BEST SUBSTITUTE FOR HOWARD STERN 2006 | Johnjay and Rich, KISS-FM 104.7 | People & Places | Phoenix
We don't blame anyone for automatically dismissing a guy named "Johnjay" as one of those annoying radio personae not worth a listen. But this show, which hit the airwaves of 104.7 FM earlier this year after major success in Tucson, is far more amusing than its hosts' names let on. Like Howard Stern, but unlike most of his successors, these two know how to pace their shows. They don't rush through bits or force a laugh. And unlike other would-be shock jocks in the Valley, they're better at talking about Hollywood gossip than sports making KISS-FM the perfect destination for Stern fans who couldn't care less about the Suns, but really need to know everything about Lindsay Lohan.
Plenty of people in Arizona listened to morning radio host Howard Stern obsessively, but not too many of them listened to him for all four hours of his show, every day, for 10 years. Or purchased a license plate honoring him. Or bothered to fly all the way to New York City to fete his farewell to FM radio. But Alice Rubio, a West Valley mother of three and Qwest customer service rep, did exactly that, earning mention in a New Times cover story and, subsequently, an on-air chat with Howard after his satellite debut. Stern clearly recognized devotion when he saw it. "She's gotta be the biggest Howard Stern fan ever," he told his audience. We're not arguing with that one.
As with any scrumptious cocktail, the proof's in the amount of alcohol involved. Now, some places serve their mojitos weak. So weak, in fact, that they taste like lemonade with mint leaves thrown in. Not so at Sierra Bonita, the excellent Southwestern restaurant that's into its second year in Phoenix. At Sierra, the bartenders know how to mix the restaurant's specialty. So much so that try as we may this year we couldn't (during an exhaustive survey of bars in the metropolitan area) find a mojito with as much kick. Hic! For those of you who haven't an inkling of what a mojito's all about, let us school your ass in how one's mixed: Squeeze a lime into a bowl. Add a tablespoon of sugar and a bunch of washed mint leaves. Mush up the mess really well and pour it into a tall or fat glass of crushed ice. Fill the glass to about three-quarters of an inch from the top with good white rum. Sierra Bonita uses Bacardi Limn. Top the concoction with club soda or Sprite, stir thoroughly, and drink. It's the perfect treat for a hot Phoenix night. In fact, the night we were last at Sierra Bonita, it was 100 degrees after dark, and while at first we minded being seated on the outdoor patio (the beautiful indoor bar was packed), we soon didn't mind at all. After our third $6 mojito, we may as well have been in La Jolla.
Yeah, right, Sex and the City made them famous, but even before that, we found them to be tasty concoctions. Some self-described manly men have contended that you must be gay or a girly-girl to be seen in public holding one, but guys who say that are obviously uncomfortable with their sexuality. Cosmos are for everybody who enjoys a fine, sweet, large cocktail. If you are prone to martinis, you will obviously think they're too sugary. But for anybody who's enjoyed Cuba libre or even a Crown and Coke in his time, a cosmo's a big step up. We're saying: It contains a lot of vodka, dude! If you like 'em dry like we do, you put two ounces-plus of Grey Goose, three-quarters of an ounce of triple sec, the same amount of cranberry juice, and half an ounce of lime juice into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes, shake well, and pour into a martini glass. And Barcelona likes 'em like we do. But what sets Barcelona's cosmos above the rest is their extra-large size and the dry ice that's added for special pizzazz. You look like you're drinking some mad scientist's exotic concoction. The only problem at Barcelona is that it's so crowded on a weekend night that you're likely to spill the libation down some buxom babe's cleavage if you try to move across the club. And you sure don't want to spill much of an $11 drink, if you get our drift.
In a city chock-full of nationally syndicated shock-jock talk and robotic rock, we're thankful for our National Public Radio affiliate, which broadcasts healthy doses of local Arizona news. Each weekday morning during "Morning Edition," we tune in to thoughtful, well-reported stories on subjects ranging from water politics to immigration reform. Specialty programming includes "Talking With the Governor" every third Wednesday of the month, and February's Arizona Week celebrates statehood with special-interest stories on topics ranging from rural organic farming to the history of Valley landmarks. The listener cannot live on news alone, so we look forward to Sunday nights, a dream for blues fans when Bob Corritore sermonizes about old-time Phoenix and its blues scene during the five-hour "Those Lowdown Blues."
