Best Old Tools And New Telescopes 2001 | Photon Instruments and the St. James Bay Tool Company | Shopping & Services | Phoenix
This combination isn't likely to inspire a national chain anytime soon, yet it has the appeal of a toy-filled dream. Tucked inside an inconspicuous lab-like brick building, the wooden, glass-fronted cabinets give this place an Old World flavor that leaps from Galileo to This Old House. In one corner, old planes, chisels, saws, augers and plenty more are carefully displayed; in another are the beautifully cast and finished wood and metal planes in which St. James specializes. Across the store are those magical telescopes, including binoculars, for viewing the far away up close. If you want to talk optics, eyepieces, or the best way to see the next eclipse or that wobbling orb Mars, ask for Warren Kutok, Photon's owner, who's been scouring the heavens for more than 50 years.
Good thing for us that Simon Nisanov left his native Uzbekistan in the early '90s and landed here in the Valley -- we'd hate to have to travel to the former Soviet bloc country just to get a shave and a haircut. And we're pretty sure that we couldn't get one we liked as well from anyone other than Simon or one of his colleagues at this unassuming little shop stashed in a small plaza just behind an old IHOP. Simon and fellow ear-lowerers Arsen and Tatyana know their way around scissor and clipper cuts, beard trims, even straight-razor shaves, and the shop comes fully equipped with all the bells and whistles loved by those of us who prefer a good old-fashioned barber shop to any sort of salon. There's a wall rack stuffed with magazines, kitschy, outdoorsy wall art, corny joke plaques, a TV droning out brawling talk shows, and, of course, pictures of square-jawed models displaying coifs that you, too, can sport. So stop in for a trim. Simon and pals are true Legends of the Follicle.

Michelle Lombardi knows hair. She'll quickly assess yours and, in short order, can turn what might be a mop into a functional, optimally attractive 'do. Michelle offers cuts based on what looks best on you, not on her latest whim, and her always-flattering cuts grow out nicely, too. We know people who fly in from L.A. and San Francisco every few months just for one of Michelle's trim jobs (you know she's good if you can't find a better hairdresser in San Francisco). The added bonus? Unlike many of the people in her profession, Michelle is a charming, down-to-earth working mom who won't trouble you with grating gossip or ask you to be her personal therapist while she's snipping your split ends.
To be perfectly honest, we wouldn't say no to any spa, anywhere, any time.

But even in this rarefied category, there are places that stand out. Take your stressed and tired bones to the Phoenician's Centre for Well-Being (we had to shave points off their final score for the affected spelling, but they still win) and stay all day. Not only are the treatments excellent -- we recommend a "therapeutic" massage at $110 for 50 minutes, despite the ominous brochure warning that it's "not recommended for a first-time treatment" -- but the locker rooms are spacious and invite lolling and loitering. To splurge, try the Sanctuary package -- a body treatment (such as a wrap), a massage, a facial and a manicure/pedicure, at 50 minutes each, plus lunch, for $485, all gratuities included. Do not leave before spending, oh, a good half-hour in the "Swiss" shower. And take a nap in the Meditation Atrium. Sure, you could nap at home, but there's something about that tinkling fountain, the tropical foliage, the terry-cloth robe . . .

For such an unnecessary indulgence, a pedicure can be an awfully routine, ho-hum affair, more like a visit to the dentist that must be patiently endured than a delightful way to play hooky. If one is to spend money on such things, one should leave feeling pampered and a bit guilty. Carrie O'Hare clearly understands this. Her pedicures are like spa treatments, and bear little resemblance to the services provided by the many strip-mall nail factories around town. The lucky subject reclines nearly horizontally in a tilting chair, is given a heated neck pillow and bean bag to cover her eyes (or his -- Carrie does men's pedicures, as well). The lights are lowered, and the rest is, well, nap time -- unless you'd like to converse, because Carrie is lovely to chat with. But no small talk is required; just relax and look forward to great-looking, scrubbed, trimmed and paraffin-dipped toes.
Hair knows no shame. It's a wild and unruly creature that answers to no one and grows wherever it likes, without regard to appropriateness. Unwanted body hair has found a formidable (if gracious) foe in Jennifer Ann Tumolo. Jennifer waxes and tweezes anywhere you want, with a gentle hand and a firm technique, leaving behind a meticulously tended patch of smooth skin. With acute attention to detail, she adjusts both wax and waxing methods to accommodate changes in hair thickness and skin temperature. Thanks to her expert knowledge of skin care (facials are actually her specialty), even the most radical amount of hair removal has little effect on your freshly exposed epidermis. With reassuring words and a professional tableside manner, Jennifer makes body waxing a breeze.
Scottsdale galleries can be daunting for the beginning art collector. But under the direction of Kraig Foote, Art One offers the rest of us wonderful works that don't require either a second mortgage or a working knowledge of who's who in the art world. Representing local artists and students (mostly college students, although pieces by talented high school artists also make their way onto the walls), Art One offers some of the most striking and diverse visual art in the area. Even dyed-in-the-wool art collectors stop by this unusual gallery. And who knows when you'll snag a piece by a budding Matisse for a song.
There's no cooler place to be a nerd. A large computer section and a cafe serving espresso drinks cater to the techie crowd, though the wide selection of everything electric leaves no one empty-handed. Displays practically scream "Try me!" to shoppers searching for appliances, digital cameras, computers or musical instruments. A Fry's drone in a white shirt and tie can be found at every turn, and, with eight home theater and audio rooms to try the equipment, you'll always know what you're getting before you mosey up to the register. To get to a cashier, customers are herded through a maze of impulse-buy fun junk, like chocolate keyboards, 10,000 kinds of batteries, and bargain bins full of computer games. But nothing's as fun as the savings once you finally arrive at the cashier.
With big-deal bong brands such as Zong, Kaos, Chalice and Chong, this shop is a smooth smoker's paradise. Double-sided glass means high quality, and can mean high prices, too -- up to $200, but well worth it for a connoisseur. The shop also has less expensive and almost-as-cool water pipes in several media and an informative and friendly staff to show off the pageant of pipery. Of course, this trippy, 12-year-old trove sells more than pipes. Garments with stitched pockets for stashing keys and other "small personals" hang from treetop racks, alongside the usual whacked-out posters, tee shirts, tapestries and plastic-beaded curtains. To complete the mood, choose from an array of rock-star incense, like the Bob Marley Variety Pack or Grateful Dead rose-scented sticks. Don't miss the 11-hose hookah near the register -- an 11th-anniversary gift last year from famed batik artist and pipe designer Jerome Baker. Careful, though: Insinuating the use of illegal substances will get you a swift kick out the front door.
There's hardly an excuse not to make a day of it at Brass Armadillo, a 40,000-square-foot mall with a cozy diner on premises, plenty of research materials about antiques, and generous daily hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Each of the mall's 600 booths and cases has a distinctive character, and you can gorge your appetite for antiques on items ranging from schlocky secondhand '40s dishware to mint-condition vintage furniture. Don't overlook the rows of glass cases, where you'll find pricey, 200-year-old costume jewelry alongside ratty (but still collectible!) Skipper dolls from the '80s. Prices are reasonable, and the pleasure of the hunt makes this worth turning into an Antique Mall rat.

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