Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Day 14 – Tucson: hot enough for ya?

I have a specific number at which I reach me own “boiling point” – 98.6. Anytime the temperature exceeds my body temp, then it’s too damn hot!!!!!
Others might revel in it, but I cannot take it – only in small bits and pieces. Hence, we only spent as couple of hours (all of them inside the air conditioned Ford Escape) driving around Saguaro National Park in west Tucson, smack dab in the middle of the Sonora Desert.
All bank thermometers read 100 degrees or more at 1 p.m. and were heading higher at the clock ticked down. In the coming days, it would be “muy caliente” with higher highs and higher low temperatures.
And, ladies and gentlemen, Tucson is 10 degrees cooler than … Phoenix – truly America’s hottest major city (hot as in caliente, not hipness). When we watched the 9 p.m. news last night, Phoenix had YET to drop below 100 degrees (even with the sun having set) and hit 110 as a high.
Is THAT hot enough for you? Because the forecast intimated that Phoenix would see even HIGHER figures heading to the weekend – 115 would not be unusual in the next few days.
Folks, that’s NUTS! If heat is your thing, central and southern Arizona is the place for you! And Phoenix, along with Las Vegas, was among the fastest growing metro populations in the past decade … so misery (in the heat) must love company.
But not me. Dallas is bad enough but at least it tends to stop being an inferno at some point in September. When I last visited Phoenix, it came on a September day and it was 105.
I was raised in the cold and a little nip in the air doesn’t faze me at all. I continue to wear short sleeve shirts even when its 45 degrees … because, to me, that IS NOT cold. Below freezing (32 degrees) begins to become COLD.
Where is it that the weather never really changes and is considered perfect climate? The answer is …
Hawai’i. It seldom gets below 82 degrees at daytime and 68-70 at night. The ocean breeze gently washes over you and … well, it’s simply paradise. But it’s kinda hard to drive to Honolulu, and airlines have yet to make themselves “Chuck-friendly” in order for me to return for a luau.
I have resolved to re-visit Arizona at a more appropriate time – in February for Major League baseball spring training. It will be a heavenly 70-80 degrees and games will be played throughout the Phoenix metro area and in Tucson.
Until then, you can keep your heat!
We purposely avoided watching any coverage (or the actual event) of the Michael Jackson memorial service in Los Angeles. The lead-up to this service, while we were in California, drowned out all other news event, including the state’s dire fiscal problems or even the return of suspended Dodger outfielder Manny Ramirez.
And that was hard to do.
Sitting in The Bellagio in Las Vegas reminded me of a scene from the recent “Ocean’s 13” movie. When the crew triggered an earthquake inside the Bank hotel, all gamblers suddenly stopped in stunned silence … for about five seconds. Then someone at the craps table shouted, “Give me a winner!” (or some such line of encouragement) and the noise inside the casino returned to its perfect pitch.
I can imagine how much of that city stopped, for just an instant, to contemplate the death of entertainer Michael Jackson last week at the age of 50. After the briefest moments of silence, things returned to normal, with roulette wheels spinning, dice crashing on the ends of craps tables and hollering filling the air when big slot machines rang out winners.
Life marched forward. I was somewhere between Show Low, Ariz. and Who Know Where, N.M. when I heard the news. I had ejected my Best of Joe Walsh CD burn and got the only AM station within range that didn’t speak Navajo. Jackson’s death notice instantly obliterated the other real news of the day, including gubernatorial infidelity, the national health care debate and Congressional action of President Obama’s climate bill.
Oddly, conservative radio talkers downgraded his talent and impact upon modern culture and focused, like a laser beam, on his troubled personal life, legal battles and family background. And just like the public’s reaction when O.J. Simpson was acquitted of his ex-wife’s murder, support and adoration for Jackson split heavily along racial lines – a sad truth about our society. African-Americans mostly saw him as an iconic performer who broke barriers; white folks saw him as a perverted man-child freak.
The truth is probably located somewhere in the middle.
Unlike Elvis Presley, to whom Jackson will now be compared, Jackson wrote much of his own material (Elvis sang other people’s songs), including many that became important forces to change people’s thinking. MJ was the driving force behind “We Are the World,” which raised millions for starving children around the world.
I had wished that his former wife, Lisa Marie Presley, would have been the executor of his estate because she has first-hand experience at the process of canonizing an iconic entertainer’s image – her father, Elvis. Presley had his own peccadilloes and myriad of destructive behavioral habits, including drug and weight abuse. Elvis, in his later years, became a shell and a caricature of his former self, but today, he is almost revered like a saint.
It CAN happen for Jackson, despite all of the harsh negative press of the past; despite the unfulfilled charges of child molestation, which never could be proven in a court of law by a jury (even after years of multiple investigations).
My suggestion would be a conversion of Jackson’s California home, Neverland, in the west coast version of Graceland (in Memphis). The estate could control all exhibits and presentations to the smallest degree. The man’s legacy would then slowly turn in the family’s direction – away from the bad into only memories of the stage personality.
And decades from now, a long stream of visitors will keep Jackson’s memory alive. His music will still sell (as does Presley’s efforts … into the hundreds of thousands annually; it just isn’t recorded on the Billboard charts) and the legacy will love on and on.
We just didn’t want to hear about all of it today.
Until tomorrow … and the start of a long line of New Mexican cuisine samplings (yes, we have plenty of Pepto-Bismol and Imodium) … shalom!


Mariah said...

I completely agree with Tucson being very hot. Check out my blog post: http://shenamer.blogspot.com/2008/06/temperature-of-sun.html. At least it's better than phoenix.

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