The year 2019 concluded the first decade spent entirely in the Twitterverse (the social media platform was created in 2006).
Love it or hate it, Twitter has become inextricably linked to the news cycle, with tweets often shaping news, or sparking it directly, and 2019 was no different.
Arizona often found itself in the national spotlight thanks to local residents who took to the platform. The year was full of moments on Twitter that made us laugh, made us cringe, and made us ask: Was the internet a mistake?
So for your entertainment (?), here’s a year in review, as explained by six tweets, (or in three cases, series of tweets,) made by Arizonans in 2019:
1. Clue Heywood's Peloton Thread
Before there was the Peloton ad, there was Clue Heywood.
The viral January 2019 Twitter thread begins innocuously enough. “Love putting my Peloton bike in the most striking area of my ultra-modern $3 million house,” it reads.
I had my carpenter build a $9,000 finished wood riser for my Peloton bike in my glass-enclosed zen garden/home gym pic.twitter.com/VJSOjctYtO— Clue Heywood (@ClueHeywood) January 28, 2019
In the next 20 tweets, Heywood proceeds to provide choice captions on actual Peloton ad photos, including:
“When we visited my parents for Christmas I had to put my Peloton bike right in the living room, they didn’t have a home gym or a conservatory or anything ugh”
“I took my Peloton bike to Europe and used it on the balcony of our $2,000/night Airbnb and honestly I felt like I was flying over London, you should try it”
And perhaps the best one:
“Sometimes I let the nanny ride my Peloton. But the solarium is my space, so she only can ride in the garage and only when she’s disciplining my children.”
Sometimes I let the nanny ride my Peloton. But the solarium is my space, so she only can ride in the garage and only when she’s disciplining my children. pic.twitter.com/bJFYuTFBag— Clue Heywood (@ClueHeywood) January 28, 2019
If you’re friends with Heywood, buy the guy a bottle of Aviation Gin this holiday, and thank him for these.
2. Governor Ducey's Feud with Nike
You know how some mornings you wake up, riddled with anger because that multimillion dollar company decided to pull a possibly racist product, and resolve to take it out on workers in your state?
Now imagine you’re also the governor of Arizona, and decide the best way to do it is through Twitter.
At around 5 a.m. one July morning, Governor Doug Ducey was feeling some type of way over Nike’s decision to pull a pair of Fourth of July-themed shoes the day before. The company announced it would not be releasing the shoes, which featured a Betsy Ross-era American flag, after activist and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick expressed concern over the flag’s connection to the era of slavery.
Today was supposed to be a good day in Arizona, with the announcement of a major @Nike investment in Goodyear, AZ. THREAD—>— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 2, 2019
“It is a shameful retreat for the company,” Ducey tweeted in a series of what would become a nine-part thread. “American businesses should be proud of our country’s history, not abandoning it.”
Ducey then announced he’d ordered the Arizona Commerce Authority to withdraw “all financial incentive dollars” that the state was providing for Nike to build a factory in the city of Goodyea.
The plant would have created an additional 505 jobs for the state, according to past company promises to the city. It’s still unclear exactly how much financial incentive the ACA was providing Nike, but the governor’s tweets left people reeling: Would the company still come to Arizona? What did the city of Goodyear, whose officials had promised a $1 million-fee-waive incentive to Nike, think about Ducey’s decision?
“Arizona's economy is doing just fine without Nike," Ducey went on to say. "We don't need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation's history."
By the end of the day, both Goodyear and Nike affirmed their commitment to building a manufacturing facility in the state.
Ducey quickly changed his mind — less than two weeks later, the Republican governor tweeted again, this time welcoming Nike’s plans for the $184 million plant.
Life comes at you fast…?
3. Green Shirt Guy
On August 6, members of the Arizona Patriots, an alt-right anti-immigrant group, protested a proposed "sanctuary city" measure at a Tucson City Council meeting. A man named Alex Kack, sitting nearby and donned in a striking green polo shirt, began laughing hysterically.
