BEST ROCK 'N' ROLL TEACHER 2006 | Abe Gil | People & Places | Phoenix
With apologies to Jack Black, Abe Gil is running the real School of Rock. When he isn't wearing wild outfits and crashing about downtown music venues like Holgas or Modified as the one-man noise polluter Treasure Mammal, the 26-year-old teaches music, math, and art to seventh- and eighth-graders at Montessori Academy in Scottsdale. As riotous as his act gets, Gil's not worried about his students learning about his alter ego. In fact, he even enlisted their help in creating a hidden track for Expect the Max, his recently released CD. It all came about in 2003 when Gil grew weary of his charges bickering with each other, and started getting in their faces with a humorous and gentle song called "Friendship." They eventually dug the ditty and ultimately adopted it as their class theme and performed it for his disc. Some students even formed their own band, Treasure Mammal, Jr., as a result, and have played on the same bill as their teacher's act. Now that's a happy ending worthy of a movie.


Mojo Music

Downtown art scenesters have gotten used to seeing the long arm of the law in their midst since August 2005, when Phoenix police officers stepped up their patrolling of First Fridays along Roosevelt Row. Artists and gallery owners have peeped po-pos standing on street corners, checking out their work, and even strumming a guitar or two. Yep, it seems as though a few coppers have been known to stop by attorney Kelly McDonald's tiny guitar shop located at Artisan Villages to peruse and play any number of the axes and acoustics on display. Taking a short break from their duties, these members of Phoenix's Finest have jammed out to Led Zeppelin and Nirvana, but unfortunately, not Ice-T's block-rocking hit "Cop Killer" or N.W.A's "Fuck Tha Police." Maybe they'll take requests.
While we ain't doctors or anything, we're pretty sure if Minuteman Project spokesperson Chris Simcox drove past this downtown Chandler square on an early weekend morning, the immigrant-busting vigilante would suffer a heart attack. After all, more than a hundred unemployed Hispanics gather near the park, located along Arizona Avenue between Boston and Buffalo streets, hoping to nab some work from any of the contractors or other construction cronies cruising by in their pickups looking for some cheap help installing drywall or any other house-building chore. Many an immigrant journeyman has ventured here after getting driven away from previous popular day laborer pickup spots like Gilbert Road in Mesa or 36th Street and Thomas Road in Phoenix. No word if Simcox and company are planning on setting up any thermal cameras just yet.
Don't expect to find howling coyotes and Monument Valley vistas within the environs of the Clarendon Hotel's art-friendly lobby and spacious suites. From nude portraits by Chris Raboin to Leigh Merrill's abstract photographic landscapes, the stylish boutique hotel boasts a variety of local artists, including the hippest window shades in town. Created by eye lounge painter Doug Oland, who uses a fairly formal painting style in the way he makes marks and builds through layers, the sliding curtains are printed on a specialized plastic that models the plywood medium that Oland paints upon. Each room houses at least one of two reproductions of Oland's Southwest-themed large-format abstracts. One portrays an agave plant augmented by floating pink and red hues; the other illustrates a desert monsoon with indigo clouds. We can't resist; we've gotta say it: The Clarendon's got it made in the shade.
Ever wonder what it would be like to wander around the inside of a lava lamp? The closest simulation might be a walk through Scorch Bar, with its shiny silver chrome and glowing red interiors, plasma-shaped tables, and futuristic restrooms. Not only is the ladies' restroom always clean to the OCD-degree, but there's also a big, trippy window right above the sinks, which looks directly into the men's restroom next door (don't worry, bashful boys, the girls can't see anything beyond your sinks). Since both restrooms are identical, most people go to wash their hands and don't realize they're standing in front of a window instead of a mirror . . . until they look up to see the startled face of someone of the opposite sex. You never know, ladies that could be Mr. Right over there. At least you know he washes his hands after he pees.
The boys' toidy at this popular punk paradise might be dirty, cramped, poorly lighted, and swelteringly hot, but there's a reason the guys keep making return trips and not because they've got to drain all the PBR they've downed. Nope, it's probably because of all the gonzo graffiti covering almost every inch of the Pepto-pink walls and ceiling of this lurid loo. Besides the usual seamy scribblings, there are amply amusing announcements and hilarious invectives, which are equal parts entertaining, insightful, and outrageous. Surreal sketches of vomiting demons and absurd astronauts make males want to linger long after they've done their business, as do piercing proclamations: "ROCK-N-ROLL MUTHAFUCKERS!" and "Life is short, drink hard." There are even lessons to be learned, as a sarcastic drawing of a recently deceased fashionista (complete with blood pouring from her nose) sits next to the anti-message "Be glamorous, do coke." Hope no one wanted to do any blow in this restroom.
We think that outdoor weddings are the bomb, especially because we live in paradise for six months of the year. That said, some very deep pockets are required to get hitched at Desert Botanical Garden, nearly every outdoor-wedding buff's first choice. But Lost Dutchman is just as lovely, and, best of all, it's budget-friendly. How budget-friendly? You probably won't believe us, but you'll pay next to nothing for the facilities. The wedding site itself an intimate amphitheater located beneath the looming brow of Superstition Mountain and surrounded on all sides by lush Sonoran Desert flora costs nothing. The large group ramada located nearby perfect for the reception is equipped with electricity and can be rented for $25.
If money is no object, get yourself hitched amongst the twinkly orange lights adorning the trees at Royal Palms, just beneath Camelback Mountain. This resort (completely rehabbed in the '90s; we miss the heart-shaped pool but otherwise love the redo) is the perfect blend of Mediterranean charm with a nod to the desert. The lawn is the perfect place to hoist your huppa (or canopy, all religions welcome), and the ballroom is small but so charming. We recommend the roasted chicken, and be sure to reserve the honeymoon suite once included in the cost of the wedding, we hear that now you've got to fork over several hundred for the privilege, but trust us, it's worth it for the claw-footed bathtub alone.
We heard so much for so long about the remodel of the Valley Ho that, frankly, we never thought it would happen. But it did, and boy, was it worth the wait. From the moment you step out of your car in the driveway, you're transported back to the '50s, but with a 21st-century twist. Iridescent tiles offset the mid-century furniture, and the lobby is so cool, even in the dead of summer. The Rat Pack croons by the pool via speakers and the rooms are divine. We particularly love the executive suites, with wraparound patios and a bathtub big enough to fit your whole birthday party, if you so choose. Well worth the price of admission, which, true to the form of the boutique hotel model, is quite affordable. Unlike other boutique hotels, which skimp on details once you've left the common areas, we were pleased to find plush towels, nice sheets and funky decor, in every nook and cranny. We assume they left the popcorn ceilings on purpose, for a retro feel, so we'll forgive the otherwise unforgivable. This is one Ho we intend to spend plenty of time with.
Textile taxidermist Tara Logsdon engages in some fuzzy haps when she goes to town on her furry patients during "Ursidae Anaplasty" Latin for "Bear Plastic Surgery." The Holgas resident artist scours Valley thrift stores and rescues teddies that are in grave need of physical and psychological repair. From there, the surgeon employs needle-busting hand-stitching techniques and repairs dismembered appendages using recycled material from Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Burberry products. Logsdon rarely performs the surgeries outside of her home studio, but when she does venture to various downtown art spaces, singing nurses provide emotional support and DJs supply post-surgery anesthesia with tight booty-shaking beats. The body-modified bears are available for purchase, but must go to a good home doctor's orders. And that's not the only thing that Doc Logsdon prescribes she also writes prescriptions to humans (the freaks on Extreme Makeover, for example) who are extremely desperate.

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