Gus Pedrotty—Gus, as he likes to be known—stopped by Alibi Headquarters to discuss a bid for mayor that began as idealistic—and some would say unlikely—but has since been transformed into one of the more vital and remarkable candidacies that have passed through this high desert city in ages.
You can't tell the players without a scorecard
Hot weather and high ticket prices tell us that the summer movie season is here. Last year's sequel-glutted schedule actually represented a downturn in profits for Hollywood. Will this year's wider selection prove more profitable? This year, we've got everything from computer-generated ogres to computer-generated cats, from robotic Nicole Kidmans to bleach-blond Tom Cruises, from Princess Diaries to Cinderella Stories.
Environmentally friendly homes on display in Duke City
The political talk on CNN this week focused on the "great divide" in America, the dead heat in the presidential polls and the balance of presumed blue and red states on the electoral map. There is a similar divide that gets less attention in the mainstream media, but reflects our nation's attitude toward energy consumption and conservation. In New Mexico, perhaps the best symbol of this division is in Taos, where the state's first solar energy utility is being built in eye-shot of Valle Vidal, a pristine wilderness area that might soon be transformed by some 200 natural gas wells and a spider web of roads.
TJ Trout gets issue-oriented. In case you haven't noticed, the 94 Rock morning showman launched a new billboard where his mouth and nipples are covered with tape, with the mock-headline, "FCC-friendly radio." He designed the ad himself and, although it made me laugh like a howler monkey, he says it's not all tongue-in-cheek.
Heather Wilson's practiced hypocrisy is exceeded only by her arrogance. In a form letter recently mailed from her office, she responded to signatories of a MoveOn.org petition by saying, "I don't participate in these games, no matter which side of the partisan divide they originate on." The MoveOn petition, which has been signed by over one million people, urged her and other members of Congress to censure President Bush for misleading the American people on the reasons for invading Iraq. Apparently Wilson wants us to believe that when constituents who don't agree with her engage in the political process they're just playing "games."
Our tilted scales of morality at play in Iraq
I didn't want to write about the Abu Ghraib prison atrocities this week. The last thing this community needs is one more take on the subject, I decided.
Given the Iraq War's mounting costs and impossible goals, America should transfer sovereignty and come home.
The administration's Iraq policy is in shambles. Iraq has become a geopolitical humpty-dumpty that America cannot put back together, and the time has come for the United States to withdraw.
The readers write.
Dateline: Canada—A routine test of airport security turned into a Marx Brothers routine after security officers mistakenly sent a passenger home with a suitcase full of TNT. The TNT was supposed to be planted in the bags of a Montreal security agent. Instead, it somehow ended up stuffed into the luggage of an unsuspecting overseas passenger who arrived at Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport last Friday. The unnamed passenger went to a friend's house where he found the explosives concealed in a jam jar and placed inside his suitcase. The man immediately called Quebec provincial police. The TNT, which officials say had no detonator attached, was meant as part of a weekly test for bomb-sniffing dogs at the airport. Ironically, the dogs failed to detect the explosives. The passenger and his baggage were able to pass though airport security unchecked. “Our investigation is going to reveal exactly what happened,” airport security spokesman Pierre Goupil told TV network TVA.
Coming Soon (Well, Not That Soon)—Every summer, we like to cast our crystal ball ahead to the far-flung future. By now, we know the films that we'll be drooling over or avoiding like the plague this summer. But what about next summer? What cinematic delights await us in the summer of 2005?
Epic action flick looks great, feels too analytical
Way back in the day, heroes didn't need no stinkin' motivations. They were heroes. Pure and simple. They killed enemies, knocked over city walls and hunted down magical sheepskins if the legend so required. But in today's “let's all share our feelings with Dr. Phil” environment, storytellers can't resist the urge to examine everyone's inner child. Case in point: The overlong, overanalytical Troy.
Divine documentary searches for the Holy Grail of couches
Every family has a story. Every family has a couch. But very few have stories and couches like the family of Pearl Gluck.
It's “upfront” week in Los Angeles and, while the term may not mean much to the average Idiot Boxer, it's one of the most important words in the Hollywood lexicon. Upfront week is when the networks place their orders for new shows. For the past month or so, networks have been looking over the new crop of pilots, testing some of them in front of audiences and generally trying to guess which ones will be hits. This is the week that the networks put their money on the line, shelling out the dough for a full or half season worth of episodes.
The Week in Sloth
Highlights from around the dial. Except no one has dials anymore.
It is with sadness that I report the tragic, untimely death of Morning Wood singer Chris Hotchkiss, who was killed in a traffic accident nearly two weeks ago. I didn't know Chris personally, but I did see his band a few times and know that he was a valued fixture in the Albuquerque music scene. A memorial show in Chris' name at the Launchpad is being planned, as is an article of remembrance and celebration of his life to be published in conjunction with the show in the weeks to come. My heartfelt condolences to Chris' family and friends. ... Fingerstyle guitarist Steven King with host a Taylor acoustic guitar workshop on Thursday, May 20, at the new Grandma's Music and Sound (9310 Coors NW, 292-0341) at 7 p.m. Admission is free! ... Vital Remains (featuring Deicide vocalist Glen Benton) will torture an all ages crowd at the Launchpad on Saturday, May 22, along with Black Dahlia Murder, Cattle Decapitation and Manias. ... Also on Saturday, if you're in the mood for a little jazz, check out Todd Simmons and Mary Birch at Milagro next to the Santa Ana Casino in Bernalillo. ... But if it's T Rex-esque rock 'n' roll swagger you're looking for that night, you might want to head to the Atomic Cantina for Chicago's The M's. ... Thanks to my man Mike Trujillo for the Jim Rome ticket!
