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Few cities have grown faster and more dramatically in the past half-century than Phoenix, which in 2005 overtook Philadelphia to become the fifth most populous city in the nation.
It’s also larger in area than Los Angeles and the hub of a metro region that includes several other fast-growing metropolises, including Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, and Glendale. But the “Valley of the Sun” is much more than a popular place to live—tourism here has taken off thanks to the bounty of lavish resorts, a cultural renaissance in downtown Phoenix, and some of the best shopping, dining, and recreational opportunities in the West. More recently, the region’s office of tourism has begun enthusiastically wooing LGBT travelers.
A highly contemporary metropolis surrounded by mountains and high desert, Phoenix is in many ways the last stronghold of the western frontier. The region is dogged by certain challenges prevalent in the West, such as rampant sprawl and sometimes oppressive smog. It’s also bone-dry here - only the Sahara is less humid than Phoenix’s Sonoran Desert. Most of the year, the weather is ideal for outdoor recreation, with winter highs in the mid-60s and spring and fall highs in the mid-80s. About the only period with blistering heat is summer, when daytime temperatures routinely climb into the low 100s (and many accommodations drop their rates precipitously).
In terms of gay-friendliness, Phoenix defies labels. This somewhat conservative capital city has long maintained strong Republican leanings, but some of the region’s most famous right-of-center politicians - including Sen. John McCain and the late Sen. Barry Goldwater - have expressed relatively accepting attitudes toward gays and lesbians. And somewhat surprisingly in 2006, this traditionally “red” state became the first in the nation to vote down a proposed ban on same-sex marriage. Phoenix has a highly visible GLBT community, and a huge number of queer bars, social organizations, and “family”-friendly eateries.
Visitors to this area have traditionally made a beeline for swanky Scottsdale, with its chichi hotels, lush golf courses, haute galleries, and sumptuous spas. However, Phoenix proper - which is home to most of the region’s GLBT bars and other businesses - has enjoyed a notable comeback of late, especially the once soulless downtown commercial center.
The action centers on Copper Square and its massively expanded convention center, plus dozens of trendy restaurants, high-end hotels, and fine performance venues. There are also a 24-screen cinema, several museums, and sports stadiums that host baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks and basketball’s Phoenix Suns. A cultural must is the outstanding Phoenix Art Museum, a dramatic green-quartz structure containing 19th-century European paintings, delightful artworks of the American West, and Abstract Expressionist masterworks. Two blocks north is the Heard Museum, a 1928 Spanish Colonial Revival hacienda containing the nation’s top collection of Native American art and artifacts.
Several peripheral residential neighborhoods have become gentrified of late, such as the Willo and Garfield Place historic districts. Of particular note is Roosevelt Row, a burgeoning mixed-use residential district that supports several excellent galleries as well as a wonderful bakery, Tammie Coe Cakes (stop in for a latte and a sweet treat or two). Speaking of baked goods, ardent pizza connoisseurs have been known to travel thousands of miles for a meal at Pizzeria Bianco, inside a historic building in the heart of the bustling Heritage Square section of downtown. Chef-owner Chris Bianco has been dubbed a pizza-making genius for his simply sensational wood-fired pies, including the Wiseguy (topped with roasted onion, house-smoked mozzarella, and fennel sausage). Just beware the long lines.
Vinophiles have taken a shine to Cheuvront Wine & Cheese Cafe, the brainchild of the city’s openly gay state senator, Ken Cheuvront. This happening place near the Phoenix Art Museum serves countless vintages by the glass and bottle as well as a long menu of stellar cheeses, salads, pizzas, and snacks. It’s a short walk down Central Avenue from here to reach the city’s premier gay bar, Amsterdam, an elegant lounge that’s part of a larger complex that includes Club Miami and Malibu Beach Bar. Other gay night spots within a short drive include the lesbian-favored Club Vibe, which replaced long-running Ain’t Nobody’s Biz and offers dancing, darts, and pool; the leather-and-Levi’s-oriented Phoenix Eagle; and the high-energy Karamba Nightclub. Gay two-steppers and country-western fans gather at Charlie’s, while fans of drag and karaoke get their fix at Burger Betty’s, an Aussie-themed gay restaurant and bar.
