Thursday, April 29, 2010

Saguaro Blossoms

From the Reverse: "State Flower of Arizona. To be seen in April, May, and June, followed by fruit which bursts open showing bright red meaty insides, often mistaken for flowers by visitors passing through this region."

It's that time of year when the saguaros bloom. The flowers appear in a bunch at the very top of the arms. It's really cool to see. Sometimes quail, doves, or other birds sit up in the flowers. Though this postcard doesn't seem to show this, they really bloom mostly at night. Bats are major pollinator of saguaro cactus. I hope I'll get a chance to head out into the desert and photograph bats and blossoms soon. We're also planning on getting a blacklight to find scorpions. Bats, flowers, and scorpions sounds like a really fun night...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Emerson Review #39

If you're looking for something to read, my short story, "Phantom Limbs," is in The Emerson Review #39. There's lots of other great writing in there too, though I'm not certain how to buy it. I'm sure someone on their page could help you. I have another story at Prick of the Spindle, which you can read online. It's called "August From July."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Letter to the Governor

I'm so mad about SB1070. This is really the last straw. Different political views are necessary to our national identity and I usually recognize and respect politic positions different than my own, but even a basic understanding of history and the spirit of America democracy tells us that racial profiling is wrong and witch hunts are wrong and that only harm comes out of intolerance and hate.  SB1070 is a vehicle to terrorize an unwanted segment of the population - a time-tested fascist move to deny the "enemy" a feeling of safety and prevent sanctuary.  I'm tired of ignorant people's voices being heard over the voices of reason, thoughtfulness, and knowledge. Let's scream the truth over the belligerent, ignorant sound and fury.

I sent Jan Brewer this e-mail. I know she'll probably never read it, but it's cathartic. Feel free to copy it and email it to her yourself. It's the truth and what she deserves to hear for being too cowardly or ignorant to stand up to the fascists and act like an American leader. Here a link to her email engine: http://www.azgovernor.gov/Contact.asp

Dear Gov. Brewer,
While thinking about American history, I remembered that our current moment will undoubtedly solidify your political legacy. I didn't need an oracle to know how you'll be remembered. You're name goes here on this list:

 - Orval Faubus - Arkansas Governor who opposed desegregating schools and tried to block the Little Rock Nine.
 - Ross Barnett - Mississippi governor who proclaimed "no school will be integrated in Mississippi while I am your Governor."
 - George Wallace, Governor of Alabama, who tried to block the integration of the University of Alabama.
 -Evan Mechame, Arizona governor who rescinded Martin Luther King Day.
 - Jan Brewer - signed SB1070, which set aside civil rights and allowed racial profiling of citizens in an attempt to remove undocumented immigrants from the state.

Congratulations on securing your place in our country's story. Remember, that these governor's decisions also enjoyed popular support in their respective states, but no one recalls that now. Enjoy being on the wrong side of history.

A concluding note - I thought about including - Benjamin Tillman, South Carolina governor and apologist for lynch laws, but I decided not to.  I'm not ready to say that SB1070 is as horrible as lynching. Still, the similarities are there; both rely on an "ends justify the means" foundation and both rely on terror to attack a racially identified enemy. I'm sure there are myriad other politicians who have been on the wrong side of civil rights that I excluded from this list. Feel free to add them.

Friday, April 23, 2010

SB1070 = Apartheid

Update: Our worthless, cowardly governor passed this law. She would have signed Jim Crow if the state hyenas had told her to. What a weak, ignorant person.

Zach de la Rocha has been an active force in Arizona for some time now, attending protests against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and others within Arizona who promote pseudo-fascist, nationalistic, or racist laws or actions. Real Americans in Arizona (a.k.a. not racists or fascists) appreciate his voice. Now one of our most vocal, idiotic, and racist state legislators, Russell Pierce of Mesa, has recruited his party to pass a law that uses terror to frighten undocumented immigrants out of Arizona. This law is referred to as SB1070, and it promotes 21st century America apartheid. The move has made us the laughing stock of the country.

