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Gimme Shelter It ain’t easy to buy a house in Tucson’s bonkers housing market. And rents aren’t getting any cheaper. By Christina Duran

DANEHY: Get Vaccinated, Dammit!

CURRENTS: Finchem Recall Fizzles



JUNE 24, 2021



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The Reid Park Zoo shows off the ‘Art in the Animal Kingdom’



It ain’t easy to buy a house in Tucson’s bonkers housing market. And rents aren’t getting any cheaper.



Gaslight Theatre, Music Hall return to indoor shows



ADMINISTRATION Steve T. Strickbine, Publisher Michael Hiatt, Vice President


Jaime Hood, General Manager, jaime@tucsonlocalmedia.com Tyler Vondrak, Associate Publisher, tyler@tucsonlocalmedia.com

The Home Stretch

EVEN IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN IN THE market to buy a house, it’s hard to miss that prices have been shooting through the roof. People are paying tens of thousands of dollars above the asking price and homes don’t stay on the market for very long. It’s great if you’re selling your home, but a big problem if you’re trying to buy, especially as a first-time homebuyer. At the same time, rents are increasing so people at the bottom of the ol’ ecomomic ladder are feeling more pinched than ever. In this week’s cover story, staff reporter Christina Duran takes a look at why prices are climbing so fast—a lack of new houses and an influx of people from places with houses that cost a lot more than Tucson have a lot to do with it. She also looks at why more houses aren’t being built, which has a lot to do with higher material costs and a lack of labor. And she looks at how those higher rents are making it harder for many people to find a decent place to live. It’s a thorough and insightful report. Elsewhere in the book, we look at why the recall effort against state lawmaker Mark Finchem fizzled out; as Pride Month draws to a close, ASU student journalist Mingson Lau looks at why gay Asians going to school in the United States often have trouble coming out to

Claudine Sowards, Accounting, claudine@tucsonlocalmedia.com

their parents back home; columnist Tom Danehy is astonished that so many Arizonans are balking at the chance to get vaccinated against COVID-19; movie critic Bob Grimm enjoys the new Rita Moreno biopic; associate editor Jeff Gardner introduces you to Samantha Bounkeua, who is making music under the moniker Rogue Violin; Tucson Weedly columnist David Abbott looks at the plight of the medical marijuana certification clinics, who have lost a lot of business thanks to a variety of factors; calendar editor Emily Dieckman has a whole bunch of fun stuff to do in City Week; and we’ve got more about what’s happening this weekend at Reid Park Zoo’s Summer Safari Night, the new indoor show at the Gaslight Theater and plenty more, including Dan Savage’s sex column, a preview of your destiny in this week’s horoscope and the best cartoons in Tucson. See you at the open house! — Jim Nintzel Executive Editor Hear Nintz talk about what to do for fun this weekend at 9:30 a.m. Wednesdays during the World Famous Frank Show on KLPX, 96.1 FM.

RANDOM SHOTS By Rand Carlson

RougeViolin breaks away from academic constraints

Sheryl Kocher, Receptionist, sheryl@tucsonlocalmedia.com EDITORIAL Jim Nintzel, Executive Editor, jimn@tucsonlocalmedia.com Jeff Gardner, Managing Editor, jeff@tucsonlocalmedia.com Mike Truelsen, Web Editor, mike@tucsonlocalmedia.com Christina Duran, Staff Reporter, christinad@tucsonlocalmedia.com Ireland Stevenson, Staff Reporter, istevenson@tucsonlocalmedia.com Contributors: David Abbott, Rob Brezsny, Max Cannon, Rand Carlson, Tom Danehy, Emily Dieckman, Bob Grimm, Andy Mosier, Linda Ray, Margaret Regan, Will Shortz, Jen Sorensen, Clay Jones, Dan Savage PRODUCTION Courtney Oldham, Production Manager, tucsonproduction@timespublications.com Ryan Dyson, Graphic Designer, ryand@tucsonlocalmedia.com Emily Filener, Graphic Designer, emilyf@tucsonlocalmedia.com CIRCULATION Alex Carrasco, Circulation, alexc@tucsonlocalmedia.com ADVERTISING TLMSales@TucsonLocalMedia.com Kristin Chester, Account Executive, kristin@tucsonlocalmedia.com Candace Murray, Account Executive, candace@tucsonlocalmedia.com Lisa Hopper, Account Executive, lisa@tucsonlocalmedia.com NATIONAL ADVERTISING VMG Advertising, (888) 278-9866 or (212) 475-2529 Tucson Weekly® is published every Thursday by Times Media Group at 7225 N. Mona Lisa Rd., Ste. 125, Tucson, Arizona. Address all editorial, business and production correspondence to: Tucson Weekly, 7225 N. Mona Lisa Rd., Ste. 125, Tucson, Arizona 85741. Phone: (520) 797-4384, FAX (520) 575-8891. First Class subscriptions, mailed in an envelope, cost $112 yearly/53 issues. Sorry, no refunds on subscriptions. Member of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN). The Tucson Weekly® and Best of Tucson® are registered trademarks of Times Media Group. Back issues of the Tucson Weekly are available for $1 each plus postage for the current year. Publisher has the right to refuse any advertisement at his or her discretion.



Medical card providers have seen a big drop in business but hope for a better tomorrow

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JUNE 24, 2021

en. While LGBT acceptance is increasing in Vietnam, it is still not as open of an experience when compared to his time in Canada, Nguyen said. “For boys, if you act girly—you look skinny, you are short, you have lighter It’s a challenge for LGBT Asians to come out to relatives in their homelands skin—then you’ll be attacked,” said Nguyen recalling instances during his childhood out. By Mingson Lau in Vietnam where he was attacked and According to an article co-authored tucsonweekly@tucsonlocalmedia.com sexually harassed by classmates for being by Huang, the most profound struggle too feminine. Chinese queer subjects face is with their XIUKUI JI, A THEN-22-YEAR OLD Nguyen said it was challenging to learn private lives, notably with their families Chinese international student at the about sex education because the subject and parents. University of Arizona, was on the phone was not taught in Vietnam. Being a gay When people find they are having trouwith his sister when he told her, “Oh, by the student was “not that great,” said Nguyen. ble coming out to their parents, it could way… I’m gay.” Something that popped up in his commu“I knew it! I knew it from the fifth grade!” often be because of a concern for their par- nity was the popularization of Danmei with ents who may be judged within their local Ji remembers his sister telling him. His his female classmates. communities, Huang said. Huang’s studies interest in musicals, his lack of interest in According to Huang, Danmei is a Chisports, his feminine connections all pointed showed that conforming to Chinese socie- nese media genre romanticizing male-male tal expectations to ease parent’s worries is relationships and reportedly originated to his homosexuality, according to Ji’s sister. Ji’s brother was also accepting of the a common tactic. To embrace their queer from straight women in Japan. news, since he had a childhood friend who lives, they may accommodate by having “A lot of times, it is a really distorted children or acquiring a well-paying job to was openly gay. representation of gay relationships that However, Ji still has not shared the news alleviate their parent’s anxiety. is focused more on frivolous bodies,” said Huang said that respondents felt that with his parents because he is worried Huang. by doing so, “at least I fulfill some of my about their reactions. Danmei can be translated as ‘‘indulgent It’s not an unusual concern. Participants responsibilities, as a son or daughter, that in beauty’’ and had a strong emphasis on in an American Psychological Association is when I feel that I could at least allow the aesthetic of attractive male bodies. (APA) study noted fear and concern of ho- [myself] to maintain my own gay or lesbian “So they would have fantasies where, mosexuality in Southeast Asian culture and identity.” ‘Ooh, hot guys go together. Big, strong guy Coming out in mainland China is chala lack of education and awareness about and little guy [become] a couple.’ For those lenging because of the different history and gay guys who do not match their imaginary the LGBTQ community. culture, said Huang. The concept of coming fantasies, the girls would harass them, “The pressures South Asian immigrant out is “not that strong” and not seen as parents apply to their children result in a necessary step of identifying as LGBT. their children leading double lives: one SORENSEN This may be due in part, Huang says, to the in which they feign acceptance of their more private and less expressive nature of parents’ wishes and another one wherein they secretly participate in parties, relation- sexuality in Chinese culture. Ji said that the topic of LGBT was still ships, and ‘American’ activities,” reported polarizing in China and the U.S. Although the APA study. there has been progress, particularly in “I feel like I would be a totally different more urban areas, Ji said there are still tenperson if I didn’t come to the states,” Ji sions in both countries about the subject. said. “I feel like living in this environment While the topic remains sensitive, Ji allowed me to explore my full self without said it’s easier in the states because the worrying too much about other people’s American mentality is more open about opinions.” Ji plans to tell his parents but is holding expression. “People here [in the U.S] are a little more off until he finds a stable job in the U.S. “I think it would be easier that way,” said open to talk about it,” Ji said. Timothy Nguyen has also yet to tell his Ji, who worries that his parents may cut him off financially. Ji says it is also to show parents that he is gay. Nguyen said his mother expresses pity them that he can be independent and take on the topic of homosexual men, “oh, they care of himself in the country. want to be girls, but they can’t.” His father Shuzhen Huang, Ph.D. in communiis more conservative, telling gay men to cations, is an assistant professor at the “man up” and be less feminine. Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. Nguyen immigrated to Canada from Huang’s work focuses on intercultural comVietnam when he was 14 years old and was munication, gender and sexuality studies. She finds that the most difficult task people shocked at the level of LGBT acceptance encounter is “communicat[ing] their queer in the country. According to Nguyen, one identities with their parents.” Based on her of his teachers was openly gay and nobody studies and observations, Huang finds that seemed concerned over it. It was a “hallelujah” moment, said Nguyparents are typically the last people to find



saying, ‘Oh, you’re so ugly, why would you be gay?’” said Nguyen Although Danmei is seldom created from the perspective of LGBT folks, Huang said in her conversations with gay activists, she learned some welcome more representation of homosexuality in media, as some representation is better than none. Huang added that integration into pop culture was also a more convenient way to get access to that knowledge instead of academic or journal articles, since media representation was limited. One source who asked to remain anonymous said he enjoyed the freedom in America. “The generosity that I experienced here [in the U.S] is way more than the hatred,” he said of his four years living in Tucson, Arizona. However, he is still anxious with fear about sharing his identity due to recent animosity against Asian-Americans as well as tensions against the LGBT community. Only a few close friends and one cousin know he’s gay, despite an engagement to his fiancee. The Arizona resident said he was “not very comfortable speaking out as a gay.” People in China are very conservative and traditional, he said, and aren’t likely to change their attitudes. “It’s really hard to change them, but I will try to tell [my family] when I have kids so that it will be much easier,” he said. ■

JUNE 24, 2021


Reid Park Zoo Summer Safari Nights


Reid Park Zoo’s latest summer safari nights celebrates the art found on giraffes, zebras, birds and more.


