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GATHERING ROSEBUDS IN MAY: Like a cheap thermostat gone haywire, the heat clinks on this month and stays on until the end of September.

All you newcomers, welcome to hell; and you'd better hope the Welcome Wagon lady gives you a hand basket, because you're gonna need it to carry around life-preserving cool beverages.

The Skinny's favorite is chilled gin -- it's harder to smell on the breath, and it makes us forget what fools we were to move to a place where the blacktop actually bubbles for three months out of the year.

But if you think you've got it rough, pity the poor media assignment editors in this town's ass-kissing daily newspaper and TV news games. These bozos have to fill columns and air time day after scorching day when nothing of actual importance occurs because of the damned heat. All the rich people, and the politicos who've done a good job sucking up to them, are privileged to head for cooler climes.

Sure, violence tends to rise among poor people during the next few months, and that's always good for some cheap media fill.

As the humidity builds and creaking coolers grow increasingly less effective, fat women in trailers feel that prickly discomfort that leads to boils and thoughts of smothering their screaming housebound children and shrilly barking Chihuahuas.

And since there aren't enough municipal parks & rec programs to handle all the kids in this two-bit toaster oven of a town, watch for May's increasing media tales of:

· Private pool drownings;

· Boys and girls who've wandered off -- forever, or until their lifeless little bodies are found stuffed in dumpsters. Hint to law enforcement: it's invariably the heat-addled convicted child molester on parole who's living down the block;

· Teen shootings and drive-bys.

It's all part of the slow summer news season in the Naked Pueblo.

Let's hope we won't be seeing the "coolest-jobs-in-town" feature again this year, either in print or on TV. We've seen this one so many years in a row now that we actually yearn for in-depth coverage of dead people down at the morgue. Hey, it would be different, and no matter what their former lines of work, they're all kept nice and cool.

We can expect the forest fire coverage to begin any day now, as drought-stricken pines spontaneously combust all over the West.

The trouble with this perennial story, or stories, has always been the cheap manner in which the news media tend to toss it off. Anyone who's ever actually seen a forest fire firsthand (on the ground, and not from some stupid helicopter) can never forget the sight -- it's the closest thing on earth to watching tyrannosaurus rex chew up the landscape.

Actually, a healthy forest fire is 10 times bigger than a T-rex and 1,000 times more dangerous. If one should occur in Arizona this summer, we urge Tucsonans:

Don't let the media filter this awesome natural event into a puny 30-second soundbite or a grainy picture on page 3B. Hop in your cars by the thousands and flock to see it. At the very least, it beats yet another long weekend in dullsville San Diego.

If you go, take plenty of ice and gin, and be sure to wear asbestos panties.

And speaking of indigenous fashion, do you suppose we'll be spared our yearly discussion on the guayaberas? The Mexican wedding shirt favored by old guys on Viagra is chic to the max, to be sure, but we'd rather have an in-depth photo spread on Playboy bunnies and studly guys getting their summer-prep bikini waxes.

How come we never see that in the Star or Citizen? Perhaps that's something for the Citizen's hot-shot new publisher, Mike Chihak, to work on. No charge, Mikey.

Let's see, what else tends to happen in May--

Oh, Jesus, Mother's Day. What will it be this year -- the inspiring mom tale, or the sad story of a mom lost in childhood, boo-hoo-hoo?

Perhaps one of our highly paid news nimrods will have the creative gumption to combine these awful mom stories with the equally boring -- and every bit as obligatory -- May graduation story? We'd pay to read about a missing mom who graduates in absentia, thus making her morose children who never knew her proud as peacocks for one brief, shining moment.

The heat's putting strange notions into our heads. And we desperately need more gin.


JACKBOOTED HUNKS: The rumor's rife around the cop shop these days that a few of the city's uniformed finest got together for a major publicity photo, clad only in boots and helmets.

Where'd ya stick your nightsticks, boys?

Seems one of the guys is reportedly having a little fling with a sister in arms, and this was supposed to be his way of perking up her day. We're told it's only served to outrage the female cops, however.

From what we hear, TPD's blue knights can expect a pants-down spanking from Internal Affairs.

The Skinny will pay $500 to publish such a photo, if it exists and can be authenticated. We're dong, er doing our best to show that cops are human, too.


WHEN KILLING PEOPLE JUST ISN'T ENOUGH: Raytheon, the huge defense contractor that rakes in billions annually by assisting the U.S. military in its sacred duty, namely to break things and kill people, is fixing its high-tech gunsights on the common house cat.

Seems a Raytheon precursor company released a bunch of cats at the plant site south of town in a misguided effort to control pests. Now the feral cats are out of control.

Raytheon big shots better bite the bullet on this one and pay the extra cash it takes for a humane program to trap, neuter and return the cats to the plant site.

If they don't, opting instead for a simple, less-expensive wholesale slaughter, they'll be risking major disruptions and headaches from the militant animal-rights groups out there.

It could make the Gulf War look like a quickie cat fight.


GOOD TRAINING FOR ALL THOSE LONELY BINGO NIGHTS TO COME: Salpointe Catholic High School's big prom this past weekend was followed by an after-prom party featuring roulette, blackjack, and several other Las Vegas-style games of chance. Although no real money was in play, instructors were on hand to tip the teens to the finer points of gambling. Apparently representatives of Gamblers Anonymous were not invited. Big winners were able to turn in their chips for a chance at a raffle.

Guess we're really getting old. We can remember when our after-prom party featured a priest discussing the nature of hell as it related to after-prom heavy petting in the back of a Chevy.


LISTEN UP: He's baaaaack -- former Tucson Weekly automatic weapons editor Emil Franzi returns to the airwaves next Monday, May 8. Our favorite political piranha will chewing the community's ass from 1 to 2 p.m. every Monday through Wednesday and then again on Friday on KTKT, located at 990 on your AM dial. (He's taking Thursday off in deference to those crazy cooks on the regularly scheduled Dinner Hour show.)

In his first week, Franzi is scheduled to be chatting it up with candidates for the upcoming recall in the Amphi School District, as well as Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. And, on Fridays, he'll be joined by Weekly columnist Tom Danehy. Tune in for talk you sure won't hear anywhere else.


ANSWER KEY: We know you've been waiting breathlessly, so here they are -- the answers to last week's sample AIMS questions.

Question No. 2: A; Question No. 11: B; Question No. 25: C.

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