One of the best things about Phoenix is our local art scene. Phoenix is full of talented, bright, passionate and creative people; those who disagree are looking in the wrong places. Right now the place to see some of the best of what Phoenix has to offer is on display at 26 Blocks, an exhibit at After Hours Gallery.
I love the idea behind this exhibit: 26 Phoenix photographers and 26 Phoenix writers were paired up and sent to 26 random city blocks in Downtown Phoenix and asked to photograph and write specifically about that block. Some had much more to work with, like old houses or buildings, while some of the artists had nothing more than dirt and weeds. The creativity that came out of this assignment and the resulting photographs and stories is truly amazing.
The main theme I saw throughout can be summed up in one word: potential. More so than any other city, Phoenix is still a place where a person has the potential to be and do anything — a city that still has the potential to define its own destiny. When my friends from other cities antagonize Phoenix, I take it personally. Their condescending attitudes frustrate me because they don’t see “my” Phoenix, and they don’t see the potential and possibilities. 26 Blocks helps deconstruct those false assumptions and will inspire Phoenicians who may not be able to see the beauty that exists here, even in vacant dirt lots.
One writer interviewed a parking meter, and I liked the photo that went with it. I was moved to tears (really) by a story written from the perspective of one of the city blocks itself, telling us about its life and history the way a grandparent might tell a story to a grandchild.
I felt proud to be a Phoenician. I left the gallery with new perspectives and feeling recharged and inspired, more dedicated to making Phoenix the best city it can be. That’s the power of creative thinking and good art, and Phoenix offers some of the best.
26 Blocks will be on display through the rest of the year at various Valley locations. After Hours Gallery is located at 116 W. McDowell Rd. in Willo (light rail station at Central/McDowell) — 602.710.2398.
Previous week’s games
5/07/10 SUNS 110, Spurs 96
5/09/10 SUNS 107, Spurs 101
Upcoming Week’s Games
5/17/10 SUNS @ Lakers, 6 p.m., TNT
5/19/10 SUNS @ Lakers, 6 p.m., TNT
When we at the Suns Spot started to write our preview for the upcoming Western Conference Finals between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers, there were a couple of approaches we could take. We could have predicted the series based on how the San Antonio Spurs played against the Suns. We could have said that since the Spurs had no answer for the Suns defensively, neither will the Lakers. We could have said since the Suns swept the Spurs in such dominating fashion, they’ll do the same to the Lakers. We could have said those things, but then we realized that the Lakers are a completely different team than the Spurs.
Someone should let Bill Plaschke over at the Los Angeles Times know that the Suns are a completely different team than the Utah Jazz. Mr. Paschke claims the Suns have no chance at beating the Lakers. He came to this conclusion not based on what the Suns can do, but based on what he saw the Lakers do to the Jazz. Apparently, the Lakers closing the Jazz out at home has left the Suns afraid to play the Lakers.
Plaschke must not have seen the Suns blow out the Jazz on their home court to end the regular season. That’s right, Bill, the Lakers aren’t the first team to win in Utah.
Plaschke doesn’t understand that the Suns are a far better offensive team than the Jazz. If the Jazz managed to put up 102 points per game on the mighty Lakers defense, imagine what the Suns will be able to do. The expected return of Robin Lopez means Lakers forward Pau Gasol is going to have to guard Amar’e Stoudemire the majority of the time. Everyone talks about how tall Gasol is, but nobody talks about how soft he is. If Gasol guards Amar’e one-on-on, Amar’e will rip him apart. If Lakers center Andrew Bynum comes to double on STAT, he will find Lopez.
Plaschke doesn’t take into account that the Suns are a healthy team. The Lakers just beat up on a Jazz team playing with half of Andre Kirilenko and no Mehmet Okur. LA should have taken care of Utah like Orlando dumped Atlanta, but they didn’t. Utah was in every game. Sure, the Lakers swept, but it wasn’t really that impressive.
Plaschke seemed to forget that the Suns have a bench. Guys like Jared Dudley and Channing Frye come off the Suns bench. I’d say those guys are a whole heck of a lot better than Jazz starters Wes Matthews and C.J. Miles.
Plaschke doesn’t realize that length doesn’t equal talent. Yes, the Lakers are tall, but how good are their bigs? Sure, Gasol will show up offensively, but he’s a weak defender. Bynum is big but is highly inconsistent and will have an equally big body in Lopez to deal with. Lamar Odom shows up about half the time and makes dumb plays on a regular basis. The Lakers can have their tall bigs, I’ll take the Suns’ talented bigs.
Tell Plaschke that two-time MVP Steve Nash may be playing the best basketball of his career and will have a field day with Derek Fisher guarding him. Heck, backup point guard Goran Dragic will have a field day if Fisher is guarding him. Outside of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers’ backcourt is really bad, and the Suns’ guards will expose them.
Someone should let Bill Plaschke know the Suns will steal one of the first two in Los Angeles and close this series out in six.
Spots to watch the Suns
Couldn’t get your hands on those elusive Game 3 and 4 tickets? There are plenty of spots to watch the Suns around Downtown Phoenix.
Alice Cooperstown — 141 E. Jackson St.
Bar Smith — 130 E. Washington St.
Coach & Willie’s — 412 S. 3rd St.
District American Kitchen — 320 N. 3rd St.
ICON Lounge — 50 E. Adams St.
Majerle’s — 24 N. 2nd St.
Portland’s — 105 W. Portland St.
St. Francis — 111 W. Camelback Rd.
Stoudemire’s — 3 N. 2nd St.
The Turf — 705 N. 1st St.
