Archive for the ‘Arizona’ Category
I have written before about the painted walls of Phoenix. Artists, especially Chicano artists, but I suspect all artists have this trait, just love to find large open spaces they can fill with their pictures. Phoenix has a lot of murals and larger than life paintings done on sides of buildings, fences, and stone walls. I knew there was some art on Roosevelt–the half mile street between McDowell and Van Buren, but I never knew how much there was until I went down there yesterday, parked, and looked around. I found more stuff than I can show you in a single blog.
My curiosity was aroused by this piece of art as I drove past it last week in an attempt to get across town during rush hour. The freeway and the mile roads were bumper to bumper, so I tried to make better time on the half mile road. And as I neared 3rd Street going west, I saw this:
I saw all the tentacles, and my first thought was Cthulhu.
Yeah, there’s a fence in the way, so I couldn’t get a really good picture of it, but you have to admit that this is a pretty bizarre thing to find on a wall in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. When I first saw it, I knew I had to come back and look more carefully.
One of the great myths of pre-Columbian Mexico is the story of Aztlan, the primordial homeland of the Aztec people (and several related tribes as well). Themes drawn from pre-Conquest Mexico often show up in Chicano art–it is part of the heritage of Mexico and the Mexican people. I found a lot of that in the Roosevelt district.
These six panels covered a fence just east of 3rd Street. The top two are the most clearly Aztec in inspiration. The first one is a very good representation of the Quetzalcoatl figures carved into Mexican stonework, especially in Teotihuacan (technically Toltec, but it is a precursor to the Aztecs who arrived on the scene some 500 years after the City of the Gods was abandoned). The second one down shows a woman in the native costume of the natives of Central Mexico. The artist is Gennaro Garcia, an immigrant from Mexico. The man is prolific and has several pages on the internet, including Facebook. I may track him down and ask him to explain this series. I’m sure there are stories behind each picture.
Another distinctive Mexican theme is to represent people as skeletons. This is related to the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday (actually a 3 day holiday from October 31 to November 2). That ties it into Halloween and All Souls Day from the Catholic religion. Mexico is a very Catholic country, but the older native mythology has persisted and underlies some of the Catholic celebrations.
The watery theme may be a reference to Venice, or to Tenochtitlan, now known as Mexico City, a city built on a the big lake that was the center of the Valley of Mexico before the Spaniards arrived.
As you can see, the art is very colorful, fantastic and amazing. There is a great deal more in that part of town to see, but I’m not going to try and cram it all into one blog. I close this with one final picture. I don’t know whether this represents the Phoenix bird (this is Phoenix, Arizona), the Mexican Eagle, the American Eagle, or even the Thunderbird of the Southwestern tribes. Perhaps it can stand for all of them. That’s the glory of symbolism.
If you have seen this art, or great wall art in your own city, why not leave a comment?
Here follows an exercise in narcissism, or at least proof that when I say I go out and walk in the desert I really do go out and walk in the desert. I arrived at my favorite hiking place about 1:30 this afternoon. The weather was clear, warm, and perfect for hiking. It’s kind of late in the day, so I don’t expect to see any animals. My goal was to hike at least 3 miles.
Start of the journey in the parking lot. I am wearing the Trollgod’s hat, my oldest, most battered fedora. It will protect my head from low hanging mesquite branches and cactus.
A better shot of me at the beginning. centering my face for these selfies is going to be a problem.
Behind me is the road ahead.
Behind me is the road behind
.26 miles into the hike
Mountain side. Missed. I was trying to do a profile shot of myself.
Half a mile into the hike.
8 tenths of a mile into hike. All distances measured by pedometer.
Turn around point. Quartz cairn. 1.5 miles into the hike.
2 miles into the hike on the way back.
The friendly Arizona desert has places for you to sit down and rest.
2.5 miles into the hike. The end is in sight.
Back in the parking lot. Reflection of a desert hiker.
I am happy to be back at myu car to drive out of here. Total distance 3 miles. Time about 2 hours. Lots of climbing, and I am now officially tired.
On Sunday, October 19, 2014 I took a short day trip with my brother Brian in the direction of Gila Bend, Arizona. Gila Bend is a small town that exists chiefly to support local farmers and some of the energy companies that have solar farms and gas-driven power plants in the area. The town was founded in 1872 and got its name from the fact that the Gila River makes an almost 90 degree turn nearby. In fact, Brian and I went first to the Gila River near the Gillespie Dam–it’s a jungle out there. Beware of mosquitoes.
But the true destination of our quest was the Space Age Cafe. The decor is interesting. The food is about like Denny’s (not quite as good imho), but you’re not going there for fine dining. You’re going for the kitsch experience. Like many small towns on highways to nowhere, Gila Bend is full of kitschy things if you keep your eyes open. I should return some day and really celebrate some of the other features, but right now, here is the Space Age Cafe.
