Best Music Blog 2013 | PHX Literal Music Reviews | People & Places | Phoenix

Let's be honest, if there is any type of blog there are too many of in Phoenix, it's music blogs. And after a while, there isn't much left to say, is there? There is a finite number of active bands, after all. Yet, PHX Literal Music Reviews is different, in the same way that Rocky Horror is different from Rocky.

First of all, the reviews are literal, but painfully, painfully so. Like, guitarists are "plucky stick men" and drummers are the "hitters of circles." The main reviewer writer dude, who pens himself as Yulunga Baktai, constantly describes his reactions to live music with aching unembellishment, such as saying things like "I have to say that this show was definitely a show where music was played."

The end result is a blog that is truly reflective, blemishes and all, of the wonderful music scene we're graciously given in this flaming hot Valley. It's more of a love note than biting satire, and, best of all, it'll tickle your insides with those guttural noises we call laughter.

We love Gwen Ashley Walters' food blog, Pen and Fork — mostly for her incredible smoothie recipes and photos (can we coin the term Smoothie Porn right here and now?) and because it helps us keep up on her writing for Valley publications like Phoenix Magazine and Edible Phoenix. But even more than that, to be honest, we just love Gwen Ashley Walters. As our city takes its place in the national food scene (in a small corner, to be sure, but still, we're arriving), the backbiting, sniping, and questionable ethics among bottom feeders is only getting worse. That's why it's always such a relief to hear from Walters — whether on Instagram (follow her @chefgwen), on Facebook, or on her blog. She's honest, she speaks her mind, and she's got great taste. Thanks for keeping it classy, Chef Gwen.

A great zine doesn't have to be some monthly Xerox rag full of bad art and poor grammar from self-indulgent poetry majors unleashing their verbal fury. This years' Tempe Zine Convention, which was held in a small shed in downtown Tempe, revealed several promising writers and artists displaying their work in small-press quantities, usually bound and printed by the artists themselves. Although Roger Calamaio went a slightly less DIY route for his zine Sour, which was constructed and released by Workin Nights, a half-Arizona, half-New York printer, the intensity of emotion and general relatability of his discontent made his work stand out above the rest that night. Plus, it's got pictures for those afraid of too much text. Though it's not available for purchase anymore and likely will not be reprinted again, Roger Calamaio definitely is one to look out for in the zine world.

Being a 20-something with Martha Stewart-esque aspirations is no easy lot. For starters, most of us don't have multimillion-dollar companies, our own TV channels, or enough pertinent knowledge to fill numerous bestselling books. Sarah Hubbell realized this, and that's why she founded Emma Magazine for "city mamas, nesting newlyweds, and budding entrepreneurs." The publication goes up online monthly, and print-on-demand physical copies can be ordered via the website. No matter how you read it, the mag is chock-full of helpful how-tos, style guides, and projects that'd make Martha proud — without breaking the bank.

Where the rest of the world saw a perfect place for tract housing and strip malls, Joe Johnston, the mastermind behind Gilbert's Agritopia community, saw an opportunity for urban farming and green spaces. It almost goes without saying that this guy has a special way of looking at the world, and thanks to the photo-sharing app Instagram, we get a glimpse of that view every time we pick up our phone. From dining adventures in California and beyond to simple shots taken in Phoenix coffee houses and Gilbert restaurants, Johnston's account turns the mundane scenes of life into marvelous miniature works of art. We loved the series of pics featuring his and his wife's shoes (adorably captioned "togetherness"), and the colorful nature shots of Agritopia and Arizona sunsets remind us regularly why it's great to be an Arizonan. He may not be an artist or photographer, but he's talented with an iPhone and some filters, and we love following him.

