Since its wildly cacophonous and sonically entrancing inaugural concert last year, the Phoenix Creative Music Movement has been dead set on getting folks out of their aural comfort zones by offering kick-ass experimental music during its bi-monthly concert series at Modified Arts. And it must be doing something right, because its diehard followers and curious newbies demanded more creative craziness and got it. The PCMM's two-day annual winter festival showcases harmonically ambitious local cats gigging in a variety of styles, including improv jazz, atonal electronica, mixed-media installations, and ambient free-flowing sound narratives. The December '05 Fest featured six original acts; Chicago drumming heavyweight and Phoenix native Frank Rosaly performed solo freak-out deconstruction percussion, while the all-woodwind New Jazz Saxophone Quartet closed the fest with angular walls of modern sound. Ditch the winter coat at home, because these artistic pulsations are hot shit, udig?
Terra Java Coffee House & Bake Shop
Timur Guseynov
Brush up on some classic bluegrass, some low-down country blues, and bring out your inner hillbilly during the Arcadia Bluegrass Jam every Sunday night. Started in August 2004, the open bluegrass flat-pickin' session features a healthy mix of musicians equipped with acoustic guitars, banjos, bass, and violins in Mama Java's relaxed and sociable atmosphere. If the only thing you know how to pick is your nose, don't fret. The java and jams flow from 7 to 9 p.m., and admission is free. The jam is always accepting hot strummers and skilled vocalists of all levels, so bring a country-twanged ax and get pluckin'.
Too busy to get to the theater? Well, you have to eat, right? So multitask in the most creative way and head to the Herberger's Lunch Time Theater. The show is only $6, and for a few extra bucks you can pre-order a bag lunch (salad or sandwich, with all sorts of choices, complete with sides and a drink) that will be waiting for you. Shows last 30 to 45 minutes, beginning at 12:10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, when there's a production. The doors open at 11:40 a.m., and you can buy your ticket at the door (although, unless there are no-shows, not your lunch). We've seen a one-woman show and a completely new play, written by several locals. Upcoming productions include The Apple Pie Hubbub: Several Scenes in One Act, opening October 30 and described as a fully improvised play, in which the audience decides the plots and twists. Sure beats the drive-through at Carl's Jr.!
There are two types of women in the world: those who use spa treatments to lift their spirits, and those who prefer to drown their sorrows in alcohol. Fortunately for us girls who've made friends outside our type, this swanky gay bar hosts a regular Monday bash that will satisfy everybody. "Martinis & Manicures" features both stiff drinks and a good touch-up on your nails for just $5 a pop. Since the specials last from 7 p.m. until the bar closes, you may actually find time to explore the exotic components of Amsterdam's super-long martini list. Pineapple upside-down cake martini, anyone? And how about some polish to match?
For just a few bucks, you can eat a hot dog in the sunshine and head back to work with a sparkling car. We knew this was the best car wash in town when we ran into our boss (not just our editor, but the big boss) here one day at lunch, spiffing up his car and his shoes at the same time. We didn't take advantage of the shoeshine service, but we did note that the business at the hot dog stand just outside Los Olivos was bustling, and we were grateful that the friendly car wash staff didn't try to change our oil, sell us new tires and refinance our house while we struggled to simply request a basic wash. The basic wash was better than basic, too, and we headed back to the office fed and refreshed. Not bad for an hour off work.
Want to get us excited about public transportation? DO NOT TALK TO US ABOUT LIGHT RAIL! We already spend much of our day talking about light rail to ourselves, under our breath, stuck in horrendous traffic. Yeah, yeah, it will make our lives wonderful. Maybe. We'll get back to you in several years. For now, we'd rather talk about the cool thing that happened at Sophie's preschool last year. Our toddler came home from school with a picture of herself driving a city bus. Don't worry, we're pretty sure the bus wasn't moving Sophie's knees didn't even bend over the seat, if the Polaroid was any indication. This is a program where the bus folks drive that thing over to the school, and let each kid take a turn driving. The kids were delighted and so were the parents, eager to demonstrate that public transportation's not such a bad thing, even if you won't catch us waiting at a bus stop. We're putting our faith in the next generation . . . and we're glad Tempe In Motion is, too.
Graham Central Station
Single or taken, this dance club is the perfect place to see how you measure up. It's huge, with four large rooms dedicated to different music genres hip-hop, retro, country and, yes, karaoke (if you can call it a genre). If you're looking for a one-night stand, a mere raised eyebrow, or anything in between, the place is sure to satisfy. The fluid transition of people allows you to strategically run into the girl or guy you want and gives you the ability to avoid the ones you don't. And ladies, there seems to always be a large supply of military guys on leave take your pick of the litter.
Geordie's at Wrigley Mansion
Jackie Mercandetti
We've all had to attend stuffy banquets at country clubs, at the Heard Museum (where the Arizona Press Club has recently held its awards ceremony), or at some other hoity-toity spot in the PHX, only to wish we could get down to some real partying before the night is through. Well, the Wrigley Mansion is the perfect place for this. The Wrigley will be only too happy to reserve some space for you and yours to loosen your tie/let your hair down in its spacious digs, originally built by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. for his wife, Ada. Or you can just drop in, and it'll probably be open (on that note, though, it pays to call ahead if the hour gets late, because the bar's been known to close if customers are lacking). Thing is, there's a lot to love about the sprawling Wrigley, owned by jazz aficionado and meatpacking heir Geordie Hormel, until his death earlier this year (thus the name of the mansion's restaurant, Geordie's). From the large bar, where jazz combos play, to the manor-house-like rooms, complete with plush couches and cushy chairs (the large room off the bar contains the mansion's famous player piano), to the balconies overlooking the Phoenix skyline, the Wrigley Mansion is a nocturnal knockout. Speaking of the balconies, they're the perfect place for romance, plus other pleasures of the flesh, because nobody's going to bother you up there.
Here's another one we can blame on Osama. For the past five years, Arizonans have been shooed away from the curb, forced to drive in hellish circles from the South to North, in search of newly arrived air passengers. Finally, the think tank at Sky Harbor has found a way to save us from "You bastard, let me in!" and "How did I end up at Terminal 3!?" The Stage and Go Lot on Sky Harbor Boulevard, west of the Terminal 2 parking garage, is where to park it. Here, updated flight information for all three terminals is provided on a display board. With full bars on your cell phone, passenger pickup should no longer be a problem. The best part? It's free.
There is a maddening line of demarcation between exercise and libation, where we constantly obsess over calorie intake while tipping back a few cool ones with our mates ("If I have this one last beer, it will cost me 30 extra minutes on the treadmill"). Well, enjoy the best of both worlds while getting a full body workout of pedaling legs and frothy 16-ounce curls during October's annual Tour de Bar bike ride. The low-endurance bar tour departs Gallagher's, 7575 North 16th Street, and covers eight watering holes over a five-mile stretch in north central Phoenix, including Rosie McCaffrey's, George & Dragon, and Pomeroy's. Approximately 30 minutes is spent at each spot for suds and pub grub, and overnight parking is available. The event is free; just bring your own bike and enough cash to pump up that spare tire around your waist.

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