Monday, December 21, 2020

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2020 at 11:30 AM

PHOENIX – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a towering figure in the fight against discrimination based on gender, and her death Sept. 18 was a blow to many women who reverently refer to her as the Notorious RBG. On the three-month anniversary of Ginsburg’s death, women across the state continue to remember her legacy.

Cronkite News asked six Arizona women to reflect on how their lives have been affected by Ginsburg, 87, who served 27 years on the Supreme Court and was a founding counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project, which resulted in the high court’s 1971 decision that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment applies to women.

Each of the women posed for a portrait wearing a jabot, which was popularized by Ginsburg. Text, photos and audio by Hope O’Brien:

click to enlarge Emily Parker
Emily Parker

Emily Parker

Emily Parker, 29, a law student at Arizona State University with a masters in women’s history, said Ginsburg’s achievements for equality loom large in American history and are especially meaningful for anyone who has worked in women’s rights.

During my time in graduate school, I was aware of who she was because her decisions have been very significant in terms of the trajectory of women’s rights and liberties in the United States.

The ability to complicate her as a person and understand her; not just as a litigator and this women’s rights advocate in her work as a justice, but just the fact that she, in her approach to law, is very complex. She is known in her later years as being a sort of activist justice, which is a phrase that tends to evoke the idea that someone is going out of their way to make changes. Her approach to her decisions was not, “OK, I’m on the Supreme Court, how would I like to remake the law?” Her approach to being on the Supreme Court was to take a precise and exacting approach to the case at bar.

She is unique in the sense that she appealed to people that were really drawn in by her record as a litigator on women’s rights and gender equality issues. But she also was very limited and exacting in the way that she made decisions, which is something kind of often associated with more conservative justices. So I think it’s the fact that she has always made a point in her role as a judge to not say, “OK, we’re going beyond the scope of the question at issue.”

What was your initial reaction to news of her death?

I started crying because this was so horrible and so tragic on so many levels, and after you get through the initial period of being sad about the fact that someone you idolize and looked up to has passed away, obviously concerns about the implications for that in terms of the composition of the court going forward set in. But it is one of those things that you just never forget.

click to enlarge Madison Alonzo
Madison Alonzo

Madison Alonzo

Having grown up in a culture where she says women feel less important than men Madison Alonzo, 20, a first-generation Mexican-American and Arizona State University student, said Ginsburg became an example of how women can work past discrimination.

Coming from a culture that is heavily submissive of women, it was astonishing to see such a strong woman persevere through a male-dominated career. It was comforting to know that there was someone in an influential position in the world that was fighting for me and my rights as a woman.

I knew a lot, but quite frankly not enough. She was not heavily mentioned in the public education system, and most of the information I know is because I went out of my way to learn about her. Much like any public figure, after she passed I was brought to light on certain aspects of her life and career that I never knew about prior to her passing.

I loved learning about the endurance and strength she had as a wife, mother and diplomat. She never stopped working and caring for others’ well-being. She exemplifies what it means to be a good person.

I was with a group of friends trying to relieve some of our COVID-19 anxiety and depression when the news hit. When we read the news, we were all scared and heartbroken. I knew what her death would mean for the Supreme Court and for (the Trump) administration and I was scared thinking about what will happen to fundamental rights for minority groups, if a conservative nomination goes through.

click to enlarge Susan B. Castner
Susan B. Castner

Susan B. Castner

Because she was involved in a case against sex discrimination in pay, business owner Susan B. Castner, 66, had a different perspective on the true impact of the work done by Ginsburg, whom she had looked up to for much of her youth.

The first time I heard about her, and you will laugh about this, was a case in 1976 when I had just graduated from college. And the case that drew my interest was somewhere in Oklahoma and it was about beer. It was a law that said that women could buy beer when they were 18, but men had to wait until they were 21, and as a college graduate that was really important to me at the time. And I didn’t even know at the time that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was going to grow into such an icon.

The first house that I ever bought was in 1978 and I bought it with my now-husband, but we bought the house as equal partners. And I didn’t know it at the time, but I couldn’t have gotten credit or bought a house if his name wasn’t on the mortgage documents. It is things like that that have changed everything that women take for granted now, and it was because of her.

I was being paid 30% less than my male predecessor, and because he was violating my civil rights in not paying me equally, in my mind I believed that I deserved an attorney. That is what I eventually made law on was the appointment of counsel as a plaintiff in a Title XII case. So now if you find yourself a victim of sex discrimination, you can site Castner v. Cablevision, and if you meet the full requirements you will have an attorney appointed to you. And I made law on that in the same courtroom that RBG did for the first time and we were both fighting sex discrimination.

I think the fact that if you were a female in the military you didn’t get an equal housing allowance was nuts, and if you look at a lot of laws that she worked on you scratch your head and go “What?”

And it’s that same thing, she looked at them through the lens of how it affected both sexes, and I think that is why she was such a brilliant attorney and justice. I think she knew in her heart of hearts that she wouldn’t make law if she knew it was bad for women, she had to show how it was bad for everybody.

