Arts & Culture
From my experience, it seems that many people have the misconception that Arizona is lacking when it comes to having an actual musical scene. Hopefully the release of the new When in AZ compilation can change their tune. When in AZ is the brainchild of Nick Kizer, a member of the Tempe band Babaluca, and features 55 Valley artists covering songs by other Arizona artists. The compilation is available for download for $8, and there will be several live events throughout September showcasing some of the contributing artists.
The compilation features a wide variety of local artists such as The Necronauts, Dry River Yacht Club, Andrew Jackson Jihad, FutureKind, Emperors of Japan and The Premiere. With such an eclectic mix of performers, the music styles presented are as varied as you would expect. The songs range from the folky to the funky, from the rocking to the electronic and everywhere in between. The compilation is put together in such a way that the styles are well dispersed throughout the track listing, and it flows well from one track to the next.
Not only does the compilation provide for great exposure for those involved — both those performing and those whose work is being performed — but it also benefits the community. Proceeds will benefit two nonprofits, Ear Candy and the Phoenix Conservatory of Music, whose mission is to provide musical education to children.
The future is being invented in Downtown Phoenix. While much recent attention has been focused on CityScape and the Downtown ASU campus, a few blocks away, some of the brightest high school students in the state are pushing the boundaries of science and math. Working alongside Phoenix’s advanced education and bioscience communities, these students are helping to solve the problems of tomorrow.
Here, rising from the empty lots south of Roosevelt Row, is Bioscience High School. While officially a part of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, Bioscience is quickly forging a unique identity of its own and becoming an integrated part of the Downtown community.
In the fall of 2006, Bioscience High School opened its doors at the Phoenix Prep Academy to 43 freshman, seven teachers, two staff and a principal. A year later, the school’s new building opened at the corner of 6th Street and Pierce. By 2008-09, enrollment grew to 180 students. This fall there are 253 students, including its first senior class that comprises all of the original 43 students. Next year, the school expects to achieve its full capacity of 400 students.
According to Bioscience principal Dr. Deedee Falls, the aim of Bioscience High School is to work with students to “invent the future” by preparing students for jobs “that don’t yet exist” and to solve problems that “we don’t yet know about.” Judging by their early academic success, this approach is working well. In 2008, 97% of its 10th graders meet or exceed the AIMS math exam, which is the highest public (non-charter) school percentage in the Valley, and second best in the state. Its science scores were third best in the state among non-charter schools. Moreover, in its first two years of eligibility, the school earned two consecutive AZ Learns ‘Excelling’ Achievement Profiles from the state, the highest a school can attain.
Even more impressive: Bioscience has achieved such outcomes with a high percentage of traditionally under-represented students. The school is part of the Phoenix Union High School District, but enrollment is open to all students in the Phoenix area; the main requirement is a passion for science. “Science is for everybody,” states Dr. Falls. “We give more weight to motivation than grades.” The composition of the student population illustrates this philosophy. Bioscience has one of the most diverse student bodies in Arizona, with 57% Hispanic, 11% African American, 6% Native American, 4% Asian and 21% Caucasian students. But, while they come from diverse backgrounds, their love of science has brought them together and forged a strong community dedicated to creating knowledge.
The school’s Downtown location plays a role in its success. As part of the Phoenix Bioscience campus, the school is in immediate proximity of some of the most advanced scientific research organizations in the Valley, including TGen, Arizona Science Center, ASU Downtown and Phoenix College. Bioscience students benefit from this concentration of local scientific and academic resources through site visits, guest lectures and student internships.
Bioscience’s connection to the Downtown community is not just limited to scientific collaboration. The school has also woven itself into the social fabric of Downtown as well. A great example of this has been the school’s involvement in First Fridays. Not only does the school rent out spaces in its parking structure to those participating in the monthly artwalk, but the students also set up a table to sell their own arts and crafts. Proceeds from these activities help fund school projects.
Additionally, the school is paying respect to the history of its Downtown location. It has recently received a $2.4-million grant from the city of Phoenix to renovate the historic McKinley schoolhouse for a biomedical program. This site has been connected to education since 1902, when a school was built (the current building was completed in 1919). When complete in the fall of 2010, the renovated schoolhouse building will include administrative offices, classrooms, a library/community room and student demonstration area. The renovated facility will act as a historic foil to the modern architecture of the rest of the Bioscience campus. The renovations will maintain the schoolhouse’s green space along Pierce Street, acting as a pocket oasis for students and local residents alike.
To find out more, contact Bioscience High School at 602-764-5600 or go to www.biosciencehs.org. The school is located at 512 E. Pierce Street.
All photos by Paul Valach
I got tired of everyone giving me a hard time about the movies I haven’t ever seen. “You haven’t watched The Godfather? What’s wrong with you?” “How is it possible that you missed Babette’s Feast?” Well, I have decided to fix this problem once and for all. I’m going to work my way through my stack of ”never seen it” movies, and as an added bonus, I’m gonna pair each movie with a restaurant that helps set the mood for the film.
Today’s combo pack is Juno with Ellen Page and Michael Cera and high-end burger joint Delux.
I have been a big fan of Michael Cera since his days as George Michael Bluth on Arrested Development. In Juno, he plays true to type as a sort of shmendrik boyfriend to Ellen Page’s teen mother. As the story goes, the two teens are best friends who eventually have sex, resulting in Juno becoming pregnant. The story of what to do with the unborn child, the awkward dynamic between the adoptive couple (played masterfully by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner), and the resolution of the relationship between the teen couple, makes for a fun and meaningful film.
