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CCS Crew Cultivates Creative Sound

CCS Crew Cultivates Creative Sound


By Michael Anderson

Change is on the horizon for one of Tucson’s top hip-hop groups. The CCS Crew is altering its course and morphing into Cultivate Creative Sound.

The CCS Crew has long been a staple of the Tucson scene, opening for national acts like Ice Cube, Tech N9ne and Nas, as well as frequently headlining their own shows.

They have built a large fan following and are known for their high-energy live performances featuring such anthems as “Smiley Green” and “Talk S##t Get Hit”. They are not only popular with fans, but other artists as well.

“The CCS Crew is an inspiration to me with their hustle and each and every one of them has always been mutually supportive of other artists” said Nathan “Dok” Billings, half of the rap duo Monstrosity.

The Crew has had a tumultuous journey since forming in 1999, experiencing several lineup changes and other challenges, chiefly the untimely death in 2005 of their spiritual leader, Joseph “Wobbly Pop” Hernandez.

The current lineup consists of Stacc Styles, Randy “Crookyd” Couzens, Michael “Jerse” Myers, and “Fat Tony” Barela. After years of grinding and hustling, they gained notice with their 2009 release “Lyrical Bartenders” and then were nearly signed to a record deal on the strength of their 2011 album “Mental Currency”.

After that near-miss, they were approached by High Volume Entertainment.

High Volume was interested in them, but they had one unpleasant request. They wanted one less MC and a female singer, in order to pursue a more commercial sound. They didn’t like Fat Tony’s image and suggested that he be the one to sit out. The Crew was understandably reluctant to work without their friend and valued partner and stray from their “underground” roots.

“When has hip-hop ever been about image?” Crookyd asked in frustration.

The Crew stood by Fat Tony and they reached a compromise with High Volume. The CCS Crew can continue on its own trajectory, and Stacc, Crookyd and Jerse would record an EP under the name Cultivate Creative Sound with a female singer.

After a few singers didn’t work out they settled on McKenzie Trueba.

This new direction seems to have revitalized the guys.

“It gives us new purpose,” said Crookyd, also known as “Capo Crook”

“It gives us something different, going against the grain, taking the path less traveled,” added Stacc.

That might seem like a strange sentiment from a group pursuing a “more commercial” sound, but it’s really not.

They aren’t trying to piggy-back someone else’s success or bite another group’s style. Cultivate Creative Sound has come to play by their rules, and pioneer their own music. Naturally they don’t like to compare their sound with another group’s, but when pressed Stacc described them as “like the Black-Eyed Peas with balls.”

They are scheduled to release their self-titled EP this summer. The release will be accompanied by a three city mini-tour of Arizona, with stops in Phoenix, Flagstaff and of course, Tucson.

They are very excited about the upcoming EP, which they recently mixed and mastered.

“I honestly feel that the Cultivate Creative Sound EP is by far our best work,” said Stacc.

Now that they’ve finished the EP, they have high hopes for the future.

“My hope for us is the ultimate goal of every starving artist. Tour the world and get paid to do what we love to do,” said Jerse.

They have definitely cultivated some creative sounds. Now hopefully these longtime Tucsonans can cultivate some greater success.

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From left, McKenzie Trueba, Michael “Jerse” Myers, Stacc Styles, Randy “Crookyd” Couzens and “Fat Tony” Barela of the CCS Crew. (Michael Anderson/Aztec Press)

Tucson’s award winning comic book writer

Tucson’s award winning comic book writer



Jon Proudstar didn’t expect to one day write award-winning screenplays, co-star in independent films, and even learn the film trade alongside Hollywood A-listers like Robert Redford.

He certainly didn’t expect to create a ground-breaking comic book that has received national recognition for its realistic depiction of Native American social issues.

Not bad for a high-school dropout who frequently bumped heads with authority figures, navigated a fractured relationship with his own parents, and didn’t learn of his own Yaqui heritage for years.

“There was such a stigma attached to being Indian that you had to hide it,” he explained. “It definitely affected my family, the hiding of it.”

“In the Latino community, it’s still kind of there. Thank God my grandmother was supremely proud of who we were, or else I probably would have never known.”

Over the years, the native Tucsonan has written and performed in a variety of film projects that reflect his ancestry, including “Running Deer,” in which he plays the father of a cross-country track star played by Booboo Stewart of “Twilight” fame.

In the werewolf-themed TV movie “Skinwalkers,” he is an abusive father stewing in his own alcoholic juices on the reservation. In “Goodnight, Irene,” he plays a culturally-out of-touch patient at an Indian health clinic.

And he just finished filming for “Demand of Blood” – a TV pilot based on the Nadia Dean book “A Demand of Blood: The Cherokee War of 1776.”

