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Saved by a Jesus street preacher: Tucson pastor says God through a megaphone does more than just annoy people

We find some interesting stuff on Tucson street corners.

Meet Jesus on the corner of Grant and Alvernon/Ryn Gargulinski

These include an 18-foot Paul Bunyan statue, an overheated guy dressed as a giant pizza slice – and a group of people preaching Jesus every other Friday at the southwest corner of East Grant Road and North Alvernon Way.

The Jesus group usually consists of about a dozen folks or so, holding up signs and spouting God from at least one megaphone.

While our first inclination may be to simply ignore anything over 90 decibels, I felt moved one recent Friday to approach the group as I had a ruthlessly burning question:

Does all this Jesus from a megaphone stuff do anything other than annoy passers-by?

Why yes, said Pastor-on-the-scene Sullivan. It also pisses them off.

He recalled one passenger in a Jeep stopped at red light who actually bolted from the vehicle and began to barrel towards the sign holders.

Pastor Sullivan, 33, trained in all things peaceful, diffused the situation before anyone bled. Guess the Jesus stuff does work to calm people down.

Pastor Star Flower Sullivan/Ryn Gargulinski

And it also works to draw followers, Sullivan added.

While he did not have a graph mapping statistics of how many people corner preaching brings to the nearby Christian Fellowship Ministries, he did say he constantly sees new faces who tell him they are there after hearing about it on a megaphone.

He also had some of the best evidence of corner Jesus preaching at work that he could give – himself.

The pastor used to be a meth head.

Born to hippie parents who named him Star Flower Sullivan, the pastor didn’t outline his entire childhood – just his descent into hell.

That hell was a daily crystal methamphetamine habit as well as a grungy Bisbee apartment stocked with drugs and armed with a gun.

Then one day he passed a corner where people were preaching about Jesus.

Got Jesus?/Ryn Gargulinski

He returned to his dank apartment, sat and stared at the gun and 2-pound bag of weed, then did something very unusual.

“I prayed for God to help me,” Sullivan said, “and he did.”

Sullivan promptly got rid of the weed, the gun – and the meth habit – all in one fell swoop. “It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.”

It was that easy? Pretty much.

The trick, he said, is to stop stuffing ourselves with things we think will make us whole, like drugs, booze, sex, fancy clothes, cars or more new shoes. To truly be sated, he advised, we need to fill ourselves with God.

Although Sullivan has neither joined any 12-step groups nor followed any addiction program, he’s been drug-free for 15 years. He’s also now happily married with kids. And his wife was out there holding a sign.

If that’s not enough, the group has one more thing going for it, assuring they’ll be preaching Jesus for some time to come.

“Cops love us,” Sullivan said. Maybe police realize that’s one less corner they’ll have to fret about patrolling – even when the corner is plagued by an angry man in a Jeep.

[tnipoll]

Christian Fellowship Ministries is behind Circle K, Grant and Alvernon/Ryn Gargulinski

More info:

Christian Fellowship Ministries – Phone: 870-1816

2351 N. Alvernon Way (southwest corner of Alvernon and Grant)

Services: Sundays 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.; Wednesdays 7 p.m.


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who is not a big fan of meagphones – or even telephones. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at RynRules.com and Rynski.Etsy.com. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.

What do you think?

What’s the coolest thing you’ve spotted on a Tucson street corner? The most annoying?

Are you a fan of street preachers?

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Mexico travel: Four headless bodies hung from bridge latest tourist attraction

Forget rock climbing or white water rafting. We can instead have a thrilling vacation by hitting some prime violence-ridden spots in Mexico.

Pristine beach complete with cross in Tulum, Mexico/Ryn Gargulinski

Four headless bodies hanging from a bridge on Sunday made for a glorious tourist trap in the sweet town of Cuernavaca, a soothing resort a mere 45 minutes from Mexico City, according to an Associated Press report.

The four men had been recently kidnapped and their mutilated bodies left with a note from a notorious drug kingpin warning folks not to support his competition.

The corpses dangled upside-down from their bound ankles.

Cuernavaca, capital city of the state of Morelos, is also known as “The City of Eternal Spring,” thanks to its balmy clime with a yearlong temperature averaging about 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Delicious.

