July 6 - July 12, 1995

The Tucson Weekly Hurtles Headlong Into Uncharted Cyberspace! Wanna Ride?

B y  A .  B r a d l e y  D o n g a s

Editor's note: We find ourselves in a bit of a quandary. Though it's terribly exciting to launch our own site on the Internet's World Wide Web--and we're just dying to tell you all about it--we fear that our readers may be approaching saturation about info-highway matters (in other words, we worried we'd have nothing new to say that you haven't heard at least a thousand times already). So we've asked The Weekly's corporate alter-ego, A. Bradley Dongas III, to explain it all for you--and, we hope, entice you to finally take the plunge and join the ranks of the wired.

WHAT A LONG, strange trip it's going to be, this future rolling out before us in the form of the infotainment super-duper highway.

And did you know that as a reader of the fabulous Tucson Weekly, you've already got one foot on that high-tech Greyhound bound for, well, just about anywhere you'd care to go on this increasingly wired planet?

Hi, I'm A. Bradley Dongas III, Vice President In Charge Of Sucking Up here at The Weekly. I'd like to take a break from our usual worthwhile feature story format to engage in some shameless corporate self-promotion. Think of this as a personal infomercial for really cool, smart people--you, our loyal readers.

I'm here to inform you of a marvelous new communications medium completely free of the dead tree matter you currently hold in your hands. A medium far more colorful, flexible and gosh darn it, fun, than mere print--which we still think is pretty cool, of course. In short, I'm here to tell you about the soon-to-be mother of all media, the World Wide Web, and our newly bladed, graded and subdivided place on it.

And make no mistake--unless you're 90 years old and a hermit, sooner or later you're going to find yourself enthralled. We guarantee it, or double your money back on this fine tabloidal publication.

True, you need a decent multimedia computer with a color monitor ($1,400 minimum) and a fast modem ($250) to cruise the Web. You also need to subscribe to an Internet provider (about $20 monthly). And once you do all that, you still won't be able to read the dizzying array of content while you're seated on the john--at least not for a while, until some propeller-headed genius realizes there's a huge potential market in flat-screen, book-like devices you can download with, say, the electronic version of The Weekly.

Which brings us to today's little raison d'etre:

Right now, on the World Wide Web, there exists a better, more powerful way to read this very publication. All you have to do is find a properly equipped computer and type in the following Web address: http://desert.net/

DesertNet, by the way, is the name of our Web site. It will offer many features besides The Weekly (available in its entirety online) and our music publication, Big Noise. In the months and years to come, we plan on using DesertNet to launch untold numbers of still-undreamed of publications, many with actual information, for local and worldwide consumption. It's already an exciting place, and it's only going to get better.

Those of you who are properly equipped, please access DesertNet now; those of you still trapped in the era of dead tree matter, or who can't leave the john, please read on....

THE PRIME REASON the electronic version of this already stellar publication is even better than what you're holding in your hands--assuming you have hands, of course--can be summed up in one word: links.

In the paper-based Weekly, information, fascinating though it may be, just sits there on a wonderfully designed page. Oh, it may do the usual naughtily pleasurable things to your mind, but overall it leads you exactly nowhere.

With our hot, new electronic version, however, our already highly stimulating articles are enhanced by your ability to grasp your supple, silken mouse (that's right--ooooh!) and roughly click, click, click (aaaahh! do it again! puuleeeze!) on certain highlighted words (yes! oh yes!). And this, my friends, is where technology will transform your hum-drum media consumption into a steamy, pants-down informational orgasm! For, at the speed of light, you may then be transported to one of tens of thousands of other computers elsewhere on our planet for additional information, opinions or pictures.

And the most amazing thing is that it all happens while you're sitting right there on your very own butt!

For example, say we do a story about Pima County Supervisor Ed Moore. On the paper version, it's just another important piece of local journalism the dailies don't give you. But on the electronic version, you may see Moore's name highlighted in red. Click on the name, and suddenly you may find yourself looking at words and graphics generated by a computer in Des Moines, Iowa, a computer owned and operated by The Powerful, Wacky White Guys Hall of Fame. A couple more clicks on highlighted words there, and you may be looking at pictures of Phil Gramm entirely in the buff!

