Saturday, July 4, 2020

On the Next July 4, Let's Make Sure We Still Have the Country our Founders Entrusted to Us

Posted By on Sat, Jul 4, 2020 at 12:38 PM

That Mount Rushmore display last night—an alternately smirking and glowering Mussolini declaiming to howling hyenas—shook me to my toenails. Each time they chanted “USA! USA!” he paused with that look of self-adulation I’ve seen from Mobutu to Ceausescu to Qaddafi. They roared when he said anyone defacing a block of stone can be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison. They booed when he labeled long-overdue protests enshrined in the Constitution as extremist leftwing terrorist acts, all the work of “liberal Democrats.” Unlike all those other despots I’ve covered, this man is deeply disturbed in a different way. And others were propped up by corrupt, coopted armies. We have no excuse. We put him there ourselves.

How many qualified voters, too sanctimonious to choose “the lesser of two evils,” voted for a no-chance also-run or sulked at home because Bernie Sanders wasn’t on the ballot? How many just stayed home, with something better to do than save America from what was blindingly obvious before November?

I’ve watched democratic states slip into shitholes since the 1960s. From time to time, I’ve covered Trump’s sociopathic, racist narcissism as he threw poor families out of their homes to build yet another Trump-Dump palace bound for bankruptcy. Before November 2016. I wrote about a coup d’etat attempt. In hindsight, I fell far short, never imagining that craven senators, greed-blinded tycoons and mindless morons would take us to this point. And now we learn that his fan-boy obsession with Putin now amounts to outright treason, shrugging off $100,000 bounties on the heads of U.S. troops he extols in speeches.

That speech, crafted by his Rasputin handlers, had none of the usual rambling and boastful asides. It railed against those “communists” in our streets, yet it was straight-up Stalin. He refused to meet first with Indian tribal leaders, whose spiritual grounds he desecrated. He insisted on lavish fireworks against the pleas of foresters who feared wildfire after years of a beetle infestation. His cults packed in tight, unmasked, simply to feed his insatiable ego.

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You Only Have Until Monday at Midnight To Vote in the First Round of Best of Tucson® 2020: The Lost Treasures!

Posted By on Sat, Jul 4, 2020 at 11:38 AM


The lost treasures of Tucson are spoken of in hushed whispers. Who knows what happened to these legendary talismans after they vanished more than a century ago? Did they really have magical powers? And where are they today?

Tucson Weekly is on the hunt for these long-lost treasures—and we need your help to find them as we embark on Best of Tucson® 2020.

But we’re not just looking for lost treasures. We’re celebrating the living legends of today: our restaurateurs, our brewers, our artists, our musicians, our bartenders, our coffee grinders, our bakers, our writers, our merchants and all the others who make our Sonoran home such a hospitable place.

That’s where you come in. We’re asking you to vote once again in Best of Tucson®.

You can nominate anyone in any category through midnight on Monday, July 6. We’ll tally those primary results to get the top five nominees in each category. Those top finalists will compete for your votes through midnight on Monday, Aug. 24. And on Oct. 22, we’ll announce the winners in our special Best of Tucson® collector’s edition!

Find your ballot here!

Happy Independence Day!

Posted By on Sat, Jul 4, 2020 at 8:07 AM


Friday, July 3, 2020

Botanical Gardens to Reopen July 9

Posted By on Fri, Jul 3, 2020 at 3:00 PM

The Tucson Botanical Gardens during last winter's Luminaria Nights. - JEFF GARDNER
  • Jeff Gardner
  • The Tucson Botanical Gardens during last winter's Luminaria Nights.

The Tucson Botanical Gardens are reopening on July 9 with a few new protocols and safety guidelines. The amount of guests in the park will be limited to align with social distancing guidelines, and guests and staff are required to follow Tucson’s current mask guidelines.

In addition, guests will now enter the park through the larger gate to the north of the gift shop. Full-service dining at the gardens’ Café Botanica, along with all indoor gallery spaces, will not be open to the public. The gardens will be open to the public every day from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“I could never have imagined leading the Gardens through a time like this," TBG executive director Michelle Conklin wrote in the letter to the community. "Nature has a way of healing and we are honored to re-open our Gardens as a place that provides healing, enjoyment, and inspiration. To say we’re excited to welcome guests back would be an understatement.”

If you’d like to support TBG without physically visiting, they’re also offering a series of virtual classes about desert gardening on their website throughout July.

Cash payments will not be accepted for admission or in the Gift Shop.

For more information, visit

Now Streaming: 'Artemis Fowl' Is for the Birds

Posted By on Fri, Jul 3, 2020 at 1:00 PM

It seemed as if we were getting a little gift when Disney announced it was sending Artemis Fowl directly to its streaming service: A big-budget, Kenneth Branagh-directed adventure was coming directly into living rooms, because most theaters are closed. What a treat, right?

No. As it turns out, the film is awful.

You’ll realize within five minutes of viewing that this thing stood zero chance of captivating folks in movie theaters. It would’ve just pissed them off and sent them home grouchy. So this was actually a blessing for Disney: It’s better to just let people be grouchy in the comfort of their own homes, saving them gas and concessions money.

The movie, about the titular child protégé (Ferdia Shaw) trying to solve a mystery surrounding his dad (Colin Farrell), makes zero sense from beginning to end. You know Branagh has a mess on his hands when he employs the narrator angle—having a character (a raspy-voiced Josh Gad, with his part filmed in black and white) staring into the camera and explaining everything as the movie plays out. It comes off as a lame attempt to fix a crap movie with re-shoots.

