Peer into our past with this year-by-year stroll down memory lane.

50 Years of Phoenix

Written by Keridwen Cornelius, Niki D'Andrea, Leah LeMoine & Craig Outhier Category: History Issue: May 2016
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 WELCOME

TO 
THE

PARTY 

In 1966, an orchestra-conducting Midwestern transplant and media entrepreneur by the name of Kenneth Welch created what is now one of the nation’s oldest city magazines, hoping to capitalize on the stratospheric growth enjoyed in Phoenix following World War II. 

Fifty years, two ownership changes and countless well-lit food photos later, PHOENIX magazine remains uniquely married to the Valley. And with this, our golden anniversary issue, we pause to reflect and celebrate the past half-century – not just at the magazine, but throughout Greater Phoenix, focusing on the events and people we’ve loved covering so dearly. 

So take your slice of anniversary cake and sit back. The slide-show is just warming up.

 


 

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OWNER  ROLL  CALL 

A SALUTE TO THOSE WHO PAID US.

Kenneth Welch

Described as “mercurial” and a “Renaissance man,” our fearless founder and his wife Anita launched the mag with help from friend Karl Eller, who also co-founded the Phoenix Suns. 

Bill Lewis 

VP of the MAC America family media empire founded by his grandfather, Gov. Ernest McFarland, Lewis reigned over PHOENIX (and 3TV) until MAC’s sale to Belo Corp. in 1999.

Bill Phalen

After a storied career in radio, in which he served as principal and owner of three radio groups, current owner Phalen acquired PHOENIX in 1998.

 
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Typical 
Reader
Mail
1966

The first issue of your new magazine is very interesting. As a research engineer I travel a great deal to many of our major industrial centers. I have seen similar magazines in a number of these larger cities and have found them very helpful in getting to know the communities. If your magazine does the same sort of job for Phoenix, I think you’ll be performing a good service for our city.

Best wishes for success,

Thomas Gould

Phoenix

2016

Yessssss!! Festival season is here! 

- @lajphotos

 

 


 

 

1966 

While the Vietnam War and Civil Rights riots raged elsewhere, optimism in PHOENIX magazine – which debuted in November under the ownership of Midwestern transplant Kenneth Welch – rose as high as its models’ blonde bouffants. Tourism was flourishing, prompting some resorts to start staying open as long as October through May. Once a seasonal haven for health seekers, the Valley was shuffling off its yokel coil. Pondering whether we were now urbane enough to get our first professional sports team, the magazine opined, “We honestly think we are... There is nothing bush about the local fans. There can be nothing bush about the teams they watch.”

 Event of the Year: The campaign to move the 2,000-year-old Egyptian Temple of Dendur to the Valley. One student activist told President Lyndon Johnson, “The temple would be ideal beside the pyramid of the late Governor Hunt, the first governor of Arizona.” If we hadn’t lost to New York City, Papago Park would’ve been a dead ringer for the Giza Plateau.
 Letter of the Year: “[PHOENIX magazine] can serve as a very effective reminder to the rest of the country that we are no longer a dusty little town.” – James O. Farthington
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1967

It was a different era, when press coverage of the police was generally positive. One article showed a girl cradling a tear gas gun and smiling adoringly at the officer inserting the shell. “I think the youngsters are glad to learn we have the kind of equipment we have,” he said, “and that we know how to use it.” However, the writer declared, “the real show-stopper at the school demonstrations is the radar speed check... ‘We have to show this part over and over again. They are fascinated by it,’ says Captain Needham.”

Wildly Inaccurate Prediction of the Year: “The home computer is coming sooner than we think, to make life more pleasant, less demanding of the precious time now spent in solving tedious but necessary everyday problems.”
Trending“The fisherman sweater of gigantic knit is almost a must for the young man-about-the-‘in’-spots.” For ladies, it was “The Year of the Hardware Look,” with chains as accessories to wide-wale corduroy pantsuits, “wonderful Garbo slouches – wide-brim felt hats which go practically everywhere with everything,” plus pigtails tied with yarn and “mascara cunningly applied to lower lashes.” 

 


 

1968

Cracks appeared here and there in the magazine’s varnish of positivity. Robert S. Rosefsky wrote a scathing article about crime in Phoenix, and shortly after the ink was dry, his house was broken into. Fortunately, he was “most favorably impressed” with the Phoenix PD. Meanwhile, the newfangled “credit card” threatened to usher in a “checkless, cashless society” colored by “shades of George Orwell’s 1984!” On the plus side, the writer predicted, banking would one day be conducted in the comfort of one’s home – on a rotary phone.

Controversy of the Year: DDT. After Arizona butter was found laced with the pesticide, the state legislature oversaw a debate between dairymen and cotton farmers over which poison to pick and which to ban. A photograph of a crop duster plane above the caption “Where did all the honeybees go?” now seems ominous.
Embarrassing Quote of the Year: In the wake of national race riots, the publisher wrote, “[A] reporter told us about two incidents in which we find some sort of solace. A Negro boy shot a .22 rifle several times from the bedroom window of his home during the disturbances. His physical punishment from his father was harsh enough to keep him in bed for 36 hours. A white boy used the term ‘nigger’ and his father literally kicked him up the stairs... We hope that sort of immediate and personal control will be seen again, on both sides.”
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1969

Maybe the editors were tired of the zip-a-dee-doo-dah tone. Maybe the magazine felt liberated after breaking up with the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. Or maybe the Woodstock Generation really was “the most permissive society since Nero.” Whatever the reason, ’69 saw a slew of exposés about Phoenix’s sinful underbelly. Teenage shoplifters, junior junkies, rampant divorce, rebellious runaways, racist rental policies and “freak-outs” in Encanto Park. “What,” the publisher asked, “has triggered the wholesale breakdown in law and order?”

No. 1 Reason We Love 1969:Willful idealism in the face of despair. The magazines are filled with maudlin moaning: “Like a cold, unyielding blade, divorce slashes into the very fiber of its victims. The gurgling flow of anguish, anger and remorse may be quelled, and the scar tissue of time covers the ugly wound. But the injured parties often remain crippled... These handicapped people walk the streets of the Valley in vast numbers.” Yet Phoenicians refused to give in: “We can’t pretend the crisis, the value crisis, the urban crisis, the racial crisis doesn’t exist... [But] can we let pessimism paralyze us to the point where this pernicious enemy saps our resolve? [The] answer is no.”

In: Moon shots. Apollo 11 makes landfall on July 20.

Out: Racist cartoons. The last theatrical cartoon from Warner Bros., Injun Trouble, is released.

 


 

1970

MasterCharge began distributing PHOENIX magazine free to cardholders. Almost overnight, circulation skyrocketed from 15,000 to 200,000, the largest of any city magazine in the country. So thousands of people must have been shocked by the August Pornography issue. It showed a photo of an adult theater marquee featuring two words we never thought we’d see on a PHOENIX magazine cover: “Beaver Maidens.” The story revealed that Phoenicians could now buy hardcore porn in many shops – an act not possible two years before. A pair of intrepid reporters went undercover, discovering that “only a few stores in Phoenix have so far stocked the latest item to hit the market, the so-called ‘rubber goods’ (dildos).”