Reid Park Zoo shows off ‘Art in the Animal Kingdom’

By Jeff Gardner jeff@tucsonlocalmedia.com THE REID PARK ZOO IS continuing their Summer Safari Nights program series by celebrating the art found within the animal kingdom, both in color and shape. And while the obvious selection of colorful birds will be featured, so will animals like zebras, giraffes and more. Summer Safari Nights occur every Saturday evening through August, each with a different theme, and allow guests to enjoy cooler temperatures plus some unique animal activities and recreation. The upcoming Art in the Animal Kingdom safari night on Saturday, June

26, will have both of the zoo’s aviaries available, where guests can see a variety of colorful birds. These include birds so colorful it’s made it into their names, such as the scarlet ibis and saffron finch. There are also the pink and white spoonbill and the blue and grey boat-billed heron. All of these birds are colored due to the natural hues of their feathers, or their diet. However, the Reid Park Zoo’s aviary also includes king vultures, which have necks with skin colored like mangos and bright icy eyes. According to Sue Tygielski, director of zoo operations, their colorful birds are such an attraction that the zoo commonly has visitors sit in the aviary to sketch animals. “For our aviary, the general conserva-



is going on. If they’re not feeling well, their ears might be generally lowered. Even the tiniest changes can indicate something might be going on.” Art In The Animal Kingdom The lions include a mother-daughter Saturday, June 26 pair with their own personalities. Kaya, 5:30 to 7 p.m. or 7 to 8:30 p.m. the mother, is more active whereas Nayo, $10.50 for adults, $6.50 for kids reidparkzoo.org/event/summer-safari-nights-2021 the daughter, is more inquisitive. “My favorite thing about training is seeing the lions’ progression. The behaviors that we’re teaching them, like tion message is habitat conservation,” body presentation, start out as someTygielski said. “There are species where thing small and then we shape it into people would take their feathers or their what we want it to be,” said lion keeper eggs. So it’s mainly about not disturbing Laura McHugh. “For example, we work their nests, and leaving enough habitat with an ear presentation behavior so we to let them do what they need to do.” can apply topical cream to their ears beThe Reid Park Zoo also features sever- cause the flies can be pretty bad. At first al colorful and striking animals from the you might think ‘How can I apply this African savannah, which luckily means on a lion’s ear? It’s seemingly imposthey’re used to the kind of heat Tucson sible.’ You might have safety concerns, has experienced in recent weeks. but then you shape their behavior so Their Grevy’s zebras have thinner the lion will press her ear up against the stripes as compared to their plains fence and allow you to apply it. It’s really counterparts, which run off their bodies cool to see it move from an idea to a and up their manes. Although scientists completed behavior.” aren’t positive why zebras have stripes, Other animals at the Art in the Anitheories range from regulating body mal Kingdom safari night poison dart temperature to confusing predators to frogs, giraffes and jaguars. The evening keeping away biting flies. will include live music from local folk Sharing the same enclosure are the musician Leila Lopez, food and drink ostriches, the males with black feathers specials, carousel rides, and more. ■ and the females with grey. Although— let’s be honest—they’re pretty ridiculous looking animals, they weigh 200 pounds and their massive dinosaur-like feet can kill even a lion with a kick. “Despite having the largest egg of any bird, they still have the smallest egg compared to their body size. That just shows how big ostriches are,” said Adam Ramsey, animal care manager. The Summer Safari Night will also show off the zoo’s lions, the males of which are known for their massive manes. The zoo’s lions receive multiple exams and training sessions per day where zookeepers check in on their bodies and behavior. “Behavior is a really important indicator for how our animals are doing, so the keepers have to be really cued into how the animals are behaving and really small changes,” said Rebecca Edwards, animal care supervisor. “With the cats, we have to look closely at the positions JEFF GARDNER of their ears and shapes of their eyes Laura McHugh performs a check on the because that can indicate if something Reid Park Zoo’s lions.



JUNE 24, 2021



Critics give up effort to force State Rep. Mark Finchem to face a special election By Christina Duran christinad@tucsonlocalmedia.com

ORGANIZERS OF A RECALL EFFORT against state Rep. Mark Finchem ended three weeks before the deadline. Rural Arizonans for Accountability announced they would throw in the towel on Tuesday, June 15. Finchem said he expected the effort to fail. “For an effort that was rooted in baseless fraudulent claims, and defamatory accusations, I am not surprised that the effort failed,” said Finchem via email. Recall organizers had told Tucson Local Media last month that they believed they would be able to reach their goal of 24,775 signatures by the July 8 deadline. But the group told supporters in an email last week that they didn’t think they could make the goal. “After analyzing the number of signatures we still need, the shrinking number of days left until our deadline, and our current finances, we made the difficult decision to stop collecting signatures,” the email said. “The vast majority of constituents in Legislative District 11 are very intelligent and they can spot a scam, which they ultimately did here,” Finchem said. Tony Cani, a representative for the recall effort, said in total the campaign cost around $450,000. A campaign finance report through the end of March 2021 shows Rural Arizonans for Accountability received about $100,000 each from Movement Voter Pac and Rural Arizona Action, as well as $100,000 from individual contributions. A new finance report is expected to be released next month. “It was a math problem, which is: should we continue to invest additional resources when it’s a real long shot or should we be realistic about where we are, and move on to the next phase, to a different phase of work, holding these elected officials accountable?” Cani said.

“Being realistic about the fact that it was an extremely long shot to collect the rest of those signatures.” In a recall effort, Cani said they would want a “sizeable buffer” to ensure that they would have enough qualifying signatures, because if they got the exact 24,775 signatures, some would have likely been disqualified for things like writing outside the margins or signatures from people who lived outside of the district. In 2011, Citizens for a Better Arizona submitted around 18,000 signatures to force a recall election against then-State Senate president Russell Pearce, who was defeated in the subsequent recall election. The recall effort only needed 7,756 valid signatures to force a recall election. “Rural Arizonans for Accountability knew that this was an uphill battle,” Cani said. But he added that the group felt it was worth pursuing because often lawmakers who are elected in safe districts where they don’t face serious competition in the general election “kind of get a pass.” While Cani said Rural Arizonans for Accountability as well as supporters believe the campaign has succeeded in bringing to light “bad faith actions of Finchem.” The campaign called for a recall due to Finchem’s continued claims of voter fraud in Arizona and his ties to the “Stop the Steal” rioters at the Jan. 6 insurrection, and criticized Finchem’s campaign to run for Arizona Secretary of State. Last month, Finchem’s attorney had sent a cease-and-desist letter to Rural Arizonans for Accountability demanding they “retract all false and defamatory allegations contained in materials that you have published in support of your campaign to recall Rep. Finchem.” Cani said the letter had nothing to do with their decision to end the campaign and spurred on their volunteers and recruitment. But Finchem said the letter was meant “to put the organizers and their lawyers on notice that they engaged in a serious fallacious and defamatory action that I

intend to pursue in order to recover damages and other relief for the harm that they knowingly caused as a result of their baseless acquisitions.” Asked whether he thought his letter had caused a backlash to the recall effort, Finchem said the group had “ample time to collect signatures and they paid a lot of money to out-of-town recruits who openly told constituents that they were BLM surrogates. I think the constituents of LD-11 know a fraud when they see one.” While the recall fizzled out, Finchem had faced greater scrutiny in the media, including stories on national news stations. But Finchem said the effort had not hindered his upcoming campaign for Arizona Secretary of State because of his “solid reputation for standing up for what is right.” In visiting voters from Ft. Mohave to Tucson and Sierra Vista over the last 60 days, Finchem said “the overwhelming message from everyone regardless of political party registration is this: They want to be assured that elections are fraud free, are conducted with full-spectrum transparency and they retain their right to scrutinize every aspect of our elections.” Finchem said he was focused on a recent special session to pass $100 million in funding to combat and recover from wildfires, which passed on Thursday, June 17, and passing a budget, expressing concern over “the federal government ‘juicing’ our economy with fiat currency.” Alongside those efforts, Finchem continues to be concerned about the ongoing “forensic audit” of Maricopa County’s 2020 ballots. In campaigning for Secretary of State, Finchem made a video in support of the Arizona Ballot Integrity Project, which proposes making ballot images a public record, including a watermark and microprinting seen under UV light, a QR code to track one’s ballot and a ballot hologram. He believes this plan, “if implemented properly, will make forensic audits less likely.” Since the outcome of the presidential election, Finchem has voiced his belief that the election was stolen and has acted on this belief by supporting the Maricopa County audit that is drawing to a close. The audit has been widely questioned, as the main contractor for the effort, Cyber Ninjas, has no experience in

carrying out an audit and company representatives have been tight-lipped on the details on how they are conducting it. This week, Finchem spoke with Ann Vandersteel, a supporter of various QAnon theories, on her online talk show, Steel the Truth, about the Maricopa audit. On Twitter last Friday, Finchem dismissed Attorney General Merrick Garland’s announcement that the Department of Justice would scrutinize any post-election audits to “ensure they abide by federal statutory requirements, to protect election records and avoid the intimidation of voters,” calling it a “clown show.” “Nothing short of amazing! The Attorney General of the United States issued a not so veiled threat to States, who have jurisdiction over elections which he does not, engaged in validation of an election. Audits designed to prove or disprove election fraud,” Finchem wrote. “Where was the DOJ when states produced proof of extinguished voting rights through legitimate ballot nullification? Where was the DOJ when we reported foreign electronic intervention, again with proof?” While the audit has been criticized by Democratic lawmakers as well as the GOP-led Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, who had already audited the election, Finchem said it was worth pursuing. “I think the criticizers are misinformed,” Finchem said. “I would add, that there are very few legislators who are developing election integrity and security policy that will restore voter confidence, which has been damaged by those who have pushed the false narrative that this is the, “most safe and secure election in history,” when clear and convincing evidence has been presented to the contrary. The effort is important to either prove or disprove government claims that the election is the, “most safe and secure election in history,” especially after so many senators and congressmen expressed serious concerns that our systems were open to hacking.” Finchem said he was standing by his record. “I have served my community with honor and integrity,” Finchem said “While some may disagree with some of my votes, our state has done well on my watch.” ■

