"Unfortunately, light rail has hit a speed bump with the current economy," he says. "Plans to expand the system have been pushed back five or 10 years. In the meantime, though, light rail is fantastic."

Arranaga says his biggest thrill is the feedback his blog provokes. "I can't tell you how many readers have written to say they bought bikes this year," he crows. "Or how many say they've hopped on light rail because of the blog. I really hope I'm changing attitudes about light rail in Phoenix." — Robrt L. Pela

A still from a Blackwell film
courtesy of Nathan Blackwell
A still from a Blackwell film
Nathan Blackwell
Jamie Peachey
Nathan Blackwell

Dave Brookhouser
and Jacqui Johnson
The first thing anyone says about Jacqui Johnson and Dave Brookhouser is that they are so dang cute. At 35, she's got this polished Jackie O. thing going, and he's an adorably scruffy 44. (Just looking at him, you know he'd be fun to have a beer with.) It's no wonder their weekly podcasts at CenPho.TV have attracted a growing — and passionate — audience.

Just how passionate became clear in October. Partners onscreen and off, they'd been filming a five-minute podcast every week for a year, unsure of whether it was really worth all the time and effort, unsure of whether anyone was really watching other than family and friends.

Then their rental apartment off Roosevelt Row was broken into. The thieves helped themselves to a few thousand dollars' worth of camera equipment, the MacBook Johnson and Brookhouser used for editing, even a few pairs of Brookhouser's shoes.

There was no way the show could go on. Yet . . . they'd never missed a week. The show had to go on.

They did the whole thing on a Web cam. And they posted an appeal for donations from their viewers.

They were shocked when the money poured in: $1,300 in days. Soon after, another fan, a photographer, raised an additional $1,000 through a class he was teaching.

"We were like, 'Oh, my God," Brookhouser says.

"We'd been doing it for a year," Johnson recalls. "I was exhausted. It seemed like there was zero return. And then . . ."

The money was great, of course. But the big thing was what it signified. "People really watch! People really like us," Johnson says, still sounding amazed. "People think we're doing something worthwhile enough to donate to!"

The couple met on New Year's Eve 2008 at Carly's, the neighborhood hangout of choice for many downtown Phoenix residents. It's no exaggeration to say that neither one had the slightest experience in broadcast journalism. (By day, he does IT for the Arizona Supreme Court; she works in accounting.)

But nine months after they started dating, they launched CenPhoTV.com together, partly as a way to keep abreast of what was going on in their neighborhood. "You'd walk outside your apartment and see all these people," Johnson says, at street festivals, or Third Fridays. "I'd wonder, 'How did they all find out about this?'"

And so they set about to "report" on events in Central Phoenix. Brookhouser took on music, focusing on bands he liked and where they'd be playing. Johnson tackled everything else.

They had no idea at the time how much work it would be. (They average about 30 hours a week gathering information, writing it, filming, and then editing.) Nor did they calculate what a strain it could put on their relationship, to both live and work out of a tiny apartment.

But today they don't just know what's happening. They are what's happening.

Sometimes, Johnson says, people do recognize her as "that girl from CenPhoTV."

"She loves that," Brookhouser says, looking at his partner adoringly.

"I'm just like, 'OMG! You watch us!'" Johnson says, adding quickly, "It only happens once every few months."

"That's another thing that helps with the burnout," Brookhouser says. "Just to know someone's watching us." — Sarah Fenske

Daniel Davis
Daniel Davis doesn't just dislike driving — he hates it. Not only does he have zero sense of direction but, he claims, he's also got (undiagnosed) road-induced narcolepsy. "I'm driving and my wife's with me, and she'll say, 'You're snoring!'" Davis says. "And that's when I realize I've been dreaming."

There are people who enjoy a nice long commute. Davis, suffice it to say, is not one of them.

So it's both kind of funny and kind of awful that, upon relocating to Arizona in 2005 from Spokane, Washington, Davis got a job at a graphic design firm located near Sky Harbor Airport — and a home outside Peoria.

Yet it's precisely that god-awful drive that became the inspiration for Davis' archly funny Web comic, www.monstercommute.com. The daily cartoon, which Davis has been sketching since September 2008, chronicles the commute of two monsters as they make their way along the "Hellway."

Davis doesn't draw just cartoons. He and his wife/collaborator, Dawna, started a company called Steam Crow upon moving to Phoenix. Their work is inspired partly by the steampunk movement, which mashes up Victoriana and science fiction, and partly by their own "monster punk" sensibilities. They sell T-shirts, art prints, books and buttons both online and at steamcrow.com and at Red Hot Robot, the way-cool CenPho "geek" shop.

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Ewww, the last comment did not like my punctuation. I am sorry if it is difficult to read. But I hope it still makes the point and can be taken in a constructive manner. Thank you!


I found the article about "Robert Kilman and Safwat Saleem" to be incredibly insulting. As an active member of the local film community, I had never heard of these two before the Big Brain nominations. I came to NewTimes expecting to learn something more about them, and their up-and-coming talents.

Instead, I read nothing but insults towards our city. I have traveled across the country, but in Phoenix found a WONDERFULLY talented and visionary community. So I have to ask, “Kilman, are you kidding me?” Have you been to a recent A3F screening? (If not, many of the films can be found online now.) Have you ever watched the Media Guys? SyntheticHuman Pictures? N'Raged? Junk Draw? They all make incredibly good films, not to mention the films by your fellow nominee from Squishy Studios. And if comedy isn’t your style? You'll find no lack of drama, horror, action or suspense here. "Leashed" is the name of one short I really enjoyed, but I don't recall who made it.

If you want to “improve the standard of creativity in… local filmmaking”, let me give you some sincere advice:

First, find out what that standard already is. Sure, there's dozens of amateur films for each one that is note-worthy. But every filmmaker has to start somewhere, and I believe in encouraging the students & beginners. I don’t use them to set the standard when organizing a competition, however.

Second, leave your over-inflated ego in LA, and start networking here. We are a young, but rapidly growing city. It has been said that Phoenix will be the "Next Hollywood" and for good reason. Let’s work together and make that happen (without the pollution and corporate crap please. Indie ftw!)

All filming aside, we have a vast and wide-spread variety of artistic attractions. Have you visited The Lost Leaf? Been to many First Friday events? I can't list everything going on in this city. It's literally an everyday, ongoing, kaleidoscope of creativity.

Congrats on your nomination! But as you continue improving your art and gaining recognition, please remember - before YOU question "whether or not Phoenix is attractive to creative types." You should realize we are already here.

Nicholas DiBiase
Nicholas DiBiase

With all due respect to Atherton and Keener, Dudlik takes this one by a mile. That little whippersnapper has reanimated th' mummy of Phoenix functional and aesthetic design culture. What one year ago seemed like a battlefield populated by a scattering of wounded ronin now feels like an unstoppable polycerebral juggernaut of radness. Kind of like "Oogy Boogy" from "Nightmare Before Christmas."

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