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THE SKINNY: THE AZ GOP LOSES ITS MARBLES

JAN. 28 - FEB. 3, 2021 • TUCSONWEEKLY.COM • FREE

An excerpt from a new collection of essays edited by Gary Paul Nabhan

TUCSON SALVAGE: AN INDIAN TRADER’S LIFE

CURRENTS: JUDGE SHUTS DOWN PIMA COUNTY’S CURFEW


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TUCSONWEEKLY.COM

JAN. 28, 2021


JAN. 28, 2021

JAN. 28, 2021 | VOL. 36, NO. 4

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STAFF

CONTENTS

CURRENTS

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Tucsonans anxious as vaccine shortage hampers delivery of shots in Pima County

CURRENTS

Bars win round in court against Pima County’s curfew

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THE SKINNY

The Arizona GOP continues descent

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FEATURE

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An excerpt from the new collection of essays edited by Gary Paul Nabhan

ARTS & CULTURE

Just Deserts

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

EDITOR’S NOTE

YOU MIGHT KNOW ETHNOBOTANIST and author Gary Paul Nabhan from his work founding Native Seeds/SEARCH, the massive seed bank that preserves all manner of indigenous plant variants to ensure future genetic diversity as corporate farming operations embrace monoculture. You might know him from his work as science director at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, or his work at the UA’s Southwest Center, or his contributions to the annual Agave Festival at Hotel Congress. In short, Gary has left a big footprint in our natural world. This week, we’re proud to present an excerpt from an essay about how he discovered his love of the richness of desert flora and fauna. It’s the lead essay in a new book Nabhan has edited: The Nature of Desert Nature: A Deep History of Everything that Sticks, Stinks, Stings, Sings, Swings, Springs, or Clings in Arid Landscapes. Published by UA Press, the book features work by more than two-dozen writers and illustrators such as Francisco Cantú, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Ofelia Zepeda and Paul Mirocha. Pick it up and see our desert from new perspectives. Speaking of plants: People were lining up for hours last weekend along Grant Road when midtown’s Harvest became the first dispensary to start selling recreational marijuana to adults over 21. Harvest has cornered the market for a

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

while, as other dispensaries are still preparing to expand from selling only to people with medical cards to opening their doors to the general public, although local indie favorite Desert Bloom was expected to start selling to the recreational market by the end of this week. Tucson Weedly columnist David Abbott explains what’s next on Page 17. Elsewhere in the book: Staff reporter Nicole Ludden keeps you apprised about how the vaccine rollout is coming along; The Skinny looks at the Arizona Republican Party’s continued descent into madness; arts writer Margaret Regan paints a picture of TMA’s new show featuring work by members of the Wyeth family; and, in our guest commentary spot, we have a statement from the Werewolf Party regarding Werewolf Derangement Syndrome. You’ll also find comics, puzzles, horoscopes and some advice sprinkled throughout the book. Stay safe and we’ll see you next week! — 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

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

Three generations of Wyeth painters are on display at Tucson Museum of Art

TUCSON SALVAGE

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Portrait of the old moccasion seller

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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zation plan, they don’t have enough vaccines to do so. Maricopa County has administered 210,732 doses of vaccine as of Jan. 24 and plans to have two 24-hour vaccination sites, one at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale that opened on Jan. 11 and one at Phoenix Municipal Stadium set to open Feb. 1. Other Arizona counties, including Pima, are struggling with a depleted vaccine supply outstripping the demand for them, and the allocation process is being made without transparency from the state. “We are grateful, but I have to tell you that this is far insufficient for what we need. This is not nearly enough vaccination for us to be able to meet the needs of this county,” Garica said. “We continue to advocate every single day to the state health department, to the governor’s office, to our congressional delegation, that the sole rate-limiting step in the equation at this time is vaccine supply, and that it is imperative that Pima County get its fair share. From my perspective, that should be about 15% of the state allocation, and we are short of that.” If the county keeps receiving a depleted vaccine supply, Garcia warns resources may need to be taken from COURTESY PIMA COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT other areas, such as COVID-19 testing. The Pima County Health Department has fully immunized more than 13,000 local resi“I wish I could tell you that we have dents, and given 58,000 their first shot. sufficient resources to do absolutely everything, but we do not. The federal and state government have a very important responsibility here that needs to be met,” he said. “We are still conducting a record number of tests for Tucsonans anxious as vaccine shortage hampers delivery of shots in Pima County coronavirus. So we are literally walking and chewing gum at the same time. We have to keep these efforts going By Nicole Ludden ily handle” 100,000 vaccines a week. forward. However, it is really critical to nicolel@tucsonlocalmedia.com As of Jan. 24, the county had received also understand that if we do not get a total of 107,000 vaccine doses and was some relief from the federal government, if we do not get some relief and AS PIMA COUNTY CONTINUES TO allocated 136,100 from the state. Pima County administered 71,890 some assistance from the state, we may ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations at five need to make some very hard choices different distribution sites, it needs a lot total doses as of Sunday, for a vaccination rate of 6,882 per 100,000 of the in terms of vaccine versus testing.“ more vaccines to adequately immunize Pima County is in phase 1B priority the population eligible to receive them. population. A total of 58,629 individuals had received their first dose of of vaccinations, where those over 75, The county usually receives around either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, educators and protective service work12,500 doses per week but has been while 13,051 had received the two doses ers are eligible, but the rate at which expecting larger allocations from the needed to be considered fully immuthe group receives vaccines depends state to keep up with demand. on how many doses the county reAt a press conference Friday, Jan. 22, nized. While the Pima County Health Deceives from the state. Pima County Chief Medical Officer Dr. partment maintains it has the necesThe next priority group will be those Francisco Garcia said the county is now sary infrastructure to administer more over 65, but Garcia says their eligibility expecting 29,000 COVID-19 vaccine than 775,000 doses by the end of March is not yet on the horizon. doses this week. Garcia contends the “To say that we’re anywhere close to county’s current infrastructure can “eas- according to its accelerated immuni-

CURRENTS

NEEDLES AND PINS

being done with 75-plusers would be irresponsible. Unless we get through the bulk of that 75 plus population, I would not advocate for decreasing the eligibility for vaccination until we are through those priority populations,” Garcia said. “We have a ways to go before we start working our way down the rest of the list.” Pima County Health Department Director Dr. Theresa Cullen estimates the current eligible group is a population of nearly 150,000 individuals, and those over 65 will be eligible after 7080,000 members of the current group are immunized. The 65+ population can register for vaccine appointments at Maricopa County’s two 24-hour sites, with the second one set to open at the Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Feb. 1. In the meantime, the county health department is asking for patience as it fights for a larger vaccine supply. “I need to be getting, here in Pima County, about 100,000 vaccines a week. I am thankful to my state partners for giving us 29,000, which is twice as many as they gave us a week before, but that is still woefully insufficient for the need that we have,” Garcia said. “It’s the hunger games out there, a lot of people are really anxious to get vaccinated, and I get it, and I beg their patience. Because at the end of the day, it would be unethical for us to create appointments, to create schedules, when we don’t have vaccine.” Cullen said available vaccine appointments are made based on vaccine availability, which is why many eligible recipients are struggling to receive a time slot at a vaccine site. “The thing I need right now is patience. I know it’s really, really difficult for many people right now to wait, especially because people are scared and they want to have access to the vaccine,” Cullen said. “We are pedaling as fast as we can.” The 75+ population is encouraged to register for vaccines at Banner North, TMC or the Kino Stadium site. Educators should be vaccinated at the University of Arizona and protective service workers at the Tucson Convention Center. ■ Those who qualify in the priority 1B group can register for a vaccine at pima.gov/covid19vaccineregistration or by calling 520-222-0119.


JAN. 28, 2021

CURRENTS

PHOTO BY NICOLE LUDDEN

Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson ordered Pima County to cease enforcing the curfew, arguing “the virus is spread just as easily late at night as it is during the day. Bar patrons can drink excessively during the day just as easily as they can at night.”

CHEERS AND FEARS

Bars win round in court against Pima County’s curfew By Nicole Ludden nicolel@tucsonlocalmedia.com PIMA COUNTY’S MANDATORY 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew has been temporarily halted after a group of Tucson bars were granted a preliminary injunction barring the county from enforcing the curfew. Owners of Cobra Arcade Bar, HighWire Lounge and The Maverick filed a joint lawsuit on Jan. 5 contending the county overextended their legal authority to mandate a curfew. The owner of The Maverick, Grant Krueger, included other Tucson restaurants he owns in the lawsuit: Union Public House, Reforma Modern Mexican and Proof Artisanal Pizza & Pasta. After considering the evidence at a Jan. 15 hearing, Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson ordered

