People & Places

  • Easley\'s Fun Shop

    Best Place to Dress Like a Freak

    Easley's Fun Shop

    If you've ever felt the overwhelming need to be the center of attention (and the gaping stares of other people don't bother you), then visit Easley's Fun Shop. The Valley's most renowned costume store is a veritable freak factory, with hundreds of crazy getups within its yellow walls, not to mention the wacky wigs, madcap masks, and other outrageous accessories.… More >>
  • Legend City

    Best Bygone Theme Park

    Legend City

    Considering the way our city has expanded over the past few decades, with people relocating from other states, sometimes it's hard to tell who was born here from those who've moved here. We've figured out a surefire way of determining who's a native and who's a Johnny-come-lately: Ask them about Legend City. Only true OG's born and raised in the… More >>
  • The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death

    Best High-Flying Book Cover

    The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death

    Technically, Laurie Notaro moved away from Phoenix years ago. Yet she keeps coming back, usually in the form of her essays and fiction, now found in seven books — with more to come. In her latest, Flaming Tantrum of Death, Notaro proves you can judge a book by its cover (we always love her covers) particularly if you read the… More >>
  • Maricopa County\'s attempt to prosecute New Times

    Best Political Sideshow

    Maricopa County's attempt to prosecute New Times

    Fuzzy hair, bulbous nose, comically pompous, attorney Dennis Wilenchik had all the makings of a clown even before he pulled out ethical stops and went after New Times. As Sheriff Joe Arpaio's well-paid attorney on the taxpayers' dime, Wilenchik had learned from the harlequin-supreme. Nobody sports a bulbous red nose and a potbelly, while acting the fool, better than ol'… More >>
  • Desert Storm at Castles-n-Coasters

    Best Roller Coaster

    Desert Storm at Castles-n-Coasters

    If any of your candy-ass, 'fraidy-cat friends are too terrified by the Desert Storm's towering appearance to consider riding the 90-foot-high roller coaster (the biggest in the state), tell 'em the ride lasts only about a minute and a half, from start to finish. A mere 90 seconds. About as much time as it takes to nuke a microwave burrito.… More >>
  • Rose Mofford

    Best Hair Fit for a Fair

    Rose Mofford

    Former Arizona Governor Rose Mofford is the Jimmy Carter of our state — perhaps maligned a bit while in office, the elder stateswoman is celebrated by just about everyone these days. Since leaving office in 1991 (she served as secretary of state for more than a decade before becoming governor in 1988) the longtime public servant and softball champion has… More >>
  • Best People Watching

    Julian and Suzanne Walking

    In a city that almost always sleeps, it's rare to see anyone out for a stroll. But there's one couple you can count on: Julian and Suzanne. You'll find them in the form of a large-scale, animated light sculpture permanently affixed to a southeast wall of the Phoenix Art Museum. The creation of British artist Julian Opie, the large-scale (13.5… More >>
  • Best View of Phoenix from a Moving Car

    1-10 east from 19th Avenue to Seventh Avenue

    Some skylines are world-famous — like Chicago, with the Sears Tower, or San Francisco, with the Transamerica Building. While Camelback Mountain is widely recognizable and doing us proud in the nature department, some folks are still longing for an urban stretch of skyscape as a reminder that it's not just a desert, it's the big city, dammit! If you're looking for… More >>
  • Best Way to Avoid a Photo Radar Ticket Without Slowing Down

    Speed Trap Exchange

    If you know where every speed-enforcement camera is, and if you track where the cops normally park, you can speed and get away with it. Well, that's the theory. If you subscribe to that theory, then there's no better resource than speedtrap.org. It's a national registry of speed traps — both conventional cop stakeouts and photo-radar locations. Simply log on to… More >>
  • Best All-Day Ride

    Valley Metro buses

    Gas prices keep going up, and that's got you down. Listen to Spike Lee and get on the bus! In fall 2007, Valley Metro introduced an all-day pass that can be purchased on any bus for $2.50. Supplanting the flimsy transfers of the past, it surely is cheaper than the gallon of gas you're burning in your daily commute. Hit… More >>
  • Best Anticipated Ride

    METRO Light Rail

    December, right?… More >>
  • Best Description of Phoenix Weather

    Judas Priest singer Rob Halford

    Judas Priest's Rob Halford has lived in Phoenix since 1985. The British vocalist first discovered the city on Judas Priest's first-ever North American tour in 1978 and immediately felt a kinship with the arid desert climate. "I stepped off the bus at 4 a.m., and the heat just struck me, like it always does, and I said, 'Are we in… More >>
  • Best Perfect Phoenix Sunday in Foul Weather

    Matt's Big Breakfast + Phoenix Art Museum

    The weather outside is frightful. The thought of leaving your hermetically sealed cocoon? Not the least bit delightful. So don't. Play indoors at these two oh-so-PHX landmarks. Some self-proclaimed geniuses will tell you to lay off the heavy stuff — the dairy, the coffee — when it's hot, but those eggheads are full of bunk. When facing the prospect of the 21st… More >>
  • Best Perfect Phoenix Sunday in Fair Weather

    South Mountain Park and Preserve + Los Dos Molinos

    The weather outside's delightful, and it really would be frightful to bounce around your apartment on such a lovely day. So don't. Get the hell out and discover what life here is really about at these signature destinations. Our positively ponderous municipal preserve — the nation's largest, at 16,000 acres — features mile after mile of hiking, biking, climbing, and horseback… More >>
  • Best Alternative to Mill Avenue

    Tempe Marketplace

    We feel so guilty. Look, we know we're supposed to celebrate Mill Avenue, given its status as the closest thing this metropolis has to an urban shopping district. But, um, there's a new marketplace in town, and we can't resist the pull. NoPho folks have had Desert Ridge for a while, and there are all sorts of grand shopping options popping up… More >>
  • Best Walkable Downtown

