If you didn't know what was going on and happened to be wandering through downtown on Saturday, you'd probably wonder why in the hell the streets were full of people looking like they just stepped out of the 1930s.
Don't call the fire department about the smoke billowing from Hotel Congress, and don't call the cops on the suave-looking criminals holding Tommy guns and hanging from the back of cool old cars. It's all just a re-enactment.
The Dillinger Days Festival is back, and Hotel Congress--along with the Fox Tucson Theatre, the Historic Train Depot, the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum and the Arizona Historical Society's Downtown Museum--are aiming to make the 75th anniversary of the Tucson Police Department's capture of John Dillinger, the infamous bank robber, the biggest and best party yet, according to Allison Baron, the hotel manager at Hotel Congress.
As the story goes: Amidst a career of bank robberies, national headlines and jailbreaks, Dillinger and his gang came to Tucson to lay low, but when a fire broke out at Hotel Congress, and the gang offered an ungodly reward of $12 for their luggage, firefighters became suspicious and alerted police. Within hours, Dillinger was nabbed by the TPD.
Today, we celebrate the capture of the bank robber, escape artist, alleged cop killer and Depression-era folk hero with an all-day, fun event for the whole family.
So dress in your best 1930s gear, and head downtown to the street festival, which includes a carnival, an antique car show, guided tours, live music, food vendors and the Fox Theatre showing of The Gay Desperado (a 1936 film shot in Tucson). Of course, don't miss the live re-enactment of the day Tucson police arrested John Dillinger.
The events are free; a full schedule can be found at hotelcongress.com --H.S.
Dead people are interesting. Consider Larcena Pennington, who was captured and speared nine times by Apache natives--but managed to crawl back into town and tell what happened. Or John "Button" Salmon, the UA student body president and starting quarterback whose dying words were, "Tell the team to bear down."
Alan Kruse knows these and numerous other tales about the folks buried in the hallowed ground at Evergreen Cemetery.
After he retired from teaching, Kruse says, he knew nobody was going to pay him to talk about chemistry anymore, so he took it upon himself to start learning about Arizona's history. He's been using his natural ability to entertain and educate to tell Tucsonans about the city's part for the last seven years.
"History is dry," Kruse says. "It's a bunch of dates and stuff. That's no good. You have to have the stories that make it fun."
And stories, he has. Kruse (quite naturally) plays Tucson's second public school teacher, John Spring, in full 1870s attire, to bring the dead back to life--and bring the life back to history.
"This has nothing to do with ghosts or anything like that," Kruse says. "This is history. This is a means of getting history out."
Evergreen is the city's oldest public cemetery where the dead are still buried, Kruse says, and some of the bodies there have been replanted from other cemeteries as they've been plowed over for development. Creepy, huh?
Kruse conducts tours of different historical parts of Tucson roughly every two weeks. Tours last two hours, cost $15 and include coffee and homemade coffeecake. Call for reservations. --H.S.
Poetry readings can be pretty boring to anyone who's not the literary type, says Jake Levine, a master's student and poetry teacher at the University of Arizona. But throw in some live music, booze and partial nudity--and you've got a Poetry Fuckfest.
And who doesn't love a fuckfest?
Fun titles aside, the event serves a purpose, says Levine: It exposes people--who would otherwise never show up for (let alone sit through) a poetry reading--to local poetry in an environment that won't bore or intimidate regular bar-going, music-loving young folks.
"It's just a different way to get poetry out to people," says Levine. "And an excuse to get fucked up and have fun."
The fifth Poetry Fuckfest will be rocking the Red Room at Grill on Saturday, with all-original poems from a dozen or so UA poetry master's program students and local poets.
Colidus Shram Shram, Me Fox and Andy, and Tucson cult favorite Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout will play the musical intermissions and bring the dance party.
In true fuckfest fashion, the details for these events are never quite nailed down until the last minute, but Levine says, "People generally just read one poem, and it's not an open mic. God save us from the open mic."
The all ages event is free (except food and drink), but donations are accepted for the Sonora Review, the oldest student-run literary review in the country, which is put out by students in the master's of fine arts program at the UA.
The show is expected to fill the room and run until 2 a.m. --H.S.
When you think of people on the American payroll for Iraq and Afghanistan, who comes to mind? Probably the troops, the Bush regime, the Blackwater mercenaries, the contractors and the Taliban (oh, wait, that was in the 1980s).
But do you know the federal government, through the Department of Defense, is also funding university social scientists in a program called Project Minerva?
The goal of Project Minerva is to better "understand the countries and cultures we are dealing with," according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. And while Gates promises "rigid adherence to academic freedom and integrity," some social scientists are skeptical.
Enter the symposium on War and Social Sciences, hosted at the UA, moderated by students and featuring UA social scientists including Iraq War veteran Jesse Ballenger (Department of Anthropology), Laura Briggs (Department of Women's Studies), Leila Hudson (Department of Near Eastern Studies) and Maggy Zanger (School of Journalism). They'll be joined by notable social scientists Kelly Moore (associate professor of sociology, University of Cincinnati) and David Price (associate professor of sociology and anthropology, St. Martin's University).
The goal of the discussion, according to Sarah Raskin, an organizer and Ph.D. student of cultural anthropology, is to "probe the ethics of work on projects that may have liberatory ends, but that may also be legitimately subject to critique as sort of latter-day imperialism."
When the economy and jobs are tight--and the federal government is increasing funding to social scientists--there is a heightened need to evaluate one's own ethics as well as one's goals, and that is what the discussion hopes to force participants to do, says Raskin.
The symposium is free and open to the public. --H.S.