Category: Arizona

West’s Best Bets: Duel in the Desert

In this installment of the West’s Best Bets, it is time to match-up the two largest universities in the Grand Canyon State of Arizona. Will it be the University of Arizona in Tucson with their dominant softball and basketball teams or Arizona State University in Tempe with their party first, study later approach? I will see if the stories are true and if the women are really as hot as I have heard.

As hard as it is to leave San Diego, I hit the I-8 and head due east to the dusty borderland town of Tucson, Arizona and the University of Arizona. After a little over five hours crossing the Sonora desert on my way to Tucson, I finally begin to see some life once I hit I-10 and realize I still have another hour before I arrive at my destination – the University of Arizona. Located a couple miles northeast of downtown Tucson, the University is in an older part of the city that could definitely use some renovation or at least a fresh coat of paint here and there. The University itself ranks No. 50 in the world and No. 37 nationally according to the Center for University World Rankings – let’s see how they stand up in my rankings:

Athletics Teams

The Amazing Lute Olson

  • Football – Bowl Record of 6-8-1, one shared Conference Title in the Pac-10 as well as two other shared titles in the WAC.
  • Men’s Basketball – 29 tournament appearances including 25 straight, 15 Sweet Sixteens, four Final Fours with two National Title Game appearances and one National Championship. They also have 25 regular season championships in three different conferences and four Pac-10 Tournament Championships.
  • Baseball – 37 Tournament appearances and 16 College World Series appearances and four National Championships including this past year. They have won six regular season Conference Championships.
  • Softball – 25 Tournament appearances (current streak) and 22 College World Series appearances in the past 23 years and eight National Championships. They have won 10 regular season Conference Championships.
  • 18 Total National Championships
  • Other National Championships (5) – Women’s Golf (2), Men’s Golf (1), Men’s Swimming & Diving (1), Women’s Swimming & Diving (1).

The University of Arizona has a rich tradition in certain sports namely softball going to 22 College World Series in 23 years and a current postseason streak of 25 years. Also impressive are the men’s basketball teams reaching the postseason for 25 consecutive years and 16 College World Series appearances for the baseball team as well as the reigning National Champion. Outside of those sports, there isn’t much of anything going on. Their football team has been mired in mediocrity from the onset and is the only current Pac-10 team that has yet to play in a Rose Bowl game. For this, I award the University of Arizona 22 out of a possible 30 points.


The lovely Julia Peerenboom & Nicole Dewald

Let me just say this, this is the desert and it is hot here! The women from all over the country want to escape the cold or the rain and they all come to the desert to get their sun, fun and drink on. With so many beautiful women walking around the campus, it is hard to imagine how any guy gets any real “studying” done. It is definitely a fashion show on campus and I was thoroughly impressed – 24 out of 25 possible points.

Local Bars & Pubs

Like most small cities built around a major university, Tucson really doesn’t have much going for it outside of the college or downtown area. For a city that is so sprawled out without much a freeway system, if you are on campus without a car, you are S.O.L. Fortunately, the only good bars are close to campus so you aren’t missing out on much. The bars along Fourth Avenue are perfect for whatever ails you. From Tucson’s Oldest Bar, “The Buffet” named by Esquire magazine as one of the “Best Bars in America” to sports heaven bars O’Malley’s and Maloney’s, Tucson’s college bar scene is nice. – 17 out of 20 possible points.


At an elevation of 2,643 feet at the airport, Tucson is situated in a valley surrounded by mountains on three sides and portions of the city in the foothills of these mountains can reach up to 3,500 in elevation. Tucson summers are hot reaching into the 100’s but rarely reaching over 110. Winter nights in the city dip into the 30’s, but rarely below freezing. The aforementioned foothill areas receive snow in late December and January. The Spring and Fall are absolutely gorgeous with warm, sunny days and mild evenings–12 out of 15 possible points.

Tailgate – yes please


The University of Arizona currently enrolls just over 39,000 students including three medical schools and the only Medical Doctor granting program in the state of Arizona. They U of A is considered a selective school with the Honors program admitting students with a high school GPA of 3.83 and 86 National Merit Scholars bringing their total to 254. The M.I.S. program is ranked No.1, the Entrepreneurship program is ranked No.3 and the Pharmacy School is ranked No.10 by U.S. News & World Report – 8 out of 10 possible points.


With close proximity to the I-10 for easy escape from the “less than desirable” portion of Tucson, I head 90 miles due northwest to the Phoenix suburb of Tempe and Arizona State University. Located in the southeast portion of the “Valley of the Sun,” ASU is a school that had its fair share of notoriety as one of the top party schools in the country in the past. With a new President and culture change, can Arizona State shed its party image and become a respectable institution of higher learning or is it just a facade? With an enrollment of over 72,000 students over four campuses across the metropolitan Phoenix area, we are going to focus on the Main campus in Tempe with nearly 53,000 students. Let’s see how they match up with their in-state rival:

Athletics Teams

American Hero Pat Tillman

  • Football – Bowl Record of 12-12-1 with a Rose Bowl record of 1-1, and 17 Conference Championships; seven in the Border Conference, seven in the WAC and three in the Pac-10.
  • Baseball – 35 Tournament appearances and 22 College World Series appearances with five National Championships. They have accumulated 21 regular season championships, including four straight in the Pac-10 from 2007-2010.
  • Softball – 23 Tournament appearances and nine College World Series appearances including the last five with two National Championships. They also have two Conference Championships.
  • Men’s Basketball – 13 tournament appearances, advancing three times to the Elite Eight. They also have eight regular

    National Champion Anthony Robles

    season championships; four in the Border and four in the WAC.

  • 23 Total National Championships
  • Other National Championships (16) – Women’s Golf (7), Women’s Track & Field (3), Men’s Track & Field (2), Men’s Golf (2), Wrestling (1).

Arizona State University seems to be one of those bubble teams when it comes to athletics. They show flashes of brilliance in some areas but suffer from an inability to get over the hump when it comes to maintaining a solid presence in any sport. Notable ASU individual athletes are war hero and former football player, Pat Tillman, golfer Phil Mickelson and undefeated one-legged wrestling champion Anthony Robles. For their lack of consistency, I award ASU 22 out of a possible 30 points.


ASU has the hottest women on campus that I have ever visited. Just think about every hot girl at every high school in every Podunk city across this great country of ours…and they all want to go to Arizona State. Wearing bikini tops and daisy dukes to class isn’t out of the ordinary, it is the status quo. With so many drop dead gorgeous women at this school, even normal, everyday beauties that would blow the minds at many other campuses get overlooked at ASU. Thank God for ASU and the bevy of beauties that grace the campus – 25 out of 25 possible points.

Why I Love ASU

Local Bars & Pubs

Bordering Phoenix to the south east, the city of Tempe caters to the college crowd with several great college hangouts along Mill Avenue, but there is also a wide range of bars, pubs and breweries within a stone’s throw from campus. If you are adventurous, there are literally a thousand other bars, pubs and hangouts a quick freeway ride away. The beautiful people get dressed up and hit Scottsdale, the hipsters head to downtown Phoenix, the music fans stay in Tempe or go to Chandler while the pro sports fans hit up the northwest wide where the Arizona Cardinals and Phoenix Coyotes call home. One thing is for sure, you are never going to get bored here – 19 out of 20 possible points.


Tempe and the rest of “the valley of the sun” is a true asphalt jungle in the middle of the desert. Many say that it is a shame having so much urban sprawl in the beauty of the desert and it only adds to the scorching summers. While I see the logic, Tempe is a beautiful city and the heat allows for flip-flops and t-shirts to be worn nearly year–round. With summertime highs hovering around the 110 mark, you don’t want to spend too much time outdoors. The winters are gorgeous with temps rarely, if ever getting below 40 degrees. – 11 out of 15 possible points.

Several nearby lakes fly the ASU Flag


Although acceptance to any of the public universities is ensured to residents in the Top 25 percent of their class; Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University is highly selective and is ranked first in the nation among peer institutions and 5th in Overall Excellence among all universities. The Honor College enrolls over 3,500 students including 613 National Merit Scholars. The Schools of Journalism, Business and Nursing are also ranked in the top in the country – 7 out of 10 possible points.


By the slimmest of margins, Arizona State University has eked out the victory. There are some areas that the U of A is better at but in general the city of Tucson just doesn’t have the things that Tempe and the Valley has to offer your typical college student. The women are gorgeous at both schools and the athletics and weather are relatively similar. I can surely bet that many more University of Arizona students travel to Tempe for fun and excitement than the other way around. Tucson as a college town is cool but limited, in Tempe – the world is your veritable oyster.


The Student Section Celebrates

Arizona Wildcats Picked to Win the Pac-12

A collection of media members that cover Pac-12 men’s basketball announced yesterday what the rest of the country has known for a while – the race between the Arizona Wildcats and the UCLA Bruins is going to be a close one. With a total of 403 points, Arizona edged out UCLA by a single point. UCLA finished the poll with 16 first-place votes as opposed to Arizona’s 15 with the Cal Golden Bears and Washington Huskies receiving three and two votes respectively.

After a major shake up in Tucson over the offseason for Coach Sean Miller and the ‘Cats with the departures of Josiah Turner and Kyryl Natyazhko and the addition of seven new players including four incoming freshmen. This class has been touted as one of the best in the country with two big men Kaleb Tarczewski and Grant Jerrett.

Tarczewski, the 7-0, 230 lb. center signed with Arizona after last years Red & Blue Game where he met other Arizona signees and they bonded immediately. I am sure his decision was aided by the lovely weather in Arizona as opposed to the constant onslaught of snow in his native New Hampshire. His huge presence will be a definite plus to the Cats inside game as will his defense and toughness around the basket. Look for Tarczewski to make an immediate impact to this team.

Shabazz Muhammad

Jerrett was the most heralded recruit coming to Arizona this year. The 6-10, 220 lb. center/power forward out of Chino, CA,  was ranked at #9 on the  ESPN 100. This smart, tough player will dominate the boards as well as hit shots from medium range. He is capable from long range as well which makes Jerrett a threat whenever he is on the court. He will most likely be the starting center for the Cats this season and into future barring any unforeseen circumstances.

Things are becoming clearer for UCLA after receiving the good news that freshman sensation Kyle Anderson was cleared to play. It is now imperative for the NCAA to focus on the bigger prize for the Bruins, freshman phenom Shabazz Muhammad. Muhammad and his his parents Ron Holmes and Faye Muhammad are being investigated to see whether Muhammad received improper benefits while in high school.

If Muhammad is cleared and joins the the Bruins this season, it will definitely make the team and the Conference a force to be reckoned with.

Great American Beer Festival Awards

This past weekend, the city of Denver, Colorado hosted the annual Great American Beer Festival and ten Arizona Breweries entered 42 different beers, coincidentally my favorite number, in hopes of bringing home medals for their hard work. Arizona favorites Four Peaks Brewing from Tempe, SanTan Brewing  from Chandler, Papago Brewing from Scottsdale Dragoon Brewing  and Thunder Canyon Brewery from Tucson, Oak Creek Brewing from Sedona and Lumberyard Brewing from Flagstaff represented the state well.  Entrants from corporate restaurants with local brews included BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse from Chandler as well two Rock Bottom Breweries from Arrowhead and Desert Ridge.

With over 580 breweries and over 2,700 beers this year, over 50,000 people attended the event and the following awards were given to Arizona breweries:

  • In Category 21, there were 51 entries for the Wood and Barrel Aged Beer – the Jerry Maker from BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse beat out the Bourbon Barrel Aged Night Sail from Island Brewing and Local Species from Blue Mountain Barrel House to bring him the Gold Medal.
  • In Category 51, there were 111 entries for American Style Strong Pale Ale with Melvin from the Thai Me Up Brewery taking Gold and Lumberyard IPA bringing home the Silver Medal , Laughing Dog IPA was awarded the Bronze.

I don’t know if it is such a bad thing thing that we only won two awards this year as that means that there is a multitude of new beer being brewed out there that is absolutely incredible. It is tough to see that perennial awarded beers from Four Peaks and SanTan came home empty handed, but it doesn’t mean I like them any less.

