Coffee heat rising

Driving in Phoenix…with God as My Copilot

Human, weaseling her way through stupendous traffic:  Good gawd!

Divinity: Yasss?

Human: Ooops! Uh-oh…

Divinity: What d’you want now?

Human: Well…uhm.,.well, Your Godship…why do you keep doing that?

Divinity: Which of the infinity of things that I keep doing have you got in mind?

Human: You know…the thing with the morons?

Divinity: Which morons?

Human: The morons that are ALWAYS ON THE ROAD EVERY TIME I GET IN MY CAR!

Divinity: Well…possibly every driver on the road except thee is a moron.

Human: Your Godship! Not all of God’s Critters can be morons!

Divinity: I wouldn’t put any money on that, if I were you.

Human: Okay, okay. But…then why do all the morons in the freakin’ world stream out of their houses, leap into their cars and get in front of me every time I turn on the ignition?

Divinity: Hmmmm…..  Fate?

Human:  But Your Godship: you are Fate!

Divinity: One could argue that.

{sigh} Evidently God has it in for me.

Hopped in the jalopy along about noonish yesterday and headed down toward Sassy Glasses, La Maya’s favorite overpriced eyewear store — whose denizens have shown themselves to be a) exceptionally competent and b) well connected with other professionals in the eyeball profession. I need a referral to an exceptionally competent ophthalmologist to deal with the latest Joy of Old Age that I’ve developed.

Right away, at Main Drag South and toney Central Avenue, I come across a fender-bender. A pretty young woman has rear-ended a young man’s vehicle at the light. She is weeping. He is stalking across the intersection headed for the condos on the east side, where he evidently lives or has pals who can help out.

Should I stop and see if she is OK? Should I call 911?

No. All young people have cell phones and they all know how to call 911. No doubt the cops and the medics are en route. Best to get the Hell outta the way.

Continue toward the eastern edge of the North Central commercial district, wherein resides the glasses place. Is it…wait, wait…is it really early afternoon on a Monday? W…T…F?????? Traffic is just freakin’ FIERCE.

Finally make my way to the parking lot at the strip shopping center where Sassy Glasses resides. After a fight, get parked near the front. Hop out, saunter over to the entrance, and…find the door LOCKED.

At the risk of repeating myself, think WTF???????

Figure it must actually be Sunday, not Monday. Dayum!

Loop back toward AJ’s, there to buy tonight’s dinner and a few not-too-perishables for the upcoming Xmas chivaree with my son.

Westward/southward bound, the roads are JUST JAMMED. It’s 2:00 in the afternoon! What. The. Hell?

Get to AJ’s. Buy a few provisions. Ask the butcher if I need to reserve a pair of those gorgeous prime rib steaks to pick up right before Christmas. He says no, that’ll be OK.

Head back up North Central.

Realize I’d better bypass Central and Northern, the site of the fender-bender. Detour across a minor main drag that bisects a neighborhood flanking Central, continue past 7th, and veer north on 15th, a feeder street that feeds, all right: the Capitol district with traffic cruising in from the west side, the north side. and  dropping off the freeway.

Get up into the hood, by-passing the wrecky-poo scene. Come to the little road into my part of the’ Hood. Signal to turn left.

A-n-n-n-n-d…

How DO the Morons know when I’m on the road?

A southbound moron, who has the right-of-way in neon-lit spades, STOPS and gestures the moron before me to turn left in front of him. Illegally. In spades.

My moron accommodates him.

WHY THE FUCK DO PEOPLE DO THAT?????? FORGODSAKE WHEN YOU HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY TAKE THE GODDAMN RIGHT OF WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I stop. He gestures for me to turn left, illegally, in front of him.

Asshole.

No, stupid, I am not going to put myself at risk by making an illegal turn in front of oncoming traffic on a sub-main drag, you damnfool MORON. I now turn right into the neighborhood flanking the’Hood, dodging the nitwit.

This of course, takes me out of his way, but it also aims me in the exact opposite of the direction I need to go, through Lower Richistan’s winding roads infested by playing children, frolicking dogs, and watchful parents. Wend my way over four blocks of irrelevant streets. By the time I arrive back at the intersection from whence I dodged the fool, said fool is gone.

Get home. Pissed.

Divine laughter emanates from the graying skies.

 

Duck and Cover! HOLY mackerel!!

