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February 06, 2012


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Fabulous piece, Jon! No more words needed!

The themes that exercise the body politic today are not that different from those of 1962. Ev Mecham defeated an establishment Republican in the primary, Steven Shadegg, to run against ancient Carl Hayden for the US Senate. Mecham's Bircher politics played surprisingly well but Hayden prevailed. The Arizona Republic, considered hard right by most Democrats, endosed Hayden. Mecham was so incensed he decided to create his own newspaper, The Evening American, which lasted a few years before becoming a weekly, and then folding altogether.

Arizona's booming economy was predicated mostly in military Keynesianism but there were signs that real estate was turning into its own industrial complex. Land fraud was a big deal, and Arizona's proximity to Las Vegas seemed to feed this machine. It's odd to consider how wonderful life seemed back then while, at the same time, bodies of rubbed-out mafiosi would turn up in the desert and canals on a regular basis. After the Don Bolles slaying in 1976, Arizona's local power structure was subject to a withering analysis from the IRE, the group of national reporters harnessed to explore our local pathologies. The names they named were legendary, but there had always been rumors about the Goldwaters, Rosenzweigs, Marleys, and other players like Del Webb. The Mormon power structure, by contrast, seemed straitlaced and mildly reactionary by comparison. I used to wonder whether Ev Mecham's anti-establishment viewpoints derived from this dynamic.

Eugene Pulliam had to know that much of what made Arizona special was birthed in a fetid irrigation ditch. It wasn't just the cheap land, cheaper gas, and federal money either. The libertarian ethos that inevitably arose among our wide-open deserts and fields was based on the convenient lapses of logic we see today. Really, anything was possible here because there was so much money playing at the margins. CAP was going to be a huge game-changer and everyone knew it.

The dream died because it was based more on the opium of something for nothing. The sad truth is that we did some things well but we never really had to. And because we didn't cultivate this unforgiving soil with patience, when the good times finally went they took all the dazzle and oomph of that era with them. We got lucky, we blew our winnings, and now we wonder what the hell happened to us.

Final score:

Arizona 13 - Sprawl 4,000,000

Game over.

Great column, John, and an insightful follow-up commentary from Walter Hall. It's funny, even when I'm pitching my family gift basket business or talking real estate with people in a professional or political setting, I keep running into some of the themes mentioned here. 1962 is a great marker for a potential do-over time reference. Our state produced things and we were proud of all that we had to offer at the time. This is partly what attracted people in droves -- not just the warm dry air that supposedly helped asthmatics heal. What a wild time it must have been. I wish I was there.

"We got lucky, we blew our winnings, and now we wonder what the hell happened to us."

Casino Culture.

Those names are like a Who's Who of local Superfund/WQARF sites.

A few typos...it's "Korricks"and "Jewel Box" and I think "Chic Meyers" ...maybe...all that's missing is the "Hinky Dinky Weather Bird" from KOY, "99, the weather's fine, in good ole Arizona"...

Typos fixed, Steve. Thanks. It was Chic Myers ("House of Television"). Excellent comment, Walt.

"citrus blossoms and train whistles…"

--Concrete Desert— Jon Talton

I remember it all.
Got my first pair of "cowboy boots" at Porter's.
Miss it every time I return.

A 50' electrified fence with radar directed gatling guns should have been built around the state back in '62........................................................................................1862.

That way Cochise and Geronimo could have said, "We built it, you white bastards, we built it."

Just a note: I posted (or rather, attempted to, yesterday and today) a comment to the previous thread, "The 50.1 percent", rebutting Donna Gratehouse's erroneous assertions blaming anti-poverty tax credits like the EITC and the CTC for the fact that a large percentage of U.S. citizens pay no personal income taxes.

I also explained that percentage in detail, then pointed out why expanding the EITC, if done correctly, would serve both interests of social justice and the national economy as a whole.

Those who take an interest in tax policy may wish to take a look: but (again) I have had to ask Mr. Talton to post it, since the standard comment software here refuses to do so. So wait until it appears, please, if it is not immediately in evidence.

To Walter Hall: I am glad to hear that changing your name eliminated this problem for you. That said, if the two were causally connected, it suggests a hacker problem (how else could users be targeted by name?) which needs fixing, not least because it still affects some users and could recur for others; and if the two are not causally connected, there is no reason to change my name. Indeed, I am disinclined to do so, since I wish my comments here to be Google-able (my apologies for this neologism) using a single, consistent handle.

P.S. Also, a reply to Petro, which has already appeared. (Still waiting on the other...)

From such promise to becoming the present day armpit of North America.

Emil, my original solution turned out to be a false one. What I'm convinced of now is that it's the length or word count of the post, which if surpassing some apparent limit, results in the post being "lost".

No need to change your name or e-mail address. If someone bothered to hack this site, it was apparently for the purpose of abbreviating our comments. Since we're the two most prolix commenters here, we would be the ones most adversely impacted.

In "No Country for Old Men," the Javier Bardem character says, "That's the best I can do. Call it."

The best I can do is post your comment if the system fails. So save as you write, and email it to me if it doesn't post.

"Truth" may have been onto something with his thoughts about session time expiring. I don't know. If I did, I would be rich. Moving to another hosting service might or might not solve the problem. But it would be impossible to migrate four years of archives to the new hoster.

And yes, Emil and Soleri/Walt are the only two who have reported problems. I am still waiting to hear from Supreme Commander ;-)

My father-in-law's best friend(both gone now) used to tell about driving down cameback road in the late fifties and pulling over to check his luggage.He thought his bottle of aftershave had broken,but it was the orange blossoms that he was smelling.

Today, Arizona pokes its head out the window of its battered, muddy, smoke-spewing pickup to spit a wad of its tabaccy onto the pavement, and . . . gags and pukes as it drives into the ditch.

What is a PIONEER>

"A 50' electrified fence with radar directed gatling guns should have been built around the state back in '62.........................1862.That way Cochise and Geronimo could have said, "We built it, you white bastards, we built it."Posted by: Helen Highwater

Helen, I think you need to slip down lower in the water U R starting to smell like buffalo! Is it true Helen that u were held captive by the Apaches.

Following is a quote from author Charles Bowden that I received a few days ago after mentioning to him that I had found a copy of his book “Down by the River’ in a antique store in Payson, AZ.

He had signed it after writing the purchasers name and a short comment on the front inside page.

My google indicated the purchaser of the book was a member of a Arizona “PIONEER” family.

His response follows.

yep, i think she was from that pioneer stock. all of my life i have been around people who think their arizona vanished after world war 2. when the boys and girls set the pioneer society in tucson in the 1880s, they made the cut off for membership the arrival of the railroad. i am certain the tohono o odham and the pueblo people see the end of the world when the apache and navajo blundered down from great slave lake.i think my arizona was murdered long before i was born and i await its return.

100 years and counting? Who’s counting? I got 62 years here and now I find little reason to stay in the Valley of the Sun. In 50 when I arrived it was snowing in Sunnyslope. I thought WTF. I just left Iowa where I almost froze and starved to death. But shortly I knew I was in that heaven my people talked about. Life was good until the eighties but by then it was too late to save Arizona. Now the girl friend and I are planning to escape this smog bowl called the Valley of The Sun. Ha what a laugh. Valley of Death might be more appropriate. Phoenix is mired in un breathable air and the State of Arizona is trapped in absurd politics.

Talton’s post of a Pulliam quote describes the issues.

“You can dwarf it against the 15,000 years — and some say 25,000 — that the race of man has spent in this land of the sun...Yet that half a hundred years, whose culmination Arizona now celebrates, was the flowering of all the promise of all the eons before.
The half a century built a bridge from buckboards to jet engines, from mud huts in the mesquite to the gleaming towers in the sky. In those fifty years, the modern world discovered the splendor of Arizona. In five decades, Arizona became a magic word around the world...Here is a future that gives us good reason to venerate the foundations laid by the past.”

America was a great place until about 1400.

Emil: if your posts are a problem, why not try shortening them? They may draw even better readership. This comes from an hombre who was rapped across the knuckles by a journalism professor who at least partly curbed my tendency toward verbosity.

or as Supreme commander would say; Shrinkage!

In response to the AZ Republic's excellent series on air quality last week, one Paradise Valley toff (love the word!) wrote that it was the golf tourney week and thus improper to call attention to the bad air in our WORLD CLASS city? No doubt that's true if your circle includes El Chorro and the PV Country Club. I used to hang with some of that crowd but they were old Phoenix types and wore their affluence in unassuming ways.

El Chorro - sticky buns

Cal Lash wrote:

"or as Supreme commander would say; Shrinkage!"

That's what happens when you're left out in the cold. Speaking of which, I left a couple of replies to you in the previous thread ("The 50.1 percent").

"They fear dissent. Why? Because the dissent comes from folks who use reason, common sense, and divine revelation and they want no part of any of those things." - Wrick Santorum

Reason and common sense indicate that Wrick is insane.

The closer one approaches to Wrick Santorum, the sleepier one becomes...


Walter Hall, while it's true that you and I are known for long posts, and it's true that we two seem to predominate (reported) incidents of the posting problem, it doesn't logically follow from this that long posts are the problem.

For one thing, the hypothesis is easily testable. I have just successfully posted a VERY long post to the "Housekeeping" thread (seemed appropriate) under the alias "Long Posttester".

Second, within my own body of work (comments here), the correlation between length and posting problems is very weak. This is a recent problem; it occurs more and more frequently for me; my comments these days are no longer than they used to be; and since I keep my comments on file, I know there are plenty of LONG comments that posted just fine, and shorter comments than did not (though nothing extremely short).

As for the hacker hypothesis, I don't want to give it too much weight, since a hacker would typically commit denial of service attacks or website sabotage which would affect all users broadly; however, that would also be easy to detect, easy to fix, easier to track down, and would only discourage use in the very short term.

You jocularly suggested that any putative hacker wanted to abbreviate our comments, but there is another possibility. A subtle hacker, attempting to discourage active, articulate, and (certainly in your case) eloquent participants, might use either posting frequency or word count as criteria for targeting active users. We both qualify in any long-term search, on both counts. I really don't find the hacker idea plausible, but any systematic attempt to determine the problem needs to check the code and file structure integrity anyway, just looking for viruses and file copy or backup errors.

"morecleanair" wrote:

"Emil: if your posts are a problem, why not try shortening them? They may draw even better readership. This comes from an hombre who was rapped across the knuckles by a journalism professor who at least partly curbed my tendency toward verbosity."

See above. Also, presumably your professor doesn't knock the New York Times and yet, its news stories are considerably longer than my comments. So, it's a question of content and relevance. Your logic professor should have warned you of the fallacy of arguing from the particular to the general.

Without holding an audience's attention, relevant content is irrelevant.


The Sisters Brothers made it home.

For what my opinion is worth, I like long and short posts.

Well, I like short posts and long pants!

Here is a long but interesting post from the Rolling Stone magazine on that party I belong to.

I like short shorts and long legs.

"Everone is bullshitting their way through life. Some guys just use bigger shovels."

I use a spoon, but shovel at light speed, dazzling the yokels.

Emil, that stream o' consciousness poem you posted over there blew my freaking mind.

That bit about binuclear hockey was sublime.

Help me out here Petro. Where is the Poem?

Hey, Cal - I was just teasing Emil on his gibberish test post over in the "Housekeeping" thread. :)

"Without holding an audience's attention, relevant content is irrelevant. lalalalalaldododadad!"

You should love Twitter.

Sorry, I thought we might have found the next ee cummings

I don't know... I see some potential there! :)

Who named "El Chorro"? LOL

That is Spanish slang for the shits, Hershey squirts...diarrhea.

Have to quibble a bit, Jon. I, too, was in Phoenix in 1962. It wasn't compact anymore, especially by the standards of the day. Sprawl was already under way. Maryvale had been launched; Paradise Gardens was being constructed up above the Dreamy Draw, on the other side of the Phoenix Mountains.

The dream of the casual lifestyle blending city and country is an old one, and by 1962 it had already significantly influenced the pattern of building in Phoenix. Far-flung subdivisions such as Windsor Square north of Camelback had been launched by the late 1920s. When the first homes were built in 1929 along Medlock and Pasadena just east of Central, that area was three miles north of town. Leapfrogging is not a new phenomenon.

It is true that these developments pale in comparison to today's Anthem and San Tan Valley, but they set the theme for the sprawl that was to come. Sprawl didn't pop up out of nowhere after 1962. It was already happening and was a continuation of preferences and patterns set long before.

We didn't make good decisions before 1962 and then bad ones thereafter. Post-1962 Phoenix was a continuation of what had already been set in motion.

"The state in 1962 had barely more than 1 million people, with Phoenix not yet at the half-million mark. "

These numbers are a little low, Jon.

The US Census for 1960 showed Arizona with 1,302,161 residents, and Phoenix with 439,170 (metro area 663,510). You'd have to adjust these figures somewhat upward for 1962. (It is interesting to note that Phoenix's 439,170 for 1960 represented a staggering 311 percent increase over 1950's city population of 106,818. This puts an exclamation point on the wave of sprawl that had engulfed the close-in citrus groves, cotton fields and dairies during the ten years of the Fifties.)

A comparison to the US Census for 2010 is in order: It shows Arizona with 6,392,017 residents, and Phoenix with 1,445,632 (metro area 4,192,887).

I can imagine that the 2010 numbers would have delighted the civic leaders and boosters of 1960, who, as you may recall, were gung-ho on growth. I can also imagine that at least some of them may not have been delighted with the unintended consequences of those numbers. One booster was Senator Goldwater, and he certainly voiced his doubts in his last years about what the growth had wrought.

Chic Myers was my Grandfather and my Mother's Dad.

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