You Can Hear the Excitement Brewing…

The local news stations are all a-buzz. Conversations are happening around the dinner table and at the water cooler. People are stopping each other and asking if they have heard the news.

What is the event that has people so interested? Not politics, not the economy, but…

Other desert regions may be similar, but in my experience Phoenicians reaction to the promise of rainy days is fairly unique.

Rain is rare enough that we take pictures

Rain is rare enough that we take pictures

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$4 Water = FAIL

My Partner and I did take our 14 year old to Edgefest this weekend, as we planned. It was about what I expected: hot, tiring, no shade, great bands, lots of activities. The food was expensive, but we planned for that. What we did not plan for was that water was $4 a 20-ounce bottle.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do not expect free water, but when the temperature is over 100 degrees out, I expect it to be reasonably priced. We ended up not drinking nearly enough, and all told, we calculated that we spent $100 of the $150 we had with us on water and ice. I would love to know how many people they had to treat for dehydration. The Dos Gringos booth had $2 waters for a while, and we bought those until they ran out and started selling the $4 waters. I think my best investment was a $3 iced spray bottle from a vendor. Unfortunately I lost it during the Gogol Bordello show when a crowd surfer fell on me. The joys of an excellent punk show.

We did have a lot of fun, but we learned some things. One of the main things is to not take a slightly geeky 14-year-old near the front of a Flogging Molly concert. Between the mosh pit that started up next to us and the crowd surfers, we could not keep him safe and ended up having to push out of the crowd and escape. The crowd was restless after the shows were delayed by a thunderstorm rolling through. In true Phoenician style, I welcomed the wind and was sad it brought no rain to cool things off.

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Handstraps Hoist Commuter Crowds

I have ridden Valley Metro’s Rapid line for more than two years. I take the I-17 Route, but the Rapid lines handle most of the freeways from various Park and Rides to downtown. Last week I noticed a new thing: handstraps of nylon bolted between compartments of the upper luggage rack.

Rapid buses look a little different than the average city street bus: Almost all the seats face forward, two to a row on either side of the center aisle. Two benchlike seats that can each hold about three people face towards the center aisle by the rear door. These can be folded up for wheelchair mounting. Behind that, there’s a little elevated area with more forward-facing seats. There are about six seats along the very back of the bus.

But that’s it. I don’t think they expected people standing in the center aisle. But we do!
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Thirsty at the Home Show

Many would say that the falling stock market, the increase in violence at home and abroad, the rising unemployment rate and the sheer multitude of natural disasters in the last few years are signs of the end of the world. While I do find those things alarming what really scares me is what I saw this past weekend at the Maricopa County Home and Garden Show….a deserted beer booth.

 It is a sad state of affairs when an average American cannot afford to buy a beer at a community event. I actually watched as one man walked up to the booth with hope in his eyes and asked, “How much for a beer?” and the woman behind the counter replied, “Seven dollars.” The poor man simply shook his head and walked away.

I was at the show working a booth for my employer, talking to people about ways to conserve energy and decrease their electric bill. There were not that many people at the event. I haven’t seen exact figures of attendance but I would be surprised if it was anywhere near the number of people who attended last year. Someone mentioned they had wanted to buy a large outdoor grill but that they weren’t able to finance it. Scary stuff. It’s one thing when these issues are a national problem and can be viewed from a distance. It’s another thing to see the effects of the economic crisis when it shows up at your front door.

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Frank Luke Statue Restored

On August 28-29, powerful monsoon storms laid low the lone statue on the Arizona State Capitol Mall: That of World War One Ace Frank Luke Jr. for whom Luke Air Force Base is named. Gouges in the branch of a nearby palo verde indicated it probably smacked the statue right off its high pedestal.