JUNE 24, 2021


THE ANTI-VAX CROWD SURE HAS SOME STUPID ARGUMENTS By Tom Danehy, tucsonweekly@tucsonlocalmedia.com AS ONE GOES THROUGH LIFE and, through experience, gains wisdom and perspective, he/she finds that, in almost all cases, there are at least two sides to every issue. Except for when it comes to vaccines; there’s only one side to that and that is that anti-vaxxers are the stupidest people on Earth. Even the ones who are able to speak in complete sentences are just smart enough to be stupid. They get a part of a piece of a tiny grain of an idea and then convince themselves that they have built Hadrian’s Wall. It is so frustrating, after what everybody on Earth has lived through (and many died from) over the past 16 months, to hear morons blather on about that of which they obviously know nothing. Their refusal to get vaccinated is causing people to get sick and die. It is also keeping their beloved economy from returning to full strength. And for what? The excuses given are mind-boggling. They include: • I think I’m allergic. How can you tell if you’re allergic to something if you’ve never had it?! Sadly, I’m allergic to avocados. I know this because I used to love guacamo-


le, but as I got older, I developed a vicious allergy. It started as a tiny tickle in my throat. But, after a couple years, I would take one bite and my face would look like Ben Grimm after being exposed to the cosmic rays. It is possible to be allergic to a vaccine, but it’s extremely rare and there’s no way of knowing until you get it. • People are dying from the vaccine. That’s just a lie. It’s not even worth bothering to refute it. Even most of Tucker Carlson’s brain-dead viewers don’t believe it and they’ll believe just about anything. • The vaccine makes some people magnetic. They can’t even get the lie right. The original lie was that there was some kind of metal being injected into people, enough to make a magnet stick to the injection site. This was completely false and quickly debunked. Actually, the original, original lie was that Bill Gates was using the vaccination effort to implant microchips in our bodies. That, too, has been proven to be completely false. But, through the evil that is TikTok, the lie has now morphed into the government is injecting us with magnets. Stupid is as anti-vaxxer does.

• And my least-favorite, the vaccine can cause fertility issues. (Again, not true. The disease itself can mess with fertility; the vaccine, no.) A young woman whom I used to coach in basketball contacted me a couple weeks ago and asked if she could use me as a reference for a job for which she was applying. We had a brief conversation; I asked her how she and her family were doing. Since she’s not yet 21 and still in college, I asked her if she had had the opportunity to get vaccinated yet. When she told me that she wasn’t going to get vaccinated, I was flabbergasted. She’s usually a smart kid. When I asked her why, she said, “It’s because the vaccine causes fertility issues and I want to have kids someday.” I said, “Dude, you need to stay off the internet. All that false information can make you null and void.” She’s a great kid and I didn’t want to lecture her, but doggone it! I told her that saying that a vaccine can affect fertility issues is like saying that playing softball makes you better at English. The unholy alliance of the anti-vaxxers and Fox News (and its copycat “networks”) have been pushing this and other ridiculous claims in a feeble attempt to derail President Biden’s wildly successful (and popular) national vaccination effort. They got somebody claiming to be a doctor to suggest that the vaccine might cause a person’s body to attack the protein synctin-1, which is in a woman’s placenta and shares a tiny bit of genetic code with the coronavi-



rus’ spike protein. One of the best reactions to that nonsense that I have read comes from (real) Dr. Laura Morris from the University of Missouri. Says Dr. Morris: “A good analogy for your immune system to get mixed up and attack the placental protein would be like you mistaking an elephant for an alley cat because they’re both gray. There is one small similarity but the overall constructions of the proteins are so completely different, your immune system is way too smart to be confused by that.” What is most frustrating in this whole matter is the blatant hypocrisy being exhibited by the nouveau (Trump-inspired) anti-vaxxers. Many of the people in the wide swath of right-wingers who are refusing to get vaccinated are the same people who were storming state capitols with assault weapons last summer, screaming that the lockdown was doing more harm than the disease itself. They called on the government(s) to do everything possible to open businesses back up for the resurgence of the economy and the mental well-being of all Americans. That was not a totally unreasonable argument, but now that there is a clear and incontrovertible method for doing that very thing that they wanted, they’re refusing to do the one simple thing that can save lives and bring the American economy roaring back. They call themselves patriots; they’re really just hypocrites. ■



JUNE 24, 2021



It ain’t easy to buy a house in Tucson’s bonkers housing market. And rents aren’t getting any cheaper.

they were pre-approved for up to $300,000 and with the help of their friend and real estate agent Akala Jacobson, the couple felt excited about starting the process of buying a home. IN DECEMBER 2019, ERIC SMITH But that optimistic attitude wouldn’t found out he and his wife, Janelle, were expecting their first child, so they want- last. “I’ve lived here for 30 years, but ed to move out of their apartment and going and seeing these houses and all into a home. these different little neighborhoods is Then the pandemic hit in March supposed to be fun. It ended up really 2020. Smith, a bartender at midtown stressful,” said Smith. “I don’t know seafood restaurant Kingfisher, was what I was expecting. I was expecting it soon out of work. Smith and his wife to perhaps be a little bit more decided to hunker down instead and affordable.” wait out the pandemic. Smith and his wife were looking In April of this year, they renewed for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom their house hunt, feeling optimistic home at no less than 1,100 square feet. about their chances of finding a good They found nothing available below home at a fair price. Despite having heard about the “crazy market,” Smith $200,000. “I don’t feel like we’re looking for thought the process would at least be a lot,” said Smith. “That for me was fun. kind of shocking to me. I had lived in a Instead, it was stressful. house that I was renting that sold three Smith had only returned to work years ago. It was three bedrooms, two full time in Feburary after being out bathrooms, approximately 1,400 square of work for most of the past year. He feet. It sold for $140,000.” struggled to get pre-approved for a Not only were the homes less afloan. fordable, but in a highly competitive In April, the loan broker told them By Christina Duran Christinad@tucsonlocalmedia.com

market, they lost out to several offers way above the price point. His craziest experience came when the couple put in an offer $25,000 over list price for a midtown house near Rosemont and Broadway boulevards that was less than 1,200 square feet and listed at roughly $265,000. They were told someone came in at $335,000 and waived the appraisal fee, offering to cover anything the appraisal would not cover with cash. In another case, a house they put in an offer for had about 25 other offers. At that point, Smith said they considered calling it quits and renewing their lease. “We feel like we’re in a pretty good position financially but it gets dispiriting,” Smith said. “It’s hard to keep looking. Homeownership, it’s this goal. It’s this thing that you want to get to that helps set you up for later in life and then something like that happens and you’re like ‘God, are we ever gonna be able to buy a home?’” Despite the high price of homes, they were still motivated to continue the hunt because they didn’t know how

much longer the current low interest rates would last. “We could wait. We could re-sign a lease but are we going to be able to get a 3.25% interest rate next year? Who knows? And at a higher interest rate, obviously we would be able to afford less house,” said Smith. With a pre-approved loan, little debt and $44,000 in Jeopardy winnings Smith took home after winning two shows back in September 2019, Smith felt he could be competitive in the market. “That’s what allowed us to offer concessions to the seller, to offer to cover a low appraisal. That all rests on the fact that I won on Jeopardy,” said Smith. “Without that we would have either had to borrow money from parents or we wouldn’t have gotten the house that we have that we had an offer accepted on, that’s for sure.” They saw hundreds of houses and made seven offers before finally finding a home and having their offer accepted on June 1. “When your agent calls you up and is like, ‘They accepted your offer,’ it’s just

JUNE 24, 2021

joy and then it’s terror at all the things that could happen after the offer is accepted,” said Smith. Smith found a home that the owners had bought in February for $166,000. Smith’s offer was $280,000. They ended up offering $5,000 in seller concessions and offered to cover a spread on the appraisal of $11,000. While they wait for the appraisal of their home, Smith estimates they would have to pay an additional $33,000 if they receive a low appraisal, plus the down payment and closing costs. Additionally, Smith said the house and yard need some sprucing up. Including the mortgage, the principal, the interest, mortgage insurance, homeowner’s insurance and property taxes, Smith expects to pay roughly $1,400 a month. “We’re fortunate to be in a position where we can do that, but I know there’s a lot of people out there (for whom) that would be a non-starter,” said Smith. SMITH IS HARDLY ALONE IN struggling to make a house purchase in Tucson’s bonkers market. While the pandemic has been rough on bars, restaurants, performing arts venues and other sectors, the housing market has seen prices skyrocket. The surge in housing prices has been partly driven by more people moving to Arizona and a lack of housing inventory, according to University of Arizona’s Economic and Business Research Center Director George Hammond. “As a segment of the workforce finds itself allowed to work from home by and large—and it looks like a significant segment of those who are allowed to work from home during the pandemic will be allowed to do that on a more permanent basis—that frees them up to move around the country,” said Hammond. “Significant numbers of people are looking to move out of the high-cost, Western metropolitan areas, particularly those in Southern California, where Arizona draws most of its migrants, and are choosing to move to Arizona.” The migration into the state is

increasing the demand for housing, which is relatively affordable compared to high-cost Western metro areas, but not enough houses are being built to fill the demand. “We’ve also seen a big decline in the housing inventory. It was trending down before the pandemic and it really declined rapidly during the pandemic,” said Hammond. “So we have increased migration into Arizona, which is increasing demand for housing. People are looking for houses and at the same time that fewer people are selling their houses and that’s a recipe for really rapidly rising house prices.” The Tucson Association of Realtors did see a dip in listings through 2020, but it only lasted for a few months before they began to see a rebound effect, said CEO Randy Rogers. Aside from increased net migration, he said people began to feel more comfortable to move. “People that were holding it off because they couldn’t find another house, so they said, ‘Well I’m just gonna hang tight, because I need to live somewhere,’ and rentals were hard to come by. New houses were hard to come by. They didn’t want to act that quickly, so they held tight. Now they’re feeling better about it,” said Rogers. Also, lower interest rates have given people more buying power. “If you’re paying 8% on interest, you could buy ‘X, if you’re paying 3% interest or less you can buy ‘X plus,’” explained Rogers. “I think that is allowing homeowners to get into these homes that they, maybe in a higher interest rate market, would not be able to get into.” Home sales are up and existing houses on the market are also selling incredibly fast. Rogers said their pending sales are up by 35% for the month of April and almost 18% for the year. He remembers a time when houses would stay on the market for a month or more. For the month of April, time on market was down to 15 days and for the year through the end of April it was down to 21 days on market, said Rogers. “It’s not like there aren’t houses selling,” Rogers said. “There are a lot