If we go west, young man, we can hit Acapulco and Zihuatanejo, both in the state of Guerrero.

Palm tree in Tulum, Mexico/Ryn Gargulinski

We don’t have to go into the beauty or popularity of Acapulco, the TV show “The Love Boat” always did that for us.

Zihauatenejo went one better than TV, meriting a mention as an absolutely dreamy getaway in the movie “The Shawshank Redemption.” It also boasts an old world charm and lack of view-blocking skyscrapers.

Trek down to any city in the state of Guerrero and we have the added excitement of its numerous carjackings or perhaps ending up like a U.S. citizen from Georgia.

He was found shot dead in his car on the highway between Acapulco and Zihauatenejo. No further details were immediately available, so we have no notion of a motive.

The border region is especially exciting, says the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.

The U.S. Embassy’s July warning cautions to “defer unnecessary travel to Michoacán and Tamaulipas, to parts of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, and Coahuila, and to advise U.S. citizens residing or traveling in those areas to exercise extreme caution.

Tulum, Mexico/Ryn Gargulinski

“More than half of all Americans killed in Mexico in FY 2009 whose deaths were reported to the U.S. Embassy were killed in the border cities of Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana.”

Tool around the entire country and we may get a glimpse of more gang violence.

More than 22,700 people have been killed in slayings related to the drug war since 2006, when measures were stepped-up to combat it.

Some folks may say, pshaw, the drug-related killings only involve those in the trade.

If people are not buying, selling, using or otherwise dabbling in drugs, some note, folks are totally safe while traveling.

We want to believe that. Mexico has so many positive things to offer: pristine beaches, stunning sunsets and sunrises, bright purple jellyfish, wildly colorful art and excellent deals on silver jewelry.

But sometimes the sand of those pristine beaches is pocked with footprints of the armed guards patrolling it at dawn.

Jellyfish in Tulum, Mexico/Ryn Gargulinski

At least that should make us feel safer. Or does it?

“Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year,” notes the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

“Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major drug trafficking routes. Nevertheless, crime and violence are serious problems. While most victims of violence are Mexican citizens associated with criminal activity, the security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well.”

Is a pristine beach worth the risk? Send us a postcard and let us know.

[tnipoll]

Groovy beach scene in Tulum, Mexico/Ryn Gargulinski

What do you think?

When was the last time you went to Mexico?

Did you have any particularly negative – or positive – experiences?

Are you scared to go to Mexico or is all the hype just a bunch of bull?

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‘Pot saved my life’: Medical marijuana helps one man thrive

Tim DaGiau will be the first to admit he smokes pot – but it’s not a casual joint to help him better enjoy Pink Floyd.

It’s medical marijuana to help him live a normal life.

Tim DaGiau after one of his many surgeries/submitted photo
Tim DaGiau after one of his many surgeries/submitted photo

Prior to his first toke as a high school senior, this 22-year-old New Jersey native and current Colorado State University student was constantly struck with seizures and other side effects from epilepsy.

Arizona’s November ballot will include a vote on the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which would allow marijuana use for people with terminal or serious illnesses and other qualifying conditions.

DaGiau was fine until age 10. Then his first seizure hit in a playground. His second seizure was kind enough to come a mere two weeks later, in the middle of the school cafeteria.

“It would be the beginning of a journey through thousands of convulsions, 13 anti-epileptic drugs, multiple alternative treatments and five brain surgeries, the last of which would leave me paralyzed on my left side,” DaGiau wrote in an e-mail.

“For eight years I would endure the often devastating side effects of Western medicine until finally, when hope had begun to wear thin, I discovered the answers to my prayers and my first effective treatment: cannabis.”

DeGiau has certainly had one heck of a ride until he had his first hit of a joint at age 18.

“As it entered my body, my constant plaguing thoughts of seizures dissipated,” he said. “It was as if my prison had dissolved.”

That was the last hit he had for two whole years, until, as a last resort, he applied for the medical marijuana program as a sophomore at Colorado State University.

Before his application went through, he decided to go for one more surgery, even though past surgeries were not met with success.

