Sunday, December 30, 2012

McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Take an aerial tour of Scottsdale's McDowell Sonoran Preserve and learn how it's citizens came together to help protect this diverse, special place. Here's a video introduction of the Preserve.

The entire "Wings Over The Preserve" video presentation can be seen on YouTube.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Safe Hiking For The Holidays

Folks, let's use some common sense while hiking during the holidays. Get out, enjoy the weather and get some exercise. But please, remember your limitations. The Sonoran Desert is a beautiful place to recreate, not wreck create.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Peace on earth and goodwill to all! O Holy Night performed by Catherine Cote with Sedona photos.

Source: Catherine Cote

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Phoenix Community Mural

Via the Downtown Devil, the first Phoenix Festival of the Arts, which took place this past weekend at Margaret T. Hance Park, was vibrant with art vendors, live music and Mayor Greg Stanton presenting awards to local artists.

A successful event, it was the winding figure of plywood boards snaking around the fenced-in festival, however, that displayed some of Phoenix’s best art. By the end of the festival, more than 80 Phoenix artists had added their unique style to one of the longest murals painted in Arizona.

The Phoenix Mural Project from Downtown Devil on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Just remembering the first Thanksgiving, when the Pilgrims gave thanks for a successful harvest after having immigrated to America from England in 1620, and being welcomed by the Native Americans.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Usery Mountain Regional Park

Sometimes a lot of us think that it takes a tremendous amount of time, effort and money for an urban dweller to become a hiker. But, it's easier and cheaper than you may think.

There are plenty of parks located close to home, that aren't too difficult to hike, cost very little money (or no money) to enjoy, and allow us to experience the Sonoran Desert beauty while having fun and getting some exercise.

Usery Mountain Regional Park is one of them.

In this video, a production of the East Valley Tribune in partnership with the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department, park ranger Brennan Basler explains where the park is located and all of the great amenities that it has to offer.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Budget Cuts Affect State Parks

State parks that survived closure due to statewide budget cuts in 2010 are in danger again of being shut down. Volunteer efforts were previously enough to maintain the parks, but park officials now say they'll need more than $15 million to keep the parks open.

Cronkite News reporter Corbin Carson has the story.

State parks face familiar danger of being shut down from Cronkite News on Vimeo.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Arizona Election Results

Normally, I would usually consider the outrage of the speaker in this video to be the ramblings of a disappointed voter or conspiracy theorist. But, after what's happened to me, I'm not so sure that he has an unfounded claim.

I've been resident of Arizona, and a registered Democrat who votes early through the mail, for many years. In September of 2011, I bought a new home and moved. I only moved from the east-central side of Phoenix to the west-central side, less than 10 miles away.

As I've done in the past, I changed my address and other information online through Service Arizona. Also available through this service is the availability to change your voter registration information. I did both when I moved, and I've never had a problem before.

I received a confirmation that the state successfully updated my change of address information, but for some unknown reason, they had a problem updating my voter change of address.

Within a week or so later I received a "paper" form stating that I needed to update my change of address information using this form. So, I filled out the form and sent it in, thinking that should fix the unknown problem. I never received anything to the contrary.

Well, come October 2012, I didn't receive an early ballot like I've usually been receiving them. So, I went online to check my voter registration status. Lo and behold, my voter status stated that it was restricted and I was ineligible to vote.

Of course, being a Democrat in a fanatically Republican state, my conspiracy "spidey-sense" went off, so I emailed Service Arizona, the Maricopa County Recorder's Office, and the State Democratic Party headquarters to voice my complaint, and to make sure that I was deemed eligible to vote in the upcoming election.

Within the week or so, I was deemed eligible and received my early ballot in the mail. I voted my choices along party lines and sent it in the next day.

Like everyone else, I watched the election results and disappointedly accepted the outcome. But, then a few days later, I read the news reports that most of the early ballots still had to be counted, even though the recorder's office had already announced who had won the elections.

Again, my spidey-senses went off that something just wasn't right. How could the state determine a winner without counting such a significant amount of the ballots? It was too close to call without including the numerous early ballots.

Like the man in this video, I can't help but wonder if the Republican party has stolen this election. I hope the Feds will investigate to see if there was truly anything corrupt or illegal involved.