Not only is the storytelling poorly handled; the movie doesn’t even look good. The special effects are bad, and the costuming is strange—there are fairies in this movie that look sort of like Willem DaFoe’s Green Goblin from Spider-Man. The editing is haphazard, too.

Judi Dench plays some sort of boss of the fairies, and she also employs a raspy delivery. Dench seems to be a harbinger of bad things now: This is her cinematic follow up to Cats, meaning she has the distinction of being in one of the year’s worst movies for two years in a row.

Branagh usually puts together a good film, and his chance to do big-budget fantasy seemed like it would lead to great things. Instead, this fiasco leaves a big, nasty mark on Disney+ and Branagh. It’s easily the worst thing he’s ever done behind the camera, and there’s no chance for a franchise here—this is a one-and-done affair.

Artemis Fowl is now streaming on Disney+.

Still Rat Scabies After All These Years: Punk legend talks COVID-19, Dad, His New Album and Joey Ramone.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 3, 2020 at 12:01 PM

Rat Scabies (left) and Billy Shinbone. - COURTESY.
  • Courtesy.
  • Rat Scabies (left) and Billy Shinbone.

If I told you that Chris Millar has occupied a drum seat behind one of punk rock’s originating groups, many basic rock fans and current “alt or punk” millennials would have no clue who I am talking about.

And, yet, Rat Scabies, as he has been known for the past 43 years, was one of the U.K. punk pioneers that made punk, well punk. And for years he endured band break-ups, reunions, label and lineup shifts. You’ll recall The Damned are one of the U.K.'s top punk-rock three, alongside The Clash and Sex Pistols.

Scabies, who turns 65 (!) in July is not slowing down. In fact, he is maybe more active than in his early days. His latest, a superduo called The Sinclairs, is Scabies and the formable Jesse Budd (known also as Billy Shinbone), frontman of veteran psychedelic-folk group Flipron. They transformed a few jam sessions into a surf music lover’s dream, a 10-song rumble-seat ride called Sparkle (Cleopatra Records). The album, released in May, is described in their official press release as “Easy Listening made difficult.” The description is apt.

From the opening Ventures-esque “La Venta,” and the mesmerizing Santo & Johnny-like “Sleep Walk,” to the ’60s alien soundtrack-styled “Dodgems and Twin Peak-psych echoes of “Lipstick Rumble,” Scabies and Shinbone stretch their chops and make one hip and entertaining road-trip album.

Scabies has stayed super-active since his 1995 exit from The Damned. A list of impressive collaborations includes Chris Constantinou and the Mutants, and he has a new band with Constantinou called One Thousand Motels. Other bands include The Gin Goblins, Professor and the Madmen (with Alfie Agnew and Sean Elliot of Di and former Damned bass player Paul Gray). He has also played with a varied and stellar cast including Robert Fripp, Donovan, Joe Strummer, Jimmy Page and Eagles of Death Metal.

In 2018, Scabies released his debut solo album, P.H.D. (Prison, Hospital, Debt), a mostly instrumental affair that included a trio of Shinbone-sung tunes. Beyond the enduring power of Scabies’ drumming and wide spectrum of genres, the album totals more than the sum of its parts. Scabies played every instrument on the album.

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Tucson Weekly Removes Isaiah Toothtaker Profile from Website

Posted By on Fri, Jul 3, 2020 at 11:22 AM

After consulting with writer Casey Dewey and former Tucson Weekly editor Dan Gibson, I removed a 2013 interview with tattoo artist Isaiah Toothtaker from our website.

Here is Dewey's comment on the article:

Eight years ago I wrote a cover story about Isaiah Toothtaker for the Tucson Weekly. The original idea was to write a shorter piece on his musical output, but it turned into something bigger. It became a sit-down “one-on-one” interview, something akin to a “sit-down with one Tucson’s most notorious residents.”

Looking back on it, it was pure exploitation and it stank of tabloid journalism. I haven’t thought about that article in some time, but numerous, horrific allegations about Toothtaker’s behavior have surfaced throughout this past week and that article has been gnawing away at me. If I had scratched under the surface I would’ve walked away from it, or turned it over to someone who was more capable of an investigative piece. I sincerely apologize to anybody who’s been hurt, abused or otherwise victimized by him. If you felt in any way I was legitimizing his behavior, I am truly sorry. I’m not speaking on behalf of the Tucson Weekly, but I will take full responsibility for this ill-conceived article.

National Solar Non-Profit Starts Tucson Co-op

Posted By on Fri, Jul 3, 2020 at 11:00 AM

The national non-profit organization Solar United Neighbors has launched a local solar co-op, with aims of getting panels for homeowners and businesses in the City of Tucson.

According to Bret Fanshaw, Arizona program director for SUN, a solar co-op is a group of households in a geographic area who are planning to go solar around the same time. Through the group, members will be able to educate themselves about solar and can see the different types of panels they may be eligible for based on their roof space.

So far, SUN has hosted a series of webinars where local co-op members can view a presentation on the goals of the co-op and information about solar. The webinars included explanations on how solar panels work, how they attach to homes, and how ownership can reduce TEP bills. The next SUN webinar will be hosted on July 21 on Zoom.

The co-op is currently seeking to hit its 100-member goal. The co-op then decides on a certain installation company and approaches it for a group price.

“We send solar installation companies a request for proposal, where they can bid on the group by describing their pricing, warranties, equipment, and many other details,” Fanshaw said. “Co-op members review the bids and choose one company.”

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