    Old Town Scottsdale

    There's no place like Rome or Paris or London for a good romantic stroll. But if you're in the mood for some feet-finding culture, there is a close second here in our metropolis. Drive into Scottsdale, and head for the intersection of Camelback and Scottsdale roads. Just off the beaten path, you'll find a walkable collection of eclectic storefronts, non-chain… More >>
  • Best Strip Mall

    1250 East Apache Boulevard, Tempe

    Live in Phoenix any amount of time, and you'll learn to love the strip mall. Otherwise, you'll be doing a lot of online shopping, baby, or hoofing it to the mall (which, let's be honest, is really just a loop of a strip mall, indoors). We love the combinations that pop up near one another: the funky bike store next… More >>
  • Best Strip Mall to Keep Your Eye On

    4700 North Central Avenue

    Once just another downtrodden spot on Central, this plucky little parcel of retail potential just might be the little strip mall that could. Lacking a properly punchy name, the spot was once given the snooze-worthy title of The Camelback Towers Plaza. Best to ditch the name quick, because recent additions, and the whispers of more to come, are making us… More >>
  • Best Unintentionally Themed Strip Mall

    Southwest corner of 59th Avenue and Olive Avenue, Glendale

    We've heard of the "den of iniquity," but the "strip mall of iniquity"? We've found that the plaza across the street from Glendale Community College, on 59th Avenue and Olive, strikes an interesting chord. Trails is known for its, ahem, tobacco pipes and accouterments, while Cheba Hut sports a ganja-themed menu. Sharing a parking lot seems like a funky kind… More >>
  • Best Hotel Lobby to Poke Your Head Into

    W Scottsdale Hotel

    We know the last thing Scottsdale needs is another hotel, particularly in this economy, but, selfishly, we just couldn't wait for the W, specifically the lobby. Usually hotel lobbies are pretty ho-hum, no matter what anyone does to spice the space up, but the W Scottsdale's got a glass-bottomed view of, well, the bottoms (and the rest of the parts)… More >>
  • Best Downtown Building to Poke Your Head Into

    Children's Museum of Phoenix

    Bravo to the Children's Museum of Phoenix, which has made its new home in downtown's historic Monroe School. Rather than plow down this imposing old Classic Revival-style, three-story brick building — which was designed by Los Angeles architect Norman Marsh and built in 1913 at Seventh Street and Van Buren — smart-thinkers re-purposed it in a way that will serve… More >>
  • Best Will Bruder Building No One Knows About

    The Deer Valley Rock Art Center

    Will Bruder is an architectural wunderkind, the type who inspires legions of fans willing to loop the globe in order to see his groundbreaking work, up close and personal. We're lucky to have him — and so much of his work — in the Valley and nearby. From the Burton Barr Library to the Nevada Museum of Art, his use… More >>
  • Best Restoration

    Yum Yum Tree

    We were sad when we heard that the former Miss Preston's School for Girls at 90 West Virginia had been locked up and was for sale. Located behind a towering wall of oleanders, the Spanish Mission-style main house and its several outbuildings had recently been a bed and breakfast called the Yum Yum Tree, but now the fate of this… More >>
  • Best Relocation

    The O'Connor House Project

    Too many times in Arizona, we hear about wonderful old historic sites only when they're facing the wrecking ball (see: the Sun Mercantile building, the former Beth Hebree Temple, Mary Rose Wilcox's now-bulldozed 105-year-old home). Even when they end up being spared demolition, we rarely see these sites being preserved in any meaningful way. So this spring, when we heard… More >>
  • Best Hang

    "The Oasis" at the Clarendon

    For years, The Standard hotel in Los Angeles has been famous for its rooftop and even more famous for the pool parties hosted there. The Oasis, atop the Clarendon Hotel in Phoenix, isn't as notorious — but, we dare say, it's better, if for no other reason than the people who hang out here aren't re-enacting their favorite episode of… More >>
  • Best Tunnel

    Biltmore Fashion Park + Esplanade

    It used to be that our hands-down favorite tunnel was I-10's four-lane passageway under Margaret T. Hance Park, until our friends at Westcor built the one under Camelback Road, just east of 24th Street. Sure, they did it primarily to lure office workers from the Esplanade directly across the street for lunchtime shopping and dining at the Biltmore, but we… More >>
  • Best Grass

    Scottsdale Civic Center Mall

    Talk about a cheap high at taxpayers' expense — thankfully. On a spring afternoon, dozens of people are picnicking, frolicking, reading, text-messaging, and simply lying on the lush, green grass supplied to citizens by the City of Scottsdale. This is no mesa (no Mesa, either), but instead, a lovely oasis of gentle slopes, inviting shade trees, and the constant sweet… More >>
  • Best Corner

    Northwest corner of Central Avenue and Camelback Road

    From Red Hot Robot on Camelback to Practical Arts around the corner on Central, this corner is a hot bed of indie action. Anchored by Kimber Lanning's infamous Stinkweeds records, you can find everything from funky lighting to cool comics on this corner, and even get yourself a piercing at Halo and a Dilly Bar at one of the last… More >>
  • Best Block

    .anti_space - CLOSED

    The downtown art space confusingly called .anti_space is one of our favorite destinations on First Fridays and the occasional Third Friday. The squat concrete structure, which encompasses a large portion of the city block it rests upon, is a carnival-like cluster of cool. Not only does it have a wacked-out, test-pattern-style rainbow color scheme (guaranteed to sear your eyes), there… More >>
  • Best Block Party

    Roosevelt Row's monthly First Friday block party

    There was a lot of hand-wringing earlier this year by Valley art scenesters when Phoenix officials cracked down on unlicensed vending during the monthly First Friday art walk in downtown Phoenix. The paint-splattered set was (understandably) concerned that the event's funky nature would be compromised if sales and displays of their etchings on street corners and vacant lots were banned. But… More >>
  • Best Parade

    Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts

    A slew of cities across the country have weird parades: Philadelphia has the nutty Mummers affair. Tucson boasts the even nuttier All Soul's Day Procession. And New York City hosts the boffo and beyond-bizarre Village Halloween Parade. Not wanting to be left out of the fun, the Valley fringe community has created the Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts. Over… More >>
  • Best Bathroom

    Geisha A Go Go

    When our dining companion slipped into the bathroom at this swanky Scottsdale eatery and stayed a while, we assumed she was sniffing some Bolivian "marching powder" — or getting it on with a hot waiter. But when she returned, she wasn't runny-nosed or chatty; she was rapturous. "Dude, you have got to try the toilet," she breathed. And for once,… More >>
  • Best Graffiti

    Miranda's Custom Cars - CLOSED

    Urban beautification takes many forms, and the one we like most is car customizer Luis Miranda's walls at his business, Miranda's Custom Cars, at Central and Grant. The wall sections actually begin on Grant and curve around to First Avenue. On them is some of the finest graf art in the Valley, colossal, colorful pieces featuring jumbo Krylon cans-turned-demons, Transformer-like… More >>
  • Best Use of Graffiti

    1700 Curry

    Rob Evans, owner of the storage facility dubbed 1700 Curry, sees in his property a community center for artists and musicians in Tempe. His plan includes building additional stories on top of the current storage buildings, adding a parking lot and even a performance theater for local bands. Of course, the bigger the dream, the more cold, hard cash is required.… More >>
  • Best Public Art

    Phoenix Forensics Crime Laboratory

    David Caruso would eat his heart out if he were to get a gander at the wild, new public art installation in the lobby of the recently opened Phoenix Forensics Crime Laboratory. Pattern Recognition, described by its creators Ralph Helmick and Stuart Schecter as "a surrealistic chandelier that pays homage to the arts of forensic science," dangles from the lobby… More >>
  • Best Anticipated Public Art

    The as-yet unfinished sculpture by artist Janet Echelman for Civic Space Park

    We've been thoroughly entertained by the ballyhoo surrounding the construction of a monumental $2.4 million dollar, wind-driven net sculpture designed by internationally renowned Boston artist Janet Echelman and inspired by the fleeting blossom of Arizona's singular saguaro. First, the sculpture is given the green light and contracted for by the City of Phoenix. Then, nefarious forces want to cancel the… More >>
  • Best Cards

    five15 Gallery

    We can always count on the folks at the artist-run gallery 515 to come up with the best ideas, and the latest — a series of trading cards featuring the work of the collective's members — didn't disappoint. Each set included a card featuring the work of an artist, along with each member's "stats," suitable for framing or fanning out… More >>
  • Best Buttons

    Gregory Sale

    From Scottsdale to Glendale, festival-goers wore their hearts on their shirts this year, in the form of Gregory Sale's Love Buttons. The interactive art project pinned thousands of people with the simple-looking white and green buttons. There is nothing simple, however, about the wording, including "RADIATE," "beauti-fully our favorite," and "you under-punctuate m.e." The buttons provoked both thought and discussion, as… More >>
  • Best New Art Shindig

    Theonix Arts Showcase at Hollywood Alley - CLOSED

    There are scene bars, restaurants, and music clubs. Imagine if all three, ahem, scenes could unite into one super-fun scenester extravaganza. Well, thanks to Henri Benard from psychedelic jam band Rocketline, there's one place that folks can hang. Held on the Third Friday of each month, the Theonix Arts Showcase ("Theonix" coming from an amalgamation of Tempe and Phoenix) features… More >>
  • Best New Art Gallery

    Eric Firestone Gallery - CLOSED

    In February, as we slinked through the galleries on Marshall Way, we came across something particularly spectacular. Walking through the doors, we were suddenly surrounded by dark, gnarling papier-mâché creatures that personified any and all emotional pain we've felt in our lives. This grab-you-by-the-throat-and-make-you-choke show was by a Tucson artist, Michael Cajero. But, much to our surprise, we weren't at… More >>
  • Best Stop on Art Detour

    The Icehouse

    Art Detour celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, so it's only fitting that the coolest part of the annual weekend-long tour of downtown Phoenix studios and galleries was at the old-school art venue known as the Icehouse. There was plenty to see and do at the beyond-spacious former warehouse, which was opened in the early '90s by art maven Helen… More >>
  • Best Move

    Pravus Gallery - CLOSED

    On First or Third Fridays past, we always made sure to hike up to .anti_space on Fourth Street and McKinley. One, because we love trying that damn tightrope walk whenever possible, and two, because it used to be the home of one of our favorite art spots, Pravus Gallery. Headed by local art gurus like Kenneth Richardson, Mike Goodwin, Amy… More >>
  • Best Reason to Go to Madison Street

    LAS Gallery - CLOSED

    Once upon a time, the only thing you'd find on Madison (our street, not NYC's avenue) were the occasional lost ravers, homeless folks, and the unfortunate ubiquitous neighborhood crackhead. Thanks to the pioneering efforts of Lisa and Shawn Hardegree, feel free to add art gallery to that list, and a darn good one at that. The Hardegrees bring a much-needed… More >>
  • Best Downtown Arts Venue That's Not Downtown

    Chyro Arts Venue - CLOSED

    Four artists. One dream. No money. Yeah, right. But when the foursome of Joy Leveen, Amanda Nichols, Michael Peck, and Tom Leveen decided to pool their meager resources and invest in this bootstrap arts project, something strange happened. It worked. Chyro is an organic outgrowth of Is What It Is Theatre, the entity that utilized this space in south Scottsdale's Papago Plaza… More >>
  • Best Thing to Do on a First Wednesday

