Monday, October 25, 2021

Posted By on Mon, Oct 25, 2021 at 12:52 PM

click to enlarge Lil Miss Hot Mess: - COURTESY PHOTO
Courtesy photo
Lil Miss Hot Mess:

Lil Miss Hot Mess will present her research on drag studies at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1508 E. Helen St., in the Dorothy Rubel Room at 7 pm on Tuesday, Oct 26.

Lil Miss Hot Mess is a well-known drag queen, activist, scholar, children’s book writer and storyteller of Drag Queen Story Hour, a program that brings drag queens and children together for storytime. Her children’s books include The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish. (The forthcoming If You’re a Drag Queen and You Know It will be available in May.) Lil Miss Hot Mess is a professor at UA who teaches history and theory of play. Lil Miss Hot Mess’s presentation is part of UA’s 2021 Tucson Humanities Festival and will be available for live stream at

What can attendees expect to see at the presentation?

It’s an overview of my work with Drag Queen Story Hour and some research that I've done on drag pedagogy. In addition to being a drag performer, I am also a professor at the U of A. Some of my research is about what can we learn from Drag Queen Story Hour in the broadest possible sense. Not just, how do we think about LGBT or gender 101? But, how we can learn to be better teachers or educators if we adapt some of the strategies of drag performers. I talk about things like how to incorporate humor to de-stigmatize difficult topics.

What topics are you destigmatizing?

When I talk about drag I like to actually highlight that it's not just about gender, it's not just about a physical transformation because drag has many different forms. Drag is about exaggeration. It's about turning your fantasy into a reality and often it's about dealing with difficult topics through a sense of camp, through a sense of humor. Being willing to laugh at ourselves and laugh at the world, but also take some of these things seriously. For example with Drag Queen Story Hour, we like to read books that address different topics of diversity, bullying, of finding your own creative voice. But, we also like to read the classic Everyone Poops. Which is a way of taking a thing that can be serious, scary, or shameful for kids and reading the book together and laughing at it. I also think it is for kids who might be questioning their identity, their gender identity or feel different because they are multiracial, adopted or have a disability. They learn about finding strength through humor and leaning into those things that make us different is part of what drag culture is all about.

What inspired you to do this type of research?

I fell into Drag Queen Story Hour through some of my friends in the San Francisco Bay Area. It started in 2015. I was living in New York at the time, and we brought it to New York. You know, it's blossomed all around the country and all around the world. I think there are so many affinities between drag performers and children. Drag is literally dressing up and playing. Kids are all about imagination. They're all about play, they're all about asking a lot of questions and I think that's another thing drag does well is that it questions authority, it questions history. It asks why? Why should we do something one way because it has always been done that way? Being able to explore that with kids not only provides them an important educational opportunity but I've also learned a lot in so many different ways from working with children in drag. The research came after doing the events because I wanted to go a little bit deeper.

It's like a commentary on education and how we can

Much of education is test scores and memorizing. Even important work in diversity or social justice topics still tends to be framed as learning the vocabulary for LGBTQ or learning how to get some of these things right. I think that drag opens up a little bit more space for improvisation, for experimentation, for taking risks, for being willing to fail together and laugh at off or learn from it. I think that is actually a major shift from the way that we think of education in this country.

What are you hoping people walk away with from your event?

My main goal throughout all of this work is to get people to loosen up a little bit and enjoy that sense of play and be open to thinking about things in a different way. I will talk about five specific strategies that people can use but again, I don't want people walking away with notes. I want people to walk away feeling that we can activate our imaginations to do things differently. How do we tap into our own creativity? How do we use that to reimagine our world?

I think drag can intersect with a lot of different aspects of our lives. One thing that I try to make clear is that when I talk about drag pedagogy or drag education, I'm not suggesting that every teacher put on a wig or a pair of heels. But that people think about some of these elements to transforming something about the way you work, or bringing out an aspect of your personality that you don't always allow to shine can change the way that you relate to people or relate to different situations. So it's not about becoming a drag but it’s really about learning a little bit from us.

