That "bug" in the bottom right of your TV screen last month during TV coverage of our latest gun massacre -- the crazed shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others -- wasn't a sick joke. The ABC affiliate in Tucson really is named KGUN.
I recently made my third vacation pilgrimage to Tucson, that dry, dusty Arizona outpost that has grown to about 1,000,000 residents. The Giffords shooting was rarely mentioned on local TV and the Safeway parking lot where the shootings occurred now looks like, well, any other Safeway parking lot. I did see a few Tucsonans wearing white wrist bands being sold by a local high school, reading "Remember 1-8-11."
I'm not sure many Tucsonans know or care about the ubiquity of guns in Arizona, which one state legislator is now trying to allow in schools. The national media isn't comfortable with discussing gun control either and has predictably moved on. (One notable exception: MSNBC's classy Lawrence O'Donnell, who seethed one night about the NRA having "blood on its hands," which it certainly does.)
Tucson, a city designed for the automobile with many grids and few curves, reminds me of the impersonality of the San Fernando Valley: There are six lanes on all major streets, and vehicles -- mostly SUVs and trucks -- drive way too fast past the endless strip malls and big-box stores. The main East-West thoroughfare, fittingly, is named Speedway Boulevard. There is concrete everywhere. One can only imagine how hot the place is in August, but it's no accident that many homes and restaurants here resemble caves -- into which residents escape during the blazing months of summer.
"We don't come out until around 8 each night," admitted our hosts. There's not a lot of interpersonal contact here. Just like L.A.
In early February big snowstorms and chilly weather hit Super Bowl venue Dallas and New York. That's what was covered in the national media.
But Tucson had its worst cold snap in 50 years, and that received no media notice. It barely reached freezing on several days in early February, and was 16 one night. Orange and lemon trees froze and the huge prickly pear cactus in front of the house where we were staying looked like it was melted by a blowtorch.
In local media, the Tucson daily was full of irate letters, but not about so many Arizonans packing heat. Gov. Jan Brewer and her fans are forever whining about the feds not keeping the border secure.
But we passed through one tiny town about 40 miles from Tucson, Sonoita, missed our turn and found ourselves looking at a large motor pool with at least 300 Border patrol SUVs. We were stopped at many large and small highway checkpoints by the Border Patrol officers who, seeing two Anglos, quickly waved us through.
The media today chooses to miss a lot, and here was yet another story ignored by the local and national media: The huge Border Patrol presence in Arizona.
Bill Mann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.