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CURRENTS: State Rep. Mark Finchem’s Awesome Insurrection Adventure
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FEB. 25, 2021
FEB. 25, 2021
FEB. 25, 2021 | VOL. 36, NO. 8
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Oro Valley state lawmaker played big role in Trump effort to overturn Biden win
Quick tripping into tin men, rusted axles, and weathered rocking horses
Slobby Robby opening a new shop for local sneakerheads
Hello and Goodbye, Again IT’S WITH A HEAVY HEART THAT I announce that staff reporter Nicole Ludden, who has been doing outstanding work covering COVID-19 and a wide variety of other stories for us since September of last year, is leaving the Weekly to seek new adventures. Nicole is one of the very best young reporters it’s ever been my pleasure to work with and I’m gonna miss reading her work in our pages a lot, but I wish her the best in her next endeavors. I’m excited to say that we have a new staff reporter coming on this week. Nogales native Christina Duran recently graduated from the University of Arizona with a double major in journalism and political science. She tells me she was first inspired to become a journalist while watching CNN’s Christiane Amanpour reporting from war-torn countries. “My whole life I straddled two worlds that melded together,” Christina says. “In turn, I saw how Latin Americans or Mexicans were portrayed on the news and I didn’t like it. I wanted people to know the faces and the stories of those they judged based on where they come from, their socio-economic status or the way they look. To me those were my people. On the most basic level I value the human story.” We can’t wait to see the stories Christina will be bringing our way. On her way out, Nicole brings us a look at state Rep. Mark Finchem’s efforts to spread disinformation about the 2020 election, including
spearheading a December meeting in Phoenix with Rudy Giuliani et al to raise doubts about Arizona’s election results and an appearance at the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Elsewhere in the book this week: Nicole also rounds up the latest on COVID-19; managing editor Austin Counts introduces us to Slobby Robby, the nostalgia merchant of Fourth Avenue; Tucson Salvage columnist Brian Smith takes a stroll around a northside Tucson neighborhood; associate editor Jeff Gardner gives a listen to a new album by David Huckfelt, who tapped the likes of Howe Gelb, Gabriel Sullivan and Billy Sedlmayr to play during sessions at Tucson’s Dust & Stone Recording Studios; Tucson Weedly columnist David Abbott rounds up the latest cannabis; and, of course, we have the usual cartoons, horoscopes and other diversions to keep you entertained as you flip through our pages. A final note: Voting is now underway in our 2021 Cannabis Bowl. Vote for your favorite strains, edibles, concentrates and more at TucsonWeekly.com through March 28. We’ll bring you the results in our annual 420 issue, hitting streets on April 15. — Jim Nintzel Executive Editor Hear Nintz talk about the latest on the outbreak and other news at 8:30 Wednesday mornings on The Frank Show on KLPX, 91.1 FM.
RANDOM SHOTS By Rand Carlson
David Huckfelt deconstructs the ‘Cowboys and Indians’ mythos on Room Enough, Time Enough
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FEB. 25, 2021
COURTESY PIMA COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
The county now only has insight into the allocation of Moderna vaccines, as the state health department has taken over all Pfizer allotments.
After a week of shortages, more vaccine doses expected to arrive in Pima County this week the state health department has taken over all Pfizer allotments. AFTER AN INITIAL “When we opened up the allotment announcement Pima County would only tool on Wednesday night, we got allotted receive 12,500 COVID-19 vaccines week, 12,500,” Cullen said. “At that point, we the county health department announced thought we were canceling almost 4,800 they expect to receive another 4,600 appointments. Today, lo and behold, out doses. of the blue, we get a text that says, ‘Oh, The 17,100 doses of the Moderna there’s 4,600 more doses coming your vaccine will be coupled with the doses way.’” that were delayed last week due to harsh The county now expects to complete winter weather conditions across the U.S. 91% of scheduled immunizations from for a total of 33,400 doses. last week and this week due to the Pima County Health Department Disurprise increase in doses, but last week, rector Dr. Theresa Cullen said during a between 1,500 and 2,000 individuals saw Feb. 19 press conference that last week’s their vaccine appointments canceled, ac16,300 delayed doses were stuck at a cording to Cullen. Most of the canceled FedEx facility in Memphis, Tenn., but appointments were for first-time doses. were expected to arrive by Wednesday Cullen said the county’s PODs, or this week. points of distribution, that experienced The 17,100 doses allocated to the coun- cancellations were mainly the ones that ty are expected to arrive by Wednesday, distribute the Moderna vaccine: Tucson Cullen said. Medical Center, Tucson Convention As of Monday, Feb. 22, the county has Center and Banner North. administered 230,553 doses with a total “Our understanding is that the majoriallocation of 240,920 vaccines from the ty of those cancellations have been what state. 63,606 Pima County residents have people have called sprinkled. So they’ve received the second shots needed for one been rescheduled for this coming week, to be considered fully the vast majority of them, and they’ve immunized. been sprinkled on different days. ReThe county now only has insight into member, that vaccine was always availthe allocation of Moderna vaccines, as able, it was allotted, it just wasn’t on the
By Nicole Ludden email@example.com
15,047 COVID-19 tests and found 20 positive cases for a positivity rating of 0.1%, down from last week’s percent positivity of 0.3%. The university’s goal is to keep this number below 5%, which they’ve maintained for several weeks. “National and state and even Pima County data continues to look better. We are reassured that all of the programs that we have put in place to continue to operate our university have been working well because of the data that we have seen,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, UA’s reentry task force director and former U.S. surgeon general. “But with that in mind, we still cannot be complacent. We must still work hard, tirelessly to maintain the privilege to keep our university open, to educate our students and be part of a bigger community.” Dorm residents or students who attend classes in person are required to take one COVID-19 test a week. To enforce the UA EXPANDS NUMBER OF CLASSES testing requirement, university students won’t be able to access the school’s WiON CAMPUS Fi network until they’ve verified they received a COVID-19 test. THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA The university is loosening some removed to phase two of its reentry plan strictions in dorms and will allow guests Monday with nearly 8,000 students now in common areas to use recreational able to attend in-person classes of 50 or amenities such as pianos and game fewer. tables, Carmona said. ■ From Feb. 12-21, UA administered ground because of the weather,” Cullen explained. Due to this week’s increase in Moderna vaccines, Cullen expects the county will hold up to four mobile vaccination clinics targeted to serve vulnerable populations this weekend. While she appreciates the increased Moderna allocation, Cullen says the county’s vaccine infrastructure can handle more doses than the state is allotting. “Right now, when we’re at 17,100, you know, we talked about being made whole—that’s still not where we needed to be,” she said. “We needed to be about 17,800 to be at a minimum. Obviously, we need more vaccine. Our infrastructure is designed to do much more than that.” As many appointments were canceled and mobile PODs for the socially vulnerable were postponed last week, the new state-run University of Arizona POD remains on track with vaccine delivery.
FEB. 25, 2021
PHOTO BY GAGE SKIDMORE / FLICKR
Rep. Mark Finchem of Oro Valley has been spreading false information about the 2020 election.