“I’d always been curious as a child: “Why are my people so mad? Why are we so angry?” he said. “For a long time, I didn’t know why we had this problem with alcoholism and poverty, and being uneducated. But when you start, you do the forensics, you learn that we came from this proud people who had everything – science and medicine and a beautiful religion – and see how that was taken away from us.”

Those are some of the themes Proudstar deals with in “Tribal Force,” the nation’s first comic book starring a superhero team composed entirely of Native Americans.

For example, the jaded Navajo girl Nita (a survivor of incest) learns she has the power to command wind, rain and soil after learning weaving skills from the Diné goddess Spider Woman.

Nita joins other Native characters – including Adee, a wisecracking Alaskan Kwakiutl car thief, and Gabriel Medicine Dog, a Sioux man struck mute by fetal-alcohol syndrome – to fight government forces who threaten traditional ways.

As the characters learn more about tribal histories, so do the comic book readers.

“My dream is to give Native American kids heroes,” Proudstar said. “I didn’t have that as a kid. My heroes were Conan the Barbarian and Capt. Kirk. It would have been nice to have heroes I could identify with.”

Tribal Force characters are all “traditional” heroes, meaning their powers come from tribal traditions. Their war strategy is to use their enemies’ high-tech strengths against them.

“And when I say ‘enemy,’ I don’t mean the United States, or ‘white people,’” he emphasized.

“I’m taking on the monster-machine that is trying to crush traditionalism, and trying to crush our culture. It’s hard to keep those values and traditions when you’re amalgamating with such an advanced society. You walk two roads, failure in one world is success in the other, and vice versa.”

The charismatic Proudstar, 48, has also tried to pass that mode of thinking along to adult learners, as a college-level keynote speaker on media and Native American issues, and as a Pima Community College instructor of non-credit independent filmmaking courses.

His writing and acting have been recognized on the national level by no less than the Sundance Institute, founded by Academy Award-winning actor Robert Redford. In 1998, Proudstar was selected to participate in the Sundance Writers’ Lab.

In 2004, he was chosen for its Directors’ Lab, where he was mentored by Hollywood actor-directors Ed Harris (“Apollo 13,” “The Truman Show,” “Pollock”); Stanley Tucci (“The Lovely Bones,” “The Pelican Brief,” “The Hunger Games”); and Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Boogie Nights,” “Twister,” “Capote”).

In 2005, he also won the Tribeca Film Festival’s “Signature Series” Screenwriting Competition, as well as the Arizona International Film Festival’s best comedy award for his directorial debut, “Dude Vision.”

Proudstar said that creativity, in the form of writing, acting, child-raising, or in some cases, just surviving difficult times, is the key to true success.

“We live in a society, where, if you don’t have the hallmarks of success … the large house, the fancy car, you’re kind of looked down upon,” he said. “People have let go of their passion in lieu of money.”

Proudstar said he hopes to help his students, as well as movie patrons and his comic-book readers, to understand that.

“Sure, money will buy you temporary happiness,” he said, with a smile.

“But in the long term, can you wake up and look at yourself in the mirror, and say ‘This is why I’m here. This is why the Creator put me here’?”

Check out the “Tribal Force” Facebook page at: And watch Jon Proudstar in action on screen at:

Jon Proudstar talks about his career, while showing the Aztec Press some of his award-winning comic book work at his home. Nick Meyers/Aztec Press

Jon Proudstar talks about his career, while showing the Aztec Press some of his award-winning comic book work at his home. Nick Meyers/Aztec Press

“Every day that I wake up, I contribute to society in a fashion that I love.” John Proudstar comic book writer, actor, screenwriter

“Every day that I wake up, I contribute to society in a fashion that I love.” John Proudstar
comic book writer, actor, screenwriter

Dynamic ‘Dance Fusion’ on tap

Dynamic ‘Dance Fusion’ on tap



Pima Community College dance students will present their semester work in the spring concert, “Dance Fusion,” on May 8 and 9.

Under the direction of instructor Nolan Kubota, the recital will feature an array of dance styles that are both diverse and dynamic.

The program will feature familiar dance styles such as hip-hop, jazz and ballet, but will also feature the beautifully creative styles of modern and contemporary pieces.

The program will feature choreography by both faculty and students, including returning choreographer/instructors Kubota, Gabrielle McNeillie, Ariella Brown and Erika Columbi.

Kubota describes “Dance Fusion” as “an elegant presentation featuring not only Pima’s talented dancers, but also dancers from local dance companies.”

The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday in the Proscenium Theatre at the West Campus, along with a matinee performance on Saturday at 2 p.m. Admission is $10, with discounts available.

For more information, visit or call 206-6986.

