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February 27, 2012

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C'mon, man: don't you miss thunder? I lived in the northwest for twenty years, and I could count the times I heard thunder on one hand, and that was usually east of the Cascades. I bet you miss the smell of wet creosote, too. I bet this 'cause you're a native southwesterner.

Sadly I beleive the cathartic model of change is mostly likely to ultimately be the catalyst for change. Things may have to get markedly worse, we may have to develop the kind of mindset that is now employed in ad campaigns for Chrysler using dreary looking urban panoramas as a backdrop for some type of Madison Avenue-imagined re-birth. Perhaps First Solar could advertise a solar panel constructed against a backdrop of abandoned warehouses and office buildings. Having to use images of current and past failures as a vehicle to highlight progress is unsettling.

Despite being called a troll on this blog, these are the things I enjoy reading most and why I will continue to read...I actually don't like hearing cheerleaders for Phoenix development because most highlight suburban sprawl. Most developers in Phoenix don't see that the end of that road has been approached. Even creative home builders like DMB still await a Verrado resurgence that will never come. Why don't they create a cool new, dense community near Hance Park? I think it is because they employ too many who cannot get past the Phoenix that existed circa 1990.

We get plenty of thunder up here on the Front Range. But yeah, I do miss the smell of wet creosote. I miss warm (but not hot) desert nights in the springtime. I miss hiking in the mountains and high desert north of Carefree. There's a lot to miss about Phoenix when you're a native who's moved away.

From the song "Tobacco Road," (Nashville Teens, circa 1964):

"Bring dynamite
And a crane
Blow it up
Start all over again."

John, thank you for the shout out and interviewing yourself with the same questions I used for Yuri...One of these days I'd like to do a real interview with you...soon I'll drop you an email.

The Mexican food is something to miss. Lots of fit women of all ages. 12 months swimming season in outdoor Olympic size pools. Sunshine that you can count on.


The dirty air is not missed at all. The resort mentality which extends to an unusual number of rude and inconsiderate neighbors. The heat is too much. The politics are appalling.

Remember, I was asked what I most missed, as in one thing. If I could list more, it would be a long one, including Mexican food very close to the top. The historic districts, sunsets when the clouds and smog are right, Encanto Park, the feel of the night, train whistles in my old hood, the mountains, Dobbins Overlook on a clear day, Durant's, "The Portland," Paperboy's Island park in Willo, the distinctive feel of going into the shade, February, etc. etc.

A couple of examples of where downtown Phoenix needs to go. I went into the piano store downtown today. They had a John Lennon Steinway on the floor -- there are only 25 in the world, and this one had a sold sign. Downtown Seattle also has two gentleman's hat stores. Two. And the building stock is all over age-and-price wise, not just new stuff that no small business can afford.


It's bunch of sense memories- the scent of orange blossoms in the spring (in the center of town.) train whistles (instead of freeway whine) whatever that smell was after the rain (creosote?) the intense late summer storms when the air was grey/green and the streets would flood over the curbs. Spring training at old municipal stadium- got dusty rhodes' autograph in '55 mays and Koufax. The pcl giants there alou, mccovey(scary foul line drives into the r field stands) even manny mota! Bussing tables at Durant's (HUGE mob guy often at the bar in a nice suit) amazing early mornings with my girlfriend who slipped out after I finished my shift and bussing with her. Bopping along on my gazette route finishing it up by delivering to lew king on first st then selling my extras at the osteopathic hospital up the alley on McDowell followed by soda fountain gluttony at the drugstore at central and McDowell (mc crary's?) the children's library on Coronado. That's some nostalgia there. Like the lady said "(now) there's no there there.")

The smell of citrus blossoms. Christmas luminaria on the sidewalks of Willo. The fall light. The 1914 bungalow I hoped to live in the rest of my life. The tamale women selling door to door. Breakfast at the Good Egg and seeing friends. The Arizona Room at the library. Seeing where my great aunt's acreage once stood and remembering the irrigation ditches along both sides of the roads. Driving the length of Central. Racing a train on Grand Ave. The way the setting sun hits the prisms of Valley Center (the Chase tower). Spring training at Maryvale Stadium. The smell of rain. The sound of palm fronds in the wind.

An exit left story?
Sunday at about 11 AM the girlfriend and me decided on brunch. We actually dove south of Roosevelt but after an hour of scoping out all City Scape had to offer we kept going south. We ended up at The Duce. Interesting setting, interesting folks, not so interesting food. Good booze prices. Watched Steve box a 10year old kid. Ran into two of my favorite waiters fro Gallo Blanco.

I dug the clothes on the rag racks and plan to go back for a Castro outfit as my girl friend has been wearing her current Castro clothes since she lived in San Francisco in 60.

Later we drove around between 3rd street and 5th Avenue and Madison and Lincoln. Our trip did include seeing 30 Asian appearing folks magically appear out of the ground behind Sing High and run for a bus waiting in the Central avenue tunnel. Where’s Joe when you need him.

Dawgzy, U sound like a possible for the Talton coffee club meetings? My second paper route was for the Republic in 1954.
Soleri and I are also Slope Kings.

My twin sister lives in Vancouver (South Main near Queen Elizabeth Park), so I get to visit that great city once a year. And in the spirit of honest discussion, this is what I don't like about Vancouver: various trivial things.

It's not that the city is perfect. The architecture is surprisingly awful for such a rich city. It's also very expensive, which means natives will eventually get pushed out to the hinterlands by rich newcomers. And despite a some gorgeous artifacts in Gastown, it can feel soulless because of its boom.