Which points out a teensy problem with our electronic project. While our skilled Webmaster, Wil Gerken, would not knowingly link our stuff to nudie shots--or worse, the Rush Limbaugh home page--it's a big, weird world out there in cyberspace, and some of its inhabitants--perhaps the studly Rush more than most--occasionally like to get buck naked and party.

That's why Gerken, who is nearly always clothed at the office, has developed an automated program that links words in our stories to other Web sites contained on a master list, which he has personally inspected for wholesomeness and family values.

In addition, our hundreds of highly paid staffers, many with advanced degrees, are constantly scouring the net looking for interesting, informative sites without naked people with which to link.

Of course, we're all naked under our clothing, a fact which prompts Douglas Biggers, The Weekly's beloved founder and leader, to gently caution parents that if your kid is looking for the Penthouse home page, the little brat'll probably find it eventually if he's got any brains at all, so parental supervision is warranted. But don't worry--new programming and disposable in-home surgery kits are rapidly being developed to help you filter and control your child's Web experiences and budding sexual curiosity as well as make him clean up his room.

At any rate, cruising the Web is a bit like that wild acid trip in college where you realized everything is connected to everything else, but this time around you won't find yourself obsessing about how your fingers resemble sinister living wieners that are trying to kill you. And each week we'll feature new and unusual "Hot Links" for your perusing pleasure.

Gerken also has developed many links within The Weekly itself. Thus, by clicking on our cinema section, you can see the latest movie review, click on the theatre information at the bottom of the review and find a screen with local movie times. And yes, we plan to update those times every few seconds, or--hint, hint, movie moguls--eventually link to the theatres' own computers that will do so.

In our wildly popular Currents section, click on a highlighted word and you'll be whisked to previously published stories on related topics.

Serious academicians doubtless will take advantage of this service, spending countless hours researching legendary land speculator Don Diamond's effect on our fragile ecosystem, for example; or in the case of University of Arizona literary scholars, checking the number of references to words like "head cheese" in a given year. We're happy to provide this service free of charge, because everybody knows literature is far more important to the UA--and our society in general--than mere journalism. Hell, even Don Diamond's dog taking a piss is more important than journalism.

BUT ENOUGH SOUR grapes. Backing up this electronic cornucopia of information will be Weekly Señor Editor Jim Nintzel's pithy, well-researched take on various aspects of the Naked Pueblo's power structure.

"What we're gonna do is create a political database, um, but I just can't speak off the top of my head," Nintzel mutters. "You'll be amazed, astonished and amused...." he adds, his voice trailing off in that annoying little way of his. Judging by his vacant stare and the slight smile playing upon his lips, he's busily dreaming up new ways to get his girlfriend to call him "Master."

Meanwhile, fans of The Skinny (and who isn't these days?) will be thrilled at our electronic Hall of Heads feature. Populated by the likenesses of our town's movers and shakers, the Hall of Heads will link to past stories and Skinny items about these fabled folk. Local libel lawyers will really dig it because there'll be no more of that demeaning searching of convenience marts and shopping centers for copies of The Weekly every Thursday in their never-ending quest for new clients.

On the Review side of our vast publishing empire, you'll be seeing many more of our arts photos and graphics in glorious full color. Also, as on the Review side, past art and theatre reviews will be available for your perusal, as will our comprehensive restaurant reviews, not to mention those Byzantine restaurant listings with their hard-to-decipher symbols which hint of Satanism. At last you'll be able to click on those symbols to find out what M.F. Munday's really trying to say.

Matthew Bardram, our chain-smoking graphics designer, has dreamed up some hot buttons you'll see on your computer screen that'll put you anywhere in the issue you'd care to go. In short, this thing's gonna blow your panties off. And this is only the beginning; where it'll all end we haven't a clue--unless, of course, you count bankruptcy court.

You see, friends, it takes big bucks to open shop in cyberspace. And even a mega corporation like The Tucson Weekly, Inc. finds itself hard pressed to keep up with the intense capital demands of supercomputing in the '90s. Which is why we've decided to finance this baby with advertising, just as we do the regular paper edition you love so much.

"But Bradley," you say, "we don't want none a you stinking ads, man. We want all a this wunnaful in-fo-tainment crap absolutely free, man, no strings attached, man. And if you don't lay it on us, man, we gonna blow you friggin' head right off, man. Then we gonna drive off in you fancy BMW, man. Also, why you head shaped like some kinda butt-ugly watermelon, man?"

