Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Posted By on Tue, Oct 4, 2016 at 5:02 PM

It seems like everyone one you see today is glued to a phone or laptop. Many people don't even realize how absent they are from reality because they are constantly checking their Facebook feeds, sending out a quick Tweet at dinner or editing an Instagram photo for hours on end. 

But the question is, are there actually any benefits to "social media" addiction? 

It's all opinion. Many people would probably agree that the overuse of social media today is worrying—but that doesn't mean it isn't (or can't be) an asset to society.

Social media does have a lot of benefits because it allows people to connect and share ideas instantly, while also helping people make connections, from business contacts to new friends. It seems like the pros and cons of social media use are pretty much even —partially because it doesn't seem like people use social media to its full potential. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 1:12 AM

In case you haven't noticed, hardly anyone that lives here is a Tucson Native. I kid you not. You can ask five different people where they are from and you will likely get the following answers: New York, Illinois, Michigan, and two other frozen over states that Satan will never step foot in. Just about everyone comes from somewhere else, and settles in here, ready to take on the hell hot summers like a champ. Because 106 degrees on a good day beats five below zero any day, right? 

Then there are those of us who aren't from here, but were dragged here by our parents as some sort of gentle take on biblical punishment. Our parents did not believe in "Spare the rod, spoil the child," but they did fully buy into "and the meek shall inherit the earth," so this was their way of wearing us down. "Bring the children to the surface of the sun," they said. "Eventually they will be so weak from their futile attempts to leave, they will have everything their hearts desire!" they said. *Insert evil laugh* 

I fall into that second category. Moved here with mom, from the coolest city in the world, New York, when I was 11. I cried when we left; she cried when we landed. Fitting. I had very little say in the matter (read: NONE), and I remember being shocked out of my mind that this desert of death with the silent "C" actually had grocery stores, stop lights, and BUSSES!  But alas, it wasn't The Big Apple, and I tried like hell to go back home. I mean, I couldn't even get a slice of pizza here! What was this place that makes you buy an ENTIRE pizza pie just so you can eat ONE STINKIN' SLICE? Every summer I lobbied, albeit unsuccessfully, for a one way ticket back to my concrete paradise. Every. Damn. Summer. And then finally, I gave up. I admitted defeat. I couldn't have my pizza, but I did have my Eegee's, so I guessed that was better than nothing. Now don't get me wrong, it was no Mario's Italian Ice in a yellow cup with a wooden spoon and the syrupy, sugary bottom—but it was somethin'. 

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Posted By on Thu, Sep 8, 2016 at 5:00 PM

The hyper-American culture of hip-hop has been around for a whopping 40 years, and has gone through countless changes. We’ve heard party music heavily focused on seconds-long drum breaks propelled by two turntables and a DJ, to boom-bap beats, heavy dark samples and witty MCs rhyming about the “trife” life, to extremely melodic and catchy beats paired with rhymes that at times are clever, but at most are one dimensional.

Different times saw different mindsets, different work ethics and different inspirations. Yet, can these disparate minds and styles continue to create simultaneously as the genre itself begins to have a real human history? Can pivotal members of the culture (the old heads like Pete Rock) who have honed in their craft and who represent the old-school exist alongside rappers whose sole purpose is to make cash (the young bucks like Young Dolph) in rap.

In a perfect world, yes. But nothing’s ever easy in hip-hop.

It is good old ageism that’s not allowing old heads and young bucks to happily co-exist? A recent clash between the two suggests no way. The 44-year-old Pete Rock, who’s been creating hip-hop since the late ’80s and is one of the most influential hip-hop producers on earth, went after 26-year-old rapper Young Dolph on social media.
Rock reacted on Instagram to Dolph shooting a music video in which he spit the line “I had he had “cocaine running though my vain” with a child beside him. The clip prompted Rock to say “we have to raise our children better than this.” And he called Dolph “hot garbage.”

Dolph took to Twitter, insulted Rock, and said the cocaine bit was a nod to his parents being crack addicts and being born with crack in his system.
Rock shot back, taking a stand against “mumble rappers” and said “Y’all don't care about the culture, so why are you in it?"

Rock has a point. Many new rappers claim they don't like older hip-hop, that it doesn't resonate with them and it's not a culture they want to be in. In fact, rapper Lil Yachty said in a recent Billboard interview that he couldn’t name five tunes by Tupac Shakur or The Notorious B.I.G., two of the most influential MCs in hip hop.

Everyone should know where they came from.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Posted By on Fri, Sep 2, 2016 at 7:39 PM

Recorded Wednesday, Aug. 31 at the Phoenix Convention Center just before the Donald Trump rally. Jan Brewer was appointed Governor of Arizona in 2010 to replace Janet Napolitano. She was elected for a full term later that year after signing SB1070, legislation which made it illegal to be an immigrant. This was a hugely controversial and horrible piece of law, remarkably similar to the proposals made by Donald Trump in his rally later in the evening.