The Fallen Statue

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Almost, Almost Irish…

The title is from a song by Ceann called Almost Irish. The lyrics are pretty accurate to my situation as 3rd generation 1/2 Irish:

‘Cause I’m almost, I’m almost Irish
And I hope almost, is good enough for you
And I’m mostly, I’m mostly Irish
OK mostly I’m American it’s true
Maybe the little bit of Irish in me
Could be the little bit of Irish in you

What does this have to do with Phoenix? Because Phoenix has a large Irish population and a Celtic music scene.

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The Grass is Always Greener…

…in cities where they have grass. That said it appears that many cities are considered “greener” than Phoenix, 31 cities to be exact. has issued their 2008 rankings for sustainable cities and Phoenix did not score well. Out of the 50 most populous cities Phoenix was ranked 32nd.

There were 3 major categories: front-runners, hitting their stride, and trailing. In the first category, claiming the number 1 spot was Portland followed closely by San Francisco. Phoenix fell in the middle category due to the light rail project and water re-use. And the worst city on the list? Mesa, Az was ranked 50 out of 50. Pretty embarrassing.

Edgefest 2008

This Saturday, September 27, Schnepf Farms will once again host a major valley event. The Edge 103.9 is putting on Edgefest 2008 and I will be taking my 14 year old son, which is a bit overwhelming to think about.
If you have been reading my posts so far, you can tell I am a little bit outside the mainstream. I have eclectic tastes, but on the radio I tend to listen to mainly alternative. The Edge is pretty much the only alternative station left after several flag changes from the others. I am not thrilled about Adam Carolla in the morning, but as long as they keep the Ska Punk show, I will keep listening.
As for the show, my son is going to see the Flobots, I am going to see Gogol Bordello & Flogging Molly, and Chris is a fan of NOFX from way back.

I will have trouble making up my mind, because the line up is awesome:

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An Urban Affair – Explore Downtown

If you aren’t living in the heart of the city you might be wondering why other people choose to. Ten years ago the idea that young professionals, artists, and dare I say it – even hipsters – would be living in Central Phoenix was laughable at best. In retrospect it would now be considered prophetic. As more and more people move downtown and more businesses open to cater to them it’s becoming clear – Phoenix is on its way to becoming a great city to live in.

Still skeptical? You may want to check out Urban Affair this weekend. It opens Friday, Sept 26th, at the Phoenix Art Museum. It goes from 6 – 10 p.m. and features performances by Arizona Opera, Scorpius Dance Theatre, and other local musicians. There will be a progressive tasting menu highlighting local restaurants like Cibo, The Art of Soup, Breadfruit, and Urban Cookies. Tickets start at $30. If you want to feel like a rock star you can spring for a VIP ticket for $75 which includes a host bar.

If you’re like me and feel that $30 is a little pricey don’t dismay – here are my low or no cost suggestions for checking out the city this weekend: Read more

Fetish Falls celebrates the Unique

On Saturday, September 6th, Fetish Falls in Tempe had a Party and I was there. Sometimes it is easy to forget that Arizona has this kind of scene.

Mask at Fetish Falls

Mask at Fetish Falls

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Google Departs Tempe

Google is leaving the valley and taking with it the unfulfilled promise of high paying jobs. They opened their office in Tempe in 2006 and have since employed approximately 50 people as opposed to the originally projected 600. One of Google’s Senior V.P.’s , Alan Eustace, announced their departure via blog on Sept. 19th citing internal issues. Their official date of closure is Nov. 21st, 2008.

The Arizona economy is not in good shape mainly due to its reliance on housing and tourism – neither of which is generating much revenue these days. Phoenix Business Journal reported on Thursday that the city’s unemployment rate jumped half a percentage point in August from 5.1 to 5.6 percent. This demonstrates a frightening trend considering that the unemployment rate in July was reported at 4.6 percent. Loss of jobs has been reported in retail, construction, and trade-related fields in the month August.

Theatre for Short Attention Spans

Looking for something “different” to do this weekend? Check out Space 55 Theatre Ensemble and their 2nd Annual Ten Minute Play Showcase. Seven new plays by Valley playwrights will be presented – each no more than 10 minutes long. Tickets are $7 at the door and curtain is at 8 p.m. The showcase will run Sept 18th, 19th, 26th and 27th at Space 55 in downtown Phoenix.

