Friday, January 15, 2021

Posted By on Fri, Jan 15, 2021 at 12:30 PM

click to enlarge Rich Alday talks with his PCC baseball team. - COURTESY PIMA COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Courtesy Pima Community College
Rich Alday talks with his PCC baseball team.

In his sports column in Explorer and Marana News, longtime TW columnist Tom Danehy pays tribute to the late Rich Alday, who coached baseball at Pima Community College and softball at Ironwood Hills High School. An excerpt:

It is said that a good coach can coach anything. The story is told of Vince Lombardi, fresh out of college, being asked to coach a high-school basketball team. After admitting that he had never even seen a basketball game before, Lombardi studied a basketball rule book and then proceeded to coach the team to the State championship game.

After coaching baseball for 40 years, Alday pulled a late-in-life switch and became the softball coach at Ironwood Ridge High School. All he did there was go 107-33 in four years, guiding the Nighthawks to Class 5A State championships in 2014 and 2016.

Alday, 71, had been battling cancer. He and his wife, Norma, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last July. In 1995, the couple lost their beloved son, Ambrose, to cancer at the age of 16. Rich is a Tucson legend. He knew everyone and everyone knew him. He will be missed.

Read the whole thing here.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Posted By on Thu, Dec 17, 2020 at 12:47 PM

Scott Kerr, a.k.a The Vinyl Wizard - KMKR 99.9
KMKR 99.9
Scott Kerr, a.k.a The Vinyl Wizard

If you hung out anywhere around Fourth Avenue or downtown Tucson in the past decade, you're most certainly familiar with multi-instrumentalist and KMKR DJ Scott Kerr, a.k.a The Vinyl Wizard.

Kerr, 51, passed away in November.

His friends at KMKR 99.9 FM are celebrating Kerr's beautiful and musical life with a Facebook Live event, featuring DJ sets by DJ Herm Guzman, remembrances from Tucson's creative community and a virtual benefit auction featuring Scott's massive collection of musical gear, instruments, costumes and other mementos. Proceeds will go to the Kerr family and KMKR Radio 99.9 FM.

The event kicks off at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 18.

Click here for more information about the auction and celebration of the Vinyl Wizard's life. 

Friday, August 28, 2020

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2020 at 10:06 AM

Courtesy University of Arizona Athletics
Goodbye, Coach

It’s probably fair to say that Linda Ronstadt is the most-impressive Tucsonan ever born here. And, with his passing late Thursday evening, it’s undeniable that Lute Olson is the most-impressive Tucsonan to have lived and died here. Olson had been in failing health after suffering multiple strokes. He was 85.

There is no way to overstate what Olson did for the University of Arizona, its basketball program, the city of Tucson, and the state of Arizona. He was a towering basketball god, recognizable worldwide for his physical stature, his steely presence on the sidelines, and, most notably, for his perfectly coiffed silver hair. Through work ethic and excellence, he brought status and pride to the community and he was absolutely beloved for his efforts. In a country with several huge metropolises in which an urban sport like basketball can flourish, it’s remarkable that the three meccas of the collegiate sport are Durham, North Carolina; Lexington, Kentucky; and Tucson, Arizona.

Even more than a decade after he stepped down, when a kid in Ivory Coast or Costa Rica, Budapest or Singapore picks up a basketball, they know about Arizona. It’s a legacy well-earned and one cherished by Tucsonans.

Olson took a circuitous route to Arizona after starting his coaching career as a high-school coach in Southern California. It’s rare, but not totally unheard of, for a prep coach to make the leap to a major-college job. He started out coaching high school ball in Minnesota, the state in which he had graduated from Augsburg College. While at Augsburg, he played four years of football and basketball (going by “Luke” Olson). His senior year, he even played a season of baseball and was named the school’s athlete of the year.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 11:30 AM

click to enlarge Jim Counts: 1958-2020 - COURTESY AUSTIN COUNTS
Courtesy Austin Counts
Jim Counts: 1958-2020

James Christopher Counts lived life on his own terms.

The man was born on July 23, 1958 in Birmingham, Alabama, and bled Bama’s crimson red until the day he passed away, Aug. 23, 2020. He was 62 years old.

Like many southern gentlemen, Jim had a charming personality but could be as ornery as the day was long. More often than not, he was generous and kind to those around him and quick with a joke—usually inappropriate— to lighten a somber mood.

He’s best known for owning Nimbus Brewing Company from 2000 until its closing in 2018.

