CURRENTS: THE VACCINE IS COMING TO YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
TUCSON WEEKLY MAY 6 - 12, 2021 • TUCSONWEEKLY.COM • FREE
Rock ’n’ Roll Remembrance Arizona legend Bob Meighan reﬂects on his life and music A tale of Tucson Salvage by Brian Smith ARTS: MOCA’S Laundry List MUSIC: Sharkk Heartt Goes Electric CITY WEEK: The Loft Cinema Reopens!
MAY 6, 2021
MAY 6, 2021
MAY 6, 2021 | VOL. 36, NO. 18
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Pima County rolling out mobile vaccination sites
An Arizona legend reflects on life and his Bob Meighan Band
What to do around town: arts, screenings, performances and more!
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TUCSON SALVAGE COLUMNIST Brian Smith takes center stage this week with his cover story on Bob Meighan, a pioneering Tucson musician who just missed striking it big. Meighan, who has been battling by Lou Gehrig’s disease for decades, recounts his career on and off stage over the decades. As usual, Brian brings a lot of heart to the profile. Dig into it and enjoy. Elsewhere in this week’s issue: Staff reporter Christina Duran catches up with the latest COVID news as Pima County rolls out mobile clinics in an effort to improve vaccination rates; calendar editor Emily Dieckman delivers a collection of pandemic-safe events for you to enjoy, including the much-anticipated reopening of the Loft Cinema; arts writer Margaret Regan threads her way through MOCA’s new exhibit made of T-shirts; associate editor Jeff Gardner lends an ear to a new album from Sharkk Heartt, aka Lara Ruggles; Tucson Weedly columnist
David Abbott grinds a few nuggets of national news; and there’s helpful advice from sex columnist Dan Savage, a forecast of what the future holds in Free Will Astrology, Tucson’s best comics and more. A final bit of news: This week, we say goodbye to managing editor Austin Counts, who decided to step down last week as he pursues new adventures. Austin covered government, food, drink, music and more in the time he was with us and we wish him the best as he follows his bliss. — Jim Nintzel Executive Editor Hear Jim Nintzel talk about all things Tucson Weekly at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday mornings on The World-Famous Frank Show on KLPX, 96.1 FM.
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MOCA-Tucson features exhibit of reclaimed T-shirts
Sharkk Heartt’s debut album offers social commentary you can dance to
Cover design by Ryan Dyson
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MAY 6, 2021
nated does not mean you are immune to contracting COVID. I happen to be one of the few who still got it. Hopefully, my symptoms don’t worsen; however, I am very fortunate to have been vaccinated.” Hernandez said she would remain in quarantine until Wednesday, May 5. Her case is not the first in Arizona. The Arizona Department of Health Services has 947 similar cases across the 15 counties with no deaths, said ADHS Communications Director Steve Elliott. 70% of patients were symptomatic and 16% were hospitalized, said Elliott. They were able to get information for about half PHOTO BY UA of the cases. He also noted that the increase STATE LAWMAKER TESTS POSITIVE from previous reports “has more to do with classification of cases since vaccinations AFTER VACCINATION began than a spike in recent weeks.” Pima County rolling out mobile vaccination sites As of Tuesday, May 4, the state had fully IN A STATEMENT RELEASED vaccinated more than 2.3 million people and Wednesday, April 28, Rep. Alma Hernan“breakthrough” cases account for 0.04% of dez (D-Tucson, District 3) said she tested “We’re extremely grateful to FEMA for By Christina Duran fully vaccinated individuals. positive for COVID-19, despite being partnering with us on this effort to reach Christina@tucsonlocalmedia.com Breakthrough cases are expected, as “no vaccinated. pockets of the community who may not vaccines are 100% effective at preventing “I have taken COVID-19 very serioushave easy access to this life-saving vaccine,” AS HEALTH OFFICIALS WORK TO illness,” according to the CDC. ly and have worn my mask, washed my said Pima County Administrator Chuck overcome “vaccine hesitancy” in the As of April 20, the CDC reported 7,157 hands, socially distanced. Yet despite those Huckelberry. “The ability to offer vaccines community, Pima County and the Federal breakthrough infections in the U.S. with measures and being vaccinated I have come during evenings and weekends will enable Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) more than 87 million people fully vaccinatdown with the COVID,” she said. “I encourus to reach folks whose work or school are teaming up to launch mobile vaccinaed nationwide. Of those reported cases, 64 age all to take this seriously and continue tion units to reach vulnerable communities schedules prevent them from getting a % were female and almost half were people practicing COVID protocols. Be courteous vaccine now. With this effort, there’s truly with high risks of COVID-19 exposure and 60 or older. Further, only about 7% of the to your colleagues and loved ones who are no reason not to roll up your sleeve and infection. breakthrough infections resulted in hospitalmore susceptible. The pandemic has not get your shot so we can start putting this The operation includes two mobile vaccicome to an end. Be safe, take care, do not let ization and 1% led to death. On Wednesday, nation units (MVUs), able to administer 250 pandemic behind us.” the CDC presented data that showed fully your guard down even after you have been The sites will offer walk-up vaccinavaccines per day each, along with adminisvaccinated adults, age 65 and older are 94% vaccinated.” trative staff and federal vaccinators with 70 tions of both the Moderna and Johnson & less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19. Hernandez tweeted that she tested pospersonnel from FEMA, Health and Human Johnson vaccine for those 18 and older on “COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are itive 11 weeks after being fully vaccinated a first-come, first-served basis. Vaccinators Services, the Environmental Protection a critical tool to bring the pandemic under with the Pfi zer vaccine. She said she had a will return to the same mobile site 28 days Agency and Department of Labor, accordcontrol,” said Elliott. “All of the available severe migraine, fever, cannot taste or smell after their first visit to receive their second ing to a county press release. COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preand felt “terrible right now.” dose, following CDC guidance. Help will The units will run through June 26, operventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and She emphasized that as a health profesbe available to all who need assistance ating at two concurrent locations for three sional she is encouraging people to still get deaths. As a result, symptomatic vaccine days, with one day to tear down and move to with mobility, language or other accombreakthrough cases will tend to be less vaccinated. the next location. The locations were select- modations. severe than infections in people who are “If you have not already done so, please The county continues to offer vaccied based on census tract data and the Social not vaccinated. Asymptomatic infections do so as soon as possible. This is just to let nations at several vaccination centers, Vulnerability Index of the area to identify among vaccinated people also will occur.” you know that just because you got vaccimobile pop-up clinics and pharmacies. highly vulnerable communities. Visit pima.gov/covid19vaccine for more information. While health officials are seeing the rate of vaccination going down because people are hesitant to get a shot or are finding it challenging to take time to get one, more than 2.3 million Arizonans were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, May 4, and nearly 3 million Arizonans (or roughly 41% of the population) had received at least one shot. In Pima County, nearly 326,000 residents are fully vaccinated and nearly 326,000 residents (or nearly 39% of the population) have had at least one shot.
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MAY 6, 2021
While the UA POD will be shut down at the end of June, former U.S. surgeon general and UA Task Force Director Dr. Richard THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA Carmona emphasized that the pandemic is plans to decommission its vaccination site not over. as of June 25 and announced new hours “We are still in a pandemic, so don’t let last week. your guard down,” said Carmona. “I don’t With the decline in vaccine demand and want people to get the impression that “as other avenues for vaccination become because we have a heat plan out now, we’re more readily available,” the UA POD plans moving indoors, we’re starting to demoto scale back its hours and on Monday bilize incrementally based on demand transitioned to fully indoors at the Ina E. so we’re not wasting resources, but make Gittings Building, closing the drive-thru as no mistake, the team is still going to be the days get hotter, announced UA Prestogether, monitoring and working to ensure ident Robert C. Robbins at the university that the university and the community stay update on Monday morning. safe.” At the start of next week the UA POD Carmona said it is important to get everywill shorten its hours to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., one vaccinated, not just here in the United then on June 1 will continue with new States but around the world. hours only offering second doses. “The fact is the longer this virus is alive “We’re going to stop taking first dose around the world the more it’s going to appointments, relatively soon, just to make circulate. The more it will mutate, and evensure that the second dose is booked here tually will mutate to a virus that could cause at the University of Arizona POD, so that some significant problems,” said Carmona.” we will finish all shots that we started here,” There is a scientific reason that we want to said Vice President of Communications encourage the whole world to be vaccinatHolly Jensen. ed, and as a humanitarian issue as well. The new POD schedule will be: But for the self-preservation of mankind, • Through May 9, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily everybody needs to get vaccinated.” • May 10-22, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily As health departments battle vaccine • May 23, closed hesitancy, the College of Public Health’s • May 24-28, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily Mobile Health Unit is working to increase • May 29-31, CLOSED access to the vaccine for communities of • June 1-25, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through color, building on their work in providing Friday (second doses only) preventative care for these communities.