    First Wednesday Downtown Chandler Art Walk

    Ugh, the weekday commute: same freeway, same strip malls, same billboards, and same homeless guy on the corner talking to Jesus. After looking at identical crap for days in a row, we don't even see it anymore. It's just part of the dull blur of repeated images — and it's the bane of routine living. By midweek, our eyes are… More >>
  • Best Thing to Do on a Third Thursday

    Melrose Crawl

    First Friday art walks led to Third Friday art openings. Soon, a veritable calendar soup of days were devoted to exploration of our fair city. We think the only night we're not booked is the second Tuesday of next August. One event we've penned on the calendar is the Melrose Crawl, a chance to shop our favorite Seventh Avenue shops after… More >>
  • Best First Friday Experience for Grownups

    Adult's Night Out at the Arizona Science Center

    One of the coolest things about the success of First Friday is the attention it's brought to downtown. And one of the best things about downtown Phoenix is the Arizona Science Center. So we're really happy that the two combine in the form of Adult's Night Out at the museum on the first Friday of every month. Admission is free from… More >>
  • Best Place to See and Be Seen on a First Friday

    eye lounge

    If you want to break through in any scene, you've got to network. And to do that, you have to troll the places where the people go. There's really no shame — it's just good business. So if you're looking for some facial recognition in the arts scene, be sure to make eye lounge your number one spot for multiple… More >>
  • Best Place to See and Be Seen on a Third Friday

    The Lost Leaf

    Let's face it, First Fridays are about the people and Third Fridays are about the art. On a First Friday, we put on our best outfit, slap on a second coat of mascara and prepare to make a lot of eye contact. Sure, we see the art, but it's not until we take another gander during Third Friday that we… More >>
  • Best Local 'Zine

    hoozdo

    In a world of blogs and instant gratification, there are countless outlets documenting Valley life. Hoozdo, though, is the steady hand slow-roasting our collective experience — provided that hand isn't smarting from a piping-hot steering wheel. With honorable mentions to Your Invisible City and Valley Bird, hoozdo features some of the best writing, photography, and art highlighting the under-appreciated sights,… More >>
  • Best Local Art Blog

    www.hearsight.com

    We searched cyberspace for a blog that covered the local arts scene, but came up empty 'til we clicked upon Hearsight. The blog is straightforward, offering Arizona exhibition and art resource info, as well as smart, even-tempered reviews. Laid out in a clean — but elegant — design, punctuated by photos actually illustrating the work on display, hearsight.com is simply… More >>
  • Best Blog Idea

    mccainblogette.com

    Meghan McCain, the fair, Phoenix-bred, sorta-Cindy-esque 20-something daughter of you-know-who, is, like the rest of the world, blogging. And unlike most of us, she's got a truly compelling topic, and a better-than-bird's-eye view of the best stage in the game. Yet, the most interesting thing we've surmised from her online scrapbook is that it is, in fact, possible to campaign for… More >>
  • Best Local Political Blog

    www.espressopundit.com

    When it comes to must-read political Web sites — present company excluded, natch — there's simply no question as to which is number one in town. And it's not azcentral.com. Nope, the hottest scoops and best analysis come from a one-man outfit, www.espressopundit.com, which somehow manages to pack more punch than a newspaper with dozens of reporters. Former state Representative… More >>
  • Best Local Satirical Blog

    The Arizona Report

    Last year, we kept getting phone calls from people who wanted us to look into the Arizona Report. Who was running it? And what did they want? After an extensive five-month investigation, we can tell you this: Damned if we know. But we will admit that we enjoy reading it! The satirical Web site is written by someone who clearly… More >>
  • Best Sign That Local Democrats Just Might Have a Sense of Humor

    CrAZyspace.org

    We weren't sure what to expect when we got an e-mail inviting us to check out www.crazyspace.org, a "social network for the Arizona Republicans who put the AZ in crazy." But in just a few minutes, we were giggling delightedly. The MySpace send-up, put together by the state Democratic Party just in time for April Fool's Day, has profiles of… More >>
  • Best Local YouTube Series

    Satanic Views

    It was a sad day in 2006 when Cox Communications pulled the plug on the Valley's long-running public-access channel, Access Phoenix. Having been fans of such wacked-out shows as What's Up with Radical Mike and Samurai Sports, we were particularly bummed out by the move. That is, until we discovered YouTube. Then the online video service satisfied our yen for… More >>
  • Best Local Podcast

    Phoenix Mars Mission on iTunes

    If you haven't been paying attention to the University of Arizona's Mars mission, your head must be in Uranus. Sure, there was a bit of a rocky start when baking the soil in the Phoenix Lander's onboard observation oven didn't go quite as planned, but the mission seems to be proceeding smoothly now. Want the latest updates from Mars? Don't check… More >>
  • Best Locally Produced Indie Film

    NetherBeast Incorporated

    Working in an office sucks. A lot. Between dealing with an ever-problematic copy machine and navigating the always-tricky landscape of office politics, it's no wonder most people dread the 9-to-5 grind. But as bad as the rat race can seem, we assure you it's nowhere near as gruesome as the workplace terrors depicted in the locally produced indie film NetherBeast… More >>
  • Best TV Show Hyping the Phoenix Music Scene

    Television Noir

    Mike Red and Stephen Strange have some lofty goals for their off-the-wall music and comedy variety show Television Noir. Besides a desire to shock and entertain anyone who happens to tune into the beyond-bizarre late-night TV program, the duo are hoping to generate mass interest in Phoenix's creative scene, particularly the musical efforts of Valley bands. To this end, each… More >>
  • Best Parody Song

    "Scottsdale Bars" by The Blobots

    We refuse to badmouth in Best Of (well, we try, okay?) but we pause for a moment, to dish on Scottsdale, in honor of our new favorite song. Face it: Douchebags and Scottsdale go together like . . . well, cougars and Scottsdale. The concept may be nothing new, but that didn't stop The Blobots (a.k.a. 103.9 DJ Craven Moorehead)… More >>
  • Best Local Record Label

