Francis Lazaro is one of those fortunate few who don't have to endure the usual 9-to-5 grind to make his living. He spends most of his daytime hours catching some winks, in fact, probably because the filmmaker spends most evenings at local clubs recording footage of DJs, followed by all-night editing sessions crafting energetic videos. Check out the Vimeo page for his production company, Pheosia Films, and witness Lazaro's genius editing, which he envisions while at gigs and rushes home to start splicing. "I work fast and have all these ideas fresh in my head," he says. "When I'm filming, I'm already thinking about what's gonna be pimp. I gotta get back and get cracking." The method to his madness is paying off, big-time. Promoters have his number on speed dial. Nationally known DJs like Skrillex request his services when they come to town. He even says he's got a record label deal in the works. When we start seeing Lazaro's work on MTV, we can always say we knew him way back when.
Cosanti Originals

Most people who want a glimpse into futurist Paolo Soleri's vision hoof it north an hour to his Arcosanti, when a good feel for the guy is available right here in town.

Soleri lived and worked in Paradise Valley from the 1950s on (not far from Taliesin West, where he studied). Today, his disciples are still hard at work, casting the bells that fuel his now-obviously futile passions.

Located on the grounds of Cosanti, the "Earth House" is billed as the "original underground house." We're not so sure about that (what about the cavemen?) — but we do know the partially submerged building is considered a fine example of underground house construction in the Valley. Built in the mid-'50s, it looks a lot like the Flintstones' house — but with lower A/C bills.

To see more photos of the Earth House, visit www.phoenixnewtimes.com/bestof2011.

When Robbie Pfeffer started Tempe Starving Artist a little less than two years ago, he had no idea his little 'zine would last beyond the first issue. But Pfeffer, who started TSA just to entertain himself and his friends, has watched it grow from a dinky, photocopied pamphlet to a thick booklet with color covers and advertisements from local businesses. Apparently, people were starved for some quirky, independent coverage of local music and art, and that's what TSA gives them. There are crisp reproductions of photographs, paintings, and drawings by local artists like Scott Bowen, Jamie Fontana, and Sentrock, as well as original poetry and fiction from Valley residents, and slews of interviews with bands, both local (Peachcake, Boys and Frogs) and national (Busdriver, No Age). Now, Pfeffer's expanding his indie empire by promoting shows at The Fixx, the Tempe coffee shop he manages. In fact, he took a summer hiatus from printing TSA to focus on live shows (though new issues were still available online). Now that the college kids are back in school, we can only imagine how much more TSA will grow.
The ladies behind PoolBoy Magazine, a.k.a. Phoenix's newest (only?) hipster porn rag, say they joined forces because they wanted to give women something fun, classy, and local to read in public places. After a year of blogging, raising awareness, and hunting for the right male candidates — male, mid 20s, early 30s, good-looking, but also normal, and, of course, well-endowed — they released their first edition. The glossy 'zine has interviews with local scenesters, girly health information, a few columns, and college-age guys who sheepishly pose nude and answer a few survey-type questions. The PoolBoy team sold more than a few copies online and through local indie shops for $8 and says plans for the second edition are in the works. In the meantime, the ladies encourage all their readers to check out the large doses of pleasure in their small-time package, er, publication.
If the diminishing interest in radio stations, the fallow state of the recording industry, and the death of CD emporiums both big (Tower Records, Sam Goody) and small (Eastside Records) aren't enough indication that the music biz has forever changed thanks to the web, take a gander at the ever-growing prominence of the audio blogosphere. This online taste-making brigade, particularly dance-music bloggers, also has the habit of plucking relative unknowns from obscurity and crowning them the next big thing. On the local level, one of the more prominent EDM anointers is the duo of Chad Birt and Andrew Hood, better known as The Get Downnn. Rabid fans of all things electronica, the 20-something hipster DJs regularly dole out embedded MP3s, streaming audio, and YouTube clips of unknown and outstanding dance music artists from around Phoenix and throughout the world. On any given day, Birt and Hood will pimp out choice tracks from French electro acts like Yelle and Justice, fierce-sounding dubstep from such Valley talents as Liquid Stranger and Sluggo, or killer cuts by hipster act At Dawn We Rage. Their mission is simple: "If you can dance to it, we'll cover it, man. We want to post your music. We want to jam with you." Word.
Don't get us wrong — local blogs like Electric Mustache and So Much Silence kill it, but in terms of pure bonkers passion, Dave Murrow, the brains behind Waved Rumor and garage-pop band Dfactor, blows everyone else away. He covers it all — punk, garage, classic rock — with a zealous glee, riffing on everything from Paul McCartney setlists to blatant Bob Pollard worship to Phoenix venue openings and closings. Murrow's blog isn't the prettiest-looking thing (though those American Apparel banner ads don't hurt), but Murrow's overwhelming enthusiasm for rock 'n' roll is contagious, and his earnestness is a truly inspiring thing.
It's not hard to believe that Pen & Fork editor Gwen Ashley Walters is a professionally trained chef, given the nonchalant way in which she tosses around words like "quenelles" and "aperitif," and her knowledge of what happens when you crossbreed a Fortunella margarita with a citrus aurantifolia (you get a limequat, as it turns out). Her food blog is always ripe with juicy descriptions of local grub, penned by Walters or such notable foodie contributors as James Beard Award-winning editor Linda Avery. But we have to admit that it's Walters' eye for food porn that makes the site so easy to digest. Whether a contributor is waxing visually poetic with a Gruyère-smothered burger or Walters is making Chinese pig's ear look as appetizing as a pile of perfectly crisped bacon, the photos on Pen & Fork never fail to make our mouths water.
Burton Barr Central Library
Pssst. There's secret treasure at the library. And you don't even have to leave your house to find some of it.