LOL! (okay okay, you have to be a fully jaded resident of the ‘Hood to think this is funny…baaaad human!) Remember how I wondered, in a recent post, how long it would take the young military family who just moved into my old house, up near the intersection of Gangbanger’s Way and Conduit of Blight, to discover that a cop helicopter parks over the house every Friday and Saturday night at 11 p.m. sharp? Welp…yesterday we got Parked Helicopter with a vengeance — and not even a Friday, not even the middle of the night. 😀

Along about 7 in the morning, we got the old familiar WAP WAP WAP WAP WAP…but louder than normal. Meaning closer than normal: the guy was hovering over a house one street to the north and three lots to the west of the Funny Farm. WTF?

Check the neighborhood Facebook page, where gossip has it that a cop was killed in the slum apartments to the west of us, facing on Blight, and they’re trying to catch the perp. Or noooo, it was a K9 cop that was shot and killed. Or…whatEVER…somethin’s comin’ down….

Hm. Fetch the pistol. Consider whether ’tis better to lock all the doors and hunker down or to throw the dog in the car and head out to Sun City. Blight is shut down tight…I’d have to go around Robin Hood’s Barn to get west to drive to SC. My son, you may be sure, would not be pleased to see his muther and her dog show up in his driveway at seven in the morning.

An hour or three later, the story  finally hit the local PlayNooz. They killed the perp, but the dog, contrary to earlier reports, was not dispatched to its maker.

Over to Faux Gnus, to see what they have to say about it. Believe it or not, Fox is the only decent broadcast news station in the county. Hmmm… This report has the dog shot, too. The apartments are not the weary piles directly to the west of us, but an even tireder complex just north of Gangbanger’s Way. This garden spot adjoins the trailer park where we nearly bought a mobile home for SDXB’s mom, Tootsie…but (fortunately…wisely) thought better of it.

Those folks who moved into my old house, much closer to that bucolic intersection…bet they’re just beginning to get the idea of why I moved away from there. Won’t be long before they start to wonder why the hell they didn’t just move into base housing for the duration of Dad’s assignment.

Yarnell’s a-callin’… One thing you can say about Yarnell: even if they have a police department (highly unlikely), it can’t afford a helicopter.

No helicopters over this one…

In the Village Cluster

Ever think of a city not as a single vast sprawling entity but as a set of villages that, for whatever strange reason, happen to have clustered together? That, sometimes, is what lovely Phoenix seems to be. Not just in relation to its endlessly sprawling Southern-California style suburbs, but where its own internal districts are concerned.

And one of the quirks of living here is that you tend to hang out a lot in your own village and, for long periods, to visit only a limited set of other villages. One reason for that, of course, is that you have a routine that puts you on a fairly set path. The other is that driving in this city is not very much fun.

It used to be fun — driving, I mean. Back in the dark ages, when the roads carried about a quarter to a third as much traffic as they do today, sometimes one would actually get in the car and go exploring, just for the helluvit — because yeah, driving here used to be a pleasant way to pass the time. Now it’s just a giant, sprawling headache.

Today I had to revisit the dermatologist whose office is halfway to Yuma. This time I and my fellow homicidal drivers escaped the panoply of wrecks. But I had a couple of errands to run on the way home. This required me to visit my old stomping grounds — the historic Encanto District — and then cruise up Central Avenue to AJ’s fancy overpriced grocery store. Usually I evade driving on Central, because I hate the accursed lightrail train, which makes a hair-tearing mess of the traffic signal timing. But today cruising north on that tangled road seemed like a path of…well, less resistance.

Mid-central Phoenix is one of the “villages.” It’s one my mother and I used to hang out in a lot, and it’s also one I used to drive through with some frequency when the ex- and I lived downtown. Today it occurred to me that my mother would barely recognize it, here in the 21st century. For that matter, the 20-year-old me would be lost there, too. Our favorite venue, the formerly upscale Park Central, no longer houses stores at all, leastwise not so I can see. It’s mostly offices, a modern art gallery, and clutter. All up and down Central Avenue, developers have built four- to six-story apartment buildings, as well as a few new high-rises. These apartments are real rabbit-warrens…all shiny and new now, but the sort of junk that you know will be just that — junk — within a couple of decades: crowded and cramped and tenementy. A few places persist, but most of our old hangouts are gone, replaced with smaller, shinier, more harder-edged hangouts.