How can an Arizonan blogger abjure from weighing in? This is the situation as I see it.

SB1070 is the most terrifying and misguided law I have seen in my lifetime. The law requires people to show proof of citizenship if a law enforcement official has "reasonable suspicion" that someone is in the country illegally. If you don't have proof, you face a fine or jail time.

Our state is 1/3 Latino. This law puts nearly half the state - if we include other people of color or with accents with Latinos - in a defensive position. I'm white - blond hair, blue eyes, sunburn on a cloudy day white. This law doesn't threaten me. But it threatens many of my friends and neighbors. As the white population faces little chance of discrimination, the law creates a social dynamic that divides whites and non-whites - this is essentially apartheid. It's surreal that in April, 2010 I am writing about a law that threatens to divide whites and non-white in America. It's very sad.

Many Arizonans are upset about the derision we're facing from the rest of the country. Though I hate this law, I understand people's frustration. 58-year-old Arizona rancher, Bob Krentz Jr. was found shot to death on his ranch near the Mexican border. All signs point to illegal human or drug smugglers as the killers. What's more, we have many undocumented immigrants driving around our state uninsured. Drug cartels move massive amounts of drugs through our state and human traffickers use AZ as a highway. Car theft is out of control and Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of the country. When I go hiking in national forests south of Tucson, the NPS has posted signs warning of dangerous drug smuggling activities in the area. So while the rest of the country can sit back and talk about immigration reform, we're left down here at the border to deal with the mess. Still, the Republican AZ legislature is to blame for making us look so foolish. I mean, they passed a law requiring presidential candidates to show a birth certificate to get on the ballot in Arizona. Birthers are the nation's most idiotic clowns. If it makes these people upset to share their country with Mexicans, it makes me sick to share my country with birthers.

And there's something about Arizona that you don't know until you live here. Low taxes and lax gun laws make the place seem libertarian, but it's really more like a police state. We have speeding cameras, we have foolishly tough D.U.I. laws, we have chain gangs, and public humiliation. Helicopters fly over Phoenix to fine people with green pools and they fine you $135 for having a license plate frame. So while people are calling Obama and his administration socialist for passing what really amount to consumer protection laws (it's fine to oppose healthcare reform, but you're an idiot if you think it's communism), we have people in the southwest ready to throw away their civil rights via SB1070. What makes them so ready to surrender their rights? Simple. They're racist. They blame everything on "illegals." Mexicans have become the scapegoat. Arizona's Orwellian "Two Minutes of Hate" are projected upon Mexicans. They dislike Mexicans more than they value freedom. And they're white and unconcerned about the rights of non-white Arizonans.

I have little hope that Governor Jan Brewer will do the right thing and veto this un-American, racist, foolish law. I love Arizona - the mountains and deserts, Bisbee, Tucson, Sedona, the canyons and cacti, the animals and the clearest night skies imaginable - but many of the people here are of the worst sort. They're the self-righteous ignorant. Self-centered and undereducated, they buy into simple ideologies (racism is a complex problem, but a simple thing to believe in) and they fight fervently to protect "their rights," which often means denying rights to others. Don't get me wrong, we need immigration reform. Mexico is our neighbor and we need to comprehensively work to create a viable relationship with them, but in Arizona and the other border states, we need a more secure border and better protect for our citizens now, not at the federal government's pace. One dead rancher at the hands of criminals is one too many. But, racism and apartheid are not only unjust and ignorant, they're also ineffective. We need to vote for intelligent, creative, forward-thinking legislators, not bigots who fuel anger and say what idiots want to hear.

For more information, visit Alto Arizona.

