Dispatch: Tucson

“If you can’t stand a little sacrifice and you can’t stand a trip across the desert with limited water, we’re never going to straighten this country out.”    

Ross Perot

Tucson. Attractive in the way bourgeois southwesterners want their cities to be attractive. Seemingly friendly, but the reliable verbal abuse from evening drivers on my walks back from work left me with a sour feeling about the city as a whole (strangely, I can’t recall any drive-by abuse in Phoenix outside of actual drive-bys.) Very college town. Everyone thinks they’re a character. On my first bus ride, there was this hipster mope sitting across from me knitting very solemnly, just daring me to give a shit. Another time I got off the bus in one of the major loops, and I saw a guy that looked like Katt Williams (short, permed, black guy in big flamboyant pimp suit–may have actually been Katt Williams) inspecting a midget lady with regal confusion, as if he’d come from a far off land and never seen such things.

Then I met this old Jewy guy at one of the bus stops near the U of A, he said he used to be a professor there. He wore glasses, had short cropped hair, and stubble that was almost a beard. He asked me if I was in school and when I told him no, he said “Good.” I thought he was drunk at first, but on closer inspection I could see he was merely very, very, old. He looked at my shirt, it had a circle with a firey arrow in the middle pointing down–some kind of record label insignia–and he joked “Going down?” On the bus, he talked about many different things, but got quieter and quieter, until he was speaking with his face down in a murmer, but still very intently (like the senile Jack Nicholson character in The Pledge.) I had to lean in close to hear him over the din of the bus, but I couldn’t make out hardly anything he was saying. He muttered something about a family member’s conversion to Satanism. It all sounded interesting, but he was probably dozing off for the last ten minutes he had been speaking. I had the feeling that if I caught him a few years earlier, he would have been a mentor to me.