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CURRENTS: COVID Devours Thanksgiving

NOV. 26 - DEC. 2, 2020 • TUCSONWEEKLY.COM • FREE

Court Struggle The Tohono O’odham Community College Basketball Program Is No More By Tom Danehy

ARTS: The Virtual Open Studios Tour

DANEHY: Thankful, Aghast, Puzzled & More


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NOV. 26, 2020


NOV. 26, 2020

NOV. 26, 2020 | VOL. 35, NO. 48

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The Tucson Weekly is available free of charge in Pima County, limited to one copy per reader. Additional copies of the current issue of the Tucson Weekly may be purchased for $1, payable at the Tucson Weekly office in advance. To find out where you can pick up a free copy of the Tucson Weekly, please visit TucsonWeekly.com

STAFF

CONTENTS CURRENTS

EDITOR’S NOTE

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The Tohono O’odham Community College basketball program is no more

CITY WEEK

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What to do this week, both socially distanced and from your own home

ARTS & CULTURE

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Jaime Hood, General Manager, Ext. 12 jaime@tucsonlocalmedia.com Casey Anderson, Ad Director/ Associate Publisher, Ext. 22 casey@tucsonlocalmedia.com

Thanks To Give

Claudine Sowards, Accounting, Ext. 13 claudine@tucsonlocalmedia.com Sheryl Kocher, Receptionist, Ext. 10 sheryl@tucsonlocalmedia.com

THANKSGIVING, FOR ME, HAS USUALLY

COVID cases continue to rise as the holidays approach

ADMINISTRATION Jason Joseph, President/Publisher jjoseph@azlocalmedia.com

been about gathering with family to sit down for a feast. But this is a different and weird Thanksgiving (even weirder than that one year I just stayed on the couch and watched the Twilight Zone marathon). With the skyrocketing number of COVID cases, health experts are urging us to celebrate with our immediate family, so that’s my plan this year, although I hope to drop by the homes of some family members for brief and physically distanced greetings. Despite this cursed virus, there’s still plenty to be thankful for—my wife and kids remain healthy. My team here at Tucson Weekly continues to amaze me with the work they do, week in and week out. And I have a giant thanks to give to the healthcare workers out there who are working overtime to care for the sick under far less than ideal circumstances, as well as teachers who are giving it their all to keep kids learning, even if it’s over Zoom. In our cover story this week, columnist Tom Danehy looks at how Tohono O’odham Community College cut its basketball team, even though it had become a cultural phenome-

non on the reservation. And in his column, Tom talks about not only being thankful this Thanksgiving, but also being aghast, puzzled, curious and a range of other emotions. Elsewhere in the book: Staff reporter Nicole Ludden brings you more grim statistics about COVID-19 as it spreads throughout our community; Cannabis 520 columnist David Abbott tells us how plans are coming along to test cannabis to make sure it’s free from mold, pesticides and other buzzkills; longtime arts writer Margaret Regan previews the upcoming virtual Open Studio Tours; and calendar editor Emily Dieckman runs through some of the physically distant fun you can still have in our town. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Stay safe! — Jim Nintzel Executive Editor Hear Nintz talk about the latest on the outbreak and other news at 9:30 Wednesday mornings on The Frank Show on KLPX, 91.1 FM.

RANDOM SHOTS By Rand Carlson

Open Studio Tours show off local artists from a variety of mediums

EDITORIAL Jim Nintzel, Executive Editor, Ext. 38 jimn@tucsonlocalmedia.com Austin Counts, Managing Editor, Ext. 36 austin@tucsonlocalmedia.com Jeff Gardner, Associate Editor, Ext. 43 jeff@tucsonlocalmedia.com Mike Truelsen, Web Editor, Ext. 35 mike@tucsonlocalmedia.com Nicole Ludden, Staff Reporter, Ext. 42 nicolel@tucsonlocalmedia.com Contributors: 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 David Abbott, Production Manager, Ext. 18 david@tucsonlocalmedia.com Ryan Dyson, Graphic Designer, Ext. 26 ryand@tucsonlocalmedia.com Emily Filener, Graphic Designer, Ext. 29 emilyf@tucsonlocalmedia.com CIRCULATION Alex Carrasco, Circulation, Ext. 17, alexc@tucsonlocalmedia.com ADVERTISING Kristin Chester, Account Executive, Ext. 25 kristin@tucsonlocalmedia.com Candace Murray, Account Executive, Ext. 24 candace@tucsonlocalmedia.com Lisa Hopper, Account Executive Ext. 39 lisa@tucsonlocalmedia.com Tyler Vondrak, Account Executive, Ext. 27 tyler@tucsonlocalmedia.com NATIONAL ADVERTISING VMG Advertising, (888) 278-9866 or (212) 475-2529 Tucson Weekly® is published every Thursday by 13 Street Media 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 10/13 Communications. 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.

MMJ

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With recreational marijuana on the way, the state begins to roll out mandated testing

Cover design by Ryan Dyson

Copyright: The entire contents of Tucson Weekly are Copyright © 2019 by Thirteenth Street Media. No portion may be reproduced in whole or part by any means without the express written permission of the Publisher, Tucson Weekly, 7225 N. Mona Lisa Rd., Ste. 125, Tucson, AZ 85741.


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CURRENTS

GRAPHIC BY ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES

Confirmed COVID-19 cases by day in Arizona.

THANKSGIVING SPREAD COVID Cases Skyrocketing as Holidays Approach Nicole Ludden nicolel@tucsonlocalmedia.com WITH COVID CASES SPREADING rapidly across the state and the holiday season arriving with Thanksgiving this week, Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ provided a COVID-19 update on Thursday, Nov. 19. Christ said throughout the state, there’s been a “concerning increase” in coronavirus cases, percent positivity and COVID-19 patients in ICU and inpatient hospital beds. As of Monday, Nov. 23, ADHS reported the state had seen a total of 302,324 coronavirus cases since the outbreak started, with 6,464 Arizonans dying after contracting the virus. Christ said during the week of Nov. 8, all but two counties had a coronavirus percent positivity of above 10%, which indicates substantial spread of the virus. She said metrics were expected to continue the upward trend.

According to Christ, each of Arizona’s 15 counties has a COVID-19 case rate above 100 per 100,000 people, which also indicates substantial spread of the virus. Metrics tracking COVID-19-like illnesses are also increasing in visits to emergency rooms and hospitals, Christ said. The public health director implored mask wearing for all Arizonans “in every setting.” Standing sans-mask at the press conference today, Ducey reiterated the importance of mask-wearing and said, “masks work, please wear them.” However, Ducey has not issued a statewide mask mandate, reasoning “what I want to avoid is some of the division and politics that have happened around this issue.” “We’ve got 90% of our state under local mask mandates, and what I want to do is take something that I believe works … and make sure we have the widest and broadest compliance possible,” Ducey said. “We’ve seen a lot of success with it at the local level where there is local buy-in.” Although many COVID-19 safety pro-