of houses selling, more houses selling. We’re almost back to where we were, just shy of 2019 and 2019 was a very strong year. We just don’t have the inventory out there. We don’t have new home inventory. We don’t have existing inventory that sits for any period of time.” Since the Great Recession, the number of houses built in Pima County significantly declined, with fewer than 4% of homes built after 2009, according to the Making Action Possible (MAP) Dashboard Housing Market Study, a regional housing market study conducted in partnership between the City of Tucson, Pima County and UA’s Economic and Business Research Center. “We’ve had a five- to almost 10-year lag time of new home building, and that’s not that they’re not building,” said Rogers. “Our partners at the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association, and all of their members are doing a great job of building. We just had a lag here, and we didn’t see the growth in Tucson that we saw in Austin or Dallas or some of those cities.” The severe shortage in inventory, coupled with increased lumber, concrete and copper prices, makes building homes more expensive as prices for the construction industry rapidly increase. “They’re off the charts, practically,” Hammond said. “Copper prices are up significantly, really pretty much across the board. Input prices for construction are rising rapidly.” Construction firms also face continued difficulties in attracting workers. Hammond said this is a long-term



trend for Arizona since the end of the Great Recession, with the huge employment declines. “We’re not going to see a break from that anytime in the near future,” Rogers said. “We’re probably two to five years away from catching up on some of those things. I’m not sure things like lumber, or concrete will come back down. I think it’s just the material costs to build a home. It’s not the builder jacking up the price just to jack up the price. The builders’ costs are going up, so they have to in order to maintain profit.” Because of the low inventory and high demand, homes are selling at list price or above list price, according to Rogers. “If you list your home at $100 it’s definitely gonna sell at $100, and in most cases it’s going to be higher than that,” Rogers said. “Somebody needs your house, they can pay $20, $30, $40,000 more, because they need a house.” The short time that houses remain on the market means not only paying at the listed price or more, but also buying a home without concessions. “If you go back in time, you would put an offer on a house and you would say, ‘I would like them to fix the carpet and leave the washer and dryer and maybe do one or two other things.’ Today that’s not even an option,” said Rogers. “It’s not unusual for a home to have 10, 20 or more offers on that house, sometimes cash offers.” If a seller can decide between a cash offer with the house as is, a cash offer with a buyer seeking concessions,




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or a financing offer, the seller will choose the cash offer with no requests, explained Rogers. He said buyers should be pre-qualified and prepared to purchase. “Be ready to move and be ready to move on quickly and make decisions fast. It’s not a time to wait,” said Rogers. Hammond cannot say for sure how much of the current market is caused by ongoing trends or the pandemic, but expects net migration surge and supply chain issues caused by the pandemic would gradually subside. “I think that the increases that we’re seeing in construction inputs, some of what’s driving that are essentially supply chain problems and adjustment problems that are caused by trying to come back to full production after a pandemic, it’s just hard to do. So I think things will gradually subside,” said Hammond. “More homes will start to come on the market. Once you get to the end of the pandemic they’ll start making more longer-term decisions and more of those homes will come on the market.” Hammond noted that both single family and multifamily house permits are up to just over 60,000 permits this year, the highest level of permit activity since 2006. “The new homes coming on the market will increase over the next couple of years as well and that will help to slow the growth in house prices,” said Hammond. Overall, Rogers believes the growth will continue, but different segments of the market will balance out. “Your higher-end Foothills, Oro Valley, Marana homes, those will still maintain, but I think we’ll start to see some moderately priced homes will begin to balance a little bit more if things stay the same,” said Rogers. Higher interest rates would also cause the market to balance, but after speaking with an economist, Rogers said while they anticipate a slight rise in interest rates, he expects they will


Many zip codes around Tucson saw sales price increases of more than 20% over the past year.

still be in the 3% range at least through 2022 “unless there is some major world issue similar to what we had, be it a war, be it an economic event in the world or within the nation.” While housing prices increase creating a booming market, housing affordability continues to decline in Arizona, trending down from where it was five or 10 years ago. “We reached a peak in affordability not long after the Great Recession when house prices hit bottom, but since then house prices have been rising at a fairly rapid pace, generally faster than the income growth and certainly over the past year house prices have risen at a faster pace than overall wage growth,” said Hammond. ACCORDING TO THE MAP HOUSING

Market Study, the Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), meaning all of Pima County, had a median home price of $238,900 in 2019. When compared across 12 western metropolitan areas, Tucson ranked

fourth lowest median home price through the end of 2019, but had the second-highest growth rate of median home prices at 7.1%. As of 2018, 62.4% of households in the Tucson region own their home. “Statistics prove, over time, that the home, your home, is the single biggest wealth building opportunity you have and so it is imperative of us to figure out the American Dream, to buy a home, and how do we make that the most affordable and the most accessible for the number of people who are in it,” said Rogers. “Generational wealth is created by this. I mean it’s staggering. The difference between homeowners and non-homeowners, as to wealth that they build as well as wealth that they potentially transfer down to their families.” However the generational wealth created by owning a home is also maintained by higher wage earners, as housing affordability differs across income groups, with single family housing affordability much better

for high income groups than lower income groups, said Hammond. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines affordable housing as housing in which the occupant(s) pays no more than 30% of their income for gross housing costs, including utilities. The MAP regional housing study calculated what housing affordability would look like for different households with varying income across the Tucson MSA based on HUD’s definition. Based on their calculations, households with two or more members and a higher income are better able to afford a home. With an estimated household income of $80,000 and four household members, the maximum home price would be $232,000. A single parent construction worker with estimated household income of $40,000 would be able to afford a maximum home price of $116,000. However, the lower income earners with only one household member themselves would be unable to afford

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the median home price in Pima County. They calculated that a healthcare support worker earning $27,000 a year could afford a maximum home price of $78,300 and a part-time retail worker earning $13,000 could afford a maximum home price of $37,000, about six times lower than the median home price. “Typically, folks who are minimum wage or on the lower economic spectrum, they rent, and individuals and families on a higher income spectrum, they own, because they recognize that it creates that generational wealth,” said Arizona Housing Coalition Executive Director Joan Serviss. “What happens is we have a lot of our extremely low-income households suffering, because their rent has just gone up too much, and COVID-19 has exacerbated this situation.” THOSE LOWER-INCOME EARNERS may rent due to the lack of housing affordability, but also face greater cost burden than homeowners, meaning those households pay greater than 30% of their income on housing costs,

including utilities. According to the MAP housing study, about one-third of households in Tucson are burdened by housing costs. In 2019, Tucson renters were more than two times more burdened by housing costs than homeowners, which is consistent with the state and nation. Further, the lower the income for a renter household, the greater the housing cost burden. Almost 90% of extremely low income rental households are burdened by housing costs and about three quarters are severely burdened, meaning they spend more than half of their income on housing costs and utilities, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. This is compared to only 19% of middle income rental households who are burdened by housing costs (and just 1% are are severely burdened). “Rents are just not keeping up with incomes and wages and so ultimately Arizona can only meet a quarter of our state’s housing needs in terms of rental housing,” said Serviss. Arizona only has 26 affordable and available rental homes for every 100

extremely low income rental households, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The state has 183,652 extremely low income renter households. In order to afford a two-bedroom rental home in Arizona, someone would need to earn $21.10 an hour; at the current minimum wage, they’d need to work 70 hours per week. Without affordable homes, people face homelessness, an existing issue in Arizona exacerbated by the pandemic. “COVID has really shone the spotlight on the importance of home because it’s now a place that we not only find respite from the virus, but it’s often not just our home,” Serviss said. “It’s now our workplace. It’s now for my kids, it’s their jungle gym. It’s basically a respite from the pandemic, but far too often, there’s folks who can’t shelter in place. They’re really struggling and those folks that can’t shelter in place are those folks who are experiencing homelessness.” Before the pandemic in Arizona, the Arizona Housing Coalition would conduct their annual point-in-time “street and shelter count.” From the


last count conducted in January 2020, Serviss said 10,979 individuals were experiencing homeless, either sleeping outside or in a shelter, emergency shelter or transitional housing. In urban communities such as Tucson and Phoenix, Serviss said they are seeing an increase in unsheltered homelesses, with people sleeping in cars or encampments. “We’re seeing that obviously because there’s just not enough affordable housing supply,” said Serviss. “People often say, ‘Oh that they’re abusing drugs or they have mental illness.’ Oftentimes the real reason is they just cannot afford that first and last month’s rent.” In order to bridge the gap in affordability, the Arizona Housing Coalition continues to advocate for mainly two things to increase state investment towards housing and homelessness: enacting a state low-income housing tax and the restoration of the Housing Trust Fund. The State Low Income Housing Tax Credit mirrors the federal proCONTINUED ON PAGE 12



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gram that has been around since the mid ’80s and, Serviss said, “is frankly responsible for about 96% of all the affordable housing in our nation, a wildly successful program.” She explained the tax credit would be helpful for anybody with Arizona tax liability, like big institutions, organizations and corporations that would take that credit. If implemented, Arizona would join 22 other states that have a state low-income housing tax credit. “It serves as an additional layer of financing to make affordable housing work, to make it pencil, to make more units become available to be built,” said Serviss. “Construction costs are so expensive right now. We have a lumber shortage and supply shortage on so many different fronts and so if we have a state low income housing tax credit, because you’re not able to charge market rate rent, you still have to build the unit, and so that tax credit helps make that deal work, makes it pencil.” Using impact analysis from state economist Elliott D. Pollack and Co, the Arizona Housing Coalition expects the tax credit would result in the construction of at least 6,140 additional affordable rental units over six years. The coalition also hopes to restore the state Housing Trust Fund used to financially support services, such as rental assistance, foreclosure and eviction prevention, construction for affordable housing and emergency housing needs. Until 2010, the sale of unclaimed property made up a large part of the fund’s budget, but recession-era cutbacks capped the Housing Trust Fund at an annual $2.5 million. “That’s really not a lot of funding to address the housing crisis in our state, and the Housing Trust Fund is a really flexible fund to meet housing challenges,” said Serviss. “Obviously, right now, we’re dealing with this current challenge of the pandemic, but four years ago we didn’t have the pandemic, and yet the Housing Trust Fund

was highly responsive to whatever else was going on four years ago or 10 years ago, but it’s not that responsive when it’s capped at $2.5 million.” At its peak in 2007, the Fund received $40 million and provided housing relief for more than 12,000 households, according to the Arizona Housing Coalition. They hope to restore the fund to its original level of 55% of unclaimed property proceeds. “That’s why we’re seeing these increases in homelessness. That’s why we’re not having enough affordable housing development supply or stock, because we’re not making the proper investments,” said Serviss. Joanna Carr, the coalition’s research and policy director, created an Affordable Housing Toolkit with best practices and suggestions for local leaders. At the heart of the suggestions is zoning, Serviss said. “How can we create more density in what’s typically been a single family residential zoning area? How can we make the building process expedited? How can we waive fees and fines and can we make the housing development process faster and more efficient, because that obviously is going to reduce costs,” said Serviss. “But ultimately it’s our local jurisdictions in our cities and counties that received the majority of the federal funds from HUD, and from Congress when they passed COVID-19 relief packages. It’s our local jurisdiction leaders that are taking these funds and trying to fill in the gaps and put it to where it’s best needed.” As housing advocates, Serviss said they advocate for how to use those funds, like converting unused hotel, motel and office spaces into permanent housing. Aside from a lack of resources, the biggest challenge they face is community opposition. “Not everybody wants a shelter or affordable housing development in their community, so we have a lot of ‘Not in my backyard’ NIMBYism,” said Serviss. She argues the developments are much nicer than what people would normally imagine as the “big ugly brown buildings” found in NYC projects.


