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April 29, 2014


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Thanks for another fine article Talton.

One has to chuckle at all the anti -federal government rhetoric exuded by present day post - Reagan know nothing Republican politcians in Arizona, a state that owes its survival to the New Deal.

You can 't be too ignorant to succeed in the present day mindless GOP.

Fine article! Dorothea Lange, who took all of those beautiful, haunting photographs-like the one at the top of the article-also was able to do that work because of the New Deal. Farm Security Administration, I think. I also thought of the great boxer, Zora Folley, who was born in 1932, but whose family were cotton pickers in the southeast valley. Mr. Folley later became a member of the Chandler (!) city council, and was the only man Ali couldn't get mad enough at to berate him in the ring.

As a child I gazed with wonder at the disappearing economy of migrant farm workers, tubercular patients, and working poor. Sunnyslope was like West Virginia in the desert with shacks on dusty roads, old prospectors with leathery faces and no teeth, and deep, deep poverty. By the 1960s, that poverty was fast disappearing although today you can see the new poverty taking root where the old once stood. The old was haunting and poignant. The new is charmless and bewildered.

My father was a protégé of Emmett McLaughlin. Dad was fairly rare in his medical profession: a New Deal liberal who advocated socialized medicine. But the go-go post-war prosperity made him a player and he soon traded his Henry Wallace values for LBJ's gravy train. The nation had finally freed itself of an agricultural economy where the bounty was inseparable from the bitter tears that produced it. Life was about buying things and we were flush with cash.

Cliven Bundy is much on our minds and I wonder if he illuminates that part of our character that gladly took government largesse while detesting the lessers who were also helped. By 1972 my father hated liberals because his old world had turned upside down. He had made millions (and blown most of it). The government that had been helpful to him was now his enemy. The grapes of wrath had turned into the champagne of unimaginable wealth where too much was never quite enough. It seems our fate as a species is to always want more than we have or need. The hunger gene is the ghost of ancient poverty forever hounding us.

The 1930s explained the Greatest Generation's drive and dreams, and it explains our current dyspepsia. Today's right is more interested in explaining how the undeserving poor ruined everything. But we were all complicit here. You don't go to an orgy and then complain that some people acted like pigs. If you're honest, you admit that this one-time gift of cheap oil, lebensraum, and effective government made us fat, dumb, and happy. Except, the happy part was the goal more than the outcome.

Great article Rogue! I especially enjoyed the Father McLoughlin angle. Good on you for writing on this time in Phoenix.

Thanks to Pat for the Zola Folley reference. Interesting man and story (go to Wikipedia and read about it, the links at the bottom are good too).

Excellent piece, greatly enhanced by the well-selected photographs. Are they all by Dorothea Lange as Pat mentioned?
I get a sense of the American Eden in some of these images.

I hope this turns into one of those more popular posts. It's a trove of information contained in a narrative that suits me just fine.

And, what soleri said:

...But we were all complicit here. You don't go to an orgy and then complain that some people acted like pigs. If you're honest, you admit that this one-time gift of cheap oil, lebensraum, and effective government made us fat, dumb, and happy. Except, the happy part was the goal more than the outcome.

Really impressive package (this blog entry). I don't know anything about Phoenix in the 1930s so I'll just keep quiet and admire the design and the insights.

VERY impressive Jon
Obviously a chapter in your book on the Valley of the Sun.
Not much I can add to this.
I did discuss this with a mate. She said every week from 1936 until 1953 her entire family went to the Studio, the Rialto and other downtown theaters. They enjoyed the visual News and then following feature film. She has very vivid memories of the WWll news films.
and it was also a Hispanic town. Note The Cisco Kid was showing according to your photos.

Note Steve Benson's cartoon in today's Arizona Republic (042914) was great and there was a guest column by a Keating foundation person endorsing more education

NBA owner Sterling was long over due for a big fall. Weakness, failure to follow thru and greed on the part of others kept him in power. And for me it was The Sting. Played out by his girl friend and Magic Johnson.
She get 15 minutes of sleazy fame and a few bucks. Magic he will get the Clippers.

Rogue has now passed 17,000 comments. Thanks to the smartest, most erudite and fun bunch I have ever encountered. We've come a long way from "Zbig" at AzCentral. (And contrary to what some say, no conservative has ever been blocked or banned from the site).

“(And contrary to what some say, no conservative has ever been blocked or banned from the site).” Even me. Thanks Rouge.

BTW: tornados and flash floods for the last couple of weeks. Beats the shit out of heat waves and droughts I guess.

