Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween 2009, Wrigley = Lowered Expectations

Dr. Desert Flower and I DID go to the Wrigley Mansion, in Phoenix, for their Halloween Bash. We did have a nice time. It was not fantastic, it was not amazing, or awesome, but it was OK. Our very expensive, uninformed venture to the Wrigley Mansion, adjacent to the Biltmore Estate in Phoenix, did not meet my expectations, albeit, they were probably set too high.

Lack of Information - the website to buy tickets had a phone number that no one answered. It said there would be food and drinks provided - ok, don't eat a large dinner, there should be snacks or a buffet or something provided... you'd think. It gave driving directions on how to find the mansion - including things like "drive through the National Bank of Arizona Parking Lot and go over the white bridge that leads to the mansion". OK, I can follow directions. I committed them to memory. The website said that Rocklobster and Chris Parker Project bands would be playing - but they didn't mention that Rocklobster started at 8pm and finished their set at 10:15 (after which the obtuse Wrigley Mansion staff actually made the band down the hill, with their equipment, rather than give them a ride back to the Bank Parking lot, for their Martini Ranch gig that was supposed to start at 10pm). Lack of information helped to sucker-in lots of "first timers".

Cost - For $50 a ticket (plus taxes and fees, it was $54.45 a ticket) one would think "OK, at least it will keep out the riff raff, and have a higher class of party goers". No, there's lots of really rich Phoenix riff raff who MASSIVELY front load, and get sh*tface drunk, before they get within site of the mansion at 8pm. OK, so my wallet was smarting from being out $109 without a drink, but then, 2 pimple faced adolescent "parking lot attendants" tell me I need to pay them $5 to park at the Arizona National Bank's lot. Really? $5 to park in a bank lot? Why didn't I park a block further away and walk... but Dr Desert Flower was in heels.. so OK.. another $5. But it get worse... read on.

Draconian, misguided security staff - Height Impaired "tough guy" black-shirted bouncer, frisks all the males before they can load into the mini-bus. Women walk in without any hassle. 5 ft 2 inch tall "tough guy" frisks me, and finds an EMPTY Dos Equis bottle in my coat. His pint sized ire flares "What's This??" I told him "it's my costume's prop, and EMPTY Dos XXs bottle, as I am "The Most Interesting Man In the World". The halfling tells me "we can't have any of that here, it has to go in the trash". I re-iterate, it's EMPTY, and he says with a absolutely straight face "we cannot have any bottles at the party." OK, I'm all about law and order, no bottles, sure. We board the slow shuttle bus, which creeps 1/4 the way up the hill, and dumps us at a Captain Morgan's booth and 4 trailored porta-pottys, amidst cries of "keep going up the hill!". Nope, they stop everyone at the bottom, going in. Dr. Desert Flower and I ascend the massive hill, approx 5 stories to the top, alongside already tipsy partyers, and I head to the first bar. They have ALL SORTS of beer IN BOTTLES, but no Dos Equis... grrrrrrrrr. Glass bottles. Why are short bouncers the stupidest, pettiest, most useless bouncers in the Universe? That's okay, I had a pocketful of cards that explained who I was, with different quotes on them, and this blog's website. =) Other costumes were targeted as well: Moses was forced to discard his staff. A Vincent / Jules Pulp Fiction duo were forced to throw away their guns. It was very arbitrary.

Poor Drink Selection - Rum was 100% Captain Morgan, Vodka was 100% Smirnoff, Gin was 100% Tanqueray, Tequila was 100% Cuervo. I found one side nook bar that had Crown Royale for whiskey - ew, but it was low carb. As I was the designated driver, I kept it to one beer and one CR, for the whole 5 hours we were there.

