Mosky Reviews The Powerful Documentary TUCSON SAVAGE.
If you want to see that your life REALLY ain’t that bad (and COULD be
worse!), then see the 30-minute doc, “Tucson Salvage,” based on the book,
"Tucson Salvage: Tales and Recollections from La Frontera", adapted from a
Tucson Weekly column, by award-winning writer, Brian Jabas Smith.
Why!? Basically, “Tucson Savage” follows five problemed people —
formerly homeless; a borderline homeless woman who had her five kids taken
away from her (a shot of a picture frame with five pictures missing was
spooky!); a WMA boxer who accidentally ran over his 10-year-old brother; a
graffiti artist with prosthetic legs who once got shot in the stomach after a
bus stop verbal altercation; a rough-looking female artist searching dumpsters
and conferring with people for metal items to weld into art objects — are
ALL trying to make the most of their seemingly destitute situation living on
the fringes of society.
The opening monologue by writer Smith, sets the destitute tone: You gotta be
really down on your luck if you need to come back to small town Tucson, to
once again feel the cocoon warmth of your upbringing, in order to get back on
It’s like another world where the societal codes are different…..homeless
people apparently respect one another (including their dogs) and their
And apparently being in prison you don’t have to worry about being in prison
because you’re ALREADY in prison, and, as the transgender subject who served
three years in prison in the early 80s for making counterfeit birth
certificates for Mexican nationals says, “You cant be threatened with,
‘You’re gonna go to prison!’” (Who knew?).
In fact, I found it interesting that some of the destitute subjects find it
more stressful living in the real world with real world conveniences and
paying rent for an apartment than being homeless!
“Tucson Salvage” has a personal connection to me since I spent my youth in
Tucson in the early 80s ... having gone to Catalina High School (same high
school as Linda Ronstadt years earlier); was in an alternative rock band (The
Sidewinders which became The Sand Rubies); and was a featured extra on the now
classic film, “Revenge of the Nerds,” shot on the University of Arizona
campus in 1984.
The cinematography was decent, albeit nothing spectacular, showing the grimy
parts of the city. But to create a more interesting film, and perhaps add
tension, I thought the stories should’ve been intertwined instead of each
person embodying a roughly five-minute segment. Plus the title, “Tucson
Salvage” in reference to salvaging one’s life to make the best of a crappy
life situation which likely won’t improve, should’ve been renamed,
Also bonus mention of one of the songs by Billy Sedlmayr, a legendary Tucson
musician, in the Giant Sandworms.
You can check out “Tucson Salvage” at select art house theaters around the
country through the end of August.
I give “Tucson Savage” … THREE Mosky’s for shining a light on another
world most of us, fortunately, never will experience, and the quirky societal