I am a resident of Phoenix, Arizona.
If you count all the surrounding districts, more than 4.1 million people crowd into this sprawling, suburbanite wasteland, yet no one really likes it here. We really try, but every boring list we dominate (we’re safe drivers, apparently, and we’re a top city for “entry-level jobs.” Whoopee) and every whine for relevance smacks of some deep, inner denial.
This metropolis is squatted in subtropical desert. It shouldn’t even exist. It’s spitting in God’s face. Yet rather than owning our survival prowess like some badass Road Warrior tribe, we’ve allowed ourselves to become complacent, as vapid as the arid air around us, too numbed up on prescription narcotics and reality TV to reach self-actualization. There’s also a negative side.
Here are a few reasons why Phoenix sucks:
Everything Is Beige
Like a giant, concrete version of The Thing, Phoenix is a bloated tangle of tasteless architecture that never seems to stop ballooning outward.
The one thing you’ll notice is everything looks exactly the same. It’s an ever-replicating mirage of beige skies, beige walls, beige houses, beige cars, beige people. Sometimes you’ll see a flash of color, but it won’t last long before the local HOA stamps it out like a cigarette butt.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Shopping Malls And Movie Theaters Are Cultural Landmarks
Forget that Phoenix nightlife is so barren you can stagger downtown at 11 PM and find everything empty. “Snowbirds” (rich, white morons from Canada and Michigan who visit during the two weeks of winter) only come here for the fucking malls anyway. Chandler Fashion Center, Desert Ridge Marketplace, Tempe Marketplace, Scottsdale Fashion Square—they all have the exact same names, the exact same stores, and the exact same idiots who wear sunglasses indoors.
Screencap via Pitchfork
Politics Takes Precedence Over Culture
When Arizona SB 1070 passed, allowing cops to demand proof of residency based on “suspicion” of immigrating illegally (read: having brownish skin), there was a national uproar. A laundry list of musicians, including Rage Against the Machine, Sonic Youth, Conor Oberst, and Kanye West refused to tour here for a few years.
But that was a while back and that’s all over now, right? Not really. Earlier this year, the local government threatened to pass SB 1062, a sort of anti-gay bill that nobody really understood, probably because it was written in crayon by stoned squirrels. The fallout was extremely similar to SB 1070, and our governor vetoed the bill only after the NFL threatened to take the Super Bowl elsewhere.
Even now, when you look at most band’s tour dates (which I do quite often), it’s something along the lines of LA, Boulder, Houston or Austin, Albuquerque, and San Diego. Phoenix is still often skipped over, and the general public’s perception of Phoenix as a bunch of racist, gun-toting, fag haters hasn’t helped.
The Local Government Pisses All Over the Public Like Drunken Apes
Really, this is true wherever you go, but it’s extremely blatant in the Valley of the Spun. Every six months or so, in a greed-driven mentality still wrought from the days of Manifest Destiny, our legislature pens some Orwellian bill that clearly aims to rip off or jail anyone who isn’t rich or white.
Even if independent voters make up the biggest bloc in the state, their input is drowned out by constant bickering between useless Democrats and violent Republicans invested in the drug war. In rare instances when the public does have its meek voice heard, as in the case of medical marijuana, the state is quick to turn around and sue over it. The dumbasses we call “leaders” constantly lose these fruitless court battles, but in the process, millions of tax dollars are wiped up with shit and flushed down the john.
Our state's governor, Ms. Jan Brewer, grins like a sad, melted puppet whenever she tries to feign solidarity with the public, but it’s clear that she and her best bud, civil rights abuser Sheriff Joe Arpaio, are more interested in keeping local prisons full of nonviolent offenders. Makes sense that Brewer is making boatloads of money through her connections in the incarceration industry. Legalizing pot or allowing immigrants to coexist would cut into profits! Keep that drug-war money rolling in!
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Speaking of Joe Arpaio, the civil-rights-abusing sheriff has been elected six fucking times.
This is a man who claims Obama’s birth certificate is forged, has his critics arrested in the middle of the night on trumped-up charges, and has been accused literally dozens of times for abusing inmates, many of whom were beaten to death or had their necks broken, all while failing to investigate hundreds of sexual abuse cases.
Then, “America’s Toughest Sheriff” treats his inmates like his personal court jesters, emasculating them with pink underwear as he watches them sweat in his “Tent City”—a jail made of Korean War-era tents that reaches temperatures of 150 degrees in summer. And all of Joe’s stupidity and callous disregard for justice has cost the city more than $50 million so far.
Also, Arpaio might run for governor. So we have that to look forward to.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Everything About Westgate
A shantytown of bars for freshly divorced Glendale dipsticks, Westgate City Center also houses stadiums for our sucktacular sports teams. The only use this whole area ever served was the time we hosted the Super Bowl. But despite bringing in a record-breaking $500 million to the local economy, the city actually ended up $2 million in the hole on that one. Cool.
No One Is From Here
Phoenix natives are rare as vegan sharks. As a result, everyone acts like a permanent tourist with a distinct lack of generational identity. Instead, everyone whines about how much better it is in California or Illinois or where-the-fuck-ever.
A photo of Phoenix in the summertime. Via YouTube
The Environment Is Actively Trying To Kill You
Phoenix summers start in April and don’t end until October. The first three months are bearable, so we collectively laugh, asking ourselves why we complained so much about the heat last year. Sure, it was 109 degrees the other day, but we have our air conditioning and our TVs and we’ll survive, even if the electric bills average $400 per month. “It’s a dry heat,” we mutter through our blistered, sunburned lips, blandly reminding ourselves of our trademarked postcard platitude.
But then mid July rolls around. The monsoon season is lackluster, as usual, and does nothing to combat our “urban heat island,” which cooks the asphalt like a pierogi, blasting scorching waves back out at night. Now, even after sunset, the heat won’t escape, and suddenly it’s 105 degrees at 1 AM. This is worse than humidity, because at least humidity cools down in the evening. The heat is in your clothes. It’s in your hair. You feel your dreams evaporating as you sleep. Even swimming or air conditioning provides only brief relief from the perpetual sauna before you’re glossed in sweat again. And you have another two months of this to look forward to.
Plus, the entire urban void is surrounded by an ecosystem of death. If the sun’s UV rays don’t smite you, the scorpions, Gila monsters (the only venomous lizard in the entire US), rattlesnakes, mountain lions, bobcats, javelinas (murderous warthog things known to attack humans), tarantulas, and other deadly spiders sure as fuck will try. If that weren’t enough, we’re all doomed because…
Phoenix Is (Supposedly) The Least Sustainable City Ever
Phoenix imports almost everything—food, gas, and especially water. Depends on whom you ask, but it doesn’t look like that equation is gonna work too well for us in the long run. We often experience record highs of 120 degrees or more, but climate change could make those temperatures even more common, topping 100 degrees from April to January. These heat waves mainly affect the poor, mostly killing homeless people, so it’s not something most people worry about. Yet.
Plus, the state is in perpetual drought and all that water we trickle in from the Colorado River, the Salt River reservoir system, and underground wells, continues to dry up. Eventually this place could resemble a ghost town like Tombstone. Some claim these scenarios are exaggerated, so maybe we’ll survive. Fear or denial, pick your poison. It’s all we got here.
Follow Troy Farah on Twitter.