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Posted By on Fri, Sep 2, 2016 at 6:36 PM

Take a look at this video footage which shows a young kid in a Keffiyeh being singled out and ejected by Trump security guards at the Donald J. Trump rally in Phoenix Convention Center on Wednesday, Aug. 31. I spoke with the security guard in the suit in this footage, and he told me: "He's actually a really great kid, he just wanted to watch. But I can't protect him in this crowd when there's like 8,000 people out there." Sad. Disgusting. All of the adjectives Donald Trump For President likes to spew about others.

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 3:54 PM

You know, one of my favorite memories of growing up here in Tucson is strolling up and down 4th Avenue on the weekends, and following the underpass into downtown. There were so many places I could explore. Bentley's, Cafe Quebec, the back room of the Chicago Store—they were amazing times. Everything was accessible to me, and I took full advantage of it. Today, not so much. 

Well, let me correct that. Everything is still accessible to me; however, everything is not accessible to my daughter who uses a wheelchair as her main source of transportation. Therefore my statement stands true—not so much. It never dawned on me how much Tucson excludes those who use mobility aids until I took my daughter to the Tucson Children's Museum.

We tried to interact with some of the exhibits they had, specifically, the one where you spin a wheel mounted to the exhibit and made electricity. A typical and perfect example of cause and effect, right? Wrong. My daughter's wheelchair couldn't get close enough to grab the handle and spin the wheel because of the box it was mounted on. Only a slight problem, but not unfixable. I took her out of her wheelchair, propped her up on my knee, and we tried again. However, because my daughter's cerebral palsy greatly affects her motor skills she couldn't maintain a grip on the handle and therefore couldn't spin the wheel that created the electricity.
click to enlarge Tucson and Its Not-So-Accessible Public Spaces
Tucson Children's Museum Electri-City Exhibit

Womp woooommmmppp. Game over. NO ELECTRICITY FOR YOU!

Now, there is an easy fix here, but it requires thinking outside the box. The easy fix might be having something she could stand on (with my assistance) that would simulate the transfer of energy (weight) from her body to the exhibit, and that would stimulate electricity. When I put her back in her chair, the electricity goes out. Same concept of cause and effect, and the transfer of energy to create electricity. Bada Bing Bada Boom and the kid is happy.

Sadly, that is not an offered alternative. Now, some of you might say, well she could have put her hand on the giant "hand" picture, and interacted that way. To you, I say, perhaps. Perhaps she could have, but that would mean moving her far enough from the exhibit so that she could bend over in her wheelchair and maneuver her body in such a way that she could get her hand on it, and not fall out of her chair. And still breathe.

Sounds like a lot for a small child? It is. And it shouldn't have to be. I mean, it is the Children's Museum, which leads one to believe it's open to ALL children, not just able-bodied children, right? Now, before you give me the most wicked side eye in all of side eye history for pointing out a disparity at our beloved Children's Museum, I'm not saying they are the devil.

To our benefit, there are some exhibits that she can interact with, and always has fun with. She always has a blast chasing bugs in Techtopia, picking the giant nose in Bodyology and grocery shopping, where she gets all the things. Literally: She tries to put everything in her little shopping cart. So while this doesn't necessarily make up for the lack of adaptive scissors and art utensil aids in the Imaginarium (art is her favorite thing EVER), it does still allow her to have some fun.

I am simply saying they need to think more often about the kids who interact with the world around them a little differently. 

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 1:19 PM

I am writing this as we drive into Cleveland on a dark, damp Monday morning. Photographer Jimi Giannatti and I are two of the thousands of people descending upon Cleveland in time for the first day of the Republican National Convention. Later this week, reality TV personality and real estate salesman Donald Trump is expected to be officially crowned GOP nominee for President.

Full disclosure: I oppose the candidacy of Donald Trump and everything it has come to stand for. Back in March (ancient history in the current news tempo) I protested loudly and visibly against Trump at his rally in Tucson. I was assaulted violently by one of Trump's supporters and the video of the attack went viral, forever changing my life and the life of the man who assaulted me. Trump just kept rolling until he had conquered internal GOP opposition to his candidacy and secured the required number of delegates for the nomination. All of which has led Jimi Giannatti and me to be traveling at high speed in the looming darkness outside of Cleveland, on our way to report on the convention for the Tucson Weekly.

Around 9 a.m. Sunday morning the horrific news broke that six Baton Rouge police officers had been shot by a gunman wielding a rifle. Three of the officers died, adding to the five killed in Dallas two weeks ago, in the process managing to add further volatility to an already kinetic security situation at the convention, which is being staged at the Quicken Arena downtown. The head of the Police Officer's Union in Cleveland sent a letter to Ohio Governor John Kasich pleading with him to suspend Ohio's open carry law for the duration of the convention. Kasich immediately refused, saying he does not have the authority to circumvent the open carry laws in his own state, further increasing the dominant hold the 2nd Amendment has over all other Amendments and considerations and rights, including the right to life.