Source: Voters Angry As Arizona Continues To Count Ballots

Wipe It Out Phoenix

Phoenix 20/20: Councilman Michael Nowakowski checks out the Wipe it Out Day presented by the Neighborhood Services Department.

Source: City of Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tasting History | A Short Film

In Dena Cowan's documentary film, Tasting History, follow Jesus Garcia’s lifelong inspirational journey across the Mexico-U.S. border in the Sonoran Desert region, exemplifying how life is but a circle.

This short film describes how compassionate strategies and supportive environments, in all aspects of life, are the most enriching and most sustainable. Rooted in the past and flourishing in the present follow how Jesus's Kino Heritage Fruit Trees Project offers us a taste of the promising desert oases he is helping to grow. One cannot help but admire the man and his mission.

Tasting History from Dena Cowan on Vimeo.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Artfully Engaging Taggers

Living in a neighborhood that gets graffiti tagged almost every night, I can honestly say that I don't understand the psyche of someone who would spend so much time, energy, and money, and risk the chance of civil and criminal penalties, all in the pursuit of ruining the beauty of their own neighborhood and having their neighbors hate their behavior?

I sometimes catch myself wondering what would happen if those taggers' artistic energies were redirected in a positive way, such as creating neighborhood murals that they would be proud of, and everyone in the neighborhood could enjoy. Who wouldn't want that instead?

Perhaps the problem of tagging in Phoenix needs to be addressed in different and positive way. While the Police Department and the city's Grafitti Busters program does it's best to fight tagging, it doesn't seem to be working. If anything, I've noticed more taggings in my neighborhood in this past year.

So, when I discovered the collaborative efforts of the Tucson Arts Brigade, I thought THIS is the way we should be addressing the problem of unwanted grafitti in Phoenix.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Mysteries of Sonoran Desert life are slowly revealed and abundantly displayed at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, located on the Mexican border, a few miles south the city of Ajo, AZ.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is the only place in the United States to see large stands of organ pipe cacti, though their range extends far south into Mexico. The monument encompasses the bulk (about 90%) of its U.S. population. Optimum growing conditions exist no more than a 40-50 mile radius north of the monument. Beyond this distance, conditions are not suitable, and the cactus will seldom occur naturally in these areas except in very isolated locations.

If you enjoy hiking, desert flower and fauna, and the serene beauty the Sonoran Desert has to offer, then this is the place to visit during the cool winter months. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument preserves over 330,000 acres of green, living desert that is yours to explore and get to know.

Here's a Robin Sewell's Arizona Highways Television show to tell you more.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Visit The Scottsdale Film Festival

Looking for something unique to do this weekend? Then why not spend some time at this year's 12th annual Scottsdale International Film Festival? Even the most casual look at this year’s line-up reveals a blend of films to satisfy a broad range of interests and tastes.

There are smaller films for the appreciative, daring cineaste; and bigger, more mainstream films that reveal the burgeoning of the commercial market—a wonderful mix of film genres from light-hearted comedies to period dramas, chosen from all corners of the world. There is so much to see―and something for everyone!

For example, here's the trailer for The Finger, a political satire film out of Argentina -

THE FINGER (El Dedo) from The Global Film Initiative on Vimeo.

After seven years of local dictatorship, a remote village in Argentina formally becomes a town, with the birth of its 501st inhabitant. Based on real events, this charming dramatic comedy pokes fun at small town ways while celebrating true democratic values.

Hidalgo, a slick and ingratiating scion, is eager for the new post of mayor. Smelling a rat, Baldomero (a beloved natural leader with a habitually tapping digit) runs against him—and soon turns up dead.

His shopkeeper brother vows revenge, keeping Baldomero’s severed finger in a jar, initially as a remembrance. But eventually it becomes an absurd icon of leadership that spurs the town to defy crooked elections, interloping powers―and Hidalgo―to go its own way.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Celebrate National Public Lands Day

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the nation's largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands. Participating in NPLD is a great way to get the recommended 60 minutes of daily activity, while you lend a hand for public lands. NPLD is also a designated fee-free entrance day at many federal public lands including national parks.

In 2012, NPLD will be held on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012.

Eight federal agencies as well as nonprofit organizations and state, regional and local governments participate in the annual day of caring for public lands. National Public Lands Day keeps the promise of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the "tree army" that worked from 1933-1942 to preserve and protect America's natural heritage.

