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Sunday, September 13, 2015

SEXY VEGETARIANS AND FREEWAY ART: WELCOME TO SCOTTSDALE

We hear “Only in Scottsdale” comments a lot from those suffering from “Scottsdale Envy.” If you read between the lines you know that what they are really saying is “Gosh,  I sure wish I lived in Scottsdale!”

Who can blame them? Where else can you find a city that preserves its classy individuality along with the ability to laugh at itself?

For example, a woman from Scottsdale once made it to the finals of a contest to determine PETA’S “sexiest vegetarian next door.” Even better, she had gone vegetarian 16 years earlier as a tribute to her dog! Unfortunately for her, she didn’t win the contest but it wasn’t because her dog didn’t vote for her.

Even funnier was the “Tuesday Night Book Club,” a CBS reality show that ran for two episodes in June, 2006. To say this show was “reality” would be stretching the truth a bit.

The premise was for a group of typical Scottsdale housewives to get together once a week to discuss recent books they had read. Unfortunately, there was very little book talk but plenty said about sex and gossip. Besides that, only a couple of the women were even from Scottsdale and while the meeting place was supposed to be the home of one of the ladies, it was actually a rental used only for the show. I think they did well getting through two episodes before the inevitable cancellation.

In February of 2010, Scottsdale decided that with the population explosion in the northern part of town it would make sense to widen Pima Road north of Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard. It was a great idea as two lane Pima was becoming a bit of a bottleneck south of Pinnacle Peak Road.

Today, north Pima runs smoothly with its extra lanes all the way to and from Pinnacle Peak Road. However, that doesn’t mean that the final result was obtained without the usual construction difficulties that are typical with extensive roadwork.

The construction with its many barricades became reminiscent of riding the roller coaster at an amusement park. To make it even more fun, the barricades were changed regularly to accommodate the construction.  Every day was a new adventure especially for cell phone users as they had to actually pay attention to their driving. Fortunately, it ultimately was worth the hassle.

North Pima Road construction, 2010 (Mark Henle, AZ Republic)
Speaking of classy individuality, can anyone name another city with public art displayed on its freeway walls? Scottsdale has it plus when they built original sections of the 101 freeway through the north part of town, there were some complaints from homeowners living near the road that the surface that was used created a bothersome noise from the friction of the car tires. A special rubberized coating was applied to the road in that area and the complaints ceased. I doubt if many other places would have been so accommodating.

Can you name which city was the first to use the mechanized, one armed, garbage collection trucks we see today? If you said “Scottsdale” you may go to the head of the class. When compared with art covered freeway walls, garbage collection doesn't seem very romantic but having the “Godzilla” truck come by weekly to empty one large container on wheels sure beats dragging several cans to the curb on garbage day.

Unfortunately into every life some rain must fall. With the economy foundering a few years ago, Scottsdale had to announce some cutbacks in city services. The City Council at that time was looking for some viable method to increase revenue and one suggestion was to sell advertising space on city owned property. They may have actually done that somewhere in town that I don’t know about but the first thing I thought of was the possibility of a large billboard on the edge of town reading “Welcome to Scottsdale, brought to you by Walmart!” If that would have actually happened, one can only wonder what McDonald’s restaurants would have dreamed up for McDonald Drive.

As far as rain actually falling rather than metaphorically, one of the fun pastimes in Scottsdale before a bridge was built, was to visit the Indian Bend Wash between Hayden and Scottsdale Roads during a heavy rainfall to watch some foolish people try to navigate their cars through the rushing water only to be disappointed when the car stalled and they had to be rescued. It was an expensive proposition for them to pay the towing charge plus a fine from the city for acting a few levels below what most would consider normal intelligence.

I remember one guy in particular who had a new Lexus practically destroyed by attempting the crossing. He was an older, distinguished looking guy who looked like he was successful at making money but not intelligent in the area of water since he said that the next time it rained he would try again. For him, “Only in Scottsdale” seemed appropriate