Parody Twitter accounts are easy to forget when there aren't that many jokes to be had at the expense of the person being parodied. Obviously, a parody of Governor Jan Brewer gives you plenty of material to work with, and nearly 20,000 tweets later, @FakeJanBrewer — also known as "Jan Brewer's Balls" — has proved that one true. Between tweeting out Brewer-related news stories, riffing on headlines, and responding to people on both sides of the aisle as a drunk, old, racist governor, it sometimes seems like being the fake Brewer is a full-time job. "Happy 'Throw Eggs at Mexicans' Day everyone! xo AZ Gov Jan Brewer," our fake governor tweets on Easter. When tornadoes blew through Oklahoma, our Twitter governor was there: "Did illegal immigrants bomb #Oklahoma again?" Sometimes it seems like having @FakeJanBrewer as governor wouldn't be so bad, because at least the craziness has a punch line.

Scottsdale-based company Go Daddy broke from its traditional model for Super Bowl advertising this year, instead creating one of the most disgusting ads in recent memory. Usually, Go Daddy just shows off the good-lookin' chicks, and tells you to head to the website to see the stuff that's "too hot" for television. If only we could be so lucky this year. Instead, Go Daddy decided to go with an ad in which the "talent" has a graphic make-out session with some fat, curly-haired, nerdy bozo, with an intense focus on the sound of these two going at it. Go Daddy CEO Blake Irving issued a press release indicating that he would not apologize for making Americans sick to their stomachs, and remarked that he personally believed it was hilarious.

Local and national media, especially CNN's HLN, which stars loudmouth court pundit Nancy Grace, had in Jodi Arias an enthusiastic volunteer star for a four-month reality series that earned record ratings. Arias' epic murder trial had everything that voyeurs, gossips, and just plain curious computer users could want, starting with the terrific decision by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens to allow the case to be televised. With the case's long prehistory — going back to June 4, 2008, the day Arias sliced, stabbed, and shot her 30-year-old former boyfriend Travis Alexander at his Mesa house — the media cannon was well primed by the time the trial started on January 2.

And so it went: Backstory TV interviews, nude and even X-rated shots of Arias and Alexander, blog posts and pictures by the victim and murderess (an amateur photographer), a marathon run of 18 business days on the witness stand by the smart-alecky, remorseless Arias, and the nightly rehash by Grace, Dr. Drew, and scores of amateur trial watchers. Arias finally was convicted of premeditated first-degree murder on May 8, followed by more frenetic TV coverage until the unsatisfying non-decision by the jury on May 23 regarding the death-penalty question. The Arias-obsessed might not have much longer until the sequel begins. Judge Stephens expects a new jury — which will decide only whether Arias should be executed or face life in prison — to be convened in late September.

Best TV Channel for Arizona Political News

Comedy Central

With many of the local TV news stations all too willing to plant their lips upon the butt cheeks of politicians across the state, there's one TV network that's not afraid to expose their frequent disservices to the taxpayers. Unfortunately, that network is called Comedy Central, and Jon Stewart of The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report are the ones doing the best TV reporting of Arizona's political news. Of course, it's easy to pick on Arizona for comedy material, given the amount of stupidity found in politics here — in the "Meth Lab of Democracy," as Stewart calls it. Jeez, it was more than a decade ago that Colbert was in Sun City doing a segment to show just how much of a joke Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "posse" really is. Given Stewart's constant lampooning of Senator John McCain, you're actually more likely to get news on McCain from The Daily Show than you are from the local news, which is really, really sad.

Dennis Welch is a well-respected newsman who has covered Arizona politics for more than a decade on a variety of platforms — print (East Valley Tribune), online (the late Arizona Guardian), and most recently on television (KTVK Channel 3). Before the veteran reporter started co-hosting 3TV's Politics Unplugged in June 2012, he was part of a team that launched the now-defunct Guardian, a news website that doggedly covered Arizona politics. He's tough and fair during interviews with political figures and was even "slugged" by Governor Jan Brewer after he posed a question to her about global warming. After she eked out a nonsensical answer, she hit Welch and asked him, "Where the hell'd that come from?"

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of