The cafe is on the main drag through town, and parking is perilous.
Space doors. Note the shaded entrance. In summer metal doors like this would be too hot to touch in this part of Arizona.
I have been to the future, and it’s a lot like now.
The Enterprize has picked up some alien hitchhikers.
Brian is glad to get away from the riverbottom mosquitoes.
What’s for breakfast?
The coffee was weak, but the mugs were pretty cool.
And that concludes another adventure to the Outer Limits (of Arizona).
If you’ve ever been to Gila Bend, or have eaten breakfast inside a flying saucer, why not leave a comment?
Friday night, May 30, at 5 p.m. the Changing Hands bookstore, a store that has served the Phoenix metropolitan area for 40 years, although it has always been in Tempe, opened a new store at 3rd Avenue and Camelback Road, in the central Phoenix corridor on the light rail line. This was the site of a famous old ritzy restaurant called Beefeaters, but that restaurant closed up a few years ago, leaving just some expensive real estate and the shell of a building behind. Changing hands is one of two great independent bookstores in the Phoenix area–the other one is the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale. I’m an ex-librarian and an author (and a book accumulator). I love bookstores. I decided not to miss this gala event.
I got there about 4:45 p.m. The parking lot was already full, and Channel 10 television sent a news van to cover the story.
A pretty good crowd was already waiting for the doors to open. Many more would arrive in the next hour.
Looking at the front door of Changing Hands.
Cameraman from Channel 10 waits to get inside just like the rest of us.
The owner tells us the doors will open soon at about 5:06 p.m. A red ribbon has been strung across the entrance and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton is ready to cut it and let people in.
5:07 p.m., the stampede begins. I am not the only person taking pictures of this historic event. 🙂
Mayor Stanton is in the center of this shot, facing camera, open face, fair complexion. I’m gonna give him props for caring about books!
Good stuff, nothing radical, in the Children’s section.
I also checked out the science fiction section.
One of the things I wanted to see was what they had in their Games section–looks like word games are popular.
What really makes this bookstore stand out, is that it has its own bar, called First Draft. That’s a nice pun since a draft is a manuscript that hasn’t been published, and also a glass of beer that hasn’t been quaffed yet. Draft is one of those words that has a lot of meanings–I wonder how that came about–which makes it ideal for punning.
I found a bucket of tentacles. Just what everybody needs, right?
Bookstore coffee cups. I kinda like personalized cups like this and have quite a few, though I didn’t buy this one. It’s a coffee cup, but First Draft is the bar–disconnect there.
I found a book I decided to buy. This book will reappear in a future blog. I have an idea how to get some mileage out of Weird Arizona.
People really flocked to the bar. Every seat was taken.
Here’s a rack full of bottles of wine. Why buy one glass when you buy the bottle?
This is a terrible shot of Mayor Stanton enjoying a glass of beer. I thought it might make blackmail material, but I cut off his head. Bwa ha ha ha! How do we feel about politicians? Off with their heads!
Here are my purchases for the night–a book and a beer glass from First Draft. I think my clerk’s name is Abby. She was very friendly and happy to be there.
Abby signed me up for the Changing Hands Reader Club. Every time I buy something I’ll get a stamp on the card. Eventually, it will get me a disount or something free.
I took my purchases out and stashed them in my car. I didn’t want to carry them around. I have grown rather fond of taking pix of myself as a reflection in my car. You can see I was there, but you can’t really see me.
5:30 p.m. the parking lot is really crowded now. People trying to get in were clearly disappointed when I didn’t leave yet.
Bookstore window from the outside. I was headed back for seconds, but . . .
I got distracted and went into the restaurant that was also having its opening night. These ladies greeted me at the door and explained things. The blonde told me she was a vampire–she has the teeth, but I don’t think she’s a blood drinker.
I wound up sitting at the community table–a place for people without reservations.
I drank chicory coffee black
and ate chicken gumbo. It’s very spicy, but very good.
and I got my picture taken there at the Southern Rail restaurant with my server. What a pretty girl!
Many years ago this whole building was a famous Phoenix restaurant called Beefeaters. One of the waiters explained that the chandeliers and the walls were just about all that remained from the Beefeater establishment.
I finished off the gumbo. I drank a second cup of very bitter chicory coffee–at least it’s strong, you can taste it, and got the bill. When I tried to use my credit card to pay for it, the manager came by and said they couldn’t take credit yet, and comped me my meal. Nice!
After the meal, I went back and made one last pass through the bookstore.
I took a selfie . . .
and went on my way back home. The whole experience took just under 2 hours.
