Things to Do

The Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

Where's Waldo?
Where's Waldo? Benjamin Leatherman
Prepare yourselves for a busy week. This week, you can commemorate the iconic film Mean Girls during Mean Girls Day, feel your stomach drop on the rides at Arizona State Fair, or do some early holiday shopping at Melrose Vintage Market. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times’ calendar.

Mean Girls Day

Some ghoulish devotees may find early October too soon for Halloween festivities. In the meantime, you can commemorate international Mean Girls Day. (Don’t look up if that’s an actual holiday or not.) This screening, a part of the “Big Gay Classic” event series, also features primo wine specials and a raffle benefiting a local LGBT charity. Plus, costumes are encouraged, so make sure to perfectly iron your best pink jean skirt.

As if you didn’t already know, the fetching good time starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October, 3, at FilmBar, 815 North Second Street. Chris Coplan

Food meets art in this mural by Isaac Caruso. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Food meets art in this mural by Isaac Caruso.
Lynn Trimble

Vital Voices: Food, Identity, and Politics

Discussions of historical and contemporary inequities address a wide range of issues, from criminal justice to the environment. Project Humanities at ASU is taking a deep dive into the topic of food equity, exploring the ways food impacts identity, as well as food’s power to unite and divide diverse communities.

Join them at the Sema Foundation, 325 North Austin Drive #4 in Chandler, for a discussion titled Vital Voices: Food, Identity, and Politics. It’s happening at 6 p.m. on Thursday, October 3. Bring a favorite dish to share or something else that reflects your “personal, familial, or communal relationship to food,” such as a poem, song, photograph, performance, story, or artifact. The event is free, but you should RSVP online before attending. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Cast for Arizona Theatre Company's The Royale. - TIM FULLER
Cast for Arizona Theatre Company's The Royale.
Tim Fuller

The Royale

Boxing gloves anchor the publicity materials for Arizona Theatre Company’s production of The Royale, but you don’t need to be a boxing fan to appreciate this play. Set in 1910, a period of American history marked by Jim Crow racial segregation laws, The Royale explores the inner world of a character named Jay Jackson, plus the society that surrounds him.

When Ben Brantley reviewed a 2016 production at Lincoln Center in New York City, he highlighted “the selfish single-mindedness required of champions, and the repercussions such a focus has when it’s exercised by a black man in a white man’s world.” See how Arizona Theatre Company gives it life during the 7:30 p.m. preview performance on Thursday, October 3, at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe Street. Tickets start at $25. Lynn Trimble


As far as rappers and lyricists go, few artists are as talented as Rakim. His intricate and innovative techniques of weaving words into rhymes are the stuff of hip-hop legend. The albums he released with longtime DJ and partner Eric B., including 1987’s Paid in Full and 1988’s Follow the Leader, are some of the greatest ever.

Over three decades, Rakim has also influenced rappers from Jay-Z to Kendrick Lamar. He’s still spreading his lyrical knowledge. Rakim’s recently released memoir, Sweat the Technique: Revelations on Creativity from the Lyrical Genius, serves as a guide for would-be rappers looking to up their game.

Rakim might give some additional tips during a meet-and-greet from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 3, at Changing Hands, 300 West Camelback Road. Admission is $27.14 per person and includes a signed copy of the book. Benjamin Leatherman


Sure, metal bands are all about corpse paint and satanic imagery. But sometimes they’re also about love and community. Case in point: Valley death metal band Gatecreeper are holding a pizza/listening party for their latest album, Deserted. Which begs the question, what pizza goes best with screeching vocals and pulverizing licks? Cheese seems like a simple enough accompaniment, but the obvious answer is the death-centric meat lover’s pizza.

The party runs from 6 to 7 p.m. on Friday, October 4, at Zia Records, 3201 South Mill Avenue in Tempe. Deserted will be available as a limited-edition deep purple splatter vinyl (500 copies only). Chris Coplan

Checking out the warmup act. - GREAT ARIZONA PUPPET THEATER
Checking out the warmup act.
Great Arizona Puppet Theater

Very Spooky Adult Puppet Slam

You can have good clean fun at home by making puppets with the kids in your life using everything from empty milk cartons to Popsicle sticks. But sometimes, you crave puppets with a little more edge and adults who share your love for all things theatrical. You’ll find both at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater, 302 West Latham Street, where the next Adult Puppet Slam happens at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 4.

The Very Spooky Adult Puppet Slam will include performances by several professional puppeteers based in metro Phoenix, as well as Matt McGee of Washington, D.C. The artist has been making puppets, including large-scale works used in theatrical productions, for more than two decades. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Bring money for beer or wine if that’s your thing. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Get ready for a spectacular time. - MELISSA FOSSUM
Get ready for a spectacular time.
Melissa Fossum

Arizona State Fair

If there’s one constant to the Arizona State Fair each year, it’s the spectacle. Everything about the event is geared toward being attention-grabbing, thrill-seeking, or over the top. There are the amped-up rides, ultra-flashy midway games, larger-than-life creatures, blockbuster concerts, or the nonstop buffet of deep-fried guilty pleasures.