Re: Phoenix in the thirties. It’s remarkable that a real city doesn’t need to be all that big or dense to be a real city.

i have known some great TOWNS of 10,000 or less.

At Cal: “Towns less than 10,000.” Yeah, me too. But they’re mostly redneck places. But being basically a redneck myself I like redneck places. But I like a little culture when the mood strikes. A little place within about a 100 miles of a city about right.

100 miles and a Grey Nurse
(also called a C note)
and U can go back to redneckville feeling relieved.


Or in Phoenix (less than a 100 miles to Miami,AZ and 20 bones) in the 30 and 40 and 50's for culture it was Top of the World.
and for high school young studs it was the Key Stone Hotel where you could always count on the cops being there to help not book you.

Zbig was an over-the-top commenter on AzCentral who relished verbal jousting for its own sake. He didn't make logical arguments or attempt persuasion. He issued edicts from on high that showed occasional brilliance and frequent boorishness before collapsing into a cesspool of invective. The good 'ol days.

AzCentral unleashed a torrent of free speech some 10 years ago that was astonishing. Most of it was good but the right's inveterate tendency to bullying and cruelty soon capsized the enterprise. Words are weapons and always have been. But when coupled with crudeness and name-calling, they are just flung poo in a monkey cage. AzCentral tried unsuccessfully to moderate the enterprise but our "Constitutional right" to say anything we liked soon became another debacle of unbuffered democracy.

I surf the net a lot and almost always scan the comment sections. Local media have always been the worst. The story doesn't even have to be political for commenters to begin demonizing Obama (Hillary will soon replace him). Race is, sorry to say, the main flashpoint if the story is about crime. The crime doesn't even need a black protagonist for this to happen. It's just a reflexive crime = scary black people tic.

Jana Bommersbach was the liberal heartbeat of Phoenix back in the 1980s. If you watched Channel 8's Horizon, you probably remember her on the Friday news round-up along with John Kolbe and Max Jennings. She was its star - lively, convivial, funny, and incisive. Sadly, that star was eclipsed when her fellow provocateur at the New Times, Mike Lacey, decided it would be cute to poke fun at Jan Brewer, then a legislator, who proposed outlawing naughty words in some venue or another. Brewer had read the words in the public hearing, so Lacey took the recording of it and blasted the naughty words in front of the State Capitol. Jan Brewer talks dirty! The local journalistic community was outraged at the stunt, which then decided that anyone associated with the New Times was no longer welcome in its lofty aerie. Bommersbach lost her Channel 8 gig as a result, and Horizon became as boring as Phoenix.

Bommersback came out of retirement and blogged sporadically on AzCentral. Sadly, our local vermin decided it would be fun to bully her about her appearance (remind you of someone?). Every blog posting unleashed a cascade of abusive comments whose purpose was simply to silence her. It worked and she eventually gave up altogether.

The customary way to silence an important voice is simply take away their real estate, as when the Republic fired Jon Talton. That's all changed, of course, and it's mostly good. The bits and pieces of community conscience come together here online in a way that simply no longer exists for those reading the print version. National media are much better at policing their venues, so there are amazingly good conversations everywhere. Ultimately, even the titular forum no longer matters (I've read great conversations on Facebook!) but it does matter if people respect their commons. That commons is what sustains all of us especially the outliers on the fringe. We may not be changing minds here but we are changing ourselves every time we stretch our self-definitions to include a bit more of "not me".

Ah -Top of the World, and Keystone Hotel, such memories for those of us who came of age in Phoenix in the 50s.
A 20 was your proof of age. It was bad to go close to an election though. The local Sheriff always closed them then.

Talton was not fired he was water boarded until he decided to live in a place not over ran by dullard zombies, out of control developers and religious zealots.

Ramjet is your first name Roger?
and did you buy a brick when the tore down the Keystone and appropriately gave the proceeds to the boy scouts. Many of whom earned their eagle badge with great climatic performances behind closed doors.

well it took Phil Boas many years but finally he is the head of the Arizona Republic editorial board. Possibly by default. It probably makes his relative's and about 30 percent of Arizona's population happy.
Unlike his predecessors he does not answer my e-mails. Even though Kevin Wiley and I disagreed a lot at least she responded even after she went to Dallas.
Personally my choice for the editorial chief would have been Benson but then like Talton he is too much a lightning rod.

