People & Places

  • Best Art in a Cigarette Machine

    The Art-o-mat Machine, at Vision Gallery

    Want an original piece of art but can't afford the hefty price tag? Enter the Art-o-mat, a restored vintage cigarette machine that poops out handcrafted art pieces as if they were gumball-machine trinkets. The project began in 1997, when North Carolina artist Clark Whittington displayed his black-and-white photos like old-school ciggies. People loved them so much that the display became… More >>
  • Best Way to Get Around Old Town Scottsdale

    Bunny Rides Golf Carts

    Those Christian Louboutin kicks looked damn cute when you saw them on sale at Barney's — and even cuter when you wore 'em — but honestly, that's hardly practical footwear for an evening of walking around Old Town. Easy on the eyes, murder on the feet. Since your pocketbook's emptier than Lady Gaga's head, following your latest shoe-gasm, we've got… More >>
  • Best Humbling Fact

    Phoenix is short.

    We've long thought Phoenix's skyline was pretty — if a little odd. Why do there appear to be two downtowns, and why does one lone skyscraper — the building formerly known as the Dial Tower — rise up from the earth between them? Then we learned something about our skyline that got us asking another question. Why are we so… More >>
  • Best Phoenix History Lesson

    Phoenix Retro Spectacular at Phoenix Metro Retro

    As a former New Yorker who's lived in the Valley for a decade, Marshall Shore may know a lot more about Phoenix history than most natives. Like the fact that Mr. Lucky's was intended to be Arizona's first casino or that Wayne Newton was a regular performer at Bill Johnson's Big Apple. Shore, who calls himself an information curator, deals… More >>
  • Best Photo Opportunity

    Mr. Fun Booth

    Photo booths are always cool, like black T-shirts and motorcycles. They practically invite rebellion, so we give ourselves permission to act up. We contort our bodies with those of our friends and family as we try to get everyone in the frame. In short, we ham it up. So what could be better than a traveling photo booth? Enter Mr.… More >>
  • Best People Watching

    Arizona State Fair

    So, the venerable Bob Dylan was opening the concert series of the even more venerable State Fair last go-round, and we were on hand to inspect the decay (of both Dylan and the Fair). Lo and behold, the ancient pair were doing just fine, thank you, quirky as all get-out, but in a most enjoyable way. Before stepping into the… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Tour

    Scottsdale Food Tour

    Scottsdale is often known as the hub of glitz and glamour in the Valley, so it's easy to forget its humble roots as "The West's Most Western Town." Annie of Arizona Food Tours is just the person to remind us of Scottsdale's history, using the backdrop of Old Town Scottsdale and its many historic restaurants (as well as a few… More >>
  • Best Block Party

    Main Street art walk, second Fridays of every month

    Mesa's Main Street has established quite the art walk in the past several months. In addition to such older businesses as History By George, Book Gallery, Mystic Paper, and the Mesa Arts Center, a newer crop of merchants has moved in on the street, including the Evermore Nevermore gallery, the Adorn Style Lounge, Twisted Sisters' Designs, and the Underground and… More >>
  • Best Culinary Festival

    Devoured Phoenix Culinary Classic, at the Phoenix Art Museum

    Foodies claim they go to culinary festivals to see chefs in action or to learn more about wine varietals, but we know the truth — it's an excuse to pig out and get tipsy on free wine. Our favorite on the festival circuit this year was the Devoured Culinary Classic, a new event at the Phoenix Art Museum that replaced… More >>
  • Best Beer Festival

    Arizona Strong Beer Festival

    If Arizona Strong Beer Festival 2010 had had to compete against Arizona Strong Beer Festival 2009 in this category, it surely would have lost. Though the move from Mesa Amphitheatre to a downtown Phoenix park within walking distance of the light rail was a win with some local beer fans, the smaller selection of brewers and a ridiculous vending situation… More >>
  • Best Music Festival

    Vans Warped Tour

    It's been sort of a rough year for area music festivals. For example, Tempe Music Festival was cance — er, "postponed" — until next year, and McDowell Mountain Music Festival downsized from the lush polo field at WestWorld to a parking lot. So, with that backdrop, we can't help being impressed by what the Warped Tour has been able to… More >>
  • Best Cultural Festival

    Matsuri

    What does Phoenix have to do with Japan? Perhaps more than you know. Phoenix is a sister city to Himeji, Japan. It has a Japanese Friendship Garden. It's also home to a fantastic Japanese festival. Called Matsuri (conveniently, the Japanese word for "festival"), the annual festival features plenty of fun from the Land of the Rising Sun, whether you're an… More >>
  • Best Indie Craft Festival

    Indie Crafeteria

    Here's an uncomfortable truth, Handmade Nation fans: All indie craft festivals are not created equal. You'd think, given the name, that this would be a real specialty niche and that you could pretty much expect to find super-cool handmade and vintage awesomeness at every table at such events. Not so. Frankly, we've seen so much junk out there that we… More >>
  • Best Arts Festival

    Scottsdale Arts Festival

    Long before every town was setting up tents and hawking ceramic Kleenex holders several times a year, Scottsdale was making a name for itself nationwide with its annual arts festival. Now, this is the way it should be done: great art, great food, great setting. Music, performance, crafts for the kids. The prices aren't cheap, but neither is the artwork… More >>
  • Best Way to Experience First Fridays

    The Red Dress Tours (Caminando de Rojo)

    Kara Roschi and Ernesto Moncada came up with the idea to offer insider tours of First Friday spots last spring, when street closures turned off a lot of folks to the popular art walk. Even though the Phoestival was discontinued (at least for a while), the pair went ahead with a bilingual tour of the Roosevelt District for September's First… More >>
  • Best Stop on Art Detour

    Westwind Studios

    Take a run-down and vacant motel, do some renovations, stick a bunch of artists in each room, and see what happens. That's what the folks behind Westwind Studios, a living and working community for artists, did for this year's Art Detour Weekend. We wandered through a headache-inducing suite with red and blue balloons, streamers, and drawings, as we donned some… More >>
  • Best Recession Art

    5 & 6 Fine Art Space - CLOSED

    We're not going to make another joke about the economy. What we will do instead, however, is tell you about the best thing to come out of these rough times: the "pop-up galleries" along Marshall Way in Scottsdale. The past couple of years have seen too many gallery closures along the once-bustling Scottsdale Artwalk fave. Early this year, Bentley Calverley… More >>
  • Best Outsider Art

    Unsung Gallery

    Outsider art, for those of you who may not know, is art made by an untrained person for no other reason than to exercise creativity. In fact, that may even be too much explanation. Outsider art comes straight from the heart without concern for gallery shows, critics, or patrons. Much as a child would, some people are simply moved to… More >>
  • Best Do-Good Art Program

