Quince / Sea of Streetlights / Cowboy Rap


The Spanish were looking for the wrong kind of gold

The Spanish were looking for the wrong kind of gold

It’s been quite a semester, urbanites. My job as new-age social scientist, infiltrating the Valley’s hip hop culture, has led me to the heart of art in Phoenix (:

Arizona is so much more than just the bad parts of California! One could never guess at what’s thriving underground, from simply looking at the façade of our ever-stretching suburbia. With so many transplants from more central Hip Hop cities, we have places like Cyphers and Jukebox to teach the history, development, and philosophy of their art along with the sick moves they bring to the desert. We’ve got the foundations solid and native artists here, such as Phonetic Spit, who are taking things in a new, unique direction for our city. But don’t take my word for it:





All forms of art are essential to the human experience. With no music, no colors, and no dancing this city would descend into the despair of anonymity that so often haunts the newer cities in the country. It’s important, as citizens, to cultivate our own artistic culture in the community. It’s important, as humans, that we interact and share with each other through creative expression. Otherwise, everyone goes crazy. No Bueno. Keep it real Phoenix! I’ll be skipping town while it’s appallingly awfully hot here, but I’ll back in the spring to check back on what’s been growing in our garden. Much love!

Here’s some more from the valley’s finest:

Arizona has a plane graveyard.. might as well make it beautiful and worth visiting?

Arizona has a plane graveyard.. might as well make it beautiful and worth visiting?

lookbeyond the surface in our town!

lookbeyond the surface in our town!

dino cactus peete az

Arizona - Douglas Miles

Arizona – Douglas Miles

Poetry Month


shes a poem

In case you weren’t there, (the Come as You are Ball, where else?) this is what it felt like:

Electric Snake Charming

(the limelight is a spinning mosaic tonight)

(you know that some part of your heart
Is made of music-feeling-fibers
You can activate if you concentrate
Real hard)


The DJ uses a machine
As a snake charmer, & electrically,
Scientifically, she turns to a twin tailed viper.
A rhythm slithering leather leviathan, skin reptilian
Stretching plates of grey-scale Vogue covers,

              Back & forth, back, back & forth another cobra
Hisses hits & misses to me,
Only the forked tongue, oh, only- the forked tongue
Sputters out a tulip
Dirty Dancing:

(the rose on a mafioso’s tuxedo)
It was all,
“you can be anything you feel like,
For one night,

                      & everyone said, naked;
“yeah we brought costumes,
Glad I could make it but to night
Ill be myself cause I shapeshift

snakes shedding layers theymakebelieve every day
Making sure our thinking is always inside the box
Magazine faces became masks and acted like real people acting like real people

release Souls, they’re fragile as the edge of extra yellow petal lilies on a sunny day

feel me?
Its like mostofthetime mymind is twistedsideways;
Facilitatinginspection from youreyes.
feel me?


April is national Poetry Month! Also, the Come as You Are Ball was simply indescribable through normal language, so this was the best fit. If you were there, you’d understand (I hope.)

Special thanks to Archie Burnett for puttin’ in work these past 2 weeks for ASU’s urban program. The film screening on Monday, the social-roles discussion last Wednesday, and the Ball were all a blast and each event was enlightening! Much love from AZ Archie!

Present at the round-table discussion last week, (we were actually sitting “criss-cross applesauce” on a dance floor) poet Joy Young lent us all a hand to elevate the topic. Here’s a performance of her’s, ‘cause everyone was curious!

Joy Young lives her poetical life in Phoenix, Arizona. If you’re lucky, you can catch her around microphones all over the city. She’s super down to Earth, so snap & say hello!

Cyphers, a keystone for Hip Hop in the valley, has found a new location in the Phoenix Center for the Arts in downtown! The grand re-opening celebration is planned for Friday, 5/2, starting at 6p.m.

All the elements of Hip Hop will be celebrated at the grand opening, so whatever you do; bring it downtown on May 2nd. Save the date!