UA SHUTTING DOWN VAX POD AT END OF JUNE
“Early on in the COVID pandemic, it became evident that communities of color, and the hard to reach populations are disproportionately and adversely affected by this pandemic in terms of transmission, terms of hospitalizations, morbidity and mortality,” said Interim Associate Dean of Community Engagement and Outreach Dr. Cecilia Rosales. “In an effort to address these disparities and inequities in resource allocation and administration of the vaccine. We proposed to the Health Sciences, University of Arizona, this initiative of mobile outreach vaccination and education for underserved populations.” The MOVE UP initiative, a collaboration between the College of Medicine and the College of Public Health’s Mobile Health Units, brought together health professionals, students and trainees of rural health professions, county and state health departments to increase the vaccination effort and reduce the health disparities. The initiative vaccinated rural communities across the state, as well as farm workers, truck drivers, and individuals experiencing homelessness. Rosales said that the spread of the virus in rural areas will affect urban areas as many city residents would be visiting rural areas in the months to come. “We’re a global community and we have to think about everybody, not just within our own little hub,” Rosales said.
HERE ARE THE PLANNED MOBILE CLINICS: May 7-9, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road Desert Diamond Casino, 7350 S. Nogales Hwy. May 11-13, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Greyhound Park, 2601 S. Third Ave. Wheeler Taft Library, 7800 N. Schisler Drive May 15-17, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Rillito Race Track, 4502 N. First Ave. Curtis Park, 2110 W. Curtis Road Bonus Northwest Clinic: The Northwest YMCA is partnering with Pima County to set up a one-day vaccination clinic May 10, 4 to 8 p.m. NW YMCA, 7770 N. Shannon Road
WALK IN OR SET UP APPOINTMENTS AT VACCINE PODS WHILE THE UA POD IS NOW accepting no-appointment walk-ins, you can still set an appointment at podvaccine. azdhs.gov or call 602-542-1000 or 844-5428201 for assistance in Spanish or English. For more information about Pima County’s vaccination clinics, visit pima.gov/covid19vaccineregistration or call 520-222-0119. Many local pharmacies are now receiving vaccine doses. To find one near you, visit the ADHS website ■
MAY 6, 2021
Story & photos by Brian Smith
An Arizona legend reflects on life and his Bob Meighan Band HIS KILLED ME AS A PRE-PUNK boy. Like some free-reed instrument, it glowed more than pushed, transmitting a longing I couldn’t yet name. Was the sweetest on KWFM radio in Tucson in the mid ’70s. That voice sidled up swimmingly next to his male-peer stars, like the velvet country-rock throats of John Dawson (New Riders of The Purple Sage) and Jackson Browne, especially on the song of isolation “The Story,” a tune filled of songwriterly flourishes, raw violin and a foreshadowing narrative so great it transcended any potentialities as a formal radio song, yet there it was on free-form KWFM, regularly: He said you’d be lost, boy/You’ll be broken/There’ll be times you’ll be chokin’/On all the things you’re gonna see... Bob Meighan’s voice has come full circle and I can ascribe his songs to familiars time-stamped to adolescence, hiding from my parents in my big brother Barry’s bedroom on Tucson’s eastside, the window crammed with the sad suburban evening, KWFM radio on. Barry off at his first dishwashing job at The Pawnbroker bar-restaurant, hearing the Bob Meighan Band live, and he’d return home woozy, telling of an insanely packed house of Meighan fans, how he thought the band “total rock stars” and gushing of what lives they must lead. Only years later did I realize I was listening to the same band on the radio, at the same time. Beyond that era’s context, Meighan’s tunes still sway on emotional levels. How circles of life are built on resilience of great songs. It is easy to see how The Bob Meighan Band landed their major-label contract with Capitol Records, signed right out of
The Pawnbroker on Tanque Verde Road. First, John “Johnny D” Dixon, then a Capitol sales rep (now an Arizona music historian), forwarded Meighan’s Tucsonrecorded indie album The Dancer to the label’s A&R department. They were convinced when they heard Meighan, saw the packed Pawnbroker houses, the mad Tucson Citizen press, learned of heavy local airplay (KWFM and Phoenix’ KDKB), that they’d resonate emotionally in a national and international consciousness. The record deal, helmed not by some company upstart, but by seasoned label men Rupert Perry and John Palladino. Palladino, a golden-eared record producer, mixer and studio innovator, was the first engineer Capitol ever hired (in 1949), and later named A&R chief, who spent 33 years at the label. His mixing, editing and production work, from Sinatra and Nat “King” Cole to McCartney and The Band, and so many more, helped shape the entire pop spectrum, the ’50 through the ’70s. The world would sound different if Palladino hadn’t existed. Perry and Palladino loved The Bob Meighan Band. In those pre-internet days, signing to a major label was all-in, the only way to take your music to the masses, the one chance to butterfly your wildest dreams. Didn’t hurt Meighan sported pop-star looks. “Capitol was full of iconic people and iconic recording studios,” Meighan says today, “and for a guy in my position it was as big an opportunity as anyone could hope for.” Meighan worked it as hard as anyone, and later, as much emotional and physical suffering saw his music fade, he miraculously reinvented himself in a
Bob Meighan supporting Little Feat, Phoenix Giants Stadium, 1973. (Courtesy Steve Lind)
difficult career. EVEN AS I BOY I KNEW THE EAGLES a slick sham, but they opened doors for truer electric-pop stoner cowboys, and The Meighan Band fit loosely into the era’s country rock, that mostly California sound whose roots trace back to Bakersfield and Buck Owens, and Gene Clark’s Missouri bluegrass youth, and The Dillards. Soon, the disciples of that sound became foundations—from The Byrds and Mike Nesmith’s Monkee country sides, to the Beau Brummels, Flying Burrito Brothers and even The Band. Out of the ’60s and into the early Grateful Dead country-rock landed the New Riders, from Buffalo Springfield rose Poco, there was Gram Parsons, and a countrified Laurel Canyon jangle, which was integral to the southwest sound. The Old Pueblo had its own regional saloon sonics. In short, the dusty trail
picked up in the ’40s and ’50s, on swinging traditions of many like Tommy Wiggins’ Arizona Rhythm Riders and Dean Armstrong, who gigged at drunken, bloody bars like the Open Door on Benson Highway, they were Tucson radio and TV stars. By the early ’70s, Tucson boasted the winning honky tonk of The Dusty Chaps (who also signed to Capitol), the shit-kicking Chuck Wagon and the Wheels, The Air Brothers, Summerdog, The Bob Meighan Band, all of whom more or less brought their own insights and references to the aural cross-pollination. Bob Meighan’s tunes, the hooks and melancholy turns, suggest giant hits, would-be classic-rock staples now. But history’s requirement for pitch-perfect timing is a bitch, count the tragedies in wake. Meighan’s two Capitol albums all but vanished, and criminally have never been reissued, nor available to stream. One must hunt down original vinyl copies.
MAY 6, 2021
VIA PHONE, MEIGHAN’S voice sounds boyish, familiar, yet there is every reason it shouldn’t, but think of it. His blend of breathy soul and marketable sweetness could once sell songs to a listener in a way few Arizona voices could—like those gifted with commercial and vocal transcendence (and luck) to move millions, including, of course, Linda Ronstadt, or Gin Blossoms’ Robin Wilson, Stevie Nicks, the Alice Cooper ballads. Meighan should’ve been on the honey-voxed huge-seller list. But it is decades removed from the KWFM hits, and now Meighan is laid up in bed in his Glendale, Arizona home. A hang with Meighan is out, he’s semi-bedridden, good for maybe 25 minutes of conversation until fatigue overtakes him, though our second conversation lasted 70 minutes. If he’s too weak to continue, he’ll suddenly apologize before signing off. In recent years he began to develop in an advanced way ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, the neurodegenerative disorder that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, and is eventually fatal. The disease grips Meighan by the throat, invades his every movement, from speaking, chewing and swallowing to walking and breathing. He can’t stand up for long, can’t walk far. “Part of the left side of my body is kinda paralyzed,” he says, in a quiet, even tone. “I spend a lot of time just coping with the effects. Beyond that I spend my time reading. If I do too much, I get a lot of muscular pain. Other than that, I am very weak. It really takes your muscles and your coordination. Every movement you took for granted before is suddenly off the chart. There’s not much else you can do about it.”