I’m glad I went to the opening of the Changing Hands bookstore. I had a good time. It’s a great independent bookstore, and the kind of place I can show off to visitors from other cities. It has more than books, and would be a good place to do Christmas and birthday shopping. I’m hoping that Changing Hands will have a long successful run here in Phoenix.
If you’ve ever gone to a bookstore opening, or even if you just like to hang out in such places, why not leave a comment?
The 40th annual LepreCon science fiction convention was held at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Mesa, Arizona on the days and nights of May 8-11, 2014. This is Phoenix’s oldest science fiction convention. Believe it or not, I helped start it back in 1974 or so, and was Con Chairman in 1979. I usually attend–as a guest or participant. I think I’ve only missed 3 of them. I went again this year, mostly to see my friends. I’m long past the stage of gathering autographs, buying things, and paying any attention to the panels. I took a lot of photos this year, and I’m going to share most of them with you here. You should take my comments with a pinch of salt or pepper, as I’m frequently crossing my fingers and/or distorting the truth in what I say about things.
When I walked into the Con on Thursday night, the first person I saw was Jason Youngdale. Jason is a friend of mine. I joined him to listen to some music and drink some beer.
The band is called Squid Dog. They are a motley and aged crew, but they produce a rocking sound.
This is my artistic composition in honor of LepreCon. You can see the program book in the foreground, and the best drink I had for the weekend in the background.
Paul Tanton, Jason Youngdale, and I went off and played some card games. I took a selfie shot of myself while I was playing cards, but it’s way too accurate in representing the real me, and thus too horrible to look at. I’m not gonna show it.
They gave me a grilled cheese sandwich in the staff lounge.
Griller of cheeses. With volunteers like this, the future of LepreCon is in good hands. Of course, this is the only volunteer like this that LepreCon has, so maybe it’s doomed!
I went to the Art Show. I was mostly not impressed, but I did like this troll skull, so I bought it. I’m sure I’ll find all sorts of uses for it. Troll skull by amateur artist David Perrine.
Back in the gaming room, my main home at conventions, we wound up playing Magic for the rest of Friday afternoon.
Late Friday night, I walked into the command center for the whole convention. Yes, friends, this is what the high command of these affairs look like when no one can see them.
Saturday, I spaced it and left my camera at home. I have no pix from the most important day of the Con.
Walking into the Marriott Convention Center from the rear. The Marriott in Mesa has been quite the popular convention site for SF fandom in Phoenix for the last 5 years.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here! Beyond these doors lies much that is fannish.
Some of the usual suspects. From left to right: The Flash (out of uniform), Paul Tanton, Victor Bugg, Jason Youngdale, and ???. I should know the last guy, but I don’t.
The entrance to the Dealers’ Room. There are many wonderful things and even more wonderful people inside this room.
The woman in white is author Gail Carrigher, our Guest of Honor, best known for her steampunk fiction: The Parasol Protectorate.
An ever-changing cityscape lived on this table. I don’t know why.
The fans of David Weber and Honor Harrington owned this real estate. Spiffy space marine uniforms they have.
Flag desecration in poster form.
Artist, dealer, weird female person. I like her.
Oooh, oooh! That fan might buy something!
Bennie Grezlik, author, nice guy, creator of Princess Pain.
Since she was all painted up like a mime (Harley Quinn for DC Comics) I asked costumer Krysta Crawford to do the “I’m Trapped in a Glass Box” routine.
Local authors. I ought to know everybody. They know me, but I don’t know these guys.
I don’t know this guy either, but he has some cool steampunk weapons for sale.
I took her picture because she was wearing a mask. Doesn’t she look like someone just hit her in the head and knocked it sideways?
Fabulous artist, friendly guy. I don’t know him.
You, too, could be wearing a fabulous mask. Buy them here.
I took her picture because she was wearing a corset. You can’t really see it very well.
A complete gallery of the bizarre art of Steam Crow.
Friendly woman, weird art.
Intentionally weird art for a weird magazine.
Steampunk grandees. I vowed to photograph every corset that came my way.
Phoenix has another small sci-fi convention called CopperCon.
Artist Gilead (yes, that is his whole name) teaches a few people the finer points of drawing tentacles for fun and profit.
They’ll let anyone on these panels–even officers from Star Fleet.
I was trying to take a picture of a table full of fannish t-shirts when a woman wearing a fannish t-shirt walked into it and blocked out half the picture.
The “mand” in Mandy stands for “Command”. She ran the art show, helped with registration, and generally tried to keep the convention functioning normally.
The hotel has a beautiful fountain. We’ve been here before in earlier blogs.
Would you believe that Curt Stubbs here was once known as Captain Coors, and that he helped bring the World Science Fiction Convention to Phoenix in 1978? It’s true. He was also Con Chairman for LepreCon 1, I think. I was there, but I can’t really remember that far back.