I was sitting working on something on a deadline and my husband came in and said, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg just died.” And I put my hands in front of my face and just started screaming, I started howling, and he thought I had a stroke. He said I sounded like a wounded animal. And it wasn’t because of the Supreme Court, not because of this experience that we’re going through right now (the nomination and eventual confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the high court), but because she was so amazing.

click to enlarge Mary Zatezalo
Mary Zatezalo

Mary Zatezalo

Ginsburg played a key role in the life of Mary Zatezalo, 26, an instructor of communications at Gilbert Community College, a small business owner and real estate agent. She said Ginsburg influenced more than just who Zatezalo became, but also her ability as a woman to get to where she is now.

When I was growing up, I was fortunate enough to be raised by strong independent females, so it wasn’t uncommon to have conversations on things going on politically or just things going on in the news. She was a name in my household and I feel very fortunate for that.

To me, (author and activist) Mona Eltahawy talks about how one of the seven necessary sins for women is ambition, and I think that is what RBG demonstrated. She committed her whole life to something that not only was work, but was something that she loved. Being able to exist in the spaces that she did, and especially in regards to femininity in how you can still have a family, have an extremely successful marriage and still be successful in your career. And I think it was one of the first times that we saw a female take that lead role, especially in her family unit, and I think that was really special in what she did.

I think about it in terms of independence. Females were kept dependent in order to control, and as soon as just a little bit of wiggle room was given, look at the amazing things that women have achieved in the past hundred years because of women who were able to fight in a public space like her. And there are so many parts of my identity, my career and my existence that I really owe to her.

I think she will be one of those people where you remember where you were when she died. At first, my reaction was shock because I knew what was going to follow (the fight to replace Ginsburg on the court). So part of me was just distant from it, I didn’t want to talk about it, I didn’t want to explain anything or fight with anyone, and so I took a weekend to just sit with it because I knew what was to follow.

click to enlarge Nora Thompson
Nora Thompson

Nora Thompson

With an interest in politics from a young age, Nora Thompson, 21, saw Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a role model in her high school years. She’s now at Arizona State University seeking a career in public service and public policy.

I grew up in a very politically minded family. So, throughout my whole life, I always knew, “Oh yeah, there’s the Supreme Court,” but I think really it was high school. It was specifically this economics class that I took over the summer and I didn’t really learn anything but we talked about the Supreme Court. So, I wrote a paper on the Obergefeld v. Hodges case that legalized gay marriage, and I remember just looking into her more, and I loved her, she was my idol at that point in my life.

Seeing Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a lawyer was insane, and it was crazy what the men on the Supreme Court said to her about things that women should and shouldn’t be allowed to do. And she was arguing for women’s rights and for us to be able to do things like take out a mortgage without a husband signing off on it.

And she stood there and held her ground and said, “Actually, it’s ridiculous that we’re not allowed to and women shouldn’t be treated this way and should be treated equally to men.”

I always thought of her positions in the Supreme Court as a really comforting voice and just as a voice of reason. And though it wasn’t all the time, because I can’t sit here and say to myself that everything she has ever done has been amazing, I think that she was still this guiding light and voice of reason in a very chaotic time and very chaotic society right now.

It was always nice to be like, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg said this very eloquently and very reasonably.” And I think her ability to still be civil with the other people on the Supreme Court will be missed.

I hope that we can remember her as the strong woman that fought for equal rights and fought for equal protection. Right now, I think that her death is being overshadowed by whether a new Supreme Court justice should be allowed to be appointed and just everything that is happening in the political world right now.

And I would also want people to remember her as a Jewish woman because there are a lot of things going around about her being up in heaven as an angel, and while it’s all very sweet, it isn’t necessarily the idea of a Jewish afterlife. And so I would want us to remember that she was this big, strong, amazing woman who was also Jewish.

I was driving home and so I had stopped to check my phone at a particularly long red light and my mother had texted me “Did you hear about RBG?” And I knew that it couldn’t be good, and when I got the news alert I felt this sadness and emptiness that I feel when a family member passes away. I was left extremely nervous as to what would happen next with the state of the world.

Nan Inskeep

Former registered nurse and women’s health educator Nan Inskeep, 89, watched when Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed and described her confirmation as one that provided relief knowing that women would have a louder voice in the government.

When was the first time you heard the name Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
I am a very political person, and when I was a little girl, my grandfather was Republican and our family was Democrat and so I would always bet him 10 cents on who would win the elections. And so I followed politics, which included the Supreme Court, so I watched all of those votes. Then when our wonderful Ruth Bader came, I knew I could rest easy. I cannot really pinpoint when I first heard of her, but being a woman and watching what she did in the Supreme Court, I knew she was vital to it.

What do you think made her so different?
She was so fair. And interesting about her life is that her best friend on the court was (Justice Antonin) Scalia and he was an arch-conservative. They had the opposite swing on every position they held and yet they maintained a friendship through it all, and I think that says something about her, too.