With all the snazzy new resorts that have opened in Scottsdale and other outlying cities, it’s easy to forget that Phoenix itself is home to a pair of aces: the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Arizona Biltmore, and the intimate, old-world Royal Palms, both of which opened in the late ‘20s. The 40-acre Biltmore, with its gray, low-slung, angular buildings containing 738 guest rooms, lies in the shadows of Phoenix Mountain Reserve. There’s also fine golfing and an acclaimed spa. Set aside an evening to dine at Wright’s at the Biltmore, where such inventive regional American fare as milk-poached pork tenderloin with foie gras sauce draws fawning accolades. Many a diva whiles away a Saturday afternoon at the nearby Biltmore Fashion Park, strolling through high-end boutiques and snacking at trendy restaurants.
The genteel and cozier Royal Palms Resort and Spa could pass for a splendid private villa in Spain, with its fanciful stone paths meandering past fragrant gardens and citrus-tree-shrouded casitas decked in old-world antiques and tiles. The weekend brunch at T. Cook’s - best enjoyed on the sunny patio - is a Phoenix tradition, and the resort’s tranquil Alvadora Spa provides some of the most supremely relaxing treatments you can imagine, from Watsu water therapy to crystal-stone facials. Die-hard massage junkies should book one of the seven state-of-the-art spa suites.
In downtown Phoenix, the upscale Hyatt Regency Phoenix and the eight-story, moderately priced Best Western Central Phoenix Inn are solid options, all within a short drive or walk of area bars, restaurants, shops, and museums. A less obvious pick is the funky, gay-friendly Hotel San Carlos, a grand if faded 121-room Italian Renaissance-style lodging that’s allegedly haunted (by friendly ghosts). It’s definitely seen better days, but for the price, it’s a good bet with a convenient, central location - especially if you prefer quirky over glamorous.
Nearby Scottsdale abounds with more recently built resorts, from the supremely cushy Sanctuary Camelback Mountain resort and swish Four Seasons Scottsdale, to the sexy and hip Scottsdale Mondrian and retro-chic Hotel Valley Ho. In Chandler, consider the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass (which is expected to become a Starwood Luxury Collection property later in 2007), an attractive spread on the Gila River Indian Reservation, 20 miles southeast of downtown. The vibe here is low-keyed and unpretentious, thanks in part to the consistently genial employees. The much-lauded Kai restaurant and the transcendent Aji Spa remind you, however, that you’re staying at a truly splendid desert hideaway. An equestrian center offering trail rides and a campy ersatz frontier town called Rawhide (think stagecoach rides, goofy gift shops, and gunfightin’ reenactments) may help you to channel your inner cowgirl or -boy.
Greater Phoenix also has a handful of gay-oriented accommodations, which range from homey B&Bs to saucy clothing-optional retreats. Downtown’s gay-owned but mainstream Yum Yum Tree Guest House, in the hip and historic Willo neighborhood, occupies a 1920s school building with soaring ceilings and Mexican-tile floors. Shaded patios and gurgling fountains surround the Spanish Mission-style building, which also adjoins a relaxing pool area. A racier option is the Arizona Royal Villa, a nudity-permitted men’s compound with an impressively enticing pool, hot tub, and sunning area and rooms and suites in a variety of configurations. For $10, non-overnight guests can spend the day here swimming, tanning, and mingling with fellow sun-bunnies. It may lack the pizzazz of the Biltmore, but this frisky compound is the closest you’ll find in these parts to a Palm Springs-style gay resort.
