Adapt and Fly

Craig OuthierJuly 30, 2020
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With all of us mired neck-deep in a national coronavirus struggle session, the last thing you need from me is a lecture on adaptation. All of us everywhere are adapting in new ways every day. Working remotely. Embracing cultural change. Becoming even more wedded to our computers, if such a thing were possible.

So adaptation might be a tiresome topic for you. But I have it on the brain, so here goes:

Originally, back in March when we started planning it, we envisioned this Best of the Valley issue to be a triumphant “all aboard” train whistle heralding the Valley’s return to business after surviving COVID-19. Our August cover date was four months away at that point. Surely four months would be enough time to let this coronavirus thing play out, right? And then we could all get back to the stuff we love doing: eating in public, driving everywhere, indiscriminate hugging, etc.

It didn’t quite turn out that way, obviously. After a tantalizing and costly respite in late spring, Arizona pivoted back to shutdown measures in July. Luckily, the talented freelancers and editors who collectively conceive and write BOV saw the writing on the wall, shaping many of their picks to suit the Valley’s extended quarantine. Among the astounding 422 people, places and things profiled in this issue, you’ll find a roundup of Valley pandemic merch, picks spotlighting distance-friendly art tours and an outdoor party planning spread, to name a few.

Illustration by Nyla Lee
Illustration by Nyla Lee

“Originally, back in March when we started planning it, we envisioned this Best of the Valley issue to be a triumphant ‘all aboard’ train whistle heralding the Valley’s return to business after surviving COVID-19.”

It’s a terrific resource and read for any season, and a lively showcase of local service providers, restaurateurs and artists who’ve found exciting new ways to – wait for it! – adapt to serve their public. For that reason, we kept our cover concept: this wicked-cool phoenix rebirth image by Valley street artist Nyla Lee.

Of course, adapting one’s habits, methods and sensibilities to become better citizens is not limited to retail delivery and COVID-friendly cocktails. This truism revealed itself to us in sharp relief after our combined June-July issue hit newsstands. In the “Mood Stabilizer” column that issue (page 32), we included a line about the current sexual misconduct allegations against Valley artist Isaac Fortoul. It was a dumb, reckless piece of snark that we intended to be at the expense of Fortoul, not his alleged victims. But the wording was insensitive and ambiguous, and it hurt a lot of people – particularly the almost two dozen women who have come forward with claims of sexual abuse and harassment against the artist. Two of those women graciously came to see me at the PHOENIX office, and explained as much. To them and their fellow survivors, I apologize, and promise that our treatment of #MeToo and similarly weighty issues will be more transparent and meaningful going forward.

With an election coming up, the Black Lives Matters movement steaming ahead and a pandemic yet beaten, it’s a complicated time to be an American, and an Arizonan. All I can say is: Let’s be like the phoenix, and let these challenges accelerate us to new heights.

For more than 50 years, PHOENIX magazine's experienced writers, editors, and designers have captured all sides of the Valley with award-winning and insightful writing, and groundbreaking report and design. Our expository features, narratives, profiles, and investigative features keep our 385,000 readers in touch with the Valley's latest trends, events, personalities and places.