Pima County to cease enforcing the curfew in a ruling filed Jan. 19. “The Court finds the hardships imposed on the Plaintiffs by the curfew are severe. Additionally, the hardships are arguably unfair because the Court finds Plaintiffs can adhere to the ADHS required safety measures both before and after 10 p.m.,” Johnson wrote in the ruling, echoing the defendant’s arguments. “Moreover, the virus is spread just as easily late at night as it is during the day. Bar patrons can drink excessively during the day just as easily as they can at night.” While the judge acknowledged the challenges Pima County has managing the COVID-19 pandemic, she held the parties’ legal arguments tipped in the restaurant owners’ favor. “The County could not demonstrate in testimony or other evidence that more cases are contracted after 10 p.m. Nor has it demonstrated specifically that its cur-

rent hardships are worsened by people and businesses engaging in conduct after 10 p.m.,” Johnson wrote of the county’s defense. “To the contrary, the burden the County faces in managing this pandemic will continue until the pandemic is under control. The County has simply failed to demonstrate how the curfew not being enforced would cause it additional hardship.” Pima County County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia said the 10 p.m. curfew was based on evidence gathered when the county sent 46 inspectors to observe nearly 400 establishments for compliance to the curfew and found 15% of them didn’t comply. “We have to draw a line in the sand in terms of when you would ask a business like a bar or a restaurant to stop operating. That line in the sand needs to not be entirely arbitrary,” Garcia said. “We know that, based on the surveillance that our county inspection team did, that bars that were operating after 10 o’clock, that there was a substantial amount of non compliance with the kinds of measures that we’ve recommended all along. So yes, 10 may seem like a rather odd and very specific time to select, but this is based on actually our observations of what people are doing in those kinds of establishments.” Krueger, a plaintiff in the case, began keeping both The Maverick and Union Public House open until 2 a.m. last week. “We feel that we’ve been doing it safely since before 10 p.m. and we can do it safely as well after 10 p.m.,” Krueger said. “We’ve made a lot of really, really good people really happy today by calling back all kinds of staff members who have had to have their hours reduced, limited or even completely eliminated.” Chuckie Duff, a plaintiff and owner of Cobra Arcade Bar, said he planned on

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returning to normal businesses hours of 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. last weekend. “We’re very happy with the ruling and we’re glad that we can go back to our normal business hours and continue to follow the rules as we were before and keep everybody safe,” Duff said. “If we have more hours we can be open, it’s definitely more hours for our existing employees and hopefully more employees that we’ll be bringing back.” Judge Johnson wrote she’s granting the injunction on the grounds that the curfew is not “statutorily authorized,” the plaintiffs demonstrated the harm it causes them and it violates Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order. The governor’s May 12 executive order states: “...no county, city or town may make or issue any order, rule or regulation that conflicts with or is in addition to the policy, directives or intent of this Executive Order, including but not limited to any order restricting persons from leaving their home due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.” The Pima County Board of Supervisors authorized the county attorney to appeal the ruling, according to a press release. “It is the County’s firm belief that state law empowers the Health Department to take specific actions such as the curfew to mitigate and halt the spread of infectious diseases,” the release said. “In the meantime, Pima County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia urges all businesses to continue to voluntarily adhere to the curfew and limit gatherings.” The curfew was originally set to end when the county reached a rate of 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. The rate as of last Thursday, Jan. 20, was 8,856 cases per 100,000, according to state data. The curfew will be halted until the resolution of the case. A trial date has yet to be set. ■


THE SKINNY

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HONEY NUT

But even if the recall fails to get off the ground or Finchem survives an election, his antics have also put him on the wrong side of Gov. Doug Ducey, who is known to hold grudges. Hope Finchem isn’t counting on any of his bills—should they make it through both chambers—getting signed this year. ONE CRAZY PARTY

Oddball Oro Valley lawmaker abandons Twitter account, embraces honey badger as his spirit totem on something called Gab

The AZ GOP is galloping Finchem’s direction HERE’S THE SAD THING: THE REST

Jim Nintzel jnintzel@tucsonweekly.com STATE REP. AND OLD-WEST COSPLAY

aficionado Mark Finchem has always been one of the nuttier lawmakers at the Capitol, what with his bills to make gold legal tender, his links to farright organizations such as the Oath Keepers and the Coalition of Western States, and his peculiar fashion choices. But Donald Trump’s loss in the presidential race last November has led the Oro Valley Republican to buy a first-class ticket on the crazy train. He led the day-long meeting at a hotel near the Capitol in December that featured Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani laying out numerous crazy theories that were unsuitable for actual courtrooms, including the notion that Biden’s win was illegitimate because Arizona is home to 5 million undocumented immigrants (which would mean 5 out of 7 Arizonans are undocumented, but OK, sure.) Finchem, who was on hand for the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally in D.C., cheered on the storming of the U.S. Capitol by his fellow travelers in conspiracy theories. He tweeted a photo of the rampage with the comment: “What happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud.” Of course, Finchem later started blaming Antifa for the disgraceful display of Trump supporters during the D.C. rampage. Finchem’s D.C. adventures have led to an ethics complaint at the House (which won’t go anywhere) as well as a call for him to be investigated for any role he might have had in planning the insurrection at the Capitol.

But you won’t read any more tweets from Finchem. This week, in solidarity with the now-banned Trump, Finchem deleted his Twitter account after getting some media attention for a tweet promising to boycott Lowe’s after the Loew’s hotel chain canceled a fundraising event for Sen. Josh Hawley. “This is what Hitler and Stalin did, what next camps? Ovens?” Yes, it’s a slippery slope from canceling an event reservation to the Holocaust. Giving up his 55K or so followers, Finchem has moved over the rightwing Twitter knock-off Gab, where his new handle is AZHoneyBadger, presumably because he considers the fierce African carnivorous mammal to be his spirit totem or something. (In case you’re not familiar, a hysterical YouTube clip of a narrator goofing on honey badger footage with lines about how “honey badger doesn’t give a shit” went viral about a decade ago.) On Gab, Finchem doesn’t have to give a shit about moderators slapping warnings on his tweets about how his deranged claims are disputed. Finchem fans don’t have to worry. The state lawmaker continues to deliver tall glasses of crazy on Gab about Trump’s comeback, including a prediction that Trump will run for the House of Representatives, depose Speaker Nancy Pelosi, impeach Biden and Harris and then reclaim the White House. Finchem is also facing a nascent recall effort, led by Ralph Atchue, a Democrat who lost to Finchem in 2018. (See FinchemRecall.com for details.) LD11 isn’t exactly friendly territory to Democrats, but we’ve seen some unexpected turns in Arizona politics in recent years. If Atchue can get the signatures, we could have a barn-burner of a special election.

of the Arizona Republican Party is marching in Finchem’s untethered direction. Last weekend, the party reelected Kelli Ward as the chair of the state party. Ward has gleefully PHOTO BY GAGE SKIDMORE / FLICKR declared the AZ GOP is now the Party Rep. Mark Finchem (R-Bizzaro World) of Trump, who delivered a full-throated endorsement of her via a voicemail Ward played during the organizational in the courts. She regularly delivers a stream of bullshit designed to confabconvention. ulate an alternate reality wherein GOP In recent months, Ward has spearleaders including Gov. Doug Ducey headed numerous frivolous lawsuits and Georgia Secretary of State Brad designed to overturn the election in Raffensperger conspired with Arizona, all of which went nowhere

SORENSEN


JAN. 28, 2021

BARKING MAD

A Statement From The Werewolf Party On Werewolf Derangement Syndrome By Jeremy Voas tucsonweekly@tucsonlocalmedia.com

THE WEREWOLF PARTY’S LEADERS

want you to know the werewolf must be left in his lair, undisturbed. There’s no way the werewolf will ever be a threat again because he’s learned his lesson and full moons are hoaxes and don’t really transform him into a bloodthirsty canid. Not a problem. Go out and shop, spend your money. Take a cruise. The werewolf has gotten a bad rap. It’s the chupacabra who is actually responsible for all the carnage. It would be unfair to kill the werewolf because the chupacabra has never been killed, despite our best efforts. The chupacabra is the enemy of the people. Further, a lot of people adore the werewolf and think he’s really a unicorn. It’s true that we know he’s not a unicorn because he is voracious and merciless and has huge teeth, but, still, if you kill him, watch out. The

Unicorn Club will all transform into werewolves and go around ripping everyone’s throats, and that will be your fault, you radical socialist pedophile werewolf haters. By the way, we kind of know the Unicorn Club members are deplorable and insane and dangerous and believe in lizard people, but they are just asking questions and representing people who love the werewolf because they believe the werewolf is probably not going to kill them because he generally doesn’t kill people who love him. Also, the Werewolf Party does not like some of the people who have fallen victim to the werewolf, and they probably deserved it. If you kill the werewolf, everyone will go around in camo tactical gear randomly shooting up malls with silver bullets. Next thing you know, we’ll be nuking hurricanes. People who are afraid of the werewolf are weak and selfish and hate our freedoms. Wanting to kill the werewolf says more about them than it does about the werewolf who, despite dis-

emboweling a lot of innocent people, has also done some good things. He built some wall. Who doesn’t love a boat parade? Sure, we are, in fact, the Werewolf Party but we don’t know the werewolf, have never really liked the werewolf and you’re just plain crazy if you think we approve of the way the werewolf has ruthlessly eviscerated some people, including, we in all candor must admit, some very fine members of the Werewolf Party and even the Unicorn Club. We were powerless to stop him because the people who love the werewolf do not listen to anybody but the werewolf and they cannot be reasoned with. In conclusion, the werewolf is not coming back. It’s best to humor the werewolf. He might try to kill some people, but we don’t think he will be successful because the werewolf is dumb and fat and very uncoordinated. Future reports of any deaths-by-werewolf will be fake news. We admit the Unicorn Club is definitely a threat, but they are patriots, so it’s best not to get in their way. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Also, a caravan of chupacabras is descending on us all. ■

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THE SKINNY

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the Deep State or the Chinese government or SPECTRE or whatever to rig the election for President Joe Biden. Under Ward’s leadership in the last two years or so, Republicans managed to lose the 2020 presidential race, two U.S. Senate races and statewide positions such as Arizona Secretary of State, State Superintendent of Public Instruction and a couple of seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission. But (in what sounds like the answer to the question “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”) Ward has proudly claimed that Republicans managed to hold onto majorities in the Arizona House and Senate by one seat each and won other down-ballot races— or, in other words, managed to win the races where they had a voter-registration advantage. At last week’s convention, the AZ GOP also censured Gov. Doug Ducey, Cindy McCain and Jeff Flake. McCain, the widow of longtime Arizona Sen. John McCain, earned the enmity of the party faithful with her endorsement of Biden in the 2020 presidential race. CONTINUED ON PAGE 21

CLAYTOONZ By Clay Jones


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BEING SPLASHED BY ARIDITY

An excerpt from The Nature of Desert Nature: A Deep History of Everything that Sticks, Stinks, Stings, Sings, Swings, Springs, or Clings in Arid Landscapes OUR DEEPEST KNOWLEDGE OF most places in which we have lived and loved—a landscape or the edge of a seascape—may well come to us in waves. Yet, what if our recognition of desert nature comes to us in dowsing splashes, hot flashes, or sharp-edged gashes? Perhaps our recognition of what a desert is or can be does not simply come to us through some rational process of steadily accumulating knowledge over time. Instead, perhaps we learn what is memorable about deserts through a more imaginative process, one that comes in fits and starts, by solving riddles and reflecting on paradoxes, by abandoning dualisms and junking our prejudices. Of course, there have been many prejudices—or at least, presumptions—about what a desert is and what it cannot possibly be. The Comcáac, Pima, Tohono O’odham and Yaqui people who first introduced me to desert living left me with a sense that a desert is an enchanted place. For them and many others, a desert is where hummingbirds, butterflies, bats, coyotes, deer, and flowers shimmer and sing in a resounding chorus from the first light

of dawn through the rising of the moon (Evers and Molina 1987; Hill 1992). And yet, over the arc of Western history, it seems that once a particular place is called a desert, we tend to ignore the enchantment and dwell in the dry facts, postponing the process of deeper, more exuberant or reflective exploration. Sometimes, we fail to see the shimmer or hear the cacophonous chorus at sunrise. In fact, many men and women have stopped thinking about deserts once words like desolate, unproductive, abandoned, degraded, deserted, and empty first cross their lips. When we dismiss the possibility of enchantment in all that deserts might be and mean, we do so at our own peril, or at the cost of not engaging with multiple wonders as we intensely experience many pleasures and certain pains. So, I am here with good news: a fresher, nondualistic way of perceiving deserts has recently emerged in the natural sciences and in the arts that echoes and enhances an older way of imagining the desert found in the spiritual traditions of many ancient desert cultures. The shimmer is recognized, and the cacophonous chorus is heard once again.

I suppose that I was first desensitized by categorical dismissals of “low-productivity landscapes” while growing up in the Indiana Dunes, even though my childhood haunts in sandy habitats were not true deserts by any stretch of the imagination. Although I remember conversing with jays and sucking the juices from the sweet stems of wildflowers sprawling over the sandy hummocks, I never remember any adult speaking of this enchanted world. What I do remember is how our visitors from other parts of the Midwest callously responded to our sand dunes while on short holidays away from their Corn Belt farms. They might gaze up at Mount Tom—the highest dune on our horizon—snap a photo of it with their Brownie cameras, then turn around and walk back to the car. “You might say it’s kind of purdy in its own peculiar way,” I can recall—or at least paraphrase—one of our guests saying. “But all that wasted space—how can you grow anything in all that sand?” “Nothing grows here?” I asked myself that day in the dunes. (I sometimes ask that same question when hearing newcomers react to the Sonoran Desert, too.)

Sure, soy or hybrid corn might not last here on their own for long, but prickly pear cacti and whiptail lizards don’t count? Grapevines sprawling over sandy hummocks do not matter? Neither do long-jawed orb weavers, Karner’s blue butterflies, sundial lupines, or carnivorous sundews? If a few hundred acres of dunes constitute empty space, then do the great American deserts—the Chihuahuan, Great Basin, Mohave, and Sonoran—collectively compose the big empty? Perhaps the skeptics thought they had the desert pegged or, worse yet, surrounded and captured. And yet, what if neither they (nor we) can ever capture all that a desert might be? As architectural historian Reyner Banham (1982) once proposed, “In a landscape where nothing officially exists (otherwise it would not be ‘desert’), absolutely anything becomes thinkable, and may consequently happen.” So what if the desert is not empty, but full? Or what if it is simultaneously empty and full in a way that you have to tilt your head back and forth to see? What if you have to silence yourself not only to hear what the desert speaks, but to


JAN. 28, 2021

stay in conversation with this chimerical about the paucity of life in that place. changeling? At first, I saw nothing but squat, And that, my friends, is what this book wind-beaten, drought-damaged, saltis about: finding fresher ways to tilt our stained shrubs with lots of barren space heads and silence our rants to experibetween them, as if the lack of water had ence a wider panoply of what deserts forced the bushes from living close to one might be. another. None of the creosote, bursage, The essays collected in this book are brittlebush or saltbush was in flower; in from artists, botanists, contemplatives, fact, they seemed to be rather dormant, if cultural historians, ecologists, field journot dead. nalists, former border The horizon was patrolmen, geogradull edged and hazy from a recent sandphers, indigenous storm. Nevertheless, scientists, natural the sun beamed historians, oceanogradown on me with phers, philosophers, what seemed to be a photographers, poets, preternatural force. river runners, singI stood there alone er-songwriters, and (I believed), silent wanderers of many enough to hear my creeds, cultures and own heart beating countenances. and the breeze In their totality, these brushing at my provocative and evocsleeves. I could not ative essays reject immediately figure dualistic ways of exout the patterns plaining the behavior Gary Paul Nabhan, of the place—the of deserts. We might relationships among just need to abandon The Nature of Desert Nature weather, substrate, such false dichotoflora, fauna and mies about deserts, human influence. just as Einstein had to abandon the A dust devil, or chachipira, suddenly dualistic notion that light behaves either swept by me and then disappeared into like particles or like waves to discover thin air, leaving bushes rustling and empty the essential paradox of illumination. beer cans rolling around in eddies. The authors featured here have had Then my eyes began to tear up in their senses opened and minds changed by repeated forays into desert places brightness, and I wiped them clean with over many decades. Their stories are not a sweep of my shirtsleeve. Instantly, I was so much about coming to firm conclulooking at this world as if I had come to sions regarding the nature of desert life. another planet for the very first time. Instead, they may be about shedding our The dull gray shrubs I had left for dead mistaken notions and “protective skins” were actually in bud, their delicate tissues as we become more open to knowing tenderly green. I began to see the cryptodesert life in raw and previously unforegamic crusts coating and protecting the seen ways. soil between these bushes. A tarantula sauntered by me, nonplussed by my presence. What (or who) TO BE SURE, I HAVE STEPPED OUT does she eat in a place like this? into what I assumed to be an apparently A phainopepla flew over, a sprig of monotonous, unproductive patch of arid mistletoe in its mouth as it landed to roost landscape, only to have my own identity turned inside out by what I saw, heard, and in a mesquite tree and unpack its breakfast of berries. He dropped a few partially smelled there. ingested seeds on my head and shoulders This recently happened to me on the for good measure. I could feel what he had drought-prone coast of the Sonoran been eating. Desert between the Colorado River delta A fleet of turkey vultures circled high and Puerto Libertad, Sonora. It is nested above me, patiently waiting to see whether in terrain that can go 36 months without I would live or die. Just why are they so atmeasurable rainfall. tracted to faintly fetid decomposing flesh? Once I listened, looked around, took a What I had first dismissed as a good whiff of the air there, my senses conhaze-muddled horizon was one that actualvinced me that I had been wrong headed

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9

Deserts may be something more than the least understood of all terrains. Deserts may also be the landscapes on this planet perceived, understood, and celebrated (or cursed) in the widest range of ways.

COVER IMAGE PROVIDED

ly had sharply contrasting features nested within it, as dark lava and pale granites interdigitated like hands folded together. A small black and white mountain range on the northern horizon appeared as though shaped by some goddess who loved sundaes made with Rocky Road ice cream. The somewhat barren, jet-black lava flows at its summit spilled over the pale granite beneath them. Edging the paths of decomposed granite were antennae-like ocotillos and towering saguaros, as if they were part of a garden of freshly hewn sculpture, recently set out to dry. Skirting the range on one side was an improbably large platoon of cardón cacti, most of them many armed and forty feet tall or more, with not a single nurse plant—a mesquite or ironwood tree— among them. How could that be? I wondered, since I know that few cacti or stem succulents germinate and survive their first years out in the open. When and why did all their nurses and godmothers—nodrizas and madrinas—disappear from sight? Did the former inhabitants of this place have anything to do with the current

scarcity of trees? For whom (and for how much) did they harvest them? Whom did they work for? Whom (or what force) did they pray to? Did they pray through song or through silence? As I scratched my head and wondered how the giant cardón cactus arrived and settled here but nowhere else in view, I began to realize that I was in a landscape filled with unanswered questions and improbable paradoxes. Of course, there were probably myriad kinds of microbes cohabiting with plant roots deep beneath my feet, but just what do they do when the sand around them dries down? There were feathery clusters of seeds flying over my head, destined for some secret landing strip nearby, but how long can they wait before they germinate? Most perplexing to me was how some peculiar mix of soils and microbes allowed so many giant cacti to grow in high densities, in just one spot among thousands within my view. What could I learn from this sudden abundance plopped down amid such seemingly austere poverty? Is this shallow “sea” of squat, salt-tolerant CONTINUED ON PAGE 10


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DESERT NATURE

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shrubs filled with cryptic companions? Is it not a squalor of poverty at all? I was beginning to get a sense that I was not at all alone in some big empty. In fact, there was a dynamic coexistence of many lifeforms before me, with the particular mix found in any habitat patch due to the way different growth forms are favored or discouraged in different years by sun, sand, salt, volcanic substrates, drought, downpours, heat and catastrophic freezes (Burgess 1995). As my old friend Tony Burgess has reminded me over the years, “those lifeforms are in dynamic disequilibrium with one another because no single strategy for desert living is successful under all conditions.” I conceded that I had long been “wrong headed” when it comes to discerning what a desert comprises. Such “belated” realizations now spilled over me like massive waves, tidal waves that surged up before I knew it and knocked me over. Have your assumptions ever been sent tumbling “ass over tea kettle” in such a manner? Have you felt a new wave of realization surging up all around you, one that plasters you flat against the sand or the rocks? When that happens, we must simply get up, brush ourselves off, and for a moment at least, recognize that we have somehow been humbled and changed in our relationship to the world. The world that may soon be known as Planet Desert. Often when we dry off—and we dry out—we forget. Fortunately, another wave splashes down on us, and another. Soon the rhythm of the desert has taken over our sense of time and space. Then and only then do we have a chance to sense fully what a desert is

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Gary Paul Nabhan

and is not, and what it can be in and of our own lives. That is why I had to nod in agreement when I first read what Egyptian American scientist Farouk El-Baz (1998) so clearly states: “Desert landscapes are the least understood among terrain types of the earth.” When I initially thought this assertion over, I rebelled a bit. Deserts may be something more than the least understood of all terrains. Deserts may also be the landscapes on this planet perceived, understood, and celebrated (or cursed) in the widest range of ways. How we regard deserts will vary greatly with our perceptions and professions, as well as our palpable life experiences.

MOST WESTERN-TRAINED ECOLOGISTS will use a language to describe deserts that is different from that used by an indigenous shaman on a vision quest; a contemplative from the Eastern Orthodox or Muslim faith; a landscape artist whose work lies outside galleries; or a poet who writes her poems on paper pressed from the fiber of desert wildflowers. I recently recalled how I gained insight into this chimerical quality of deserts while talking to desert ecologist Tony Burgess.

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Tony is not only an old friend but a talented plant geographer and nature guide who I had accompanied on part of an excursion across all four North American deserts. That excursion was one he coordinated nearly 40 years before our recent conversation. Tony and I were among the only American-born participants on the excursion, which included distinguished desert scientists from the former Soviet Union, China, India and Egypt. In ways most enlightening, but sometimes amusing or frustrating, each of our fellow travelers brought along a different mindset of what a desert might be, and how life within each landscape was structured. At each field stop along our pilgrimage route—from the eastern edges of the Chihuahuan Desert in Texas through the Sonoran, Mohave, and Great Basin Deserts—Tony would enlighten the foreign visitors on the species of plants and animals present at the site, as well as on its soils, climate and environmental history. The scientists were all delighted to see “in the flesh” many of the desert organisms they had read about over their illustrious careers. They recognized some species related to ones they knew back home. They were conversant with the landscape ecology of other deserts around the world. And so, the information flow was not just in one direction, from American ecologists to foreign visitors. They too had their own ideas about what we were seeing, hearing, smelling and touching. At one of our many roadside stops in the Chihuahuan Desert, Nina Nichaeva, from the Institute of Deserts in Russia, noted that we were witnessing a well-balanced desert phytocenose, where all the plants were sharing available resources and working “for the common good.” “Well, wait just a minute,” said a Texas range ecologist whom Tony had invited to join us out at the site. “How does that

explain that mesquite tree over there that looks like it is being killed by the prickly pear cactus around it that are competing with it for moisture?” “Excuse me, please,” the elegant elderly Chinese forester with us replied. “Look again.” This desert forestry expert was also a master at combining various aromatic herbs into medicinal plant composites offered for use at Chinese people’s pharmacies. “Both are still growing for now, and I believe that is because of the curative properties of the many herbs growing beneath their canopies. These appear to be potent herbs: ambrosia, artemesia, berberis, datura, solanum, and such. Perhaps they are the glue that keeps this desert vegetation cohesive and healthy.” “My grandfather back in India would say that each has its own spiritual power,” said the cinematographer, who was documenting the work of natural resource scientists through the lens of agricultural communications. Our companion from Egypt, a petroleum chemist, was somewhat befuddled by all the Latin names of the plants and animals that Tony had been imparting to the group. He finally spoke up: “Do you mean to tell me that way out here in the desert, all of these plants have names of their own? All I wish to know is this: which of these plants can produce enough hydrocarbons to make biofuels after we run out of all of our fossil fuels in the desert?” After that multivocal conversation, I could never again assume that the desert I was seeing was not a chimera, a sandcastle of many rooms, towers, and balconies standing high and dry above the desert floor. ■ Excerpted with permission from The Nature of Desert Nature, edited by Gary Paul Nabhan. Published by UA Press. Copyright © 2020 by the Arizona Board of Regents. All rights reserved.

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ARTS & CULTURE

COURTESY TUCSON MUSEUM OF ART

“On the Edge,” by Andrew Wyeth

ALL IN THE FAMILY

Three generations of Wyeths on display at Tucson Museum of Art By Margaret Regan tucsonweekly@tucsonlocalmedia.com

BRANDYWINE CREEK MEANDERS through one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. Flowing past the rural town of Chadds Ford, 25 miles west of Philadelphia, the stream curves

through woods, meadows, hills and farms, impossibly green in summer and blindingly white in winter. This land is also chock-a-block with American history. It was the home of the Lenni Lenape for centuries until they were pushed out by colonists. In 1777, during the Revolutionary War, insurgent

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Americans lost the Battle of Brandywine to the British. Half a century later, in the long run-up to the Civil War, Chadds Ford Quakers sheltered enslaved people fleeing the slave state of Delaware. Chadds Ford has also famously nurtured an extended family of artists: The Wyeths. Proud of their descent from an English colonist in 1645, the talented Wyeths have thrived in this gorgeous landscape, steeped in history, for more the 100 years. N.C. Wyeth, the founding father of this art dynasty, settled in Chadds Ford in the early 1900s. He and his wife, Carolyn Bockius, had five children. Three growing up in this creative households became painters: Andrew Wyeth, who loved to roam in the countryside, and two of his sisters, Henriette and Carolyn. Another sister, Ann McCoy, became a composer and brother Nathanial became an engineer. Andrew’s son Jamie also became a renowned painter. The Tucson Museum of Art has just opened a major exhibition, The Wyeths: Three Generations, featuring more than 60 paintings made by the three bestknown Wyeths: N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945), Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009), and Jamie Wyeth (b. 1946). The show also features five works by Henriette, among them an evocative still life and an arresting portrait of her son Peter. As an artist with a national reputation, she was commissioned to paint the official White House portrait of Pat Nixon. All the works in the show are realist, which some critics find old-fashioned and conservative. There’s more than one painting of a Revolutionary War, no doubt inspired by that battle up the creek from the Wyeth house. Elsewhere are images of heroic WWII soldiers. Still, the three featured artists are mostly captivated by the beauties of

nature, not just in Chadds Ford, but in coastal Maine as well, where all three generations spent their summers. Andrew in particular seems to have drawn or painted every hill and house along the Brandywine. In the show, there’s an exquisite pen and ink drawing of the family home in Chadds Ford that he made when he was only 16.

All three were prodigiously talented and all succeeded at an early age. Andrew sold out an entire gallery of watercolors in New York when he hit 20; a few decades later, his son, Jamie, had a solo New York show at the same magic age. Likewise, Andrew’s father, N.C., scored his first cover on the prestigious Saturday Evening Post magazine when he was 20. N.C. was a successful illustrator of adventure books in the early decades of the 20th century, a time when beautifully illustrated books were the norm. N.C. had moved down from Massachusetts to study illustration with Howard Pyle in Wilmington, not far from where he would settle in Chadds Ford. N.C. was not always happy to be doing commercial art, but the paintings on view are a delight, a robust collection of knights and fishermen and wrestlers. The paintings were to be illustrations on the cover and inside of books; the images were transformed via metal plates and printed onto books. were transformed via metal plates and printed onto books. For the cover of “Rip Van Winkle,” in a 1921 edition of the tale by Washington Irving, N.C. painted the young Rip hiking up the Catskill Mountains in company with a strange little bearded man. The sky is a bright yellow and the mountain a rich blue but the darkening trees suggest an ominous outcome—Rip’s 20-year sleep. As a bonus, the exhibition has a copy of the beautiful book.


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TUCSONWEEKLY.COM 13

Three Wyeths: Three Generations Through May 28 Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave. Thursday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors should reserve a time slot for their visit in advance, via the museum’s webpage. Masks and social distancing are required. $12 adults; $10 seniors 65 and up; $7 college students and teens ages 13 to 17; free to children 12 and under, members, veterans and active military. 624-2333; tucsonmuseumofart.org Extra: Curator Christine Brindza will give a free Zoom talk, Spotlight on N.C. Wyeth, at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4. Register at www. tucsonmuseumofart.org/event/curator-talk-spotlighton-n-c-wyeth/

COURTESY TUCSON MUSEUM OF ART

“Patriot’s Barn,” by Jamie Wyeth

N.C. tried out impressionism in an untitled landscape in 1923, but his best work here may be “A Young Maine Fisherman” from 1933. A realist but almost romantic painting, it’s a large oil canvas that pictures the steady fisherman with his hand on the helm, his eyes on the water. In the background, billowing white clouds float over the blue sea. Andrew loved many of the same things his father did—sky, hills, water, human figures—and he learned much from his father. But the son had a different aesthetic. He didn’t use the thick oil paints of his father and he only rarely painted the bright colors that N.C. relished. Instead, he used egg tempera, watercolors and drybrush to make muted paintings that are contemplative rather than boisterous. In the 13 works by Andrew Wyeth in the show, we see birds struggling to fly on the windswept Maine coast, with grays and muted greens the only colors; a gray windowpane opening out to trees in the dim colors of late fall; and in a faint pencil sketch, a barely seen native man peering into a house. His portraits are equally elusive. A fine picture of a Maine woman, The Rebel, 1977, is a bit more colorful,

catching her short blonde hair, blue turtleneck, and the rays of the sun. But this sturdy woman remains an enigma, not unlike the woman in Andrew’s most famous painting, Christina’s World, 1948 (not in this show). That woman, unable to use her legs, crawls up a hilly meadow, pushing her body with her arms. A later painting, On the Edge, 2001, is similarly mysterious. A woman stands on a big boulder looking out to sea. We can’t see her face. All we can see are lights and shadows, the flat ocean, and the overwhelming diagonal of the massive rock. Andrew Wyeth once said that all his works are abstractions. Looking at these works, I think I finally know what he meant. Jamie Wyeth, still working at 74, may be the bridge between the art of his father and his grandfather. He uses all kinds of media, and he doesn’t hesitate to use brilliant color. Best known perhaps for his thoughtful portrait of President John F. Kennedy, painted posthumously (not in this show), Jamie has painted everything from a solemn tribute to the first responders of 9/11 to a humorous self-portrait with a pumpkin head. Going back to the future, he’s still painting Wyeth signature subjects: old barns, harbors, gulls and the sea. ■

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JAN. 28, 2021

Story & photos by Brian Smith

Portrait of the old moccasin seller THE COVID PANDEMIC IS ONE certainty that has mortally wounded Steve Osborne’s world. A lesser certainty is recalled in the bewildered timbre of a car-accident survivor: On Christmas Eve, Osborne said goodbye to his few employees, locked the door to his shop, stepped into his car and drove off toward home, overworked and dehydrated. He doesn’t remember the rest, the car was totaled, and he saved by the chest-punch airbag, which caused even more pain and damage to his body, which at the moment is reduced to an old-man’s shuffle about his Desert Son, the store he owns in the foothills of Tucson. He is getting better, though. Hell, he beat cancer once. Yet the Parkinson’s Disease he was diagnosed with a year ago robs him of short-term memory, but not the recalling of life yarns, worldwide hunts for dreams, perhaps salvations, and improbable ways to make a buck. His mother died several months back, 96 years old, the dementia was kicking in, to which he shakes his head and says, “that is a just a horrible way to go.” Mom was a fixture at Desert Son, would come in to work, and later, for the camaraderie and companionship until she fell and broke her hip. “When she stopped coming into the store, she wasn’t happy anymore.” There is a vague communal tone to the conversations among the five Desert Son

employees here today, among them owner Osborne and his younger sister Carol, and Osborne’s buddy of 50 years Urv Cox (and his dog Terri). Desert Son shimmers when the daylight streaks through the immaculate windows just right, across rare, hand-carved kachina dolls, handmade belts and shoes, Zuni fetishes and signed silver turquoise jewelry, and well-curated traditional Native music and books. Mostly, a fetching collection of artists, dead or alive, hundreds of pieces rich with history and spirituality, a Native store that has exchanged with the reservations, pueblo cultural centers and attendant traditional Native ceremonials, and all manner of folk for 50 years. But go deeper and it’s a fair-trade with Native artists, those who’ve spent decades honing and perfecting their skills, and its inventory rises above any hint of kitsch into the realm of art, the one-of-a-kind, and that includes five decades of creating and selling Native moccasins, or “boots,” as Osborne calls them, made right here in the back. And it is a world receding. In its presentation, unlikely situated in a strip mall at Sunrise and Swan, and careful displays, Desert Son could be a gallery, but it isn’t, it’s a Native store, Osborne will say. There is a tidy workshop in back, dyes and machines for leather cutting, where $20K of rolled rare leather, specially pur-

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Steve Osborne of Desert Son

chased from the only place that sells the stuff in the country, fills high shelves. Out back a big vat for soaking the stuff. Next to that is an atelier, a little well-lit moccasin factory, really, where sundry plastic shoe lasts (molds) fill walls. There is a Native guy here, Lenny Redhouse, working alone on the four-chair work bench. He’s a mostly jovial sort. He’s also a Miles Davis freak who had his head blown open to Bitches Brew at a sensitive age, Coltrane and Buddy Rich too. Redhouse lost his place to live days ago, is homeless at the moment, sometimes sleeping here in the shop, the smell of buffalo leather and dust, surrounded by piling moccasin inventory meant for the Navajo and Hopi reservations and New Mexican pueblos. His powerful fingers move like embittered prompts, the constant needle jabbing, the bending and shaping the archaic leather pieces, seams and thread, and shoe soles for a moccasin which has little demand now, beyond the ceremonial, as a foot accessory. Getting the work right, Redhouse says, “is a feel thing.” Redhouse’s love of jazz defined his prepubescent years and beyond, he has played at both the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian. He plays with The Larry Redhouse trio combo, led by his brother. There is his Redhouse Family Jazz Band too, dubbed “Arizona’s Native American first family of jazz,” a collection of six crazy-gifted siblings, members of the Dine’ tribe, whose musical reference points

include jazz, Latin, R&B, funk, folk, and traditional Native sounds and spirituality. They’ve earned Native American Music Awards and members boast Grammy nods. COVID killed the gig schedule. Redhouse is part Filipino too and talks about his grandmother regaling GIs in the Philippines with honky-tonk piano, growing up with a dad who sang traditional Navajo songs on handmade drums, parents who bestowed upon him and his siblings the absolute joy of music. Once the leather is cut, Lenny averages about an hour and half per shoe, sewing, fitting, forming, sizing, the degree of difficulty depending on the thickness of the leather. He spends hours on a shoe if the cut isn’t on target. “But look,” he says, “it’s piece work, if it is pretty antiquated.” A moment passes, a small TV flickering at low-volume, and he shoves a long, thick needle into stubborn leather, sore, tired and powerful drummer fingers, and he says, “The only way I make money now is when I have my hand on a shoe.”

“I HAVE TO GO BUY A CRAPPY car now,” Osborne says. “Maybe spend $500, you know, something to get around.” We’re in the store’s front, Osborne’s seated beneath a southwestern painting of a prickly pear, moccasins displayed off to his right. Occasional left-hand trembles accompany steady self-deprecating asides: “So who the hell cares about my life?”


JAN. 28, 2021

Coiffed, short snow-white hair, specs and translucent blues, pearl-snapped cowboy shirt, and Nikes for the shuffle. He neatens his observations into tidy bundles of anecdotes, criticizes the Parkinson’s for a failing short-term memory, yet, when he switches gears in conversation he finishes full-circle. Hard to imagine this guy in the late-’60s with long hair, cowboy hat, moccasins and a parrot on his shoulder. There is a gentleness about him, a speaking voice whose tone divulges inner kindness, especially when he talks a particular artist or work. This isn’t about a man who creates the art, but a white guy who has cultivated a world on personal relationships with non-whites to be able to sell it and care for it with an earned knowledge, understanding and empathy for the work and its makers. He stands, moves to a display case and pulls out an elaborate bracelet made by Navajo artist Vernon Haskie. The bracelet is art because you take in everything to interpret a private meaning, a weight not easily expressed beyond the significance of the coral and gold and turtles, the design and craftsmanship. It has mojo, if you will. He pulls work by Robert Leekya, who was a friend to Osborne. To look closely at,

say, a pair of his silver turquoise earrings, and the man’s heart is in there. It’s easy to begin to puzzle together the interior design of the artist’s life, the Zuni Reservation and silversmithing passed down from the artist’s father in the 1930s. It’s all there, delicate as butterfly wings. “Leekya is dead now, been gone for months, and was making jewelry in the old-school way,” Osborne says, looking at his work. After a pause, he adds, “They’re dying off. It’s sad. It’s not possible to make that jewelry anymore, if a guy runs out of his stash, the stones, he’s got nowhere to go.” These are not luxury items with expiration dates, and they are not priced as such, not at an in-person, non-online place like this. These pieces demand human interaction. A trader like Osborne is well-aware. He lifts up a bolo tie whose silver carvings brim of something inaccessible, faraway and formal, a burnished scarlet dinosaur bone fitted in its center. “You’ll never find something like this,” Osborne says. Osborne carries himself in the store with the weary air of responsibility, of ownership, and when he talks, say, mean biker bars in Silver City, New Mexico, or his

early days driving Marygin weed cleaners, selling pipes to headshops, in an era when 7-Up signs were up, he doesn’t underpin scenes in sparkly nostalgia. Maybe it wasn’t the easiest road to land here. Born four months premature in Bombay, Osborne was the first incubator baby in India, and they didn’t know how to handle him, or turn him, kept him wrapped in cotton. He had a sibling born premature too, who didn’t make it. As a boy in India in the early ’50s, the son of an American Exxon employee, he remembers remnants of the British rule, and he would run free in the streets, the poverty and the markets, hide in temples. One day his dad went looking for his son and found him with a panther. His love of the street culture grew inside him, surrounded by Indians, and it was his “reality.” His love of Yankee cowboy and Native mythology grew too, the movies, and his dad would return from stateside business trips with comic books and 78s, cowboy music of Gene Autry and such. When he was 8, the family moved to Yokohama, Japan, he learned the language, lived in an area called The Bluff,

TUCSONWEEKLY.COM 15

where many Americans lived. “We ran wild with no fear.” Later upon returning to India, he had where-with-all because of his early history there, tossing a sleeping bag down in a room with 40 others for 10 cents a night, oh, and the “state of the toilet.” In the late ’60s and ’70 he lived in Kashmir, on a houseboat, in the rise of Kashmir nationalism, “there was lots of hash around, and heroin.” His family moved stateside (Connecticut) and the multi-lingual Osborne moved to Tucson to attend UA (“I thought the west was the best, with flowers in your hair”) to learn business and English, wound up in drama too. “Perfect. I had stage fright, and I was in drama. I hated studying business. The idea was profit-motivated and creepy. I didn’t learn anything in school, I just wasn’t mature enough.” Instead he split for Guatemala and learned Spanish. He became an autodidact in business, an intuition for then-counter-culture needs of American kids. He learned to establish relationships, to buy, sell, trade, with artisans and sellers in India, CONTINUED ON PAGE 16


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TUCSON SALVAGE

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Pakistan, and Afghanistan, in frightening slippery corners of Thailand and Vietnam. In Afghanistan, on one visit he remembers the Red Army forcing Afghans into the military, always against backdrop of conflicts, Biblical penury, drugs everywhere. This Indian-born Yankee would travel to Afghanistan and ship back Afghan coats in the 1960s, after seeing the Beatles’ John and Ringo wearing them. He’d sell them at liberal-arts colleges in the northeast, practically door-to-door, as he calls, “getting stoned and shuckin’ and fuckin’. I was so young and stupid.” He says the hippies in India were scary too, “It was let’s just all get fucked up.” The long claim that heroin needles were everywhere on the beaches in Goa is true, he says, the night worlds lighted by candles in coconuts, how he’d shorn his locks for a visa extension in India. In the late ’60s sitting on the pavement in Lahore, Pakistan he watched girls from New Jersey followed by 30 Pakistani’s howling “woo-hoo.” He shakes his head, “Everybody’s still got a lot to learn. I should’ve written a book in India and Afghanistan in the ’60s.” Osborne hasn’t returned to that part of the world in years. “I’m too old now, I don’t think I could take it.” He remembers leaving India the last time, two decades ago or so. “it was really sad, seeing the sun rise, seeing all the people.”

DESERT SON WAS FOUNDED on Fourth Avenue in Tucson in the 1960s. So many sweaty and tan sun creatures, weighed with adornment in donkey beads and swirling tunics keeping distance from the drunken servicemen stepping off the Greyhound, getting into fistfights with hippies and bikers. He remembers junkies shooting up on the roof, thieves and drunks, and he shakes his head. It started for Osborne when he met a moccasin seller. “I said look, I’ve got a Volkswagen. I’ll drive and sell your moccasins. Oregon, Washington, down the California coast, Texas, Kansas. All the moccasin business was in New Mexico, and Colorado. I went to Europe and sold moccasins. I went to New York but that didn’t last. I went to every trading post and Indian store and pueblo in New Mexico and we established ourselves as a company, hippies with a business license.”

The company went from six bootmakers to 26. Today there is Redhouse in the back with his powerful fingers. “We were the smallest crummiest store, but we were making hundreds of pairs of boots a day, in our little shop.” In those days, he says, to be in the Native business was like being “an outlaw.” Yet moccasins in the days of Midnight Cowboy and Little Big Man raged in pop culture, could be found in Neiman Marcus windows. “There were a lot of drug dealers, and many of the weed dealers got into Indian jewelry. These guys in Sante Fe were huge coke heads, selling to all the Hollywood types. And these dealers would die, drugs, cirrhosis of the liver, whatever. The drugs just leave you empty. The hippie things were everywhere, sandals, leather shops.” His main partner was a charismatic guy named Marcel Fitzer. “He died at 40, on my birthday, the very hour I was born. I would say died of misadventures.” Osborne laughs ruefully, “He was horrible guy, bouncing checks, got into a lawsuit, but he was my friend. I wish he was still around.” Dad helped his son out, years ago, bought out a partner in the business. Dad’s advice, Osborne laughs, was “‘don’t talk to anyone under 40. They don’t know what they’re talking about.’” He began to trade shoes for jewelry, and that’s how Desert Son got into jewelry, soon moved off Fourth Avenue. Again, he would get in his crappy car and drive to every reservation, pueblo and trading post in New Mexico. “When I was in my 30s, people owned stores in their 60s, and they’re long gone.” He drew on earned respect in those corners, an honest white guy running a legitimate business. Years-long clients Joseph and Janice Day, owners of the Tsakurshovi Trading Post, a store situated on top of second mesa in the Hopi reservation, tell me Osborne is a good guy to work with. Say “he is familiar with Hopi and Navajo, is very good at creating the kind of moccasins specific to Navajo and Hopi culture. We sell six kinds of moccasins for men, women and children and Steve supplies them all.” The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque is a Desert Son client, though no one is buying shoes, Osborne says, “because of the pandemic. And nobody is going to want to stockpile this stuff.” In fine jewelry it is considered fair to cheat. When it involves works by Natives, it is out in the open. Osborne talks the

roadside tourist haunts, truck-stops and glimmering shops selling fakes. The ersatz Kachina dolls made of balsa wood. “You had trucks driving around filling up the roadside sellers with this cheap crap. You get people walking down the street, even in Santa Fe, they don’t know any better, walk into a shop, and the guy behind the counter is selling them expensive Chinese-made junk.” His Desert Son has been in this location 30 years. Because he’s located in the Tucson Foothills, he says there is a preconception his inventory is overpriced. “It’s not true, that’s the foothills mythology.” His overstock includes belts, sized 30 and under, because woman who attend UA don’t trek to the foothills to buy. There is no website for a reason, how it cancels out real-time interaction, face to face. He is the old guard now, whose long-term relationships with Natives began on handshakes. He talks death. His girlfriend of 20 years died of cancer, 13 years ago. He was there, sleeping on the floors and little couches. “When she died I started taking care of myself. I went to the doctor and he forced me to get an ultrasound.” They put a needle in a lump on him, “and discovered I had cancer.” The chemo was horrible, wreaked havoc on his brain, and it nearly took him out. But it didn’t. “I’m still here,” says the man saddled with two mortgages on his house, which he shares with sister Carol. Their sibling bond is deep. Lately Carol has been taking care of her brother at home. (“She gets my pills together …”) Osborne says in his best year at Desert Son, he personally made $55,000. “That’s it.”

YEARS AGO, PHILLIP CASSADORE, a spiritual leader of the Apache tribe on the San Carlos Indian Reservation, would often come into Desert Son to hang out and drink water. People would come in just to see him, and Osborne would play his music. The two were good friends. “After he died,” Osborne says, “sometimes an eagle, or maybe it was a hawk, would fly over the parking lot, and then a car would pull in and I would make a sale. I may sound crazy, but this is absolutely true.” He glances around the familiarity of his lovely, comfortable store—his life—and he says, “Some days not a single customer comes in.” He gets up and shuffles

through the place, the gleaming lighted cases filled of spectacular pieces. “Nobody buys lizard anymore,” he adds pointing to shoes lined along the floor. “Maybe I’ll make a sign that says 50 percent off.” I return the next day and there is a sign out front: 50 percent off. I am in the back with Osborne who is standing over paperwork. The Desert Son phone rings and he picks it up, the woman on the other end is calling about the sale. “If you’re buying a $7 item, not so much. But if you’re spending $7,000, yes.” More words on the other end. Osborne: “Are you coming in or are you just asking? We’ve got people lining up now! “Okay, thank you. Goodbye.” He sits down on a chair. There isn’t a customer in the store. He says, “People need to start buying again. Too much overhead here. And, I hope I get better soon.” Two days ago, a customer came in and spent $5,000. Rare hopeful occurrence these days. He drags his hand over his forehead, lets his shoulders drop, and says, “This is the lowest point in my life. The reservation’s closed down in New Mexico. If I let people go, what are they going to do? They come in too because they are loyal, and it’s the same with the customers. One of my employees is recovering from a huge medical operation. And there’s me, and I’m half the man I was. I don’t get a paycheck. If I was a smart businessman I would shut it down. But I’m not. If I can’t function anymore, I would have to sell. Anyway, who would want to buy an Indian store?” Every piece of jewelry and kachina doll here carries import and stories. He knows them, can talk for hours of the creators, where they are from, how they live and survive. How they died and what they left behind. It is years and years of friendships and study and the near suffocating dedication of a single mindedness, which really comes down to bringing some beauty to the world, a trader for the artist. One can’t sell that stuff. He laughs softly, says in a tone of kidlike hopefulness. “I’ll get better. My accountant would always say, ‘What’s your backup?” And I would say, ‘Luck.’ I’ve always had luck.” He mentions Cassadore and the birds with a sly grin. “But I don’t want to burn out my good luck.” ■


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A FLOWERING MARKET

Recreational cannabis sales begin weeks sooner than expected By David Abbott david@tucsonlocalmedia.com IN A MOVE THAT GAVE LOCAL cannabis watchers—and many dispensary owners—a serious case of whiplash, the Arizona Department of Health Services gave the green-light to recreational pot sales last week, catching a lot of people in the industry off guard. Harvest Enterprises, Inc., founded by CEO and Tempe native Steve White, had the first-ever Arizona adult use sale in its Scottsdale location and Harvest became the first Tucson-area dispensary to sell recreational marijuana, with patients waiting

in line for hours outside the midtown outlet at 2734 E. Grant Road on Friday, Jan. 22 and continuing throughout the weekend. Harvest’s opening came after the AZDHS allowed recreational cannabis sales to begin, letting dispensary owners know adult-use recreational sales can move forward as soon as licenses are approved and dispensaries are set up to handle both aspects of the market. “This has been really surprising and gives an opportunity for us to have a conversation about how we don’t say a lot of good things about government,” White said. “But this is really a bang-up job by the department.”

