Posted on

Invasion of the crispy, brown demons

Crispy, brown demons are invading my yard, and for once it’s not part of my artwork.

If I figure out how to incorporate them, however, they soon shall be.

Perhaps invasion is too strong a word. There are about a half dozen of these crispy critters, which are apparently the exoskeletons of some type of demonic looking insect.

Demonic close up/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Demonic close up/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

What first caught my eye was how the exoskeleton is left behind still clinging in precarious places, like the thin plastic tube I used for the tail of a rock rat or the side of a concrete tree border.

Demonic side view/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

I am enthralled with these little demons and, although insects in general give me the heebie-jeebies, I have come to adore these and some other Tucson bugs:

Tarantula hawk wasp/File photo
Tarantula hawk wasp/File photo

The tarantula hawk wasp. These large black bugs with bright reddish-orange wings are about the size of hummingbirds. They appear menacing and evil. They are beautiful.

• Those giant mosquito-looking things that are not mosquitoes. They are easy to smash and don’t leave green innards behind.

Moths. They are easy to cup in the hand and take back outside, which gives you the feeling that you are a worthwhile, very saintly person and leads to a good night’s sleep.

Southern Arizona is also ideal because it lacks other insects we have come to abhor, like the cockroach.

Sure, Tucson may have those giant sewer bugs that folks call roaches. These can be seen swarming under lampposts and atop manhole covers.

But I shall never again have the roach invasion that hit when I lived above a Brooklyn pizzeria. Here the world “invasion” is not too strong a word.

The roaches bred like bunnies in the large sacks of pizza flour and then worked their way upstairs. One early morning they started plopping from the ceiling like plump, crunchy raindrops.

I’ll take the crispy, brown demons any day.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski
Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

What insects to you love to hate? Hate to love?

Have you ever been invaded? What happened?

Posted on

Holiday recap: Sequins, hotdogs and a patriotic chicken

Phoebe went hoarse from wildly barking at all the fireworks, but the rest of the July 4 weekend was dandy, in Tucson and beyond.

Agitated Phoebe/Photo Ryn Garguilnski
Agitated Phoebe/Photo Ryn Garguilnsk

Swapping, jamming:

More than just used clothing was on hand at the July 4 clothing swap at Congress Street’s Dinnerware Artspace. Tucson performer Kathleen Williamson jammed in one of the gallery’s front windows while others began dancing in the second one.

The only drawback about dancing in storefront windows is that it tends to attract ne’er-do-wells, like one guy on a bicycle who appeared to either want to bum a cigarette or make a drug deal. He continued to lurk outside to perhaps abduct a clothing swapper to steal their new clothes or slice the person’s throat and throw them in a quarry.

Kathleen Williamson/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Kathleen Williamson/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Window dancers/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Window dancers musician Vicki Brown and Lotus Massage therapist Laura Keys/Photo Ryn Gargulinski


The coveted Mustard Belt stays in America, with Joey Chestnut of San Jose, Calif., winning the Nathans Famous Hotdog-Eating Contest for the third time. He scarfed down 68 dogs in the allotted 12 minutes, setting a new world record.

My highlight at the contest, which I used to cover when I lived in Brooklyn, was when one contestant puked after scarfing down the dogs. He was not disqualified, however, because he was able to suck it back in before it hit the table.

Nathans 2009/AP Photo
Nathans 2009/AP Photo

Those who prefer a lighter fare also had some feasting going on.

Vegetarian rodent/Photo Marcy Gargulinski
Vegetarian rodent/Photo Marcy Gargulinski


Anyone who takes a cue from my dearly departed Grandma G knows holidays are the best time to do some work around the house. She used to clean her closet on Thanksgiving. She also used to buy cat food just to get the rebates even though she didn’t have a cat. In her honor, I often try to do a holiday home project, with this July 4 leading to the repainting of the patio and its furniture.

Jazzy patio/Photo and jazz by Ryn Gargulinski
Jazzy patio/Photo and jazz by Ryn Gargulinski
Revamped patio chair/Photo and chair decor by Ryn Gargulinski
Revamped patio chair/Photo and chair decor by Ryn Gargulinski

Decking out chickens:

Meanwhile, back in Michigan, mom’s Mother’s Day chicken and dad’s Father’s Day duck got into the patriotic spirit. Dad at first denied having anything to do with this dressing up of inanimate objects, but we later learned he was the one who went out to buy the ribbon.

Cheery chicken/Photo Marcy Gargulinski
Cheery chicken/Photo Marcy Gargulinski
Ducky duck/Photo Marcy Gargulinski
Ducky duck/Photo Marcy Gargulinski

How did your holiday weekend compare?

Did you paint your house? Swap clothing? Vomit hotdogs?


Posted on

Odd Pueblo: Snappy or crappy?

This fun Odd Pueblo feature asks the audience to rate a trend, topic or sighting of something around town: is it snappy or crappy?

The last snappy or crappy, the mysterious MoonDance Saloon which is rumored to be somewhere near Arivaca, was the snappiest of all thus far.

But this latest one may just rival it.
Kooky porch décor. I find it fully snappy.

Is kooky porch decor snappy or crappy?/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Is kooky porch decor snappy or crappy?/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

I see this little doll daily on our midtown dog walks. She sometimes has a chewed straw in her mouth and was once even knocked over on her side. It’s cool to wonder what she’ll be up to next. Moving beyond the doll, this snappy or crappy addresses all strange porch décor.