So after driving and hassling and driving and driving, I finally arrive home. Let the dog out. Sit down. Turn on the computer. And find this amusing message in the email from WonderAccountant, my neighbor across the street:

Hi–

I guess this is the happening corner.  This morning I looked up from my computer to see a police car parked in front of my house with the officer walking towards the northeast corner of the house.  They began talking to a person that I could not see.  A few minutes later two policemen escorted her to another waiting cop car down in front of Felicia’s house.  Not sure what was happening.  The woman was youngish, African American, wearing leggings, boots, and a knitted cap.  It struck me that she was dressed for the weather.  I didn’t see anything else.

 Perhaps you did?

Perhaps not, this being the first I’d heard of it.

Felicia is Other Daughter for this blog’s purposes, the lesser offspring of the Perp, known to the real world as Tony the Romanian Landlord. Between me and Felicia lives Terri, another freelance accountant. That gives us three lone women living in a row on this side of the street. And of course, facing us we have W.A., who is alone all day while Mr. W.A. works at his partnership’s office.

{sigh}

Yesterday I was mooning on to myself about how much I love my house and how much I love my neighborhood and how really, when ya come right down to it, I can’t imagine moving (because no place is any better and precious few places are as good) and how for sure I’m going to age in place and stay here till I croak over.

Today Prescott and Tucson look better and better…

Dogs, Scofflaws, and Penitentiary Gray

Penitentiary Gray: the color of 2020?

One of the disorienting characteristics of Old Bat-hood is that your home is decorated in outmoded styles and colors. It stays that way because you like it that way. But occasionally gazing upon the latest fashion is…well…yes, disorienting. 😀

The dog and I got a very late start on this morning’s doggy-walk. Last night’s chill persisted for some time after dawn, plus the human is in an even lazier mood than usual. So it was after 10 before we set out. By then, almost all the dog-walking hordes had come and gone. The city is laying down black oily stuff over the cracks in Richistan’s neighborhood lanes, so we detoured to the park. This is usually problematic, because during the doggy-walking hours the place is overrun with dogs, many of them in the company of morons who ignore the large signs that read DOGS MUST BE ON LEASH. The latter — dogs, not morons…or rather, dogs as well as morons…are running loose unattended and can be quite a nuisance if they choose to pick a fight. Which inevitably one of them will.

But late in the morning, the park was almost empty, except for a cluster of parents with small children frolicking on the playground equipment and sharing their covid germs with each other and with their relatives. Quite lovely: quiet, peaceful, green…a perfect doggy-walk.

We got about four-fifths of the way around the park before we ran into the obligatory moron: some woman with not one but two big mutts running loose. One of them spotted Ruby and immediately charged her, followed by the moron’s other loose dog. Ruby being a corgi and therefore unafraid of anything, charged back. Within seconds, a dog-fight was about to start.

I hauled Ruby to the street and hollered CALL YOUR DOGS to the moron. She managed to deflect them as I crossed to the other side of the road. “What part of the law can you not understand?!” I hollered at the bitch. The human one, that is. People are SO frickin’ stupid!!!!!

The thing that pisses me about this is that I pay for that park with my taxes, too. Every year my property taxes go up. Last year they were wayyyy on the high side of what I can afford, leading me once again to contemplate the probability that I will not be able to live in my home for the rest of my life. If I’m going to be made to pay ruinous taxes, I should at least be allowed to use the facilities those taxes pay for — to use them safely and without harassment from scofflaws.

Oh well.

Have you noticed that The Stylish Color of 2020 is — appropriately enough — penitentiary gray? It seems as though every freshly painted house in the city is painted the shade of Sing Sing’s walls. Just hideous! Started counting them at the far side of the park. By the time we got back to the Funny Farm — about a third of a mile — I’d spotted TEN (yes: 10) penitentiary gray houses.

Gray and white is the new avocado green and gold. 😀 People decorate the inside with gray and white, too: every refurbished house has gray floors, gray walls, and white trim and cabinets.

Neutral colors were the style when I moved into this neighborhood, during the late Middle Ages, and they persisted for a good 20 or 30 years. My house is painted a bland shade of desert-floor gray-brown, with smart white trim (that, at least, has not gone out of style). Most of the neighbors’ houses are cream-colored or beige. Whatever dark prison gray is, it’s certainly not bland.

