Tuesday, March 30, 2010

200 Posts Later: 100 Awesome Things About Arizornia!

Welcome to my 200th post at The Inner Child Speaketh! Apparently, the inner child has much to say.

I've recently moved from Fullerton, California to Mesa, Arizona, and I couldn't have picked a more controversial time to call both states my home! Arizona's SB 1070 has ignited heated debate bordering (pun intended) on sociopolitical fanaticism, but if California's recent Republican gubernatorial primaries have taught us anything (aside from where your eBay surcharges were going all these years), it's that a fine line in the desert doesn't distinguish the shared responsibility of our nation's integrity. Of course, "our nation's integrity" is a subjective phrase -- for some, it means sanctifying America's borders, and for others, it means an American dream that's accessible to all, no matter what. I've made my opinions public on Facebook, the perfect forum for in-your-face opinions, since that's kind of in its name and all. Here, I've decided to pledge allegiance to both California and Arizona with "100 Awesome Things about Arizornia!"

Yes, "awesome" knows no border, and this is a completely arbitrary list of the places and personalities that make Arizornia such a cool place to live. It's by no means comprehensive, but each entry represents unique experiences I've had by way of the hobbies I most enjoy, like comics, coffee, comedy, etc. A tad autobiographical? Perhaps. A call to arms to experiences these things for yourself? Absolutely. Even if you never visit Arizornia, perhaps my recollection of a person, place, or thing therein will remind you of some similar experience from your personal travels, and we'll at least share that nostalgia -- because whether your America is a well-defined nation of borders or an open ideal for the world to pursue (and I'm not saying one is better than the other!), it's always been a place that tries to remember its roots.

Note: I've distinguished which side of the desert you can find these most awesome of landmarks with red and blue. I think you'll figure out the rest.

1. 24 Hour Wal-Mart, Valleywide: because sometimes you need a pair of tube socks and Drain-o at 4 a.m.
2. A&J’s, Fullerton: a nostalgic walk-up grease pit
3. All About Books & Comics, Phoenix: to the best of my knowledge, the only comic book store accessible from the light rail!
4. ArtSpace, Scottsdale: a gallery in swanky Scottsdale that isn’t afraid to host steampunk exhibits
5. Ash Avenue Comics, Tempe: for their large rack of indie books
6. Atomic Comics, Mesa: Phoenix’s major chain of comic book stores, and fortunately for me the biggest and best location is in Mesa
7. Azteca, Garden Grove: the best collection of Elvis memorabilia at a Mexican restaurant, with karaoke on the weekend!
8. Barney's Boathouse, Tempe: specifically, their $5 burger baskets on Wednesdays and Fridays
9. Beach & Ball, Anaheim: a quaint corner, home to Beachball Comics and three collectible toy stores, including Phat Collectibles, an overpriced collectible toy store – more of a toy museum, really, with action figures in glass cases that I could never afford
10. Beach Blvd. between La Palma and Lincoln, Buena Park: the southbound drive to Knott’s Berry Farm, including Medieval Times and the now-abandoned Wax Museum, is the OC’s answer to Hollywood Blvd.
11. Bee-line Café, Payson: one of the best diners in Arizona, thanks to its rich family history
12. Bill Campana: my favorite local poet/Larry King hater

13. Bill Handel: the best morning radio talk show host, ever
14. Bookmans, Mesa: an excellent source for new and used books and music, and in the same strip mall as Atomic Comics . . . and a 99 Cents Store! Has someone been reading my wish journal?
15. Bragg's Pie Factory, Phoenix: whoever thought to convert an old pie factory into an art exhibit with piñatas – genius. And, is it just me, or does it still smell like pie?
16. Brea Improv, Brea: always emailed me free passes, so they deserve props
17. Canter’s Deli, Hollywood: delicious kosher food – come for the pickles, stay for the bakery!
18. Cheba Hut, Mesa: a cool local sandwich shop with an, uhm, unique theme
19. Cine-Capri, Tempe: though not as historically poignant as the original, this Cine-Capri captures the Valley movie-going experience with the biggest bang around

