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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, a gorgeous T-Rex, was a giant snappy.

The latest snappy or crappy can go either way – vanity license plates. I became addicted to looking at license plates after years of playing the alphabet game on road trips, where you need to find letters of the alphabet in their correct order all over the road.

Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Photos Ryn Gargulinski

Some vanity plates, like ICUFFEM can be snappy and fun, perhaps proclaiming an occupation as a police officer or shirt maker.

Photo Ryn Gargulinski


Others, like MAMMERS or METLIKA, are not immediately apparent in their meaning.


Still others are simply good ole fun.



What do you think?
Snappy. It’s great that folks can extend their personalities to their license plates.
Crappy. They are called vanity plates because people who get them must be vain.
Snappy – but I wouldn’t pay extra for one.
Crappy. I don’t even notice them because I’m too busy cutting off the people in front of me and driving 22 miles over the speed limit.

wb-logolil10What would your vanity plate say if you had one?

What’s the dumbest/coolest vanity plate you’ve seen.

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Return of UA students creates living hell for some

The throng of thousands of University of Arizona students that descend on Tucson every August is a mixed blessing.

Students terrorizing neighborhood?/Ryn Gargulinski
Students terrorizing neighborhood?/Ryn Gargulinski

It’s great for the overall economy, the university, and campus-area clothing shops that charge $50-plus for a T-shirt.

But it’s not so great for at least one Tucson neighborhood, according to one longtime Feldman’s resident who would rather her name not be used.

She said Feldman’s Neighborhood has become a menagerie of “mini-dorm ghettos” with students “acting like a pack of wolves.” The pack, she said, comes complete with loud late-night parties, gallons of booze and now, even destruction.

She lodged a complaint with the police against one of those loud parties, at Fourth Avenue and Adams Street, at about 1 a.m. Wednesday (today), she said, only to meet retaliation.

The partiers got her name and address and she suspects took it upon themselves to smash two windows of her tenant’s van out front.

She said another Feldman’s resident has also been terrorized by this pack while the resident’s husband was not home.

“The students threw beer bottles through every window in her home while she was trapped inside. They have been terrorizing her for loud party complaints to the point where she is afraid to answer the door or talk to anyone,” the woman wrote in a Wednesday morning letter to President Robert Shelton.

“From what I can see, the kids in the mini-dorms have no ethics or interest in a higher education,” she wrote. “They are here to party out-of-state and let their parents just pay all the bills.”

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski
Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

While I have not lived in Feldman’s, I have had the opportunity to live next to one of these types of students. Yes, he had rich parents who paid the rent on the property’s main residence while I scraped together my rent for the property’s guest house.

He also had no regard for others.

This kid’s parties would snake deep into the night and I would often be greeted the next morning with beer cans lining the outside of my living room windowsill.

Thankfully, no violence ever erupted – but then again, I never called the cops on him, at least not for his parties. I was also able to drown out most of the noise with triple-pane windows and a bedroom far from his side of the yard.

But that doesn’t seem to be happening in Feldman’s.

“In order to justify the destruction of this historic, diverse, downtown, quiet neighborhood, Mr. Michael Goodman (minidorm developer) has argued that the kids need to be near the university,” the upset resident wrote. “The university has also tried to brand itself as having ‘sustainable’ features and culture. These mini-dorm kids, however, always drive to campus in their BMWs despite the fact that they are a 10-minute walk away from Park and Speedway.

“The creation of a ghetto full of undergrad adult male child boarders from out of state with no supervision and lots of money to burn is not only short sighted and negligent in a number of ways, it is dangerous.”

What do you think?

Have you ever had similar problems?

What should be done to correct situations like this?

What about the landlords who rent to these kids – what role do they play?

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Don’t buy used underwear and other thrift shop tips

Tucson’s yard sales may often be mediocre and its garbage picking slim, but we have tons of fun stuff hanging out at thrift shops.

BeautyBoy was a glorious find at Desert Dust on South Alvernon Way/Ryn Gargulinski
BeautyBoy was a glorious find at Desert Dust on South Alvernon Way/Ryn Gargulinski

Cheap prices are just one of the thrills of frequenting these places. Others include unique items, vintage finds and a lamp we now call BeautyBoy.

This ornate and garishly delightful gold cupid lamp stands about 5 feet tall atop a heavy gold stand and features a 2-foot gold lampshade.

It has become the centerpiece of my living room and I can no longer imagine the room without it. BeautyBoy was also a special gift from a special person, making it even more enchanting.

Thrift store tips:

Don’t buy:

* Used underwear, used socks or dentures
* Things that have non-working zippers – c’mon, no matter how well meaning you are, you know you’re never going to get it fixed.
* Stuff that doesn’t fit – a case in point was a pair of size 4 antique buckle shoes, which were technically purchased at a mondo garage sale in Michigan, that I tried to wear on my size 8 feet. Never again.

