Many years ago, we were driving home at night through the mildly mean streets of Phoenix when we noticed something you never saw back then in these parts. On a non-descript building on then-non-descript Roosevelt Street, we saw tiny, white holiday lights. And it wasnt even Christmas. We asked around, and learned that someone had opened a music space: Modified Arts. Then some crazy kids bought a building and called it eye lounge, setting the stage for the visual arts. Today, Modified and eye lounge have good company an entire neighborhood devoted to the arts: more music spaces, galleries, a record store, a bakery. As we type it, we are still shaking our heads in disbelief, but, yes, we have a bona fide arts district and it even has a funky name: Roosevelt Row. True, it doesnt quite stretch from 16th Street to Grand Avenue, as some claim, but from Seventh Street to Central Avenue, youve got a fabulous core of vibrant activity that spills over into neighboring streets and is starting to take off on days other than the first Friday of the month. Sometimes, dreams do come true and our hearts go out in gratitude to those who dared.

Best of Phoenix 2009 In Photos

If we were tacky, we'd give an award for "Best Place to Hold a Memorial Service," and the winner would be the Orpheum Theater. Restored to its glory, trimmed with gold and capped with a breathtaking deep blue, star-strewn ceiling, it's a great place to see a show and an even better place to remember a dreamer.

Fancy-pants elected officials and business types rose one Saturday this summer to honor Jack Pfister, who passed away after a lifetime of public service. They did a nice job. But we could have sat longer that Saturday afternoon; we would have liked to hear from those who saw another side — some would say pointless, others idealistic — of the former utility executive and regent.

Like Loretta Avent, who knew Pfister from their days together on the Harmony Alliance, a multicultural meeting of the minds that began in the early 1990s and drew folks to a different house of worship each week.

"He believed that every cause could be helped — and he helped everyone who came to him," says Avent. She should know; over the years she asked her friend for help with some sticky ones.

And no one mentioned our personal favorite memory of Pfister — the time he stood up to then-Governor J. Fife Symington and his staff during the Project SLIM (State Long-Term Improved Management) scandal. He surely lost friends over that one. No matter. Jack Pfister's real friends packed the Orpheum this summer to remember a man who dared to dream and in so doing, touched many people — and a city.

Best of Phoenix 2009 In Photos

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