tocols have been politicized, the governor says he isn’t taking a political stance on the pandemic. “There are two extreme and distinct camps out there. One side wants to lock everything down, the other side thinks it’s all a hoax. Both are loud and vocal,” Ducey said. “Most of the public isn’t part of either camp, and by the way, neither am I.” In response to the ongoing uptick in COVID-19 cases, Ducey said “we’re amplifying our messaging and doubling our investment in public service announcements to ensure every individual in the state knows what steps to take to protect themselves and their loved ones.” He also announced a $25 million disbursement of funds to increase hospital staffing and reward existing health care employees. The governor said he’s asked Christ to work with Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the Tucson International Airport and the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport to increase inbound messaging and launch testing sites in order to “allow incomers to get tested immediately with quick turnaround.” As schools across the state grapple with reopening amid rising case numbers, Ducey contends parents should have options to enroll their children for in-person learning and said, “Kids have already missed out on far too much learning due to this pandemic.” He announced the public health director will be issuing an emergency measure to ensure schools throughout the state are following proper safety protocols. The governor says although many are growing tired of following COVID-19 mitigation tactics, the end is not yet in sight. “The truth is, this has been a long haul. You can’t simplify or underestimate the impact this has had on so many Arizonans,” Ducey said. “When I say we just aren’t out of the woods quite yet, or that we need to redouble our efforts, I know that these are not easy asks...but it is our ask today.” Ducey called the recent announcements about potentially effective coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna “a positive light at the end of the tunnel.” According to Ducey, Christ assembled a vaccine task force at the beginning of the year that is actively working “to ensure the effective distribution” of the vaccines. The governor issued an executive order to extend “the enhanced surveillance advisory” to gather information on potential vaccinations and distribution plans. “This will ensure that all Arizonans who

want the vaccine will receive the appropriate follow up doses at the correct time,” Ducey said. As Thanksgiving nears, the health director asked everyone to continue following safety protocol by wearing a mask, sanitizing frequently and socially distancing as much as possible. The health department recommends holding gatherings outside and celebrating virtually with those who are high-risk. But state lawmakers and local officials called on Ducey to do more. State Sen. Rebecca Rios said that Ducey’s response to the virus “came up short.” “Other than the additional $25 million to help hospitals combat the virus, the governor’s half measures are inadequate to substantially slow the spread of the virus,” Rios said in a prepared statement. “We continue to urge the governor to take swift and preemptive actions to curtail the virus’s spread, beginning with a statewide mask mandate. This fragmented approach has had clear consequences for struggling Arizona families and our economy. The holiday and flu season are fast approaching and our COVID-19 cases are reaching deadly summer levels. So please do your part and mask up. We must do more, work together and let science be our guide to stop the spread.” The mayors of Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff also called on Ducey to establish a statewide mask mandate. “As much as I’d love the city of Tucson to be in a bubble, all it takes is one person traveling to Tucson to visit family during the holidays to make a huge impact in terms of spread here in the city of Tucson,” Romero said. “That’s why it’s so important that we have a statewide mandate for masks because we should all be holding hands in this. This should not be a political issue, this should be an issue that we hold hands that we work together and that we defeat.” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans and Tolleson Mayor Anna Tovar joined Romero in calling for a mask mandate statewide. The Arizona Department of Health Services issued an emergency measure that masks be worn on all school premises, but the mayors are calling for further action. “Here in Pima County, we are seeing numbers we’ve seen only in the summer. Positivity rate is increasing throughout our state, and these things are very, very troubling for all of us,” Romero said. “The fact is that currently, we are heading in the wrong direction.” ■


NOV. 26, 2020

DANEHY TOM HAS A RANGE OF EMOTIONS THIS THANKSGIVING By Tom Danehy, tucsonweekly@tucsonlocalmedia.com

SORENSEN

AS WRITTEN-WORD CLICHÉS GO, this is the time of year for the appearance of schmaltzy recountings of things for which we are thankful. But, seeing how 2020 is the WORST YEAR EVER!, the thankful list is on the thin side. • I am THANKFUL that my family is safe and healthy. I’m thankful that Joe Biden won the election, although I wish it had been by 10 million votes instead of “just” 6 million. I’m thankful that we have so many dedicated health-care professionals, teachers, and people who do the important things that keep the country going in these awful times. That’s really about it. Meanwhile: • I’m AGHAST at the number of people who voted for Donald Trump. I knew there were a whole lot of pissed-off white people who see themselves like Tea Leoni and Maximilian Schell at the end of “Deep Impact,” standing on the shore, waiting for the 80-foot-high wave to crash over them. Only, in real life, the wave isn’t water from the Atlantic, it’s dark-skinned people from all over the world. I’ll say it again. I sincerely don’t think that all Trump voters are racists (but all racists are Trump voters). That doesn’t provide

complete absolution, however. Walking out of the polling place, they should be made to wear a T-shirt that reads “I’m Not a Racist But I Just Voted For One.” • I’m PUZZLED by the relatively high number of Trump voters among Latinos (or, as some wish to be called, Tejanos) along the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won Starr and Hidalgo counties by 60% and 40%, respectively. Biden won them by 5% and 17%, respectively. I would never, ever make the mistake (that the Democratic Party apparently did) of expecting people to vote a certain way simply because of their skin color. But neither would I expect people who are getting hated on to vote for the guy doing the hating. These people have to know that if Donald Trump were to show up along the Rio Grande and see all those brown faces, he would want them to be on the other side of the river. Latino men were much more likely to vote for Trump than were their female counterparts. Two of my more-enlightened Latino in-laws suggested that it might have had something to do with a variant strain of macho nonsense. Mi cuñado (brother-in-

law) Jesse said that maybe some of those guys secretly wish that they could mistreat women the way Trump does without having to worry about being stabbed to death in their sleep. • I’m CURIOUS as to how much they have to pay people to lie for a living. It’s probably not a whole lot, just enough so that they can live in a place with bare walls so they don’t ever have to look at themselves in the mirror. I can’t say that I’ve never lied, but to do it for hours at a time, five days a week, for the bulk of one’s adult life would eat away at my soul and I spent years listening to my mother (and Marvin Gaye) to build up my soul for the final accounting. Of course, there are honest disagreements when nobody is lying, but there are also times when somebody is just flat-out being dishonest to prop up a false point. The local morning-radio tRump-licker believes that all teachers are evil and lazy (and Democrats). He rants that teachers love the pandemic (the severity of which he downplays) because they can just stay at home and pretend to teach. This is ridiculous; every teacher I know is aching to get back in the classroom and they’re working harder than ever in an effort to make remote learning effective. Last week, this clown was hyping a letter that was sent by the head of a local hospital to the Pima County Health Department, urging an opening of all the schools. The talker

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made it sound as if the hospital guy was saying that the pandemic is no big deal and that there is little risk to opening the schools. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. The hospital guy was saying that the pandemic is so bad (and rapidly getting worse) that the hospital is suffering from a manpower shortage as parents stay home with their kids while the number of cases soar. Shame on you. • I’m really DISAPPOINTED that stores (but not Costco) are letting more and more people walk around without masks. Bosses offer feeble excuses about not wanting their employees to get into confrontations. If that’s the case, then hire security guards to do it. Businesses should always be looking long term. This would protect the employees’ health (a vital concern) and help to put an end to the virus just a little bit sooner so we can get back to normal. This should be the easiest and smartest business decision ever. • Donald Trump Jr., who always looks like an angry armpit, said that the virus would magically disappear the day after the election. Instead, it has exploded to new record levels and Don Jr. himself has come down with it. Idiot. However, I am HOPEFUL that he decides to pursue a political career, thereby providing a constant reminder of all that is wrong with his family and what used to be the Republican Party. Please have a happy (and safe) Thanksgiving. ■


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For a decade, it was basketball heaven in a part of America that could use some positivity, a sense of community and maybe a dose of shared self-worth. And now it’s gone.

COURTESY PHOTO

Ramon Vargas first came up with the idea behind the Jegos and was the team’s first coach.