The Staff Lounge–where hard working staff and con participants like me could go to party.
The staff lounge had food . . . and television, and comfy places to sit.
My favorite hangout was the game room. Here’s a game much too complicated to even consider playing.
The Pathfinder role-playing game over there ran for the whole weekend.
Many goodies were to be had in the Barry Bard movie previews panel late Sunday afternoon.
Eager fen wait for their number to be called.
Mark calls the numbers. There was a prize for everyone who attended. I got a black t-shirt (of course).
They call your number. You go up and claim a prize.
My son James is developing a bald spot (and he’s only 23). He looked so frustrated every time they called a number that was almost his number. It was kind of funny to watch him from across the room.
With the loot all distributed, James and I went back to the game room for a few more games of cards like Parade, which uses an Alice in Wonderland deck that I want. By 5 p.m. it was time to go home, and so farewell to another fabulous science fiction event!
If you have things to tell about LepreCon or funny stories from other sci-fi cons, why not leave a comment?
On Sunday, April 20, Easter mornng, I managed to get myself out the door and headed off for a walk in the desert. Unlike most of the people I saw out there on the trails, I was not hiking just to get in a nice hike in pleasant surroundings. No. I was lost in my own imagination and exploring the wilderness. Walter Mitty, I am your brother.
Not that way.
Not that way either.
This way. Right up the middle.
Not planning to climb a mountain. Another hiker told me it was exactly 5 miles to the other parking lot and back. Well, that’s not my plan either, but I take the low road at the beginning.
Optical illusion. Those people in the distance are above me, not below me.
I turned off the main trail, then looked back.
In explorer mode now.
Down, then up, except . . .
I turned into the gully. I like to walk in these desert washes.
Good place to look for rocks.
I was going to photograph my shadow, but thought why not take a selfie? Holding camera out with both hands in front of me and laughing at myself and the situation.
Onward, into the unknown.
Through tunnels of wood.
Into the golden forest. The mesquite trees were in bloom and covered with tiny yellow flowers.
The landscape is mostly igneous. Quite a bit of quartz, and this was a huge lump of rusted quartz in the middle of the stream.
Getting into rock troll country now. Caves are appearing in the creek banks.
This was a big one. In my imagination, it leads to underground realms.
The further I go, the wilder it gets.
I have my hiking stick with me. It is very useful in rough terrain like this.
Am I blocked? Not yet.
Where the wild things are, or should be.
Another obstacle. I climb around it.
Troll country, part 2
Troll country, part 3
Find the lizard!
Troll country part 4
Back door to Trollhalla. End of the trail.
Looking down. I climbed out of the gully here.
The edge of the elven forest beyond the desert.
I am heading back now. Exploring another gully, I find this natural staircase of desert cement.
Looking back at Phoenix
The body of a fallen giant.
The walk is almost over.
After a good walk, I’m always glad to get back to my car.
Another self portrait.
Of course a few rocks followed me home. Three quartz, one tufa, one hematite. I picked up this little red rock because it was so out of place. Lots of basalt, tufa, quartz and other volcanic ejecta, and this guy. How did he get into this landscape?
Sometimes I identify with rocks. I mean, really, we are all just pebbles in a huge stone field.
Maybe I should start a Geology blog! Boy would that be boring on a regular basis.
Sunday I walked 3 miles in the Salt River Wetlands city park, and brought back some striped rocks that I found.
Last year, a friend (Ellen) clued me in on the relative rarity of rocks with stripes in them. This year I have been questing for them. I have looked at millions of rocks, uncountable numbers, and found less than 30. Although my eyes are always open for them now, sometimes weeks go by without spotting one.
But, I found a few on Sunday while walking through the river. Most of these stripes are inclusions of one kind of rock that should not be there, but some are just a richer vein of the mineral giving the rock it’s color. I’d love to get a real geologist’s comments on these little fellows.
These guys are posing on a brick wall beneath my balcony. I don’t know what kind of stone this is, but the black streak is unusual, and it was the first one I found on Sunday.
This guy looks kinda like a clam.
Not just one stripe here, but a whole network of lines going off in all directions.
One streak of quartz zigs and zags through this stone.
This rock has its stripes on the inside. You can’t really see any from the outside surface.
Wash the rocks with water to make the streaks more vivid said my friend. The black streak on this little guy is subtle until you get it wet.
There is a thin white stripe of quartz in this little red rock.
Red rock with orange stripe. Guessing that some form of iron is involved here, but this kind of coloration is very rare. All the other stripes were black or white.
And that’s all, folks. Two hours of hiking netted just this many stripers I could bring home with me. There were a couple of really big ones too heavy to carry. These guys have been introduced to each other and now they all have a new home, and their very own cactus to guard.
If you’ve ever gone hunting for rocks of a particular nature, why not leave a comment?