Mark Turner, Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard Bring Latest Trio to the Outpost
This season's Monday Night Jazz Series will culminate in what promises to be a superb finale performance by one of the finest trios in contemporary jazz. Calling themselves Fly, the collective includes saxophonist Mark Turner, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard, all of who have impressive pedigrees.
Turner's recording career as a leader stretches back to Yam Yam, his 1995 debut, and four later albums for Warner Brothers. Grenadier has played with Pat Metheny, Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau to name a few, while Ballard has served alongside Chick Corea, Danili Perez, Guillermo Klein and Joshua Redman.
with Ya Ya Boom Project and Blue Bottle Flies
Friday, May 21; Launchpad (21 and over, 9 p.m.): No matter where you go you can do at least one thing: create rhythms. Bang on a pan with a spoon, whack a rock with a stick, put your hand under your armpit and squeeze—you can make beats, grooves, rhythms every and anywhere. I mean, think about it, as long as we are alive our heart beats a consistent rhythm that is as enchanting as it is tribal.
with Orange Goblin and Lamont
Tuesday, May 11; Burt's Tiki Lounge: I fucking hate it when bands go on late. After all, I do have a day job. But I also fucking love it when bands that go on late make having done so thoroughly worthwhile for the audience. Such was the case this night when Black Maria didn't hit the stage at Burt's until after 11 p.m., despite the fact that there were two bands to follow.
Operating as a collective under the Tangle Eye moniker, roots remix specialists Scott Billington and Steve Reynolds have created their latest project using the field recordings of legendary musicologist Alan Lomax as its foundation. Samples of a dozen or so a cappella performances recorded by Lomax between 1947 and 1960 get married to musical accompaniment courtesy of guests Corey Harris, George Porter, Jr., Dirk Powell and other contemporary roots musicians. The overall effect is stunning; disembodied voices of singers long dead fleshed out over grooves that are at once respectful of that era and uniquely modern. This one's pretty tasty.
Lovelier and lovelier! Set in an attractive 7,000-square-foot loft near the corner of Fourth Street and Central Avenue, Fort 105 Studios contains 16 studio spaces and a large gallery. Since it opened in 1998, this unique cooperative venture has become a staple of Downtown Albuquerque's arts scene, catering to the needs of a wide range of art professionals. Photographers, painters, sculptors, carpenters, jewelry makers and musicians all call Fort 105 home.
There's still one week left to catch a three-person exhibit of abstract art at the Coleman Gallery. Diane McGregor paints dreamy wave-like oil canvases. Joyce Shupe specializes in constructing distinctive banded pieces with highly textured surfaces. Don Verynay creates polished vertical works with saturated pigments mixed with lava gel. Flow, a show of work by these three artists, runs through May 29. Swing through the gallery before this exhibit comes down. 232-0224.
St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal
Josquin des Prez was one of the finest Flemish composers of the Renaissance. This Sunday, May 23, Música Antigua de Albuquerque, our city's premiere interpreter of antique music will present a concert of sacred and secular music by this distinguished master. As always, the compositions will be performed on period instruments. The show begins at 4:30 p.m. at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal (601 Montaño NW). $15 general, $12 seniors, $8 students. 842-9613.
Contemporary Arts in the Public Realm at the National Hispanic Cultural Center and 516 Magnífico Artspace
A couple months ago, a few Albuquerque city councilors and their supporters made a big stink about a sculpture consisting of two giant neon green cones that the city planned to install at the Louisiana and I-40 interchange. Whether you side with the complainers or with Tom Waldron, the project's designer, it's nice to see people get worked up over art for a change. It's the kind of conflict we don't see often enough in Albuquerque. Everyone should care about public art in our city, and we should all be willing to air our own views in public.
In Company: An Anthology of New Mexico Poets After 1960
The Laws of Invisible Things
As the mercury rises, my yen for sugar seem to skyrocket right along with it. Heat has an alchemical ability to thaw things. In my case, high temperatures unearth a potent blend of desire and memory, awakened by the sweet tastes of summer. The hottest part of my afternoon induces fantasies about bionicos; impossibly fresh chunks of fruit topped with thick, sweet cream, shredded coconut and granola. I used to get them in Los Angeles because they reminded me of home (despite the fact that I have yet to actually eat one here). They were simple but luxurious little packages, improved only by a front porch and friends. The last 20 minutes before sunset is synonymous with my first taste of agua fresca; the summer festival where I sneaked eyefuls of an enormous glass jar filled with real watermelon juice, its big black seeds bobbing seductively up and down. I remember the hollow echo of ice and metal colliding inside as the pink liquid was scooped out and plunked into my plastic cup. It wasn't at all what I expected. Its texture was thin rather than syrupy, its sweetness mild and clean, and slightly soapy. And now dusk is for the paleta man. Every evening, sandwiched between sunset and the last drop of daylight, I can hear the bell of his pushcart moving through my neighborhood. I have to be quick to catch him, though. He's a bit of a ghost.
