Monday, December 16, 2013

Desert Trails and beyond

December 8-15, 2013:

The RV lifestyle gives one an escape route from many of life's more unpleasant tasks, but one you can't escape is Christmas shopping.  We had to go out to the Mall on Monday to deal with it.  Occasionally, I like shopping, if it is for me and I know what I need or want and there is no deadline to meet.  Christmas is different, gift cards are easy, but not a real gift.  I am never really satisfied with a gift that I give unless I physically make it, like painting a rock or something like that, that no one wants.  Regardless, we are really in the holiday spirit this year with a Christmas Tree and a string of exterior lights. 

The Tree  
Back at the RV, I'm continuing on my old postcard project.  I had packed a box of old family postcards, approximately 200, into the RV in July 2012, some over 100 years old, as a project to sort them and get them into a album.  I have not touched them since that day.  Finally, the time is right to get them out, put them into date order and into a album. I soon found that many don't have dates at all, or legible dates, but the stamps or the address give clues to the age.  The old cards are nicer than modern cards, they have a warmer, more artistic quality about them.  These cards were a form of communication in their day, like texting today, to let friends and relatives know where they were, how they were doing and when they would be home.  Also it is interesting was how long it was a 1 cent postage stamp and the beautiful flowery handwriting on some of the cards.  In reading these cards, I'm revisiting the travels and thoughts, good times mostly, of many family members who are long departed from this world.  That is something to ponder ?  Will someone be reading this blog 100 years from now and be amazed by the primitive communication method used in 2013 ?

The post card album

My first trip to the South Tucson Bario (4th Avenue) area this year on Tuesday.  I remember most of the sights from before, but things change with time.  Buildings get painted, sometimes buildings are gone, murals are painted over, things change. I usually recognize scenes I have taken previously, and then almost always repeat the photos as something will always be different, the light, the clouds, the backgrounds.  Twinkles says that I am always so focused with the camera that I miss much of what is going on around me.  I have always believed I see more because I am always looking for the photo, but as I watch other people at events with cameras, she has a good point.  I just read a quote in a magazine article by a musician "Black Joe Lewis" who stated; "Like at concerts, half the people are holding up their cell phones and watching the shitty picture on the screen rather than the live concert".   It kind of like people at a table in a restaurant, all looking at their cell phones and texting, instead of having a conversation. That's something else to ponder, I believe I'll have another beer !

Arch on 4th Street

Mural on 4th Street

Another mural on 4th Street

And another mural

The El Dorado Restaurant

South Tucson welcome sign

I also found my way to the famous Diamondback Rattlesnake Bridge in Tucson which really is an award winning pedestrian/bike path bridge over Broadway Avenue. 

The snakes tail

The snakes head

After getting a propane tank refilled in the morning, I attached some Christmas lights on the RV with some self stick adhesive clips, wonder how long it takes for them to fall off ?  I then waited for a UPS delivery that we missed yesterday, they come right into the campground and deliver to our door.  In spite of what people say, the Postal Service, UPS and Fed-Ex are amazing these days.  I order stuff from Snapfish, Adorama, Amazon and others and receive it in a couple of days.  Amazon in particular is incredibly efficient, you place an order and it is shipped within hours, sometimes you receive it the next day.  

On Thursday, we went with a our friend Leila to the "Mini Time Machine" a Museum of miniatures in Tucson.  It is filled with over 275 miniature houses and room boxes. The level of craftsmanship and artistry in these is amazing.  It is advertised to be the only miniatures museum in the country. 

Really liked these mass produced miniature houses

Museum exhibits

More exhibits

In the evening, I go downtown to the "Plush" club for the first of the "Cover It" music sessions. The "Cover-it" event is a three day Tucson music series that is held at three different venues in which each band performs songs by a well known band or to a particular musical theme.  I'm not a huge cover band fan, there were a couple that I liked (Jethro Tull and The Clash), a couple I didn't even know, a couple that I don't care for and one band that was outstanding covering "Heart".     

I was most impressed with the sound guy, he worked his ass off, (hope he was getting paid well), there were 10 bands playing 1/2 hour sets, all with different band configurations and everything had to be reconfigured for each new band.  He must have ran 100 times from the sound booth to the stage to set up, fix stuff, change cables and then the sound checks.  These guys are often the unsung hero's of the music scene, they can make or break a bands sound, they are amazing to watch, the sound board has hundreds of switches, lights, controls and they are constantly tweaking these adjustments.  I have also noticed that they are almost always weird looking strange dudes, like a secret society and I wonder how they learned this craft.  I know one can go to school to become a sound engineer, but most of these guys look like they learned in the school of hard knocks ?  

Twinkles and I went to the 4th Avenue Winter Street Festival in Tucson on Saturday, one of the largest Tucson festivals of the year.  A long stretch of the street is closed off with street vendors and food stands.  It is a fun area of the town even without the festival with lots of interesting shops, restaurants and bars.  As usual we saw much that appealed, but no room in the RV.  We then returned to the campground (Desert Trails) for a breather.  In the evening, Twinkles went with her friends to the Karaoke session at Desert Trails while I returned to downtown Tucson for the final 2nd Saturday downtown Tucson event with food truck vendors and street musicians and the final "Cover it" music session at the Rialto Theater.  I heard a decent rendition of "Free Bird" by a young college age band on the sidewalk that was pretty cool and another band doing stuff reminiscent of the Ramones. 

4th Avenue poster

The BBQ smoke was heavy

These guys were almost inciting violence on the street

The crowds were heavy

multiple horns

Good eating !

Lots of street musicians

I took in about the first half of the "Cover it" show as all the ones I wanted to hear were early.  The Neil Young cover band lived up to all expectations, really great.  They were followed by a Velvet Underground cover band fronted by this Tucson child prodigy musician.  I had seen this kid (can't be more than 12) last year playing amazing slide guitar to Robert Johnson blues songs. I am not a Velvet Underground fan, but the band was good and he did all the vocals and sounded good. This was followed by the absolute worst Bruce Springsteen renditions I have ever heard, someone should have pulled the plug on this guy, horrible ! Next was a band doing "The Cars", these guys were really veteran performers who were great.  On one song, the guitar player to entice more crowd clapping participation said " Come on, this isn't those fuckers up in Phoenix, this is Tucson".  Last was a band doing Aerosmith, with a vibrant female lead who had an incredibly great voice and great Stephen Tyler stage moves. 

The Rialto Theater

Street musicians
Downtown Tucson is looking better this year. The new trolley system is almost done, they are track testing the cars now and many new restaurants and clubs have opened up in the Congress Street area. This downtown is definitely on the rebound. 

New Tucson Trolley under testing

More to come,
Twinkles and Slick

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