Wayne Michael Reich

Writing ∙ Photography ∙ Art

EDITORZILLA RETURNS! (Me take pretty cloud pictures one day.)

 “By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community”– Oscar Wilde

Hello Blogiteers!

Damn- when it comes right down to brass tacks, I just love being a Prophet of Snark- the hours are good, the pays alright, and the benefit package absolutely rocks. Sure, there is somewhat of a down side to always being proven correct, that being things are as bad as they seem, but I’m learning to live with it as I get older. You know… like you do. However- despite my well proven track record of calling it like it is, there are still some who doubt my ability to do so. As you might imagine, I have a pet nickname for these few and far between people:


Truthfully, only an imbecile could take the position that the PAS (Phoenix Art Scene) is fine and dandy as is, but it does occasionally happen, and for that, I am grateful, mainly since it gives me a metaphorical scratching post to sharpen my claws on. Speaking of things that have been previously clawed …

In our last blog, it was my fellow Artists, and it felt sooooo good to speak my mind, let me tell you. In fact, this blog was supposed to be a continuation of that rant, but a small spanner has been thrown into the works, and I am forced to take a detour yet again to swat at one of my favorite targets. Ok. Maybe “forced” isn’t the correct word to use, since my chosen victim willingly drove up to my castle, handed me several cases of ammo, cranked up the ol’ trebuchet, and then staked themselves to an anthill, after dowsing themselves in honey.

I live for these kinds of days. If I had a pitcher of ice cold milk and a case of Ding Dongs, it would be damn nigh perfect, and it simply doesn’t get better than this, in my humble opinion. So what has derailed my previous rant for this newer one? Well…

It seems that my ol’ nemesis The Phoenix New Times is rushing headlong into dredging their barrel of mediocrity yet again, kicking off the New Year with an astoundingly dubious article that strains to link the following: The Girl Scouts of America, their “Savannah Smiles” cookie, and a similarly named porn star who tragically committed suicide back in 1994.   
[Link: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/bella/2012/01/suicidal_junkie_porn_star_cook.php]

I don’t know how your overall thought process works, but a long-dead porn actress is typically not the first thing that comes to my mind when I rip into a box of yummy lemon cookies- not because I don’t like blondes, it’s just that my love for sugar far outweighs my tendencies towards necrophilia. Now, the rumor is that this particular adult film actress allegedly took her porn moniker from her favorite film, 1982’s mostly forgotten “Savannah Smiles” which starred a little girl named Bridgette Andersen who also grew up to be a heroin addict (but not a porn star) and took a fatal “accidental overdose” at the age of 21.

What this has to do with The Girl Scouts of America is beyond me, but leave it to NT to connect the imaginary dots and state: “It’s hard to imagine the Girl Scouts growing a (metaphorical) pair and encouraging parents and leaders to explain in detail to the girls why filthy-minded people are helplessly spit-taking when they’re offered a chance to stock up on Savannah Smiles cookies.” No, what’s truly hard to imagine is the meeting room where this tripe was successfully green-lighted, except to say that I’m pretty sure touching anything contained inside it with your bare hands is probably a very bad idea.

Seriously, where does NT’s enduring fascination with the Porn industry come from? Does everyone over there need to get laid like yesterday, or is the urgent necessity to bump their rapidly faltering ad revenue dictating this predilection towards becoming a paper that you can read with only one hand?

 [Further proof of NT’s Porn fixation located at: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/slideshow/adult-entertainment-expo-2012-35993488/]

As amused as I am by this newest faux story, the reality of the cookie’s name is this: GSA founder Juliette Low was from Savannah, Georgia, the half-moon-shape resembles a smile, and as far as a truly tangible connection to porn goes, there really isn’t one. But I’ll give NT some mad dog props for trying like hell to correlate the two out of ether and air. If they’re able to keep fabricating associations like this, just wait until they blow that Sesame Street Sex Slave scandal wide open. Fortunately for this Artbitch, the embarrassment of riches continued with yet another inane article to be found, this a review of the new Tilted Kilt bar and grill situated in downtown Phoenix.[Link: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/bella/2012/01/on_breastaurants.php]

The Bro who composed this article wittily labeled it as a “breastaurant” due to the fact that the waitresses are a wee bit healthy in the… (ahem) personal rack department, a fact noted more than once, and annoyingly so. For example: “The owners know what they’re doing in choosing these girls — as a friend of mine used to say while motioning to his chest, “She had a GREAT personality.” That right there is a classy observation, let me tell you. It reminds me of when I used to read NT’s former food critic Michelle Laudig’s past reviews where she estimated the size of the packages the waiters at FEZ seemingly had, while noting how tight their asses were.