One good band, Crappy DJs, and one mediocre band - why is it, that kids now a days want to dance to such crappy "hip hop" remix BS? After Rocklobster played an energetic 2 sets, and then they had to walk off the property, a crappy DJ took over the dance floor, and played the latest wiki-wiki-turn-table chum that draws bottom feeders to the dance floor waters. Ugh. So Dr Desert Flower and I went down the hill to the other large dance floor room where the C.Parker Project was playing. They started off out-of-key playing "Thriller", and didn't get much better. Their bass player was getting into it, and played well. Their horn section did a yeoman's job for the most part. The guitar player and lead singer's chemistry was that of CH101, intro to Chem I - perhaps the ingestion of ethanol by the band worked to un-enhance their performance. They did OK, but didn't wow me, playing 80s and 90s songs, slightly recognizable.

Food, what food? - so the previous reviews and vague web info said that there was food. Bullsh*t. For $50, you had access to a menu, where each item, was $10. Artichoke dip, $10. Nachos, $10. Every small starchy item, $10 - ugh! So no food, lack luster drinks (ALL beer $5, ALL house liquor $7), and no one was allowed to pour a glass of ice water, but bottled water was provided at $3 each! At least the water from the fancy bathroom taps was potable.

Annoying Crowd Control Devices - on the stairs and lawns surrounding the hill-top mansion, were temporary bright flood lights (I saw lots of orange extension chords, and tripod mounted dual flood lights), discouraging people to sit on the stone walls, or walk along the finely kept lawns, or sit on the stone steps that headed to areas where there was no foot traffic - all together, dissuading people from using the outside of the mansion where security had little to no presence. Inside, in rooms where they did not want people to "hang out", they BLASTED music - Batman Soundtrack, Crypt Keeper Music, etc, at nearly painful decibel levels. But the engineer in me found the volume controls, and turned them down to tolerable levels, so you could think when looking at the 1932 vintage rooms.

Out Matched Security vs multiple drunks - much the riff raff consumed copious amounts of alcohol that they stumbled into the shuttle bus at 1:30am. Then, drunken party goers started fights on the bus, that caused the lone hilltop bouncer, who had been directing shuttle buss traffic, to ride in the bus down the hill with us. Drunk girls were fighting with other girls. Guys were threatening to knock other guys teeth down their f-in throats... etc. More than the one bouncer could manage single handedly, and the 5 minute ride down the hill took 20 minutes, as various drunken morons had to be thrown off the bus.

Despite all of these short-coming, we made the best of it. There was enough room to dance without having people bump into you. Rocklobster's sets and about 1/2 of C.Parker's sets were dance-able, and fun. There was no shortage of Hispanic cleaning staff, walking around picking up empty bottles, cups, and trash. The views from the mansion are impressive - to the south, Downtown and South Mountain; to the SE Sky Harbor Airport; to the West the White Tank Mountains; to the East the McDowell & Superstition Mountains. There were many really good, very detailed costumes - Robo Cop in full armour, a 10 foot tall Gandalf the Gray, 2 couples who came as bakers and tarts (the baked tarts, not the sexy nurses, sexy police woman, sexy army girl, sexy nurse, sexy devil, sexy demon, sexy super hero, sexy FBI agent, sexy fairy, sexy tinkerbell, sexy genie, sexy harem girl, etc) and several bees & bee-keepers. Dr Desert Flower and I were NOT the oldest people there for a change - though it was surprising how many kids in their 20s could afford dropping that kind of coin.

I don't plan on going back to the Wrigley Mansion in 2010 for Halloween, or for their "New Year's Eve" blow out. Being a "caged animal" in a confined environment, with forced paid parking, poor drink selection, oppressive security staff, obnoxiously drunken party goers, with the privilege of paying $50 to be a captive audience, ohhh sign me up! Once was enough.

[If you find this rant / review helpful, and you're from Phoenix, Please leave a comment. If you disagree, please do so politely (my comments are moderated). If you're not from the Phoenix Area, and you want to comment anyways, that's fine too! Everyone's welcome - chacun ses merde].

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a complete rip-off of a party...but did you expect any less from a corporate-run mega-event? Like you're getting something exclusive by paying too much for crap.


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