Oro Valley state lawmaker played big role in Trump effort to overturn Biden win By Nicole Ludden Nicolel@tucsonlocalmedia.com
AS VIOLENT INSURRECTIONISTS invaded the U.S. Capitol in attempts to stop the certification of the electoral col-
lege results, one Arizona lawmaker was present for the fallout. On the day “Stop the Steal” rioters breached the Capitol in a rally that resulted in five deaths, State Rep. Mark Finchem tweeted a photo of
Trump-flag-carrying rioters with the caption: “What happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud. #stopthesteal.” He has since deleted his Twitter account and moved his social media posts to Gab, a popular platform among alt-right groups. The Oro Valley Republican who represents District 11 in the Arizona House claims the closest he came to the Capitol building was 500 yards after he flew to D.C. for a speaking engagement and to provide former Vice President Mike Pence an “evidence book and letter,” according to a Jan. 11 written statement from Finchem. The representative has played a key role in spreading election fraud claims before the riot and claimed “Antifa” was to blame for the insurrection, a false allegation that’s been debunked by federal investigators. On Jan. 13, State Rep. César Chávez, D-Phoenix, filed a formal ethics complaint against Finchem claiming he violated his oath of office by participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection. The house ethics committee received 81 other complaints against Finchem. On Feb. 12, House Ethics Committee Chairwoman Becky Nutt released a letter to committee members saying no action would be taken against Finchem for his involvement in the rally. “None of the complaints offered any facts establishing that Representative Finchem actually ‘supported the violent overthrow of our government’ or directly participated in the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol,” Nutt wrote in the letter. “Absent such facts, the complaints amount to an objection to Representative Finchem’s advocacy of controversial political opinions. But
the ethics committee is not—and cannot become—a forum for resolving political disagreements, no matter how important the issues at stake.” Finchem has declined to comment on the matter, writing in an email, “On advice of legal counsel, I have no comment at this time.” State Rep. Salman, D-Tempe, introduced a resolution to expel Finchem from the house on Feb. 8. Most House Democrats co-sponsored the resolution. “We decided that we should make it very clear that his conduct is unbecoming of a member of this body, and we decided to introduce a resolution to expel him from public office,” Salman said. “So this would be the only other avenue, I believe, for the legislature to really pursue an investigation.” The resolution has yet to be assigned to a committee. The majority of Democrats in the state legislature also submitted a letter to the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice on Jan. 12 asking for an investigation into Finchem and other Republican lawmakers’ involvement in the Capitol riots. According to Salman, the only response the Democrats have seen is notification the letter was received. On Feb. 16, Finchem submitted an ethics complaint against 28 of his Democratic colleagues in the state House and all 14 Democratic state senators for requesting the FBI investigation. “Each of the above-named House and Senate Members has conspired, maliciously and in bad faith, to have me (and others) punished for exercising my First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and contest the legitimacy of the recent Presidential election,” Finchem wrote in the complaint. “They have gone so far as CONTINUED ON PAGE 6
FEB. 25, 2021
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5
to demand that the acting Attorney General of the United States and the Director of the FBI open a criminal investigation into my actions, all while knowing full well that I am innocent of the charge.” Salman feels the complaint, which was dismissed by Nutt last week, is retribution for Democrat’s attempts to oust Finchem from holding office. “We’re elected to defend our constitution and laws against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and if they have a problem with that, I guess they can punish us,” Salman said. “But we’re going to keep making sure that we are upholding the oath of office that we all took as elected leaders and we believe Rep. Mark Finchem has absolutely violated the oath of office that he took.” In the complaint, Finchem said the letter Democrats sent to the FBI was issued “under false pretenses,” as it used an Arizona State Legislature letterhead but was not an official act of the legislature.
The representative said the letter to the FBI, “contains no citation to any evidence that would show or even tend to show that I participated in or encouraged the assault on the Capitol.” Finchem was involved in both the leadup and fallout of the Capitol riots Finchem was first elected to serve as one of District 11’s state representatives in 2014. He’s now on his fourth term after regaining his seat in the 2020 election by a nearly 3% margin. His history is riddled with ties to farright political organizations, including the Oath Keepers, a radical anti-government militia group Finchem has identified himself a member of. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Oath Keepers as an organization “based on a set of baseless conspiracy theories about the federal government working to destroy the liberties of Americans.” In the months leading up to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Finchem was far from aloof of the conspiracy theories and debunked rumors that the Nov. 2020 election was fraudulently conducted— the very idea that fueled the “Stop the Steal” rally.
On Jan. 1, the representative tweeted, “I will be in Washington DC on January 6 to #StoptheSteal and fight for President @realDonaldTrump. This is one of the most important days our republic has ever seen. We need all hands on deck,” adding the location of the rally and a link to RSVP. Finchem also has ties to famed conspirator Ali Alexander, a far-right activist and social media personality who’s accused of helping organize the storming of the Capitol. Alexander admitted so in a since-deleted video he posted on the live-streaming app Periscope where he says he “came up with the Jan. 6 idea” in collaboration with Arizona Congressmen Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs. Biggs has denied any involvement with Alexander. Alexander said he “schemed” with the congressmen to put “maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting so that who we couldn’t lobby, we could change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body hearing our loud roar from outside.” In a separate interview, Alexander
discussed his views on the “Stop the Steal” movement across individual states and said, “Arizona started with one man: State Representative Mark Finchem.” “What we do know is that prior to Mark Finchem’s involvement, there were only a handful of folks involved with Ali Alexander in Arizona, and then that number ballooned, it rapidly grew, likely because of Mark Finchem’s ties to the Oath Keepers, and to very, very extreme, right-wing, anti-government organizations,” State Rep. Salman said. “They started talking last fall, they started speaking together at rallies. Representative Finchem used the privilege of his office to hold a sham hearing on the election with Rudy Giuliani, and basically laid the groundwork for Jan. 6 to ultimately go down the way it did.” Finchem was behind the said hearing with Donald Trump’s former attorney Rudy Giuliani that took place outside the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Phoenix in late November. Giuliani and other GOP figures pushed conspiracy theories that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election fraud-
FEB. 25, 2021
ulently as Gov. Doug Ducey certified Arizona’s election results. According to a press release from Finchem’s attorney Alexander Kolodin, Finchem received around $6,000 in reimbursement from “the Giuliani Team” for the event’s costs. “I carried the debt for the hearing personally to provide a single point of responsibility for the various vendors,” Finchem said in the release. “While $10,000 of debt was retired quickly, and the Giuliani Team reimbursement of roughly $6,000 was a part of that, $15,000 was left outstanding. Fortunately, through the generosity of people all over the world and crowdfunding, $13,000 has been raised in the last two days to apply toward paying off the remaining debt.” But beyond his involvement in spreading the voter fraud conspiracies that inflamed the riots, Finchem was present at the Capitol on Jan. 6. While the lawmaker wrote in a public statement he traveled to D.C. to give an “evidence book” to Mike Pence, didn’t learn of the insurrection until 5 p.m. EST and remained 500 yards away from the Capitol building, it appears Finchem was far more entrenched in the violence than he says. Kolodin provided text messages to Tucson Weekly revealing Finchem coordinated with Alexander and Republican activist Michael Coudrey both before and after the Capitol riots. In a text thread with Alexander and Coudrey the morning of Jan. 6, Finchem asked, “So are we to go to the Capitol? I see everyone walking the other direction?” Coudrey responded, “No so this morning we go to Ellipse event and POTUS will speak,” referring to a park near the White House where Trump