Smoke Bath

Toby Yelland

While perusing Tumblr this morning, I saw that Bob from Corkgrips posted some photos from the new photography collection entitled Smoke Bath. The photographs look awesome and proceeds go to a good cause. Here's the description written by the book's curator, Peter Sutherland,

"Smoke Bath is a collection of photographs and art work loosely based on the theme of camping/ nature/ exploring. The Fresh Air Fund is an independent, not-for-profit agency that provides free summer vacations to New York City children from low-income communities. The goal of smoke bath is to showcase the work of artists that are inspired by nature and raise money for freshair.org in the process."
 Interestingly, Kelly Reichardt is a contributor and her photos are still shots from Old Joy. The whole thing has got a great lo-fi feel and a great theme. Check it out.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ralph's Diner on Instant Film

Ralph's Diner is a bar/club/burger joint in Worcester, MA. It's also my favorite bar in the world. We used to go there a lot when we lived in Worcester. The walls are covered in taxidermy, junk shop oddities, and found art. The jukebox kicks ass and if you're around when the bartender puts coins in, she'll let you pick out some of the songs.

I used to like Pernod. Apparently, not a lot of people drink Pernod and the bartender at Ralph's remembered me as the dude who drank it. My band played upstairs a few times and we spent many nights in the dining car. Lots of good memories. Here's a Polaroid tribute to good ol' Ralph's.

What's your favorite bar?

 me and ruscitti at ralphs
Your humble narrator in a long-hair phase (circa 2005) with my buddy Jeff.
jared and veau at ralphs
My former bandmates, Veau and Jared drinkin' beers.
Damien and Erin under the taxidermy
Diner Car at Ralph's Holgaroid 58/365
Erin, Sarah, Damien, Dig, Liz
Ralph's Holgaroid 51/365
The dining car.
vera @ ralph's
My former band, Vera, playing at Ralph's. That's me on the left, Matt on the drums, Kevin on bass, and Veau on guitar. They've had a new stage for years now. This is pretty old.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Colossal Cave

From the reverse: "Twenty seven miles southeast of Tucson, lies one of Pima County's most unique wonders, the Colossal Cave. The true interest in Colossal Cave lies in its delicate colorings and exquisite formations. The action of air and water from eons ago, has resulted in a veritable lace-like fairyland of stone"

We haven't actually visited Colossal Caves yet. There's a chance that we might be moving to another part of the state soon, so we better get on that. How could anyone pass up visiting "a veritable lace-like fairyland?" That's exactly the kind of macho stuff I'm into.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

King Philip's War Boardgame - Seriously? What the....?

Image from MultiManPublishing.

The year from 1675 to 1676 presented one of the darkest periods in New England, and American, history - a episode that set the precedent for European colonial conquest of North America in the coming centuries. After years of tenuous relations, sustained largely through the efforts of the Wampanoag Sachem, Massasoit, the Native Americans were running low on trade goods and the British colonies were growing more established and entrenched. Finally, Massasoit's son, Metacom (a.k.a. "King Philip"), saw the writing on the wall and decided to take a stand for his people against the expanding colonies. What ensued was an all-out war between a confederacy of Native American tribes, led by Metacom, against the New England colonists and their Native American allies, including the Pequot (who had been their enemies a generation before) and the Mohawks.

The Native Americans won some early victories, but they were surrounded and outnumbered. They were weakened by years of introduced European diseases. They were at a technological disadvantage. The war ended when the colonists, aided by sympathetic Native Americans, tracked Metacom to Assowamset Swamp, shot him. His body was drawn and quartered and beheaded. His head went on display in Plymouth.

The War remains in the popular conscious throughout New England. Markers call our attention to battles, such as the burning of Mendon, and various natural landmarks are named after Metacom, such as King Philip's Rock in Mendon and Lookout Rock in Uxbridge. Perhaps nothing has carried the conflict into our current moment so much as Mary Rowlandson's captivity narrative. That is, until now...

A Maryland company is set to release a board game called King Philip's War. Designed by a Maryland teacher, the two player game pits colonists against Native Americans in a battle game that appears to resemble Risk.

