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Each weekend, hundreds of vendors gather to sell all the crap they couldn't unload at their garage sales -- old tools, rusty golf clubs, eight-track hi-fi's, and ancient, tube-powered Zeniths. Hundreds more vendors sell newer things like packaged socks, luggage, clothes, art and furniture -- the list is endless.
And if you don't happen to be in the market for someone else's castoffs or a 99-cent liquidation sale? Well, haggling over the price of old eight-tracks is just part of the fun.
For pure people-watching, the dog track is the flea market equivalent of Rodeo Drive. A seat near the snack bar provides a primo view of the crowd, and a live band sometimes plays background music for an hour or two. A pan flute and guitar duo recently hypnotized passers-by with soft, mellow rhythms as worn-out shoppers guzzled beer and scarfed nachos.
As the time passes, so does a passing parade of diverse humanity, the likes of which you're unlikely to assemble en masse anywhere else in town -- or at least until the state fair rolls around again. And where else in town can you gawk at the myriad forms of your fellow man while getting your ears pierced on a lawn chair?
We recently took a Valley newcomer to Tom's Tavern for lunch, promising a good chef's salad and the chance to see more big-name ballot-box celebs than you could shake a recall petition at. We were not disappointed.
Governor Jane Dee Hull lunched with state Representative John Wettaw. Hull sent the rest of her dessert tray over to state Senator Scott Bundgaard, who stopped to chat with Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Graham Keegan. State liquor czar Howard Adams dined on the patio, two tables over from us.
And the chef's salad? If it ever runs for election, it'll get our vote, too.
McCain fell short on primary wins, but his Straight Talk campaign won't soon be forgotten; history professors will teach it as the best example of modern American grassroots politicking. Consider: The man with the reputation in Arizona for terrorizing anyone in his path sweet-talked national reporters into writing glowing accounts of his every move. The guy who didn't lift a finger to get campaign finance reform passed in his own state made himself the champion of such reforms on a national level -- all the while collecting millions from special interests with business before McCain's Senate Commerce Committee. A senator who all but ignores his home state is able to win reelection time and again.
You may not like him, but you gotta hand it to him: John McCain is one masterful politician.
Readers' Choice: John McCain
Claiming he'd forgotten the weapon was in the bag, Heywood later announced he was "gratified the system works."
For a mere $10, a friend or family member can have you arrested, jailed, tried and hanged within five minutes by a couple of Old West sheriffs in full regalia and full of (feigned) firewater. It's all in fun, but rest assured, even in jest, there is nothing so humiliating and unnerving as being hunted down like a rabid dog and run through a kangaroo court to the gallows. It's especially awful if said suspect has ever been arrested for real. This is a wonderful way to get a little payback on winter houseguests who have overstayed their welcome.
The Goldfield bad cop/bad cop show will resume around Thanksgiving and carry on through the winter months.
Goldfield also offers a full-day gauntlet of cheesy Western kitsch for families willing to suspend their good sense of taste and propriety. Like the old mining towns Goldfield emulates, there seems little here that people won't do for a little spare change -- the train ride is enjoyable, the jeep or helicopter rides are a hoot (if you can afford them), the mine tour is much less amusing.
Still, it's a great place to spend an afternoon with visitors and kids in the winter. And you can't beat the scenery, with both the Superstition Mountains and Four Peaks serving as backdrops to the town.
Readers' Choice for Best Tourist Trap: Rawhide
KDRX, Phoenix's Telemundo affiliate, is the best place to score your daily telenovela fix. Without having to touch your remote control, you get the steamy Amor Sin Limite, Muñeca Brava (the unlikely tale of a rich girl posing as a peasant), and the network's centerpiece: Xica de Silva, the loosely historical (and surprisingly graphic) story of a Brazilian slave who wins her freedom by exploiting her sexual prowess. History never tasted so good.
Oh, yeah, you also get the nightly news, for those of you who are into that sort of thing.
Readers' Choice for Best Spanish-Language News Station: Univision
In simpler times, local Spanish-language radio was thoroughly dominated by KNAI, known as La Campesina, part of a United Farm Workers network based in urban areas. And although its numbers have inevitably dropped in the past two years, KNAI remains the conscience and the soul of Spanish radio in the Valley.
While other stations opt for a pop-friendly, synthesized brand of Tejano, KNAI cranks out accordion-driven conjunto and polka rave-ups, with a smattering of acoustic waltzes, and just enough social commentary to remind you of its roots in Cesar Chávez's labor movement. Ultimately, La Campesina is a daily aural reminder that there's no point in crossing over to the mainstream if you lose your traditions along the way.
Kennedy, known to listeners as "The Trainer," has always been a sincere, likable radio host. But since jumping from KGME to KDUS in 1997, he's gained exponentially in command and confidence. What really separates Kennedy from the local pack are his respect and affection for the "friends of the program" who call in every day, and his willingness to admit that he's not the all-knowing king of sports trivia. Though he's enthusiastic about all sports -- and more sympathetic than most talk-show hosts to women's athletics -- he candidly admits that he's no great authority on hockey, so rather than babbling ignorantly about it, he lets his callers educate him.
With a strong supporting cast that includes the insightful Evan Andeen, Kennedy is a touch of class in what can often be an ungainly genre.
Estrella Mountain Ranch
11800 South Golf Club Drive
Estrella Mountain Ranch
11800 South Golf Club Drive