Oktoberfest Comes to Arizona

Oktoberfest began last weekend in Munich and will continue until next Monday, the 7th; the 16-day party is in its 179th year and looks only to get stronger as the years pass. The origins of Oktoberfest date back to, of all things, a wedding reception. When Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese wed on October 12, 1810, they invited their subjects to join in the festivities in front of the city gates – thus Oktoberfest was born.

Tucson Oktoberfest Runs all Weekend

Tucson gets the party started with their 11th Annual Festival with plenty of beer, food, entertainment, arts & crafts booths, a children’s play area and dachshund racing – yes, wiener dog races. Beer choices will be Chandler’s own SanTan Brewery’sOktoberfest along with German traditional favorites Paulaner Oktoberfest and Hefeweizen. For those looking for the true taste of Bavaria, there will be bratwurst with sauerkraut, German potato salad(warm), soft pretzels and strudel. Many other food choices will be available including basic burgers, dogs, fries, Greek fare, roasted corn as well as most county fair food. Entertainment will be provided by the Bouncing Czechs with appearances by the Tucson Twists, Lajkonik Polish Folk Ensemble, Coyote Country Cloggers, Pure Natives, Saguaro Strutters and Tucson Tap Attack throughout the weekend. The Dachshund Races are Saturday night at 7pm.

SanTan Brewery Oktoberfest – Sept. 29th

This Saturday, downtown Chandler gets into the Oktoberfest spirit courtesy of SanTan Brewery.
Dr. A.J. Chandler Park will be the place to be for the fifth annual celebration from Noon – 10pm on Saturday the 29th. There will be tons of polka music, German food, craft beer and live music provided by Tempe’s favorite sons, Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers. The cover charge is $15 and $20 on the day of, but Fry’s grocery stores offer a coupon for the festival if you purchase any SanTan beers, kids 12 and under are FREE! The events at this year’s festival look to be worth the price of admission alone – the Beer X Games include beer pong, bag toss(corn hole), stein races, keg rolling and keg stacking. If you are less than athletic, there will also be tricycle races and a bratwurst eating contest with the winner receiving a $75 gift certificate to Von Hansons’s Meats & Spirits.The all important Best Beer Maid Contest will be giving $500 to to the best combination of dirndl & lederhosen.

A Ton of Events at SanTan Brewery’s Oktoberfest in Chandler

Phoenix Oktoberfest Oct. 5th & 6th

Next weekend, October 5th & 6th will be the downtown Phoenix Oktoberfest- an Authentic Old World Family Event at the Margaret T. Hance Park. Admission is $5 with children under 12 admitted for free. This festival focuses more on the authenticity of the old world festival and celebrates German heritage and culture with “Gemuetlichkeit” – a situation that induces a cheerful mood and peace of mind, belonging and social acceptance. Live entertainment will be provided by Echten Wald Baum, direct from Germany. Events include the Alphorn Blowing Contest, Polka Contest and the Warsteiner bier stein holding competition for men and women. Warsteiner will be the official beer of the festival with 16oz drafts as well 28oz Oktoberfest Special souvenir plastic boot – Das Boot. Traditional fare such as bratwurst with sauerkraut along with roasted pig will be available for purchase.

Tempe Oktoberfest Oct. 12-14th

Never to be outdone by the big brother in Phoenix, the city of Tempe will be hosting a 3-Day Festival at the Tempe Beach Park with FREE admission for all, over 30 bands on three different stages and beer, beer, beer. How much beer, you may ask? Along with the three domestic beers, there will be 16 craft beers including Arizona favorites Sleepy Dog Brewery in Tempe and Dave’s Electric from Bisbee. The Beers of the World will feature 16 different beers from Belgium, Italy, Spain, Denmark & New Zealand. But, this is Oktoberfest, where are the German beers? They will have three separate tents filled with 15 German beers to please your palate. Entrants this year include Weltenburger Kloster, Warsteiner and Beck’s. They also offer a German Beer Sampler where you will get eight 4oz. samples for only $20. There will also be a separate wine garden, tons of German food, a Giant Carnival, Kid’s Fun Zone and a German Shoppe where festival goers can purchase collectible beer steins, Alpine hats, ceramic mugs, t-shirts, dirndl and lederhosen aprons.

A Real Woman Can Carry Six Steins

All in all, we have the Germans to thank for this celebratory time of big beers, big bosoms and big bratwurst. It won’t be long before we are mired in our very own American traditions of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but until then, I ask everybody to raise their stein and say “Prost!”

Red, White & You – Top 10 Fireworks Shows in Arizona

This country was founded on the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of a great fireworks spectacular! Here is a list of the best of what the state has to offer, and remember don’t try this at home as fireworks are illegal in the state of Arizona and my buddy Roger Clyne said it best “Everybody knows that the world is full of stupid people.”
July 3rd     Independence Day Music Festival    Salt River Fields    Scottsdale

Country music superstar Miranda Lambert brings her beautiful voice and body to Scottsdale for an Independence Day spectacular sure to delight the entire family with a pre-party starting at 3pm and concert gates opening at 5:00; boasting the Valley’s largest fireworks show. Miranda Lambert is the reigning Queen of Country music with all four of her albums going platinum and has been awarded Female Vocalist of the Year from both the Country Music Association & Academy of Country Music. If her music accolades were not enough, she was also named one of People magazine’s Most Beautiful People & Maxim’s Hottest Women of Country. Joining Miranda will be a flashback name from the 90’s – Darius Rucker, former front-man for Hootie & the Blowfish. In 2008, Rucker released Learn to Live on Capitol Records Nashville and it was a smash with 3 number one singles. Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, I assume that country music has always been a part of him.