Governor Kasich's refusal to act ensures that people will be allowed to openly carry rifles and handguns anywhere they please during the convention, outside of a small security zone in the immediate vicinity of Quicken Arena and within the arena itself. It is notable that Kasich himself was one of Trump's opponents for the GOP nomination and is reportedly not attending the convention or endorsing Trump for President. Governor Kasich's personal safety is not at risk, which puts him in stark contrast to everyone who will be attending either to support or oppose or report or provide security during the proceedings.

No political neophyte in American politics has had the sort of impact that Trump has had in terms of sheer amperage and hysteria and coverage. Where Trump goes, protesters and supporters and the media follow. Perhaps the only guarantee at this convention is the presence of people protesting against Trump. I have attended three Donald Trump rallies before this convention and spoken with many people, supporters of Trump and those who protest against him. The protesters come from an extremely diverse set of backgrounds. There is no "generic Trump protester"—this is actually true of his supporters as well, contrary to the perception among those who have not actually talked to any Trump supporters.

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 5:00 PM

The Mexico-based Dolphinaris is bringing a "swim with the dolphins!" park to the Arizona desert.

Here's the company's mission statement on the upcoming Dolphinaris Arizona, set to open this summer next door to the OdySea Aquarium, which is also currently under construction, near the 101 and Vía de Ventura in Scottsdale:
Dolphinaris is developing the “next generation” of dolphin experiences in Arizona, providing an opportunity for visitors to interact with dolphins, learn about this amazing species, and be part of ocean conservation efforts.

The mission of Dolphinaris Arizona is to amaze, inspire, and empower guests, encouraging them to become stewards of the oceans and its inhabitants. We hope to deepen respect for dolphins and our natural world, and encourage visitors to take actions, large and small, that can make a difference.
So, they want to promote the conservation of the sea and ocean species by placing 12 dolphins in captivity and forcing them into fake bodies of water in the desert?

PETA refers to marine-mammal theme parks like Dolphinaris as "part of a billion-dollar industry built on the suffering of intelligent, social beings who are denied everything that is natural and important to them."
Wild orcas and dolphins live in large, complex social groups and swim vast distances every day in the open ocean. In captivity, these animals can only swim in endless circles in tanks that are the equivalent of bathtubs, and they are denied the opportunity to engage in almost any natural behavior. They are forced to perform meaningless tricks and often torn away from family members when they’re shuffled between parks. Most die far short of their natural life span.
These aquatic parks are unnecessary, antiquated and cruel. And I am still unsure of the life-changing effects swimming with dolphins in captivity brings to a human's existence. Better get a dose of Blackfish.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 2:53 PM

Suson Catlin has been writing letters to the Governor's Office hoping someone out there will help get her 27-year-old son, Kyle, out of prison—where he's been since mid-January over nonviolent marijuana felony charges. Unsurprisingly, she hasn't received a response. But as I imagine most mothers would, Suson is willing to exhaust all options. Hope dies last.

The night of June 23, Suson got a phone call from Kyle, saying he had been charged with assault after anotherp inmate in the Marana Community Correctional Facility jumped him and split his lip open. In response to the altercation, which Kyle repeatedly told his parents he didn't do anything but take the punches, Kyle was placed in "protective custody," also known as "the hole," or solitary. The inmate who assaulted Kyle was placed in solitary first, so he and friends threatened to kill Kyle for being "a snitch." 

After Suson made several frantic phone calls to the correctional facility, guards moved Kyle to the hole, where he remained for about a week.

To make matters worse, Kyle got transferred back to the first correctional facility he stepped foot in—the Arizona Department of Corrections' Whetstone Unit off of South Wilmont Road and East Old Vail Road. While there the first time, an inmate jumped Kyle and hurt his head. One hopes the correctional system would have enough common sense to not send a nonviolent inmate back to a place where his safety was jeopardized. But, really, they could give a shit. It is not their son. It is not their brother. It is not their friend.

"I'm not giving up, I am going to fight even more to get my son out of that hell hole," Suson wrote on Kyle's Facebook after her son told her he'd be transferred again.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Posted By on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 4:00 PM

A small group of attendees gathered at the Water of Life Sanctuary last Saturday to honor the lives of those lost on June 12 in Orlando, one of multiple prayer vigils held in Tucson last week.

Candles were passed at the door and Amazing Grace was sung from the pulpit, while the faces of the 49 victims flashed on a projector at the front of the hall. A few speakers expressed their sadness, confusion, and hope in the face of yet another act of senseless violence on United States soil. After a final prayer, names of victims were read. One man, from Puerto Rico, was in town for a Selena Gomez concert. Another had just bought his first home for his mother. One couple had just opened their own beauty salon.

When the floor opened up to members of the congregation, a man approached the podium to speak not for Republicans or Democrats, but simply for people facing a violent reality where guns have been increasingly falling into the wrong hands.

The NRA has been working overtime in the wake of the Orlando massacre to urge constituencies to oppose legislation which would tighten restrictions on gun acquisitions and ownership. Democrats staged a 15-hour filibuster during an appropriation bill debate to shift focus to gun laws. Republicans cry terrorism, Democrats scream gun access.

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