    Modern Art Records

    Founded in summer 2006, this Phoenix-based label has distribution through megalith Epic Records, which makes it the perfect home for local bands who're ready to break out nationally. The label's five artists are among the cream of Valley musicians. In addition to punk band Chronic Future, the roster also includes new-New Wave wizard Back Ted N-Ted, electro-dance outfit the Medic… More >>
  • Best Local Recording Studio for Hip-Hop

    5fith Coast Records

    Arizona hip-hop legend Roca Dolla (formerly known as I-Roq) runs a smooth operation at 5fith Coast Records. With his partner and co-producer RTZ, Roca Dolla's churned out some serious beats and solid records for the MCs on his label, which include Valley rappers like Tray Gutter, Zig Zag (formerly of NB Ridaz), Ocean, and Tha Formula. National acts have enlisted… More >>
  • Best Local Recording Studio for Rock

    Full Well Recording Studios

    Many great local records have been recorded at Full Well — everybody from Phoenix punk bands like NunZilla and Dephinger and glam rockers The New Romantics to indie rockers The January Taxi and The Walnuts have laid down albums there. The studio's equipped with a Tangent 3216 analog recording console, countless amplifiers, and 128-track ProTools HD3 system, so bands can… More >>
  • Best Radio Station for Local Music

    Blaze 1260-AM

    ASU's radio station plays more songs by local artists — from the experimental sounds of Yourchestra to the electro-pop of Peachcake to the hard rock of the Necronauts — than any other radio station in the Valley. The station's annual "Guest DJ Week," during the last week of March, boasts hosts from the hippest parts of the local music scene… More >>
  • Best Video Game Gurus

    ChatterBox Video Game Radio

    We've found that one of the secrets in life is to make sure we know a few geeks and nerds. Not only are they adorable in their own way but outspoken eggheads tend to know everything and are good for imparting advice when our computer crashes or we need to pick out a plasma television. Whenever we're looking for the… More >>
  • Best Idea for a Radio Show

    Ridin' Dirty

    We'll admit it: Arizona's DUI crackdown has us depressed. Seems you can get arrested just for thinking about booze these days — for daring to actually drink a glass of beer, we've heard, you can face the death penalty. And it's not just the thousands of drivers who've gotten popped who are talking about the issue; it's the restaurants and… More >>
  • Best Local Radio Comedy Show

    Chillin' with B and Gas

    KWSS offers not only commercial-free programming but serves as home to the funniest radio comedy show in the Valley, Chillin' with B and Gas, which airs every Monday from 7 p.m. to midnight. Comedian Bryan Ricci joins deejay Kevin Gassman every week, where the pair cheekily discusses things like whether or not a particular song is "porn music," things that… More >>
  • Best Local Rock Radio Personality

    Jonathan L, KUPD 98-FM

    How does Jonathan L get the legendary Ronnie Spector on the phone, or bring in Johnette Napolitano for an in-studio performance, or nab an autographed poster of PJ Harvey? He just opens his Rolodex. Jonathan L has been in radio for more than 25 years — he knows people, and he's got some great stories. He might be a name-dropper to… More >>
  • Best Local Hip-Hop Radio Personality

    Strawberry at 101.5 Jamz FM

    Not only does scrappy Bay Area-born DJ Strawberry spin some of the hottest Top 40 and hip-hop jams from the likes of Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, and the Valley's own Willy Northpole during his weekday programs from 2 to 6 p.m., but he adds fun aspects to his show like "Will It Flush?" in which he takes all sorts… More >>
  • Best Local Country Radio Personality

    Dave Pratt, KMLE Country 108-FM

    Redheaded radio jock Dave Pratt has been prattling across Valley airwaves since 1981, when he took a job with local rock station 98 KUPD as host of Pratt in the Morning. More than two decades later, Pratt left KUPD (which he calls "the best career decision I ever made" in his bio on davepratt.net) and joined the staff of KMLE. Pratt's… More >>
  • Best Radio Talk Show Host

    Steve Goldstein, Here and Now

    We'll admit it: We're talk-radio junkies (and totally open to it all, regardless of political perspective or tone). Really. We love the crazies that call into Coast to Coast on 550-AM. Sometimes we think Michael Savage has a point. And we really wish Garrison Keillor were our grandpa. When it comes to locals, the selection is just as good, and… More >>
  • Best News Radio

    KJZZ 91.5-FM

    News is a pretty loosely defined term these days. Sad, but true. Even CNN isn't above covering Britney's custody battle and mental breakdown. And on the radio, we're pretty much constantly subjected to opinions — shouted, poorly researched opinions — rather than hard news reporting. Which is why we are thankful for the news team at 91.5-FM KJZZ every time… More >>
  • Best Place to Hear Left-Wing Nuts

    KPHX 1480-AM

    How does that Stealers Wheel ditty go? "Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right/Here I am, stuck in the middle with you." Well, if you wanna hear clowns on the left, look no further on the radio dial than left-wing nutty 1480 KPHX, "the Valley's progressive talk," where you can listen to 9/11 troofers taken seriously, E.T.-look-alike… More >>
  • Best Place to Hear Right-Wing Nuts

    KFYI 550-AM

    Should you forget the grotesque, arrogant a-holeness of the extreme right in this country and hanker after a dose of gross reality, park your dial at KFYI 550-AM, and get an ear-load. KFYI features not only radio's bloviator-in-chief, OxyContin enthusiast Rush Limbaugh, and reactionary, moonhowler Michael Savage, there are plenty of local wing-nuts on there too. Like Bruce "One Note… More >>
  • Best Television News Reporter

    Mike Watkiss

    It's official: The Information Overload Age is upon us. With so many choices, who can you trust (other than New Times, natch)? We always breathe a sigh of relief when our channel surfing takes us to Mike Watkiss, the best TV reporter in town. Watkiss has a résumé as long as the channel list, and his reporting makes that clear,… More >>
  • Best Television News Show