July 3rd     Red, White & Boom Community Fireworks    Ahwatukee Country Club
The Ahwatukee Red, White & Boom Festival is a FREE family event located at the Ahwatukee Country Club, 12432 South 48th Street, Phoenix on July 3 from 3-10 p.m. This year, festival goers can look forward to the bright lights of patriotism in an environment overflowing with family friendly activities, entertainment, food, beer, wine and local vendors showcasing their products. On hand will be a Kid’s Water Zone, a Hot Dog Eating Contest, over 40 vendors with food, beverages, beer, wine and more! Live entertainment will be provided by Arizona native & rising star Casey Lee Smith from 3-5pm, a singing competition opened to everybody Ahwatukee Idol from 5-6pm and Radio Disney Rockin’ Road Show from 6-9 p.m. The Radio Disney Road Crew will keep the party hopping with music, interactive games and prizes all centered on family friendly fun as they count the night down until it’s time for fireworks at 9 p.m.

July 4th     A Star Spangled Spectacular     Arizona Pavilions     Marana
The metropolitan Tucson area has grown so much and while the traditional fireworks display at the Tucson Convention Center will still be going on, the City of Marana has put together quite the event in the northwest corner of the city. With festivities beginning at 6pm, the Quarry Pines Golf Club will have a live blues band, jumping castles for the kids, a beer garden for the adults, grass seating, ice cream and a food court for everybody! Food and beer to be provided by Nana’s Kitchen and Native New Yorker with great beer specials. Down the road at Crossroads at Silverbell Park, they will be screening a movie after dark and will also have plenty of youth activities, games and concessions. Both places will have a great vantage point to see the fireworks spectacular that starts at 9pm.

July 4th     A Star Spangled Shoot-Out    Rawhide Western Town    Chandler

Rawhide Western Town

One of my favorite places in the Valley is Rawhide Western Town & Steakhouse. I loved it when they were up in North Scottsdale, but since they made the move down south to the Gila River Indian Reservation, it is so much better! This year’s celebration has it all including cowboys, gunfights, food, fun, family and fireworks! Attractions & Entertainment include live music throughout town, a strolling balloon artist for kids (and adults), action packed performances and an incredible aerial fireworks display. The $10 admission charge includes all attractions as well as the fireworks display. Military and Gila River Indian Community members receive a dollar off admission and children 5 and under are free.

July 4th     Celebration in the Pines     Green Valley Park     Payson
If you are looking to escape the heat of the Valley or Tucson, head on up to the cool pines of Payson. Voted the Best Small Town in Arizona and nestled along the majestic Mogollon Rim – Payson, Arizona comes alive in patriotic colors during its 4th of July Celebration. Be sure to bring your chairs, a picnic basket and blanket, or grab some food from one of the vendors that will be on hand and enjoy a day of fun. The fireworks show & games are all FREE to the public. Beginning at 1pm, there will be games for the kids including sack races, egg toss and the almighty tug of war. Live music will be provided by Phoenix rock/folk band the Technicolors from 7-9pm when the fireworks will take center stage sky. A free shuttle service will run from Payson High School to Green Valley Park. The busses will begin at 5:30 pm and after the show they will return you to the school.

July 4th     Flagstaff Fourth     Several Locations     Flagstaff

Flagstaff has always been a little different than the rest of the state and their Independence Day celebration is no different. The entire city celebrates the Fourth at different areas throughout the day. Beginning at 9am in downtown Flagstaff is the 16th Annual 4th of July Parade with over 100 entries. At noon, be sure to head over to Wheeler Park for an entire day of food, music & family fun including four bands, a food court, jumping castles and crafts for the kids. If you are so inclined, at 3:30 pm the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra will be at the Pepsi Amphitheater in Fort Tuthill, so bring your lawn chairs & blankets and enjoy a stirring, celebratory red, white & blue concert. Once the sun starts setting, it is time for fireworks! The Flagstaff Mall and Marketplace in conjunction with the City of Flagstaff present a Fire-Safe Fireworks show at 9pm but encourage you to show up early to pick out your spot.

July 4th     Tempe Town Lake Festival     Tempe Beach Park     Tempe

Fireworks from Mill Ave. Bridge

Along the picturesque Tempe Town Lake just north of downtown Tempe will be giant fireworks spectacular. Pre-sale tickets are $5 and can be purchased at Fry’s Food stores throughout the Valley. Day of tickets will be $8 each or 2 for $15, military members with valid ID and children 12 and under are FREE. For those looking to make a lovely evening out of it, there is the Sally’s B-B-Q VIP Garden. Tickets are $60 and include a seat witha great view of the show, an awesome dinner of either pulled pork or chicken sandwich with beans, chips, fruit and a chocolate pretzel wand. Two drink tickets are also included and can be redeemed for beer, soda or water. The gates open at 5pm and their will be ton of things for everybody in the family to do. There will be an area called the Family Fun Fest which will offer a FREE inflatable village, not just a jumping castle here and there but an entire village! Also in the area will be a variety of rides, a rock climbing wall, face painting, relay races and many other specialty entertainment items including the Splash Playground. A food court will also be on hand with favorites like dogs, burgers, Macayo’s Mexican food, roasted corn, fry bread, snow cones & ice cream. For those looking for an adult beverage, fret not, there will also be a beer garden to cool you down. Live music will be provided by five bands running the gamut from folk to reggae before and after the fireworks show. The Color Guard from Luke Air Force Base will also be on hand for a ceremonial presentation of the colors and a patriotic F-16 flyover at 7:30 pm and the fireworks begin around 9:20pm.

July 4th     Fabulous Phoenix 4th     Steele Indian School Park Park     Phoenix
The state’s most widely attended festival is aptly held in the heart of the state, downtown in the capitol city of Phoenix at Steele Indian School Park at 3rd Street & Indian School. If you are looking for a truly family oriented festival where no alcohol will be allowed or served, this free event that runs from 6 to 10 p.m. is right up your alley. Featuring three stages of live local entertainment, free inflatable rides and activities in the Kids Zone, Classic Car exhibit, a “Hurricane Beach” area where participants can cool off, and a spectacular Patriotic Program complete with an F-16 flyover. The fireworks display begins at 9:30 p.m. Visitors also can purchase food from more than 50 food and beverage vendors, and enjoy free community information booths and displays. Make sure to bring your lawn chairs or blankets for lawn seating. You are permitted to bring coolers with food and non-alcoholic beverages, but make sure to leave the glass containers at home. The lake and dog park will be closed for the event so no fishing or pets will be allowed.

