BEST STAR GAZING 2005 | Moonlight Movies | People & Places | Phoenix
Turns out Phoenicians prefer Ferris Bueller to The Birds. This completely unscientific observation took place this summer, during Phoenix City Councilman Tom Simplot's Moonlight Movies series. The movies, shown in the amphitheater at Steele Indian School Park, drew revelers of all ages, who picnicked before the movies, and munched on popcorn and ice cream for sale by vendors through the evening. Ferris Bueller's Day Off drew the largest crowd of the summer, with The Princess Bride a close second.

Simplot was there to canoodle at every showing this summer. He marvels at the diversity of the crowd -- single, married, gay, straight -- but yes, mostly families. (Who else really wants to see Shrek 2 again?) "Young families love these movies," Simplot says. "Date night with the kids, and nobody cares if the kids are rowdy."

We curse Dan Harkins every time some kid asks us to upsize our popcorn (didn't the movie magnate see Super Size Me?), but Dan, we're still glad your mother gave birth to you in the Valley Art Theatre, and that you held onto the space -- and the more than 200 theaters Harkins Theatres has subsequently opened since 1933.

Camelview in Scottsdale is consistently the best place to see that hard-to-find movie, and while we lament the bulldozing of the Ciné Capri, we have to admit that the new one's not so bad.

But the best part about Harkins is its ubiquity. We love knowing that just about wherever we are in the Valley, Harkins is there. (Try downtown Phoenix next, Dan -- hint, hint.)

This is a chain even Arizona Chain Reaction can love -- and it does. Harkins is a member.

Yes, sometimes more is more. Except when it comes to concessions. Tell your clerks to stop pushing Pepsi by the gallon, and we'll love you even more, Dan.

If you're up to no good and don't want the whole town to know about it, there's no better place to hide out than this funky, thoroughly dark central Phoenix watering hole. The Valley's version of Hernando's Hideaway has a great retro vibe, a thoroughly diverse clientele, and just enough smoke (and so little light) that total discretion is a given. If it's a busy night at Chez Nous and the music is loud, no one will ever know you were there.
Jacob Tyler Dunn
There's no explanation for a place like the Palo Verde. Dude, this place should be on an episode of Ripley's Believe It or Not. By everyone's admission, even the regulars, the PV is a dive. Outside, the junky brick building looks like it might house a meth lab or a massage parlor. Inside, it's bare bones: a jukebox, two pool tables operating at 50 cents a pop, a couple of electronic games in the back, one old-school Playboy pinball machine, and a seedy little bar area. And yet it draws one of the most diverse crowds in the Valley, including iron cowboys, college geeks, punk-rock chicks, tattoo artists, crusty old-timers, hip black guys -- you name it. Why do they all head for the Palo Verde? Aside from great drink specials, there's no easy answer, other than maybe it's like pulling on an ancient pair of jeans which, despite all the wear and tear, are comfy as hell. Got another theory? Meet us down at the PV, and we'll discuss it over a couple of pints, matey.
The director, star and co-writer of Never Been Thawed, a tiny masterpiece of an indie film, deserves nods not only for creating a sweetly acerbic, nicely acted local film, but for helping to bust up the post-PC etiquette that's still dogging us into the new millennium. Anders' snarky send-up of all things sacred about a collection of young losers who obsessively collect frozen TV dinners and hold meetings to discuss them, started small and built big all last year. Never Been Thawed made the film-festival circuit, played local art houses, and wound up going multiplex at Harkins Centerpoint, largely on the strength of Anders' (and co-writers Chuck LeVinus and John Morris) sly reinvention of the mockumentary, not to mention his hilarious performance as sexy nerd Shawn. Here's to Never Been Thawed II -- or at least another deeply irreverent feature from Anders and company.
When VH1 asked the musical question "Doesn't Somebody Want to Be Laurie?", Phoenix ponied up with lovely young Emily Stone, who took off on a race to be the next Laurie Partridge. First, she appeared on the music network's In Search of The Partridge Family, a quasi-American Idol in which the original cast of the '70s sitcom introduced kids (and middle-aged Shirleys!) who competed to replace them. Emily easily whomped the hundreds of would-be Lauries competing against her, becoming the country's cutest air pianist and winning the chance to record a new Partridge single (which really sucked) and to appear in a pilot for The New Partridge Family (which aired, but wasn't picked up by VH1 or any other network). It didn't hurt that La Stone grabbed her lovely bosom during the acting contest and sang a memorable cover of Meredith Brooks' "Bitch" (as introduced by Shirley Jones, much to the horror of Partridge prudes everywhere). Even if the new Partridge program did lay an egg, we're confident that the lovely Miss Stone will be the next Lindsay Lohan. If not, there's always the adulation of thousands of weirdly obsessed, middle-aged Partridge fans to look forward to.
Dirty Dogg Saloon may be a "biker bar," but don't be scared. The hot Harleys and other shiny chrome hogs out front belong mostly to middle-aged moneymakers and thirtysomething trendsetters. After all, we're talking about a bar in a Scottsdale strip mall. Some of the fellas still look pretty rough, though, covered in old, faded tattoos, with a few teeth missing here and there, but buried beneath the dirty denim and leather are biker b-boys who just wanna bust some moves. Maybe it's the hundreds of bras and panties hanging from the ceiling, or maybe it's the fine, frivolous young ladies who gather 'round them, but when these guys get down, they get down all the way, doing hand spins and back spins on the floor, throwing off their bandannas, and jamming to whatever's on the jukebox, be it Mötley Crüe or OutKast. Ride on!
You'll only find a small picture of Scottsdale native George Mang on his own Web site, but you will see a bevy of the hottest stars in Hollywood -- and they're all wearing Mang. In the last year, the self-taught shoe designer has shod everyone from Halle Berry to Kate Bosworth, and he's got the press clips to prove it. Not many designers launch their line for the first time at age 50, and not many have the chutzpah to feature only stilettos. ("There's not a low heel in the bunch," he told Zink magazine. "That's not where I'm going with this.") But then again, most fledgling designers don't wind up with Desperate Housewives wearing their shoes in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, either.


Hardtailz Bar and Grill

Check your attitude at the door. Hardtailz caters to bikers, but it's no place for assholes. You don't have to have tattoos or grease under your fingernails to get a fresh drink as soon as yours runs dry. Unlike some other places where strange faces are greeted with suspicion or indifference, everyone is welcome here, whether they get around on a Harley, a Honda, or in a BMW. There are parking spaces reserved for bikes next to the entrance, and the obligatory closed-circuit television camera, so you can keep an eye on your ride as you sip. If you don't want your scooter out of sight, you can sit in the outdoor beer garden, which misters keep cool in the summer. The bar is spacious, with room enough for billiard and Ping-Pong tables. There's live music most nights (classic rock dominates -- this is, after all, a biker place), and the kitchen serves up great cheeseburgers and fries. So hop on your hog and head to Hardtailz.


Yucca Tap Room

Jennifer Goldberg
Kudos to the Yucca Tap Room for a courageous common-sense approach to the anti-smoking Nazis. At considerable financial risk (establishments that allow smoking can be fined up to $500 by the city, and snitches can rat to the police online), the Yucca keeps a healthy supply of Altoids tins behind the bar. They are not there to cure bad breath. Rather, the tins make dandy ashtrays, which can be quickly closed in case the cops show up. The tins are not available during live music performances or when it gets busy. They are for slow, lazy afternoons, when everyone in the place either smokes or doesn't object if others light up. Which is exactly the way it should be.

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