Tucson man gets tie hacked off at restaurant – and other local traditions we either adore or abhor

Jose Bernal getting his tie hacked off at Pinnacle Peak/Ryn Gargulinski

Birthday boy Jose Bernal was enjoying his dinner at a popular Tucson steakhouse when the waiter came up and told him there was a problem.

The problem was not a fly in Bernal’s ranch beans, but rather a banned accessory around Bernal’s neck.

The birthday boy was wearing a necktie.

After asking the room full of diners if Bernal should be hung by his tie for wearing one – and many said “Yes,” the waiter instead pulled out a large pair of scissors and neatly snipped the tie just beneath its knot.

The waiter then hung Bernal’s severed necktie with the rest of the snipped-tie gallery that lines the rafters, walls and ceiling parts at Pinnacle Peak.

Yes, Bernal was laughing with the rest of the crowd, even when they voted to hang him. And yes, he knew if he wore a tie to the steakhouse it would get hacked off and hung on the wall.

Jose Bernal with his severed tie at Pinnacle Peak/Ryn Gargulinski

Such traditions, however small, are part of what makes Tucson unique.

Another fun tradition used to crop up every April Fool’s Day for Tucson Police Department rookies. The newbies were told to respond to a report of a giant man with an ax running loose at a midtown intersection.

Pumped with adrenaline and zeal, rookies zoomed to the scene, on the corner of North Stone Avenue and West Glenn Street – only to find the Paul Bunyan statue wielding his weapon in all of his 18-foot glory.

This tradition has not been working too well of late, since Bunyan has been lacking his axe since November, thanks to another Tucson tradition we could do without.

Stealing Bunyan’s axe has been going on for decades. Likely performed by a group of mischievous or drunken college kids, the axe mysteriously disappears and then just as mysteriously returns.

The most recent ax theft was in November and, although reports said the hefty weapon was recovered, we have yet to see it back in the statue’s hands.

Bunyan has instead been gripping a now-grimy American flag for the past couple of months.

Another traditional theft that hits Tucson, and all of southern Arizona, is cactus robbery. Since we all know cactus are so difficult to grow in the desert, it makes perfect sense that folks are always so eager to snatch them up.

Tucson's Paul Bunyan with flag rather than his ax/Ryn Gargulinski

Saguaro National Park is a major target, and surely well worth it, since the punishment if caught often includes federal prison time. Tucsonan Joseph Tillman, 50, was sentenced in October to eight months in the federal pen for his part in a 2007 attempted saguaro theft.

Regular old neighborhoods and yards are also targeted, with a newly planted batch of more than a dozen barrel cactus snatched from a midtown neighborhood’s entrance in July.

So much for Homeowners Association dues going to good use.

While cactus and ax thefts may leave us prickly and wounded, we have one more local tradition that leaves us all wet.

Don’t forget the motorists who decide to drive through 8-foot-plus depths of water, often beneath the Stone or Sixth avenues underpasses. They even have a regulation named for them: the stupid motorist law.

This tradition usually features a teary-eyed driver on the evening news, complete with her flooded car in the background, whimpering something like she didn’t realize her car wouldn’t make it through a 12-foot pool of water.

Never mind the big yellow warning signs. Never mind the measuring stick on the side of the underpass that reflects the exact water level.

But alas, this tradition is drying up with lack of any substantial rain during monsoon. We haven’t seen a good enactment of the flooded underpass tradition in at least two years.

It’s heartbreaking when traditions are lost. But at least scissors stay perpetually sharpened and snipping off neckties at Pinnacle Peak.


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who always orders the filet mignon at Pinnacle Peak. 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 other Tucson traditions to you absolutely adore – or abhor?

Have you ever witnessed or engaged in any of the above-mention traditions?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
This entry was posted in danger, life, odd pueblo, Rynski Column, Stupidity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Tucson man gets tie hacked off at restaurant – and other local traditions we either adore or abhor

  1. leftfield says:

    My long time favorites are the various festivals: Blues, Mariachi, Tucson Meet Yourself, Second Saturday, etc.  My recent favorite is the Tea Party festivals. 

    • Rynski says:

      ah, life IS grand when it’s peppered with festivals, isn’t it?
      i’m sure you have a ball at those tea party festivals. the folk festival is also a good one!

      • leftfield says:

        i’m sure you have a ball at those tea party festivals. 

        Actually, I do.  I take pictures and wander.  I am mostly trying to buy a clue.  I have no more understanding of how those people come to their opinions than they have of how someone could be a Marxist.

        Now, like all good Marxists everywhere, I must be off to my own little worker’s paradise.

      • azmouse says:

        Have a great work day, Leftfield!

    • azmouse says:

      Leftfield, my friend! So glad to see you around these parts. I worry about people when I don’t ‘see’ them often…..

      Leftfield, I think you and I should go to the next tea party together. What fun!!

  2. Alan in Kent WA says:

    Downtown Saturday Night and the Tanque Verde Swapmeet were always good.  I always enjoyed Midnight Lazer Shows at U of A and anything at the (New) Loft Theater.

    Any of that stuff even happen any more?

    • azmouse says:

      Hi Alan in Kent WA,
      I think all that stuff is still going on. They had killed the lazer show, but I saw on TV they were bringing it back.

  3. azmouse says:

    I love the necktie tradition, especially since my Grandpa built Trail Dust Town 🙂

    I also love the tradition of every year, will we or won’t we have fireworks for 4th of July.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s