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Plight of the Phoenix: How I Stopped Worrying About On-Coming Traffic and Learned to Love the Valley

The Crank

Here are some of the dos and don’ts when driving around the Phoenix area:

1. First, learn to pronounce the city name properly; it’s FEE-NICKS. There are other names to learn such as Awatukee (Ah-wa-Too-Kee) but that will be included in the advanced (Core-ss).

2. The morning rush hour is from 5:00 am to noon. The evening rush hour is from noon to 7:00 pm. Friday’s rush hour starts on Thursday morning.

3. The minimum acceptable speed on most freeways is 85 mph. On Loop 101, your speed is expected to at least match the highway number. Anything less is considered ‘Wussy’.

4. Cars/trucks with the loudest muffler go first at a four-way stop; the trucks with the biggest tires go second. However, in the East Valley, SUV-driving, cell phone-talking moms ALWAYS have the right of way.

5. If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear-ended, cussed out, and possibly shot (first offense). Thankfully, recidivism is low.

6. Never honk at anyone. Ever. Seriously. EVER.

7. Road construction is permanent and continuous in Phoenix. Detour barrels are moved around in the dead of night purely for entertainment purposes.

8. Watch carefully for road hazards such as drunks, skunks, dogs, barrels, cones, cows, horses, cats, mattresses, shredded tires, squirrels, rabbits, crows, vultures, javelinas, roadrunners, and the coyotes feeding on people who mistakenly honked.

9. If someone actually has his/her turn signal on, wave him or her to the shoulder immediately to let them know it has been ‘accidentally activated.’

10. If you are in the left lane and only driving 70 in a 55-65 mph zone, you are considered a road hazard and will be ‘flipped off’ accordingly. If you return the flip, refer to rule #6 on honking.

Vegas San Gennaro: Leave the Feast, Take the Cannoli

Bald Tony

Mick Zano was supposed to come for *sigh* yet another visit earlier this month.  Due to circumstances beyond his control he had to delay a week.  Unfortunately I was working overtime, so it looked like things were going to be a bust.  Then, being the good friend and inadequate employee I am, I timed Zano’s visit with a three day suspension.  Whoo Hoo!  So, to be clear, I would not be getting paid for three days AND spending extra money.   Dave Ramsey would not be pleased.

I have enjoyed going to different festivals around town, and attended the San Gennaro Feast several times.  I missed it this May, but September was going to be a lock, especially since it had moved to a more central valley location, the Rio Hotel & Casino.

So there we were, two yutes—well, compared to The Crank—looking for My Cousin Guinea. The SGF is five days long, and I usually go during the week and at night to avoid the huge crowds and daytime heat.   With Zano in tow I broke both of those commandments and went on a blistering sunny Saturday just as the gates opened.  Five minutes later I realized my mistake when Zano proclaimed, “What have carnies done to my Italian grandmother?!”  

San Gennaro Feast

It all went downhill from there.  I should have known better than to bring an Italian guy who only wanted to get to the next Irish pub.

He immediately started with his infamous Longuyland kvetching, “I’ve been to the real San Gennaro Feast in the real Little Italy, and it’s twice as big, twice as many days, no cover charge, more food and drink, yada, yada, yada.” 

I hate to admit when Zano is right, but he had a point.  The first three food dishes we ordered “weren’t ready yet.”  And we did not enter the Feast and run to the food vendors.  We scoped the action for an hour before turning our stomachs foodward.

San Gennaro No Feast

Mmmm, not prepared yet

Did the vendors think people would not eat before noon?  Another disappointment was the lack of entertainment.  At night, there are street performers and musicians roaming the Feast.  During the day it was Rio security and Las Vegas police, which made Zano twitchier than a paranoid schizophrenic on meth (especially with the strip club limo incident fresh in his mind).

We said arrivederci to the SGF barely two hours after entering, by far the least amount of time I have ever spent there.  In order to have at least one authentic Italian experience, I knocked out Zano and stuffed his carcass in the trunk on the way to our next destination.   Instead of drinking with the Irish, he’ll be sleeping with the fishes. 

Next week is the Greek Food Festival.  OPA!  The week after that is the Asian Food Festival. The next week is the Renaissance Festival.  I don’t plan on letting Zano out of the trunk before then.  Actually I think I’ll just leave him at McMullan’s next time.   Oh wait, he’s persona non grata there.  Well, I guess I could leave him at an Irish pub where he’s welcome.  Hmmmm, good thing I have several months to find one.