The 2019 version of the fair is no exception. There’s a multitude of attractions spread across the grounds, located at 1826 West McDowell Road. There will be e-sports competitions, MMA fights, a retro arcade, Figure 8 racing, rodeos, art displays, roaming performers, competitions, and its concert series. There will also be the usual fair-style hallmarks, including rides, games, and homespun creations.

Experience it for yourself during the Arizona State Fair’s opening day on Friday, October 4, which runs from noon to 10 p.m. The fair will run Wednesdays through Sundays until October 27. Regular admission is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors over 55 and children 5 to 13, and free for kids under 4. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Double fisting at Tour De Fat. - ALEXANDRA GASPAR
Double fisting at Tour De Fat.
Alexandra Gaspar

Tour De Fat

A word of advice to the beer-loving, bike-riding crowd: You better keep Sunday completely free of any obligation whatsoever. Why? You might be recuperating from all the beer-loving, bike-riding fun that you’ll experience when Tour De Fat 2019 cruises into Tempe Beach Park, 80 West Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe on Saturday, October 5.

As its tagline of “beer, bikes, and bemusement” indicates, New Belgium Brewing’s annual touring event is a traveling carnival of cycling, suds, and surreal scenes taking place in the great outdoors. It involves an afternoon filled with bicycle-inspired games, activities, and shenanigans. There will also be a variety of New Belgium beers available for purchase. Costumes are encouraged, and an array of live entertainment is planned, including performances by bands like KOLARS, Japhy’s Descent, and The Stakes.

The event starts at 11 a.m. with the annual bike parade. The festivities go until 6 p.m. Admission is free. Benjamin Leatherman

Record Store Crawl

There are bar, restaurant, and even Area 51 crawls (that last one’s also heavy on the booze but light on E.T.). Now you can don your best Joy Division shirt for a record store crawl through the Valley. Rather than walking, a bus delivers guests to Record High, Zia Records, Stinkweeds, and the Double Nickels Collective. Finally, you’ll have company in picking up that sweet Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark U.K. pressing. You’ll also get discounts at each store, a swag bag with a mystery vinyl, and a David Bowie tote bag. You can win even more goodies, like test pressings and signed vinyl.

The 21-and-over crawl runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 5. There’ll also be lunch and drinks at Yucca Tap Room as well as bus performances to be announced. Chris Coplan

click to enlarge Look for Amazing Arizona Comics at Phoenix Public Market. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Look for Amazing Arizona Comics at Phoenix Public Market.
Lynn Trimble

Meet Your Literary Community

Voracious readers, prolific writers, and other literature lovers will converge on Phoenix Public Market, 721 North Central Avenue, from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, October 5, for a mini-literary festival called Meet Your Literary Community. The free event, which was organized by the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at ASU, is a fun, casual way for community members learn about more than 70 literature-related resources, from local presses to small businesses.

Look for representatives from diverse lit-focused groups and projects, including Hayden’s Ferry Review, National Black Poetry Day, Phoenix Poetry Orchestra, Phoenix Public Library, Poisoned Pen Bookstore, and Wasted Ink Zine Distro. It’s a chance to meet fellow literature nerds while you learn more about the many people working to create a thriving literary scene here in the Valley. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Katharine Leigh Simpson inside her live/work space in Mesa. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Katharine Leigh Simpson inside her live/work space in Mesa.
Lynn Trimble

Katharine Leigh Simpson

Katharine Leigh Simpson, a multidisciplinary visual and performance artist based at Mesa Artspace Lofts, is part of a project called Water = Life, which will culminate in November with a nine-day event celebrating the relationship between water and life, and the indigenous people who created the region’s canals.

She’s one of several artists working with the city of Mesa on a series of free hands-on workshops where community members can create artwork for that event. The next workshop happens from noon to 3 p.m. at the i.d.e.a. Museum, 150 West Pepper Place in Mesa. It’s a chance to create a small textile piece of artwork that will become part of the larger installation. Lynn Trimble

Melrose Vintage Market

Now that temperatures are starting to dip below “blue Supergiant,” it’s the perfect time for more outdoor activities. So, what better way to spend a leisurely Sunday then perusing the Melrose Vintage Market. Here, a slew of local vendors offer up a variety of handmade artwork, foods and treats, upcycled knick-knacks, and other wares that you may or may not need. The event’s totally free, but only if you bring your awesome pupper. (Not really, but still.)

