Random Tour of a Random House

I stayed at work late tonight because Candyce was having a girls night out. It’s a Friday, and most people are ready to get out on the weekend. But Adam and I were making some major progress on the site, and it was more exciting to stay at work that to go home. But by 7:30, I realized I’d been working eleven hours, and I was beginning to make a lot of mistakes. That’s always my sign that it’s time to quit.

I always feel uncool when I leave work late on a Friday, like everyone has started the party without me. Right as I was thinking that, I looked to the right to catch a glimpse of a modern house that’s been under construction for the past five months. Except this time there was a lighted “Open House” sign out front. I made a U-turn and pulled up to the house.

This place was amazing. The lot that it is built on is off of a the busy Camelback road, but it’s a good lot because you have unobstructed views of Camelback mountain. I pulled into the gated driveway, which ironically was in the “backyard” closest to the the road. Most houses that line Camelback road will have a driveway off the street in the neighborhood, and then use the space between their house and Camelback Road as a backyard. But at this house, the backyard was made into a front yard, with a gated turnaround driveway. In the center of the turnaround was a column with a large bowl of fire at the top. It was dark out, and the flickering fire made all of the luxury cars in the driveway look even more mysterious.

I got out of my car and I could see into the house through the massive 30 foot tall glass wall that opens up to views of the mountain. From the driveway to the house is a downward-sloping covering that you only see at hip hotels and modern homes.
It’s the kind of house that is absolutely so cool that you have to pause compose yourself before you step inside. It’s like, who just hops into a Ferrari like it was nothing?

I stepped inside and introduced myself to the owner/realtor/designer. He was only 30 years old, which is amazing in itself. Most open houses are set up to help potential owners feel comfortable and welcome in what could be their new home. But this place felt more like a night club. Music was playing in the speakers. They had an open bar. Everyone in the room was dressed like it was a night club.

The house is listed at $3.6 million, and as I toured the house, I could see why they could expect that much money. It was like being on the set of a music video. Huge walls of art, clever lighting, expansive rooms, everything! It was like a modern resort. He converted what would’ve been the front yard into a backyard paradise with a pool and edgy landscaping. It looked like Palm Springs in the 1950’s and 60’s. There was a lot of attention to detail. Even the drainage grates in the showers were custom manufactured to look cool.

It was fun to have a conversation with someone who knew a lot about modern architecture in Phoenix. Since I haven’t really been a “local” in Phoenix since I’ve moved here, it was refreshing to have a conversation about my new found local interests.

I hurried over to Candyce’s house to watch the Suns game. Unfortunately, Steve Nash couldn’t plays because of his sprained ankle, and San Antonio beat us pretty good. I hate it when injured teams play each other. I know that’s part of the game–injuries–but it’s more exciting when two talented and healthy teams battle it out on the court.

This morning I interviewed the Andy Fickman, the director of “She’s the Man,” a new teeny-bop movie with Amanda Bynes. It’s one of those movies where a girl pretends to be a boy in order to beat the system. It’s a difficult movie to review for lifeteen.com, because we live in a sexually ambiguous society. Ten years ago, it would’ve been a fun and funny movie, but it was hard to watch that movie and have my perverted mind not wonder if the movie was going to end up in some kinky dilemma. Because of this, I didn’t know if I wanted to do the interview. But I figured it’d be a good chance to see what decisions the director made and why.

I had an exclusive interview, which is rare. In these press tours for movies, you usually have to sit at a table with other media outlets, and you get to ask a couple questions at most. But this morning it was just the director and myself sitting in fancy chairs on the second floor of the Ritz. I felt like I was the host on “Inside the Actor’s Studio.”

The interview went well. I still don’t know what to do with it, but we’ll see. By the way, I am typing this on a Friday night because Candyce has to work in the morning so I had to make sure she went to sleep early. And my TV is unplugged in the middle of the kitchen because I’m retiling my living room. So writing a journal is all I can think to do before I go to bed.