“I was too anxious to attain a cure, too impatient to see if I would ever be able to employ marijuana as a treatment.”

So he went under the knife – with disastrous results.

“Not only would I continue seizing,” he said, “but rather, this time, I would be paralyzed on my left side, due to an unforeseen level of swelling in my brain.”

Medical marijuana to the rescue.

Tim DaGiau (right)/submitted photo
Tim DaGiau (right)/submitted photo

Road still bumpy

While DaGiau’s friends, family and “even the most conservative” folks don’t scoff at his medicinal pot smoking after hearing his story and seeing what he’s accomplished, using marijuana as medicine can still present some hurdles.

Like being isolated from his family. While at Colorado State University, DaGiau’s medical marijuana use was fine and dandy. But it was not until New Jersey enacted its own medicinal marijuana legislation just this year that he could visit his home state while continuing his treatment.

“Acknowledging that an abrupt abandonment of the drug, similar to any pharmaceutical, would provoke cycles of convulsions, and aware of the fact that marijuana was illegal in New Jersey, I was barred from visitation,” he said.

The same holds true for any vacation spot where pot – medicinal or not – remains illegal.

And then there’s the landlord who tried to get DaGiau evicted. Even though DaGiau’s apartment complex had a package room, the landlord decided to leave a package inside DaGiau’s apartment while he was out.

“I returned home to find a note on my door which stated that the police would be coming if it was ever sensed again that I was in possession of cannabis (there was never a smell in the hallway, just this intrusive entry, which made me question how he’d know if I was). Realizing that he could evict me, I abruptly halted use.”

DaGiau had already gone 93 days with no seizures, and his parents were coming to Colorado to celebrate 100 seizure-free days the following week, which was also July 4 weekend.

But DaGiau stopped use for fear of eviction. He had a seizure, sure enough, on day 96. “While biking, I fell and began seizing so violently that my face was badly scraped and tooth chipped. My parents never saw day 100 and I’ve never lasted that long since,” he wrote.

His fear propelled him to move out of his apartment, despite having lived there for two years with no problems, and sign a new lease elsewhere.

“Thankfully, I have not had to face a drug test (for employment or any other reason),” he said. “However, there are no civil protections in any state’s medical marijuana law, which permits evictions and terminations to be fully legal.”

A slate of new tax laws on Colorado’s dispensaries – which DaGiau says will surely put most of them out of business – is another fine hurdle, one that prompted DaGiau to join an activist group.

“The sole purpose is to educate the public in an appropriate, peaceful manner,” he said of the Colorado-based Medical Marijuana Activists.

He sent the group his resume, which outlines his successes, especially those achieved after turning to medical marijuana.

“It was an immediate difference. I adopted a new identity, one that incurred fewer convulsions and less paramedic encounters. I transitioned from being reclusive to, instead, exerting an outgoing and assertive personality, as a pre-law junior.

“In two years as a medical marijuana user, I have attained the role of president and vice president of department advisory boards, acted as an intern for district court judges, PR firms and several other corporations.

“Additionally, I volunteer at several organizations, including the Alzheimer’s Association, a local hospital, a juvenile probation program, a domestic violence prevention program, along with several others.

“In essence, due to a reduced fear of enduring the humiliation from seizing in public, I have taken advantage of the opportunity to rebuild my life anew.”

Not only is DaGaui now a member, but he was appointed director of public relations, his second major in addition to journalism.

“I strongly believe that my determination, story, and strong speaking skills will bring this now relatively local group… to a national level,” he said.

“In all reality, a 22-year-old kid is exactly what many of these movements have been lacking – the driven, assertive, and goal-oriented youth that is able to exemplify that not all young patients are ‘users’ or stoners.”

How a medical marijuana program works

Folks hoping for some medical marijuana don’t simply show up at their doctor’s office and put out their hand for a joint.

Doctors, like DaGiau’s physician who is now his neurologist, provide signed paperwork stating the patient would benefit from medical marijuana.

Patients then shell out the fee to apply for a medical marijuana card, or license, if the state issues them. DeGaiu paid $90 to apply for his Colorado card, which he has had since 2008.

