Friday, February 20, 2009

'Star' Parent Gets (Expensive) Lifeline

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 1:28 PM

Earlier this week, we speculated that Arizona Daily Star parent company Lee Enterprises may be preparing for bankruptcy, based on the fact that all Star employees were mysteriously paid early.

Well, it looks like Lee is safe from bankruptcy--for a little while, at least--after refinancing some of its debt, albeit at a hefty cost.

If you're an accounting wonk with some free time, have at official Lee release is here

Pop Up Spaces Scavenger Hunt

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 9:17 AM

Pop Up Spaces, a collaboration between Tucson artists Rachelle Diaz (Tu Scene), Molly McClintock (MAXED ART) and July Ray (The Burrito Files), is bringing its first project to yep, you guessed it --downtown Tucson. The art collaboration plans to produce temporary, interactive, site-specific installations in empty spaces asking viewers to be part of the art experience. Downtown Scavenger Hunt is the inaugural project.

According to their press release:

Walk through the streets of downtown Tucson and you will find multiple FOR RENT signs on every block. While that may be discouraging to some Tucsonans, the team at Pop Up Spaces sees these spaces as blank canvases. In the Downtown Scavenger Hunt on March 1, participants will be given clues to find 10 locations, each one with a short activity that will encourage them to engage with the current environment, reflect upon the historic record, and imagine future possibilities for the space. The resulting photography and writings will be displayed in the future at a time and venue TBA. Clues and instructions can be picked up at Shot in the Dark Café, 121 East Broadway Blvd. between 12 and 2 p.m. (March 1) Downtown Scavenger Hunt is free and appropriate for all ages.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Damn You, Social Vampires

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 10:00 AM

I am a Neko Case fan. Never kept it to myself. When I left Washington state to come home, I didn't even know Case had moved here. I thought she probably still lived in the Northwest. I didn't really care where she lived--I just cared that she kept making music, because I like it, and I like her shows. In fact, I once went to the Gorge in George (George, Wash.) to see her perform. I stood at the edge of the stage and waited with other fans. Then a hail storm came down, and Case started playing, probably hoping like all of us that it would end. But it didn't, and the show was canceled. And I went home officially entered in some unofficial fan-caught-in-a-hail-storm-fan-club club

When I moved to Tucson, I caught a couple of her shows, and when I found out she lived here, I remember thinking it was pretty cool that she ended up in my hometown.

Then this weekend I read the NYT Sunday Magazine. Inside is a huge feature on none other than Ms. Case.

First problem, the reporter identifies a restaurant location as downtown Tucson. It's Zinburger... the high-end burger place on River Road. Funny, but no big deal.

But the real issue is that Case is getting ready to leave Tucson. She's moving on to a farm in Vermont because, evidently, we have a problem here with social vampires. I don't know who you are, but with all our problems, I am betting we can blame Rio Nuevo on you, too, you, you social vampires you.

"I want to get away from the social vampires in Tucson,” she says. “The people who have no lives of their own and meet me and know who I am and feel entitled to say negative things. I have good friends here, especially in the bands” like Calexico and Giant Sand. Members of these bands and others have often appeared on her CDs. “But a lot of it is just like high school. And I like forests and all the wildlife up in Vermont.” It’s hard to imagine what these acts of social vampirism might consist of, but she prefers to leave them unspecified. She also asks that the Vermont town’s name not be mentioned. “I’ve had stalkers,” she says. Alexandria, Tacoma, Vancouver, Chicago, Tucson and, next, Vermont. Case hopes that her new community will prove to be her permanent home. You wonder.

I remember talking to a Grant Road project critic last year. He told me that Case lived in his neighborhood and was part of the road project ripped right behind Case's backyard. And that she happened to be the biggest donor to the anti-RTA campaign. I don't know if this is true, but interesting. At that point, I guess I could have figured out where she lived, paid a visit and joined the other group - fans-who-turn-into-social-vampires-club club.

It's OK that Case is leaving. I don't think of her as Tucson's--what I take from her music is that she belongs to a lot places. It's nice she was part of the community during her tenure here--advocating for the dogs, and her neighborhood. But I do wonder if she got Tucson.

The clip above shows her farmhouse in Vermont where part of her new record was recorded--comes out in early March. But the tone in the NYT piece doesn't feel like she got living down here. And that's what's disappointing.

I thought the person who wrote a song like "Maybe Sparrow," would get all the sadness and beauty and desire and ugliness that is Tucson. I guess Vermont just has more of the beauty. We all know it's greener, but I bet it has just as many social vampires.

Congrats to UA "Pride of Arizona" Marching Band

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 9:57 AM

The UA College of Fine Arts reports:

The University of Arizona "Pride of Arizona" Marching Band, directed by Professor Jay C. Rees, has received the prestigious honor of being selected by the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) as one of the top five marching bands in the country for the band's 2008 "Weather Report" field show.

