Every year since 2003, those of us at Weekly World Central have celebrated a tradition: We put on our Santa hats, get hopped up on some serious eggnog, and do our best Saint Nick impressions by making two lists: a naughty list, and a nice list.
Then, in the two weeks leading up to Dec. 25, we present those lists to you, our stunningly smart and good-looking readers, all of whom are most certainly on the nice list.
(Except for those of you who keep calling or emailing us about "chemtrails." Please stop. Really.)
Anyway, here's Part One of our two-week list bonanza. Tune in next week for the nice list, aka Local Heroes.
Despite all the moaning from so many quarters that downtown Tucson is dead, it's actually as lively as it has been since the department stores left for El Con Mall. We've got student housing getting built, new restaurants opening up, a light-rail line going in, and more people shopping, dining, drinking and dancing than we've seen in decades.
Despite the ongoing revitalization, some members of the Rio Nuevo board continue to do their part to slow down the momentum—and the worst of those is Alberto Moore, whose pandering to Tea Party activists is ensuring that the board does little to nothing to actually help revitalization efforts.
Get out of town, Alberto Moore!
Arizona Daily Independent
There's nothing like a strong conservative voice in a community—and ArizonaDailyIndependent.com is not a strong conservative voice.
We love the idea of a scrappy Internet news source with a willingness to dig into policy options and bark like a watchdog, but Loretta Hunnicutt's ArizonaDailyIndependent.com is more like a yippy little inbred Yorkie that pees all over the carpet. The stories are incomprehensible screeds with a paranoiac edge, or sloppily rewritten press releases, while the cartoons combine lousy art with polemic speeches in the place of punch lines. You know that whoever writes most of this garbage must be ashamed of it on some level, because they won't even sign their names to the stories.
Get out of town, Arizona Daily Independent. You suck at journalism.
Arizona Stadium Sideline Reporter Piper Stoeckel
This kid has a lot going for her: She's the reigning Miss Arizona, and in a few weeks will be representing our progressive, clean-cut state at the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas. She's an accomplished dancer, and she's on the dean's list at the University of Arizona.
What the 22-year-old native of Prescott is not, though, is the kind of commercial-break entertainment that fans at Arizona Stadium are longing for. Maybe it's the material she's working with—we really don't care what the on-field temperature is, and can we please get someone entered in the football-throwing contest who can actually throw? Regardless, Piper just didn't hold the crowd's attention this year.
Piper wants to be a broadcast journalist, and she certainly has the looks and personality for it, but this just wasn't the right gig. So it's time to get out of town, Piper Stoeckel—preferably on a nationwide tour wearing a tiara as the next Miss America.
—Brian J. Pedersen
The real-estate bust may not have turned Tucson into a ghost town, but it did create a fair number of haunted houses—or at least homes that appear to be haunted. These dilapidated dwellings have been long neglected and vacant, either as the victims of foreclosure or after being simply left to rot by families who could no longer afford to keep up payments.
While these shabby-looking homes blend in without issue in some neighborhoods, they stick out like broken teeth in others. A major example is a haggard home on the corner of a main thoroughfare in the Riverhaven subdivision, an area near Fort Lowell Road and Columbus Boulevard governed by a particularly anal homeowners' association.
While the HOA has been known to send out letters for the slightest infractions and encourage residents to "tell on each other," this house has been sitting and rotting, becoming more of an eyesore by the day. At least someone finally moved (or stole) the shutter that had fallen off a second-story window several months back. However, no one has dared to touch the yellow-brown thicket of garbage-catching weeds.
A sign on a front window proclaims, "No entry without authorization," as though someone might really want to venture inside this dump. It's time for the owners of blighted properties to either fix them up, or sell them and get outta town.
Catholic Diocese of Tucson
After years of crowing about how delighted it would be to deed the historic Marist College to the city, the Roman Catholic diocese pulled a last-minute flip-flop that left more than a few folks shaking their heads.
"Originally, the idea was for the city to take over the building, and use funds they claimed they had for (restoration)," John Shaheen, the diocese property and insurance director, told the Weekly in August. "They asked if we'd be willing to give them the property and the building, and we said, 'If it's good for the community, and it's good to save the building, then let us know what we need to do.'"
It didn't help that—based on this promise—preservation activists and city officials labored mightily to have the circa 1915, three-story adobe placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the City Council allocated $1.1 million of its precious federal Community Development Block Grant funds toward stabilizing the building. The Downtown Tucson Partnership even helped craft a plan to make the Marist property, next to the Tucson Convention Center, eligible for federal restoration tax credits.