Embarrassing Quote of the Year: “I think that a woman should be on the City Council. Sometimes they are extremely difficult to work with, but they have their place.” – former Phoenix Mayor Milt Graham

Trending: Truly terrifying calorie consciousness. “If your daily food intake is 500 calories less than your energy needs, the result is happiness... happiness is weight-control!” chirped Betty F. Neal, whose recipes for bliss included tomato juice gazpacho followed by diet canned pear halves glazed with low-cal apricot jam. 

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1971

The July issue was dedicated to prognosticating about the far-off year 2000: “As we gradually change from a production-oriented people to a leisure-oriented people, the stark challenge is, ‘What do we do with all that free time?’” Perhaps we could use it to train apes: “For households that don’t want robots, there’s still another way to go. By the year 2000... it may be possible to breed intelligent animals, such as apes, which will be capable of performing most of the manual labor. They’ll also do the gardening and double as family chauffeurs.”

Person of the Year: Sandra Day O’Connor, whose fortitude we applaud after reading a profile that begins: “Arizona’s beauteous [state] senator, Sandra Day O’Connor, is a lively, lissome creature who in January of 1970 drew appreciative but subsonic wolf whistles from her new colleagues.” One of her fellow senators anonymously mused, “When you first meet Sandra you think, ‘What a pretty little thing.’ Next you think, ‘My, it’s got a personality, too.’ After listening a bit you begin to wonder how that quietly feminine voice can pack so much fact-power. From then on it’s but a step to discovery that this pretty little thing carries a disconcerting load of expertise.” 

 


 

1972

NASA’s photos of fragile Earth set like a jewel in the blackness of space awakened an eco-consciousness. And after Congress passed the Clean Air Act Amendments in 1970, Phoenicians became increasingly concerned about their city’s ecology. “There is an uneasiness in the air, and much of it has to do with the crucial issue of the ’70s – environment,” the magazine announced. As we gaze across the Valley at our often smog-shrouded mountains, as we battle our increasingly congested roads and highways, many of us are crying, ‘Stop! Let’s build a fence around Arizona. No more people, no more change!’”

Controversy of the Year 1:Hair has become more controversial than the bomb (which now seems to be passé as the subject for cocktail conversation and soapbox platitudes).”

Controversy of the Year 2: Scottsdale Community College’s choice of the artichoke as its mascot. Only 11 percent of students voted on the issue, rejecting the other candidates: the Rutabagas and the Scoundrels.

 
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1973

Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationwide, meaning Valley women no longer had to sneak off to shady doctors in Nogales. PHOENIX magazine had described the pre-abortion era in a surprising article about the Clergy Consultation Service – a group of clergymen who helped women get abortions. A woman could call a hotline, and a clergyman arranged for two psychiatrists and an obstetrician to write notes saying she’d commit suicide if she remained pregnant. If the hospital’s abortion committee approved it, the obstetrician performed the termination.  

Disaster of the Year: The oil crisis. “A negative mood seems to be sweeping the country,” the publisher wrote. “With the economy slowing at year’s end, the energy crisis and the multitude of other problems upon us, we look nostalgically for that once-positive ‘Arizona spirit.’”

Sport of the Year: Yoga tennis. “The secret of yoga tennis is a quiet mind,” instructor Baba Rick explains. “Perfect tennis is in us all. It’s not a question of learning something outside and bringing it in; it’s discovering the tennis we already know.”

 


 

1974

Arizona weathered the oil crisis far better than Midwesterners and Easterners, who shivered through a severe winter with their heaters on low. Many decided to scrape the ice off their windshields, wait in line for gas, and move west. Consequently, Arizona continued its reign as America’s fastest growing state. In 1974, one in 12 Phoenicians had lived here less than a year, and Arizonans reveled in one of the fastest growing personal income rates.

Cultural Icon of the Year: Ma Bell. Not a Southern matriarch but the nickname for the telephone company, Ma Bell was the Google of her day. According to one article, Phoenicians called her up to ask everything from “What is the population of Hawaii?” to “Is Barry Goldwater at home now?” “On occasion, housewives who’ve stepped out of the range of the television during a cooking show will call the telephone company for the recipe they missed,” the magazine noted. “Sales firms... call[ed] to find out what the population was and whether or not it was worthwhile to send a sales representative to the area.”

WTF of the year: “[Among Phoenix Suns wives] the consensus was that marriage to a pro ball player can be very enjoyable indeed. Also comfortable, since minimum salary in the NBA is approximately $20,000.”

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1975

Looking through past issues, you feel as if the mid-century masses are staring at you through ginormous glasses and muttering darkly, “Don’t say we didn’t warn you.” Multiple articles plea for the creation of mass transit before we get tangled in a spaghetti pile of freeways. In one feature, a business manager says Arizona could be the solar energy capital of the world, but “if we as citizens of the state sit by passively, hoping that the federal government will do it or that it will somehow get done all by itself, we’re fooling ourselves.” The time to take action, the magazine declared, is now. Forty years later, the time to take action is still now. 

Trending: Witchcraft. “It is the opinion of a growing number of occultists that Phoenix may soon become the psychic center of the country, due in large part to the warm climate. ‘It’s easier to project good vibes when you feel good’ seems to be the general explanation.” 

Wildly Inaccurate Prediction of the Year:  “Phoenix may soon become the psychic center of the country.”

 


 

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1977

After the Don Bolles assassination and a series of land fraud cases, a team of national investigative reporters spent months in Arizona probing white collar crime, fraud and drug-dealing. A 23-part investigative series bashing Arizona was splashed across newspapers from coast to coast. “Their findings... were misleading, at best, and presented a distorted view,” PHOENIX’s publisher complained. Similarly, the Bill Moyers documentary Arizona – Here We Come, which investigated growth and water shortages, “was biased, inaccurate, and... inferred that all Arizona homebuilders were ‘money-grubbing’... How many people are there throughout the country who think Arizona is literally overrun by crooks?”

Wildly Inaccurate Prediction of the Year: “If gas prices climb high enough... we might, one fine future day, find ourselves once again waiting on the nation’s corners for buses... We might, in the future, be forced to talk to each other, be with each other, and who knows? We might even learn to like each other.”

Trending: Celebrity astrology. “This year brings many new and unusual friendships for Tex Earnhardt (Sagittarius). Your marriage and public image are solid. You have new ideas which will come forth. Here’s to a prosperous year for Tex Earnhardt!”

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As we say goodbye to the 1970s – history’s most embarrassing sartorial slip-up – let’s pause to recognize “The Year of Our Ugliest Covers.” Our January model (pictured on page 97) was a man wearing plaid pants, a sneaker, a scuba flipper and a mustard-yellow golf cap to match his hot dog. In April, some genius thought it’d be a good idea to put a female mannequin on a cover devoted to Women with Power. The September issue featured a fitness freak reading about sports medicine while perched on a stationary bike with his feet on the handlebars – a bizarre sight outdone only by his lemon chiffon-colored terrycloth trousers. And December has burnt on our brains an image we never wanted to see: Santa’s pale upper thigh.

WTF of the Year: As if papaya-hued pantsuits weren’t enough to doom people to singlehood, an article offers daters this advice: “What do you say after you say hello? Experts suggest you do not launch into a discussion of the dangers of radiation exposure or the evils of contaminated milk or your disgust at price fixing on bread... [Instead] try to find something in common, they suggest, like maybe, ‘Have you installed any solar heating equipment lately?’ or ‘When’s the last time you visited the 91st Avenue Sewage Treatment Plant?’”