  • A cypher is a creative circle that allows for energy to flow between the artists so they can build off one another.
  • Hip Hop was born from the energy in cyphers, and all that stuff you see on TV began as friends goofing and having fun in a cypher. Whether it’s for breaking, or dancing in general, or droppin’ bars on a mic, a cypher is the best way to hone your skills & learn from others. Plus it’s a chance to show your friends your maniacal moves. Cyphers is surely the best place to catch a cypher, so definitely support the Hip Hop movement in Phoenix by coming out!

Halloween in April


Wild West Hip Hop

Urban Sol is a-comin’ my people! This Friday (4/4), ASU’s Tempe Campus will be conquered by Hip Hop. The Galvin Playhouse (the Southwest section of campus) will be a beautiful horde of artists, professionals, and students alike breakin’, graffin’, deejayin’, and emceein’. Reunited at last, the four elements of Hip Hop, all in one place at one time, might just spark TOO MUCH magic & dopeness. Ancient Native American spirits will probably rise from the desert and dance with us. The city officials might mistake us for a riot. The retirees out in Sun City will reconsider their quiet, peaceful suburban blocks as Urban Sol echoes through every corner of the Valley. Whether or not the streets are shutdown, this is sure to be a night to remember, so don’t miss out!

Urban Sol is a Free event, but donations will be held for Cyphers (a beloved jewel of breaking & dance in our community) to help them relocate downtown, as well as a fundraiser in support of Jukebox studios, another staple in our artistic life here in Phoenix. Definitely show up and enjoy, but also remember to PARTicipate and do your part for the whole city.

The graphic art portion (graphic art = graffiti.. Urban Sol 101) will be led by b-boy House, of Cypher’s Center of the Arts. Our graffiti installation is a little different this year, as clothes will be incorporated into the canvas and everyone who wishes it can have their swag tinged with tonight. The finished product is most definitely going to be out of the box & something no one’s ever done before, just another reason to do yourself the favor of being a part of all this beauty! Bring one piece of clothing to donate to the art, and one you want back to wear!


Tomas Stanton (local poet, hippie & thug, ½ of Phonetic Spit) led last Friday’s workshop and open sesh, schoolin’ 20 or 30 ASU students on the art of the Spoken Word. This workshop had real relaxed, personal vibrations throughout & provided a compelling snippet of Phonetic Spit’s unique style of Spoken Word.

Tomas invited his students into the art form by starting with the foundations, showing us some of his secrets of expression. We reached into our hearts through stream-of-consciousness exercises, as Tomas pitched words and ideas, nuances and inflections to bounce off our brains and inspire our souls. “Let your spirit vomit, we’re just goin’ with what comes naturally right now.” We successfully slowed down the breakneck pace of reality and came together from a group of strangers to quickly laughing, thinking, and yes, crying together.

the other 1/2 of Phonetic Spit, Myrlin

the other 1/2 of Phonetic Spit, Myrlin

Tomas’s 3 step breakdown of writing the Truth:

1). Read & Live: “Artists are the best thieves. Nothing is original; we’re all just recycling, improving, or plain stealing ideas from other artists and scientists.” Tomas explained to us right off the bat that reading is essential to refilling that well of inspiration in your mind. Ideas from books and articles can inspire your own work and expand your worldview. Obviously, a nice cache of memories and lived experience is also crucial to the poet, whose function in the world is to show how it really is, really!

2). Write: Phonetic Spit has a unique, accessible style in performances that I feel is mostly due to this writing process. Writing, to Tomas, was mostly getting the raw feelings, the memories, & thoughts into a material form. Tomas emphasized in his workshop that in the initial writing, little to no embellishment is needed. “Fluffy” lines of description or intellectual metaphor is a more cerebral process that can detract from this stage, which is meant to simply get the feelings on paper. Contrasted with my own experience of writing, this technique will keep your poems pure and profound, rooted in the emotion that they were inspired by and not too detached by craftwork.

3) Revise: This is the time to let your mind shine. Tomas uses step 3 to bring in the techniques, the toolbox of expression. Revision to Phonetic Spit is where the raw material, the emotion, gets translated to metaphor & simile, to lines and rhymes and alliteration and assonance, whatever, to bridge your life into your audience’s!