COURT STRUGGLE

The Tohono O’odham Community College Basketball Program Is No More By Tom Danehy tucsonweekly@tucsonlocalmedia.com

IN THE WESTERN AFRICAN country of Cameroon, the word “jego” means “love, greatness, riches, and favor.” In the Philippines, the name “Jego” means “energy.” But on the sprawling Tohono O’odham Nation, west of Tucson, a jego is the hot, harsh sudden wind that signals the possible arrival of a summer monsoon storm. The rain doesn’t always show up, but the jego never fails to announce its presence with authority. Such was the case with the Tohono O’odham Community College Jegos men’s and women’s basketball programs, teams that sprang up out of nowhere, led to an almost-spiritual awakening on the reservation, helped establish an identity for the school and the Nation, and then suddenly were gone like the storm that fails to materialize, leaving the promise of healing precipitation unfulfilled. The move to cancel the programs was unexpected and left many people in the Nation upset. The teams were wildly popular

on the reservation and served as a source of pride and inspiration throughout the Nation. With their abrupt cancellation, many people are upset and don’t really care about any answers to the puzzling decision. They just want their Jegos back. Every Jegos home game was an event. Tribal members came from all parts of the Nation, from the far western edge near Why to the eastern boundary of the reservation in the Tucson metropolitan area. They made the 90-minute drive from the far-northern boundary, just outside of Casa Grande, and a few would even come up from the traditional O’odham land on the other side of the U.S.-Mexico border. (For better or worse, Mexico doesn’t recognize the concept or reality of native lands.) Most would head into Sells on Highway 86 (Ajo Way in Tucson), then turn onto Indian Road 19 by the Bashas’ to head out to Baboquivari High School in Topawa. Traversing the winding mountain road could sometimes be tricky. Every now and then, there would be horses or cattle just walking alongside (or even on) the road. But there was a game to get to and a honk

of the horn would usually clear a path. Once out of the mountains and onto the straightaway to the high school, the drivers had a view of sacred Baboquivari Peak, where lives I’itoi, the mischievous creator god often depicted as the Man in the Maze in O’odham art. Off in the distance to the driver’s left is Kitt Peak, with a backside view of the observatory and the accompanying buildings. The parking lot at the high school was often full, with rows and rows of pickup trucks and SUVs (and only the occasional Honda Civic). The crowds would file in, individuals and entire families, old and young, city folk and ranchers. (Once when I was coaching a high-school volleyball team, we were playing a game at Baboquivari High. We had a foreign-exchange student from Germany named Eva and, looking into the stands with wide-eyed fascination, she guilelessly asked why some of the Indians were dressed like cowboys.) From the time the players took the floor for pre-game warm-ups, the crowd was into it. Grandmothers would shout words of encouragement to the players whose names everybody knew. Little kids would run back and forth in the bleachers, yelling “Jegos! Jegos!” And the serious hoop fans would be watching the other team warm up, trying to determine who the star was and figuring out how best to attack the visiting team.

IT’S BEEN THREE OR FOUR generations since basketball took root in Native American culture; Rez Ball is now firmly entrenched somewhere between a way of life and a quasi-religion. Every nation has its legendary baller. For the Crow, it’s Jonathan Takes Enemy, immortalized in the heartbreaking Sports Illustrated article “Shadow of a Nation.” Among the Navajo, it’s Ryneldi Becenti, the former Arizona State star who became the first woman ever inducted into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame. If there is one person who embodies what basketball means to the O’odham, it is Roland Ramon. Built more like a linebacker than a basketball player, laid-back off the court and deadly serious on it, Ramon has pretty much always been a hoop star. For as far back as anyone can remember, girls wanted to be near him and guys wanted to be on his pick-up basketball team so that they could stay on the court all day. Ramon starred for Baboquivari High, leading the Warriors to a couple conference championships under legendary coach Gary Manuel. He had dreamed of playing college ball, but after graduating in 1996, adulthood snuck up on him. He got a job, had a couple kids and settled into a life of pick-up games after work, the occasional Native tournament, and adult recreation leagues in Tucson. But the itch was always there. A full 15 years after high school, Ramon was playing ball at the San Xavier Recreation Center, just south of the Mission, when he met Matthew Vargas. Ramon remembered that Vargas was a ball of energy, a fast talker with big ideas. After some time passed, Vargas had an inspiration. Why not put together a team of O’odham All-Stars and take the show on the road? Somehow, he wrangled a game against the Pima Community College team and wasn’t in the least surprised when his squad hammered the junior-college squad. Vargas then took his outrageous idea to the Tohono O’odham Community College Board, suggesting that they start a school team, one that would represent the school and the Nation in the ultra-competitive Arizona Community College Athletic Association. The Board bought in and the Jegos were launched with Vargas as their coach. The first person Vargas thought of when trying to put a college team together was


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Roland Ramon. Part of the sales pitch to the Board was that the team would allow some O’odham athletes the opportunity to compete at the collegiate level. But getting Ramon to play wasn’t an affirmative action or quota thing. Even into his 30s, Roland Ramon was a stone baller, someone around whom a team could be built. Ramon remembers the moment that Vargas made his pitch. “I was surprised. I was kinda old and I had put on a lot of weight. But Matt (was insistent). I decided to go for it.” He began running. And running and running in the heat of August and September, sometimes for more than an hour straight. “I had to get in shape,” he recalls. “And there’s no secret to it. I just kept running.” He says that he thinks that he lost 35 pounds in one month. By the time practice started in October, he was in decent-enough shape. By the time the first games rolled around, he was vying for a starting spot against players who were only slightly more than half his age. That first season went fairly well. The record wasn’t great—not as good as Vargas had hoped, not as bad as he had feared—but he realized that he had something going. One of the first traditions that the team established became a favorite among members of the Nation. After each game, the players would weave their way through the stands, shaking hands with every single fan who had shown up to support them. (They would also shake hands with fans of the visiting team.) “It just gave everybody that sense of community,” says Ramon. “The fans really liked it and the players enjoyed it, too.” Ramon said that he saw changes on the reservation because of the basketball program. “Young boys would recognize me at the store. They’d come up to me and tell me that they wanted to play for the Jegos when they got older. That was cool.” One time, he was out on a remote part of the

COURTESY PHOTO

Roland Ramon dribbling down the court.

reservation and he saw a young kid wear a Jegos T-shirt. It brought a smile to Ramon’s face. April Ignacio was one of the program’s biggest fans from the very beginning. She has told people, “To have this here, in the heart of O’odham land, it means a lot.” Ignacio and hundreds of others were Jegos fanatics from the jump. While it sounds clichéd, it really wasn’t a matter of winning or losing. It was about competing and representing. In 2012, the school added a women’s team and, thanks to some furious recruiting by Vargas, the men’s team got good in a hurry. With then-sophomore Ramon coming off the bench to hit a couple big shots down the stretch in a win over visiting Scottsdale, TOCC found itself in the top four in the 12-team conference, good enough for a spot in the playoffs to see who would go to Nationals. (That was a crazy match-up—the Jegos against the Fighting Artichokes. Back in the 1970s, some pissy student activists seized control of the Scottsdale Community College Student Council

and attempted to get rid of athletics. When they were told that such a move was outside of their power, they changed the school mascot to Artichokes and the school colors to pink and gray. Scottsdale’s teams now wear green and gold, but they kept the name Artichokes.) The next year, the men made it to the Conference championship game. Hundreds of Jego fans made the trip to Phoenix College for a Friday-night battle with the home-team Bears to see which team would represent the ACCAC in the National Championship Tournament. The Jego crowd dwarfed that of the home team and helped keep the TOCC squad in the game. With a few minutes left in the contest, the Jegos made a run and tied the game, but Phoenix ended up scratching out a close win and making it to Nationals. Still, Vargas knew that his program had arrived. He and his players went to great lengths to forge and maintain ties to the Nation. They would speak at schools, show up at the community center and march in the T.O. Rodeo Parade, held in late January in