First, I would point out that, hey, it's only a Volvo. Definitely not cool, OK?

Secondly, I note that you've already been exposed to zillions of TV commercials, which probably accounts for just about everything that's gone wrong in your life so far--certainly those pesky sexual dysfunctions your spouse complains to us so bitterly about.

Thirdly, you'll probably really dig these ads. Just imagine the possibilities in our much-sought-after personals and classifieds alone: Full-color photos of potential love slaves...er, partners. Search engines that will find you that sugar daddy/momma with a burning need for intimacy. Or maybe a used Chrysler LeBaron, or some old Sinatra albums, or whatever. Your choices will be limited only by good old-fashioned human depravity and the available storage space in your domicile.

Fourthly, like the charmingly wonderful advertisements in our fabulous paper edition, you don't have to look at the electronic ads if you don't want to. (Although you should, because advertising is good for you--eight out of 10 shrinks agree!) But unlike the static ads in our paper edition, you can click on the electronic ones, and who knows what you'll find? A menu for your favorite restaurant? Info on the latest new cars? Photos of car-hawker Jim Click entirely in the buff?

Actually, we're joking about the Click thing--he'll probably never advertise with us simply because he has such an inferiority complex. He's probably thinking that placing an ad in our electronic edition would be way too expensive. And anyway, only relatively rich, well-educated boomers with oodles of disposable income, or highly intelligent young people with money to burn, will be cruising the Web for the next couple of years until it catches on with hundreds of millions of people worldwide, so what's the point?

That's exactly right, Jim.

However, we're sure once they realize what an incredibly flexible, colorful and exciting marketing tool the computer can be, our regular advertising clients will be clamoring for an opportunity to use it. And you can rest assured our highly trained staff will bend over and do whatever it takes to design Web-based advertising products for these gallant merchant-pioneers.

All this we intend to do at a very reasonable cost, but one which will keep Doug Biggers, our beloved leader, in Learjet fuel for the rest of his life. After all, we want to be fair about this thing.

And fairness, ultimately, is the most important reason we simply must carry advertising in our electronic edition. Perhaps you aren't aware of this, but our articles, graphics, photos and cartoons are produced by human beings much like yourself, only weirder. Around here, we like to call them writers, artists, photographers and cartoonists, for no apparent reason. But these intensely creative and talented people, many of them unable to hold down real jobs, depend on their income from The Weekly to keep themselves supplied with marijuana, heroin and crack cocaine. So you see, if we don't pay them, our town's entire economy goes right in the toilet, and that wouldn't be fair to the rest of us, would it?

While nobody's currently being paid extra when we use their material on the Web, we are now planning for that eventuality. As soon as the tidal wave of money rolls in from electronic advertisers, our creative freelancers will be getting a cut. Well, more of a nick, really, but that's a start.

In the meantime, The Weekly will be offering all freelance writers, artists, photographers and cartoonists their own individual Web pages on which to advertise their services worldwide. And we remind you, the reader, that these people make excellent temporary domestic servants--assuming you don't mind them constantly demanding to be paid, telling you how to run your life and business, or making snide and slanderous remarks about you behind your back.

FINALLY, A WORD about why we're doing all this. A little chataqua on philosophy, if you will:

Our beloved founder and leader, Doug Biggers, who is much younger than most of us here, but smarter and better looking, believes firmly in the long-term value to our corporation of taking chances and experimenting. While this belief was responsible for several of our executives being arrested on charges of body snatching and indecent exposure last year, that is all behind us now. We have learned from the experience, and if anyone still has photographs, please give us a call.

Also, we must confess that we feel terribly guilty, in a corporate sense, about killing trees. Their dying screams haunt our every waking moment. If only an enlightened humanity would move its voracious reading habits to cyberspace, we could save these gentle giants of the forest while simultaneously telling the evil and sadistic newsprint suppliers who are constantly jacking up our costs to shove it.

Yes, boys and girls, the gleaming infotainment super-duper highway of the future starts right here in your hands. We hope you'll remember to wash them frequently, especially if you're in the food service industry. And don't forget--in the future everything is perfect because nobody's messed it up yet.

Thank you, and have a nice day.

Keyboard, mouse and modem photos by Brion McCarthy

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July 6 - July 12, 1995

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