    Horizon

    We adore Ted Simons, and not just because, once upon a time, he wrote about music and some other stuff for us. Fact is, the guy's worked just about every place in this town (and several other towns), and always done well for himself. He fills an age-old void at Horizon, the local public-affairs show produced out of Arizona State… More >>
  • Best Local Law Firm Commercials

    Lerner & Rowe

    There's not much on local TV around 2 a.m. (at least not anything worth watching sober). It's an utter wasteland of insipid sitcom reruns, infomercials for lap-band surgeries, and other Z-grade programming. Some entertainment can be found, amidst all the dreck, in the form of the over-the-top and somewhat peculiar commercials for ambulance chas . . . er, personal injury lawyer Glen Lerner. The… More >>
  • Best Billboard

    PoopDoc.com

    Last fall, a Glendale-based business embarked on a mission to get attention for its cause. Hovering over the juncture of the I-17 and the I-10 stood a billboard's query in simple but gigantic script: "Are you as backed up as this traffic?" For PoopDoc.com's founder, Scott Olsen, it was an important question that required that clever directness. Olsen believes that… More >>
  • Best Pun, Not Intended

    Statewide Erectors

    So, we're toodling along on Van Buren, not obsessing about sex for a change, when we pass a truck sporting a Statewide Erectors logo on the side and a large, green phallic erection in the bed. A double take showed the mechanical boner to be some sort of hefting device, but that didn't stop us from yukking up our Starbucks.… More >>
  • Best "O" Face

    Chuey the Rock 'n' Roll Midget

    Long before clips of the Verne Troyer sex tape hit Internet gossip sites, the PHX's own version of Mini-Me, Chuey the Rock and Roll Midget, was presenting a sexual performance of his own for the camera, albeit a solo one. See, Phoenix photographer Giulio Sciorio has a series he calls "Faces of Ecstasy: Real People, Real Orgasms." They're close-up, PG-rated… More >>
  • Best Super Bowl Massacre Plot

    Kurt William Havelock

    Some people just don't take rejection very well. For instance, Kurt William Havelock had dreams of calling his Halloween-themed concept bar and restaurant "Drunkensteins," but after the Tempe City Council denied him a liquor license last fall, the 36-year-old restaurateur took the news kinda badly. How badly? Well, Havelock reportedly came close to wiping out countless people gathered near University of… More >>
  • Best Celebrity Temper Tantrum

    Crispin Glover at Chandler Cinemas

    So, what, Crispin Glover's a freak? Hey, tell us something we don't know, Buckwheat. After all, the cult B-lister's probably best known for an incident in which he aimed an on-air karate kick at David Letterman back in the day, in addition to playing weirdo roles in Back to the Future, River's Edge, Charlie's Angels, and Wild at Heart. Then… More >>
  • Best Bigot

    Darrell Ankarlo

    From 8:30 to noon on weekdays, you can switch on KTAR saliva jockey Darrell Ankarlo and hear him bitching about brown folk. Supposedly a big Christian, his broadcasts regularly pound away at the most defenseless members of our society — those at the bottom of the economic ladder, undocumented men and women who have to hide in the shadows just… More >>
  • Best Political Coward

    State Representative Russell Pearce

    Around here, where political yella-bellies abound, picking the most egregious example of political poltroonery is rough work. After all, Arizona has a gutless attorney general who bends over when Sheriff Joe Arpaio institutes a bogus investigation of his office. And there's Arpaio himself, who wimped out of Guadalupe when the mayor there stood up to him, and who conceded Mesa… More >>
  • Best Pro-Immigration Activist

    Salvador Reza

    Rumpled and occasionally gruff, Salvador Reza resembles at first glance some eccentric Chicano-studies professor, and if you let him, he can lecture with the best of them on the plight of indigenous peoples in the Americas. But Reza ain't no academic, unless you count his college as the struggle in the streets against the harassment and discrimination of undocumented workers.… More >>
  • Best Top Cop

    Mesa Police Chief George Gascón

    There's a list of public officials who've had the 'nads to stand up to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio: Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, Guadalupe Mayor Rebecca Jimenez, Governor Janet Napolitano. But nobody did it with the panache of Mesa Police Chief George Gascón. Fueled by the immigrant fire in his belly, the Latino chief (a naturalized U.S. citizen from Cuba)… More >>
  • Best David and Goliath Moment

    Rebecca Jimenez, former Guadalupe mayor

    Public opinion, from anybody with half a brain, began to go bad for Sheriff Joe Arpaio's immigrant "sweeps" after he took his forces into the tiny town of Guadalupe. Before, Joe had gone to places where the legal citizenry was more likely to be non-Hispanic. It made it less obvious that he was racially profiling. But when he sent his… More >>
  • Best Valley Political Moment

    Barack Obama at the Coliseum

    We didn't think much of Barack Obama's chances of becoming president before he arrived at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on January 30. Because of one major obstacle: He's black. But Obama's like a lot of rock stars we've seen in our time — you don't really get him until you witness him onstage. It was such an experience at… More >>
  • Best Example of Local Corruption

    David Hendershott in Honduras

    Why is the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in Honduras training the national police there on the county taxpayer's dime, with expenses reimbursed by RICO funds? To hear Sheriff Joe Arpaio tell it, the program — authored, planned and approved by his Chief Deputy David Hendershott — was a gesture of goodwill to the Honduran government, so that they would pony… More >>
  • Best Lawsuit

    The Goldwater Institute v. the City of Phoenix

    Since when does a developer need $97 million in incentives to build a shopping center in the swankiest part of town? Apparently, it's been since Thomas Klutznick & Company came to town, hands outstretched, and Phoenix promised the Chicago developer just that sum in exchange for a Nordstrom at the 51 and the 101. The deal was universally panned, from… More >>
  • Best Schmuck