Homes for sale around Tucson can receive multiple offers during their first day on the market, forcing buyers to act quick — sometimes not even seeing the property prior to purchase.

“We need to lift up the importance of ‘Home’ because ‘Home’ is that foundational support of which you can go to school and access health care, and you can get a job, if you have that safety and stability of home,” she said. Addressing housing is a way of addressing systemic racism and pandemic will exacerbate the connection between race and housing, Serviss said. “We’re gonna have a K-shape recovery where our low-wage workers, who are typically workers of color, are going to be more impacted by job loss and then ultimately eviction crisis, eviction impacts,” said Serviss. “If you get evicted, that stays on your record for a while so you’re gonna have that much of a harder time to get into your next apartment. And let’s say you rebound with jobs—we know that workers of color face significant barriers in accessing those employment opportunities (compared to) their white counterparts.” A renter-versus-owner analysis on the MAP dashboard found that any minority household in the Tucson MSA, consistent with the nation, is less likely to own their home than white households. The report published last year found Black households were the least

likely, with 36.3% living in owner-occupied homes, and American Indian and Alaska Native had the second-highest percentage at 56.2% of those living in renter-occupied homes in Tucson. Despite a lack of census data on the housing cost burden by race and ethnicity, the MAP Housing Market Study found that among all the minority groups in the Tucson MSA, more than half of households have the potential to be burdened by housing costs if they pay a mortgage on their home. When renting, more than half of American Indian/Alaska Native households in the Tucson MSA have the potential to be burdened by housing costs and fewer than half of households in all other race groups have the same potential. “When we talk about housing, that’s really where we can start addressing some of these imbalances of power with households of color,” said Serviss. “If we invest in housing, we can start to really fix that imbalance. Because then kids can grow up and receive the same kind of educational attainment that white counterparts can, and they have that much more of a leg up. I think oftentimes politicians will think about education, but again, where you live very much impacts your educa-

JUNE 24, 2021



Gaslight Theatre, Music Hall return to indoor shows By Jeff Gardner jeff@tucsonlocalmedia.com A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY

far, far away...we used to attend indoor concerts without thinking twice. For more than a year, the folks at Tucson’s Gaslight Theatre and Oro Valley’s Gaslight Music Hall have been itching to come back inside, and this month they finally did. The Gaslight Theatre closed their indoor shows on March 16, 2020, originally planning to be closed only until April 16 — but we all know how that played out. Instead of waiting to return to indoor shows, they kept busy with a “best of” series of outdoor shows through the summer, which featured many of their classic musical numbers, along with their signature costumes and goofy humor. The Gaslight Theatre finally kicked off their 2021/22 season on Thursday, June 10 with Space Wars, a musical parody of Star Wars. The comedy show blends elements of Star Wars movies new and old, featuring characters like Duke Starfighter, Princess Layla and Dark Visor. “We picked Space Wars as our return because it’s one of our most amazing tech shows,” said Heather Stricker, general manager of the Gaslight Theatre and Gaslight Music Hall. “There’s so much to look at: the costumes are amazing, and the music is great. But on top of all of that, it’s hilarious. And it’s not just funny for Star Wars fans, it’s funny for little kids, and adults who’ve never seen Star Wars. It’s just one of those shows that no matter your background or age, there’s something for everyone in it.” The two-hour show includes lasers, spaceships, outrageous costumes and plenty of popular songs


who currently lives in New York, David Fanning, who will do the show’s entire run without an understudy, so every Tucson fan will have the opportunity to see him. And after Frankenstein, the Gaslight Theatre will switch to their Christmas show, Elf’d. For now, all of their shows are indoors. However, the Gaslight Theatre and Musical Hall still have the infrastructure and stages from their outdoor shows, which they might use for future music events. Both venues are currently operating at 60% capacity. Staff will be masked, and they strongly recommend guests to be masked when not eating, but masks are not mandatory. They are unsure when they’ll return to 100% capacity. “We’re just inching our way back and making sure everyone feels comfortable. We’re allowed to do 100% capacity, there’s nothing holding us back legally, we just want our customers and staff to feel PHOTO COURTESY GASLIGHT THEATRE safe,” Stricker said. The Gaslight Music Hall in Oro Valley returned to fully indoor shows the week of June 1. Unlike the reworked with science fiction lyrics. Gags include Gaslight Theatre, the Music Hall features more onelight effects replicating a spaceship’s warp speed, robots driving around the stage, arms getting cut off off shows ranging from tribute acts to local bands. Upcoming shows include the Backroads country by a lightsaber and plenty more. As with any Gasband covering the music of several country greats light show, it has plenty of hilarious one-liners, but on Friday, June 25; El Mariachi Tapatio de Tucson even funnier than the scripted jokes is seeing the celebrating Mexican history with a patriotic flourish actors try to make each other laugh and improvise of traditional song on Sunday, June 27; a salute to around technical difficulties. America with Armen Dirtadian and The Manhattan “I think our nerves are bigger than they used to Dolls on Sunday, July 4; and a rock and roll dance be, just because we haven’t done it in a while. But party on Friday, July 16. other than that, it feels just like going home, be“A real shoutout to our owner Tony Terry, who cause this is our second family,” Stricker said. “Just opened this theatre over 40 years ago. He’s the one being back inside our theatre is special. We’ve also who pretty much single-handedly got us through made some changes going forward. We’re a very the pandemic,” Stricker said. “For a profit theatre formulaic theatre. We’ve been doing similar things like we are, we had almost no assistance financially for the past 43 years, so with being closed for over until the end. And we almost didn’t make it through, a year we realized this was the time to make some if I’m being honest. So big thanks to Tony, and we’re much-needed improvements and progression.” very excited to be back.” ■ These changes include the show featuring four opening actresses instead of the usual three, and it also includes a gender-swapped character; Dark Visor (played by Stricker) is a woman for the first time. Gaslight shows are generally uplifting thanks to their blend of live music and humor, but this is even more so, with the audience shouting and singing along, clearly excited to be back in front of the stage. “We were really scared that we would put these shows on sale and nothing would happen. But it’s been the exact opposite,” Stricker said. “People are dying to come back. All of our social media posts have comment after comment of people saying they can’t wait, and this is exactly what people need after such a long year: to laugh.” Shows are quickly selling out, so much so that the Gaslight even added another show per week startat Green Things Nursery ing in July to keep up with demand. (520) 209-1881 After Space Wars concludes at the end of August, the Gaslight will switch to their Halloween show www.greenladyhydro.com Frankenstein, which runs into November. Frankenstein will feature the return of a “Gaslight favorite”

3384 E. River Rd.




JUNE 24, 2021

by Emily Dieckman Summer Safari Nights Art in the Animal Kingdom. Nature is a lot of things, but one of the things it is is just plain beautiful. I mean, honestly. Have you seen a colorful bird? A zebra? A lion’s mane? Are you kidding me? At Saturday’s edition of the Reid Park Zoo’s summer nights series, take some time to appreciate the colors, patterns and all-around beauty of nature. Leila Lopez is bringing the live music. And, as always, there will be games and wildlife activities, carousel rides and plenty of food and drink specials. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, June 26. Reid Park Zoo, 3400 E. Zoo Court. $10.50 adults, $8.50 seniors, $6.50 children ages 2 to 14.

Oro Valley Movies on the Lawn. Frozen II. Feeling like it’s too hot to go outside? What better way to cool down than with screening of Frozen II? At the next outdoor screening up in Oro Valley, pretend you live in a world full of snow and ice, and sing along with all of your favorites, including Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Samantha. Bring your own chairs, blankets and snacks! We suggest lemonade, as it’s scientifically proven, when paired with a screening of Frozen II, to be the best way to cool off. 7:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 26. Oro Valley Community & Recreation Center, 10555 N. La Canada Drive. Free.

Saguaro Fruit Harvest. All hail the O’odham calendar, which very smartly begins in the middle of summer. This means you get the most unbearably hot part of the year out of the way right away! This season is also the time to harvest saguaro fruit. The traditional way is to do it using a harvesting pole made from the ribs of the giant cactus. Head over to the Desert Museum this week to try it yourself! You can also learn all about the different ways that the fruit is preserved or prepared, as well as some of the other important food sources for native peoples. 7 to 11 a.m. Sunday, June 27, and Tuesday, June 29. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 N. Kinney Road. $50 museum members, $55 non-members. Harkins Family Fun Series. Have you been back to the movies yet since theatres started reopening? This could be a fun way to ease back into it. And, well, if nothing else, it will certainly be an affordable way to ease back into it. Each week through July 22, you can get movie tickets to the Harkins Theatre movie of the week for just $5 apiece. If you become a My Harkins Awards Members, they’ll knock it down to just $3, plus you’ll get 50% off of a Kids Combo Monday through Friday before 6 p.m. (The My Harkins Awards Members program is a free loyalty program!) This week’s film is Abominable, the 2019 Dreamworks film about a teenager’s quest to reunite a Yeti with his family on Mount Everest. Showing from Friday, June 25 to Thursday, July 1. Valid at participating Harkins.

