Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona, just for fun. Advertising-free, supported by my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Crazy people in old-time, and modern Phoenix, Arizona



Yes, I know you're not supposed to use the word "crazy" when you see a crazy person. There are other expressions that are kinder and more gentle, like challenged, or possibly insane. But I heard comedian Chris Rock say, "Whatever happened to crazy?" and I gotta tell ya, it's alive and well, and I've seen a lot of it living in the Phoenix area. Of course I'm sure being a crazy person isn't limited to Phoenix, but that's what I'd like to look at right now.

Every summer my friends in California ask me if I'm crazy to live where the temperatures get over 100 degrees, and sometimes over 120. And they mean it in an affectionate way. In fact, that's usually how the word "crazy" is used nowadays, not actually directed at people who acting in a way that kinda makes you want to not look at them, and possibly quietly wander off.

So, sanity is something that is hard to measure. When I'm out in public, I like to use the police definition of someone who "seems reasonable". Their insanity could be temporary, cause by some type of substance abuse, so my feeling is that if someone is acting in a crazy way, it's a free country, and they're welcomed to it, as long as they aren't hurting anyone.


Of course there's a legal definition to insanity, which I know from first-hand experience when I had my car stolen back in the '90s. They caught the thief, after a police chase, and they put him not in jail, but in a special place to serve out his sentence. I got letters, and although the word "crazy" was never used, I often joked that anyone who would have stolen my car at the time was crazy. It was a good-looking car, but it had been a lemon since the day I got it. I don't remember where they locked him up, but I figure 24th and Van Buren.

Anyway, I won't use the word "crazy", I promise. It will still pop into my head when I see a particular behavior, and I'll just try to distance myself. Go in peace.

Image at the top of this post: 1906 article from the Phoenix newspaper. Presumably modern life had just gotten to him.

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