    Frank Schmuck

    We do wonder how many people in the East Valley have even a remote idea what the Yiddish word schmuck means. (Um, rhymes with Venus.) And we want to know how many of you, well, schmucks out there actually voted for a guy because of his last name. That basically sums up Frank Schmuck's run for the house in Legislative… More >>
  • Best Public Information Officer

    Michael Murphy

    We always loved his work as a journalist — first as a longtime reporter for the Phoenix Gazette, then the Arizona Republic, where he did everything from cover D.C. to blow the coffin lid off the mortuary business in Phoenix — but we had to laugh when we heard, years ago, that Michael Murphy had left the paper for public… More >>
  • Best Promotion

    Toni Maccarone

    We've never had one word of complaint about Toni Maccarone. Throughout nine years as a public information officer for the Phoenix City Council, and then as the director of the city's public information office for the last seven years, Maccarone has been even-keeled, organized, and professional. In Phoenix, unlike other government entities we can think of, it never mattered that… More >>
  • Best Example of Brain Drain

    The Arizona Republic

    We used to make fun of the Republic, constantly. It was so boring, so ridiculously provincial, so . . . mainstream. But this year, we have to admit, we stopped sneering and started worrying. The paper's parent company, Gannett, has been hemorrhaging money, and we've seen the results in a series of editorial cuts that have sent the paper's best… More >>
  • Best Power Couple

    Bill and Barbara Mundell

    He sits on the Arizona Corporation Commission. She sits over the Maricopa County Superior Court, as chief presiding judge. Together, they run the world. Well, not quite, but damn close. As top judge, Barbara's taken no prisoners (at least, not where some less-favored colleagues are concerned) and she's earned her reputation as hard-nosed, but fair (at least most of the… More >>
  • Best Politician

    Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon

    Never thought we'd say that, did you? We've been tormenting the over-caffeinated Gordon from just about the minute he was elected five years ago — and we were hardly all that enthusiastic about his re-coronation last fall. But something amazing happened on César Chávez Day: Mayor Gordon found his voice. To us, a good politician isn't one who triangulates or… More >>
  • Best Librarians

    Burton Barr Central Library

    We used to haunt the library on a regular basis. Then, the Internet came along. So, sadly, when we hoofed it over one evening this summer, we were hard-pressed to recall the last time we'd crossed the hallowed threshold of our city's main book drag. If you haven't been lately, either, let us tell you: The clientele has changed. We don't… More >>
  • Best Public Library Speaker

    Magda Herzberger, Holocaust survivor and author

    Before you say that you're done being bummed out by yet another sad reminder of the horrors of Nazi Germany, consider remarkable 82-year-old Romanian-born Magda Herzberger. Now living in Fountain Hills, Mrs. Herzberger survived three death camps, Auschwitz, Bremen, and Bergen-Belsen. For nearly four decades, she has spoken about her incredible experiences, reading from her poetry and from her books, listening… More >>
  • Best Public Library Speaker Series

    Glendale Public Library

    Benjamin Franklin had it right about 275 years ago when he created the colonies' first lending library, the Library Company of Philadelphia. It's still around today as an independent research facility. Libraries are things of beauty, and we spend more time wandering the aisles, stopping occasionally to add to our endless repository of minutiae, than we probably should. We've noticed that… More >>
  • Best Reason to Go Back to School

    ASU Noontime Lectures

    When Michael Crow took over at ASU six years ago, he talked a lot about "community embeddedness." We still don't really know what that means — no one seems to — but we're guessing the university's noontime lecture series is part of it. Points to ASU for doing something right. This series features a nice selection of topics — from… More >>
  • Best New Spoken-Word Series

    Poet Bar

    This homegrown crew, founded by spoken-word diva Mon Cherie, is most definitely dedicated to serving up underground poetry and beats by emerging musicians of all talents in a friendly, unpretentious atmosphere. Often times, the poetry lyricists, such as Ed Mabrey from the Phoenix Slam Team, are backed by the flow-inducing sounds of deep house, jazz, or soul. Check out PB's… More >>
  • Best Entertainment for the Kids

    Childsplay

    Okay, so there's no such thing as a permanent carnival in our fair city, or even a really decent arcade where you can drop the kids off for a couple of hours of fun that's also educational. (Is there such a thing, anywhere?) But we do have our very own professional children's theater company, a rarity in a city of… More >>
  • Best Welcome From a Theater Company

    Nearly Naked Theatre

    We figure the folks at our favorite alternative theater must hold weekly meetings to discuss ways to make us feel more at home when we visit their performance space at Phoenix Theatre, because we always feel like we "belong" when we're there. Maybe it's that they post not a random volunteer to greet us at the door to the theater,… More >>
  • Best New Playhouse

    Peoria Center for the Performing Arts

    This was a tough call because there are actually a whole bunch of new arts venues that were contenders for this honor. There's the big, weirdly futuristic Tempe Center for the Arts, with its vast, roomy lobbies and colossal, unfathomable parking lot. There's the big, pretty Mesa Arts Center, with its architecturally interesting façades and several sizable playhouses. But it's… More >>
  • Best Rehearsal Space in Which to Watch a Play

    Herberger Theater Center's Rehearsal Hall

    Okay, so this wasn't exactly a close race; it's not as though most — or any! — local theater companies are opening up their rehearsal halls to tiny troupes that need cool, quiet places where they can present their shows. The Herberger is pretty much the only venue that makes room for even more amazing talent than what it's already… More >>
  • Best Theater Lobby for Schmoozing

    Herberger Theater Center

    We've rubbed elbows at plenty of playhouses, and we know what to expect from most of the crowded rooms where folks hang out before and after the show. Phoenix Theatre is where we expect to see gaggles of thespians and blue-hairs out on the town, and at Stray Cat Theatre (until recently housed at downtown's Metro Arts) we're likely to… More >>
  • Best Drive-In Movie Theater

