Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Libraries Trump Hate

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 9:15 AM

Congressman Raúl Grijalva held a press conference on the morning of April 18, in front of El Pueblo Library to discuss what Trump's proposed budget cuts would mean for the future of libraries. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Congressman Raúl Grijalva held a press conference on the morning of April 18, in front of El Pueblo Library to discuss what Trump's proposed budget cuts would mean for the future of libraries.

When Congressman Raúl Grijalva was a child, libraries were one of the most important things in his life. He discovered newspapers, magazines and Gulliver's Travels.

“It was a place where you could be someone else, experience something as a young kid that was beyond any comprehension of what you would be able to do yourself,” Grijalva said on the morning of April 18, in front of El Pueblo Library.

A group of librarians and library advocates stood behind him, just after National Library Week and in the wake of President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, which would eliminate all federal funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The federal agency manages library grants nationwide, funding many library programs and services.

Trump’s proposed budget, released in March, would cut out 19 federal agencies, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. These cuts add up to less than one percent of the federal budget.

On April 6, Grijalva secured 144 lawmakers’ signatures, across party lines, on a letter to Congress, urging against the cuts and requesting over $186 million in funding for library programs.

“It goes against what I believe is a great tradition in this nation—free and public libraries,” Grijalva said to a crowd of about 40 people. He reminded them that while the president can propose budget cuts, without the vote from Congress, they can’t pass.

Pima County Public Library Director Amber Mathewson stood with Grijalva, advocating for federal funding of public libraries. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Pima County Public Library Director Amber Mathewson stood with Grijalva, advocating for federal funding of public libraries.

The list of what Pima County libraries have accomplished with the help of federal funding is long. Standing with Grijalva, Pima County Public Library Director Amber Mathewson, brought up a few:

Over the last 3 years, Arizona has received more than $3.1 million for programs that include library services for underserved, rural and tribal communities. For 15 years, there’s been federal funding for the University of Arizona Library School’s Knowledge River Program, supporting future librarians committed to serving Latino and Native American communities.

Mathewson quotes writer Caitlin Moran in saying, “A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft and a festival.”

And a life raft may be one of the critical roles libraries play for low-income families today. According to the Pew Research Center, 27 percent of American adults don’t have home access to high-speed internet.

Therefore, libraries become a resource for the unemployed on a job hunt, students needing computer access or a safe place to be after school, seniors searching for community resources, and children learning to read.

“Libraries break down the barriers of age, ethnicity, culture, economic status, language and geography,” said El Pueblo librarian Anna Sanchez.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

RIP, Author and Activist Kathryn Ferguson

Posted By on Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 8:22 AM

Kathryn Ferguson in one of her favorite haunts, the Tumacacori mountains. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BOB KEE
  • Photo courtesy of Bob Kee
  • Kathryn Ferguson in one of her favorite haunts, the Tumacacori mountains.

Kathryn Ferguson stands in one of her favorite haunts in the Tumacacori mountains, near the Arizona-Mexico line. As a border activist and volunteer with the Samaritans, the Tucson native hiked dangerous desert trails for 13 years, putting out water and food for migrants at risk. She wrote about her experiences in two award-winning books, The Haunting of the Mexican Border: A Woman's Journey and Crossing with the Virgin: Stories from the Migrant Trail, co-authored with Norma A. Price and Ted Park. Also a filmmaker, a dancer and a choreographer, with her own belly-dance troupe and studio, Xanadu, Ferguson died of cancer Sunday night at Peppi’s House hospice in her hometown, after a short illness. She was in her late 60s.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dunbar Was Just The First of Many for this Local Author

Posted By on Wed, Apr 5, 2017 at 12:08 PM

Aloma Barnes, author of Dunbar: The Neighborhood, The School, And The People 1940-1965, is a retired nurse. Her book Dunbar is a novel about the beginnings of Tucson and how early segregation took place. A second edition of the book is scheduled for release this month. This interview has been edited and condensed.

Can you talk a little more about the segregation and how it impacted Dunbar's community?
Well, Dunbar wouldn't have existed if it wasn't for the law that separated blacks and whites. The whole thing about having the school in Dunbar was so that blacks could attend. When people migrated there, they selected their homes based on the school—just like any parent would do now. Dunbar's neighborhood then grew up from that school.

