Phoenix's independent source of
local news and culture
But give it a few minutes and the genius of the place catches up with its weirdness. This organ and its players are awesome, so awesome that the show is entertaining to everyone from the 3-year-old smearing pizza on his face to the 90-year-old smearing pizza on his face. Indeed, the Organ Stop and its 1927 Wurlitzer is one of the few places where the term "fun for all ages" actually applies.
That toddler will be jazzed by the funky lights, kid-friendly pizza and the enormous sound; meanwhile, your great-grandfather will just be jazzed by hearing genuine musicianship on one of the Valley's grandest instruments.
In today's fiercely pigeonholed society, it's heartening to see a pizza parlor that successfully caters to so many, ahem, slices of life.
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?
And you won't find snowboarding or, ugh, inline skating paraphernalia. The shop has one focus, skateboarding (well, perhaps two: The motto on its tee shirts reads, "Tonight we drink, Tomorrow we ride").
Freshly reworked so it's not cluttered by racks, Sub Society has found a new aesthetic sensibility inside the front door. It's organized, with one wall of skate decks, one wall of clothing, and a corner dedicated strictly to shoes, plus the requisite couch and TV where skateboarding videos play all day.
The neatness and friendliness of the staff make it parent-friendly, as well. Most representative perhaps is the fact that there's a chess board set up next to the assembly area; these kids are thinking.
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.
Once you get over everyone's original cliché reaction ("This place has got to be for loser geeks with nothing to do!"), you'll find an array of challenging activities of the real sort. The store welcomes children and encourages play on custom game tables -- particularly for Warhammer 40,000 and Magic: The Gathering. The rulebooks for these elaborate games are an inch thick and would confuse the heck out of most adults. But kids who can't find time for homework can nurture their reasoning skills while plotting attacks with their Warhammer 40K postapocalypse armies that they have spent hours painting in minute detail.
The Depot's extensive game selection and supplies have become legendary in the ever-evolving fantasy-game market -- sans computer.
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
Estrella Mountain Ranch
11800 South Golf Club Drive
Estrella Mountain Ranch
11800 South Golf Club Drive