Saturday, September 15, 2012

USA Today Does Phoenix - Poorly

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

While at the gym this morning, and without my glasses, I came across a puff piece in the USA Today travel section regarding Phoenix.   (I have reached an age when reading anything is difficult without my glasses - which I had left in the car so they wouldn't get dropped or broken, or slide off of my sweaty face while I was exercising. )   But as I took a break and sat down, I discovered a few segments of today's "national" newspaper, and the one that caught my eye was the one featuring the tale of just what a great spot Phoenix, Arizona, is for choosy travelers.

Sadly, the article was primarily about the tonier East Valley - over around Scottsdale and Tempe where the "better" elements of society meet for fine meals, refreshing lattes, and expensive golf and shopping.   The article mentioned a few restaurants and resorts - all of which seemed to be within spitting distance of Arizona State University, and it described that part of Phoenix is glowing terms, save one.  The article did concede that it was hot.

Yeah buddy, it's hot!

When technology advances to the point that entire communities can be air-cornditioned, indoors and out, Scottsdale will be among the very first to adopt it.  And it will be paid for through the taxes of many who can't afford to live there.

Scottsdale is where Kurt Russell goes to slip in a weekend of golf, and where Jennifer Anniston feels safe enough to rummage through the clothes racks at Nordstrom's.  It is so far out of the economic and social mainstream of the Phoenix area, that it has inspired the famous "Fuck Scottsdale" bumper sticker and tee-shirt movement.

A few years ago the city of Phoenix invested heavily in a "light rail" as a way of curbing traffic and moving into a more civilized future beyond the combustible engine.  The project was initiated in the area around Arizona State University where many people were already jogging or riding bicycles.  It is only a few miles in length, but plans are to extend it into the West Valley, where the majority of the people live, in another twenty years or so.   That is just one more reason to tax the rich!

The article also referred to Phoenix as being the gateway to the Grand Canyon.   Anyone who drives to the Grand Canyon from anywhere is either lost or a glutton for boring scenery and heat if they come through Phoenix.    If the GPS points you toward Phoenix, throw it out the window and head for Flagstaff.  It's cooler and much more civilized.

The city of Phoenix contains more than just the glitz surrounding ASU and the tonier resorts and watering holes.   Much of Phoenix is miles upon miles of simple housing and tile roofs that support swamp coolers.  It is real people doing real jobs that often serve to prop up the one-percent who lounge and play in Scottsdale.  It is a multi-cultural hodgepodge of sights, and sounds, and smells.  It is busy streets and businesses where people struggle to put food on their tables and maintain positive values that will prepare their children for success and better lives.    The only contact that any of these people have with the golf courses of Scottsdale is when a lucky few are called in to mow or do maintenance.

There are some really great things about Phoenix, but most involve the real people who live here - and they are primarily in the central, northern, and western portions of the city.  That's a Phoenix that USA Today missed altogether.

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