Debut Capitol album release party at Tucson’s Lee Furr’s studio ‘76 (from left): Linda Clayton (KDKB), Meighan, Ken Benson (ABC-Dunhill Records), John Dixon (Capitol), unknown, Alan Browning (KWFM). (Courtesy John Dixon)
He lives at home; his daughter and a friend help him, and the time will come when he can’t live alone. A grace hums below the surface as he talks of his condition and where he is—Zen-like acceptance sans bitterness, it-is-whatit-is pragmatisms often bookended in laughter. He expresses himself in clear ways, obviously a very intelligent man. As a writer I am in awe of his ability to take the complexities of his experiences and sculpt them into unpretentious and thoughtful articulations. Meighan can no longer play guitar or sing, the ALS got so bad he stopped for good around 2018 after nearly six decades, and one can only imagine the solitary, private suffering there, the loss of a lifeline, any spirit-crushing terrors.
If he does suffer such, he barely reveals it, saying, “I’m not somebody who lives very much in the past. I gotta take what’s coming to me one day at a time.” Prefers instead to thank and appreciate anyone who still cares about his music. Yet his memories bloom.
MEIGHAN’S HISTORY OF GIANT associations dates to his Glendale High School days, in a band Just-Us, with high-school girl Lynda Carter, later a superstar as TV’s Wonder Woman. Meighan had to ask Carter’s mother for permission for her to sing in the band, like some kid-band folk-rock nuptial. The group played a few years, up to an eight-piece that featured stand-up bass, flute, clarinet and marimbas and
Meighan, one of three acoustic guitarists. They’d gig at a Pizza Hut in Tempe, and area teen shows. Meighan’s folky-pop “I Hear The Music,” off the sole Just-Us single, released in ’68 on the microscopic Phoenix label W.J. Enterprises, got added to rotation on Phoenix Top 40 radio’s KRIZ-AM. He’d hear it during high-school lunch, and “it was a big deal.” Meighan grew up in Glendale, then a farming community outside Phoenix, which he misses—the cotton fields, the hunting and fishing, baseball, a sort of country life he had as a boy. He’s an only child born to older parents; his mother bore him in her early 40s, rare in 1951. His dad was more “outdoorsy, blue-collar,” a guy of unconditional love, who played semi-pro baseball and managed his son’s little-league team to championships. His mother the opposite, a tough-to-please intellectual whose high standards meant relentless disappointment in her son. But he got the music from her, she was a pianist and a school teacher, whose work involved using music to help second-language children learn to speak English. “It was a gift to have that. What I mainly got from her was the understanding that you could play music for people and it had a positive effect on your life and their life in general. I had a different exposure to music than a lot of my peers, due to my mother.” The unusual sensitivity Meighan learned to harness later in song perhaps partially rose from a depression he began suffering young, the parental mixed-messaging, and a habit of endless hours spent dropping the needle on records.
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MAY 6, 2021
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He enrolled at ASU, bailed because, he jokes, “I was probably majoring in mescaline.” But it was the music. His band Beaugart worked Tempe’s developing music scene. In ’72 Meighan traveled to Vermont to hang with radio DJ and journalist pal Steve Zind, a soothing retreat to swim rivers, play solo gigs and hatch the idea of The Bob Meighan Band. Zind’s a literate guy who influenced Meighan’s reading habits, and Meighan was a reader, a big Faulkner fan among others, and it showed in his songs. He penned “The Story” there. Meighan, and later Zind, returned to Phoenix, and by ’73 The Bob Meighan Band had risen from Beaugart’s ashes, a rare rock ’n’ roll-band chemistry featuring Meighan’s boyhood bud Dick Furlow on bass, just back from decorated Nam duty, fiddler Rodney Bryce, and drummer Milt Miller. Keyboardist Rich Howard soon joined. Meighan began songwriting in earnest, mixing personal experience, yearnings, and subtle outsider observations. The group toured (and camped) the
southwest in an old school bus they’d purchased, and help arrived from Doug Clark, a guy who once booked Beaugart college shows, but who now ran premier Phoenix venue Celebrity Theatre. Clark played a caring manager’s role (one Meighan could not fill later) and the band played the Celebrity often, fanbase-ballooning opportunities supporting everyone from Jerry Riopelle to Boz Scaggs to Nicolette Larson. One night, Meighan’s parents came to see the band open for Boston, and mom awarded son with an embrace, the first from her since he was a small child. Compared to the much larger Phoenix, Tucson then had the pungent weed smoke, ubiquitous cowboy hats and sandaled feet, and more disparate and inspired music, it tallied more venues. So around ’74 Meighan talked the band into moving south. “Immediately our fortunes changed, financially and popularity-wise.” Meighan laughs, “but it probably had more to do with the amount of drinking that was going on in Tucson. Our combination of folk and rock ’n’ roll approach to things, a lot of finger-picking, wasn’t really happening in Tucson. There were some great bands there, The Dusty Chaps for one. What was
good about it was they were willing to play us on the radio.” Meighan’s pal Zind came along. Zind found part-time work at KWFM and Phoenix New Times, and had band responsibilities, mainly dealing with club owners. The band shacked up in a desert house on Tucson’s westside, the foot of Tucson Mountains, where band keyboardist Howard lived underground in a tiny backyard bomb shelter. They played ChooChoo’s and Stumble Inn but struck club gold at The Pawnbroker. Credit Pawnbroker manager Lisa Maher there; she named them house band, which saw their Tucson popularity soar. To play five nights, four sets each, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., the band played telling covers— from The Band, Little Feat, Jackson Browne to more obscure country and folkish sides by fave Gene Clark, Ray Price and Paul Siebel. “If you’re gonna do a cover,” Meighan laughs, “do one no one else is doing, which sort of defeats the purpose.” Myriad Pawnbroker nights honed the band and Meighan’s frontman role. Zind recalls, “You could see his emotional connection to the music, and between songs he could be very funny. Also, the band was
very eclectic. It played acoustic numbers and raucous rock ’n’ roll, country standards and stuff that had jam-band elements. And it was really The Pawnbroker that enabled Bob to establish himself as a songwriter. … Playing quiet songs like ‘Nicely Done’ or ‘We Tried’ was hard to pull off at the Stumble Inn.”
MEIGHAN REMEMBERS Tucson’s association with in-the-open drug money then, marijuana-smuggler’s cash, “so a lot of those people were at the bars, and so consequently there were a lot of bars. When the cocaine arrived, it was considerably more debauched, for one thing. I’d been in Tucson about two years by the time the cocaine started showing up. The guys who were formerly marijuana smugglers became cocaine dealers and it took a turn for the unpleasant.” “There was definitely a party atmosphere at The Pawnbroker and other Tucson clubs in that era and we were all swept up in that beyond a point that was prudent,” Zind recalls. “But I don’t recall any instances in Tucson where it detracted from a performance or caused tension between band members.”