July 4th     Tucson’s ‘A’ Mountain Fireworks     Tucson Convention Center     Tucson

It was rumored that the annual traditional fireworks display on Tucson’s ‘A’ mountain put on by the City of Tucson was going away. Thankfully, for many Tucsonans, the free show will go on as scheduled. In the past, thousands have descended upon the Tucson Convention Center for a great view of the spectacular. This year, there will be many food vendors, a beer garden and the Southern Arizona Mustang Club will have a classic car show.

July 4th     All American Festival     Peoria Sports Complex     Peoria

Peoria Sports Complex

This one sounds like a blast for those on the Northwest side of the Valley of the Sun. There will be three stages of music; Chevellon on the Country stage, Vintage Rocket on the Rock stage and Radio Disney on the Kid’s Stage. There will also be two water zones of refreshing fun including a snow slide with 12 tons of snow! For the adventurous types, there will be zip-lining and a mechanical bull for you to try. Just when you thought that was all, there is also inflatables, face painting and a rock wall for the kids and Sonic will be sponsoring a foot-long hot dog eating contest. Concessions and beer will be available for purchase or you can bring a cooler with food and/or non-alcoholic beverages. It will be first come, first serve festival seating on the grass so bring your lawn chairs and blankets but leave any portable canopies at home and be marveled by an F-16 flyover at 7pm and the fireworks around 9:15pm. Admission is only $5 for those 13 years and older,12 and under are FREE.

Celebrate Father’s Day in Style

Happy Father's Day

The days of giving Dad a tie are over. Father’s Day is overshadowed annually by Mother’s Day, but it is no less important so take the next 2 weeks to figure out how to take care of the man that taught you how to work a ratchet set or scared away all your boyfriends.


Scotch Tasting Event– The Stone Rose Lounge at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is offering a scotch tasting with Johnnie Walker master distiller from 5-7pm. The $25 cost covers the tasting as well as his drink of choice.

Friday and Saturday

Father-Daughter Tea– Every little girl growing up has her tea parties and it is always in the back of her mind that maybe, one day Daddy will join her tea party. The Ritz Carlton at the Biltmore makes that dream a reality by offering seatings at noon and 3pm for father and daughter to enjoy each other’s company over finger sandwiches, scones & maybe a crumpet or two. All daughters will receive a fresh bouquet of flowers and Dad will receive a commemorative framed photo of his little princess.

Barbecue Basics


Barbecue Boot Camp– Even if your Dad knows how to man his grill, this class at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North on Saturday the 16th will make him forget he knows everything just to attend. Dad will learn the secret to sauces, rubs and special techniques from Executive Chef Mel Mecinas and Executive Sous Chef Jesse Hansen. Also included in this “smokin” deal is complimentary beer from a local brewery, specialty on site hand-rolled cigar as well as golf tips from the pros at Troon North.


4th Annual Big Band Concert and Dance– This event is the one that means the most to me…since my father loves jazz music, I am sure that he would love this event at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort on Sunday the 17th from 3-7pm. The former front man for Count Basie, Dennis Rowland will front the Extreme Decibel Big Band and play familiar tunes from Frank Sinatra & Sammy Davis, Jr. Tickets for this fundraiser to promote jazz education are $30 in advance and $35 at the door or spoil him with a room for only $129 a night which comes with $100 credit to be used for food, beverages or spa services. That’s a grand-daddy of a deal if I ever heard one.

Arrowhead Grill Free Steak – For those looking for a great cut of meat at an even greater price – FREE; I would make reservations now for Arrowhead Grill in Glendale. Executive Chef Charles Schwerd is giving away 25 free steaks for lunch and 25 for dinner for Dad with the purchase of an entree. But wait, there’s more…this is a $28 Delmonico steak; he uses the century old recipe from the posh Park Avenue Delmonico Hotel in Manhattan.

Delmonico Steak Oscar

Rockin’ R Ranch Dinner & Show – If your father has more of a hankerin’ for the Old West, saddle up to this deal in Mesa. Guests will receive a chuck wagon style dinner and a show from the local Western music and comedy act, Rockin’ R Wranglers. The party also includes an old-fashioned gunfight near the OK Corral.

Free Prime Rib Dinner– If Dad prefers a prime rib to the aforementioned steak, Rawhide at Wild Horse Pass is offering a free eight-ounce prime rib with all the fixins’ for all Dads. No minimum purchase required, just show up and ask for your Father’s Day Prime Rib – you’ve earned it!

Top 10 AZ Summer Concerts

Now that the Memorial Day weekend has past us, it is time to prepare for the time of year that only a true desert dweller could love – summer. I have lived here off and on for the past 30 years and Arizona summers are a badge of honor and thus we are rewarded with great summer music. I have listed some of the most special upcoming summer shows so get out and enjoy your reward!

May 31st Jane’s Addiction Tucson Music Hall Tucson

The psychedelic & progressive rockers Jane’s Addiction return once again to the road after both a “Farewell Tour” in 1991 and a “Relapse Tour” in 1997. The band’s ground-breaking and oft-banned music once again has taken the charts by storm with only their fourth studio album in 25 years with The Great Escape Artist.   The band hasn’t toured since 2009 and 2003 before that so make sure to make the trek to Tucson to see the iconic blend of Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro & Stephen Perkins.

June 9th          Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers    Rocky Point, Mexico

These homegrown Arizona rockers once again make their trek south of the border and invade the “Sleepy drinking town with a fishing problem.” This will be the 21st time over the past 11 years that Roger & the boys will double or triple the population of Puerto Penasco for the weekend. Originally from Tucson and a graduate of ASU, Roger pens some of the most original songs about the dusty borderlands of our beloved Arizona. There is a running theme through most of his songs – drinking & partying with friends – so head on down to Arizona’s beach, it is safer now down there than it has ever been and relax with a cold beer in your hand and your feet in the sand.