But just when all those stars were finally aligned, the diocese reneged, leaving the city and its partners looking like fools. As a result, the future of this landmark now seems more precarious than ever—though we hear that diocese officials have resumed chats over ways to save the Marist. If so, we applaud them—with trepidation. What's that old saying about "twice burned?"
In the meantime, the diocese should hit the holy high road.
City honchos who championed a new student-housing behemoth in downtown's West University Neighborhood should just hit the road. But first, they should be sentenced to a few months of living next door to The District.
Not only does this 756-bed, private dorm near Sixth Street and Fourth Avenue ignore neighborhood aesthetics, but it also draws an immature, barely post-pubescent population straight from Girls Gone Wild.
This all arrives in West University thanks to a city-initiated infill-incentive district, which encourages downtown-area development by reducing or waiving permit fees, and scrapping height and density restrictions. Everything will be fine, city leaders told neighborhood residents, who were labeled NIMBYS for fretting over The District.
The first insult came when two old homes—including an 1880s adobe—were bulldozed to make room for the project. The second unfolded when college students returned to Tucson in August. Within days, the complex had erupted into party central, garnering a dozen police reports, a flurry of prank 911 calls, and red-tagging of the pool after students threatened to toss a cop in for a dip. To this day, neighbors report a steady diet of loud parties and speeding cars.
While The District isn't going away, nearby residents might glean some satisfaction by posting Tucson's "visionary" city leaders in pup tents on their lawns for a few nights—before sending them packing.
Efforts to "Define" What an Intersection Is
We'll save everyone a lot of time on this one: It's the place where two perpendicular streets meet. Plain and simple.
If you need more information, it's time to find some hobbies. But because of the influx of red-light cameras around town, a fruitless effort is being made by local law enforcement to actually "define" what constitutes the intersection of two roads, particularly those with Big Brother-like cameras. The Tucson Police Department even produced an informative little video—catchy title: "Red Means Stop!"—to help its cause. It matter-of-factly points out what everyone should have already learned when they took driver's ed, or what they've likely been re-educated on during the traffic school classes you take when busted for a red-light violation: An intersection consists of the square formed by the curbs on each corner. If you're not in there by the time the light turns red, Mr. Camera will snap your picture. Sadly, this video has only been viewed a little more than 1,000 times as of early December, so the message isn't really getting out there.
While we applaud the effort, it's time to scrap this mission and focus on more-important goals, like preparing for the inevitable confusion that will come with the so-called "Michigan U-turns" planned for Grant Road. Can't wait to see the video on that one.
With the job market still in a bind, you'd think those who do get hired would have at least a shard of competence. Well, think again.
Competence is not necessarily a requirement for retail, as evidenced by a steady stream of inept salespeople. The M.O. of the incompetent ones typically consists of invading your personal space, insisting they can help, and then painfully wasting your time and energy.
Let's say you pose a question on a particular type of product, like a boot shoelace. Since the inept have no clue about any of the shoelace features, they hurriedly read the back of every shoelace package, which is the same thing you've been doing for the past half-hour.
Let's say you can't even find the boot shoelace in the first place. Here's where the inept will either drag you down every aisle of the store looking for this shoelace, or fire up a walkie-talkie to find someone, anyone, who has some idea where this mysterious boot shoelace may be.
Eventually, you end up with an entire legion of inept salespeople on a quest for the shoelace. Some scamper down every aisle while others are reading labels on related products to see if they can work in place of the shoelace. The most creative try to sell you a whole new boot, because, they point out, it comes with a shoelace included.
This is somewhat of a fait accompli, given that Jesse Kelly has already left town for a Washington, D.C., career raising money for Citizens United—and has no intention of coming back.
That pretty much confirms what we believed about him from the start: He was flat-out fibbing to voters when he said he cared about making his home in Southern Arizona, and he was flat-out lying to everyone when he said he was just a humble fella who had no desire to be a politician. Jesse wanted a piece of power in Washington with all his heart and soul, and would have said or done just about anything to get there. Not for nothing did we call this cartoonish congressional hopeful a bullshit artist, mostly because he did nothing but regurgitate hard-right conservative talking points that had no connection whatsoever with actually solving problems.
We're glad you got out of town, Jesse. Now do us a favor—and stay out.
