Then, this happened:
I live in Phoenix (actually Tempe, right next door). I’ve lived here since 2000, so I think I know something about it.
This town is a dump. The idea that hordes of techies and young people are going to want to move here to suffer through 115-degree weather is just idiotic. There is no culture here, very few decent places to eat, and the place is full of meth-heads and illegals. It’s been rated by several places as the worst city in America to drive in, mainly because it’s so chaotic and because there’s no consistent driving style (the frequent road-rage shootings don’t help). The local economy is shit, and violent home invasions are common. There is some tech industry, both in the north of the metro area and the southeast part, with Intel and Microchip having substation presences, along with some shitty defense contractors like General Dynamics where engineers go to die. The weather is horrible; it wasn’t that bad 12 years ago, but it’s gotten hotter, and stays hotter for longer now. You can’t bicycle here (one of my favorite outdoor activities) because of the heat most of the year, and also because of the dangerous speeding drivers and lack of safe bike paths. And there’s really nothing to do here except for walking around the mall. Even worse, they’re trying to phase out the indoor air-conditioned malls in favor of these stupid outdoor malls; who the hell wants to walk around in 115 degree heat to shop? They’re nice for about 3 months in the winter, and that’s it. They used to have Mill Avenue in Tempe that was kinda fun to walk along, which used to have a bunch of quirky little independent shops, but the Tempe government drove all those out of business to make room for a bunch of mall stores and high-rises, which of course went south when the economy crashed, so most of the place is boarded up now.
This place sucks, and I can’t wait to move out in a couple of months. If a bunch of startups do move here, it’s going to be short-lived because cool, hip, young employees aren’t going to stick around this cesspool for long.
So, I responded and have basically just directly dumped it all here as is (save for adding in a mention of Phoenix Design Week/Community, which I had intended to mention in the original posting, but pressed “post” before I could correct it). While it is directed at one faceless internet person, there is a lot of it that pertains to a lot of common bellyaching about Phoenix.
It’s all dumb, but sometimes I like to preserve my dumbness so that I can look back on it and be like, geez, don’t be dumb. In short, never read the internet!
A LOUD, WASTE OF TIME & ENERGY: The Complainers & Crybabies of Phoenix Have No Balls
Phoenix and the rest of the valley have their fair share of problems. Most pressing are: sprawl (and people still leaning on cheap land and housing as a pillar of the economy); awful politicians and elected officials who continue to get voted into office because of fearful senior citizens and wingnuts; the lack of investment in education because of those politicians; lack of shade and development that does nothing about heat island issues … yeah, those are all admittedly problems.
Those issues don’t make the idiot-talk about no culture in Phoenix true, though. There is a lack of awareness of the culture that does exist here, especially amongst loudmouth know-nothings What they say is usually more of a reflection of their own lack of cultural appreciation and their lack of motivation to explore anything beyond their computer screen or front door. While they complain, shit themselves, and do nothing, there are others who partake in what Phoenix has to offer or are adding to it. The complainers of Phoenix basically have no balls.
Native American culture has been here for thousands of years. From the canals that the Hohokam created that are actually the basis of the modern canal system that provides water to central Arizona, to contemporary artists that do everything from exploring the issues of their identity within Arizona culture and the United States to celebrating their roots, Native Americans and their influence run deep for people willing to look past the strip malls.
As far as Phoenix and the rest of the valley only having a few decent places to dine, that’s also not true. There are a ton of upscale places that are routinely lauded that I’ll go without mentioning because A) I personally haven’t eaten at most of them and B) it’s not like anyone with your views is gonna pony up and undertake a culinary tour of the valley.
Rather than rattle off a ton of great Phoenix places to eat, I’ll focus on the spots in and around Tempe since they’re in your area:
- Cornish Pasty Company
- Thai Basil
- Cartel Coffee (nothing much to eat except pastries, but the best coffee in Arizona)
- House of Tricks
- Venezia’s Pizza
- Pita Jungle
- Cheba Hut
- Green (all vegan, all delicious)
- Lolo’s Chicken & Waffles
- Nello’s Pizza
If you’re willing to take a short drive further east, Joe Johnston’s restaurants Liberty Market, Joe’s Real BBQ, and Joe’s Farm Grill are great places that balance quality food, attention to detail & service, and value. (Joe loves Arizona & great food here that’s not only from his establishments; his adventures are worth following: @realjoe.)
