By day, Valley jazz fans must rely on their iPods, or make do with the inferior smooth jazz served up on KYOT, until KJZZ switches over from its National Public Radio talk feed at 7 p.m. From then until 3 a.m., though, it's all smooth sailing, with the station's "acoustic jazz" format giving blessed airplay to Miles, Byrd, Coltrane, Dizzy and even a few lesser icons who must go by two names (Tommy Newsom, anyone?). On Sunday nights, the blues takes hold, with Bob Corritore's venerable "Those Lowdown Blues" bookended by Drew Verbis' "Blues and Beyond," dedicated to newer blues-influenced artists, and the Chicago-based program "Portraits in Blue" winding down the night. Cool.
Casey Moore's Oyster House
Tom Carlson
Approaching its 20th anniversary, Casey's is still the best place to hang if you're too cool for school -- namely, nearby Arizona State. Whether you're a hipster art student or a slacker fifth-year senior, chillin' at Casey's with a plate of crab cakes and a mug of Guinness (and blowing off that 3:15 class on a Tuesday afternoon) is a rite of passage. Don't get us wrong, Casey's ain't just for the college crowd. It's a second home for hundreds of "olde towne" Tempe residents who relish a simpler scene free of karaoke, silicone or gold lamé shirts. There's no better bar, or one with a more eclectic crowd -- from hippie chicks to frat boys, working stiffs to barflies -- to engage in conversation, either by bellying up to the cozy bar or lounging at picnic tables on the vast outdoor patio. So while regulars might bitch about the lack of parking, most will admit that after a night (or a lazy afternoon) at Casey Moore's, that lovely citation courtesy of the City of Tempe is almost worth it.
Operated out of local sci-fi writer Michael Mennenga's crowded home office in northeast Phoenix, "Wingin' It!" is a freewheeling weekly gab fest hosted by Mennenga and his pal, Web designer and practicing herbalist Evo Terra. Ostensibly a show dedicated to science fiction and fantasy books, "Wingin' It!" takes off on any number of geeky tangents, often rambling about podcasting itself, which has narrowed from an anyone-can-do-it field to one where only the strongest personalities thrive -- much like regular radio, only with more freedom and fewer commercials. For Mennenga, who until recently co-hosted a similar show on talk-radio KFYI-AM 550, and Terra, author of an upcoming book called Podcasting for Dummies, this is a dream gig -- one they're happy to share with local podcast geeks everywhere.
Club Mardi Gras & VooDoo Lounge
Turns out that drunks and dickheads aren't the only things that've been 86'ed from this roadhouse, as boredom and pretentiousness are equally verboten. Despite this club's hot spot in the shadows of Scottsdale, there's nary a posturing person to see or be seen among a diverse throng of pierced and tattooed patrons, trendy college kids, working stiffs from the General Dynamics plant across the street, and others who congregate here. In addition to all the people-watching, amusement can be found via an array of amateur comedians who pack their gags into one side of the club for yuk-filled shows throughout the week, while DJs, local bands, and a cast of spunky/funky/punky barkeeps and wait staff offer diversion on the other. Besides, when's the last time you were in a bar that's lit by candlelight (other than during the last blackout)?
Jugg'z Saloon (Formerly Pecos Lounge)
A thought struck us the other day as we sipped a rum and Coke while maxing and relaxing inside this, our newest favorite watering hole: This place is definitely chill. Maybe it's all the fans and vents blasting freezy freshness throughout this darkened shelter from the sun, or perhaps it's the refreshing specialty drinks like the Blue Lagoon (a breezy blend of vodka, curaçao and pineapple juice), imbibed by all the wild regulars who slide on in during the cool-as-ice Latin Night Thursdays, with DJs spinning salsa, merengue, reggaeton, and American oldies. It's also pretty groovalicious that the owners keep things spic-and-span here, reminding their staff (via a Magic Markered sign over the register) to refrain from eating sunflower seeds at the bar and to "Clean, clean, all ways [sic] clean." We don't care if they can't spell here. We love 'em anyway.
Unlike other blogs where people yammer about what they had for breakfast or who they ran into at the mall, "Jon's Jail Journal" is worth reading, thanks to its dry British wit and clever word play. The author is convicted Arizona ecstasy ring leader "English" Shaun Attwood. Convicted in 2002, the yoga-practicing, book-loving former stockbroker has been penning his ponderings to keep his sanity while residing in Sheriff Joe's jail. Don't believe us? Here's an excerpt from a March entry:

Anal Virginity Threats: Adam's Shocking Fetish (Threat level: medium) My hairy posterior is now dodging a triple threat: Frankie and George have been joined by Adam . . . The three contenders for my excretory opening are preparing to square off in what is fast becoming a Wild Western poop-chute shoot-out in the bird-brained belief that the best man will get to warmly receive my tight lower crevice. The fact that my cranny pack just wants to be left alone seems to have impassioned the lusty blokes who are now more gung-ho than ever, and further stimulated by the competition between them . . .

See what we mean?

We're big fans of the Republic's "Today's News Briefing" section, with its super-short stories about global hot spots keyed to a world map. But the paper's effort on May 11 was off the map -- literally.

One of that day's briefs informed us that "President Bush brings words of support for Georgia's democracy and its wish to join NATO but no firm promise of assistance to help it wrench itself from Russia's influence."

When we saw the arrow was pointing to an area near Atlanta, fear reverberated. Russia's influence? Russkis in the Old South? And how had democracy hit a trouble spot in the state that brought us Jimmy Carter and Newt Gingrich? We were relieved to see a correction the very next day -- the Georgia that Bush visited, the Republic informed us, is actually near the Caspian Sea south of Russia.

Did they have to scare us like that? Reading that paper is frightening enough as it is.

BS West
Benjamin Leatherman
BS West is absolutely one of the friendliest clubs you'll ever party at, whether you're bi, gay, straight, or none of the above. Hidden in Scottsdale's back streets (despite its Fifth Avenue address), the party's always pumpin', with enough stud muffins in attendance to make a het fella rethink his sexuality. It's got the feel of a two-story gay frat house in the midst of Scottsdale's party scene, with a 2-4-1 hump day special that makes BS the place to hit on Wednesday nights. But as wild as it can get, BS still retains a neighborly feel, where people aren't afraid to converse with one another, or at least flirt shamelessly. And the bartenders actually seem happy to have your business, unlike at some other places where they make you feel like they're doing you a favor by serving you. BS has been going strong since 1988, and if it stays the way it is, it'll probably be alive and kickin' in 2088.
There was a time when people were afraid that "The Biz" would be a victim of its own success. The Valley's oldest lesbian bar is also its best-known, and if straight people know about only one gay bar in the city, it's The Biz. But what makes this bar so popular for people of any sexual orientation is not just the promise of hordes of hot women writhing together on the dance floor. The DJs, Tsunami and Suzy, spin the hottest mixes of hip-hop, house, Top 40 and retro, and the bartenders serve up drinks faster than you can say the L-word, not to mention the slew of sexy shows (the band Betty, musician Jennifer Spector, and drag kings) and erotic events (wet tee-shirt contests and "Stripper Night"). But don't take our word for it. Show up on a Thursday or Sunday night and see for yourself. Just be prepared to stand in line if you show up after 10 p.m.

BEST POSTHUMOUS MEMORY OF HUNTER S. THOMPSON

Way back in 1986, the late Mr. Thompson showed up at our fine offices on East Jefferson Street with a beer in one hand and a joint in the other. He had this comment: "I want to find out who killed Don Bolles, and I want to start at the dog track." (Or words to that effect; memory does fade.) Bolles was a reporter who got murdered by some local thugs in 1976. Thompson's momentary obsession with all things Bolles had been fueled by Thompson's girlfriend, a young west Phoenix woman who had run off with him a year or so earlier. Off we went to the track, down on 38th Street and Washington. Wouldn't ya know it, the pickled scribe picked the longest shot to win the first race, betting $100 and collecting about $1,000. Suffice it to say, that money was dumped on liquor, food and much more betting within the hour. "No big deal," he announced to everyone within shouting distance. "I was gonna expense all this anyway."

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