I am a Suns Fan

One of the perks of not traveling as much is I get to be a sports fan again. Midway through the season last year, I became a Suns fan because of Steve Nash. Actuallyl, he made me an NBA fan again, which I never thought would happen.

He was such a stellar player, and he’s so much smaller than everyone else on the court. His speed, agility, and accuracy are mind-blowing. Then at the end of the season he was chosen as the NBA MVP. I was so proud! I was given an autographed photo of Steve Nash, and I have it framed on my fireplace mantel.

The thing I love about Steve Nash is that he’s a team player. There is so much ego in the NBA, and he has none of that. Players aren’t afraid to give him the ball because they know they will get it back. He is the leader of what is truly a team: men working together to be better than they would be by themselves. None of that ball hog nonsense like Kobe. It’s a thrill to watch because you can tell the players enjoy the game more when they work together.

Part of being a fan is heartache. Last night Steve Nash sprained his ankle when we played against the Hornets. I was so bothered. The rest of my night sucked knowing that he was hurtin’ and that he might not make tomorrow for the Spurs game. It just sucks. I’ve been praying for him like he was a close friend going through a divorce or something. I’m kind of embarrassed to say that, but it’s true.

Every hour or so last night and then this morning I would search news.google.com for anything pertaining to Steve Nash. I felt like there should be some sort of phone call pyramid so fans can get the news, like they use in little league baseball when a game in canceled. One mom calls two moms, those moms call four more… The most information I got was around noon today when an article quoted him saying something like, “It’s not horrible. I’m going to see how I feel.” I was happy that it wasn’t horrible, but I wanted to know more.

I’ve watched more ESPN in the past six months than I have my whole life. I go on ESPN.com all the time. After a game, I’ll watch clips online that highlight how good our team is. Every morning I pick the paper off the driveway, and once I’m at work, I’ll find the sports section and read anything and everything with the word “Suns” in it.

Getting into sports again has been a conscious decision to help me relax more. I realize this my projects will end up taking me my whole life, so I have to find new things to think about. I have to find entertainment beyond home improvement and reading personal finance books.

New Classic Cars

I’m always trying to figure out what cars today will be worth a lot in the future. I mean, at one time, you could buy a Hemi ‘Cuda for $4000 off of a used car lot. Now you could sell it for up to a million dollars. So the numbers game fascinates me, but more than that, I want to believe there will be classic cars from this decade that young guys thirty years from now can enjoy. I’d hate for a whole hobby to die because of lackluster American designers.

I don’t have enough time to talk about all my theories about what makes a car a classic. It would take hundreds of pages. But one thing is for sure, if people don’t like the car when it comes out, it has little chance of being a classic in the future. Just because it’s old doesn’t make it a classic. There are acres of cars from 1957 rusting away in junkyards across the country. But it’s hard to find a 1957 Chevy in a junkyard because they’ve been pulled out, dusted off, and restored. Why? Because people loved them then, and because of that, they love them today.

This theory fails when you consider the Ford Taurus of the 1990s. People did like them then, but I would bet my life savings that nobody will be scrambling to buy a Taurus off the auction block in thirty years. So a new classic has to be more than popular, it almost needs to have mythic proportions. Celebrity status. When you say the name, an emotion needs to flicker in people.


So I’m betting that it will be the 2002-2006 Cadillac Escalade. I know skeptics would argue several points, like the fact that an SUV has never been a classic. (To them I could point to the Toyota FJ’s, early Land Cruisers, but I admit those are niche collector cars.) They could also point out that they aren’t rare. (I’d remind them that neither were muscle cars.) They might even argue that they don’t like the crowd who drives an Escalade. (I’d point out that the muscle car owners were an unruly bunch, and kids in chopped ’50 Mercs raised hell too.) And didn’t it have a lack-luster beginning? (Yes, but have you seen the early Barracudas?)

