BEST PLACE NOT TO BE SEEN 2006 | Monroe's Food & Fine Spirits | People & Places | Phoenix
Visibility is at a premium at this basement-level bar, which is usually shrouded in a state of near darkness, punctuated only by the eerie crimson glow of red ceiling lamps. Serving not only as shady shelter from which to escape the blazing Arizona sun, Monroe's also provides downtown Phoenix denizens with the perfect hiding place to slip away for a noontime drink or even spend the afternoon playing hooky from work. After dark, however, the underground imbibery plays host to an assortment of alcohol-fueled urbanites who swap stories amidst the dusky gloom or enjoy live music from the best in local jazz, blues and rock acts on weekends. The shadowy establishment almost feels like it could be some iniquitous underworld headquarters for rogues planning their next heist, or even more dog-faced types who'd like to make time with hotties of the opposite sex without having to reveal their ugly mugs. Be careful not to trip heading down the stairs.
Confession: We love cheap booze as much as anyone, but to be honest, we're a little sick of slump-block dives and cans of PBR. Yet while we yearn to class things up a bit, we can't quite get into a night on the town with the plastics on the east side. Luckily, we've stumbled upon this midtown house turned bar where somehow worlds collide: slummy and swanky, gay and straight it all seems to work here. Technically, Homme is a gay bar (oh, come on . . . you know "homme" means "man" in French, right?), but you'll find it all here. The fact that the bar is built inside a house that's been standing since the 1800s (complete with a resident ghost, some say) does a lot to add to its charm, and its anything/anyone-goes appeal. Slurping down your vodka drink Smirnoff is often on special it kinda feels like that party you threw in high school when your parents went out of town. There's a different theme every night of the week, and drink specials to match. We're particularly fond of Sundays, when happy hour prices are good all night long, and Thursdays, when the Lushlife DJs take over with indie dance rock you don't hear at The Rogue, and reverse happy hour starting at 10. Homme may have even found the answer to our favorite cesspool Hot Pink! (may it rest in peace) with Friday night's "One" hosted by StraightNoChaser, where you can catch live artists doing their thing in the corner, and plenty of attractive twentysomethings doing their thing on the dance floor.
We've gotten to the point where happiness is an empty e-mail inbox, but we're always glad to see SCOOP show up. The folks at Desert Living put together a beautiful magazine, and their weekly SCOOP full of news about new restaurants, hot parties and good shopping is always fun. We've learned about Dolce & Gabbana's new cell phone, the arrival of a south Australian organic spa in Scottsdale, and the latest show at Modified Arts, all on SCOOP. In this age of information overload, it's saying a lot to say we look forward to an e-mail like this one. So thanks, Desert Living! Even if this is just shameless self-promotion for your advertisers, we're okay with it. To sign up for your own SCOOP, go to the magazine's Web site.
Suzy Homewrecker. Joan Threat. All the Way Mae. These are just a few of the elbow-slinging, body-banging babes in this all-woman roller-derby league, whose motto is "Live fast, die pretty." When they don't have their game faces on, the Dames are regular Janes with professions ranging from accountants to teachers but you'd best not try to snatch their pocketbooks if you value your gonads. The league includes three teams: the Coffin Draggers, the Brutal Beauties, and the Bombshells. For the most part, the Dames are fast friends as well as bitter foes. Says Homewrecker, "The Arizona Derby Dames promotes competition between determined, beautiful, unique, and, most of all, tough women." You go, grrls.
Start in the cozy-chic lounge, where specialty martinis are named after movie stars. As you sip and unwind by firelight, you'll honestly forget you're in a strip mall. The seriously yummy food (which takes you, for instance, from a crab-dip-of-the-gods through a high-end steak sandwich to a crème brle that can hold its head up anywhere in town) is served, with military precision and religious silence, before and during screenings of recent films. Tiered seating features comfy armchairs with casters. And, like the control freak you are, you can choose your experience: Romance, action, or comedy? (Heck, we've seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Capote here.) Lots of conversation, or just a smidge? (Adjust arrival and departure time accordingly.) No-hassle family outing, or perfect atmosphere for a special date? (Although Farrelli's sets the schedule and the menu, they know some things are best left in your capable hands.)