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Friday, September 10, 2021

Posted By on Fri, Sep 10, 2021 at 4:07 PM

Join Arizona Public Media and the Pima County Public Library in celebration of the rich Mexican-American and Latinx cultural heritage of Southern Arizona during Mes de la Cultura! Enjoy a virtual celebration of Mexican-American and LatinX art, music, and dance with performances by Mariachi Estrellas de Tucson, Mariachi Los Changuitos Feos, and Ballet Folklórico Tapatío.

Register here.

You’ll get a first look at Arizona Illustrated’s story about Carlos Valenzuela, a Chicano tile artist, and his work across Tucson’s south side. Plus, you’ll get an inside view of the Pima County Public Library’s Frank De La Cruz Borderlands collection!

After the show, performers will be sharing more about the rich cultural history of these art, music and dance forms, share some of their own experiences performing, and answering YOUR questions during a live Q&A. We hope you’ll join the conversation!

This event is sponsored by Arizona Public Media, and the Library's Welcome to America and Nuestras Raíces teams.

About the Performers

Mariachi Estrellas de Tucson is a youth mariachi group from Tucson. With performers ranging in age from 10 to 17 years old, the group has participated in the Tucson International Mariachi Conference in Tucson, Arizona, and the Rosarito International Mariachi Conference in Rosarito, Baja California, México.

Mariachi Los Changuitos Feos (LCF)
 is widely regarded as the first youth mariachi group and the first seed of the growing youth mariachi movement in the United States. The group includes twelve high-school aged musicians under the direction of Salvador Gallegos. Founded in 1964, LCF now carries a five-decade legacy of musicianship and dedication.

Ballet Folklórico Tapatío (BFT)
 is a non-profit folkloric dance group established in 1997 under the direction of Jose Luis Baca and Marissa Gallegos. This group is based in South Tucson, and has over 150 members. They have performed throughout the United States, Mexico and Colombia, and are recognized as one of the finest folkloric programs in the nation.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Posted By on Fri, Aug 6, 2021 at 4:20 PM

They’ve scrimped, they’ve saved, and they’ve made it through some of the deepest and darkest days of 2020. Now, the comedy troupe at Unscrewed Comedy is faced with a new trial: They need to put on actual pants, because they’re bringing back live, in-person comedy!

There’s no doubt that finding little pockets of fun and laughter is part of what got us through the last terrible year or so. But there’s nothing quite like a roaringly funny, family-friendly live comedy show. That’s part of what makes these nights full of improvised delight such a special, magical treat.

They’ve got all of their house teams on deck: Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed, FromtheTop, Comic Chaos, and Big Daddies. Plus, special guest stars Ken Carr and Aaron Maus (host of the Computer Doctor Show)!

Do some stretching before you come, because you’ll likely be laughing so hard you’ll work out muscles you didn’t know you had. And get ready to make suggestions, because audience members get to participate and help shape the show.

Be sure to also keep an eye out for the other shows of the month, featuring plenty of special guest stars and funny stuff. If you’ve decided it’s finally time you learn how to be funny yourself, then check out the live, in-person classes they’re also beginning to offer this month!

Shows are at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the month. (And psssst, on Saturday, Aug. 14 and Aug. 28, they’ll also be doing an UNCENSORED show at 9 p.m.) Tickets are just $8 for adults and $5 for kids. Get ‘em at

Monday, April 12, 2021

Posted By on Mon, Apr 12, 2021 at 4:00 PM

The Arizona International Film Festival returns this week with 12 days of online and outdoor film screenings from comedy to drama to documentary. The 29th festival kicks off opening night at the MSA Annex on Wednesday, April 14, with an outdoor screening of Dustwun, a drama about a friendship between an undocumented migrant lost from her group traveling toward the United States and a troubled American veteran building his own "wall" out of trash in the desert. Filmmaker Genevieve Anderson will be present at the screening.

The 2021 AIFF includes 24 feature films and 75 shorts. This year’s films range from a bipolar love story to a hike across Utah to an experimental “film poem” about democracy. In addition to feature length films, there are also blocks of short films and panels where film professionals discuss cinematography, international film, independent films, and their own work.

