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Emissions Tests Create a Hardship for the Financially Challenged

I read your piece on emissions testing ("The Rant Issue," Feb. 24), and was slightly angry and a little saddened. I grew up in Tucson and love it to death. (I am an intern at the University of Oregon, trying to get back to Arizona.) We are all victims of the annual emissions tests.

I am a recent graduate trying to get my career going. Needless to say, I drive a "beater," an '86 Camry. She (I call her "the goose") runs great and easily gets me from point A to B. However, she tends to fail the annual test. This ultimately costs me more money--which I don't have--to fix the problem. Pima County has a great program for residents in my situation, where they front the bill for some of the money.

Anyway, where I am going with this is that I am not sure when the last time was that you had to drive an older car, but my annual visits to the emission garages are never easy. I know I am going to fail, and I know I am going to spend a lot of money to pass. I would like you to be aware that the annual visit is not as easy for others as you might think. I have no money and am constantly struggling to stay afloat, and when I read something like your article, it bothers me to no end. You may not be extremely rich, but you are already unaware of some of the hardships that seem so simple to you. I am not angry; I would just like read a rant on something else.

Mike Gravagne


Emissions Testing: It's About Computers, Stupid

Just so the public is educated on the topic of emissions testing and not too misled by your rant missive ...

All 1996 and newer cars have an on-board diagnostic system that constantly checks the condition of the car's emissions output and systems. The employees at the emissions station did more than check your gas cap; they connected into your car's computer at a data link underneath the steering column, so the state's computer conversed with your car's computer. Your car told the state that everything was OK, so you were good to go. This had to happen before the state's computer would print your passing-emissions certificate. I'll spare you the details, but it's a fine system that works very well. Vehicles made before 1996 don't have this system, so require the actual sampling of exhaust gas with a testing probe.

You might be even more interested to know that many of this year's models being sold and driven in California emit cleaner air out the tail pipe than what enters, effectively cleaning the air by driving. Could this be the making of an article about at least one positive thing the U.S. government and vehicle manufacturers have accomplished that leads the world in a positive way?

Jerry Petersen
Flowing Wells High School Auto Shop


A Clarifier on Darwin's Book Title

Thanks for Diedre Pike's solid article about the depressing drive to replace science education with indoctrination in our schools.

However, it should be pointed out that Darwin's controversial 1859 book was not titled The Origin of the Species, as the article states. The full title of the book is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, or just The Origin of Species (not "the Species"); the title is referring to how animal species in general came to be, not to any specific species, and certainly not to homo sapiens.

It's worth quibbling over, because a common creationist misconception is that Darwin's book is mostly about human origins; it isn't--it's about evolution and natural selection in general.

Mark Cogan


Mailbag Debate Over Vegetarianism: A Big Waste of Time

Regarding Connie Tuttle's article, "An argument for forgoing meat, with some recipes to boot," and Eunice Loh's and Matt Peters' subsequent letters:

Ms. Tuttle's article is poorly written. She spiritually condemns meat eaters for being cruel to animals, claims that vegetarianism is a more healthful lifestyle and that eating meat is bad for the environment. None of her claims are supported by any evidence. She suggests, and I am paraphrasing here, "look on the Internet to find out why eating meat is bad." Instead of offering the reader some sound reasoning for her assertions, she offers recipes. I really like the hunch on how "tasty" one recipe might be with pasta. Now that's brilliant journalism!

I also thoroughly enjoyed her biblical quote, and then her subsequent admission that using Bible verses in arguments is silly. Why did she point out chapter and verse from the Bible if she thinks it's silly? Is it because she suffers from a conformation bias, gathering and using only facts that support her opinion, even if she thinks the source is silly?

As for Ms. Loh ... I suspect that she is overreacting to Ms. Tuttle's article. I didn't feel like the article was preachy or proselytizing, just poorly written. Ms. Loh then goes off a rant blasting vegetarians, talking about farm life, blah blah blah. Overall, not a very-well-written letter criticizing a very poorly written article.

Then along comes Mr. Peters, who launches a series of personal attacks on Ms. Loh: "I'm also unsure when it was exactly that her brain disintegrated from mad-cow disease," and "if she's not too busy searching for roast beef recipes or home remedies for a clogged colon." But what has this got to do with anything? Does it give us more information on why vegetarianism is better? No.