What were some reactions you got from publishing Dunbar? Especially those who still live in the community.
If people weren't happy, I told them to pick up a pen and make it better. You throw a stone in a pond and it makes a ripple, is how I look at it. I write very simply and I've been told that people were happy about the book and that it was about time. People who still live there say it's as if "history came alive" and those comments are what make it worth it.

How has Dunbar changed since these segregated times?
It's a small neighborhood. Six blocks long, five blocks wide and used to be a mix of blacks, whites, Hispanics and Indians. But now, it's 98 percent white because of other places in town and because they can afford it. The Dunbar school is still standing but the original has been renovated on Second Street and 11th Avenue. The church is still there too. They're making a museum about Dunbar's history soon. They even have a dance studio and an active barbershop.

What inspired you to write Dunbar?
Well, I’m a retired nurse. I live in the Dunbar neighborhood so it kind of just fell in my lap and it seemed like it was time for a story like this to come. The school reunion happened in 2015 and I had begun my research for the book in 2013.

What did you find difficult about the research?
History of black people, there isn't much of it. I think of it like this, history of caucasian shells are all at the surface of the water but those black shells, you have to dig and dig and dig until you get seaweed-which isn't a shell. It was very difficult but I was talking to contacts from the reunion, finding clips from the library of Civil Rights movement news from back then and the book that Gloria Smith wrote about Dunbar. She's one heck of a researcher. But, I could only go back so far because the archives only started in 1965 so it was as if almost everything before that was lost. I couldn't even find many obituaries.

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Huge Congrats to Tucson Writer Francisco Cantú For Snagging a Prestigious Whiting Award for His Forthcoming Memoir!

Posted By on Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 1:51 PM

Writer Francisco Cantú.
  • Writer Francisco Cantú.
Tucson writer Francisco Cantú snagged this week a prestigious 2017 Whiting Award, which includes, beyond the international attention, $50,000. He'll be honored along with nine other recipients in New York City, a ceremony keynoted by Pulitzer Prize winner Siddhartha Mukherjee. Note that past Whiting winners impressively include David Foster Wallace, Jeffrey Eugenides, Denis Johnson, Ocean Vuong, and Deborah Eisenberg. The Whiting Awards was "established by the Whiting Foundation in 1985, remain one of the most esteemed and largest monetary gifts ($50,000) to emerging writers, and are based on the criteria of early-career achievement and the promise of superior literary work to come."

Cantú, who worked for the United States Border Patrol as an agent form 2008-2012 is a former Fulbright fellow who earned an MFA in nonfiction from the UA. Locally, his work has often appeared in Edible Baja Arizona. His bio says he's a frequent contributor to Guernica and a contributing editor at, where he curates the “El Mirador” series, which collects original nonfiction, translation, and visual art focused on the American west, the borderlands, and Indian country. His writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in South Loop Review, J Journal: New Writing on Justice, Ploughshares, and Orion.

Cantú's much-deserved award is for his forthcoming memoir, The Line Becomes a River (Riverhead Books), out 2018. We down here at TW HQ believe this award is a harbinger of things to come for Cantú. We've read excerpts from The Line Becomes and they are lovely and potent. You can read an excerpt here in the Paris Review.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Zona Politics: Authors Patrick Phillips and Pamela Rotner Sakamoto Discuss Their Books

Posted By on Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 2:28 PM


On this week's radio edition of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel, author Phillip Patrick talks about his book author of Blood at the Root, a nonfiction account of a 1912 racial cleansing that took place in Forsyth  County, Georgia. The book has been celebrated as one of the best of 2016 by The New York Times, Boston Globe and many others.

Then author Pamela Rotner Sakamoto discusses Midnight in Broad Daylight, an fascinating account of a Japanese Amercian family caught between two worlds during World War II.

Both authors were in town over the weekend at the Festival of Books.

Zona Politics airs at 5 p.m. Sunday on community radio KXCI, 91.3 FM, and at 1 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sundays on KEVT, 1210 AM.

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Monday, March 13, 2017

Talking Freedom of the Press with Journalists Maureen Dowd, Joe Conason and Evan Thomas

Posted By on Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 1:01 PM

Maureen Dowd
  • Maureen Dowd
I had the honor of moderating a great discussion on freedom of the press under the Trump administration with The New York Times' Maureen Dowd, the National Memo's Joe Conason and longtime political reporter Evan Thomas at the Tucson Festival of Books. If you weren't able to get the festival to see it, you can watch it here on C-SPAN's website. 