Lazy People Who Press the Door-Opener for Handicapped People
Which of these two groups of people is more reprehensible: Those who aren't handicapped and don't have a handicapped sign on their cars, but park in the handicapped spaces anyway; or those people who have a fake handicapped sign just so they can park there? I hate them both. I sincerely hope they become handicapped, at least for a while, because they're so damned selfish.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about the jackasses who can't walk that extra 15 or 20 feet to put their shopping carts away. They leave them in the parking space so the next person can't park without dinging the car. Those people, too, should be happy that they are able to make that walk, but they're just lazy and selfish, and I hope they all develop a limp that defies medical science.
I've witnessed these aforementioned dregs of society for decades now, and about the only saving grace was that I couldn't believe that people could get any more petty than that.
Until ... I went to pick up someone at an office building here in Tucson. I got there a bit early, so I sat in the car and got out a book. Then something caught my eye: One after another, professional people would approach the front door—many of them with their hands completely free, others maybe carrying a briefcase—and they would punch the handicapped button so that the doors would open. I couldn't believe it.
Probably three out of every four people opened the door like a healthy, civilized person would do, but a ridiculously high number of people hit that button.
What is wrong with people?
It's like a drone strike. First, you hear the virulent whine, like a gigantic, robotic insect. As you draw closer—or it draws closer to you—the vector of doom becomes apparent. Through a cloud of fine debris, amid the stench of half-burned fuel, you get this visual: A dirty, dour man sweeps his arms back and forth like a modern-day Merlin, casting a spell of sanitary illusion with a mechanized magic wand: Man With Leaf Blower.
Here's one vote for Man With Broom.
Leaf-blowers have to be the nadir of American techno-culture. The general concept is to use petroleum to do a job that could be done without it—granted, a fundamental American value. However, the actual effect in this case is to blast semi-inert particles in the leaf-blower's vicinity into a death cloud that floats into the neighbor's yard, aggravates her kid's asthma, raises her chances of lung cancer and causes her to ... buy a leaf-blower. In the course of a year, the little beastie can spew enough carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons into the air to equal the pollution of 80 cars. One hour of blowing approximates 100 miles of driving. Brilliant.
Don't make us go all California on yer leaf-blowin' ass and ban these things. Just take your obnoxious little dust drones and GTFOOT.
If it weren't for Tucson Unified School District school-board member Michael Hicks, the secret that most Mexican Americans have guarded for centuries would have remained concealed: Burritos have a power unlike any other culinary treat known to man.
But after Hicks was interviewed on The Daily Show, our secret was finally revealed—burritos create a bond so strong, they'll make you fight for something you believe in.
That's how it is in the world of Mexican-American studies, Hicks said when interviewed by Al Madrigal about the beleaguered MAS department, which was deemed illegal by the state.
Hicks also admitted during the interview that he formed his anti-MAS opinions without doing basic research. "I chose to not even go to any of their classes," he said. "Why even go? I based my thoughts on hearsay from others." He really said that.
The interview made MAS supporters want to laugh and cry at the same time. And those who never cared about the program before started paying attention. But the most damning phrase to come out of Hicks' mouth was misidentifying civil-rights legend Rosa Parks as Rosa Clark. The national attention only added to our collective embarrassment.
Before the interview, Hicks was known for taunting MAS students at school-board meetings. But since the interview, when Hicks encounters MAS students during board-meeting breaks, they ask him something very important: "Who is Rosa Clark?" It's the gift that keeps on giving.
Hicks is up for re-election in 2014. But rather than run again, wouldn't it be wonderful if Hicks got out of town before we finally made Aztlan a reality, before the final steps of the Reconquista? Yep, Mr. Hicks, that's a burrito you'd feel on the way out.
People Under the Illusion That Tucson Is a Liberal Paradise
Remember those bumper stickers that said "Baja Arizona," urging Tucson and the rest of Southern Arizona to secede?
Yeah, those were good times, but mainly because of the beer at those petition-gathering parties. While we kind of knew the idea of creating our own state was in jest, the ideals behind it, let's admit, were also a joke.
The idea that Tucson is some type of liberal paradise is an illusion, or delusion, depending on whom you're talking to. What we have in Tucson are several liberal camps—one camp likes to get together for meetings and love fests with other like-minded folks, and another camp controls the political messaging and decides which candidates are viable. They aren't mutually exclusive. After all, the second camp needs the first camp to believe everything is running as it should be.
But these past two years have been an eye-opener for many in the community. If grades were handed out, both camps would get an F. The excuses that Latinos don't vote, that you're not a viable candidate, or that the damn redistricting did it again? They don't work anymore. Come up with something better.