You won't even recognize the place. Fourth Street Café's transformation into Ralli's is complete and the Downtown restaurant is open for business again. Ralli's (the name is pronounced like Rally's) looks absolutely nothing like the dated, cramped coffee shop that used to take up an unassuming spot on the Fourth Street Mall. Gone are the carpeting, mismatched furniture and bad pastel color scheme, replaced by dark, glossy wood on the floors, tables and bar. Forest green upholstery and accents make Ralli's look like the classy pub it hopes to be. The menu hasn't changed much, though. Ralli's is still serving breakfast and lunch much the same as they always have. Diner standards like omelets, club sandwiches and chicken salads remain the same. The dinner menu is similar to lunch with the addition of bar-food favorites like fried mozzarella sticks and the place is now open from 6 to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday, until midnight on Sunday.
A cook and caterer from Pojoaque brings an updated concept to the old Tito's Tavern
Tito's Tavern has been a fixture on the corner of Fourth Street and Menaul Blvd. since the beginning of time (or thereabouts), so when a sign went up announcing a new sandwich shop called Wrap it Up, people noticed. I caught up with Angel Vigil just after a lunch rush. She was out of breath but happy to talk about the new venture.
OK, we realize, of course, that there are plenty more than 50 reasons to get off your sofa and into the great New Mexican outdoors. Our intention here is to offer a broad spectrum of things to do in places that are in some instances right in your own back yard, in others a few (or few hundred) miles down the highway. We also wanted to provide brief profiles of the places we've been to that have most inspired us. In some cases, the locales are sacred to us, so the fact that we're willing to share even those should let you know just how much we love you.
Your Killer Tan is a Killer
Let me begin by addressing my mostly naked friend Don Schrader who is bound to write a letter in refute of this column: Don, a tan is not healthy. In medical terms, a tan is the result of the body's largest organ—the skin—attempting to protect itself from the sun's ultraviolet rays by producing more pigment. A tan—no matter how light or dark—therefore, indicates skin damage. Period.
Meet Joe Blog. Here in New Mexico, when it comes to local and state politics, there is one seasoned wonk, one long-time news reporter and political consultant living large in his own Internet grist mill, that stands above the rest. Of course, “Thin Line” is talking about the inimitable Joe Monahan.
APD officers use patrol cars for off-duty errands
The Albuquerque Police Department offers a special perk to recruit and retain its officers—the use of patrol cars to drive to and from work, free gasoline, insurance and loose regulations outlining what personal errands the cars can be used for.
At the May 3 meeting, Council President Michael Cadigan moved yet another vote on extending Paseo del Norte through the Petroglyph National Monument as required by an agreement with Gov. Bill Richardson to allocate over $3 million to the project. But Councilor Brad Winter moved for a two-week deferral.
Down is up in the Duke City
"Far off in outer space exists the strangest, wackiest planet in the universe ... it is the square Bizarro World!" So began an edition of a Superman comic book that had the Man of Steel trapped in another dimension where everything was weirdly skewed, perversely inverted. Down was up, ugly was beautiful, left was right and bad was good. Increasingly, the political climate in the Duke City is looking more and more like Bizarro World. Low-wage jobs are touted as high-tech economic growth, fringe development beyond the city's boundaries is labeled "in-fill" and elected officials benefiting from a host of taxpayer goodies is simply good government. While that's bad for Albuquerque, it does make for some pretty easy political commentary.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., laments today's corporate crony capitalism
The Natural Resources Defense Council is not your garden-variety environmental organization. Meaning, the organization isn't just working to inform the public about the usually dreadful direction our natural world is headed thanks to tons of pollution we humans create every year. NRDC, by their website's own account, is in fact "the nation's most effective environmental action organization." The imperative word here is action, as in legal action. Last week, one of the organization's most famous lawyers, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., spoke to an exuberant crowd of supporters at the National Hispanic Cultural Center lamenting our current state of environmental affairs. Afterward, the Alibi sat down with Mr. Kennedy to get his opinion on the way environmental policy works these days.
Charter schools and APS find common ground
Last month's newspaper headlines about dropout rates at Albuquerque Public Schools going down are good news. The drop out problem, however, is not an issue that can be retired and forever be done with. Continuously responding to it has to become part of our expectations for our public schools.
