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Best Of 2002

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Vinyl Record Store
Tracks in Wax

Who are the real music lovers? Some would say it's the MP3 people who obsessively download music from the Internet. This would be true if they actually listened to half the glut they burn, print labels for and file away. No, these are just people who want something for nothing -- and who are never going to listen to all that much Dave Brubeck. Truly obsessive music fans spend their lunch hours poring over catalogue books, looking for a Martin Denny or Marianne Faithfull album they might have missed, and then hunting it down.

Most hunts end here at Tracks in Wax, where Blue Book value goes out the window if an item's not exactly flying off the shelves. While the list of vinyl albums finding their way to CD continues to grow, it's never going to encompass this shop's inventory of waxworks. Where else can you get failed experiments like the Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus or Chuck Berry's psychedelic dalliances at the Fillmore West with the Steve Miller Band? And both are priced according to desirability, at $5.99 and $15.99, respectively.

What of the countless soundtracks such as In Like Flynt and Out of Sight that have yet to make it to CD? Usual collector staples like the Beatles and the Stones are well-represented, with a large selection of 45 picture sleeves and 12-inches from around the world. Plus, the walls are lined with treasures you've never seen, except in grainy reproductions in a Goldmine magazine, priced at considerably less than the shaft prices that publication lists them for. Not in plain view are the thousands of 45s stashed in the back, listed in two yellow-and-green three-ring binders on the counter, which rarely exceed $5, even on an original label. Plus, you have knowledgeable owners Dennis and Donnie, who've been at this locale for ages and know the kind of stuff you've collected since you were a snot-nosed runt. With sections divided into jazz, punk, R&B, and male and female vocals, it'll take mere seconds to find what you're looking for, but you'll still inevitably be late coming back from your lunch break.

4741 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 85012
MAP
602-274-2660
Readers Choice

BEST BOOKSTORE -- NEW TITLES
Borders Books & Music
several Valley locations

BEST BOOKSTORE -- USED TITLES
Bookman's Used Books, Music and Software
1056 South Country Club Drive, Mesa
480-835-0505

BEST SECONDHAND SHOP
Buffalo Exchange
227 West University, Tempe
480-968-2557

730 East Missouri
602-532-0144

BEST BIKE SHOP
Tempe Bicycle
330 West University, Tempe
480-966-6896

BEST MOVIE THEATER
Harkins Theatres
several Valley locations

BEST PLACE TO RENT A SUPERHERO COSTUME
Bert Easley's Fun Shop
509 West McDowell
602-271-9146

Best Party Garden

Boojum is long known as a premier nursery for beautiful, exotic plants. Named after a tall, spiny tree known only to the Sonoran Desert and Baja, the gardening shop is evolving into a romantic escape for get-togethers. After 18 years, the family that owns the spot is transforming the five-acre property into lush gardens for special events. We love the mini Mexican village, resplendent with artifacts, fountains and greenery. We love the greenhouse, lush like a tropical island. We can't wait to see what's coming soon: a lake, an English garden and a Zen garden. We love knowing that once, Boojum was surrounded by raw desert, and now, as civilization grows, it will still proudly carry forth our Southwestern spirit, rich with indigenous plants and local charm. Boojum, you're beautiful.

Best Downtown Bookstore

If you're a book freak and you have some time left over after tucking into that brown-bag lunch, it's hard to find a brainier downtown work break than the Book Island. Nestled neatly at the foot of the Luhrs Building, the Island is a triple treat for any nerd with some spare time to kill. Not only is it a decently stocked secondhand book shop, but it's laced with some especially unique antique volumes. And to make the trifecta complete, if you look hard enough, you can sometimes find some jaw-dropping bargains.

Looking for a copy of Robert Payne's Life and Death of Lenin? Probably not, but they have it. Interested in an original edition of O. Henry's Roads of Destiny from 1922? It can be yours for eight bucks. And while most libraries may be complete without the first edition of Charles Knight's William Shakspere [sic]: A Biography -- circa 1880 -- it must be said that the Book Island not only has it, but it has it for a mere $25. Also keep your eyes open for its small stash of Little Leather Library books from the 1920s; tiny leather-bound classics, like Man Without a Country and Courtship of Miles Standish, each about the size of a cigarette pack, go for $10 apiece. Just the right size for you to devour during your next sack lunch.

Best Chicano Store

If you like lowriders but the family car isn't ready for the change, how about just starting with a model? That way, you can get as elaborate as you like, as you customize your plastic dream, and not worry about how the family's going to get around in the meantime. Homies Hobbies is the perfect place for fulfilling your mini lowrider dreams.

When you're ready to work on a more human scale, Homies Hobbies can also help you build a lowrider bike. Custom seats, frames, springs, whitewall tires embossed with the word "lowrider" and a ton of chrome can be found here to help you make or customize your own low-to-the-ground bike.

And if playing with Barbie and Ken is becoming too boring for the kids, then Homies is still the way to go. It has a huge selection of the addictive and collectible "Homies" dolls. From Smiley to El Flaco, the complete collection of little homies is available, as well as the stickers, key chains and doll houses -- but we'd rather call them mini-cribs. And forget Barbie's Corvette -- you can lowride your Homie in your own customized minicoach!

Best Scenic Resort
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

In the bastion of beauty and newness that is far north Scottsdale, it's only fitting that the neighborhood's shiniest new resort, perched in the foothills of Pinnacle Peak, showcases the Valley's most stunning views.

Though it's unquestionably classy, this Four Seasons isn't your typical Scottsdale resort. Rather than rooted in glitz, its grandeur rises from nature. The patio adjacent to the Lobby Lounge and the elegant Acacia restaurant presents a postcard-perfect view of the High Sonoran Desert, which -- wonder of wonders -- still looks like a desert. The resort's construction emphasized efforts to preserve the land's natural beauty. (Natural beauty? In Scottsdale?) Even the few surrounding developments are earth-toned and modest, designed to complement the terrain.

Beyond the resort's lawn, the entire Valley stretches in the distance, framed by mountain ranges rising like fortress walls. On the right, the sun sinks behind Pinnacle Peak, painting the sky over the facing mountains. Order a fuchsia prickly pear margarita and watch the sky take on its color. Sit a bit longer and see that, in Scottsdale, even the stars show off.

10600 E. Crescent Moon Dr., Scottsdale, 85262
MAP
480-515-5700
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Best Vinyl Record Store: Tracks in Wax

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