Royal Palms Resort & Spa youtu.be
Arizona Biltmore www.arizonabiltmore.com
Arizona Royal Villa www.royalvilla.com
Best Western Central Phoenix Inn www.bestwesterncentralphoenix.com
Burger Betty's www.burgerbettys.com
Club Vibe www.clubvibe602.com
Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North www.fourseasons.com/scottsdale
Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau www.phoenixcvb.com
Hotel San Carlos www.hotelsancarlos.com
Hotel Valley Ho www.hotelvalleyho.com
Hyatt Regency Phoenix www.phoenix.hyatt.com
Karamba Nightclub www.karambanightclub.com
Phoenix Eagle www.phxeagle.com
Pizzeria Bianco www.pizzeriabianco.com
Roosevelt Row www.rooseveltrow.org
Royal Palms Resort and Spa www.royalpalmshotel.com
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain www.sanctuaryoncamelback.com
Scottsdale Mondrian www.mondrianscottsdale.com
Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa www.wildhorsepassresort.com
Tammie Coe Cakes www.tammiecoecakes.com
Yum Yum Tree Guest House www.yytguesthouse.com
Disclaimer: This product has been tested and reviewed by our writer and any views or opinions are their own. Please note there are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase.
A massage gun is a great way to relieve tension in specific muscles. We can do it from the comfort of our own couches while watching TV. The benefits of a massage gun can help you feel relaxed, feel calmer, improve circulation, and can relieve stress and tension throughout your body. It’s no wonder that we seek out full-body massages whenever we can.
I would love to say that I work out so much that a massage gun helps me loosen up the tight muscles from lifting all those weights. The truth is, I have pulled a muscle in my next twice just from shampooing my hair…Or there was that time I turned around in my chair awkwardly and pulled a muscle in my back. That actually happened the day before I got the massage gun to review luckily, the battery had a partial charge to it and I had my first opportunity to test it out.
First, let me introduce to you the B37 Massage Gun by Erkin Athletics…
What is the B37 Massage Gun?
Four Attachments for the B37 Massage Gun
The B37 Massage Gun is an ergonomic and percussive therapy machine. The handle sits at a 15° angle which helps lessen arm fatigue. The handle is also designed so that you can reach the hard-to-reach places that normally would require another person to assist.
- 5-speeds: the variable speed ranges from 1,400 to 3,200 RPMs. The lower speeds let you warm up your muscles and work through any sensitive muscles.
- 4 attachments: There are four different types of attachments you can use to work your muscles.
- Flat: The flat attachment is perfect for overall massaging
- Bullet: The bullet is great for zeroing in on specific knots, and is also perfect for hands and feet.
- Round Foam Ball: the foam attachment works best for all larger muscle groups
- Fork: this attachment is specifically designed for the neck and spine.
- Power: the massage gun delivers up to 56 pounds of stall force. What is stall force? Stall force is the amount of pressure you can apply to a massage gun before the motor stalls.
- 8-Hour Battery: The Samsung Lithium-ion battery provides plenty of power so you can really work out those knots. If you’re on the go, you won’t need to worry about recharging or running down the battery prematurely.
- Travel Case: Take your charged, or uncharged, B37 Massage Gun with you in the handy travel case that organizes everything neatly.
How Do You Use the B37 Massage Gun?
According to the information on their website, you should
- Turn the massage gun on before placing it on your body.
- Use speeds 1 - 3 for any muscle recovery and for speeds 4 and 5 for a soothing massage or pre-workout muscle warm-up.
- Glide the massage gun over the muscles and let the gun do the work. Apply pressure for added muscle relief.
- Breathe and relax and let the machine do the work. (in other words, if you’re tense, the massage will not work.)
Another step I would add is to make sure you know which attachment you need before you even begin step 1. This way, you don’t just turn it on, start massaging, and then realize you need a different attachment.
What I Liked About the B37 Massage Gun
What I love about the B37 Massage GunPhoto by Tyler Nix on Unsplash
There’s always the chance that you get a product that just doesn’t perform. I kind of knew that this was not the case when I turned on the B37. You could feel the power when you were holding it. In fact, it was so powerful I had it on the lowest setting and barely applied any pressure to my sore back. After a few swipes, I felt better.
The attachments are great and my two favorites are the foam ball and the flat attachment. They really promote muscle relaxation and work pretty well for me. To be honest, the fork scares me a little plus, I can’t really reach. I haven’t used the bullet yet because the foam ball and flat piece work great for me. Did I mention that they’re so easy to change too? You just pop them in or out—that simple.
Aside from the handy case, the battery is third in line because well, sometimes, you just forget to charge things. Hello, headsets anyone? I can use the massager for an hour or so and then put it away and use it another day.