Make It! Workshop. One of the best parts about being a kids is how much less afraid we all were to create stuff. Can’t really draw? Didn’t stop us from coloring on the walls. Not really sure if the story we were writing was compelling? We’d write them anyway! This very hands-on opportunity at the Children’s Museum’s Curiosity Courtyard is breaking out the hammers, saws and glue guns to give kids a chance to explore tools, design, build and create projects. Obviously adults will be present—and some of you just might find you learn something, too. 5:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 26. Children’s Museum Tucson, 200 S. Sixth Ave. $15 includes supplies and tools, plus tickets are buy one, get on free! Sophie McTear. Solo Exhibition. Have you ever had the chance to check out And Gallery, a groovy little space over on Fourth Avenue? This month, they’re hosting the art of Sophie McTear, a queer, nonbinary illustrator whose bright, bold digital art has something for everyone. (One that always sticks with me, personally, is this…sad, flat cowboy that I’m having trouble describing, with the text “I reckon I don’t feel too yeehaw lately, partner.”) McTear’s work is inspired by their experience in the LGBTQ+ community, life with chronic illness, comic books, music, witchy things and plenty more. This month’s showcase is all about celebrating queer expression. If that doesn’t have you feeling yeehaw, partner, I don’t know what will. On display 12 to 6 p.m. Thursday through Monday, until June 30. And Gallery, 419 N. Fourth Ave. Free, with donations accepted. Sunset Yoga at Armory Park Downtown. Looking for a way to wind down at the end of a long summer day? Tucson Yoga Jam is offering these free

community yoga classes with teacher Kyndle Fire, as well as appearances from special guest DJs. Get your meditation face on, and settle in for an evening of stretching, reflecting and, you know, vibing. Whether you’re a yoga veteran or looking to finally start a new hobby, stretching out in the grass can’t be all that bad, right? Please arrive at 6 p.m. for yoga from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. 222 S. Fifth Ave. Free. Tuesday Night Live: Kevin Pakulis and his Band. Repeat after me: This is the week I’m going to go to the Rhythm and Roots concert series at Hotel Congress. These are a blast every week, but if you like Americana music, you really won’t want to miss singer-songwriter Kevin Pakulis. He’s put out several albums since 2004. The latest, Holliday (2018) is all about life in the Sonoran Desert, the many forms of love, and the ins and outs of social disparity. Pakulis has opened for acts including Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, Merle Haggard and more. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 29. Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress. St. $10. Zona Libre at Saint Philip’s Plaza. Saint Philip’s Plaza is one of the most charming locations in Tucson. The Sunday morning farmer’s market, the beautiful fountain, the trees that make you feel like you’re not in the desert. This Friday evening, head over for a live performance by Zona Libre. This suite of musicians has a flair for creating hip arrangements of contemporary Latino urban music. And tonight, you’ll be able to hear them play from Union, Reforma or Proof. Treat yourself to a fancy Friday night out! 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, June 25. St. Philip’s Plaza, 280 N. Campbell Ave.

JUNE 24, 2021



A new biography of Rita Moreno tells the story of an amazing performer

in his hotel room. Mayer instantly signed Moreno after observing she looked like a “Spanish Elizabeth Taylor,” and she was off to the races. One of the great pleasures of the film is that it A FEW YEARS AGO, I HAD THE HONOR OF gathers some of her awards acceptance speeches, interviewing Rita Moreno before she made her including her adorably short, enthusiastic thank appearance at the 2015 Loft Film Festival here in you for her Oscar. (I’m thinking she and Joe PesTucson. Speaking with Moreno transcended the ci might be tied for Oscar speech brevity.) It also usual interview exchange and left me reeling with contains her Tony acceptance speech, where she joy. Beyond having great stories to tell, she is as allowed herself to go a little crazy. Seeing all of nice a person I have ever had the opportunity to these accomplishments in one sitting blasts home talk to, and it left me wishing more people could the notion that Moreno is the very embodiment of get the chance to sit and talk with her. Words can’t the word “icon.” really describe how cool she is. There was a lot of pain mixed with the glory, But a good documentary with her devoted partic- and Moreno doesn’t shy away from the misogyny, ipation can certainly showcase that coolness, and racism and sexual abuse that plagued her career, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It and the career of many others that came before and does this in a big, soul enriching, entertaining way. after her. She endured many years being typecast The EGOT winner (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and in one dimensional supporting roles, even after Tony) participates enthusiastically in the doc that getting her Oscar for West Side Story. covers the many years and expansive experiences of It was her desire to reinvent her career after that her storied career. Oscar that eventually led to a significant career Director Mariem Perez Riera gathers a host of in TV, including her central role in The Electric entertainers along with Moreno to celebrate her Company, and her Emmy-winning appearance on legendary, trailblazing career. The roster includes The Rockford Files. More recent chapters of her Gloria Estefan, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eva Longoria, career include her starring in the prison drama Oz, George Chakiris (Nardo from West Side Story), and her role in the remake of One Day at a Time. Norman Lear and fellow EGOT, Whoopi Goldberg. Moreno shares stories on all of these roles that are Morgan Freeman, Easy Reader from the eternally so engaging, your Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon and awesome The Electric Company in which Moreno Hulu queues are going to load up with Moreno-cenfeatured prominently, also offers his opinions on the tric projects after seeing the doc. wonders of Rita. A good part of the film is devoted to Moreno’s With access to a treasure trove of film clips and time with notorious boyfriend Marlon Brando, inarchival pics, Riera is able to tell the whole story cluding the very good and the very very bad. While leading up to the present. That present is handled the film isn’t a crucifixion of Brando, with Moreno by plenty of new time with Moreno. Moreno is such reflecting on the at least some of the positives of his a charmer, watching her cook breakfast or apply presence, the guy definitely came up as a big zero at makeup is a mesmerizing experience. the end of their time together. He didn’t deserve her. She tells it all from the very beginning, includYou’ll see Moreno again a little later this year in ing her first glimpse of America as her 5-year-old Stephen Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, a self immigrated from Puerto Rico and sailed into remake in which the Puerto Rican roles are actuNew York thinking the Statue of Liberty was the ally played by Puerto Rican performers this time President of the United States holding a gigantic around. The original is one of my favorite films, ice cream cone. Her career got its true start after but I’m game for a new take and so is the luminous meeting MGM boss Louis B. Mayer with her mom Moreno. I can’t wait to see her in action again. ■ By Bob Grimm tucsonweekly@tucsonlocalmedia.com




JUNE 24, 2021

their keys to ensure precision, or people being locked in practice rooms. “I’ve had recurring nightmares about violin and losing my violin, probably five nights a week. I couldn’t stop dreaming about it. I got really anxious when I got called to play classically. I think this particular experience is not just about academics, but the relationship between a mentor and a student. Now, that’s a different experience for everyone depending on their teacher, but I have heard some horror stories, and I myself had a really unhealthy relationship with my teacher,” Bounkeua said. “I know it’s not everyone’s experience, but it is common in the music world at that level of competition.” Upon graduating from the conservatory, she says she felt unsure how to continue in her career, and played in various groups in a range of styles. She says she couldn’t even listen to PHOTO BY RUTH CHRISTOPHERSON classical music for two years. “A lot of it has to do with the expectations I put on myself, and I totally own up to that. But within the competitive way the classical music system RougeViolin breaks away from academic constraints is set up, I think those expectations are encouraged,” Bounkeua said. “I think it’s very common. I have several not only play classical music.” By Jeff Gardner friends I went to school with who have The debut RougeViolin EP showjeff@tucsonlocalmedia.com quit or put away music altogether cases Bounkeua’s technical abilities upon graduating.” on the instrument, but also her singAlthough Etudes—and the RougeViing, sound collage, distortion, drum olin project itself—is an attempt to SAMANTHA BOUNKEUA LEARNED machines, keyboards, and plenty of move away from classical playing, the to read sheet music before the alphasounds and effects. Across its brief album’s opener “Idealism,” is the most bet. She first picked up the violin at runtime, the release tells a story of traditional sounding track, signifying age 4, and it more or less dominated uncertainty and affirmation, all based how her violin journey began. Aside her life for the next two decades. But around different musical techniques. from some background layers, it is after the exhaustion and frustration Bounkeua entered the Oberlin Con- almost entirely bright and sweeping of being in the classical music system servatory of Music out of high school violin notes, almost as if Bounkeua is for years, she broke away and formed prepared to practice her instrument proving to the audience (and herself) a new project: RougeViolin. Her eight hours per day. However, she that she does indeed know her way debut release, Etudes, is built around transitioned to a more alternative style around a violin, before deconstructing non-traditional violin performance, of violin performance after growing the instrument on the following tracks. electronic production and a healthy frustrated with only playing music She says she also chose to open the dose of catharsis. composed by “dead white men.” In album with a more minimal track as a “There’s a lot about classical traina contemporary classical style, she focus on acoustics. ing where you’re given a piece of sheet began working with new composers “There’s a truth and vulnerability music and it’s your role to execute a and electronic musicians, becoming to the acoustic sound. And also, it’s vision, versus more of a composition more interested in the textures and really hard to mic,” Bounkeua said. “So frame where you get to explore the atmospheres in violin playing. I spent hours finding the exact space concept itself,” Bounkeua said. “I think However, the stress of rigid practice in my room and the exact height of the those limitations are very much part routines built up, worsened by the microphone. So it was also an exercise of why I’ve broken from a lot of classi- pressures of an academic music sysin finding the sound.” cal performing. There’s been so much tem. She heard horror stories of piano This style is immediately subverted unlearning I’ve had to do to be able to players having razor blades between on the second track, “Shame,” which



“Etudes” by RougeViolin Releases Friday, June 25 rogueviolin.com

opens with a playful synthesizer and an old recording of someone speaking to their music mentor. Before the song picks up kinetic energy with a funky and distorted violin passage, Bounkeua sings, “You thought you knew what best to do, you left a stain, you taught me shame.” Bounkeua says Etudes partially serves as an experiment if she could go back in time and speak to her younger self. This focus is clear on the song “Anxiety,” which opens with staccato vocables and echoing string plucks similar to Arthur Russell. Bounkeua sings about her mental stress and diminishing self-worth as a piano sneaks in. However, she reassures herself on the chorus, saying that she has time, is capable, and defines her own self-worth. Although the album is a largely personal journey of self healing, Bounkeua also credits the Tucson music scene with her recovery. She played with local groups such as the Rosano Brothers and Jimmy Carr and the Awkward Moments. The RougeViolin project came out of her work with those musicians, and also serves as the name of her home recording studio, where she hopes to support and record fellow queer musicians. “It was really in Tucson where this healing process began... I think Tucson champions the vulnerability of artists in a way I was not expecting,” Bounkeua said. “When I first came to Tucson, I wasn’t expecting to be here for more than a few weeks, but I think it’s a gem of a music community. People show up to the concerts to support you, and I think it’s a very active listening community. They’re engaged with you as a person, not just your work. That connection has meant everything to me.” ■

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Medical card providers have seen a big drop in business but hope for a better tomorrow By David Abbott tucsonweekly@tucsonlocalmedia.com WHILE POT-RELATED BUSINESS in the state has exploded to a billion-dollar-a-year industry that is likely to increase for the foreseeable future, the trend on the patient certification side has dropped at an alarming rate. But these referral businesses—which help patients get the recommendation they need to get a medical marijuana card—remain optimistic that Arizonans will still want medical cards even though recreational cannabis is now available in the state. As reported in the Tucson Weedly column two weeks ago, the number of patient applications for medical cards saw a precipitous drop statewide in the first few months of 2021 over the same period in 2020.