Look for:

* Daily deals many shops offer where a certain color tag will be discounted 50 percent
* Really cheap sheets, pillowcases and tablecloths for fabric crafts, outdoor furniture and creating Lucky Voodoo Dolls
* Items no one else would dare wear
* Jeans and leather jackets that come already broken in
* Underarm stains

My fave Tucson thrift shops:

Savers – various locations around town
Why it rocks: One of the biggest and constantly updated selection of clothes you can find – beats out any department store by a gazillion.
Any warnings:
So much stuff you are going to spend, spend, spend.
Best buy: So many – this is my favorite clothing shop, for sure.

Goodwill – various locations around town
Why it rocks: Biggest variety of items, from clothing to shelves, belts to a brand-new sheepskin rug I nabbed for a mere $60.
Any warnings: Employees get to put dibs on items as soon as they come in, but have to wait a day or two until they are allowed to purchase them. If you pick an item everyone wants, like the sheepskin rug, you’re going to piss off a lot of employees. Sorry!
Best buy: Toss up between embellished hippie-type blouse I wore to Woodstock tribute concert and molded dinosaur head I painted pink and stuck in the gravel of my backyard, as if he’s emerging from the depths of hell to feast on someone.

Desert Dust – 1475 S. Alvernon Way
Why it rocks: That’s where BeautyBoy came from. Best tchotchke shop in the West for those seeking kitschy, creepy and very unusual décor.
Any warnings: Not your clothing shop, although I did score a pair of low-waist, flare bottom suede pants that appear they were worn by someone in the Manson Family.
Best buy: In addition to BeautyBoy, this place always has an expansive owl collection to fuel my own menagerie of them.

Buffalo Exchange – various locations around town
Why it rocks: This place can be a bit pricey, but it’s also a goldmine for vintage and crazy finds. Good shopping on the clearance racks.
Any warnings:
They buy back clothing but rarely pick anything I bring them, making me feel like I have a closet full of very unfashionable clothing (which I probably do).
Best buy: Velvet vampire shirt with bell sleeves as wide as Alaska; awesome find for less than $10 on the Halloween clearance rack although I intend to wear it for daily use.


Goodwill dinosaur head/Ryn Gargulinski
Goodwill dinosaur head/Ryn Gargulinski

What’s your favorite Tucson thrift shop and why?

Do you ever think you’ll get lice from the hats?

Does it freak you out that the clothing could have come from dead people?

What’s your best and worst thrift store find?

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Were you scammed by this Tucson man?

Tucsonan Theodore Leombroni said he had a great idea – an automobile safety device for which he had a patent pending, authorities said. But Leonbroni, 47, needed some investors to move the project along.

Leombroni/SPD photo
Leombroni/SPD photo

To add to the allure, he also said he was investing in coal mines outside of the United States. He stopped short, however, of claiming to have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.

Even without the bridge, his ruse worked.

Over the last four years, Leombroni managed to talk various women out of more than $1.5 million for his fraudulent project, with $1 million coming from a single source, the Scottsdale Police Department said.


So far six of the women have come forward, but Scottsdale police, who arrested Leombroni last week, believe there are still more out there.

Leombroni, who admitted to having a gambling problem – is being held in the Maricopa County Jail on $200,000 bond. Scottsdale police also said the man had already spent two years in prison for a Cochise County fraud scheme conviction in 1994.

Police urge anyone with information about this man, or those whom have been scammed by this man, to call SPD at (480) 312-5000.

What makes some scammers so effective?

Leombroni preyed on women. Whether we like it or not, women can be easier targets than men. Instead of getting mad, we should become more wary of any person who wants our cash (unless, of course, it’s for buying a bridge in Brooklyn).

He also found many of his victims at bars and casinos, where people are more relaxed and perhaps not walking around expecting to be scammed.

Based on his success, we can also probably bet he’s a smooth talker. Those are dangerous, manipulative and can usually get what they want after years of perfecting their craft.

Property tax notice warning

Another scam kicking around town comes in the form of an official-looking letter that looks like a tax bill. It’s blue and white with the heading “2009 Property Tax Reduction Form.” The notice outlines how this company, if you send them some money, can file to lower your property taxes.

I received one about two weeks ago here in Pima County, with the promise that I could get back nearly $1,000. It sounded delicious and the letter did look official. But I didn’t bite.

A couple of things have raised the radar of Cochise County assessor Phil Leiendecker, according to a story in the Sierra Vista Herald.

For one, Leiendecker said the assessed values listed on the notice he reviewed are incorrect.

For another, the letter says 2009 assessments will be appealed – even though he noted that deadline has merrily come and gone.

“This is a complete scam,” he is quoted as saying. “Do not send money to this company.”

Don’t give any to Leombroni, either.


Have you fallen for any scams? What happened?