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conjunction with the Nation’s Rodeo. The players would march in the parade, spend all day at the rodeo grounds west of Sells and then head over to Topawa for their game that night. There were rumblings among administrators that not enough local players were on the team. Several of Vargas’ players were African-Americans from out-of-state. Vargas said that he did his best to recruit local kids, especially Natives. One kid, Ruben Silvas, a Pascua Yaqui, played two years at TOCC and then got a scholarship to Alaska-Fairbanks. Cracks began to appear in the relationship between Vargas and the administration before one of the cracks became a crevasse. The administration didn’t offer Vargas a contract for the upcoming year and, just like that, he was gone. (He now is the coach at Grays Harbor JC in Washington state. That school’s most-unfortunately named teams are The Chokers! A choker— or choker setter—is a logger who attaches a metal ring, also known as a choker, to a felled log so that it can be dragged to a skidder.) Vargas’ sudden departure left the men’s program in disarray just as the women’s program was starting to find its footing. Two years ago, the men’s team finished dead last in the conference while the women’s team went into the final week of the regular season needing to win just one of two games to make the playoffs for the first time ever. They lost them both, one in excruciating fashion. Meanwhile, the men’s program appeared to have righted itself. Coach Michael Steward, who was Vargas’ top assistant and is now the school’s athletic director, went through a tough couple of years but came out strong on the other side. “When Vargas left suddenly, several players bailed on us. It takes a while to build things back up. I sincerely believe that 2020-21 was going to

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Roland Ramon, taking a shot.

COURT STRUGGLES

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be our year. We had several starters back and some great recruits.” But then came the word. TOCC President Dr. Paul Robertson unilaterally decided to kill the basketball programs and replace them with cross country and wellness programs. In a press release, Robertson said the decision was “aimed at benefiting the health and wellness of all our students. The new wellness initiative will focus on O’odham games, strength training, personal fitness, running, group exercises, aerobics, dance and intramurals.”

COURTESY PHOTO

The decision was met with outrage throughout the Nation. If Robertson (who is not Native and so is obviously not O’odham) were in a three-person popularity contest, he’d finish seventh. But, as (his) luck would have it, the announcement came just as the COVID-19 pandemic began raging in April. Much of the Nation, already separated by remoteness, was in lockdown and dealing with a life-or-death situation. The decision to kill basketball was put on the back burner. (Despite repeated efforts to contact him for comment, Robertson did not respond as of deadline.)

KIMBERLY ORTEGA FOLLOWED A PATH SIMILAR to that of Roland Ramon. She graduated from Desert View High School in 2004, where she had starred in basketball and softball. Like most high-school athletes, she had fantasized about playing college ball but, realistically, didn’t see it in her future. After high school, she enrolled at Pima College but didn’t really know what she wanted to study or do with her life. She got a job as a busser at the casino and eventually worked her way up to server. She’d go to school, off and on, but it never really stuck. “I was just drifting,” she recalls. She became a foster mother to a young girl and for two years her time not spent at work was taken up by caring for the child. But after a couple years, a court ordered the child to be returned to her birth mother and there was a hole in Kim’s life. She partially filled the void by working out and playing some ball at the Rec. When the women’s team was formed at TOCC, Kim was signed to a scholarship and would forever be the first Native O’odham in the Jegos women’s program’s history. She immediately found a sense of purpose. She attacked her studies with a fervor that surprised even her. On the court, she pushed herself and eventually ended up pushing too hard. She developed back spasms which were originally diagnosed as severe muscle strains. She was told to take


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it easy, but was having so much fun, she pushed herself even harder. Then, after colliding with another player in a game, the pain intensified and she went back to the doctor. They did an X-ray and an MRI and found that she had been playing with a broken back. She took some time off and then completed her career. “Being a part of that team completely changed my life,” she says. “I made friends that I’ll have for life. I discovered my purpose in life and I saw parts of the country I never would have seen otherwise,” (Her team played in tournaments in Montana, Minnesota and Washington, among other places.) After graduating from TOCC, she went on to the University of Arizona and got a dual degree in communications and Native American studies. She’s now the events coordinator for the Desert Diamond Casino. Ortega says that she understands the need for a wellness program on the reser-

vation, but doesn’t understand why it had to come at the expense of the basketball programs. She thinks that not only could they have coexisted, they could have been symbiotic. “Just think,” she offers, “you could have folded the wellness program in with the basketball. You could have had wellness seminars before and after the games. Have contests for the kids at halftime. You could have the players go out to the schools and talk to young people about the importance of fitness and wellness.” (When she was told that that was a really good idea, she replied, “Well, I am an event coordinator.”)

ship. TOCC had its first-ever cross country team this year (four men and one woman) and like just about everything else in America in 2020, COVID-19 wreaked havoc. The team had one “meet” during the regular season before heading off to Nationals. Steward says that they’ll recruit more kids for next year. He’s busy trying to institute new wellness programs for the TOCC students and the Nation at large. But he also misses the hell out of basketball. “I’ve been coaching for so long, you can’t help but miss it,” he says. “This time of year, you feel it in your bones when you

MICHAEL STEWARD JUST recently returned from the NJCAA National Cross Country Championships in freezing Fort Dodge, Iowa. The temperature at race time was in the high 30s and, to the surprise of absolutely no one, the host school won the national champion-

TUCSONWEEKLY.COM

wake up and it stays with you all day until you go to sleep.” He understands that he has to follow the lead of his higher-ups in the administration, but he also hopes that basketball will return to Tohono O’odham Community College someday. “Basketball is just going to keep getting more and more popular on Indian reservations,” he says. “And we had something special here. We had something that the Apaches and the Hopis and the Navajos don’t have. We had college basketball teams at a school named for and serving the Nation. That’s a pretty big deal.” ■

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The program expanded to include a women’s basketball team after the success of the men’s team.

