Archive | December, 2011

My Ten Favorite Things of 2011

31 Dec

Midori at Fetish Revolution 11

2011 is fading fast, and like lots of other self-appointed pop culture pundits and eloquent narcissists, I’d like to present my list of “My Ten Favorite Things of 2011.”

10. Haboobs: “Haboob” is Arabic for “strong wind.” It’s basically a big dust storm, and we had some fabulous ones here in Phoenix this year. As you can see in videos of the July storms, they can be quite apocalyptic-looking. Coool.

9. Foreigner/Journey concert: Speaking of storms, there was a particularly nasty thunder and rain storm the night of this show at Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion (gawd, that name sucks). You can read my review of the show itself here, but what made this concert so memorable for me was that I attended it with my girlfriend, my best friend Ben, and his girlfriend in a rare double date.

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The Royale Theater in Mesa Closes; Holds “Goodbye Open House”

28 Dec

The last film has been shown at The Royale.

The Royale Theater in Mesa closed suddenly on Christmas Eve, after just six months in business. Last night, December 27, there was a “Goodbye Open House” there, for people to just drop by and buy shirts, posters and VHS tapes from the indie cinema’s lobby. As much as media  and fans have lamented the loss of such a cool venue, the vibe at the open house was only mildly melancholy – probably because it seemed so inevitable, given the generally crappy economy. Mom-and-pop shop Evermore Nevermore – previously located right across the street from The Royale – closed earlier this month.

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Stuffed: Sens Asian Tapas & Sake Bar

20 Dec

“Are you guys driving across the country after you leave here or something?” the waiter asks, setting two more cups of Vietnamese sweet cafe on our table. “You’re going to be awake for three days.”

I’m at Sens on First Street in Central Phoenix with my girlfriend, Bootstrap, on a Sunday night. This is our first time at chef Johnny Chu’s Asian tapas eatery, and no, we’re not planning a marathon road trip. It’s just that the Vietnamese sweet cafe – like everything else that’s passed our lips here – is so damn delicious.

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Tea: My New Addiction

18 Dec

Partial tower of tea and tisanes in my kitchen.

December 18 marks one month since I quit smoking cigarettes. I went from smoking a pack a day to nothing, and people asked me what habit I was going to replace the smoking with – like chewing gum or working out. I do both those things, but my big new addiction is something I rarely even thought about before I quit smoking: hot tea.

Strangely, my fresh obsession is really an accidental side-effect of changing my drinking habits to support my smoking cessation. I immediately stopped consuming beverages I loved to pair with cigarettes (beer, coffee, energy drinks and soda), but I wanted to stave off headaches from caffeine withdrawal. So, I started drinking black tea. Then I started trying other teas, including decaf blends.

Here I am thirty days later, drinking too much tea. I consume a 16-ounce thermos of black tea every morning, and anywhere from three to five more standard-size mugs of various teas throughout the rest of the day. Some sources say that’s great for my health; other says the opposite. Whatever the case, I’ve got four different boxes of tea in front of me right now, and I want to tell you something interesting about each of them.

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The Last First Friday of 2011: Steel/Vision at Willo North, Galeria de los Muertos’ swan song, and a spurt through Bar Smith

4 Dec

One of Steve Gomp’s “televisos” at Willo North Gallery.

These days, when I go somewhere in downtown or central Phoenix on a First Friday art walk, it’s usually in the Garfield block, or slightly off the First Friday map. On December 2, this past and last First Friday of 2011, my girlfriend Bootstrap and I visited Galeria de los Muertos on Garfield Street, and for the first time, Willo North Gallery on Seventh Avenue. We also ended up squirming for five minutes at Bar Smith near the end of the night, but I’ll get to that later.

Our first stop was Willo North, for the opening reception of the exhibit “Steel/Vision: New Work by Steve Gompf and Hank Fries.” I wanted to see both the artwork – Fries’ assortment of steel, found object, and kinetic sculptures; and Gompf’s stunning and curious “televisor” structures – and my friend Robrt Pela, who curated the show.

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