A recap of last week's news

The Range 

Fantasy Fulfillment

The Range returned to Fantasy Island for further investigation over the weekend, only to discover that bicycle manufacturer Trek had set up a trailer full of loaner bikes available for test spins. We got ourselves outfitted with a dual-suspension Trek Liquid that was nothing less than a dream to ride for the next 90 minutes.

So now you know why they call it Fantasy Island.

On the political front, the effort to prevent Fantasy Island, located on State Trust Land at Houghton and Irvington roads, from becoming another 335 acres of condos and apartments is picking up speed. The Tucson City Council was scheduled to discuss alternatives this week, following a unanimous City Planning Commission vote to recommend that the area be preserved as open space in the city's Houghton Area Master Plan.

That's a big change from city staff's draft of the HAMP, which details the future layout of more than 10,000 acres along Houghton Road between Irvington and the Interstate 10 corridor. Staff showed Fantasy Island as medium-density housing (which, incidentally, strikes us as more than slightly ludicrous, given that the land is close enough to a Davis-Monthan firing range that loud gun blasts regularly echo across the trails).

Across the street, the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to support the effort to preserve the parcel, with County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry armed with open-space studies and ready "to assist in securing Fantasy Island as part of the regional, multi-functional park system."

Given the likelihood of a HAMP change, State Land Department officials who control the future of the land tell The Range they're willing to look for a creative solution that would allow for preservation of the parcel while still maintaining the land's value to the trust. (And, of course, we need to work out those pesky liability issues.)

It's a major round of victories for Fantasy Islanders, who celebrate their sixth anniversary with a ride at 9:30 a.m. this Saturday, April 16. For details, visit www.savefantasyisland.org. And be sure to bring that valid state land permit!


Scofflaw Nabbed!

The Range has a winner in the first-ever Hassled-by-the-Man Contest announced last week: Local bike mechanic Dan Timmerman, who wrote in to tell us how he was "scootering along" at an estimated 5 mph atop a child's bike that was several sizes too small for him. When he failed to come to a complete stop at Fourth Avenue and University Boulevard, he got popped by a police officer, who was quite upset to find that this child's bicycle was outfitted only with reflectors and not the required headlight.

And then, in Dan's words: "So to protect the community from these dreadful crimes, the officer issued me tickets for all of these and then, just for fun, slapped me with a $130 citation for not updating the previous address on my Arizona license."

Dan's total bill: $600!

Dan had this to add: "Unlike motorists, we are only a risk to ourselves. The weight is on our shoulders if we hit someone, because we are the ones who will get hurt. Do we need MORE incentive than that to be safe and follow the law? I don't, especially $600 worth."

Dan's sob story wins him a pair of tickets to the upcoming Thirsty Thursday Sidewinders game of his choice. Congrats!

When The Range visited Fourth Avenue to investigate the crackdown over the weekend, we saw plenty of punks, bums and at least one man who appeared to be from another planet. But we saw no police officers, which proved rather unfortunate, because while we were enjoying a lovely lunch at B Line, a vandal pried the Honda logo off our sporty Civic. You know what they say: There's never a cop around when you need one.


Out of Jeopardy

Range Pop-Cult Correspondent Curtis McCrary made the trek to Phoenix last weekend to take a shot at being the next contestant on Jeopardy! Here's his dispatch:

Saturday morning, and I'm up earlier than I've been in what seems like years to ensure I'll make it to my scheduled Jeopardy! audition at the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale. Prospective Ken Jenningses are required to take a 50-question test (surprisingly, the insistence on phrasing answers as questions is dropped when it comes to the written portion), and then if they "pass," there's a brief studio simulation.

I let my trivia ego get the better of me, and I was already counting my thousands before they were, ah, printed? But Jeopardy! is competitive sport, and for every one of me, there was a human resources clerk from Gilbert who has memorized every Potent Potables question ever asked.

After being stuck in the kind of traffic that triggers bloodlust due to a closure of Interstate 10 (five miles short of my destination!) I arrived 20 minutes late for my appointment. But no matter--since the producers were aware of traffic problems, they allowed me to test at 2:30. So I hung out and took in the flower-print-bedecked leisure class that patronizes the Phoenician, and did my best not to spit on them.

As for the test itself, it was rather difficult but not so much so that I'll never try again. In my estimation, I got about 30 correct, but since they don't reveal how well or poorly you did, I'll never know. But it was the "way homers" that really killed me--how did I not remember that a bird biologist is an ornithologist? And what sort of brainlock results in not being able to figure out that Wal-Mart has been atop the Fortune 500 for the last several years? Ach. Next year, with a more cooperative brain, I'm in for sure. Taking bets at window 3 ...

Lotsa luck, Curtis!

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