Here’s one that someone thinks is “awesome“:

And it no doubt would be, if you buy everything at Ikea and so can afford to redecorate when you get tired of it…in about a year or two. 😀

 

Driving to Drink…

Arrrghhhh!!!!! I’ve been on the wagon — totally, since the middle of July — a good four months, with no particular cravings or sense of desperation. But I hafta tellya…nothing will drive you to drink faster than 15 miles behind the steering wheel in the lovely City of Phoenix. Add a junket through Costco to that and you might as well buy a giant $40 supply of Maker’s Mark. That, presumably, is why Costco is able to sell the stuff by the flat.

To start with, wherever you’re going in Phoenix, you can’t get there from here. Every damn road is blocked, narrowed, closed, detoured, or hosting a fender-bender. So for any given twenty-minute drive, the smart driver allots thirty and preferably forty minutes.

To end with, you get to share these constricted, limited roads with every moron on the planet! And one of Newton’s Laws of Physics states, clear as day:

If there’s a moron, he’ll get in front of you.

True fact.

This particular natural law extends to the interior of Costco, where patrons flock like leaderless sheep: meandering, pondering, ruminating as they block the aisles so everyone behind them has to detour into another aisle where, lost and confused, they stand pondering and ruminating on the question of where on earth whatever they want might be stocked.

The place was mobbed…and this was around 1 p.m. on a Thursday. Presumably the hordes combined early Thanksgiving shoppers with hoarders — we’re told people are snatching all the toilet paper and paper towels off the shelves again.

Brother!! If that’s the case, I’m feeling pretty pleased about my earlier hoard-fest: the garage, freezer, and pantry cabinets are now stuffed with paper goods, cleansers, flour, and staple foods, enough to last for several months. IMHO, if you didn’t grab as much as you could stock in after the dust settled from the last frenzy, you must be crazy. Clearly, as we can see from our politics and from our antics in the stores, a large portion of Americans have gone off the deep end.

At any rate, back in the Department of Driving: went to try to get some of Costco’s generously marked-down gasoline…and found every gas pump jammed with wannabe customers extending in lines halfway to Yuma. Decided to opt that: there’s enough gas to last for awhile.

It’s mighty early to be filling up for a Thanksgiving weekend in the Rim Country. My guess is, that’s not the cause of the gas-pump traffic jam.

Costco closed its store here in mid-central Phoenix, the decrepit shopping center that it occupied having grown…well…beyond decrepit. That shopping center, ChrisTown, faces on Conduit of Blight Blvd…and when we say “blight,” we’re not kidding. What used to be a middle-income area has slipped to alarmingly lower-income, with drug-dealing gangs holding forth to the west, all along Camelback Road between Conduit of Blight and the I-17 freeway. The store served the ritzy North Central district, the Encanto and Palmcroft areas, and the less affluent strip of historic housing extending north from Encanto all the way up to Sunnyslope. Except for the lawyers & doctors of North Central and Encanto/Palmcroft, the largest part of this demographic was not in the market for a lot of Costco’s fancier products. And you could tell this if you shopped in that store and one or two others — Costco targets its demographic, and many of the chain’s commonly stocked items — such as blue cheese in blocks, for example — never did appear in the ChrisTown store.

So, with that store closed, those of us who like to buy gas at Costco have as our closest choice the store up north on the I-17…and that would explain the mobs at the gas pumps. After this, I’ll have to spring for a few bucks extra for a fill-up at the rapacious QT station up the way, or drive out to the Paradise Valley store when the car needs gas.

So I didn’t get gas while I was visiting the Costco, one of two frustrations of a frustrating trip. The other: that store shares a large parking lot with a Sportsman’s Warehouse. Some years ago I bought a pair of Teva sandals there, which are great walking sandals. The other day the peripheral neuropathy was flaring so badly I couldn’t continue the doggy walk — to get home, I’d had to take off the aging Sanitas (Dansko-style clogs) and go barefoot for a third of a mile. Those clogs are pretty well shot, sooo…out of curiosity, the next day I tried wearing those Tevas for the doggy walk. And damned if they didn’t make it possible to get around the entire mile of the short-course doggy trail!

They’re red. Nice, but gaudy. Realizing that henceforth these will be the New Old-Lady Shoes, I decided to buy a new pair, preferably in black.