Scene inside a Tucson City Council Meeting. Officials voted to put a "Sanctuary City" measure on the November ballot pic.twitter.com/mEh4PNj0Wo— Nick VinZant (@NickVinZant) August 7, 2019
A video of the incident taken by KVOA reporter Nick VinZant quickly went viral, garnering over 30,000 retweets and upwards of 160,000 likes on Twitter.
Kack, an activist and comedian who worked on the sanctuary initiative through the Peoples Defense Initiative group, told the website Mashable he was laughing at "just how absurd it really all was."
Thanks to the incident, #GreenShirtGuy inspired a trove of Halloween costumers, and now has 60,000 followers.
4. Craig Harris's Crusade Against the Arizona Republic's Union Efforts
Nothing says people power like blasting your coworkers’ union efforts on Twitter.
The Arizona Republic unionized this year, and every step of the way, longtime investigative reporter Craig Harris let you know he was not down.
Take this tweet, which he sent in response to union organizer Rebecca Sanders sharing an article about Gannett’s union suppression efforts on August 30.
Rebekah also created a secret chat app with union supporters. Among the topics was ridiculing the “high” salaries of 2 minority women executives in addition to making false allegations about me and how often I was allegedly leaving the office for “coffee breaks.”— Craig Harris (@charrisazrep) August 30, 2019
It raised a number of questions: How did Sanders have time to develop an app in all her spare time as an award-winning investigative journalist?
Was “coffee breaks” a direct quote, or an innuendo for something more sinister (tea drinker, smh!!)?
Did Harris really think having a boss of a certain racial and gender identity mean workers shouldn't talk about pay equity?
How many Scabby rats did Harris get at this year’s office holiday party?
Regardless of your feelings about the paper’s decision to unionize, the Republic made history this year, and Harris’s resistance, thanks to Twitter, was indelibly a part of it.
5. Paul Gosar Hides 'Epstein Didn't Kill Himself' in Tweets
This year, Donald Trump became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached after the U.S. House of Representatives voted on two charges against him.
Along the way, Arizona Republican Representative Paul Gosar turned to Twitter, using the first public impeachment hearings as an opportunity to create a 23-tweet message opposing the investigation.
The first letter in each of Gosar's 23 tweets spelled out: "Epstein Didn't Kill Himself."
Paul Gosar wrote 23 different tweets today. If you start with this one and go down chronologically, the combined first letters of each tweet spell out "Epstein didn't kill himself."— Alex Joshua (@_alex_joshua) November 13, 2019
I really don't know what to say at this point. https://t.co/O2VYwIaUDI
At first, it wasn’t clear if Gosar himself was behind the tweets or how serious he was about the embedded message, but then Gozar responded to Phoenix New Times' direct message on the social media platform.
"This was intentionally done," the congressman said, noting that he himself has written all 23 tweets. "People take themselves way too seriously in DC. The actual tweets are serious commentary. The Epstein reference is for the connoisseurs of subtlety and an homage to the lost but sublime art of humor bonding and group dynamics."
Conspiracy theories about the death of Jeffrey Epstein erupted shortly after the convicted sex abuser allegedly hung himself in a Manhattan jail in August. Nearly three months later, a viral meme resurrected the theory.
"Epstein didn't kill himself" became a popular bait-and-switch headline in a series of memes, particularly in right-wing circles of the internet. That one of our elected officials used the impeachment process as an opportunity to cash in is, well ... something. But who knows, maybe Gosar's critics are simply not connoisseurs of subtlety.
6. Bonus: Arizona Politicians as Bongs and Pipes, a Thread
But speaking of connoisseurs of subtlety ...
Bri Arreguin-Malloy, social media editor at New Times, created this thread linking Arizona elected officials to their bong lookalikes in honor of April 20, also known as 4/20 Day.
Find your match in one of these 16 bong-politician pairings, and from all of us at New Times, have a happy New Year.
Happy 4/20 Eve!— Phoenix New Times (@phoenixnewtimes) April 19, 2019
Arizona politicians as bongs and pipes: a thread pic.twitter.com/ri7UogTpPc
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.