Dateline: Florida—A drug enforcement administration agent who was giving a gun safety demonstration to a group of children concluded the lecture by shooting himself in the leg. The agent, whose name was not released, was doing the presentation in front of about 50 students and adults at the Orlando Minority Youth Golf Association. According to witnesses, he drew his .40-caliber duty weapon, removed the magazine and pulled back the slide. A police report confirms that he then asked an audience member to confirm that the weapon was not loaded. Witnesses said the gun was pointed at the floor and when the agent released the slide, one shot fired into the top of his left thigh. “The kids screamed and started to cry,” Vivian Farmer, who attened the presentation with her 13-year-old nephew, told Local 6 News in Orlando. “Everyone was pretty shaken up, but the point of gun safety hit home. Unfortunately, the agent had to get shot.” The agent was treated at Orlando Regional Medical Center after the April 9 shooting and returned to work. Police ruled the shooting an accident, but the DEA in Washington is still investigating.
The readers write.
Star Wars—Madstone Theaters will be hosting a benefit this weekend for the Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center. The theater will be screening Arsenal of Hypocracy: The Space Program and the Military Industrial Complex on Sunday, May 16, at 3 and 5:30 p.m. This video presentation features Noam Chomsky, anti-nuclear scholar/activist Bruce Gagnon and Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell talking about the dangers of moving the arms race into outer space. The documentary includes archival footage, Pentagon documents and numerous interviews. There will be a question and answer session between shows. Tickets are a mere $5 and can be obtained at the Madstone box office at 6311 San Mateo NE.
Russian parable travels dark road with fathers, sons, fears
OK, so you're never going to remember a name like Andrei Zvyagintsev. But, with his first feature film outing, the Russian director makes a bold mark for himself on the international film scene. A stylistic throwback to the Soviet Union's long and proud cinematic history as well as a bold, accessible new direction for the lagging Russian film industry, The Return is a gripping fable about abandonment, sacrifice and the deep-seeded need for every child to star in his very own version of Oedipus.
Campy monster bash should have Bram Stoker, et al. rolling over in their graves
Hopefully, Van Helsing is the stupidest movie of the year. If not, we're in for a long, dumb summer.
“Rocked with Gina Gershon” on IFC
The fact that Gina Gershon starred in the Hollywood howler Showgirls, and yet has gone on to become an indie-cool sex symbol for discriminating teenage bad boys and hopeful middle-aged lesbians is the surest sign of her tough chick charm. Never ones to pass up an indie icon, the Independent Film Channel recently drafted Gershon to star in her very own reality series.
Highlights from around the dial. Except no one has dials anymore.
In response to my statement of two weeks ago in which I wrote that Unit 7 Drain were among two bands that "whined like babies" about their time slot and/or venue placement, several members of the band cited conflicts with their employment schedules as the reason for requiring a time slot later than 9 p.m. Sounds reasonable enough. Apologies therefore to Unit 7 Drain, their fans and anyone who thought I was too big an asshole to acknowledge my own mistakes and apologize for them. Rage Against the Machine, however, offered no such explanation, threatening instead to write a letter to the editor (a.k.a. Yours Truly) challenging me to a public brawl. The arrival of said letter—and brawl—is still anxiously awaited. ... This past Saturday night I managed to drag my crusty ol' ass out to the Launchpad for the Icky and the Yuks tour kick-off. I felt young again ... until about 12:30 a.m., but I did manage to make it all the way through part of Icky's set. Other highlights of the evening were masterful, thunderous sets by Fivehundred and Black Maria, not to mention the always slightly disturbing Beefcake in Chains. Head 'Cake Steve Eiland won the award for best Icky-themed T-shirt, which I can't comfortably describe even in this rag. Anyway, Icky are on the road for the next 12 days or so, returning just in time for Jay Collins and Richard Trott to catch the plane that will deliver them to a fishing boat off the coast of Alaska for about six weeks. No, really.
White Men Can Jump
Charlie Musselwhite's Chicago Blues
Along with Paul Butterfiled, Mississipi-born, Memphis-rasied harpist Charlie Musselwhite can be credited for giving the so-called white blues movement of the '60s a leg to stand on. Already a master of the blues harp by his late teens, the then twentysomething Musselwhite had moved to Chicago and begun to absorb the intricacies of its urban blues sound. It's a style that Musselwhite has remained faithful to for the better part of 40 years. Still, the 60-year-old musician is regarded as one of the most adventurous bluesmen around, within his chosen idiom. And he's got 14 W.C. Handy awards and half a dozen Grammy nominations to prove it.
Thursday, May 13; Puccini's Golden West Saloon (21 and over, 9 p.m.): Guess what! It hasn't all been done before. It's safe to say that Australian-born, Los Angeles-based trio, Brother, are the first to eschew guitars in favor of dueling bagpipes in a rock format that draws on everything from Beach Boys-esque harmonies and sunny, SoCal pop to Latin rhythms and ancient, Aboriginal drones. And that's not to mention the Celtic undertones that drive most of the songs on their new album, Urban Cave.
with Sekiden, Leiahdorus and Brixton Ex
Thursday, May 13; Launchpad (21 and over, 9 p.m.): An undeclared, unspoken '80s-style electropop revival is taking place thanks to the Lovemakers—yet another fashionable band born and bred in the Big Apple. The band, which in the past was much more polished, has taken an evolutionary step backwards in its songwriting.
Frankly, this is one of the worst albums I've ever heard—a sonic travesty even by my forgiving '80s metal standards. Every washed-up member of every washed-up band you can think of appear in various configurations, churning out pedestrian versions of the same old KISS songs that have been remade dozens of times. So why bother? Because for KISS fans, the accompanying DVD is almost worth the price. Think of it as an if episode of "Behind the Music" without the script or narration—just a bunch of aging rockers further contextualizing KISS with sincere commentary. CD = drink coaster.
After a couple of grueling hours in the ring, Tony Santiago emerged as the city poetry slam champion for the second year in a row. The final Grand Slam contest took place on Saturday, May 1, in front of a sold out audience at the Outpost Performance Space. The contest determined not only the reigning champ, but also the additional four members of the Albuquerque team who will compete at the National Poetry Slam in St. Louis in August.
Bat Boy at the Ana Chavira Theatre
No, he can't see through walls. He can't leap tall buildings in a single bound. He doesn't even wear a cape or brightly colored leotards. The famous Bat Boy is more super freak than super hero.
Harwood Art Center
Artist Edie Tsong has hauled all her personal stuff, including books, clothes, toiletries and teddy bear, into the Harwood Art Center for Territory/American Frontier, a performance and installation in which she will use her belongings as building blocks to make different constructions. Tsong will visit the gallery every day with the final outcome of the show determined in part by interaction with viewers. A reception for Territory/American Frontier, and other exhibits featuring art by Jimmy Pontzer, Karen Mazur, Nick Tauro, Jr., Granny Jean Markin and Marian Berg, will be held on Friday, May 14, from 6 to 8 p.m. Runs through May 27. 242-6367.
For the last several weeks, santero Arturo Olivas has instructed nine Working Classroom students in the traditional techniques of retablo art. Using these techniques, the students created a series of icons representing the new American trinity of consumerism, utilitarianism and militarism. A show of this work, curated by Tey Nunn of the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, will open at Visiones Gallery on Friday, May 14, with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Runs through July 16. For details, call 242-9267.
Everett Ruess: A Vagabond for Beauty
American Judaism: A History
Before you volunteer to host a fondue party you should probably 1) own a fondue pot, 2) know how to make fondue and/or 3) spend a moment or two considering what the cost of such an endeavor is going to be. I hadn't really given much thought at all to any of those things before I proposed fondue for a co-ed baby shower to be held at my house. Now, of course, I know it's likely that a dozen of your closest friends, no matter how young or capable in the kitchen, all own fondue pots. In fact, they'd be delighted to bring them to your place—and leave them there. I think this is because most people don't know how to make fondue, though as I know now, it's not really very hard, just labor intensive. There are pounds of cheese to be grated and giant blocks of chocolate to be smashed to bits with a hammer. Which brings me to the second reason why nobody has fondue parties anymore: It's surprisingly expensive. Cheese, chocolate and cream are all more dear than we'd like them to be but never more so than when you're buying in bulk. Granted, I made enough melty-dippity goodness to feed a (drunken) army, but next time I think I'll feed them filet mignon instead.
The bad news is that Albuquerque's only Afghan restaurant is no more. That's right, after a short two and a half years Tora Bora House (Montgomery and San Pedro) has closed its doors for good. The good news is that in Tora Bora's place will be another kind of ethnic restaurant that the city has been craving. By the end of May, a small group of partners plan to transform Tora Bora's space into a soul food restaurant called Mahogany Café. I haven't seen the menu yet but one of the partners, Jacinda Holden (formerly of Renaissance Catering) tells me it involves fried green tomatoes, buttermilk biscuits, stewed greens and candied yams. More details will be forthcoming when they're finally open but I do know they're planning to host gospel brunches every Sunday. Lord have mercy on my waistline!
An old hand in the kitchen is a new face at this Italian favorite
The last time I ate at La Piazza I was surprised to see the owner and Executive Chef, Gordon Schutte, on the line, cooking up a storm. Normally, seeing a chef in his own kitchen shouldn't be a surprise but Schutte is also the owner of Vivace in Nob Hill and the ringleader of Albuquerque Originals, an association of local restaurateurs. Was he waiting for just the right person to show up and give him time for a coffee break? Rochelle Woollard, who started at La Piazza three months ago, seems to be that person.
Keep them out of your hair while they learn to earn their keep
You know you've finally become a grown-up when you start thinking that year-round schools with uniforms sound pretty good. Summer vacations are what kids live for but they can be a real nightmare for the working parents who are forced to choose between forking out serious cash for sleep-away camps or letting their kids "self-supervise." In case you don't remember or were never lucky enough to "self-supervise," this is an educational program that involves older neighborhood kids teaching your kids how to find, peruse and replace Dad's Penthouse collection without detection, how to suck all the nitrous oxide out of a can of whipped cream and how to best torture siblings while leaving a minimum of bruising.