Not everyone can hang out at this refurbished historic hotel on Camelback Road its bar and restaurant are among the only places in town that ban blue jeans. But that's okay with us, mainly because there's something refreshing about seeing people a little bit dressed up, even if it is mostly in khaki. And we really can't think of a more elegant place to drink as the night falls than the Royal Palms' lovely courtyard, which features a full bar, excellent service, and surprisingly affordable noshes. But please: Don't tell the riffraff. This isn't for them, after all.
Given that Club Mistress is purely a women's play club (a strict "no cameras, no men" rule is enforced at meetings and parties), it's not surprising that the members are so covert. After all, the Mistresses who run the show (other participants are subservient "Girls") are seasoned pros, not exhibitionists looking to entertain the testosterone set. Club Mistress isn't a haphazard horndog fest, either. There is a strict set of rules everyone must follow (including not revealing the identity of other club members or discussing club activities with outsiders). Meetings take place at local lesbian bars and strip clubs, and play parties happen at private homes, with everything organized well in advance of the event dates. The club has no membership fee, phone number or address. So, how does a gal get into Club Mistress? (Guys, forget it you'll never get in.) The best we can tell you is to poke around on MySpace. But be aware that if the Head Mistress approves your membership and you attend a play party, participation is mandatory.
Firefighters! You gotta love 'em. They save lives. They put out fires. They make a nice pot of chili. And sometimes they screw sheep, too! At least that's what Mesa deputy fire chief Leroy Donald Johnson was accused of doing last March, when he was busted for allegedly screwing his neighbor's lamb. What made this particular chorus of "Baa Baa Fire Chief" so fun to sing was the accompanying police report, an eight-pager (with pictures!) so full of yuks you'd swear it was a hoax. According to the report, when Alan Goats (we swear, that's his name) found Leroy in his barn his pants around his ankles and a small gray ewe between his legs Johnson laughed and hollered, "You caught me, Alan, I tried to fuck your sheep!" So there's little question that, er, mutton happened. Rather than leaving Leroy on the lamb, coppers hauled him off to the Fourth Avenue jail; later, Mr. Johnson (who was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing) was dumped by Mesa firefighters. But he'll always have his Lambkins.
A first date should be relaxed, fun and easy to escape if something goes horribly wrong. A 24-hour coffee shop with a weekly poetry slam is exactly what the date doctor prescribes. Counter Culture Cafe is a bohemian hideaway, with art by locals lining the walls, and bookshelves stocked with well-worn tomes to borrow. Seating is varied, which is ideal for a first date. You can opt for one of the smaller tables near the mic or choose a comfy couch if you want to test your date's cuddle potential. The Wednesday night Speak Up! open mic doubles as the perfect cover to avoid talking to Mr. Boring ("Shhh . . . I really dig the way this cat spits rhyme") or a conversation starter ("So what do you think of the establishment?"). Either way, you'll get the benefit of the Valley's best beatbox, urban, home-grown folk and old-school beatnik talents. Snap. Snap.
We love what Hollywood does with real-life miscreants, so this year's prime-time television take on polygamy really caught our eye. What HBO's Big Love series lacked in reality it made up for in high cheekbones and even higher-gloss soap opera antics, courtesy of co-creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer and a passel of midlevel movie stars. They took a randy religious practice involving multiple wives and pedophilia committed with underage "spiritual" brides and turned it into a weekly hour that's as down and dirty as an episode of Three's Company. The abuses of polygamy in the northern Arizona and southern Utah towns of Colorado City and Hildale never looked so good, particularly as described, over the years, in the pages of Phoenix New Times, where John Dougherty broke much of the news about the real-life polygamists. But leave it to HBO to turn a program about a perverted practice that enslaves women into must-see TV. We defy you to look away from Utah polygamist Bill Henrickson (played by Bill Paxton) or his wives Barb, Nicki, and Margene (Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny, and Ginnifer Goodwin), who live in three separate houses on the same hunk of suburban crabgrass. Despite our better judgment, we haven't been able to turn off this sudsy mess, which returns for a second season next month.

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