Monday, June 21, 2010

5 Surprising High Points

So after moving back to Phoenix I'm still doing the eatery/toy store/record shop tour. Usually when visiting Phoenix I do this in about 3 days. (They're long days.) Here are some noted notables in the retail and food space.

Tokyo Express Now Kicks Ass
Stopped by for lunch to be greeted by a highly expanded menu with large boxes of meats. If you want shrimp, two kinds of chicken, and beef, you're covered. Congratulations, steadily decreasing Japanese food chain, you have a new customer for life.

There Are Rooms Of People Singing Along With Andrew Jackson Jihad
This is both awesome and terrifying. I like going to a concert with people who like the band, but the show I saw had a good half to three-fourths of the audience knowing all the words. That's just nuts. Or at least after years of going to see the Polysics or Man or Astro-Man or the Aquabats or something, it wasn't expected.

Despite Closing All Locations, Kmart Is Abundant
Pretty much every Kmart I went to growing up is gone-- as are most of the ones I shopped at as an adult. But somehow, there are still four within reasonable distance from me. Who cares? Well, they have this exclusive Jodo Kast figure, and...

Crazy Clearances Still Happen
I bought a G.I. Joe figure for $0.88. Just one so far, which is probably the only one I'll see. But this sort of crap makes my month.

Esplinade Is Dead
Wanna see a movie? Nobody goes to the theater hidden in the office buildings adjacent to the Biltmore. VICTORY. I hate crowds. Rot at Desert Ridge, you poor fools.

Monday, June 14, 2010


So yeah, before moving to Los Angeles I spent a lot of time in shopping malls. Not for clothes or shoes or socializing, but for recon, for info, for toys and games. Phoenix malls were these strange pop culture buffets, and you were pretty much guaranteed to find some pretty cool stuff at some surprising locales. They closed those stores, so the malls have been increasingly not-worth-my-time as I visited. Now that I'm back, here are some complaints you won't want to read. (Go to the next post.)

Paradise Valley Mall
I lived across the street from here for over 2 years, at which point it was glorious. Hobby Bench, Kay-Bee Toys, and Suncoast Motion Picture Company made the place kick ass. All three are gone-- if you want toys now, you might find something in the board game store or GameStop. Maybe Sears. Nothing remains that's toy-specific. There is a new (to me) movie theater chain called "Picture Show" which, appropriately enough, opened where the old Harkins theater used to be near the food court.

I've heard this mall is dying since... geez, forever. It's still open but a lot of stuff is gone-- all the toy stores, the board game store, etc. It used to have 3 video game stores, now it doesn't. The remainging Point Of Interest is really the Suncoast, which may be the only one around in the state. I'll need to investigate. The mall has a lot of empty stores, which, I hope, means some wacky thing might open up as rents inevitably decline. Someone should open a cool record store or something you don't see every day. It's pretty silent when you get in it, though, and I've been twice since getting back. (Errands, lunch, you know the drill.)

Not much for toys. Nor music. There's a GameStop and a 2-story sporting goods store where tackle boxes are too expensive for toy storage purposes. It's been dull for a while, and remains dull today.

Have not yet dropped in Scottsdale Fashion Square, Fiesta, Desert Sky, Superstition Springs, or ChrisTown malls. I've been near ChrisTown mall but it's been predominantly sucky for pretty much as long as I've been able to drive there, particularly since the Kay-Bee (and 60% of the mall) was removed.

I'm in the midst of a shit toy run season. There's always something to research and go after, but as far as action figures go, it's pretty dull unless you're in to the big summer movies which, this season, are either a) over or b) skewing younger than my interests. (Not gonna care about Last Airbender stuff.) But that starts in August officially, and if Kmart does more of what they're reportedly doing, it might start a lot sooner.

Friday, June 4, 2010

I Remain Old

I'll point out that I also said "I'm so old" at many of the other shows I've been to, particularly every Aquabats gig I've seen since, let's say, late 1999. (And that show with the Hippos and Nerf Herder. Felt old there.)

I just came back from seeing a band that has been on my short list for a few years, Andrew Jackson Jihad at Trunk Space. I don't get out for shows much. Actually, this is the second show I've been to in the past five years that wasn't a comedy thing. AJJ were great, but what was particularly interesting was that it seemed that most of the audience was singing along with most of the existing songs and loved it. Which is great. I saw an Auburn Court show last week (hi ladies!) and they put on quite the show, and I noticed one dude who was totally feeling all the music. I would say that if a man could have an intimate, sensual experience with a setlist, he was somehow doing it. The AJJ show was closer to some sort of revival or cult, minus the bizarre sexual practices and suicide pacts. Either way, fun times.

As someone who generally isn't used to people knowing what I'm talking about regarding music, it really was surreal to see an entire room of dudes and ladies just belting out what essentially amounts to catchy folk tunes about how much people suck. (Were I to simplify it, I mean.) I'm generally not used to fans being quite that passionate about the music, particularly because most of the shows I saw over the years, I was convinced people were there more to be seen than see the bands. (And let me tell you, these were some great bands.) So yes, AJJ fans may be some of the most dedicated I've seen as of late, but maybe that's just a growing part of the increasingly specialized music taste people seem to sport as the Old Tyme Record Shoppe becomes a thing of the past and Top 40 radio seemingly loses some of its influence.

You youngsters have good taste. Or at least those of you at the last couple of shows I've been to do. The rest of you, who knows.

Also saw something called "Bikini Lounge" which Pete tells me is basically untouched since the 1950s or 1960s. If you look inside, with a few exceptions like a bowling game and some other things, I believe him. If I ever hear the place is getting shut down or abandoned I'm going to bust in and liberate some of the signage and murals they had in there, as they are beautiful. Still, after the "wow neat" factor wears off, it's a bar, and I don't know what to do with myself at those kinds of places other than leave a few minutes in-- which is what we did. I kinda wish I had a picture of the place for you though.