Between Jan. 1 and April 30, 2021, fewer than 14,000 qualifying patients applied for medical cards, compared to the first four months of 2020, when nearly 95,000 qualifying patients applied, according to reports from the Arizona Department of Health Services. While the number of people applying may have dropped significantly, overall the number of qualified patients in the state increased in the past year. At the end of April 2020, there were about 236,000 qualified patients, while April 2021 ended with nearly 308,000 qualified patients. ADHS recently released its numbers for May 2021, reporting 2,236 new applications, so the total number of qualified patients increased to more than 310,000 within the past month.

What really sticks out though, is the drop in the number of renewals. Through May 2020, there were nearly 46,000 renewal applications compared to two reported by ADHS for the same time period in 2021. Yes, two. “We’re still on track for the average amount of new patients were seeing,” said Dr Reeferalz Arizona Operating Manager Taryn Tia. “Where we got hit the hardest is (Prop 207) went into effect at the same time the two-year card was also in effect.” Dr Reeferalz has five certification clinics in the Phoenix area and one in Tucson, located at 4120 E. Speedway Blvd., and according to Tia, the number of new referrals has remained fairly static, but it’s the reduction of returning patients that has really affected the business. The number of certification renewals has naturally decreased in the wake of the passage of SB1494, which Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law in June 2019. The bill created the electronic card system that streamlined the process, but also extended the life of certifications from one to two years beginning on Aug. 27, 2019. That two-year anniversary is rapidly approaching.



pandemic led to record-setting marijuana purchases throughout the state (Arizonans purchased nearly 106 tons of various forms of medicinal weed, a significant increase from 2019, which weighed in at almost 83 tons), the certification business received a triple-whammy from the extended life of cards, the passage of adult-use recreational and a dearth of winter visitors, as many didn’t travel to Arizona while the state was a global hotspot. But with the relaxing of COVID protocols nationwide, a confluence of factors is giving referral clinics hope, as the expected return of snowbirds will line up roughly with the two-year mark of the new rules surrounding certifications. “I definitely believe that we are going to start getting busier because people can get recertified 90 days before Aug. 27,” Tia said. “May 27 is when we started doing our renewal emails and calls, so we’re already having patients come in to renew their cards. But I definitely believe, especially closer to when they expire, most of them will return.” Tia said that Dr Reeferalz staff has CONTINUED ON PAGE 18



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received positive feedback from a significant portion of their patients—85% to 90%—who expect to renew medical certifications. She added that although the number of patients seeking new cards has remained fairly steady, the renewal situation has reduced traffic substantially and she’s had to make adjustments in staffing as a result. “Seeing five to 15 patients a day, as opposed to when we were seeing 40 to 50 a day with new patients and renewals, was a huge hit to us, of course,” Tia said. “We have brought our staffing down a little bit, which is tricky, because I know we’re gonna get busy again. So it’s like a double-edged sword. We’ve maintained the same days and the same hours, because we think it’s important to stay consistent, especially with older clientele and people that rely on our hours.” Another stream of business for your local clinic is referrals from pain clinics, probation officers and those seeking protections on the job and in housing. The CBD business has been good as well, which has also helped keep Dr Reeferalz afloat.

But the elephant in the room is the legalization of recreational cannabis. While recreational economic activity has exploded out of the gate since adult-use sales began in late January, many in the certification business believe patients will return after trying out the legal marketplace. “People are seeing the rec program for what it is: No protections, less medicine and lines to buy product,” said Tumbleweeds Health Center owner Kim Williams. “The pandemic, the two-year cards and adult-use recreational have been a triple threat. We’re hoping when the anniversary comes around, we will get a lot of returning business.” Tumbleweeds will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Nov. 11, making it one of the oldest certification centers in the state, so Williams says they are holding steady and making plans to grow in the future. “We’re always coming up with new ideas and new ways to keep going,” she said. “Medical will always be around. There is an educational aspect to the certification business that helps our older patients.” Tumbleweeds has five doctors on staff and, along with Dr Reeferalz, has a telemedicine program for those who cannot get out of the house or are still squeamish about going out in public.

Williams is also set to celebrate the ninth anniversary of her radio program, Belle Star & The Cannabis Kid, which streams every Wednesday morning from 8 to 9 a.m. A link to the broadcast can be found at tumbleweedshealthcenter.com. Another feature Tumbleweeds can boast is an American Sign Language interpreter for patients with hearing impairments. Both Williams and Tia believe the educational aspects of referral clinics and their ability to help patients learn about cannabis and demystify the process of medicating will be the cornerstone of business moving forward. “The doctors and staff are helpful and make our patients feel comfortable with what some of them see as a big, scary process,” Williams said. Both women also expect to see the return of medical patients who have abandoned the medical card for the adult-use alternative.


carrying a cannabis card are higher possession limits, employment and housing protections, and a break in cost, as cardholders pay a lower sales tax rate.

Recreational product is only available at lower concentrations and is limited to one ounce for non-medical users, compared to 2.5 ounces for cardholders. There are also limits on non-medicinal edibles at 10mg per piece and 100mg per package, and concentrates at 5 grams. Those limitations affect many patients, including those suffering with cancer or veterans dealing with the effects of PTSD, who might use upwards of 1,000mgs per day. Medicinal products have a current tax rate of 6.6% for the state and an additional 2% to 3% depending on local jurisdiction. Recreational sales include a 16% excise tax, so without a card the average cannabis buyer pays upwards of 25% when state and local taxes are figured in. In order to show the difference in stark fiscal terms, Dr Reeferalz is installing a widget on its website that will tell consumers how much they can save over the course of the life of their medical cards. Tia says that $250 worth of medical marijuana would cost about $310 on the adult-use marketplace and if a patient spends about $150 per month during the life of a card, they could save about $594. “I think a lot of it is people tried [adult-use], and saw the cost, allotments, the potency differences, you know, the

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legal side of things,” Tia said. “They wanted to try it and I think they’re still just making their way back to get certified.” But ultimately, particularly for elderly patients and veterans, it’s about security, protection and education. “We expect to see the medical pro-

gram survive,” Williams said. “It’s important and if it went away the anxiety level would be high. And old people like to talk to doctors.” ■ For information about Dr Reeferalz and the services they provide go to drreeferalz.com.

TUCSON AREA DISPENSARIES Bloom Tucson. 4695 N. Oracle Road, Ste. 117 293-3315; bloomdispensary.com Open: Sunday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Botanica. 6205 N. Travel Center Drive 395-0230; botanica.us Open: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily Desert Bloom Re-Leaf Center. 8060 E. 22nd St., Ste. 108 886-1760; dbloomtucson.com Open: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily Offering delivery Downtown Dispensary. 221 E. 6th St., Ste. 105 838-0492; thedowntowndispensary.com Open: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily D2 Dispensary. 7105 E 22nd St. 214-3232; d2dispensary.com/ Open: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily Earth’s Healing. Two locations: North: 78 W. River Road 253-7198 South: 2075 E. Benson Highway 373-5779 earthshealing.org Open: Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Offering delivery The Green Halo. 7710 S. Wilmot Road 664-2251; thegreenhalo.org Open: Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Green Med Wellness Center. 6464 E. Tanque Verde Road 520-281-1587; facebook.com/GreenMedWellnessCenter

Open: Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Hana Green Valley. 1732 W. Duval Commerce Point Place 289-8030 Open: Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Harvest of Tucson . 2734 East Grant Road 314-9420; askme@harvestinc.com; Harvestofaz.com Open: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily Nature Med. 5390 W. Ina Road 620-9123; naturemedinc.com Open: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily The Prime Leaf Two locations: 4220 E. Speedway Blvd. 1525 N. Park Ave. 44-PRIME; theprimeleaf.com Open: Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Purple Med Healing Center. 1010 S. Freeway, Ste. 130 398-7338; www.facebook.com/PurpleMedHealingCenter Open: Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Southern Arizona Integrated Therapies. 112 S. Kolb Road 886-1003; medicalmarijuanaoftucson.com Open: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily Total Accountability Patient Care. 226 E. 4th St., Benson 586-8710; bensondispensary.com Open: Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 .m. to 7 p.m.




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By Rob Brezsny. Go to RealAstrology.com to check out Rob Brezsny’s EXPANDED WEEKLY HOROSCOPE 1-877-873-4888 or 1-900-950-7700 $1.99 per minute. 18 and over. Touchtone phone required.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Author Albert Camus advised everyone to “steal some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self.” That’s excellent advice for you to heed in the coming days. The cosmos has authorized you to put yourself first and grab all the renewal you need. So please don’t scrimp as you shower blessings on yourself. One possible way to accomplish this goal is to go on a long stroll or two. Camus says, “It doesn’t have to be a walk during which you’ll have multiple life epiphanies and discover meanings no other brain ever managed to encounter.” But I think you are indeed likely to be visited by major epiphanies and fantastic new meanings. TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Robert Mugabe was Zimbabwe’s leader for 37 years. In the eyes of some, he was a revolutionary hero. To others he was an oppressive dictator. He was also the chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe, where his wife Grace received her PhD just two months after she started classes. I suspect that you, too, will have an expansive capacity to advance your education in the coming weeks—although maybe not quite as much as Grace seems to have had. You’re entering a phase of super-learning. GEMINI (May 21-June 20): “We were clever enough to turn a laundry list into poetry,” wrote author Umberto Eco. Judging from astrological omens, I suspect you’re now capable of accomplishing comparable feats in your own sphere. Converting a chance encounter into a useful new business connection? Repurposing a seeming liability into an asset? Capitalizing on a minor blessing or breakthrough to transform it into a substantial blessing or breakthrough? All these and more are possible. CANCER (June 21-July 22): “I was so flooded with yearning I thought it would drown me,” wrote Cancerian author Denis Johnson. I don’t expect

that will be a problem for you anytime soon. You’re not in danger of getting swept away by a tsunami of insatiable desire. However, you may get caught in a current of sweet, hot passion. You could be carried for a while by waves of aroused fascination. You might find yourself rushing along in a fast-moving stream of riled-up craving. But none of that will be a problem as long as you don’t think you have something better to do. In fact, your time in the cascading flow may prove to be quite intriguing—and ultimately useful. LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In my opinion, psychology innovator Carl Jung, born under the sign of Leo, was one of the 20th century’s greatest intellects. His original ideas about human nature are central to my philosophy. One of my favorite things about him is his appreciation for feelings. He wrote, “We should not pretend to understand the world only by the intellect; we apprehend it just as much by feeling. Therefore, the judgment of the intellect is, at best, only half of the truth, and must, if it be honest, also come to an understanding of its inadequacy.” I bring this to your attention, Leo, because the coming weeks will be a favorable time to upgrade your own appreciation for the power of your feelings to help you understand the world. VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): For the indigenous Ojibway people, the word Adizokan means both “story” and “spirit.” In fact, story and spirit are the same thing. Everything has a spirit and everything has a story, including people, animals, trees, lakes, rivers, and rocks. Inspired by these thoughts, and in accordance with cosmic omens, I invite you to meditate on how your life stories are central elements of your spirit. I further encourage you to spend some tender, luxurious time telling yourself the stories from your past that you love best. For extra delightful bonus fun, dream up two prospective stories about your future that you would like to