20. CinemaFusion, Anaheim: with a 21 and over lounge, where you can bring your beer into the theater . . . ‘Nuff said!
21. Coffee Plantation, Scottsdale: What happened to the Arizona-based coffee chain I knew so well?
22. Comedy Store, Hollywood: specifically, its homage to Andy Kaufman
23. Comics, Toons, ‘N Toys, Tustin: my favorite comic book store in life so far
24. Conspire Coffee House, Phoenix: the most daring, eclectic poetry open mic in town
25. CornerStore Comics, Fullerton: a distributor of collectibles, but also a community-minded shop – they frequently donated comics to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fullerton
26. Date Shack, Newport Beach: now owned and operated by Ruby’s, and home of the my favorite date shack, the Monkey Flip
27. Downtown Fullerton, Fullerton: dubbed “Sunset Blvd. East” by The Los Angeles Times, an antique row turned college town block party
28. Downtown Glendale, Glendale: a time capsule of antique shops, anchored by my favorite, Bo’s Funky Stuff
29. Downtown Los Angeles, Los Angeles: for being like a Monet – beautiful to look at from a distance, but baffling and disoriented up close
30. Downtown Mesa, Mesa: Downtown Mesa has more potential cool than viable cool, but its residents seem to be a patient people
31. Drawn to Comics, Glendale: gets the best customer service award
32. Dunkin' Donuts, Valleywide: California doesn’t have a single Dunkin’ Donuts. I swear; look it up. In Arizona, they’re on every corner. Win.

33. Durty Nelly’s, Costa Mesa: and the best karaoke jockey in Orange County, Kevin
34. El Torito, Cypress: for hosting karaoke on Friday nights, and allowing me to invade so many unsuspecting couples’ romantic dinners with “You Give Love a Bad Name”
35. Evermore Nevermore, Mesa: an oasis of comics and goth punk culture
36. Frank & Sons Collectibles Show, City of Industry: a Mecca of comics and collectibles, and where O.J. Simpson planned to sell the stuff he stole, or that was stolen from him, or whatever
37. Fuzzy Bear’s, Stanton: an enigma I highly recommend
38. Golden Apple Comics, Hollywood: a genuinely famous comic book store

39. Goodwill, Valleywide: every other Saturday is 50% day . . . because $2 for that genuine vintage Tee is about 50% more than I’d be willing to pay!
40. Grand Ave., Phoenix: in the shadow of Phoenix’s rising downtown, a pocket of dive bars and art galleries remain unchanged . . . ironically making them the hippest spot around
41. Greg's Comics, Mesa: when I put $6 worth of back issues on the counter, and the clerk rang me up with, “Ah, let’s say $4,” I knew Greg’s was a cool comics shop

42. Gypsy Den, Santa Ana: delicious coffee, and the home of an amazing open mic – where I first featured!
43. Hollywood Sign, Hollywood: the world’s biggest real estate sign
44. Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood: the only place I can see the Monkees and Mary Tyler Moore all in the same place

45. Jesse James Comics, Glendale: Drawn to Comics gets best customer service, but Jesse James gets most thoughtful; I get there maybe once a month, and he remembers every conversation we had, setting aside recommended comics and offering discounts aplenty
46. June Gloom, overhead: summer’s good morning kiss
47. La Palma Chicken Pie Shop, Anaheim: old school food at old school prices
48. Laugh Factory, Hollywood: a controversial comedy haven
49. Lee Mallory: I daresay the Godfather of Orange County poetry, and a sexy redhead, to boot

50. Light Rail, Valleywide: Phoenix’s bloodstream, and the only way I can get to half the stuff I like around here
51. Linbrook Bowl & the Kopa Room, Anaheim: the best place you will ever karaoke, if you manage to get a turn
52. Long Beach Antique Flea Market, Long Beach: the Antiques Roadshow meets your grandmother’s garage
53. Long Beach’s Antique Row, Long Beach: everything Urban Outfitters wishes it could be – and home of Portfolio Coffee House, the LBC’s best cup of java
54. Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention, the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles: the best monthly comic book convention in the worst part of town

55. Macayo’s Depot Cantina, Tempe: right off the light rail, converted from the original train station, and offering a free buffet at the bar Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.!
56. Marctini Lounge, Glendale: the West Valley has a karaoke oasis, and it is the vainly named and conversely madly hospitable Marctini Lounge
57. Marjle’s, Phoenix: the best place to watch a Suns game – and if it’s too crowded, Cooperstown is an equally accessible plan B

58. McClains Coffee House, Fullerton: my favorite local coffee shop
59. Meltdown Comics, Hollywood: an excellent source of alt and indie comics in the heart of Hollywood’s mainstream

