December 14 - December 20, 1995

The Skinny

BUSMAN'S HOLIDAY: We recently found ourselves suffering the beginning effects of the flu currently plaguing the Naked Pueblo, and, being without a car, took the bus home. Or nearly there, anyway. Perhaps it was the growing penumbra of illness, or the dull gray sky overhead, but our trip across the urban grid was decidedly minor key.

As we waited at the bus stop, we sat next to an emaciated ghost of a man who looked to be about 50. He grinned ruefully, muttered something unintelligible and chuckled knowingly to himself--behavior he repeated over and over. He smelled like rotting vegetables.

Then a pipe-smoking, pot-bellied guy in a T-shirt, his ears muffled by headphones connected to a tape player, plopped down next to us. The fumes from Mr. Walkman's odd tobacco mix--Lysol and bubble gum?--mercifully blotted out the other man's stench. Meanwhile, inches in front of us, the always busy street was now beginning its daily rush-hour bloat with the Buicks of government workers and the Mercedes of lawyers.

On the sidewalk across the street, shabbily dressed people, one after another, sauntered, boogied and hobbled up to use an outdoor pay phone. To our fevered brain, it seemed each person deliberately took his or her turn standing there for a minute or two, as if being paid to model the grungy, crippled, quirky or just plain ugly side of humanity, all in stark contrast to the sleek, mostly new vehicles whooshing by with what might as well have been well-coifed space aliens sealed safely inside.

The bus finally arrived and we entered and stumbled our way to a filthy orange seat. A hulking teenager in the back was loudly telling his buddies how he hit somebody with a spike and the blood was flowing all over the place. There was something about a cop chase, too. They were sitting behind an elderly man with a bald skull shining through his terrible butch haircut. The man had no teeth and his mouth puckered inward--he looked for all the world like a corpse propped upright. Nearby, a sad-eyed, weary little woman in shabby clothes fought gently to quiet her crying toddler.

The bus windows were darkened by grime, tinting the urban scenery outside in even more oppressive hues than the winter's day itself could muster. We might as well have been in Pittsburgh or Detroit, it seemed to us on that gray day with the flu creeping closer and the poverty and disrepair of humanity all around us.

Thank God, of course, we weren't.

And thank God, we told ourselves, we aren't like those other people. The mentally ill, the poor, the brutally ignorant, the uneducated, the people without hope and without even enough to buy a pair of cheap fake teeth.

As we sat there in the belly of the beast as it lurched and rumbled eastward, our thoughts grew increasingly philosophical. Happily, however, we soon spied our stop and touched the grunge-encrusted buzzer tape and got up and stumbled off the bus.

We had to walk a short distance through a dreary industrial area where people spend their lives in cramped, airless shops inhaling God-knows-what fumes while they strip furniture and groom poodles, but we finally arrived at the auto body repair shop. And we were delighted to see that our big, white Cadillac Fleetwood was ready to go. It was easy to spot, since even very few Caddies these days sport an "I § Fife" bumper sticker.

Paying the guy the measly $253 it cost to fix the Caddy's wheelwell cover, we slid inside the car, savoring the rich leather smell of the upholstery. We fired up the big V8 and headed north, into the foothills.

We felt a little better already. And as far as all those doomed losers on the bus go? Well, fuck 'em.

HISTORY MADE EASY: We watched the 45-minute KUAT-TV- produced video Tucson Memories and have one major suggestion: Change the title to White Tucson Memories. Out of the 18 people interviewed, we counted only four who weren't white, and one of them, Olivia Smith, is a long-time KUAT employee, so producers Rudy Casillas and Kathleen Walker didn't have to go far from their noses to find her. Noticeably absent from the project was any mention of the devastating urban renewal of the '60s and '70s or Mexican heritage; but there was some swell footage of how tough it was to play golf at Randolph Park before grass. It was one of those feel-good, we - swam - here - and - we - went - to - football - games - and - it - was - really - fun - and - business - moved - from - downtown - to - the - mall - and - wasn't - it - great video. But of course, if pledge-dependent KUAT doesn't do it, who will?

It was really difficult to watch Teresa Jones, host and producer of KUAT's bilingual show Reflexiones, beg for money during this program. Once in a while she tossed in a fond memory she had along with a Spanish word or two. Anyway, we're sure Roy Drachman, just one of the well-heeled interviewees, is calling in his pledge and ordering about 50 copies of the video to give as holiday gifts to all his Realtor pals this year.

Financing for this historical White Album was reportedly provided by a six-year resident of Tucson. Next time, she might want to look into funding Tucson Memories Part 2, The Hispanic Influence.

