This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 423,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Free Northern Arizona with a plebiscite

Christopher Fox Graham
Deciphering Sedona
The idea has been thrown around of a Verde Valley independent of both Yavapai and Coconino counties.
We should go further. Let’s declare Northern Arizona independent of Southern Arizona.
The word “succession” has earned a foul reputation ever since Fort Sumter and “partition” implies a hope for an evitable reunion. An “irreconcilable statehood” might be more appropriate.
Phoenix can claim up to New River while the state of Northern Arizona gets everything north of Black Canyon City.
For too long the counties of Northern Arizona have been beholden to Phoenix’s values. We have the water, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelley National Monument, Hoover Dam and the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City.
Southern Arizona can keep the Gadsden Purchase, whose northern frontier is proudly celebrated at a rest stop somewhere between Phoenix and Casa Grande.
Northern Arizona may lose the rights to the Old West battleground of Tombstone and Bisbee, but Western movie heroes always rode off in the sunset in Sedona or Monument Valley.
The division has historical precedent: while the Union split Arizona and New Mexico at the 32nd meridian west of Washington, D.C. — the present boundary, the Confederate States of America split the states at the 34th parallel — placing Sante Fe and Prescott in New Mexico and Phoenix and Roswell in Arizona.
An obvious provincialism already exists in Northern Arizona, clearly illustrated in Sedona’s citizen-local and alien-visitor dynamic.
Those visitors from Flagstaff — “You live in Flagstaff, my kids go to college there” — and Anthem — “You’re from Anthem, that blight of urban sprawl choking the water and life from our state?” — are treated different in Northern Arizona already.
There’s a rash of new states springing up around the globe, from East Timor and Kosovo to peoples demanding autonomy from Basques, Chechens, Kurds, Tamils and Tibetans.
A new state of Northern Arizona could slip in without much of a fuss.
The biggest and most obvious gain for partition from the south is tourism, which we can use to fund roads, schools, emergency services and local government projects.
Ever heard anyone travel from Michigan or Sweden to visit the wonder that is … Yuma?
However, Kingman draws gamblers too broke to stay in Laughlin, Nev., and Route 66 is still a part of the national consciousness although the Mother Road is a worn out, potholed strip of pavement that only photography students from Yavapai College or Northern Arizona University dare travel anymore.
Payson can hold a referendum to see which side of the line it wants to beholden to, but my money is on the northern half. We’re just cooler.
Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory in 1898 and since 1952 Puerto Ricans have shot down the idea of becoming the 51st state. Maybe they really want to be the 52nd state and are just waiting for a filler in the 51st slot.
Perhaps that’s our destiny.
Besides, having 52 states would be great for playing a deck of cards — Northern Arizona could be on the seven of clubs.
But the primary motivation for statehood would be better planning for water as Salt River Project owns surface water rights throughout the state to keep Phoenix moist. The Verde River risks disappearing so Tempe resident can have a pool and Scottsdale can advertise golf courses in the middle of the Sonoran Desert.
Northern Arizona would also control it’s own transportation projects, namely the brilliant decision to implement road construction on Sedona’s busiest intersection, the ‘Y,’ between Spring Break and Memorial Day.
It takes someone from the Phoenix-based Arizona Department of Transportation to assume that the best time to rip up our most important and heavily traveled thoroughfare is during the height of tourist season.
Combine that with the heavy roadwork along Hwy. 179 at the same time and you can see why locals debate succession.
Even cable guys know better than to work on the line in the middle of the Super Bowl or the season finale of “American Idol” as they’re liable to face the wrath that is a football fan, or worse yet, a 14-year-old girl with a crush on Jason Castro.
Maybe blocking highways in Phoenix makes sense in the spring, but with the lack of an alternate route between West Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek, all the road work does is make locals wonder, “If it’s called ‘tourist season,’ why can’t you shoot the tourists?”
Now we just need a flag.
Deciphering Sedona is published every Wednesday in the Sedona Red Rock News. To comment, e-mail to cgraham@larsonnewspapers.com.

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