When I found out about 14 months ago that the Tucson Weekly would be hosting the annual convention of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies—and therefore bringing hundreds of alternative-newspaper folks to our hot, dusty burg—I panicked a little, I must admit.
My fear, posed as a question: How in the hell could we manage to make Tucson look really cool and happening on a slow summer weekend?
The fears never had anything to do with Tucson's greatness: While our city indeed has its problems, it also features innumerable amazing aspects. My fears stemmed from the fact that those amazing aspects sometimes take a little digging to find. Let's face it: Tucson, on the surface, can be unimpressive. Just drive down Broadway Boulevard from Euclid Avenue to Swan Road, and tell me how it looks to the untrained eye.
Well, the convention has come and gone, and now I know: I didn't have anything to worry about. Tucson's coolness shined through quite brightly, no problem.
I underestimated our city. I underestimated the power of amazing musical acts like Sergio y la Orkesta, the Sand Rubies and the Grams and Krieger Band. I underestimated the power of the beautiful Sonoran Desert. I underestimated the friendliness of the folks at the six dive bars we'd end up touring. I underestimated the wonderful service we'd get from the people at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort, Maynards Market and Kitchen, the Marshall Foundation/Main Gate Square and the various transportation companies that helped us.
Due to Tucson's inherent greatness (and the hard work of Laura Horvath, Jill A'Hearn, Debra Silvestrin and countless others), we were able to send all of these newspaper folks from around the United States, Canada and even Australia back home with a very fine image of Tucson.
Thanks to everyone who helped us with the convention. And confidential to the Old Pueblo: I'll never underestimate you again.