Tucson Weekly's Most Read Stories of 2015

Happy New Year! We're at home nursing hangovers and writing resolutions we won't keep, so we don't have time to keep you entertained on the Range today.

But never fear! There's plenty for you to read. We've got year-in-review articles aplenty. Take your pick from: Chow, Cinema, Music, Dubious Achievements, Danehy's thoughts and even our own Local Heroes.

Not enough? Well, here's a list of our 15 most read stories in 2015. 

15. Critics Call McCain's Oak Flat Tactics a New Low

There was lots of discussion in 2015 on Oak Flat, a lush woodland located about 100 miles north of Tucson which is considered a sacred site by the the San Carlos Apaches.
Something about Oak Flat just brings out the ornery in a politician. And of course that something is money and influence. Stir in a few long-simmering grudges, and you have a rancid stew that bares little resemblance to principled democracy or good policy.

Which brings us to Arizona Sen. John McCain. 

Standardized Test Scores and Family Income
David Safier has told us before and he'll tell us again: Family income and standardized test scores have a strong correlation.
This bears repeating whenever the subject of high stakes testing comes up. There’s a very strong correlation between standardized test scores and family income. Test scores are higher in areas with high family income and lower in areas with low family income. It’s true in Tucson. It’s true in Phoenix. It’s true across the United States. It’s true in developed countries around the world (and probably even more true in undeveloped countries).

13. The Folks at Amy's Baking Company In Scottsdale Have Gone Insane [Update: They Were 'Hacked']

This is a fun one: Remember back in 2013 when Scottsdale bakery Amy's Baking Company went on Kitchen Nightmares and then the owners lost their damn minds?
We now present a masterclass in how a business owner should not respond to criticism.

You might be familiar with Amy's Baking Company, up in Scottsdale — and likely, not for the reason that a restaurant would prefer to be known for.

100 Essential Dishes: Brunch at Its Best
Blessed be the brunch revolution and its surge in the Old Pueblo. One of the best spots in town for the hybrid meal, Prep & Pastry, waxes the meal poetic on their chalkboard wall, which says, "brunch without booze is just a sad, late breakfast." Cheers to that and to spots like the Cup Café, which offer an extensive and very customizable bloody mary bar, but the truth is you don't have to feel excluded at all if you're a daytime (or all of the time) teetotaler.
 (Seriously, food lovers, also check out our 2015 Best Of food reviews)

11. Our Ink-Stained Heart: Welcome to the 27th Best of Tucson®
Ah, of course. Best of Tucson® continues to be one of our best read issues—both online and in print. If you haven't yet, we really recommend you look through the list—feel encouraged to leave us comments about who you believe should have won, which categories you can't be bothered with and what categories we need to add next year.
This is a Best of Tucson® with heart, but it also broke some wonderful records that surprised us—we broke voting records. Thank you readers, we really appreciate the time and support. We broke ad revenue records this year, too, and we thank our advertisers. Per usual, we will close with some sentimental words for you: treat this as your city road map for what makes Tucson special and the places we all love and support.
10. Will Forte's 'Last Man On Earth' is Set in Tucson
I'll admit that I still haven't watched this show, but perhaps all of you have? Are we still excited? Are they even still in Tucson?
The show tells Forte's story of searching the continent for anyone, with no success. "The Virus" has done away with everyone and Forte is left to roam around by himself. Eventually, discouraged, Forte (well, his character Phil—it doesn't look like this was actually filmed in Tucson) heads to the Old Pueblo.

9. One Petition, Two Facebook Pages: Can Arizona Recall Doug Ducey?
This one caused quite a stir when it was first published. Just so we're all clear: there's no active plan in place to have a recall election... but you all sure seemed excited about the idea.
You can choose between Recall Ducey and Get Rid of Arizona's New Governor (my favorite because it has the slogan "They said I could be whatever I want so I became a Douchebag.")

8. Street Taco Is Open in Downtown Tucson, Making Chipotle Obsolete
Well, isn't that funny. Food & Culture Editor Heather Hoch visited new downtown restaurant Street Taco & Beer Co. the day they opened. She then, as TW does, gave them a few months to get settled before offering up a full-fledged review. Take a moment to read her thoughts, past and present.
When you first walk into the brand new Street Taco and Beer Co. off of Congress Street north of Church, you can't ignore the similarity between the new locally-owned joint and the national chain Chipotle. After all, the light reclaimed wood and metal look is ever-present in both restaurants. While the big guys pretty much invented the term fast casual, initial tastes of the new downtown taco joint hint that the local guys can actually do it better.