So, if you'd like to volunteer your time and effort to help preserve our public lands, feel the satisfaction that you've given back to your community, all while enjoying the great outdoors, here's a link to some opportunities available in the state of Arizona.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

WAMO - There It Is!

Seeking Artists and Arts Organizations For A New Creative Community In Tucson -

Warehouse Arts Management Organization (WAMO) will soon be opening the recently renovated Steinfeld Warehouse Community Arts Center.

Their vision is to cultivate a vibrant, interactive environment that sparks creative expression, ultimately leading to marketing opportunities through exhibits, performance and arts education.

WAMO intends to bring together artists from all disciplines with compatible retail space to establish a place for artists to thrive and for our community to engage in diverse cultural experiences.

Source: Longtime Art Collective Finds New Home Downtown

Friday, August 31, 2012

Celebrate A Sonoran Labor Day

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum was founded on Labor Day in 1952 and will celebrate its 60th anniversary year this weekend with a variety of new exhibits and programs.

The museum is one of the nation’s leading outdoor, living museums, featuring more than 230 animals and 1,200 varieties of desert plants. Its mission is to inspire people to live in harmony with the natural world by fostering love, appreciation, and understanding of the bi-national Sonoran Desert region.

“The Museum’s 60th anniversary year is not only a celebration of what the Museum has achieved in the past but also a reminder that it continues to evolve with new programs and new exhibits,” states Craig Ivanyi, the Museum’s Executive Director. “The new Animal Keeper Animal Interaction Program is just one new initiative planned for this 60th anniversary year.”

If you ask me, it's great way to spend some quality time with the family.

Source: KVOA News - Tucson

Friday, August 10, 2012

Arizona Right Wing Politics

I think I may have found an historical video of the time period in Arizona when the "far right" political party first began to take control of the state. What do you think?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Carmona For Arizona

Born to a poor Hispanic family in New York City, Dr. Richard Carmona experienced homelessness, hunger and bleak prospects for a future education and economic opportunity.

The child of parents who emigrated to the United States and struggled with alcoholism and substance abuse, Rich learned tough early lessons about economic disparities and social injustice – an experience he has never forgotten, and one that has given him an understanding of how culture, health, education and economic status shape our country.

I can identify with Dr. Carmona, the former Surgeon General, and I think you can too.

Arizona needs Senators who care about the average Arizonan and are willing to serve our interests. Vote for Rich, not the rich, and help change Arizona's future for the better.

Source: Vote for Richard Carmona

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Capture My Arizona Calendar Contest

Get your cameras ready and your voting fingers warmed up - it's time to get started on a Capture My Arizona publication! AZPBS is thrilled to announce the Capture My Arizona 2013 Wall Calendar.

Building on the outstanding photography uploaded so far by Capture My Arizona photographers, they are excited to open submissions and voting for a real-life publication featuring the best of the best in Arizona photography in a fine-art wall calendar.

The best of Arizona, as decided by local photographers and local voters, wrapped in a 15-month fine-art calendar for your wall. Top-scoring photos and editors picks will be featured in the calendar, which will span the 2013 year (plus a few bonus months in 2014). Learn how it works.

Your photos, your votes; it's the best of Arizona as decided by you!

September 30, 2012 is the last day for new photo submissions and for your voting to be considered for Capture My Arizona 2013 Wall Calendar.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Adventure Earth: Sonoran Venom

A three-part quest into the Sonora Desert with Bryan Maltais to find rattlesnakes, the Gila monster, and many other of our native desert dwellers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Arizona Wildcats Win 2012 CWS

Congratulations to the University of Arizona Wildcat baseball team for beating the two-time defending champions South Carolina Gamecocks to capture the 2012 College World Series (CWS) title.

Arizona did not lose a game in the NCAA Tournament, and won its last 11 games and 18 of its last 20 in 2012, a great time of the year to get hot. They played flawlessly! This NCAA baseball crown is the Wildcats 4th national title (also 1976, 1980 and 1986).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

100 Years, 100 Ranchers

Scott Baxter traveled across Arizona photographing ranching families that have been around since the state's birth. This mythos of the American West serves as inspiration for a new centennial exhibit at the Tucson Museum of Art entitled "100 Years 100 Ranchers: Photographs by Scott Baxter."