No, really. You can, thanks to the nice folks at the Phoenix Public Library, take an online class from the comfort and convenience of your own home. You can choose from aromatherapy, digital photography, book publishing, Buddhism, freshwater fishing, criminal profiling, yoga, and more than 500 other classroom topics. Classes are self-paced with real instructors who offer video-based lessons, graded tests, and certificates of achievement. Library customers can enroll in up to five courses at one time, and take six months to finish each course. All you need is a library card and the ability to click on "Learning and Research" at www.phoenixpubliclibrary.org. And just like that, you're on your way to an accredited course in something you care about.

For those of us less likely to traffic in the ether, there's the distinguished permanent collection of art at Burton Barr Central Library. Displayed in public locations throughout the building's five stories, the collection includes such big-name artists as Fritz Scholder, Ed Mell, Shonto Begay, John Waddell, Merrill Mahaffey, and Paolo Soleri.

A separate collection in the Central Library's Center for Children's Literature (a hidden treasure in itself, with more than 3,800 pieces of classic literature and an extensive collection of folk and fairy tales) features a collection of original works by award-winning local artist/illustrators Ron Himler, Sylvia Long, Lynne Avril, Amanda Shepherd, and Michael Lacapa.

For folks who aren't into art but do love Arizona, the Arizona Room at Central Library is, in honor of the approaching centennial, pumping up its collection of non-circulating materials about all aspects of our state: archeology, architecture, history, geography, geology, famous Arizonans, current events, and more. Who knew that there were so many files in the Arizona room devoted expressly to all the movies that have been shot here over the years? Or that the collection of oral histories of Arizona-based Holocaust survivors was so extensive?

We didn't, but we do now — and it's a secret we don't plan to keep, either.

Four Peaks Brewing Company
New Times Archives
Many have gone in search of the secret bathroom at Four Peaks in Tempe. Most have failed. Worry not, though; they were really drunk. Should you find yourself adventurous (and needing to release the floodgates), the entrance to the secret bathroom might be yours. Look first for the beaded curtain leading seemingly to nowhere. Behind this tacky cover is the entrance to an immaculate bathroom complete with a row of urinals and a sink. Such a pristine example of a brew house outhouse is this secret bathroom that you'll never want to piss anywhere else again. A word of caution for the ladies, though: This secret bathroom is only for the gentlemen.
In 2009, little Miss Tiffany Egbert started Kitten Paws Vintage as a mere Etsy store. Thankfully, it has evolved into an online store and fashion blog. Mama cat Egbert's website and blog is effortlessly charming and impeccably put together, reading more like a Southwest-themed Anthropologie catalog than a hipster-tastic fashion blog. We love that Egbert embraces her unique Phoenix style with her lookbooks — her gorgeous photos make the desert look downright chic! Kitten Paws Vintage uses its budding notoriety for good causes, supporting ethically motivated companies such as 31 Bits, which employs Ugandan women who hand-make jewelry using 100 percent recycled paper and local materials, giving this trendy blog a little more class and definite cat style.

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