Phoenix may have fallen behind in the size department in recent memory — slipping to sixth-largest city in America — but if you favor quality over quantity, you're in luck. This place is taking shape in a tangible, meaningful way, and it's about time we started acting like big-city folk. For that, you'll need some advice for how to navigate this metropolis.
In early 2012, New Times' arts blog, Jackalope Ranch, began inviting creative types around town to write a manifesto — a personal list of 10 hard-and-fast rules of life or pieces of advice. Like don't ask that girl out or break up with her through a text message, which is No. 8 on Pastor Vermon Pierre's manifesto; or jalapeños make everything 60 percent better, No. 3 from playwright Kim Porter; or No. 10 from interior designer Jill Anderson: Less really is more.
New Times cover story
To see more manifestos, check our Resolution Guide.
Jackalope Ranch editor Claire Lawton invited local designers to illustrate one item from each manifesto. A blog series was born. (And a poster show — come to Roosevelt Row's Drive-Thru Gallery on from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, January 18, and see the final products in real life. And read all the manifestos and see the art in this week's Resolution Guide, which accompanies this week's issue of New Times.)
We loved the Manifesto series so much that we decided to invite some of our favorite New Times writers to contribute their lists of rules for making your way in Phoenix. And so Laura Hahnefeld's weighing in with her dos and don'ts for the diner; Robrt L. Pela's got the shopping scene covered; Kathleen Vanesian lends her eye to art; and Jay Bennett's got more than a few words of wisdom that apply to the local music scene.
You might want to resolve to write a manifesto of your own. — Amy Silverman
ART: Kathleen Vanesian
• Art is where you find it, so there is no shame in rooting through trash cans, dumpsters, Goodwill, or your mom's garage to find it.
• If you are looking for art galleries that are actually open on a regular, real world schedule in downtown Phoenix, good luck.
• Never confuse an artist with his or her artwork. They are two completely different animals that usually have very little to do with one another.
• Just because something is hanging in the Phoenix Art Museum doesn't automatically make it fine art.
• There is no constitutional right — state, federal or otherwise — to earn a living by making art just because you have a degree in it from Arizona State University.
• Be open to new art materials when looking at contemporary art. Elephant dung, dissected dead cows, and fingernail clippings can be compelling.
• There is no rule that art has to be beautiful, representational, understandable, or life-changing, but it does need to provoke some sort of reaction from the viewer.
• Frank Lloyd Wright is not a deity to be worshipped.
• Embrace that which might repel you, aesthetically speaking, just for a moment. You might find something of interest in your negative reaction.
• If you must collect art, keep your eyes peeled for up-and-coming artists whose prices do not involve selling your firstborn. To that end, haunt downtown Phoenix galleries on a regular basis.
FOOD: Laura Hahnefeld
• The answer "everything's good here" from a server is theoretically impossible.
• Gambling on unfamiliar dishes at a decent restaurant almost always pays off.
• The best and most affordable ethnic restaurants aren't in your neighborhood. Get in the car and look for faded signage, peeling paint, or a nearby liquor store. If you're not already there, you're close.
• The best (and cheapest) food adventure is the food truck.
• If you're not going to use the sauces and condiments in a Vietnamese restaurant, don't eat in a Vietnamese restaurant.
• Three words for those who say, "You can't get decent seafood in the Valley 'cause we live in a desert": distribution infrastructure. The United States has the best in the world.
• If there are dying plants by the entrance, don't even bother going inside.
• It used to be appetizer, entrée, and dessert, but these days, you can have as many as you'd like served whatever way you wish — there are no rules.
• Except this one: Put that fucking cell phone away.
• Make all your meals good ones. Even if that means staying hungry a little while longer.
SHOPPING: Robrt L. Pela
• "On sale" is sometimes code for "crap no one wanted to pay full price for." Run.
• On the other hand, more expensive does not mean better.
• Our city is full of thrift shops. But life is too short to shop in sad places that smell like pee.
• Don't shop for groceries when you're feeling hungry. And don't shop for clothes when you're feeling old and ugly.
• Ask for a discount at jewelry stores and antiques shops, but not at department stores or the car wash.
• It's not your size. Put it back.
• It's Phoenix. Keeping secret a store you've discovered and love may mean its demise. Tell your friends about it, and help your favorite shop stay open.
• If you are slow and patient, there is nirvana to be had on Seventh Avenue between Camelback and Indian School.
• Clerks who give you attitude should be reminded that they're the help. Loudly.
• Sometimes quantity is more important than quality. That's why we have dollar stores.
MUSIC: Jay Bennett
• The thinking that Phoenix isn't a good music town is bullshit. There are excellent touring acts playing almost every night of the week, and more than enough good local bands playing nearly as often.
• Don't be guilted into "supporting local." National or local, it's okay to like what you like.
• You haven't heard your favorite local band yet, even though you're absolutely sure you have.
• Stop talking about building a scene that will grab the nation's attention. It either happens or it doesn't — and it probably won't. But that's okay.
• And speaking of "scenes," the media's job isn't to build them up or even to promote or support bands. It's to report on, critique, analyze, and contextualize.
• A musician's technical proficiency is a beautiful thing, but it's overrated. To paraphrase Steve Earle's character on HBO's Treme: There's a surplus of players, but only a handful of artists.
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• Originality, a honed performance, and a musical vision (and adherence to it) are never overrated.
• Three bands is — and has always been — the optimum number at any rock show.
• After 35 minutes on stage, the only sound coming from a non-headlining band should be the breaking down of their gear.
• Your band isn't nearly as good as you think it is. But that's okay, too. And by all means, keep working on it.