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August 16, 2010


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Jazz, Motown, Rock & Roll, Blues, Fusion, Grunge, R&B, Rap, Hip Hop, etc. These words bring to mind once and always great cities: Chicago, New York, LA, San Fran, Detroit, Seattle, Philadelphia, Memphis, Austin, etc.

Then, there are the great classical musicians connected with the major cities: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The New York Philharmonic, Boston’s Orchestra’s, etc.

Then there are the venues: The Met, The Hollywood Bowl, Benaroya Hall, Red Rocks, etc.

Phoenix is a city without rhythm, harmony, or even melody. Even Muscle Shoals, Alabama, has more musical muscle than Arizona.

Music is an echo of the heart of a community. When I am in Phoenix, I hear the swoosh of speeding cars, the monotonic hum of rubber on tarmac, Sky Harbor’s jet engines, the backup beepers of bulldozers and garbage trucks, and the bellowing of Kooks.

Only at night, under the starry sky in the desert, far away from the city’s lights, can I sometimes hear the faint echoes of a haunting, wooden flute.

Phoenix lies brutally exposed from all its bad choices. There's no road back because the carrying costs have now become prohibitively expensive. Short term, we did as all humans do: deny. Now we sift through the rubble looking for anything that might serve as a positive sign. Cheap houses, anyone?

The economic monoculture of real estate was the inevitable consequence of boosterism without actual content and thought. Now we're gazing into an abyss. That road back has washed away and, anyway, we're out of gas.

Peak oil is one pincer. Above a certain threshold, say $100/bbl, growth not only becomes impossible, the entire financial house of cards begins to teeter from unpayable debt. http://www.postpeakliving.com/preparing-post-peak-life.

The other pincer is climate change. This one is safe to predict: we will do little or nothing to mitigate global warming despite all the warning signs. The desert Southwest will suffer early and grievously. http://www.grist.org/article/2010-08-12-ucs-article-drought-tracker/.

Phoenix planted itself in the crosshairs of geography and history. It was a winner and now it's going to be a loser. It won't happen overnight but as the crisis worsens, the panic will become electric. Of course, there's always the refuge of the road. But, then, where would you go? Good luck making that choice.

Interesting column and good comments.

Sometimes I wonder:

When a person, group, community or state end up shooting themselves in the foot, I wonder why they did it. Was it by design, ineptitude or accident.

An example:

Herb Drinkwater was a good, down to earth person. He promoted Scottsdale his entire adult life. He was so successful that in the end his efforts ruined the city that he loved. All the aspects of the town which tourists loved were buried under traffic and over-development. So, too much of a good thing went bad.

Now, when we get to the valley and state level, I have watched our legislature make decision after decision which usually end up being one of the following: wrong, backwards looking, spiteful, narrow-minded, etc.

Why? Why would they do that? What purpose is served?

I have a theory. I'll call it the Arizona Taliban.

For those of you who have not spent time in rural Arizona, let me tell you, you have no idea how much rural Arizona hates "The state of Maricopa". They hate eveything about the valley and they hate all the millions of "ants" who live in the valley. Over the years, some of the craziest legislative measures have come from rural legislators. When you group the rural kooks along with the east Valley Mormon kooks and the west valley ultra-conservative kooks, you have a majority which can by design or ineptitude do immense damage to the state.

The Afghan Taliban regularly do things which shout out to the world - we are ignorant, we are uneducated, we are mindless religious, fanatical robots, we have guns and we will kill you all.

The Arizona Taliban, don't use guns, they use votes.

Anyway, it's just a theory. Cause I sure can't see reasonable explanation of why we had the chance to do great things and instead blew it.

"Azliban", azrebel?

Well, anyway, the complaints about the "ants" do resonate.

Also, I love my many Mormon friends. I can't clump them into any larger tribe. They got their own thing goin' on.

How, in AZ, can it continue to be called, "real estate". Would it not be more honest to call it "unreal estate".


Let's go ahead and go with AZREBEL. I can't pronounce the other one. Maybe Talizonan?

I have primarily Mormon friends. However, the Mormons I speak of are the "Taliban" of their religion. They are BYU'ers who will only do business with their kind and associate with no one else. They are the people who say "Come to Mesa, we're business friendly". The part they leave out is that they are business friendly to LDS run businesses. Thus, in Mesa, we have no commercial businesses. We have to go to Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe or Scottsdale. Pearce, as one of their leaders, would love for all of AZ to be Mormon. I promise you, he does not speak for 80% of the Mormons in AZ, however, the 20% he does speak for, are as dangerous as any radical Muslim.

Kookiban? But maybe that sounds like Russell Pearce's deodorant.

Way to go Rate, you started a word game using "Taliban". I bet it would be a big seller in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A board game for ages 5 and up. If you chose a word that was already made up by another player, the board blows up killing everyone in the house. Fun for the whole family.

Concerning your music concerns, not to worry. There are two major types of music in the world and we have both of them.....COUNTRY and WESTERN.

( : - )

Kookiban Deodorant - "It'll keep you smelling fresh as a mountain meadow even as you "lose your cool" on national TV.