    "Arts Engagement"

    We don't want to get over-the-top corny, but when folks do good in the world, they should be recognized for it. With this award, we're not talking about someone who did something ultra-hip or nice-looking; we're talking about helping other human beings in need. This basic tenet of do-goodery is met with the "Arts Engagement" series at Scottsdale Museum of… More >>
  • Best Art School

    Anti-Art School, at The Lost Leaf

    On the second Tuesday of each month, you'll find aspiring artists (21 and over only, please) bent over the tables at The Lost Leaf in downtown Phoenix, drawing their hearts out, at the behest of local Artists (yes, with a capital A) Rachel Bess and Matt Dickson, who've turned a lark into a full-fledged happening. For just $7, for three… More >>
  • Best Cardboard Art

    Cartel Coffee Lab

    We like our baristas snarky. Occasionally, though, baristas are too busy filling coffee orders to lay on the snark. That's why the cardboard signs at Cartel are so subtly brilliant. "Get off your phone or we'll release the raptors," one sign displays in black and red Sharpie with tiny teeth in the "o" of "raptors." Another sign urges you to… More >>
  • Best Art in a Vending Machine

    Spencer Hibert's Mini Miigii

    Phoenix-based artist Spencer Hibert makes all kinds of art. He paints and sculpts; his latest creature is called Goo Goo Ghandi, and it looks like sort of a cross between the Incredible Hulk and a super-drippy, see-through candle. Cool. But our favorite Hibert creation is the Miigii, an opaque little plastic guy that comes with a set of stickers with… More >>
  • Best Postcards

    Irma Sanchez

    Lots of great art came out of the movement against Senate Bill 1070, and among our favorites is a set of postcards produced by local artist Irma Sanchez. They are simple and accessible, priced at about $5 — and you can send them to friends and family! (Though we're keeping our set to ourselves.)The cards come in packages of three;… More >>
  • Best Public Art

    Louise Bourgeois' Art Is a Guaranty of Sanity

    When she died in June at 89, the French-born, American-based Louise Bourgeois left behind a link between the art of the 21st century and belle epoque Paris' cubism, surrealism, and abstract expressionism. She also left Phoenicians with an enormous example of her best work at our downtown Convention Center. Art Is a Guaranty of Sanity is a 90-foot-tall sculpture of… More >>
  • Best Place to See Photography

    Bokeh Gallery

    Bokeh didn't waste any time messing around when it opened in January. First, the gallery, located inside of the monOrchid building, displayed soft-focused, black-and-white awesomeness by John Wagner. The next exhibition featured Bob Carey's large-scale self-portraits of the artist posing in a pink tutu. Wayne Rainey, an accomplished shutterbug himself, opened this photography-only spot to showcase heavy-hitting artists such as… More >>
  • Best Gallery to See Artists Both Famous and Amateur Hanging Side by Side

    The Trunk Space

    A recent First Friday visit to this teeny Grand Avenue gallery/music space made for an exciting and rather shocking surprise: There, among the mail-art and tempura portraits by amateurs, were two giant pieces by renowned local artist Janet DeBerge Lange. Part of a series of metal quilts she's working on, each panel is made from tin boxes, old signage, and… More >>
  • Best Revolving Public Art

    Seventh Avenue Streetscape Panels

    The city spends a bunch of money on a huge piece of public art. What happens next? The masses hate it and complain like crazy about the waste of funds on the hideous eyesore. Before you know it, the image is smeared on bumper stickers, stamps, and T-shirts. Ta-da! It has become a defining symbol of the city. Though this… More >>
  • Best Rotating Murals

    eye lounge

    Last November, local promoter Charlie Levy hired Tucson artist Joe Pagac to paint murals advertising upcoming music and culture events on the west wall of eye lounge in downtown Phoenix. Ever since then, we've been making excuses to drive by the gallery. On First Fridays, you'll find Pagac on his ladder painting over last month's mural and creating a new… More >>
  • Best Extreme Makeover

    Modified Arts

    Agree or disagree, it was time for Modified Arts to change. The building's exterior needed some serious TLC, the stage was one amplified band short of collapse, and the sewage smell seeping from the bathroom needed to be kicked to the curb. So when longtime owner Kimber Lanning handed the keys to Adam Murray and Kim Larkin, it was an… More >>
  • Best New Museum

    The Musical Instrument Museum

    Aptly billed as the world's first global history museum, the MIM is a rare example of something or someone's living up to its hype and then exceeding expectations. The beautifully open and inviting space opened in April with a collection that includes instruments from literally every nation on the globe — no small feat. That makes for quite a day… More >>
  • Best Children's Museum

    Arizona Museum for Youth

    Yes, we know, there's another children's museum in town. And we've been there, and it's cool. But this year, we want to make sure you know about the Valley's original museum for kids, Arizona Museum for Youth. In our estimation, this is what a children's museum should be. There are some play elements, which we think is terrific, but there… More >>
  • Best Chance to Revitalize Downtown Phoenix

    Cityscape

    It's almost too good to be true, but there it is, towering over us at Central and Washington. Cityscape is a reality, threatening to energize downtown Phoenix, once and for all. This multi-use destination is making it harder for critics to claim there's still no reason to linger downtown after work, what with its blending of residential, retail, dining, and… More >>
  • Best Sign of Nightlife in Downtown Phoenix

    District Restaurant

    We know, we know: It is so not cool to party at a Sheraton. Except, strangely, it is! We're perpetually stunned when we walk into District, the sleek bar at Phoenix's newest downtown hotel, and see that it's packed with revelers. At first, we thought it must merely be conventioneers, dorky out-of-towners with tube socks and nametags. Ha! On one… More >>
  • Best Downtown Building to Poke Your Head Into

    Lois Grunow Memorial Clinic

    This stunning Spanish Colonial Revival building is home to a clinic named for Lois Anita Grunow, who died in 1929 at the age of 7 from a ruptured appendix. Her well-to-do parents built the clinic, recognizable by its distinctive bas-relief façade etched with elaborate stone carvings. Its two-story open lobby, though, is really worth a peek: all stonework and wall… More >>
  • Best Urban Legend

    Downtown's Abandoned Underground Bowling Alley

    Ever hear the story about an abandoned underground bowling alley between Matt's Big Breakfast and The Westward Ho? Turns out it's totally true. As weird as it is to believe, a subterranean bowling alley called The Gold Spot existed at Central Avenue and Pierce Street up until about 1950. Look closely and you can still see glass blocks on the… More >>
  • Best-Hidden Super-Secret Museum

