People & Places

  • Best Rollerblade Park

    The Wedge
    El Dorado Park

    Arizona State University's campus is the most righteous place to blade, but the cops chase hard-core bladers away because they chip a little cement off benches and tables on daredevil slides and jumps. If you're tired of the hassle, the place to go for unlimited blade action is the Wedge. With quarterpipes, lots of grinding rails, some bowls and a… More >>
  • Best Place to Party With the Kids

    Gameworks
    Arizona Mills mall

    How would this go over at your household? "Mommy and Daddy are going to go out for a drink. You kids fend for yourselves." Now try this. "Let's go to Gameworks." With all the latest and greatest in electronic gaming as well as a full bar and restaurant upstairs, Gameworks has everything you need to satisfy the "inner" and "outer" child.… More >>
  • Best Place for Your Child to Get in Touch With His Inner Old MacDonald

    Duncan Family Farms

    Happy Meals do not grow on trees. Still, that horticultural fact of life comes as news to many of the young city slickers who visit this West Valley agro-attraction. "Many of these kids don't have a clue," reports Kathleen Duncan, who, with her husband, Arnott, operates the working farm that includes an organically certified pick-it-yourself veggie patch and petting zoo. Prior to… More >>
  • Best Place to Learn How to Teach Art to Children

    Art Masterpiece Program
    Phoenix Art Museum

    If you like the idea of art, but aren't exactly sure which end to tell your kid is up in a museum or gallery, this program is the one for you. Its six weekly courses in art history -- held this year from September 20 to October 25 -- deliver the fundamentals of major art movements and works. The teachers… More >>
  • Best Miniature Golf Course

    Scottsdale Family Golf Center

    Who knows why windmills and garishly painted plywood castles became the standard props for miniature-golf courses? But this is one Lilliputian links that bucks that trend with an Old West theme that has your balls rolling toward holes named Devil's Arch, Fool's Gold and Gravedigger's Gulch. Here the greens are billiard-smooth and truly green -- none of that rumpled multicolored… More >>
  • Best Inexpensive Place for Water Park Fun

    Chandler City Pools

    Fancy water parks are fun, but can be pricey. We'd rather head to Chandler's aquatic facilities, which offer similar features at a pittance. You'll find thrilling slides, high dives and lap pools for all ages, spraying toys and smaller slides for younger swimmers, beach chairs, shade and grass and even affordable snacks for everyone. The admission prices are 50 cents… More >>
  • Best Place for Kids to Get Professional Balls

    Arizona Fall League Baseball
    Phoenix Municipal Stadium

    You know how it goes at baseball games: A chip shot off the bat. A beer-soaked scramble in crowded stands. And the biggest dog comes up with the ball. But during autumn Fall Ball, kids can hunt and gather all the stitched orbs they want. The stands are rarely more than half full. Most of the crowd seems to be… More >>
  • Best View of Mill Avenue From Cyberspace

    Mill Avenue BenchCam
    http://www.spotlife.com/users/ozinaz/webcam/

    Last year, the award in this category went to the city of Tempe's official Web site, which offers wide views of Mill Avenue -- about the only street in the Valley where one regularly witnesses both foot and vehicular traffic. This year, one Mill Avenue worker bee whose office affords an unobstructed view of the intersection at Fifth Street and… More >>
  • Best Morning-Drive Crybaby

    Dave Smiley
    KZON-FM 101.5, 5:30 to 10 a.m.

    Poor Dave wasn't very Smiley the day we tuned in to the New Guys morning show and heard him turn on the waterworks while reading a "Dear Dave" e-mail his girlfriend sent him. Not since the Hindenburg crash has such tear-drenched humanity dripped out over the airwaves. On hand to catch his deposits of grief was the nauseatingly reassuring Love… More >>
  • Best Place to Get a Cake With Your Kid's Face on It

    Fred Meyer

    Novelty birthday pastry has come a long way since the days of a cupcake decorated to look like a clown's head. If you doubt it, check out the computer-cake technology that now allows you to serve an iced facial replica of the birthday boy or girl. Every bakery department in the Fred Meyer chain is now equipped with a computer… More >>
  • Best Waste of Breath

    Teen Abstinence Ads
    Arizona Department of Health Services

    For one week each year, the already sex-soaked cable network MTV becomes MT&A, letting it all hang out for Spring Break, shot at some exotic location and featuring nubile college students humping and grinding and sometimes frolicking in nothing but shaving cream. Suddenly, this year's fun in the Mexican sun was interrupted by an abstinence-only public service announcement approved by… More >>
  • Best Place to See Truly Baffling Performance Art

