Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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From Russia, With Milk

Members of an Amish-like religious sect from Russia made Glendale their home 100 years ago.

Obscure religious groups for $500, please, Alex. The answer is: “Members of this class of Russian sectarians, known for drinking milk on Orthodox fasting days, settled in Glendale, Arizona, in the early 20th century.”
If you didn’t answer “Molokans” – excuse me, “Who were the Molokans?” – don’t feel bad. According to Andrei Conovaloff, the group’s dogged local historian, many Molokan descendants wouldn’t get the question right, either. A hundred years after a small influx of Molokans – maybe a thousand or so, at its peak – settled in the West Valley to farm, almost all that remains of the community is the boarded-up hovel that served as their church. “I’m guessing there may be as many as a thousand descendants in Arizona today who know they’re of Russian descent, and who may or may not know the term Molokan,” says Conovaloff, 63. “And if they do, it’s probably as a misnomer.”

 

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Fail Blazers

Can a sports team fail because of too much success? Of all things, an undefeated inaugural season helped doom the Phoenix Blazers semi-professional football team – a squad so dominant, fans simply tired of seeing them.

 

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Sol Survivors

The original Phoenix Suns were barnstorming semi-pro footballers who enjoyed success on the gridiron and abject failure away from it.

Rabid basketball fans inhabiting Planet Orange are often surprised to learn the first Phoenix Suns game started with a kickoff – not a tipoff – and occurred more than a decade before the NBA team made its 1968 debut. In this bizarre-but-true alternate Suns universe, the team kicked field goals instead of shooting them, and the only dunks they saw

 

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The Lincoln Legacy

North Phoenix owes two of its hospitals, a street name, a resort, and much of its community spirit to one visionary man.


Once just a cottage and chapel in the middle of a tuberculosis-ridden tent city, the John C. Lincoln Health Network is now two not-for-profit hospitals, a handful of community-service organizations, and a testament to the Valley-wide legacy of the charismatic inventor and entrepreneur who gave the organization his name.

 

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Saddles for Warhol

Four decades after the art-pop legend came to Arizona to shoot his cult Western, the Lonesome Cowboys tale remains as strange as ever.


Paul Morrissey is pouring hot sarcasm into my ear. But I’m glad he called.

“I understand you want to talk about the Andy Warhol movie,” Morrissey rasps in greeting, smearing the name of his one-time friend and collaborator with dark emphasis. It’s easy to imagine the 74-year-old filmmaker affecting a theatrical grimace when he speaks, like Dirty Harry mad-dogging a street punk.

 

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Salome, Baby

Southern Californians flocked to a western Arizona town for quickie marriages and backroom gambling in the 1930s until a failed statewide gambling referendum gave the house edge to Las Vegas.


I f you’re not a snowbird searching for a bucolic trailer park to pass the winter, there’s little reason to linger in Salome. A funky, forgotten hamlet of 1,690, it sits about 60 miles off the California border like a serene retiree bundled up against the desert winds. There are no department stores or tourist haunts, and absolutely nothing to suggest that Salome once briefly challenged Las Vegas as the gambling capital of the West.

 

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Steak Out.

Five years after folding, Jay Newton’s Beef Eaters lives on in the memories of Phoenicians. But how long will the barren building survive?


The Beef Eaters restaurant sits frozen in time along the information superhighway. Closed for years, the CenPho eatery’s old listing at azeats.com remains active, complete with a virtual tour where visitors see the semblance of a British dining hall: sprawling banquet rooms filled with high-backed leather chairs and booths, mahogany oak-paneled walls adorned with paintings from England in gilded gold frames, and a “King’s Den” with shiny crystal chandeliers and stately white upholstered walls offset by burgundy floral carpet. Pitched wood beam ceilings lend an airy feel to the rooms.

 

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