Sunday, June 24, 2007

Golfing in the Dark

As the temperature rises, Arizonans decrease their outdoor activity. Even in this land of golf, valley courses find themselves empty of all except a few hardy souls. If it's 110 degrees, we don't want to spend a lot of time in the sun. Local golf courses handle this decrease in business in a couple of ways.

Since the humidity is low here, if you're in the shade, you're substantially cooler than in the sun. And what could be shadier than nighttime? Two golf courses run by the Phoenix Parks and Recreation department, Encanto 9 at 2300 N. 17th Avenue, and the Palo Verde course at 6215 N. 15th Avenue, are offering "Night Flight Golf." Get your glow necklace and glow ball, then head off on the glow-lighted course! For more information, check this web site ( ) or call 602.262.6870.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Public Art

The Phoenix valley is filled with delights for the eye. One thing I love about this place is its artistic sensibility. Everywhere I look, there is public art - on freeway walls, on bridges and overpasses, in business courtyards, in parks, and on library grounds.

A few weeks ago I visited the Maricopa County Library in Surprise and was delighted to see something new. There in the grass between the building and the street was a lovely sculpture - a learning tree, backed by an open book showing quotes by Henry David Thoreau and Jane Evershead. There are benches in the shade of this metal tree, and lights hanging from its branches. It's beautiful!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Is It a Duck, Or Is It a Truck?

There are several mining operations here is the valley, busily working the dry river beds in places like Sun City, Peoria, and Queen Creek. As new housing continues to grow, the juxtaposition of industry and residential areas creates predictable conflicts.

Noise is one of the concerns. Federal safety regulations require that trucks have an audible signal to indicate they are backing up, like the the high-pitched beep-beep-beep backup warning with which most of us are familiar. That sound can carry long distances, especially late at night and early in the morning. Nearby residents complain.

Two firms, one with a plant in Sun City, and another with locations in Peoria and Queen Creek have already installed alarms that sound like a quacking duck. Another, Vulcan Materials, is testing "an alarm that gives off a swishing sound." Now the Maricopa County Mining District Recommendation Committee is considering requiring all back-up alarms to broadcast "a less obnoxious noise."

Soon residents awake in the wee hours past midnight may be asking the question: "Is it a duck, or is it a truck?"

Friday, June 8, 2007

Tempe's Pyramid City Hall

One of the fun things about this valley is the wide variety of unusual buildings. A couple of months ago we attended an arts and music festival in Tempe (say: tem PEE). We were intrigued by the unusual building close by. Extensive research (thanks, Google) reveals that this upside-down pyramid is the Tempe City Hall. Located at 31 E. 5th Street, it was built between 1969 and 1971, creating quite a stir.

Tempe architects Michael and Kemper Goodwin designed this award-winning building, which was built at a cost of $52.5 million dollars. The 3-storey concrete construction you see to the right in the picture provides emergency fire exits. Its outer walls slope inward from to top to bottom at 45 degrees, which is supposed to help with energy conservation. The idea is that each floor provides shade for the floor below it, an important consideration in this Valley of the Sun.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Free Summer Concert Series

It's hot now, and outdoor events are fewer in the summer months. However, it's a perfect time for nighttime concerts under the stars. For several years now, Arrowhead Towne Center (the mall just off of West Bell Road and the Loop 101) has sponsored a series of outdoor concerts at the amphitheater outside the upper level on the north side. There's a view of the mountains to the right of the stage, and architecturally trimmed Palo Verde trees surround the area. Uplights cast interesting shadows on surrounding walls.

This evening we enjoyed Snake Eyes, "Arizona's Premier Party Bank," according to their website ( The audience was filled with people of all ages, clearly enjoying themselves. Children waving glowsticks frolicked across the stage, couples danced, and a dozen or so people did the Electric Slide.

Every Saturday, through September 1, a different local band will be providing the entertainment. There'll be a variety of types of music, from country to rock, to a Beatles tribute band on August 18. I'm looking forward to the performance on August 4 - Azz Izz will be doing "Funk, Jazz, Reggae, and Saucy Soca."

Bring your own folding chairs or sit on the tiered rings which rise above the stage. Bands perform for two hours, from 7 to 9 PM.