wide range of contemporary topics, including homelessness, war, fast food, abortion, friendship and suicide. Serious stuff, for sure! It just goes to show how much teenagers think--and how much they deserve to be heard.
"Adults usually speak for and at youth," says Pan Left executive director Elizabeth Burden, "and most often enact policies and laws that affect the lives of youth without engaging youth in the process. Theirs is a unique--and diverse--perspective that is lost. In a democratic society, we need a multiplicity of voices, of perspectives. ... Developing one's voice, telling one's story, having one's views heard--and listening to the views of others--are the foundations of participation in a just society."
You can hear the voices of Tucson's youth for yourself--and see things through their eyes--on Friday, when this year's City High students will screen the 12 videos they've been working on. The event is free, though donations are accepted. --A.M.