Pennies For Our Thoughts!

Filler IF YOU'VE STROLLED past our stately offices on fashionable Cushing Street recently, you've probably noticed a big change here at The Tucson Weekly Inc. The Weekly Building now glistens warmly in the sun, covered by more than half a million shiny copper pennies.

You may wonder: Why have we done this?

It's our way of marking 12 years in Tucson. Yes, this very paper you're planning on wrapping fish guts with tomorrow is the first edition of Volume 13 of the Tucson Weekly. For a dozen years, we've been bringing you compelling features, hell-raising commentary, insightful criticism and spicy personal ads. In the process, we've grown from a 12-page rag to a fat 'n' sassy tabloidal publication--even as we've experienced the weird, the inexplicable and the just plain unnerving in our personal sex lives. Bet they can't say that at The Arizona Daily Star, among whose dour staff sex is viewed as nothing more than a dull requirement for career advancement.

Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah--last year we launched DesertNet, a sizzling online Web service that has given us global reach even as it plunged us deeply into the red.

So how, then, to celebrate such achievement?

When we first sat down to plan the 12th-anniversary festivities, we realized this celebration had to be big. Really big. Bigger than that thick 10th-anniversary monster edition we assembled back in '94 and which also plunged us deeply into the red.

After many long hours of brainstorming with the community "leaders" who came up with that pointless rainbow thingy atop City Hall, and after conducting elaborate telephone polls with random samplings of important demographic cross-sections during dinnertime, we finally hit upon our course of action:

We would earn a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest building covered entirely by coins! It was either that or drink a lot of beer and--because we're not as young as when we started this publication so many years ago--throw up. It would have been hell on our Volvos' leather interiors.

Cool Image So a few months ago, we made an online appeal for pennies on DesertNet, the aforementioned award-winning web site. Response from our cyber-friends was phenomenal--you sent in over a half-million pennies from across this great land of ours. One alcoholic woman in Los Angeles even sent us her daughter, who is named Penny. Thank you, ma'am--she's been put to good use as a server in the company cafeteria.

The next phase called for expert craftsmanship, so we turned to Tucsonan Steve Baker, better known as the Pennyman, whose work with these worthless, tiny copper coins is unparalleled. Pennyman, who dons a penny suit to run in both marathons and mayoral contests, has surely outdone himself with this latest project.

Baker oversaw the work as The Weekly's editorial staffers rolled up their sleeves and painstakingly attached all those annoying pennies to more than 5,000 tiles. Once the tiles were properly decorated, the writers, editors and artists covered the building and--viola!--Penny Place was complete. The folks at the Guinness Book have assured us we've got a spot in the next edition.

It's been a lot of work putting the whole project together. But that's what we're all about here at The Weekly--hard work for all the right reasons. As loveable TW Editor and Publisher Douglas Biggers is so fond of noting, "The only constant here is change."

--A. Bradley Dongass III
Vice President InCharge Of Sucking Up
The Tucson Weekly, Inc.

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