Cal, if Phil Boas seems like weak tea, I'm not sure I'd blame Gannett or whoever owns the Republic now. Newspapers as print media are struggling everywhere. That said, it does seem more than a coincidence that Phoenix itself is struggling to find its place in the cosmos. The internet has radically decentralized the flow of information so niches are more important than ever. In Portland, alternative and neighborhood newspapers have replaced the center-right dinosaur, the Oregonian as primary suppliers of the current zeitgeist.

I look at the readers of actual newspapers and see very few young people. Is this a civic catastrophe? I certainly would have thought so 20 years ago. Now, I'm not so sure. Newspapers steadily improved prior to the digital revolution but there was no way they could compete with explosion of new online media. And in some ways, this is great for consumers. If you enjoy reading a wide range of opinions - and most news junkies do - not having to rely on Phil Boas for those choices is really a good thing.

When I was young, the Republic offered very limited fare, and very few if any libearls on their op-ed pages. We got a steady diet of pro-Franco pieces from Pulliam in-law Michael Padev, for example. Reg Manning's increasingly incompetent cartoons could never make up for his Pulitzer Prize. Bernie Wynn's chirpy political reporting was bilge. As time went on, the Republic expanded their stable to include a wider variety of columnists. When Steve Benson came on board in the 1980s, it actually began to feel a bit edgy. By the time the Republic replaced "war hero" Duke Tully with Pat Murphy, it was at its peak, with good investigative reporters, reliable local pundits and excellent arts' critics. Sad how most of that is gone.

I used to say that every city gets the newspapers it deserves. In the early '90s, Phoenix seemed to finally be growing up instead of just out. To look at the landscape today is more than disappointing. It's shocking, in fact. On the plus side is that Arizona's flaccid civic spirit, weak news media, and neglected public square no longer mean you have to consume news that usually disguised this reality. You can come here, for example. And for that, we should be grateful.

Congratulations Arizona is finally number one!


"...earned their eagle badge with great climatic performances behind closed doors."

I'm not sure I wanna know what this is about.

Cal, Oddly enough my real name is Roger. Makes for a really easy handle. I didn't buy a brick but I probably paid for a few of them though. Buenos Tardes.

It all reminds me of a statement made by an ex mother in law from Douglas, AZ.
She said "we didnt have rape we had whore houses!"

The problem is that good journalism costs money. Experienced journalists, the ones with the skills to illuminate complex issues and hold the powerful accountable, can't afford to work for free. And this is where the death and self-inflicted wounds of major newspapers come in. There's plenty of information in many localities; less real journalism. What I do for Phoenix here is rare pro bono work, subsidized by my day job and foolish love for home.

Seattle's May Day protest parade for workers' rights and immigration reform is about to begin.

It is a huge event worthy of a great city that values diversity and progressive ideals. Most participants are peaceful and law-abiding.

But every year a few self-proclaimed anarchists break windows, fight the police, etc. Do they realize this is not Sticking It To The Man? The Man lives in a gated property far away.

They are trashing public spaces and downtown, which represents the commons. The Man hates the commons and spends great treasure to trash them, too.

So, just remember, if you cause havoc downtown, you are doing the work of the Koch brothers and all their allies.

My family, which stretches from Phoenix to Globe, Superior, Miami, Morenci has many tales about the red-headed stranger in the black hat. We don't need to go into details.

Cal, you could be my daddy, or uncle or cousin.

"Experienced journalists, the ones with the skills to illuminate complex issues and hold the powerful accountable,"
Jon U know what happens to the above when they take on the powerful. They get water boarded until they end up like Gary Webb.
"To Kill the Messenger"

And when others try and bring the powerful to their knees, they have go into exile in a foreign place, waiting to be rendition-ed and placed in a dark solitary hole in an american for profit prison.

Ruben R U suggesting U R my son and my grandson?
I thought that only happened in the movies.


Really enjoyed the photos thanks for those Rogue. However, your political commentary below those photos reveal a bit of a nut. Funny how it’s the self proclaimed “progressives” that are so rabidly and angrily against those with differing points of political views. My Italian immigrant family was just as, if not more violently, “discriminated” against as were the mexican immigrants, and yet they flourished and assimilated without the need for “parades” and other hysterical victimology that has now become big business for the Hispanic. Look at all the other groups that somehow did just fine. Not difficult to see why.

I appreciate this article a lot. Like another commenter, I ,too, have to write a 10 pg. paper on this topic. I was overwhelmed by writing my first research paper and put it off until the last week. This history of Phoenix during that time has given me an excellent starting place.

Thanks so much, Kristen!

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