While multiple festival films were shot here in Arizona, other entries range from Italy to Turkey to Sudan.

The 2021 Arizona International Film Festival runs from Wednesday, April 14, to Sunday, April 25. To view the full schedule and to buy tickets, visit

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Posted By on Tue, Apr 6, 2021 at 11:39 AM

It's been a rough year for many nonprofits thanks to a COVID outbreak that not only prevented them from hosting their usual galas and fundraisers but also increased demands on their services, as Tucson Weekly staff writer Christina Duran outlined in this story.

So with today's Arizona Gives Day, you might consider giving to a nonprofit that could really use the help. Learn more about how you can lend a hand here.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2021 at 11:43 AM

Every Thursday this April, the University of Arizona's College of Science will present a new topic relating to the science of water, as part of their 16th annual lecture series. The free, online lectures will range from the water on Earth's cosmic origins to the challenges of conservation to the Colorado River. The lectures will premiere on the College’s YouTube channel, hosted by various local experts and faculty.

"Given that water is the lifeblood of humankind and recognizing how critical water is to our region, it's both a timely and important topic in our community," said Michael Luria, assistant dean for corporate and community engagement at the College of Science, and co-organizer of the lecture series. "While the effects of the ongoing pandemic have necessitated a virtual format for the 2021 series, it also provides the opportunity to expand our reach to those outside of Southern Arizona, which we are very excited about."

April 1: Beyond Earth
Assistant professors of planetary science Jessica Barnes and Pierre Haenecour discuss the cosmic origins of Earth’s water, and how the exploration of asteroid Bennu by the OSIRIS-REx mission will help show how Earth became habitable.

April 8: Within An Ocean
Assistant professor of geosciences Diane Thompson highlights how historical information can be harnessed to develop and test innovative solutions for increasing the resilience of coral reef ecosystems at Biosphere 2, and help us better understand climate change.

April 15: The Colorado River
Professor in the UA School of Geography, Development and Environment Connie Woodhouse explains the facts of the Southwestern United States' most vital water resource: The Colorado River.

April 22: Beneath Our Feet
Assistant professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences Laura Condon explains how the water beneath our feet supports ecosystems and human systems alike and the role that it has to play in the future.

April 29: Society and a Changing Climate
Associate professor in the UA School of Geography, Development and Environment Kevin Anchukaitis discusses society's largest climate challenges involving water: both too much, causing flooding, and too little, causing drought. How can lessons from past civilizations illustrate future dangers and potential solutions?

For more information, click here. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Posted By on Tue, Mar 23, 2021 at 3:27 PM

Steve Roach, Tucson’s resident electronic music pioneer, is hosting a three-day gathering of “sonic innovators and ambient architects” this weekend. SoundQuest Fest runs from Friday, March 26 to Sunday, March 28, and will include a variety of local and international musicians, including Robert Rich, Serena Gabriel, Erik Wøllo, Michael Stearns, Madhavi Devi and more.

SoundQuest Fest is a free livestream concert series of ambient, New Age and electronic music that will run as a “continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder-worlds and deep immersion zones” from Roach’s YouTube channel.

Roach describes the music festival’s mission is to "create three days of global connection, togetherness, and inspiration through the power of sound and vision during this consequential and unique moment in time.”

Each night before the opening concert, "Timeroom TV" will feature music videos, sponsor features and interviews from the Soundquest musicians and more.

SoundQuest Fest debuted as a live festival in Tucson in 2010. But this online edition allows for performances from musicians around the world, all while keeping spectators safe.

Performing musicians: Robert Rich, Steve Roach, Michael Stearns, Erik Wøllo, Ian Boddy, Jeff Greinke, Chuck van Zyl, Serena Gabriel, Chris Meyer (Alias Zone), Nathan Youngblood, Will Merkle, Caldon Glover, Tony Obr, Howard Givens, Madhavi Devi and Craig Padilla. Audio-visual sets are provided by Bluetech, Matt Black and Daniel Pipitone.

The transcendence begins at 4 p.m. Friday, March 26.

For more information, visit

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Posted By on Wed, Mar 17, 2021 at 11:40 AM

Detail from the cover of Carlson's new book

With a pandemic, nationwide protests, record-breaking weather events and political upheaval, it’s no wonder the past 12 months saw record gun sales across the nation. In 2020, the FBI conducted nearly 40 million background checks for gun purchases, an increase of 40% from 2019.

In the same year, Jennifer Carlson, a University of Arizona associate professor of sociology, earned a National Science Foundation grant to document the surge in American gun purchases. This resulted in her latest book, "Policing the Second Amendment: Guns, Law Enforcement and the Politics of Race."

Ahead of a weekly webinar series with gun experts, UA highlighted some of Carlson’s research and work.

“Gun sellers' reports about why people were buying guns related to uncertainty. The fact that people were going to the grocery store and there was no toilet paper, that places were shut down, people were getting laid off – there is this sense of uncertainty and chaos,” Carlson told the university. “The striking aspect of 2020, though, is that this becomes a moment when guns become appealing to a much broader sector of the population who either thought about getting a gun but never took that step, or were adamantly opposed to guns and gun ownership.”

Carlson spoke with gun sellers who reported seeing more gun purchases from first-time gun owners, including women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community.

“With this shift to first-time gun buyers, I think the question is: Does owning a gun make you part of gun culture?” Carlson said. “You may buy a gun in the context of acute insecurity when you find that for the first time in your life you can't go to the store and buy toilet paper, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you've invested in the broader political project that's represented by pro-gun politics. So I think that's a question that's still waiting to be unraveled."

The next webinar takes place at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 23, and will cover gun culture and gun violence during coronavirus. The final webinar will be 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 30, and will cover guns and democracy.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2021 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge COURTESY PCPL
Courtesy PCPL

Twice a year, the Pima County Public Library selects a local writer in residence to teach writing workshops and hold office hours for the community. For the upcoming spring semester, PCPL has selected Gregory McNamee, a local writer, photographer and journalist who has released multiple books on the culture and history of Arizona.

McNamee’s selection marks the 11th writer in residence since PCPL started the program in 2016. The residence is open to authors of any genre, and previous writers in residence include Alice Hatcher, J.M. Hayes, Janni Lee Simner, Susan Cummins Miller and Tucson Weekly's Margaret Regan.

Due to COVID, the writer in residence office hours will be conducted over Zoom in 30-minute blocks. McNamee will offer these one-on-one consultations every Tuesday from 9 to 11 a.m. and Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. But there will be no sessions offered on Thursday, Feb. 11.

During his tenure, McNamee will also host three virtual workshops:

"I'm fond of the program because it embodies so much of the library's mission," said Holly Schaffer, PCPL community relations manager. "It allows the community to learn about writing in different styles and genres. It really demystifies the process of writing."

The Writer in Residence Program is funded by the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records, a division of the Secretary of State, with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Posted By on Tue, Dec 15, 2020 at 4:26 PM

click to enlarge PHOTOS BY JEFF GARDNER
Photos by Jeff Gardner
The annual Luminaria Nights celebration is one of Tucson Botanical Gardens' largest events. The gardens, illuminated by thousands of paper lanterns, are filled with holiday decorations, local musicians, food and drinks, and even Santa.

COVID-19 threatened to entirely remove this beloved event from the calendar. But TBG reworked their plans and are instead hosting "Wanderland," a similar event with extra precautions. Much like Luminaria Nights, Wanderland sees the gardens filled with holiday lights and decor, but there are no performers and capacity is greatly reduced.

As the name suggests, guests are encouraged to move through the park rather than gather around performers as in years past, for the sake of social distancing.

Instead of the usual jazz bands and carolers, the gardens are still featuring some of the Dia de los Muertos sculptures from their "La Calavera Catrina" exhibit among the Christmas lights.

The Tucson Botanical Gardens' Wanderland takes place Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. through Sunday, Jan. 3. Tickets are $15. Reservations Required. For more information, visit