Some Native Americans are unhappy with the game, which they feel trivializes the conflict. It seems likely to me that Euro-American victor-consciousness will make the colonists the good guys and the Native Americans the villains to most players. There have been WWII games in which some players can opt to be German, but that doesn't level the moral/historical playing field; history is written by the winners and it's awfully hard for others to re-write it. The Native Americans who oppose the game are upset by this trivializing of a brutal colonial massacre, and also upset that they were not consulted in the game's creation. Some who are protesting the game are asking (I think rather magnanimously) that they be allowed to give their input in hopes of making it a valuable teaching tool. I don't believe that a game that is essentially whites vs Indians has any place in education or popular culture, but what do I know? Curt Schilling, the Red Sox pitcher who owns part of Multiman, thinks it's just fine. This AP article quotes him as saying,

"...historical events should not be whitewashed for fear of offending someone. King Philip's War helped forge early American identity, even if it "clearly exposed the horrible side of humans in some cases"
"If everyone intent on keeping historical events stopped at content that might seem offensive, we'd lose sight of the horrific mistakes this nation, the world and the human race are capable of, and that would be a horrific thing."

While these might be true statements about a book, or a film, or an exhibit, this doesn't extend to a board game.  There is something inherently trivial about games and Schilling's decision to ignore the genre clearly demonstrates either his ignorance about, or financial interest in, this situation. Historians have spent years trying to come to terms with the our colonial past and our conquest of native people. A major part of our identity, indeed, our nationhood, is unjustifiable; we stole our land by force from its legitimate owners because their military technology was less advanced. So, Schilling is saying the right things, just about the wrong subject. We do need to examine the darker parts of our history, but not by playing fun games based on bloody colonial conquest. In fact, it's pop culture trivializations of history, such as this game, that keep the true nature of history safely tucked behind a veil of years and that inoculates modern Americans against the stress, harm, and pain of having to critically examine who we are and where we came from.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hessian Teenage Years Redeemed: A useful skill

I may be teaching a composition class at Arizona State this summer. It's ENG 105 - Advanced First-Year Composition and it's online. Well, as it turns out, students aren't exactly lining up to spend their summer vacations thinking about the thesis, audience, stakeholders, pathos, logos, and ethos. Who knew?
To make matters worse, there are two Online ENG 105's being offered at the same time this summer. I teach for the main campus, and the other instructor teaches for another campus. But wait, there's more. I need to reach a quota of students in order for the class to happen. I have only a third as many students as the other person. Why? Well, on the class registration website, his was listed as "Online" and mine was not, even though it's an online course! All very confusing and threatening to my financial situation. I may need to change the blog title to Keeping Owls Solvent (Since 2010)!

It was suggested that I make a flyer to advertise my course in hope of generating some enrollment. I am no graphic designer, artist, nor advertiser, so I wasn't sure how to go about making the flyer. Then I remembered the only other time in my life I made flyers - in the mid-1990's to advertise hardcore and punk shows. "Stick with what you know" can be good advice, so I constructed this beauty of a flyer. It might not attract students, but if it does, they'll be cool students.

That's Minor Threat on the flyer, F.Y.I.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tucson Mountains at Night

View on Black
Erin and I tagged along on another stargazing journey with our friends Martha and James. James has been bitten by the astronomy bug and there's talk about the possibility of a new telescope soon. Very exciting. While we were out there, I took some night photos experimenting with cars, headlights, and desert roads. There all from the Tucson Mountains, which includes the west side of Saguaro National Park and the Tucson Mountain Park. The "View on Black" links go larger sizes of the pictures against a black background for optimal viewing. There are more Tucson Mountain night photos on our Flickr page.
desert ghosts
View on Black
red lines
View on Black
brake lights
View on Black

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Desert Magazine June 1949

Randall Henderson founded The Desert Magazine in Palm Desert, California in 1937. Though Henderson passed away in 1977, the magazine ran until 1985. Like the longer running and more famous Arizona Highways, The Desert focused on matters of interest throughout the southwest, such as history, culture and lifestyle, naturalism, geology, and conservation. You can find more issues of The Desert on Scribd. It looks like someone made an abortive attempt to revive the magazine,  but didn't get to far. See here or here. It's a great magazine, so good luck to the fellow who'd like to bring it back.