“Dance Fusion”
When: May 8-9
Where: Proscenium Theatre, West Campus
Tickets: $10 with discounts available
Box office: 206-6986

Pima student Pelita Murumba rehearses for “Dance Fusion” performances on May 8 and 9. Photo by Ed Flores

Pima student Pelita Murumba rehearses for “Dance Fusion” performances on May 8 and 9. Photo by Ed Flores

Aide earns top honors

Aide earns top honors



Pima Community College has awarded its annual student employee of the year honor to Michael Cox, a behind-the-scenes aide working in the photography department on West Campus.

“Michael is one of the most professional, hardworking student aides our area has ever had,” lab specialist Karen Hymer said.

Lab aides are responsible for checking out thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment to students and are expected to come into the job with photography experience.

“Our student aides have to be knowledgeable about photography,” Hymer said. “It’s not the kind of job where you sit and monitor something.”

Cox knows how to use both digital and film cameras, understands the different camera formats and is familiar with lighting equipment.

His experience comes from time spent at the American School of Kuwait in Hawaii, from nearly seven years spent serving in the U.S. Air Force and from his own personal practice.

“I have always been a pretty technically minded guy, I’ve built my own computers,” he said. “I like to fix things around the house.”

Cox, who will finish his Pima studies next fall, appreciates the experience he’s had at the college.

“Hands-on experience with the equipment is very important,” he said. “We have so many different types of cameras, film, lighting equipment and digital formats. Being able to get my hands on that kind of stuff has been very valuable.”

While lab aides are expected to arrive with experience, they are expected to leave with more.

“When they come in, they learn more about all of the different aspects about analog and digital photography,” Hymer said.

Hymer, who has been a lab specialist for nearly five years and was an instructor at Pima for 22 years, knows the importance of aides.

“We really couldn’t function without them,” she said. “We are open five days a week to check out equipment and facilities to students. I can’t be two places at once.”

Cox’s award is the third consecutive for the photography department. Ryan Dillon won the award last year for the same position.

Hymer credits the aides’ professional and positive atmosphere for their success.

“The aides enjoy working here and there is a sense of camaraderie,” she said. “It’s like a big family.”

Photography aide Michael Cox, left, and lab specialist Karen Hymer show off Cox’ student employee award. Contributed photo

Photography aide Michael Cox, left, and lab specialist Karen Hymer show off Cox’ student employee award. Contributed photo

Electronic Entertainment Expo 2015

Electronic Entertainment Expo 2015



Every June, the video game industry takes over Los Angeles with the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 as it is more commonly known.

E3 showcases new video games that are coming out, from Activision to Zynga and everything in between.

While the press conferences are the crème of the crop at E3, the booths are where the media gets to go hands-on with new games before anyone else.

Unfortunately for common folk, E3 is not open for public admittance. However, the entire convention is streamed online.
Being restricted to a computer or TV for information on the conference does have its advantages.

Many websites stream the conferences live and have journalists at the convention to report and interview those in the video game industry.

One of the most common ways of getting your information if you can’t watch the conferences yourself is to follow the right people on Twitter.

News sources like Polygon, IGN and Kotaku are some of the ones I follow because they usually link to articles they’ve written about said announcement.

There are a few things from each of the three console manufacturers (Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft) that you can be sure to look forward to at E3 this year.

One of the biggest absences we know about is The Legend of Zelda Wii U. Nintendo will not showcase it as planned.

At the end of March, Eiji Aonuma, the producer of the upcoming Zelda title, released a video to the public saying that the game would not be out this year as they had initially planned.

He used the official Nintendo Twitter page to say the game would also not be shown. “Mr. Aonuma & team will be hard at work on #Zelda and have decided not to show it @ E3. Thanks for your patience,” he wrote.

The absence of Zelda at E3 this year won’t go unnoticed, but Nintendo will have a few more tricks up its sleeves.

I speculate that Star Fox Wii U will be the standout from Nintendo. Xenoblade Chronicles X, Yoshi’s Wooly World and Devil’s Third should have strong showings for Wii U.

3DS owners should look forward to Fire Emblem: If and Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, but I suspect there will be more than one 3DS game announcement at E3.

Sony’s PlayStation 4 has many new games coming out. Some of the biggest include Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Persona 5 and No Man’s Sky.

No Man’s Sky, “a science-fiction game set in an infinite procedurally generated galaxy,” is one I’ve been looking forward to since it was announced.

Showing No Man’s Sky at E3 with a release date this year will be a standout from the competition for PlayStation 4.

PlayStation Vita should also be sharing some of the limelight at Sony’s conference with games like Persona 4: Dancing All Night, Lost Dimension and Danganronpa: Another Episode.

Microsoft’s Xbox One will also have some standout titles at E3, including Halo 5, Quantum Break and Scalebound.

