30 Years of Tucson Weekly: 2002-2007


Jim Nintzel watches Raul Grijalva climb the political ladder:

The low-budget campaign means Grijalva can't afford much TV airtime, so he's falling back on his old strategy of sending the troops out walking and talking on his behalf. With his unruly hair, lively mustache and frequently rumpled wardrobe, Grijalva is not what you'd call a slick politician. But as a county supervisor, he's enjoyed tremendous support from the voters in District 5, which he represented from 1988 until stepping down for the congressional run earlier this year. Two years ago, in his last re-election effort, he won nearly three out every four voters in both the primary, beating biz-friendly Democrat Dan Medina, and the general, where he clobbered Republican Rosalie Lopez. He did even better in his 1996 primary win.

Of course, Congressional District 7 has about four times as many Democrats as District 5, which means Grijalva's working a far larger playing field. But there's no denying his core following. His environmental ethos has locked in the loyalty of local greens. He's got the gears of the Pima County Interfaith Council, an increasingly powerful political machine that works through local churches, turning on his behalf. County Supervisor Dan Eckstrom has thrown his considerable political weight behind his erstwhile colleague. He has endorsements from a long list of labor organizations. City and county employees are writing checks and walking neighborhoods.

"The congressional race is the cap to 54-year-old Grijalva's long political career.

—"Monkey Business," Aug. 29


Emil Franzi profiles Tucson lawyer and NRA president-in-waiting Sandy Froman:

When Tucson's Sandy Froman makes the traditional move from first vice president to president of the National Rifle Association in 2005, she'll be the third Arizonan to take that top job in the last 20 years.

Froman's promotion would've already happened if the NRA hadn't amended its bylaws to keep Charlton Heston in the chair for an unprecedented five years. Beloved by the NRA rank and file, Heston boosted the NRA's image and recruitment efforts, and probably could've kept the job even past his death—like his portrayal of El Cid—had Alzheimer's not interfered.

Froman was elected second vice president in 1998 after joining the national board in 1994. She typifies the new type of NRA leader, and member, in several regards beyond gender. She hails from the urban San Francisco Bay Area, has degrees from Stanford and Harvard Law School and didn't fire a gun until she was in her 20s. She has since become a regular shooter and hunter, and became active because she didn't like how gun owners were being treated.

"Like a lot of gun owners and shooters, I simply got tired of being trivialized both by politicians and the media," says Froman, a Tucson resident for more than 20 years. "People can make a difference."

—"Loving Arms," July 17


Gene Armstrong catches up with musician Howe Gelb:

For many music listeners in Tucson and far afield, when they hear the voice of the desert in their heads, they hear Howe Gelb's low, friendly drawl. The singer-songwriter and leader of the band Giant Sand for more than two decades has become an iconoclastic ambassador of Tucson music, even during the periods when he hasn't lived here.

And after dozens of albums, his band—which plays a unique and slightly askew version of alternative rock and country—has become, if not rich and famous, well-known to aficionados of homegrown music the world over. And the Giant Sand recipe for making music is one that emphasizes spontaneous, explosive expression as much as it does carefully delineated composition.

Although Howe (he engenders first-name familiarity) is known to play classical, jazz and blues piano, he still operates instinctively—making music by the seat of his pants.

"There is no formula or healthy rules to abide by. It's all feeling your way in the dark," he says. "It doesn't have anything to do with intelligence or sophistication. You just go by the gut."

—"A Musical Family," Nov. 18


Renée Downing smokes out the local pot market:

Marijuana. Cannabis. Grass. Pot. Smoke. Dank. Herb. Ganja. Dope. Hemp.

It's the plant with a hundred names, including simply "weed," which is what it grows like. It's been grown for fiber and medicine and fun for thousands of years. In the United States, it currently has its own subculture and economy, and even its own decades-long guerilla war—the War on Drugs—plus a multifaceted and increasingly visible anti-war movement.

And it's here, in Tucson. Boy, is it here.

—"Marijuana World," Nov. 17


The Weekly endorses Gabby Giffords for Congress:

Democrat Gabrielle Giffords has always struck us as smart, hardworking and genuine. Since she was elected to the Arizona Legislature in 2000, she's learned to navigate the rough-and-tumble world of legislative politics and play a good game of defense in a GOP-dominated body. If Congress remains under Republican control in November, that experience will serve her well.

Giffords' environmental record is solid; just last year, the Sierra Club—which has endorsed her in this race—named her an all-star lawmaker for her opposition to lousy legislation. She's firmly pro-choice, having earned a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood. And we're delighted to see that she got a zero on the scorecard of the right-wing religious cabal known as the Center for Arizona Policy.

We're not the only ones who have been impressed by her. With more than $800,000 raised since getting into the race, Giffords has shown she's got support from here to Washington, D.C. She's been endorsed by more than 15 unions, including the AFL-CIO, the Arizona Education Association, the Arizona Police Association, the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, AZCOPS, AFSCME and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 99. She's got the support of EMILY's List, the Human Rights Campaign and congressman Raul Grijalva.

In short, Gabrielle Giffords is backed by all the right people. We're happy to add our voice to theirs.

—"C'mon, Trust Us: The Tucson Weekly Endorsements," Aug. 10


We go out drinking with our interns to learn about the best dive bars in Tucson. The scene at Nancy's Fort Lowell Pub:

A zombie sat down next to us at Nancy's.

Didn't look so good. Definitely had been out in the sun too long and needed a bath. Hair was long, beard was thick, the eyes screamed crazy.

"I died two weeks ago," he says. His story goes something like: He had a heart attack; the guys in the ambulance gave up on him; he was dead for five minutes; then he came back, sitting up on the stretcher. A goddamn miracle.

What's he doing with his second chance?

"I'm trying to get my life together," he said. "I've got a job interview next week." Pause. "Can I have a dollar?"

—"Barflies, Rejoice: The Best Dive Bars In Tucson," July 19

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