Jobs •  Cars •  Real Estate •  Apartments •  Shopping •  Classifieds •  Obituaries •  Dating
AzStarNet

Customer Service: Pay Bill | Place an Ad | Contact

Tucson Region

Ernesto Portillo Jr. : Online parody of Tucson not always funny, but interesting

Ernesto Portillo Jr.
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 08.18.2006
Tucson's boosters, who are many and influential, will likely not enjoy a Web page that waxes unflattering about our maligned yet adored town.
But if you have a sense of humor, love parody and appreciate sarcasm — some good, but most of it bad — you might get a kick out of the unmerciful online sendup.
Here's a sample: "Tucson, Arizona, also known as the Moldy Pueblo or 'Tuscon,' is the leading retirement capital of the Southwest. It is also known as 'The Fan-Belt Capital of the World.' It was originally part of Mexico, but you'd never know it today since the Spanish language has been banned and the most popular Mexican restaurants are Taco Bells."
It comes from the Uncyclopedia, a wicked spoof of the online Wikipedia, the "free encyclopedia that anyone can edit."
With more than 1.3 million articles, Wikipedia's information is written by contributors. It's a giant collaborative effort that, as Marshall Poe wrote in this month's The Atlantic magazine, "has the potential to be the greatest effort in collaborative knowledge gathering the world has ever known, and it may well be the greatest effort in voluntary collaboration of any kind."
Wikipedia has become a big part of our Internet culture.
But since parody is much older — and some would say more critical to human development than the Internet — the Uncyclopedia is a valued, lighthearted counterpoint.
"The official airport city code is 'TUS' which probably explains why most of the world's population can't spell 'Tucson' correctly. (Warning: Putting 'TUC' on your baggage will cause it to be routed to Tucuman, Argentina). Tucson has recently gained international cachet after an obsure (sic) Korean car maker named a cheap SUV after it."
The Tucson page is divided into sections — climate, wildlife, wealth, economy, media, education, sports and famous Tucsonans.
"Linda Ronstadt used to be a proud Tucsonan but left town because of excessive jet noise from Davis-Monthan AFB and the constant demands for money from her unemployed family members."
Not all the humor works. Some of it is vulgar, sophomoric and mean, and much of it is senseless. It is the Internet, after all.
"Horse manure and creosote are among Tucson's leading exports. Metamucil and snowbirds are Tucson's leading imports."
The Uncyclopedia is an open place where anyone can try his or her hand at humor and sarcasm. Entries are as long or as short as the writer wishes.
But contributors are free to edit.
Which is why, in the "what to do" section, you'll find this: "As a wastebasket, Uncyclopedia relies on the idiocy of its contributors and their passion with menial slave labor designed to be done by monkeys."
The only limits to Uncyclopedia entries are no porn, no hate and no copyrighted material, said Gil Penchina, chief executive officer of California-based Wikia.com, which spawned Uncyclopedia.
Wikia.com is a for-profit company not associated with the Wikia Foundation, which created Wikipedia. But both the serious and non-serious electronic encyclopedias use the same software and were spawned by the same folks, Penchina said.
While the Uncyclopedia is a stab at humor, it's part of the larger electronic revolution taking place, Penchina said. And one big change is that information on the Internet should be free and void of restrictions.
So free your inner comic and take a stab at sarcasm and parody at uncyclopedia.org/wiki/Tucson
Opinion by
Ernesto Portillo Jr.
● Ernesto Portillo Jr.'s column appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach him at 573-4242 or at eportillo@azstarnet.com.