    Phoenix Union High memorabilia

    We discovered this historic gem when we attended a vocal recital in the Virginia G. Piper Auditorium (which is neither the Virginia G. Piper Theater at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, the Virginia G. Piper Repertory Theater at Mesa Arts Center, nor the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at ASU Tempe) at the University of Arizona — but… More >>
  • Best Airport Terminal

    Terminal 2

    Sky Harbor's Terminal 1 shut down a long time ago, so technically Terminal 2 should be called Terminal 1, but they still call it Terminal 2. We don't know why. But we do know that Terminal 2 is number one in our book, and we've been known to spend extra on plane tickets to ensure flights in and out of… More >>
  • Best Roaring Fire

    Tempe Marketplace

    Seriously. If you have not been to Tempe Marketplace, you might think we are making this up. But it's true. We've been there; we've seen it. We've even enjoyed it. Year-round — like, even on a day when the temperature hits 115 degrees — the super-size mall on the edge of Tempe keeps a gas fire roaring. And get this:… More >>
  • Best Puddle

    Tempe Town Lake

    "Look!" our kid said, as we drove across Mill Avenue Bridge. "It's the Town Puddle!"Indeed it is, but not for long, we hope. We still think the idea of putting oversize balloons up, letting water out of the dams upstream, and calling it a lake was ill-conceived on some levels, but once we had that lake, we didn't want to… More >>
  • Best Shower

    Dick's Hideaway

    When word spread in the summer of 2009 that our beloved Richardson's had been destroyed by fire, we had one question: What about Dick's? Over the years, we loved Richardson Browne's New Mexican cuisine, served with his own brand of fire and, thankfully, very good margaritas to wash it down. But our true love is Dick's. The speakeasy-esque spot around… More >>
  • Best Bathroom

    Modern Steak - CLOSED

    When Valley designer Catherine Hayes created a steakhouse to look like a jewelry box, we knew there had to be a killer bathroom. Behind an unassuming door with a frosted window — right next to the Dorothy Draper-style dresser — is a fabulous backdrop for a mid-meal photo shoot. Pepto-pink wallpaper, gracefully lit vanities (we all know the effects of… More >>
  • Best Home Show

    Maricopa County Home Shows

    So what if it's essentially an advertisement for the hundreds of local and national companies that gather to show off their wares and designs. We've always gotten a kick out of the salespeople trying to outdo each other's exhibits, displays, seminars, demonstrations, and contests. The Home Shows happen several times a year around the Valley, but we are partial to… More >>
  • Best Home Tour

    Willo Historic Neighborhood Home Tour

    Sometimes we'll skip the Encanto or F.Q. Story home tours, but we never miss the Willo neighborhood tour, which usually falls on a weekend in February each year. Willo — bounded by Central and Seventh avenues and McDowell and Thomas roads — is one of the largest historic neighborhoods in Phoenix, with nearly 700 homes built between the 1920s and… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood

    Encanto/Palmcroft

    This 75-year-old neighborhood offers a glimpse of what tony downtown residential districts once looked like. Encanto/Palmcroft is home to some of the loveliest older architecture in the Valley: Tudor Revivals and American Colonial and California Craftsman homes, all situated on generous lots, nearly all of them restored or maintained, and each one a glimpse of beautiful bygone days. A tight,… More >>
  • Best Drive

    Central Avenue between Camelback and Northern

    Maybe it's all the gorgeous trees that grow in some places right over the street and touch in the middle, creating a crazy canopy that drops the temperature what feels like 10 degrees. Or maybe it's all those gorgeous 100-year-old houses lining both sides of the street. Or the sexy joggers bouncing past. Or those little horse properties that dot… More >>
  • Best Street

    16th Street, between Van Buren Street and Indian School Road

    What's not to do on this dynamic drag between Indian School and Van Buren? Grab some lunch at Lucky Boy Burger Shop, Tortas El Güero, or Two Hippies Beach House before treasure hunting at UFO Universal Furnishings and Offerings, Lizabel's Treasures, and Boom Boom La Rue's. Groovy grocery shop at Phoenix Ranch Market and the Middle Eastern Bakery and Deli… More >>
  • Best Dream

    Canalscape

    We get fired up about great ideas — even if they seem a little ambitious. Greatness, after all, was built on dreams, and we think Canalscape has tremendous potential. Planners took inspiration from places like Venice and proposed incredible ideas for the Valley's 181 miles of waterways. These winding canals are based on the ancient Hohokam's crop irrigation system and… More >>
  • Best Street of Dreams Come True

    Fifth Street, between Roosevelt and Garfield

    You know a street has arrived when it starts to put down roots — where so much is happening on the main drag that stuff starts popping on side streets, too. That's what has happened on Roosevelt Row, where just to the south, the stretch of Fifth Street from Roosevelt to Garfield has become the place to be. From MADE… More >>
  • Best Street of Dreams

    Sixth Street, between Roosevelt and Garfield

    Those in the know around Roosevelt Row call Sixth Street "the new Fifth Street," and we see what they mean. It doesn't quite have the hustle of Fifth — not yet, anyway. But that might not be far in the offing. Butter Toast Boutique is a welcome presence, as is Rouse Salon. Artist Robert Zunigha's studio is on Sixth, and… More >>
  • Best Retail Vision, Realized

    The Duce

    Where do we begin? That's the problem we have when we visit The Duce, and it's our problem now, as we try to figure out how to describe it to you. Trust us, it's the kind of problem you want to have.Steve and Andi Rosenstein ditched Chicago for Scottsdale, only to realize once they'd arrived that, um, there's not much… More >>
  • Best Retail Vision

    POOL Together - CLOSED

    There is so much to love about POOL, a retail co-op just getting off the ground in a former Mervyn's. The floors are concrete, the ceilings are high, the lighting's groovy, the garage-style windows even groovier. There's a coffee bar with a horchata latte and a florist next door and a farmers' market on Thursdays. And then — well, then,… More >>
  • Best Unexpected Urbanity

    Historic Glendale

    Walk into an antique store to check out some vintage dishes, jewelry, and furniture. Then pop into a fashion boutique for 20-something women that's filled with hot pink tulle, bedazzled skulls, and roller derby-like attire. Feeling hungry? Roll into a burger joint and chow down on some American fare. Then get through the digestion drowsiness by walking down the street… More >>
  • Best Library

    Scottsdale Civic Center

    In a world of electronic communication, libraries are feeling the pinch. But Scottsdale Civic Center Library has figured out a way to move gracefully into the Digital Age while maintaining a healthy respect for the printed word. This airy, modern building hosts a broad spectrum of events, from opera-appreciation groups to an after-hours battle of teen bands. Charitable programs benefit… More >>
  • Best Strip Mall