Some have said that's the way it's going to be in Arizona, because conservatives rule state government. We can't be perceived as too liberal so we can win over those folks who are not completely bat-shit right-wing.
Before anybody declares Tucson a liberal paradise again or asks you to come up with another name for our imaginary new state, just say no, and tell them to get the hell out of town. We want something real.
People Who Don't Use the Self- Checkout Lane for a Few Items
Before there were self-checkout lanes at grocery stores, I would routinely offer my place in line to others behind me who had just a few items. It was the polite thing to do. Now, with the addition of self-checkout lanes, people buying a couple of things don't have to wait in long lines behind full carts. So it puzzles me why people with one or two items still stand in the regular lines.
It's irritating when they are impatient. Once, I had a cart full of food, and a man behind me had a six-pack of beer. He stood practically on top of me as I was emptying my cart. I could tell he was in a hurry by his sighs and body language. Since all of the self-checkout lanes were clear, I didn't move any faster. Why do I need to speed up when there's the option of self-pay—with no waiting?
It's not rocket science: Push a button, scan and bag. If you can't master that, then you need to ride a shopping cart out of town!
People Who Throw Away Usable Goods Instead of Donating Them
Living in a townhome community with shared trash bins, I get to see other people's trash. Usually, it is bagged and tied—but when it's moving day, it's another story.
A neighbor recently moved out and piled unwanted belongings into the bin. Visible items included a stroller, a broom and a jewelry box—all in usable condition. Sometimes, people leave stuff next to the bin, like a dresser or TV stand. Someone once left a couch on top of the bin, so others were not able to put anything else in it.
There are many local charities, with drop-off donation areas, that can use these goods. Items can also be dropped into charity bins around town. And for furniture and big items, some charities will come to your house and pick them up. There's no reason to throw away items when someone else in the community can use them. Besides that, donating and using recycled items means less stuff is put in landfills.
Our Earth could use the help. Donate your unwanted usable goods—or get out of town!
People Who Whine That Tucson Needs a Randy Parraz
Yes, Phoenix organizer Randy Parraz is cool. And nothing would please me more if the former U.S. Senate candidate who helped retire Russell Pearce came to his senses and moved to Tucson.
Maybe then, I'd finally stop hearing people in Tucson's progressive-activist community whine about needing our own Parraz. I understand we're in a difficult situation in the Moldy Pueblo. First, we don't have tangible enemies, like in Maricopa County, where Parraz works his magic against folks like Pearce and Sheriff Joe.
Our frothing-at-the-mouth Tea Party Republicans are more like harmless flies during the monsoon. The real challenge is the folks who like to remind themselves how liberal they are, when that's not always the reality. You expect those folks to understand how racism works or why a bunch of kids are upset they lost their Mexican-American studies classes.
Sometimes it's like talking to old Aunt Delores, who is 80 percent deaf—you care about her, but there aren't enough hours in the day to keep repeating in a loud a voice what you did in school. Sometimes you have to get creative in how you explain what's what.
So to all of you who whine about not having our own Randy Parraz: If you can't bother to learn how to properly organize the good-hearted activists in this town, get out of town. I'll hold the door for you.
The Person Scheduling Endless Reruns of Coach on KVOA Channel 4
It seems somewhat unfair to pick on Coach, the largely nonoffensive laugh-tracked situation comedy which ran on ABC for nine seasons and 200 episodes. The cast, led by Craig T. Nelson, is fine, and the plots are acceptable, if reflective of what that sort of show was like in the pre-Office era of TV comedies. What sort of mess did Dauber get himself into this week? The owner of the Orlando Breakers, who looks a lot like Mona from Who's the Boss?, makes bad decisions, like trading a draft pick for cruise tickets! The hilarity!
However, while I understand that it can't be easy to fill 48 hours of programming, especially when NBC doesn't have the sports lineup to compete with its network competitors, why does KVOA need to show four or more episodes of this particular show each weekend? Every channel has its throwaway time, so maybe Coach is a better option than Michael Lindell shilling his magical pillow, but it seems there must be another option from the hundreds of shows available in syndication. Who is showing reruns of American Gladiators these days, anyway?
C'mon, KVOA, Tucson deserves only the finest in entertainment largely designed to play in the background while taking a nap on the couch.