    West Wind Drive-Ins - CLOSED

    Yes, there's still a drive-in around here. Two, actually. Both locations (in Scottsdale and Glendale) are operated by the same company and both admit children under 11 for free (yes, 16-passenger vans are allowed). If that weren't enough, both drive-ins play double features for only $6.25 per adult. Movie buffs who don't mind a beat-up bathroom and a nearly-abandoned concession stand… More >>
  • Best Art-Film Theater

    Harkins Camelview 5

    There is hope. If you're bored with Hollywood's latest reheats of the typical cliché plots, if $10 seems like too much to pay for an uninspiring genre film, then it's time you visit the Harkins Camelview 5. At Camelview 5, Phoenicians can enjoy a cadre of independent and non-mainstream films hard to find elsewhere in town. There's no stadium seating or… More >>
  • Best Grindhouse Cinema

    Chandler Cinemas - CLOSED

    We were chatting up the Valley's Midnite Movie Mamacita a couple of years ago, back when she was still throwing occasional slasher slumber parties at the old Paper Heart, and she told us about her dream of dreams: She wanted a place of her own, somewhere she could slather the walls in aesthetic blood and semen. "Ultimately, I want to… More >>
  • Best Place to Learn How to Make a Bike-Tube Wallet

    Bike Saviours Co-op - CLOSED

    This teeny-tiny bike cooperative that doubles as a performance venue for hyperactive punk and high-octane rock is open for business only on Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons, but it definitely makes its working hours count. The nonprofit hosts workshops such as "Fix-a-Flat," "Build-a-Bike," and our favorite, "How to Make a Bike Tube Wallet." Bring three bike tubes, dental floss, sewing… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Crafty

    Blissful Living Studio

    Want to get crafty but don't have the motivation to find a project, buy the materials and clear off a corner of the dining room table as a workspace? Then get yourself to Blissful Living Studio, where the shabby-chic folks who brought us the wonderful home furnishings shop Domestic Bliss are now offering affordable one-day classes on everything from sewing… More >>
  • Best Place to Clean Up

    AZ Soap and Candlemaker'sGathering

    For a soap or candle handcrafter in Arizona, this event is like Christmas morning. Organized by a local group of soap makers, the daylong event is the place to network your small business, learn a new skill or purchase supplies. But we'll admit it: The best part is the free goodies. For a $55 entrance fee, "soapers" enjoy a day of hands-on… More >>
  • Best Place to Hang with YIMBYs

    Certified Local! Festival

    In the market for a new stereo system? A piece of luggage? A skateboard? The folks at Local First Arizona/Arizona Chain Reaction — we call 'em "Yes in My Back Yardies" — are as passionate about your buying it from an indie AZ dealer as a NIMBY would be about a pile of radioactive sludge backing up in the kitchen… More >>
  • Best Place to Learn How to be a Pickup Artist

    Arizona Pick-Up Artist

    The humoring smile and pat on the shoulder. Some feigned interest and then a fake phone number. An 'I've-got-to-go-to-the-bathroom' ditch out. These are just three of the seemingly countless rejection methods you've been dealt from top-shelf hotties as an AFC (average frustrated chump). You need some confidence, bro — and how — but don't have the foggiest idea of how… More >>
  • Best Halloween Scare

    Rawhide's Doomtown

    Rawhide has moved from north Scottsdale to, well, the middle of nowhere. The new Rawhide in Chandler is almost halfway to Maricopa City. But the ol' Western town still has some of its magic, particularly around Halloween. Admission into Rawhide's Halloween Doomtown is free. Come October, you'll find a headless horseman on a black stallion and a number of emaciated… More >>
  • Best Pretend Ghost Chasers

    Arizona Ghostbusters

    If you'd ask us to compile our top 10 films of all time, without a doubt you'd find Ghostbusters ranking high on the list. We absolutely love the 1984 supernatural comedy. Love it to death. So much so that we've got the entire screenplay memorized by heart ("Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together . . . mass hysteria!") from endless replays of our… More >>
  • Best Place to See a Hindu Wedding

    Discover India/Diwali: A Festival of Lights

    Bet you've never gone to a Hindu wedding, let alone even been invited to one since Phoenix seems light years away from India. But you'll get a chance to witness almost the real thing at the annual Diwali Festival of Lights, put on by the India Association of Phoenix and its sister organizations, which are too numerous to list here. Last… More >>
  • Best Summer Vacation

    Phoenix Sister Cities Youth Ambassador Program

    Diversity for many Valley teens means going to a mall and watching the world walk by. But some kids are lucky enough to escape town for the summer. Some ambitious adolescents will go far. In 1972, Phoenix joined the Sister City movement and hooked up with Hermosillo, Mexico. Since then, Phoenix has linked with nine cities from China to the Czech… More >>
  • Best Getaway

    The Rosenclaire House

    Phoenix poet, knitter, artist, and yogini hipster Julie Hampton just can't take no for an answer. When a counselor at the Small Business Administration told her she was crazy to think she could buy a rustic medieval house in Italy and turn it into a vacation home/retreat, she ignored his small-mindedness and found a way to do just that. This… More >>
  • Best Ride That's Outta This World

    Challenger Space Center

    Friends often accuse us of having our heads in outer space. They don't know the half of it. Since childhood, we've dreamed of becoming astronauts. Alas, our feeble skills in science and math ruled out such a career path. So pending the day when the whole space-tourism thing becomes a more practical (and affordable) reality, the closest we're getting to… More >>
  • Best Place to "Be"

    Knightrise skyspace by James Turrell

    We all know how excruciating modern urban life can be. We work like dogs, drive like animals, and shove fast food down our throats between dentist appointments and birthday parties. And in a city of cars, there's hardly an escape from the constant drone of engines flying by on bustling streets. But we stress "hardly" because we've found one of… More >>
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