 


 

1978

“The disco rage has taken the Valley by storm,” the magazine announced. “Being single and trying not to be is the name of the game – and it’s hard, often frustrating work... An even more subtle trend is at work as well, courtesy of Saturday Night Fever and Looking for Mr. Goodbar – a blasé indifference and pointed emphasis on showmanship and the hunt rather than fun. The clothes sparkle and flash, but the faces don’t; the dance is no longer a celebration of music and body, but a vehicle for an unsmiling, calculated performance – a solitary ritual.”

Person of the Year: Editor and PHOENIX magazine co-founder Anita Welch, who died in May at age 56. Publisher Kenneth Welch, her husband, described her as “a gracious lady” and “a beautiful and gentle person... Her contribution [to the magazine] was immense, and her happiness in the endeavor was always apparent.”

Trending: “Clingy bodysuits in neon colors, liquid satins, swirls of figure-framing fabrics... And accessories? Simply outrageous.”

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1980

Every once in a while it’s refreshing to look back in time and see how far we’ve come. In an article about the proposed (and never passed) Equal Rights Amendment, writer Jana Bommersbach told of a Superior Court judge who refused to grant a divorce because the woman had kept her maiden name. The article “A Homosexual Fights for a Chance at Parenthood” describes how a judge turned down a gay couple’s request to adopt in 1978 because “he wouldn’t put a child into a home where a felony [cohabitation without marriage] was being committed.” Not long after, Arizona reclassified cohabitation as a misdemeanor but – shockingly – didn’t decriminalize it until 2001.

Irony of the Year: In July, the federal government hosted a series of conferences to discuss – cue the violins – American family values such as respect, harmony and the Golden Rule. In Arizona, selection of the delegates devolved into shouting matches culminating with the “pro-family” contingent slapping a restraining order on the steering committee.

person of the year: Olympic gold medalist and former Phoenician Jesse Owens, subject of the 2016 movie Race, died on March 31 in Tucson. “His gentleness, patience and forgiving heart did more for race relations than all of the violence and revolution ever undertaken,” PHOENIX magazine’s publisher wrote.

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1981

The more things change, the more they stay the same. After the departure of editor Manya Winstead (later the founding editor of Phoenix Home & Garden), managing editor Jeff Burger injected more controversial topics into the magazine. The divisive articles about “illegal aliens,” marijuana legalization and racism could have been written today.

Rant of the Year: Because we believe in freedom of speech, we won’t censor Shirley Whitlock, president of the Arizona Eagle Forum, and her tit-for-tat justification for banning books she doesn’t like: “The devotion of the founders of this nation to God and the Bible has been censored from history books... The Ten Commandments are censored from school. The theory of evolution (unprovable by scientific testing and logic) is presented as fact while the creation theory is censored, in spite of support from a growing body of eminent scientists... The Arizona Department of Education has published... a comprehensive outline for censoring all words, phrases and/or pictures which feminists consider ‘sexual stereotyping.’”

Trending: The Nancy Reagan look. “Be you Republican or be you Democrat,  prepare to hoop de do it like First Lady Nancy Reagan does” with blue sequined tops, taffeta skirts and “wide sashes tied into big, big bows.” 

 

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1983

After the Swinging Sixties and Super Seventies, singles were spent. “Whatever happened to those mod, hip, liberal, bell-bottomed, beaded, everything-is-beautiful swinging singles of the early 1970s?” asked writer Carrie Sears. “[F]ew [singles] are bragging about their wonderful free-to-be-me lifestyles. The early years of this decade have been marked by the revival of traditional church weddings, the upsurge of incurable herpes and the resurrection of the attitude that the nuclear family unit is the American Way.” Nevertheless, the early ’80s also saw the national divorce rate climax. For every two marriages licensed by Maricopa County, one ended in divorce. “It is no secret,” Doug MacEachern wrote, “that Arizona is considered a transient state where couples from elsewhere discover that they couldn’t leave their marital problems behind.”

Quote of the Year 1: “Phoenix is a great place for sushi. It’s the pits for turning left.” 

– Channel 3 host Jan D’Atri

Quote of the Year 2: “Phoenix is extremely exciting if nightlife doesn’t mean anything to you.” 

– cartoonist Steve Benson

Quote of the Year 3: “Phoenix is a place with all the vitality of a young spring colt.” 

– historian Marshall Trimble

 

1982

“Restaurants are to people in the ’80s what theater was to people in the ’60s,” wrote Nora Ephron in When Harry Met Sally. How right she was: 1982’s most talked-about articles were Jeff Burger and Diane Duffy’s searing restaurant reviews: “Looking for a hearty, first-rate German meal? We’ve spent a month searching for one, and the news is not good.” “We take no pleasure in reporting what we found at the Elephant Bar... We got a baked potato topped with almost-rotten cheddar cheese and pineapple garnishes that were rotten. The service... was rather rotten too.” The Letters section turned into an epistolary food fight: “I was amazed and enraged by your eating establishment recommendations, namely Livia’s... I rate this place 100 below zero.” “Your restaurant guide is done so professionally.” “Your restaurant reviewers are very amateurish.”

Letter of the Year: “The worst dining experience I have ever had took place at Finch’s in Scottsdale... My wife found a live cricket in her pâté. Five to 10 minutes later, the other gentleman in our party was ‘graced’ with yet another cricket, crawling up the lapel of his jacket. I had the hot spinach soup. The sixth spoonful produced a seven-inch, blonde hair in my mouth... It took some 30 minutes to get our bill. During this time, a third cricket was crawling down the wall towards my wife.” – Charles R. Moody

WTF of the Year: Burger and Duffy complained that many restaurants had “menus for women with prices deleted.” This was a thing?!

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1985

“The trend is oversized,” announced an ad for Diamond’s. Oversized sweaters with oversized shoulder pads and oversized sleeves that resembled flying squirrels were outsized only by oversized financial goals. Robin Leach might have written the headline “The Rich Get Richer, and You Can Too.” A publisher’s letter asks, “Do our readers measure up?” And the answer is yes – because they make a lot of moolah. “With a median of $274,254 and an average of $399,775, PHOENIX magazine readers are third in net worth” compared to city magazine readers elsewhere. In this financial Olympics, PHOENIX readers beat San Diego readers in household income, trounced Denver readers in home value, and came third nationally in Mercedes ownership (damn you, Dallas and D.C.!).

Trending: Baroque fashions: lace, high collars, and long skirts. It’s “an opulent look” and “a rich look.” Euro-style: For men, the “trend is toward luxury and Old-World elegance.” Excess: “Print on print on print,” snakeskin sequins, and “colors [that] clash, collide and coincide.”

Also Trending: Cocaine. According to the article Coke Is In, an estimated 70,000 Arizonans were doing lines. Admissions for treatment of cocaine abuse in Maricopa County jumped 100 percent from 1983 to 1984 because, the writer explained adorably, “South America had a bumper cocoa crop last year. Cocaine is extracted from cocoa leaves.” It’s actually coca. And you know you’re in the ’80s when you read this: “Mail-order magazine ads sell an ‘executive kit’ for using cocaine with a gold-plated spoon and a gold-plated razor blade.”