    Southwest corner of Ash Avenue and University Drive, Tempe

    If we were asked to describe a perfect day in Tempe, it would start and probably end in the strip mall at Ash and University. We'd grab a recyclable cup of iced toddy from Cartel Coffee Lab and leisurely sip it while reading through a haul of comics from Ash Avenue Comics. Our eventual hunger pangs would be satiated by… More >>
  • Best Boutique Hotel

    The Clarendon

    There's a lot to love about this trendy, neatly decorated hotel, but our fave amenity here is the rooftop deck and lounge, where we like to sip a Mai Tai and gaze out at the amazing views of the Phoenix skyline and nearby mountain ranges. When we're able to tear ourselves away from this panorama, we like to head down… More >>
  • Best Luxury Hotel

    Sanctuary Camelback Mountain

    We believe risk-takers should be rewarded, even if their gambles don't pay off. Luckily for Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, their choice to spend millions of dollars on renovations in a down economy was worthwhile. The revamped hotel became even more breathtakingly gorgeous with the addition of a state-of-the-art gourmet kitchen space for celeb chef Beau MacMillan and Praying Monk, a glass-walled… More >>
  • Best Spa

    The Golden Door Spa at The Boulders Resort

    The Golden Door Spa has day rates, sure, but why do that when you can take advantage of cool summer rates and escape the city for a getaway in a place called Carefree?Room rates run as low as $119, and the mandatory $27 "resort fee," for once, is totally worth it at The Golden Door. It includes all of your… More >>
  • Best Style Blog

    SeeSaw Designs

    Even if you can't afford their to-die-for letterpress invites and other lovely goods, you can still live in high style, because the ladies of Scottsdale's SeeSaw design are giving it away for free, so to speak, on their beautiful blog. Angela Hardison, Raquel Raney, and Lindsay Tingstrom share "daily inspiration" — basically, just design images cherry-picked by women with really,… More >>
  • Best Indie Music Blog

    Electric Mustache

    When it comes to local music blogs, we're sorta partial to our own, Up On The Sun. However, if your computer won't pull up our page for some reason, or when you want to read even more indie-rock news, you should definitely check out Electric Mustache. We love the brother-in-law team — primary writer Mike Escoto and primary photographer Shawn… More >>
  • Best Food Blog

    Lunch Bucket Bento

    With apologies to our own sweetheart, Chow Bella, our favorite food blogs are super-personal, penned by one obsessed foodie with no agenda beyond telling you what she or he is eating today. And that's why we've fallen for Lunch Bucket Bento. Lisa LeComte started her blog in 2007 with a simple concept: She packs her lunch, takes a picture and… More >>
  • Best Urban Planning Blog

    Blooming Rock

    For some folks, Phoenix is more than a pit stop on their way to whatever city their company transfers them to next. Some people care about the Valley of the Sun — its history, its topography, its architecture. And no one, it seems, cares about Phoenix as much as Tazmine "Taz" Khatri Loomans, a first-generation immigrant born in Mozambique who… More >>
  • Best Shopping Blog

    The Willows

    We have long loved The Willows Home and Garden shop — we've followed Beverly Burch around Phoenix, from location to location over the years (her current spot is at 3734 East Indian School Road) — and now we love The Willows even more, for its blog. Burch shares news about her family and friends, and shows off pictures of her… More >>
  • Best Local Wedding Resource

    Arizona Weddings magazine and website

    So your boyfriend popped the question, and now he's your fiancé. That means you're a fiancée, and you've been saddled with the 10-ton burden of planning your own wedding. Don't bother going to Mom (or, worse, his mom) for advice. What's a bride-to-be to do? First, have a meltdown. Then, wipe up your smudged mascara and rush to the magazine… More >>
  • Best Light-Rail Resource

    Rail Life

    You may be surprised to hear that the best resource for finding out what's cool in and around the light rail is not associated with Metro light rail at all. Raillife.com is a site maintained by local folks who care about how light rail is changing our city. Perhaps you're looking for a home near the route. You're covered. Hungry?… More >>
  • Best Use of Social Media to Promote Semi-Nudity

    Second Annual No Pants Light Rail Ride

    The call went out on Twitter, on iPhones, and in e-mail blasts. Meet at the light rail and prepare to take your pants off. In conjunction with the national improv organization known as Improv Everywhere, local boys Improv AZ hosted their second no-pants light-rail ride on January 10. The results were liberating. Pantsless participants stormed a downtown Starbucks to keep… More >>
  • Best Web Comic

    Monster Commute

    Daniel m. Davis needed a way to pass the time during his wicked work commute. He let his imagination loose and daydreamed the daily distraction we know and love as Monster Commute. Davis describes the comic as 1984 meets The Wizard of Oz. Chronicling the misadventures of Beastio (a small demon), Chadworth (a machine with a skull head floating in… More >>
  • Best Fiction Web Show

    Probed Signals

    Local cinematographer Webb Pickersgill takes a full-on pro approach to the Probed Signals web series, using state-of-the-art filming equipment and a professional crew and cast that includes actors Leslie Wall (the short film Appetite for Justice and Hale Centre Theatre's production of Lend Me a Tenor) and Hanna Leister (ASU productions of Frame by Frame and Autobahn). But the real… More >>
  • Best Public Affairs Web Show

    CenPho.TV

    Unabashed downtown boosterism can be grating to the large majority of Valley residents who don't live within walking distance of Roosevelt Row. Not when Dave Brookhouser and Jacqui Johnson do it. The pair hosts a now long-running (by Internet standards, anyway) weekly vidcast highlighting the best things happening in Central Phoenix. We love their enthusiasm and their willingness to take… More >>
  • Best Twitterer

    Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods

    It's not often that someone's tweet brings attention to a U.S. Senate candidate's fear of vampires. That is, unless you're former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods. Woods' tweets can be as poetic as they can be hilariously offensive. Take this one, for example: "Fat woman asking for extra cream cheese on her bagel. Really?" Our favorite of Woods' many hilarious… More >>
  • Best Hangout for Anarchists, Revolutionaries, and Dreamers

    Conspire

    Conspire's the kind of java joint where you might overhear funky, patchouli-oil-smellin', dreadlocked dudes discussing the abolition of money, see some fella reading 19th-century Russian revolutionary Mikhail Bakunin, or find the latest anarchist pamphlet circulating. But don't let that scare you. The cooperatively owned establishment also makes a mean cup of cafe Americano and offers an array of boutique-style handmade… More >>
  • Best Hangout for Lefties

