The Best Year-Round 

A few things to appreciate about Tucson.

OK, so the people have spoken, and we now know the Best of Tucson. While your selections have earned the right to be called "the best," there are a lot of things unique to Tucson that are great, year in and year out.

Here is a list of some things that help make Tucson spectacular. I really don't know if any of them overlap with BOT winners. That list is kept hidden from us peons. In fact, if the list were any more top secret, it would be in the same category as the plans to get us out of Iraq (which apparently are so secret that George W. Bush doesn't even know them). So, here we go:

January: When you make a New Year's resolution to exercise, it's a good bet that you can wake up around noon, take a shower, read the paper and watch a little football, and when you finally get ready to take that walk/jog/run/bike ride, it'll probably be 70 degrees and sunny. And when you give up on your resolution on Jan. 3 or 4, it'll still be 70 degrees and sunny ... The Wildcats are playing Pac-10 basketball games ... The Legislature goes into session, so with all of our local legislators heading off to Phoenix for a couple months, the IQ of both cities goes up ...

February: The month of La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros, one of the things that sets us apart from Phoenix and all of the other phony towns in the West. When people move here from other parts of the country, and their kids come home and tell their parents that they don't have school tomorrow because of the rodeo, those people either hightail it back to the part of Southern California from whence they escaped, or they embrace their new home; either way, they're better off ... High school basketball playoffs, where you can see emotions of the highest high and lowest lows, where one group of kids will see their seasons (and, for seniors, their playing careers) come to an end while another group lives to play another day. The tears these kids cry are very real, unlike the Kobe Bryant tears of last year ("Oh, we lost, but I still have 10 or 15 years left where I can come back and try again") ... The Tucson Open Golf Tournament is in town, with its dozens of white men who dress like pimps. Catch the Tucson Open (which is coming up on its 60th anniversary) before it's bought and shipped to Qatar ...

March: Major League Baseball spring training comes to town. For a modest amount of money, you can buy a ticket, drive down to Tucson Electric Park in North Benson and watch second-stringers for the Arizona Diamondbacks take on the guys who will eventually make up part of the AAA farm team for the Chicago Cubs. The weather's nice; the hot dogs taste great; and you'll never have to worry about seeing Barry Bonds ...

April: After you go to Mass on Easter Sunday, Popeye's Chicken is open for your post-Lenten dining pleasure ... While the weather is probably best in October, it's not far off in April. Remember that line in Miss Congeniality when Miss Rhode Island is asked to describe her perfect date and she says, "April 25, because it's not too hot, and you only need a light sweater?" Well, for us, it's earlier in the month, but it's still great ...

May: The UA softball team is in the NCAAs ... It's really hot, but the humidity is still a couple months away ... The UA school year is ending, meaning that our Out-of-State Blonde People Index is returning to a bearable level ... The last snowbird done flown home ...

June: You can find an empty tennis court virtually any time of the day ... You can head out to the UA football stadium and run bleachers at noon without anybody bothering you ... The track at Pima College is available for sprints or distance work ... Swamp coolers still work ...

July: While we all hate the destruction that sometimes accompanies them, there is nothing like the sheer wonder of a summer storm as it roars into Tucson. A stillness in the damp air, then a breeze, then wind, then lightning and thunder, then--if we're lucky--lots of rain ... They're cool here in town, but if you ever get the chance to experience one out in the desert, I highly recommend it ... TV is full of reruns this time of year, but I never get tired of seeing shots of idiotic people who got stranded after running their cars through running washes ...

August: Let's see: August for us is like that Nietzsche line about "that which does not kill me" ... Let's face it: The only good thing about August is waking up in a bed that's soaking wet and realizing that it's not because of incontinence ...

September: Old-timers who were here five years ago can reminisce about the days when the UA used to play intercollegiate football ... That first day of the season when you can go out to get the newspaper and feel the slightest bit of a chill in the early morning air. Of course, that "chill" might be in the mid-60s, but it's heavenly ...

October: Perfection.

November: Perfection and Thanksgiving.

December: By now, the night weather has cooled to the point that when you go to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, almost none of the trashy people in the church will still be wearing the shorts, sandals, halter tops and spaghetti straps that they wore into the house of God during the summer ... With the students gone for the holidays, there are seats available at McKale Center during the holiday men's basketball tournament ... The trashy people can wear shorts, sandals and halter tops during the day when they get their Christmas trees ... When you're walking around outside on one of those days after Christmas, the weather's so nice, you just feel like making a New Year's resolution ...

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