Shoot in to Sportsman’s Warehouse, collar the first clerk I see in the shoe department, point to my clod-hopping hiking sandals, and say “I need a new pair of these.”

She says, “We ran out of them.”

Ducky. I drove halfway to Timbuktu to get a pair of shoes that they’re not carrying. And that Amazon reviewers say do not fit the way they used to — so unless you’re nuts, you’d better try them on before buying. Shee-UT!

Back in the car, I decided to cruise down the hated freeway instead of returning home by the surface streets, which had taken me to Costco by the scenic route, via the credit union, where I’d needed to deposit a couple of Medigap checks.

The damn freeway is also jammed, and as soon as I merge into the hectic traffic I spot a sign flashing the message that the off-ramp before mine is closed, screwuyouverymuch.

So that meant at least half the drivers who intended to use that off-ramp would be jamming their way onto mine. Goodie!

And so it went. Managed to get off without killing anyone or getting killed, but it was a challenge. The city is extending its accursed lightrail line along that road — Gangbanger’s Way — taking the train to a now-closed, defunct shopping mall (brilliant idea, eh?). So they’re starting to dig up the pavement, meaning that getting across there without the extra load of traffic is a PITA under the best of circumstances…to say nothing of exiting with the troops who intended to get off at the previous exit. By the time you get back in the house, the thought that floats through your mind is damn, but i need a drink!

Phoenix: No matter where you’re going, you can’t get there from here.

Life in the Department of Looney Tunes…

Phoenix: what a place!

This morning I had to traipse to the dermatologist’s, a 40-minute trek, each way. About half of this journey traverses a seven-lane surface street called Northern Avenue. The odd lane in these big main drags is a center lane restricted to left turns. You can use them to turn left ad lib across oncoming lanes just about anywhere in the middle of any block, but at the major intersections they’re (obviously) controlled by the traffic light. There, you pull out partway into the intersection on the green. Poised in the void between 12 lanes of intersecting vehicles, you stand till the light turns yellow, at which point you floor it and  FLY across the oncoming traffic as though your life depended on it. Which it does. If you can’t cut some oncoming driver off safely or slink in behind him as he shoots past in the opposite direction, you wait till the light turns red and then cruise across three lanes of restless and annoyed drivers. (All Arizona drivers are, by nature, restless and annoyed. Many have certain other features, such as drunk, stoned, crazy, stupid, and whatnot.)

So I’m cruising westerly, westerly, ever westerly when, at 27th Avenue, I come across a nice wrecky-poo in the westbound left-turn lane. A moron has miscalculated and driven out in front of a cross-bound vehicle. Speed limit on these streets is 40 mph, which means everyone is driving 50 mph. Not surprisingly, the moron’s truck has been creamed. The front end is crumpled tinfoil. A cop is trying to restore order. Passersby are gawking. An ambulance approaches.

My coconspirators and I manage to sneak through the green light before another emergency vehicle arrives and while the cop is distracted with trying to deal with the smashed vehicles’ occupants.

Back up to speed, we approach 35th Avenue — this is the next intersection on down the road! From a distance, we can see flashing lights and…and…yes!!! ANOTHER wrecky-poo!

This one defies belief.

As we approach the intersection, we find a good-sized pickup — Silverado or F250 size — in the left-turn lane. A moron has rear-ended this vehicle, apparently at speed. IN THE FREAKING LEFT-TURN LANE! Moron’s car is unrecognizable. But he’s managed to smash into the truck so hard that he’s pretty well bashed in the truck’s bed and its rear wheel wells, and…get this… A wheel on the moron’s vehicle has sprung loose intact from the car and it has rolled down the road and underneath the rear end of the truck, where it is now wedged, standing upright.

WTF?????

This also appears to have happened just a few moments ago. A couple of befuddled-looking cops are on the scene starting to wrangle some stunned-looking participants. We who are passing drivers push on, before these cops can think to hold up the traffic, and we all escape intact.

Ahhhh…. Just imagine how stoned or drunk you would have to be to believe the center two-way left-turn lane is another ordinary traffic lane, so that you’re cruising along at 40 to 50 mph in it. And accordingly, because you figure everyone else is doing the same, you don’t happen to notice that the guy in front of you is stopped. With his left-turn signal flashing.

What a place, indeed!