“Pre-9/11” and “post-9/11” have become such weighted signifiers of time and culture for Americans that we use them as epochal touchstones – our B.C. and A.D. Whether we’re describing literary themes, airport security or just our overall sense of safety, “pre-” and “post-” that autumn day frequently come into play. For American Muslims, that invisible marker separating Sept. 10, 2001, and Sept. 11, 2001, is a daily reality.
For many years, Dr. Larissa Romero respectfully reserved judgment, and held her tongue, when friends and neighbors opined on the topic of vaccination refusal. After all, her prosperous Central Phoenix neighborhood is precisely the kind of place that tends to breed anti-vax sentiment – i.e. younger, college-educated parents, higher tax brackets, smaller families – so why stir up bad feelings?
It was a joke that hit too close to home. Near the top of a list of “10 Things No One from Phoenix Ever Says” on the Phoenix New Times website last August, was “Did you watch that (Diamondbacks/Coyotes/Suns/Cardinals) playoff game last night?”
Ironically, just four months later, the Arizona Cardinals did make the NFL playoffs – but for just the fourth time since the team moved to Phoenix in 1988. And if you’re going to take shots at sports teams for perennial futility, the Phoenix Suns probably aren’t the best candidate – they’ve had 29 playoff appearances in 43 years. Still, you can count the number of major sports championships Arizona teams have won on one finger. (Thank you, 2001 World Series Champions Arizona Diamondbacks.)
On a bright Sunday morning last December, Rev. Jeffrey Dirrim joined about 100 other people in a peaceful protest before services began at Pastor Steven Anderson’s Faithful World Baptist Church in Tempe. Anderson, a lightning rod in the Christian community who went viral last year with a sermon preaching the extermination of gays to eradicate AIDS, and another in which he demanded that women be both subservient and silent in church, was once again in national headlines for his extreme views. Dirrim, an openly gay United Church of Christ pastor, wanted to be anywhere but that Tempe strip mall that day.
A new governor. A new legislature. New optimism for undocumented immigrants. New frustruations for border enforcement. Arizona is certainly awash in “news” as we begin 2015. Following a historic midterm election in which virtually every state-level political office changed hands, and a year of spectacular upheaval across many socio-economic fronts, Arizonans would be well justified to look around and wonder just where we stand as a state.
A 50-year-old Phoenix grandfather is killed by a gunshot to the head, while holding his grandson in his arms. A 26-year-old army veteran and father of three is fatally shot after roaming the streets of Fountain Hills naked. A 35-year-old man in Scottsdale carrying his 2-year-old daughter is shot in the back, leaving him a paraplegic. A 50-year-old woman in Maryvale dies after sustaining a gunshot to her chest. All of these tragic cases share two common denominators: The shooters were law enforcement officers, and the victims were mentally ill.
An altogether arguable list of the Valley’s Top 10 defining art “movements.”
Hot Topics, by design, are meant to court a little controversy. We expect it when we’re writing about hot-button, politicized topics like education, immigration, gun rights, etc. What we didn’t expect was for this month’s topic – defining art movements in the history of the Phoenix metropolitan area – to be such a lightning rod. As a staff, we drafted a malleable, preliminary list of local art movements and then took it to the experts – art history professors, museum curators, gallery owners and even the artists themselves – for commentary, enlightenment and editing. We were quickly schooled on our incorrect use of the term “movement,” since some of our nominees are better defined as a “discipline” or “genre” than a specific school of artists in a particular time period. We concurrently received a crash course in Valley art history, something we don’t remember getting in primary school (not to drag that controversy into this one).