What I Don’t Like About the B37 Massage Gun
What I didn't like about the B37 Massage Gun
It's fine when you are on the lower settings but when you get up to the higher settings, it gets a little noisy. Especially if you’re watching TV. If I need that much work on my muscles, I probably shouldn’t be sitting in front of the TV anyway. The lower settings work just fine for my muscles.
Also not a deal killer, but it has some heft to it. While the 15° handle does help with arm fatigue and wrist exhaustion, it’s still there especially if you have a particular knot to work out. Usually, I switch hands if possible or take a break here and there.
Is the B37 Massage Gun Worth the Price?
Prices for massage guns can vary and the B37 Massage Gun is decently priced compared to other massage guns. Considering the quality of the massage gun, all of the features, AND a lifetime warranty, I think it’s well worth the price.
Should You Buy the B37 Massage Gun?
Massage guns are perfect for anyone that is an endurance athlete, an avid weightlifter, or anyone suffering from tight muscles. The National Institute of Mental Health also discusses practicing self-care by using relaxing activities such as muscle relaxation. The institute also mentions using relaxing techniques for managing stress.
I would recommend the massage gun for anyone dealing with sore muscles and who may need relaxation in general.
What to Look for in a Massage Gun?
Speed and Power
When you are searching for a massage gun, you want to look for a gun that offers a range of speed and that has enough power to handle the stall force.
Size and Weight
Part of what I didn’t like about the B37 was the weight. It was a little heavy, especially for one-handed massaging. That’s why you need to make sure that the weight isn’t going to be too cumbersome and at the same time, it isn't too flimsy. There is no way around it but if you have a powerful gun, it’s going to be heavy or heavier. The size is a factor too. If it’s too large, it’ll seem awkward; if it’s too small, it just won’t get the job done.
Chances are, you’re going to want to take the gun with you. Having a nice travel case will make that a lot easier. You will want or need, something compact enough for those road trips and flights. Just don’t forget the charger.
Attachments make life and working out the kinks so much easier. While I really only use two, I can see where the four come in handy. Depending on how often you will use one, I would say a minimum of two attachments.
Disclaimer: Please note there are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase.
After a visit to Honolulu, I returned enthusiastic about the Imu, the traditional Hawaiian underground oven. If you’ve been to a traditional luau, you’ve had kalua pig cooked in an imu. The word kalua means “the hole”. Depending on the pig’s size, it is steamed in an underground pit, sometimes for days. Throughout Polynesia and in many other cultures, earthen ovens have been used for centuries. They are a highly effective way to produce succulent proteins and vegetables without an ounce of electricity.
Really, you can only eat so many carbonized weiners.
While I have always loved cooking outside and enjoy the morning ritual of getting the embers going, camping food is rarely special. It’s hard to control the fire without standing vigil every second. Something always burns. Something is always undercooked. In recent years, meals for the yearly camping trip with my college friends consist of variations on the foil pack theme: individual hobo packs and the like.
The flavor of the food cooked in an imu is unmatched and it frees you up to snuggle with your new love, go for a hike, watch Ellen’s last show, or even do some quick manscaping in your tent.
Consider the imu nature’s crock pot. Maybe you can recline in your new zero gravity camp chair where that perfect combination of rustling leaves and a few beams of sunshine poking through the trees will lull you into a nice nap. This doesn’t have to be just for camping. If you have even the smallest swatch of yard you can do this at home. This summer or fall put on some Don Ho and start digging. It’s worth the ten minutes of cardio. Here’s how to do it.
Pork shoulder is an easy protein to work with. Serve it Cuban style with tortillas, avocado, and salsa verde. An entire pig would be fun, but totally unrealistic if you’re camping. Cooking in a small hole would take a few hours to a half day for the meat to become flavorful and succulent.
This may feel intimidating but it’s really quite easy. Don’t let the digging scare you away.
What Do You Need to Make an Imu?
- 5-8 Burlap bags
- 8-10 Banana leaves, fresh or frozen
- 1 or 2 Grill grates
- 20 pound bag Charcoal
- Foil pans
How do You Prepare an Imu?
