I know many of us go away for a while. Leave Tucson for love or work, or a need to escape.
There's always a handful who return. I came back almost 10 years ago to be closer to family, and well, because at that time in my life I felt like I needed to be in a place that—even with family demons and an assortment of bad memories—has always felt like my true home. A year or so ago, Brian Smith did the same for his own reasons and you know, almost every day I go to my office, I am so damn grateful he did.
Those who love his column Tucson Salvage already understand his brilliance as a writer, and his obvious love of Tucson and all of what I've always called its weird, ugly and beautiful, which are never mutually exclusive. Brian gets that, and that is one of many things I love about him. But what I knew immediately when he first reached out to tell me he was moving home and then again when he reached out to pitch the column idea and yet even more when he joined our staff as arts and culture editor—he's a hell of a human.
There isn't a lot of pretentious bullshit when it comes to Brian Smith. Instead, there's a huge open heart. That's probably why I love seeing him in the office, and why he has become such an important part of making life around here tolerable on those really bad journalism days.
This month, Spent Saints, a collection of Brian's short stories was published by Ridgeway Press. Reaction to the book is phenomenal. The first print of 1,500 copies, only out two weeks, sold out. Don't worry. There are more, good people.
The cover this week is an excerpt from Brian's book, a Tucson story of sorts, accompanied by Brian's almost always heart-rending photos.
I hope you support Brian as a writer and buy his book, but I also hope you help us celebrate Brian and Spent Saints starting with a launch party on Saturday, March 25 at the Owls Club (236 S. Scott Ave.), 7:30 p.m. The night is lovingly hosted and DJ'd by Clif Taylor and DJ Steven Ramshur. Brian will read from and sign copies of his book, but other writers will join him: Tucson's Isaac Kirkman and Billy Sedlmayr, and Michigan author John Freeman. Brian's brother Barry Smith will play psych violin, and demented piano with Nick Letson. Plus screenings of the 11 short films by various directors inspired by Brian's stories stories. There is also going to be a screening of the first in a web series (which was just green-lit) on Spent Saints. Go to spentsaints.com for more info.
If you can't make it to the Owls Club, here are other Tucson events we hope you attend:
Sunday, March 26, Bookmans, 6230 E. Speedway Blvd., 2 p.m
Friday, April 7, Antigone Books, 411 N. 4th Ave., 7p.m.
Sunday, April 23, Barnes and Noble, 5130 E. Broadway Blvd., 2 p.m.