This being the Best of Tucson® issue, you'll probably be in skim-read-the-bite-sized-morsels mode, so I'll take this opportunity to tidy up a few things that aren't big enough to merit an entire column all by themselves (although, if I were up against a deadline, they almost certainly could be stretched into columns without a whole lot of effort).
• A big congratulations to the Arizona Department of Transportation and all of the contractors for finishing the Interstate 10 widening ahead of schedule and in spectacular fashion. All too often, all we do is complain about the inefficiency of government, but these people did an amazing job.
I will admit that I did enjoy those times during the construction when I would go through downtown, driving a strict 55 mph in tandem with the car next to me through those narrow, two-lane areas as the red-faced rednecks piled up behind us in their pickup trucks.
Now, I drive through downtown at 65 on wide, luxurious lanes as the aforementioned inbreeds try to weave in and out in an effort to pick up a crucial one or two car lengths on everybody else.
Guys, where you're going is not more important than where I'm going. And where I'm going is nowhere in particular. Plus, your mama's also your cousin.
• I highly recommend the new TV show Glee. It's hard to describe, but if I had to, I'd say it's like High School Musical on a cocktail of strong prescription drugs, with the main exception being that when you're done watching Glee, you don't feel like beating all of the main characters with a broom handle.
The club of misfits includes a gay kid, a guy in a wheelchair, a black girl, the quarterback of the football team and a talented but wildly obsessive girl who would love to be bulimic, except she lacks a gag response. When one kid says she wants to join because nobody likes her, the club's adviser blurts out, "And you think being in Glee Club will help?"
The show also features some really sophisticated musical numbers. In the pilot, the club does a show-stopping version of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." I can't help it; whenever I hear a Journey song, I think of Matt Stone and Trey Parker in BASEketball, where they used the name of the band's lead singer as the ultimate psych-out. "St-e-e-e-e-e-v-e Perry!"
The show is twisted. When the club members go to see a show featuring the reigning state championship glee club, they (and we) are amazed to see 40 or so dazzling performers putting on a singin'-and-dancin', Seven Brides for Seven Brothers version of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab."
It's good stuff.
• To give credit where it's due, I have to say I'm surprised that this "tea party" thing lasted longer than the three weeks I originally gave it.
I went to the shindig they held at Kennedy Park on the Fourth of July. There was a decent crowd there, but it wasn't exactly a slice of 21st-century Americana. I didn't see one black person, nor, for that matter, any Hispanics. And, really, when's the last time you were at Kennedy Park and didn't see any Hispanics? Plus, I found it funny that these anti-taxers would gather at a park named "Kennedy."
The tea party "movement" appears to have legs, for the moment. They've formed a loose coalition with the Birthers, the Birchers, the Truthers (including Charlie Sheen), the Anti-Truthers (better known as the rational among us) and those who don't want a public option on health care except, of course, for Medicare, which half of them believe was written by God directly into our Constitution.
Did you catch Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, mistakenly referring to the group as "teabaggers?" That's the most inadvertently funny statement by a congresswoman since the last time Minnesota's Michele Bachmann opened her mouth. Have you caught this nutbag's act on TV? I think her campaign slogan is, "The Lunatic Fringe Is My Core Constituency."
• State highway-safety chief Alberto Gutier (no "rez" at the end of his name?) needs to be smacked. Twice in the past week, when asked about people texting while driving, he retreated to the nonsense about "all distracted driving," as though the same priority should be placed on drunk drivers and those who are tuning their radios.
He held the same high-paying position in the 1990s, then left to form his own lobbying group. He came back after Janet Napolitano left. His bio says that, in the 1960s, he worked for the CIA against Fidel Castro. That was probably the high point of his career, seeing as how Castro was ... no, wait! Castro's still there, 45 years later. And the Phoenix recycling of greedy lobbyists and do-nothing bureaucrats just keeps on keepin' on.
• Finally, Greg Shelko, the poster child for all that is wrong with Rio Nuevo, got rehired at $100 an hour. He defended that amount on KOLD Channel 13, saying that he has to pay his own health insurance and benefits. His old salary of $126,000 per year works out to just more than $60 per hour, leaving $40 an hour for benefits and insurance. I know crack addicts who could get insurance for less than that.
How many times can Rio Nuevo self-destruct?