    Barlow & Straker Gallery

    Would you expect anything less than bizarre from a gallery named after two vampire antique dealers from a Stephen King novel? Opened in early 1999 by fledgling art czars Ryan McNamara and Andy Guzzanato, Barlow & Straker is the ne plus ultra of local performance spaces -- and it rarely performs below expectations with a lineup that's wild, weird and… More >>
  • Best Naked Dancing People

    Front of Herberger Theater Center

    Welcoming you to downtown's favorite live theater is a most unusual sight. There you'll find an even dozen men, women and children having a great old time dancing their days and nights away. And not a stitch of clothing on one of 'em. It must keep them young because they've been doing it for decades now and they never get… More >>
  • Best Balls

    Outside of Bank One Ballpark

    Just let other cities try to brag about theirs. Boston's ain't nothin' but beans. Philadelphia has a little tinkling bell. New York? Only a shriveled-up old apple core. When you are talking balls, you are talking Phoenix. Not just any balls, either. We are talking big ones. Three feet tall and just as big around. And made out of solid… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for Kids

    Restaurant Mexico

    The charm of the Mex, as longtime patrons call it, is that it comes without noisy gimmicks and distractions. There's a stash of wind-up toys for children to take to the tables, and a lineup of hand-crank gumball and candy machines to keep their minds on finishing the meal. Waitresses are relaxed and swift enough to get the simple Mexican… More >>
  • Best Place to Watch a Fashion Shoot

    Anchor Center Three

    Now you can learn all the exciting ins and outs of this fabulous, high-paced career! If you want to be a model, or just gawk at one, get yourself to this copper-topped office complex, sit at an outdoor table and monitor the action! Most afternoons, you'll see a photographer, usually with a British accent, shouting at his subject, "Great! Great!… More >>
  • Best Bridge

    Mountain Pass Pedestrian Bridge

    Bridges have been rising out of the ground and spanning new freeways with blurring speed in the past five years. But this one slows the eye to a memorable crawl across the landscape. Its inviting grayish profile of mountain peaks shows us what's new in galvanized chain-link fencing. And the craftsmanship that made mountains appear in this 260-foot span of… More >>
  • Best Pizza-Place Gimmick

    Organ Stop Pizza

    At first glance, there's something vaguely creepy about seeing hundreds of people eating pizza while staring at a guy bathed in colored stage lights as he plays an antique organ the size of a basketball court. It's sort of Chuck E. Cheese's meets The Phantom of the Opera by way of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. But give it a… More >>
  • Best Bang for Your Weekend Buck

    Park 'n Swap
    Phoenix Greyhound Park

    Going to the dog track needn't cost you a bundle. Just grab your dead presidents and head to Phoenix Greyhound Park for one of the pup palace's legendary weekend swap meets. Each weekend, hundreds of vendors gather to sell all the crap they couldn't unload at their garage sales -- old tools, rusty golf clubs, eight-track hi-fi's, and ancient, tube-powered Zeniths.… More >>
  • Best Candidate for a Business Name Change

    Once Upon a Child

    There may be worse names for a store selling used children's clothing, but right now, none to springs to mind. Except, perhaps, Kiddie Worn -- but that would be in really poor taste, wouldn't it?… More >>
  • Best Skateboard Shop

    Sub Society

    This shop is the epitome of what's so beautiful about the sport and its enthusiasts. It's independently owned by three skaters in their mid-20s who have put their emphasis squarely on the tools, not the fashion, of skateboarding -- more gear than clothes. And you won't find snowboarding or, ugh, inline skating paraphernalia. The shop has one focus, skateboarding (well, perhaps… More >>
  • Best Spot to Watch Pols Eating Lunch

    Tom's Tavern

    Granted, watching local politicians scarf down a BLT or digging into a caesar salad is not everyone's idea of a great time. If you, however, find yourself in this camp, hie yourself to Tom's Tavern, the pol-spangled trough that is to the Phoenix governmental set what the Brown Derby used to be to Hollywood stars. We recently took a Valley newcomer… More >>
  • Best Place to Take the Kids Gaming

    Game Depot

    Are you sick of watching your kids blasting away at video games for hours on that $5,000 computer that was supposed to be an educational device -- but is actually nothing more than an expensive joy stick? Then unplug the PC and take 'em on down to Game Depot, where an assortment of challenging games and precision models will jar… More >>
  • Best Politician

