Phoenix is not exactly a cradle of literary and cinematic energy, but a common thread seems to run through the pop culture produced there: fantasy and fear. Twilight
author Stephenie Meyer grew up in Phoenix and attended high school in Scottsdale. Obscure movies about aliens and crashing comets have used Phoenix as a backdrop, and the opening scene of Psycho
shows the downtown skyline, circa 1960. The city’s most famous native musician, Alice Cooper
, has an affinity for the fantastical macabre, although these days Cooper plays a lot of golf and broadcasts a syndicated radio show from his Paradise Valley home. But Psycho isn’t the best movie to watch before you visit a new town, and Alice Cooper’s theatrical rock won't give you a sense of the place, either. Instead, listen to the sunny songs of the Tempe-birthed band Gin Blossoms
, or download Glen Campbell
’s country classic “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” A couple of recent indie films shot in the area—Little Miss Sunshine
and Away We Go
—will give you a decent sense of suburban life in the desert.