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Hotel McCoy Pop-Up with NORI and Jared Clark. It’s holiday market season! Things are looking a little different this year, but this event is an extra special one. Blax Friday will feature Arizona Black-owned businesses in many places, but just one is Hotel McCoy, featuring NORI and Jared Clark. If you send a screenshot of our Black business purchase to hello@hotelmccoy.com, you’ll get 25% off your hotel stay, plus a complimentary drink and free breakfast in the morning! But don’t stop there! Visit blaxfriday.com for information on Black-owned businesses in Arizona so you can support, support, support! 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27. Hotel McCoy, 720 W. Silverlake Road. facebook.com/ events/643960912937771/ Hot Club of Tucson. Taco Tuesdays at Hotel Congress, brought to you by Rhythm and Roots, continue this week as we ring in the month of December. This week, Hot Club of Tucson is brining those gypsy flair, Django Reinhardt-inspired vibes with a guitar, violin and upright bass. Grab a taco and enjoy an evening out where COVID-19 protocols are being strictly followed to keep everyone safe. If the temperature goes below 65 (fingers crossed!) they’ll bring out the heaters and hot drinks. Just one month left of 2020! That sure is a reason to celebrate. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Club Congress Plaza, 311 E. Congress St. $8 at the door only. eventbrite.com/e/hot-club-of-tucson-tickets-129626421115 American Indian Heritage Month Social & Craft Market. Every Thanksgiving weekend, this event gives Tucsonans a chance to learn more about 15 tribal nations and 10,000 years of culture in the form of music, dance, art and food. Pick some gorgeous handmade pieces as holiday gifts, view demonstrations of songs and dances and learn about the history of the land we live on today. This year’s featured cultural presentation is by Cecil Manuel, an award-winning Tohono O’odham and Apache hoop dancer. You can also see Marvin Todacheenie on the Navajo flue and catch a book signing by Fred Snyder. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27 through Sunday, Nov. 29. CATALYST Arts and Maker Space at Tucson Mall, 4500 N. Oracle Road, Ste. 110. Free admission and parking, but scholarship donations are appreciated. https://usaindianinfo.com/events/craft-market CULTIVATE Tucson Pop-Up. We love a good collective that brings together local makers, designers, small businesses and nonprofits. That means we love CULTIVATE Tucson! This group of makers will be selling their wares for six weeks, starting this Friday! Products range from yummy baked goods to handmade books to ceramics, jewelry, hats and macramé. Plus plenty more! You’ll find something one-of-a-kind at this market and have the chance to support local business while in the process. If you’re high risk, you can even schedule a private shopping appointment. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sweeten the Deal. Looking to buy an original piece of art without breaking the bank? In celebration of the holiday season, the staff at the Wilde Meyer Gallery are curating a show of their favorite works for under $1,000. These are all pieces they consider exceptional for the price. They’ll even pay your sales tax or shipping on each purchase (free shipping in the continental 48 states only). There’s quite the variety of pieces, and it’s such a special gift to be able to give someone a completely original and unique work of art. The deal is ongoing at the gallery through December. 2890 E. Skyline Drive, Ste. 170. wildemeyer.com/event/sweeten-the-deal/

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. A Hanukkah event! Hooray! This show is brought to you by the local theater company Scoundrel and Scamp with the support of the PJ Library. In this play version of a beloved story, Herschel of Ostropol arrives in a village after a long journey to find the villagers cowering in fear: Goblins have taken over the synagogue! Herschel the trickster must use all of the wits and tricks up his sleeves to vanquish the goblins over eight nights. Directed by Leora Sapon-Shevin and Gretchen Wirges. Catch the livestream if you want to attend a Q&A with the artists, or watch it later if you can’t make it at that time. 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 29. Scoundrelandscamp.org. $11. scoundrelandscamp.org/hershel-pj-library

by Emily Dieckman Give thanks for Music. If you’re having trouble finding things to be grateful for this year, that’s okay. It’s been a terrible year, and you don’t have to spend this Thanksgiving being thankful. But if you are trying to find reasons to be grateful, there are some basics that are always good to come back to: sunshine (we sure have plenty here in Tucson), cacti with silly arms (also a Tucson staple) and music. This weekend, the MSA Annex is hosting two nights of live music. Friday is Amor Deluxe (fronted by Naim Amor) and Katie Haverly, who are playing a set of original songs. On Saturday Freddy Parish and Mamma Coal are teaming up for a night full of honky tonk country music. Pod seating is available in twos or fours. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27 and Saturday, Nov. 28. MSA Annex, 267 S. Avenida del Convento. Tickets are $34 to $68 (depending on pod size and seat location). mercadodistrict.com/events

Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. MSA Annex, 267 S. Avenida del Convento. mercadodistrict.com/events/cultivate-tucson/ Virtual Santa Visits. With Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recent announcement that Santa Claus is immune to COVID-19 (we’ve heard it’s the Santa-bodies!), kids all over the world are breathing a sigh of relief. But the part of the year leading up to Christmas Eve, where kiddos usually go visit Santa and tell him what they want, is still going to look a little different this year. Luckily for us, Tohono Chul is offering a chance to purchase custom video messages or Zoom visits straight from the North Pole! Just head over to their website and pick out which package you want from this special feature sponsored by Tucson Electric Power. tohonochul.org/santa Pop Up @ Pop Cycle. Tucson has such a wonderful sense of community. It’s cheesy and maybe that sentence reads as cliché, but it’s simple and it’s true. This is one of the times of year where that sense of community is usually most evident, with an abundance of fairs featuring local makers and artists. In lieu of some of the bigger ones, like the Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair, Pop Cycle is hosting some locals out front of their shop every Saturday. Meet some artists and pick up the perfect holiday gifts right from the sort. Monster Booty Threads, Juju & Moxie, Cactus Cloud and Marcy Ellis are just some of the featured artists. Noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays through Dec. 12. Pop Cycle, 422 N. Fourth Ave. facebook.com/events/409532893566322 Classic Car Show at Little Anthony’s Diner. Another week, another trip to the diner for some classic cars, yummy food and some good old fashioned fun. This week’s music is brought to you by DJ John. With hand-tossed pizza, decadent milkshakes, live music and gorgeous cars, there really is something for everyone. Car registration for those participating in the show starts at 9 a.m. The event goes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28. Little Anthony’s Diner, 7010 E. Broadway Blvd. facebook.com/ events/4046543068707833 Black Friday at Tanque Verde Swap Meet. Black Friday is intense even in the best of years. This year, with a pandemic thrown into the mix, the whole thing is set to be even crazier than ever. If you’re looking to get in on the action, but also hoping to support local businesses and shop in the open air, the swap meet is where it’s at! Fresh air, vendors with plenty of holiday gifts, and plenty of room for social distancing. Mask up and get ready to find some deals, while feeling safe and like you’re contributing to the community. 3 to 11 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27. Tanque Verde Swap Meet, 4100 S. Palo Verde Road. https://www. facebook.com/events/756740661603704


NOV. 26, 2020

ARTS & CULTURE

WORKSPACE ON DISPLAY

Zoom through this year’s Open Studio Tours without leaving your house! By Margaret Regan tucsonweekly@tucsonlocalmedia.com

FIVE YEARS AGO, ARTIST LAURI Marks Kaye was drawing outside in a downtown café when a man covered with tattoos wandered over to chat. Turned out the man had just gotten out of jail. He sat down and told her not only about his arty tattoos, but about his complicated life story in prison and elsewhere. Kaye raced to write his words down, and capture him in photos. Hearing his tales “changed my life,” the artist says. It also changed her art. Ever since that day—COVID times excepted—she has haunted coffee shops in search of other strangers with stories to stories and a willingness to be photographed or have their portraits drawn. Kaye turns these simple images into elaborate mixed-media works. She puts them into her computer to color them in gleaming green and yellow and gets a

“guy downtown with a laser machine” to print them on metal. The final pieces are joyously expressionist, an appealing mix of line drawing and fields of color. The artist also likes to make landscapes. Though some of her works picture iconic Tucson sites like Mission San Xavier and Sabino Canyon, she prefers places off the beaten track. The Tucson Portrait Series, as she calls it, “illuminate people, places and events that make Tucson extraordinary.” Five years in, she has completed some 50 of the pieces. Between this Friday, Nov. 27, and Sunday, Dec. 6, anyone in Tucson—or anywhere in the world, for that matter—can see her Tucson portraits virtually. Courtesy of the first-ever Open Studio Tours Online run by the Arts Foundation this year, art lovers can peruse artworks by about 50 Southern Arizona artists via their computers.