A strong presence in the downtown theatre community, Space 55 also hosts acting and improv classes as well as a playwright’s workshop. They are at the forefront of the independent theatre scene in the Valley and are definitely worth checking out.

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Loco for Local – Janet and The Art of Soup

Hi everyone! I’m the new blogger on the block and so happy to be here. I’m a resident of downtown and for the last year or so I’ve done my best to frequent local businesses and leave the big box chain places in the dust. For the most part it’s worked – I haven’t seen the inside of an Olive Garden in ages, my jewelry collection is the envy of any girl still shopping at the mall instead of at boutiques, and lastly I’ve met so many amazing people. I would say the greatest benefit to living down here is community. I love all the small, independent businesses and their owners are what make them so special.

Janet Van Hinkle  at The Art of Soup is one such owner. They are located in Sheridan Square on 7th Street, next to Drip. I stopped in yesterday for lunch and I came away with so much more. They serve, on average, 4 soups per day and there’s always a vegetarian option. The ingredients are all local and organic. You can order it by the bowl or do a soup “flight”, small portions of 3 soups with the usual accompaniments: multi-grain bread, lavosh, or baguette. The soup was fantastic and the atmosphere was so relaxed. I was the only customer due to the late hour and Janet chatted with me like I was friend having lunch in her kitchen.

She partners with a company called Chef to Chef to bring the same local produce in her soups to the community. You can purchase bags of produce from local farmers at the restaurant weekly. I’m picking up my first bag this weekend so I’ll let you know how that goes!

The Art of Soup will soon be open for breakfast and they are expanding their evening and weekend hours. I give major kudos to Janet for that – most businesses downtown cater to those who commute down here for work rather than those of us who actually reside here. There are many restaurants that are only open during the week and for lunch leaving the residents of downtown with fewer options.

As more people move downtown and the weekend traffic picks up the businesses are beginning to adjust. One by one they are expanding their hours and it’s definitely a sign of better things ahead.

I plan to highlight the local businesses that I frequent as much as possible so stay tuned – Loco for Local will be a regular feature.

Talk like a Pirate Day, AZ style

I have been running, and have been neglecting y’all. I have an event from the 6th that I will finish the write up on soon.

Meanwhile, while I am sitting in a training in Chandler tomorrow night, you can be practicing your Arrrrr’s and Me Matey’s for Talk like a Pirate Day.

The Arizona Corsair Network is hosting the Arizona Talk Like a Pirate Day at the Tavern on Mill.

Details: September 19 @ 7 PM
404 S. Mill (in Hayden Square)

From the site:

The largest pirate get together and party yet for the Arizona Corsairs.

“talk like a pirate” contest
best Pirate costumes (men and women) contest
Pirate Photo Booth
$2 rum shot with Arizona Corsair Coin purchase.

So be prepared to join in on this pirate raid of Taven on Mill Ave or you’ll only hear stories of how great it was.

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Sin Aesthesia at the Firehouse

I am sitting here in a fog of tired, after having a very long and hot, but very fun weekend. As I mentioned earlier, I made plans to go to First Fridays.

I picked my fiance up from work, and we had some time before we needed to be there. Dinner was a priority, and after being unable to secure parking at the Cherry Blossom Noodle Cafe, we decided to go to Macayo’s flagship restaurant on Central. I polished off a Pollo Espinaca Enchilada, and Chris enjoyed his Chipotle BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad. We split a Strawberry Margarita, and even then didn’t finish it.

We ran to Borders at the Biltmore for some items, then looking at the time, realized we better get to the Firehouse. We had difficulty finding parking, and by the time we did, we were about 3 blocks away-by Burton Barr. I was feeling tired, so we skipped wandering the galleries, although I saw that the Fair Trade Cafe on 1st Ave & Roosevelt was quite busy. This was definitely a busier First Fridays than July 4th was. Read more

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