This organization is a fail-safe way to make art out of words. Be sure to catch more intriguing knowledge like this at one of the monthly Phonetic Spit workshops, taking place in the Burton Barr Library, every third Saturday. Always fun and always enlightening, it’s also always free, so be sure to catch the inspiration and meet the people around these parts interested in the same thing.



Does the definition of “normal” feel just a little too tight to wear?
Then slip into something more natural!

The Come as You Are Ball is kind of like the best Halloween party you ever went to, minus the Party City plastic but keep the general principle, add a whole lot of Hip Hop, stir in a dash of social change, (bring your own open mind and attitude); and you’ve got the perfect night to forever change your idea of what is “okay” and “normal” to be.

Party with the Urban program the evening of April 18th, in the Physical Education Building – East. (East of Memorial Union).

The Come as You Are Ball will be hosted by master dancer/scholar/weightlifter/teacher/world traveler/graphic artist Archie Burnett. The man’s styles go on & on, but if the words waacking, voguing, feme, posing, & punking, house, or breaking mean something beautiful to you than DO NOT MISS this man’s workshop, to be announced. Even if that last sentence sounded like the recording of a wrestling match to you, don’t miss the chance to experience and learn something new (& what’s more fun than that, really?).

mark ashkenazi JAMES DEAN

We Might End up Somewhere in Mexico (vaudevillians)


We Might End up Somewhere in Mexico (Vaudevillians)

Ed Mells - Colorado Forms

Ed Mells – Colorado Forms

            Learning something new, moving your body in a new way, & meeting new people are all a big part of urban at ASU. Last Friday’s (3/7) workshop had the janitors in the hallways of PEBE East grooving to Beyoncé (I saw them!) & trying to get Anton Smith’s choreography down. The man’s infectious energy, coupled with a laugh that could make Adolf Hitler crack a smile, made for a refreshing, heart-cleansing dance workshop. Everyone felt just a little closer to themselves, and more comfortable communicating with any rhythm, NOT just Beyoncé. The man has been out of sight since relocating to Mexico City to explore life and grow as an artist, but was happy to spend time with us at ASU and to teach us a thing or two, as well as sit down with yours truly to talk about how many suit cases of purely clothes is appropriate for international travel (not 3, Anton), drinking black coffee as a refreshment after instructing a dance class (at 11 p.m.), as well as being a living lesson in following your heart & not being afraid to carve your own path in life. We all really enjoyed Anton, & it’s impossible to not learn something or laugh when you spend a minute with him. Get the experience for yourself by reading on:

Anton wanders like a cowboy

Anton wanders like a cowboy

            Born & raised in Philly, Anton Smith started dancing seriously in his teens & throughout high school. After graduating, he joined the army out of curiosity to see the world, keeping the love of movement close to his heart wherever he went.

            After 3 years of service & getting the chance to experience many different states as well as different countries, Anton decided that the military was not for him. He had fallen in love with Arizona during his soldier days and had decided to come here to study fine art & dance at the University of Arizona, embracing his artistic side. The University did not offer any classes in hip hop or house dance, his roots as a dancer. Anton decided to take the initiative, & created a Hip Hop course for dancers who want to embrace their inner funk. This was all during his junior year in undergrad. The Pima County Education peoples watched an exhibition he choreographed with his students, & welcomed the class into the University. After a few years, this program evolved into his own professional choreography group, the Human Project. This collective travelled the world, from Brazil to Canada, all over the ‘States, & hopped over to Europe. The Human Project continued to perform in Arizona & everywhere else for around 10 years, leaving a profound impact on Hip Hop & dance in general in Tucson.


            After a decade of teaching, choreographing brand new performances, and travelling the globe, Anton felt the desire for new artistic horizons again. He officially ended the Human Project around 2003, when he decided to focus on his other artistic talents, writing poetry, singing, rapping, and producing music. Anton said the transition from ‘8 hours a day on the dance floor to 8 hours a day in the recording studio’ left him a more disciplined, wiser artist. Of course there was no way he could simply forget dancing, as finding a new passion (especially mediums so interrelated) can help rekindle original ones.

            The change of pace in his artistic life required a change of scenery as well, as Anton said goodbye to his belongings to live a little more nomadically South of the Border. He parted with (most) of his material possessions, saying it felt cleansing and enlightening. Anton treats life like the adventure that it truly is & should be recognized as. Living in Mexico City is far from country-side soul searching, but the new culture & language are enough to get you out of your shell. “Being a foreigner & learning Spanish kinda force you to forget your self-consciousness. You can’t be afraid to mess up, or else you won’t go anywhere or learn anything, or meet anyone!… It’s just like dancing.”

            Anton is busy these days south of Sonora teaching & learning a new language. He is writing verses of poetry & songs, producing his own Hip Hop and original tracks, He also writes choreography for any song he makes & plans on performing. You may have seen him by the Greenhaus in Downtown Phoenix  Saturday (3/8), rapping, dancing, & singing for some entranced Phoenicians. He is teaching in Mexico as well as performing as much as possible. He is also translating his English works into Spanish, for another culture to enjoy & share in.

            Anton plans to continue travelling & following his heart, enriching the lives of his students, friends, & lucky audiences. We were happy to have him at our open session & are sending much love his way at ASU.

Anton called his style neo burlesque, vaudeville, classy s***

Anton called his style neo burlesque, vaudeville, classy s***


The Tale of Toogie



The Tale of Toogie


Oh yes. I know it was a long week, urbanites. You’ve been waiting day & night for the interview with artist/philosopher Toogie to be published, & now your patience will be greatly rewarded. Go make some coffee, put on some classical music, & prepare yourself for the wisdom about to slap you in the mind. I shouldn’t spoil the readers so much, I know. Enjoy.

Toogie (Heartbreakerz/Substance Over Hype) was the first guest artist of this semester for the Urban program at ASU. She is a dancer, and a teacher, a world traveler, seamstress, sculptress, and hip hop guru. Make sure you tune in.


Our next guest artist will be Junious Brickhouse, who will be teaching his workshop on 2/21. Bring 7 bucks & jump in on the knowledge and the chance to learn from a master at 9 p.m., FAC 28 (ASU Tempe). The workshops are always an enlightening, lively environment and the atmosphere is something you simply cannot find anywhere else on campus. Come learn all the things you don’t get in class!

Smoooooth Jazz

This is what you will feel like at the Open Sessions

The workshop is followed by another 2-hour open session. Bring your creative juices, but leave the shy-bread at home (I’m sorry for that one. I had to.) You can show up & dance in the cyphers, or come jump on the open instruments and jam with us. This is also an open-mic opportunity for anyone who wants to freestyle or has a spoken word piece to share. If you can draw or paint you should come, too. The inspiration will be there, & the more the merrier! (2/21, 7$, FAC 28). Get it? Got it? Write it down. Circle it with a heart on your calendar. Good.

Phoenix-based duo Phonetic Spit will also be teaching another fantastic poetry workshop at the Burton Barr Central Library, Saturday afternoon, on the 15th. Last month, I strolled up the flights of stories in the library not knowing quite what to expect. What I found was a circle of 35-40 kids, busily breaking down the barriers built between them by the unimaginative uniformity forced upon them in our public schools. I contrasted this experience with all the silly college-kid slams I usually attend & was shaken. Everything was down-to-Earth & genuine. No one was trying to be a poet; they just shared their thoughts & impressions on life out here in the desert. Don’t miss it; & do your duty by showing up & showing love (:



& That’s basically what’s going down, Arizona. Go get yourself one of those 100 oz Thirstbusters that we’re so famous for (I’m pretty sure they’re illegal in New York now) and stay cool.

Alleycats & Cellos

Alleycats & Cellos

Horseshoe on a Rabbit Foot (feeling lucky)


Horseshoe on a Rabbit Foot

photo(10)Happy February! You can feel the vibrations from the city as it snoozes out of the sun’s rays for once. We should let all the kids stay home from school on cloudy days here in Phoenix.

There was definitely some mojo in the air at the Nelson Fine Art Center @ ASU, Tempe Campus last night. The Urban program at ASU brought in featured artist Teresa “Toogie”  Barcelo to share some of her secrets of dance with everybody. Check out some of Toogie’s choreographed pieces, as well as her work with the Heartbreakerz & Substance Over Hype. A truly unique & genuine human being, Toogie gave us all a slice of real life in the basement-level dance studio.

With the lights low, a crowd of 50 students took an hour out of the daily rush to stop and breathe. The workshop began as total relaxation, laying face up on the floor, releasing any pockets of tension. Every fiber, every finger, every toe. Every ligament, every bone.


Get Free

The dancers who I thought I was getting to know transformed, existing as an instrument with the posture of an amoeba, in the rhythm of a jellyfish. “Abandon any idea, any aesthetic of what you think you should be doing..” Toogie said as she liberated everyone’s minds, with the casualness of someone working their day job. Toogie was a maestro, conducting and directing everyone’s energy (that’s not a metaphor, that was really happening).It was indeed hard not to slip into meditation as Toogie taught everyone from first-timers to hip hop veteran House Magana (see Cyphers) new ways to feel a rhythm. One student remarked that he came to learn to dance, but instead learned how to listen to himself and move accordingly. Hell yeah.

photo(7)Before her workshop, Toogie agreed to have a chat-on-camera with yours truly at UrbanArtsAZ. I intended to talk to her about her life experiences, what she draws on as an artist, how she grew up, etc. (& we did talk about those things!), but the conversation inevitably turned to dinosaurs, the mass production of hip hop, the transience of the human experience, and how cool it is to insert a “z” wherever an “s” is needed in rap. It got pretty real in there. The interview will be up in next week’s page for you lucky, lucky readers, enlighten yourself!

enlighten yourself!

enlighten yourself!

Following the workshop was the first open session hosted by the Urban Arts Club at ASU. A jam session outfitted with electronic instruments & an open dance floor, this event is free, so come and feel the fun creative vibrations. Future open sessions & featured-artist’s workshops are planned as follows:

Junious workshop/session: Friday, Feb 21st 6-9pm. FAC 28
Coflo workshop/session: Friday, Feb 28th 6-8pm FAC 28

Shakeer workshop/open session: Friday, Mar 21st 6-8pm. FAC 28 Archie B workshop/session: Friday, April 11th 6-8pm FAC 28

It’s 7$ to participate in the workshop, but the open sessions are free. The energy was inspiring, y’all.

When he arrives in April, guest artist Archie Burnett will be hosting the Come As You Are ball, which will most definitely raise the roof. The party will be April 18th, on Tempe Campus, inside PEBE EAST. Don’t miss this!

art is the way you see the world

art is the way you see the world

& Of course, as a matter of custom, WHAT’S GOING DOWN?

  • ·         Mark your calendars for ASU’s Urban Sol event coming April 4th. The night will be a riot by the Galvin Playhouse on Tempe Campus. It’s kind of like the renaissance festival of Hip Hop in AZ, boasting a competitive dance battle between 16 teams; all in 5-on-5 rounds (they don’t wear armor but these dancers are warriors), as well as a DJ competition, featuring talent from all parts of the country (as well as DJ Tiger from Power 98.3). Bboy House will be schooling us all in the graffiti workshop, and if that wasn’t enough perpetual dopeness for you, a microphone for MCs and musicians will be rocking.(Kanon of New Breedz will be performing, among other artists TBA). Did I mention everything is free? Yeah, you read that correctly. Urban Sol is completely free, but a donation will be hosted for Cyphers, as well as a fundraiser for Jukebox Studio. The night will be one to remember, so come show love!
  • ·         The beginning of a new month is a time to celebrate for artists here in Arizona! Take every opportunity @ Walk In Wednesdays hosted by the Tempe Center for the Arts, & Open mic night @ Fair Trade Coffee every Monday night. First Fridays too, you guys!

So long for now my friends, but remember:

eyes bright, it seems like the fight is dim in 'em (Common)

eyes bright, it seems like the fight is dim in ’em (Common)


Lovely faces at Toogies Workshop

Lovely faces at Toogies Workshop