For 10 years, the Arts Foundation ran an annual in-person artist studio tour. In those halcyon days, art fans traveled all around town to visit actual studios filled with paints and brushes and clay, meet the artists in person, and take a gander at the artworks. COVID-19 has changed all that. Now the tour is entirely virtual. “It’s a brand-new way of doing this,” says Laura Reese, spokeswoman for the Arts Foundation. “Everything is new and we’re still learning.” Participating artists have created their own pages on the studio tours’ online site, posted images of their artwork and written brief artists’ statements. Their pages also have plenty of links, to their own web sites, their contact information and, importantly, instructions on how to buy their art. (The Arts Foundation doesn’t participate in sales.) A few brave souls will be giving live Zoom talks and lead their viewers on a virtual tour of their studios. The halfhour Zoom tours will be mostly on the first weekend. The artists don’t have to pay any fees to be on the tour, a welcome break at a time when many have lost income. “Our hope was to make this as accessi-

TUCSONWEEKLY.COM 11

Open Studio Tours Online, hosted by the Arts Foundation Artists’ works will be online from Friday, Nov. 27, to Sunday, Dec. 6. Fans can reach the art at ost.artsfoundtucson.org. To find artists’ pages, click on Artist Listing A dozen artists will give live Zoom talks and tours, mostly on the first weekend. To find the Zoom schedule and the names of the artists who are giving talks, go to the first page of ost. artsfoundtucson.org and scroll down to the bottom on the page. To get the links to watch the live tours, go to the Zoom artists’ pages in the Artist Listing section.

ble as possible,” Reese says. The Arts Foundation even offered two free workshops, one giving artists tips CONTINUED ON PAGE 12


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NOV. 26, 2020

WORKSPACE ON DISPLAY CONTINUED FROM PAGE 11

for photographing their artworks, and the other for marketing the work. With Christmas right around the corner, “We hope the tours trigger sales,” Reese says. The artists who opted in have created all kinds of art; their genres range from painting, ceramics and jewelry to photography, printmaking and sculpture. Fewer artists than usual have signed up; this year’s 50 artists are only onethird of last year’s tally of 150. The tour might have lost some artists intimidated by the tech requirements, but, Reese says, they picked up some first-timers who in the past didn’t feel comfortable welcoming strangers into their home studios. James Larson is one artist who embraced and chose to Zoom. “My passion is creating large, colorful one- of-a-kind oil paintings,” he says, like “Pink Lily” a brilliantly colored piece on his tour page. His virtual Zoom tour will be at 11:30 a.m., this Saturday, Nov. 28. (See his page on the website to get the Zoom link.) “It will be a 30-minute tour, and I’ll show my studio and my work,” he says.

COURTESY ILLUSTRATION

“Sonoran Harmony,” by Lauri Kaye, hand drawing layered with photography and digital color, and printed on metal. Kaye will welcome virtual visitors into her studio this week.

He admits to getting some help with tech from his grown son. But he wasn’t frazzled by it. “It’s the future,” he says cheerfully. Mel “Melo” Dominguez, a respected Tucson muralist, is also doing a live Zoom tour, which provides an opportunity for the artist to once again connect with fans. Normally Dominguez works in collaboration with other people, but the coronavirus put a stop to that.

As they write in their artist statement, “pre-COVID, my mural process included community involvement from concept to actually painting the mural together…” (Their half-hour Zoom will be at 11 a.m. this Saturday, Nov. 28.) Dominguez’s whimsical murals celebrate Chicano/Chicana culture. One of their Tucson works pictures the Virgin of Guadalupe, low-rider cars, folklórico dancers and mariachi musicians. But

other pieces deal with political and social issues and environmental problems. Painter Howard Kline, who pivots from abstract expressionism to classic figurative works, is staying away from Zoom. He’s loved having the in-person tours at his home and studio. “I usually get 50 to 100 people,” he says. But he’s game to try out this year’s viral tour. As a teenager living off the coast of Massachusetts, Kline became both lobster fisherman and an artist. His paintings of the sea, the boats and fisherman got him a scholarship to an art school in Boston. Ever since, for more than 50 years, he’s been able to make a living as a painter. The late Tucson artist Maurice Grossman, who died long before Kline arrived in Tucson, has surprisingly had an impact on Kline. The two never met, but when Kline and his wife moved to town they bought the beloved artist’s house and adjoining studio. Kline hears endless stories of Grossman’s joie de vivre and dedication to art. And he keeps a photo of Grossman on his studio wall and a Grossman sculpture across the room. Both are the source of joyful inspiration. ■

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Medical Marijuana

DRY RUN

Weed testing rollout mandated by state law coming in fits and starts By David Abbott david@tucsonlocalmedia.com THE STATE’S NEW CANNABIS testing program began in November and the initial prognosis is that it’s going to take time to straighten things out, but for now there are no shortages or outrageous price increases. Limited third-party testing for medical cannabis officially began on Nov. 1, but the state is wrestling with the certification process to get a sufficient number of laboratories on line to handle a massive load of work. Due in part to the ravages of the COVID pandemic, though, the Arizona Department of Health Services has

loosened testing requirements in the interest of ensuring a sufficient supply of medicinal cannabis for the state’s nearly 300,000 MMJ patients. Testing has been coming to the Arizona marketplace since 2019, when a new law requiring testing of all product on medical dispensary shelves by third-party labs for a wide array of microbial contamination, heavy metals, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, growth regulators, residual solvents and potency. But with a global pandemic raging and AZDHS having its hands full addressing public health concerns, the testing program has had a halting rollout. On Oct. 30—the Friday before testing

IMAGE COURTESY BIGSTOCK

was to begin—the agency released an information update for the Medical Marijuana Laboratory Certification Program stating in part that requirements for 17 of 59 pesticides and testing for mycotoxins would be postponed until May 1, 2021, to avoid product shortages that could have taken place had the program begun in full on day one.

“DHS began implementing the law on Nov. 1 and continues to work with dispensaries and laboratories to ensure that medical marijuana is available and safe for patients,” AZDHS Public Information Officer Holly Poynter wrote in a Nov. 3 email. “To date, we have certified eight testing labs, and we will update CONTINUED ON PAGE 15


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NOV. 26, 2020

DRY RUN

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13

our list online as we certify additional labs. Dispensaries working with certified labs are now able to offer tested products to patients.” Throughout this month, there’s been a rush for dispensaries and labs to move forward as the system rights itself, with a focus on keeping product on the shelf. C4 Labs founder and CEO Ryan Treacy has been working towards the testing program for four years. He was surprised by a dearth of testing in the beginning, but in the past two weeks business at his lab has gone through the roof. By Nov. 16, Treacy reported C4 was “buried” under an avalanche of testing from dispensaries throughout the state. He said it’s taking from three to fourand-a-half weeks to turn around test results. “We can’t handle one-third or more of total market and keep turn times reasonable,” Treacy wrote in a Nov. 16 text message. “However we have more instruments and more staff in the works, so we will fix it. Nothing is fixed overnight in a lab, so it will take a bit.” The wait times are affecting local dispensaries, although supplies have been stable to this point. Prime Leaf CEO Brian Warde has done the lion’s share of his business’ testing through Precision Analytic Labs in Scottsdale. While the distance from the lab has led to transportation conundrums, the real problems have come from much longer wait times as well as astronomically increased costs. Rather than a two-week turnaround in test results, Warde is seeing around 30 days. “It’s bottlenecking,” Warde said. “It’s been slow to roll out because of timing and what DHS has on its plate.” Costs are also a concern, as some testing has already cost tens of thousands of dollars, creating expenses that did not exist before. “Consumer prices might see a 6-12% increase,” Warde said. “For now, we won’t raise prices, but everyone is going to have to adapt.” Warde said that most dispensaries are also going to have to “re-evaluate” packaging and figure out how to make test results available to consumers, which can also add expenses. Despite the cost and hassles testing has brought to the industry, Warde said there is a general feeling that it will ultimately be good for everyone involved

