We’re no Seattle (or New York, or Chicago or Portland), but it’s no secret that Downtown Phoenix is supporting a decidedly growing coffee culture. In full disclosure, I consider myself more than slightly addicted to coffee, and the thought of going to get a cup right now sounds enticing. I’m always intrigued to hear of new spots opening, and this year has seen its fair share of notable openings. Sure, there are locally owned coffee spots all over the Valley, but 2009 has really been the year of the espresso shot in Downtown Phoenix.
There’s an ever-growing list of hipster hangouts, java-scented corners and makeshift co-working locations. Is it over saturation, or is it a growing indication that this is a relevant place (something that’s seemingly debated on a day-to-day basis)?
Despite mainstays like Lux and Conspire, this year we’ve seen a bevvy of new coffee locales: Fair Trade Café‘s second location in Civic Space Park, Royal at the Market‘s arrival in the Urban Grocery and Wine Bar, Lola Coffee‘s instant success in a booming Uptown strip center and Urban Beans‘ laid-back vibe on 7th Street.
There’s only a few weeks left in the year, but we may have three brand new places to get our first coffee of 2010 if opening dates hold up.
Cartel, the reigning king of independent coffeehouses in Tempe, is opening a location across the street from the CityScape site. The space, which was once another coffeehouse (Hot Shotz), opens in mid-December, and is bringing the infamous Clover espresso machine from the other location along for the ride.
UPDATE: Cartel is officially open at 1 N. 1st St. as of 12.08.09.
Matt Pool’s notoriously delayed but very much anticipated Giant Coffee seems just about ready to open, but we’re not quite sure he has the menu down just yet. Preview events of the space have yielded positive reviews, and Pool’s latest projection has the space inside the Link building (home to [merz]project) opening sometime before Christmas.
Then there’s the second outpost of Lola Coffee (the first has barely been open six months) in the historic Gold Spot Building. After Calabria deli unexpectedly closed up this summer, it seemed the Gold Spot was a doomed locale. Now that Lola and Pita Jungle have both started the move-in process, this could be the most happenin’ corner in Roosevelt. Since it’s the closest java place to Fort DPJ, expect to see me there often. Probably too often. Details on an opening date are mum, but there are whispers of a late December opening.
UPDATE: Lola Coffee is open at 1001 N. 3rd Ave. as of 12.18.09.
So, my New Years resolution is to drink more local coffee. See you all out there, sipping your joe.
Previous week’s games
11/27/09 SUNS 120, Timberwolves 95
11/29/09 SUNS 113, Raptors 94
12/01/09 Knicks 126, SUNS 99
12/02/09 Cavs 107, SUNS 90
Next week’s games
12/05/09 SUNS vs Kings, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
12/06/09 SUNS @ Lakers, 7:30 p.m., My45
12/08/09 SUNS @ Mavericks, 6:30 p.m., My45
Originally, I had planned in my head (because that’s where I plan things) to write this week’s Suns Spot about Jason Richardson. I was going to talk about the trade last year and how he performed then versus how he’s performed now. It was going to be good. Then the Suns played the New York Knicks and looked like the New York Knicks. OK, fine, one loss, no big deal. Last night, though, the Suns played the Cleveland Cavaliers and looked like the New Jersey Nets (at least in the first half; the second half actually had some positives — mostly the play of Goran Dragic). Needless to say, the Jason Richardson blog has been put on hiatus for the time being.
About halfway through the Cavs game, I came up with the idea for this week’s blog. Below is the first rough draft I had written for this week about the Knicks game:
No defense… lack of hustle on the boards… ever heard of boxing out? Danilo Gallinari scored how many points?! The freaking Knicks?!!!! Under 100 points?!?!?!! Seriously?
Here’s what I had for the Cavs game:
I hate Lebron James! Now Shaq gets those calls?! Grrrr!
After listening to City and Colour to calm myself down a bit, I decided to rethink my blog. I don’t want to be one of those negative Suns fans (and we’re going to start to hear from a lot of them now). All those chicken littles will show up talking about how we need to trade Amar’e or do this or do that or Robert Sarver is cheap or Steve Kerr is terrible, blah blah blah. Instead, I decided to put a positive spin on things. Here’s what I came up with.
One, the Suns needed some adversity. All teams face it. The good ones overcome it. Now the Suns have their chance. It’s only a two-game losing streak. Phoenix is still sitting at 14-5, which is nothing to hang your head about, especially considering the expectations for this season. The important thing is how the Suns bounce back. Luckily, the Suns get that chance at home (Saturday against the Sacramento Kings), where they’ve been dominate, especially in the last three contests. Last year, Phoenix didn’t do too well with adversity — they weren’t able to bounce back. With Gentry at the helm this time around, I think things will be different. As long as the Suns just shake off these last two games and move on, all should be well in the Valley of the Suns.