    Fair Trade Café

    Fair Trade is the most politically correct coffeehouse in town, where networking is on the bill of fare alongside homemade peanut butter cookies and iced soy-laden chai. Fair Trade makes killer sandwiches, too, and you can enjoy your double-shot latte smug in the knowledge that the coffee beans that went into making it didn't exploit any Central or South American… More >>
  • Best Way to Hang Out with Republicans

    Politics on the Rocks

    The truth is that it's the Democrats who could use a few stiff ones right about now, but the other truth is that Republicans are more fun to drink with. Dems are sloppy drunks — they get all mushy about saving the world — while the worst thing that might happen when you're drinking with a Republican is that he… More >>
  • Best Politician

    Jan Brewer

    We never thought we'd write this. And surely, you never thought you'd read it. (Not in this newspaper, anyway.) But our accidental governor, derided for her supposed lack of intellect and stuck with a bleak fiscal situation, has proved herself to be an enormously savvy politician. We don't agree with many things that she's done. We truly wish she had… More >>
  • Best Power Couple

    Phil Gordon and Elissa Mullany

    Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and Elissa Mullany, the First Flame of Phoenix, earned power-couple status after they hired a public relations firm to formally announce to the Valley they were dating.Gordon, 58, has been a generous boyfriend, paying his 38-year-old love interest more than $300,000 to fill his various campaign kitties as his political fundraiser. He also raised her political… More >>
  • Best Public Information Officer

    Vinnie Picard

    It's rare to find a public information officer as good-humored and helpful as ICE's Vinnie Picard — and that's while you're yelling at him. The guy's no doormat, but as a good PIO is supposed to, he feels journalists' pain, massages their egos, and points them in the right direction. You may dislike ICE's bureaucracy (and dislike what ICE actually… More >>
  • Best Government Customer Service

    Phoenix City Clerk Department

    The Phoenix City Clerk's Office is not only accommodating in releasing public records (at least the ones at its fingertips), it also helps customers peruse the city's searchable online database for city records, tracks city election results, and catalogs the volumes of public records that state law requires local governments to maintain — everything from minutes of City Council meetings… More >>
  • Best Psychic Detective Group

    Find Me

    Besides retired law enforcement officers and canine search and rescue pros, Jerry "Kelly" Snyder, founder of Find Me, a volunteer organization dedicated to locating missing loved ones, has something most police departments don't: psychics. Snyder, a retired DEA agent, scrutinizes each psychic during a one-year probationary period before adding him or her to his extrasensory stable of over 50 from… More >>
  • Best Local Skeptic

    Michael Stackpole

    He's now a renowned author in his own right, but Michael Stackpole built a career out of co-opting characters and settings from other sci-fi works. In 1987, he began writing novels set in the BattleTech universe, and then he wrote several novels in the Star Wars universe for Bantam Books. Many of them landed Stackpole on bestseller lists, so when… More >>
  • Best TV Journalists

    Morgan Loew and Gilbert Zermeno

    Sheriff Joe Arpaio must hate Channel 5's news team of reporter Morgan Loew and producer Gilbert Zermeno almost as much as the geriatric gendarme hates New Times. Loew and Zermeno have been all over Joe's ass like scorpions on a bag of bark. In October 2009, they broke ground by getting former U.S. Attorney from New Mexico (and Republican) David… More >>
  • Best News Radio Station

    KTAR 92.3 FM (sans Darrell Ankarlo)

    If you can stomach three hours of Glenn Beck's sobbing in the afternoon, the rest of your day on KTAR is as good as it gets, as far as news radio goes here in Sand Land. Now that Darrell Ankarlo has been replaced, KTAR is news radio with a sense of humor, with great personalities like Mac and Gaydos, Joe… More >>
  • Best Syndicated Sports Radio Show

    The Herd with Colin Cowherd

    Cowherd came on the national scene (ESPN) a few years ago with a bang and has become popular enough to challenge the venerable Dan Patrick as one of the more prominent radio voices in the land. We enjoy his slightly irreverent attitude toward games with balls, like the time he made fun of God — by whom we mean Michael… More >>
  • Best Local Sports Radio Show

    Bickley and MJ

    The Arizona Republic's Dan Bickley is the best sports columnist in the Valley, and his encyclopedic knowledge of the local scene long has impressed self-described aficionados such as ourselves. But writing is one thing; communicating on the radio during drive-time is another, and Bickley's learned how to pull it off, which is by being himself — a sincere wiseguy who… More >>
  • Best Rock Radio Personality

    Robin Nash, X 103.9 FM

    Robin Nash is not universally beloved by Valley radio listeners — in fact, we've cursed her name a few times ourselves — but with last year's big format change at The Station Formerly Known as The Edge, it's been nice to hear her familiar voice. Yes, she can be a little fan-girlish, but she's also evolved into a true pro… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Radio Personality

    Chris Chavez, Power 98.3 FM

    Less than a decade into his career, Power 98.3's evening jock, Chris Chavez, is already a journeyman in the radio game. He's a laid-back guy who doesn't try to show up the songs, which is one thing we really like about him. He's got Latin flavor without being cartoonish about it, and he's not annoyingly homer-ish about Phoenix, either, hailing… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Radio Station

    The Beat 92.7 FM and 99.3 FM

    Urban oldies? It seemed like sort of a weird idea when The Beat — a quadrocast station made up of KNRJ 101.1 FM, K224CJ 92.7 FM, K257CD 99.3 FM, and K228XO 93.5 FM — started bumping old-school R&B and hip-hop in late 2008. Then an L.A. station picked up the format, making the Phoenix-bred format less of a novelty. There are a… More >>
  • Best Country Radio Personality

    Barrel Boy, KNIX 102.5 FM

    Sure, Barrel Boy is an almost offensively pathetic Hee-Haw-style caricature of country music fans. Sure, the chubby, barrel-clad protagonist's Howard Stern-style antics are annoying and maybe irresponsible (like the time he got tasered by KNIX jock Mark Wills then gave a speech about how awesome and useful Tasers are, despite the serious concerns some people have about the devices, which… More >>
  • Best Country Radio Station

    KSWG 96.3 FM

    Phoenix's twin powers of KMLE and KNIX both do a great job spinning the latest out of Nashville, but we prefer this underdog licensed out of Wickenburg but available across the Valley. We get plenty of Montgomery Gentry and Trace Adkins from them, but we also get a little more old-school Garth and Willie than on the more commercial country… More >>
  • Best Sound Guy

