By May, I was exhausted. A rhinestone pin spelling out PHOENIX that I found on Etsy buoyed my spirits a bit, but sitting in the parking lot of the Celebrity Theatre, trying to grab a super-quick shot of a round entertainment venue (try that with your iPhone) and still get to work on time, I questioned the worth of this whole thing.

Would anyone notice if I quit? If the goal was to learn to love Phoenix, it certainly wasn't working. In fact, this whole experiment was beginning to make me loathe the place in ways I'd never thought possible.

But I'd made it five months. I could do it. June was tough. It was hot. But I hadn't yet mentioned the sand art from the original Biltmore Fashion Park or the sprinkles section at ABC Baking. When I snapped a photo of "The Bingo Hall Where I Once Took Ballet Lessons" out my car window (I think the car was actually moving at the time), I knew I'd hit a low. The truth is, I was almost done. I'd taken just a few days off here and there all year, trying to schedule posts ahead when I was going to be out of town. But we were headed to San Diego for an entire week in early July, and as we were packing to leave, I realized I hadn't planned any posts, didn't have any pictures in reserve.

Hearting Phoenix, clockwise from top left: Ferris wheel at the county fair, the color TV sign on the Coronado Hotel, prickly pear in bloom, Ballet Folklorico
Photos by Amy Silverman
Hearting Phoenix, clockwise from top left: Ferris wheel at the county fair, the color TV sign on the Coronado Hotel, prickly pear in bloom, Ballet Folklorico
Clockwise from top left: Lola Coffee Bar, a fence in the Grand Avenue neighborhood, detail over the fireplace at Tovrea Castle, shiny Phoenix love
Photos by Amy SIlverman
Clockwise from top left: Lola Coffee Bar, a fence in the Grand Avenue neighborhood, detail over the fireplace at Tovrea Castle, shiny Phoenix love


Also in this series from Resolution Guide 2012:

"Art That Makes This City So Irresistible," by Claire Lawton

"The Valley's Dining Scene Has Plenty to Love," by Laura Hahnefeld

"Wonky Architecture Stands Out Against the Bland," by Robrt L. Pela

"When the Sun Goes Down, Valley Nightlife Lights Up," by Benjamin Leatherman

July's 8 post didn't have a photo, just "You know what I heart about Phoenix? . . . Our proximity to Southern California's beaches."

What a cliché, quitting at the most miserable time of the year. I didn't intend to quit when I wrote that post. I figured that, at worst, I'd take the entire week off and come back refreshed, ready to finish out the second half of the year. But it was so deliciously freeing to not have to think about that goddamn blog that when I got home, I just sort of kept not thinking about it.

I gave up. Hey, I made it more than half a year. I'd never come close to keeping a resolution that long. Plus, I figured, why keep going if it wasn't working? And it definitely wasn't working.

A couple of weeks passed and, to be honest, I didn't think much about the I Heart Phoenix Project, except for an occasional sense of relief. And then a funny thing happened. I was driving down McDowell Road and I noticed the U-Haul building near 24th Street and I thought about how the orange zigzag design on the side of the building looks just like rickrack and how much I love rickrack, and I reached for my phone to take a picture. Then I remembered: I wasn't doing the blog anymore. Don't get me wrong, I didn't care enough to actually start the thing up again. But I startled myself.

"Wow," I thought. "Without even trying, I found something I really love about Phoenix."

And it was in that organic way that an old sign on the side of a building in Brooklyn can make you stop and stare, or how the street lights in Little Italy look like folk art. Okay, maybe it wasn't quite like that, but it was a start. And it kept happening. Every few days, sometimes more often, I'd notice something that belonged in the I Heart Phoenix Project: the fried green tomatoes at FnB; a Colin Chillag painting on the wall at Lux; Dale Chihuly's green glass agave at the entrance to the Desert Botanical Garden; Roosevelt Row's field of sunflowers in downtown Phoenix.

I had failed, but in a small way I had succeeded, too.

The new year is now well under way; I didn't make any resolutions for 2012. But last year's still lingers. The other morning, as I rushed to get my daughter to school and get to the office to write this piece, she shivered in her thin Old Navy fleece, complaining about the cold.

"Don't be silly!" I said. "Think of all the people digging out of the snow in places like New York and Boston at this time of year. We're really lucky to live here!"

I got behind the wheel and thought, "Did I just say that?"

As we pulled out of the driveway and headed down the street, the sun was beginning to rise, and I noticed the sky — streaked in shades of blue and orange Crayola hasn't yet named. Even though we were late, I couldn't help myself. I had to stop to take a picture.

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Wayne Michael Reich
Wayne Michael Reich

With all due respect...

Given NT’s long-running history of Phoenix bashing, this “new-found love” Amy claims to have rediscovered strikes me as being just a tad bit suspicious, and I have serious reservations about accepting it at face value, especially when the person overseeing the implementation seemingly lacks both the character and dedication to see it to it's zenith.

Call me cynical, but if Amy personally told me that the sky was blue, I’d still stick my head out a window and check for myself. I’m not saying she’s a liar, I’m just suggesting that she makes things up- like her infamous travel “review” of Yuma, for instance.

No, I think it’s much more accurate to state that NT’s recent enlightenment might come from the fact that their bottom line is getting hammered, both from falling ad revenue and the abandonment of their readership base. Throw in Amy’s pathological need to deride her critics on the NT forums with all the tact of a pissed off six year old, and you can easily see why their credibility among Phoenicians hovers somewhere just above nada.

Just my two cents. of course.

Wayne Michael Reich

Wayne Michael Reich
Wayne Michael Reich

As you can see by the lack of comments, it's obvious that NT's fleeing readership base hasn't bought this articles' whitewash either.