It isn't that we always agree with Joe Crummey after all, he's enough of a conservative to substitute occasionally for the nationally syndicated right-wing nut Glenn Beck. But what we like about KFYI's Crummey is exactly what we like about hosts like Howard Stern: He's smart, he's not always orthodox, he's not shrill, and he understands pacing. Indeed, it's many a commute that we find ourselves tuning in to Crummey during some other station's commercial break, then listening all the way home. He may not be someone we'd vote for, but we can't help laughing, and sometimes even nodding in agreement.
We love everything about Daniel and Felicia Ruiz Wayne's stylish little Spanish spot on Camelback, from the big communal tables to the flavorful plates of Serrano ham and Manchego. (Okay, we also love that chickpea-and-spinach combo.) But most of all, we love the sangria, a perfect house blend of wine and fruit that's never too sweet and never too dry. Stick with the house blend instead of the peach this drink is perfect without any embellishment.
Kind of like college radio for the 9-to-5 set, Creamy Radio's mix of indie artists and local celebrities has pushed us through many a long day in front of the computer screen. Run by Dog and DboG, two self-described "wankers with too much time on their hands," the radio station is the answer to FM dial monotony. But that doesn't mean you've never heard of anything they play Creamy Radio knows you love U2 and Tom Petty, and it's not gonna make you feel bad about it. Mixed between indie gems, these guys will toss on mainstream favorites, the kind of stuff you can't help but sing along to. That doesn't mean you have to suffer through "Where the Streets Have No Name" again. The Creamy dudes pride themselves on "deep" hits from mainstream artists which means more "Red Hill Mining Town" than "Vertigo." Still, there's enough pretension here to maintain Creamy Radio's Internet music snob cred. We were pleased to see Ryan Adams, Nick Drake, A Tribe Called Quest, Bloc Party, and Handsome Boy Modeling School on recent playlists. Creamy Radio also frequently hosts shows with local favorites like Drive By Truckers and Tramps and Thieves at Last Exit Bar & Grill in Tempe, while broadcasting the show live on the air. We can't get enough of this creamy goodness. Interpret that as you wish.
Benjamin Leatherman
We know what makes a jukebox good: selection, selection, selection. Take Election Night, 2004. We stumble into the Bikini, where the beer and cable TV are flowing. Before long, we realize some things won't be resolved that night things about Ohio. But we need closure, some way to process recent events, and we spy the jukebox. Five dollars buys 25 tracks and puts red states and blue states behind us for a while. Our personal, cathartic, ephemeral mix tape: Marvin Gaye, Rolling Stones, Zevon, Clapton, Beatles, Righteous Brothers, Zeppelin, Elton John, Nat "King" Cole, Hollies, Cat Stevens, Joplin, John Hiatt . . . a lullaby for an aging hippie. (You'll also find Nelly, Lindsay Lohan, Hoobastank, TLC, Billie Holiday, Merle Haggard, Morphine, and Shakira in the stacks, covering pretty much every musical movement since the wax cylinder.) Next day, Mom asks about toasty, English-speaking democracies she can migrate to. That'd be Gibraltar.
How many towns boast weekly gatherings of sousing and open mic jams hosted by some of the biggest local musicians around? Ever since Billy Marcks from Authority Zero started booking events at The Real Bar as an excuse to do some singing and swilling with his buddies, the Tempe juke joint has become quite the magnet for the Valley's musical A-listers, if there is such a thing. On any given night, guests can rub shoulders with AZ singer Jason Devore and Marcks, and hang with other Valley biggies like Brian Blush (ex-Refreshments), Big Blake, Jason Hubbard and Lauren Z. Guests can grab a guitar and do their best Santeria cover or try to drink Marcks under the table (which will be quite the undertaking). And with $2 Tecates and $1 PBR, you'll feel like a rock star after a couple of pints even if you're the only one there.

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