If a person is granted the license, he or she uses it to purchase their pot at “healing centers,” which are dispensaries that grow and sell marijuana. The healing centers register with the state to legally grow marijuana. While getting a bag full of catnip or paprika is not an issue, DaGiau says some users do fret about the possible use of pesticides or other chemicals on the marijuana.

Another concern is medical marijuana fraud, or folks receiving it who do not necessarily need it to ameliorate a medical condition, DaGiau says. In the past two years, people have been applying for medical marijuana cards in droves.

“The Medical Marijuana registry, when I applied, was required to respond within 35 days,” he said. “It is now over three months, just to provide an idea of how many applications they now receive. I have met those who were able to receive a license, despite a phony condition.”

One of DeGiau’s theories as to why medical marijuana fraud may be so rampant is because “no physician has ever been tried by the state in the program’s 10-years-to-life, so I think many feel ‘What’s the difference if I sign off on the patient?’”

In addition to Colorado in 2000  and New Jersey in 2010, a total of 12 other states have enacted laws that make medical marijuana legal. They are Alaska in 1998, California in 1996, Hawaii in 2000, Maine in 1999, Michigan in 2008, Montana in 2004, Nevada in 2000, New Mexico in 2007, Oregon in 1998, Rhode Island in 2006, Vermont in 2004, and Washington in 1998. Click here for more details on each state’s medical marijuana laws.

[tnipoll]

__

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who has found success with acupuncture and other alternatives to Western medicine. Her column usually appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski but Tim’s story took the slot this week. Her art, writing and more is at RynRules.com and Rynski.Etsy.com. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.

logoWhat do you think?

Would you turn to marijuana for medical reasons?

Do you think it should be legal for others to do so?

How will you vote on the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act come Nov. 2?

What other alternative treatments have you tried? Did they work?

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Who needs college when budding young Tucsonans have home invasions

While thousands of fresh-faced students are celebrating their graduation from colleges across the nation, other young Tucsonans are embarking on their own job paths.

Williams/TPD photo
Heath Williams, 18/TPD photo

A career in home invasions.

Tucson police recently made seven arrests in three separate home invasion incidents, with one of the most notable factors as the suspects’ ages.

All ranged from 17 to 22 – a time when many law-abiding young people are either in school, working or at least getting money legally by mooching off their parents.

Perhaps, as TC.com blogger Renee Schafer-Horton pointed out in her blog about brain development, these guys were too young to have a properly developed frontal lobe. That’s the part responsible for decision-making and impulse control that some surmise is not fully developed until age 26.

Or maybe these budding young criminals just see how a life of bursting into homes with firearms can be a bit more exciting than sitting in an office all day.

After all, they would get to pick their own hours, largely determine their own pay and not have to worry about things like paper cuts and office politics.

McCoy/TPD photo
McCoy/TPD photo

Nor do they need to attend college for such a career where advancement is determined from firearm size and savvy, rather than things like degrees. Training comes from friends, maybe family and, if they are caught, free lessons from fellow inmates.

Holness/TPD photo
Pierre Holness, 22/TPD photo

But they’d be off to a more successful start of their careers if they steered clear of police.

Tucson police arrested Pierre Holness, 22, as well as Heath Williams and Domonick McCoy, both 18, for two separate home invasions at 2525 W. Anklam Road, according to a news release from the Tucson Police Department.

The first was on May 5 around 9:30 p.m., when two of the three allegedly busted into an apartment and pistol-whipped its resident, demanding drugs and money. The resident was able to get away and call police while the thieves took off with “miscellaneous items” from the home.

Perhaps since the thieves got away with it once, they targeted the same home May 11.

homeinv2-Ernesto Flores
Ernesto Flores, 21/TPD photo

This time two thieves struck early – before 7 a.m. – and used the same M.O. They demanded drugs and money from a resident while holding the resident at gunpoint.

Police followed some leads and rounded up the trio. All three were booked into Pima County Jail on charges of armed robbery, aggravated robbery and kidnapping.

Please keep in mind that filling out job applications is much more troublesome than having authorities fill in all the information for you on those jail booking slips.

