Agreeable Disagreement

Our Long-Time Columnist Sees Things Differently.

FOR THE PAST few years, I've been privileged to write a column for the Tucson Weekly, but now that The Weekly has been sold to new owners, those photos I have of the previous owner probably aren't worth that much any more. Of course, he does cut a striking figure in those stiletto heels, and the guy in the picture with him probably isn't the real J. Edgar Hoover. But darned if those pictures haven't been handy to have around.

Maybe the new owners will like to keep things just the way they are. There's always that chance. Yeah, and maybe the Channel 7 News won't ever mention the word "porno" during the May sweeps.

Just because none of the other 187 major alternative weeklies in the country has a sportswriter/columnist doesn't mean that we're weird, or so I have argued over the years. We're just trend-setters and the others will join in sooner or later. All it takes is one to come over to our side and then the dam will burst; that was my story and I stuck to it. Whenever this came up at a staff meeting (at least at the ones I was told about), I would state my case, then get up to get a drink, making sure that I walked, as though in high heels, right past the boss, who would then change the subject.

I'm gonna miss that guy.

Perhaps there will be a reorganization along lines of political philosophy. This has always been a major concern of mine, for while I proudly consider myself an old-style liberal on most issues, I'm not exactly in lock-step with all of my homies here at The Weekly. Among the major issues on which we diverge:

· MUSIC. The guys who write about music here do a great job. The local music scene deserves good coverage, as do up-and-coming and out-of-the-mainstream acts. I mean, these music guys have to go out and cover bands with names like Jesus Christ and the Pineapples or Homesick Vomit. Having said that, however, I'm still waiting for one of them to say something nice about the Santana album Supernatural.

This is one of the best albums I've ever heard. It combines Latin, jazz, hip-hop, Norteño, pop and rock into a dizzyingly soulful stew. You might be getting a little bit tired of "Smooth" about now, but in 20 years you're gonna be crankin' that sucker up like you do "Satisfaction" these days. It's one of the great singles of all time.

Yet, when I read all the critics' Top 10 lists of 1999 (and of the '90s), there was nothing. In fact, the only band on those lists I had even heard of was Rage Against The Machine. One guy listed an album called Super Shitty To The Max. We're s'posed to listen to that?!

It's like what Talking Heads member Tina Weymouth said when she first heard of the Butthole Surfers: "How'd you like to be in a band with a name you can't even tell your mom?"

· BILLBOARDS. For the most part, I like billboards. Or, I should say, they don't bother me. I was born and raised in L.A., the Armpit-By-The-Sea. Heck, compared to that dump, the picture of Speedway that was in Life magazine looks like the Wide Open Spaces.

Billboards are really not that big a deal. Some are informative, some are annoying and some are even funny. I especially like the one on North First Avenue near Fort Lowell Road, the one announcing that you can now buy your own casket in advance without having to deal with the mortuary. What is not to like about that billboard?

Just imagine, you can buy a coffin, keep it in the garage, use it on Halloween, or (in extreme circumstances) instead of a rollaway when company drops by. This is cool. You can get some of the over-priced money back, plus you get to use it more than just that one time.

· SQUIRRELS. I'm all for the environment. I like clear skies, clean water, nice scenery, and healthy animals. However, it's like what Redd Foxx once said: "I ain't ruinin' my $30,000 car just to avoid hittin' a 28-cent cat."

I found it bizarre when people argued against the building of the telescopes on Mount Graham. First they came up with some quasi-endangered species, which turned out not to be and is currently flourishing on the mountain.

Then they got some Native American guy from a tribe hundreds of miles away to claim that the mountain was a holy place, and when he claimed he needed the entire mountain to remain pristine so that he could build a sweat lodge, people actually took him seriously. When I was growing up, I always considered the Chicken Shack on Van Nuys Boulevard in Pacoima to be a holy place. It was a source of great enlightenment, with barbecued beans on the side. But nobody ever listened to me, and unlike the guy on Mount Graham, I was actually indigenous to the area.

For the most part, I hate what's happening to Tucson and Southern Arizona. But we've got to do a better job of picking our spots on which to take a stand. A telescope on Mount Graham hurts no one and nothing. And it's infinitely less threatening than a building permit in front of the Oro Valley Planning and Zoning Commission.

Having made all that clear, I'd like to get back to the important stuff. How hard do you think it was for those St. John's guys who barely beat NAU and then lost to Gonzaga at McKale Center a couple weeks ago to go back to New York and try to convince people that there are all-white basketball teams out West?

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