A land of overpriced turquoise jewelry, bail bond offices, strip clubs and palm trees.
A land that looks like Mars, colonized by architects and interior designers from Los Angeles and Miami.1
A desert filled with golf courses and conspicuous water consumption.2
A frontier filled with transplanted northeasterners, their ambivalence, and their restaurants.
A land where even an April Fool's story about the sheriff's office arming "the homeless" for self-defense seems plausible.3
Here, where little pre-dates the Ford administration, I'm a contract employee at the headquarters of Avnet, a leading global distributor of electronic and computer parts.4 Props5 to recruiter Kenneth Kinney, who hustled to get me this job. I work in a "cube farm," in a daily routine like that depicted in "Office Space,"6 but happier. I work with some good guys, like Ray Powers and James Teele.7 I translate procedural documents into English, write ad copy for the intranet,8 and process Avnet customer requests for Year 2000 compliance documents. Beyond that, my employment contract prohibits me from going into detail. Check out Avnet's Web site if you're curious.9
In this, the sixth- or seven-largest U.S. metropolis,10 the excitment from the opening of a Krispy Kreme doughnut franchise eclipses the dismal "Phantom Menace." 11 Some things live up to the hype, but getting excited about doughnut chains won't help Phoenicians overcome their self-consciousness about being behind the trend curve.12
Some curves, though, always stay in fashion. After a long, gray period out of circulation, I started going out. For real. And by Memorial Day, my legwork reached Bustin' Out of L Seven13 status. It's been a whirlwind of flirting with Mariah Carey14 lookalikes and, even better, dating some real barnburners.15 They've put more strut in my step than Shaft -- at least until Samuel L. Jackson stars in the remake.16
I've even finally done some things I've long been curious about ... like sushi.17 I know, I know, how 1980s. I even arrived at my date's place with a skinny tie, just in case. (Lucky I didn't need to wear it in 117-degree heat.) The food was good, though it probably won't become a staple of my diet.
I almost feel bad about having such a good time while the world teeters on the abyss. I refer, of course, to events in the former Yugoslavia. I intend to address this matter in this forum soon, but for now, interested readers can read an approximation of my views from the Committee Against U.S. Intervention.18
Laurie. "Concrete Evidence that Sentimentality Doesn't Pay." The Rep.
13 May 1999: 3+.
2 Coldwell Banker Success Realty, Valley of the Sun. Phoenix: MPG Publishing Group Inc., 1998: passim.; Dougherty, John. "A Fortune Runs Through It." PNT 20 May 1999: 26-28+; PNT 1 April 1999: passim.
3 "House, Inda." "Give Piece a Chance." PNT 1 April 1999: 28-29+; "Disarm the Clueless." PNT 8 April 1999: 14+.
4 Profitt, David. "Tiki Tacky: South Pacific Kitsch Stands the Test of Time at Bikini Lounge." The Rep 24 June 1999: 52; Reagor, Catherine. "Avnet to Buy Marshall." AZR 29 June 1999 final ed: E1.
5 N. (def. 4) "(1990s): the proper respect or recognition for an accomplishment or achievement." Juba to Jive: A Dictionary of African-American Slang, rev. ed. Ed. Clarence Major. New York City: Penguin Books, 1994: 365.
6 Fuchs, Dale. "Cubical Culture." Cox News Service. WTH 31 Aug. 1997: E1+; Office Space. Dir. Mike Judge. 20th Century Fox Film Corp., 1999.
7 He was subsequently fired after I posted this issue.
8 Kobler, 177.
9 Reagor, op. cit.
10 McKinnon, Shaun, and Kathleen Ingley. "Phoenix is Growing Fastest." AZR 30 June 1999: A1+.
11 Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Get Out special section), 13 May 1999: passim; Gaslin, Glenn. "The Hype and the Mighty." PNT 20 May 1999: 73-74; Goodykoontz, Bill. "Doughnut Lovers' Deliverance." AZR 2 June 1999: D1; Kelly, Linda. "Krispy Kreme Scores Dunk With New Store." AZR 2 June 1999: E1+; The Rep, 13 May 1999: passim; Rose, Jaimee. "Crazy for Krispy Kreme: Doughtnut Fans Delirious." AZR 2 June 1999: D1-2; Sherrill, Martha. "The Doughnut that Saved Las Vegas." Esquire Sep. 1998: 94+.
12 "Mr. P-body." "Axis Powers." PNT 24 June 1999: 105; "Mr. P-body." "Devil's Triangle." PNT 6 May 1999: 110; Seftel, Howard. "San Francisco Trite." PNT 1 April 1999: 75.
13 "Rick James." NRSE, 493-494.
14 "Mariah Carey." Ibid., 151; Nickson, Chris. Mariah Carey Revisited: Her Story. New York City: St. Martin's Griffin, 1998.
15 "Sinatra-speak" for classy women. Taraborrelli, J. Randy. Sinatra: Behind the Legend. Secaucus, N.J.: Birch Lane Press, 1997: 229.
16 Frye, Cory. "In the City, 'Shaft' was the Baddest." Mid-Valley Entertainer 26 Feb. 1999: 26; James, Darius. That's Blaxploitation! Roots of the Baadasssss 'Tude (Rated X by an All-Whyte Jury). New York City: St. Martin's Press, 1995: 12-18; Outhier, Craig. "Action Jackson." Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Get Out special section) 13 May 1999: 4-5.
17 Romeo, Darby. "Sushi." Retro Hell, 215.
18 Allen, John R. Jr. "Imagining Conflict Without Violence." National Catholic Reporter 18 Jun. 1999: 14.