“They were like two scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream…”

Oops, my bad… I think I may have just made that last quote up, since Michelle actually just noted down her opinion about the food, because that’s what a restaurant critic is SUPPOSED TO DO, in lieu of just sitting and ogling the staff in the manner of a fourteen year old horn-dog. But then again, it is the New Times, and when you read this article, you get the sense that the writer would’ve been more at home in a strip club, which isn’t that far of a stretch, especially when you take into consideration the dual realities of who buys advertising in this rag, and how those sales might be acquired.

On the up side, if I ever do find myself needing some advice regarding a lap-dance that comes with both a happy ending and a car stereo, I’ll at least know where to look. Ah. You think that I’m being too harsh, yet again?

Then re-read the little bon-mot that wraps the article up, and you tell me if I’m off base: “Men, guided by their caveman brains, will seek these places out like sea turtles returning to a beach, and all the restaurant has to do while the air fills with the sounds of flirtation and rising hopes is offer food that doesn’t suck. Twin Peaks’ beer is good, the TVs are numerous and the food isn’t half bad.

Plus, you know, boobs. It should do well. “

Boobs”. The secret to a classy joint- and a classy end to this classy article. However, my cynicism was to be short-lived, for as I read on, an unforeseen miracle had taken place. Something that was so marvelous, so amazing, so stupendous, so wonderful, I just have to write it out using all capital letters….


GRANTED… SHE HAD ORIGINALLY PLEDGED TO DO THIS FOR A YEAR, BUT IN HER OWN WORDS: “I gave up. Hey, I made it more than half a year. I’d never come close to keeping a resolution that long. Plus, I figured, why keep going if it wasn’t working? And it definitely wasn’t working.”

[Link: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2012-01-19/culture/snapshots-of-a-city-and-new-found-love-for-a-hometown/]

It wasn’t “working”, she says… so nice to see that she approached her self-created project with the same commitment that she applied to that bartending class that she failed so many moons ago. As regular Blogiteers already know, I’ve frequently lambasted Amy for her 2005 article: “Phoenix Has an Inferiority Complex”, in which she goes on and on about her snarky dislike for most things truly Phoenician, proudly admitting that her original reason for wanting to set out for graduate school was: [in her words] “not because I sought academic enlightenment, but because it seemed like the easiest way to get to New York.”

There’s also sad recollections of her misguided high school fashion sense, the out of the ordinary use of TV shows as a metaphorical divining rod for crucial life decisions, and her washing out of NYC before coming back to Arizona with her tail tucked firmly between her legs. All very (YAWN) compelling stuff, to be sure. But I think this new article may be her best work yet, and this comes from someone who once called her a “C***juggling Thunderc***” to her face.

Until now, I gave Amy the benefit of the doubt that she must have some brains rattling around in that massive melon on top of her squat little neck- after all, she hasn’t publicly responded to my various  slams, [that is, unless you count all the times she’s posted anonymously on the NT forums] nor has she green-lighted any “hit” pieces mocking my efforts, despite her obvious desire to do so.


I’m starting to think that the indescribable magic we once shared has flown the coop, and if I were to be brutally honest, that just depresses me something fierce. However, every time I think that I’m out, NT pulls me back in, using only the allure of just being themselves. Lucky for me, not so much for Amy when it gets right down to it.

The good ol’ PNT seems to be having a spot of trouble lately in regards to it’s health, and while the economy is a valid factor, it’s clearly obvious that their death spiral is being hastened along by it’s embrace of high school level journalism and Amy’s abrasive management style – something I’ve been noting for months within my collection of electronic screeds. Given NT’s long-running history of Phoenix bashing, this “new-found love” Amy claims to have rediscovered strikes me as being just a tad bit suspicious, and I have serious reservations about accepting it at face value, especially when the person overseeing it’s implementation lacks both character and dedication.

Call me cynical, but if Amy personally told me that the sky was blue, I’d still stick my head out a window and check for myself. I’m not saying she’s a liar, I’m just suggesting that she makes things up, like her infamous travel “review” of Yuma, for instance.