 

1984

Signs suggested George Orwell’s annus horribilis was upon us. Big Brother: “Surveillance cameras are everywhere – in banks, grocery stores, Entz-White, and even the neighborhood bar.” Newspeak: “Reagan’s men are talking ‘acceptable losses’ in a ‘limited nuclear war.’” The Ministry of Truth: “Army officials say the press is not likely to be allowed to cover future military actions because the government doesn’t want the public to get a negative impression of war.” The Ministry of Peace: “‘Peacemaker’ missile means a nuke designed to exterminate large populations. ‘Peace-keeping forces,’ meanwhile, are Marines at war in Lebanon, and ‘rescue mission’ means invasion of Grenada.” (The missile’s name was later changed to Peacekeeper; the Reagan administration thought Peacemaker sounded like pacemaker.)  

Tacky Tagline of the Year: Starting in August, the magazine’s covers featured an oh-so-’80s tagline: “What Success Subscribes To.” Gordon Gekko would approve.

WTF of the year: Announcing Terry Goddard’s Phoenix Community Alliance, the magazine opined “If the alliance had come together under Mayor Margy Hance, the cry inevitably would have been ‘elitist.’”

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PHM0516W 50YRS 36 1986

The International Year of Peace (so designated by the United Nations) spread to the pages of PHOENIX in our 20th anniversary year, with innocuous cover stories on gardening, home repair, a salute to summer and Southwest holidays. Just how folksy was 1986? The July cover featured a red, white and blue ribbon atop a cowboy boot with the headline “Rusty Spur Awards: For all the sidewindin’, bushwhackin’, ornery, low-down polecats who rode sidesaddle across our range.”

Trending: One-percenters. An October piece on upwardly mobile do-gooders bore the tagline “Rich, Young & Classy: The Valley’s New Power People”; the same issue included pieces debating the pros and cons of creating artificial lakes and proffering lifestyle tips for lakefront property owners. September’s fashion issue promised “The American Aristocrat Reigns,” with preppy looks ripped straight from the Kennedy compound.

No. 1 Reason We Love 1986: The news snippet on Glendale safety officer Merrill Cox, known as “Merrill the Magician” for his prowess in the art of illusion. “In his presentations to city employees, Cox skillfully blends magic and safety tips that help employees remember vital information,” Carol Osman Brown wrote. A West Valley safety wizard? Yes, please.

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1987

Amid the spectacular growth of the 1980s, the magazine raged against housing developments popping up in the Phoenix Mountains foothills (for which publisher Ken Welch blamed Phoenix City Council and their “indifference bordering on arrogance”) and Valley traffic systems (“examples of poor work by the state abound,” Welch lamented, citing navigational woes around Terminal 3 at Sky Harbor as exhibit A). Republicans, pink flamingos, croissants and Steven Spielberg were “out”; Cognac, ruffle skirts, the Mill Avenue Shops and desktop publishing were “in”; the Phoenix Open moved to Scottsdale; and immigration was already an issue (“Increasing waves of Hispanic refugees threaten cultural strife in the Southwest,” a November article asserted). 

Quote of the Year: Governor Bruce Babbitt announced his intention to run for U.S. president in the January issue. “What’s the difference between [being governor] and running for the presidency?” he quipped. “The plane rides are longer, that’s all.” 

Question of the Year: “Is it a hyperventilating thrill for you to sit and watch a Saguaro grow?” (The “Are You Insufferably Dull?” quiz in the May issue wants to know, along with “Have career counselors ever seriously recommended that you become a radio mime?”) 

 

1988

The April issue roasts former Governor Evan Mecham (who was impeached that month) with a series of gauche jokes including “Q. Why did Governor Mecham cancel Easter? A. He found out the eggs were colored.” That same issue noted “We are flocking to plastic surgeons in record numbers,” while subsequent issues celebrated the development of the Scottsdale corridor and toasted the opening of the new Ritz-Carlton. “City Update” progress reports show that aside from government jobs, the major employer in Metro Phoenix was Samaritan Health Services.  

Letter of the Year: In the September issue, Trish Durbin of Glendale writes, “Us yokels out here in the boonies of Glendale shore are grateful... It’s right nice of you to put your ole publicashun on our bookstalls way over here in the outer reaches of civilizashun, considerin you don’t hardly acknowlij our existence inside your covers.”

Biggest “Ew” Moment: The “1988 Rusty Spur Awards” (sort of a “worst of the Valley” roundup), quotes Senator John McCain on Mecham’s impeachment making national news: “(Rep. Jon) Kyl and I couldn’t get on the front page of The Washington Post unless we were child molesters.”

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1989

The decade came to a close with many Phoenix “firsts”: U of A star point guard Steve Kerr was new to the Phoenix Suns, the new Camelback Esplanade got its initial tenants (including Apple Computer, Inc.; Wesley’s Jewelers; and Houston’s Restaurants), the Herberger Theater Center debuted, and the first annual Art Detour event took place in Downtown Phoenix. Prominent Phoenicians Kemper Marley, Kevin Johnson and Fife Symington appeared on covers, and the founder of PHOENIX retired with this statement in the May issue: “Ken Welch has retired, but he is not a retiring person. He has cleaned out his office, removing nearly a quarter-century of memorabilia. But his spirit dominates our workplace.” 

Cover Line of the Year: “Are Right-Wing Wackos Threatening Religious Freedom?” the July cover asked, with this single line of text above a U.S. flag with the stars replaced by crosses.     

Inaccurate Prediction of the Year: “The neighborhood movement is not the wave of the future.” – Phoenix City Manager Marvin Andrews in a June 1989 story about local homeowner’s associations fighting construction of the Squaw (now Piestewa) Peak Parkway. Homeowner associations have continued to proliferate and now govern more than 25 million homes nationwide.

 

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1990

Another year of “new.” Phoenix Fire Station No. 1 was razed to make way for America West Arena; construction began on the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale; Grand Canyon Railway was back on track; restaurateur Christopher Gross launched Christopher’s and The Bistro; and Terminal 4 opened at Sky Harbor. According to “Terminal 4 Trivia” in the November issue, you could “fill twenty backyard pools with all the water running through the terminal’s cooling system.” Back to school necessities included a Guess shoulder bag, L.A. Gear “hi-top” sneakers, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sweater. 

Cover Line of the Year: “Good Will Toward Moon Puppies?” the December cover inquired, adding, “It’s wearing thin at the Vortex as Sedona reacts to the New Age.”

Unexpected Recipe of the Year: “I ended up making twenty-five dozen tamales all by myself – with my mother calling out instructions from her sick bed. You had to grind the corn and mix it with the lard, you had to grind the chiles, and you had to shred the meat. Today there are short cuts, but back then, forget it. That’s why I still make the best tamales in town.” – Phoenix City Councilmember Mary Rose Wilcox, on her most memorable Christmas


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1991

This was The Year We Lost the Super Bowl, thanks to voters rejecting a ballot initiative to reinstate a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. (which impeached Governor Mecham had abolished in 1987). But as we mourned the loss of the sporting event, we celebrated new retail/nightclub complexes like the Arizona Center (“the sandbox to lure the young and the beautiful into the heart of town after dark,” enthused features editor Laura Greenberg) and Superstition Springs Mall (“a mall with the small fry in mind looks like a winner,” according to writer Lori K. Baker). We also fêted the magazine’s 25th anniversary and profiled Senator Barry Goldwater, who told us, “You know, I voted against televising the Congress, and now it’s my favorite program. I bought a new television set so I can sit here and watch these crazy things.”