While everyone knows the Halo franchise, Scalebound, a game shown off last E3 from developer Platinum Games, is one I think Xbox gamers should be looking forward to.

A Platinum game where you get to take down colossal monsters with the help of a dragon while listening to awesome music? Sounds like a hell of a game.

The biggest thing that everyone can look forward to every year at E3 is the stuff we don’t know about yet.

What other games will Nintendo show since Zelda won’t be there? Could this be the year we see a new Metroid game?

We haven’t heard much from Retro Studios since Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze. The studio should bring the dormant franchise to life. How about a new F-Zero game to resurrect Captain Falcon and his hyper-speed racing?

How about Sony? Will we at long last get The Last Guardian or will this be yet another year of absence?

Since we first saw The Last Guardian from Team Ico back in 2009, the game has been on a roller coaster behind the scenes with the director leaving and then coming back under contract, as well as the numerous “cancellations” the game has supposedly gone through.

And does Microsoft give us the details on the next Gears of War game this year, or maybe something else entirely? I’d love to see Microsoft do something with Conker that wasn’t just in Project Spark.

There are also third parties to keep your eyes out for at E3.

Konami has Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, hopefully shown off by the game director, Hideo Kojima before his leave in December.

Star Wars Battlefront will also be at the show, possibly showing off gameplay for the first time.

I know this: On June 16-18, the video game industry is going to explode.


Conference dates: June 14-16
Conferences: Square-Enix, Bethesda, Ubisoft, EA, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony
Key steps: Follow developers, publishers and news outlets on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for up-to-the-minute information

TOP 10: Star Wars songs from the movies

TOP 10: Star Wars songs from the movies



“Star Wars” has returned, and John Williams is back at the helm producing music for one of the biggest movie franchises of all time. With that, it’s time to celebrate some of the greatest musical pieces assembled for the silver screen.

10. End credits song

This song always plays at mixed peaks of emotions because the film is over, but what send-off theme could be better to the theater audience?

9. “Princess Leia’s Theme”

Princess Leia is the first ally we meet. This soft and gentle theme follows Leia along with Han Solo and company to show the true power of friendship.

8. “Across the Stars”

The overlaying theme of the daunting prequel films shows the power of love and the actions it can drive another to commit. The great love song of Anakin and Padmé is placed lower on this list due to the poor portrayal of the characters in the film.

7. “Cantina band”

The first scene that shows off the creative alien culture and costume design of the “Star Wars” universe is of the famous cantina scene, featuring this toe-tapping piece from Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes. Along with the catchy tune are the character introductions Han Solo and Chewbacca.

6. “Yoda’s theme”

Yoda is the ideal Jedi and represents the true power of the force. He is wise, calm and never lets emotions take control of his actions. This theme empowers everything our favorite puppet has to offer.
5. “Duel of the Fates”

John Williams was still at his best 16 years after the “Return of the Jedi” when he reprised his role as composer in the new trilogy. “Duel of the Fates” stood out as the crowning gem from this new body of work, and featured a dramatic choir to add to the effect.

4. “The Asteroid Field”

One of the most engaging space fight songs, as Han Solo and company flee from Darth Vader and a fleet of tie fighters while navigating through a massive asteroid field.

3. “Binary Sunset”(The Force Theme)

Back in 1977 when we first meet Luke Skywalker, there is much uncertainty in the young man’s future. This theme is first heard when Luke is immature and follows him to the climatic finale when he becomes a Jedi Master, giving a whole new meaning of the Force.

2. “The Imperial March”

Darth Vader, a dark intimidating mysterious figure who is one of the greatest villains of all time, is represented by a powerful military theme. It strikes fear into the audience whenever this theme is heard, because something bad is coming towards the heroes.

1. “Opening Theme”

The song that started it all. In 1977, unsuspecting movie-goers experienced the exciting brass hit followed by the iconic scroll text and the tone-setting theme. This timeless wonder can be experienced by anyone on first watch and is yet to be experienced by future generations.

What did you think of our selections?
Give us a visit online and leave us a comment





Taurus (April 20-May 20)

Much like your sign, you are grabbing life by the horns, and all this forward thinking and productivity is going to start paying off. Happy birthday, as well!

Gemini (May 21-June 21)

Good on you, Gemini. Your selfless deeds have not gone unnoticed by the stars and will be kept in mind the next time you need a little help yourself. And that is unfortunately going to be soon.

Cancer (June 22-July 22)

The summer is coming and you need to lather on that sunscreen and get going on those plans. Your target is a productive summer. Now, fire!

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22)

Leo, bro, has anybody told you lately that you’re awesome? No? Well, take it from me, the almighty cosmos, you are awesome. Keep it up!