Snappy or crappy? Please respond:
a. It’s snappy and fun. It makes me giggle to see kooky things on people’s porches.
b. How crappy. I bet it brings down neighborhood house values worse than 10-inch weeds.
c. I like kooky décor but this doll creeps me out.
d. I have no sense of humor and nothing should be on the porch, not even a welcome mat. People could trip on the mat and break open their skulls.

Do you have a snappy or crappy sighting around town? Please e-mail


Posted on

Artist’s sketchbook: a motorcycle party

My latest art haul was inspired by cool Tucson native Gus Nitsche and his equally cool wife Stephanie, who are opening a new motorcycle repair and refurbishing shop on Grant Road.

I’ve known Stephanie since our good ole days in New York’s Alphabet City where we raised hell, kicked butt and did all kinds of things we’re never going to tell you about.

But now Stephanie and I are quite respectable, no? And she and Gus, who is also an artist, wanted art for Friday’s grand opening party for their shop, Ironwood Cycle at 329 E. Grant Road. I happily obliged.


They got cycle-inspired wacky yard art and a biker series of Lucky Voodoo Dolls.

The party, which runs from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, July 3, will feature free hotdogs, hamburgers, iced tea and “soda pop,” as Gus likes to call it.

I’ll be on hand taking photos, especially scouting for a cycle that rivals Nitsche’s own 1950 fully restored and glorious Harley Davidson.



Got a cycle that’s just as cool? Come on down and I’ll take photos to post on a future blog. Also come clad in your best biker gear for more fabulous photo ops.

What: Ironwood Cycle grand opening party
Where: 329 E. Grant Road (between First and Stone avenues)
When: 5 to 9 p.m. Friday
Why: Because Gus and Stephanie are cool people and would love to introduce you to their new venture

I’m glad to support the shop opening of a friendly, personable motorcycle man. Wish Gus also fixed cars and not just cycles. He already helped me out with massively long jumper cables when my car’s battery went dead while the car was nestled in my tiny garage.

I’ve also just poured roughly $1,000 into my car in the past two weeks to replace the battery, two tires and an electronic window motor. My mechanic of choice is a large chain that just happened to be the closest one to my house. The folks there seem to be doing OK, unlike others who have diagnosed 352 things wrong with my car when I take it in for a simple oil change.

I’ll give Gus the thumbs up as a guy you can trust. How can you not trust a dude who has a pug named Monkey Butt that follows him around all day and cries at the door when Gus merely steps outside?

Hope to see you at the party. I plan to arrive around 6:30ish for photo ops.

All photos and art herein by Ryn Gargulinski. Refurbished cycle by Gus.

Do you have a scary mechanic story?

Posted on

The glory of mud

Mud gets a bad rap. It’s dirty. It’s messy. And it’s historically been the reason behind many matted shag carpets or smeary footprints on white linoleum.

But there’s another side of mud, the marvelous and miraculous side, that cannot go unnoted.

Oregon marsh mud/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Oregon marsh mud/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

A bee sting made my finger swollen, stiff and itchy. It hit its intolerable peak while I was in Moon Smoke Shop and I began rubbing it like a mad woman.

I mentioned it to the guy behind the counter because I had this strange feeling that the guys at Moon Smoke Shop, specifically the one on the corner of Grant Road and Alvernon Way, would know what to do for a bee sting. They did.

“Pack it in mud,” the manager/owner said. He explained this folk remedy supposedly sucked the stinger out as the mud dried.

While it may seem somewhat stupid to pack germy, wet dirt around a swollen bee sting sore, which was now ripped open after I tried to gouge out the invisible stinger with tweezers, I gave it a whirl.

More marsh mud/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
More marsh mud/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

The instant I packed the mud around the sore, the soothing began. The pulsing went down. It stopped itching. My finger felt like it was encased in a soft, cozy cocoon.

By the time the mud dried and flaked off, the swelling was gone and my finger could bend.

Mud not only sucks out bee stingers, but it is known to be equally effective for sucking other toxins from the body. Mud masks and mud wraps are in high demand, especially for the gads of tourists who flock to the ultra-healing black mud by the Dead Sea.

People are digging it (excuse the pun).

Even if you don’t care to heal yourself with mud, you can always wrestle in it, name your band Primus and write a song about it, or use it in the title of a poem:

Catapault/Illustration Ryn Gargulinski
Catapault/Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Soap Would be the Opposite of Mud
The Antonym Poem by Ryn Gargulinski

insects are
the opposite of frogs
(if we had to pick opposites)
cats would be the opposite
of dogs and fish would be
the opposite of birds and
hats would be the opposite
of shoes and the Charleston
would be
as opposed to
an epileptic seizure


Since arid Tucson is not usually known for its mud, I’ll share the recipe I used to make my own.
Mud recipe:
2 parts dirt
1 part water
Stir well with stick

Mud, o glorious, mud/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Mud, oh glorious mud/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Of course, mud still has its dangers. We already discussed the havoc it can wreck on shag rugs and white linoleum, but it can also pose a number of other hazards.
• Mudslides kill thousands when they slickly shimmy down a mountain and consume entire villages
• Mud can suffocate you if you fall face down in a gushy pool of it and try to inhale
• Heavy mud can suck off your shoes and render them useless
• Mud clumps, when thrown at anyone who scores on you as goalie in a soccer game, get you a red card (not that I’d know from experience).

Share your own mud recipe below!

How has mud enhanced or ruined your life?