So far, no one in this unfortunate chain of words has given us any information other than to look on the Internet, personal attacks and mudslinging. It all seems like a big waste of time. It has, however, given me some good examples of fallacious arguments for a class on critical thinking.

I will, however, continue to eat meat ... and vegetables.

Ed Goyette


In Memory of Dean Narcho

I belatedly read Margaret Regan's excellent article on Fritz Scholder ("American Expressionist," Visual Arts, Feb. 24). On this same day, I heard also that Dean Narcho died. Maybe there is something to be said about this coincidence.

I imagine that Dean Narcho's name, unlike Fritz Scholder's name, is familiar only to a modest number of the Tucson Weekly's readers. His popularity and name recognition do not have much to do with his life. He was, among many things, an artist, primarily a painter. I did not know him long--only since 1989--but the oral history about Dean is quite rich in Tucson. His high school years, his "career" as a singer, his healing powers, his classes at Pima Community College and many other recollections serve varied individual memories. Massaged by my recollections, they create a narrative about Dean where the distinction between fiction and nonfiction grows ever more irrelevant.

People tended to feel strongly about Dean. His complicated patterns of thoughts and their articulation were frequently less than clear and at times aggressively opaque. Perhaps this caused a bit of uneasiness among some.

Dean's physical presence commanded attention. When I first met him, he was very large and he moved with the care, directness and purpose of someone of weight. Over the years--especially the last three or four, as illness began to erode his body--his size diminished. He walked with a cane, the surface of his skin seemed more matte and his eyes sunk deeper into his skull. He still commanded the space he occupied. Often dressed in black and a luminous, reflective shirt framed by his rich black hair and brown skin, I sensed his arrivals and departures.

I recall several years ago, there was a two-person show that included his paintings in a Congress Street storefront that periodically and momentarily gets revived as a gallery or studio. Dean had resuscitated some large, older paintings that had been rolled up. The quality of the work varied. They hung on the wall, unstretched--rows of staple holes and creases from previous stretcher bars framed the rough canvas' perimeter. The paintings drooped irregularly down the wall. I marveled at the installation. At first my trained response was that the installation was "professionally" offensive, but then, these paintings turned into low relief, soft sculptures that still fill my mind.

There are very good and not-so-good paintings by Dean Narcho. Perhaps this was the most normal part of his existence. He was not a commercial success as an artist. The only one-person show of his that I recall was in 1992 at the University of Arizona Museum of Art and curated by the late Peter Bermingham. Peter had hired me as a curator at that museum, and I had the good fortune to work closely with him and Dean on the show. I still look at the installation photographs of that exhibition and marvel at Dean's self-proclaimed "neo-impressionism" and his use of interference pigments.

Dean's talent as a painter was not ignored. His mentors and admirers included the likes of Jim Waid, Peter Young and Tom Cosgrove. During his lifetime, Bill Small--surely the most sophisticated contemporary collector in Tucson--purchased several of Dean's paintings. And locally, his works can be seen at UAMA and the Tucson Museum of Art.

The few times I saw and talked to Dean toward the end of his life, he seemed like a living "memento mori." There are people one knows, like Dean, who make you expect to hear about their death every time the telephone rings. The vagaries of Dean's health confronted him, but he seems to have met that challenge by leaving us with a few good paintings.

I am reluctant, but will indulge my desire to use Dean's death to beg another, related matter. In 1998, the University of Arizona Museum of Art presented the exhibition Tucson's Early Moderns. Curated by Maurice Grossman and the UAMA's director, Peter Bermingham, with the help of artists, historians and researchers such as Harold Friedly (a little-recognized painter with deep roots in Tucson and living there now), Betsy Hughes (UAMA curator and art historian) and former UAMA librarian Barbara Kittle, among many others, the exhibition focused on Tucson's art and artists of the 1940s and '50s. Perhaps a similar effort for the 1960s and '70s, and maybe more, is warranted. Dean Narcho's paintings would benefit from some context.

Peter S. Briggs
Helen DeVitt Jones Curator of Art
Museum of Texas Tech University

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