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spoke for more than an hour expressing grievances about the election results and told his supporters to “walk down to the Capitol.” Coudrey later added, “Then when that’s done we will all walk over to the Capitol building at 1pm and start that event.” Later on in the text thread, Finchem asked if he was still giving a speech at the Capitol, and Alexander said, “Yes.” “We must’ve lost you, try to make your way to the capital, [SIC] it’s on North East Dr.,” Coudrey instructed Finchem. “I got swept up in the crowd I’m at 15th and Constitution,” Finchem responded. “I presume you want me to get as close to the front as I can and I’ll spot you, you do know the cowboy hat already.” Finchem later added, “I’m on one of the golf carts headed your way.” Coudrey responded, “They are storming the capital, I don’t think it safe” [sic]. Finchem then asks, “I am on the side of the Capitol facing the Supreme Court, is that the right side?” The message was not delivered. Finchem’s attorney wrote in an emailed statement: “As any tourist can tell you, the capitol grounds are huge. The text messages clearly show the Rep. Finchem [SIC] was participating in a planned, permitted, protest located some distance from the building itself. I encourage you to pull up a map of the site on Google maps.” In a separate set of texts likely preceding the riots, Finchem thanks Alexander for covering his hotel room. On Dec. 23, he said, “Flight booked, arriving the afternoon of 1/5, departing the morning of 1/7.” The texts provided by Finchem’s law-
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yer contradict statements he has made in the defense of his involvement in the insurrection. “While Mark Finchem was at the Capitol, an individual on that group text with Ali Alexander gives Mark Finchem the heads up that the Capitol is descending into a violent mob breaching the chambers and illegally entering the building,” Salman said. “According to Mark Finchem, he didn’t learn about that until later that evening at 5 p.m. There are a lot of inconsistencies. I believe the extent of his involvement— there’s a lot that we still don’t know.” While an unresolved request for an FBI investigation and resolution to
expel the representative hang in the balance, Finchem retains his seat representing Oro Valley in the state House. “Republican lawmakers are making the deliberate choice to increase the chances and likelihood that a violent insurrection can happen again,” Salman said. “It’s very disturbing to see Republican lawmakers not take a very swift and bold stand in defense of our constitution and instead protect members, like Representative Mark Finchem, who helped incite and lay the groundwork for the violence on the January 6 insurrection. Everyone should be alarmed at this point, and nobody should be okay with this.” ■
FEB. 25, 2021
the next board meeting on March 2. Huckelberry said the state funding will allow testing to resume until the next board meeting to see if the state will follow through on providing counties testing funds. However, Huckelberry said the funds still might not be enough to continue the county’s testing program. “Our expenses, if we continue on through August, are going to run into the $41 million range. So you can see that $14.3 million doesn’t go very far when your continuing expenses are running into the $41 million range,” Huckelberry said at the joint meeting. “We would hope that the state would actually get some on-the-ground experience as to what’s occurring, because if they did, they’d know that we were doing most of the testing in Arizona as a county. So we’re hopeful that they can figure that out.” Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said COURTESY PIMA COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT the city provided $9 million for testing After initially saying they would only reimburse Pima County $1 million for COVID throughout Tucson and Pima County, testing, state officials increased that number to $14.4 million. but the CARES Act funds they come through expire at the end of February. If the state’s efforts don’t provide adequate funds to continue the county’s After state agrees to provide more funding, Pima County keeps COVID testing program going testing program, the mayor said a second option should be ready, including until March 2 having the state take over the county’s for testing through the 2021 Consolitesting contracts. By Nicole Ludden dated Appropriations Act, Huckelberry “We on the mayor and council side firstname.lastname@example.org wrote in the memo that the federal want to support your efforts in Pima PIMA COUNTY’S COVID TESTING funds are “being used by the State for County. Understand that you have program will continue for at least other purposes,” adding, “It appears the public health experts to be able to another week. the uses for which the State will be guide us and give Mayor and Council County Administrator Chuck Huck- using these funds is for everything but and the community input as to what’s elberry asked the Pima County Board COVID-19 testing.” the plan B for testing if there’s no supof Supervisors to consider suspending With no state reimbursement, any port by the state of Arizona,” Romero the county’s free COVID-19 testing further county testing operations said. “Maybe what we have to do is find program due to a lack of funds from would incur deficit costs. a less expensive way and then leave it the state, but the county is maintainOn Feb. 19, the Arizona Department up to the state to pick up the testing ing the program until at least March 2 of Health Services sent out a press sites that we currently have. Then mayfollowing an announcement from the release announcing it will release $100 be the state could find a less expensive state health department that they’ll million in federal funding to support way to do the necessary testing.” provide Pima County around $14.4 testing across the state. If county testing does cease, howmillion to support testing efforts. ADHS is disbursing the funds to ever, it could result in dire impacts in Huckelberry first suggested halting counties using a formula of a $100,000 tracking the true spread of coronavirus the testing program in a memo rebase amount with additional funding throughout Pima County. The data leased Feb. 18 after state officials told based on the county’s percentage of testing provides is key to assessing the county they would only reimburse the state’s population. Pima County epidemical factors that influence mit$1 million in testing costs out of the should receive $14.36 million. igation policies and the reopening of $47,750,000 in COVID-19 testing the After receiving the notification before schools and businesses. county incurred since April 2020. a joint special meeting between the According to Pima County Public While initially running the county’s Pima County Board of Supervisors and Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen, up testing operations under the assumpTucson City Council on Friday, Feb. 19, to 55% of the county’s testing is provided tion Pima County would be covered by the Board of Supervisors decided to through the county’s free program. The the $416 million provided to Arizona postpone the vote to halt testing until rest is run by private vendors such as hos-
pitals, pharmacies and doctors’ offices. “We use our positivity rate to give us a sense of what is happening in the community with COVID...If all of a sudden we quit testing, let’s say the whole county quit testing, it would look like COVID went away because there wouldn’t be any way to recognize that people have COVID,” Cullen said. “If we test you, and you are positive, we work with you to isolate, we identify your contacts to quarantine, and we decrease the transmission of the disease that way.” While for now, testing data continues to provide insight epidemiologists need to assess the spread of COVID-19, they show that in Pima County, COVID-19 cases have declined for the fifth straight week. According to the latest report by Dr. Joe Gerald, a University of Arizona professor who creates weekly coronavirus epidemiology reports based on ADHS data, the week ending Feb. 14 saw a 35% decrease in total COVID-19 cases across the state from the week prior. In Pima County, cases declined 31% from the week before, according to Gerald. However, coronavirus cases remain above the threshold of 100 new weekly cases per 100,000 residents, which signifies elevated risk. Gerald said the week of Feb. 14 saw 158 new cases per 100,000 of the population. The week of Feb. 19, Arizona saw a 28% decrease in general ward hospital bed usage among COVID-19 patients, while the number of coronavirus patients occupying ICU beds dropped 26% from the previous week, according to Gerald’s data. According to ADHS data, about 5.5% of Arizonans have received the two doses of COVID-19 vaccines needed to be completely immunized. As vaccine rollout sluggishly progresses and coronavirus conditions appear to improve, public health experts stress mitigation practices are still necessary to avoid another spike in COVID-19. “Conditions continue to improve markedly. Nevertheless, absolute levels of transmission remain high. Hospitals are very busy and hundreds of Arizonans are dying each week,” Gerald said. “While conditions are improving, it is still vital that we ‘hold the line’ on our public health mitigation efforts for just a bit longer. Doing more to slow transmission (and keep it low) will ensure at-risk Arizonans can be vaccinated.” ■