Jesse James: The Last Great American Outlaw
Let's get the obvious out of the way right up front: Yeah, it's his real name. And yes, his lineage can be traced back to the legendary outlaw of that same name (his great-, great-grandfather was first cousin to the outlaw gunslinger). And oh, yeah ... he can definitely kick your ass. Then there's what everyone with a television and half a brain already knows thanks to the Discovery Channel's smash hit, "Monster Garage." Jesse James is his own extremely talented, unpredictable and self-governing animal. As Grand Pubah of the gearhead television sensation he co-created (he's also the creative force behind MTV's "Pimp My Ride"), James is the kind of guy you can literally love and hate all at once. He can be an asshole to a degree so extreme that it suddenly becomes cooler than cool to be a prick (although anyone who meets or talks one-on-one with the guy is compelled to believe that he's not). He can make you uncomfortable with barely a hint of facial expression. He's able to go from deadly serious to immensely intimidating to childishly mischievous and fun loving in the space of a couple of heartbeats. All of which makes it rather difficult—if not ridiculously impossible—to believe that the Jesse James really shops someplace as soulless as Auto Zone, as his recent spate of commercials for the corporate auto parts version of Wal-Mart would have us believe. But it's all just part of the enigma that is Jesse James.
Negotiations for Bosque land scheduled to conclude this month
When Mayor Martin Chavez announced the city's plan to clear dead brush and nonnative trees on D. McCall's property, the general tone was cordial and straightforward. The news was basically a broad gesture of support for keeping the entire Rio Grande State Park well-maintained and safe from potential fire threats this summer.
Double-speaking in one sentence. Two days after CBS' "60 Minutes II" released photos of Iraqi prisoners being tortured and sexually abused by U.S. soldiers, President Bush weighed in on the matter. But because the timing of the event coincided with the one-year anniversary of Bush's "mission accomplished" speech, Bush unknowingly made one of the more ironic statements you will ever hear.
One million marchers demonstrate widened scope of women's rights movement
Over 400 New Mexicans were among the estimated 1.15 million people who converged on Washington, D.C., for the April 25 March for Women's Lives. Although there was no consensus on the number of participants, organizers are saying it was the largest ever, not only for women's rights, but for any cause. Some New Mexicans traveled to the national capital independently, others went in groups organized by the seven official sponsors of the march. NARAL Pro-Choice New Mexico put together its own coalition of supporters and organized the high-profile presence of a group of pro-choice politicos. Among them were Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, Jill Cooper Udall (wife of Congressman Tom Udall), State Senate President Pro Tem Richard Romero and his wife Margie Lockwood, and Bobbi Baca, wife of former mayor Jim Baca. Not surprisingly, march organizers had, in general, attempted to include as many high-profile government officials (Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright), Hollywood luminaries (Whoopie Goldberg, Ashley Judd) and veterans of the women's movement (70-year-old Gloria Steinem) as they possibly could.
Skullduggery in the halls of local government
They finally got rid of John Stevens—that red-headed kid on “American Idol” who couldn't sing three notes in a row and keep them in tune. I'm not willing to go as far as Elton John did in claiming that racism was the reason the country voted off some damned good black singers while keeping a pale-faced mediocrity around as long as they did. After all, mediocrities like Sisqo, 50 Cent, Andre 3000 and Elton John are making a pretty decent living despite limited talent. But you still wonder what the thought process was that kept Stevens around week after week—or what would cause someone to admit to watching “American Idol” in the first place.
The fog of war settles in Iraq
Every time I read statements by someone in the Bush administration or one of its Neocon apologists among the nation's political commentators who are strenuously denying any similarities between the American experience in Vietnam 35 years ago and what is taking shape in Iraq today, I find myself thinking about Uncle Remus.
Dateline: China—Police in China's southwestern Sichuan province have arrested a 51-year-old man on suspicion of stealing some 30 corpses from local graveyards, cooking soup with their flesh and crushing their bones in an attempt to heal his sick wife. The West China Daily reported that corpses have been disappearing in the area since 1988. According to preliminary investigations, the man, known as Huang, dug up the bodies after a fortune teller told him fresh body parts were the only remedy for his wife's unidentified illness. The 16-year corpse-stealing epidemic had caused wild rumors to circulate, and grieving relatives had kept a vigil at their loved ones' graves for up to six months at a time in an effort to protect their bodies.
The readers write.
New Mexico in the Spotlight—Gov. Bill Richardson announced last week that the State Investment Council would be pumping $9.2 million into two features film projects set to shoot in New Mexico in the coming months. A Night in Old Mexico is the story of an aging cowboy who takes his teenage grandson for an adventurous night in Old Mexico. The film will star Academy Award winner Robert Duval and will be directed by Taos resident/actor Dennis Hopper. The Experiment, meanwhile, is described as a teen horror movie that spoofs reality TV shows. The first film is budgeted at just under $12 million, $7.5 million of which will be provided by the state in the form of an interest-free loan. The second will be funded entirely by a $1.7 million loan. These are the fourth and fifth films to be financed by the State Investment Council. Both films are expected to begin shooting over the summer.