Between the places I’ve mentioned and those whole-in-the-wall gems (probably staffed by the undocumented workers you seem to have a problem with), all anyone has to do is pull up Yelp on their phones to find an abundance of good-to-great dining options. Finding good dining in Phoenix and the rest of the valley is almost moron-proof. Almost.
Regarding meth-heads: that might be a reflection of the area you live in or the places you frequent. I live, work, and play primarily in central Phoenix and I’m in downtown frequently. Honestly, I hardly ever encounter any tweakers and it’s definitely not like it was from about 2004 to 2007 when meth-use seemed to be out of control. That’s purely from anecdotal evidence on my part, but it was also before huge anti-meth PSA campaigns were undertaken. I just ran into someone who was gaunt, jabbering about nonsense, and shifting his jaw like meth addicts do and I realized that it had been a couple of years since I had seen someone that obviously tweaking. For what it’s worth, this was in Tempe.
As far as driving around town, I will concede that there are some pretty awful drivers in abundance here. That’s because there are assholes everywhere (not just in Phoenix), but there are also tons of transplants from all over the country who bring their regional driving styles with them, causing clashes and crashes of all types.
In regards to frequent road-rage shootings, they might have been frequent when you first got here, and there seem to have been a rash of them since April of this year, but I wouldn’t have pegged them as “frequent.” I keep up on news, but I also don’t drive much so that could also lessen my awareness of these shootings.
I usually get around central Phoenix by walking, biking, and taking the light rail. From 2007 to 2009, I was car-free and exclusively got around on a bike, riding in from the westside into downtown Phoenix. So, yeah, while the heat can be tough, it’s not totally impossible. You just have to not be a crybaby about it. As a sidenote: this, to me, has seemed like the most mild summer in a few years. I do agree that, overall, it seems warmer now that 12 years ago. That goes back to idiot developers, though.
If there’s nothing to do here but walk around a mall, it’s your own fault for not being aware of what’s going on. I could go on and on about the abundance of art, (not just First Friday, which too many people lean on as their only go-to), music, culture, theatre, and comedy in Phoenix, but you’re probably not even aware of anything going on at the Tempe Center for the Arts, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Mesa Art Center. All of them are nearby you and have programming that ranges from good to amazing. It’s almost a waste of time to mention them (as it is to spend this amount of energy and time on writing this in the first place) because folks like you are the embodiment of a special mix of laziness and stupdity.
In Phoenix, Tempe, and the rest of the valley, there are tons of good places to grab a drink, ranging from lovably gross dives to upscale wine bars and glitzy clubs. If you don’t imbibe, there’s a metric shitload of coffeehouses that aren’t Starbucks.
If you’re into nerdy or geeky things (video games, sci-fi, comic books, pop culture), there’s a pretty prominent community around you who have tons of meet ups (especially in the east valley) as well. Being a total jock who wears Zubaz and GTLs on the reg, I’m not as well versed in that world, but all you have to do is look shit up online.
I agree that Tempe fucked up Mill Avenue/Downtown Tempe over the course of about 10 years, but over the past few years, they’ve actually done a lot to stimulate more indie businesses and bring back some life to the area that’s not steeped in corporate blahdom. Also, yes, those outdoor malls are dumb, but malls in general are dumb. People who expect much from malls are dumb.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are great places and organizations like Ignite Phoenix, the various TEDx’s (xPHX, xTempe, xScottsdale), Creative Connect, Cohoots, Phoenix Design Week/Community, and Gangplank (who are doing amazing things on the regular and have sprouted tons of startups and initiatives to make things in Arizona better, http://gangplankhq.com). If you’re not aware of them at this point, it’s mostly willful ignorance and I’m not sure what to say about that.
That’s great that you’re moving out of town soon. It seems like you hated Phoenix/Tempe as soon as you got here and that over the course of 12 years, you entirely managed not to learn a goddam thing about the place you lived in. This bodes well for wherever you move to next and for the rest of your life. Good luck with that.
These dumb conversations (and I should know better) are a waste of everyone’s time. If anyone takes anything away, it should be that, again, the complainers & crybabies of Phoenix have no balls – so forgive the way they walk and dismiss the way they talk.
Shoot. I just realized that I left out the part where I mention that the people who complain about the lack of culture in Phoenix aren’t exactly snapping up season tickets to the Arizona Opera or the Phoenix Symphony. I guess that’s what this is for!