Since you live here in the desert, at some point, you've probably wondered: What's up with all those holes in the ground? What about the holes in the sides of saguaros? In the trees? In my own backyard?
Of course, most of the holes were made by animals. But what kinds of animals, and how were they made, and why? Who lives in them now?
Answers to all these questions and more can be easily had at the Tucson Audubon Society's annual Desert Holes Public Tour, which will teach you all about the different kinds of desert fauna that make and/or live in holes--from packrats to woodpeckers to bees. The event will consist of a brief but interesting classroom presentation followed by a half-mile trail walk around the Audubon Society's Mason Center, which is right in the heart of suburban Tucson. There, you can see lots of signs of animals' presence--not just holes, but tracks, nests and even scat!
"I think this is one of those topics that the most casual of nature observers can get interested in," says Lia Sansom, the Tucson Audubon Society's community outreach coordinator. "It's important to know what your surroundings are and how these holes represent a diversity of species in and around your home. We're trying to point out the beauty of animals and how they use and develop habitat."
Keep in mind that the point is not to get rid of the holes you may find in your vicinity, or the animals that make them. Holes are cool, says Sansom: "We want to see a variety of holes and habitat. If you see nothing, nothing's going on, and from our perspective, that's not a good thing."
The event is free, and it's great for all ages. Reservations are required. --A.M.
There's a good chance you've never heard of Scott Walker--but David Bowie has. And so has Sting. And the guys from Radiohead. And a bunch of other really famous musicians.
That's because Scott Walker, an American singer-songwriter who made it big in Britain--but is decidedly unfamous in his own country--has influenced them all. He got his start in '60s London as a pinup pop star, somehow became part of the British Invasion with his band the Walker Brothers, and moved on to make some of the most intriguing music of the late 20th century. Though he crooned like Sinatra, his lyrics covered subjects like prostitutes, transvestites, plagues and Stalin. Now, at age 64, he's put out what some reviewers call his best album ever.
And director Stephen Kijak has made a documentary about it all.
"(My film) moves beyond rock portraiture and becomes about the act of creativity itself," said Kijak in an e-mail. "And for those in the know, Walker is a reclusive, J.D.-Salinger-esque figure, very hard to catch on film--(it's) almost like getting Bigfoot to sit for a portrait. Rare stuff."
Scott Walker: 30 Century Man will be screened in Arizona for the first time ever this Friday, as part of the Tucson Music and Film Festival. Admission is just $5, but you must buy tickets the day of the show at the Rialto Theatre box office. You can also get a wristband for the whole festival for $30-$40--just visit the festival Web site for a schedule of events.
After his movie is shown, Kijak himself will conduct a Q&A session with the audience. So it's an event not to be missed.
Besides, as Kijak says: "How could you pass up a film about a man who once had a compilation of his work released under the title Fire Escape in the Sky: The Godlike Genius of Scott Walker?" --A.M.
Painter, playwright, sculptor and former ad man Earl Wettstein has lived in this city for nearly 50 years. Since he moved here in 1961, he's watched Tucson go from being a little sleepy Western town to... well, being a bigger sleepy Western town. As Wettstein sees it, Tucson's population may have swelled to a million, but the city hasn't lost its laid-back charm.
"I think I see Tucson as kind of a funky, little big city," says Wettstein. "We're still a town, trying to grow up and act big city-but we haven't done it yet." The proof? Tucson's no concrete jungle. In fact, it still has some of the funkiest, most charming local icons in the Southwest-and Wettstein, with his new series of oil paintings Icons of Tucson: 20 Places No One Else Is Painting, has made them into a new kind of art.
Here are Wettstein's "local icon" criteria: The object or place depicted must be old. It can't be "on purpose." It has to be found only in Tucson ... or at least be a "Tucson-type" thing. And finally, it has to be what Earl Wettstein says is an icon. Thus, his paintings feature everything from a Lucky Wishbone sign to the huge, ax-wielding lumberjack statue at Stone Avenue and Glenn Street.
My personal favorite? Wettstein's painting of the No-Tel Motel, which includes what Wettstein calls "a naughty little dog" sitting right out front. All Wettstein's subjects are represented with skill and wit, and some take on a deeper meaning-like the historic cemetery on Fort Lowell Road, which is depicted so that the shapes of the graveyard's crosses are reflected by a nearby telephone pole. The painting makes for a nice little juxtaposition of past and present-just what Wettstein wants his viewers to think about. Icons of Tucson opens Tuesday, Sept. 4, and will be up through October. --A.M.
OK, salsa is not a kind of jazz. As most people know, salsa and jazz are completely different musical genres--and completely different cultural phenomena. But that doesn't seem to matter to the folks at the Tucson Jazz Society, who've loved and supported salsa alongside Latin jazz for at least 10 years. They like its rhythm, its Latin flavor and--maybe most importantly--its danceability.
That's why this weekend, Flaco Diaz and his All-Star Salsa Band have been invited to play at the TJS Weekend Dance Marathon. They'll be covering all the best music by salsa legend Héctor Lavoe, focusing on the soundtrack of the recently released movie El Cantante. Actually, Flaco Diaz performed on the soundtrack, and he knows Lavoe personally. So it's sure to be great music.
"(Diaz) has performed with a lot of Latin greats," says Patricia Possert, the Tucson Jazz Society's executive director. "The music from the movie is fantastic, and this will be the first time it's performed in Tucson by someone involved in the soundtrack."
Lots of people may come to the show just for the dancing. There'll be a professionally judged dance competition for salsa dancers of all levels, with lots of prizes. And if you're not a salsa-dancing pro, don't worry--before the concert, you can learn how to become one. One year, says Possert, someone who'd never danced salsa before that night won a cash prize in the novice competition!
The show is $10 for students, $15 for TJS members and $20 for the public. "It's gonna be a huge event," Possert assures us. "And the dance competition is hugely fun." --A.M.