What makes this pick for a classic most difficult is that it’s popularity comes from hip hop culture. And most car collectors now don’t get the hip hop culture. But all of the toy cars in the stores are from hip hop culture. They sit on huge rims. They are status symbols of wealth and power and cool. I don’t like that it’s all about looks and not about performance, but that doesn’t seem to bother people. Another thing that I don’t like is that the Escalade is just an upgraded Chevy Tahoe. I would like a classic to be a stand-alone success. But not many people seem to mind, so I guess I shouldn’t either.

Most car people would agree that the Dodge Viper will be a classic. It has all the standards you look for: it made a big splash, it’s rare, it’s very fast, and they just look terrific. I don’t know enough about Vipers to tell you which edition will be the most collectible, but I predict all Vipers will be worth a good chunk of cash in 20 years.

Dodge Viper

My other two picks aren’t as much of an underdog as the Escalade, because they are still relatively new. If things continue to go well with the Chrysler 300, they could become classics too. It helps that they can have a huge engine, but more than that, high school boys are lusting after a four-door sedan. It takes a lot to make that happen. My buddy in minor league baseball says that most new players are buying 300s and pimping them out. That’s a big deal.

2003 Chrysler 300

My other pick is the Dodge Magnum. It has mixed reviews today, but it’s still a special car with a big engine. Yes, they are wagons, but they are badass. If you roll up in a Magnum with dark tint and 22 inch rims, everybody knows you are cool. I see it as a new classic station wagon, the Chevy Nomad of today. I think I just talked myself into getting one.

Dub Edition Dodge Magnum

Ready to Tile

I was planning on doing all of my remodeling at once: the kitchen, dining room, den, and living room. But the project plan has changed. I’m not going to get started on the big remodel until mid-April, and my house has been without carpet for a couple months. It’s a little embarrassing when people come over for a party and it looks so ghetto. So I decided to tile the living room with travertine before the big remodel. This will give us a couple months of comfort.

So today Candyce and I scraped, swept, and scrubbed the concrete floor in my living room. Cleaning your floor is such a humbling chore. It’s hard to feel like a rock star when you are hunkered down on the floor scraping off carpet glue. And it’s an unending project–there is always more to scrape up. You back hurts. Your knees hurt. But Candyce and I just kept going, and four hours later, the concrete actually looked clean enough to walk on with bare feet.

I can already see how much nicer my house will become after all of the work today. Once the remodeling is done, I’ll probably sell my house. I already feel a little bit of regret for not doing all of this four years ago when I moved into the house. At least then I could’ve enjoyed the fruits of my labor. But the regret isn’t too strong because I’ve been insanely busy since the day I bought this house, and I know there was no possible way to get it remodeled. I’m okay with that.

Being a Local

My life has changed in many ways now that I’ve stopped traveling as much. Of course I have more time to get things done. I don’t rip through my days at such a frantic pace anymore. I have time to go to my friends parties. All of that.

One new part of my life is being a local. I get a chance to know what’s going on in Phoenix. I can go to more art shows, get to know local radio stations, local news, and local newspapers. There are a lot of exciting things going on in the city of Phoenix, and I get to tap into that energy.

Matt Maher got suckered into subscribing to a local newspaper by a little girl trying to raise money at church. At first I was annoyed because that meant I had one more responsibility each day: pick the paper off the driveway. But I’ve started to read it, and I’m really having fun with it. I’ve gotten most of my news from magazines and the Internet, and it’s fun to try something new.

Through the paper, I am following a lot of exciting real estate projects. There are about 20 loft projects going up around the town. There are three HUGE work/live/shop projects going up as well. Several parts of downtown are cleaning up and getting a scene of their own. There’s just a lot of enthusiasm in the paper.

This is good for me because I am having a tough time at my job. I do like what I do, but I never feel like the website has the momentum it deserves. Yes, we’re moving forward, but the pace is embarrassing.