Citizen Staff Writer
For the past 35 years, this is the column I’ve been wanting to avoid writing. My last column for the Tucson Citizen.
Now that it’s here, I’m thankful the wait took 35 years.
I’m also thankful this column doesn’t mean the end of life as I know it. Reporting on Tucson’s thriving performing arts scene will continue.
I’ll be moving online with the rest of the world. Starting right away, you can find my theater reviews, film, dance and music commentary at www.tucsonstage.com. This is the Web site Bill Dell built into a powerhouse listing service for the entire arts community.
Now Tucson Stage will become the online address, as well, for my own arts page “Let the Show Begin.” The plan is for me to be posting new items daily, so there’s always a new reason to click on the page and check it out.
Hot reviews will be even hotter with the timeliness of digital technology. When I first started writing for the Tucson Citizen in 1974, everybody used typewriters. The phrase “cut and paste” literally meant cut the type-set copy off a larger piece of paper and paste it on the layout sheet.
Whew . . . the printing process was clumsy but the writing was better. Having a computer spell-checking everything is the absolute worst. Typos are popping up all over the place.
But I digress.
Progress will always be pushing us ahead, creating bad things along with good ones. Assuring us there will always be a need for the entertainment and insight that art provides.
Tucson, with its do-it-yourself attitude, will continue to be Arizona’s arts oasis. All those dusty dreamers who can’t live without an overdose of sunshine will keep on creating stuff, whether there is any money in it or not. They just can’t help themselves.
I couldn’t help myself, either, back in the 1970s writing about new rock bands and dinosaur big bands touring the music of Woody Herman, Glen Miller and the like. Tucson was a bigger music town than Phoenix. In 1978, the Rolling Stones skipped Phoenix altogether. The band’s only stop in Arizona was the downtown Tucson Convention Center Arena.
Then Phoenix built the Desert Sky Pavilion and some other giant-sized venues while Tucson’s city leaders sat on their hands. Sound familiar?
After covering rock ‘n’ roll in the ’70s, I moved over to reviewing theater in the ’80s. Counterculture issues were thriving: plays about injustice in Vietnam and stateside injustice over the AIDS crisis, feminist protest onstage, performance artists on tour, plays about conflict and every skin color in the human spectrum, lots of theater dramatizing border issues insisting the rights of people are more important than the laws of nations.
It was a time rich with ideals and ideology. The whole experience was made stronger by seeing this entire parade of scenes pass through the city’s open-minded and open-hearted playhouses. Plenty of times it felt like I was being force-fed Thanksgiving dinner several times a week.
There is a lot I will miss, but also a lot to be thankful for. The philosophical lessons I’ve learned taking notes in dark theaters have just been prelude to the next act of my life. The one that begins May 17, the first day there will be no printed edition of the Tucson Citizen.