Daily Archives: January 11, 2009

Phoenix commuters celebrate “No Pants Day”

[News Source: KPHO Television, Video Source: Brian Shaler] — “Your underwear is showing” was a theme taken to the extreme by one group of Metro Light Rail riders Saturday afternoon in Phoenix, KPHO reported.  Nearly 100 Valley residents celebrated the global “No Pants Day” by hitching a ride on the new rail system and “forgetting” to wear pants.  For the past seven years, national group Improv Everywhere has held an annual “No Pants Day” on which the group rides pants-less on the New York City subway system, and this year, the event went global.  

Jeff Moriarty, the Phoenix event’s organizer, said the new Metro Light Rail system gave the Valley an opportunity to join in.  “We think it is a fun way to celebrate Phoenix’s light rail, and give people a chuckle along the way,” Moriarty said.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Sending love letters to ASU for keeping N. Central Ave. post office

[Source: Robrt L. Pela, Phoenix New Times] — I fall in love with old buildings.  There’s that odd little Flintstonian office building at Third Street and Clarendon, whose comically prehistoric rock-and-mortar façade stole my heart years ago.  For a while, I had as my screensaver a photograph of the impossibly tiny stone cottage I drive past when I’m visiting Provence.  And there’s the little clapboard Victorian in Ohio that I fell hard for in 1976, whose dilapidated beauty I attempted to capture that year in an awesomely awful acrylic painting.

In Phoenix, my heart belongs to the downtown post office at 522 North Central Avenue.  I love the stone steps leading up to the front door, over which a giant lantern sways in front of an elaborate glass-and-grillwork that’s framed by concrete columns on either side.  Inside there are ancient (and rather cheesy) Southwestern-themed murals, commissioned in 1938 by the Fine Arts Section of the Treasury Department and painted by La Verne Black and Oscar E. Berninghaus, that I always breeze past on my way to the rows of ancient P.O. boxes with their coppery metal doors, oversize keyholes, and little glass windows etched with gold and red numbers in an old-timey font.

Built between 1932 and 1936, the two-story structure’s maiden name is The Phoenix Federal Building, as its construction was part of a massive federal program undertaken in an attempt to forestall the Great Depression.  The gorgeous Spanish Colonial Revival building, which opened to the public in 1936 and housed the city’s main post office for more than 30 years, is the only federal building from the period still standing here.  And I love it.  I go out of my way to drive past it, especially early in the day, when one can park in front of this big, beautiful building and ogle like mad.

Of course, I panicked when I read a couple of years ago that ASU had purchased the building for use in its new downtown campus. It would serve as a gathering place for students as well as housing the administrative offices of some ASU executives and the ASU police. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix New Times looks to overhaul blog topics, seeks feedback

Phoenix New Times blogger Martin Cizmar asks, “What Should Go On Our Blogroll?” Specifically, “We’re going to be overhauling the links to other music and culture blogs on the right hand side of the page (the ‘blogroll,’ as the kids call it) and we thought we’d solicit your suggestions. We’re looking for critics, labels, promoters, and fans but not band blogs. We’re most interested in sites that concentrate on — or at least occasionally discuss — Phoenix music, arts, nightlife, and culture but we’ll take a look at national stuff too.”   [Note: To read the full article and provide feedback, click here.]

Cities are key culprits in weather shifts

Heat island effect, metro Phoenix

[Source: Shaun McKinnon, Arizona Republic] — In the old comic books, the vilest super-villains brandished an exotic weather-control device to threaten the world’s cities.  Turns out all the villains really needed were the cities, whose growth increasingly influences the weather with devices no more exotic than an office building or a freeway. Those devices can raise temperatures to unhealthful levels, steer storms off course or alter their intensity, suck the rain out of clouds and may contribute to long-term climate change.  Worse, sprawling metropolises can foil efforts to forecast the weather or even track a single event.   “There’s no doubt man has impacted his local environment,” said Tony Haffer, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Phoenix.  “It’s reached the point that it’s more than just meteorologists and climatologists looking at this.  Engineers that build and plan cities are looking for ways of mitigating the effects of putting in more concrete and asphalt.”

The real-life power of urban areas to shape and reshape weather and climate is the theme of the American Meteorological Society’s national conference, which runs through this week at the Phoenix Convention Center.  More than 2,000 meteorologists, climatologists and even a few engineers are expected to attend.  The program includes discussions about public-policy issues, but the intent isn’t to deliver solutions or formal recommendations as much as it is to support the scientists searching for the solutions.  Some of the research presented this week will offer concrete ideas for businesses or governments to use, while other projects will guide future studies.

Phoenix provides a fitting backdrop for the gathering: It was here that scientists conducted some of the earliest research into the urban-heat-island effect, the increase in nighttime temperatures that occurs when buildings and roads release energy absorbed during the day.  The city’s rapid growth has given scientists a living laboratory to test theories and chart discoveries. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]