Jim was the youngest of three siblings who spent their formative years living throughout the country and Europe due to their father being an electrical engineer always on the hunt for the higher paying job. He said it was an exciting childhood but moving nearly every school year left him without close friends. Jim wanted to make sure my brother James and I were spared this fate.
In 1989, my father drove us cross country to take a job in the Old Pueblo. He briefly visited Tucson in the mid 1980s and thought it was one of the most beautiful places he had ever encountered in all his travels. The Sonoran Desert is where he wanted his family to settle down and grow roots.

Jim purchased a Hallmark store in a no-so-great shopping center soon after moving to Tucson. He saw the investment as his chance to be a business owner at 32 years old, while buying into a franchise at a rock bottom price. Within a few short years Jim had moved the card shop to a better area and turned business around. He sold the store for a considerable profit in the late 1990s and soon purchased Nimbus Brewing Company in 2000 after his son, James, gave him a tip it was for sale.

My father didn’t start Nimbus—that honor goes to Nimbus Couzin—but he had a vision of what this city’s brewing culture could be while helping kickstart our local craft beer community.
While Nimbus Brewing Company never made the leap from its warehouse location on 44th Street—political and local opposition to the proposed building’s construction site soured the brewery’s move downtown—Jim did open a satellite restaurant, Nimbus Bistro on Tucson’s old Restaurant Row.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2020 at 2:58 PM

Pete Hamill, a journalist, novelist, essayist, editor and educator, died today at age 85. Hamill was a longtime New York City columnist whose byline appeared in the Daily News, New York Post, Village Voice, Newsday and many others. His novels include Forever and Snow in August. He was NYC through and through.

Hamill penned the introduction to Tucson author Tom Miller's collection of essays and articles Revenge of the Saguaro. The Weekly is reprinting it with the kind permission of Miller in Hamell's honor.

Tom Miller found his way west from Washhington, D.C. during the late 1960s, that time in America when revolt was in the air along with a demand for renewal, both fueled by the music of rebellion. Young Americans were saying a collective No to the war in Vietnam. Parents were rejected, the suburbs were rejected, racism was rejected.

But that immense No also contained a very large Yes. The young, Miller among them, were trying very hard to make something new—that is, to establish values and social codes that were more humane, more open, more free. They talked about new ways of living. They started communes. They talked about the land. Some of it was foolish, much of it was adolescent, but a lot of it was touching and real.

The Yes played itself out in the American West. The East came to symbolize decay: physical decay, the collapse of industry and cities, the end of the immigrant myth. The migration into open places was an American migration, with millions of Americans leaving one version of the country and going to another. Tom Miller embraced the borderlands of the Southwest, as if sensing that his own subject matter lay in the buried templates of that beautiful, empty region that had once been Mexico.

He started writing for alternative newspapers, the many weeklies that grew up in the era in homage to—or imitation of—New York’s Village Voice. Those newspapers defined themselves by attitude and tone. They made no pretensions to an impossible objectivity; that was a time, after all, for choosing sides. But they intensely covered those subjects that got scant (or clumsy, or baffled) coverage in the mainstream press: the anti-war movement, drugs, racism, feminism, music, and the people who lived on the margins of the so-called American dream.

Miller was somewhat different; he embraced the subject matter without adopting the furious tone. He was too good a reporter and too fair a man to fall easily into glib ideological ranting, substituting rhetoric for seeing. He loved the Southwest because of what it was, instead of what it was not. But he wasn’t a booster out of the chamber of commerce either. He loved the border towns, from which Mexico had never departed, and celebrated their disorder and danger and tawdriness. He loved the austere pleasures of life in the desert. He loved places like Bisbee, the site of so many heartbreaking nights in the struggle to establish unions. And he wrote about those places with affection for the people who shared his own visions.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Posted By on Tue, Jun 2, 2020 at 3:41 PM

click to enlarge Event organizers Jahmar Anthony and Zion Givens ask the crowd to hold up a fist and observe an 8 minute and 46 second moment of silence for Geroge Floyd during the vigil at the Dunbar Pavilion on June 1, 2020. Floyd was killed Monday, May 25 after a police officer held his knee to the 46-year-old Minneapolis resident's neck for nearly nine minutes. - AUSTIN COUNTS
Austin Counts
Event organizers Jahmar Anthony and Zion Givens ask the crowd to hold up a fist and observe an 8 minute and 46 second moment of silence for Geroge Floyd during the vigil at the Dunbar Pavilion on June 1, 2020. Floyd was killed Monday, May 25 after a police officer held his knee to the 46-year-old Minneapolis resident's neck for nearly nine minutes.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Posted By on Sat, Mar 28, 2020 at 3:45 PM

Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias: 1958-2020. - COURTESY OF PIMA COUNTY
Courtesy of Pima County
Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias: 1958-2020.
Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias died today at age 61.

