Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Richard Grayson Ties for Third Place with 6.96% of the Vote in 2012 Arizona Green Party Presidential Preference Primary

We tied for third place, with 6.96% of the vote, in yesterday's Arizona Green Party presidential preference primary. But we had 39 votes, and the second-place finisher had only 50 votes, so we weren't far behind. We finished second in four counties: Pima (Tucson), Pinal (our home county), Mohave and Navajo, and we tied for second in a fifth county, Cochise. In three Arizona counties -- La Paz, Santa Cruz and Greenlee -- we finished in a six-way tie for first place, or last place, since none of the Green Party candidates got any votes at all.

We carried our hometown, Apache Junction, and apparently the Navajo Nation as well. In a majority of Arizona counties (8 out of 15), we did no worse than second place. Here is the end of today's front-page story in The Arizona Republic, which was of course mostly about Mitt Romney's win in the Republican primary:

Although Republican politics dominated the day, six Green Party candidates also appeared on Arizona's primary ballot. Jill Stein, a physician who has run for statewide office several times in Massachusetts, jumped out to an early lead, far outpolling the other candidate with a national organization, Kent Mesplay, who is an air- quality inspector from San Diego County.

Two other nationally prominent candidates did not make it on Arizona's ballot: Harley Mikkelson, a retired government employee from Michigan, and comedian Roseanne Barr.

Richard Grayson, a familiar face in the Arizona Green Party, appeared on the ballot, but he released a statement last month that he would act as a stand-in for Barr and ask that votes he receives be given to her at the national convention this July in Baltimore.

Two other Arizonans, Gerard Davis and Michael Oatman, along with Gary Swing, who is also a candidate for Congress in Colorado, trailed in votes.

This is an early report from reporter Suzanne Adams' story in the Kingman Daily Miner in Mohave County, where we got 25% of the vote, our second-best showing:

According to unofficial election results, Romney got 39 percent and Santorum got 31 percent of 15,070 Mohave County Republican voters. Newt Gingrich came in third with 21 percent of the vote and Ron Paul received 9 percent.

Romney won Arizona by a slightly larger margin - 47 percent of state Republicans voted for Romney and 27 percent voted for Rick Santorum. Gingrich also came in third in the state with 16 percent, followed by Paul with 9 percent.

In the race for the Green Party nomination Stein got five of the votes from eight Mohave County Green Party members who participated Tuesday. Richard Grayson came in second with 2 votes and Michael Oatman came in third with one vote.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday Evening in Apache Junction: Green Party Presidential Candidate Richard Grayson Votes in Arizona Primary at Cactus Canyon Junior High School

With less than an hour before the polls close in today's Arizona presidential preference primary, we went over to Cactus Canyon Junior High as we drove up Southern Avenue from spending time with our mom at the Apache Junction Health Center nursing home.

The nice poll workers there told us that we were the first Green Party voter they'd had all day, so we might have even carried our home precinct, number 40 in Pinal County, with our vote for ourselves.

This Republican voter was one of the few people there. We are hoping to finish at least fifth out of six candidates in today's Green primary and plan to concede early at our campaign headquarters so that our dad, brothers and brother's girlfriend can watch TV.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Morning in Tempe: Breakfast at Tempe Beach Park

We were at peaceful, nearly deserted Tempe Beach Park before 8 a.m. this morning with some iced tea and a bagel that we'd gotten at the Starbucks on Mill Avenue. It was a gorgeous start to a summer-like day in February.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tucson Weekly Endorses Richard Grayson in Arizona Green Party Presidential Preference Primary on February 28

We are happy and grateful that Tucson Weekly has endorsed us in next Tuesday's Arizona Green Party presidential preference primary. Here is today's editorial:

Severely Awesome

We endorse Republican Sarah Gonzales and Green Richard Grayson in next week's presidential primary

by The Weekly Editorial Board

We've had many people ask us over the last few months whether Project White House 2012 is serious, or just a big joke.