7. A Very Frightening Story From BASIS San Antonio
We still talk about BASIS all the time, but nothing has gotten quite as much attention as this parent's story from 2014.
This horror story written by a parent of a child at BASIS San Antonio deserves to be read in its entirety. I don't know enough about the daily education at BASIS charters to write about the curriculum, pedagogy or atmosphere at the schools, which is why I stay away of those topics in my posts. I'm presenting this narrative without comment. People can read it and draw their own conclusions. As always, people who have personal experiences at any BASIS schools should feel free to comment, in agreement or disagreement, and add experiences of their own.

6. Escape Goat: TUSD Culturally Relevant Studies teacher singled out
If you want to know Corey Jones' story, you've got a bit of reading to do. Escape Goat is the second of three stories we wrote on Jones. Early in the year, we talked to Jones when Cholla Magnet High School's new Mexican-American studies program came under fire. Shortly after that article was published, Jones was removed from his classroom as TUSD's way of dealing with criticism of the curriculum. Two months after our first article we spoke to other people involved with TUSD's Mexican-American Studies woes—at which point, teachers were still expressing confusion on what exactly Arizona Department of Education had a problem with. We finally got another interview with Jones in May, where he said, "When you use your position of power within an institution to retaliate, to intimidate individuals, that is oppression," he says. "'We will retaliate against individuals who speak up and try to hold us accountable.' You as an individual teacher, how dare you hold the district accountable. They create their own reality. Again, no accountability, they investigate themselves, and because of that they are able to act with this impunity. It is frustrating beyond belief."
Cholla High School teacher Corey Jones was escorted out of his classroom a few minutes before representatives with the Arizona Department of Education showed up to observe his U.S. history from a Mexican-American perspective class on Friday, Feb. 6.

By noon that day, Jones was asked to give up his school keys and identification, and told he wasn't allowed in any Tucson Unified School District property or have any contact with staff or students.

5. The Desert Goddess of Glen Canyon
The video on this one (and, well, the photos in the video) is (are) incredible.
National Geographic's short film showcase highlights DamNation, a documentary about America's dams, with an excerpt featuring Katie Lee, the Desert Goddess of Glen Canyon. From Nat Geo:
4. Is Arizona Wasting Taxpayer Money When Drug Testing Welfare Recipients?
In 2009, Arizona became the first state to impose a drug-test rule for Welfare recipients (when there is a reasonable cause that is, which according to USA Today "reasonable cause" means you confess you've used drugs in the past 30 days.). Since then, about 87,000 people have been tested, and guess how many came out positive for drug use...
3. Confessions of an eBay opium addict: Looking for drugs on the cheap, a writer found poppy pods available on the Web. He also found himself hooked.
It's interesting that this one made the list. In 2005, we republished this piece by Peter Thompson from the Reno News & Review. 
Columbus Day almost killed me.
I woke up avalanched under a junkyard of pain, my body a trap of torn nerves and trashed organs. An oily rash of sweat had soaked through my pillow and into the mattress. I was coughing, confused and crazy with anger. A throbbing, deep-pink chemical sunburn covered my face; my bowels were spitting hot mercury. I slid out of bed and dropped to the floor, the weight of a snarling mountain gorilla bearing down on me. I saw myself in the mirror as I fell. I looked puffy.
2. Jan. 8 Hero Bill Badger Passes Away
The city mourned in March when Bill Badger, one of the crowd members who helped subdue the crazed gunman who opened fire at Gabby Giffords' Congress on Your Corner event on Jan. 8, 2011, passed away.

1.  Mysteries in the Mountains: A real-life Twilight Zone may exist in Southeastern Arizona near the Mexican border.

Another piece from the archives. Former Assistant Irene Messina introduced this article in 2003: Editor Deep in the mountains close to the Mexican border, a mysterious place exists where time is altered at random.
A joke? Not according to Ron Quinn.
This fascinating journey into the unknown began in early 1956 and still remains an unsolved mystery today.

It all began during a two-year adventure into Southern Arizona in search of lost mines and hidden Spanish treasures. High among the rugged terrain bordering Mexico, my brother Chuck and I discovered a location where time itself is altered. This natural freak of nature lies deep within a region seldom visited by modern man.