BEST ALT-CULTURE CAPITALISTS 2005 | Chris and Jim McLennan | People & Places | Phoenix
Everyone needs friends like Chris and Jim McLennan. Not content to sit in the audience and enjoy their favorite filmmakers, professional wrestlers, comedians and performance artists, this Scottsdale couple has helped bankroll the efforts of Valley creative types using profits from their Web-based bead business since 2001. In addition to funneling financing, these funky philanthropists also provide promotional assistance to the likes of auteur Zach Yoshioka, and the ring warriors of Impact Zone Wrestling, as well as such bands as Radiance, and The Strand. If that weren't enough, the pop-cultural patrons also help organize their ongoing Comedy SlamFest, and provide the booking at nightspot The Sets in Tempe. So far they've been backing the right horses, as The Strand recently inked a deal with a major distributor who got their stuff into Tower Records and Best Buy, and Yoshioka's busy making music videos and DVDs for the artists of Subnoize Records. So artists of the local scene, take note: Mom and Dad may not open their wallets anymore, but Uncle Jim and Aunt Chris just might.
Phoenix has some great DJs of all stripes, proficient in all types of musical genres, but is there anywhere in town a DJ of more renown than Pete "SuperMix" Salaz, the Buddha of House, who has long reigned over the night like some affable Aztec god? If you spotted Salaz on the street, you'd just see a portly, easygoing chap, not one who would stir you one way or the other. But this Maestro of the Wheels of Steel is a legend that other DJs bow down to, a mixmaster women throw themselves at, begging to be inseminated. Think we're kidding? Show up at the next underground RedMonkey event, re-created from those which once took place at the Riverbottom Lounge long ago, and you'll witness for yourself the passion people have for SuperMix and his signature evenings of dirty house. Partnered with DJ Senbad, a.k.a. Sean Badger, Salaz helped make Batucada the success it was at Scottsdale's Next, and now he and Senbad are bringing house back to Phoenix with Lemon Drop Saturdays at Majerle's 9-Lounge. So 20 years into his career as a DJ, the legend is still going strong. Keep spinnin', SuperMix. Keep spinnin'.
Wanna party with the PHX's Sultan of Soulful Beats? Then DJ Senbad, a.k.a. Sean Badger, is your man. Though Next's Wednesday night Batucada is no more, DJ Senbad continues his magical carpet ride, whether at special events, like pool parties at the Clarendon, or at the new house night over at Majerle's in downtown Phoenix. There's even talk of more nights at Next, so keep your head cocked and your ears wax-free and follow the beat when you hear it, 'cause that's where Senbad will be.
Good old Bikini Lounge will always be one of our favorite downtown nightspots, and we'll still head west on Grand to 15th Avenue and beyond for our fill of arts and amusements. But lately we've been digging the great vibe just down the street, where a whole new generation of gallery spaces and hangouts has cropped up: the Cone Gallery (for art and experimental noise), the PHiX (for lots more noise), the Red Door (for more art, plus wigs, racks of vintage clothing, and thrift-store finds), and plenty of others. At long last, Roosevelt Row doesn't have a monopoly on walkable First Friday neighborhoods. And, dare we say it, this stretch of Grand Avenue has the colorful, laid-back vibe that First Fridays used to have on Roosevelt. You've come a long way, baby!
Whether he's setting the decks ablaze at the after-party for the Soul Train Music Awards in L.A., or backing up Da Nutz weekday afternoons on Power 92.3 FM with the Two Hour Drive at Five, DJ Fashen is one of the greats in the game, who weaves the most popular hip-hop of the day in with classic and sometimes surprising sounds to craft a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am jam, a master mix of interlocking tracks that works well whether it's at the Buzz, Next or on the air. A member of the Heavy Hitters, one of the illest crews in hip-hop, Fashen started out as a club kid and native son of the PHX. Now his name's known and respected throughout the industry. Why, he even snagged the 2003 West Coast DJ of the Year, though homeboy lives in the freakin' desert! Well, here's another plaque for your wall, Fashen. We'll keep listening.