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)

If you’re standing, take a seat, pour yourself some tea and take a nice deep breath for yourself. Going 100 mph with your hair on fire isn’t what you need right now.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

Did you know that you’re coming up to a major change in your life? Well, grab your backpack and strap up. I promise that you’re gonna like this one.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself every once in awhile, Scorpio. Go out and grab yourself something nice. Maybe expensive too! You deserve it.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)

Keeping your eyes on your friends and family is very commendable, and they will not forget that you have their back when it matters.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)

Grab some takeout, get comfy and throw on a movie. Just sit back and enjoy your day of you.You’ve really earned it.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

Having the time of your life, eh? Well, keep in mind that all play and no work makes Jack a dumb boy. Don’t be like Jack, study for a little bit this summer.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)

Just because everyone else is in a bad funk doesn’t mean you should stoop down into the depths. Keep yourself up with your fellow man. Fight hard and stay positive!

Aries (March 21-April 19)

Grab your keys, some friends and a few days off of work so you can go out and take a very much-needed vacation. I hear the beach is beautiful in the summer.

Art Briefs

Art Briefs


Compiled by Katie Vacio

Photography, printmaking on display

Pima Community College will host an advanced photography and printmaking exhibit in the West Campus student art gallery through Sept. 4. The gallery, located in the Santa Rita building near the administration office, is open Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Admission is free. The exhibit was first displayed from Jan. 22-Apr. 19 at the Ventana Medical Center in Oro Valley. The Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance approached PCC’s Ann Simmons-Myers and David Andres to exhibit work by advanced PCC students.

For more information, call 206-6942.

PCC faculty to share ‘Nemesis’ stories

PCC faculty members Brooke Anderson, Maggie Golston and April Burge will tell true stories based on the theme, “Nemesis” on May 7 at 7 p.m.

The storytelling event will be held at The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress St. General admission is $8 and $6 for students.

“Nemesis” stories explore how people deal with life, the process of dealing with negative energy from others and the outcomes and compromises of those situations.

In addition to the PCC storytellers, writers and entertainers will include: Rob Gonzalez, Tracey Kurtzman and Tamara Sargus.

The show is curated by another PCC instructor, three-time NYC Moth Slam Champion Molly McCloy.

For more information, call 730-4112.

Digital Video, Film screening May 18-19

PCC’s Digital Arts program will feature film and video work from students in the beginning and advanced classes on May 18-19 at 7 p.m. at the West Campus Proscenium Theatre for free.

For more information, call 206-6986.

Sandscript unveiling May 20

The 2015 edition of Pima’s art and literary magazine SandScript, under the direction of Joshua Cochran, will be unveiled May 20 at 7 p.m. at the West Campus Proscenium Theatre. Admission is free.

For more information call 206-3274.

PCC Writers Workshop May 28-31

Pima Community College will host a writer’s workshop from May 28-31. An opening night reception takes place at the Riverpark Inn, 350 S. Freeway. All Saturday and Sunday workshop sessions take place at the West Campus Center for the Arts.

The non-credit course costs $150 for all three days and includes a manuscript consultation.

For more information, call 206-6084.

Firefighter lights up Tucson’s film industry

Firefighter lights up Tucson’s film industry



Alan Williams, a Tucson firefighter and filmmaker, has been working to bring the Tucson film industry together and help the community at the same time.

He is one of the founders of Picture Arizona, an organization whose goal is to grow the local film industry and to increase revenue for small business partners.

Williams became interested in movies in 1977 at the age of 11, after seeing the film “Star Wars.” It changed how he thought about movies and he soon wanted to make them himself.

“I was fascinated by the illusion of another world created through special effects,” he said.

Williams was born in Wisconsin but moved to Phoenix at an early age and spent most of his childhood in Tucson. He attended Scottsdale Community College and then the University of Arizona, where he majored in film.

After graduating from UA, Williams was encouraged to make his own film by a producer while working as a film consultant. He spent six months creating his first film, “On a Clear Day.”

Of the many projects Williams has worked on, from music videos to writing and directing movies, his favorite has been “The Human Condition,” a movie he not only wrote and directed, but also edited.

“Everything just clicked, everything went really, really well from beginning to end,” he said.

Not all productions are like this, Williams said. On other projects, anything can go wrong and often will.

In addition to working as a filmmaker, Williams is also a fire captain for the Rural Metro Fire Department and is a full-time father to three children ages 13, 14 and 21.

Having a meticulous schedule is key to having time for a full-time job, children and filmmaking.

“He can always find time to work,” his 21-year-old daughter Megan Williams said.

Williams often works during downtime at Rural Metro and finds that he is most creative at 4 a.m. A lot of writing for his projects is done during the early morning hours.

