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Furry Fashion Show at the Firehouse

9 Jan

One happy unicorn.

The Firehouse has a giant pirate ship made from shopping carts docked in its back dirt lot; a skeletal, welded metal UFO perched atop its roof; and two makeshift wooden stages where people perform everything from fire-spinning dances to obscene sci-fi rap in sexy cyborg costumes. That’s just part of the peripheral grounds. Inside The Firehouse are artists’ apartments and studios, and a gallery (currently featuring a steampunk-themed show). It’s one of the longest-running independent artist collectives in downtown Phoenix, and I’ve seen a slew of quirky, fun stuff there.

It seems like every time I go there on a weekend with my girlfriend, Bootstrap, she somehow ends up becoming a last-minute part of whatever show’s going on. (Previously, she: participated in the annual “Fight Club” event by local promoters Sadisco*, getting into a chain-link octagon and wrestling with one of our friends; portrayed a “slave girl” devoured by someone in a giant Cthulu costume; and donned a metal breastplate for friends to use grinders on during an event by now-defunct group Grindwhore.)

So it was this past First Friday, when Bootstrap and I showed up at The Firehouse to watch a “steampunk fashion show,” and she ended up onstage in a giant hot pink bunny mask as part of a “furry fashion show.”

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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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Zombie Walk 3: Downtown Phoenix Comes Alive with the Undead

30 Oct

The Department of Zombie Defense has everything under control.

“Zombies are imminent! Take cover!”

Matt Haynes of the Arizona Ghostbusters is yelling through a megaphone at the people lining the streets of downtown Phoenix, staring at him and the rest of the Ghostbusters, who’re all illuminated below the flashing blue lights atop the group’s Ecto-1 car. Behind them are almost 4,000 people dressed  as groaning, lurching zombies.

This is Zombie Walk 3, the public parade of horribles that’s become the highlight of the annual Halloween Festival at Heritage Square. The walk starts around First and Monroe Streets, with hordes of sinewy undead then shuffling north down Second Street, screeching through the outdoor plaza of the Arizona Center, dripping southbound  on Third Street to Washington, and looping back to Monroe. The AZ Ghostbusters, along with another costuming group called the Department of Zombie Defense, is tasked with leading the walk and keeping the flesh eaters in line.

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Arizona State Fair: That’s How the Maggot Melts

24 Oct

Probably the only time you’ll see me in pink.

What has maggot melts, giant pig balls, demolition derbies, and pissed-off sheep?

If you answered “a behind-the-scenes look at Jackass” or a “a weekend at my perverted uncle’s trailer park,” you’d be close, but still wrong. No, the only place I’ve found all these elements is the Arizona State Fair.

I don’t go to the fair for the rides. When I was younger, I loved being thrown to and fro on some giant, clanking machine, but the older I get, the more I just envision myself being on the roller coaster that somehow careens off the track and crashes into the deep-fryer concession stand below. I’m pretty adventurous, but I’ll be damned if I die with a deep-fried pickle in my eye. And every year, it seems like there are fewer rides anyway.

Goats and gross food are the only reasons I go the Arizona State Fair anymore. It’s an annual event for me to wander through the petting zoo and prize goat barn, going “baaaaa” and talking like Katherine Hepburn. I also like to see what new, gross foods are available, and take pictures of my girlfriend, Bootstrap, eating them. Last year, she ate a chocolate covered cricket and a chocolate covered scorpion.

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