JIM NINTZEL

Customers line up at Harvest Dispensary to get in on some of the first recreational cannabis sales in Tucson on Saturday, Jan. 23.

White, who spent $2 million advocating for weed legalization last year, said it was important for Harvest to be the first applicant and first seller of legal cannabis in the state and his 15 locations throughout the state are all legally selling weed to adults over the age of 21. Each application cost $25,000, so White

also had to shell out $375,000 to get an early lead on the competition. But even he was surprised by the speed at which AZDHS reacted during a global pandemic. Applications for adult-use sales began CONTINUED ON PAGE 18


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JAN. 28, 2021

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on Jan. 19, but were restricted to existing medical marijuana establishments that qualified for early “dual license” applications. The language of Proposition 207 that legalized cannabis use for adults over the age of 21 gave AZDHS two months to review and approve applications. By the end of the week, though, 86 licenses had been approved. Several Tucson dispensaries have also been authorized for recreational sales, including Desert Bloom Re-Leaf Center (8060 E. 22nd St.), Green Med/Purple Med (6464 E. Tanque Verde and 1010 S. Freeway Drive), Prime Leaf (4220 E. Speedway and 1525 N. Park Ave.) and Nature Med (5390 W. Ina Road in Marana). Desert Bloom hopes to start selling recreational cannabis later this week, while Nature Med has announced it will open to recreational sales on Feb. 25 and Prime Leaf is shooting for March 1. Most dispensaries are not yet ready to start recreational sales, as there are several barriers to immediately expanding, not the least of which is the current state of the coronavirus pandemic still raging through the state. Some dispensaries may also run into space issues, as local ordinances put caps on square footage, and there are likely going to initially be supply problems and employee shortages, as industry workers are required to become “licensed agents” through an application process with AZDHS. In preparation for legalized sales, Harvest began laying the groundwork before Prop 207 even passed. That included licensing hundreds of employees, a process White says was difficult, but AZDHS handled it well. “It’s not super easy to get hundreds of employees licensed,” he said. “The AZDHS portal was really good, again.” Most cannabis advocates and those following the process expected sales to begin in late March or early April, but with last week’s announcement, the door opened for an accelerated timetable. “We were certainly surprised by the speed with which adult-use establishment licenses were issued, given the fact that the early application process began on Tuesday and there were 86 licenses approved by the end of the day on Friday,” said Southern Arizona NORML President Mike Robinette. “We were hearing the earliest openings of adult-use establishments would be mid-March into April. We are happy to see

retail marijuana sales commence in such an expedited manner allowing Arizona to be the fastest state to go from a voter-approved initiative to granting licensing for marijuana products to be sold to individuals 21 years of age and older.” Locally, aside from Harvest, it will be a few weeks for other dispensaries to get up and running with dual sales. “For us, it’s COVID—public and employee safety,” said Brian Warde, co-owner and CEO of Prime Leaf in Tucson. “Realistically you could have 150 people in line and might see over 1,000-plus patients a day most days.” Just from the standpoint of current patient patronage, that means to properly social distance Prime Leaf’s two locations would need the equivalent of three football fields of space each to accommodate the current patient load. Warde says he is also waiting for inoculations for his employees that realistically won’t happen before March 1, his target date to kick off adultuse sales. “Managing the inventory and workflow to ensure medical patients don’t run out of what they need, is also a big consideration,” he said. “We want to give patients what they have come to expect, and not allow the adult-use market to alter our patients’ experience. So [we’re] slow rolling it to make sure we are in the best possible position to meet everyone’s expectations.” Moe Asnani, owner of Tucson’s Downtown and D2 dispensaries and co-founder of iLava, said that while he wasn’t prepared for the announcement and does not have a definite timeline, the number of calls he’s received asking about recreational weed has added pressure to get started as soon as possible. “There are two main holdups: capital and inventory. There is also an issue with compliance for employees and we’re hiring as much as we can. It doesn’t take very long, though, because of the electronic system already in place,” Asnani said. “I am building out some proprietary tech to streamline the process and reduce wait times while limiting our employee risk to large crowds and COVID-19.” Another factor on the supply side of the equation is the need for product testing on the medical side, due to a law that took effect on Nov. 1, 2020. “There still exists testing backlogs in inventory from mandatory testing that began on medical marijuana,” Robinette said. “That testing will carry over to adult-use products as well.” ■


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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): In the 1950 film Harvey, James Stewart plays a middle-aged man named Elwood whose best friend is a tall invisible rabbit named Harvey. The relationship causes problems with the people in Elwood’s life. At one point a psychiatrist tries to convince him to “struggle with reality.” Elwood replies, “I wrestled with reality for 40 years and I am happy to state that I finally won.” I’m happy to tell you this story, Aries, because it’s a good lead in to my counsel for you: I suspect that one of your long wrestles with reality will yield at least a partial victory in the coming weeks. And it will be completely real, as opposed to Elwood’s Harvey. Congratulations! TAURUS (April 20-May 20): The light of the North Star takes a long time to reach us, even though it’s traveling 186,000 miles per second. The beams it shows us tonight first embarked when Shakespeare was alive on Earth. And yet that glow seems so fresh and pure. Are there any other phenomena in your life that are metaphorically comparable? Perhaps an experience you had months ago that is only now revealing its complete meaning? Or a seed you planted years ago that is finally ripening into its mature expression? The coming weeks will be an excellent time to take inventory of such things, Taurus. It will also be a favorable phase to initiate innovations that will take some time to become fully useful for you. GEMINI (May 21-June 20): In 1971, astronaut Alan Shepard had the great privilege of landing on the moon in a spacecraft, then walking on the lunar surface. How did he celebrate this epic holy adventure? By reciting a stirring passage from Shakespeare or the Talmud? By placing a framed photo of Amelia Earhart or a statue of Icarus in the dirt? By saying a prayer to his God or thoughtfully thanking the people who helped put him there? No. Shepard used this sublime one-of-a-kind moment to hit a golf ball with a golf club. I’ll ask

you not to regard him as a role model in the coming weeks. When your sacred or lofty moments arrive, offer proper homage and honor. Be righteously appreciative of your blessings. CANCER (June 21-July 22): William Shakespeare worked with another playwright in creating three plays: Henry VIII, The Two Noble Kinsmen and Cardenio. The lucky collaborator was John Fletcher, who was popular and influential in his era. I propose that we name him one of your role models in 2021. Here’s why: You will have an enhanced potential to engage in fertile partnerships with allies who are quite worthy of you. I encourage you to be on the lookout for opportunities to thrive on symbiosis and synergy. LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Canadian journalist Nick Ashdown is amazed that white people in North America are so inhibited about revealing their real feelings. He writes, “How bizarre that in English, the word ‘emotional’ is used pejoratively, as though passion implies some sort of weakness.” He marvels that the culture seems to “worship nonchalance” and regard intense expressiveness as uncool or unprofessional. I’m going to encourage you to embody a different approach in the coming days. I don’t mean to suggest that you should be an outof-control maniac constantly exploding with intensity. But I do hope you will take extra measures to respect and explore and reveal the spirited truth about yourself. VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Virgo actor Ingrid Bergman appeared in three movies directed by Alfred Hitchcock. In Notorious, set after the end of World War II, she played the daughter of a Nazi spy. During the filming, Bergman had trouble with a particular scene. She explained her doubts to Hitchcock, saying, “I don’t think I can do that naturally.” Hitchcock seemed receptive to her input, but in the end had an unexpected response:

SAVAGE LOVE

By Dan Savage, mail@savagelove.net

Sex-positive bi woman here. I have recommended your column to many people over the years to help them feel normal and human in their kinks, fantasies, sexuality, etc. But I’m having a more difficult time extending similar acceptance to myself. I was in a three-year relationship with a cis straight man. I recently moved across the country for graduate school and this was the catalyst for me to put my foot down about opening the relationship in order to get my sexual needs met. He agreed and we tried being open but he found it too emotionally challenging, so now we are on a “break.”

THE BOYFRIEND EXPERIENCE When we were together he showed me love in many ways, Dan, but he would not eat my pussy or finger me or use a vibrator or any other sex toys on me. He quit his own therapy for depressive symptoms and anxiety after just three sessions; he won’t do couple’s therapy; he won’t even have a conversation with me about why, exactly, my pussy and sexual pleasure are aversive to him. Even hearing me moan in pleasure or arousal seemed to make him recoil. All he wanted was blowjobs and occasional sessions of intercourse. He had some ED issues that he felt bad about but I told him multiple

