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Tucson’s streets

I am constantly astonished at the activity on Tucson roads. Barriers are everywhere, blocking lanes, creating detours, stopping traffic. It’s astonishing because the roads only get worse. One county supervisor who seeks reelection says she will fix the roads. If she does, it will be only because she is GOD. Only God can fix Tucson’s streets. They have been for caca for most of the 20th and all of the 21st centuries. The explanation you hear is that Tucson temperatures are extreme, really hot and then really cold. But why then is Phoenix able to maintain roads like glass? My friend Zoe theorizes that it’s a lot like Tucson’s TV news. There’s a rule that it has to be bad, and another one says the streets have to be so bad as to punish your kidneys. Zoe says it’s the price you pay for the sunrises and sunsets.

So soon, mon

We seem to have an early monsoon season. This is a very good thing, being In the Wet, (a novel by Nevil Shute). In any event, this is what you

find on the Rillito these days.


Badda bing

If you lie with camels, expect to get up with fleas. A lesson right here for Paul Ryan from the best editorial-page columnist in the country.


For those of you who don’t know, Zoe is our medium Golden Doodle. She is a quarter Golden Retriever and the rest Poodle. She like to hunt lizards. The fact that she does not catch any does not discourage her. Besides, she gets to run a lot. As you can see in this video.

Mind the clutter

Even in my dotage, I’m of two minds about clutter.

On the one hand, I tend to do my best work with layers of clutter piled on my desk. On the other hand, I feel better when things are tidy and organized and I can find what I am looking for. BTW, it was Harry Truman, I think, who got sick of ” on the one hand/on the other hand” explanations, and suggested the adviser cut off one of his hands.DSC00886

But I digress.

I spent my working life in newspaper newsrooms where desks were infested with clutter. I refer to major-league trash and stuff on desks: old newspapers, pizza boxes, dried pizza crust, Burger King shriveled fries, remnants of doughnuts, cookies, empty coke cans, coffee cups with 6-day old coffee pocked with floating mold, pica poles, copy paper, plastic glue pots, well-chewed spearmint gum, candy wrappers and used Kleenex and napkins. That was the first layer.

They were all the same, these newsrooms, some worse than others. There was one exception. It was a freak of nature — the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel back in the time of Reagan and just say “no.” The desks were clear, clean as a whistle, just a phone and NOTHING else. It looked like an insurance office or a banker’s desk. I asked the guide. He said the neat-freak publisher commanded that all desks be cleared at the end of the day. This was as strange and unnatural as the sun setting in East. To issue such an evil edict also was the equivalent of mortal sin. Thus, it was certain that this publisher, like the vast majority of his ilk, was bound for Hell and well-deserved eternal fire and damnation.

For the moment, as I write, my desks — I have two, being prone to excess — are clear, neat and ordered. This happens usually twice a month. To tell the truth, it’s a bit deceptive. To create the illusion of neatness, I simply gather the layers of clutter and put them in a piles and stow them. Out of sight, out of mind — until I happen to run into the pile, usually on a chair or tucked in a closet. I try to forget about it as soon as possible.

DSC00888There is one sort of clutter one can’t do much about and comes unbidden with dotage. It’s in the mind. It becomes difficult with age to remember the name of that particular actor, song, place or whatever. Siri is my crutch. But it’s depressing. I would prefer to remember.

Alas, there are no cleaners, sweepers or nostrums to tidy up the mind. At least not yet. But there’s always hope. Now that the boomers are cascading into old age, I expect he pharmaceutical industry will develop a tidy-the-mind drug as soon as it pencils out. When and if they do, it’s a safe bet it will cost the earth plus 10 percent.


The Tucson Chamber of Commerce should hype the city as a haven for bandits. We love them. The town celebrates the John Dillinger story with enormous reference. So much you’d think he was homegrown.

We are especially fond of Mexican bandits. Like Pancho Villa, arguably the best and grandest public statue in the city. His gang shot and killed gringos in New Mexico, which really pissed off the American government, which couldn’t catch a cold much less a Mexican bandit turned general.. Then out on Silverbell, there’s Joaquin Murrieta Park. Murrieta was a California bandit, a Robin Hood allegedly. It is also alleged that he was the inspiration for Zorro, the greatest of bandits.

Alas, the only true Arizona bandits are today’s Republicans of the Arizona Legislature, which in their collectively infinite stupidity gave us Proposition 123, on which we are to vote in May. This is a plan to finance the state’s education needs for the next 10 years by robbing Peter to pay Paul. Peter in this case is the state land trust and Paul, the state’s under-funded schools. Arizona education is under-financed because the Republicans refuse to abide by the mandate of the Arizona Constitution. So this gaggle of intellectual pygmies banded with the governor to propose that billions be sucked from the trust  over 10 years for schools. At the end of 10 years, the billions apparently disappear. This is a replay of the Ant and the Grasshopper, only the timeframe is different.

