Gay Denny's, 7th Street and Camelback Road, Phoenix, Arizona
I was getting a haircut yesterday, and in the course of casual conversation, the young woman (she's in her thirties, but everyone looks about twelve to me nowadays) who was cutting my hair mentioned that she grew up in Phoenix. I told her about my interest in Phoenix history, and found out that her parents had grown up in Phoenix, too. I've lived in Phoenix for a long time, and true born-and-raised in Phoenix people are still pretty rare. So we talked about Phoenix, and I could tell, yep, she knew Phoenix the way that only a local would know it.
When I mentioned that I had moved to Phoenix when I was nineteen, she asked me to exactly whereabouts. I hesitated, and then I asked a question that everyone who is a Phoenix local knows. Did she know where Gay Denny's is? Of course she did. And if you know, well, it doesn't mean you're gay, it just means you know Phoenix in the same way that people refer to Chicken Park in Glendale.
Now waitaminute, calm down here if you've never heard of this. This isn't homophobia. I support the gay community, and always have. The fact that I accidentally got an apartment in an area that is part of the "gayborhood" meant nothing to me. When I found out, by people telling me, I found it to be kinda funny. I lived over by Lopers, you know, not far from the Cheetah Club. If you know Phoenix, you know what I'm talking about.
Talking about Phoenix this way reminds me of how I learned my neighborhood in Minneapolis as a kid on a bike. We knew where things were, not the street names, or points on a compass. And while I'll never see 50 again, I'll always have the attitude of a kid, and the need to feel comfortable the way that a kid knows the back alleys and bike trails of their 'hood.
By the way, go ahead and Google "Gay Denny's Phoenix". I'll wait. I just did it, and sure enough the listing for the Denny's at 5002 N. 7th Street comes up on Google. I got the photo at the top of this post from that listing.
I didn't grow up in Phoenix, but it's my home. I went away for several years, to seek my fame and fortune in Los Angeles, and never found it. When I returned to Phoenix, it was a wonderful feeling, and I often describe it as "putting on an old jacket that just fits". I wasn't born and raised in Phoenix, but I consider myself a "born again local". I like it here.
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Posted by Brad Hall