    U.S. Senator John McCain

    It's been months since the GOP presidential primaries, but those who know him best -- his constituents -- are still slack-jawed at the way Arizona's senior senator was able to capture the hearts, minds and money of America's moderates during the race for the Republican nod. McCain fell short on primary wins, but his Straight Talk campaign won't soon be forgotten;… More >>
  • Best Evidence That the System Doesn't Work

    Bill Heywood packs heat at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

    After a .22-caliber revolver was confiscated from his carry-on bag at Sky Harbor in February, KTAR radio personality Bill Heywood was questioned by airport security but was allowed to make his scheduled flight to New York anyway. Claiming he'd forgotten the weapon was in the bag, Heywood later announced he was "gratified the system works."… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Rid of Your Brother-in-Law

    Goldfield Ghost Town

    If you think Sheriff Joe has an itchy trigger finger take on due process, try running sideways with the law here in Goldfield. For a mere $10, a friend or family member can have you arrested, jailed, tried and hanged within five minutes by a couple of Old West sheriffs in full regalia and full of (feigned) firewater. It's all in… More >>
  • Best Spanish-Language TV Station

    Telemundo KDRX-TV Channel 64

    There are few guilty pleasures on the planet as consistently rewarding as those Spanish-language soap operas known as telenovelas. Unlike their maddeningly dull American counterparts, telenovelas are all-out sexual romps delivered with enough high-octane melodrama to make Charo blush. KDRX, Phoenix's Telemundo affiliate, is the best place to score your daily telenovela fix. Without having to touch your remote control, you… More >>
  • Best Spanish-Language Radio Station

    KNAI-FM 88.3

    The surest evidence that the local Hispanic market is experiencing explosive growth can be found on the radio airwaves. In 1999 alone, three new Spanish-language stations joined an already crowded field, which now includes eight stations (not to mention KKFR-FM 92.3, which goes out of its way to reach Latino hip-hop fans). In simpler times, local Spanish-language radio was thoroughly… More >>
  • Best Sports Talk Host

    Jeff Kennedy
    KDUS-AM 1060

    It's part of the cutthroat competitiveness of modern sports talk that every radio jock thinks he has to prove his worth by being a bigger, more abrasive smart-ass than the next guy. It's to Jeff Kennedy's considerable credit that he doesn't bother to play this annoying game. Kennedy, known to listeners as "The Trainer," has always been a sincere, likable radio… More >>
  • Best News Talk Show

    The David Leibowitz Show
    KTAR-AM 620

    David Leibowitz is the smartest guy on local radio. Just ask him. Leibowitz's self-possession notwithstanding, this guy is head and shoulders above the rest of the radio rabble. He's informed, extremely quick and frequently ironic in an otherwise irony-free airspace. His print journalism background explains both his sinus-deep voice and his ink-stained depth. His is a talk show from which… More >>
  • Best Place to Have Fun Learning With the Kids

    Mesa Southwest Museum

    Most city history museums are a hodgepodge of stuff somebody gave them when the city's first rich white people died. No context, no narrative, no fun. Just lots of Victorian finery. The kids last maybe 30 minutes. At the greatly revamped Mesa Southwest Museum, though, all that dull old stuff is now brilliantly weaved into an epic kid-friendly tale of Arizona,… More >>
  • Best TV Newscast

    NewShow
    KTVK-TV Channel 3

    If you're like us, you're weary of local TV newscasts that somehow manage to be simultaneously stuffy and shallow. It's not like that with KTVK's NewShow, an informal yet informative experiment in local journalism and, yes, infotainment. This hourlong 10 p.m. newscast is led by real news, and then -- much like the progression of sections in a newspaper --… More >>
  • Best Radio Personality

    Steve Tingle
    KKFR-FM 92.3

    Misery loves car-poolers. So why suffer rush-hour gridlock alone when you can share the ride with DJ Steve Tingle, whose stock company of phone-prank characters (formerly heard over KEDJ) takes a back seat to no one? Mel Blanc reincarnated, the vocally versatile Tingle regularly tickles prisoners of morning drive-time listeners as he single-throatedly creates the biggest assortment of wackos this side… More >>
  • Best Place to Take the Kids for a Hot-Weather Picnic

    Desert Breeze Park

    An outdoor picnic in the dead of summer? Hot damn! First, pack a picnic lunch with lots of cold beverages. Then suit up the kids in their swimming gear, grab the sunscreen and head for Desert Breeze Park. Ignore the lovely lake surrounded by trees and picnic tables. Instead, head to the children's playground area. Beneath an earthen berm/overpass/observation deck are an… More >>
  • Best Pro Athlete