Elias, a Democrat who has represented District 5 since being appointed to the board in 2002, has been serving as chair of the five-member board.

Justice of the Peace Ray Carroll, who served alongside Elias on the board before declining to seek reelection in 2016, said he respected Elias' commitment and expertise in areas such as healthcare, the environment and housing.

"We had a lot of successes, a lot of disagreements, but we never failed in trying to do our best for our community," Carroll said. "He had a deep understanding of his district and believed in healthy spirit, healthy mind, healthy body."

More details to come.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Posted By on Tue, Jan 28, 2020 at 3:17 PM

Isaac Kirkman - COURTESY
Isaac Kirkman

Born on August, 2, 1979, Isaac Kirkman grew up in Greenville, South Carolina into a military family who moved about regularly.

In a 2015 interview with Cynthia Dagnal-Myron, for The HuffPost, Kirkman described his hometown as a place where “the Civil War never ended.” He encountered bigotry and intolerance. “I was an alien to this world,” he said. “And was treated like one. Bullied. Humiliated. But I was determined to write my way to a better life. I would write my way to freedom.”

"I’m from where the dead vomit red clay/in a seashell splatter, of kudzu and black confetti/where you can hear the sound of slave chains/in the soft foam of surf crashing onto Charleston’s shores/as little white kids with confederate flags/flapping from their bikes, ride happily into the sun/dreaming of the day the south shall rise again/See, I’m from where plantations turned into prisons/the way HIV turns into AIDS/And every cop is a doctor trained to prescribe bullets/to black children and call it the cure.” –Isaac Kirkman

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He spent part of his youth living on the slopes of an active volcano in Sicily, where a beloved teacher, Signora Longo, told him how St. Agatha used breast milk to protect Catania from the volcano’s destructive flows.

A gifted child, Isaac painted and drew, eventually gaining admission to the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in New Jersey.

He also spent long years in the American hospital system, where he was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a hellish genetic condition that causes progressive deterioration of connective tissues throughout the body and intractable pain. He also struggled with depression throughout his life.

A decline in health prompted him to turn his focus to writing. “There remain obstacles,” he said. “But I will make art from them.”

Possessing an open and inquisitive mind, he pored over psychology and occult texts.

Isaac never drove a car. He spent a lot of his time walking, taking in the urban landscape in different ways and always observing.

A troubled teen, for a time he lived on the streets. “I always had a notebook on me,” he said. “Writing on the couch as my friends sold drugs out the front door, sleeping outside, writing descriptions of the junkies and the outlaws, writing metaphors to capture the agony of the ghetto, and the ecstasy of God.”

He found his heart and words—depicting the human struggle towards redemption—on the streets.

After moving to Tucson, Isaac would often walk the streets, in the scorching heat and torrential rains, it mattered not. He'd leave votive candles on shrines and the sites of recent homicides,. “to pay respect to the spirits and religions of the barrios, honoring their losses as well as my own,” he said.

Here in Barrio Santa Rosa, where he lived, he got on the path to sobriety and enrolled in his first and only writing class at The Writers Studio. Soon afterwards he had his first piece of fiction published.

“I never gave up on writing because it was my destiny,” he said. “Because I had to tell the stories of the forgotten. I didn’t come to this through academics. I came from my own grave. I have been beaten humble and beaten pure.”

Isaac’s poetry and prose have appeared in numerous journals: Waxwing, Huffington Post, Thuglit, Tucson Weekly and many others.

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Thursday, August 8, 2019

Posted By on Thu, Aug 8, 2019 at 1:58 PM

click to enlarge Sam Borozan: 1928-2019
Sam Borozan: 1928-2019
The man lovingly referred to by friends and family as “Mr. NAU” will be remembered at a service at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, 1946 E. Lee St.

Sam Borozan, who graduated from the Flagstaff campus in 1957, died on Thursday, July 25. He was 90.

Borozan spent much of the past six decades around Northern Arizona University, working in the financial aid and university’s alumni relations office.

Borozan, who served in the Marine Corp. for six years during the Korean War, was born in Bisbee but raised in Tucson.

He leaves behind his older sister, Milena Parber, 92.  His brothers, Michael and George (a longtime local broadcaster), passed away in years past.

A graduate of Tucson High School, Borozan also spent much of his free time after graduating with a bachelors and two master’s degrees from NAU working as an official in numerous sports for the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Parber described her late younger brother as a kind soul who enlisted in the Marines out of high school, despite having a stomach ulcer that should have disqualified him from serving.