Fantasy-prone protagonist fuels quirky, cinema-obsessed debut
The first film produced under the auspices of indie film chain Madstone Theaters, Rhinoceros Eyes is an appealingly offbeat genre-buster that effectively commingles the last 10 years of independent film into one quirky package. With this low-key drama/comedy/fantasy/horror film, first-time Canadian writer/director Aaron Woodley has crafted a loving ode to outsiders that owes as much to Hollywood fantasist Tim Burton as it does to faux-Slavic animators The Brothers Quay.
MadCat Film Festival claws it way into Q-town
The MadCat Film Festival is a highly acclaimed international festival that exhibits independent and experimental films and videos from around the world. Nothing too unusual there. The thing that sets MadCat apart, however, is that all the filmmakers involved are women. For seven years, the Bay Area-based, female-focussed festival has been searching out inventive and original voices. The festival screens throughout the month of September at an assortment of San Francisco and Berkeley venues. The following winter and spring, the festival goes on tour, touching down at more than 20 museums, art houses, universities and microcinemas around the country.
Taos Film Festival of the Arts takes a shot in the dark
When the Taos Film Festival of the Arts debuts this Friday, May 7, in northern New Mexico, it will be the third film festival in the last two months to try and fill the gap left by the late, lamented Taos Talking Picture Film Festival. Following the Taos Picture Show and the Taos Vision Quest International Film Festival, both of which debuted last month, the Taos Film Festival of the Arts will host an ambitious 10-day, multi-venue screening of some 40 films. The films will all be screened digitally, and the screenings will take place at a mix of traditional and unusual venues—from auditoriums to theaters to galleries to public parks.
“Friends” No More
Have you ever had a friend announce that he or she was moving away to Seattle or someplace and find yourself blowing them off before they leave under some kind of misguided personal protection policy? Ah, she's a short-timer—I've got more important people to hang around with. If she's gonna run off and join all those flannel-wearing hipsters, why should I waste my time on her? Hey, I've got other pals—pals who are sticking around! Perhaps that's why I haven't paid very much attention to “Friends” for the last couple seasons. Perhaps I feel abandoned. Or perhaps the show just hasn't been all that funny for a couple seasons.
Highlights from around the dial. Except no one has dials anymore.
Punk's not dead. Punk's not dead. I can't say it enough. Icky & the Yuks, local purveyors of the old brand of punk rock that got the genre kicking decades ago, celebrate the release of their second CD, Same Shit, Different Day. The release party, which will be held at the Launchpad on Saturday, May 8, at 8 p.m., will also serve as a tour kickoff party (the tour will begin on May 12, and hit cities such as San Francisco, Long Beach, San Diego, Los Angeles and Phoenix). The evening will include performances by Albuquerque's best hard rock and punk bands—including Beefcake in Chains, Fivehundred, Black Maria, Dead on Point 5, The United, Coke is Better with Bourbon. CDs will cost $5, and a $5 cover will be charged at the door. Same Shit is faster and harder that the group's first CD, and includes some of the same songs—but now they're studio versions. Singer/screamer Richard Trott readily admits: "It's a great sounding record." For more Icky information, visit www.ickyandtheyuks.com. ... The First Annual New Mexico Music Festival will be held at EXPO New Mexico (New Mexico State Fairgrounds) on Saturday, May 8, Entertainment will be provided by musicians who reside in our great state: Robby "Jude," Street Scene, Crystal Renee, Mike & the Wild Bunch, Agua Negra, Juntos Unidos, Amber Anaya, Jerome Grant and many others. Tickets cost $15 a pair in advance and $10 each at the door. Children under 10 get in free. Tickets are available by calling J.R. "Juice" Padilla at 463-4314.
Cosy Sheridan Returns
As with artists of any medium, musicians are sometimes faced with critics who call their latest works "departures" and "evolutions." Most often, such words are used to convey shifts in sound, direction and perspective, and occasionally lead to exclamations that the work in question may in fact be the artist's "best to date." Usually, works that inspire such description are indeed remarkable, but the problem for critics is often one of being so thoroughly blind sided by a specific work that more analytical words simply don't come to the fore of their weird writers' brains. Such is the case, as you may have guessed, with Cosy Sheridan's latest release, The Pomegranate Seed.
with Morbid Angel, Satyricon and Premonitions of War
Friday, May 7; Sunshine Theater (all ages, 8 p.m.): Innovation has its downside. Just ask any of the three original members of death metal pioneers Suffocation. By the time the New York City band released their now classic EP, Despise the Sun, in 1998, the unique sound they had cultivated—a brutal mixture of speed metal, hardcore and classic metal—had in turn cultivated countless copycat bands. With the death metal scene becoming saturated by Suffocation sound-alikes and the genre itself seemingly nearing demise, the band that single-handedly created the New York death sound threw in the towel at the turn of the millennium.
By Divine Right are Canada's answer to Ohio's Guided By Voices, both in terms of having a former band member roster well into double digits and that kind of vaguely psychedelic power pop that can make you downright ecstatic. Jose Contreras, BDR's lone remaining founding member, writes with a Pollard-like grasp of imagery and Wayne Coyne's sense of slippery little melodies that work their way into your psyche and refuse to leave, leading you instead on a blissful ride through kaleidoscopic pop. Sweet Confusion is BDR's best effort to date. Buy it and fall instantly in love.