The story that unfolds is a real, honest, frank discussion of what life is. Because the movie presents a clear choice between having an abortion and putting up the child for adoption, it could be both hailed and jeered from people on both sides of the abortion debate. Some in the pro-life camp hailed the message that focused on Juno’s choice to keep her baby, while criticizing the movie’s trivialization of the availability of an abortion. Those in the pro-choice camp could easily criticize the dreary portrayal of the prospect of an abortion and could criticize the movie’s glorification of the choice to carry the baby.
Ideologically I don’t really fall neatly into either camp, and I appreciate the difficulty of dealing with the prospect of an unexpected pregnancy. Juno navigates these tough waters with a clever compassion. In the end, the celebration of life ends with the baby in the arms of a loving, albeit older, single mother and the teens push the reset button on their relationship.
The moral of the story: Life is full of complicated decisions with tough consequences; we aren’t always prepared to deal with those choices, and all we can do is to try our best to make the right decision.
I am glad that I finally got around to seeing this movie. It is a fun, funny, life-affirming story with a clever script and is skillfully acted.
So, why did I pair Juno with Delux? One of the opening scenes famously features Juno talking to a friend on a hamburger phone. Naturally, when thinking of burger places in Phoenix, the first spot on my list is Delux Burger at 32nd Street and Camelback.
Any review of Delux requires an obligatory mention of the Los Angeles landmark restaurant Father’s Office, whose concept was all but completely plagiarized by Delux. I always say, though, it doesn’t matter who came up with the idea, it matters who executes it. And, I like how Delux executes the concept. High-end burgers, delicious craft beer selection and great service in a cozy (and hip) location.
Of course, I have to be the weirdo — I am also a vegetarian, so I can’t have a burger anyway. Instead, I grabbed the amazing grilled cheese, which they grill panini-style, cut into quadrants. The baguette, as usual, was perfectly toasty, firm, yet chewy. There is a great variety of craft beers — everything from Alaskan Amber to Stone IPA. The service is always good, although this time our server was particularly flirty. He actually sat down with my dining companions and I to chit chat. It was charming and fun and certainly added to the fun (and enjoyment) of the meal.
Another mandatory purchase at Delux is the fries — available in sweet potato, regular, or half and half. The fries are served in a mini shopping cart (familiar to anyone who has been to Father’s Office). They are perfectly seasoned and served with a delicious aioli dipping sauce.
Delux is a perfect place to have a sandwich and day drink on a warm afternoon, and I am looking forward to the temperature cooling off so I can waste a few Sundays there. And, of course, Delux is open till 2 a.m., so it is a great option for late nights as well.
Hmm… I’m so stuffed after a delicious meal at Delux that I am feeling pregnant. And, that’s one doodle that can’t be un-did, homeskillet.
You know First Friday has truly become an all-encompassing Downtown phenomenon when gallery spaces start popping up on the corner of 7th and Adams streets. Artist and Downtown resident Sean Deckert has spearheaded the effort to expand the art displays further southeast to Heritage Square, home to historically well-preserved spots like the Rosson House, Teeter House Tea Room, Rose and Crown Pub and, of course, pizza monolith Pizzeria Bianco. Deckert saw potential in the wide expanses, open-air feel and heavy foot traffic at the intersection while he was working as a bartender at Rose and Crown.
Searching. Changing. Transitional. Even hot. These were the chosen descriptions of today’s Phoenix at last week’s Radiate Phoenix event. The objective is to find out if these descriptions will change in the coming years.
Those interested in the future of the city of Phoenix met at Hanny’s last week to mingle with city planners in attempts to gauge what will happen here over the next 40-odd years. The city is in its beginning stages of planning how to focus its efforts for the next decade and beyond. What’s so special about that? This time the city is looking to the residents to find out how to focus these efforts. As expected, those in attendance had beaming, positive things to say about Phoenix along with an ever-growing list of gripes. Though much was said, some overall themes evolved throughout the night. Here is what the city of Phoenix needs to focus on in the years ahead:
- Small, unique business helps to define neighborhoods. Downtown has transitioned toward this movement in recent years, but other parts of the city need to become more involved.
- Continue to support the local art community. It has grown by leaps and bounds since the last city plan in 2000.
- Model Phoenix after European cities, or even East Coast cities such as Washington, DC. Mid-rise structures and urban infill have created a strong sense of community in these places.
- Allow Phoenix’s natural elements to shine: Encourage use of city parks and canals. Civic Space Park is a great starting point for urban parkspace.
- Most Phoenicians have easy access to freeways in 2009. The city must make sure plans are implemented for this to be true in 2050 as well, despite massive projected growth.
- Continue to promote alternate transportation options. Light rail will grow in the coming years. METRO‘s bus system, paired with trolley service and various shuttle services, help people move around town. Continued additions of bike lanes on city streets are also welcomed.
- Preserve Phoenix’s historic districts. Growth of the city has threatened these areas in recent years.
- Respect our habitat in the desert and make wise energy decisions. The Green Phoenix initiative is a starting point.
- Rezoning Downtown for higher density. The residents are starting to come, but how spread out will they be?
- Focus on establishing the identities of its newer neighborhoods, both near the city core and points further out.
- Establish a citywide vision that is actually followed for the duration of this next general plan.
The city will spend the next few months establishing the most pressing issues to focus on for this general plan. Stay tuned to DPJ for further updates as they unfold.
Radiate Phoenix is produced by Urban Affair, publisher of DPJ.