All the Best

It was Confucius who said, "They who know the truth are not equal to those who love it, and they who love it are not equal to those who delight in it."

All right, Confucius, old boy, I'll see that wisdom and raise you one! I'm absolutely ecstatic about the truth I'm ready to fork over, and that's the truth about Phoenix--it's the best!! Yes, our fully modern city has come a long way from the dusty days when booted men in cowboy hats strolled down sidewalks made of wood, yet this irrigated oasis of interest has lost none of its desert charm.

And that charm is spelled S-U-N (though some sports fans might add an "S" to that!), sun that beams its good-time rays down on a wealth of shopping centers, eateries, public parks, places of worship and "fun centers" galore.

If you're like me, you probably have a tough time deciding what to do with your free time, what with all those choices. But you can always just lounge around; the Valley is a perfect place to "relax."

Look out, though, Mr. and Mrs. Dozer.
Don't let your siesta get in the way of all the great things we have available at the pressing of a gas pedal--the "best" possible things in what I like to call the "Best Possible City!" Phoenix!

Best Panhandler: Phoenix may be cracking down on spare-change hustlers, but I still applaud the old guard who know their craft and aren't afraid of getting busted by some downtown cop on a Schwinn. I didn't quite catch the name of this beery fellow, but his cryptic mumbling and intense personal odor made it clear I was being accosted by a pro. And that's worth a buck, easy.

Best Puddle: Look at the size of this thing--it's really some puddle! Lots of people go to the Wing F. Ong Shopping Center--and with Discoteca 2000, Kelly's Boutique and Mindy's Gifts you can see why--but you'd have to be driving Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to park here!

Best Cat: Dot. Also known as "Baby Dot," "Orangey" and "Puff." (I wanted to name this cat "We Built This City on Rock 'n' Roll," but my wife said no.)

Best Picture: Braveheart, starring Mel Gibson. I can walk into any video store in the whole Valley, and there it is. How this stinkburger won the big prize is beyond me. There was some nice violence, and Mel wore an impressive fright wig; other than that, it was three hours of people getting muddy. If you're going to sit through a two-tape rental and you want to hear some funny accents, I'd recommend Scarface.

Best Decorative Swastikas: Byzantine buildings were decorated with them, the Buddhists used them in inscriptions, the Greeks put them on coins, the Celts adorned monuments with them and Navajo Indians drew little guys on them to represent gods of rivers, mountains and rain. Then the Nazis came along and ruined the poor old swastika, which is Sanskrit for "good luck." Go figure. Three cheers to May Chang restaurant for taking the swastika from annihilation to decoration, even if all those heady symbols face onto a parking lot.

Best Car Stereo: You should have heard this thing. There are a lot of car stereos in Phoenix, but this one was loud. And I mean loud.

Best Dad: My dad takes it again this year, hands down. This, despite that he once interrupted me while I was making out with Nancy Sukimoto (not her real name--but close) one night in our driveway in ninth grade. Congratulations, Pop.

Best Logs of Mystery: I've been seeing these three logs for years now. They never move. And they're right next to a Baptist church. Who--or what--placed them there? How long have they been there? Why does the grass grow only around the logs? Friends have tried to tell me they are just telephone poles, but explanations like that are too easy. Look, there's a real telephone pole at the back of the lot! As I stood there, two young girls walked through the lot, dwarfed by the sheer size of the LOMs, providing perspective. They were off to the left, so you can't see them in this picture.

Best Newspaper: If it's information you want, there are literally pages full in the Arizona Republic, not to mention astrology, weather, bridge, a chuckle and a prayer. And they do all of this every single day! I've read great articles in the Republic on doodling and toilet repair, not to mention those columns by Bill Goodykoontz. It's all prose that seems to say, "I'm a special story in a unique newspaper! And I'm worth 50 cents!" I'd have to agree!

Best Bummer for Kids: Too bad, boys and girls. And all that stuff you see in the picture's made out of plastic.

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Peter Gilstrap
Contact: Peter Gilstrap