Quip of the Year: Humorist Erma Bombeck, speaking about Rose Mofford at a Kidney Foundation luncheon: “We have one of the few governors in the country who has her hair styled by Dairy Queen.”

Crappiest/Fishiest Restaurant Criticisms of the Year: “I take the advice of our clearly inept waitress... she pooh-poohs my poached pears selection” (Nikki Buchanan on The Compass) and “If meals were fish, I’d throw this one back” (Buchanan on the Salt Cellar).

 

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1993

In their 25th year, the Phoenix Suns painted the town purple and orange. In a decade where many PHOENIX magazine cover lines posed questions, the January issue asked, “Is this the Suns’ year to shine?” And the answer was a resounding “yes,” thanks largely to Charles Barkley, who helped take the Suns to the NBA Finals and nabbed MVP honors. The April issue explored Women in the ’90s, spotlighting female entrepreneurs and the wives of prominent Arizona businessmen and politicians. Several pages of ink were also devoted to Tempe band the Gin Blossoms, who landed three top 40 Billboard hits, and to the battle between developers and preservationists over the Grand Canyon. In November, Jana Bommersbach’s long-running column “Jana’s View” debuted. 

Event of the Year: The Phoenix Suns making the NBA Finals

Wildly Inaccurate Prediction of the Year: “Home buyers will want rooms wired as communication centers, with hookups for computers, video machines, music centers, and other devices, including fuel cells for electric vehicles.” (Outlook 2000, March 1993)

1992

The MLK holiday continued to be a hot topic, as people headed back to the polls to vote on it again. Civil Rights pioneer Rosa Parks (above) – the featured speaker at the King breakfast in Phoenix that year – urged supporters to “Be courageous and be persistent and be diligent.” For the first time, PHOENIX raised its glass to Arizona wine, with a feature that spotlighted the “pretentious little Zinfandels” of Sonoita. Arizona ranchers and environmentalists engaged in political wrangling summed up by conservationist Jim Ruch: “There’s a wall of distrust between ‘rabid, tree-hugging environmentalists’ and ‘red-necked, Neanderthal cowboys.’ It is frustrating communication.”

WTF Graphic Design of the Year: The March cover story What Do [Single] Men Want? (pictured right) features cut-and-paste images of cat heads on the bodies of men dressed in business suits, lifting weights shirtless, and playing guitar in neon spandex.

Letter of the Year: Katrina Butler of Mesa got so wrapped up in reading the aforementioned story at her doctor’s office that she dozed off and got locked in, triggering the burglar alarm: “I was wondering if you could refrain from writing so well as to captivate your readers to the point of near altercation with the law. Police officers take a dim view of breaking and exiting.”

 

 

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1994

The Phoenix Cardinals became the Arizona Cardinals, and Arizona’s reputation as a gun-loving state was reinforced by a feature on “The NRA in Arizona.” Mom-and-pop bookstores are endangered by chains, a March feature insisted, and will likely go out of business (“This is retail war like the gas station wars of the seventies,” said Peter Barbey, owner of since-shuttered Houle Books). The ill-fated Planet Hollywood at Biltmore Fashion Park opened, drawing celebs including Sylvester Stallone (“I thought we were in Aspen”) and ire from features editor Laura Greenberg (“Everyone has this fraternity/sorority kind of coolness, like they just finished reading lines for Melrose Place”).  

Quote of the Year: If they made a movie of my life... I’d want Bea Arthur to play me. She’s tall like I am, and she has a good sense of humor, which I try to have. I once played her in a skit of Dup’s Golden Girls that I wrote and performed with some other friends of Sheriff Clarence Dupnik when he was running for re-election.” – Rose Mofford, former governor of Arizona

Timeless Trend of the Year: The art salon revival. Valley-based Spirit of the Senses art salon (est. 1983) was featured in the July issue. It continues to hold monthly salons.

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1995

“A Phoenix expert says sexual harassment in the workplace is becoming the epidemic of the nineties,” read the deck in our January issue. But the epidemic of the 90s in PHOENIX magazine were O.J. Simpson jokes and references, which occurred with such abundance in the front pages of the magazine one might think his murder trial actually took place in Phoenix. One star athlete who was here was Michael Jordan, who was playing for the minor league Scottsdale Scorpions baseball team and golfing with Charles Barkley, according to a story in our April issue – also our first-ever Top Docs issue. The year wrapped up with an extensive feature anticipating the Valley hosting its first Super Bowl the following year.

Quote of the Year: “We love the heat. When we first moved here from Philadelphia in 1959, Thel and I used to sleep on the patio – the sky was like black velvet, and you could really see the stars then. No, the hot weather doesn’t bother us. Obviously, we have a summer home in Yuma.” – Family Circle cartoonist Bil Keane  

Self-Evident “Predictions” of the Year: An astrologer did Phoenix’s horoscope in our February issue, “predicting” that the city – a Pisces “governed by the planet Neptune’s elusive and intangible vibration” – would see an increase in temperatures, traffic, tourism and crime.

 

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1996

Local boy David Spade, who joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1990, embarked on a film career and graced our February cover, while we paid tribute to another Arizona icon – beloved humor columnist Erma Bombeck, who died in April – in our June issue. Trends included haute biker couture (PHOENIX mag featured at least three fashion spreads on the style throughout the decade), kombucha, skin lasering and buying homes in North Scottsdale. PHOENIX mag observed its 30th anniversary and profiled then-Secretary of State Jane Hull (who became governor when Fife Symington resigned amidst indictments). But the story of the year was the continuing development of Downtown Phoenix, where Bank One Ballpark (now Chase Field) was under construction.

Event of the Year: For Valley football fans, it was Super Bowl XXX, in which the Dallas Cowboys became the first NFL team to win three Super Bowls in four seasons when they held off a 4th quarter comeback by the Pittsburgh Steelers to win 27-17 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.

Wildly Inaccurate Prediction of the Year: Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza “says experts predict that the thirty-minute trip today from Metrocenter to Sky Harbor International Airport will increase to ninety minutes after the turn of the century!”

1997

Valley culture was in flux in 1997. PHOENIX profiled Valley female blues musicians, chatted with Mayor Skip Rimsza about parking garages in Downtown Phoenix and heralded the curtain rising on the Orpheum Theatre after 12 years and $14 million in renovations – all good news for Phoenix culture vultures. Meanwhile, “Mexican drug deals” meant bargain Prozac and Valium sourced from farmacías across the border, not bloody cartel battles. 

Quote of the Year: Former Phoenix mayor Terry Goddard presciently illustrated the strain between development and historical preservation in a feature on the latter. “The Luhrs Hotel being torn down [in 1984] brought home to all of us how much we needed an ordinance and a cooling off period. It became clear that something needed to be done.” 