You even get your picture taken for free – and you don’t have to wear that silly mortarboard.

Figueroa/TPD photo
Richard Figueroa, 17/TPD photo

Four more were arrested for conspiracy to commit armed robbery just after midnight on April 29, according to another Tucson police news release.

The four were Ernesto Flores Jr., 21; Adrian C. Apalategui, 18; Javier R. Herrera Jr., 19; and Ricardo A. Figueroa, 17.

A police sergeant pulled their car over for a traffic stop in the 400 block of East Speedway. Although all claimed to have no ID on them, police were able to determine Flores’ identity – as well as the fact that he had a felony warrant out for his arrest.

As the sergeant was getting Flores out of the car he noted a weapon, mask and gloves in the passenger area. Busted.

Herrera/TPD photo
Javier Herrera, 19/TPD photo

All four were then detained, with the other three identities learned later. A later search of the vehicle also produced more weapons and “additional suspicious items.”

Apalategui/TPD photo
Adrian Apalategui, 18/TPD photo

Police even found out the home they were expecting to invade, in the same area where their car was stopped, and spoke to the intended victim. They were allegedly targeting the victim because they thought there were drugs and money in the house.

Yes, busting into a home in the dead of night beats the heck out of sitting through those banal job interview things.

Unless, of course, you’re caught.

__

[tnipoll]

wb-logolilWhat do you think?

Does crime ever pay?

How do you instill non-criminal values in your own kids?

Should all criminals under age 18 be considered juveniles?


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Americans should resolve to stop the gobbling

A good chunk of Americans are fat, broke and angry – a horrible way to live. But rather than making a handful of half-hearted New Year’s resolutions to amend the horror, folks can concentrate on a single resolution that has the power to soothe the world, or at least their souls.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski
Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Stop the gobbling.

This resolution does not only apply to food, although that’s a good place to start.

A hefty 67 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. That’s more than half the population. That’s sick.

That’s also the result of supersize fries, half-pound burgers and dinner plates the size of Memphis that are swimming in butter and heaped to the brim. Portion control seems a foreign concept. When it comes to food, size really does matter.

The gobbling also applies to people’s possessions. Sadly, we are a culture built on material wants. The Joneses want a bigger house, car and pool than the Andersons. The rest of the neighborhood, of course, wants to keep up with the Joneses.

Folks get sucked into the material world and the quick fix of instant credit, amassing a mountain of belongings they cannot even afford.

Things start to control their owners, rather than the other way around.

Gobbling also applies to progress. Folks are eager to gobble up the latest gadget that keeps them connected, only a keypad away from the world.

These gadgets also, in turn, gobble up people’s time. Not many people even take a vacation these days without checking their e-mail, voicemail or whatever gadget feature they need to check at least once a day.

No wonder everyone is so angry.

Overweight folks may also be bitter because their poor bodies are in constant overload.

Broke folks may be irate because they spend their days ducking calls from collection agencies. The multi-tasking mavens may be mad they never have a spare moment to themselves.

If they’d all stop gobbling, they’d all be a lot less angry.

To ensure full success in the gobble-stopping, the underlying reason for gobbling needs to be addressed.

People often gobble because they are trying to fill a void in their soul. They may erroneously think this void can be sated with food, drink, drugs, sex or even material possessions – anything they can gobble up.

The American way of life, where bigger is better and more is best, only adds fodder to the gobbling.

People need to find ways to fill that void without buying into the gobbling culture. They can try to fill that void with love, friendship, quality time, helping others, meditation, spiritual connections or even petting and adoring a dog.

Anything that will help stop the gobbling.

Perhaps psychologist and author Mary Pipher summed it up best. “If we let culture just happen to us, we’ll end up fat, addicted, broke, with a house full of junk and no time.” Add anger into the mix, and we may be already there.

[tnipoll]

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who is guilty of gobbling at thrift stores. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski and this editorial appears in the Jan. 4 issue of the Arizona Daily Star. Her art, writing and more is at RynRules.com. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.

logoWhat do you think?

Are you guilty of gobbling? What do you gobble most often?

Are you going to do anything to change it?

Do you make any new year resolutions?

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