No, I think it’s much more accurate to state that NT’s recent enlightenment might come from the fact that their bottom line is getting hammered, both from falling ad revenue and abandonment by their readership base.  Throw in Amy’s pathological need to deride her critics on the NT forums with all the tact of a pissed off six year old, and you can easily see why their credibility among Phoenicians hovers somewhere just above nada. Like all abusive relationships, you can only take so much before you finally pack up your stuff and leave, so you’ll just have to forgive me if I doubt their overall sincerity.

As I said earlier, I just love being a Prophet of Snark, especially when the pickings are this easy. So to kick off this particular bitch-slap, I’ll deconstruct Amy’s newest work of self-pitying fiction the best way I know how, using the patented Artbitch line by line response protocol.

Damn… doesn’t it feel good to be a Gangsta? Yes. Yes it does.


“The following excerpts were and remain the intellectual property of Village Voice Media Inc., with all rights reserved under the applicable laws of The United States of America. Use of said excerpts are for fair use parody only, and no profit usage has been implied or intended.

[*Not valid in Narnia, OZ, Wonderland,  Neverland Ranch, or Hogwart’s.]

“Invite me to your book club meeting and tell me we’re reading Ann Patchett’s latest novel, and even if I’ve had that book sitting on my nightstand for months — even if I’m already halfway through it — suddenly I won’t be able to pick the thing up.”

And all over the Valley of the Sun, the grating call of the “contrary on purpose” brat rings clear.

“Similarly, after 45 years, I know myself all too well: If I promise myself on January 1 that I’ll do the dishes every night before I go to bed, by the end of the first week of the year, you won’t be able to get anywhere near my kitchen sink without risk of an avalanche.”

Note to self: no matter how gracious, turn down any dinner invitations to the Silverman home, due to the strong possibility of drug-resistant salmonella coating the banquet dishes.

“I’m just not good at following directions, even my own. Particularly my own. And so most years, I don’t even bother to make a New Year’s resolution, let alone keep it.”

For instance? She’s never vowed to restore journalistic competence to New Times anytime soon.

“But 2011 was different. That year marked the 20th anniversary of my return to Phoenix, a place where I was born and raised, a place I fled as soon as I was able. A place I returned to for two weeks in 1991 and — well, you can guess the rest.”

We don’t need to… we read it every week with ever-sinking hearts.

“A place I never much liked.”

S’ok. The feeling’s pretty much mutual.

“I like to tell people I have made my peace with Phoenix.”

And I like to tell them “I’m Batman!”… we all have our little quirks.

“I wrote a cover story about it for New Times (“Phoenix Has an Inferiority Complex,” May 12, 2005).”

I’ve been meaning to say thank you for that, but Hallmark hasn’t made the appropriate card yet.

“I’ve edited the paper’s “Best of Phoenix” supplement for years, and in almost two decades at the paper have written dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of “Best of” entries and, yes, I can tell you where to get the best steak or the best martini in Phoenix,”

Wait for it, because using the paragraph above as a metaphorical shiv, I will soon make a valid point.

“but the truth is that after all these years, I still had a grudge against my hometown.”

Christ… grow the f**k up and get over it already. Yes, yes… NYC dumped you and shacked up with New Jersey. It’s old news and you need to move on. Preferably the hell away from us, I’d suggest?

“Enough, I thought, as 2011 approached. I’m not going anywhere.”

Son of a b***h. You dream big, you crash big.

“I’m tired of this.”

Once again, the feeling is entirely mutual, my dear Editorzilla.

“Why, I wondered, is it that when I go to cities like Manhattan or Portland or even Tucson I step off the plane or get out of the car and immediately begin romanticizing the place? Why do I get all weak-kneed over Hotel Congress in Tucson or the Bagdad Theater in Portland when the Orpheum in downtown Phoenix is just as dreamy?”

I dunno, actually. Have you watched a lot of Lifetime movies?

“I’ve asked myself dozens of times and I just can’t figure out why a farmers market in a mall parking lot in Denver is urban and funky when the same thing in Phoenix feels weak.”

Wait! Maybe it’s because you’ve read all the Twilight novels? Sorry.. your sparkly Chucks made me think I was talking to a very weary and dreary fourteen year old girl. My sincerest apologies.

“But what, I wondered, if I was forced to face that question every single day? What if I had to come up with something – big or small or even really insignificant – that I loved about Phoenix every day. In fact, the less significant the better, because for me it’s the little things – a cross-stitch in the elevator of the Portland Ace Hotel that says “If You’d Taken the Stairs You’d Already Be There”; the way cement always seems to sparkle in the San Francisco sunlight – that make a city larger than life.”

