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March 07, 2019


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I watched some of the Tucson Festival of Books on CSPAN. It is an impressive event - something Phoenix indeed should rightfully envy. Los Angeles has the LA Times Festival of Books, the largest such event in the country. It's coming up in April. Many would think that a region known for movies and TV wouldn't be the site of the biggest book festival in the land, but it is. Festivals like that take energy and leadership. I guess the "Arizona" Republic feels the Tucson Festival takes care of it for "Arizona," so needs to devote neither energy nor leadership to staging something significant in metro Phoenix, the existence of which it scarcely acknowledges. (BTW, Tucson has a far more palpable sense of itself as a distinct place than does metro Phoenix. Phoenix is the largest metro in the country without a newspaper named after itself.) What sort of community focus can you expect of the "Arizona" Republic? They imply we all live in a place called "Arizona." We don't. Arizona comprises 118,000 square miles. If we think we do live in a community called "Arizona," we should be happy the book festival is only 120 miles away!

I did the LAT Festival of Books three times and it was a blast. Alas, the wonderful LA Mystery Bookshop closed, as did my regular stops in Pasadena and Thousand Oaks.

As long as our primary form of tax revenue for municipalities is the sales tax, there will also be knock-down-drag-out competition between central Phoenix and the burbs. Surprise, Scottsdale, Tempe, Glendale, Peoria, Buckeye, Avondale, Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa all want to be the next Phoenix. Its sad.....and a waste!

You've convinced me, Jon. Next year I will head to Tucson for book festival. I'd actually like to live in Tucson, but there are some issues getting around that place. And its not easy finding a decent job. But I do like it and visit when I can.

SD, U could buy Jim Harrison's place in Patagonia and work from there.

Requiem for Sonora

by Richard Shelton

a small child of a wind
stumbles toward me down the arroyo
lost and carrying no light
tearing its sleeves
on thorns of the palo verde
talking to itself
and to the dark shapes it touches
searching for what it has not lost
and will never find
and lonelier
than even I can imagine

the moon sleeps
with her head on the buttocks of a young hill
and you lie before me
under moonlight as if under water
oh my desert
the coolness of your face

men are coming inland to you
soon they will make you the last resort
for tourists who have
nowhere else to go
what will become of the coyote
with eyes of topaz
moving silently to his undoing
the ocotillo
flagellant of the wind
the deer climbing with dignity
further into the mountains
the huge delicate saguaro

what will become of those who cannot learn
the terrible knowledge of cities

years ago I came to you as a stranger
and have never been worthy
to be called your lover or to speak your name
most silent sanctuary
more fragile than forests
more beautiful than water

I am older and uglier
and full of the knowledge
that I do not belong to beauty
and beauty does not belong to me
I have learned to accept
whatever men choose to give me
or whatever they choose to withhold
but oh my desert
yours is the only death I cannot bear

Richard Shelton is Tucson's treasure; thanks for posting this poem.

The latest Most Literate Cities Survey (2016) has Tucson at 53rd place in literacy (out of 82), Chandler at 63rd, Phoenix at 65th, and Mesa at 73rd. The cities you would expect to top the list... top the list:


Check "Methodology" in the panel at left to see what the creators of the survey used as proxies for literacy.

Cal Lash,

I can remember choosing Patagonia as the ideal place to live in AZ but fate brought me to PHX and Wickenburg was the next best choice. The town has since sold itself to sprawl despite voter opinion. Any ideas where to go now?


Actually, i like Why, AZ. Its not a pretty little burg but its quiet.
Close to Organ Pipe (think Ed Abbey) and
not far from the Ocean.

I was raised in Tucson and live in Phoenix. There are stark differences between Tucson and Phoenix. Here’s a few differences that stand out for me:

Due to its size, Tucson is civically centered, aware of its history and cultural influences, and comfortable in its own identity. It’s not trying to be a Phoenix. Rodeo Day and the parade is still a day off for schools. Even the smaller minority groups maintain and celebrate their cultural roots in the community. The Chinese Cultural Center was built on donated land and built with strong community support and donations. The center holds language classes, has a display that honors Chinese war veterans, holds community events, and provides a place for senior citizens to congregate. Phoenix’s Chinese cultural center was a for-profit retail venture that ultimately folded.

UA is so much more than an economic engine in Tucson. It brings culture that engages the community. Aside from performing arts, which ASU offers as well. UA’s always been the only game in town for sports enthusiasts, so the supports bleeds deep into the community. Tailgating on the mall is an event in itself. UA student-led Spring Fling has been going strong since the 1970’s. ASU can boast its it’s contribution to the community through its growing size (jobs/economic boost) and for-profit ventures.

Even community events like the Fourth Avenue Street Fair feel community-centric with more local representation. Similar events in Tempe & Scottsdale seem to support artists who travel the circuit around the country.

Tucson can boast having a world-class Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum and it can also get gussied up and host signature national events like El Tour de Tucson, the book fair, and the gem show.

So why do I live in Phoenix? More job opportunities, more entertainment and restaurants, more, more - so I guess I’m a bit of a nostalgic hypocrite.

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