The Game of Life: What’s Your Score?

There’s been a strange turn in our local newspaper, the Arizona Republic. Let me explain. They’ve recently relocated the obituaries to the back of the sports section. Yes, that’s right. You can now check game scores while you peruse the passing of your neighbors. How convenient!

Smile for the camera

The redesign of the obits started weeks ago. First, they enlarged the photographs. I get it. You want to see the face of your loved one. But most of the photographs aren’t professionally shot. The enhanced size looks grainy. And as we older folks know, it’s hard to capture a flattering photograph. We need proper lighting and a bit of photoshopping. Aunt Gert looks as if she was caught by surprise. Uncle Milton seems to be in the middle of chewing. So why, for heaven’s sake (I had to throw that in), make the photograph larger?

The whole thing has got me thinking (uh oh)

By placing the obits in the sports section, is the Arizona Republic confirming that life is but a game and there are winners and losers? Is your age at the time of death the ultimate score? If you’ve reached 80, 90, or 100—have you officially won—making death the eternal booby prize? Or, are the winners determined by the length of the obituary and the scads of relatives who adored you (though they never came to visit)? Does your obit dominate the page, attracting the most attention? And if you’re dead, does any of this truly matter?

I guess winner is a relative term

Few obits seem to provide the most interesting highlights from a life well-lived. I’m not referring to the marriages or the children or even the jobs held. Those are facts. Our lives are shaped by our challenges, hardships, and lessons learned. If you were a parent, what tips can you pass on about raising children? If you were a caretaker for an elderly parent, how did you sustain your enthusiasm? If you succeeded in business, what secrets did you learn about working with people? Just imagine what a terrific read that might be. To capture a snapshot of the living, breathing, thinking human being—and not just some vital statistics.Continue reading . . .    

Smartphone Etiquette – Stop Looking at Your Damn Phone

It has finally happened. I was at dinner with friends and within five minutes of being seated, we were all looking down at our smartphones—Googling, Facebooking, and God only knows what else.

Nomo what?

Nomophobia (fear of being without your mobile phone—no mobile—nomo—get it?) is the new frontier of addiction. It’s so sad. Time lost with loved ones because our attention has wandered to the technology in our hand.

I’ve heard it said that the generation raised with smartphones is struggling with the development of their social skills. To be honest, it hasn’t done much for people my age either. We now all text. It’s so much easier than having a real conversation. And Facebook gives us the false sense that we’re in touch, even though you can’t actually touch anyone. Facebook friends create the illusion that we’re loved or important or part of something bigger than ourselves. In reality—we’re really sitting alone—observing other people’s lives. I guess that’s better than nothing.

I’ve fallen into the trap 

To be a successful writer, we’re told to expand our reach. People need to know who we are in order to trust that they might enjoy our work. I doubt Hemingway or Fitzgerald had an ongoing relationship with their public—but then, I’m no Hemingway or Fitzgerald. Still, can you imagine those two literary giants texting? Now, Dorothy Parker—she’d have excelled at tweeting in 140 characters. Still, being witty 24/7 is a challenge for any modern author. Best to say nothing at all. At least then you can retain some semblance of quiet intelligence.Continue reading . . .    

Wouldn’t You Really Rather … ?

I finally bought a new car. It nearly killed me. I know that for many people purchasing a new car is a thrill, but to me, it’s a journey to the land of confusion. Too many models….too many choices. And to be honest, if you haven’t guessed it by now, I’m not a car person. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not much for hitchhiking or taking mass transit. You really can’t do either living in Phoenix. But today’s cars all seem to look alike. I guess I’m what you might call car blind.

Do I need to pick a color too? 

I test drove a lot of vehicles over a number of months (please don’t gasp—I already admitted I don’t know what I’m doing). It was an odd experience. Mostly because the person sitting next to me (the salesman/woman) was a total stranger. Someone whose very livelihood depended on my decision. And being a sensitive guy, I had a gnawing feeling that if I didn’t buy the car, their job might be on the line.  So, I made nervous small talk and hoped against hope that I would like the car. But I mostly didn’t.

I’m a throw back

I guess I’m really not much for the 2017 models. I like old things. Turner Classic Movies, pies made from scratch, antiques, and yes … car museums with Studebakers and Packards. For some reason, I have a yen to own a big, shiny, gas guzzler from the 30s and 40s. I get that they weren’t good for the environment, lacked safety features, and probably drove like tanks. But anything less seems to be—well—less. That’s how you see the world when you’re car blind.Continue reading . . .    

Phoenix Calling the LGBTQ Community

Whenever I check out the list of popular travel destinations for the LGBTQ community, it never seems to include the Phoenix metropolitan area. San Francisco, New York City, Washington D.C., Miami, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Rehoboth Beach, Boston, even Chicago, all seem to make the grade. But not Phoenix.

Perhaps that’s because Phoenix sits squarely in Arizona with its reputation as a red state, even though in the most recent nail-biting election, the political pundits thought Arizona evidenced strong shades of blue. Certainly Phoenix, Tempe, Flagstaff, Sedona and Bisbee, run blue. Bluer than the Mediterranean in the summer. Bluer than a Vegas cocktail. Bluer than the eyes of that bartender taking your order at AZ88, a popular bar in Scottsdale. Alas Scottsdale, where many of our resorts gather, remains a strong Republican bastion, even though everyone, as you’d expect in a resort town, is happily welcomed.

Or maybe, we’re still suffering under the shadow of the SB1070 legislation signed into law in 2010 by former Governor, Jan Brewer. Enacted to combat illegal immigration, SB1070 gave license to illegal stop and search. Profiling ensued, scaring the hell out of everybody. Eventually, the legislation was deemed unconstitutional and the Feds pressed charges against Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Coincidently, Arpaoi lost his bid for re-election. The good guys prevailed.

So I get it’s hot in the summer. I get the scary reputation. I even understand that once the damage is done, it’s hard to come back. Think Mel Gibson. Think Bill Cosby. I totally get it. But there’s more to consider. Much more.

The Phoenix metropolitan area is perhaps one of the friendliest places to visit. Most Arizonan’s hail from elsewhere. Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, to just name three states that seem to regularly feed the population. And the weather from October to April is absolutely gorgeous. Think Miami without the humidity. Think San Francisco without the fog and fear of earthquake. Think New York City without the snow and grime. Think Chicago without the wind chill. The weather is lovely in Phoenix through most of the year.

So this is my invitation. Come back to Phoenix. Give it a try. Check out our fabulous resorts. Enjoy the bars, the amazing food, and of course, the hospitality. Explore our city and see why Phoenix welcomes everyone.