and that the new law has received broad support from its inception. “We supported testing and believe it should be third-party, but we don’t want to impede supplies or raise costs,” he concluded. Josh Carlson, operations manager of The Green Halo/Halo Infusions near Wilmot Road and Interstate 10, said, “things have been ridiculous” since the state prepared to implement the new testing law. “It’s had a significant impact on our business,” he wrote via text. “Some labs were ready but there [wasn’t] nearly enough capacity or labs to handle the industry.” He added that “it’s a good step forward for the industry,” but testing “should have been implemented a long time ago.” Green Halo has been making infused products in its onsite kitchen since it opened on Jan. 1, 2013, and serves patients through its own dispensary, as well as providing product for 80-100 others throughout the state. Much of their raw material comes from cultivation partner AZ Nectar Farms in Phoenix and they mostly depend on Desert Valley Testing, Delta Verde Labs and PURE Labs, all located in Phoenix. They began testing in early September to get ahead of the curve, but the wait times have still been something of a surprise. “I just think it could have been phased in a bit different instead of all at once,” he said. “Nobody expected a three- to six-week turnaround.” Given that there are no testing facilities in the Tucson area, which boasts 15 dispensaries and 10-12 large-scale cultivation facilities, many in the industry believe it’s only a matter of time before labs begin opening in Southern Arizona. “There is at least one group I know of currently putting together a lab in Tucson,” Carlson said. “I think Tucson will see growth in the cultivation industry, given the reduced cost of land and more access to power infrastructure versus Phoenix.” Moe Asnani, director of Downtown and D2 dispensaries and board member for the Arizona Dispensaries Association, has called for more labs in the region, but would not be opposed to a “public option.” “The big thing is Tucson is sending samples to Snowflake,” he said. “I’d like to see a lab owned by AZDHS—a public option.” ■

TUCSONWEEKLY.COM 15

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FREE WILL ASTROLOGY

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): “A little too much is just enough for me,” joked poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. I suspect that when he said that, he was in a phase similar to the one you’re in now. I bet he was experiencing a flood of creative ideas, pleasurable self-expressions, and loving breakthroughs. He was probably right to risk going a bit too far, because he was learning so much from surpassing his previous limitations and exploring the frontiers outside his comfort zone. Now here’s your homework, Aries: Identify two actions you could take that fit the profile I’ve described here. TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Biologists believe that no tree can grow more than 436 feet tall. As much as an individual redwood or spruce or mountain ash might like to sprout so high that it doesn’t have to compete with other trees for sunlight, gravity is simply too strong for it to pump enough water up from the ground to its highest branches. Keep that in mind as a useful metaphor during the next 10 months, Taurus. Your assignment is to grow bigger and taller and stronger than you ever have before— and know when you have reached a healthy level of being bigger and stronger and taller. GEMINI (May 21-June 20): I haven’t felt the savory jolt of bacon in my mouth since I was 15, when I forever stopped eating pigs. I still remember that flavor with great fondness, however. I’ve always said I’d love to find a loophole that would allow me to enjoy it again. And then today I found out about a kind of seaweed that researchers at Oregon State University say tastes like bacon and is healthier than kale. It’s a new strain of a red marine algae called dulse. If I can track it down online, I’ll have it for breakfast soon. I bring this to your attention, Gemini, because I suspect that you, too, are primed to discover a fine new substitute—something to replace a pleasure or resource that is gone or taboo or impossible. What could it be?

CANCER (June 21-July 22): By age 49, Cancerian author Norman Cousins had been struck with two debilitating diseases. His physicians gave him a one in 500 chance of recovery. He embarked on a series of unconventional attempts to cure himself, including “laugh therapy” and positive self-talk, among others. They worked. He lived lustily for another 26 years, and wrote several books about health and healing. So perhaps we should pay attention to his belief that “each patient carries his own doctor inside him”—that at least some of our power to cure ourselves resides in inner sources that are not understood or accredited by traditional medicine. This would be a valuable hypothesis for you to consider and test in the coming weeks, Cancerian. (Caveat: But don’t stop drawing on traditional medicine that has been helping you.) LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In accordance with astrological rhythms, I’m giving you permission to be extra regal and majestic in the coming weeks. You have a poetic license to be a supremely royal version of yourself, even to the point of wearing a jeweled crown and purple silk robe. Would you prefer a gold scepter with pearls or a silver scepter with rubies? Please keep in mind, though, that all of us non-Leos are hoping you will be a noble and benevolent sovereign who provides enlightened leadership and bestows generous blessings. That kind of behavior will earn you the right to enjoy more of these lofty interludes in the future. VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In the coming weeks, I will refer to you as The Rememberer. Your task will be to deepen and refine your relationship with the old days and old ways—both your own past and the pasts of people you care about most. I hope you will take advantage of the cosmic rhythms to reinvigorate your love for the important stories that have defined you and yours. I trust you will devote

SAVAGE LOVE BLOCKED

By Dan Savage, mail@savagelove.net

My boyfriend and I were friends for a couple of years (we’re both 30-yearold gay men), then I stopped traveling around the world and pursued him. We’ve been boyfriends for a year and a half now. We were both happy and we had sex on a regular basis during the first year. I’m more into anal (as a top) but we mainly did oral because he isn’t into anal. We tried a few times early on but every time I mention it now he doesn’t seem keen, so I’ve left it alone. Six months ago he started having trouble “getting it up” even for oral. After it happened a couple of times he basical-

ly said, “I’m sorry, it’s because I think people aren’t attracted to me.” After that happened I started to lose my interest in sex between us and now we rarely have it. Even if he did offer to try anal I don’t even think that would motivate me to have sex with him. Apart from that we get on great but I feel as though I’m starting to see him more as a friend. I’ve been thinking about breaking up for the last three months but I would feel terrible for a few reasons: his previous boyfriend broke up with him without giving him a reason, which he struggled to come to terms with, and he’s very self-conscious

treasured time to reviewing in detail the various historical threads that give such rich meaning to your web of life. LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): “Those who build walls are their own prisoners,” wrote Libran author Ursula K. Le Guin. She continued, “I’m going to fulfill my proper function in the social organism. I’m going to unbuild walls.” I hope that sounds appealing to you, Libra. Unbuilding walls is my first choice for your prime assignment in the coming weeks. I’d love to see you create extra spaciousness and forge fertile connections. I’ll be ecstatic if you foster a rich interplay of diverse influences. If you’re feeling super-plucky, you might even help unbuild walls that your allies have used to half-trap themselves. SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): “If you can’t help me grow, there’s no point with you being in my life.” Singer and actress Jill Scott said that. In my view, Scorpios may be the only sign of the zodiac that can assert such a sentiment with total sincerity and authority. For many of the other tribes, it might seem harsh or unenforceable, but for you it’s exactly right—a robust and courageous truth. In addition to its general rightness, it’s also an especially apt principle for you to wield right now. The coming weeks will be a potent time to catalyze deep learning and interesting transformations in concert with your hearty allies. SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): “You live best as an appreciator of horizons, whether you reach them or not.” Those words from poet David Whyte would be a perfect motto for you to write out on a piece of paper and tape to your bathroom mirror or your nightstand for the next 30 years. Of all the tribes in the zodiac, you Sagittarians are most likely to thrive by regularly focusing on the big picture. Your ability to achieve small day-by-day successes depends on how well you keep the long-range view in mind. How have you been doing lately with that assignment? In the coming weeks, I suspect you could benefit from hiking to the top of a mountain—or the metaphorical equivalent—so you can enjoy seeing as far as you can see.