The Desert is actually fairly expensive on E-bay, but I got this one fairly cheaply because the cover is in lousy condition. Still, it's all there and I thought I'd highlight some of the cool stuff in this 60-year-old issue. The photograph on the cover is of a desert sparrow hawk and the photographer was Robert Leatherman. It's sitting on a cactus skeleton of some sort.
Ancient artists
Among the articles are a piece about the Salton Sea in California, one of the southwest's most epic failure of planned living, and this article on petroglyphs in New Mexico.
Hard Rock Shorty
It think Hard Rock Shorty is kind of funny, even though the joke is about the desert being a hot place. It's kind of in the old hyperbolic tall tale style and I appreciate that.
Kept alive by barrel cactus
This was one lucky dude. The Desert ran short news pieces of interest like this from other publications in the back near the classifieds.
Click here to enlarge the photo and read the poems.
 If anyone wants to take the quiz, leave your answers in the comments. The magazine included the answers, and I'll post the correct answers if anyone takes it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Farley Mowat

Farley Mowat's name pops up fairly frequently here on Making Owls Cool  - and I've mentioned that the blog title is a bit of a tribute to him - but I've been negligent in dedicating a post to talking about him. Until now.

Farley Mowat is a conservationist, naturalist, and one of Canada's finest writers. Now nearly ninety-years-old, Mowat's literary career stretches behind him for over a half-century. He's a prolific writer and I can't say I've exhausted his catalog. I'll give some brief descriptions of the works I've read at the end of this post.

Mowat used his stature as a writer almost exclusively to promoting issues of conservation of wildlife and protecting First Nation people, primarily in the Arctic. His memoirs are classic nature writing that explore the relationships between people and animals, though some also address his time as a soldier in WWII. Among his broad range of topics are his dog, his owls, wolves, Vikings, whales, Inuit people, Dian Fossey of Gorillas in the Mist fame, and the people of Newfoundland. He's a member of the Green Party of Canada and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society named a ship after him and he's donated money to that organization. If you're not familiar with the Sea Shepherds, they're pretty bad-ass and you should check them out.

Of course, like all public figures, he's not without some controversy. His book Never Cry Wolf has been attacked for being scientifically inaccurate, though Mowat has a degree in biology. In 1985, he was denied entry into the United States when he was supposed to speak in California. It made a lot of people angry and he was eventually granted limited entry, which is declined. The reason for his denial was unclear.

That's a very brief overview of the man, so let me give you a brief overview of his works that I've read. There's a lot more that I haven't read and look forward to reading.

People of the Deer (1952) - People of the Deer recounts time Mowat spent with the Ihalmiut Inuit tribe in northern Canada. The tribe had been nearly driven out of existence and the government didn't even acknowledge they were there. Mowat followed their way of life as migratory caribou hunters and exposed ways in which interlopers on their land were ruining their ancient culture. The book helped raise awareness and government support for previously neglected people.

The Dog Who Wouldn't Be (1957) - This book is a memoir about Mowat and his relationship with his dog, Mutt. It recalls Mowat's boyhood growing up on the prairies of Saskatchewan. Mutt is just that - a mutt - but he's a dog with myriad idiosyncrasies and questionable luck. I believe every dog would make a great literary hero in the right authorial hands - they often seem to believe themselves heroic -and in The Dog Who Wouldn't Be Mutt gets his chance to shine. There's one sad point here, though. The target audience of The Dog Who Wouldn't Be is older children and adults, which meant that I read it after I read Owls in the Family, which is a children's book. Owls in the Family ends with an optimistic nod toward the future of Mowat's owl friends, but The Dog Who Wouldn't Be reveals what actually happened to them. Needless to say, I was very, very sad about that part of the book.

