Best of Phoenix®

Best Of 2002


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Megalopolitan Life

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Best Of :: Megalopolitan Life

Best Open Road

Where else can you drive 35 miles on a four-lane, divided parkway in the middle of the afternoon and see only six other vehicles?

Long ago dubbed the "Road to Nowhere," the Sun Valley Parkway was built in the mid-1980s as the centerpiece of a real estate development project that collapsed in typical Arizona fashion. The only thing that has ever come true from all the real estate hype for the area now annexed by Buckeye is the parkway.

A sign stating "No Service Next 35 Miles" signals the start of the parkway that lies about 12 miles east of the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, off Interstate 10. The sign also gives the green light to floor it, which we did. After a few minutes, the old truck wound up to 102 mph, not bad considering the 198,500 miles on the engine (1994 Dodge Dakota, V-6).

Besides the obvious temptation to ramp up the RPMs, the road is a favorite for cyclists with its wide shoulders and paucity of traffic. The parkway bisects the Hassayampa Plain, offering vast expanses of relatively untouched Sonoran Desert landscape marred only by a jangle of crisscrossing, high-tension power lines.

Readers Choice


Randy Johnson


Rawhide Wild West Town

23023 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale



John McCain



Brad Perry


KPNX Channel 12


Phoenix Art Museum

1625 North Central



Phoenix Theatre's Little Theatre


Bank One Ballpark

401 East Jefferson



Best Politician

How could one guy hurt so many people and maintain the highest approval rating of any elected official in the county? We've gotta hand it to you, Sheriff Joe: You are one fine politician. We'd like to bottle the sheriff's elixir and sell it for those interested in doing good, rather than evil, but for now we'll applaud Arpaio for making the decision not to run for governor this fall. The mark of a good politician is not just knowing when to run, it's knowing when not to run -- and somewhere beneath all that hair grease, Arpaio must have had some self-awareness (or some political consultant) telling him his record in office just wouldn't have held up in the shadow of the governor's race.

Joe Arpaio's not going to win any awards for promoting human rights, and like others we've elected, he's dangerous. But as a politician, he's got all the rest of you losers beat.

Best Name For a Lawyer

Really, we're not making this one up. Court Rich is a first-year associate at Nearhood Law Offices in Scottsdale, and a recent graduate of Arizona State University's law school. Since he'll be specializing in business litigation, he may even see the inside of a courtroom -- a rarity for a lawyer these days. But will he be rich? Remains to be seen, although he does have a head start in the public relations department. Turns out Court Rich is the brother of Jordan, who's married to Jason Rose, who runs a PR firm in Scottsdale. And Rose can already see the ad on the back of the phone book: "Need to go to court? Want to get rich? Call Court Rich. 1-800-COURT-RICH."

Best Power Couple

So often, people in our (un)fair city use their power for evil. We're happy to celebrate a couple of powerful Phoenicians who, as far as we can tell, do nothing but good.

Instead of building skyscrapers, Cindy Dach and Greg Esser are busy constructing culture. Dach is director of events for Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. Esser runs the public art program for the City of Phoenix. Thank Dach for bringing Amy Tan, David Sedaris, T.C. Boyle and Dr. Andrew Weil to town for readings. Expect Garrison Keillor this fall. Esser gets credit for that cool mountain-like bridge over the 51 and the public art coin project along Central Avenue.

On the side, Dach writes fiction and Esser paints. In their spare time this year, they created two of the city's most vibrant art spaces.

Dismayed by the lack of artist-run galleries in the Valley, earlier this year Dach and Esser opened eye lounge, in a building they bought and refurbished. The space -- at 419 East Roosevelt, next to Modified Arts and across from the Paisley Violin -- quickly became a favorite stop on First Fridays, and, in September, Esser opened 515, a spin-off gallery just a few doors down from eye lounge.

We can't wait to see what Dach and Esser do next. We're exhausted just thinking about it.

Best Refuge From Urban Chaos

A few blocks north of Phoenix's business district sits Trinity Cathedral, the 82-year-old Episcopalian church that houses the perfect getaway for those looking for some artistic time off. Between the cathedral itself (surprisingly modern and warm inside) and Bishop Atwood Hall you'll find the Cathedral Center for the Arts show space, a light, narrow gallery that makes for the perfect aesthetic refuge. CCA hangs art there regularly, oftentimes the work of lesser-known artists, and the quality of the shows is consistent.

But it also offers a kind of cathedral-like quiet that many downtowners seem to crave; the gallery's guest book is salted with thanks from midday visitors for providing an oasis where they can sit, look and ponder. Now the secret's out.

And another tip: The brickwork labyrinth in the courtyard -- modeled after one at the medieval Chartres Cathedral -- makes for another neat diversion, especially for the kids.


Best Open Road: Sun Valley Parkway


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