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Mayor James N. Corbett: He knew how to count

Sometime in 1979 a friend and I decided as we often did in those days to have lunch at El Dorado, a restaurant at 36th Street and South Fourth Avenue. It was known in those days for its outstanding red chile and a tapestry of John and Bobby Kennedy that hung on its east wall. We were about to sit down when we spied Jim Corbett — the former nationally known drunken, thigh-biting mayor of Tucson and [Read more…]

Water Wars

Tucson’s recall election of January 1977 had all the sense and feel of a mob lynching rather than an exercise in representative democracy.

Three members of the city council were trounced and booted from office. They were guilty only of [Read more…]

David Fitzsimmons, cartoonist for the Arizona Daily Star

David with his granddaughter Emma and Edie Auslander.

David Fitzsimmons, the Arizona Daily Star’s cartoonist,  has raised millions for Tucson’s charities for a quarter century by being the provocative, funny and entertaining master of ceremonies at thousands of charity events. He is Mr. Chicken Dinner with a black marker pen and a thick paper pad three by four feet perched on an easel. (Click here for a selection of FitzFotos.)

Unless he is booked, he will not say no. Fitz will stand and amuse. Have pad, will travel. He jokes, you guffaw.

For free. Any time as long as the cause is noble, the audience tomato-free and there are a few big names in attendance that he can besmirch, belittle, beguile and charm.

He has been the cartoonist at the Arizona Daily Star since 1986, one of my better hires.

He was born in Merced, Calif. A few months later his parents came to Tucson. He went to Rincon High School and then to the University of Arizona, where he majored in several subjects, but mostly he was cartoonist for the Wildcat. He graduated and found a job as a newspaper artist for the Oklahoman of Oklahoma City.

He moved to the Virginian-Pilot of Virginia Beach and Norfolk.

After his stint with that paper, Fitz landed his first full-time cartoonist job with the Daily Press of Newport News, Va. His boss at that paper was the late Tony Snow who went on to become press spokesman for George W. Bush. He died of colon cancer in 2008 at the age of 53.

I interviewed Fitz and his daughter sometime in 1985 in the coffee shop of the Sheraton Hotel in Reston, Virginia. Sarah, who was not yet 2 years old, was up and down steps and all over the carpet. He said he was anxious to get back to Tucson, but as an editorial cartoonist. Since then, Fitz has been a part of what critics still call the “Red Star,” his cartoons poking fun at, praising, satirizing and annoying. That is the chief reason, I believe, he has never been selected as Tucson’s man of the year. When I was at the Star, we waged a serious campaign to make it so. Alas, we were not successful.

But Fitz nonetheless charges onward, pen in hand, masterfully conducting the ceremony and raising the money — battling breast cancer (he is a cancer survivor), promoting books or paying tribute to long-time heroes such as Big Jim Griffith. He has given enormously to the community and has never been properly recognized for it.

The problem with newspapers

Actress Ava Gardner, a metaphor for USA Today

By Steve  Auslander

I retired early after 34 years at the same newspaper. I was an editorial writer at the end, but I’d had other jobs. For nearly 14 years, I ran the news operation. It makes me sad to see how over the past few years newspapers have been caught in such dire straits. I suppose I am fortunate that I no longer work in the business I once loved. It has changed. I have been out for seven years now, having left just before the business plunged into the financial abyss. There has been so much talk about the cuts and the future, that dark future of newspapers.

The talk today focuses on the Internet and how the newspapers gave away their franchise. Still, nothing much has changed in the business. Newspapers are still obsessed with style and seemingly indifferent about content. They are stodgy. Once was there was [Read more…]