You can find some of the other great discussions from the Festival of Books here.

I ran into Brenda Viner, one of the major forces behind the festival, over the weekend and she asked if I had any suggestions to improve Tucson's awesome weekend of celebrating books.  

My only suggestion, which is basically impossible because of the limitations of using the UA campus: Make it longer than two days! There's so much good stuff happening that it's nearly impossible to take it all in on Saturday and Sunday.

Thanks to all the volunteers that make the Tucson Festival of Books possible. In less than a decade, it's become one of Tucson's finest events.

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Tucson Book Fest: A Conversation with Evan Thomas, author of "Being Nixon: A Man Divided"

Posted By on Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 1:59 PM

Longtime Washington journalist Evan Thomas' latest book is Being Nixon: A Man Divided, a biography of former president Richard Nixon that was named one of the 10 best nonfiction books of the year by Time Magazine and was praised as a “fully rounded portrait” by the New York Times Book Review. Thomas will be in Tucson this weekend for the Tucson Festival of Books. I’ll be moderating a panel the press and the Trump administration at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 12, in the UA Gallagher Theater with Thomas, Maureen Dowd and Joe Conason. Find more info on the Tucson Festival of Books here.

Your subtitle is “A Man Divided” and you talk a lot about the dichotomy with Richard Nixon. He was very shrewd politically, he wanted to do good in the world, but he was also consumed by a darkness in the form of paranoia and fear and an impulse to strike back at his enemies. How did you find this different aspects played out for him?

Well, I’m sorry to say the dark side won. In the end, he did succumb to it. You can hear it on the tapes. But it was a long time coming and he had provocations. I’m sympathetic to him for a lot of reasons. He was a shy, awkward guy. Amazingly shy for politics, when you think about it. He had to overcome a lot just to be in politics at all. The hack cliché is that even paranoids have enemies. He did have enemies. The East Coast press was tough on him. And I think unfairly, at least at first. Nixon was no innocent. There is plenty to criticize her. I don’t absolve him. I think he should have been driven from office. But he wasn’t as bad as he was made out to be, certainly. He was subjected to some dirty tricks himself. In the 1960 election, for instance, the Kennedys played pretty hard.

I was fascinated by some of what you wrote about his post presidency and his efforts to remain in the arena and how the presidents who followed him, starting with Reagan, would welcome his advice, although not necessarily in a public manner.

Eventually. At first, Gerald Ford kept him at arm’s length and Carter kept him at a distance. But he would send these unsolicited memos—and some were obvious—but particularly when he was writing about Russia, Nixon was smart about Russia. He was particularly smart about Russia in the endgame and the collapse of communism. He saw that Boris Yeltsin was a populist hero and Nixon’s populist instincts popped up and he told Clinton to pay attention to Yeltsin. And I think Clinton was grateful about that and paid attention to that.

And he also ended up living in New York amidst some of his longtime critics and had some interesting dinner parties.

I admire Nixon for doing that. It’s easy to make fun of it, because Nixon was just as unctuous as ever. I talked to a Time magazine columnist who went to one of these things and had to use a telephone. Nixon sent him into his study and being a nosy columnist, he saw on Nixon’s desk that Nixon had not only written his talking points for the evening, but also bad jokes. Nixon left nothing to chance. There were lame jokes. That was typical of Nixon and it’s easy to make fun of that. But the very fact that Nixon had these people to dinner and was in the the belly of the beast—he could have just played golf and lived in San Clemente, but he didn’t.

You credit him with creating the modern-day Republican Party by siphoning off disaffected Democrats with the law-and-order themes in his campaigns. Did you see something similar with Donald Trump’s campaign last year?

There’s tremendous overlap there. Nixon, because he himself had suffered at the hands of snobs like me, had a feeling for what it was like to be scorned and mocked and left behind and shunned by elites. And Nixon put that to good advantage in his political career. It is very, very significant that Nixon discovered Roger Ailes. He was a booker for the XX show, daytime TV for housewives, in a suburb of Pennsylvania and Nixon found him and hired him in ’68. Ailes was a genius but it takes a genius to know a genius. And Ailes’ genius, for which he made billions of dollars for Rupert Murdoch, was to attack the liberal media for having a bias. People in my business never want to admit we had a bias. I used to get in trouble for saying on TV occasionally that the media did have a liberal bias. I used to get into hot water with my liberal friends for admitting the truth. Ailes had some problems, but he was a genius and Nixon was able to see that.