    Jason Kidd
    Phoenix Suns

    The 1999-2000 Phoenix Suns were a gimpy lot. It seemed that a week couldn't go by without a key cog in their lineup pulling up lame and grimacing in agony. But as every hoops aficionado knows, there's a hierarchy to these things. When forward Tom Gugliotta blew out his left knee, people felt bad for him, but nobody panicked. When Rex… More >>
  • Best Pro Sports Team

    Arizona Diamondbacks

    Unlike some cities, Phoenix has never had trouble putting competitive teams on the field. The Suns and the Coyotes have been playoff perennials, and in 1998, even the Cardinals broke a decadelong spell of futility in the desert with a 9-7 record. But, competitive as these franchises are, they don't tend to rise to the occasion in the postseason. You'd have… More >>
  • Best Team Mascot

    The Arizona Rattlers' Fang

    He doesn't have feathers or wear loud primary colors. He doesn't do an asinine stadium jig that would mortify even the lowest forms of wildlife most mascots emulate. He's Fang, the longhaired, jeans and tee-shirted mascot for the Arizona Rattlers, although no one actually calls him that to his face. Nah, he's the team's "enforcer," there to ensure that both sides… More >>
  • Best Place to Put Your Kids in the Spotlight

    Herberger Theater Center's Volunteer Usher Program

    Got a stage-struck young'n? Can't afford the tickets to see every show in town? How does seeing them all for free sound? Downtown's busiest theater has the best volunteer program around. They are always looking for new folks willing to tear tickets and lead patrons to their seats. Volunteers as young as 12 are accepted when accompanied by an adult,… More >>
  • Best Gaffes in a Movie Shot in Phoenix During the Past Year

    "What Planet Are You From?"

    During an early scene in the laugh-challenged Garry Shandling/Annette Bening comedy, one character explains that while he lives in Phoenix, he also has a weekend getaway retreat "up in Scottsdale." Not long after local audiences were still savoring that geographical howler, Shandling visits a Phoenix strip club. When he asks whether it's the only one in town, someone explains that… More >>
  • Best Place to Prepare for the New Millennium

    Laser Quest

    These sprawling, two-level facilities go into the category of "Only in America!" You plunk down $6.50 for 20 minutes, then hang a brightly colored pad that resembles a flotation device around your chest and shoulders. Laser gun in hand, you step into a maze, try to get your bearings, and start firing at other players -- up to 30 at a… More >>
  • Best Creative Outlet for Moms

    Mothers Write
    Writers Voice

    Having trouble finding inspiration with Barney blaring in the den? Sick of Kool-Aid-sticky computer keys? Junior been using your journal as a coloring book? Hear, hear! Writers Voice can help. The YMCA brain child that has brought fiction, poetry and memoir workshops to the Valley for almost a decade also offers a writing class designed for moms, taught by moms. Over… More >>
  • Best Downtown Alternative Art Space

    Modified

    The closest thing to a one-stop shop of underground downtown culture is this bare-bones space carved out of an old brick building on Roosevelt. It's strictly an after-dark joint. The lights typically don't go on until 7 p.m. But once they do, the offerings are just as likely to include exhibitions by painters, sculptors and performance artists as they are… More >>
  • Best Selection of Ethnic Art

    Arizona State University Art Museum Store

    Other than Native American and maybe Mexican art, Phoenix is not exactly a hotbed of ethnic art and artifact shopping. Unless, that is, you scope out the shelves of ASU Art Museum Store, where, for more than 20 years, volunteer manager LaReal Eyring has been bringing the best of the outside world to the Valley. In years past, the store's… More >>
  • Best Student Art

    Art One Gallery

    More of an art incubator than an art barn, gallery owner Kraig Foote's seven-year-old art space gives talented young artists a commercial outlet that few would otherwise have. Most of the painters, sculptors, potters, woodworkers and glass blowers who show here still store their supplies in lockers and cabinets at local colleges, universities and high schools. But their works are… More >>
  • Best Place to See Art and Meet Him, Too

    Phoenix Art Museum's After Hours

    Tired of cruising the local bars, cornered by heavily tattooed guys with missing front teeth asking, "Hey baby, what's your sign?" Fed up with meeting chicks with fake body parts? Invest $15 ($10 if you're a museum member) and buy your way into Phoenix Art Museum's After Hours (okay, so it is sponsored by New Times), a singles soiree open… More >>
  • Best Master's Swimming Team