The 2019-2020 season kicks off on Sunday, October 6, at 700 West Campbell Avenue. Chris Coplan

click to enlarge Have any burning questions you want answered? - LYNN TRIMBLE
Have any burning questions you want answered?
Lynn Trimble

Phoenix Psychic Fair

If you were an actual psychic, you wouldn’t need to be told about the Phoenix Psychic Fair. But let’s assume someone’s chakras are off and a little 411 is in order. This annual gathering features a variety of events and services to fulfill all your psychic wants and needs, including hypnotherapy, tarot readers, energy healers, aura photographers, and animal communicators. In addition to regular lectures, you can also attend a special performance by famed psychic Jamie Clark.

The fair runs from (::places index and middle fingers on temple::) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 6, at Four Points by Sheraton Phoenix North, 2532 West Peoria Avenue. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door; the Clark event is $25 in advance and $35 at the door. Chris Coplan

click to enlarge Arizona Opera performs Fellow Travelers this season. - ARIZONA OPERA
Arizona Opera performs Fellow Travelers this season.
Arizona Opera

The Lavender Scare, Then and Now

Two gay men working for the U.S. federal government during the McCarthy era in the late 1950s, when people could be fired based on their sexuality, are the central characters for a contemporary opera called Fellow Travelers. It’s part of this season’s creative lineup for Arizona Opera, which is joining with several community groups to present a related panel discussion called The Lavender Scare, Then and Now.

The panel will include advocates and historians addressing the evolving history of LGBTQ rights, as well as challenges facing the community today. They’ll speak at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe Street, starting at 7 p.m. Stay after for a Q&A and reception. The event is free, but you should register online before attending. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge All about the music. - BIT BRIGADE/NICKELEDGE
All about the music.
Bit Brigade/NickelEdge

Bit Brigade

Watching most video game speed runs is generally as compelling as counting bumps on a popcorn ceiling. But what if said speed run were in the midst of a badass rock concert? That’s the entire M.O. of Georgia’s Bit Brigade, who jam through entire NES game soundtracks, including Metroid and Contra, as someone ekes out the best speed run score possible. Is this a gaming event with music, or a concert with a dash of gaming? Who cares! It kicks the stuffing out of playing Candy Crush on the bus.

The run begins at 8 p.m. on Monday, October 7 at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue. Also, make sure to chug some Mountain Dew Game Fuel beforehand! Chris Coplan

click to enlarge Exploring Palabras Bilingual Bookstore. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Exploring Palabras Bilingual Bookstore.
Lynn Trimble

Bilingual Conversation and Reading

CALA Alliance is presenting a bilingual conversation and poetry reading with Dolores Dorantes, a Mexican writer living in exile in El Paso, Texas, whose work explores a broad range of social, cultural, and political issues. Dorantes often collaborates with fellow creatives, producing works that include books, performance, and film.

The Bilingual Conversation and Reading with Dolores Dorantes runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 8. It’s happening at Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, 1738 East McDowell Road. The writer’s diverse interests include mobile book stores, autobiographical writings, and the modern Mahajyra Buddism tradition. Tickets are free, but you should register online before attending. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Scene from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. - ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE CINEMA
Scene from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Sing-Along

Maybe those late-night karaoke outings just aren’t cutting it anymore, and you’re ready for something a little more nuanced. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is all over that, with its Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Sing-Along for the age 18-and-up set, happening at 7:20 p.m. on Tuesday, October 8. Join the fun as Andy Samberg heads a cast of comedic creatives whose work skewers the music business types who take themselves too seriously.

Big egos abound in the music industry, which means there’s plenty of material to work with. The film imagines life for a pop/rap superstar named Conner4Real in the aftermath of an album that full-on flops. Tickets are $11.32. No extra charge for projecting all those fabulous lyrics onto the screen at Chandler Alamo Drafthouse, 4955 South Arizona Avenue in Chandler. Lynn Trimble

Augusten Burroughs

Author Augusten Burroughs is the literary king of the memoir. Whether it’s the famed Running with Scissors, his battles with alcoholism in Dry, or, um, all the delightful holiday tales in You Better Not Cry, Burroughs is a man with little interest in secrets or closeted skeletons. For his latest book, Toil & Trouble, Burroughs delves into his (newly revealed) life as an actual witch, exploring his family lineage, core magical beliefs, and how it’s all influenced his life and literary efforts.

Burroughs brings the magic to the Valley for a signing at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock Drive in Tempe, from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, October 9. It’s $30.26 for one ticket and one signed copy, or pay the $34.26 to bring along a friend. Chris Coplan
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Chris Coplan has been a professional writer since the 2010s, having started his professional career at Consequence of Sound. Since then, he's also been published with TIME, Complex, and other outlets. He lives in Central Phoenix with his fiancee, a dumb but lovable dog, and two bossy cats.
Contact: Chris Coplan
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble