Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas In Arizona Travelogue

It's been a crazy year for me. My family moved from the Eastside of L.A. to the Westside, which is a bit of a culture shock in itself. Then, just as we were starting to get settled in Culver City, my husband got a great job offer which would require him to relocate to Arizona.

So I'm writing from Arizona this Christmas. For the first time in my life, I'm planning on moving away from Southern California. We had contemplated this move to the desert once before, several years ago, but decided that the culture of Scottsdale at that time was too homogenous for us to comfortably fit in. "Fitting in" has never been one of my strengths and I think my daughter has inherited that trait. Well, either Scottsdale/Phoenix has changed over the past few years or my own lifestyle has changed to the point where my needs are now closer to what this area provides. Perhaps it's a bit of both. Still, there are some things which will require getting used to.

Earlier in the week, my husband found a scorpion in his jacket. Luckily he saw it right before he put it on and was able to shake it out onto the yard. The same evening we had a large coyote (not like the skinny ones you see in the canyons in L.A.) cross in front of our car as we were driving down one of these dark streets. It seems many people out here consider street lights to be "light pollution" because they ruin your ability to see the stars. I am an avid stargazer, but there's something about street lighting that just makes me feel safe.

My husband, daughter and I drove up to spend part of the long weekend in Sedona. We drove in, awestruck by the red rock formations, but when we got to the town, we couldn't wait to leave. As soon as we parked the car, we were accosted by a timeshare salesman who promised to set us up with a free hotel room for the night. Fortunately for us, his phone seemed to be having problems and he couldn't get through to the hotel office. He began cursing his bad luck and slamming the phone on the counter. We walked out the door as he hurled the phone against the wall. The rest of the uptown area was not much better, just crowded with tourist shops and overpriced food choices. It's a shame, because the natural setting is just amazing.

After heading out of Sedona, we decided to spend the night in the quaint town of Jerome instead.

Jerome is a great place to visit if you:
A) Are not afraid of heights
B) Like to drink in bars
C) Are not afraid of ghosts

The town is famous for having ghosts and we ate dinner at a little place called the Haunted Hamburger, where the power went out about 15 minutes after we sat down, plunging the entire place into darkness and candlelight. Later, my husband dragged me up to the old Jerome Grand Hotel for a nightcap. This hotel was converted from an old mining hospital and it just feels creepy from the moment you walk up to it. The proprietors proudly display various photographs of unsuspecting visitors accompanied by unexplained "spirit orbs". Sleep that night was difficult. I kept hearing noises. I haven't been that eager to get up early on a Saturday in a long time.

We had breakfast in one of Arizona's oldest restaurants, The English Kitchen, which once housed an opium den in the basement and has a colorful history of its own. A few blocks away, the remnants of the old redlight district are still visible, including the famously haunted House Of Joy.

On our way back out of Jerome we stopped for lunch in Prescott at an old fashioned saloon called The Palace. The Palace had quite a colorful history too, having hosted the likes of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. In the ladies restroom was a picture of Little Egypt, one of the more interesting entertainers who had performed at The Palace. Legend has it that during a big fire which wiped out most of the town, the local saloon patrons lifted the ornately carved wooden bar out of the burning building. Once they'd saved the bar, they continued drinking at it while the rest of the businesses burned. I like a town that has its priorities straight. Speaking of priorities, one of mine is to never skip a meal, and I just noticed that all of my "travel activities" seem to center around meals. My husband says that I plan my itinerary around my meals and that seems to be true! But he plans his itinerary around where to find cocktails, so we make a good traveling team.

Now we're back in Scottsdale. The beautiful resort where my husband works has been and will continue to be our temporary home for the next month or until we find a permanent residence.

L.A. and all my friends and family out there will always be in my heart. I will miss that city, but after all, it's only a 6 hour drive. It's time for a little change. May all of you enjoy a wonderful holiday season surrounded by people you love.


Mr. Bali Hai said...

Well, I'm glad I got a chance to meet you and Mr. Bag while you were still Lost Angelenos. I'll hoist a Ray's Mistake in your honor the next time I'm at Tiki Ti.

Anonymous said...


That is a huge change. I've lived in LA my entire 47 years and can't imagine not being here.

Good luck. I'm sure it will be a period of growth!

Jenny Lens said...

Alice (and Greg),
I am happy for you and your family. I am so glad for all the memories we've had, not only back when we helped start punk, but recently. LA has changed so much, not just us or Scottsdale.

I'm listening to Rodney on the ROQ CDs that someone gave me. Claude Kick Boy is listing what we just heard. Brendan talked about the upcoming Masque Benefit -- the only time I ever shot the Bags live, as seen on your "Violence Girl" page.

OH the names Rodney is dropping and talking to: it's a whole cross section of everyone who was anyone in Feb, 1978. Amazing. But just as those times are gone, so is the LA we knew.

Have fun in AZ. One of these days you and I have to be interviewed together. And keep watching my site. I will post more photos,G-d willing.

Paths that cross, cross again.
[patti smith]
love from Jenny
and one of these days, maybe I'll tell people how Alice Bag saved my life.

Anonymous said...

Noooooo...come back! LA needs people like you!

darkside777 said...

as i wipe the tears from my eyes to find out that Alice and Greg and family are moving to AZ.

thank you for everything you have done for me and Sarah. I will always be very grateful to you both. You made a dream or two come true for me this year...

We will miss you very very much...

Anonymous said...

no no no come back come back come back!! coyotes will eat you they love little children & parents who names are alice & greg!! your doomed .. its a sign come back, i wanted to move to LA but it wont be the same, come back ALICE & GREG.. LA NEEDS YOU!!!

Anonymous said...

Alice, sweet Alice,
Somehow, someway, Punkoustica will go on. We will work out the details when we need to. In the meantime, enjoy your soon to be new life in Arizona and remember that there is always a room at our house when you are in town. See ya in a few! XO Angie

Anonymous said...

ATTENTION mr & mrs veLAsquez,
LA county has just heard about the news & has gone into a severe coma. LA is dead without the love & warmth of alice & greg.. please hurry back soon, so LA county can come back to life..AZ is hot & sticky full of NOTHING!!! please return to your proper home, where you are loved,admired & truly missed. Have fun in AZ visit as much as you want, BUTT return to your palace which is L.A.
(lil sis')

fueltank said...

Well LA's loss is Scottsdales gain! What's life but another adventure. Cocktails and meals work just fine for scheduling travelling -- we always stop driving by cocktail hour (even though I don't drink anymore, I still enjoy cocktail hour!).

As well, when travelling into a new place driving at night sort of wastes things. I like to get a chance to explore before it gets dark, so I know where I am going once it does. That part of the world is absolutely full of interesting and cool places to visit; I sometimes wish I still lived close enough to drive down for a week here and there...

Terry said...

Hey, so you left that dump. I did it years ago and it's ok! Arizona is a good choice and, no, you're not that far away from that dump. Oh, hey, funny thing. I'm moving back to that dump. I was just waiting until everybody else left first and now that Alice has gone, that's pretty much what it'll feel like.

But that's ok, too. That rusty, creaky roulette wheel of life throws some strange bets our way and sometimes you just gotta go where the money is. Besides, I'm always driving through Arizona and now the place will sparkle with some stars on the ground, not just in the sky.

And by the way, scorpions are friendly critters, cuddly and quirky, but they've got a mean tail and sound funny when they run on a hard surface. But watch out for the little yellow ones, they aren't so friendly.

Here's to a part of Los Angeles history for three generations and more - who loves ya, baby? We all do! Wherever we are...and wherever you are, too.

Terry Graham

Matt "Max" Van said...

Hi. You don't know me at all, but I certainly know Arizona. On and off, I lived there for 15 years. As a former Angeleno who got out, and found Arizona a life-changing experience, I wish you luck! Try going south, when you can. In Arizona, I lived in Prescott, Clarkdale, Jerome, Mesa and Tucson. Of all of 'em, Tucson was by far the most fun. But, hey, if you want some inside scoop on stuff, feel free to write and ask me. I'm now in Maryland, but I still have some many relatives in AZ that it's like I'm there, still.

Anonymous said...

I actually just moved down to Phx from Prescott. One of my favorite stories is that of the Palace. It really made my day to read your blog. And as for your list of reasons for missing LA )ie the food and drinks) Im finding tons of stuff to love about Phx.