On the other hand, it's topography and setting are as beautiful as anything you'll find on our beleaguered planet. It's a great food city. Visual arts are so-so, but film is very important. It's eminently walkable, too. Bicycling is safe while mass transit is very good (and getting better). No urban freeways!

By comparison, I like Phoenix because it's cheap. We mask our inferiority complex with booze and cheap street drugs. There's a grit here that reveals the beauty in despair. And we interface the 3rd World now, so Phoenix is relevant despite its political obliviousness.

Phoenix is trending one way and Vancouver another. Don't forget to wave.

What do you miss most about Phoenix?

I miss a few good friends who remain there.

What did Phoenix have that your new home town doesn’t?

The beautiful Sonoran desert that Phoenix supplanted.

What do you miss least about Phoenix?

The dirt, dust, smog, the absence of a thinking, engaged culture, and GPEC.

From the perspective of someone who lived here and now has left, what do you think Phoenix’s biggest pitfalls are?

The future.

From the perspective of someone who lived here and now has left, what do you think Phoenix’s biggest opportunities are?

To become a model of shrinkage.

Would you ever come back to live Phoenix, given the opportunity? Why or why not?

Yes. When they crown me King of Arizona.

What can we learn from your town here in Phoenix?

Nothing. Phoenix is populated by too many wallowing beasts.

What can your city learn from Phoenix?

There, but for grace, go we...

This qualifies as beating the beast when it has already fallen, but Phoenix is in the cross-hairs when it comes to climate change . . . growing hotter and drier. Shaun McKinnon at the Republic has tracked these changes faithfully. Summers are longer and more severe. The good weather doesn't return until November, almost 30 days later than the 80's before the malignant growth. The Big Dogs can vamoose starting in April but the common folk just have to suck it up and deal with it . . assuming that they actually have a clue about the slow deterioration.

...."down-zone the Central Corridor to make it friendly for development of low- and midrise development"

Agreed, but all but impossible post prop 207 - and, it passed in such a landslide that I think myself and a few other city planners might have been the only ones to vote no on it. A huge miss in the media - it was "debated" (if I recall, it was a 2 minute discussion between the National League of Cities and the Goldwater institute, on that massively watched show Horizon)

I'm not sure if this was pre-Rogue, but I don't even recall you mentioning prop 207 in one of your pieces Jon.

....a lack of civic engagement is indeed a major barrier to progress here.

Off Subject
but talk about Exiting stage Right.
see article by a friend of mine.

https://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#inbox/135c99cde834b07d

From "Phoenix Update" blog.
As for CityScape it could be much better. I don't think of it as suburban, but still too inward facing. Better than Arizona Center but still not quite right.

I get down to AZ center a couple of times a month to go to the AMC theatre, as my girl friend and I can go see a movie and there is NO one else in the theatre. Walking around the center U might see 10 other people, total.SAD, SAD, SAD

Cal - that link just reverts to my gmail inbox - probably a Google security thing, so I can't peek in yours...

I e-mailed it to U

Always enjoy the dialogue.

Every so often we need to add a pinch of PERSPECTIVE to the conversation.

Phoenix has deterioriated a bit over the past 50 years.

Mankind has enjoyed a nice run for about the past 50,000 years. (About 50,000 years ago we almost became extinct. Close call, huh?)

For 165,000,000 years, dinosaurs ruled the earth.

One volcanic eruption releases enough poisonous gases to equal all the pollution produced by mankind since they learned how to start a fire, car emissions included.

Just keep things in perspective. When you die and go to heaven, there may be a T-Rex waiting to have you as a snack. After all it's his heaven, and he was there first.

One man's "PERSPECTIVE" is another man's self-serving avoidance, delusion, and distraction: Just the kind of cr*p one would expect from a mind that imagines "heaven" to be necessarily elsewhere.

The central point is that the ugly 'now' of Arizona could have been much different, brighter, and perhaps even sustainable. It was *choice* that brought us to where we are. Unlike us, neither the dinosaurs nor your magically willful volcanoes exercised choice that altered the global environment.

Chew on this 'dialogue' for a while, before you again peddle such tripe.

Wow, struck a nerve.

How often has YOUR CHOICE coincided with the other 7 billion souls on this planet?

We are 7 billion souls with 7 billion ideas on how things should be done.

What gave you the idea that your puny bullshit opinion mattered??

Someone needs a funny-bone transplant, stat.

Actually, Petro, there is a lot of "crankiness" showing up on this board.

Probably a sign of the futility of it all.

That's why it's best to enjoy that cup of coffee sharing a friendly discussion with friends.

That's what matters. The human connection. All this online stuff is cool, but it lacks PERSPECTIVE.

There's that word again, hope Needle Nose doesn't get his panties in a wad again.

U know AZReb a lot of them dinasaurs were vegetarians
maybe a lttle weed would help U on your way to the magical kingdom.
Let me when U want to do coffee.

And i think we should invite Needed Dose as i sense a spirit of Abbey and Camu.

"Probably a sign of the futility of it all."

More great thought. Just like your definition of "PERSPECTIVE", it suits the dismal, fairyland world-view you promulgate.

You honor yourself too highly with, "struck a nerve". Your ideas and your reactionary, feeble, ad hominem rejoinders are only the heaping of further shame upon yourself.

Do they have jobs in Vancouver? If so, I want to move there.

I miss the economy we had in the 1960's. And 1970's. And 1980's. And 1990's.

This country was better off in 1960 and 1970 than it is now.

"Reason to Quit
The low is always lower than the high."

Merle Haggard, Reasons to quit.

Sorry Albert. I meant Camus

It depends on your perspective AZRebel

Self-serving avoidance is the preferred perspective for the discriminating blogger.

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