This is the second time that the CBDNA competition has been held and marks the first year that the UA "Pride of Arizona" Marching Band has received the honor. A video performance of the band's "Weather Report" show will be featured in a special presentation at the annual CBDNA national conference on March 27 at the University of Texas in Austin.

The other four bands that won the competition are from the University of California Los Angeles, Colorado State University, Texas Christian University and Western Carolina University.

For more information about the UA "Pride of Arizona" Marching Band, visit http://web.cfa.arizona.edu/uabands/athletic/marchingband.php.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Water Pressure: Rate Hikes Ahead!

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2009 at 8:32 PM

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to hike your sewer fees by 45 percent or so. The Weekly's Dave Devine first warned you it was coming a few weeks back.

Now Dave, who hasn't yet joined embraced the blog, brings us this dispatch about the possibility of steep water bill increases:

The Citizens Water Advisory Committee will discuss a possible 10 percent or more increase for Tucson Water customers at its meeting next Wednesday, Feb. 25, based on a recommendation from a finance subcommittee that met yesterday.

Last year, the subcommittee's recommended 10 percent increase was whittled down, with the target being 8 percent annually over the next several years.

Lower demand for water, thanks to a combination of conservation, slowing population growth and the economic meltdown have led to suggested rate increase.

The City Council will have the final say, but the CWAC recommendation will carry some weight.

We should note that because the city has a tiered payment system, a 10 percent hike across the board does not mean that rates for all homeowners will increase by 10 percent.

Other wrinkles: Two potential "revenue enhancements" that the City Council may consider are an increase in the city's utility taxes and a new quasi-property tax for Tucson Water property. Either one increase Tucson Water bills.

For Immediate Release: 'Tucson Weekly' Kicks Off Year-Long 25th Anniversary Celebration

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2009 at 4:41 PM

On Feb. 22, 1984, the first issue of a brand-new newspaper hit the streets of Tucson. That first, 12-page issue of The Tucson Weekly featured a cover story on Gary Gisselman, then the artistic director of the Arizona Theatre Company.

In the 25 years since then, that little newspaper has grown into one of the most respected alternative newsweeklies in the country.

On Feb. 26, 2009, the Tucson Weekly will celebrate its first quarter-century with the 25th Anniversary Issue. In addition to celebrating the writers, stories and advertisers of the Weekly’s first quarter-century, the special edition will look back on the last 25 years in Tucson—and the city’s prospects for the next 25 years.

Editor Jimmy Boegle said the Weekly plans to go all-out for its silver-anniversary celebration.

"It’s a big deal for any business to survive for 25 years," Boegle said. “But after looking at what the Weekly’s accomplished over 2 ½ decades, I can say this paper didn’t just survive; as far as its content, it’s thrived. There were ups and downs, of course, but we have a 25-year record to be proud of.”

Senior writer Jim Nintzel, the Weekly’s most veteran staffer—he’s been with the paper for 19 years—examined approximately 1,300 issues of the Weekly for a special timeline that will be included in the 25th Anniversary Issue.

“This has been one crazy carnival over the last quarter century, and I’ve been blessed to be a part of it,” Nintzel said. “Looking back at all those issues, I’m amazed at the talent that has appeared on these pages. It’s been a wild ride.”

As the Weekly enters its second quarter-century, many newspapers are struggling due to a combination of factors—especially the current economic downturn. However, Thomas P. Lee, the Weekly’s publisher, said the Weekly has a bright future.

“Seeing daily newspapers collapse all around us is unsettling,” Lee said. “We grew our roots working to be an alternative to bland daily journalism. But Tucson will have the Tucson Weekly to kick around for many years to come. We have our excellent staff, and our loyal readers, to thank for that.”

The 25th Anniversary Issue is the official kickoff of the Weekly’s year-long celebration of the newspaper’s silver anniversary, which will include contests, promotions and special events. In March, the Weekly—which has been on the Internet since 1995—will launch a brand-new Web site. In June, the Tucson Weekly will be bringing the alternative-newsweekly world to Tucson as the host of the 32nd Annual Association of Alternative Newsweeklies convention.

For more information, contact Jimmy Boegle at (520) 295-4221, or jboegle@tucsonweekly.com.

The Last Issue of Our First Quarter-Century ...

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2009 at 3:31 PM

... is our Swimsuit Issue, and it's now online! Feel free to comment on its contents here.

Weird Goings-On at 'Star' -- Are They Bankruptcy Clues?

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2009 at 10:42 AM

We've received word from a couple of folks over at Tucson Newspapers that something rather strange is going on.

Here's what we've heard: Star employees, who normally are paid on Friday, got paychecks today--and those paychecks included cash-outs for whatever Lee Enterprises stock the employee had.

What does all this mean? Our best guess--and this is JUST a guess--is that this may be a prelude to a bankruptcy filing by Star parent company Lee Enterprises, which is overleveraged in debt and has been trying to renegotiate the terms of some of that debt.

We'll keep you posted as we find out more.

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