By Dan Savage, mail@savagelove.net

I’m a 40-year-old gay male. I live in a big city, in a dense neighborhood. While I’ve been working from home during COVID, I’ve been sitting at my kitchen table facing a big window. Across the alley is an apartment with a deck. At one point, I noticed a cute, young, muscular guy outside. I ran into this guy a few weeks later at a neighborhood liquor store. While I was looking at porn one night I was stunned to find his nudes and a link to his OnlyFans. I instantly subscribed, went through everything, including his gay sex vids, and, yeah, I came. I tipped him and put in a few comments about what kind of content he should put up next. He took

my suggestions and I tipped him again. About a week ago he knocked on my door and asked if I had jumper cables. That night, I found a six pack of beer by my door and a note from him thanking me for my help. I got back on his page and came so hard as I drank his beer. I don’t want to have sex with this guy—he’s not really my type and he’s too young. I do get off on knowing that I can pull up his dick pics whenever I want and that he will do anything for a few bucks. But I question if I’m crossing a line. He obviously doesn’t know his neighbor is jerking off to him and probably wants to keep his porn life separate from his private life.

create. (Info about Adizokan comes from Ann and John Mahan at SweetWaterVisions.com.) LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Author Aslı Erdoğan writes, “It had been explained to me from my earliest childhood that I would know love—or that thing called ‘love’—as long as I was smart and academically brilliant. But no one ever taught me how to get that knowledge.” I’m sorry to say that what was true for her has been true for most of us: No one ever showed us how to find and create and cultivate love. We may have received haphazard clues now and then from our parents and books and movies. But we never got a single day of formal instruction in school about the subject that is at the heart of our quest to live meaningful lives. That’s the bad news, Libra. The good news is that the rest of 2021 will be one of the best times ever for you to learn important truths about love. SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Before he journeyed in a spaceship to the moon in 1971, Scorpio astronaut Alan Shepard didn’t think he’d get carried away with a momentous thrill once he arrive at his destination. He was a manly man not given to outward displays of emotion. But when he landed on the lunar surface and gazed upon the majestic sight of his home planet hanging in the sky, he broke into tears. I’m thinking you may have similar experiences in the coming weeks. Mind-opening, heart-awakening experiences may arrive. Your views of the Very Big Picture could bring healing upheavals. SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Sagittarian author Clarice Lispector observed, “In a state of grace, one sometimes perceives the deep beauty, hitherto unattainable, of another person.” I suspect that this state of grace will visit you soon, Sagittarius—and probably more than once. I hope you will capitalize on it! Take your time as you tune in to the luminescent souls of the people you value. Become more deeply attuned to their uniquely gorgeous genius. CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Trailblazing Capricorn psychoanalyst Ernest Jones (1879–1958) said, “There is no sense of contradiction within the unconscious; opposite ideas exist happily side

Should I feel gross about this? —Rear Window You know something about your neighbor that your neighbor doesn’t know you know about him, RW, and knowledge is power and having power over someone can be sexy. Power imbalances are such a turn-on that people will manufacture them in their absence. For some people having less power (or giving up the power they have) is a turnon; for others having more power (or being granted more power) is a turn-on. So long as everything is consensual and no one is being exploited or exploitative, RW, no one has to feel gross about it. (Pease note: making sure no one is being exploited during consensual power play or during consensual sex in the presence of a significant power imbalance

by side.” In other words, it’s normal and natural to harbor paradoxical attitudes; it’s healthy and sane to be awash in seemingly incongruous blends. I hope you will use this astrologically propitious time to celebrate your own inner dichotomies, dear Capricorn. If you welcome them as a robust aspect of your deepest, truest nature, they will serve you well. They’ll make you extra curious, expansive, and non-dogmatic. (PS: Here’s an example, courtesy of psychologically savvy author Stephen Levine: “For as long as I can remember the alternate antics of the wounded child and the investigations of the ageless Universal played through me.”) AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Aquarian guitarist Django Reinhardt was a celebrated jazz musician in occupied France during World War II. Amazingly, he was able to earn good money by performing frequently—even though he fit descriptions that the rampaging Germans regarded as abhorrent. Nazis persecuted the Romani people, of which he was one. They didn’t ban jazz music, but they severely disapproved of it. And the Nazis hated Jews and Blacks, with whom Reinhardt loved to hang out. The obstacles you’re facing aren’t anywhere near as great as his, but I propose we make him your role model for the next four weeks. May he inspire you to persist and even thrive in the face of challenges! PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Piscean author Richard Matheson believed we’ve become too tame and mild. “We’ve forgotten,” he wrote, about “how to rise to dizzy heights.” He mourned that we’re too eager to live inside narrow boundaries. “The full gamut of life is a shadowy continuum,” he continued, “that runs from gray to more gray. The rainbow is bleached.” If any sign of the zodiac has the power to escape blandness and averageness, it’s you Pisceans—especially in the coming weeks. I invite you to restore the rainbow to its full vivid swath: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Maybe even add a few colors. ■ Homework: Describe what you’re doing to heal the world. Newsletter@freewillastrology.com.

requires thoughtful self-scrutiny, solid communication skills, and a willingness to negotiate and renegotiate.) What you’re doing is consensual and no one is being exploited. Your hot neighbor is putting his content out there for gay and bi men to enjoy—and straight and bi women too—and being recognized by someone at the liquor store or on the street was always a risk. Jacking off to your neighbor’s videos and enjoying the very slight power imbalance and helping him pay his bills in the process isn’t gross. It’s the modern porn business working as intended. But even if your hot neighbor feels no shame about the work he does—and here’s hoping he doesn’t because there’s nothing shameful about it—your hot neighbor may not care to be reminded that his neighbors could be jerking off to

JUNE 24, 2021

him. (Or have it confirmed that at least one is.) If you were to get to know him better—surely you’ll say hello the next time you see him at the liquor store— and you became acquaintances and he brought up what he does for a living, RW, then you should tell him you’re a subscriber. But until that point err on the side of keeping your mouth shut and your wallet open. You’re not endorsing or reinforcing shame about making porn by being discreet; instead you’re making a reasonable assumption about a boundary someone in his position is very likely to have and respecting that assumed boundary. And finally, RW, I’m not sure I believe you when you say this guy isn’t your type considering the number of loads you’ve blown while watching his porn. And while he may be too young for you—and you can absolutely set a floor—whether men in their forties are too old for him is his call to make. My girlfriend gave me an impromptu blowjob on our way to a party. When we arrived she kissed our host—a mutual (and vaccinated) friend—on the lips. This friend gave my girlfriend a strange look. I practice good personal hygiene but we’re pretty sure our host could smell my dick on my girlfriend. Should she have refrained from kissing the host? Excused herself to wash her face first? What’s the protocol here? —Where That Mouth Has Been Kissing someone after they’ve given a blowjob to someone else—it’s a risk we all take when we kiss people we aren’t dating. Hell, it’s a risk some of us take when we kiss the people we are dating.

But as a courtesy to others someone who’s just given a blowjob should go for the cheek instead. Unless they’re kissing the person they just blew, of course, in which case wide open mouth with tongue. I am a newly polyamorous woman in my late 30s. I am part of a triad, which is so fun and amazing, and I also have a boyfriend. The boyfriend is why I am writing. We have some serious NRE and have been spending a lot of time together. I recently met his girlfriend of 1.5 years and it derailed things for me. He has been sharing every detail of our relationship with her. She knew everything about me, every private joke we shared, and so much about our intimacy that it made me incredibly uncomfortable. And I knew next to nothing about her and it was quite awkward for me. It turns out this was a boundary that I didn’t know I had. I feel betrayed and like there was a secret voyeur in our relationship. I am really into this guy but I don’t know how to move forward. How can I feel like we are sharing something special when he goes back to his other partner and tells her everything? He said he could adjust his behavior but I don’t want to make someone change or have to trust that he’s not reporting everything back to her. Is this something I just have to deal with in polyamorous relationships? —Newly Poly Problems You don’t want your boyfriend to do anything differently—you don’t want him to change—but you also don’t want him to keep doing what he’s doing. Sorry, NPP, but you’re gonna have to pick one: he’s gonna change for you, i.e. he’s going

to “adjust his behavior” and stop telling his other girlfriend everything, or he’s not gonna change and you’re gonna to get over his other girlfriend knowing everything. Or if the issue was his other girlfriend knowing everything about you while you knew next to nothing about her, NPP, your boyfriend could “adjust his behavior,” aka “change,” by telling you everything about her from here on out. Or third option (or is the fourth option? I’ve lost track): you could dump him. If you don’t want him to change and you also don’t want him to keep doing what he’s been doing to you, NPP, then let him to do it to someone else. Is there a way forward if you want to stay together? There could be. It would help to know why he was treating you differently. Have you asked? It could be that his other girlfriend wants to hear the details about the other people he dates—maybe hearing the details turns her on, maybe hearing the details makes her feel more secure, maybe it’s a little bit of both—and he was too thoughtless or too scared or too inexperienced to ask what you wanted. If he’s apologized to you and explained the differing treat-



ment—and if the apology seemed sincere and the explanation was satisfactory—you could let him to adjust behavior to make you feel more comfortable and then give him enough time to prove that he has changed… if you’ll allow him to change. And finally, NPP, this is something you’re gonna have to get used to as you continue to explore polyamory. Most polyamorous couples err on the side of sharing too much rather than too little. Some poly people only want a rough outline about their partners other partners, NPP, but some want to hear every last detail. If you don’t want someone you’re dating to share intimate details with their other partner(s), you’ll have to ask them not to share. mail@savagelove.net Follow Dan on Twitter @FakeDanSavage. Savagelovecast.com



JUNE 24, 2021

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29 33


37 41

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53 59







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49 51
















DOWN 1 2 3 4 5 6

7 8

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Eccentrics Victim of a 20th-century environmental tragedy Small but full of fight Some bars returned to again and again? Conducive to mold, maybe Org. established partly in response to Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” The “Tannen” of Tannenbaum One might consist of a primo, secondo and digestivo Data base? Quarters that could be worth a lot

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