Best Place To Open A Business If You're Not Good With Names

Downtown Mesa

Head south down Country Club Drive in Mesa toward Main Street and check out the businesses that line the streets. Don't just glance at them, read their signs. You'll find a haven for the creatively challenged business owner -- the uninspired, the copycat, the redundant. Beer World is a few spots away from Birds of the World, and about a mile away from Pool World (as in pool tables). The Pawn Man and The Water Heater Man are right across the street from each other. And the Basic Food Market is not too far from the Community Family Restaurant. And lest you miss its point, near Country Club and Main is the Valley Eatery Diner Restaurant.
Although usually associated with funky retro furniture for budget-minded urbanites, Z Gallerie's separate roomful of framed paintings, drawings and photographs is a gold mine for wanna-be art aficionados. Sift through a stack of prints by anyone from Ansel Adams to Kandinsky to van Gogh or pull a framed reproduction from the wall for less than what you paid for air conditioning last month. And suddenly the wall over your couch has a whole new classic vibe. Unlike most home-decor stores where the art is scattered in bland places across the showroom or clustered with empty wedding frames, Z Gallerie's art room looks more like a casual, pseudo-museum with a constantly changing selection. All prints come framed, although Z Gallerie can send yours out for a new mat-and-frame job, if you like.
ASU Art Museum
After more than a decade in its Antoine Predock building, this museum is showing the Valley what a broad, inclusive phrase "contemporary art" can be. Despite a thin bottom line, ASU's art museum has assembled stellar exhibitions of crafts alongside intriguing shows by the likes of Shirin Neshat, Lucio Muniain and Andreas Gursky. These names aren't likely to bring in the Arizona crowds, but they're ones worth knowing. Their appearance proves that budgets don't define an institution's mission -- vision does.

Maybe it's all the couples who seem to glide by, holding hands, chatting effortlessly, on their way from one fancy store to the next. Or perhaps it's the large fountain, surrounded by bright flowers. Take a first date to this little wine-and-cheese shop at Biltmore Fashion Park (the salads ain't bad, either), and you won't have to worry about using your best lines. Sit beneath the misters outside, sip a glass of red wine, and pucker up.
There's a place in the West Valley where Will and Susan Hoskyns turn frowns upside down.

Not only does the dentist offer a "comprehensive cosmetic practice," which whitens smiles with veneers and fixes the mouths of people who grind their teeth, he offers an entire office full of precious art that makes people feel like they've stepped into Europe during centuries past.

Hoskyns bought a practice in Litchfield Park, then went to work on new offices featuring masterpiece artworks, including an early 1700s Italian copy of a painting called The Entombment; a fireplace from the Directoire period that was found in the province of Poitou-Charentes and shipped to this country in 16 pieces; and a pair of French doors that survived the Paris flood.

The dentist specializes in high-profile and celebrity clients who can secretly slip into the West Valley and stay at the five-star Wigwam Resort while he gives them million-dollar smiles.

Here you will find an elegant Chinese dog from 206 B.C., created during the Han dynasty and collected from an antiquities dealer in Salisbury, England. And a piece on the fireplace is Spanish, a statue of Christ sitting on the Bible, done in the 1600s.

In the past 12 months, the sky has fallen on many of Phoenix's sports superstars. Jason Kidd, Aeneas Williams, Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick have all been sent down the road. The only local sports team not in a total rebuilding mode is the Arizona Diamondbacks. Pitchers Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling have had their usual superb seasons, and free-agent acquisition Mark Grace has been nothing short of stellar. But one player looms larger than the rest: Luis Gonzalez. The trade that brought Gonzo to Arizona from Detroit for Karim Garcia in 1999 didn't get as much press as the Randy Johnson signing or the Curt Schilling trade, but it may have been the deal that put the Diamondbacks over the top. Not only has Gonzalez's batting average hovered around the .340 mark this season, but he had 51 home runs at press time. He was voted to the starting lineup for the National League in the All-Star Game (and won the Home Run Derby over Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, to boot), and was named NL Player of the Month in April and June.

All this, and he's the father of 3-year-old triplets, too. Anyone who can handle the pressures of the media spotlight and the home front has to be a star in our book.

When it comes to baseball, you can sit with the roof closed, far, far away from the field. Or you can wait for the weather to cool and sit front-row center, close enough to hear catchers mutter to umps, "How many fingers you see me holding up?" We've never been able to figure why this extraordinary peek at baseball's future gamers doesn't draw larger crowds. But those with baseball savvy know this league for its one-day Hall of Famers -- Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra are two -- who've knocked its chunky red dirt from their shimmering cleats. The league's six teams, comprising farm and first-year talents from major league clubs, play at five Cactus League stadiums from October through the second week in November. It's baseball the way it should be, played on green grass in bright sunlight.
Metro Network traffic stud Gregg Paul is pissed off. After serving in Desert Storm during the first Bush administration, he returned to Arizona and scored a five-minute commentary spot on KZON's afternoon show, where he tells it like he sees it -- always in an honest and unforgiving tone. The son of a West Valley blue-collar father, Paul's Everyman rants are often justified and always legitimate. His ongoing, on-air temper tantrums cover politics, race and general social injustice and are delivered uninterrupted and with no indication that he didn't mean every syllable he just wailed. Paul doesn't report the news, he reacts to it -- whether we like it or not. As Paul himself would say, "That's the fact, Jack!"
What passes for "live" TV news these days too often consists of shots of a place where something exciting happened hours ago, and the only thing close to "live" is the reporter in front of the camera. But when it comes to delivering real breaking news, reporting without a script from the scenes of fires, explosions, shootings or whatever, Meeks is head and shoulders above his mere hairdo competitors. He is adept at speaking extemporaneously into the camera, giving all the salient facts in clear, grammatical sentences without stumbling over words or hemming and hawing. No looking like he's about to cry at tragic scenes, no acting all hyped up by the excitement of it all, no appearing more concerned about his hairstyle or clothing than delivering information. Just journalism, thank you very much.
When Channel 10 announced it was beginning a one-hour newscast at 9 p.m., we expected lots of slow talking, meaningless stories and chitter-chatter just to fill the time. But this show is none of that, thanks to John Hook. A former Valley TV reporter, Hook knows what he's talking about, but he doesn't come off as too serious or self-absorbed. He can even deliver the goofy stories and mandatory Fox show promotions with the right amount of sarcasm and amusement, sans annoying giggles. Hook manages to tell us the news -- lots of it -- in a believable (and, yes, sometimes entertaining) way. And that's all we ask for in a newscaster.

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