“All right,” he told her. “If you can’t do it naturally, then fake it.” I’m going to suggest that you follow Hitchcock’s advice during the next two weeks, Virgo. “Fake it till you make it” is an acceptable— probably preferable—approach. LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): The 17th-century Libran polymath Thomas Browne had a brilliant, well-educated mind. He authored many books on various subjects, from science to religion, and was second only to Shakespeare in the art of coining new words. He did have a blind spot, however. He referred to sex as the “trivial and vulgar way of union” and “the foolishest act a wise man commits in all his life.” Most of us have pockets of ignorance like that—aspects that qualify as learning disabilities or intellectual black holes. And now and then there come times when we benefit from checking in with these deficiencies and deciding whether to take any fresh steps to wisen them up. Now is such a time for you. SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): “There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it,” declares actor and comedian Mindy Kaling. Is that an unromantic sentiment? Maybe. But more importantly, it’s evidence that she treasures her sleep. And that’s admirable! She is devoted to giving her body the nurturing it needs to be healthy. Let’s make Kaling your patron saint for now. It’s a favorable time to upgrade your strategies for taking very good care of yourself. SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): All of us go through phases when our brains work at a higher level than usual. I’m guessing that you’re about to enjoy one of these times. In fact, I won’t be shocked if you string together a series of ingenious thoughts and actions. I hope you use your enhanced intelligence for important matters—like making practical improvements in your life! Please don’t waste it on trivial matters like arguments on Facebook or Twitter. CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Today the Capricorn artist Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) is regarded as an important and influential painter. Early in his

times that erections are not a big deal for me—what I like about sex is the intimacy, the play, and mutual pleasure. He is not a bastard, but the sex remained phallocentric. Writing this, I know that I made a reasonable decision for myself. Yet I continue to be wracked with guilt over pursuing (pandemic-safe) sex when I know this guy, who I love very much and care about very deeply, still has feelings for me and still wants to us be together, exclusively. Two questions: Do you have any idea of what gives, based on your experience? I’ve been trying to understand and open the lines of communication for years. And, how do I stop beating myself up for hurting his feelings when my friends keep

career, though, he was rejected and even ridiculed by critics. One reason was that he loved making still-life paintings, which were considered low art. Of his 584 works, about 200 of them were of inanimate, commonplace objects. Fruit was his specialty. Typically he might spend 100 separate sessions in perfecting a particular bowl of apples. “Don’t you want to take a vacation from painting fruit?” he was asked. In response, he said that simply shifting the location of his easel in relation to his subject matter was almost more excitement than he could bear. That’s the kind of focused, detailed attitude I hope you’ll cultivate toward your own labors of love during the coming weeks, Capricorn. AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): “We all want everything to be okay,” writes author David Levithan. “We don’t even wish so much for fantastic or marvelous or outstanding. We will happily settle for okay, because most of the time, okay is enough.” To that mediocre manifesto, I reply, okay. I accept that it’s true for many people. But I don’t think it will apply to you Aquarians in the coming weeks. According to my assessment of your astrological potentials, you can, if you want, have a series of appointments with the fantastic, the marvelous, and the outstanding. Please keep those appointments! Don’t skip them out of timidity or excess humility. PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): DON’Ts: Don’t keep scratching an old wound until it bleeds. Don’t try to snatch away the teddy bear that belongs to the 800-pound gorilla. Don’t try to relieve your tension by pounding your head against a wall. Don’t try to convince a stone idol to show you some tenderness. DOs: Do ask supposedly naive questions that may yield liberating revelations. Do keep in mind that sometimes things need to be a bit broken before you’ll be motivated to give them all the care they need and deserve. Do extinguish the fire on a burning bridge, and then repair the bridge. ■ Homework: I believe that you can’t get what you want from another person until you’re able to give it to yourself. Do you think that’s true? FreeWillAstrology.com.

telling me I gave the relationship my all and I know that my soul couldn’t stand any more one-sided sex? —Feminist Under Compulsive, Kink-Induced Nauseous Guilt You’re not responsible for the hurt feelings your ex-boyfriend—please make that break permanent—more than earned. You gave him three years and God alone knows how many blowjobs and he either didn’t love you enough to work on himself or he’s so damaged he’s incapable of doing the work. Either way, FUCKING, your ex-boyfriend is not in good working order, sexually or emotionally, and that’s not gonna change. He won’t talk to a shrink about his own shit,


JAN. 28, 2021

he won’t see a couples’ counselor about your shared shit, he won’t touch your pussy and he doesn’t want anyone else to touch your pussy—oh, and if you make even the slightest sound during sex, if a moan or, God forbid, a request for should escape your lips, he recoils. Charitable reading: Your ex-boyfriend is a closeted necrophiliac and any sign of life from you turns him off. Slightly less charitable read: Your ex-boyfriend was raised to believe that sex is something a woman endures, not something a woman enjoys, and any sign that you might actually enjoy sex turns him off. I don’t know what his issues are, FUCKING, and neither do you. All we know for sure is that he has issues and, whatever else they might be, they are disqualifying. You asked for the only accommodation that might make it possible for you stay in this relationship and stay sane—opening it up so you could seek sexual satisfaction elsewhere—and he couldn’t handle it. My girlfriend of six months got drunk one week into a work-related physical separation, ghosted on me, went to a hotel, and had sex for two days straight with another man. She then called and confessed everything. She’s remorseful and says it was alcohol-related and that she doesn’t remember the details. My take is that if she was too drunk to remember the details, she was too drunk to consent, which equals rape, right? I encouraged her to file a police report and get this rapist off the streets. She says she doesn’t know his name or number and doesn’t want to pursue legal action. She does remember the sex was unprotected and took Plan B today and is getting a full STI screening. She’s exhibiting signs of trauma—I’ve been down this road with an ex—and I’m trying to be supportive but I don’t think I can continue. Would I be the biggest asshole in the world to end this? Other details: she was married to a woman for the past five years and I was the first man she was ever with until this rape happened. I’m 50 years old, she’s 28 years old. What the fuck do I do? She’s fragile and I have been supporting her financially for the last six months, which is weird since

her job pays twice what mine does. —Just Seeking Guidance It’s entirely possible your girlfriend was black-out drunk that whole weekend and incapable of offering meaningful consent and the person she was with knew she was too fucked up to consent to sex—and wasn’t too fucked up to consent to sex himself—and she was raped. It’s also possible your girlfriend was drunk but not so drunk she couldn’t consent, JSG, and is overstating how drunk she was because she doesn’t want to share the details with you—details you aren’t entitled to.

It’s also possible she was raped and is reluctant to go to the police because she knows telling her story—which could be entirely true—won’t result in an arrest, much less a prosecution, and so going to the police wouldn’t get this rapist—if the guy is a rapist—off the streets and could cause her further trauma. Zooming out for a second… you assume a man forced your girlfriend to do something she didn’t want to do (fuck him all weekend) and your response is to force your girlfriend to do something she doesn’t want to do (file a police report). You need to stop that. If you think she’s showing signs of trauma, you should urge her to seek help from a rape counselor or trauma specialist, i.e. someone in a better position to assess the situation than you are, JSG, someone who doesn’t have

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cause to feel conflicted or resentful THE SKINNY or angry about what did or did not CONTINUED FROM PAGE 7 happen that weekend. And if you want to end the relationShe brushed off the censure with a ship, you should, JSG, and you can tweet: “It is a high honor to be includbreak up with someone without being ed in a group of Arizonans who have an asshole or abandoning them. Offer served our state and our nation so well her your support—offer your emotional … and who, like my late husband John, support, withdraw your financial suphave been censured by the AZGOP. port—and give her the names of some I’ll wear this as a badge of honor.” local rape crisis centers in your area. Flake, who served one term as a U.S. senator from Arizona before getI’m a 59-year-old gay man with a probting crosswise with Trump and retirlem I’ve struggled with for all of my ing in 2018, also responded on Twitter active sex life. I rarely orgasm during with a pic of him, Cindy McCain and sex. I’m now involved with a couple Ducey at Biden’s inaugural: “If conthat has welcomed me to be part of a doning President Trump’s behavior is loving relationship and they want me required to stay in the AZGOP’s good to be as satisfied as they are. I enjoy graces, I’m just fine being on the outs.” pleasing both of them, but they also The politician who still has somewant me to be pleased. I appreciate this but I feel pressured to come and thing left to lose at this point is Ducey, I just can’t. Any time I feel pressured who is taking a lot of incoming fire to do anything I start to feel defensive from the GOP base over two things: and shut down. I enjoy being with these Republican activists are unhappy men very much and I want so much about his minor steps to slow the to share myself with them. How can spread of COVID, which is hysterical I overcome this? I feel like I’m letting because Ducey could have done so them down, and to be honest, I feel much more to prevent Arizona from like there’s something wrong with becoming the nation’s No. 1 hotspot me because I can’t orgasm during twice in the last year. sex. Any help you can suggest is And they are unhappy that Dugreatly appreciated. cey, who supported Trump last year, —Can’t Orgasm Mostly Ever followed the law and acknowledged reality by certifying that Biden had This couple sees orgasm as a sign of sexual satisfaction, COME, won Arizona’s electoral votes. Ducey still has the suits in the biz and it’s usually a pretty good sign. community at this back, but party And while it’s always better to err on activists are out for his head, which the side of satisfying a sex partner— will make winning another primary a you don’t wanna be like FUCKING’s challenge. It’s little wonder that Ducey ex-boyfriend—there are people who told the New York Times this weekend can’t come during partnered sex or that he’s planning on running against at all. We should do whatever it takes Democrat Mark Kelly next year when within reason to get our partners’ off, but if a partner tells us they don’t need Arizona’s newest senator will have to defend his seat. (Kelly only gets two to come or can’t come but still enjoy sex? We need to take their word for it. years to start with because he is comSo, COME, explain to your boyfriends pleting McCain’s term.) We would not that you love sex and you love getting at all be surprised if Ducey changed them off but you rarely come during his mind down the road if polling sex yourself and feeling pressured to showed he had a shot against Kelly, come makes those rare events rarer but for now, he’s eager to end speculastill. Promise them that you’ll say tion that he has his eye on the race. something when you feel like coming Besides, we always figured Ducey and be clear about what they can do had his eye on the White House, not for you when that time comes. the U.S. Senate. But with the Trump wing of the party seeing him as a mail@savagelove.net quisling and Democrats unlikely to Follow Dan on Twitter cross party lines to support, Ducey is @FakeDanSavage damaged goods no matter where he savagelovecast.com tries to go next. ■


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