Wet Paint

While downtown Phoenix First Fridays have turned into a gallery-hopping parade of thousands, Tempe's Final Fridays are still relatively intimate. It has a lot to do with the lay of the land -- the area around Mill Avenue is more about bohemian hangouts (with cool art on the walls, of course) than full-on art spaces. The anchor of the action is still Wet Paint, an art supply store convenient to the Arizona State University campus that transforms into a happening hipster central one night a month. Shelves of markers and canvases make way for a young, savvy crowd that shows up to browse paintings, graf art, and photography from local artists. Meanwhile, a host of entertainers -- bands, MCs, DJs, and even local b-boys and b-girls -- come out to perform, giving visitors enough excuses to stick around for a while.
The easiest way to figure out the best galleries in town is to ask the artists. These days, plenty of people are name-dropping the Chocolate Factory, an impressive new offering from local artist Hector Ruiz, whose provocative exhibition of sculptures, carvings, and woodblock prints, "La Realidad," is on display at the Heard Museum until next spring. Also home to Ruiz's personal studio and two other artist workspaces, the Chocolate Factory showcases all kinds of media, including paintings, installations, and video art, from both local and out-of-town artists. While Ruiz has worked with curators and individual artists to put together the monthly shows, he doesn't represent a set roster of creative talent. "Really, this is for art's sake," he says. We're impressed.
DJ William Fucking Reed has but one command for your delicious derrière: Get on that floor and dance! Every Saturday night at the Rogue Bar East in Scottsdale, Reed hosts Shake!, a frenzied, hip-twisting bacchanal where he drops genres like mod, glam, post-punk, garage, Brit-punk, metal, power pop, British invasion, and so on into one high-energy perpetual-motion machine with Reed like some impish gremlin at the wheel. Here at Shake!, Roxy Music meets The Bravery, Louis XIV hooks up with T. Rex, and the Beach Boys and OutKast suck face like teenagers in the bathroom -- uh, metaphorically speaking, of course. In Reed's hands, rock no longer seems like some moribund beast kept alive with the help of an Intensive Care Unit funded by Jann Wenner's Rolling Stone. Instead, it's a horny, thousand-armed demon that takes hold of you and makes you move despite yourself. By day, Reed works at the ever-chic Clarendon Hotel. But come Saturday night, everyone knows Reed's the king.
The night that Tigerface crashed its own party might've been the kind of mortifying experience that most musicians would rather forget, but no matter. We were damn impressed. It was a sticky July evening at Modified Arts, and the Scottsdale quartet was in the middle of its opening set for psychedelic D.C. band Weird War. The steadily swelling crowd was mesmerized by Tigerface's Faint-inspired grooves and dark, Nine Inch Nails-worthy intensity. But we never saw Trent Reznor do a stage dive with an instrument to keep a song going, which is just what keyboardist Ari did when his synth stand fell forward into the audience. Remarkably, the show did go on; instead of missing a beat, the other band members kept rocking as Ari caught the keyboard in midair and continued to play chords, sprawled out on the floor on his stomach. Talk about dedication. It might take a bigger budget for Band-Aids (or a good set of elbow pads), but maybe Tigerface should make this feat part of its regular act.
We ambled through dozens of studios during Art Detour, the downtown Phoenix art walk sponsored by ArtLink that's held one weekend each year, usually in March. Months later, we have to admit, our recall of this year's now institutionalized city art event is just all one big beige blur -- except for a very distinct spot that stands out in our memory. It's the shared studio space of Carrie Marill and Matthew Moore -- a well-tended Grand Avenue, by-appointment-only studio at the very back of a series of artist studios leased out for years by art doyenne Beatrice Moore.

Husband and wife, Marill and Moore peacefully and productively co-exist in their joint studio space, and, while their work is very different, you get the feeling that, in many ways, they share not only physical space, but the same basic aesthetic as well. Moore's work is land-based, inspired by his day job as manager of his family's fourth-generation farm in the West Valley. Marill's stylistically stripped-down yet elegant paintings and drawings of various landscapes explore the idea of the sameness that pervades society.

As we stood gazing at Marill's beautiful paintings, an artist we trust whispered, "Buy something -- she's getting big in L.A." (See our "Fun and Games" section in Best of Phoenix for examples of Marill's work.) So we did, after which Moore offered us a gigantic home-grown carrot, which, along with the couple's artwork, was the sweetest thing we'd tasted all weekend.

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