Monthly Archives: October 2017

Rest in Peace, Sergeant Johnson

As the funeral procession crept along East Ft. Lowell Road toward Evergreen Cemetery, Tucson Police waved the priest by.  He had presided over the Requiem Mass and ignored speed limits as he hurried to beat the procession to the cemetery.  The priest had officiated many funerals and didn’t care for all of them.  “Some of the Mexicans get carried away,” he told me, “hysterical and screaming.  I even saw one of them jump onto the coffin.”  I was an altar boy at the time and remember the conversation after more than half a century.  I respected the priest, but his comments troubled me, and not because of my Mexican-American background.  I thought it inappropriate, even for a man of the cloth, to criticize the expression of grief.  There is no handbook; not everybody does it well.  I once was asked to represent an elderly couple in a minor dispute with their neighbor, who turned out to be an acquaintance from my broadcasting days.  When I called him, he told me his 90-year-old Mother had just passed away.  That caught me by surprise and I paused, thinking about what to say.  After a few seconds, he said, “Well, I guess it’s not important.”  If he could have seen my expression of shock and sorrow, he would have understood why I groped for words.  Over the phone, I was just a silent jerk.

I thought about that interaction and the priest’s comments after President Trump’s clumsy attempt to place a condolence call to the widow of Sgt. LaDavid Johnson, who had been killed in Niger. 


Arizona Walks the Immigration Tightrope

Sarah Palin famously said, “I can see Russia from my house!”  Except she didn’t.  That line was uttered by Tina Fey on “Saturday Night Live.”  The impersonation is more memorable than anything Palin uttered (the consequence of satire’s target being a human cartoon).  But those of us in Southern Arizona who live within an hour of the Mexican border can relate to the statement.  While we can’t see Mexico from our houses, we can see the monsoon clouds build in the summer and, when we first see them, they are over Mexico.  We can’t see Mexico, but we have a pretty good idea when it’s raining in Sonora. 

Proximity to our southern neighbor has made Arizona ground-zero in immigration policy.  Senate Bill 1070, derided by some as the “Papers, Please!” bill, led to demonstrations and condemnation and was largely invalidated by the Courts.  The streets of Tucson and Phoenix were jammed with anti-SB 1070 protesters and, while the bill easily passed the Legislature, it was never popular with most Arizonans.  The Arizona – Mexico border has historically been porous, with nationals of Mexico and the U. S. routinely crossing and returning. 


My Cup Runneth Over with Idiocy

The Cup is empty and that emptiness serves as cautionary tale for Donald Trump supporters and the country, a coal mine canary wheezing one final warning:  following the President courts disaster.

Christopher Smith and Jay Warren were two of the three owners of “Cup It Up American Grill,” a fairly successful food and drink establishment in the shadow of the University of Arizona in mid-town Tucson.  For those unfamiliar with Arizona politics, Tucson is a blue island in the political Red Sea of Arizona that voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and Hillary Clinton in 2016.  The mid-town neighborhood housing the University is the bluest of the blue.  But Chris and Jay are Trumpkins and decided to let the world – and their bright blue market area – know just how they felt about things in what the Arizona Daily Star referred to as “a lengthy, politically charged Facebook post.”  Then, all hell broke loose.