She was so smart and then she used that to further justice, rights, and she was the kind of Supreme Court Justice that every justice should be.

It’s going to be hard. And they are going to grow up without Ruth Bader Ginsburg, they certainly should know about her because she will carry that reputation with her forever and ever. But it’s a matter of what is fair, and as I said she was so fair, they need to look at what is right for everybody and not what is simply right for you.

I want them to remember that she never gave up. And to feel the way you do and to believe in what you are feeling and to stand up for it no matter what. It’s a gift, and not everybody can do it, and hopefully with somebody like her as a mentor, because even though she won’t be here, her teachings, writings and reputation will always be a part of the Supreme Court.

Just horror. I remember someone calling to tell me and thinking, “She finally can’t do it anymore.” We watched her go through every single one of those cancers and she could always do it. We watched her go through Harvard for her husband. Oh, my goodness, that woman was exemplary! And yet fair. It was a terrible day for us. But we always know we had a champion.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Posted By on Wed, Dec 16, 2020 at 11:30 AM

PHOENIX – Attorney Ehsan Zaffar is leading an initiative to establish a civil rights center at Arizona State University to target inequality in the U.S. To do so, Zaffar envisions a range of products, services and programs – perhaps including Yelp-like reviews of how Arizona companies address social justice issues.

“Inequality is the greatest social, political, economic problem facing this country today,” said Zaffar, a civil rights and civil liberties official with the Department of Homeland Security who will join ASU in January. “I think our country is headed back to a time when institutions were powerless to fix the problems in the country. There’s a lack of trust.”

He hopes the center’s work will help strengthen institutions by encouraging them to be more responsive to the public and to produce more factual information about social justice issues.

Zaffar said his work at the center, which will include fundraising, also could examine how news and social media cover certain communities in ways that affect lawmakers, analyze emergency response times in communities of color and explore the gender pay gap in U.S. companies.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2020 at 3:30 PM

click to enlarge Alex Gordon and Aryelle Lipscomb, who are part of the Student PIRGs New Voters Project, vote safely and in style on Election Day. - COURTESY OF ANGELIQUE HERRING
Courtesy of Angelique Herring
Alex Gordon and Aryelle Lipscomb, who are part of the Student PIRGs New Voters Project, vote safely and in style on Election Day.

LOS ANGELES – Young people stepped up on two fronts this Election Day: volunteering to replace older poll workers who feared exposure to COVID-19 and pushing more of their peers – an age group with historically low turnout – to register and vote.

Across the Southwest, such organizations as Future Leaders of America, California Campus Vote Project and Arizona PIRG Students New Voters Project worked until the last minute to help students register to vote, answer questions and inform voters about initiatives on the ballot, including Proposition 15 in California.

For 18-year-old Yesenia Ramirez Garcia of Goleta, casting her first vote was a proud moment, as she is the first in her family to vote and the first to go to college. Identity and background affect Garcia’s political advocacy, she said, because her identity is political.

“When being queer is something that is debated, when being a person of color and your protections is something debated. It definitely impacts my background, it impacts who I’m going to pick,” Garcia said.

She is one of many youth leaders who spent the past year working to boost voter turnout among people 18 to 29. Throughout the summer, she worked with Future Leaders of America, an organization that provides engagement opportunities, education experiences and personal development for Latino youth and their families in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. She worked the phones for Proposition 15, which would have required commercial and industrial properties, except for commercial agriculture, to be taxed based on market value rather than purchase price.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Posted By on Tue, Oct 27, 2020 at 11:30 AM

click to enlarge The United Nations has campaigned to close the gender pay gap, which is estimated to be 23% globally. Experts in the U.S. say efforts to close the gap need to combine government and company policies with worker collaborations. - UN WOMEN/RYAN BROWN
UN Women/Ryan Brown
The United Nations has campaigned to close the gender pay gap, which is estimated to be 23% globally. Experts in the U.S. say efforts to close the gap need to combine government and company policies with worker collaborations.

PHOENIX – The pay gap is confoundingly stubborn: On average across the United States, women make 81 cents for every dollar a man makes, with the size of the gap varying based on a woman’s job, family status and race.

In Arizona, women fare slightly better than the national data, making 84 cents for every dollar a man is paid. That places the state at No. 11 for the smallest gender wage gap, according to a 2020 study by When the wage gap is broken down by race, many women are making even less.

Asian women overall are paid the most, matching the Arizona average of 84 cents. The gap grows for Black women, who make 65 cents on the dollar, and Hispanic women, who make 55 cents.

The National Committee on Pay Equity, which advocates for the elimination of the race and gender pay gaps, created a formula to determine how far into the following year different demographics of women would have to work to make the same as a man, on average, at the end of the year. They call each of these days “equal-pay day.”

Tags: , ,

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2020 at 10:43 AM

click to enlarge Women of Influence - COURTESY PHOTO
Courtesy photo
Women of Influence
When Southern Arizona’s most influential female leaders think back on their success, they think about their mothers, daughters, co-workers and industry colleagues who helped them achieve their dreams.