We find ourselves asking: Is Newt Gingrich's moon base a big joke? Is Ron Paul serious when he says that medical care for seniors was better before Medicare? Is Rick Santorum serious when he says that abortion doctors belong behind bars? Is Mitt Romney serious when he says his sons are serving the country by helping him get elected rather than enlisting in the military?

In light of all that, we believe the Project White House candidates are just as serious about running the country as the Republican Party's frontrunners.

In case you have not been following Project White House: We invited all of the candidates on the Feb. 28 Arizona presidential-primary ballot to participate in a Reality Journalism competition in order to win the Tucson Weekly's presidential endorsement.

More than half of the Republicans on the ballot—12 out of 23—signed up, as did half of the Green Party candidates.

Over the last several weeks, we have presented them with a variety of challenges, from making Facebook pages for their campaigns to developing hit ads against their high-profile opponents. The competition culminated last weekend with a pair of presidential debates televised by our friends at Access Tucson. (If you missed 'em, they've been posted on The Range so you can size up the candidates yourselves.)

Now, with the Feb. 28 presidential primary just days away, the time has come for us to make our endorsements.

We must say: We're impressed with this year's crop of dark-horse Republican candidates. We think that Charles Skelley is right when he says that too many manufacturing jobs have left the United States. Al "Dick" Perry is right when he says that corporations have too much power and demonstrate too little civic responsibility. Peter "Simon" Bollander is right when he says we have too many lawyers in politics. Jim Terr is right when he says a cascade of money has corrupted our election process. Donald Benjamin is right when he says grocery stores are too confusing. And Kip Dean is right when he says the front-runners in the GOP primary are just plain unlikable.

That brings us to a fundamental problem with the GOP: It's in desperate need of a makeover. These old white dudes running for president—Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul—just don't seem to be in touch with the modern world or remotely prepared to deal with its increasingly complex challenges.

And that's why we're endorsing Sarah Gonzales, the only Latina on the GOP primary ballot in Arizona.

In the Project White House televised debates, Gonzales described herself as "severely awesome"—and we're inclined to agree. We don't know that we agree with her stances on everything, but much of what she calls for sounds good to us.

We should spend less on overseas wars. We should pay teachers more. We should have more arts classes and physical education in our schools. We should crack down on white-collar crime. We should reconsider how many people we lock away, and stop the growth of a private-prison industry that turns a profit on putting people behind bars. We should invest more in solar energy. We should have more poetry in our lives.

And we agree with what Gonzales says about her platform: It makes a lot more sense than 9-9-9.

The Tucson Weekly endorses Sarah Gonzales in the 2012 Arizona Republican primary.

The Greens

Three of the six Green Party candidates on the Arizona ballot are participating in Project White House: Richard Grayson, Gary Swing and Michael Oatman.

All of the Greens have done a lot to express their plans through Project White House, but we have been most impressed with Richard Grayson, including his plan to deport Republicans back to the 18th century, where they could be more comfortable with their tricorner hats and other Tea Party garb, and his demand that Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu be nicer to his ex-boyfriends. Few of the Project White House candidates have done a better job of responding to the issues of the day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sunday Night in Downtown Mesa: "The Terrible Twos: The Underground Turns 2" Free Anniversary Show at The Underground

Tonight we went to a terrific free show at The Underground, "The Terrible Twos," celebrating the second anniversary of the venue in the basement of the Nile Theater in downtown Mesa.

The bill featured some really fine bands: Corporal Limits, Ape Kill Ape, American Standards, Death By Routine, and Waking in Timelines.

Among the birthday party decorations were photos from some memorable shows at the Underground since its February 2010 opening.

A brief description from the Arizona Central website:
For many years, the Nile Basement filled the streets of downtown Mesa with the sounds of local and national punk and rock groups, including Blink 182, Motorhead and the Vandals. The venue closed its doors in 2002, but reopened as the Underground on Feb. 19, 2010. The club has a capacity of 250 to 300 people, and specializes in punk, hardcore, and rock acts.

We were really impressed, actually, by the quality of the sound, as well as the nicely intimate setting. Obviously, most of the people there were 35 to 40 years younger than us -- though there were several middle-aged people, too -- and there's a really nice vibe. Staying in Apache Junction, we miss the feel of living in Brooklyn, and the crowd here mostly looked like people we see in Williamsburg, maybe a little younger. And not depressed-looking enough to pass on the L train.

