Coffee heat rising

Time to Move Along?

Mogollon Rim from near Payson

HOLY mackerel! This place gets more and more crime-ridden and more and more violent with every day that passes!

Y’know…I can handle the mailbox thefts. And the burglars. And the cop helicopter flyovers every damn night. The abductions (for the purpose of rape) from the bus & train stops at Conduit of Blight and Feeder Street E.W. can be dealt with simply by never riding a bus or a lightrail train. The transient drug addicts: locks on the doors and windows, plus a large, loud dog. The panhandler harassment at the corner shopping centers: drive to some other district for grocery shopping and drugstore visits. The car break-ins and thefts: close the damn garage door…oh, but first, do park your car on the inside of said garage. The mail thefts: for a mere 400 bucks, install a Fort Knox of a mailbox. The burglars: keep a fine, fully loaded .45 on hand.

But I sweartogawd, every which way you turn, here’s more gratuitous, demented, and criminal violence. And it is too…damn…close to home.

I go by this corner every time I visit the Costco north of the university.

Ruby and I could walk to this dump, if it were safe to do so. As it is, I drive by there several times a week on the way to the freeway or to points west. That’s rather closer than I’d like to get.

This fancy charter school is in the Arcadia district, not far from where my late step-sister lived.

This episode took place in an informal B&B (why are those legal???) that popped up, also in the Arcadia district — an area where the ritzy and the titzy congregate to live in what they imagine will be peace.

A moment of nuttiness took place at a park just south of the university’s west campus…another garden spot that I pass in my car with some frequency.

Central High School is the best public high school in the city (which may be telling you something). My son went to a Jesuit high school directly next door to it — they occupy, in effect, practically the same campus. Sunnyslope belies this figure, though; it also has a reputation as one of the best-performing high schools in the country.

Yet… the violence and the vagrancy and the craziness go on and on and on and on, every damn day! And it seems to get more frantic as the weeks pass.

And y’know what?

I’m tired of living in the middle of a war zone. Once again I’m brought back to the feeling that as much as I love my home and my neighbors and my neighborhood, as much as I like being 8 minutes from the church and 10 minutes from my son’s house (he also lives in a war zone…), it’s past time to move along.

The violence, the crime, and the Loony Toons spread pretty homogeneously across the Valley. Of course, there’s more low-end craziness in garden spots like the apartments that flank the ‘Hood on the west side of Conduit of Blight Blvd and the dank slum directly to the north. But as that cop said after the Adventure of the Home Invasion: “It’s everywhere.”

[Yeah? Well…whaddaya bet some parts of Everywhere have less of it than our part does?]

So…if one were gonna move, where would one go?

Well, if I stayed in the Valley, the two choices would be Fountain Hills or the Cave Creek/Carefree area. I don’t consider the Sun Cities a choice: just not innarested in living in a ghetto for old tolks.

Both these venues are expensive. Fountain Hills has the added attribute of late-model cheesy construction: structures that were built to fall apart. The Funny Farm is probably in the last generation of solidly built affordable residential structures, and even it has a failing in the insulation department. Those houses out east are simply junk: Southern California-style built-to-fall-apart junk. Expensive junk.

Anything that is newer construction shares that fine attribute, and most of the stuff in Cave Creek and Carefree falls under the rubric of “newer.” Ticky-tacky is the name of the Development Game here in Arizona, price range notwithstanding.

That leaves as options some of the outlying towns, or Tucson.

  • Tucson, also plagued by gimme-a-buck developments, has two big draws: the best hospital/medical center in the state (something that looks Bigger the Older you get), and the vibrant cultural center that is the University of Arizona. A lot is going on in Tucson, the weather is far more pleasant than Phoenix’s, and with a fine mountain range behind the city, just about anyplace you can live is fairly scenic.
  • Prescott, a large small town/small city up the I-17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff, is a pleasant little burg. HOWEVER…it’s been discovered. From what I’m told, mobs of Baby Boomers and younger people are moving up there, turning it into yet another Southern California East. The weather’s a little cooler (though what you save in air-conditioning you’ll probably spend on heating); it has a supposedly excellent medical center (people who work there beg to differ, interestingly enough); and it’s a straight shot down the freeway to the urban marvels of Phoenix. I’m not at all sure it has enough more to offer, when compared to Fountain Hills, to make it worth a major move and a long drive into town.
  • Payson: Mr. and Mrs. Fireman moved up there, on the edge of the Mogollon Rim. They bought an extremely cool house in the forest, and, given Mr. Fireman’s outstanding handyman skills, have turned it into a to-die-for little palace. Problem with Payson? Rudimentary services and facilities. They had to drive their dog into Phoenix to be tended to by a veterinarian after the poor pooch was attacked by a neighbor’s dog. No Costco: only one Safeway, a store that I would call…well, pretty blah. No first-rate doctors or dentists — they drive into town for those services, too. Doctors? Doctors? We don’t need no steeeenking doctors!
  • Uh huh. Well…if you have to schlep all the way down the mountain — about a two-hour drive — for basic shopping and services, you’d be far better off to live in Fountain Hills.  Not only do they have a couple of supermarkets within the development, there’s a Costco down the road and all the upscale shopping of lovely Scottsdale just a few miles to the west. Plus you could walk to the Mayo Clinic from Fountain Hills!
  • Chandler: Nope. Ticky-tacky suburb Hell.
  • Florence: Nope. No better than Payson, but not as pretty.
  • Ahwatukee: Blech. If I’m gonna live in ticky-tacky mass construction, I’ll take Fountain Hills any day.
  • Tempe: Gawd help us!
  • Sun City/Youngtown: Horrible ghettos for old folks, garnished by cheaply built ticky-tacky.

Really, in a lot of ways, the ‘Hood IS the best of all possible worlds, at least for someone who’s not swimming in money. It’s an established neighborhood. Because the upscale section has irrigation, we have mature and very beautiful green landscaping. Even over here in the po’ folks quarters, the trees and shrubbery are mature, shady, and lovely. It’s close-in — shopping, schools, entertainment, doctors & hospitals, all right around the corner. We have a park in the middle of the neighborhood. We’re served by a decent public grade school and one of the nation’s top public high schools, plus an array of private and religious K-12 schools. Young upwardly mobile types have discovered it and are madly gentrifying, so there’s nowhere for property values to go but up. Plus: what could be better than young families with young kids playing around the neighborhood?

So…i dunno. It’s a toss-up. So it seems to me…