It’s nuts. We in Tucson should erect a monument to this robbery caper by the Legislature. I suggest a modest bronze of a pile of horse pucky, maybe next to Pancho Villa’s horse with a suitable plaque.

Meanwhile, we should think about naming a nice park after Richard Nixon. Or George W. Bush. Hard to figure which of the two committed the greater crime.

Why does Ted Cruz want to be president? He hates public lands, national parks, Medicare, Social Security, Obamacare and taxes. If he is elected, one might wonder, would he eliminate all those hateful programs? Or maybe he just wants a few years riding Air Force One? Blind ambition is something to behold.

If you have Amazon Prime, you should watch the fourth episode of Mozart in the Jungle in which Bernadette Peters sings Come On A My House. It is, above all, memorable. The same episode also features Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell and Lang Lang.

Got this doggie chew toy as a spiff for ordering some doggie meds. Here is what the tag sez:

!Warning: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Hey that’s just the thing — carcinogenic chew toys. What will they think of next?

Clouds, OPEC and vain cardinals

The clouds over the east end of the Catalinas were spectacular this afternoon. It was raining there but from the Rillito Park it was sunny and in the low 80s. The morning rain was modest but enough to cut the dust. The iPhone lens doesn’t do justice to the mountains.


The NY Times reports that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is meeting in some Middle Eastern metropolis to decide allegedly how much oil should be produced. This comes down to the fact that the Saudis and the Russians are pumping at full capacity. The Iranians want to pipe in, but then the Saudis hate the Persians and vice-versa. The Russians hate everybody. OPEC has been fracked royally by the Americans who have made North Dakota a haven for moles the size of Godzilla.

It may seen odd, but I miss Sheikh Amed Zaki Yamani. He was the head of OPEC for 25 years. He was very sophisticated, a Harvard Law graduate with a nifty mustache and great suits. He smiled warmly and sincerely as OPEC and his kith and kin in Saudi Arabia were fracking the Americans right up the petro dollar. I will never forget a column by the greatest nattering nabob of his time, William Safire, then a columnist for the Times. It carried this phrase: “Yamani or your life.”


Left the door open for a while today and when I went out to the garage, there was a lady cardinal on a imageswindow ledge. She was lovely, never so flashy as the male. There was a male cardinal that regularly showed up at work. He was attracted to window panes with mirror reflective coating. He saw his image and kept trying to meet up with himself. He did these loop-de-loops. It would have made a terrific video set to a song by Carly Simon.

The Living Dead

Here is the last graph of an op-ed piece in today’s NYT by Utah’s extremely Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch. It argues that Scalia’s replacement should wait until after the election:

Considering a nominee in the midst of a toxic presidential election would be irresponsible. Doing so would only further inject a circus atmosphere into an already politicized confirmation process. Conducting a thoughtful and substantive deliberation after the election is in the best interests of the Senate, the judiciary and the country.

Everybody loves the circus. You need no further proof than the up and coming billionaire circus barker Donald J. Trump. The man with the ORANGE hair is the chief Republican ticket seller and promises to transmogrify the Grand Old Party into the party of the Living Dead. You know this has already begun. Just look at Gov. Chris Christie, his hollow eyes looking but not seeing. At least the Living Dead will not perpetuate the Republican Senate’s favorite fiction that it does anything or stands for anything. It will dispense with the platitudes piled high with arrogance and topped with a thick layer of hypocrisy. Can anyone remember when the Senate engaged in “thoughtful and substantive deliberation”? Certainly not in this century and likely long before Hatch came to it in 1977. “Thoughtful and substantive deliberation” in the context of the current United States Senate is an oxymoron for the ages. At least, with the Living Dead, what you see is what you get.

Trumped up

I becoming resigned to Trump, President Trump. And looking on the bright side, just think when they start building THE WALL, there will be lots of money from the construction. We’ll get big paychecks, businesses will have bloated bottoms (lines) and Happy Days will go on and on. We’ll all be Scrooge McDucks, rolling in gold.
I would bet that prosperity will continue after it’s built. CHAPO GUZMAN and the cartel will reprise its El Topo business and build hundreds, if not thousands, of tunnels under THE WALL. There will be a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow on the border. Along with a Trump Tower.

A metaphor in need of an editor

From today’s New York Times, a book review written by Dwight Garner of “Prodigals” by Greg Jackson:

There’s also the crunch of writers like Ian McEwan and Martin Amis in Mr. Jackson’s prose. Best of all there’s that sense — only the excellent ones give it to you — that whatever topic the author turns his mental LED lights toward will be powerfully illuminated.