top of page

Entry date: 1-16-2023 - MLK all day - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

It's nice to have a three day weekend after going back into the classroom last week. I was tired, as I have mentioned, and I feel noticeably refreshed today. Something about getting a good night's sleep that makes everything a bit better.

We had a great lunch with Ryan and Bree yesterday. We met in Tempe on Mill and it is always a bit sad and shocking to me to be on that street (well, really an avenue) these days. I was telling Teresa as we drove through what was once a pretty quaint little neighborhood east of Mill about how there were houses on the streets when I was her age and it tripped her out. The area looks nothing like what it did in the 80s and I don't know if that is good or bad.

Quaint college towns are a good thing, in my opinion, but I'm sure Mill Avenue never had a chance once ASU began expanding. By the time I went there in the mid-90s, things were already starting to change quite a bit and now, as mentioned, it is pretty much unrecognizable. I miss Restaurant Mexico and Jutenhoops and even Long Wongs. I'm not even going to mention places like Roads to Moscow or Eastside Records or Zia or Rundles.

Going to parties at the Rundle's house, for example, is just a blip in time with a mix of good and bad memories. Mistakes were made and gifts were granted.

In the late 80s, a man named Evan Mecham was Governor of Arizona and his legacy will be his stupid fight over Martin Luther King Jr. day. A day we celebrate today and will always remind me of Religious Skid. We had a satirical song in a very Anthrax sort of style called "Ev Mecham for President." I don't remember the lyrics, but I know I have them in a box out in the storage room. They were probably pretty terrible, but I remember being particularly excited about that song at the time.

If you don't recall, Mecham ended up being impeached, the first for an Arizona Governor, and also tried (but acquitted) for at least one felony, if not more. Total loser dipshit, yes, but the inspiration for a lot of criticism, political backlash, and punk rock. I don't think it would be inappropriate to say, "Fuck you, Evan Mecham!" loudly and proudly more often than people probably do.

A lot of bands boycotted Arizona for a while after Mecham reversed Governor Bruce Babbitt's creation of a state holiday for MLK JR. I remember being bitter about a lot of bands skipping AZ in those days and the backlash continued after Mecham was long gone in the form of bands continuing to skip Phoenix. People still do, of course, and that's a shame. This town has a pretty goddamn awesome music scene and at almost five million people, enough music lovers to support just about any genre anymore quite well.

Last year I played MLK Jr's famous "I Have A Dream" speech for my second graders and they loved it. I think I will play it again tomorrow, too. I hope my students get it and I think they will. As short as their attention span can be, I'm guessing they will stay glued to the screen for the most part and some might even feel a little pride and love.

I won't be playing any U2 songs, though. They would hate it.

See you soon.

I love this picture of a young Martin Luther King Jr. You can just see the light in his eyes and how much promise he holds in his very demeanor. I see this in young people all the time and feel privileged to help them find their truth. There are leaders out there, big and small, who need a voice for good, hope, and love.

19 views1 comment

1 Comment

Steve Roberts
Steve Roberts
Jan 16, 2023

My first legitimate act of political activism beyond mock school elections was gathering signatures to get Mecham recalled. As for Mill Ave, I miss Panic City. Vic Morrow's Head rehearsed in a guest house just off of Mill that we shared with Poet's Corner.

Post: Blog2 Post
bottom of page