Two, we did get to see some positives in these two losses. In both games Goran Dragic never stopped fighting. He continued to be aggressive, even when his shot wasn’t falling and the game was well out of hand. He played his usual solid defense and when Knicks players looked to have some easy layups in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, Dragic wouldn’t have any part of it, committing good, hard, quality basketball fouls. Alando Tucker also shined in the fourth quarter of the Knicks blowout, scoring 14 points and getting to the charity stripe eight times. It was good to see Tucker come in and be aggressive. He could come in handy with Leandro Barbosa out two to four weeks with the ankle sprain.
Three, well… I couldn’t think of a third one, but those first two are pretty solid, especially that adversity one. Let’s see how this Suns team handles it.
I started out this week in search of a good place to watch the game while devouring a good burger and a cold beer. Also, it might be nice if the desired locale was close to the light rail. Just in case I wanted to go on a post-burger adventure.
Portland’s rests unassumingly on the corner of Portland Street and Central Avenue. You might drive right past it, but you would be missing out. This quiet, dimly lit restaurant is the perfect place to get a good, quiet meal, or, if you desire, to sit at the bar and root on the Suns. On this visit, I chose the latter.
My eyes scanned the menu for the perfect description of grilled ground beef and bun. They landed on the Metro Burger. This entrée is described as “the burger for the light rail travelers.” So, my curiosity takes over.
The Metro arrives, and it is ginormous. It is slathered with barbecue sauce and topped with fried onions. Resting to the side are some exquisite-looking Cajun fries. I dive in, and each bite is delectable and filling. I wash down each one with the $3 special Shiner Blonde. I literally attack the fries. They are some of the best Cajun fries I have ever had. They pair perfectly with the juiciness of the burger, slightly mellowing the fiery Cajun flavor.
I must admit that I gave it my best shot, but I was unable to finish the thing off. But, I can now see why this is the burger of the light rail traveler. Once you eat it, you need a ride to get you somewhere because of the coma-inducing fullness you are experiencing.
Portland’s is located at 105 W. Portland St. — light rail station at Roosevelt/Central. (602) 795.7480
Monday night ended a bit dramatically in Downtown Phoenix, but perhaps not as much as it could have.
You’ve probably seen it on the news or the Twittersphere, which was blowing up with #ArpaioASU hashtags for most of the evening and into the next morning.
In case you haven’t, here’s the quick run-down: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was in the guest hot seat in a Meet the Press-style panel interview by three of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s heavy-hitter journalist-professors: Steve Elliott, Sue Green and Rick Rodriguez. The plan was to spend a solid hour questioning the Sheriff in the school’s packed First Amendment Forum. Nothing was off limits: immigration, his relationship with the media and accusations of threats and harassment.
That hour was cut short first by embarrasing mic troubles and Dean Chris Callahan’s remarks at the beginning, asking the audience in essence to save questions for afterward and to not disturb the panel, regardless of how much they did or did not care for the Sheriff.
But, the hour was really mutilated when (and here’s the part you’ve been waiting for) a small group of idiots broke out into song. Lots of songs. Annoying songs. Songs so loud the panel was forced to discontinue and end the evening roughly 15 minutes early. Despite boos from the crowd and stern pleading from the Dean, they simply wouldn’t shut up. And, of course, they were directed at Sheriff Joe.
Here’s the thing: Kids, in case your parents never taught you this or you were too bullheaded to learn it, there’s a time and a place for everything. There was a peaceful and energetic protest (both pro- and anti-Arpaio) taking place in the building’s lobby and on Taylor Mall. You could have joined that crowd and expressed your own First Amendment rights without stepping on the rights of everyone else in the forum who had come to hear the interview.
Oh, and everyone is allowed to have their own opinion, even if it happens to be different than your own. That includes the Sheriff. And, it includes myself (a current Cronkite grad student) and every other ASU student in attendance last evening. (Due to the protests and space limitations, the school stationed police at the doors and only let in those with an ASU ID.) What’s exceptionally frustrating is these singers had no idea what they were doing, what they were ruining and how counterproductive their little stunt was.
They were interrupting a holding of account and questioning of a controversial public official. They ruined months of preparation and the chance for students to see a well-researched, pointed and tough interview. And, their singing really screwed up that possibility and actually defeated their own cause.
Dumb, dumb, dumb.
I’m refering to these singers as kids because their act was absurd and childish. And, after reading a tweet from @joshsprague, a Cronkite alum, I’m not going to give them the mantle of protestor, either. He tweeted, “‘Protestors’ is not an accurate term for the anti-Arpaio singers. Nothing was protested other than discussion.”