He also involves his family, including his children, in the filmmaking process, taking them to important meetings and having them help on set.

“It is very exciting to see your dad as the ‘big time boss’ talking to important people and running the whole production,” Megan Williams said.

“During high school I was paid to photograph his sets, which was a great opportunity,” she added.

Williams has filmed all of his productions in Tucson, rather than traveling to New Mexico or Los Angeles as so many filmmakers do.

“Tucson has not been burned by the film industry,” he said.

Residents of Tucson are much more willing to be involved in a film and allow filming on their property, he said. In LA, filmmakers must have a permit to film in their own backyard.

Williams sees other benefits as well. Someone filming in Tucson streets is much less likely to get into trouble, because of the lax permit laws, he said.

Despite the positives for filmmakers to come to Tucson, there has not been a large film industry since the heyday of Old Tucson Studios. The movie set just west of town was used to film many popular westerns in the 1950s.

Tucson does not offer tax incentives like LA does, which seems to keep many filmmakers away.

Williams has worked for about 20 years to bring together Tucson filmmakers, but has faced frustration many times over.

The local filmmakers, while smaller in numbers than in LA, are very competitive rather than cooperating and pooling resources, he said.

But Williams and Picture Arizona are looking to bring the scene together.

The filmmakers who belong to Picture Arizona have decided that Tucson has a lot to offer but has often been passed over by the film industry.

By partnering with Tucson businesses, they hope to cut production costs by utilizing local services. At the same time, partners see an increase in their own revenue so that everyone involved can benefit.

For example, a local restaurant could provide the crew of a local film with food at a discount during production. The film cuts costs and the restaurant has a steady stream of business.

Those involved with Picture Arizona say there are many Tucsonans who have money that could be invested in their productions.

By investing with Picture Arizona, the investors know the money is going straight back to the community through the local business partners and through using local resources to film.

Williams and the rest of Picture Arizona firmly believe they are on the right path to help Tucson’s film industry, as well as the rest of the local economy, with their plans.

“I stayed in Tucson because I believe it has the ability to become a film mecca,” Williams said.

For more information about Alan Williams or Picture Arizona, visit or call Picture Arizona at 549-1084.


Of the many projects Williams has worked on, from music videos to writing and directing movies, his favorite has been “The Human Condition,” a movie he not only wrote and directed, but also edited. (Nick Meyers/ Aztec Press)


Alan Williams poses to show his two careers and his opposing way of life out side of his fire house. He founded Picture Arizona, which seeks to bring filmmakers to the state. (Nick Meyers/ Aztec Press)

Arts Briefs

Arts Briefs


Compiled by Deanna Sherman

Seven performances will take place at the Pima Community College West Campus’ Center for the Arts between April 26-May 3. Box office hours are Tuesday-Friday, noon-5 p.m. For additional information, call the box office at 206-6986.

A capella quartet performs April 26

Pima Community College will present a guest recital featuring Cantores, a male quartet a cappella group. It will perform a special “Power of Four” program April 26 at 3 p.m. in the West Campus Recital Hall.

The quartet is made up of PCC faculty members Jonathan Ng, counter-tenor and tenor; Jose “Chach” Snook, counter-tenor and tenor; Vincent Jackson, tenor; and Darryl King, baritone.

The recital will highlight a variety of styles from the Renaissance period as well as folk and popular selections. The group will be accompanied by Suzanne Eanes.

Admission costs $8, with available discounts.

Jazz Ensemble plays favorites on April 28

PCC’s Jazz Ensemble will perform a spring concert April 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the West Campus Proscenium Theatre.

Under the direction of Mike Kuhn, the band will perform a variety of big band compositions, including numbers from Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Dave Brubeck. Many band members will be featured in solo improvisation roles.

Admission is $6, with discounts available.

‘Vagina Monologues’ April 29-30

Student Life presents the fifth Annual staging of the “Vagina Monologues” in the Pima Community College Center for the Arts. The event runs April 29 and 30 at the West Campus Recital Hall.

Shows start at 7 p.m., and admission is free. Donations are requested, and will benefit the non-profit Emerge Center Against Domestic Abuse.

Wind Ensemble performs April 30

The PCC Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Mark Nelson, will present its final spring concert on April 30.

The ensemble will perform the concert-band version of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” as well as Jan Van der Roost’s “Canterbury Chorale”; the first movement of Edward Gregson’s “Tuba Concerto”; as well as Harry Alford’s “Law and Order” march.

The program will also include guest conductor Alli Howard, the interim director of Pep Bands at the University of Arizona.

The show will be held at the West Campus Proscenium Theatre. It starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $6, with discounts available.

Orchestra program May 2 

Pima Community College Orchestra will present its spring program on May 2, featuring works by Antonio Vivaldi, Mozart and Gounod.