These women shared their gratitude with those they love most at the annual Women of Influence Awards, hosted by Inside Tucson Business and its parent company, Tucson Local Media.

Nearly 600 guests packed into the ballroom of Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment, Sahuarita Wednesday evening to celebrate just a handful of accomplished women who make a difference in their communities every day.

From 18 different categories spanning all types of professions, three female nominees were invited to the formal dinner with their friends and family. One was ultimately chosen to be the winner of their category by a panel of three judges.

The event’s keynote speaker, Joan Bonvicini, is a former University of Arizona women’s basketball coach who led her team to the 1996 Women’s National Invitation Tournament Championship, was named the 1998 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, and was inducted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame and the UA Sports Hall of Fame.

Bonvicini encouraged the audience to think about the people in their lives who helped them find inspiration and success.

She reflected on growing up in the 1960s and ’70s, when female sports were not widely accepted by society as they are today. Her parents knew she was a talented athlete, and found a support system of coaches and players to help challenge her and build her into the successful athlete she became.

“The four most important words you can ever say to someone is ‘I believe in you,’” Bonvicini said. “Whether you say those words as a coach to a player, a parent to a child, to your spouse or partner, or to your co-worker or employee. Those four words can make a huge difference.”

Many of the night’s winners took Bonvicini’s advice, using their moments in the spotlight to thank their own support systems, particularly the women who influenced their lives and careers.

Kate Marquez, executive director of the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, won the Arts and Culture Champion Award and had her mother, Diana, accept the award on her behalf. Kate sent a message to the crowd saying her mother inspired her to pursue a career in service and fostered her passion for the arts.

Founder and Medical Director of Tula Wellness and Aesthetics, Dr. Arianna Sholes-Douglas, won the Business Owner of the Year Award and said her mother was her own “woman of influence.” Her business focuses on women’s health and beauty, and Sholes-Douglas incorporates integrative and functional medical therapies into her practice.

“Thank you, especially to my [Women Presidents’ Organization] sisters, because you believe in me,” Sholes-Douglas said. “And I didn’t feel deserving, but I appreciate that you believe that I am deserving.”

Minority Business Owner Award winner Samreen Khan also thanked her mother, who came from Toronto to support her.

“I feel like I’m in the best century possible, the 21st century, where I’ve got every possible opportunity, and I feel like I’m in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, that has allowed me to become what I am today,” Khan said.

Lani Baker, Vice President of Finance at Holualoa Companies, won the Real Estate Champion Award and spoke about the importance of women empowerment.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have many influential women to look up to, but most importantly, my mom,” she said. “It’s important for all of us to continue to promote and help women advance and thrive in our community, and particularly, for us women to continue to have each others’ backs.”

The Women of Influence Awards’ highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, was given to Peggy Johnson, executive director of The Loft Cinema on West Speedway Boulevard.

Johnson was one of a small group of investors who bought The Loft in 2002, when it was in danger of closing for good. Since then, she has worked to transform the theater from a privately-owned business to a nonprofit cultural center that features foreign, independent and documentary films.

The Loft also hosts many community and educational events throughout the year with film industry professionals and scholars. During her speech, Johnson said The Loft works with 150 different community organizations each year.

“The reason I was given this award is because of The Loft,” Johnson said. “The Loft is an amazing community asset. Wherever your friends are in the world, they don’t have anything like The Loft. They may have a movie theater that’s great, but The Loft is clearly unique in everything that it does.”

She thanked her family members, including her son JJ, who is the Loft’s marketing director, and Jeff Yanc, their long-time program manager.

“You will be hearing about The Loft’s plans to expand and all the things that we plan to do, but I’m super proud of what we’ve accomplished so far,” Johnson said.

Tags: , , , , ,

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2020 at 10:41 AM

click to enlarge Julie Valenzuela won the Administrative Champion award at the 2020 Women of Influence awards on March 4. - COURTESY PHOTO
Courtesy photo
Julie Valenzuela won the Administrative Champion award at the 2020 Women of Influence awards on March 4.
Julie Valenzuela's commitment to the Amphitheater school district is as strong as her commitment to education itself. It is this passion for local that led to her holding multiple education positions, from teacher to administration to where she is now: principal of La Cima Middle School. This passion also resulted in her winning the award for Administrative Champion at Tucson Local Media and Inside Tucson Business' 2020 Women of Influence awards ceremony, held at Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment, Sahuarita on Wednesday, March 4.

Valenzuela is an Amphi High School graduate herself, and said one of the reasons she wanted to return to the district to teach is because of the closeness of Amphi. Her two sons even attended Coronado K-8 before graduating from Canyon del Oro High School. Because it’s a smaller district, she says it’s like a family.

“We get to know everyone really well and everybody gets along,” Valenzuela said. “We only have 21 schools, and we all work together very closely. A lot of people working at Amphi actually graduated from Amphi, and it’s because of our great schools, hardworking teachers and amazing support from the administration.”