Brevity, they say, is the soul of wit. We here at the Alibi plan to put that old cliché through a blazing trial by fire during our upcoming Ridiculously Short Fiction Contest.
Macbett at the Tricklock Performance Space
American soldiers torture Iraqi prisoners in the same prison Saddam Hussein tortured thousands of his own people. During the same press conference in which he acknowledges these war crimes, President Bush has the nerve to boast of getting rid of Baathist torture chambers. Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden's cronies still sit in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia plotting their next attacks on the United States, and we still haven't found those damned weapons of mass destruction.
Albuquerque Little Theatre
A spoof of Wagner's Ring Cycle, Das Barbecü is a zippy musical revolving around a shotgun double wedding in Texas. With book and lyrics by Jim Luigs and music by Scott Warrender, the story incorporates feuding families, synchronized swimming, some sweet Texas two-stepping and a magic ring of power. Das Barbecü is directed by Albuquerque Little Theatre's loony tunes Executive Director Larry Parker. My guess is it'll be a divine joy to behold. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Sundays at 2 p.m. $18 general, $15 seniors, $13 students. Runs through May 23. 242-4750.
The Walls Gallery
Last month, Naomi Shersty was one of six artists to take part in a video exhibit at the Walls Gallery. This month, she takes over the entire gallery for a one-woman show called What Joy Do I Bring You? composed of photography, video and craftwork. According to Shersty, her installation "is intended to facilitate a dialogue surrounding the various power struggles found in intimate relationships." What Joy Do I Bring You? opens on Friday, May 7, with a reception from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. It runs through May 30. 489-2644.
Ann Coulter at Popejoy Hall
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture presented by Ann Coulter, the hyper-conservative columnist who's authored such bestsellers as Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right and her most recent, Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism. Coulter's main talent is that she knows how to rile up her choir, sprinkling her lecture with enough comedic insults at liberals' expense to keep her adoring right-wing legions both cheerful and enraged. She gave her hysterical speech at UNM's Popejoy Hall on Tuesday, April 27, as part of the university's 21st Century Speakers Series.
The Sea House
The first thing I remember cooking for my mom was French toast. I had to climb up on the kitchen counter in order to reach the bread bag on top of the fridge, pulling out two slices of Roman Meal and dropping them in the toaster. While the coils turned from charcoal gray to glowing orange, I stirred together about a half-dozen eggs and a cup or so of milk. When two perfectly browned toast slices popped up I submerged them in eggy goop and let them get good and soaked. I fried them up in butter on our cast-iron skillet and arranged the four irregular triangles on a plate with plenty of butter, powdered sugar and syrup. Mom was still in bed when I brought up her breakfast. She was surprised and delighted by my presentations and asked me all about how I'd done it—she was particularly interested in the part about toasting the bread first. How was I supposed to know French toast wasn't actually toasted in the toaster? But she noted some small improvement in the final product's texture and seemed impressed. Maybe she was pretending; maybe the toast was terrible. Nevertheless, I basked in her approval all morning. It's 20 years later now and I do a lot of cooking for my mom when we're together but her stamp of approval still brings up the same blush of pride.
The Wine Posse is coming back! Five years ago, a bunch of cork dorks (including our old sister publication, La Cocinita) got together to sponsor a wine club called the New Mexico Wine Posse. Most notably, the club put on a well-attended series of wine-tasting classes held at restaurants all over town. Funding eventually fell through, however, and the Posse dissolved. The same fate recently befell the local chapter of Wine Brats and is threatening our chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food. So, in comes former Wine Brat Jerry Wright, general manager of Great American Land and Cattle, who recently got together with Jerry Gross, one of the originators of the Wine Posse and decided to work on bringing the Posse back. The new Wine Posse is in the formative stages now, asking those who join (for a $20 annual fee) to have a hand in deciding what kind of events the club will stage. Suggestions include wine appreciation classes, winemaker dinners and winery tours. Interested parties should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The owner of a new cheese store and restaurant talks shop
Johnny Orr is the owner of a new cheese shop and restaurant called Relish (8019 Menual NE, near Flying Star). Orr came to Albuquerque in part because he could afford a whole year's rent here for the same price as a month's rent in New York City, where he worked in several well-known restaurants.
Local chefs share family recipes for Mothers' Day
Years ago my aunt Geri put together a cookbook of family recipes and made copies for each wing of the family. Though the recipes are sometimes rough (how much is a handful of flour?) and occasionally flawed (isn't this supposed to have milk in it?), we all cherish the book and use it often, especially at holidays. This past Easter I cracked it open to use my great-grandmother's recipe for Welsh cookies, strange things that are actually more like currant-filled griddle cakes. One by one, each aunt came into the kitchen and “helped out” with her explanation as to why my cookies ... well ... sucked compared to Grandma Rhea's. (Cooking is a competetive sport in my family and we play rough.) To her credit though, my mom might have thought my cookies were too small, too dense, or too dry but she alone kept quiet on the subject and for that I toast her today. I only hope someday I have kids to ruin Welsh cookies for me while I bite my tongue.