60. Mesa’s Tiny Poetry Slam, Mesa: a thoughtful, funny group of people keepin’ Slam alive in the East Valley
61. Metro Comics, Santa Barbara: holds a fond place in my heart as the shop that introduced me to Vertigo’s Human Target
62. Mill Ave., Tempe: a nine-month long college block party – and a ghost town during the summertime
63. Monsoon, summertime: when I was a kid, I used to put on my Ghostbusters plastic proton pack and glare up at the red night sky, ready for action – thankfully, I scared the specters off
64. Norm’s, Anaheim: They never close.
65. O’Kelly’s Sports Bar, Tempe: karaoke and Ms. Pac-Man under one roof? Yeah, I’m gonna be here awhile
66. OC Weekly: Orange County’s weekly liberal rag – a great read, even if they dropped “Red Meat” and “This Modern World”
67. OCTA: Orange County’s bloodstream
68. Orange Circle, Orange: a row of antique stores, conveniently positioned in a circle to remind us that everything old can be new again
69. Orpheum, Phoenix: a cool venue for even cooler performances, most notably when I saw Kevin Smith there in April
70. Peoria Café, Peoria: the best greasy spoon in the West Valley
71. Phoenix Comicon, Phoenix: I saw Stan Lee, Wil Wheaton, LeVar Burton, and Jonathan Frakes without having to waiting in San Diego Comic Con-like lines – so I’m looking forward to next year
72. Phoenix New Times: Phoenix’s token liberal rag, with fun regular pieces about the history of Van Buren Blvd. and Fry Girl’s fast food rants
73. Phoenix Skyline: as triumphant as a resurrected bird of flame

74. Pofolks, Buena Park: good old-fashioned eats, and the only Pofolks left in the west!
75. Pop Culture Paradise, Tempe: a comic book store with a tight fit and a nice selection of toys and back issues
76. Queen’s Pizzeria, Mesa: the hospitable host of the Mesa Poetry Slam, not to mention a huge, tasty, affordable Greek salad

77. Robin Hood Motel, Anaheim: for the cool sign
78. Rutabegortz, Fullerton: vegetarian cuisine so good, you’d think it had meat in it!
79. Samurai Comics, Phoenix: like All About Books and Comics, a cool downtown location, with another impressive rack of indies and local talent
80. Sherriff Joe Arpaio: I don’t care for his politics, but few have made local law enforcement more dramatically entertaining
81. Sherwood Inn, Anaheim: this ain’t Robin Hood’s Sherwood . . . Who want drink milk?!
82. Starbucks, 5th St. & Mill Ave.: the best vantage point for a bustling college town
83. Starbucks, Chapman Ave. & Harbor Blvd.: the best vantage point for downtown Fullerton
84. Sunrise Café, Tempe – café cookin’ with Mediterranean flair
85. T.C. Eggington's, Mesa: a tasty breakfast with a surprisingly hilarious mythology on its menu

86. Tempe Improv, Tempe: the first comedy club I ever went to (and saw Jon Stewart pre-Daily Show), and now where I’ve seen the most edgy comedy show ever, with Greg Fitzsimmons
87. The Other Place, Anaheim: the perfect plan B
88. Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica: specifically, the street preachers, the guys that play the buckets, and the picture of the Monkees in the corner Irish pub
89. Tilted Kilt, Tempe: waitresses in kilts . . . I’m just sayin’
90. TomKat Lounge, Anaheim: a dive bar so low, you touch the bottom of the pool – and don’t play the drums onstage during karaoke!
91. Two Idiots Peddling Poetry/Ugly Mug, Orange: Orange County’s best poetry reading at one of its coolest coffee shops, and some of the nicest guys that ever inspired me to keep writing
92. Uncle Monkey's, Mesa: karaoke stumbling distance from my apartment, every night of the week – and with a name like that, who wouldn’t check it out
93. Universal Studios/CityWalk, Hollywood: comics, stand-up comedy, PEZ . . . all in one place? This is where dreams come to dream!
94. Uptown Whittier: the best . . . oh, never mind . . . I’ll never be as punk rock as Uptown Whittier
95. Venice Beach: weirdo central

96. Village Inn, Valleywide: my favorite Denny’s alternative where my mom works
97. Wayne Resnick: the best weekend radio talk show host that deserves a regular weekly time slot
98. Westward Ho, Phoenix: the hotel from the beginning of Psycho stands proud in the heart of Phoenix and looks ready to stab the Chase building in the back
99. Xtreme Bean, Tempe: an old bank converted to Tempe’s best coffeehouse, and the old walk-in safe is a study room!
100. Zia’s, Tempe: one of the last, great record stores

1 comment:

johnny_justice said...

Wow, what a fun list that really helps define what Russ is.

And here I was shooting my mouth off that you never blog here anymore!