Tag Archives: Phoenix

Civic Space Park opens

enter the vortex

enter the vortex

"Her Secret is Patience" hovers over the Cronkite School.

"Her Secret is Patience" hovers over the Cronkite School.

About half a month behind schedule, the Civic Space Park opened today, bringing a large, urban-style park to Phoenix.

The park looked excellent — lush grass, chessboard-topped tables, polished and cleaned architecture. And, of course in the middle of it all, was Janet Echelman’s “Her Secret is Patience,” the giant “mothership-looking sculpture” (as my friend described it) that hangs over the space.

Water is good at 100+ degrees.

Water is good at 100+ degrees.

City council members, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, representatives from ASU and the community spoke at the opening. Gordon emphasized that the park’s completion made Phoenix final look like the fifth largest city in the nation — which appearances or not, it is.

Crowds gathered for the opening.

Crowds gathered for the opening.

Personally, I can’t wait to chill on the grass between classes at the Cronkite School. The park looks and feels (think grass on your toes) great. I’m just a bit miffed it didn’t open earlier; the good weather won’t last long.

McDowell Mountain Music Fesitval = The Flaming Lips

The Love Blisters cover "Flight Test." (Photo by Phoenix New Times)

The Love Blisters cover "Flight Test." (Photo by Phoenix New Times)

I just saw The Love Blisters play The Flaming Lips’s “Flight Test” for the Phx New Times.

Now I’m beyond excited for the McDowell Mountain Music Festival!

The Flaming Lips: paragons of showmanship.

The Flaming Lips: paragons of showmanship.

I’ll admit, The Flaming Lips are the majority of my reason for going (please let Wayne Coyne dress as either an alien or a bunny rabbit). But the whole festival seemed a bit expensive: “$50 for tickets to a music festival when I only want to see one band.” After pondering the lineup a bit longer, I’ve assured myself this will be a solid day of music — including rumors of a drum circle.

For those not acquainted with The Flaming Lips, GET ACQUAINTED! I say this mostly because I’ve tried before to describe the sonic gestalt that is The Flaming Lips and failed miserably. Suffice it to say, if you’re into anything from dream-poppy bliss to obscurely happy punk-rock, this band could be for you. They’ve been around for 25+ years; background shouldn’t be required at this point.

They seem to like orbs a lot.

They seem to like orbs a lot.

Building a more connected (online) Phoenix

Yesterday’s post on Urban Affair and Downtown Phoenix Journal generated a ton of views and comments — way more than I expected.  But then, maybe that’s to be expected considering Phoenix’s increasingly large, and  zealous, local movement.

I just wish I had paid more attention.  The original post was a rush job I quickly hammered out between classes simply to get something posted (there’s a lesson in responsible blogging in here somewhere).  Of course, the result included some errors of fact and typos, but I’m actually glad they were there.  Without them, I doubt the post would have received the attention it did, and I never would have heard the bloggosphere’s Phoenix voices  — and there are a lot.

Beginning in-mass approximately 10 years ago, many Phoenix residents have worked hard to develop nationally recognized movements promoting local business and community.  Of course there’s Kimber Lanning, et al., with the exalted Local First Arizona, the largest coalition of independent business in the nation.  LFA is the organization I’m most familiar with, having written half a dozen stories on it for various publications and journalism projects in the past year or so — the topic always seems to please j-school professors.  But there are tons of other movements, and a surprising number of them are online.

The cyber community in Phoenix, while not as big as many other cities, seems to be extremely well-connected.  Blogs link to organizations, which link to blogs, which link to businesses, etc.  And the writers for these publications certainly seem to know what’s going on; the coverage is phenomenal.

As a small-time local blogger, it’s really amazing to see the power of these larger movements.  I DO see blogging as the future of local publications, overtaking the free, community papers.  Print will always be available, but more and more content has moved online.  And that’s great.  Online has so many benefits, among them the ability to link and create vast communities that coordinate and contribute to each other.  Groups like Urban Affair and DPJ have become hubs for both original content and aggregated information imported from dozens of personal spider blogs.

It’s good to be in a community.  As conceptions and expections of journalism change, the since of journalistic duty to the community will always remain.

Urban Affairs staches up Downtown Phoenix Journal blog

Downtown Phoenix Journal announced yesterday its acquisition by Urban Affair, the new marketing campaign for Phoenix.

DPJ, the biggest blog for aggregating info in Phoenix, has been a great source of news for the downtown area since 2006. Its bloggers mix postings about events and issues to produce a solid, hyper-local blog. However, downtown keeps changing; it recently rocketed out of the dull drums and into a world-class urban center. So, DPJ should change too, I suppose. I’m just worried the new renters will corporartize what was a great, independent voice.

A shiny new site is born...I'm a bit jealous.

A shiny new site is born...I'm a bit jealous.

Urban Affair, a recently started campaign, is looking to promote Phoenix in much the same way cities like Las Vegas promote themsleves—by establishing a well known brand and appeal.  In our case, Urban Affair wants to market Phoenix as the “urban heart of Arizona.” (Correction: The “urban heart” campaign is actually the work of Downtown Phoenix Partnership.  Thanks for those who commented and corrected me.)

DPJ’s new look certainly ratchets up the visual appeal — ah, the wonders of professional graphic designers.

Now, this move is probably a good thing in most respects.  Urban Affair shows great promise.  Their moves seem to show they understand why people like downtown—the urban appeal, the independent shops, the unique atmosphere.  Hopefully DPJ and their fan base will help guide them too.

February’s First Friday

Last night marked the February edition of First Fridays, Phoenix’s monthly art walk. I never pegged Phoenix for an artsy place myself, but First Fridays is the largest art walk in the nation, attracting thousands of people every month.

People crowd the street.

People crowd the street.

I found this month’s offerings among the best yet. For frequent attendees like myself, several activities and participants have become staples of the night — break dancing, violin-loop-pedal guy, ghost busters, Irish drum corps, et al. They return month after month and provide some continuity, but the night’s magnetism always comes from new vendors, who continue to add variety and uniqueness to the mix.

A couple perform across from busy booths.

A couple perform across from busy booths.

This month, a group of Capoeira dancers raised the bar for ethnic eccentricity. Capoeria, a Afro-Brazilian dance closely resembling fighting, involves a circle of participants and two or more dancers in the center. The music accompanying Capoeria is played primarily on a berimbau, a bow-like percussion instrument.

A performer plays the berimbau for Capoeira dancers.

A performer plays the berimbau for Capoeira dancers.

Friday’s Capoeria group had all these traditional flairs. They set up their dance circle at the intersection of Garfield and 5th streets, drawing a huge crowd that just intensified the dancers’ spirit and bravado.

The galleries along Roosevelt also come alive on First Friday. Their cramped rooms have difficulty handling the masses of people at the art walk and things get quite crowded. The night serves artists well, however; giving them enviable exposure — even if the majority of people are poor college students unable to splurge on art.

Personally, I’ll never get over the charged atmosphere of First Friday. So much creative youth out in the warm night air yields incredible energy — creative energy. More than once, I’ve stumbled upon groups of guerrilla artist; painting, spraying and fabricating amazing works from anything handy. This time, I was impressed to see a group weaving moccasins from rubber bike tires. This spontaneous urge to create and share tops my list of reasons to love First Fridays; there’s nothing like it.