Owls in the Family (1961) - This book is, as some of you may already know, the inspiration for the title of my blog. I read this in 1986 and I've been an owl devotee ever since. Like The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, this book recounts Mowat's childhood on the Canadian prairies and his adoption of two great horned owls, Wol and Weeps. Like Mutt, the owls are full of personality and make fantastic protagonists. Poor Mutt is often the target of their antics. Mowat describes his extensive critter collection, which made me intensely jealous as a kid, though I had a respectable critter collection myself.

Never Cry Wolf (1963) - Though the science and scope of this book is contested, Mowat's depiction of wolves is undeniably sympathetic and does a great deal to dispell myth about the species. In the book, the watched a wolf family through breeding season and keeps a journal about what he sees.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Parents Were Awesome

I submitted this photo of my parents to My Parents Were Awesome months ago and I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon it today. Very exciting! This picture was taken the day I was christened. I don't know what I was up to that kept me out of the picture, but perhaps I was crying or sleeping. I didn't do much else back them.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Signal Hill at Night

Check out this photo on a black background. They're all best viewed large and against a black background. 
Our friends James and Martha got some high-powered binoculars for sky watching and invited Erin and I to go try them out. We headed to the west side of Saguaro National Park, to a petroglyph site called Signal Hill, and spent a while looking at stars, planets, nebula, and star clusters. I also took some nighttime photographs. Photographing the desert at night is one of my favorite things to do. It's really dark, and sort of an inexact science, so the pictures never come out perfect. Still, I was pleased with a few of them and I thought I'd share them.
saguaro 1
Large on Black
martha and james
Large on Black
desert sky 1
Large on Black
plants and sky
Large on Black
signal hill with jeep
Large on Black

For more nighttime Signal Hill photos, visit our Flickr page. The "On Black" option comes from Big Huge Labs, which is a cool website that you can link to your Flickr page and use to modify photos, order prints, and a whole lot of other stuff.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Best Easter Wishes

My family sent me this great postcard from 1908 for Easter. Obviously, the picture is really funny (rabbit as beast of burden!), but I also love the font. I'm no designer or anything, and I don't generally notice fonts, but I really like this one. Thanks guys!
Best Easter Wishes Reverse side
I also like the handwriting on the reverse as it's very easy to read. Here is goes:

"Dear Mother,
We are so glad to hear you and Father are both well, and I will write you a long letter next week.
With Love,
Lillie H."

Sent to:
Mrs. James M. Hayes
1218 S. Walker St.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The postmark is from San Francisco. It's both sad and wonderful to think that this postcard has been sent not once, but twice, by families separated by great distances at Easter time. Unlike Lillie, I suppose I have the luxury of calling my family on the phone, rather than waiting until next week to write a long letter, but I wonder if the technological convenience really makes me feel any closer to home than Lillie felt a century ago...

Happy Easter, folks.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Garden of Gethsemane

From the Reverse - "THE LAST SUPPER - "Take, eat; this is my body." St. Matthew 26:26. The breaking of the bread at The Last Supper is the central piece among several sculptured religious representations by Felix Lucero in the Garden of Gethsemane on the west bank of the Santa Cruz river at the Congress Street bridge, Tucson, Arizona."

Felix Lucero Park, more commonly known as the Garden of Gethsemane, sits next to the usually-dry riverbed of the Santa Cruz River here in Tucson. The park, which is very small, contains sand and plaster sculptures depicting people and scenes from the New Testament, such as the Last Supper pictured on this postcard. Lucero was a homeless WWI veteran who lived under the Congress Street Bridge and built the statues over a series of years out of material he recovered from the Santa Cruz River.

The legend goes that Lucero was injured in battle and made a pact with the Virgin Mary that if he survived he's dedicate his life to making religious art. Apparently, they both made good on their respective ends of the deal.

Here's the info if you want to visit the park. The city likes to advertise it as a tourist spot, but be aware that it's a favorite hang out from vagrants, the homeless, and less savory characters. Considering Lucero's story, I'm happy to share the park with homeless folks - perhaps they have a better right to be there than I do - but I take a friend with me on the visit all the same.
Address: 602 W. Congress St., Tucson, AZ
Directions: To Felix Lucero Park, take I-10 to exit 258. Head West on Congress St. for one block. It's located on the western bank of the Santa Cruz River, at the corner of Congress St. and Bonita Ave.
Hours: Daily 7:00 AM - Sunset.
Phone: 520-791-4873

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dear Texas, Can We Keep Taylor Sanford Jr.? Sincerely, Arizona.

I paint a pretty picture of Arizona on Making Owls Cool, but all's not well in the desert and I'd like to take a moment and air some dirty laundry about our state. I promise I will not make a habit of it. I wouldn't want to read this stuff all the time. I'll get back to loving Arizona tomorrow, I promise.

Arizona's economy is really in the shit, and not only because of the housing crisis and recession. For years the state government has failed to raise enough revenue to provide adequate services to the citizens of the state and now overspending on a unsustainable budget has caught up with us. A lot of folks out here are living in La-La Land and care more about keeping their guns and keeping Mexicans out and less about education, civil rights, or conservation. We're the only state that no longer provides healthcare to uninsured children. As I write this our foolish state government is wasting its time trying to grant the governor the power to file a lawsuit against the healthcare reform bill. This is something our attorney general has refused to do because A. it appears the federal government is within its jurisdiction and B. because only one state would need to bring the lawsuit and win to overturn parts of the bill and other states have already done this, making AZ's suit unnecessary. The state's priorities are not just backwards, but ignorant. You may ask, won't the people get fed up and do something about it? Nope. They're too busy making undocumented Mexican immigration the scapegoat for every problem. Education no good? - we're paying for illegals. Job loss? - illegals taking them. Swine flu - illegals. Cloudy days - illegals. You get the idea; many people aren't involved in realistic, let alone productive, dialogue about improving the state.

Regardless your political standpoint, the 48th state isn't only near the end of the list in terms incorporation, but also in terms of legislation and management. We have one of the most severe budget deficits in the country and poorest funded education systems with results to match. Yet, we're near the top of the list in terms of natural beauty, unique landscapes, and historical sites. Luckily, many of Arizona's finest resources are managed by the National Parks Service, like the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, and Organ Pipe Cactus. Unfortunately, many of the amazing natural places cared for by the Arizona State Parks system are at the mercy of our Hindenburg of a state government. However, as is usually the case, there are enough resourceful people around to offset at least some of what the hyenas are up to. Local communities, often in rural areas, rely on state parks and tourism for revenue. The state parks board and local communities are working together to try to keep the state parks open. Many communities are taking over control of the state parks. For example, Tombstone will manage Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park, the town of Payson will manage Tonto Natural Bridge until September 7th. Other communities, like Tubac and Flagstaff have also assumed responsibility or are working out deals. I for one will make an effort to visit the parks and help support the townships, historical societies, and citizens who are working to maintain that privilege for me.

In an extremely generous move, a fellow named Taylor Sanford Jr., a 76-year-old visitor from Katy, Texas, wrote a check for $8,000 to keep Lost Dutchman State Park open a bit longer. Lost Dutchman is a personal favorite of mine, too, so thanks Mr. Sanford. I'm glad to end this political rant with the example of Sanford's generosity. Arizona could use a few more Taylor Sanfords and a few less J.D. Hayworths and Joe Arpaios.