Irony of the Year: After the second successful year of publishing Top Docs, which has since become a PHOENIX mag institution, the editors sent a confidential, in-home survey to Valley nurses asking, “Which doctors would you trust with your life?” Ironic, because we still field questions – angry, indignant and otherwise – every year about nurse inclusion. “Now, what’ll it be next year?” our journalistic forebears wrote, somewhat defensively. This back-and-forth is a tale as old as Top Docs

 

1998

“Death comes unexpectedly!” Karl Malden boomed as Reverend Ford in the 1960 Hayley Mills film Pollyanna. In no year was that truer than 1998, in which death was a plague on nearly every issue, from July’s reverent retrospective of recently departed Senator Barry M. Goldwater (“Mr. Arizona”) and investigative report on Debra Milke’s alleged murder of her son Christopher to October’s Splendors of Ancient Egypt, “the first blockbuster exhibit of the new Phoenix Art Museum,” featuring sarcophagi and an 18-foot-long Book of the Dead papyrus scroll.   

Icons of the Year: The Arizona Diamondbacks, who played their inaugural season at what was then Bank One Ballpark. “It looms over Phoenix, squatting above the downtown area like one of the alien ships from Independence Day,” Terry Bledsoe wrote of the field.  

Embarrassing Quote of the Year: This one’s literal, as ASU communications professor Sandra Petronio coined the term “strategic embarrassment,” or using embarrassment as a behavior modifier. “Successful strategic embarrassment takes skill, thought and thorough knowledge of the target’s personality, Petronio says. ‘It backfires all the time,’ she says. ‘It can be an effective strategy on a short-term basis, but it’s also very risky.’” With all due respect, she’s not on our shortlist for our next cocktail party.

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Were the people of Phoenix whipped into a frenzy over Y2K? Not so much – in news stories, at least. In the dining section, it was a different matter. “As you may have heard,” Crown Wines manager Wendy Lamer wrote in the December issue’s “By the Glass” column, “there’s been a sort of Millennial Madness associated with New Year’s Eve 1999. Many resorts and restaurants around the country have been hoarding big-name sparkling wines for the past two years in anticipation of the ‘celebration to end all celebrations.’” Because if it was the end of the world as we knew it, we’d at least have Champagne.

Quote of the Year: An excerpt from Sierra Vista author Christine Thomas’ bitter manifesto Second Wives: The Silent Struggle. “An ex-wife can easily play the helpless little woman in court and win a free ride for life.” This was definitely pre-“conscious uncoupling.”

Controversy of the Year: Feuds for Thought, a feature on “Who’s Fighting Whom in the Valley of the Sun” in the July issue, had a few hits – Sheriff Joe Arpaio vs. Maricopa County attorney Rick Romley, Skip Rimsza vs. Sal DiCiccio – and at least one head-scratching miss: the Roadrunner vs. the Coyote. Heh?  

 

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2000

We made it into the new millennium! To celebrate, PHOENIX shot a futuristic fashion spread at the Arizona Science Center and Burton Barr Central Library. “For the Millennium, designers are liberating classic styles – blending high-tech materials with natural fabrics for a fresher look and a more comfortable fit.” Meanwhile, “Street Talk” columnist David Schwartz solicited New Year’s resolutions from Valley notables, which leads us to the... 

Wildly Inaccurate Prediction(s) of the Year: Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s resolution was “to be ‘kinder and gentler’ and keep off the 45 pounds he lost. He also resolved to get one cartoonist to draw him as he is, and not make him look ‘like I’m 300 pounds.’” Arizona Republic cartoonist Steve Benson’s retort: “My New Year’s resolution is to diminish Joe Arpaio’s fat ego.”

No. 1 Reason We Love 2000: We scooped Hollywood’s What Women Want by nine months with our March issue cover story: What Do Valley Women Really Think? It’s no Ms., but the issue atoned for some of the mag’s earlier sexist sins, with real women given a platform to talk about “sex, men, careers, home, family, infidelity, crime, plastic surgery, feminism, aging, heroes, regrets...” with no mention of their eye color or bust size.  

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2001

The magazine seemed to be settling into its groove with what have become our evergreen issues, including Top Docs, Summer Getaways, Best New Restaurants and Best of the Valley. The December issue proved we’re powerless to resist an anniversary: We celebrated Phoenix in the 1960s with a Flashback special 35th anniversary issue. Sadly, Phoenix At Night, the March issue’s cover theme, has not become a PHOENIX mag monolith.

Trending: “On-line shopping,” as it was so quaintly punctuated. “A gigabyte of tomatoes, two megabytes of olive oil and a pixel of basil, and you have a great recipe for cyber spaghetti,” writer Melissa Morrison jested in a pro/con piece on buying groceries on the information superhighway.

Tackiest Tagline of the Year: The dek (magazine parlance for sub-headline) on the June issue’s Rating the Gyms: “20 of the Hottest Valley Sweatshops.” Maybe not the best wordplay in the year Nike’s sweatshop allegations reached a fever pitch, and 52 garment workers died in a factory fire in Bangladesh. 

 

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2002

We brought national tragedies home with our 2002 coverage, from Jana Bommersbach’s profile of Valley psychiatrist Dr. Steven Pitt, who headed a team of experts who conducted a “psychiatric autopsy” on Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in the June issue, to Senator John McCain’s reflection on September 11 a year after the towers fell in the September issue.  

Trending: Sushi bars. “Uncooked and all the rage, sushi and its many variations are more popular than ever – if you don’t believe it, try getting a seat at Sapporo,” food critic Nikki Buchanan wrote in the March issue. “Nowadays, more and more people are willing to give sushi a whirl, as long as they’re not required to come face-to-face with a hefty slab of raw fish.” Shhh, don’t tell Lori Hashimoto at Hana about our previous ignorance.

Quote of the Year: Self-described “pot lawyer” W. Michael Walz’s defense of his marijuana-using clients. “I don’t think any less of a person because they smoke a joint. Or even sell to other people. Or even transport a large amount. That doesn’t bother me, because it’s not enabling people to get marijuana who would otherwise be unable to get it. It’s everywhere. I’d trust them to baby-sit my kids, no problem.”

Biggest Seller: More than 32,000 copies of Top Docs (April 2002) were sold on newsstands, an all-time PHOENIX record.

2003

Girls Gone Wild shenanigans made their way to Phoenix, and at least one prominent columnist was none too pleased. In the July issue, longtime PHOENIX magazine columnist Jana Bommersbach huffed that “young women think it’s ‘cool’ and ‘fun’ to flash their breasts and other private parts in bars full of drunken men.” If she was scandalized by “the girls boozed-up on Finlandia vodka and Red Bull energy drinks in the video bus,” we can only imagine her shock at the sexcapades of the selfie generation. 

Person of the Year: Sonny Barger, the Hells Angels leader who made his home in Phoenix and found it difficult to adjust to regular life. “The grief and stress have finally taken their toll and the world’s most famous Hells Angel has suffered an emotional breakdown,” Terry Greene Sterling wrote.

Controversy of the Year: “There’s a 10,000-pound elephant sitting in the middle of Arizona, and nobody wants to mention it... Is it significant that both chambers of the Arizona Legislature are led by Mormons?” Bommersbach wrote in her October column examining a possible “Mormon agenda.” After sharing a bigoted back-and-forth between Capitol press corp members – “I suppose there are fruitcakes in every religion, we just seem to have an inordinate number of them in the Legislature,” an anonymous source said – Bommersbach took the high road. Mormons “are doing nothing more than we ask good citizens to do – they vote.”

