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To these fine folks, I’m forever indebted

Citizen Staff Writer

I owe a huge debt to the people of Tucson, who patiently schooled me over my 21 years at the Tucson Citizen. I am forever indebted to a large number of ordinary folks who piped up and set me straight about things as I attempted to write about this city and its culture.

But I am particularly indebted to the folks mentioned below who time and again took time out to help me look a little less foolish in print. Thanks to all of you, mentioned or not.

1. Bruce Johnston: If anyone is to blame for my 21 years at the Citizen, it is Bruce. He hired me. But he also helped me tremendously by patiently and calmly helping me with the basic craft of writing as well as developing my voice as a writer. To the degree that I have matured as a writer, much of it is thanks to Bruce.

2. Don Hatfield: (Former editor-publisher) Hatfield not only hired me, but also empowered me to take command of the Tucson music beat in any way I saw fit. He was supportive, sometimes critical, but he always paid attention.

3. Jim Griffith: Griffith was the first person I contacted when I got the job at the Citizen. He often gave me names of important folks who rarely got the limelight, and encouraged me to let them – not experts – tell their stories.

4. David G. Woods: Woods was director of the University of Arizona School of Music when I started. A true visionary, he taught me what artists and the press could accomplish when they worked together with understanding and cooperation.

5. Elva Flores, Raul Aguirre and Julie Gallego were my “go-to” people for all things Hispanic. Whether it was information on cultural nuances, contacts or context, they endlessly gave me the solid leads I needed to do my job better. I could never have done a 10th of what I did without this wonderful trio of movers and shakers.

6. Carroll Rinehart: The man who started the global program of getting kids to write their own operas, Rinehart was my prime source for all things related to music education, and a huge source of inspiration.

7. Bob Bernhardt officially started as music director of the Tucson Symphony three weeks after I started at the Citizen. We bonded almost from the moment we met, bound by his sense of humor, enthusiasm for music and sense of community.

8. Rainer Ptacek taught all of us what life was all about. His music made us feel it all. Felled by a brain tumor, this wonderful musician lived with bravery and a sense of wonder to the end, helping us see that family, home and humility are the things that count.

9. Ralph Gonzales: Julie Gallego’s dad used to research her “Viva Arizona” shows, which are a dance history of Tucson. I learned more from Ralph about local Hispanic musicians, clubs and the birth of Hispanic radio in Tucson than anyone. He’s the unsung great historian of Tucson.

10. Chesley Goseyun Wilson: Apache violin maker Chesley Wilson and his late wife, Ruth Longcor Wilson, quietly and patiently taught me many things about a variety of Native American cultures around us. I treasure them both.

11. Lalo Guerrero: The father of Chicano music was a walking history book about music, politics and life. He was so generous to me with his time and his stories, filling in gaps in my knowledge when no one else had the answers. He also made me laugh and made every woman I dated pay less attention to me.

12. Mariachi Cobre: The members of Mariachi Cobre and their parents shared with me the human story behind one of the greatest musical stories of the American Southwest – the birth of the mariachi movement. It may be the most important stuff I’ll ever write about.

13. Gilbert Ronstadt: I contacted Gilbert because I wanted to meet Linda’s father, but what I discovered was a rare intellect who had led one of the most fascinating lives of anyone I wrote about in these pages. He spent every Wednesday with me one summer sharing his stories. They were the best days of my writing career.

14. Linda Ronstadt: Over the years that I have come to know singer Linda Ronstadt, I have seen an artist of uncompromising standards, not just in music but in life. She inspires all of us to speak out about the things we believe in and live our lives by our innermost principles. And the same could be said about all of her siblings, Pete, Suzy and Mike.

15. Richard Carranza: The man who started the mariachi program at Pueblo High, went on to be the school’s principal and now works his magic in Vegas. He helped me get under the hood of mariachi music probably more than anyone.

16. R. Carlos Nakai: Another of the very generous folks who shared their stories and music with me is Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai. Nakai taught me to walk my own walk and do what I felt in my heart was most important.

17. Joey Burns: Calexico co-founder Joey Burns is one of those folks who leads by example with intellect, compassion and humility. On top of that, he is one of the greatest musicians I’ve ever met.

18. Shirley Chann: In the classical world you meet a lot of wannabees and the occasional real thing. Shirley Chann is the latter – a tireless, passionate advocate for the arts. When Shirley said something was important, I knew I’d better move on it.

19. Glynn Ross: The toothy, controversial former director of Arizona Opera, Glynn Ross was an old-school impresario with the bluster of the Music Man. But he was also a man whose whole life was so intimately intertwined with the art of opera that every session with him was a lesson in that art.

20. Angelo Joaquin Jr.: The founder of Tucson’s waila festival, Angelo Joaquin Jr. taught me and all of Tucson more about the beauty and diversity of the Tohono O’odham people than any gaggle of books could.

Our Digital Archive

This blog page archives the entire digital archive of the Tucson Citizen from 1993 to 2009. It was gleaned from a database that was not intended to be displayed as a public web archive. Therefore, some of the text in some stories displays a little oddly. Also, this database did not contain any links to photos, so though the archive contains numerous captions for photos, there are no links to any of those photos.

There are more than 230,000 articles in this archive.

In TucsonCitizen.com Morgue, Part 1, we have preserved the Tucson Citizen newspaper's web archive from 2006 to 2009. To view those stories (all of which are duplicated here) go to Morgue Part 1

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