As a journalism student, I had been looking forward to this evening. I know two of the professors well, having been in their classes and in fellowships directed by them. The chance to see my professors, who I’ve generally only seen in an editorial role, switch gears and become the investigative journalist, was what I really wanted to see. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one, gauging by how many other journalism students were around. I could have cared less what controversial public official they interviewed; I was more interested in seeing masters working their craft.
Anyone who does this type of in-depth interview, as the panel was well on their way to accomplishing Monday night, knows several things: one, the depth of research that goes into each and every possible question; two, the tact and control that must be wielded by the interviewer in order to get what he or she came for; and three, not starting off with your aha!, home-run questions. You build up to them.
Which, to me, signifies these singers were most likely not journalism students. Rumors were circulating they might have been from the College of Public Programs or student activist groups. But, really, where they came from doesn’t matter. The whole event looks terrible for the school and for ASU.
Right before the planned singing started, the panel was building up to the home runs and perhaps even a few ahas. What a shame.
Well, kiddos, hope you enjoyed your 15 moments in the spotlight. Idol and the rest of us are not at all interested in you.
Previous week’s games
11/19/09 Hornets 110, SUNS 103
11/22/09 SUNS 117, Pistons 91
11/25/09 SUNS 126, Grizzlies 111
This week’s games
11/27/09 SUNS @ Timberwolves, 7:30 p.m., My45 (NOTE: This game has been switched from ESPN)
11/29/09 SUNS @ Raptors, 1:30 p.m., My45
12/01/09 SUNS @ Knicks, 5:30 p.m., My45
12/02/09 SUNS @ Cavaliers, 5 p.m., My45
On this Thanksgiving, Suns fans have many things to be thankful for. Here are my top three things to be thankful for this holiday season in the Valley of the Sun.
3. Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley and the Suns’ second unit
The second unit for the Suns have been a huge surprise this year, and an even bigger reason for the Suns’ hot start. Jared Dudley is the glue that holds the bench together. His hustle and effort on the defensive end, along with his overall passion for the game, pushes the second string as well as the starters to play hard and leave it all on the court every time out. Add in his lights-out three-point shooting and you’ve got yourself a difference maker.
Goran Dragic isn’t far behind Dudley in what he brings to the table for this team. His vast improvement in play from a year ago gives the Suns something they’ve been lacking for years: a backup point guard. Dragic’s solid play has helped give Steve Nash plenty of rest, which explains why Nash’s minutes are at his lowest in over 10 years. Dragic has shown play-making ability and a nice touch from behind the arc. And, when the shot isn’t falling, Dragic still plays fantastic defensive night in and night out.
Despite his minutes being down, Leandro Barbosa has continued to do what he does: hit open threes and get to the basket at will. Lou Amundson still provides the dirty work in the form of rebounds and blocked shots. Jarron Collins has stepped in nicely when needed, adding a little toughness in the paint, and Earl Clark has impressed when on the floor. With Robin Lopez coming back from injury (perhaps later this week), Suns fans will soon have more reason to be excited about this bench.
2. No more Shaq
I didn’t really have a problem with Shaquille O’Neal while he was here, but it’s clear the impact he had on the team was a negative one. The team tried to run the offense through him, but that meant playing to the other players’ weaknesses. He clogged the paint and messed with the floor spacing on the offensive end. On the defensive end, he was so terrible with the pick and roll that opposing teams would kill us with it on a nightly basis. Shipping him out and bringing Channing Frye in to replace him has made a world of difference. The lane is once again open for Nash to operate and the Suns’ spacing has them on a record pace for three pointers made this season.
1. Making Alvin Gentry head coach and resigning Steve Nash (I couldn’t choose just one of these)
When Alvin Gentry took over the head coaching duties last year, we saw an entirely different Suns team from the one Terry Porter put on the floor every night. Gentry started playing the bench more, going 10-11 guys deep at times, while reintroducing us all the Phoenix Suns offense we had previously grown to love. This year, things have been much the same. Gentry has the Suns back on top in scoring average while getting the team to play with effort and energy on the defensive side of the ball. The bench continues to develop under Gentry, and the team chemistry appears to be at an all-time high since Steve Nash returned to Phoenix.
Once Gentry was made head coach, the next logical step was to resign Steve Nash. Many people doubted whether or not this was the right move for both Nash and the Suns, but 15 games into the season, it’s clear it was. Nash’s numbers are just as good as they were in his two MVP seasons, with his assist numbers actually up while his minutes are down. What Nash gives Phoenix in the stat sheet is only half of what he offers, though. He gives the Suns’ younger players someone to look up to and continues to provide great on-court leadership.
When you add these three things together, Suns fans have lots to be thankful for this holiday season, and it’s no wonder why their team currently sits atop the NBA with a 12-3 record.