about his weight. So I can’t tell him the reason I want to break up—I don’t find him attractive anymore—because that might erode his mental health. (He is seeing a therapist.) If sex was great between us I would be happy to remain boyfriends since everything else is working out and I’m fairly certain he’s happy with our relationship as it is, which makes it even harder to end it. Advice? —Promising Relationship Is Sexless Or Nearly So A sexless relationship may be fine for your boyfriend—it may be what he wants—but it’s not fine for you, PRISONS, and it’s not what you want. And a guy who’s too insecure about his own attractiveness to get it up for a guy who’s attracted to him is unlikely to be secure enough for an open relationship, which

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Sensible Capricorn author E. M. Forster (1879–1970) said, “Passion does not blind. No. Passion is sanity.” That’s the opposite of what many poets and novelists have asserted down through the ages, which is that passion isn’t truly passion unless it renders you half-crazy, driven by obsession, and subject to delusion and irrationality. But in offering you counsel in this horoscope, I’m aligning myself with Forster’s view. For you in the coming weeks, Capricorn, passion will help you see clearly and keep you mentally healthy. AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Alpine swifts are small birds that breed in Europe during the summer and then migrate long distance to Africa for the winter. Ornithologists were shocked when they discovered that at least some of these creatures fly for more than 200 days without ever once landing on the ground. They’re not always flapping their wings— sometimes they glide—but they manage to do all their eating and drinking and sleeping and mating in mid-air. Metaphorically speaking, I think it’s important for you to not act like the alpine swifts in the coming months, dear Aquarius. Please plan to come all the way down to earth on a regular basis. PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): There’s substantial evidence that when people talk to themselves out loud in the midst of doing a task, they improve their chances of succeeding at the task. Have you ever heard athletes giving themselves verbal encouragement during their games and matches? They’re using a trick to heighten their performance. In accordance with astrological omens, I invite you to experiment with this strategy in the coming weeks. Increase your brainpower by regularly offering yourself encouraging, supportive instructions. It’s fine if you just sort of whisper them, but I’d love it if now and then you also bellowed them. ■ Homework: Imagine it’s 30 years from now and you’re telling God the worst things and best things you ever did. What would they be? Testify at FreeWillAstrology.com.

means staying with him and getting sex elsewhere isn’t a workable option. So unless you’re prepared to spend the next 50 years of your life in a sexless relationship to avoid hurting your boyfriend’s feelings, PRISONS, you’re going to have to end it. But instead of saying, “It’s over because I’m not attracted to you anymore,” say, “It’s over because we clearly aren’t attracted to each other.” He might claim he’s still attracted to you, PRISONS, and that might even be true, but if he’s too insecure to have sex with you—if his insecurities are such huge stumbling blocks—then he’s not in good enough working order to be in a sexually exclusive relationship. You should, of course, be as considerate as possible about his insecurities when you end things, PRISONS, but you don’t have an obligation to stay with him forever


NOV. 26, 2020

because of them. He has an obligation to work on them with his therapist before entering into a new relationship. A friend just shared on Facebook that she has been accosted by some dude—a stranger to her—over the phone. Sexually explicit stuff. She hung up and blocked him but he kept leaving her messages and sending her texts somehow. She just learned how to permanently block his number, which she has done. I have this dude’s phone number and it traces to Phoenix, Arizona. My question: Is there some service somewhere where I could share his phone number and an army of allies would call him? Or tele-market to him? Or otherwise accost him until it becomes so inconvenient that he has to get a new number? I don’t want him to be sexually harassed. I am not the kind of person who would invite sexual harassment on anyone. I just want him harassed to the point where he can no longer use the number he currently has to sexually harass anyone else. I get scam calls all the time about winning another free vacation at a Marriott Hotel. (I don’t know why I’m still paying rent with all the vacations I’m supposed to have won.) Is there a way I can sign him up for endless calls for free vacations? Can you or your readers think of some other suitably annoying/debilitating fate for his number? I’d love to write to my friend in support and solidarity and inform her of the annoyances about to rain down on this dude’s number! —Sexual Harassment Unleashes Totally Unrelenting Phone Promotions I’m sorry your friend was harassed by some asshole with a phone, SHUTUPP, but the counterstrike you’re considering could backfire on your friend. I mean, let’s say you got this asshole to change his number—let’s say your campaign of targeted non-sexual harassment was a success—then what happens? Well, then the asshole gets

a new number. He’ll still be an asshole with a phone, most likely the same phone, just with a different phone number. And since his new number won’t be the one your friend blocked, SHUTUPP, and since he’ll still have your friend’s phone number, he’ll be able to resume harassing your friend and any other woman who’d blocked his old number. As unsatisfying as it might seem, your friend’s best course of action here is the one she already took—blocking the fuck out of this asshole—and your best course of action would be to express sympathy and solidarity without doing anything that might make things worse. My marriage of 10 years recently fell apart. My ex, who is a piece of shit, told me she would have to leave or I would have to leave. I moved out but continued to pay her bills and rent for a year on top of my own expenses. We both agreed not to see other people until we either reconciled or divorced. On more than one occasion she convinced me that we might be close to reconciling. She basically led me on. Unfortu-

FOOTHILL SNEWS S DESERTTIME

nately, she was shacking up with a “Dom” who was old enough to be her father and this was going on long before we separated. When I confronted her, she told me she did it because you said sometimes cheating can save a relationship. She tried to get me to agree to having poly relationship with them but the trust was gone. I know she was just saying things to cover her ass and I moved on. Now I am looking for your advice on what steps to take, please. —Your Fan The Quiet Mouse I’ve said cheating is sometimes “the least worst option” for all involved. But to say something isn’t always the worst option isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. And I’ve said it’s foolish to define cheating as unforgivable considering how common cheating is. But to say something is forgivable is not to say it isn’t wrong. Quite the opposite, in fact, as non-wrongs do not require forgiveness. And, yes, I’ve said that cheating can sometimes save a relationship. For example, a person in an otherwise loving, low-conflict relation-

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ship that has become sexless might, after exhausting all other options (difficult conversations, couples counseling, etc.), cheat in order to “stay married and stay sane.” It’s not ideal, of course, but it may make it possible for the cheater to remain in a relationship that neither the cheater nor the cheatee wants to end. That’s not what your wife did. She lied, she cheated and only floated the idea of an ethically non-monogamous relationship after she got caught being non-ethically non-monogamous. While this has been known to work—there are couples out there that were able to create functional and healthy open relationships in the wake of messy and painful affairs—it’s not the kind of cheating that typically saves relationships. This kind of cheating, the kind your wife engaged in, more often than not destroys relationships. Sorry—I’m issuing clarifications, not answering your question. You asked about next steps. I don’t have to tell you to give yourself permission to be angry, as you sound pretty in touch with your anger, so I’ll just tell you to feel the shit out of your feelings. Ask your friends to let you freely vent for the next few months. After three months they’re allowed to gently change the subject when you start in on your ex; after six months they’re allowed to insist you talk about something else; after a year they’re allowed to block your calls if you can’t get through a conversation without rehashing your divorce for the millionth time. You should also eat a lot of ice cream while getting enough exercise to neutralize its effects, YFTQM, and remind yourself every day that an ex who treated you like shit is no excuse for treating your next like shit. mail@savagelove.net Follow Dan on Twitter @FakeDanSavage On the Lovecast, Elle Chase on dating for large ladies. www.savagelovecast.com ■

EXrtPhwLestO’s NRewEspaRper

The No

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