FEB. 25, 2021
Story & photos by Brian Smith
Quick tripping into tin men, rusted axles, and weathered rocking horses IT IS NOT EASY TALKING TO folks during a pandemic. The old woman lives in a singlewide and I’ve seen her a few times on different days relaxing on a lumpy couch, in mesquite shade outside her place. Her comfort there, near The Outlaw Saloon, shows a view looking south at another trailer, and beyond that a barbed-wire-topped fence housing a dilapidated pick-up with a rusted canoe strapped atop. How she moves at quarter speed, lingering, hunched over, dusty white blouse, house-shoes and faded poly pants. Her drowsy German Shepard milling about in the cool February sunlight. When I look at her, a woman distressed by even her slightest body movement, a streak of impulsive affection rushes through me. How she could be like my mother, after my grandmother, hard-earned graces passed down through generations of Convent schools. The gentle way she mothers the dog, attends to a dark rectangle home, trimmed in fetching turquoise, the murky windows darkened by pulled shades, barricaded in by chainlink, and a sun-faded No Trespassing sign. It could be her hell, it could be her heaven. I finally work up the nerve to go and maybe strike up a chat. I walk up to her chainlink fence, dead khaki weeds up my pant legs, a sudden intruder disrupting her world, and I frighten her, her brittle face filled of suspicion,
and she moves around the front of the trailer up the few rickety steps and goes inside, closing the door behind her. The dog stays outside, cloudy eyes, no bark, sniffs around in the dirt and poops. Now I can only imagine the old woman’s existence, in my limited scrutiny—the monthly check, the medications, the soft food, the TV, the dog, the aloneness. But I wonder Quik Mart serves as a neighborhood lighthouse things. Does she read her astrology? Does she contain restlessness by bleaching her kitchen floor? Does she steps into his yard carrying a hoe, dude, maybe 25, trundles along the have children or grandchildren somemoves to the tree and begins chopstreet in the opposite direction on where and does she keep plastic flowping the earth around a buried water some private quest. Tightlipped, he ers under their photos? Was she ever fixture. I walk over to his chainlink gives that searching tell-all eye, the knocked breathless and sideways by and say “hello, hey.” His gaze stays what-you-need nod, which I learned some great love, or paralyzed by great focused on the dirt at the base of the long ago never to trust. There is tragedies? Is she frayed by longing? If tree. always some impatience for hostility. so, does longing finally recede when He doesn’t hear me. I go again. No The tats too, hardly pricey bodyyou hit your 80s? response or even acknowledgement art designs, still sketchy enough to A stroll on another street and of my presence. I could tell by his declare menace, etched from prisaround a corner north of Roger Road face, the effort of his endeavor, that if on-yard purviews. Anyway, my first into Palm Grove Estates. Dogs bark, I inquire more I’d likely frighten him rule of scoring would’ve been to hit up prickly scents of early spring in the too. I assume him hearing-impaired, trusted sources, the street sex workers, air. There is an old man out in the and an ache falls over me. His dignity who are out still in 2021, within a mile frontyard his trailer and enclosed of home and outward show of some or two of here. porch. The tailored place is trimmed domestic harmony. If he is hard of Behind him a hummingbird chases in the exact purple of the Minnesota hearing I wonder if he has found a a finch around a tree, the little foe on Vikings, given away by the team’s war- way to enjoy a dampening of the mad- him like a mad predator. rior emblem in the yard, where three nesses and white noise of the outer The neighborhood is inexplicable, seven-foot high windmills stand in world. filled of secrets and things I assign to line, homemade tin-men with pointed A walk further. An exasperated purity, family and no false fronts. Like hats hanging from them, a welcome Latina mother chases a trio of little disadvantaged neighborhoods I’ve homespun whimsy in an otherwise girls in pigtails and neon-colored jewcalled home, it is a chaotic jumble of unromantic stretch of homes. The elry around a toy-strewn yard, faces unspecified ownership rules, beautiful citrus tree in front, kept bright as blooming flowers. CONTINUED ON PAGE 10 green with love and attention. He Turn a corner and a backpacked
FEB. 25, 2021
Signs of the times
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 9
economics, dubious zoning and even Biblical themes. Some yards are filled with indoors things, refrigerators, ottomans, rocking horses—as if a home is too small to contain their privacy and occupants are obliged to share outside remnants of their inner-lives. The wild yard juxtapositions are pleasing to me, the concrete gnomes and rusted car axles, the added-on brick rooms to aluminum trailer homes, the expanding rust against fading plastic toys. The flagstone paths and strange crude gazebo things tucked behind walls of ocotillo and overgrowth and sprawling mesquite trees. You could live here in a darker corner and no one would ever find you. A residential auto-shop, heavily fenced-in, sits next to a blown-out doublewide, unwelcoming except for the hand-painted Stop Police Brutality sign facing the street. Elsewhere, pride comes in colors of
love and hate, the flag of Mexico as a window-covering, a pathetic confederate flag roped up as sun shade. “Jesus Saves” as a home-greeting, and a shout-out on the side of a colorful cargo-trailer. A backlot of average Tucson, incongruous to any one decade after WWII. To me, average America, desultory, a neighborhood of a country diseased, yet again defiled by greed, corruption and rage. On one hand, there is security found in some quiet desperation and the simplest forms of sheltered survival, and on the other, many forms of undisturbed ingenuity and startling unusual beauty and care, comfort created in a close-quartered community. I get to the Quik Mart at Roger and Fairview Ave., a personal fave of locally owned stores. It is the neighborhood walk-to lighthouse, next to Cisco’s Auto Sales, and further west, Janet’s Beauty Salon in a flat, hopeful cinderblock. The convivial gent manning the register doesn’t want his name used. His sentences are rational and clear
and he fascinates, his years as a potato-hauler, is now immovable in the world, and he’s irate, not toward his job but at working-class limitations in general, the conceit of how the middle-class is gone and one must slave fulltime to barely make it. Fuck up, you’re out too. He needs this gig, therefore prides his work, and as he moves through the aisles straightening racks, and ordering items with a handheld device, he talks his parents, siblings, Arizona and chasing shoplifters. In minutes, a Native guy with kickass braided hair steps in for giant containers of soda, an obese white woman for smokes, a spindly Black man covers the aisles in seconds and pays for chips. The slightest of nods we exchange, our pandemic masks offering an unexpected sense of comradery. The corner convenience store, besides mass transit, is a last vestige of forced social interaction. I adore these crossroads. Later, afternoon outside, a skinny kid, maybe 12, hops off his bike in
A message of love and redemption
front of the Quik Mart, drops it on the concrete. He pulls his black T-shirt up over his nose as a mask and darts inside, moving with that recognizable glee of truancy, or a shuttered COVID classroom. I wonder if he is supersmart in public school and therefore gets bullied. Or if he will one day turn some kid obsession or art into a degree, or a career that will take him places. If he’ll work with his hands, hanging drywall or pulling motors from trucks. If his parents are kind to him. Because I’m a dad now, I can fully understand the weight of such kindness to children no matter what they will one day do. Moments later the kid counts change at the counter for a giant fountain drink, pushes through the glass doors that are never locked, his head connected to that drink by a straw, and lifts his bike off the concrete with one hand, mounts it and peddles off. Could’ve been me years ago. He rolls north into the neighborhood, steering with a steady hand, balancing that drink with skill. ■
FEB. 25, 2021
FEB. 25, 2021
Generation Cool Sneaks Grand Opening: Saturday, Feb. 27. 5 to 8 p.m. 402 N. Fourth Ave. Rafﬂes, giveaways and champagne www.GenerationCool.net
Slobby Robby showing off the limited-edition Jordan 1 Retro High Off-White Chicago sneakers his store is selling for around $5,000.