June 16th       Van Halen    US Airways Center              Phoenix

The veteran rockers return to the road once again this summer with yet another shuffle of the band’s lineup. With the release of A Different Kind of Truth, the band’s first studio album in 14 years, original members Eddie & Alex Van Halen are joined by the prodigal lead singer David Lee Roth and Eddie’s son Wolfgang playing bass guitar. This is Roth’s third stint as the Van Halen lead singer after the band broke up in 1985 and was kicked out again in 1996 after a brief stint together. Roth rejoined the group in 2006 but once again the band went on hiatus after original bass player, Michael Anthony was removed from the website and band in 2007. After struggles with arthritis and visits to rehab, Eddie and Van Halen returned with Wolfgang on the bass guitar and began writing Truth. There are only 11 concert dates in June and if you would like to see this current lineup, I suggest you see them on this tour because with such big personalities, you never know how long they’ll stay together.

June 28th       Van’s Warped Tour        Camelback Ranch              Glendale

Over 80 bands on eight different stages will delight the eyes & ears of the younger generation in a sweat fest on the grounds of Glendale’s Camelback Ranch. With 100°+ temperatures and throngs of tweens, Millennials & Gen X’ers clinging to their youth; this will definitely be the “hottest” concert of the summer. Featured bands on the bill include All-Time Low, Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, The Used & Yellowcard. This Festival runs the musical gamut with not only rock & alternative bands but also explores the genres of metal, electronic, punk, hardcore, hip-hop, ska & reggae. If you are looking for an eclectic blend of music and people, you will not do any better than the Van’s Warped Tour, but remember to stay cool & hydrated with free filtered water stations, shade areas, misting stations and even a slip & slide.

July 3rd           Summerland Tour 2012  Comerica Theatre   Phoenix

The first of the 90’s reunion band tours to hit the beautiful, downtown theatre on the day before Independence Day. The Summerland Tour has super groups Everclear, Sugar Ray and Arizona’s own Gin Blossoms. One-hit wonders Lit & Marcy Playground fill out the bill and will make Sex & Candy your Own Worst Enemy. Everclear is working on having their 7th studio album Invisible Stars available by the time the Summerland Tours embarks in late June. Sugar Ray is still promoting their latest 2009 release Music for Cougars and apparently branching into a new demographic with an album by that name. Tempe’s original Mill Avenue band Gin Blossoms have been touring with three original members and two personal friends of mine Scotty Johnson on lead guitar & Scott Hessel on drums; two great musicians and even better guys, go support them for the good of Arizona.

July 3rd      Independence Day Music Festival   Salt River Fields   Scottsdale

Country music superstar Miranda Lambert brings her beautiful voice and body to Scottsdale for an Independence Day spectacular sure to delight the entire family with gates opening at 5:00 and boasting the Valley’s largest fireworks show. Miranda Lambert is the reigning Queen of Country music with all four of her albums going platinum and has been awarded Female Vocalist of the Year from both the Country Music Association & Academy of Country Music. Her second album, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend won Album of the Year from the CMA’s and her third album Revolution was bestowed with the prestigious title from both the CMA & ACM. If her music accolades were not enough, she was also named one of People magazine’s Most Beautiful People & Maxim’s Hottest Women of Country. Joining Miranda will be another flashback name from the 90’s – Darius Rucker, former front-man for Hootie & the Blowfish. In 2008, Rucker released Learn to Live on Capitol Records Nashville and it was a smash with 3 number one singles and was the first African-American with a #1 song on the country charts since Charley Pride in 1983. In 2009, Rucker was awarded the CMA’s Best New Artist and his sophomore album proved that he has found his niche in country music with 2 additional number-one songs.  Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, I assume that country music has always been a part of him but just recently tapped into the talent and we are thankful for that.

July 7th           Willie Nelson                                   Fox Theatre              Tucson

The “Red Headed Stranger” returns to Tucson at the newly renovated Fox Theatre on the weekend following the Independence Day holiday and I, for one am excited. A renowned author, actor & activist; Willie Nelson is a living legend and an iconic figure in the outlaw country genre. The Country Music Hall of Famer has garnered numerous #1 singles & albums; Best Male Artist & Entertainer of the Year awards as well several Grammy awards.  Country Music Television recently named him the #4 on their list of Greatest Men of Country Music and Rolling Stone magazine listed him as one of the Greatest Singers of All Time. I am assuming that the theatre will need to be fumigated after this show as he is one of the foremost proponents of marijuana legalization.

July 25th        Last Summer on Earth Tour         Comerica Theatre   Phoenix

The second installment of 1990’s super groups continues with the Last Sumer on Earth Tour with venerable rockers Barenaked Ladies, Blues Traveler, Big Head Todd & the Monsters & Cracker. The Ladies, a three piece band for over 20 years recently added a fourth member and will be supporting their newest album All in Good Time. Blues Traveler have seen the ups & downs of rock music stardom and have re-emerged with a stronger, more connected bluesy rock feel with a slimmer, healthier front man John Popper. Colorado’s Big Head Todd & the Monsters has one of the most dedicated fan bases in music today due to their incredible live shows. They are one of those bands that have a truly unique sound that defies classification other than great music. On a personal note, I had the opportunity to hang out & party with Johnny Hickman of Cracker last year in Rocky Point and he is nothing short of amazing. He is a blazingly intelligent songwriter and critical thinker that puts his heart, mind & soul into his songwriting & performing. Cracker is one of the most experimental bands out there dabbling in Americana, alternative rock, country, punk & classic rock. This shows promises to bring back many college memories for me, hopefully not the black-outs.

August 10th     The Tour 2012   Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion   Phoenix

This is the big one, harkening back to sold out stadiums across the country and the world in the 70’s & 80’s, two of America’s best loved rock bands are touring together and will arrive in Phoenix to sufficiently rock your face off.  Rock & Roll soldiers KISS have been rocking & rolling all night for close to 40 years and continue to put on an ostentatious show with their flamboyant costumes and elaborate stage show usually including fire breathing, blood spitting & pyrotechnics. Original band members Paul Stanley & Gene Simmons are joined by Eric Singer & Tommy Thayer who wear the stage makeup of original members Peter Criss & Ace Frehley respectively. Mötley Crue has been playing with all the original members since 2007 and released a new album Saints of Los Angeles to critical but not commercial acclaim. With nine albums, numerous #1 singles and millions of fans worldwide that love the bad boys of rock & roll, this show will be sure to be a rollicking ride with plenty of big hair, acid washed jeans and a fair share of nudity, attractive or not.