    Sun Devil Masters
    Mona Plummer Aquatic Center

    Whether you're just getting your feet wet, training for the Ironman Triathlon or an aging veteran of chlorine-soaked, predawn practices as a kid, Sun Devil Masters offers a challenging program with three workouts a day in a world-class, 50-meter outdoor pool. Former Olympians and NCAA champions too numerous to name roam the decks as coaches or ply the crystal-clear water… More >>
  • Best Place to Indulge Your Fantasies of Being a Chinese Emperor

    COFCO Chinese Cultural Center

    Admittedly, they may seem woefully out of place in the middle of a Southwestern desert, but the well-manicured, classical Chinese gardens here are the next best thing to being in Beijing. Go past the upturned eaves of the COFCO complex's authentic glazed tile roofs (cleverly fashioned to impale any evil spirits that may dare to enter its portals) and wander… More >>
  • Best Argument Against Investigative TV Reporting

    Fox 10 News

    "Were UFOs created by . . . Hitler?! Find out about the Hitler-UFO connection, tonight on Fox 10, right after The X-Files!" No joke, that was an actual teaser from the never-ending series of wonderfully shameless Fox 10's Sunday-night tie-ins to the latest Mulder and Scully adventure. In the interest of hard-hitting TV journalism, the station's intrepid reporters have aired… More >>
  • Best Public Road Art

    Pima Freeway Public Art Project,
    from Via Linda to Shea Boulevard on Loop 101
    Scottsdale Cultural Council's Public Art Program

    The political shouting over the Squaw Peak pots a decade ago didn't end efforts to beautify Valley stretches of asphalt. And a good thing, too. Ever since "the pots," landscaping and public art have helped to sharpen the appearances of local bahns. So instead of the Berlin walls that other regions install between freeways and neighborhoods, we get cheerful expanses… More >>
  • Best Men's Room Kiddy Porn

    Buca di Beppo

    Mama pee-a! The men's rest room at this popular Scottsdale family-style trattoria offers black-and-white pics so naughty they'd result in felony charges if posted on the Internet. The dirty dozen or so images feature young Italian boys urinating on alley walls, street poles and into the camera. Full-frontal prepubescent nudity abounds in a collection that attempts to charm and, hopefully,… More >>
  • Best Pipe Dream

    Sheriff Joe Arpaio

    Quizzed about who he'd cast as himself in a proposed made-for-TV movie based on his book America's Toughest Sheriff, Joe Arpaio offered up the names of actors Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.… More >>
  • Best Place to Find Day Laborers

    Broadway Road and Mesa Drive, Mesa

    Despite the dangers involved in crossing the border to Arizona, illegal immigrants are arriving in hordes. They have little choice -- the average wage of two dollars a day in Mexico just can't cover rent, utilities and food. So they come to Phoenix hoping to find work that will pay a little more. Day workers will help you move, landscape,… More >>
  • Best Sign That Scottsdale's Women Have Gone to the Dogs

    The Second Annual Bitches' Weekend

    For decades, Scottsdale's young men have had the 20/30 Club -- a service/social organization designed, as the name implies, for men under 40. But what about the women? We haven't found a comparable "official" group, but we did get an invite last spring to a chick trip that looked way better than any 20/30 charity golf tourney. Cassidy and Katie… More >>
  • Best Post-Court Retort

    Former beauty queen Jill Scott

    Grilled by reporters after several felony counts against her were dropped in November, former beauty queen Jill Scott -- an ex-Mrs. America and Mrs. Arizona best known for her appearances on local TV commercials for her ex-husband's Empire Glass windshield replacement company -- talked to the press corps about the ordeal. "It's been humiliating," said Scott, whose ex-husband claimed she'd… More >>
  • Best Mountain With a Gynecological Term Painted on It

    Double Butte

    Tempe's "A" Mountain is not the city's only painted butte. Head west on Broadway Road, and look south just before you hit the I-10 freeway, to check out the side of Double Butte -- about halfway up. There, just below a white painted cross, is the word "labia" in large letters. We have no idea how it got there; we're… More >>
  • Best Roadside Tribute to a Dead Singer

    John Denver memorial stretch of road

    You've seen them as you drive along, those "Adopt-A-Highway" signs, usually featuring the name of a local anti-litter philanthropist. But even jaded motorists will do a double take at the name emblazoned on several signs near the entrance to the Lost Dutchman State Park. Instead of bearing the names of the sponsoring do-gooders, these signs merely declare: "In loving memory… More >>

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