Slobby’s Sneak Peak Tucson’s guru of gaudy vintage is back with a resale footwear shop on Fourth Avenue, dedicated to serving Southern Arizona’s sneakerhead community By Austin Counts email@example.com
IF YOU ASK INTERNATIONALLY known vintage goods dealer Robert “Slobby Robby” Hall, reselling high-end streetwear sneakers is a lot like being a luxury used car salesman. The Netflix star is opening his newest concept on Saturday, Feb. 27, Generation Cool Sneaks, next to his flagship ’90s retro store Generation Cool. “It’s no different than next door,” Slobby says. “If it’s people cleaning out their garage and they want to sell us their old Air Jordan collection, that’s cool. If it’s newer, hypebeast stuff, that’s cool too. We curate it, we make them look good, we put them under lights and sell it for about three times more. This is what
we do. It’s no different than a used car dealership.” Generation Cool Sneaks has hundreds of pairs of gently-used, high-end sneakers that range from $50 to $5,000 and sports a selection guaranteed to satisfy even the most discriminate sneakerhead. For the past six months, the reseller said he has scoured the planet looking for used and deadstock inventory, finding rare items like a pair of Jordan 1 Retro High Off-White Chicagos which can sell for around $5,500. (A pair sold on resell site stockx.com for $5,800 on Feb. 19.) Once the doors open, Slobby estimates they will have 200 pairs on the sales floor and another 300 or more in the backroom. While that may sound like plenty of shoes to start a store, Slobby said he is on a mission to continue
building his inventory so he can offer the best selection of one-of-a-kind kicks to the public. “This is the kind of sneaker store I would want to go to in my hometown, where I could get myself something affordable but still have high-end shit, too,” Slobby said. “I am anticipating quite a bit of people trying to sell to us consistently, especially early on. Once people start walking by and realizing that maybe they have like three pairs of the same shoe and could sell them, that’s when things will really start picking up for us.” Unlike Slobby’s vintage shop that covets bootleg items, the shoes sold at Generation Cool Sneaks are 100% authentic, assures the owner. He’s been burned before buying knockoff Air
Jordans once or twice back in the day, he said and knows all the tricks international counterfeiters use. “Next door, we appreciate the fan art aspect of bootleg stuff, especially when it’s vintage,” Slobby said. “But over here, we don’t fuck around. We sell real Nike Air Jordans and you’re going to get a steal.” The reseller has been in the sneaker game since the late ’90s when he first saw Nike was remaking and selling the Air Jordans of his youth. As an avid collector of ’80s and ’90s memorabilia, he said he was hooked on acquiring as many pairs of these throwbacks as he could. “I only deal in the shit I care about and all the shit I grew up with. That’s why we’re so into the ’80s and ’90s, because it was so big for sneaker culture and American pop culture,” Slobby said. “I started buying all the Jordans, Bo Jacksons, Agassis...any Nikes I had when I was a kid and started wearing them as an adult.” Slobby turned to eBay to satisfy his sneaker and vintage toy addiction, he said, which ultimately led him into the vintage resell business more than 20 years ago. If he acquired a pair of shoes that didn’t fit or look right, or he just didn’t want anymore, Slobby sold it on eBay. He soon noticed he could have the childhood collectibles he desired while making a living too. “Around 1999 or 2000, I got into collecting. I used to be the weirdo with 30 or 40 pairs of sneakers, which has now been completely normalized,” Slobby said. “I started shopping on eBay and realized there was a worldwide marketplace. If I found a nice shoe that wasn’t my size but was cheap, I could buy it and sell it to someone and then get the money to buy myself the shoes I wanted.” Over the past 20 years of reselling, Slobby has developed criteria for evaluating shoes which he makes sure his employees know before they begin buying sneakers from the public. He expects them to know what he knows, dress like he dresses, and use the same terminology
FEB. 25, 2021
he uses, so every customer is satisfied they’re getting the best price for their used kicks. Store manager Anthony Ardney has been dealing in the resell sneaker market for nearly as long as his boss has. The two have a long-standing professional relationship that dates back to when Ardney had a streetwear company, Taste Clothing Brand, and was putting on sneaker conventions a decade ago. The former Mercedes salesman reiterates Slobby’s notion that reselling streetwear sneakers is much like selling luxury cars, but he prefers to work at Generation Cool Sneaks because he knows the culture well and loves classic sneakers, he said. “You’re dealing with a lot of intangibles when you sell Mercedes, intangibles that you don’t have a grip on, and you’re dealing with such a different clientele,” Ardney said. “What’s great about selling high-end sneakers is the people you get to interact with. They’re more my speed and relatable because I’m more in that tax bracket.” Employee Karson “KB” Butler said he started reselling sneakers a year ago to help pay for college at the University of Arizona. The 18-year-old Southern
Slobby said he trains his employees Karson Butler (left) and Anthony Ardney (right) to be knowledgeable in all things sneaker related.
California native said he decided to take the semester off to learn more about the business from Slobby. “I’d rather focus on my business and
push that forward than go to school and get a degree. I was in school for entrepreneurship. That’s not really a degree... that’s necessary to flourish,” Butler said.
“I would rather invest the money I would use for school in myself. Slobby said he always tells people he’s a reseller second and a collector first. The business has to be fun for him and his staff or he doesn’t want to pursue it. He’s already tried a version of the sneaker store for a few years at the Tucson Mall but said he shut it down because of differences with his partners in that venture. This time around, he thinks Generation Cool Sneaks is going to be a slam dunk because his staff is extremely knowledgeable and he can now be at two places at once. But at the end of the day, he said he wants his customers, employees and himself to have fun while sharing their passion for streetwear sneakers at his new shop. “I know this might sound unbelievable to some people but I’m mostly doing this for fun. When it comes to being a methodical and savvy businessman, I got to admit, I’m not that guy,” Slobby said. “I’m a guy who actually enjoys this shit. If I can make enough hay for myself and my family off my personality and have fun doing it, that’s better than constantly worrying about how many shoes we sold today.” ■
FEB. 25, 2021
ARTS & CULTURE
digenous African American culture and experience within the larger American culture,” his statement continues. “The meaning is multi-layered and multi-cultural, seeking to engage the audience through the content of its social applicability as well as the complex ‘rhythmic’ patterns that exist in the work itself.” Tucson Museum of Art spotlights Willie Bonner during Black History Month A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Bonner earned his bachelor of fine arts degree By Jeff Gardner regarding the culture of African Amerat the Cleveland Institute of Art before ican people both historically and in firstname.lastname@example.org moving to Tucson to attend the Univercontemporary society,” reads Bonner’s sity of Arizona. After earning his masartist statement. “However, in its essence, ter’s, Bonner taught art throughout the THE TUCSON MUSEUM OF ART its objective is to transcend language.” recently highlighted local multi-media Northwest, then settled back in Tucson. Another work, Black Gold, was deartist Willie Bonner, whose work has Bonner’s work has appeared throughout appeared in the museum multiple times. scribed by Tucson Weekly contributor Tucson, including at the Davis DominMargaret Regan during her coverage Bonner’s art, which includes paintings guez Gallery and the Joseph Gross of the Biennial 2018 exhibit: Bonner and sculptures, serves as an “allegory of Gallery at the University of Arizona. what it means to be Black in postmodern layers the work with rows and rows of Bonner was also previously featured tar, and it looks like he pressed the soft America.” in an episode of “Arizona Illustrated” material onto the cotton with his thumb, for KUAT-TV, Southern Arizona’s PBS This is accomplished in works such an arduous task that mirrors the monotas Cotton (2018), which was Bonner’s affiliate. onous work his ancestors did picking contribution to TMA’s Arizona Biennial “A lot of times when I have an exhicotton. But here and there the black tar is bition, people categorize me as a Black 2020 exhibit. The mixed media work on smudged or scraped off. These impercanvas features a cotton plant made enartist, instead of an American artist,” tirely of tar and feathers, a fitting allusion fections, you begin to realize, represent Bonner said in the episode. “And I really to the days of slavery and Jim Crow, and scars created by the sting of the whip. want people to see the work and the “Just as jazz is indigenous to Ameriblack and white fusing together on a techniques that I do in the work, moreso ca, more specifically, Black America, with paying attention to the images.” broad sheet, itself made of cotton. its roots in African rhythms and dances, “My artwork intends to engage the Bonner’s art will appear next at TMA’s so too is my painting a reflection of inviewer and create an extended dialogue 4x4, an exhibition of four solo shows
by four preeminent Southern Arizona artists, showcasing personal experiences, the politics of space, and the social issues of our time. Bonner’s work will appear alongside Mexican-American artist Alejandro Macias, Iranian visual artist Nazafarin Lotfi, and Vietnamese-American photographer Anh-Thuy Nguyen. Bonner’s contribution to 4x4 is entitled American DNA, and comprises a mass of interwoven chains, again out of tar, so closely interconnected and mixed the entire canvas becomes black. According to TMA, through these distinct bodies of work and media exploration, including painting, sculpture, photography, video, and drawing, the artists of 4x4 remind us that “there is no collective experience of life in contemporary society. Instead, the range of human conditions is varied, nuanced and individual.” ■ 4x4 will run from Saturday, May 22, through Sunday, Oct. 3, on view in the James J. and Louise R. Glasser Galleries, Earl Kai Chann Gallery, and Lois C. Green Gallery at TMA. The Tucson Museum of Art is open Thursdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 140 N. Main Ave. For more information, visit tucsonmuseumofart.org
FEB. 25, 2021