However, education is Valenzuela’s second career. She said she never thought she'd be a principal, and grew up wanting to be a secretary. Upon graduation from Amphi, she worked at an accounting firm as a secretary, and then as a bookkeeper. But she returned to school to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona, and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University.

Valenzuela then worked as a teacher at Prince Elementary School for 15 years before becoming an instructional coach for the district for two years. She then served as an assistant principal at both the middle and high school levels, before becoming principal of La Cima in 2017.

“Up until the year before I became an administrator, I still didn’t think I’d be an administrator,” she said. “After coaching, I was planning on going back into the classroom, because I learned so many amazing things from all the teachers in our district. So, I was planning on going back into the classroom and using all those great things I learned from other teachers. But then a door opened, and here I am.”

Valenzuela admits it’s difficult for her to talk about herself and her successes, and even kept her acceptance speech short upon winning Administrative Champion. However, she did thank her co-workers: La Cima’s counselor Suzanne Graun who nominated her for the award, and Gayle Taylor, her assistant principal.

“I really love the people I work with at the school,” Valenzuela said. “I love the students and the staff, and it just makes it easy to work when you have people that you respect. It’s easy to go to bat for them and make it a place for them to feel comfortable.”

Valenzuela also attributes her success to having an “open door policy” with her staff and students, wanting them to feel comfortable coming to talk with her.

“I try to be there for my staff and listen and do whatever I can to help them if at all possible, all while keeping in mind that everything we do is in the best interest of the kids,” Valenzuela said.

She says her core educational belief is that "all students can learn." They may learn differently and at different times, but “the sky is the limit” in regard to their learning. In addition, all students should feel welcome and cared about.

“It’s all about working to have strong relationships with kids,” Valenzuela said. “Because if you have strong relationships with kids, that’s half the battle. And once those relationships are strong, kids will be very responsive to learning.”

Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 9:29 AM

click to enlarge Find out who you are to others and to yourself, onstage and off, with workshops by Shannon Stott at the Cactus Flower Comedy Festival. - STEVE ROGERS PHOTOGRAPHY
Steve Rogers Photography
Find out who you are to others and to yourself, onstage and off, with workshops by Shannon Stott at the Cactus Flower Comedy Festival.
Cactus Flower blooms Feb. 27-30

Created and performed entirely by funny female, binary and gender-nonconforming humans, the four-day Cactus Flower Comedy Festival will spark loads of laughs in anyone who is not looking for a lot of dick jokes.

The event, which takes place at Tucson Improv Movement's TIM Comedy Theatre, offers storytelling, stand-up, improv and sketch shows to watch, and workshops to exercise your own sense of humor and improve listening and communications skills. All shows are $5 or $7. An all-festival pass is $30, and workshops are $40 each. Reservations are via

Workshop leader Shannon Stott says she has seen improv change lives on and off the stage. She has performed and taught improv for 20 years and now regularly highlights that crossover.

The most important thing, she says, is “to listen to yourself and answer yourself honestly. Your body tells you so much information, and because of society's eyes (a.k.a. the audience) we often don't listen. The consequences can be painful.

That self-awareness makes all the difference in relationships. "Understanding what your relationship is to anyone will inform your scene," Stott says. "Much of the feedback I get sounds like ‘I didn't know I was doing that’. When you are unaware, choices are often made for you, on stage and off.”

Regarding festivals focused on women and non-gender-conforming performers, Stott says, “We must have safe places to practice being strong, outspoken, leading, being loud, silly, emotional and ourselves. Once you experience being heard and seen, you can recognize and internalize it so you can seek it out, on and off stage.”

The CFCF kicks off at 7:30 pm. Thursday, Feb. 27, with F*sT! (Female Storytellers) sharing their best of 2019. It’s likely to be the Fest’s first sell-out. The 9 p.m. show opens with improv duo Allreddy, featuring standup comedian Allana Erickson. Omega creates a long-form Harold, then Baby Fish Mouth Omega performs original sketches.

The 7:30 show Friday, Feb. 28, opens with duo team, I Was Promised Magic. Gretchen Wirges and Ally Tanzillo follow as Ex-Boyfriend. Then comes Phoenix’s RatQween, spontaneously formed at a recent Phoenix festival for female/non-binary/gender non-conforming people.

At 9 p.m., TIM’s premier team, Soapbox, create scenes inspired by true anecdotes from the lives of community leader and former mayoral candidate Randy Dorman and the Fest’s two nationally recognized workshop leaders, Stott and Jill Bernard. A founding member of Minneapolis’ HUGE Theatre, Bernard has been a principal in that city’s ComedySportz franchise since 1993. She has taught improv all over the US, Europe and South America.