MAY 6, 2021
The band sounded like a brotherhood. Made sense, the nightly standing-room-only shows enabled the guys to earn a living on music in Tucson. In ’75, they recorded The Dancer for little money at Tucson’s esteemed Lee Furr’s Recording Studio, produced by that studio’s Jim Bastin and released on his Bandolier Records. When Capitol inked them, they’d added secret-weapon Phoenix guitarist-singer David Dodt as a sixth member, returned to Lee Furr’s to re-record most of their debut and changed the cover for national release in ’76. Meighan chum Jerry Riopelle, the huge-in-Arizona Capitol solo artist, producer (and former staff songwriter at Phil Spector’s Phillies label), co-produced. “So it was a little different,” Meighan says. “Some preferred the earlier one. It gave me a lot of practice because I was not a seasoned recording studio guy by any means.” (The sextet made Tucson history that October, playing a radio and TV simulcast show on KZAZ-TV and KWFM.) Pay hard attention to songs and you begin to know the songwriter. Capitol’s The Dancer reveals a literary backbone in Meighan’s lyrics, allegory and complicated human emotions summarized in sing-song form, not unlike Gin Blossoms songwriter Doug Hopkins, who later perfected similar feats. The psych, prog, jazz, R&B and funk influences simmer beneath surfaces of country-rock jangle, which all rear on “City Streets,” and the self-mocking title song. Album centerpieces include “The Story” and “Crazy Waltz,” the latter a Dodt-sung Meighan tune, a stranger-in-a-strangeland lullaby built on piano runs and gentle acoustics. Meighan’s most beautiful song is the tender, droning “Nicely Done,” where the acceptance-of-loss narrative ties fittingly on the final devastating line (Nicely done, you took her away). Floating on Meighan’s airy tenor, it’s a songwriting masterstroke, so effective it’s timeless, would be Lord Huron’s best song now. So the band relocated to L. A. to be near label action, signed a song publishing deal, and holed up at a house in the hills above Encino at the end of a long, steep driveway. “For a lot of us,” Meighan says, “the move was a kind of shock; I mean, we went from playing six nights a week to none, though we did some roadwork out of L.A. There was nothing to do at night.” Meighan caught Gene Clark at
Meighan, mid-70s. (Courtesy Steve Zind)
the Troubadour “and he was so drunk he couldn’t play. It was really sad.” Palladino was the group’s ticket in L.A. “He went out of his way for us, showed us his L.A.” The Dancer earned airplay around the county, places like New York’s WNEW, sandwiched between Ted Nugent’s Free For All and Stills and Young’s Long May You Run. It creamed Arizona radio. Didn’t chart yet sold enough to keep Capitol happy. Months later work began on the big-budget second album, entitled (Me’hun), “because my name was getting slaughtered everywhere.” Co-produced by Palladino, Meighan and one Ed Black, a pedal-steel legend from Phoenix who featured in Linda Ronstadt’s band, appeared on her massive ’70s albums. Guest musicians included a who’s-who of L.A. at the time. Tracked in the infamous Studio A in the Hollywood Capitol Records building, the big orchestra room made famous by Sinatra, which had Meighan gobsmacked: “It took me awhile to figure out what was happening.” The album’s piano, pedal steel and horns show a slickness on par with
Ronstadt’s same-year Simple Dreams. A commercial enterprise with less narrative and loose-limbed songs than the first. The sad “Emergency,” the country-rock pop “For Who” highlighted, and much could’ve been covered by Ronstadt or any of the ’70s California mellow mafia. Meighan dug the Average White Band and The Band’s Rock of Ages with the Allen Toussaint horn arrangements, musical pin-drops that seeped into his tunes, especially on “White Lies.” A pop-out cover of John Fogerty’s “Almost Saturday Night” is the most accessible entry to Meighan’s sound. It’s been well-covered—from Ricky Nelson to Dave Edmonds—but Meighan’s take trumps them, his voice and intent bestows an inescapable pitch. Meighan chose it for the album’s first single, yet it received so little airplay he was shocked. He’d hear it on L.A. radio and remembers the label’s radio-promotion people thinking it was a fluke. Hardly a favorable sign; million-sellers Bob Welch and Little River Band took label priority when (Me’hun) hit racks in autumn ’77. Band reconfiguration saw losses and gains, before and after (Me’hun), including
Dodt, who split to start his own. Seasoned guitar-hero Richie Cavanaugh, late of Tucson’s Air Brothers, who had guested on (Me’hun), moved to L.A. to replace Dodt. In the meantime, Meighan could not land suitable band management, which hurt vital label and radio relationships. “We went through some famous guys. The good thing is they were unable to change us very much.” The band finally snagged sympathetic ears in Eddy Tickner, who’d co-managed The Byrds, Gram Parsons and Etta James, the guy who got Emmylou Harris signed to Reprise after Parson’s death in 1973. (Tickner died at his Tucson home in 2006). But timing is a bitch: “Tickner was great, but it was too late.” In ’78, a mass audience eluded the Meighan albums, so Capitol dropped them. “It was crushing,” Meighan says. “I was down for a long while.” “It was a horrible time,” Cavanaugh remembers, “especially for Bob.” The band stuck around L.A. a bit longer, living off whatever Capitol advance money was left. “But in a way I felt like a failure,” Meighan says. Cavanaugh, and others, remember it this way: Capitol wanted Bob but not the band. “But Bob wouldn’t have that. That’s the kind of guy he was. He was loyal. I think that is a big reason why he felt as down as he did.” Meighan recalls it differently, assumes responsibility. “In my opinion, the second record had been handled badly, it never achieved the airplay the first one did. We did dates with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Tucson was one of the top shows. And when we got there, Capitol Records was blasting the airwaves with a promo from the wrong album. I pitched a fit, and that was the end of my good relationship with Capitol.” Meighan and band had to earn a living; hello Tucson and The Pawnbroker. “I almost felt embarrassed coming back,” Meighan says. Fortunes looked up when, through Harvey Moltz, owner of Tucson’s Rainbow Guitars, Meighan met big-in-Europe singer-songwriter Véronique Sanson. Meighan, and some band members, including CONTINUED ON PAGE 10
MAY 6, 2021
Meighan at The Pawnbroker, mid-’70s, with Rodney Bryce (left) and Dick Furlow (background). (Courtesy Steve Zind)
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 9
Cavanaugh and Furlow, were hired on to play on her 1979 Warner album 7ème in Los Angeles, alongside greats, including Stax men Duck Dunn and Steve Cropper. It is a glossy pop-rock jazz-inflected record, sung in French with melancholy overtones. (Sanson was divorcing rock-star husband Stephen Stills then.) The Meighan Band got on Sanson’s European tours for that record, performed the opening set, at the end of which they’d segue into Sanson’s “entry music,” staying on as her backing band. “For me it was another path,” Meighan says. “There was not an open door in Tucson that I could see. It was fun, but a lot of hard work. Lucky it didn’t kill us.” A pair of high-profile tours totaled about nine months. They returned to Tucson with no major-label interest. A new decade dawned, and when you are down, Tucson can sour butterfly dreams. Meighan says, “I think we were all burned out.” “We were treading water,” Cavanaugh says. “In a way we were living on the accolades of that European tour; sold-out opera houses in Geneva, all over France, sometimes a soccer field. It was hard. When we got back from Germany, we died a slow death.”
MAINSTREAM AMERICAN TASTES shifted, arena-rock chaff like Journey
ruled and punk had shaken labels—mainstream-y offshoots Elvis Costello, Blondie and The Knack hit big. (Next band out of Tucson associated with a major label was Green on Red in ’83.) Country-rock fans were aging out, the music resigning to memories, but there was Meighan’s Tucson home-base and following. He had married too and the couple had boy-girl twins (both successful in their 40s now—Meighan has five grandchildren between them) and he dabbled in entrepreneurship. In ’79, Meighan partnered in a Tucson club, a two-year venture called Yanks, his was house band, and they brought in touring acts. He also partnered in a vitamin shop. “I was used to money coming in and it wasn’t. That was the beginning of the bad depression. I just had twins. Everybody has hills and valleys, but I had this long history with depression and it got bad. For a long time, everything I touched was golden.” He teamed with rock-fusionists Central Air, a short-lived force upon a new, different sound, even covered bands like Jules and the Polar Bears. A composite of that band can be heard on the 1980 live KWFM on the Air album, the “Only Living Son.” (A Bob Meighan Band song can be heard on a forthcoming 3LP collection of Arizona music called Whole Enchilada.) In ’82, Meighan joined road-band The Shake with an option to employ his name in the band moniker, but he welcomed the
idea not to, though they played Meighan songs in their cover-heavy repertoire. The group gigged a regular loop of Colorado mountain towns, including a Flagstaff residency. Meighan was long drawn to mountains and pines for relief. He’d begun performing with a bluegrass trio featuring Earl Edmonson, Peter McLaughlin, and three-part Everly Brothers harmonies. Meighan was in awe of them as pure musicians and sounds humbled to have even shared a stage. Meighan says they began playing bluegrass in the sort of hybrid way that Manassas would do it, but the trio went deeper, purer, and in 1991 they won the Best Bluegrass Band competition at the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival. The group expanded later as The Dreadnutts. They never recorded an album. Unchecked depression deepens and for Meighan it was unmanageable by the late 1980s. He’d moved back into his childhood home to care for his sick mother in the months leading up to her death. His dad was already gone. He sold his interest in the vitamin store, divorced from his wife, and “it all just started to fall apart. I stopped writing. The drinking was always there, maybe it got in the way at one point, but I had stopped. If I had anything I wanted to say I just didn’t want to hear it.” To dig himself out, he purchased home recording gear and began to study jazz guitar with Phoenix-resident and legend Al Casey (the Wrecking Crew, Elvis Presley) around 1990. “He was teaching in this crappy little studio.” Meighan manages a laugh, “I had a hard time learning and I thought it was because it was augmented 13th chord or whatever.” That was the first sign something was wrong, and the ALS went undiagnosed for years. Add that to the depression. He had no health insurance and couldn’t afford a therapist, so to lay his monster depression down, he bit the bullet, went back to ASU and studied psychotherapy, at first as a complete self-care education. A year later he was interning at Banner Medical in Glendale, and a second career for Meighan rose from the depths. Six years later he had his Masters, and his internship blossomed into a career as a professional behavioral health counselor, spending days helping others; he never left Banner, stayed 22 years. He got into teaching too. In the meantime, ALS difficulties saw his playing stop for years. “He was singing really well, as well as ever,”
Cavanaugh remembers. “But he had a lot of pain and it got very hard for him to play, I remember even in 1997.” In the early aughts, a Phoenix label owner and songwriter Norm Pratt, a boyhood fan of Meighan, coaxed the songwriter-therapist back into music. Meighan credits Pratt with opening that door again, how it helped his outlook, and the musical relationship lasted about 16 years until Meighan could no longer play. Meighan’s loyal childhood buddy and bandmate Dick Furlow joined them. In 2003 Pratt’s label Perfect Circles Records issued an Arizona songwriter comp featuring Meighan’s pretty “Out From Under You.” The tune works as an allegory of beating depression. Some Meighan recognition arrived in a 2019 Arizona Music Hall of Fame induction, alongside younger bands Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers, The Pistoleros and Dead Hot Workshop. It’s rare to suffer ALS in a prolonged manner, most people die. Not Meighan. Once he was diagnosed he quickly learned how “neurologists really know little about the disease or its variants. It is all really mysterious, but as treatments and medicines for symptoms become available, people will live longer.” He talks of a new one coming and adds, “I don’t know if I will be here for it.” Meighan talks of his kids and grandkids who all live in the Phoenix area, and reminisces of his buddies and bandmates who are now gone, like Dick Furlow, Milt Miller and Rich Howard. “If I was still playing,” he adds, a tone registering no discernible regret, “I’d love to spend time in Tucson, but, ya know, I can’t leave.” When our conversations end, Meighan reattaches his head to a forced-air breathing apparatus, which, he says, is really a sophisticated version of what’s used for sleep apnia. He wouldn’t survive without it. Meditative, self-aware, Meighan, in turn, intellectualizes his confinement and pain to arrive at a place of peace. A bed, a book and contemplation are perfect companions, as Proust would say. My treasures aren’t easy to see, Meighan sang years ago in “The Story,” that lovely, eerily foreshadowing song. Anyone with less self-awareness might likely have expired from ALS by now. Before signing off for the night, Meighan laughs, adds in that boyish lilt, “I’m not what’s known as a cooperative patient.”■
MAY 6, 2021
MAY 6, 2021
Screenings & Performances
by Emily Dieckman
The Loft Reopens! It’s been almost 14 months since Tucson’s most beloved movie theater stopped doing indoor screenings, and now they’re back! Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street is first on the roster, and tells the story behind the creation of the children’s TV show. It made its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, and now it gets to make its Tucson premiere here. For now, they’re only doing screenings in the Loft’s main auditorium, seating capacity is reduced, mask-wearing is mandatory and seating must be reserved. And if that’s what it takes to get back into a movie theater, watching the lights dim and holding a popcorn container in your lap, sign us up! Showtimes at 1 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. on Friday, May 7. The Loft, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. GA is $7.50 for matinee and $10 for evening. See loftcinema.org for more details on other showtimes.