    Mike Toth - CLOSED

    The "sound guy" is unquestionably the placekicker of the local music scene. No one — and we mean no one — notices when sound is good for a show, but they'll bitch forever and eternity if it's a little tinny. Ask around about who is super-good at the job, however, and local musicians (who notice these things even if their… More >>
  • Best Concert Fliers

    The Surfside IV

    Each week, our music blog, Up On The Sun (PHXMusic.com), appoints a "Flier of the Week" to recognize excellence in promotional posters for local concerts. If Phoenix's Surfside IV, a group that plays instrumental surf rock, has a show in any given week, they're always in the running. The band has gone through some ups and downs (the drummer and… More >>
  • Best Entertainment on the Light Rail

    The Train Tracks

    There is, sadly, not much of a busking scene around Phoenix's new-ish light-rail system. Sure, you might catch a rogue saxophonist blaring out "Baker Street" on a metro platform from time to time, but not often. No, the real music/light rail mash-up comes from The Train Tracks, a bi-weekly series. (New Times has a loose association with The Train Tracks,… More >>
  • Best Local Compilation CD

    Zia Records' You Heard Us Back When . . .

    There were a lot of pretty solid local compilation albums released in the past year, but the latest installments of Zia Records' "You Heard Us Back When . . " series stand out because of their breadth. We're calling YHUBW "local" compilations, but they actually pull together bands from the three areas the 30-year-old chain calls home: Phoenix, Tucson, and… More >>
  • Best Punk Moment

    Die Ignorant hosts a car wash at Applebee's

    What do you do when your band is broke and a national act wants you to go on the road with them for a few weeks? If you're Die Ignorant, you try to get an investor. And when that investor falls through, you steal a page from the McClintock High School volleyball team's playbook and host a fundraising carwash. If… More >>
  • Best Jazz Music Series

    "Jazz in the Garden"

    The Garden has long been one of the Valley's gems. The Friday-night tradition (held March through June on the outdoor Ullman Terrace) of top-drawer jazz and other musical forms (with a beverage of your choice, of course) can't be beat anywhere that we've found. Trust us: This isn't your Jacuzzi jazz scene. Last season's headliners included Nina Curri and the… More >>
  • Best Classical Music Series

    Arizona Bach Festival

    Who says you can't change something old into something new and fresh? First, the seven-year-old classical music series, American Bach, changed its name to the hipper-sounding Arizona Bach Festival. Then, the weeklong concert program, dedicated to performing the cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach, decided to add even more members of the Phoenix Symphony and the Grammy Award-winning Phoenix Chorale to… More >>
  • Best Contemporary Dance Company

    Scorpius Dance Theatre

    Most contemporary dance companies are either boring to watch or so bizarre that you practically need subtitles to interpret a performance. That's why we love Scorpius Dance Theatre, a local troupe known for mixing graceful moves and humorous interludes in a way that makes dance accessible to the average Joe. The company was founded by choreographer Lisa Starry in 1999… More >>
  • Best Funky Arts Space in Town That Never Changes

    Kerr Cultural Center

    Patron of the arts Louise Lincoln Kerr was the daughter of real estate tycoon John C. Lincoln, which may be what inspired her to buy 47 acres of land south of Lincoln Drive in the 1950s. She started an artists colony there, with a performance hall/studio made of natural adobe bricks (formed and dried on the property), and doors hand-carved… More >>
  • Best Community Theater

    Stray Cat Theatre, at Tempe Performing Arts Center

    Okay. So they stank up the stage with Twelfth Night of the Living Dead, the Shakespearean zombie tragedy that ended their 2009-10 season. But that bomb was a rare dud in the eight-year history of this small, quirky theater company. Their tough, terrifying columbinus last year was utterly mesmerizing, and their holiday offering, A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant,… More >>
  • Best Equity House

    Arizona Theatre Company

    A quick lesson in professional versus non-professional theater: Actors' Equity Association is the labor union representing American stage actors and managers. "House" is, in this context, another word for troupe or theater group. A professional union theater company is referred to as an equity house, while a smaller, non-professional company that pays neither dues to the union nor wages to… More >>
  • Best Actress

    Katie McFadzen

    No one quite knows what Phoenix did to deserve her, but there she is, playing everything from kids to birds, in any number of plays and musicals. Katie McFadzen has been cooking with gas on local stages for what seems like decades but may be only, like, 15 years. Her turn as a butch debutante in Five Women Wearing the… More >>
  • Best Actor

    Steven Scally in Indivisible

    Stephen Scally, perhaps the single most underrated actor in town, knocked our socks off last season in iTheatre Collaborative's vaguely futuristic commentary on American morals. The actor literally burst onto the stage, biting off brittle dialogue in a jangly Jersey accent and scaring us to death with real violence and lusty invective about everything he liked about being alive. By… More >>
  • Best Coffee House to Run Into Local Actors

    Urban Beans

    We saw Katie McFadzen there once, staring into her latte. Another time, it was Rusty Ferracane, eyeing a tray of bagels. And then we spotted Sean P. Donnelly at the pastry case, and we knew: Urban Beans is the Phoenix equivalent of Sardi's, where actorly types quietly commingle and we, the lowly laypeople, are expected not to stare at them.Fortunately,… More >>
  • Best Curtain Speech

    Damon Dering, Nearly Naked Theatre

    We love pretty much everything this super-hip playhouse presents, but our hands-down favorite bit belongs to Nearly Naked's artistic director, Damon Dering. La Dering's curtain speeches — especially those given on opening night — tend to go on, but we don't care, because he's so charming. We suspect that what makes these homey homilies so very enchanting is that Dering… More >>
  • Best Children's Theater

    Childsplay, at Tempe Center for the Arts

    Is it possible that Childsplay has just completed its 32nd season? That (gasp!) Childsplay is practically middle-aged? It's true. Founded in 1977 by artistic director David Saar, the company started out playing to small groups at places like the Phoenix Zoo and rather quickly morphed into one of the best and best-known professional theater companies in the southwest. Creating plays… More >>
  • Best Theater Venue

    The Herberger Theater Center

    You walk through a concrete courtyard filled with beautiful sculptures of sprites and ballerinas, and on into a marble-and-glass lobby into which a gorgeous stone staircase spills. Welcome to the Herberger Theater Center, where resident troupes Arizona Theatre Company, Actors Theatre and Center Dance Ensemble make their artful homes. Before heading into one of the three theater spaces here, head… More >>
  • Best Repertory Movie House

    Madcap Theaters - CLOSED

    Cineastes of the Valley owe a big debt of gratitude to movie house mogul Dan Harkins. Not just for the 15 local theaters he and his family have opened, but for one he closed: Centerpoint 11 in downtown Tempe.In 2008, Harkins shuttered the cinema and eventually sold it to the Downtown Tempe Community, a merchant-funded association. It was renovated, rechristened… More >>
  • Best Microcinema

