- EDITORS’ PICKS
- READERS’ PICKS
People & Media
Best Investigative Reporter
Craig Harris, The Arizona Republic
Old-school reporter Harris delights in jamming his nose into the murkiest, thorniest tales of waste and misappropriation Arizona has to offer – over the years, the Fiesta Bowl scandal and city pension abuses are among the pelts he’s added to his trophy wall. But it’s The Arizona Republic scribe’s careful, lucid unmasking of the state’s poorly regulated charter school system that may ultimately serve as his legacy. Conducted over the past several years, it picked him up a 2018 Virg Hill Journalist of the Year Award from the Arizona Press Club and made him the bane of the state’s scholastic opportunists. azcentral.com
Matty Steinkamp and Mango Skies
Matty Steinkamp loves people and their stories. Whether he’s using his camera to show the need for music education in schools (PLAY the Documentary), raise consciousness about prejudice (You Racist, Sexist, Bigot) or reveal the stark realities of a traveling musician (Snake River Blues), he establishes such intense intimacy with his subjects that you feel you are living their stories, too. Oh, and in his spare time this year he also launched Indie Film Fest to showcase other local filmmakers. mangoskiesfilms.com
Best Inspirational Instagram
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the inanity and abrasiveness of social media, but here and there beacons of goodness emerge to restore our faith in humanity. Our favorite local beacon is Tony Felice, a marketing professional, artist, entrepreneur and author who splits his time between Phoenix and San Diego. His vulnerable posts about his Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, fitness journey, spirituality and gay pride always put things in perspective and leave us feeling uplifted.
Best Urban Dictionary Entry
Don Hawk is a sous chef at fine dining favorite The Gladly, one-half of the pop-up dining team Koso (kosophx.com) – and a master of the fast-food hack. Consider his Urban Dictionary namesake, The Hawko – a Jack in the Box egg roll stuffed into a taco, served with extra taco and sweet-and-sour sauce. Make one for yourself, and feel the (heart)burn. urbandictionary.com
Best Multimedia Artist
Digital media animator Casey Farina plays with the tension between macro and micro, cellular and cosmic. He writes computer codes and pairs them with light and sound on screens encased in acrylic, resulting in mesmerizing large-scale installations. When his work exhibited at Phoenix Art Museum, visitors stepped into a darkened room to stare – transfixed – at shifting on-screen shapes. 623-845-4849, @casey_farina_art
Recently graduated from ASU, the native Guinean has an incredible backstory as a child refugee who was first given art supplies in an African relief camp. But the more pertinent reason to see his distinctive, non finito paintings of émigrés (recently on view at the Phoenix Art Museum) is this: They’re jaw-droppingly beautiful, as real as photographs, but with more heart. facebook.com/artbypapaysolomon
With his three Masters wins and five major championships in total, ASU alum Mickelson has long been a staple of Valley sports culture. But lately, he’s been known primarily for his unusually muscular calves, which have gone viral thanks to his “Insta-structional” videos on Instagram and the PGA Tour’s loosened restrictions on golfers wearing shorts. Someone’s not scrimping on leg day. Twitter and Instagram: @PhilMickelson