Art Tangencies. Have you seen the circles? From February to April, artist Benjamin Dearstyne Hoste visited 100 sites in Tucson and drew 1,025 circles on the ground. Along the way, he invited the people he met in these public spaces to stand in the circles with each other for one minute of shared stillness and reflection. He videotaped the interactions, and now has 60 one-minute videos involving 101 participants. He’s displaying the work in the Joseph Gross Gallery at the UA, but also holding two events, where he’ll be on-site drawing circles and inviting folks to participate in the work. The first is this weekend! Noon to 7 p.m. at The Tucson Museum of Contemporary Art, 165 S. Church Ave. Learn more at tangencies.art. Honor, Courage, Commitment: Marine Corps Art Exhibit. You might not always think about Marine Corps members as artists, but, of course, artists take many shapes. This traveling exhibit by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation and National Museum of the Marine Corps features 36 works of art by 15 combat artists, focusing on Marine Corps service from immediately after the Vietnam War through to more recent years. It’s traveling across the country until mid-2023, and will be at the Pima Air & Space Museum for a few months. You don’t want to miss it before it leaves at the end of August. On display at the Pima Air and Space Museum, 6000 E. Valencia Road. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Included with museum admission.
I Dream in Widescreen. In other film news, the UA’s annual showcase of undergraduate thesis film starts this weekend as well! The entire program will be available to stream online until May 22, but the School of Theatre, Film & Television is kicking it off by partnering with The Loft and the Cactus Drive-In Cinema for an in-person showing. Fourteen films and one series pitch, many of which have been selected to screen at national and international festivals, will be playing and competing for prizes. 7 p.m. Saturday, May 8. Cactus Drive-In Theatre. Free. Ostara’s Big Bunny Bash. It’s starting to feel a little bit like summer, but maybe if we celebrate the spring with this big dance party, spring will stick around longer. This socially distanced event at the MSA Annex features aerial acrobatics, fire arts and several types of dance performances. You can also look forward to poetry by To Ree Nee Wolf and astrological insights with Valhalla Toadplant. World beat, new R&B, deep house—all with a side of adult content! The only thing missing is you and the 97 other guests allowed per evening (so get your tickets in advance)! 8 to 10 p.m. Friday, May 7 and Saturday, May 8. MSA Annex, 267 S. Avenida del Convento. $25.
MAY 6, 2021
The Tortoise and the Hare. It’s hard to think of a more iconic fable than this one. Live Theatre Workshop’s Children’s Theatre is honoring the story while also putting their own twist on it. The setting: Camp Wagamaroon, a sports camp run by Rhoda the raccoon. The main characters: Juanita Jackrabbit and Tuggle Tortoise, who are getting limited training from Rhoda (she’s not only scatterbrained, but is actually nocturnal, limiting training time options). This family friendly original musical features original music by Michael Martinez, choreography by Simone Jolivet and directorship by Ericka Quintero Heras. This is a drive-in show. May 7 to May 23. 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. Live Theatre Workshop, 3322 E. Fort Lowell Road. $30 GA or $40 to $45 for admission with snack packs.
Miscellaneous Mothers’ Day Brunch at J.W. Marriott. If you were hoping to use your time in quarantine to improve your
cooking skills, but never got around to it, this might be the perfect option for celebrating your mom this May. In addition to the regular breakfast menu at the J.W. Marriott’s Signature Grill, Executive Chef David Fransua has prepared an a la carte brunch menu for this Mothers’ Day. Whether your mom is a salmon gravlax bagel type, a lamb loin fan or a strawberry stuffed French toast gal, she’s sure to be pleased by this treat. 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, May 9. J.W. Marriott Starr Pass, 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd. Reservations are required: Call 791-6064. Train Day. Man, did we miss the wholesome historic events over at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum. This Saturday, head over for a free afternoon (or morning) of family fun. The Tucson Garden Railway Societies will be present, and so will the Gadsden-Pacific toy train. Porky Lewis will be giving a woodworking demonstration as well. In between the available children’s activities, the kids can pay a visit to good ol’ Locomotive #1673. And why not pick up one of the toy trains that’s for sale so you can keep the fun going at home? 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 8. 414 N. Toole Ave. Free. Mercado Flea. Looking to keep it low-key, yet classic for Mothers’ Day? Take her to The Flea! That’s right, Tucson’s second-Sunday, open-air, antique and vintage market. You and mom can peruse the offerings of more
than 35 vendors selling used and collectible items of all sorts. Afterward, stop in one of the restaurants or coffee shops at the Mercado San Agustin or the Annex, all of which are now open for both indoor and outdoor seating. Bring a mask for while you’re shopping. And don’t miss it! This is the last Mercado Flea until October. 8 am. to 2 p.m. Sunday, May 9. 100 S. Avenida del Convento. ■
MAY 6, 2021
ARTS & CULTURE
MAKE IT SEW
MOCA-Tucson features exhibit of reclaimed T-shirts By Margaret Regan email@example.com
DURING THE LAST FEW WEEKS, when the evening sky starts to dim, a downtown building has been beaming out gorgeous colors into the streets: magenta, pink, green, yellow, royal red. The nightly light show comes through the big glass doors of MOCA-Tucson contemporary art museum. But the source of this rainbow beauty, astonishingly, is a batch of tossed out T-shirts. Inside the museum’s enormous Great Hall, the shirts—brilliantly dyed and sewn together into giant tarps—dangle from the ceiling. Tethered to ship rigging, they shift and sail high above the gallery. In honor of the T-shirts’ lowly origins, the artist, Pia Camil of Mexico City, calls the work “Bara, Bara, Bara,” the chant used by Mexican street vendors. It’s short for “bara-
to,” Spanish for “cheap.” Part painting, part soft sculpture, this bold fiber work is visually dazzling and intellectually intense. “Bara” has entirely taken over the Great Hall, once a garage for mammoth fire trucks, back when the building was a fire station. It’s big enough to house her immense, three-part installation. Below the swinging “Bara,” there’s a floor component, the “Autonomous Space Rug,” where visitors can sit or lie down and gaze up at the color canopy. The carpeting came from a remnant outlet in Phoenix, and Camil designed its swirling patterns. A third piece of the installation, “Air Out Your Dirty Laundry,” is outside on the museum’s front patio. Instead of a flag blowing in the breeze on the outdoor flag pole, old shirts and jeans flutter on a laundry line. Locals are invited to donate old clothes of their own to fly on the laundry line. They
can also apply to use the rug as a place to conduct socially distanced books clubs or other events. The work is beautiful and even joyful. But it levels a critique of consumption, labor exploitation and the environmental destruction wrought by the manufacture of clothing, especially the use of dyes and way too much water. It’s estimated that it takes some 713 gallons of water to make one T-shirt, from cotton field to factory to final washing. Those gallons would be enough drinking water to sate one thirsty adult for well over two years. Camil’s work follows the life cycle of the shirts. The Tees begin with orders made in the U.S. when a football team, say, wants to celebrate a win, or a dealer wants to sell Irish shirts on St. Patrick’s Day. The job typically goes to underpaid workers in Latin America. The shirts they make, emblazoned with words, and thick with slogans, travel to the U.S. The proud Irish Americans and the happy football fans wear them for a while, but soon enough they pass them on to a charity or otherwise get rid of them. As curator Laura Copelin says, “they become waste in the U.S.” Back to Mexico they go, to be sold to the
poor or thrown into dumps. But through the intervention of the artist, some of these ragtag T-shirts are destined to return once more to the U.S. (“Bara” has also made appearances in Dallas, in 2017, and in Glasgow, in 2019.) Camil buys up second- and third-hand Tees at a cut-rate shop outside Mexico City. She overdyes the old shirts in the brilliant colors, then sews them together by color, reds with red, green with green, and so on, making giant tarps. Once they arrive at their designated gallery, the tarps are hung so that the words are placed face down, so visitors can read them and ponder their meaning. To Camil, these texts are a kind of poetry. The wordless side of the cloth faces the ceiling. The artist also provides peep holes so fans can pop their heads through and marvel at the pure unsullied colors. COVID-19, not surprisingly, disrupted Camil’s usual practices. Instead of coming to Tucson to oversee the installation of the work, she was stuck in Mexico. It was up to the museum to put “Bara” together, under Camil’s instructions. “We communicated by phone and had a lot of conversations,” curator Copelin says. The piece is meant to be site-specific, and
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Installation view, Pia Camil: Three Works (Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson, April 10 – September 19, 2021). Photograph by Logan Havens. Courtesy the artist; Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/ New York/ Tokyo; Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson.