    No Festival Required

    Step away from the cineplex. Instead, give the eclectic offerings of local microcinema No Festival Required a try. NFR's programming focuses on feature-length documentaries and narratives, as well as experimental and subversive shorts from local, national, and international filmmakers and video artists. NFR's low-budget exhibitions and series help fill an independent-film void here in our city. Check NFR's blog for… More >>
  • Best Budget Movie Night

    Sci-Fi Movie Night at The Paisley Violin - CLOSED

    When it comes to enjoying an evening at the movies, it's tough to beat free. Luckily for futuristic film buffs, Sci-Fi Movie Night at The Paisley Violin offers flying saucers, planetary mayhem, and creatures hell-bent on revenge. It's every Tuesday at 7 p.m. and the admission price is zero earthly dollars. After ordering from a menu that features a tasty… More >>
  • Best Movie Tickets

    Valley Movie Group

    If you're tired of paying 10 bucks for a cinematic crapshoot, it's time to join Valley Movie Group, a meetup.com club for film lovers. Don't worry; this isn't the movie version of a book club. You won't be bored by subtitled foreign flicks about umbrellas or highbrow indie shit that makes sense to only three people on the planet. Organizer… More >>
  • Best Drive-In Movie Theater

    West Wind Scottsdale 6 Drive-In - CLOSED

    Established in 1977, the Scottsdale 6 Drive-In retains all the charm and romance of an old-school drive-in but has, thankfully, lost the bulky speaker boxes and replaced them with the drive-in's own FM radio frequency. The price of admission is cheap, too ($6.25 for adults — $4 on Tuesdays — and $1 for children ages 5 through 11), saving patrons… More >>
  • Best Backyard Cinema

    Phoenix Independent, Foreign and Art House Film Club

    This kind of thing could go either way: a couple of cinema nerds deciding to show artsy films in their Central Phoenix backyard with a screen and a projector. But this thing went the way of cool. Two guys named Krzysztof and John started this project humbly with a sheet tacked to the wall of a freestanding garage in the… More >>
  • Best Portrayal of a Lowlife on Film

    Phoenix actor Luis Avila in 7 Soles

    If you missed filmmaker Pedro Ultreras' brutal, uncompromising 7 Soles, which chronicles a tragic border-crossing through the Sonoran Desert by an ill-fated group of Mexican migrants, you missed a humdinger. Filmed in Arizona, the Spanish-language film received only a limited release, ironically showing to sold-out houses during its short run. Starring as one of the coyotes leading the group was… More >>
  • Best Costuming Group

    Arizona Costumed Revelers

    Simply put, the main goal of AZ Costumed Revelers is to dress up in wacky, elaborate outfits and party. Apparently, this is a ton of fun, as illustrated by the group's numbers. Since its founding in July 2009, the group has more than 157 registered members and has participated in more than 77 events. AZ Costumed Revelers love a good… More >>
  • Best Costumed Event

    The "Brides of March" pub crawl

    Local social groups Arizona Costumed Revelers and the Arizona Cacophony Society love to dress up and drink, and what better way to celebrate nothing in particular than to wear bridal gowns and invade Mill Avenue on a Saturday afternoon? More than 30 "brides" participated in this pub crawl, which started at the entrance to Tempe Beach Park and worked its… More >>
  • Best Face Painting

    Anna Banana Face Painting

    If you want your mug painted by a bona fide artisan, you'd be wise to seek out the services of Anna Ramsey. Whether it's a house party, concert, hoedown, or kid's birthday party, the local artist/musician will doll up your mug free of charge (though she'll accept tips and donations). Ramsey, born and raised in El Paso, Texas, learned her… More >>
  • Best Sci-Fi Convention

    LepreCon

    At 36 years old, LepreCon is the second-oldest sci-fi convention in Arizona, behind only the TusCon in Tucson. But in many ways, LepreCon is bigger: It draws about 500 fans annually and regularly hosts some of the biggest names in science fiction. Previous guests included Charles Vess (the artist for the popular Sandman comics), George R.R. Martin (Hugo and Nebula… More >>
  • Best Anime Convention

    Saboten-Con

    Saboten-Con is entering just its third year, but this annual anime convention has already outdone its primary local competition, AniZona, which was canceled this year because of budgetary woes. From the looks and size of Saboten-Con, it's not suffering similar problems. This year's event drew about 300 people to the Hilton Phoenix East for a plethora of anime programming, including… More >>
  • Best Game

    The Citadel

    In some ways, The Citadel is like any other live-action role-playing game (LARP) — players pretend to be certain characters and enact scenes within a story (à la Vampire: The Masquerade), and they are often prone to paranoia (à la Assassin). But The Citadel is unique in that players are given a mystery to solve, and game play takes place… More >>
  • Best Book Club

    Downtown Phoenix Book Club

    This isn't your grandma's book club. Rather, the Downtown Phoenix Book Club is a lively group of bookworms that meets the fourth Wednesday of each month to drink and discuss handpicked tomes. The small group meets at MADE art boutique and then makes the short jaunt to eye lounge (which is connected to MADE), where Jewish News of Greater Phoenix… More >>
  • Best Way to Learn About the Harvey Girls

    Arizona Capitol Museum Exhibit

    Wanted: Young women 18 to 30 years of age, of good character, attractive and intelligent. Let's face it: In the 1880s, American ladies didn't have a lot of choices. What was an adventurous girl to do? Many headed to the Southwest. The Harvey Girls were single women who answered newspaper advertisements in the Midwest and the East to go into… More >>
  • Best Place to Learn How to Rescue a Raptor

    Liberty Wildlife

    With a great horned owl, it's the talons — with a blue heron, the beak. Understanding the pain-avoiding principles of raptor capture is just part of the training as a volunteer of the Rescue and Transport Team at Liberty Wildlife, an organization promoting wildlife rehabilitation, environmental education, and conservation. Following an orientation and a training class that puts you up… More >>
  • Best Way to a Homeless Pet Without a Long-Term Commitment

    The Foster Care Program at the Arizona Humane Society

    For homeless pets too young, sick, or injured to make it out onto the adoption floor, the foster care program at the Arizona Humane Society allows animal lovers to temporarily take home a four-legged friend in need. Following a three-hour orientation session, fosters bring a pet home that day, providing basic care, socialization, trips to the Second Chance Animal Hospital,… More >>
  • Best Bar Cat