Source: Arizona Illustrated: Photographer Strives to Capture Vanishing Culture

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Arizona: At Least We're Not Mexico

Someone behind the political scenes recently leaked to me this alleged Republican campaign theme being considered for the upcoming state elections - "Arizona: At Least We're Not Mexico"

An unknown Democrat argued that, perhaps politically, we are exactly the same. Any thoughts?

Source: Nuestro México del Futuro

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kartchner Caverns State Park

Are you on vacation or got a day off from work and are looking for something cool to do?

Experience a spectacular limestone cavern found in Southeastern Arizona that boasts world-class features. Located about 10 miles south of Benson, AZ, this "live" cave known as Kartchner Caverns, discovered in 1974, is host to a wide variety of unique minerals and formations.

A great place to visit on a hot and dry Arizona Summer day, the cave has an average temperature of 72° Fahrenheit (22° Celsius) and 99% humidity year-round. Water percolates from the surfaces and calcite formations (speleothems) continue to grow, including stalactites dripping down like icicles and giant stalagmites reaching up from the ground.

Tour guides will unveil this fascinating underground landscape during a memorable 1½ hour tour.

Source: Arizona State Parks

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Monument Valley

Found on the Navajo Indian reservation located on the Arizona/Utah border, you are experiencing one of the most majestic - and most photographed - points on earth, Monument Valley.

This great valley boasts sandstone masterpieces that tower at heights of 400 to 1,000 feet. Framed by scenic clouds casting shadows that graciously roam the desert floor. The angle of the sun accents these graceful formations, providing scenery that is simply spellbinding.

The landscape overwhelms, not just by its beauty but also by its size. The fragile pinnacles of rock are surrounded by miles of mesas and buttes, shrubs, trees and windblown sand, all comprising the magnificent colors of the valley.

All of this harmoniously combines to make Monument Valley a truly wondrous experience.

Monument Valley from Ken Sklute on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Phoenix College Lady Bears

Who's some of the best women softball players you've probably never heard of? That would be the Phoenix College Lady Bears who are consistently regarded as some of the best women softball players in the country.

Phoenix College beat No.1-ranked and defending national champion LSU-Eunice twice on Saturday in Clinton, MS, capturing its ninth National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Softball World Series championship in school history, and it's eighth under the direction of current head coach Heinz Mueller. Congratulations on both your individual and team accomplishments ladies!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Inside The Overpass

Maybe keeping idle hands busy is the best answer to the increasing Graffiti problem in Arizona.

Juan Rocha thrived on the thrill of tagging and the recognition that came with it. Now, he has traded his spray paint for a brush and works with the Tucson Arts Brigade. The organization will unveil their latest mural, "Inside the Overpass" on Wednesday, May 9, 2012.

Hat Tip: Tucson Sentinel

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

It's predicted to be close to 100 degrees in the Valley for Cinco de Mayo. Why not enjoy the holiday at Tlaquepaque in the cool mountains of Sedona this weekend?

The Cinco de Mayo Fiesta is back at Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, on Saturday, May 5, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy the pulsating sounds of traditional music, savory flavors, and colorful dance of Mexico in a fun-filled South of the Border celebration of Cinco de Mayo. Admission is free.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Neon Pueblo

Tucson could soon be known as the Neon Pueblo, courtesy of a quirky tourism concept coming to town. Throughout the middle of the 20th century, Miracle Mile, Oracle Road, and Drachman Street were together known as Tucson's "Miracle Mile Strip".

Miracle Mile Strip was the northern segment of Tucson's primary automotive corridor: the vehicular route into the city from the North, a crossroads for those traversing the nation on Routes 80 and 89, and an economic arterial that fostered development in several regionally popular architectural styles.

For many, this defined their Tucson experience; for others, it shaped their first impression of the Old Pueblo. I know it shaped my first impression of Tucson. Swimming pools, flickering neon and lush grassy courtyards welcomed visitors to motels with names like La Siesta, El Rey, Frontier, and El Rancho. Restaurants served steak and music for under $2.00.

Today, these iconic buildings and glowing signs have emerged from history to provide a persistent reminder of the continuing American fascination with the automobile, and to enhance our society's understating of the mythic 20th century West. Classic neon still signs evoke an era of fast cars and a slower pace of life.