Folding banana leaves over coals in an imu
Photo courtesy of Kandace Davis
- Dig a hole three feet deep by four feet wide with sloping slides. Save the dirt you’ve excavated. You’ll need it. If you choose a shady area with soft ground, a typical small camping shovel will work. Go for a bigger hole if you’re feeding a crowd. The pit must be large enough to contain an entire bag of charcoal and the food you’ll be serving.
- Layer the bottom center of the pit with plenty of kindling. Dried leaves, small branches, and twigs are best. Try to avoid newspapers as the print could infuse toxic ink fumes into the food. On top of the kindling, add an entire bag of natural, untreated hardwood charcoal. I use Rockwood brand which comes in a 10 lb and 20 lb bag. For this recipe, use about ¾ of a 20 lb bag. Light the kindling and let the charcoal become white hot. This will take about an hour. Hawaiians would traditionally use hot stones heated to 1,000 degrees and placed carefully into the oven with giant tongs. We aren’t doing that.
- Wear gloves to avoid a steam burn. The cooking process requires steam and not dry heat, so banana leaves will help you easily achieve this. You can find these at Global Foods or other international markets. If your banana leaves are frozen, you can place a double layer of them directly over the coals. If they’re fresh, wet them down before placing them. You are ready to cook.
- Carefully straddle a campfire grill grate (readily available online) over the coals. If you’re cooking for a larger group, consider using two grates and you’ll need a larger hole. Place your foil-wrapped edibles on the grill grate. We will get to specifics about what to cook in a bit.
- Wet down four burlap bags or a roll of burlap and lay them over the foil-wrapped food. Be sure that the burlap extends beyond the opening of the hole. You are going to be covering all of this with dirt and you want to keep the dirt from falling into the imu.
- The final layer is a tarp (anything will do) followed by the excavated dirt which is shoveled over the top of the tarp in order to keep any steam from escaping. Estimating cooking time is tricky. For this pork shoulder recipe, plan for five hours if it goes too long then all the better. As you become more confident, consider other foods including whole vegetables or smaller pieces of beef brisket.
- When finished brush away any loose dirt from the edges of the covering material. Avoid getting dirt into the imu. Uncover the layers of banana leaves and burlap sacks. Allow the foil-wrapped foods to cool for ten minutes before serving.
Pork Shoulder Recipe
Imu cooked pork shoulder
Photo courtesy of Kandace Davis
Yield: Serves 10
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: Approximately 5 hours
- 5 pounds Bone-in Pork Shoulder
- Citrus Garlic Seasoning
- Pat the pork shoulder dry with paper towels.
- Season liberally with salt and citrus rub.
- Double-wrap the pork in heavy-duty aluminum foil by placing the meat on the two sheets where the foil meets, and seal the foil tightly by folding it multiple times until it meets the top of the pork. Seal the foil on the sides in the same way.
- Place When the pork is finished cooking, allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
- Break the meat apart with forks and season again if necessary.
- Serve the meat with the prepared toppings or sides.
Suggested Pork Shoulder Sides
- Avocado slices
- Pickled onions
- Salsa verde
- Corn and/or flour tortillas
- Black beans
- Roasted corn
What Can I Cook in an Imu?
- Whole Chicken
- Beef Brisket
- Whole sweet potatoes or russet potatoes
- Whole acorn squash or spaghetti squash
About the Author
Kandace Davis began her career at a large suburban St. Louis school district where she taught English and theater. In 1999, after training with the Culinary Institute of America, she moved on to pursue her culinary dreams. She enjoyed a twenty-year career as a chef and founded the award-winning St. Louis food company, Cha Cha Chow, which was thrice named by The Daily Meal, NYC, as one of the top food trucks in America. Kandace and Cha Cha Chow have been featured in the St. Louis Business Journal, Sauce Magazine, Feast Magazine, and “Show Me St. Louis.”