Hmm. Let’s recap, shall we? Using Amy’s own words yet again:

“I’ve edited the paper’s “Best of Phoenix” supplement for years, and in almost two decades at the paper have written dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of “Best of” entries and, yes, I can tell you where to get the best steak or the best martini in Phoenix”.

 But curiously, given all that, she hadn’t yet compiled a list of various things that she already loved about PHX in all those years. Um…why the heck not?  Has she ever bothered to read what she’s written, or is her self-pity so prevalent that it clouds her vision to all the good things that are inherent in this town? That is the question I’ve been asking myself lately, and coming up flummoxed.

“So nothing big. A daily affirmation of sorts.”

“Of Sorts” sums it up nicely, I think.

“Yuck. I’ve never been one for daily affirmations. I don’t stop to smell the roses, I don’t tiptoe through the tulips. The only time I ever stop to watch the sunset is once a year, during our annual family trip to the beach.”

Wow. You are one out of control bouncy superball of fun, let me tell you.

“But I didn’t have any better ideas,”

Did you ever? Sorry. I’m better than that. Actually, I’m not, come to really think of it.

“thus, the I Heart Phoenix Project was born. These days it’s (way too) easy to start your own blog,”

So not true. The written part is a real b***h, and don’t even get me started about the oral exam- I still have nightmares.

 “so I did. I got on WordPress, chose a template, typed in theiheartphoenixproject and wrote an “about” section that concluded: “My husband and I are raising two daughters . . . and I’d rather share the love than the hate with them, even though I do believe a healthy dose of cynicism is hardly a bad thing.”

Gotta agree. My blog is living proof of that.

“This town could use a little TLC,”

And you should use a little THC to lighten the hell up, but I digress.

“and that’s what I intend to give it for the next year. Maybe not every day. I don’t want to set expectations too high.”

Relax. We’ve never really expected too much from you, to be honest.

“But I do promise to cast no aspersions — not here, anyway.”

Cast? No. Do a half-ass job of it? Definitely.

“My first post was easy, a poster of a bear with a bloody heart designed by local artist Sebastien Millon, his own off-kilter tribute to the city. I didn’t admit that I actually was in Los Angeles on January 1 — not the most auspicious beginning to a blog devoted to loving Phoenix.”

True, but considering your past track record Amy, we’re not really that shocked, either.

“I figured I’d write most of my posts, but around that time I discovered the Hipstamatic app on the iPhone and suddenly it was more fun — and a lot quicker — to snap a photo and write a headline.”

Faux-Hipster technology to the rescue!

“For months I kept it up, documenting my path across town (which I quickly realized was far too beaten) and forcing myself to find something every day that I love about Phoenix: the hand-drawn signs at Cartel Coffee Lab in Tempe; the kissing citrus mural at La Grande Orange; a fire pit at the Arizona Biltmore where you can make s’mores; Grand Avenue artist Beatrice Moore’s crazy inedible wedding cakes.”

OK, my optimism is rising over here….

“The task was simple; it took no more than a few minutes a day (and some planning) but quickly became an annoying chore. I went on a walk around my neighborhood and shot several things (a mosaic water tower, a tin bird in a tree, a nearby railroad crossing) so I’d have a backlog, just in case.”

And there it goes, crashing into Amy’s high school photo class as it plummets downward.

“I included many more posts about “nature” than I’d anticipated — prickly pear cactus blooming; pansies in January; my secret love of irrigation. Even some pretty clouds on one particularly desperate day.”

This peaceful moment was brought to you by Calgon.

“By May, I was exhausted.”

From what, exactly? The attempt at achieving competence?

 “A rhinestone pin spelling out PHOENIX that I found on Etsy buoyed my spirits a bit, but sitting in the parking lot of the Celebrity Theatre, trying to grab a super-quick shot of a round entertainment venue (try that with your iPhone) and still get to work on time, I questioned the worth of this whole thing.”

I’d like to remind you at this point that it was YOUR idea, you know.

“Would anyone notice if I quit?”

Yes. As a related aside, no one likes a tease, Amy.

“If the goal was to learn to love Phoenix, it certainly wasn’t working. In fact, this whole experiment was beginning to make me loathe the place in ways I’d never thought possible.”

Oh, I’m sure that isn’t entirely true, is it? Loathing is kind of your niche, to be fair.

“But I’d made it five months. I could do it. June was tough. It was hot.”

Why didn’t you reach into your soul and pull out a chunk of ice to cool off with, then?