These wonderful examples of mid-20th century commercial art are an evocative night experience that the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation (THPF) believes has potential to "drive" tourism.

THPF is working with community partners to restore and reinstall a series of historic neon signs along Tucson's Mid-Century Modern highway: Historic Route 80 & 89 and State Route 84, and will release a publication this month that informs the public about the signs in Tucson. It's called "The Neon Pueblo: A Guide to Tucson's Midcentury Vintage Advertising."

The guide is free and will be released at The Neon Mile: Sock Hop event on Friday April 27th at Pima Community College's downtown campus from 6 pm to 9 pm. During this event, the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation and PCC will flip the switch to turn on four restored neon signs.

Source: Arizona Public Media

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Exploring The Curandero Trail

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is the place to learn about Sonoran desert plants and their useful properties - especially on their twice-a-month guided tour interpreting Edible And Medicinal Plants of the Desert the fourth Sunday and again on the second Saturday each month of February, March and April. Visitors can also explore the Curandero Trail on their own.

Jean Groen Plant Walk from San Pedro River Videos on Vimeo.

Related link: Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Melrose on 7th Avenue Street Fair and Classic Car Show

Classic cars will mix with vintage furnishings and clothing, as well as plenty of food and fun linked to modern times, on Saturday, March 3, at the 11th annual Melrose on 7th Avenue Street Fair and Classic Car Show. Be there or be square.

2012 Melrose on 7th Ave Street Fair and Classic Car Show

Phoenix Graffiti Busters

Graffiti is costly and destructive, and sends a message that the community is not concerned about the appearance of its neighborhoods. You can take control of your neighborhood by quickly removing graffiti. Prompt removal reduces the chance of graffiti reappearing and helps maintain a safe, secure and attractive environment.

Graffiti is a crime – to report graffiti vandalism in progress, call 9-1-1.

To report graffiti that you want to see removed, call the Graffiti Busters 24-Hour Removal Hotline at 602-495-7014 or email You also can report graffiti using a free application on your iPhone or Android smartphone (myPhxAZ).

The Phoenix Police Department also has a special graffiti hotline.

If you believe you can provide information leading to the arrest of a graffiti vandal, call 602-262-7327 to make a report. You don't have to give your name or any other identification, and you could receive an award up to $250. For more information on this program visit the Police Graffiti Hotline site.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

Red State, Blue State

I thought I was through being embarrassed by our politicians the day former Governor Evan Mecham was impeached. I guess I was wrong.

In the future, when someone asks you if you know the precise time period in which Arizona turned from a red state into a blue state, try "pointing" them to this post.

Now looky here, son. I run the show in these here parts.

Related link: Arizona Daily Star: Obama steps off his jet into a clash with Brewer

Friday, January 20, 2012

Apache 8

APACHE 8 tells the story of an all-women wildland firefighter crew from the White Mountain Apache Tribe, who have been fighting fires in Arizona and throughout the U.S., for over 30 years.

The film delves into the challenging lives of these Native firefighters. Four extraordinary women from different generations of the Apache 8 crew share their personal narratives with humor and tenderness. They speak of hardship and loss, family and community, and pride in being a firefighter from Fort Apache. APACHE 8 weaves together a compelling tale of these remarkable firefighters, revealed for the first time. This inspirational documentary is now playing on AZPBS Channel-8 in Phoenix.

Source: Apache8 and PBS NewsHour

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Arizona Is One Tough Place

"Arizona is one tough place to live." How many times have I heard that phrase?

It's true that the attitudes of residents here is much different than many other states. But, that independent attitude must be one that appeals to many Canadians, since they've been buying up foreclosed properties here since the housing bust in 2008. But, don't just take my word for it.

TOUGH WEST from Henrique Barone on Vimeo.

Monday, January 2, 2012

It's Election Season

Election season in Arizona is always a giant circus. While I love the weather, the natural beauty, and the vast majority of people living in Arizona, big business interests and corrupt politics always seem to detract from that beauty and enjoyment.

It doesn't matter which party you belong to, the politics here seem only to represent the interests of the corporations or those who can afford corrupt politicians, instead of the people and the state as a whole. So, this year I'm writing in my own candidate for election, someone who the average Arizonan can identify with, someone who isn't fake, someone who's respected.