CUTTING ROOM FLOOR: Casting folks for the movie Vanishing Point are in Tucson looking for extras and bit-part actors, including a CNN news anchor who asks the main character a few questions. Guess who tried out for the part? Tucson's own real-life news readers, Guy Atchley, Tina Naughton and Bud Foster.

Talk about suspension of disbelief.

Atchley previously appeared as an aggressive newsguy in Jericho Fever, a thrilling tale about terrorists and an out-of-control infectious disease in the Southwest. It starred Stephanie Zimbalist and was made for some cable channel a few years ago. During the filming they blew up a bus in the barrio.

Now that would be news worth watching. But we've been wondering why anybody would really bother with local TV news these days. It all seems like the same old stuff--this murder, that accident, this meeting, that meeting, the other meeting, what the cops' spokesman had to say, some shiny new equipment some government agency's bought, blah, blah, blah.

Is this stuff relevant to your life? Is it even relevant to the collective life of our community? We at The Skinny hereby announce that we'll pass along your suggestions for improving local TV news. Just keep 'em short, please.

SPECIAL ED IN ACTION: The Pima County Board of Supervisors just passed an ordinance calling for preferential hiring of Native Americans. They'll now give Indians the same 5 percent advantage on test scores they've given veterans and the disabled for some time. It passed by a 4-to-1 vote, with Supervisor Mike Boyd dissenting. (For once the Flaky Waffleman actually took a position.)

Supporting it were the two Demo supervisors, Dan Eckstrom and Raul Grijalva, as well as GOP dudes Paul Marsh and Special Ed Moore.

pix Wait a minute--isn't this the same Ed Moore who recently was seen supporting the now-defunct candidacy of California Governor Pete Wilson, a guy who viciously attacked affirmative action? And didn't Ed Moore and Paul Marsh give a lobbying contract to the law firm of Arizona Board of Regents President-elect John Munger, another foe of preferential hiring? Gee, guys, do you plan to instruct your lobbyist to promote the hiring of Native Americans at the state level?

Or was Special Ed just pandering again to the large number of Native Americans in his district? District 3 contains the Tohono O'odham Reservation as well as the Yaqui New Pascua Village.

HERE COME DA JUDGE: Damn. Pima County Superior Court Judge (suspended) William Scholl must be one helluva great card player or dice roller. In fact, this guy has to have a real system. The feds indict him for failure to pay income tax on all his Las Vegas winnings spread out over several years, and he got the casino guys to settle a big debt for about 35 cents on the dollar. What a guy, huh?

The rest of us mere mortals probably wouldn't be able to get into a Vegas casino for over a hundred grand, even if we earned as much as a Superior Court judge. And if we went belly up on them, they'd either sue our ass or send a guy in a car driven by another guy named Tesseo.

Yes sir, His Honor should have no problems making enough money to pay those back taxes and all those fines he'll be getting should he be found guilty. All he has to do is write a best-selling book explaining how he consistently beat the odds.

You don't suppose there's something more to his indictment than meets the eye, do you?

MORE CANDIDATES FOR LEGISLATURE: In District 13, the two incumbent Democrat House members George Cunningham and Andy Nichols have yet to resolve which one will run for the state Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Patti Noland. Neither has blinked yet, probably because the one who does will have to stay in the lower house where he can only run for two more terms before his political career ends abruptly in accordance with the law.

One bright, strong Democrat contender for the two House seats has emerged: Colette Philip. She joins Ron St. John, aide to Pima County Supervisor Mike Boyd, who's seeking the GOP nomination for one or both open seats. Both Phillip and St. John are expected to formally announce early next year.

And in District 12, the GOP primary will include Realtor Steve Huffman. He's currently serving as campaign co-treasurer for the cementhead/developer contingent's candidate for county supe, Vicki Cox Golder. Technically, Huffman will be running against both District 12 incumbents, Dan Schottel and Freddie Hershberger, but he's actually going after Schottel.

The country club Republican faction has never forgiven Schottel for having the audacity to run against their fair-haired boy, Jack Jewett, in the GOP primary in 1990. This is called "payback," and the move probably doesn't help Hershberger either, who will now have to run a primary campaign to cover herself.

We, of course, haven't forgiven Schottel and Hershberger for supporting the environmental audit bill last session, which would have allowed polluters to secretly report violations of environmental law and escape penalties. (That one was vetoed by Gov. J. Fife Deadbeat III, in one of his few decent acts.) We're also disgusted Schottel and Hershberger supported Arizona's new presidential primary, which will cost taxpayers around $2.5 million.

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December 14 - December 20, 1995

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