“Quench me when I’m thirsty; come on and cool me down, baby, when I’m hot.”
As the melodic groove of Marley’s “Stir It Up” continues, I feel miles from trouble, but also right at home. The Breadfruit, tucked neatly behind PastaBAR, Sens and the Turf, seemingly calls to me every weekend, but this past weekend, I finally answered.
While perusing the signature-laden menu, I felt the urge to enjoy something truly unique. Lucky for this old soul, the wait staff was more than kind to point my hankerin’ stomach towards the Sorrel. I’m going to be honest, when this deep purple something landed on the table, the air was instantly overwhelmed with ginger. Not a bad thing, but it was so thick that my mind instantly thought of Granny’s potpourri nestled in a crystal kitty cat jar. With images like that racing through my mind, I asked for a menu to figure out if I had gotten some voodoo, geriatric medicine drink. This crazy, dark concoction is wildly concocted with ginger (of course), Appleton Estates Jamaican rum, pimento and house-brewed hibiscus tea. Let me tell you, ladies and gents, this thing packs a spicy mule kick of flavor. Each sip is readily brimming with pulpy flavor and feels like it is topping your stomach off. I had to ask some friends to help me drink it since it filled and warmed my belly so much. That might be one of the few must-try drinks in town. Ya mon… I mean, ya’ll.
All photos by Andrew Langdal, andorproductions.com.
If you enjoy living, working or playing in Downtown Phoenix, chances are you owe a thank you to the Downtown Voices Coalition (DVC). Formed as a result of a 2004 summit of Downtown stakeholders, the coalition has been working behind the scenes to ensure the continued growth of the core based upon existing local resources.
Coalition members are unabashedly dedicated to supporting the local, independent business owner over the big-box developer or out-of-town corporation. They are strong advocates for existing Downtown neighborhoods and residents, the arts community and the unique historic properties throughout Downtown Phoenix. These are interests that DVC feels have been lost in the rush to redevelop the core. In the words of Steve Weiss, Chair of DVC, “If not us, then whom?”
While DVC has been criticized in the past as being an insular group catering to like-minded people, this is due largely to the fact that the group is more interested in acting than promoting itself. And, these volunteers have indeed been busy. On any given issue affecting Downtown Phoenix, you will find DVC working with other community groups, meeting with city leaders, speaking at zoning hearings and serving on city committees. Some recent issues it has been involved in include extending the weekend hours for light rail, pushing for shade structures at the new ASU nursing building and saving the Sun Mercantile building (the last remaining historic Chinese-America building in Downtown) from a “façade-ectomy” that would have destroyed much of its authenticity. Despite the criticisms, DVC has been promoting its monthly meetings and publishing its agendas and minutes on its website for some time.
Anyone who is interested in Downtown Phoenix is encouraged to attend and participate in DVC’s monthly meetings, held the second Saturday of every month, starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Roosevelt Commons meeting room. Each month they cover a variety of issues related to Downtown, and often feature guest speakers and other community groups.
For example, during the September meeting, the 20 or so people in attendance heard from Kimber Lanning of Local First Arizona about the city’s adaptive reuse task force that is looking at ways to simplify the process of adapting existing buildings for new purposes. Lanning also talked about Local First’s upcoming 10% Shift campaign that will ask Arizonans to shift 10% of their current spending from national chains to local businesses. This change is estimated to create thousands of new jobs throughout the state while stimulating billions of dollars of new economic activity. Check back with DPJ for future news on both of these issues.
Next up on the September agenda was Carol Johnson from the City of Phoenix Planning Department, who was invited to update the coalition on the planned Jackson Street Entertainment District and the Downtown Urban Form guidelines. She also talked about the city’s general plan update, which is getting underway this fall. This year’s theme is “Imagine Phoenix in 2050 — What Do You See?” and will involve extensive public consultation at a series of public meetings to be held throughout the city between October 2009 and June 2010. To keep informed of the process, including upcoming meetings, residents are encouraged to join the PlanPhx mailing list or follow its Twitter feed.
Also discussed at the meeting was a follow up to the April 2004 summit. This event resulted in a document that outlined many of the priority issues that the coalition has been addressing over the past five years. Given all that has changed in and around Downtown since 2004, it was thought that it was time to hold another community event. Planning is still in its early stages, but DVC is exploring locations and dates for an early December event. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.
Other business that was discussed included an overview of the upcoming Park(ing) Day activities in Downtown Phoenix on Friday, September 18; a brief introduction to an ASU project to create infill development in Downtown Phoenix; and a discussion of the economic and community impacts of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport’s contract renewals.
Overall, the meeting certainly lived up to its billing as a lively discussion of issues that matter to Downtown Phoenix. The next meeting will occur on October 10. The Roosevelt Commons meeting room is located at 825 N. 6th Ave.
“Sure, there are dishonest men in local government. But there are dishonest men in national government, too.”
— Richard M. Nixon
Faithful readers of DPJ know full well that the people behind this site are huge fans of shopping and eating local. If you haven’t tried it out for yourself sometime (shopping or eating local, that is), peruse the site a bit to find ways to “put your money where your house is.”
But, eating and shopping are just two ways in which we can become more local as consumers. How else? Well, by reading this right now you have become a consumer of hyperlocal newsmedia. How about another way? Politics.
I am fairly politically minded. Some of you are questioning my understatement. But, no matter, I shall press on. Today, a tip on going green this election season.
While the national elections are exciting, and monopolize most water cooler conversations and chain emails, I find the real excitement of politics when the issues are close to home. Yes, even elections are going local.
The President is the most powerful person on earth, sure. But what our local elected officials do, say and pursue affects us on a daily basis. I challenge you to invest a little time this election season in local politics. Spend as much time researching your local sheriff, state representative and proposition decisions as you do for your presidential and other national choices. Go ahead, I triple dog dare you.
That’s a little piece from a post I wrote during the election cycle last year, but it carried a new relevance last week. Phoenix City Council districts 2, 4, 6 and 8 all had elections. Average voter turnout was 15.51%. That means out of seven people, six couldn’t care less. This is appalling.
As I argued a year ago, the people who really impact your daily life are right here ON Washington — not IN Washington (both City Hall and the State Capitol have Washington street addresses). Don’t believe me? The Treasury Department recently reported a $1.38-trillion deficit for the fiscal year to date. Conversely, we have a $3 billion deficit in the state of Arizona.
Relatively, the state’s deficit is a drop in the bucket, but in reality it hits harder. Reductions in essential services are no longer headline news, public and state parks are closing and school funding is getting slashed. State officials are even considering selling off the State Capitol.
In the four city council districts that voted two weeks ago, more than 305,000 people are registered to vote. But, only 47,000 actually did. Sounds like the residents of Phoenix need to sign up for a different kind of local movement.
Come on, don’t you want to reduce your political carbon footprint?
So, I am doing something fun this week. I am reviewing a movie that I have never seen before, Babette’s Feast, and also talking about my recent foray into cooking at home — let’s call that Chad’s Feast.
A movie that is built around food as a metaphor for spiritual development — what’s not to like?
Babette’s Feast is a 1987 Danish film (English subtitles) that focuses on the lives of two sisters named Martina and Philippa (after two leading Protestants, naturally) who live in a deeply religious community that was once led by their father, who has now passed away. In their sunset years, they care for an aging congregation in a grey village on the coast of Jutland.
The film opens with the sisters singing hymns and feeding the elderly and sick with the help of their servant, Babette. In a series of flashbacks, we see the sisters’ young lives as suitors are rebuffed in favor of their pious faith. Some of the courting scenes reminded me painfully of Pride and Prejudice. In fact, I was doing doing research in my Danish-English dictionary so I could recognize the words for “Oh, Mr. Darcy” just in case. The film’s incorporation of a number of hymns with especially relevant themes, like God’s provision and the hope of a heavenly paradise, is brilliant in not only setting the tone, but also in foreshadowing the profound experience at the end of the film.
The elderly congregants have begun to quarrel as they approach the 100th birthday of their founder when a letter from Paris arrives. Babette discovers that she has won 10,000 francs in the lottery, and to celebrate, she puts on an elaborate feast. She assembles the best ingredients from France while drawing the suspicion of the community as she brings in rare delicacies like a giant turtle and a cage full of quail. Not wanting to appear worldly or to make themselves susceptible to witchcraft, the community vows to eat the meal, but not to speak about the food or drink as they eat. As course after course of the most amazing food they have ever tasted is placed before them, they try desperately not to mention the food. Only the general, a guest who is not in on the agreement to ignore the food, is able to vocalize his pleasure with the stunning feast.
As the meal continues, the quarrels between those around the table are forgotten, and old loves are rediscovered. The feast was, in the words of the general, “a love affair that made no distinction between bodily appetite and spiritual appetite.” Only in the end do the sisters realize the extent of Babette’s sacrifice, as she has spent her entire fortune on the meal she prepared for them, and is once again penniless.
The interaction between the sisters was portrayed skillfully. They complete each other’s sentences just as you would expect them to do after living together for so many years. The film perfectly contrasted the grey, drab hues of the sisters’ village with the bright colors of the feast. The story was full of symbol, nuance and truth. I can’t believe that I waited this long to see this masterpiece, but I now understand why so many people I respect love this film so dearly.
The bigger message of the film, as highlighted in the Eucharistic banquet at the climax, is that sometimes pleasure and beauty can be sacrificial ends in themselves. Appreciating and enjoying beauty can be just as important to one’s growth as self-denial and sacrifice. Truth is truth, no matter how it chooses to reveal itself.
I have spent most of my adult life with a severe aversion to cooking. I just never seemed to be able to get it right. I couldn’t cook steak without getting it tough and rubbery; I couldn’t stir fry vegetables without producing a mushy, nasty mess. I was inspired, though, by a recipe that I heard about on NPR. It is a recipe for a Chilean dal. Yes, dal, the classic South Asian lentil dish, but with a South American twist.
The first time I decided to make this dal, I went to my local Sprouts and bought all of the ingredients. I took the onions, tomatoes and cilantro and dutifully put them in the refrigerator, but sadly never got around to making anything. Slowly the tomatoes went bad, the potatoes rotted in the pantry, and the cilantro turned into a nasty goo that reminded me of rancid baby food peas.
I decided to give myself another chance. I bought another round of ingredients, and this time I made the dish while two of my dear friends were at yoga class. As the final product simmered on the stove, I took a taste. It seemed pretty good to me, but I have a knack for not being able to appropriately judge my own creations. I let myself presume that it was a decent meal, and moved on. Then, the yoga boys came home. They smelled the spicy tomato aroma and just started digging in to the pan with the first spoons they could get their hands on until they were scraping the nonstick coating off the bottom. Apparently I had gotten the flavor of the dish just right, even though I had no idea if anyone else would even find it edible.
Sure, it was not turtle soup imported from Paris, but it was a reminder of how food can bring the best out of us and remind us why we matter so much to each other.
First Friday on September 5 kicked off the When in AZ music compilation festivities with a bang! Drawing what seemed like record-breaking crowds Downtown, with Roosevelt Street closed from 3rd to 7th streets, Modified Arts was open and ready for all to enjoy the fresh tunes of Matthew Reveles, Stellaluna and Flyaway Tigers, who opened the show. As the music continued on, more people wandered in and out to catch a glimpse of who was on stage. With each band that played offering a different sound, it was exactly what Nick Kizer, organizer of the compilation, envisioned it to be. In between the Stellaluna and Matthew Reveles sets, Nick Kizer and Renee Saxon from the Phoenix Conservatory of Music stepped on stage to say a few words about the project itself. The true vision for the compilation is to support the arts and provide funds to such charitable organizations as PCM and Ear Candy, both nonprofit organizations doing the best they can to provide music education to children. Many people were on hand volunteering their services to sell merchandise and collect donations as the night went on. With Matthew Reveles winding the evening down, a sense of accomplishment was felt throughout Modified.
If we continue to support and nurture the talent we have, Phoenix will become a music mecca. As River Jones, founder of River Jones Music, which has brought us such talent as Courtney Marie Andrews and Michelle Blades, said, “When it comes to music, there are no boundaries. The goal is to bring all of Arizona together to create one scene and put Arizona on the map as a large music community.”
If you missed the first two shows to kick off the CD release, head down to The Rhythm Room Thursday, September 10 to see Treasure Mammal, Colorstore, Lonna Kelly, Sweetbleeders, Coats & Villa and special guest DJ Sleepy Cub. For an $8 donation at the door, you receive a download card for the 55-song compilation. Each artist is featured on the compilation and will perform their covers from the album along with their own original music.