In 2013, Kandace was nominated and accepted into Les Dames d’Escoffier International, a philanthropic organization of women leaders in food, fine beverage, and hospitality, and serves on the board of her local chapter. As part of her work to help provide healthy food to underserved communities, Kandace is a supporter of Earthdance Organic Farm School and Mutual Aid St. Louis. She has participated in local events supporting the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Black Lives Matter movement, and, as a breast cancer survivor, The Breast Cancer Fund.
In 2019, after three spinal surgeries, Kandace stepped down from Cha Cha Chow. She is now working on a memoir about her mother’s mysterious and violent death by suicide and the amazing grandmother who raised her.
Campus Pride, the preeminent resource for LGBTQ+ leadership development, diversity inclusion, and advocacy within higher education, today announced the annual Best of the Best Colleges and Universities for LGBTQ+ students in the United States, recognizing the work of 40 campuses in making their communities safer and more welcoming environments for students, faculty, and staff alike.
“Campus Pride created the Best of the Best List to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of these colleges and universities, creating safer, more welcoming campuses for LGBTQ+ people,” said Shane Windmeyer, Campus Pride Executive Director. “Students, prospective students, and their families, along with faculty and staff members, deserve to know whether they will be safe on campus, so they can make the best choices for their own academic success – and by creating inclusive, safe environments these colleges are taking responsibility for all students.”
Today’s announcement from Campus Pride features 40 four-year campuses from across the country. These campuses have achieved 5 out of 5 stars on the Campus Pride Index (CPI), the definitive national benchmarking tool measuring LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs, and practices. To earn a ranking of 5 out of 5 stars, campuses receive a percentage score from 90 to 100 based on their LGBTQ-inclusive policies, programs, and practices. The methodology to determine this year’s Best of the Best List was based on an overall score of 93 percent or higher.
"We are seeing more and more colleges earn 5 stars because campuses are doing more to support their trans students," states Dr. Genny Beemyn, the coordinator of Campus Pride's Trans Policy Clearinghouse. "While all colleges can and should do more to be trans-inclusive, many institutions are taking important steps forward."
“The work Campus Pride does every day to foster safer, more welcoming campuses across the country is creating positive change for students, staff, and faculty, as this year’s Best of the Best list reflects that with 40 colleges represented, up from 30 last year,” said Tom Elliott, Campus Pride Board Chair. “At a time when LGBTQ+ rights and other civil rights are under assault in states across the country, including Texas and Florida, it is as important as ever to recognize the campuses in these states working to create spaces where the next generation of LGBTQ+ leaders can learn and flourish.”
- Towson University, MD
- Montclair State University, NJ
- Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-New Brunswick, NJ
- Adelphi University, NY
- Ithaca College, NY
- Pace University, NY
- Lehigh University, PA
- The Pennsylvania State University, PA
- University of Pennsylvania, PA
- Northern Illinois University, IL
- Southern Illinois University Carbondale, IL
- University of Illinois at Chicago, IL
- Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
- Purdue University, IN
- Kansas State University, KS
- Oakland University, MI
- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, MI
- Macalester College, MN
- Minnesota State University-Mankato, MN
- University of Nebraska at Kearney, NE
- Kent State University, OH
- The Ohio State University, OH
- University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, WI
- University of Wisconsin Green Bay, WI
- University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, WI
- Tufts University, MA
- University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
- University of Vermont, VT
- University of North Florida, FL
- University of Louisville, KY
- Elon University, NC
- George Mason University, VA
- Virginia Wesleyan University, VA
- Texas Tech University, TX
- University of Texas at Dallas, TX
- San Diego State University, CA
- University of Colorado at Boulder, CO
- University of Northern Colorado, CO
- Southern Oregon University, OR
- Washington State University, WA
About Campus Pride
Campus Pride’s 2022 BEST OF THE BEST Colleges & Universities is online at http://campuspride.org/BestoftheBest.
The Campus Pride Index full listing of LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities is available at https://www.campusprideindex.org/.
Since 2001, Campus Pride has been the leading national organization building future LGBTQ and ally leaders as well as creating safer communities at colleges and universities. The Campus Pride Index annually helps 80,000 people find LGBTQ-inclusive colleges and universities. In addition, the organization has specifically tailored programs and resources to support LGBTQ youth and campus communities. Learn more at CampusPride.org.