That's there's no alcohol obviously isn't a drawback to an elderly teetotaler, and some of the reviews on Yelp noted how hot and sweaty the place can get in summer, but it was very comfortable tonight.

As one comment on Yelp noted, "the venue is just small enough to be intimate and large enough to hold a decent crowd. It's enough of a dive to retain street cred but (somehow) established enough to host larger bands who still marginally exist below the mainstream radars."

And there was room for people to move around in front of the stage, and for at least American Standards to move around energetically through the pumped-up crowd during their high-energy, frenzied hardcore set. (At one point, their terrific vocalist Brandon Kellum leaned on our shoulder, seemingly for support).

Top40-Charts wrote:
Formed in early 2011, American Standards plays raw, thrash hardcore with a foundation of punk and rock n roll. With clever plays on words, their passionate message derives from philosophy, existentialism and corporate/political satire. Songs such as "Paradigm alt+SHIFT+delete" were inspired heavily by the Occupy Movements..."We don't have the look for your new business model!" screams a line from the song...

Of course, as an old man from Brooklyn who last lived in Mesa eleven years ago, we don't know much about the local scene, but on Saturday, we saw a Death By Routine sticker on Main Street and then the poster for tonight's event and decided to come despite posterior tibialis posterior, which made us need to lean against posts as we stood around listening to the bands.

Like American Standards, Death By Routine also did a killer set, reminding us a lot of the Taking Back Sunday of the Tell All Your Friends era; lead vocalist Matt Aldawood and Jake Maloney have a peppy liquidity reminiscent of Adam Lazzara and John Nolan, especially on "To All My Friends." The whole band was terrific, with Jake Stern a standout on drums.

We'd never been to the World Famous Nile Theater before and it took us a while to figure out we had to go to the entrance in the back, in an alley south of Main Street. We hobbled downstairs to the Underground around 7 p.m. to see Waking in Timelines play their first show.

You can catch the band upstairs at the Nile Theater on the bill with Silver Snakes on March 11. Here's an acoustic version of Waking in Timelines' "Orion's Belt," which has a nicely sweet sound:

Our dumbphone takes weak pics even in the best light, but as someone who's taught photography majors at the School of Visual Arts for years and years (okay, we teach them writing and literature), we like to think we're involved in our own little DIY scene where dark, blurry, incoherent photos rule.

Anyway, as we said, we really liked Death By Routine and have listened to the free CD we picked up there. (They also baked cookies for the crowd.) Here's a short video from a July show they did at The Underground (they were even better last night, much more polished and high-energy).

After their excellent set, American Standards came on and just totally killed it.

Their songs are funny and sly and they have a social conscience that appeals to at least one presidential candidate in the February 28 Arizona Green Party primary (we approved that message).

Ape Kill Ape also had an amazingly good set, especially given that all their band equipment was stolen from their practice space a few weeks ago. The good guys at American Standards lent them their equipment for the show tonight, and Ape Kill Ape made excellent use of it.

Watch them at The Underground several months ago and you can see why we enjoyed their set:

And by this time of the night, our tendonitis was really painful and making it hard to walk and even stand, but we were excited to stay for Ape Kill Ape.

However, we realize that by tomorrow morning we'll probably have to stay off our feet all day to prevent our tendon from rupturing, so we figured the wisest thing to do was leave before Corporal Limits came on as the last band of the night.

This is what happens to everyone in any DIY scene when your body is in its seventh decade, kids. We really hope to see Corporal Limits, who seem very cool at another time. Here they are last year at the Clubhouse, opening for Leftover Crack:

Anyway, we're grateful to be able to have gotten over to The Underground for the first time and to see some excellent bands for free. Thanks to the Mantooth Group for having revived this historic venue space.

We hope that they will be around for a long time.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Afternoon in Downtown Mesa: Mesa Takes Flight Festival at the Mesa Arts Center

It's always great to spend a warm and sunny Saturday walking around Main Street in downtown Mesa, and this afternoon we had the pleasure of going to the Mesa Takes Flight Festival at the Mesa Arts Center.