How much LESS damage would there be if Saint Janet had not departed, leaving the Kooks in charge? Didn't she sorta have her finger in the proverbial dike?

How much BETTER might our future prospects look with Terry Goddard to offset the loonies?

And maybe Rick Romley becomes County Atty, David Lujan becomes AZ Attorney Gen. and Penny Kotterman becomes Sup of Ed?

It would be encouraging to have a few adults in charge, would't it? Right now, there's nothing much standing in the Kookracy's path!

"Didn't she sorta have her finger..."


"There are two major types of music in the world and we have both of them.....COUNTRY and WESTERN." - azrebel


OK, Willie Nelson and a few others can get away with singing while wearing a cowboy hat and still be substantive, authentic artists.

Can anything with flashpots, smoke and lasers be called C&W?

Bringing this thread full circle, what is(are) Arizona's anthem(s)/theme song(s)?

"I remember vividly one man who defrauded my grandmother, a real estate agent, being sent to prison"

I followed my heart to Phoenix in 1990 and immediately fell in love with the Sonoran Desert. Two decades later, I remember the agent who sold my first house and helped me buy my second, becoming a mortgage broker at the beginning of the last 'boom'. He made a mint getting people to put their signatures on papers. Instead of prison time, he cashed out before the bubble burst, dumped his house, and -- as Arizona crumbled -- moved his family to Oregon.

Rate Crimes wrote:

"Bringing this thread full circle, what is(are) Arizona's anthem(s)/theme song(s)?"

The Arizona March Song:

"This song, originally titled Arizona, was written in 1915 by Margaret Rowe Clifford and published by the Hatch Music Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This Arizona State Anthem, as it was designated, was adopted by the Fourth Arizona State Legislature and became effective February 28, 1919. The act, adopting this song, required that all schools, public institutions, and the Battleship Arizona be furnished with copies by the Commission of State Institutions."

Lyrics here:


The part about the "priceless right of way" is spot on. Federal stimulus funds just completed the latest round of road-repaving in the exurbs. (Rubberized asphalt: the smell of "tyranny".)


Also see this:


Pretty good try Emil, with documenation and all.

However, the Arizona Anthem is the song by Johnny Paycheck, "Take this job and outsource it".

It's been a big hit for the last twenty years.

Emil, don't forget the federal funds being used to extend the light rail into downtown Mesa...and in Russell Pearce's backyard!


Interestingly, the Cubs and Mesa have shown interest in building the Cubs new spring training facility in downtown Mesa right next to a new light rail stop! I was shocked as they originally planned to build this thing near Apache Junction (extremely far form transit) or near the 202 which would not have put in in pedestrian traffic friendly zones.

The Cubs also want to build a mini-"Wrigleyville" in this area of Mesa, Wrigleyville West if you will and how they have dubbed it; they have plenty of land to do so...


42 years in Phoenix and nothing to show for it. That's my story. This state, which when I got here was conservative, and somewhat bigoted against blacks, had, as Jon said, good bones. I worked with all the leaders who have died off, and they did want to build an economy. But the fact that Arizona is 70% public land was irresistible to people. "Land will be valuable, because there is no little private land to develop" became the mantra. It seemed to make sense. But I got involved in revitalizing downtown in 1980. I have focused on that in one way or another ever since. But it just didn't work. Arizona's failure makes ME feel like a failure somehow. I wonder how other long-time residents and natives feel?


You're not a failure. You came into this world wearing your birthday suit, you'll leave wearing the same attire. In the meantime, you lived life. I'm sure you've had successes and failures. We all have. You've seen beautiful Arizona sunrises and even more magical sunsets. When you looked at those sunsets did you fret about all of man's pathetic projects here in the desert, or did you concentrate on enjoying God's desert light show. My life in Arizona has kept me "occupied". What I am truly thankful for is the opportunity to have experienced the beauty of the state and yes, its sunsets.

Francine, I've been here only 22 years but I too feel that somehow I've failed because this state has regressed into the mess it's in today. I can't take the failure as the end of my story, so I am selling my house and starting over in a new place where the hate and ignorance are not so palpable.

It's sad to give up on this place, but it seems like time to leave it to the Mormons and the racists.

Sarah M. Where is the hate and ignorance not so palpable? My family and I are repatreating from Russia where I have been living and working for the past 8 years. I had big hopes for the Phoenix area but after reading Jon and commenters I am convinced that Arizona, Phoenix in particular is not the place to be. Thanks Lester

I'm from Utah and took a trip to pheonix 18 months back to look at real estate. It didn't seem as depresed as I was told. Businesses were operating at what I would call norm. The homes were remarkably cheap in the lower end of town. 19,000 dollars was a common price on a 1200 square foot site built home with its own lot. I would say 1 in 8 homes were abandoned and unoccupied. these appeared to be bank owned homes and sold relativly fast. I would put an offer on one and would get out bid the next day. I never did buy one, would have liked to and use it for future retirement or rental. I see these deals are still available. I have hope for Phoenix and the economy.

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