Monthly Archives: August 2009

Does Arizona have an image problem?

Outside the Phoenix Convention Center, where the U.S. President was speaking on Aug. 17, "Chris" sports a semi-automatic rifle and pistol.

[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Just as local and state tourism officials tried to shed Phoenix’s unbecoming title as the “kidnapping capital of America,” another national moniker has emerged: gun-crazy.  A man carrying a pistol and semi-automatic rifle outside the Phoenix hall where President Barack Obama spoke this month ignited a media firestorm, reinforcing the stereotype of the Grand Canyon State as a gun-loving vestige of the Wild West.

The firearms display, later revealed to be a publicity stunt, was legal under an Arizona law that allows most citizens to openly carry guns in public without a permit.  But the spotlight cast by cable-news pundits, newspaper editorials and blogs — including censure from a world-renowned travel writer — raised questions about whether Arizona’s lax gun laws make it safe to travel and do business in the state.  “We’re an urban city, and there are individuals trying to hold on to the old ways of the Wild West,” said Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski, himself a gun owner.  “We’re going to lose a lot of conventions because of one knucklehead.”

Before the gun stunt, tales of Mexican drug cartels abducting rival smugglers and immigrants and holding them for ransom in Valley homes had already painted Phoenix as a city under siege. [Note: Read the full article at Does Arizona have an image problem?]

More (food, coffee, wine) coming to Downtown Phoenix Public Market Urban Grocery

[Source: Jonathan McNamara, Phoenix New Times] — ​The folks behind the the Downtown Phoenix Public Market Urban Grocery & Wine Bar set their sights pretty high, and they plan on being more than a grocery store.  It will be a permanent home to the farmers market (721 N. Central Avenue), as well as a coffee shop, wine bar, and community kitchen.

Royal Coffee Bar will open an outpost at the new market.  The building has a separate side entrance for the coffee bar, which will keep separate hours from the rest of the market (7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday).  There’s a spot laid out for seating and relaxing, in case folks don’t want to get their coffee and run.  Expect cool, reclaimed material here like wooden floors from an old Arizona farmhouse, and Edison-era light bulbs.  [Note: Read the full article at More (food, coffee, wine) coming to Downtown Phoenix Public Market Urban Grocery.]

What is Radio Phoenix?

Nick Gortari answers that question during his interview with Phoenix Local Music about Radio Phoenix and his role as the station’s Local Music Director. The interview takes place from the DJ booth at Radio Phoenix. Local band Neba plays in the background.

Fair Trade Cafe opens at downtown Phoenix Civic Space Park

A.E. England Building, site of new Fair Trade Cafe (Photo source: Jane's Walk Phoenix)

[Source: City of Phoenix] — The historic A.E. England Building in downtown Phoenix’s Civic Space Park is celebrating the grand opening of its anchor tenant, Fair Trade Café.  Civic Space Park, nestled into 2.77 acres at 424 N. Central Ave., offers residents, workers, ASU students, and downtown visitors a park with unique urban design, sustainable construction, adaptive reuse, and operational features, and a landmark public sculpture by artist Janet Echelman.

Fair Trade Café is located on the ground floor of the historic A.E. England building, named after the 1926 business formerly housed there. Fair Trade will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.  In addition to its storefront retail and food options, the building has space available for meetings, presentations, small banquets, art events, and classes.  For more information about the park and space availability, click here.

Phoenix theater troupe performs on light rail

In this know99 Television segment, Motion Theatre Company performs on Valley Metro’s light rail trains.  For more information about know99, click here.

A downtown Phoenix photo quilt


[Source: The Daily Render] — Nikolas Schiller is a 28-year-old cartographer, consultant, digital artist, researcher, photographer, civil rights activist, and blogger living in Washington, D.C.  Nikolas created this derivative map of downtown Phoenix.  He liked the way the rooftop of the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. District Court creates a nice design around the center.  To view additional map quilts of Phoenix, click here.

Idea of the Day: So where should a downtown Phoenix biking center go?

fujiton_ebike[Source: State’s first biking center finishes first week, Dianna M. Náñez, Arizona Republic] — Note operative phrase in the following article: “Romero and Perez have already scoped out locations for expanding.   ‘To start with… one in downtown Phoenix… and at the end of the line in Mesa… would be perfect,’ Perez said.” Any ideas?  If so, send Joe and John an e-mail.

On Wednesday, Karleen Dirmantas left her central Phoenix home at 6:45 a.m. and rode her bicycle 15 miles to the state’s first full-service biking center, in Tempe.  She showered, changed into her work uniform and arrived at work by 8 a.m.  The center, which opened Monday, has made it possible for Dirmantas to stop driving her car to work, save money on gasoline and help preserve the environment.  Other bicyclists say their benefits include saving money on parking at Arizona State University and enjoying easier access to light rail.

The Bicycle Cellar, owned by two Valley bicycle enthusiasts, is near ASU in downtown Tempe.  After hearing that the center would offer paid members secured indoor-bike parking, lockers, showers and other services, Dirmantas signed up for a one-year membership.  The facility is at Tempe’s Transportation Center, a hub for light-rail, Valley Metro and Tempe commuter Orbit buses.

The Bicycle Cellar has conveniences for people who ride public transportation to work in Tempe or for ASU faculty members or students who want a safe place to park their bikes overnight.  Storage lockers are available, as are tools for minor bike repairs and air for tires.  During the day, help is available to work on more complicated repairs.

Mariam Cohen, who teaches at ASU, will use the center to avoid commuting by car from Paradise Valley to ASU.  “This is wonderful for everyone.  Even an old lady on a bike like me.  I can leave my bike here at night… know it’s safe… (and) pick it up when I get off the light rail,” she said Wednesday, hopping onto her vine-green Schwinn and off to class.  Students also appreciate saving on the hundreds of dollars it costs to park at ASU.

Dawn Stapley, an ASU junior, was at the shop early Monday and became the cellar’s first member.  “Parking is so expensive at ASU,” she said.  “I work at Priest (Drive) and Washington (Street) so I’m leaving my car at work, taking the light rail… picking my bike up and riding it to class next to (ASU) Gammage.”  Bicycle Cellar co-owner and bike-riding enthusiast John Romero said his facility is moving the Valley closer to having full-fledged urban amenities.  “Phoenix is maturing as a metropolis,” he said.  “We’re finally bringing to the table what other cities have had for years.”

The shop’s diverse clientele and rush of customers wanting to secure one of the shop’s 300 memberships has Romero and co-owner Joseph Perez thinking about launching similar bike stores at busy spots along the rail line.  “We’re up to 20 members-that’s just in four days,” he said.  Romero and Perez have already scoped out locations for expanding.  “To start with… one in downtown Phoenix… and at the end of the line in Mesa… would be perfect,” Perez said.  [Note: Read the full article at State’s first biking center finishes first week.]

Care to adopt a Phoenix light rail station?

Admittedly puppies are cuter than light rail trains. We'll do anything to get you to read this stuff!

[Source: Si Robins, Downtown Phoenix Journal] — METRO has enacted an Adopt-A-Station initiative along the light rail line.  During the press conference, which took place at the Roosevelt/Central station (aka “Arts District” station), Mesa Vice Mayor and METRO Board Vice Chairman Kyle Jones boasted that Mesa’s lone stop at Main and Sycamore is the busiest of any of the rail stations, much to the chagrin of Phoenix Vice Mayor and METRO Board Chairman Tom Simplot.  (Simplot argued that 19th and Montebello, the line’s “first” station, is by far the busiest.)  Though fisticuffs didn’t ensue, a staged challenge between the Mesan and the Phoenician was presented: During September, if Mesa’s line proves to indeed be the busiest, Simplot will personally maintain the station’s appearance.  The same goes for Jones and the Montebello station.  Game on!

While these shenanigans play out, there’s business to attend to.  Specifically, local business.  Downtown has stations that need neighborhood sponsors.  Here are my suggestions.  Let me know what you want.

  • Camelback/Central station: There’s a cluster of great, quirky business on the northwest corner of this intersection. Stinkweeds, Frances, Smeeks, Red Hot Robot: I’m looking at you guys.
  • Campbell/Central station: It’s not like Lux or Pane Bianco need the press, but you can’t deny that these two spots bring vibrancy to this intersection.  I’d be fine with Lux baristas pouring cappuccinos, then running outside to sweep up debris from last night’s storm.
  • Indian School/Central station: I guess the fight club/storage facility got demolished.  So, that’s out.  How about Steele Indian School Park?  It’s one of the city’s biggest parks, yet one of its hidden gems.
  • Osborn/Central station: Tossup between Phoenix Country Club and Encanto Park.  Golfing downtown, anyone?
  • Thomas/Central station: The hospital will probably win out here.  Either that or Phillips and Associates.  They’re everywhere.
  • Encanto/Central station: We need the Heard to take this, right?
  • McDowell/Central station: I’d prefer Thai Hut take this.  Can we somehow make this happen?
  • Roosevelt/Central station: The obvious answers here would be NBC 12, Fair Trade Café or Portland’s.  But, how about Portland Place lofts, with several units in escrow and a bankrupt developer, getting its name out there?  Any advertising would help!
  • Van Buren/Central and Van Buren/1st Avenue stations: I’m sure Michael Crow already put in his bid.
  • Washington/Central and Jefferson/Central: Hello, CityScape.
  • Washington/3rd Street and Jefferson/3rd Street: The Phoenix Suns are going to need as much money coming in as possible this season with the way things are looking.  Take that into consideration, Robert Sarver.

Anyone have any other thoughts?

CenPhoTV for the week of 08/28/2009

A weekly video webcast about Phoenix living.  For more information, visit their website.

The gravity of downtown Phoenix

[Forwarded by Dan Semenchuk at Creative Connect] — Gravity was shot in HD with a Canon 5D MKII in and around downtown Phoenix, using available light and features the memorable spaces that dot the Phoenician landscape, including the months’ old light rail system, Civic Space Park, Phoenix Art Museum, and Clarendon Hotel.  The project is the second collaboration for the band and photographer after shooting their album cover.  For this project, the lyrics and visuals work in chorus, using the metaphor of gravity to illustrate the isolation, anonymity and stresses of modern city living.