August 29th               Neil Diamond           US Airways Center                          Phoenix

I am not sure if there a better way to end the summer then with a concert from one of the most successful artists of all time in a great location like that of US Airways Center. I have seen several concerts there including the opening night of the center for Metallica’s seminal Black album tour. This venue will allow music lovers of all ages to enjoy the classic tunes of the songsmith who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. His music was the soundtrack of my childhood as my mother was a big fan of his music and I challenge you to find somebody who doesn’t sing along when they hear “Sweet Caroline.”

A Real Phoenix is Needed Now


After yet another disappointing season for the Suns in 2012, it was disheartening to see all the past Suns players that were in the playoffs, but wearing different uniforms and I couldn’t help to wonder, what if? What if the likes of Amaré Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion, Leandro Barbosa, Lou Amundson, Jason & ‘Q’ Richardson were on the same roster as Steve Nash? They would have the same troubles that have plagued them since 1994 – no big man underneath. The Suns style of play has long been the “Run & Gun” a high octane offense that relies on quickness and adept shooting from beyond the arc. The Suns adapted the run & gun into the “Fun & Gun” as they were having a good time while winning numerous games along the way which made games in downtown Phoenix a “must do” for the Valley’s elite looking to see & be seen. Unfortunately, as in every sport, defense wins games and the Suns have had serious gaps in forcing turnovers and pounding the glass for rebounds.

The historical Phoenix is a bird who near the end of his life cycle would build a nest and then spontaneously combust fiercely burning the bird & nest leaving behind nothing but ashes. The new Phoenix rises from the ashes to live again and rebuild its life. If all that I have been hearing is true with Steve Nash not coming back to the Suns next season, then suffice to say that Robert Sarver better start looking for some twigs to build that nest. There are a couple bright spots on the roster so there is no need to completely gut the roster and start from square one; just as the Phoenix takes on the traits from its former self, the team moving into the future needs to keep the basic tenets of the “run & gun” style offense and focus more on a defensive style of game. That means either getting current centers Marcin Gortat & Robin Lopez on the Bill Laimbeer diet or going out to get tough, gritty & perhaps dirty players that will gut it out in the trenches, pound the boards and maybe throw an elbow or two to assert their dominance on the court.

Valley sports fans are a fickle bunch. I remember my high school days in the mid 80’s when I was a ball boy for the Suns and they were playing to some of the smallest crowds in the NBA, although being only a couple years removed from their first appearance in the NBA Finals. I can hear the rumbling over the past couple years, first with the strike and only reaching the playoffs once in the past 4 years, the Phoenix Suns need to ignite & be reborn before they lose their fan base for good.

Top 10 Breweries in Arizona

With Memorial Day weekend quickly approaching, our minds begin shifting into vacation mode. Whether it is spending time at the lake, the pool, the backyard barbeque or just relaxing on your couch in the cool confines of your home; one thing that truly says vacation to me is the cracking open of an ice cold beer. The world’s most widely consumed alcoholic beverage and the 3rd most consumed beverage behind water and tea, the history of beer can be traced back to the 8th Century in Germany with four simple ingredients: hops, grain, yeast & water. It hasn’t been until recently that beer enthusiasts have had enough of the mass produced, cheap product that was being distributed by the major breweries in Wisconsin& Missouri. Arizonans took it on their own to use better ingredients to make a better beer; whole hops, all-grain barley malts, unique yeast strains and pure water. I am proud to be a self-proclaimed beer snoband have made it my mission as of late to seek out and sample many of the new craft beers that have been popping up all over the place. Being a denizen of the best state in the Union, I have compiled the best breweries in Arizona – drumroll please…

10. Dragoon Brewing Company Tucson
This newcomer has been brewing and gearing up for their grand opening for the past 15 months and I had the opportunity to visit their facility for a tasting and I must say that I was blown away. With only 2 beers available for tasting, their India Pale Ale(IPA) was a beauty to behold & savor with an ABV(alcohol content) of 7.5% and 83 IBU(hop content) this beer quickly found its place in my heart.

9. Sonoran Brewing Company Scottsdale
Located at the Pinnacle Peak Patio Steakhouse in North Scottsdale, this craft brewery has been churning out some of the state’s best beer since 1996 – the old days in craft brew speak. Their flagships beers the Burning Bird Pale Ale & Desert Amber have long been a staple in my diet of not only great Arizona beers, but great beers period. I recently tried their White Chocolate Ale and although I am usually not a fan of fruit or sweet beers, this was so subtle and left a pleasant after taste that begged me to order another pint.

Sleepy Dog Brewery – Tempe

8. Sleepy Dog Brewery Tempe
Another relative newcomer to the Craft Brew scene, Tempe’s Sleepy Dog Brewery opened up in 2007 right down the street from Arizona State University and immediately had a cult following due to its relative location to another vastly popular brewery – more on them later. Being a parent of two Golden Retrievers myself, I love the dog theme and feel right at home when I am there. Sleepy Dog is a production brewery with an intimate tasting room that boasts sports, music & they even allow you to bring in your own food from elsewhere because they focus on the beer. Thank goodness for that because their beer is phenomenal! Having tasted four of their hand-crafted brews, I am going to have to say that their Wet Snout Milk Stout was my favorite; a dark, rich & creamy stout that fills you up right.

Barrio Brewing Co. in Tucson

7. Gentle Ben’s Brewing Company Tucson
Located basically on the University of Arizona campus, Gentle Ben’s Brewing Company has been brewing award winning beers since 1991 from their original location on University and also at Barrio Brewing Company just west of the downtown area located across from the railroad tracks. I have had the opportunity to try all of their beers but I believe their original to be the best. The Red Cat Amber is super smooth and highly enjoyable; not too hoppy, not too thick – a perfectly balanced beer that hits on all areas but allows all beer style lovers to bask in its refreshing flavor.