From the Arizona Room is a weekly column examining the historic, reuse and infill structures in Downtown Phoenix. The inspiration for this column stems from the ever-expanding resources in Burton Barr Central Library’s Arizona Room (located on the fourth floor). For further information on this and other historic structures in the area, visit the Arizona Room during normal library hours.
900 E. Van Buren St. in Garfield
Strangely, few parks in Downtown Phoenix are as sparsely visited as Verde Park, despite its easily accessible location. The park, which serves as a bookend for the southwest side of Garfield Historic District, has been there for nearly a century, with its pump house standing unassumingly since 1938.
Small in stature, it is easy to overlook this Period Revival-style structure, located on the site of the oldest city waterworks plant. Not surprisingly, most people come here for picnics or to play basketball, not to ogle over the pump house. But, for a building with such a mundane purpose, it radiates some charm. Brick with a concrete foundation, it features parapet eaves and built-up roof sheathing.
The pump house was originally planned as an emergency standby pumping plant for the city’s domestic water supply. Bigger and better facilities have since been built, but it remains one of Garfield’s waning Period Revival examples. Today, it sits quietly on the the western edge of the park on 9th Street, just beside the parking lot, steps away from park-goers grilling hot dogs and burgers.
Source: City of Phoenix Historical/Architectural Survey of City-Owned Properties, August 1986.
Is there a historic property in Downtown Phoenix you’d like to see in From the Arizona Room? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the address and a brief description.
I will go ahead and cut to the chase on this one — Verde rocks my face off. Like a mason jar filled with sweet tea on a hot summer day, this is the type of place that you pine after. The icing on the cake is that it is just down the street from me. So, regardless of who is mayor on Foursquare, I will be darkening their doorstep multiple times a day. Just wait and see.
I caught wind of this place a few months ago and had to sneak by for a peak. The windows were boarded up, as they were not open yet, but I wanted to get it on my radar. There was a little crack in between the boards and I anxiously took a peak. I just wanted to envision what might happen in this little corner building. If nothing else, I was excited for the potential that this repurposed restaurant possessed. Truly, something great was about to happen to my tummy.
Verde slung open its doors only a few weeks ago, so that I could finally stop imagining and start dining. First Street is now a blasting area for the spicy, saliva-inducing scents that the food at Verde creates. I could feel my stomach turn somersaults of joy at first whiff, while still just a block away. Upon entering, I notice the stylish interior crafted from repurposed materials. There is even a cool room facing the traffic of 1st Street, where the magic happens. And, by magic, I mean the fantasticalness that is the creation of the succulent, homemade tortillas.
My appetite had had enough of my gazing around, so I stepped up to the counter to order. Looking over the menu overhead, I was genuinely surprised at the pricing — it was cheap! Food that smells this delicious surely costs a fortune. I ordered the Green Chile Pork and waited eagerly.
Once it arrived, I ravenously devoured everything, almost taking a bite out of the plate itself. The flavors are bold, spicy and divine. The pork was super soft and delicious. I couldn’t have dreamt it up any better. The kicker is how amazingly tasty the tortillas are. No wonder they get their own room. These things are king of food holders. Seriously. I found myself wishing that the plate was accidentally crafted out of a tortilla (thus the incidental bite).
It’s extremely exciting that out of the boarded-up darkness there emerged a place that is fast becoming one of my favorites. The best part is that they are just getting started. My palate is stoked for many return visits. And my dreams are happy flour tortilla dreams.
Verde is located at 825 N. 1st St. in Evans Churchill (light rail station at Central/Roosevelt) — 602.254.4400
The Arizona Diamondbacks return to Phoenix from a very long road trip as they prepare to face some more challenging teams. The first matchup of the weekend includes the power-hitting offense of the Milwaukee Brewers with Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. The two teams combined have hit a total of 71 homers to date as they prepare for what analysts look to be a home run derby. Short of a triple play and stealing home, there are not many things as exciting as seeing one hit out of the park.
After winning the series in Colorado and struggling in Chicago, the Diamondbacks were able to come back to take three of four against a sub-par Houston team. Wins continue to be important as the team heads home to face the Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers expect to have Manny Ramirez ready for the series against the D-backs. Ramirez is currently playing in San Bernardino, CA, for the Class A Inland Empire 66ers in preparation of being placed back on to the roster.
Some of the highlights of the week include Dan Haren’s 10th complete game of his career, and Kelly Johnson was named the player of the month for April. Johnson, who comes to Arizona from Atlanta, was expected to have a breakout year this year. In April, just the first month of the season, Johnson already boasts better stats than all of last year.
Despite some troubling times with the bullpen and their current place in the standings, there has been plenty to be pleased with about the D-backs in 2010. Don’t forget that Friday night is fireworks night at Chase Field, and on Saturday the first 15,000 fans will receive baseball caps courtesy of Sports 620 KTAR. On Sunday, the first 5,000 moms will receive a D-signer tote bag for Mothers’ Day. Until next week, continue to show your love for your elite local teams and remember to show your D-backs some love.
Last week’s games
04/30 — Cubs 11, D-backs 5
05/01 — Cubs 7, D-backs 5
05/02 — Cubs 10, D-backs 5
05/03 — D-backs 9, Astros 1
05/04 — D-backs 1, Astros 0
05/05 — Astros 4, D-backs 2
05/06 — D-backs 6, Astros 3
This week’s games
05/07 — Brewers @ D-backs, 6:40 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
05/08 — Brewers @ D-backs, 5:10 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
05/09 — Brewers @ D-backs, 1:10 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
05/10 — Dodgers @ D-backs, 6:40 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
05/11 — Dodgers @ D-backs, 6:40 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
05/12 — Dodgers @ D-backs, 6:40 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona