Things to do in Phoenix When You’re Not Dead

Days here: 28. Rainless days: 27. We had some last Tuesday, but not over enough of an area to register on the weather data. Normal service i.e unbroken sunshine, has now been resumed.

This part of Phoenix, a northern suburb known as Scottsdale, does not appear to be big on night-life, in that the restaurants, etc. close at 10 pm, or at the very latest, 11, even on weekends. Coming from Britain, the land of obscurist licensing laws, I suppose I should be used to it, but it does seem a bit odd. Now we’re into the week leading up to Christmas, a lot of the shops in the nearby malls are open every bit as late, or in some cases even later. Indeed, some will be heading onto round-the-clock opening, and we’re talking proper department stores, not just the 7-11s. It could be that consumerism is the main leisure pursuit, particularly at this time of the year.

The cinema is, you’ll not be surprised to hear, a viable alternative for myself and Chris: all the more so when the cost is so reasonable in comparison to London. Prices for matinee shows – which operate every day, not just Monday to Friday – have just gone up to the extortionate cost of $5.00, which is about one-third of what it would be to see the same film (months later, and perhaps cut by the BBFC) in Leicester Square. This is not in some flea-pit, but a fully-accredited THX cinema; and you rarely have to sit through more than one token advert, before getting to the trailers. The only problem is that there is only one cinema which shows the obscure stuff, so whenever Crouching Tiger gets here (and I’m polishing a spot on 2000’s Top Ten!), a trek will likely be required to see it. However, for Hollywood product as it appears, Phoenix has a lot to offer.

There does seem to be a decent live music scene going too; after finding VNV Nation playing here the day after I arrived, another of my favourite bands, The Aquabats, floated through town on Saturday. The Aquabats are kinda like a PG-rated version of Gwar, borrowing a lot of imagery from Japanese monster movies and Saturday morning cartoon shows, while playing a catchy combination of ska-punk. This concert was “all ages”, and did indeed appear to go right down to the low single figures. This meant no alcohol was on sale, which did at least avoid the need for severe ID checking before beer-buying was permitted, as seen at the VNV concert (ID check, wrist-band, alcohol only permitted in a double ring-fenced area by the bar). I think the lead singer must have been a teacher in his previous life, and did a fine job of controlling a boisterous crowd which hurled marshmallows at them, even getting the entire audience to sit down at one point before they’d continue!

Completing this quick sweep through the leisure potential of Phoenix so far, last Friday was the birthday of Robert, Chris’s son, and we had a ten-pin bowling party at a local alley. I’ve not been ten-pin bowling in years, although perhaps the sporting highlight of my life to date was getting four strikes in a row on a previous visit to the Streatham Megabowl. It has to be said that my technique relied more on power than skill, and was on occasion a danger more to pins in the adjacent lanes, but I enjoyed it, even if my thumb the next morning, was doing a solo audition for the Dragon Drummers of Kodo. Much like getting extremely drunk, ten-pin bowling is something which is such great fun at the time, you wonder why you don’t do it more often. But the next morning…

Finally, I ask for your prayers. The ship pictured left, the Hong Kong Senator, is currently shipping my goods across the Atlantic, with an expected arrival date in San Diego of January 14th. I’ll be the one spending Christmas scanning the short-wave radio for distress calls; if you see this ship on a beach near you, please let me know and I’ll come scrape my possessions off the fore-shore.