“it changes over time. The way the sails work they look different in every venue.” The pandemic also led to major changes in “Autonomous Space Rug.” When the work was in Scotland in 2019, Camil created a comfortable floor space by converting dozens of pairs of old jeans into comfortable pillows. Photos show visitors curled up together, side by side, lolling or resting or gazing up at the fabric canopy. Obviously, that iteration was not going to work in corona times. For the Tucson show, Camil asked for cushy carpeting to cover the entire floor of the Great Hall. She designed an elegant pattern of circles and lines that spool across the rug. Inspired by images from 18th-century French gardens to maps, Camil settled on lines that would serve as boundaries to remind guests to keep social distance. The outdoor laundry piece also has a COVID origin. Last fall, Marfa, an art institution in rural Texas, offered commissions to artists “to do something that they CAN do during the pandemic,” says Copelin, who also works with Marfa. Camil won one of the fellowships. Working from Mexico, Camil came up with a piece that “exploded what a flag could be,” Copelin says. Instead of national flags, discarded real-life clothes billowed in the open air; the piece started all over again in Tucson, with different clothes. Camil, who got a BFA at Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA at Slade School of Fine Art, London, has been
getting attention internationally for “Bara, Bara, Bara” and other works that evoke the “Mexican urban landscape,” she writes in a her bio. “I’ve been interested in her for a long time,” Copelin says. After learning of Camil’s exhibition at Dallas Contemporary museum, the curator got in touch with the artist and eventually invited her to show her work at MOCA. COVID permitting, “We’re hoping to get her here before the show ends.” ■
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PIA CAMIL: THREE WORKS Through Sept. 19 MOCA-Tucson, 265 S. Church Ave. Noon to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday; noon to 4 p.m. Sunday Free during pandemic 624-5019 moca-tucson.org EXTRA: Starting in early May, you can participate in the installation two ways. You can apply to MOCA for a mini-grant to use the carpet space temporarily for your own event—book club, dancing, etc. And you can join the Laundry piece outside by donating a piece of clothing, recording a story about that shirt or jeans garment and allowing it to fly high in the sky on the laundry line. See website for details.
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MAY 6, 2021
Trump’s election, and signified for her a personal change of direction—again, the internal and external struggles parallel. The song sets the sound palette for the entire album with cool, echoing percussion and Ruggles building a slow chorus over quiet keyboards. Her lyrics reflect a continual struggle: “When you walked away I was a sailor, mapping my way out / Now I live here underwater, I find my way forward, but I still can’t open my mouth.” However, she states that the song isn’t about anyone in particular, but about all the men who had been important to her, and the ensuing destabilization from their absence. While it is a somewhat delicate beginning, the majority of the tracks are outright anthemic, with layers of Ruggles’ voice building into rallying cries like on the track “Call Us What We Are”: “Don’t call me sweetheart, unless you’re my sweetheart, and if you were my sweetheart, you’d know.” COURTESY PHOTO “It’s always difficult to write a song “Pairing the melody with the lyrics always comes pretty naturally once I have a little bit written. I always feel like there’s a way the music wants to go, and I just have to follow that has a message, just because there’s it,” said Lara Ruggles AKA Sharkk Heartt. limited space for lyrics. I tend to write longer songs, and I was trying to fight that a little bit here,” Ruggles said. “Work Fires” is one of the most danceable songs of the bunch, with Sharkk Heartt’s debut album offers social commentary you can dance to fingersnaps, sparse drums and stuttering synthesizers that almost have a disco flair. It’s also one of the tracks rado to her previous home of Tucson. most similar to the artists Ruggles By Jeff Gardner says she was inspired by, such as Sia While her former music was firstname.lastname@example.org based, she shifted to a more electronic and Florence + the Machine. “Pairing the melody with the lyrics THOUGH MUCH HAS CHANGED style in the midst of this upheaval— always comes pretty naturally once I since 2016, local musician Lara Rugalmost as a way to amplify her voice gles has remained steadfast in her in the face of these difficulties. But as have a little bit written. I always feel devotion to combine electronic music Ruggles explains, this shift came more like there’s a way the music wants to and social commentary into modern out of the need of a solo artist having go, and I just have to follow it,” Ruggles said. “The challenge is fitting the anthems. On her debut album Wars to take on all recording roles. rest of the song within that structure Our Mothers Fought, released under “When the relationship that I was the moniker Sharkk Heartt, Ruggles in fell apart, my band also fell apart at and wanting to say so much more than might fit in the space of a song that’s traces struggles both personal and the same time, and I felt very naked national—evident right from the track playing solo,” Ruggles said. “My songs reasonable to ask people to listen to.” “Hush We Found” is the most strucnames like “This Is A Test” and “Noth- felt incomplete because they weren’t turally progressive song on the album, ing But Family.” the way I envisioned them. I had just moving away from the electro-pop The album’s roots trace back to par- moved to a different city and didn’t allel complications in 2016: Ruggles’ know a lot of folks, so I initially need- rallying cries with a mellow intro and building layers of electronics. Rugprevious band dissolved, and Donald ed to do these songs on my own.” gles also jumps between a long, sung Trump won the presidential election. The album’s opener, “One Step,” chorus and spoken word, delivering That year, she also moved from Colois the only song she wrote prior to
Wars Our Mothers Fought by Sharkk Heartt Available for purchase and streaming sharkkheartt.com and sharkkheartt.bandcamp.com
some of her most cryptic lyrics on the album. The album closes on a gentler note with the pained ballad “This Will Hurt,” clearly the most emotional and passionate track. The song sees Ruggles coming to terms with the changes around her, both inside and outside: “It’s good to break when something needs to change / And I’ll be here, I’ll always love you / But I will not intervene to save you pain.” “It’s a sort of personal quest to figure out what I need to do to develop myself. People say, ‘If you want to make a change, look inward.’ And that can be a little bit of cop-out, but there’s also a lot of truth to it,” Ruggles said. “Obviously, that can be used as an escape and a way to not look at what’s going on. But it can also be a valid question about what you need to learn and work on yourself in order to be the activist that you would like to be.” ■
MAY 6, 2021
MAY 6, 2021
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The U.S. Senate waffles on pot decriminalization despite state-level legalization and popular support By David Abbott David@tucsonlocalmedia.com THE U.S. HOUSE OF Representatives has passed the SAFE Banking Act four times and voters around the country have been supporting measures to legalize the use of recreational and medical cannabis, but efforts to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level continue to stall out. While the Safe Banking Act went to the U.S. Senate on April 20 (the big 4/20 stoner holiday), it’s not likely to go much further, given Republican recalcitrance and Democratic hedging. During the run-up to the 2020 election— which Donald Trump lost by more than 7 million votes—then vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris, who as a senator was a co-sponsor of an earlier version of SAFE, said marijuana decriminalization was a priority for a Biden-Harris administration. But Harris recently backtracked, stating that the administration is too busy cleaning up after the former occupant of the Whitehouse to focus on it. “Honestly, right now, we’ve been focused on getting people food, helping them stay in their apartments or in their homes, getting kids back to school, getting shots into arms,” Harris told the San Francisco Chronicle. “That has been all-consuming.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, whose home state of New York legalized recreational weed last month, is still a vocal advocate for federal legalization. At last weekend’s NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally, he called U.S. pot laws “bigoted” and promised to continue the fight to legalize on a national level. To that end, Schumer has joined with Senators Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) to create a comprehensive legalization bill they expect to introduce sometime in the near future. In February, the trio issued a joint statement: “The War on Drugs has been a war on people—particularly people of color.