Instead, Borozan worked as a line cook at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, dishing out food to grunts and generals alike.

“I was tickled by his enthusiasm for the job,” Parber said via email. “He sent me an official Marine cookbook, explaining, ‘It’s easy, Micki, just divide everything in the recipe book by a thousand!’”

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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Posted By on Sun, May 12, 2019 at 10:18 AM

Ask anybody who ever experienced success as a football player to describe the coach who had the greatest impact on him and the response will almost always go something like, “Oh man, he was hard on me. He’d yell and scream, get in my face and cuss me out…I loved that dude.”

When you talk to guys who played for Dick Tomey, the former University of Arizona football coach who died Friday at the age of 80 from lung cancer, they generally skip over the preamble and go right to the “I loved that dude.”

This is not to say that Tomey didn’t have the fire and the fury, but he interacted with his players on a more-personal level. One of his best quotes was, “Football isn’t complicated. People are.”
Tomey went out of his way to get to know his players and to try to learn how best to motivate each one. Keith Smith, who shared the quarterbacking duties with Ortege Jenkins during Arizona’s best-ever season, remembered that Tomey somehow treated the two QBs “totally different(ly), but exactly the same.” He was known for his honestly, his compassion and his love of people.

Dick Tomey followed the usual circuitous coaching route, serving as an assistant here and a coordinator there before finally landing his first head coaching job, taking over a woefully bad Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors program. Through force of will and grit, he turned the Warriors into a winner, going 63-46-4 over a 10-year period. What’s funny is that his record on the island averages out to just a little bit better that 6-5, a season record that would follow him around.

While Tomey was building a winner in Honolulu, three time zones to the east, Larry Smith was working wonders in Tucson. Smith had taken over a program that was in the dregs of the Pac-10 AND was in the NCAA doghouse for a variety of violations committed during the previous coach’s tenure. Smith became a local hero when his underdog Cats knocked Arizona State out of a berth in the Rose Bowl in 1982. Smith then built Arizona into something of a power and twice nearly took the Cats to Pasadena on New Year’s Day. It seemed inevitable that Smith would leave for a bigger program. When he did, he did so rather inelegantly to in-conference rival USC.

Arizona then hired Dick Tomey, who was met with a collective “Who?” by Arizona fans. Smith’s last Wildcat team had gone 9-3 and finished the season ranked 11th in the country. Tomey’s first team was the absolute picture of mediocrity, finishing 4-4-3 (back in those days, college games could end in a tie). His next two teams went 7-4 and 8-4, respectively, and Cat fans began to warm to the coach with the folksy charm and preternatural calm.

There was nothing flashy about his teams. The offense scored when it could, special teams did their jobs, but the members of the defense played like their butts were on fire. Two members of the vaunted “Desert Swarm” defense—Tedy Bruschi and Rob Waldrop—are in the College Football Hall of Fame. That 1993 team started a six-year streak in which the Cats won 48 games. (In the 1990s, Tomey’s Wildcats would win more games than any other team in the Pac-10.) It culminated with the 1998 team that went 12-1, missed the Rose Bowl by the flukiest of flukes and ended the season ranked No. 4 in the country.

But when his next two teams went a combined 11-12, the fickle fans called for a change, something most have probably regretted to this day. What has followed is 18 years with a combined record of 103-119 for Arizona football under three coaches (John Mackovic, Mike Stoops and Rich Rodriguez) who won occasionally but mostly brought shame to Arizona with their sideline antics.

A lot of long-time Tucsonans remember Tomey for the way he was off the field. He played in a men’s baseball league, competing against people half his age. And he didn’t play first base or right field; he played catcher, a position that is brutal on an older guy’s knees.

One time I took my daughter to see Tucson legend Linda Ronstadt in concert with Aaron Neville. As the crowd waited for the Tucson Convention Center doors to open, I spotted Tomey and his wife, Nanci. Other coaches might have Big Timed it, huffing and puffing as to why he wasn’t being given special treatment. But Tomey was just part of the crowd. He made small talk with the people around him, always including his wife in the conversation.

I had seen him at press conferences, but I have no idea if he recognized my face. But he asked how I was doing. I introduced my daughter, Darlene. He got a big smile on his face and said, “Father-daughter concert date. That’s so nice.”

I turned to the couple standing behind us and said, “Dick Tomey approves. I’m Father of the Year!”

Tomey’s overall coaching record of 183-145-7 in 29 seasons averages out to 6.3-5. His Arizona record of 95-64 averages out to 6.8-4.8. But those are just numbers. Dick Tomey once won the Provost Award as the UA’s best teacher. I’m pretty sure that’s a record that will never be broken.