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SPEAK UP: Since April, artist Frank Pietronigro has been the subject of a 20-year retrospective art exhibition in downtown San Francisco's Atrium Gallery. So it was no surprise when the Lurie Company, which owns the gallery, decided to feature Pietronigro's celebrated painting "Kelvin's Majesty"--a nationally recognized work created in honor of the 1993 National March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi-Equal Rights--in a special exhibition to open last week.

But on June 18, just a day before the reception, the artist received a call from the gallery to inform him the colorful photorealistic work displaying a gay man holding a rainbow flag, and proudly sitting in front of our nation's capitol building, had been defaced: An unknown person had scrawled "FUCK YOU" across the canvas. Pietronigro requested the painting remain on exhibit, defaced, in order to educate the public that homophobia is alive and well, even in one of the most openly gay cities in America. The Lurie Company denied his request. Security staff removed the painting and, seeming to miss the irony, placed it in the closet for the duration of the exhibit. (But all is not lost: The defaced work will open in a new show starting July 1 at another Bay Area gallery; and web browsers can see the original image online at http://www.webcastro.com, in the Web Castro Gallery section.)

The subject of gay life has become enough a part of public discourse that many of us--gay and hetero alike--take its mere presence for granted. "What's the big deal?" some say. For all the liberal pretension to the contrary, clearly those voices have a lot to say, a lot of history to reveal, a lot of ground to cover in a dialog rife with us-against-them reflection...and a lot to be proud of, in a society where most of us flounder to discover ourselves even under the best of circumstances.

Tucson Pride Week continues through Sunday, July 29, with a host of activities organized by the Wingspan Gallery. Call 624-1779 for complete information. But start off the weekend with some literary and culinary refreshment beginning at 7 p.m. Friday, June 27, at Antigone Books, 411 N. Fourth Ave. This free, annual Pride reading of poetry and short fiction features local authors Melanie Cooley, Barbara Cully, Karen Falkenstrom, Charles Gillespie, Nancy Mendoza, Jacqueline Raphael and Boyer Rickel, most of whom will be reading from new or previously unpublished works. Tucson composer and pianist Jonathan Brown will perform original compositions before and after the readings; and you'll save 10 percent on all lesbian and gay books and magazines from 6 to 9 p.m. Call 792-3715 for information.

DRY SPELLBOUND: Water is not a renewable resource. All that we have ever had, and all that we will ever have, is now contained on this earth. And yet it's a resource we freely give away, that we exploit and waste and entirely take for granted. Without it, there is no life; and rapidly, we're draining the life out of our rivers and reservoirs worldwide. Parts of Mexico City, for example, are literally sinking at the rate of 12 inches a year as the city pumps the life-giving groundwater from beneath its foundation. And in the American West, we're forced to come to terms with the fact that the five states and two nations that rely on the Colorado River have been promised more water than the river has to give.

For the first time on television, Cadillac Desert, a landmark documentary series that heads into its second of four parts on Tuesday, July 1, tells how Americans have used, abused, protected, controlled, fought over and died for water; and how these conflicts have forever changed our political system, our own physical landscape, and--through the Bureau of Reclamation's influence on water policy-makers throughout the world--the entire planet.

This apocalyptic vision of the wasting of our most valuable resource continues this week with "An American Nile," the story of how the Colorado became the most controlled, litigated, domesticated, regulated and over-allocated river in the history of the world. Combining breathtaking archival footage with interviews with the key conservationists and developers who literally reshaped the river, this is perhaps the most riveting program for Southern Arizonans, in that it details a problem right in our own backyards.

For more information on this little-known chapter of our history, check out Marc Reisner's book Cadillac Desert, and Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity, by Sandra Postel. Both are available in paperback, and provided much of the background for the PBS series, which airs locally on KUAT Channel 6. The Cadillac Desert video series is available in a boxed set, including the 1974 Academy Award-winning film Chinatown, from Home Vision Select ($99.95). Individual programs are available for $29.95 each. For orders and information, call 1-800-343-4727.

PUMP UP THE VOLUME: The supreme court recently ruled the FCC had no reasonable cause to restrict certain public access to the airwaves, reversing the stance that pirate radio was illegal. While this is a controversial decision and the future of the airwaves and licensing remains in legal limbo, some local upstarts have been basking in the glow of the radio dial from 8 p.m. to midnight (and often later) most nights at 103.3 FM. Maybe you'll have more luck than we did tuning in from your locale for a little music and misbehavin'. If not, you can still get the inside scoop on pirate radio's precarious legal status, including other stations and recent court cases, at http:// www.freeradio.org/

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