The recital will feature Vivaldi’s “La Primavera” concerto from “Le Quattro Stagioni”; “Ballet Music” from Gounod’s “Faust”; and Mozart’s “Symphony No. 30” and “Piano Concerto No. 21.”

The concert will be held in the West Campus Proscenium Theatre. The show starts at 3 p.m., and admission is $6.

Chorale and college singers perform May 3

Pima’s Chorale and College Singers will perform their spring semester concert on May 3, under the direction of Jonathan Ng.

The chorale will sing a variety of folk and pop songs, while the college singers will present 20th century chorale works. The concert will end with Ludwig Van Beethoven’s “Fantasia in C Minor Opus 80,” performed by both groups.

The concert starts 3 p. m. in the West Campus Proscenium Arts Theatre. Tickets cost $6.

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Members of the PCC Jazz Ensemble rehearse for a performance. (Photo courtesy of PCC Center for the Arts)


Fashion show traveling all ‘Around the World’

Fashion show traveling all ‘Around the World’



Pima Community College West Campus Proscenium Theatre will be filled with fashion from all around the world May 1.

The 2015 PCC Fashion Show is being put together by a collaboration of a fashion show/event planning class and the fashion club.

The class has taken full control of the show’s production, with the supervision of instructor Yekatherina Bruner and help from fashion design/clothing department instructor and fashion club adviser Nancy Spaulding.

“We normally have around 400 people in the Proscenium Theatre,” Spaulding said. “Students that have made garments in the academic year, as long as they’re hemmed and finished, they can wear it on the runway.”

With the “Around the World” theme, guests can anticipate models walking down the catwalk in pieces inspired by fashion from Tokyo, London, Paris, Milan and New York.

The fashion department has brought in KVOA News 4 Tucson anchor Bret Buganski as master of ceremonies and Tucson-based DJ Clint Pittenger on the turntables. Aveda Salon has volunteered time and services with hair and makeup.

The fashion show will include student designers ranging from the beginning and advanced classes. In addition, Flowing Wells High School students will showcase garments designed using recycled materials as well.

A few months before show time, the fashion club starts focusing on raising money for the show with bake sales and jewelry sales. But regardless of how hectic it gets, they always give back to their community.

The club has partnered with Pima’s social services program to help with food donations and helps student government with monthly canned food drives.

In the past, donations have gone to New Hope for Women, Youth Own Their Own and animal shelters.

“We just chose our end-of-the-year charitable donation, Pima Animal Care Center,” said club president Sergio Quiroz. “We usually donate a portion of our profit from the show. It’s our little way of giving back.”

For any students interested in joining, the club meets every Wednesday at 2 p.m. in Room CG-25. No fashion experience or knowledge needed. The last meeting is May 6, and the club hopes to continue in the fall.

For more information on the 2015 PCC fashion show, call the box office at 206-6986.



Fashion Club Secretary Kelli Vu works on a piece for the 2015 show. Shana Rose/Aztec Press

Fashion Club Secretary Kelli Vu works on a piece for the 2015 show. Shana Rose/Aztec Press

Club president Sergio Quiroz places his pieces on a mannequin. Shana Rose/Aztec Press

Club president Sergio Quiroz places his pieces on a mannequin. Shana Rose/Aztec Press


Stir fry restaurant  offers tasty choices

Stir fry restaurant offers tasty choices



C.I. Chu’s Mongolian Barbeque is a made-to-order stir fry restaurant in midtown that brings in lots of customers and enjoys good reviews.

Calvin Chu and his wife Elaine opened the restaurant in 2003.

The restaurant gets a lot of business during the week, especially on Thursdays when many college students come in to eat, according to the owner’s niece Bella Chu.

Customers grab a red bowl and select options from each section at the buffet counter, beginning with noodles, then vegetables, meat, sauces and spices.

Tabs overhead give details about the best way to add sauces and spices to attain a specialized flavor, such as “Tantalizing Teriyaki.”

After compiling their dishes, customers head to the cook’s counter and leave their bowl under the next available number.

A variety of vegetable and meat options are available, and employees continually bring out fresh stock.

Meat choices include pork, lamb, seafood, beef and chicken.

In addition to traditional stir fry vegetables, Chu’s offers unique options such as cilantro, garbanzo beans and pepperoncinis.

Noodle choices include wheat lo mein noodles, regular lo mein or rice vermicelli.

A new shaved ice dessert, the “Snow Volcano,” can be ordered with a variety of toppings. The newest special is “Strawberry Sensation.”

Lunch is served from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and dinner from 4-9 p.m. The prices are the same for both times.

The one-bowl meal costs $9.49, and the all-you-can-eat meal totals $11.99.