Have you ever scammed anyone? Are you reading this in jail?

What’s the craziest scam you’ve ever heard of, in Tucson or otherwise?

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Cat prompts Tucson man to bicycle across the nation

Ever since Tucsonan Kyle Lyons adopted a cat, he’s gone through some massive changes.

Newly adopted Lieutenant Whiskers/submitted photo
Newly adopted Lieutenant Whiskers/submitted photo

The 27-year-old Geico insurance adjuster is taking unpaid leave from work and has already gotten rid of his car and his apartment, living with friends and in a Tucson hostel.

He’s spent the last 11 months riding his bicycle up, down and around Tucson, building up calf muscles the size of Texas.

No, this is not part of some torture of the gods or a man’s stab at martyrdom – it’s all preparation for his goal: a bicycle trek across the country to raise money for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.

His 4,018-mile journey kicks off Aug. 23 in San Diego and ends Oct. 15 in Boston.

To make it work, he needs to ride at least 75 miles per day. His route includes back roads, side roads and a trek through the Rocky Mountains where temperatures easily dip below freezing at any time of the year.

Cross-country biker-to-be Kyle Lyons/Ryn Gargulinski
Cross-country biker-to-be Kyle Lyons/submitted photo

“I just had the vague idea that I wanted to do it,” the animal lover said of biking across the nation. “I knew I wanted to do it for some kind of charity, but I wasn’t sure which one. Then I adopted a cat from the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. I saw what was going on in there. They were clearly hard-working people who could use some assistance.”

Once he had the charity in mind, he said, the rest was easy. Kind of.

Getting time off work was a piece of cake once Geico heard of his noble cause. Giving up his car was part of the bicycle training plan.

Getting rid of the apartment – well, that was a tougher one.

“So I’m homeless,” he wrote in his online journal at His lease expired at the end of July and he had to choose between renting an apartment he wouldn’t see for more than two months or sponging off friends. He chose the latter. His friend is watching his new cat, since named Lieutenant Whiskers.

“Do you have any idea how many gummy bears I can buy with the two months rent I’m not gonna have to spend now?,” he asked in his journal. “You can’t even fathom it.”

Lieutenant Whiskers (right) hangs out with buddy Luke/submitted photo
Lieutenant Whiskers (right) hangs out with buddy Luke/submitted photo

The trip itself, however, is no cheap undertaking. In addition to stocking up on all the necessities, Lyons said he needs about $4,000 to finance his way.

Food is the major cost, especially when he needs to consume between 8,000 to 10,000 calories per day.

He also needs at least three changes of clothes, special shoes, a tent, air mattress, sleeping bag, a bicycle pump and other biking equipment, his laptop to update his online journal along the way and random freeze dried treats when he needs a quick energy boost.

He expects the necessities to add about 50 pounds when saddle-bagged to the new bike he bought in May.

“My biggest trepidation is not being able to finish,” he said when asked. “But I don’t think that will be a concern. Then there’s always the vague fear of getting hit by a car or eaten by a bear. There’s nothing I’m really terrified of happening to me.”

His mom, however, sees it a bit differently. “She’s kind of freaking out,” he said. “I wasn’t going to tell my parents, but somebody spilled the beans. Dad is taking it OK but mom is kind of panicking a bit.”

Lyons most looks forward to the finale in his native town of Boston, where friends and family, including a very relieved mom, will be waiting for him.

He has also already raised $360 of his $1,000 goal for the Humane Society. Folks can donate online through the Society. Even if Lyons doesn’t hit his goal, he said none of his efforts will be wasted.

“It’s one of those once in a lifetime things,” he said.


NOTE: Two questions came up after this column aired on the radio Thursday. Here are the questions, along with Lyons’ answers:

1. Why is his goal so low at $1,000?

“The $1,000 goal is just that, a goal. If I get to $1,000, I’m certainly not going to stop accepting donations. $1,000 is kind of the minimum I’d like to put together for this thing.”

2. Why doesn’t he just give the $4,000 to the Society instead of using it for his journey?

“As for the cost of the trip itself, you have to understand a lot of that money is simply bills I need to pay while I’m not earning money at a job. The remaining could’ve theoretically just been sent to the Humane Society without me doing anything, but what if this really takes off and I end up raising $2,000 or $5,000? Even if I only make the $1,000, that’s still $1,000 dollars they didn’t have coming in before, and I get the experience of doing this cross-country ride. The same argument could be made about ANY fundraising activity: they all cost money that technically could simply go to the charity instead.”

Donate through by clicking here.

Read Lyons online journal by clicking here – WARNING: mature language not meant for kids

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who adopted both Phoebe, the barking wonder dog, and dearly departed Stanley, the hairless rat, from the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. E-mail

What do you think?

Would you bike across the nation for your favorite charity? Would you even bike to the store?

What is your favorite charity?