1. High-set position suggests nimbleness and leaping ability. Does Phil hoop?
2. Girth. Not soup-tureen thick, but thick enough.
3. Ankle definition. The calf tapers to a trim, satisfying denouement.
Best Art Curator
John Reyes of Reyes Contemporary
John Reyes transforms the gallery at Mountain Shadows Resort into a showcase for the most interesting contemporary artists working today. Reyes is a visionary whose deft curating thoughtfully communicates new ideas about art within the context of four walls. He represents artists like John Albert Armstrong, Diana Clauss and John Millei. 5445 E. Lincoln Dr., Paradise Valley, 602-538-9165, reyescontemporaryart.com
Best Winter-Sports Star
Years ago, it would have been unthinkable that a kid from sweltering, frost-free Phoenix would eventually become one of the NHL’s most transformational players. But this is the 21st century, and that kid also happened to grow up going to Coyotes games and idolizing Shane Doan, all within a quick drive of multiple youth skating rinks. Following his third consecutive All-Star season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, 21-year-old Matthews continues to bring Phoenix flair to pro hockey. Twitter: @AM34, Instagram: @auston_matthews
Best Marketing Gizmo
Carvana Vending Machine
Did you know that Tempe is home to the nation’s largest car vending machine? Most people don’t, which is why we almost drove into Tempe Town Lake when we saw a nine-story high-rise filled with… cars. Make sure to check it out at night. Way more fun than simply driving off the lot. 707 E. Gilbert Dr., Tempe, 800-333-4554, carvana.com
Best Local Champion
When Phoenician, fashionista and Olympic-gold-medalist tennis player Mattek-Sands suffered a gruesome fall at Wimbledon in 2017 that dislocated her kneecap, it looked likely that she would never be crowned a major champion again. However, at the 2018 U.S. Open, she returned to Grand Slam glory by taking the title in mixed doubles, alongside Jamie Murray. Gonzo and Taurasi are great, but BMS deserves props. Twitter and Instagram: @matteksands
Best Celebrity Death
Local feline Tardar Sauce turned frowns upside down when she emerged in 2012 as a grumpy-faced icon, thanks to feline dwarfism and a sour-looking underbite. Tardar Sauce died earlier this year, but while she’s gone, she certainly won’t be forgotten, thanks to dozens of memes and an extensive product line. Once a viral sensation, always a viral sensation. grumpycats.com
Best City Equipped to Thwart the Robot Uprising
If John Connor can’t save us from a Terminator-style machine takeover, then maybe Chandler is up for the job? The East Valley suburb has not taken kindly to Waymo’s autonomous-car pilot program, greeting the company’s Chrysler Sebring fleet with thrown rocks, slashed tires and other acts of A.I. abuse. Someone even pulled a gun on a backup driver. Somewhere, Arnold Schwarzenegger is very scared.
Best Action by Arizona Legislature
Repealing No Promo Homo Law
In 1991, Arizona enacted the No Promo Homo Law, banning public schools from offering instruction about safe methods of homosexual sex. After a group filed a lawsuit this spring questioning the constitutionality of No Promo Homo, the Legislature acted quickly – and Governor Doug Ducey signed the bill. Even better than a parade!
Best Righty Celebrity Appearance
Ben Shapiro at Grand Canyon University
Spooked, presumably, by violent left-wing demonstrations at Berkeley in 2017, GCU initially ixnayed the conservative pundit’s April visit, reversing course after a bombardment of criticism from both students and national media. Love or hate The Daily Wire editor-in-chief, college speaking tours can’t just be for the Rachel Maddows of the world.
Best Lefty Celebrity Appearance
Gloria Steinem at 2019 Planned Parenthood Luncheon
A ticket to see Gloria Steinem speak at this spring’s Planned Parenthood luncheon was akin to a chocolate factory tour for the supporters who packed a ballroom to hear the Ms. Magazine founder discuss reproductive rights. Asked what message should be in a rainbow shooting over her head, Steinem replied: “We are linked, not ranked.” plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-arizona
Local Band Best Primed for the Big Time
They’re throwback, sort of. Mixing ’80s shoegaze with modern pop, the Phoenix four-piece was the first band to play at the hip Downtown Phoenix joint Gracie’s Tax Bar back in 2017, and has since registered on the national radar with its well-received second album, NO. So check ’em out while they still do most of their gigs here. nanamiozone.com
Best Reason to Envision a Future for Radio
NPR member station KJZZ 91.5 hits the sweet spot with an extracurricular program that teaches teens about radio – from performance to production, with some video and photography thrown in. Through after-school and summer programs that serve at-risk and economically challenged kids, Spot 127 is bringing journalism to unexpected places in the most promising ways. spot127.org
Best Illegal Use of Nunchucks
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Michelangelo ain’t got nothin’ on Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. In May, the Republican incumbent posted a Twitter video of his nunchuck “skills” three days after the state repealed the ban on the weapon. The controversial part: The law hadn’t yet gone into effect. No word yet if he is being charged with a felony, but it definitely made for good viewing.