David Huckfelt deconstructs the ‘Cowboys and Indians’ mythos on Room Enough, Time Enough Enough, Time Enough was initially recorded in early 2020 at Tucson’s Dust & Stone Recording Studios with a AS FOLK SINGER DAVID HUCKFELT large roster of local musicians: XIXA’s Gabriel Sullivan, folk singer Billy Sedlneared completion on his second solo album in March 2020, the year’s chaos mayr, Giant Sand founder Howe Gelb, blues player Tom Walbank and more. was hardly hinted at—but change had Huckfelt returned to Minneapolis as already greeted him in the form of his newborn son. As if he needed addition- COVID hit, and he decided to flesh out the record by sending tracks to all the al inspiration (Huckfelt already had an extensive catalog with his folk rock people he knew were stuck at home with recording gear. band The Pines, and had previously “I think about records geographicalserved as Artist-In-Residence at Isle ly, and what a special jewel Tucson is Royale National Park on Lake Superiartistically speaking,” Huckfelt said. or), the year would lead to his new album Room Enough, Time Enough being “There’s so many people I wanted to include. We kept building the table a his most spirited work to date. Though Huckfelt lives in Minneapo- little bit longer and the tent a little bit lis, he maintains a strong connection to wider with each step of this record. It the Tucson music scene. Most of Room did snowball a little bit, but there was By Jeff Gardner email@example.com
always this idea to have an outlandish posse of people on this record who are friends and acquaintances and strangers and cowboys and Natives all going down the road together.” A longtime advocate for marginalized voices within the Native American community, Huckfelt wanted to question the history and conventions of American folk music. As such, the album features a combination of original tracks and reworked Americana standards featuring musicians like South Dakota Indigenous singer Jackie Bird, Ojibwe guitarist Keith Secola and Warm Springs Nation Indigenous singer Quiltman. Then, this effort was further galvanized as George Floyd was killed less than a mile from Huckfelt’s home. “The plan was to open a collaborative experience, opposed to any limiting or thematic feeling,” Huckfelt said. “Through everything, I was trying to blow up the mythology around cowboys and Indians, and to see if I could make a common-ground record after four years of extreme division in
our country. It just seemed all the more important to take these old songs and rework them—how do we listen to each other when everyone is shouting?” This style is present right from the optimistic opener “Better to See the Face,” which sees Huckfelt balance natural imagery with romantic delivery. Though the song is built around a simple acoustic melody, the background drones wash the whole track in a lush warmth as Huckfelt sings, “There’s a thousand ways to jump out from the front of a moving train / It’s better to lose the wild card than to get rich with the tame / It’s better to see the face than to hear the name.” Even the Americana classics like “Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie” and “Cole Younger” are given new life with horn passages, a blend of electronic and acoustic instruments and multiple voices. What was once a dry and sparse scrubland now overflows with melody—all driven by Huckfelt’s high, smooth voice. CONTINUED ON PAGE 16
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NATIVE AMERICANA CONTINUED FROM PAGE 15
“‘Bury Me Not’ has always been this glorification of the cowboy myth, but as I heard it and looked at some of the poetry in it, it’s also a song about respecting Mother Earth and how the land does cooperate with some of our greedy designs for it, and how it can leave us flat if we don’t change our ways,” Huckfelt said. “Historically speaking, Native music has always been part of American music. I think there’s places for new alliances in Americana, and I think it’s worth it to share the spotlight and highlight other voices. I think that kind of activism music lends itself well to.” However, Huckfelt hesitates to call himself an “activist,” because he knows so many people who have devoted their lives to being on the frontlines. But in many ways, the music and album speak for itself. Even the music video for “Bury Me Not” reminds the viewer that all locations filmed are stolen Tohono O’odham land. But for as conscious as Room Enough, Time Enough is, the whole project comes off as compassionate rather than critical. Huckfelt says this decision was in reaction to all the anger present in the last four years. And at a certain point, “you don’t want to put any more anger into the atmosphere, you want to take it out.” Although Room Enough, Time Enough was recorded in the nearly opposite states of Arizona and Minnesota, Huckfelt says there aren’t particularly desert or midwestern tracks. “I was always looking for commonality,” Huckfelt said. “Minnesota and Arizona, while they appear to be such opposites, the indigenous presence in both states, the tribal histories, the interplay between Native cultures and settlers, there’s a thread there. There’s border wall protests in Arizona and pipeline protests in Minnesota. So to me, there was a lot in common. There’s a language in the opposites.” Opposites are rarely as obvious as on the track
David Huckfelt’s new album Room Enough, Time Enough features multiple Native American musicians, including South Dakota singer Jackie Bird, Ojibwe guitarist Keith Secola and Warm Springs Nation Indigenous singer Quiltman.
“Ghost Dance,” which begins with a wall of distortion giving way to Native American chanting and group vocals in multiple languages. Though the song features a mix of wild harmonicas, drums, guitars and reverb bouncing back and forth, it maintains a consistent rhythm that stops it from losing focus. “They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I’m not sure that’s true. Innovation might be more sincere, because you take what someone contributes and you find a way to make something new,” Huckfelt said. “There are tropes that Native American artists get pushed into. People might say if there’s no flute or powwow drum, it’s not Native. And I find these artists want to break out of that just as much as we want to break out of Americana. Breaking genre conventions is the way forward.” ■
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FEB. 25, 2021
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Arizona NORML goes to Phoenix (to advocate for good marijuana bills) By David Abbott firstname.lastname@example.org NOW THAT ADULT-USE recreational marijuana has been legalized and we inhale the smoke of freedom, we might take for granted how regulation comes about. But when the sausage of cannabis laws is being made, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is there watching the grinder, advocating for constituent-friendly legislation and against laws that ultimately hurt the cannabis-using public. Despite the passage of Prop 207 legalizing adult-use, there is still plenty of work ahead for the organization that has “provided a voice in the public policy debate for those Americans who oppose marijuana
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prohibition” since its founding in 1970. The state chapter of NORML, along with Tucson-based Southern Arizona NORML, recently completed its annual February lobbying event that featured a new twist in the COVID world: Instead of a day of in-person lobbying, NORML representatives, constituents and volunteers carved out a week for a series of Zoom meetings with legislators to lobby on behalf of or against three bills that were making their way through the legislative process. “Some of those offices are really small, and you’re really cramming people in,” said Southern Arizona NORML executive director Mike Robinette. “We didn’t want to put volunteers, constituents or anybody from Southern Arizona NORML or NORML at risk relative to COVID so we decided
early on to conceptually shift and try to do something virtually. That evolved into what we eventually called lobby week.” NORML organizers were pleased to discover that scheduling was easier, there was increased participation and, given the past year of working from home and sheltering in place, everyone was experienced at Zoom meetings. “It was serendipitous in the fact that we discovered that it was so much more effective to do it virtually that I don’t think we’ll go back to an in-person lobby day,” Robinette said. Lobby week ended on Feb. 12, and throughout the week NORML board members and volunteers attended more than 50 meetings with Arizona state legislators. The meetings focused on three pieces of legislation, HB 2298, HB 2084 and HB 2154, as well as its “mirror bill” SB 1209. HB 2298 would provide grants for medical marijuana clinical trial research with funding from the state’s Medical Marijuana Fund. The bill would also shield researchers from liability and allow them to use Arizona-grown cannabis, instead of “ditch weed” from the University of Mississippi they must legally use. The bill was introduced by Representative Kevin Payne (R-21) and would allow researchers to study the safety and efficacy of cannabis and how it interacts with prescription drugs. A similar research bill put forth by House Speaker Rusty Bowers focuses on marijuana use that correlates with violent behavior or schizophrenia. NORML does not support the bill and is trying to get it amended to create better legislation. “We support a broad and extensive research bill that doesn’t limit the topics on research nor create an inherent bias relative to that research,” Robinette said. “Therefore, we’d like to see 2024 amended to support research into myriad topics regarding marijuana and its safety and efficacy. HB 2084—reported in last week’s Weedly
column—died an unceremonious death when its sponsor John Kavanagh (R-23) pulled it from the agenda. The bill established a 2 nanogram/ milliliter blood concentration that would have gone against the intent of language in Prop 207 that states prosecutors must demonstrate a driver is “actually impaired to the slightest degree” before they can be convicted of a DUI. Prop 207 does not allow legislators to establish a “per se” limit until there is scientific consensus and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has identified what that limit should be. HB 2154 and SB 2298 are mirror bills that would add autism to the list of qualifying conditions to obtain a medical marijuana card, joining at least 15 other with similar provisions. HB 2154 was introduced by Rep. Diego Espinoza (D-19), while Sen. Juan Mendez introduced SB 2298 (D-26). In other legislative news, SB 1646, a marijuana testing bill that would have fined Arizona testing facilities that could not complete tests in a seven-day window, was dead on arrival and a similar bill, SB 1647, that had less stringent deadlines was also killed in a 3-6 vote in committee. SB 1647 was supported by the Arizona Dispensary Association and represents a legislative effort to avoid cannabis shortages due to testing backups that may be on the horizon. ADA Executive director Sam Richard said that even though SB 1647 has been defeated, his organization is dedicated to finding a solution that will be amenable to all stakeholders. “A lot of people are worried about shortages and there are a lot of different opinions of why we’re in this mess,” he said. “We’re 100% committed to creating a vehicle that will work for all stakeholders and to get that work across the finish line.” ■ Be sure to vote in this year’s Cannabis Bowl! Visit TucsonWeekly.com for details.