    Thomas, at Casey Moore's Oyster House

    We've never talked with Thomas the cat at Casey Moore's (he's a cat, so conversations are out of the question), but we have occasionally given him a pat or meowed at him. Judging from his character and preferred location, we've deduced that he's one of the smarter felines in town. What cat wouldn't want to live at an oyster house?… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour Resource for Cougar Hunters

    www.cougarsandco.com

    Happy hours are all pretty much the same. But a Scottsdale woman organizes a series of, among other things, happy hours for "cougars" to meet "cubs." We're talking, of course, about hot older women and the younger men who want to sleep with them. Cougar Shelli Netko started the group and does her best to help fellow cougars hunt their… More >>
  • Best 'Zine

    PoolBoy

    Jacki O. is definitely not stuck in a creative rut. Years ago, the local performance/visual artist, writer, and 'zine maker published the more traditional Your Invisible City and Desert City Death Distro. Good publications, indeed, but PoolBoy is anything but conventional. You see, the lifestyle mag showcases photos. Portraits, mainly. Of naked dudes. Not beefcakes or anything like that, but… More >>
  • Best Roaring Fire

    Tempe Marketplace

    Seriously. If you have not been to Tempe Marketplace, you might think we are making this up. But it's true. We've been there; we've seen it. We've even enjoyed it. Year-round — like, even on a day when the temperature hits 115 degrees — the super-size mall on the edge of Tempe keeps a gas fire roaring. And get this:… More >>
  • Best Cab Company If You Wanna Be Clean

    Clean Air Cab

    Let's clear the air: We'd prefer that you never mention anything about carbon footprints, global warming, or the ozone layer ever again. It got old five minutes after Al Gore first opened his mouth. Lest you think us environmental assholes or anything like that, that ain't the case. We just wanted it to be clear that the reason we're pimping… More >>
  • Best Unbeaten Path to San Diego

    State Highway 238

    State Highway 238 is only sort of a shortcut — honestly, we're not sure whether it's a time-efficient shortcut. But it's a beautiful drive and a nice change of scenery for vacationers like us, who have made the Phoenix-to-San-Diego-and-back trip so many times that we could do it with our eyes closed in a dust storm. If you live on… More >>
  • Best Vintage Local Superhero

    Captain Super

    Admittedly, he won't go down in meta-history as the most super of superheroes. But in the minds of native Phoenicians such as ourselves — whose embryonic years included a daily dose of The Wallace & Ladmo Show — Captain Super was one of the more memorable übermenschen of our collective pre-pubescence. Clad in red, white, and blue regalia, "Supe" (as… More >>
  • Best Local Erotic Comic

    Demi the Demoness

    Writer, artist, and Scottsdale resident S.S. Crompton invented the character Demi the Demoness in 1992. Since then, stories of the sweet and sexy devil girl have been published in more than 25 comics by Rip Off Press, Revisionary Press, Eros Comix, and Crompton's own publishing company, Carnal Comics. The comic's enduring popularity can be attributed to a couple things: First,… More >>
  • Best Superhero Training Ground

    "Superheroes and American Culture" by Diane Facinelli

    In a small classroom of about 30 honors students, Professor Diane Facinelli is teaching her students superhero basics. We're not talking weapons, X-ray vision, or the gift of flight (though we'e heard that can be learned on the ASU Quidditch team) — no, this is much more a look into what exactly makes a superhero. Students are encouraged to read… More >>
  • Best Comic Convention

    Phoenix Comicon

    This annual, three-day event provides programming for a wide range of geeks, from anime films and costuming to hard-science panels and horror movie buffs. But the highlight of Phoenix Comicon has always been the comic book programming. In addition to the massive "dealer's room," where fans can find a treasure trove of new and rare comics, there are dozens of… More >>
  • Best Political Kryptonite

    Meghan McCain

    Kryptonite doesn't necessarily have to be glowing and green to damage those vulnerable to its forces — kryptonite comes in many forms. U.S. Senator and former presidential hopeful John McCain's kryptonite is blonde, a little on the ditzy side, and has a pretty decent rack. McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain, is hell-bent on de-conservatizing the Republican Party — one gay marriage… More >>
  • Best Place to See Action Figures

    Arizona Pop Culture Museum

    At first glance, the inside of the Arizona Pop Culture Museum in City North looks like a toy warehouse. Everywhere you look, there are rows of shelves crammed from top to bottom with colorful boxes housing action figures. The walls are adorned with numerous posters for comic books and sci-fi films. In short, it could be a kid's paradise —… More >>
  • Best Local Comic Store to Appear in a Major Motion Picture

    Atomic Comics in Kick-Ass - CLOSED

    If you dig on movies based on comics, chances are good you saw Kick-Ass, the film adaptation of the comic by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. And why not? This film gives comic fans what they want: fistsful of action, a parody of Batman, and even an 11-year-old who drops the "C" word. Hell, Kick-Ass even gives a nod… More >>
  • Best Bat Cave

    Phoenix Bat Cave

    Not far from the Arizona Biltmore, there's a "bat cave" where more than 20,000 bats live. Every year, beginning in May and lasting through September, bats migrate to the area to give birth to their young. Around sunset each evening, the bats can be seen flying out of the tunnel in large groups, hunting for bugs. According to the Arizona… More >>
  • Best Alter Ego

    Ben Quayle (a.k.a. Brock Landers)

    If you're the son of a certain former vice president — and may have some political ambitions of your own — and feel the need to spill your guts about your broken "moral compass," you're gonna need an alter ego. Otherwise, your "Dirty" ways could come back to haunt you in a very public way. And you don't want that.… More >>
  • Angela Ellsworth

    Hero Worship

    Angela Ellsworth

    See: a video interview with Angela Ellsworth. I was reading a piece about my Mormon heritage at a writing workshop when the instructor, Tania Katan, got incredibly animated and said, "Oh, my God, you've got to meet my partner Angela." It was one of those quick "No way!" moments when I mentioned that I was a descendant of William Jordan… More >>
  • Bob Hoag

    Hero Worship

    Bob Hoag

    See: a video interview with Bob Hoag. I remember the first time I recorded with Bob Hoag. I was 23 and had been playing in bands for quite some time — long enough to know the score, anyway. Back then, Bob's studio was in a dingy industrial park next to what was probably a chop shop and the creepiest Circle K… More >>
  • Sam

    Hero Worship

    Sam

    See: a video interview with Sam. My old friend Sam has a favorite quote: "If you're not the hero of your own story, then you're in the wrong story." If that doesn't make you reevaluate your life's choices, try spending a half-hour with Sam. Sam — just Sam; no last name — is a beautiful woman. Petite and slim with rich brunette… More >>
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