Ending the federal marijuana prohibition is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country. But that alone is not enough. As states continue to legalize marijuana, we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs.” Biden’s position on cannabis legalization has evolved over the years since his Senate days, when he was Reefer-Madness-level against it. “The president supports leaving decisions regarding legalization for recreational use up to the states, rescheduling cannabis as a Schedule II drug so researchers can study its positive and negative impacts and, at the federal level, he supports decriminalizing marijuana use and automatically expunging any prior criminal records,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki recently said. But rescheduling is not descheduling, and if pot is not removed from the list of “controlled substances,” it will continue to be treated with the same prosecutorial fervor as cocaine or heroin on a federal level. And without the passage of the SAFE Act or federal legalization, states with social equity programs will likely not hit intended targets, as access to capital would be difficult for minority business owners, women business owners and people attempting to operate smaller businesses. April polls conducted by both Quinnipiac University and Pew Research show overwhelming nationwide support for cannabis legalization and for the drug to be treated the same way as alcohol. Quinnipiac reports that overall 69% of Americans are in favor of full legalization as opposed to 25% against. That support crosses political lines, with 78% of Democrats, 62% of Republicans and 67% of independents favoring legalization. Pew Research reports 60% overall in favor of medical or recreational and 31% for medical use only. ■
MAY 6, 2021
MAY 6, 2021
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): Created by Leonardo da Vinci in the 16th century, the Mona Lisa is one of the world’s most famous paintings. It’s hanging in the Louvre museum in Paris. In that same museum is a less renowned version of the Mona Lisa. It depicts the same woman, but she’s unclothed. Made by da Vinci’s student, it was probably inspired by a now-lost nude Mona Lisa painted by the master himself. Renaissance artists commonly created “heavenly” and “vulgar” versions of the same subject. I suggest that in the coming weeks you opt for the “vulgar” Mona Lisa, not the “heavenly” one, as your metaphor of power. Favor what’s earthy, raw, and unadorned over what’s spectacular, idealized, and polished. TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Taurus poet Vera Pavlova writes, “Why is the word yes so brief? It should be the longest, the hardest, so that you could not decide in an instant to say it, so that upon reflection you could stop in the middle of saying it.” I suppose it makes sense for her to express such an attitude, given the fact that she never had a happy experience until she was 20 years old, and that furthermore, this happiness was “unbearable.” (She confessed these sad truths in an interview.) But I hope you won’t adopt her hard-edged skepticism toward YES anytime soon, Taurus. In my view, it’s time for you to become a connoisseur of YES, a brave explorer of the bright mysteries of YES, an exuberant perpetrator of YES. GEMINI (May 21-June 20): In indigenous cultures from West Africa to Finland to China, folklore describes foxes as crafty tricksters with magical powers. Sometimes they’re thought of as perpetrators of pranks, but more often they are considered helpful messengers or intelligent allies. I propose that you regard the fox as your spirit creature for the foreseeable future. I think you will benefit from the influence of your inner fox—the wild part of you that is ingenious, cunning, and resourceful.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): “The universe conspires in your favor,” writes author Neale Donald Welsch. “It consistently places before you the right and perfect people, circumstances, and situations with which to answer life’s only question: ‘Who are you?’” In my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings, I say much the same thing, although I mention two further questions that life regularly asks, which are: 1. What can you do next to liberate yourself from some of your suffering? 2. What can you do next to reduce the suffering of others, even by a little? As you enter a phase when you’ll get ample cosmic help in diminishing suffering and defining who you are, I hope you meditate on these questions every day. LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): The poet Anne Sexton wrote a letter to a Benedictine monk whose real identity she kept secret from the rest of us. She told him, “There are a few great souls in my life. They are not many. They are few. You are one.” In this spirit, Leo, and in accordance with astrological omens, I invite you to take an inventory of the great souls in your life: the people you admire and respect and learn from and feel grateful for; people with high integrity and noble intentions; people who are generous with their precious gifts. When you’ve compiled your list, I encourage you to do as Sexton did: Express your appreciation; perhaps even send no-strings-attached gifts. Doing these things will have a profoundly healing effect on you. VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): “It’s a temptation for any intelligent person to try to murder the primitive, emotive, appetitive self,” writes author Donna Tartt. “But that is a mistake. Because it is dangerous to ignore the existence of the irrational.” I’m sending this message out to you, Virgo, because in the coming weeks it will be crucial for you to honor the parts of your life that can’t be managed through
SAVAGE LOVE SWITCHED ON
By Dan Savage, email@example.com
You’ve said that everyone is entitled to a “zone of erotic autonomy.” I was wondering if you thought that “zone” extends to sending thousands of dollars to a “FinDom.” I’m a 33-year-old straight woman and I love my husband and we have a great (or so I thought) sex life. He’s very dominant and controlling in bed and I’m very submissive and I thought we were well-matched sexually. So it was a shock for more than one reason when I stumbled over evidence that he’s been sending money to a female sex worker who calls herself a FinDom. This has been going on for nearly three years! It seems clear from their messages (I have read them
all) that they’ve never met in person (she clearly states that she never meets in person with her subs) but she sends him degrading personalized videos after he sends her money roughly once every other month. The amounts are small but they add up. We are more than comfortable so the issue isn’t the money. And while my husband has never complained about what I spend on a personal trainer or my hair or body treatments (admittedly a lot), this is obviously different because he’s masturbating over these videos. I don’t really want to degrade him and I obviously couldn’t dominate him financially as our finances are shared.
rational thought alone. I suggest you have sacred fun as you exult in the mysterious, welcome the numinous, explore the wildness within you, unrepress big feelings you’ve buried, and marvel adoringly about your deepest yearnings. LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Science writer Sharman Apt Russell provides counsel that I think you should consider adopting in the coming days. The psychospiritual healing you require probably won’t be available through the normal means, so some version of her proposal may be useful: “We may need to be cured by flowers. We may need to strip naked and let the petals fall on our shoulders, down our bellies, against our thighs. We may need to lie naked in fields of wildflowers. We may need to walk naked through beauty. We may need to walk naked through color. We may need to walk naked through scent.” SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): As Scorpio author Margaret Atwood reminds us, “Water is not a solid wall; it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it.” According to my reading of the astrological omens, being like water will be an excellent strategy for you to embrace during the coming weeks. “Water is patient,” Atwood continues. “Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.” SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): In a letter to a friend in 1856, Sagittarian poet Emily Dickinson confessed she was feeling discombobulated because of a recent move to a new home. She hoped she would soon regain her bearings. “I am out with lanterns, looking for myself,” she quipped, adding that she couldn’t help laughing at her disorientation. She signed the letter “From your mad Emilie,” intentionally misspelling her own name. I’d love it if you approached your current doubt and uncertainty with a similar light-heartedness and poise. (PS: Soon after writing this letter, Dickinson began her career as a poet in earnest, reading extensively and finishing an average of one poem every day for many years.)