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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): I invite you to think about one or two types of physical discomforts and symptoms that your body seems most susceptible to. Meditate on the possibility that there are specific moods or feelings associated with those discomforts and symptoms—perhaps either caused by them or the cause of them. The next step is to formulate an intention to monitor any interactions that might transpire between the bodily states and emotional states. Then make a plan for how you will address them both with your own healing power whenever they visit you in the future. TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Poet Billy Collins describes “standing on the edge of a lake on a moonlit night and the light of the moon is always pointing straight at you.” I have high hopes that your entire life will be like that in the coming weeks: that you’ll feel as if the world is alive with special messages just for you; that every situation you’re in will feel like you belong there; that every intuition welling up from your subconscious mind into your conscious awareness will be specifically what you need at the moment it arrives. GEMINI (May 21-June 20): You’re entering a potentially heroic phase of your astrological cycle. The coming weeks will be a time when I hope you will be motivated to raise your integrity and impeccability to record levels. To inspire you, I’ve grabbed a few affirmations from a moral code reputed to be written by a 14th-century Samurai warrior. Try saying them, and see if they rouse you to make your good character even better. 1. “I have no divine power; I make honesty my divine power.” 2. “I have no miracles; I make right action my miracle.” 3. “I have no enemy; I make carelessness my enemy.” 4. “I have no designs; I make ‘seizing opportunity’ my design.” 5. “I have no magic secrets; I make character my magic secret.” 6. “I have no armor; I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.”
CANCER (June 21-July 22): “The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle,” writes Cancerian author and Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. I disagree with him. There are many other modes of awareness that can be useful as we navigate our labyrinthine path through this crazy world. Regarding each minute as an opportunity to learn something new, for instance: That’s an excellent way to live. Or, for another example, treating each minute as another chance to creatively express our love. But I do acknowledge that Kornfield’s approach is sublime and appealing. And I think it will be especially apropos for you during the coming weeks. LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): The coming weeks will be a poignant and healing time for you to remember the people in your life who have died—as well as ancestors whom you never met or didn’t know well. They have clues to offer you, rich feelings to nourish you with, course corrections to suggest. Get in touch with them through your dreams, meditations, and reminiscences. Now read this inspiration from poet Rainer Maria Rilke: “They, who passed away long ago, still exist in us, as predisposition, as burden upon our fate, as murmuring blood, and as gesture that rises up from the depths of time.” (Translation from the German by Stephen Mitchell.) VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I’m fond of 18th-century Virgo painter Quentin de La Tour. Why? 1. He specialized in creating portraits that brought out his subjects’ charm and intelligence. 2. As he grew wealthier, he became a philanthropist who specialized in helping poor women and artists with disabilities. 3. While most painters of his era did self-portraits that were solemn, even ponderous, de La Tour’s self-portraits showed him smiling and good-humored. 4. Later in his life, when being entirely reasonable was no longer a top priority, de La Tour enjoyed conversing with trees. In accor-
SAVAGE LOVE DE-KINKED
By Dan Savage, email@example.com
I know you and other sexperts say that kinks are ingrained and not something you can get rid of, but mine have all vanished! Ever since I started on antidepressants, my relationship with my body and how it reacts to pain, both physical and mental, has completely changed. I used to love getting bit and spanked and beat black and blue, but now all that just hurts. I used to love getting humiliated and spit on, commanded to do dirty things, but none of that holds much appeal anywhere. So what gives? Were these even kinks in the first place if they could vanish so
easily with one little pill? Or were these coping mechanisms for emotional problems I no longer have? I know my libido is suppressed due to the meds. Did my kinks just follow my libido out the door? —The Missing Kink Antidepressants showed your kinks the door at the same time they showed your libido the door. Zooming out for a second: While some people find that consensual BDSM helps them cope with trauma and/or process their emotional
dance with the astrological omens, I propose that we make him your patron saint for now. I hope you’ll be inspired to tap into your inner Quentin de la Tour. LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with your overall health, Libra. In fact, I expect it’s probably quite adequate. But from an astrological point of view, now is the right time to schedule an appointment for a consultation with your favorite healer, even if just by Zoom. In addition, I urge you to consult a soul doctor for a complete metaphysical check-up. Chances are that your mental health is in fair shape, too. But right now it’s not enough for your body and soul to be merely adequate; they need to receive intense doses of well-wrought love and nurturing. So I urge you to ask for omens and signs and dreams about what precisely you can do to treat yourself with exquisite care. SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): “Love commands a vast army of moods,” writes author Diane Ackerman. “Frantic and serene, vigilant and calm, wrung-out and fortified, explosive and sedate.” This fact of life will be prominently featured in your life during the coming weeks. Now is a fertile time to expand your understanding of how eros and romance work when they’re at their best—and to expand your repertoire of responses to love’s rich challenges. Don’t think of it as a tough test; imagine it as an interesting research project. SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Sagittarian poet and visual artist William Blake (1757–1827) cultivated a close relationship with lofty thoughts and mystical visions. He lived with his wife Catherine for the last 45 years of his life, but there were times when he was so preoccupied with his amazing creations that he neglected his bond with her. Catherine once said, “I have very little of Mr. Blake’s company. He is always in Paradise.” I hope that you won’t be like that in the coming weeks. Practical matters and intimate alliances need more of your attention than usual. Consider the possibility, at least for now, of spending less time in paradise and more on earth.