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2004

The culture of fear and paranoia that set in post-9/11 was alive and well in 2004, with such cheery headlines as “Is the Valley Ready for a Terrorist Attack?” and “Nuclear Fallout in Northern Arizona,” not to mention amped-up crime coverage with pieces like Child Brides: A Look at the Victims of Polygamy, and The Guys Who Clean Up the Valley’s Worst Crime Scenes. 

Letter of the Year: “I enjoy PHOENIX magazine, but the problem I see is that all your information is geared for the East Valley... There are many people, interesting places and restaurants found in the West Valley. I wish you would consider publishing articles that also pertain to those of us west of Central Avenue.” – Cathy Tagliaferri, Sun City. This letter could have been mailed to us yesterday; that’s how timeless the West Valley feelings of underrepresentation are.

Cultural Icons of the Year: The Heard Museum and the Biltmore both celebrated 75 years! To commemorate the milestones, we crowed about their most famous visitors – Presidents Herbert Hoover and Bill Clinton, Senator Barry Goldwater, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Vincent Price at the Heard; and various presidents, Billy Joel, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Liza Minnelli at the Biltmore.

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2005

It was the year of Governor Janet Napolitano. “Can Anyone Beat Her?” the headline of David Leibowitz’s in-depth profile pondered in the July issue. “Her approval ratings are extremely high, and all of the GOP’s big-name challengers have thrown in the towel. Clearly, the governor is in the catbird seat, which is why she’d rather talk about policy than politics – she has a lot on her plate and a lot on her mind” as a Democrat in a Republican state.

Trending: Local food products. “Almost everyone knows about Coldstone Creamery and Poore Brothers Potato Chips, but there are dozens of other local food products making names for themselves,” Elan Head wrote in the January issue’s “Made in Arizona” feature. Many – like Fairytale Brownies, Laura’s Gourmet Granola and Cerreta Candy Company – are still in heavy rotation in the PHOENIX magazine office. 

Tackiest Tagline of the Year: Who Earns What! from the March issue. Apparently the editorial staff felt compelled to exclaim about “how much some of your fellow Phoenicians are taking home each year.” It’s great – getting all the rudeness out on the cover of a magazine, instead of reserving such indecorous questions for cocktail parties.

Why We Love 2005: It marked the groundbreaking of Valley Metro Light Rail.

 

 

 

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2006

Even before Donald Trump got into the habit of touting his penis size at nationally televised presidential debates, he was stirring up controversy in Arizona. “I’d never have given Donald Trump the zoning to build a multi-story high-rise... the city council is going to regret that decision,” columnist Jana Bommersbach wrote of a Trump-fronted condo-hotel development. Ultimately, it was a moot issue – the economy was imploding, and with it Trump’s plan to deprive Biltmore-area homeowners of their lovely Camelback Mountain views. In other 2006 news: The immigration debate heated up big-time, typified by this unfortunate statement by local radio talk-jock Brian James: “What we’ll do is randomly pick one night – every week – where we will kill whoever crosses the border.”

Dubious Endorsement of the Year: “Although he’s only a backup, there’s little doubt [Cardinals quarterback] Matt Leinart is destined for greatness.” 

Dubious Endorsement of the Year, Part II: “[John] Junker is most faithful to the singular entity known as The Bottom Line,” we wrote in a glowing January profile of the Fiesta Bowl honcho, who was ultimately fired and imprisoned for massive fiscal misconduct.

Trending: Women who marry prison inmates. “I like to believe not everybody who gets arrested did what they [allegedly] did,” said one lucky lady in our February issue.

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2007

In a final, giddy spasm of wealth-worship before the Great Recession, PHOENIX encouraged its readers to charge like there was no tomorrow in 2007. In March, we unleashed our Most Expensive Things in the Valley issue, in which Suns guard Raja Bell is informatively posed in a Bentley roadster ($204,000!) sporting a modest Ernst Benz timepiece ($19,500!). Later, in Best Places to Live, we awarded Scottsdale the top spot, partly on the premise that it boasts “a quarter million people and at least that many Mercedes.” And in over-fulfilling our service-journalism mandate, we bizarrely offered readers Sandwiches to Fly For, a travel feature in which the writer spotlighted “eight of the region’s best sandwiches – all of them within a quick, two-hour flight from Sky Harbor.” Try them all!

Confession of the Year: Given the dinnertime option of a burrito, pizza or burger, staunch anti-immigration lawmaker Russell Pearce is a burrito-man all the way: “I like ‘em verde, you know? The green sauce is hotter.”

Semi-Prescient Prediction: Officer-involved shootings have been making a lot of headlines lately. Are they an epidemic? Maybe. Maybe not.” 

In: The artful use of ellipses on our cover. 

Out: Payday loans. Regulations supported by Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard augurs the end of the high-interest loan centers in Arizona.

 

2008

With the mortgage crisis in full swing – and foreclosure filings up 566 percent from the previous year – PHOENIX switched to a more austere financial posture with The Money Issue, featuring debt-reduction hacks, employment advice and “15 Free Things to Do.” It proved to be our worst-selling issue of the decade. (Note to selves: More sandwich travel.) Meanwhile, Arizona’s migrant crisis was drawing national attention, spurred by Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s controversial immigration sweeps, which were ridiculed in an April editorial in the New York Times. Tackling the issue at the source, contributing editor Terry Greene Sterling and associate editor Adam Klawonn hit the road for Tales from the Border, a series of articles exploring the human, economic and ecological consequences of illegal immigration and enforcement. 

Letter of the Year: One reader was bemused by the “Eco-Pimp Your Home” guide in our green-minded November 2007 issue: “When did the word  ‘pimp’ as defined by Webster not mean ‘a man who solicits clients for prostitution’?” Our editor’s response: “We... feel it’s important to keep current with today’s vernacular.”

Why We Love 2008: It marked the debut of Amy’s Baking Company, which later achieved nationwide infamy on TV’s Kitchen Nightmares. Our critic called it “really good... just too expensive.” Verbal lashings and spectacular emotional meltdowns, not mentioned.

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2009 

Faced with a bleak economic present, we invited our readers to glimpse a brighter future in a series of booster-y, pro-growth Valley news stories. One article described plans to improve the Valley’s network of canals with shade parks and housing developments that would transform the city into “the Venice of the West.” Another story trumpeted an economic pact with the nation of Dubai that would sprout high-rise development in the heart of Downtown – albeit “not for another 20 years.” Our editors were even sanguine about education: “Take a closer look and you’ll find plenty of reasons to give Valley schools a big, fat gold star.” Meanwhile, Governor Janet Napolitano accepts a gig in Washington, clearing the way for the Jan Brewer era.

Trending: “The West Valley has become the competitive kicking off point for the biggest new sport on four legs: horse soccer.”

WTF of the year: A modest uptick in movie and TV production in the Valley had our editors seeing stars. Read one headline: “Screen City! Is Phoenix the Next Hollywood?” 

Quote of the Year: Twitter was still in its infancy, but we already had a healthy distrust of the microblogging site: “Sure it can spur riots and revolution in places like Iran, but really, is communicating in 140 characters or less really the kind of deep and nurturing communication we need in an increasingly complex world?”