Dan Hoen Hull & Rachel Eseoghene Egboro
He started The Storyline, and now runs The Storyline Slam (think The Moth, but all local). She created The Whole Story, storytelling that celebrates the experience of African-Americans. Together, Hull and Egboro are the heart of Phoenix’s storytelling community. Don’t miss a chance to see either of them perform. thestoryline.org, thewholestoryshow.com
Best local rock band
• Like your bluegrass with a side of wicked humor? Think punk rock with harmony, banjos and mandolin.
• They want to accompany the Resistance with songs like “I Fell in Love with a Republican.”
• Their amazing live show will be featured in an upcoming album.
• They’re high school students at Arizona School for the Arts, and rock is ruled by the young, so there you go.
• Following the “write what you know” dictum, seniors Helena Haber, Kellen Vu, Margaret Shepherd, Elaina Van Duyne and Megan Teramoto pen lyrics based on books they read in English class.
• You haven’t rocked until you’ve rocked to William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying.
Worst of the Valley
We generally like to “go positive” in this issue, but these anti-BOVs deserve a shoutout.
1 Worst Excuse for “Working Across the Aisle”
When a kid from Gilbert suggested that lemonade be made the state’s official drink, certain lawmakers sensed an opportunity to score easy PR points and leapt into action. (Meanwhile, a bill for mental-health oversight in high schools got juiced in committee.) Talk about the final straw in meaningless lawmaking.
2 Worst C-SPAN Performance
Rep. Paul Gosar’s reputation as a clownish congressional lightweight got a major lift from his hostile questioning of presidential lawyer Michael Cohen in a March committee hearing – a sputtering, incoherent confetti storm of non sequiturs that raised eyebrows across the land. You can do better, District 4. Or can you?
3 Worst Carpetbagging Maneuver
We liked Dr. Hiral Tipirneni as a District 8 candidate in the West Valley. (Even did a nice, friendly profile on her.) We’re a little less stoked with the Democrat as a District 6 candidate in Scottsdale, where she filed to challenge incumbent David Schweikert not six months after her defeat in District 8. You had your shot, Doc. Stop chasing the thing.
People & Media
Daniel Moore/The Oxide Studio
David Lee/Paparazzo Film
The Black Moods They also blend a proprietary wine!
Best Fashion Designer
Pax Philomena From Phoenix designer Jean Marie Clarke.
Best Jewelry Designer
Three Feathers Earrings
Best Food Blog
Best Morning Radio DJ/Team
Ian Camfield/ALT AZ 93.3 All-time leader: Johnjay and Rich/KISS 104.7
Best Political Blog
Arizona Capitol Times’ The Breakdown podcast
Best Public Servant
Best Radio Station
Best Talk Radio Show
Monty in the Morning/1580 The Fanatic!
Best TV Evening Team
FOX 10 John Hook & Kari Lake
Best TV Morning Team
Good Morning Arizona 3TV All-time leader with eight BOVs.
Best TV Investigative Reporter
Best TV Meteorologist
Best TV News Anchor
Best Sports Talk Show Host
Luke Lapinski/Arizona Sports 98.7
Best ASU Athlete
N’Keal Harry New England Pats draftee exercises remaining year of eligibility.
Best Arizona Cardinals Player
Best Arizona Coyotes Player
Best Arizona Diamondbacks Player
Best Phoenix Mercury Player
Best Phoenix Suns Player
Best Play-By-Play Announcer
Al McCoy Since, forever.