Maie Bartlett Heard Elementary School
It takes a lot to get our attention when we're driving, but the wildly colorful, Fauve-style mural painted on a wall in front of Maie Bartlett Heard Elementary School does just that. In fact, the first time we saw the block-long art project, we cruised by several times to determine what was going on. After a number of drive-bys, we finally asked, and determined that, as part of "Phoenix Youth Makes a Difference Day" in 2001 and 2002, students and staff at Heard Elementary, headed up by the inspirational Ms. Dehner, painted different vibrant scenarios that merge to create a pastiche of the splendiferous world around us. You've got your seaside scenes, your mountain and meadow scenes with farm animals and barns, and, of course, you've got a creative blend of Washington, D.C., and New York, with the Capitol Building appearing next to the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and a bunch of off-kilter skyscrapers (maybe the skyscrapers are from L.A.). Cactus-crowded mesas morph into tropical vegetation and brightly colored fish, which swim toward planets in outer space in a continuum that ends with a cheerful school bus on a busy street of charming little houses and a large American flag.

Now we know where Phoenix's Phuture Picassos hang out. Go, Heard Vikings!

Hollywood Alley
Without a doubt, Hollywood Alley has consistently good live music, from hardcore to Americana, on any night of the week. But the past several months have brought a lot more workweek excitement to break up the daily grind. First, Dumperfoo and Emerg McVay's Thursday night Blunt Club arrived. And just this past July, Vodka Tonic Media got on board with its own ongoing Tuesday night party, Gimme Danger, with indie bands and DJs to please the underground rock crowd. It's nice to see an old favorite like Hollywood Alley taking some chances. So take a risk yourself, and sneak out on a school night.
Those in the Phoenix art scene love to recycle, and it's not just because of their hippy-dippy lifestyle. No, these arty people are all about reusing refuse because it provides them with tons of debris to either use as canvases or as part of a found art sculpture or two -- especially the kind of junk that can be unearthed in downtown's Evans-Churchill Neighborhood along Roosevelt Street, between Seventh Street and Central Avenue.

Ask any of the area's groovy garbage pickers about it and they'll regale you with tales of scoring plywood, broken electronics, window frames, cardboard, and other castoffs. Isaac Fortoul likes to chop up old doors from the alleyway behind his digs, which currently houses MADE Art Boutique, for use in his paintings. Ian Wender incorporated more than 1,000 beer tabs he found in the Holga's parking lot into mixed-media collage. (Hey, all that underage drinking on First Fridays is finally paying off!) His neighbor Kim Bridgford also acknowledges that she's swiped Masonite panels and cabinet doors from nearby rubbish receptacles. The only complaint of these local artisans: "All the crackheads take the good garbage."

The Rogue Bar
It takes more than a fresh coat of paint and some nice new booth seating to really change a place. And sure enough, a lot of changes happened at The Rogue this past year (that is, The Rogue East, sister to Phoenix's newer Rogue West). We've heard rumors about what really went down, but all we'll say is this: The Rogue made it through the drama, which is more than you could say about so many of the Valley's now-defunct nightspots. It's a little disappointing that this place isn't a destination to see live punk bands anymore, but on the bright side, The Rogue has made a major comeback with one single night, Shake!, on Saturdays. It's when DJ William Reed spins punk, indie and glam to get the eyeliner crowd dancing, and flame-haired Hell on Heels'er Katie Rose pours stiff drinks to get the barflies gabbing. And one more thing -- The Rogue still has a killer jukebox.
Arizona Art Supply
Often, when we ask friends and colleagues for a recommendation for a particular "Best of," we're overwhelmed with choices and a lot of hemming and hawing. After all, there are a lot of places in this town where you can get a good margarita. But when we asked about art supplies, the answer came back quickly, always the same, and from professional artists as well as neophytes: Arizona Art Supply.

The masses have spoken, and they're right. Nowhere else in the Valley can you find the selection and quality of supplies -- as well as professional advice to go along with them -- as at Arizona Art Supply. There are now locations in Scottsdale and Tempe, along with the well-known spot in the center of town, or you can order online.

All we ask is that you thank us profusely in your "artist's statement."