Following the Soapbox, at 10:30 p.m., Nicole Riesgo hosts Beginners and Veterans, a standup showcase featuring Rebecca Tingley, creator of the Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby comedy panel, and her frequent co-host, Cami Anderson. Also performing is Steena Salido, co-creator of Tucson's popular standup show Cunts Being Cunts Talking about Cunts and the all-Spanish-Language standup and improv show, Carcajadas, that features TIM’s Como Se Dice team. The rest of the bill comprises comedians who completed TIM’s standup class led by Mo Urban, founder or co-founder of five comedy series in Tucson. Graduates are multiple Moth award-winning storyteller Molly McCloy, TIM Company improviser Holly Hilton, and high-energy newcomer Brandi Dierinzo.

On Saturday at 6, TIM indie teams Three-Headed Monster, #PurseWine and Rough Around the Curves lead up to Unscrewed Theater’s From the Top musical improv team. At 7:30, Urban hosts an especially diverse CFCF Stand Up Comedy Showcase, featuring Jackie Kibler, Andrea Carmichael, Andrea Salazar, Savannah Hernandez and Bethany Evans.

The 7:30 p.m. show features Como Se Dice, TIM’s premier all-female team The Riveters and Jill Bernard performing her one-woman show, Drum Machine. It’s described as a “sweepingly epic, unscripted musical featuring multiple characters.” It’s been featured in more than 40 improv festivals.

Stott and Bernard each lead two workshops on Saturday and Sunday.

The Switch switches to Skybar

Fans of The Switch, where comedians riff off-the-cuff on suggestions texted in by the audience, must remember to head to Skybar at 8:45 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27. The event has moved following a long run on Mondays at The Hut. The lineup for the debut includes Phoencians Anwar Newton and Erick Biez.

Standups sing, now

Both Tucson’s improv companies have musical teams, and there’s the child of Musical Mayhem known as One Rehearsal Short. Young, brash, awkward and twisted genius Jeremy Segal now has created Show Tune ShowCase, in which seven favorite Tucson Comedians sing show tunes in their sets. We hold our breath for voices we didn’t know existed, but Mo Urban’s always knocks us out in her rock duo. Others in this debut include Joe Tullar, Steena Salido, Tim Maggard, Eli W.T., Jesus Otamendi and Chris Quinn. It’s $5 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 29 at The Screening Room.

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

Rebecca Tingley’s no-holds-barred panel of comedy experts returns to Club Congress at 8 p.m., Tuesday March 3. The show pokes fun at taboos, silliness, awkward moments and other somewhat less than graphic aspects of the act, (because, after all, we all know the actual mechanics). Panelists and guests include Cami Anderson, Paul Fox and Charles Ludwig.

Even More Laughs!

Friday, Feb. 28, standup with Andrew Rivers (see last week’s Laughing Stock), 8 p.m., The O ($15, $30 VIP, via; $30, door); Patrick Deguire featuring Zach Pugh, 8 and 10:30 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50, $17.50); and Last Friday - Last Laughs featuring Roxy Merrari, Ali Musa, Phoenix comic Noni Shaney, Battle at the Roast Room winner Allana Erickson, Michael Barnett, Stephanie Lyonga, Jeremy Segal and Eden Nault. Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m.($5 kids and $8 adults),and Free Form Friday Fight Night 9 p.m., Unscrewed Theater (free).

Saturday, Feb. 29, Standup with Patrick Deguire featuring Zack Pugh, 7 and 9:30 p.m., Laff’s Comedy Caffe ($12.50, $17.50). Family-friendly improv with (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m., Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8)

Free Open Mics

Sunday, March 1, 6:30 p.m., The O, and 8 p.m., Chuckleheads in Bisbee.
Monday, March 2, 6:45 p.m., The Surly Wench; 9 p.m., Kava Bar.
Tuesday, March 3, 6:45 p.m., Neighborhood Comedy. The Music Box Lounge.
Wednesday, March 4, 7 p.m., The Screening Room; 8:30 p.m., The Rock.
Thursday, March 5, 8 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe and 8:30 p.m., Rockabilly Grill.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Posted By on Thu, Dec 5, 2019 at 1:00 AM

click to enlarge This is black belt comic Anna Valenzuela who’s performing at The O on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the same time Cristel Alonzo is performing at the Rialto. We need clones. - ANNAVALENZUELA.COM
This is black belt comic Anna Valenzuela who’s performing at The O on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the same time Cristel Alonzo is performing at the Rialto. We need clones.
CBCTAC presents Anna Valenzuela

“Latinas make 54 cents to every white male dollar, which is why I have to take a roll of toilet paper from every business I enter for rest of my life.”

So tweeted Anna Valenzuela recently, making us spew our coffee while holding up a mirror to the privilege in our white feminism. We can expect a whole set of such darkly colorful insights, delivered with authentic warmth and much laughter, at 8 p.m., Saturday, December 7 at The O. Tickets are $5 via Eventbrite.

A legit black belt in karate, Valenzuela slayed the field with snaps on a recent Comedy Central Roast Battle. She appears regularly at the Comedy Store and The Improv and was a favorite at Second City’s Los Angeles Diversity in Comedy Festival. She also hosts two podcasts: 12 Questions, an in-depth look at sobriety, and Bruja-ja, where three Latinas dish on all things Latinx.