The event was the City of Mesa’s festival commemorating the Arizona Centennial and culminating a year-long celebration of aviation, aerospace and all things flight-related.

It started last evening and ends tomorrow afternoon, but we enjoyed our time at Mesa Takes Flight for a couple of hours today.

On our way over to the Mesa Arts Center from Queens Pizza, on the corner of Main and Center,

we heard some oldies from Hooked on a Feeling, a local band which performed classic rock -- stuff like The Eagles' "Take It Easy" -- with aplomb.

There were a number of exhibits. Kids were trying to follow the directions to make origami dragonflies, helicopters, and airplanes.

We tried our gnarled hand at it too, except theirs flew for a while rather than immediately nosediving like our own creation.

Both the East Valley Institute of Technology and Arizona State University's aviation-based educational programs were represented,

and there was a table from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the world's largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession, which among other things is greatly involved in educational programs to launch the next generation of aerospace engineers.

One table had the most amazing model planes. It made us remember that, yeah, we used to like to make model planes, too, when we were 10 or 11, and not just because of the glue.

Artist Marilyn Cohn explained to kids the technical process by which she makes her one-of-a-kind works involved metal, glass and other materials. You can get some of her pieces at Practical Art on Central Avenue.

We also got to see Mesa Public Schools’ Space Integration Module and Flight Activity Center.

The Odyssey includes an orbiter, space station and mission control, all equipped with the latest technology.

Experiments and explorations were going on inside the vehicle.

The Mesa Historical Museum had material from the city's involvement in aviation,

like this front-page headline from the Mesa Journal-Tribune in 1941, when what is now Falcon Field and Phoenix/Mesa Gateway Airport (Williams Field) opened.

We especially enjoyed the hourlong Blue Bike Kids Show presenting Flight-O-Vation, "an original live performance by designed to engage young people in the innovation of flight and to learn about the history of aviation."

The show featured Phoenix-based theater and film artists Boyd Branch, Steve Wilcox and Elizabeth Peterson ("E.P.") as Nikola Tesla's time-traveling assistants who here try to inspire kids with the history of manned flight.

Using a variety of theatrical techniques, from hand and bunkuru-type puppets and old-fashioned stage signage to electronica and audience interaction, the show was not boring for an adult, and the kids seemed really into it.

It was a nicely idiosyncratic lesson, starting with the Wright Brothers (puppets: the puppeteer was great) telling Steve, E.P. and Boyd that, no, they didn't invent the airplane, they didn't make the first successful flight, and denying the simplistic version of aviation history that is taught too often.

What we liked about it was that it didn't sugarcoat all the frustrations, setbacks, failed attempts, disasters and tragedies in people trying to fly (our great-grandfather supposedly broke both his legs when he tried out his homemade mechanical wings to "fly" off the roof of his barn back in his Belarusian shtetl, and he was lucky).

From Daedalus and Icarus to the eleventh-century monk Eilmer of Malmesbury to Leonardo da Vinci, from the Montgolfier brothers (we made a construction-paper comic strip about them in our second grade class back in P.S. 203) to Otto Lilienthal to the Wright Brothers, people (and animals) lost their lives, fortunes, and sanity in the attempt to defy gravity.

The Blue Bike Kids despair of inspiring the audience until the Wright Brothers come on again and explain to Alphonse PĂ©naud that he wasn't a failure, that his rubber-powered model airplane served as a crucial inspiration for their attempts to finally make their success at Kitty Hawk possible.

Everyone will fail if they try, the Blue Bike Kids explained, but it's not the outcome but the process and the joy in even unheralded creative work that is necessary for all human progress. The pedagogical stuff goes down easy, but we thought it was actually quite sophisticated and profound for a performance aimed at children.

We had to get back to Apache Junction to help feed our mom dinner at the nursing home, so we missed a whole lot of events, including choral and dance performances that we would have liked to see.

But we're grateful for having had the chance to experience this weekend's Mesa Takes Flight Festival and we had a really nice time there.