 


 

2010

State park closures, SB 1070, the downfall of Maricopa Country Attorney Andy Thomas and the unveiling of the “Waste Management Open” all swirl together to make 2010 one of the most willy-nilly years in recent Valley history. So how did we cope? With sex and drugs, naturally. In our March issue – unofficially dubbed the “Sin and Bare It” issue by our editors – we offered readers an inside glimpse of the Valley’s notorious Goddess Temple, an “erotic church” assailed by critics as a thinly-disguised brothel. “An orgasm is a sacred and holy moment,” temple founder Tracy Elise tells us. In the same issue, we gained access to an underground medical marijuana clinic, where afflicted individuals could score pain-alleviating cannabis medicine in the days before Arizona’s voter-approved medical marijuana law. “The only thing that allows me to be a hairdresser, play guitar, have a normal range of motion is marijuana,” a patient claims.

Quote of the Year: “There was no working with Evel [Knievel],” motorcycle legend Gary Wells told us. “He was totally inferior. The man could not ride a motorcycle.”

Confession of the Year: ASU President Michael Crow is a fan of 80s frat comedy Animal House. “A fantastically funny movie,” he says. “Particularly the dead horse in the dean’s office.” 

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2011 

Undoubtedly the year’s most horrific event in Arizona, the Tucson mass-shooting, coaxes our editorial staff’s gun-law attitudes to the surface: “We must also consider blaming ourselves [for the shooting]... the same voters who put the levers of power in the hands of those who think guns in bars are a good thing.” The year wasn’t all doom and gloom. Anticipating Arizona’s 100th birthday in 2012, PHOENIX combs through its photo archives – including those of state agencies and public institutions – to compile a wire-to-wire overview of Arizona history that includes territorial bankrobbers, dusty lawmen, shrewd old-timey politicos and the complete story of the state’s founding. We also include an imaginary interview with inaugural Governor George Hunt, who confesses his fondness for a certain heat-resistant desert weed: “I enjoy listening to jazz music on my phonograph while in its throes.”

Egregious Cover Line of the Year: “Where to Score Stylish Wine Racks

Controversy of the Year: The Phoenix mayoral race between Republican Wes Gullet and Democrat Greg Stanton, which gave voters an unusual dose of partisan rancor in a town where “elections tend to be one-sided, nonpartisan and assiduously ignored by the majority of the voting public.”

 

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2012

A pink, screaming, post-recessionary Arizona was beginning to crown, and we celebrated with our very first Beer & Wine issue, outsourcing some of the specialized wine coverage but saving the nuts-and-bolts craft beer criticisms for ourselves, with sometimes inauspicious results. (Sample critique: “Great if you want to drink lots of beer.”) Sobering up, we turned our attention to the November elections, asking “Are we poised to become a swing state?” The answer: not really. Mitt Romney carried Arizona handily in a losing candidacy. 

Trending: Bath salts. “I made a shit-ton of money selling bath salts, and I don’t feel good about it,” one former retailer tells us. 

Insane (But Appealing) Idea of the Year: Bringing the Summer Olympics to Phoenix. How to make it non-deadly for athletes: Hold it in May.

Meme of the Year: The widely-circulated image of Governor Jan Brewer waving her finger in President Obama’s face during a January visit to the Valley. 

Person of the Year: Senator Jeff Flake. We predicted a tight race between the longtime Mesa congressman and former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona for Jon Kyl’s Senate seat, but it proved to be a typical drubbing for the fair-haired Republican. In the years since his victory, the genial Flake has represented Arizona capably and with dignity.

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2013

Putting Sheriff Joe Arpaio on our cover triggered a flood of letters, both complimentary (“He’s a true patriot and Arizona is blessed to have him”) and critical (“The current issue has been deliberately sequestered and shall remain so until next month’s is received”). But mostly critical: “His sins are also yours.” When we weren’t rehabilitating the sheriff, we were performing the same service for the housing market – “Real Estate is Back!” trumpeted our August cover – and the beleaguered Mexican tourism town of Rocky Point, which we deemed had been unfairly lumped in with cartel-violence capitals like Juarez and Acapulco. “One could make the argument [Rocky Point] is safer for Americans than, say, comparably-sized Goodyear, which saw 97 incidents of aggravated assault in 2010.” 

Prediction of the Year: In Joining the Union, we pegged Arizona as a same-sex marriage “battleground state” in the wake of a landmark Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act. By late 2014, it was legal.

Headline of the Year: Glock for Teacher for a Hot Topics op-ed on arming schools in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.

Headline of the Year, Runner Up: Workin’ Your Gherkin for a story about the tennis-like sport of pickleball.

People’s Choice

In December, we asked readers to invent an alternate name for seasonal residents, i.e. snowbirds. Our favorites:

“Traffic Cloggers”

“Seasonally Dependent Desert Dwellers”

“Snow Leopards”

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2014

The slaying of 19-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and subsequent riots set off a nationwide dialogue over officer-involved shootings and perceived police bias against black suspects. In December, PHOENIX examined the issue of police shootings of the mentally ill, and discovered that Arizona had the third-highest rate of officer-involved shooting fatalities nationally in 2013 among all suspects. But we also allowed this truism: “The public, especially with the increase of social media... is quick to weigh in on police actions, largely never knowing the full facts and considering the perception of the officers on call.” On a lighter note: hiking! Local Hikes proved our best-selling December issue ever, trading on the Valley’s virtues as an urban hiking mecca. “Where does Phoenix rank in the pantheon of great American hiking Metros?” According to PHOENIX hiking guru Mare Czinar: “It’s the best.”

Why We Love 2014: It was the year that gave us Little Miss BBQ

Couple of the Year: Peoria house fire victims Tiara Del Rio and Beau Zimbro, whose story of survival and side-by-side recovery made for a singular story of romance. “I realized I wouldn’t leave that house if I didn’t have her with me,” Zimbro told us.

Inaccurate Prediction of the Year: Four years into the economic recovery, Arizona’s unemployment rate was stalled at a high level, leading us to speculate that 8 percent was the “new normal.” Fortunately, that was premature. The jobless rate was merely 5.6 percent in January 2016.

2015

We started the year with our own “state of the state” assessment of Arizona and found the following: ailing public schools, an exodus of undocumented immigrants chased off by SB 1070, and a revitalized economy – with the possible caveat of new home-builds: “It could be another tepid year for home-starts, but otherwise, bullish.” We also anticipated a rehabilitated national profile with February’s Super Bowl in Glendale and Governor Jan Brewer’s sage vetoing of SB 1062, which many critics assailed as discriminatory to LGBT individuals. “Mind you, the chamber is far from empty,” Tempe pollster Michael O’Neil said of Arizona’s penchant for controversy. “Arizona lawmakers will always do things their own way, because it gets them reelected. But I think our reputation is safe for now.”

Font of the Year: Bauer Bodoni, part of our “clean and classy” January redesign.

Pariah of the Year: Tempe pastor Steve Anderson, profiled in June’s West of Westboro feature. “I believe what the Bible says, that homosexuals should be executed,” Anderson blithely told our reporter.

Prediction of the Year: PHOENIX was one of the first Valley media outlets to profile biotech startup Theranos and its dynamic billionaire CEO, Elizabeth Holmes. And we were among the first to forecast a rocky reception to its mysterious, low-hassle blood-testing technology: “Not everyone is keen on its testing model.”

Meta-Mag: PHOENIX begins its 50th anniversary self-coverage with a December’s The Way We Were... culminating with this issue.

 

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