Now you have the Trump Democrats. But while Nixon had a strong grasp on international affairs, some of Trump’s critics say he doesn’t have the same knowledge and he’s kind of winging it. There are these questions about the Russian influence, but beyond that, Republicans like John McCain are questioning if Trump is committed to NATO and the European Union and the whole idea of “The West.”

The biggest difference is that Nixon read incessantly. He was shy and so smart, but he didn’t like to talk to human beings, he’d rather read. Trump apparently has read nothing. I think Trump watches TV and doesn’t even like to read briefing papers. Nixon had a very sophisticated world view. He and Kissinger could stay up all night talking. I don’t think Trump does that. Having said that, playing this Russia card—I think Trump may be trying to do intuitively what Nixon did methodically. And I don’t know that Trump is all wrong. People say we have to enemies with Russia. Well, do we, really? But I think Trump does seem to be winging it. It doesn’t seem to be very well thought out.

What do you make of Trump calling the media “the enemy of the American people”?

I think that’s careless. He wants to use the media as a foil. Nixon did this. Remember the nattering nabobs of negativity with Spiro Agnew? This is a page right out of Nixon’s playbook. And it works because it’s fun to hate the press. So I understand from a political point of view and the press walks into Trump’s trap pretty easily by getting too hot and bothered about Trump and they’re playing into Trump’s hand. Having said that, I do think Trump is playing with fire a little bit. Trump seems to be heedless of the Constitution and kind of careless about checks and balances. Trump can sound like a proto-tyrant. You can overdraw these analogies and I don’t want to go too far here but it’s careless. When you say the press is the enemy of the American people, that’s incendiary. That’s not true, for one thing, and I understand the politics, but it’s a little dangerous and it may be dangerous for him. What’s the cliché? You shouldn’t pick fights with people who buy ink by the barrel. Picking a fight with the Washington Post and The New York Times was not a good idea for Richard Nixon and it’s maybe not a good idea for Donald Trump.

But the media landscape has changed a lot since Nixon’s day.

That’s a good point, and that’s why these analogies get a little rocky. Technology does change things. The Times and the Post are not the central players that they were. Back in Nixon’s day, 90 percent of the American people had their TV sets on at 6:30 watching three channels. So basically the entire country was getting the same 23 minutes of news. And that news was taken right out of the pages of the Times and the Post. Basically, The New York Times, indirectly, told Americans what to think. That’s just not true now. People get it from all over, including, unfortunately, fake news, Breitbart, all that. The whole fake news thing I find frightening.

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tucson Weekly Folks at Tucson Festival of Books

Posted By on Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 2:55 PM


It’s Tucson Festival of Books season this weekend at the UA campus. Every year a small crew of Tucson Weekly staff and contributors participate. It’s a wonderful festival this year and we are all proud to help and offer our support. For the full schedule to plan your literary weekend, go to
  • Margaret Regan will moderate the panel Collective Amnesia on Saturday, March 11, 1 p.m. at the Pima County Public Library/Nuestras Raíces Presentation Stage with authors Tim Hernandez (All They Will Call You), Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith (Migrant Deaths in the Arizona Desert) and Maceo Montoya (You Must Fight Them and Chicano Movement for Beginners).
  • Jim Nintzel will moderate the panel Race in America on Sunday, March 12, 10 a.m. in Koffler Room 204 with Tim Z. Hernandez, Ibram X. Kendi, Patrick Phillips and Pamela Rotner Sakamoto.
  • Mari Herreras will moderate the panel The Tajana: Another State of Mind at the Pima County Public Library/Nuestras Raíces Presentation Stage on Saturday, March 11, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with Guadalupe Garcia McCall and Emmy Perez.

Staff Pick

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Cool Summer Nights

Beat Arizona heat and enjoy a family-friendly outing during the Desert Museum’s Cool Summer Nights. The stunning… More

@ Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Saturdays, 5-10 p.m. Continues through Sept. 2 2021 N. Kinney Road.

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