Rosemont PR Firms
Back in 2005, a Canadian investment company bought 3,000 acres of land in the Rosemont Valley south of Tucson, with plans to dig an open-pit copper mine. Tailings from the mine would be dumped on the neighboring Coronado National Forest.
Today, that scheme remains mired in controversy as government officials mull the potential impacts. But whether or not Vancouver, British Columbia-based Augusta Resource Corp. ever digs its pit, local PR hacks such as Zimmerman Public Affairs and Strongpoint have already mined a small fortune painting lipstick on Augusta's pig. Along the way, they've passed up few opportunities to mislead the public.
Working with in-house spinmeisters from Augusta's opaque local subsidiary, Rosemont Copper, they've helped pack public meetings with fake mine supporters, orchestrated bogus surveys portraying community support, conjured up phony letters of approval from local neighborhoods, and trotted out an online list of "partnerships" with local nonprofits, most of which don't consider themselves partners at all. For many of those groups, their only connection to Rosemont Copper came in the form of meager donations or the occasional volunteer from Rosemont.
Experts call such actions a black mark for the communications industry. "Good public relations is about building long-term relationships," says Tiffany Gallicano, an assistant professor of public affairs at the University of Oregon. "What they're doing involves deceit. How can people trust them with anything else if they're already using underhanded tactics?"
Good question—and one for Rosemont and its lying lackeys to ponder as they catch the first ore train out of town.
Tucson traffic needs no help in becoming clogged and inefficient, but slacker street-crossers help ensure it stays that way.
First up is Slowpoke Sam. He's the fully able-bodied, healthy dude who suddenly acts like he's on his deathbed when it's time to cross the street. He'll shuffle, amble, drop things and move at the slowest pace possible to ensure that the intersection is unusable for vehicles for the entire length of the light.
Next comes Last-Minute Lucy. She'll time her street-crossing just right, so that she starts a few seconds after the pedestrian sign starts flashing the ominous "Don't Walk." She'll either take a cue from Slowpoke Sam and take her sweet old time, or she may come bolting out of nowhere into the crosswalk just as the traffic begins to move. Her move typically involves at least one person slamming on the brakes, and at least two people swearing or honking their horns.
The crème de la crème of the slacker street-crosser is Jaywalking Jerry. Although Tucson is peppered with plenty of crosswalks, Jaywalking Jerry can't be bothered to use any of them. He prefers to cross in the middle of the street and usually waits for a fleet of traffic before doing so. Jaywalking Jerrys who cross in the light of day also like to take the time to glare at any drivers who don't stop for them. And those who like to romp across traffic lanes at night often do so in dark clothing on poorly lit streets.
Stereotypical SaddleBrooke People
I would think that having a gas station, a grocery store, a golf course, a bank and a clubhouse within a development would prevent the stereotypical SaddleBrooke citizen from ever coming into town. (We're not talking all SaddleBrooke residents. But you know the kind we're talking about.)
But every once in a while, they, unfortunately, feel the need to leave their upscale caves and make face-time with locals. Or maybe they purposely come out to treat others like shit, and get some sort of twisted satisfaction from it.
I'm still trying to figure out what it is that makes them so bitter. Isn't the whole point of retirement being able to live a stress-free, happy life?
Apparently that's not the case for a lot of the retirees living at SaddleBrooke. Almost every interaction I've had with them was simply disgusting. They don't smile; they're greedy; and they brag about their accumulated money as if having a six-digit balance in a checking account means others should bow down to them and kiss their ass. They tell terrible "annoy a liberal" jokes; they hate young people; and they're borderline racist. I really wish they would just stay there, planning more parties for Martha McSally and the other GOP politicians they praise like saints.
It is because of people like this that Tucson and the rest of Arizona have the reputation that everybody here is a dick. Please, SaddleBrooke, seal your gates, and rid us of your mean residents' negative energy.
After 10 years, we've decided that the aforementioned holiday tradition of getting together, getting bombed on eggnog and making our annual naughty and nice lists needs tweaking.
For one thing, all of that tequila-infused nog is not helping with our blood pressure. And our legal team tells us we should not discuss the details of the incident involving the weed-whacker and the office copy machine that occurred when one member of the Weekly staff mocked another member's Santa hat. (We can say that the Santa hat had frills on it, for Pete's sake. Who wears a freakin' frilly Santa hat?)
Anyway, we're going to keep Local Heroes around in the years to come. But in an effort to foster new, fresh ideas, we hereby formally announce the retirement of Get Out of Town!
Now if only John McCain would follow suit ...