Both come with a bowl of either white or brown rice, a choice of hot-and-sour, egg drop or vegetable soup, and a hot piece of shiao bien, a delicious, flat square of sesame bread.

Drinks are not included in the meal and cost $2.50.

The U.S. Marine Corps recruiting office next door frequently attracts crowds of military customers.

C.I. Chu’s Mongolian Barbeque is located at 4540 E. Broadway Blvd., in the Midstar Plaza.

It is open daily, except on national holidays.

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Employee Dimitry Hare prepares a stir fry dish on an open grill for a future regular customer at C.I. Chu’s Mongolian Barbecue. (Alyssa Ramer/ Aztec Press)


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In addition to the traditional veggies on display at C.I. Chu’s Mongolian Barbeque buffet table, customers can choose cilantro or pepperoncinis. (Alyssa Ramer/ Aztec Press)

Tucson to host traditional dance, music celebrations

Tucson to host traditional dance, music celebrations



Tucson will be among the cities celebrating 100 years of traditional dance, music and song in a nationwide tour.

The Country Dance & Song Society selected Tucson to host one of seven North American tour stops after scores of cities applied for the honor.

A weeklong tour will take place April 25-May 2 in Tucson, Phoenix and northern Arizona. Activities at a variety of venues include $5 contra dance evenings and free educational workshops for novice and experienced dancers.

A local contra dance organization, Tucson Friends of Traditional Music, will serve as the host. Contra dance always features live music with a myriad of instruments including fiddle, mandolin and bodhrán (Celtic drum).

Contra dance organizations in Phoenix and Northern Arizona will also participate, as will other Tucson groups such as cloggers and Irish dancers.

The CDSS visit will conclude during the annual Tucson Folk Festival, slated for May 2-3.

The folk festival organizers, Tucson Kitchen Musicians Association, are partners with Tucson Friends of Traditional Music in the CDSS tour stop.

CDSS supports dance forms including English country, traditional American square and contra, Morris and other English ritual dances, and Appalachian and English clogging.

Musical forms range from 17th-century dance melodies and traditional Scottish, Irish and English jigs and reels, to songs and tunes from Appalachia and the New England regions.

For additional information and the full tour stop schedule, visit

THE WORD: What do you think of Gov. Ducey’s education budget cuts?

THE WORD: What do you think of Gov. Ducey’s education budget cuts?


Photos and interviews by Pablo Espinosa at Downtown Campus

Pg03-Word-Eric Greer

“It’s an act of oppression.They cut the funding for the lower income people.”

Eric Greer

Pg03-Word-Mike Scanlon

“I’m very against it. I don’t think we need more prisons. We should use the money from prisons and give it to education.”

Mike Scanlon

Pg03-Word-Maria Carillo

“That sucks. That’s not fair. I think the students need the money more. Why should we build more prisons when we’ve got to focus on education?”

Maria Carrillo

Pg03-Word-Cynthia Dalid

“I don’t think that is fair because we actually need it. I thought the prisons were getting enough money. It makes no sense.”

Cynthia Dalid

Pg03-Word-Rene Lopez

“It’s a bad idea to take away from education, which is our future. If he wanted to make more money, he should invest in education so people can get better jobs.”

Rene Lopez

'Mandrake' nears end: Final shows April 23-26

‘Mandrake’ nears end: Final shows April 23-26



Performances of “The Mandrake” continue through April 26 at Pima Community College’s Black Box Theatre.

Show times are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. American Sign Language interpreters will be available on April 23. The Black Box Theatre is part of the West Campus Center for the Arts complex.

“The Mandrake,” directed by Deborah Davis, uses Machiavelli’s philosophy of “the ends justify the means” to spotlight the exploits of lovers, liars and fools.

The satirical comedy about love and lust portrays an upper class man who becomes infatuated with a virtuous woman. The fact that she is already married doesn’t stop him.

The plot line also involves a husband and wife who are hoping to bear a child, a manipulative servant, a scheming mother, a corrupt priest and an aphrodisiacal plant.

Tickets cost $15, with discounts available. For additional information, call the box office at 206-6986.



“The Mandrake”

When: Through April 26

Where: Black Box Theatre, West Campus CFA

Tickets: $15, with discounts available

Box office: 206-6986



Damian Garcia (Ligurio) and Marchus Lewis (Timoteo) perform in “The Mandrake” that has hit Pima’s Black Box Theatre. The Machiavellian inspired comedy will perform the last showing on April 26. Shana Rose/Aztec Press

Damian Garcia (Ligurio) and Marchus Lewis (Timoteo) perform in “The Mandrake” that has hit Pima’s Black Box Theatre. The Machiavellian inspired comedy will perform the last showing on April 26. Shana Rose/Aztec Press