A portrait of Laurie Notaro's former house in dowtown Phoenix. Notaro bought the piece, by local artist Gary Butler, during a neighborhood fundraiser.
Courtesy of Laurie Notaro
Years before we actually met Laurie Notaro, we knew of a filing cabinet in the basement offices of Arizona State University's State Press where someone Sharpied, long ago, "Laurie Notaro threw up here."
This week, in the print edition of New Times, you'll find our Resolution Guide that's filled with stories and lists dedicated to a (often tough) resolution: loving this city. You can check out the online collection here. We also figured we'd ask a living Phoenix legend what she loves about this place, even though she no longer technically lives in Phoenix. (She does seem to visit an awful lot, though.)
Here's why Laurie Notaro loves Phoenix:
5. The ghosts of Mill Avenue Past and trying to figure out what used to be where, and pointing out places where I threw up or took sobriety tests: If you ever really want to ruin something and destroy it forever, make sure it develops a vibrancy of its own and becomes like no place else. Eventually, the city council of your choosing will see it in a magazine they've picked up by accident or run across some dipshit blog that mentions it (the traitor will probably be a dipshit blog mention, since the Internet is the Uncoolest. Thing. Ever. And you know it.)
Then there will be meetings about where the McDonald's, Hooter's, and My Big Fat Stupid Restaurant should go to boost property taxes and thus shut down every place that made the corner of the city worth going to. Welcome to Mill Avenue, the most Shameful Place in Arizona besides the drawer in which the governor keeps her teeth.
Even the gas station where I took my first sobriety test is gone (corner of Mill Avenue and University). Try to find where 6 East used to be (hint: the storefront's empty); where Long Wong's patio was (hint: it's a dirt lot); the original spot of Changing Hands (hint: by press time, it could feasibly be a Pita Pit of a Subway but it usually has a "For Lease" sign in the window) or, for shits and giggles, even where the McDonald's used to be (because even that went out of business).
4. Refried beans made with lard: For some odd reason, Arizona and Oregon seem to be conducting a population swap: Everyone with skin cancer and salty perspiration stains on their clothes wants to go there, and everyone who has to sit in front of a HappyLight for 20 minutes every morning (hand raised) and has the Vitamin D levels of a corpse wants to come here.
But I will warn you that if you decide to make the change, there are tofu burritos in Oregon, and that's not all. They take out the lard and put unspeakable things in its place. I've seen broccoli burros, too, and veggie tacos with just cucumber and carrots. Check snopes.com. It's true. Beets and beans were never intended to mate, but their horrific mutation is on a menu two blocks from my house. Savor your animal fat, Phoenix. If I could wear it as perfume without attracting aggressive vegans, I would, but if someone will put cauliflower in a store bought tortillas and call it Mexican food, you don't want to push that button. Corn hurts when pelted.
3. Flash floods: Frankly, I don't see anything wrong with thinning out the herd every now and then, and if that means that another new arrival to the Valley gets swept away in his Lincoln Continental with New Jersey plates, I'm just not going to get sad about it, even though I'm probably related to them. Listen, if you really think you can charge through an I-17 underpass that's rising with water so fast you can see it, go ahead. It's a mirage! Except it's visible to everyone else, too, when Channel 3 interrupts programming so that 4 million people can watch you be lifted to safety in a basket like a black bear that just got shot with a tranquilizer after eating trash in some lady's backyard.
P.S.: You just might have been able to swim over to the bike rack at the Waffle House if you hadn't been wearing so much gold.
2. Fake boobs: Oh, Kierland Commons, I think you should rename your main street "Resty Lane," because, clearly, you are the mall of New Faces. It's the mecca of unveiling, because you are the first place Scottsdale ladies premi re themselves after the bandages come off. The last time I was there, I was the only one who had more water in my ankles than everyone else had in their boobs.And, really, isn't that just a favor to humanity? I didn't think so until a state full of old hippies like Oregon showed me just how bewbies turn into pendulums if you don't support them for upwards of 40 years or if you nurse your child until they have boobs themselves (both boys and girls). So, thank you, augmented breasts, for having your nipples in the right spot if we are forced to see them through tiny tank tops and not allowing them to become tucked under. Don't imagine it. Don't. Just go to Kierland, get a spot under the misters and thank your stars that the only time Scottsdale breasts graze the knees is in yoga class.
1. My old house in the Coronado neighborhood. I miss the abundance of cat shit in the yard from the feline farm across the street, the ghetto bird that could turn my backyard into day with a police search light, the sounds of gunshots from happy gang-bangers, and the homeless arsonist who almost burned my house down.
I miss the assholes that will swipe potted plants from your front porch on Mother's Day, the neighbors who stole the sound system from Desert Sky Pavilion for a weekend barbecue, and the hooker who left condoms on the top of my block wall. I miss the halfway house around the corner and its occupants who would kick a dead tree in your yard to the ground for five dollars, and the tweakers who would go door-to-door asking for a contribution to pay for their daughter's casket. I miss the transvestite cooking bacon on a grill in Coronado Park at six in the morning, the parolees sitting on a picnic bench making fun of my little dog while she was taking a shit, and how I had to tell parents that on Halloween, the candy was just for the kids.
I really don't miss any of those things, I just miss having a new story every day. For some reason, when I tell any of those things to my current neighbors in our quiet neighborhood in a city when I have not once seen a helicopter, let alone a ghetto bird, I have a feeling they simply don't believe me.