The Trunk Space
Stephanie Carrico and JRC's Grand Avenue art space/performance venue is sorta like Disneyland, only way smaller -- it's persistently packed with colorfully larger-than-life characters, there's tons of fun and fantasy to be had, and it could be "The Happiest Place on Earth," especially if you're a fan of entertainers (from both inside and outside the Valley) who are equally weird and wired. Carrico and JRC possess a self-proclaimed soft spot in their hearts for all manner of oddballs, and the list of wacky acts the couple has booked at the Trunk include the spastic gymnastics and hyperactive tonal terrorism of one-man gigs I Hate You When You're Pregnant and Treasure Mammal, the noise rock pollution of Father's Day, the freakish feats of the Spellbinding Circus Sideshow, and the vampire-meets-vaudeville stylings of Count Smokula. Just as long is the list of screwball antics that regularly occur, like when the gaudy J-pop punkers of NYC's Peelander-Z ended their February set with a game of "human bowling," encouraging audience members to toss them at some oversize pins. Looking for any unusual suspects? We betcha you'll find them in this joint.
Bruno Mali's Cafe & Gift
Sunday night is usually spent lying low, doing laundry, and licking our wounds after not snagging that honey's number at the club the night before. It's a "school night," and we gotta turn in early so we can rise bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for another week of workin' for The Man. Well, fuck that cheese! And while you're at it, Muck Fondays, too. That's right, I ain't been drinkin' . . . yet. Muck Fondays is a Sunday night of martini swillin' and chillin' at Bruno Mali's, so named to make you think of O.J. Simpson's bloody shoe (but actually named for the owner's relatives). If there's a principle behind Muck Fondays, it's this: If you have to work, why not be hung over on your boss's time? That'll teach that needle-dick for making you clock in at 8 a.m. At Muck Fondays, they say "Screw the system!" with kick-ass DJs spinning jazz fusion and hip-hop, and drink deals that are off the chain. Hell, there's even a better chance of hookin' up on Sunday anyway, we think. And if that happens, you'll have at least one reason for smiling come Monday morn.
Alchemy Studio
You think you're too busy to acquire a new art skill? Well, we're not impressed. Got a day? Get artsy with Alchemy Studio's one-day workshops conducted in, as they put it, a "small but rich time frame." An eclectic mix of classes ranging from figure drawing and playwriting to hand-sewn scrapbooks and Polaroid transfers (where the emulsion creates a print on non-photographic surfaces) is offered within the convenience of a weekend afternoon.

Experienced art professionals teach the seminars, including Mary Virginia Swanson, whose credentials include directing special photo projects for the famous NYC photojournalism collective Magnum. A brand-new space, slated to open later this fall, will house a darkroom and more etching equipment that will allow for additional printmaking techniques and 19th-century photographic processes. So fold your laundry later. You've run out of excuses, pal.

Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences
When a post-secondary school has a voluntary three-year waiting list, you know it must be a great institution. You also know it's full of some serious geeks. For more than two decades, the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS) has been teaching audio fanatics the ins and outs of the recording world. From analog and digital sound manipulation to production mastery and music business management, CRAS' 30-week real-world approach allows for success in many different entry-level positions in audio. Together, the Tempe campus and newer satellite campus in Gilbert contain eight full analog/digital recording studios, six practice labs, and, in the latter location, a 6,000-square-foot concert venue that allows for live sound recording. Recent graduates have won Grammys for their work on popular albums such as Radiohead's Hail to the Thief and OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. There is a 12:1 student-to-teacher ratio with a year-round rolling admission policy. A geek heaven indeed.
What do you say about a club night where one of the DJs' names is "Squalor" and people donate detritus to the garbage-laden walls? We'd say that's one trashy event, trashy-cool, actually, on the same level of John Waters' early flicks like Multiple Maniacs, Pink Flamingos, and Desperate Living. They call it Sadisco, short for "Sadistic Disco." It previously went down at Jugheads once a month, usually in the middle of the month, though Sadisco's now calling .anti_space home. Every event has a different theme, from Fight Club and Prom Night Massacre to Psycho Beach Sadisco and Crime Lab Absinthian, with .anti_space being decked out by Sadisco's creative team of Toby Heidebrink (DJ Squalor), Donnie Burbank (DJ Doctor Father), and their demented band of libidinous misfits. Somehow, we think Baltimore's Prince of Puke would approve of these perved-out Children of the Revolution. The music is a combo of noise, industrial, EBM (electronic body music) and electroclash, and the dress code is one of mandatory insanity. There's nothing else like it in Phoenix. No other club night even comes close.

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