A Los Angelean, Valenzuela will be the first touring headliner featured in the cheekily titled comedy show series Cunts Being Cunts Taking About Cunts. Organizers Mo Urban and Steena Salido have lately shortened it to CBCTAC in print, presumably for convenience, because: Why else?

The show opens with an improv set by AllReddy, comprising Allana Erickson-Lopez of Unscrewed Theatre and Katherine Morter. The lineup also includes Phoenician Alice Valpey and Tucson comics Andrea Salazar, Chinna Garza, Em Bowen and Kathie Hedrick.

As at every CBCTAC show, feminine hygiene products will be collected for Project Period, a program of the YWCA of Southern Arizona.

click to enlarge Cristela Alonzo visits with her idol, Dolores Huerta - CRISTELAALONZO
Cristela Alonzo visits with her idol, Dolores Huerta
Cristela Alonzo: My Affordable Care Act

Cristela Alonza performs at 8 p.m., Saturday, December 7, at the Rialto Theatre. Tickets are $19 to $36 at

Alonzo is comedy’s answer to Dolores Huerta, her idol. Her website,, devotes as much space to her causes as to her comedy. She writes, “I am a first-generation American born to an undocumented mother that taught me to love this country. I believe it is my duty to give back and fight so that everyone can get the same thing my family got: a chance.”

And then she quotes Huerta. “Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.”

Alonzo created her own bully pulpit five years ago with Cristela, a network sitcom that she wrote, produced and starred in herself. Soon after, she began guest-hosting the daytime roundtable show, The View. In 2017, she became the first Latina lead in a Pixar film, voicing the part of Cruz Ramirez in Cars 3. Lower Classy, her first standup special, is streaming on Netflix.

Last month a Simon & Shuster imprint published her book, Music to My Years: A Mixtape Memoir of Growing Up and Standing Up. The stories reveal her vulnerability and her challenges, like the tap shoes she made for herself with bottle caps, and how standup comedy helped her process her grief when her mother died.

When not doing comedy, Alonzo devotes her time to activism around immigration, universal healthcare, social justice, HIV AIDS awareness and prevention, reproductive rights, Special Olympics and LUPE, La Union del Pueblo Entero, founded by Huerta with César Chávez. She’s on their board.

From the struggles she sees in others and in her own life, Alonzo crafts comedy that welcomes us into her world with the light of her humanity.

Mishka Shubaly at The Wench

Comedy at the Wench breaks its open-mic format at 7 p.m. Monday, December 9, to bring us comedian and pan-genius Mishka Shubaly.

Best known as a writer and musician, Shubaly has the wits and the wit to have turned a self-made disaster of a life into a livelihood. His childhood broke his heart, youth was a struggle and he was an alcoholic by the time he graduated college at 15. Yet at 22, he received the Dean’s Fellowship from the Master’s Writing Program at Columbia.

A dissolute life ensued, yielding six record albums, one with Brooklyn’s goth, post-punk band, Freshkills. Shubaly’s six Kindle Singles all have been best sellers. In 2016, Public Affairs published his memoir, I Swear I’ll Make It Up To You: A Life on the Low Road. He also teaches writing at the Yale Writers Conference. Luckily, he got sober at 32, inspired by marathon running.

The Wench show also features Jake Flores. Not to be reductive but we’re running out of space. Flores’ website URL says it all: Reservations are $5, or $10 for preferred seating in the show room. These special shows at The Surly Wench have been selling out, so we recommend reservations via on PayPal or @wenchcomedy on Venmo.

Arroyo Café Radio

David Fitzsimmons is having a busy weekend. Last week we wrote about his project for fellow old folks, Still Standing up. Featuring five comedians over 60, the show makes fun of things only old people know about. Take that, millennial smarty-pantses.

To recap, Still Standing Up is at 6 p.m., Sunday, December 8, at Laffs Comedy Caffe. Reservations are $10 via

On December 7, though, at 1 p.m., Fitzsimmons hosts another epic production of his annual Arroyo Café Holiday Radio Show at the Rialto Theatre. More than 20 local celebrities perform a loosely scripted radio play around musical guests and other entertainments and surprises, Including Wilbur Wildcat.

It’s all staged in an old-time radio show format with an iconic reconstruction of a ‘40s microphone. Comedians in the cast include KXCI’s Bridgitte Thum, Mike Sterner, Josiah Osego, Elliot Glicksman, Jay Taylor, Priscilla Fernandez, David Membrila and Bobby Rich. Tickets are $20 via Proceeds benefit three local organizations that help immigrants and Arizona Public Media, which broadcasts the show on Christmas Eve.

Lots More Comedy

Friday, Dec. 6: Standup with Geoff Asmus featuring Brian Mollica at 7 and 9:30 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Improv with Improv 201 and 301 Student showcases at 7:30 p.m. and The Soapbox featuring rugby captain Kristin Pope at 9 p.m. at TIM Comedy Theatre (TIM)($5). Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m., Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8).
Saturday, Dec. 7: Standup with Michael Carbonara at 7 p.m. at Desert Diamond Casino ($27.50 to $47.50) Geoff Asmus featuring Brian Mollica at 7 and 9:30 p.m., at Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Improv with Ugly Sweater Improv and Pilot Season at 7:30 p.m., and the 101 Student Showcase and The Dating Scene at 9 p.m. at TIM ($5). Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m. and musical improv with From the Top at 9 p.m. at Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8).
Monday, Dec. 9: Standup with John Waters at 8 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre ($33 to $110) and Mishka Shubaly with Jake Flores at The Surly Wench.

Free Open Mics

Sunday, Dec. 8, 6:30 p.m., The O, and 8 p.m., Chuckleheads in Bisbee.
Monday, Dec. 9, 7 p.m., Comedy at the Wench, The Surly Wench Pub.
Tuesday, Dec. 10, 6:45 p.m., Neighborhood Comedy at The Music Box Lounge.
Wednesday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m., The Screening Room and 8:30 p.m. at The Mint.
Thursday, Dec.12, 8 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe and 8:30 p.m., Rockabilly Grill.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 2:24 PM

Office of Governor Doug Ducey
Earlier today, Governor Doug Ducey officially signed House Bill 2570, which intends to create a study committee to address the high number of Indigenous women and girls that are killed or go missing each year. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Jennifer Jermaine and passed unanimously in the House and Senate chambers earlier this year.

With Ducey's signature, the committee can begin working toward finding causes and solutions to these crimes, which starts with better collaboration and record-keeping between different law enforcement entities. Those solutions could lead to future legislation introduced to the Arizona legislature.

The committee will include members of state, local and tribal law enforcement, representatives from several Arizona tribes, family members of the murdered and missing women and girls and additional victim advocates.

“In some tribal communities American Indian women face murder rates 10 times the national rate, yet, there is little to no data to show what exactly is happening,” Senator Victoria Steele said in a press release. “We can’t allow our Native sisters to just disappear at this rate and not draw attention to it. Today, we are taking action by shedding light on this issue and finally giving it the attention it deserves.”

Ducey said this crisis has been endured by Indigenous communities "for far too long." He extended thanks to Sen. Steele and Rep. Jermaine for taking on the task of getting this bill passed.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday, July 22, 2019

Posted By on Mon, Jul 22, 2019 at 3:24 PM

click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
Courtesy photo
Local Garage rock/surf-punk rockers Taco Sauce just returned to their Old Pueblo home after a mini tour in the southwest. Ambur Wilkerson had the chance to ask them about the tour and upcoming projects.

Check out Taco Sauce tonight at Club Congress.

1. How's the tour going?

Isabella: So, a few weekends ago we went on the first leg of our mini tour in Las Cruces and El Paso and it was dope! We brought our friend Jenn and she pretty much acted as our photographer and tour manager and the four of us had a ton of fun.

Gabi: Yeah those first few tour dates gave us an idea of how people would react to us outside of Tucson and it was all very positive.

Maya: Loved the food and scenery. Had my first margarita at La Posts in Las Cruces.

2. Where have you been so far on the tour and where are you guys headed?

Gabi: We went to Las Cruces New Mexico (my hometown) and El Paso then we have a few Tucson dates, Phoenix on July 19 and Albuquerque on July 20.

3. What's been your favorite place to perform so far during the tour?

Gabi: We only did two so far since it's a mini tour but Little Toad in Las Cruces and Monarch in El Paso were both very hospitable with a pretty solid crowd who were happy to see us.

4. What's it's been like to go on tour with Seanloui and Maya from YUM?

Isabella: Seanloui is only on the Owls Club date but we play shows with him all the time because he's my best friend and we're very supportive of each other. Maya is a great travel companion. She's very levelheaded and brings a lot of calm to the group.

Gabi: Maya is pretty much our rock already. She's so in tune with us on stage and in day to day life. And she's hilarious and badass so it's an honor.

5. How do you want audience members to feel after attending one of the shows?

Isabella: Energized, like they can fuck shit up and take on the world and catcallers and say fuck you to anyone you want to say fuck you to.

Maya: I want them to be in awe and to have had a good time but I don't want them to walk away feeling nothing. As long as it evokes a reaction I'm happy.

Gabi: Yeah I just want to get a reaction. I'd be just as thrilled to see people wanna fight me after hearing my lyrics, especially because a lot of our music targets misogynists and racists, but mainly I'm so excited to see how our music just gets people pumped and makes women feel empowered and validated.

6. What are some upcoming projects you're working on?

Gabi: We're in the studio with Ty Engle working on some new singles currently and also writing new songs, a few of which we're playing at tges6e upcoming shows. I'm also trying to finish scoring the short movie La Motochorra for one of my best friends so I'm very excited/exhausted right now.

Tags: , , , , , , ,