My husband says he doesn’t want to be degraded by me but he was nevertheless willing pay a complete stranger to heap insults on him?!? I don’t understand. I thought we had a great sexual connection. I also thought I knew who he was erotically. I’m confused and don’t know what to do. —Feeling Insecure Necessarily, Doubts About Marriage Now
First things first: You actually have a great sex life (from the sound of things), your husband clearly loves you (if this if your only issue), and his dominance in the sack isn’t an act, FINDAMN, it’s just that having control isn’t the only thing that turns him on. It’s just that every once in a while he wants to give up control. Maybe he should’ve come to you
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Now is a favorable time to celebrate both life’s changeableness and your own. The way we are all constantly called on to adjust to unceasing transformations can sometimes be a wearying chore, but I suspect it could be at least interesting and possibly even exhilarating for you in the coming weeks. For inspiration, study this message from the “Welcome to Night Vale” podcast: “You are never the same twice, and much of your unhappiness comes from trying to pretend that you are. Accept that you are different each day, and do so joyfully, recognizing it for the gift it is. Work within the desires and goals of the person you are currently, until you aren’t that person anymore.” AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Aquarian author Toni Morrison described two varieties of loneliness. The first “is a loneliness that can be rocked. Arms crossed, knees drawn up; holding, holding on, this motion smooths and contains the rocker.” The second “is a loneliness that roams. No rocking can hold it down. It is alive, on its own.” Neither kind is better or worse, of course, and both are sometimes necessary as a strategy for self-renewal—as a means for deepening and fine-tuning one’s relationship with oneself. I recommend either or both for you in the coming weeks. PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): England’s Prince Charles requires his valet to iron his shoelaces and put toothpaste on his toothbrush and wash all of his clothes by hand. I could conceivably interpret the current astrological omens to mean that you should pursue similar behavior in the coming weeks. I could, but I won’t. Instead, I will suggest that you solicit help about truly important matters, not meaningless trivia like shoelace ironing. For example, I urge you to ask for the support you need as you build bridges, seek harmony, and make interesting connections. ■ Homework. The Dream of the Month Club wants to hear about your best nightly dreams. Truthrooster@gmail.com.
to get this need met and couldn’t bring himself to ask—for fear of rejection, for fear of spoiling your D/s dynamic—or maybe he sensed you wouldn’t enjoy degrading him and/or being degraded by you wouldn’t work for him. Backing up for a second: You say you’re “more than comfortable,” FINDAMN, which is filthy rich person code for “we have tons of money.” So while I’m opposed to one person in a marriage spending significant amounts of money without their spouse’s knowledge, I’m going to climb out on a limb and guess that this isn’t money you missed. No mortgage payments went unpaid, no vacations were cancelled, no kids were yanked out of private schools. Even if your husband sent this woman $9,999 dollars over the last three years—the
MAY 6, 2021
highest figure that keeps us in the “thousands” range— that works out to $278 dollars a month. I’m guessing the actual amount spent was far less than that, FINDAMN, and in no way impacted your comforts. (But here’s hoping Joe Biden’s tax hikes on the wealthy do!) As for the seeming contradiction—your husband dominates you and submits to this woman— it’s not that hard to explain what’s going on. While you’ve probably never been to a big gay leather/ fetish event, FINDAMN, if should ever go you would meet dozens of men who have both Doms and subs. So the guy you saw being dragged around on a leash on the first night will be dragging someone else around on a leash the second night. Because very few people into power exchange are 100% dominant or 100% submissive; one guy can bring out a gay guy’s submissive side and another guy can bring out his dominant side. Similarly, you seem to bring out your husband’s dominant side—much to your delight—while this other woman brings out his submissive side. So it would seem your husband is a bit of a switch; in his case, FINDAMN, he’s mostly dominant but also enjoys being submissive too. And being submissive to an online FinDom once in a while doesn’t mean there’s anything inauthentic about your husband when he’s dominating you. If you don’t want to degrade your husband—if you or if he or if you both prefer your roles to be fixed (which is common among kinky switches)—and your husband is willing to keep this connection 1. online only, 2. below an agreed to amount, and 3. to himself (if you don’t want to hear about it) or shared (if you do), I think you should allow your husband to have outlet. Again, you can spare the money and your husband hasn’t done anything stupid—he hasn’t given this woman access to your savings accounts or written her into his will. He’s paying this woman for a little dominant time and attention every now and then. And while what your husband did (basically purchased some interactive porn) does feel cheating-adjacent… I gotta ask… have you ever hired a personal trainer just because he was hot? Have you ever chosen a hairdresser because you liked to look at him? Have you ever gone out of your way to get body treatments from a VGL male masseuse? And then thought about one of those guys—or all three of them—while you were masturbating or having sex with your husband? If you can identify any small zones of erotic autonomy that you’ve carved out for yourself, FINDAMN, allowing your husband to continue enjoying the small zone of erotic autonomy he’s carved out for himself might come a little easier. I’m a 27-year-old gay man who’s having a hard time. I’m in relationship with a spectacular guy. He’s a 25-year-old bisexual man. He’s smart, funny, extroverted, and has lots of friends and lots of ex-fuckbuddies. We are deeply in love and neither of us has ever felt that before. It’s been five months and nothing could be better—except the fact that I’m deadly insecure. He’s got tons of friends, he’s extremely
attractive, and sexually he’s perfect. He’s a top who knows how to use his big dick and he has infinite endurance. I’m the opposite of all that: I have a few friends, I’m an average/ugly guy with an average/small dick, it’s not easy for me to get a solid erection, and it takes me just a couple of minutes to come. I keep comparing myself to him: he’s perfect and he can fuck anyone and I’m ugly and sexually inept compared to him. These feelings are killing me. —I Can’t Be The Right One Your boyfriend, who could apparently have anyone, has chosen you. So you’re either far more appealing—physically, emotionally, socially—than you give yourself credit for, ICBTRO, or your boyfriend gets off on the power imbalance. But if the latter were true, if he was manipulating you with his looks/dick, you would know. You would
be painfully aware of it and you would’ve mentioned it in your letter if your boyfriend had leveraged his looks and/ or his dick to get you to do things you didn’t want to do or put up with things no one should put up with. (If he had said something to you like, “You’ll never leave me because you can’t do better,” you would’ve included that.) So I’m guessing you’re a lot more appealing—physically, emotionally, socially—than you’ve allowed yourself to realize. Instead of worrying about whether this relationship will last forever (and most don’t), ICBTRO, try to enjoy the boyfriend you’ve got right now. Speak to a doctor about ED meds for your dick and speak to a shrink about your low self-esteem—because if anything is going to prematurely kill this relationship, it’s your insecurities. Your boyfriend may not want to be with you forever, ICBTRO, and you may not want to be with him forever. But if you want to be with him for as long as you can, you’ve gotta get a grip on your insecurities. He can’t help you with those. And if you can’t help yourself, ICBTRO, find a therapist who can help you. firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Dan on Twitter @FakeDanSavage. savagelovecast.com
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ACROSS “Unbelievable!” 6 Actor Patel of “Slumdog Millionaire” 9 Film in which Will Ferrell wears yellow tights 12 Good, in Genoa 13 Specs can be provided for them 15 Talk like a tippler 16 ___ Building, former name of Chicago’s Aon Center 17 Losing dice roll 18 [sooo funny!] 19 6-Across, with “out” 22 What the Cyclops couldn’t do after Odysseus tricked him 24 “___ interesante” 25 Bull’s preceder in the zodiac 26 “Sooo funny …” 28 Fearing 33 Inits. before 9-Across 35 Pop star Grande, to fans 36 Airplane whose name is also a vitamin 37 Start of the third millennium 38 Something often skipped using a DVR 39 Way to say “hey” in São Tomé 40 37-Across, in slang 44 Overlooked 46 Pestering sort 47 Dip stick? 48 Depiction on Arizona and New Mexico’s flags 49 ___ loose 1
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others 56 Ice-___ (old tennis nickname) 57 Bombard (with) 58 Sorting category in a music app 61 “Jeopardy!,” basically 62 Fix 63 Bumpkins 64 French holy title: Abbr. 65 Cheap beer choice, for short 66 S.U.V. with a geographic name
DOWN Firm requirement, maybe 2 Word a cook likes to hear 3 Travel abroad 4 How many times TV’s Perry Mason lost a case 5 Quite a job, you have to admit? 6 Publicly criticize 7 Literary character who says “I will be myself” to Mr. Rochester 8 What might be parm for the course? 9 Friend of Cookie Monster 10 Occasion for a roast 11 Some natural hairstyles, informally 14 Perfectly thrown football 15 Gunk 20 Circular dwelling 1
Libertarian politico Johnson 22 1984 hit for Cyndi Lauper 23 Where I-5 meets I-710 27 What may come home to roost 28 Something that might be made with cold cuts from the fridge 29 Sister of Calliope 30 Filmmaker who co-created “Twin Peaks” 31 Like Tennessee Avenue and New York Avenue, on a Monopoly board 32 Have ants in one’s pants 34 Website with Oscars recaps 38 Vietnam’s Le Duc ___ 40 Sweat it 41 Ones with spots to fill 21
42 “One” on ones 43 Tony and Maria duet in
“West Side Story”
45 Trey ___, R&B artist with
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