“But I hadn’t yet mentioned the sand art from the original Biltmore Fashion Park or the sprinkles section at ABC Baking. When I snapped a photo of “The Bingo Hall Where I Once Took Ballet Lessons” out my car window (I think the car was actually moving at the time), I knew I’d hit a low.”

C’mon… it wasn’t like it was your first time.

“The truth is, I was almost done. I’d taken just a few days off here and there all year, trying to schedule posts ahead when I was going to be out of town. But we were headed to San Diego for an entire week in early July, and as we were packing to leave, I realized I hadn’t planned any posts, didn’t have any pictures in reserve.”

GASP! You were forced to act like a real journalist? How awful that must have been for you.

“July’s 8 post didn’t have a photo, just “You know what I heart about Phoenix? . . . Our proximity to Southern California’s beaches.”

OK. I’ll have to give you a mulligan on this one, since everyone knows I have a sand fetish.

“What a cliché, quitting at the most miserable time of the year. I didn’t intend to quit when I wrote that post. I figured that, at worst, I’d take the entire week off and come back refreshed, ready to finish out the second half of the year. But it was so deliciously freeing to not have to think about that goddamn blog that when I got home, I just sort of kept not thinking about it.”

True dedication to one’s work. Brought to you locally by our very own Amy Silverman.

“I gave up. Hey, I made it more than half a year. I’d never come close to keeping a resolution that long. Plus, I figured, why keep going if it wasn’t working? And it definitely wasn’t working.”

Funny that you should say that, since if you keep grinding down New Time’s reputation the way you have been over the last few years, eventually neither will you.

“A couple of weeks passed and, to be honest, I didn’t think much about the I Heart Phoenix Project, except for an occasional sense of relief.”

Actually Amy, that was just the Alka Seltzer talking.

 “And then a funny thing happened.”

On the way to the Forum? Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.

 “I was driving down McDowell Road and I noticed the U-Haul building near 24th Street and I thought about how the orange zigzag design on the side of the building looks just like rickrack and how much I love rickrack, and I reached for my phone to take a picture.”

Rick·rack: n. A flat narrow braid woven in zigzag form, used as a trimming for clothing or curtains, and as far as I’m concerned, helps speaks volumes about Amy’s sense of style and taste.

“Then I remembered: I wasn’t doing the blog anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t care enough to actually start the thing up again.”

Wow. That really came right out of the blue, didn’t it? (Rolls eyes.) It’s exactly this kind of dogged determination that’s made NT the envy of papers you pick up for free at a Circle K.

 “But I startled myself. “Wow,” I thought. “Without even trying, I found something I really love about Phoenix. And it was in that organic way that an old sign on the side of a building in Brooklyn can make you stop and stare, or how the street lights in Little Italy look like folk art. Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite like that, but it was a start.”

Seriously. Would you stop with the whole NYC thing? It’s pathetic enough already.

 “And it kept happening. Every few days, sometimes more often, I’d notice something that belonged in the I Heart Phoenix Project: the fried green tomatoes at FnB; a Collin Chillag painting on the wall at Lux; Dale Chihuly’s green glass agave at the entrance to the Desert Botanical Garden; Roosevelt Row’s field of sunflowers in downtown Phoenix.”

“I had failed, but in a small way I had succeeded, too.”

No… you totally failed. Crashed and burned. In a huge way. Please, just trust me on this, would’ya?

“The new year is now well under way; I didn’t make any resolutions for 2012. But last year’s still lingers. The other morning, as I rushed to get my daughter to school and get to the office to write this piece, she shivered in her thin Old Navy fleece, complaining about the cold. “Don’t be silly!” I said. “Think of all the people digging out of the snow in places like New York and Boston at this time of year. We’re really lucky to live here!”

I got behind the wheel and thought, “Did I just say that?”

OMFG!!! I’m like, a new like, person and stuff. Totally.

“As we pulled out of the driveway and headed down the street, the sun was beginning to rise, and I noticed the sky — streaked in shades of blue and orange Crayola hasn’t yet named.”

I sense a possible career move!

“Even though we were late, I couldn’t help myself. I had to stop to take a picture.”

God help us if her form of iPhone hipster app journalism is ever allowed to pass for artistic expression, since Lord knows it’s already S.O.P. at New Times… and it shows.

Competence…. If only she had an app for that.

“Journalists say a thing that they know isn’t true, in the hope that if they keep on saying it long enough it will be true.” – Arnold Bennett