Oak Creek Brewery – Sedona

6. Oak Creek Brewing Co. Sedona
I love Sedona and I love craft brew so when I found this place while looking for the Red Rock Tours office with my family many years ago, I fell in love and it has been a mainstay and “must visit” for anybody & everybody that visits Sedona and/or Oak Creek Canyon. Their brews have consistently won gold medals from both the North American Brewers’ Association and at the Great American Beer Festival. Their flagship beer and my personal favorite Nut Brown Ale sets the standard for what all nut brown ales should aspire to. The heartiness of the nut flavor comingled with a hint of spice that finishes with a gentle touch of bitter hops that makes this beer a true pioneer in its fieldthat should be savored time and time again.

5. Papago Brewing Scottsdale
This popular beer bar has been a mainstay of both the Tempe & Scottsdale crowds due to its proximity in south Scottsdale. The extensive tasting room not only serves its amazing beers but also houses 30 taps as well as nearly 500 different bottled beers from the region, country & the world. Opened in 2001, this brewery has made quite a splash on the craft brew world and is home to one of the few fruit beers that I absolutely cannot do without! The Orange Blossom Wheat Beer is definitely in my TOP 10 favorite beers of ALL TIME. This light American wheat ale has flavors of mandarin oranges and vanilla and once it hits your palate, you’ll be sure to harken back to your youth standing outside the ice cream truck with your bike on the ground savoring your first creamsicle. This experience is exponentially magnified because it is a beer – mmmmm ice cream beer.

Nimbus Brewing – Tucson

4. Nimbus Brewery Tucson
What began as a small, local brewery in the spring of 1996 has grown into the largest brewery based in Arizona with three 150-barrel fermenters that stand nearly 30 feet tall and holding nearly 5,000 gallons of beer each. The brewery opened up two locations statewide with bistros serving their craft beer and an extensive menu including burgers, brewpub food & wood-fired pizzas. Nimbus beer is renowned throughout the state for its collection of natural beers that derive from the local Tucson groundwater that resembles that of the water found on the Burton in the heart of England. It is that exceptional water that makes their flagship beer, Old Monkey Shine a favorite of true beer enthusiasts. This traditional English Strong Ale is a medium-bodied ale with a dark, roasted flavor derived from seven different malts and brown sugar. This dark beer starts with a touch of sweetness but finishes dry and crisp. Although this beer has an explosive flavor profile that could almost be considered a dessert beer, it packs quite a punch with an ABV content of 8.2%! I assume the name is derived by the deceptiveness of the beer and its effects on the casual beer drinker.

Lumberyard Brewing Co. in Flagstaff

3. Lumberyard Brewing Co. Flagstaff
The owners of Flagstaff’s iconic Beaver Street Brewery & Whistle Stop Café have truly outdone themselves when they restored one of the town’s last standing buildings from the lumber era in 2000 and created the Lumberyard Brewing Company. Two of their beers have been consistently awarded best in class including their Red and IPA. The American Craft Beer Festival has awarded the IPA from Lumberyard Brewing the gold medal two years in a row, which is an amazing feat as it is by far the most popular category with nearly double the entrants of other categories. This American IPA has an ABV of 6.1% and hits 90 on the IBU scale. This copper colored ale is heavier bodied with a high bitterness that is sure to please any & all “hop heads.” The citrus & floral notes with a subtle malt ending make this beer one of the best IPA’s that I have experienced.

SanTan Brewery Chandler

2. SanTan Brewing Company Chandler
Another newcomer to the Arizona craft brew scene that is consistently vying for the top spot for best brewery in Arizona opened up in downtown Chandler in 2007 and hasn’t looked back since. With its dedication to only distributing their beer in cans, SanTan Brewery has established itself as the front runner of the recent canned beer renaissance. Once believed by beer snobs that canning beer was less attractive, SanTan brewers realized that despite its appearance, canning beer was the best way to keep the beer away from harmful lights and temperature to maintain its superior quality & freshness. They are the National sponsor of the Ameri “Can” Beer Festival recently held in Scottsdale that welcomed over 150 local & National canned beers. MensHealth magazine recently named SanTan the best beer in football cities in 32 teams, 32 beers.

Their list of standard & seasonal beers is incredible and I have yet to have a beer there that I didn’t love. My favorite is the Devil’s Ale which is a West Coast Pale Ale that takes its name from the maroon & gold color of the beer and the nearby ASU Sun Devils. It is not only my favorite, but recently received a Gold Medal at the 2011 Great Arizona Beer Festival. Their seasonal beers are a lot of fun and are quite creative with names like Count Hopula Blood Red I.P.A., Sex Panther Double Chocolate Porter & Mr. Pineapple Wheat Fruit Ale.

Four Peaks Brewery – Tempe

1. Four Peaks Brewing Company Tempe
What makes Four Peaks Brewery the best brewery in Arizona? It isn’t just the beer; it’s the atmosphere, the food, the people, the history, the feeling of community that is conveyed to every guest that visits the old Pacific Creamery originally constructed in 1892. The one place that I can truly call my “home brewery” even though I have visited myriad breweries throughout the state, country & yes, the world. While attending college at ASU, there wasn’t a day that went by when I wasn’t at the brewery or enjoying a growler or six pack from “The Peaks,” perhaps that is why it took my 6 ½ years to graduate, but I digress. This is the #1 point of pride in my hometown of Tempe as well as my home state of Arizona and I request, nay require all out of town visitors to visit there and they all fall in love with the place and plan their vacations with a return trip to Four Peaks.

Their eight standard beers are the most rewarded beers in the state and have garnered international acclaim. Most recently, The World Beer Cup awarded Gold Medals to their Sunbru Kölsch Style and Hop Knot India Pale Ale and a Bronze Medal to their 8th Street English Style Ale. While I have enjoyed many a pitcher of their banana & clove flavored HefeWeizen on their patio on a hot summer day and downed numerous pints of the Raj IPA, it is their Scottish Style Ale – Kilt Lifter that has made Four Peaks famous. A strong Scottish Ale that boasts a 6% ABV, amber color, malty sweetness & just a touch of smokiness with a caramel & toffee aroma, this beer is sure to make you hear the legendary sounds of bagpipes playing “Danny Boy” in the background. If there is a singular point to this article, it is “Run, don’t walk, to Four Peaks Brewery.”