problems—or work through the kind of traumas that create emotional problems—many people into BDSM have no significant history of sexual trauma, TMK, or whatever trauma(s) they may have suffered, sexual or otherwise, didn’t create or shape their kinks. And while consensual BDSM can provide therapeutic benefits to a person who 1. has a history of trauma and 2. has an interest in kink—by making them feel in control of their own bodies (even if they’re temporarily ceding that control)—not everyone who’s kinky can point to a traumatic event at the root of their kinks. And kinky people shouldn’t have to cite trauma to justify the pleasure they
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Poet Robert Graves regarded the ambiguity of poetry as a virtue, not a problem. In his view, poetry’s inscrutability reflects life’s true nature. As we read its enigmatic ideas and feelings, we may be inspired to understand that experience is too complex to be reduced to simplistic descriptions and overgeneralized beliefs. In fact, it’s quite possible that if we invite poetry to retrain our perceptions, we will develop a more tolerant and inclusive perspective toward everything. I’m telling you this, Capricorn, because whether or not you read a lot of poetry in the coming weeks, it will be wise and healthy for you to celebrate, not just tolerate, how paradoxical and mysterious the world is. AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): The coming weeks will be a favorable time to shed old habits that waste your energy, and create constructive new habits that will serve you well for months and years to come. To inspire and guide your efforts, I offer these thoughts from author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau: “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Piscean author Anais Nin was a maestro of metamorphosis, a virtuoso of variation, an adept at alteration. She regarded her ceaseless evolution as a privilege and luxury, not an oppressive inconvenience. “I take pleasure in my transformations,” she wrote. “I look quiet and consistent, but few know how many women there are in me.” Her approach is a healthy model for most of you Pisceans—and will be especially worth adopting in the coming weeks. I invite you to be a Change Specialist whose nickname is Flux Mojo. ■ Homework: Complete this sentence: “Sooner or later the pandemic will lose its power to limit us. When it does, I will _______________.” FreeWillAstrology.com
find in getting bit, spanked, beaten, bruised, bound, etc. “It’s become an oft-repeated narrative of many a wellness think piece that BDSM and freaky fetishes are actually okay because they help people deal with their traumatic past,” as the writer, comedian, and self-described “Leatherdyke Muppet” Chingy Nea wrote in a recent essay about the creeping pathologizing of kink. “What gets you off is not inherently born of trauma or sign of dysfunction, nor does it require suffering to validate it. Being turned on by weird fucked up things you want to do with another consenting adult is acceptable simply because it’s hot and sexy and fun.”
FEB. 25, 2021
with it. I didn’t expect this, nor did I plan for it. It’s a lonely feeling. That’s why I think it’s important for your readers to understand the following: Have all the sex you want and that you can while you can so long as you’re not hurting anyone or putting anyone at risk! Do this as often as you want to. Don’t put those sexual fantasies on the back burner. Don’t stay in a relationship that stifles you sexually! You owe it to yourself to experience what you want to experience today. Don’t take tomorrow for granted as tomorrow might have something else in store for you. —Guy’s Hard Off Seems Terminal
Pandemic Pressures Okay, TMK, back to your question: Antidepressants—one little pill that can relieve mental anguish and disappear a libido at the same time—can’t cure kinks but they can suppress them. I mean, think about it… if you’re not horny because the antidepressants. If you miss your libido—and if you miss all the hot and sexy and fun and fucked up things you used to enjoy with other consenting adults—work with your doctor to find a different med that relieves your depression without tanking your libido, TMK, or a different dosage of the med you’re currently on that provides you with emotional benefits without depriving you of your libido and the kinks that come bundled with it. Follow Chingy Nea on Twitter @ TheGayChingy. I’m a longtime reader who appreciates the candor and insight you’ve offered since, what, the 1990s! Yeesh. With that in mind, I have a piece of advice I’d like to share with your readers. I’m a 56-year-old gay man. From my 20s though my 40s, I was as sexually active as often as it was possible for me to be. I loved sex and sought had it every chance I got. It made me feel alive! Then just as I was about to enter my 50s, I started to have erection problems. I could still come, but a spongy dick is ego-deflating. Not wanting to accept what was going on, I talked to my doctor about it. I’ve tried Levitra, Cialis and now Viagra, as well as a host of cock rings. Not much of anything seems to help. I miss my sex life, and I miss the confidence that came
Good advice—don’t screw tomorrow what you can screw today—and I’m glad you didn’t pass on any of the opportunities that came your way back when you could still “obtain and maintain” a fully erect cock. But I worry you may be passing on all the sexual opportunities that are still available to you. Even if the rock-hard erections of your youth and early-middle-age are gone forever, GHOST, you can still give and receive pleasure. You can suck a cock, you can get your ass fucked, you can fist and be fisted. And not every gay dude into daddies wants to be plowed by his hot daddy. Lots of gay guys wanna be orally serviced by hot daddies and lots of gay guys love having their holes eaten and stretched with big toys and fists. You can be a good, giving, and game partner and still have tons hot and fulfilling sex without ever taking your pulling your dick out. Which is not to say you shouldn’t pull your dick out—you should. But if you’re feeling self-conscious about your cock, GHOST, seek out guys who aren’t looking for sexual experiences that require a hard dick and you’ll feel less inhibited about pulling your dick out and getting yourself off as you get them off. You already took your own advice, GHOST, now you need to take mine: stop grieving what you’ve lost and get out there enjoy what you’ve still got. I read this in a recent column of yours: “…if your parents are still fucking each other that means your parents still like each other.” Not always, Dan. My father fucked my mother daily while he was having an affair with another woman. As soon as the other woman’s husband died of cancer, my father left my mother. Affair aside, he didn’t much
like my mother, which was evident from the way he treated her and not just from the affair. Maybe he wanted to keep her in place until he could leave, maybe he had a monstrous sex drive, I don’t know. But he didn’t like her. —My Asshole Dad Thank you for writing in, MAD, and you’re absolutely right: a lot of people—and not just married people—fuck people they don’t like. And some people are only nice to their spouses when they want sex and resume neglecting their spouses and/or treating them like shit immediately after they get sex. I obviously needed to qualify that statement, MAD, and if I had it to do over again I’d go with this: “If your parents are still fucking each other that’s a pretty good sign they might still like each other.” I’m a few months into OkCupid dating, and it’s going well! I’ve stuck to two “automatic pass” rules: anyone who mentions my looks and nothing else in the first message and anyone with no face pic. It’s worked out great so far. But I’ve noticed that most kinksters on OKC don’t post face pics. I can understand this. I once came across a coworker on the site—didn’t look, passed immediately—and I can imagine nobody wants their boss or coworkers to know they’re looking for puppy
CLAYTOONZ By Clay Jones
play and CBT. Not everyone has the luxury of taking a risk like that. So I’m tempted to drop my “no face pic = pass” rule for kinksters. But then I imagine how that would go: “Chat, chat, chat. ‘Hey, can I see a face pic?’ Oh no, I’m not physically attracted to this person!” Then I have to awkwardly un-match and feel terribly shallow and guilty for a while. So do I keep my rule and pass on some very promising profiles without face pics to avoid hurting someone’s feelings? Or do I bend the rules? I’m just not looking to hurt anyone in a bad way. —Not That Kind Of Sadist Lead with your truth, NTKOS: “Hey, we share a lot of common interests— BDSM, CBT, TT—but I usually require face pics before I chat. I understand why you may not be able to post your pics and why you would want to chat for a bit and establish trust before sharing pics with me privately. So I’m happy to chat so long as you’re OK with the risk that I might pass after seeing your face pic. Still, even if we’re not ultimately a sexual or romantic match, every kinkster needs some kinky friends!” firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Dan on Twitter @FakeDanSavage.
FEB. 25, 2021
Crossword Answers H A M M
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P D A S
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1 Beloved, in Arabic 6 [Make it quick!]
Masthead listings, for short 13 Italian herbal liqueur 14 “Please, please, please?” 15 People calling the shots at the zoo? 17 Not radical 19 Drink with a domeshaped lid 20 Where to find the Egyptian Temple of Dendur, with “the” 21 Crush, as a test 22 Cry from a survivor 24 Clara in the National Women’s Hall of Fame 26 Stuffed oneself with, facetiously 27 Newswoman Roberts 28 Recipe amt. 31 Doesn’t stay natural? 32 Fell off, as laughter 33 Place 10
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40 42 46
36 “Well, which is it?!”
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38 Responses 39 “Sick, dude!” 40 Like toreadors, again
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