An Albuquerque Lieutenant Colonel returns from Iraq with a bitter message for the Bush administration
Watching the gruesome opening scene of Saving Private Ryan is the closest most of us will ever come to armed combat. Yeah, sure, it's horrifying and all, but at least we have the luxury of being horrified while reclining in cushy purple theater chairs, oil-barrel-sized troughs of popcorn gripped comfortingly between our thighs.
Burning Bash!—Hard to believe, but Burning Paradise, Albuquerque's one and only cult/foreign/trash cinema video store, is turning one year old this July. The store, a regular sponsor of the Alibi Midnight Movie Madness screenings, has done an incredible job of promoting Hong Kong action, Mexican wrestling, Japanese monsters, Italian zombies and good old American exploitation among Albuquerque's psychotronic sub-sect. In order to celebrate the occasion, owner Kurly Tlapoyawa will be throwing a mind-bending bash at the Launchpad (618 Central SW) on Thursday, July 8. The theme will be Battle Royale. Burning Paradise was the first to alert Albuquerque viewers of this controversial cult film about a group of Japanese school kids who are forced to slaughter each other in an annual, government-sponsored elimination tournament. If you haven't seen the film, you should get down to Burning Paradise and rent a copy! Either way, ladies in full Japanese school girl outfits will get preferential treatment at the Burning Bash. Local bands Dead on Point Five, Destructamathon, Jackson 4 and Ready Samsara will be providing the ear-pounding tunes. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $5. For more information, log on to www.burningparadise.net
“Realistic” reinterpretation of legend offers no good knight
According to the tag line, the new historical action flick King Arthur claims to be the “true story” of one of western civilization's greatest legends. In fact, the film turns out to be no more “true” than any other version. This one simply demystifies the tale, stripping away all the myth and magic. More realistic? Perhaps. Truer? Doubtful.
Intense kidnap drama makes for smart summer fare
Summertime is not noted for its wealth of adult-oriented movie entertainment. In fact, sophisticated adults tend to flee theaters in droves when the lobbies fill with popcorn-spewing rugrats and the marquees shout titles like The Chronicles of Riddick, White Chicks and Dodgeball. Conventional Hollywood wisdom is that teenagers get the run of summer and adults are relegated to the late fall Oscar rush. Which is why it's a little surprising to see a film like The Clearing show up in theaters right now against the overhyped likes of Spider-Man 2 and King Arthur.
TV on DVD
Television networks have recently discovered a quick and easy new way to make money. Fans of classic television shows will pay through the nose to snap up complete seasons of television series that were once aired for free as reruns. Dig up a few behind-the-scenes extras on anything from “The Simpsons” to “Sanford and Son” and the fans will flock to it. Fading are the days of syndication, rising are the days of the DVD box set.
The Week in Sloth
Most of my memories of high school are somewhat less than fond. That was a difficult time for me, those dark years before I blossomed into the self-confident, ravishingly handsome young man I am today. It wasn't all bad, of course. Several of my most pleasant memories from that period revolve around theater.
Taos Modernists at the University Art Museum
A couple weeks ago I listened to Frank Zappa's idiotic daughter do an interview on a local radio station. Remember Moon Unit? Yeah, that's right—Moon Unit. She's the one who did the voice-over on Zappa's '80s hit "Valley Girl." (I'm so sure. Gag me with a spoon. Barf out.)
An interview with Ursula Le Guin
Ursula Le Guin is an extremely difficult writer to categorize, but that hasn't stopped people from trying. She usually gets thrown into the science fiction or fantasy camps, but neither of those labels does true justice to the body of work she's built up over the years.
Center for Contemporary Art
The Buffoons are a tiny family of outcasts who live in the sub-basement of a large, abandoned department store. Life cruises along swimmingly for these misfits until one day a homeless man arrives from Above. The confrontation causes all hell to break loose. Theater Grottesco will present a new staging of its original play The Angels' Cradle at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe. Don't miss this opportunity to see the company's physical, groundbreaking brand of experimental theater in all its lunatic glory. The show runs Friday, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. through Aug. 30. Tickets to the gala opening on July 9 are $100. Regular ticket prices are $25 general, $10 students. Sundays are "pay what you wish." (505) 474-8400.
Richard Levy Gallery
San Francisco artist Debra Bloomfield spent years snapping photographs of the ocean from the exact same location and perspective. Each time she took a picture, the sky and water transformed, often dramatically, resulting in a series of photographs that serves as a potent testament to the infinite mutability of the natural world. Bloomfield's Oceanscapes opens this Friday, July 9, at the Richard Levy Gallery (514 Central SW) and runs through Aug. 13. For details, call 766-9888.
Light fruit juices: ugh. Have you noticed? They're propagating in the refrigerated juice section. Orange juice: 50 percent less sugar! That was the first one. We were able to ignore it easily enough; after all, it was a lone carton. Then it was pineapple juice: 30 percent fewer calories! Now half the cartons between milk and bacon blare: orange/pineapple blend with 1/3 the carbs! Oh, crap. Beware these bastard children of real juice. They're watered-down versions of their fresh squeezed progenitors, artificially sweetened and, sometimes, artificially flavored. Remember Sunny Delight? That crap they gave you at summer camp? Now imagine diet Sunny D (I hear they sell it in Europe) and you already know what low-carb OJ tastes like. It tastes like cheap, watery piss that only bored children would drink. Save yourself the agony and eat an orange.
There's something really cool going on this weekend: Lavender in the Valley Day. A group of more than 30 growers, restaurants and shops in the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque have joined together to put on a day-long festival to celebrate this aromatic flower. If you want to go, head up there early; events kick off around 7 a.m. at the growers' market. Vendors will have lavender for sale, and you can nibble on some lavender pancakes for breakfast. Next, pick up a tour map and complete list of activities at the nearby Lavender Day gazebo. They'll point you towards the free shuttle bus which will circle the village all day long. Participating businesses will be marked with special lavender flags. Your next stop should be Los Poblanos Ranch, where a field of 3,000 lavender plants will provide enough blossoms for tour participants take part in cutting their own bouquets, distilling lavender essence and drying bouquets.
Whether you're planning on picking your own buds at Lavender in the Valley Day (July 10), growing lavender in your yard or simply interested in trying a new flavor, you'll be surprised and delighted by the range of nuance that lavender flowers can add to your cooking. Sharon Shipley, author of The Lavender Cookbook (Running Press, paper, $16.95) ignored all boundaries in coming up with this collection of recipes; she fearlessly and successfully incorporated lavender into desserts, soups, salads and steaks. Don't be afraid! Just jump right in.
City can walk away from partnership if private funding fails
The prospect of big bucks and flying balls delighted a T-shirt-wearing crowd at the June 28 special meeting of the City Council. The freebie T-shirts, reading "Albuquerque Arena Route 66—Let's get it started," were passed out by the Downtown Action Team, one of several civic and business groups avidly supporting a proposed Downtown arena.
The Dick Cheney affair. It's fair to say, the vice president is very popular among GOP supporters, generally. Many actually still believe he is the bland, avuncular pragmatist at the White House who remains cool, even statesmanly, under pressure. Anyone who has read recent books by Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke and Bob Woodward might get a slightly different impression, however—that of a secretive, brooding, physical wreck of a man who drives the neocon agenda with almost deranged passion.
Hispanics give him the love at Phoenix convention
If you believe the propaganda emanating from some Republican strategists' pipe dreams, the Hispanic vote is up for grabs in the 2004 presidential derby.
Random musings on the week that was
Last week, political blogmeister Joe Monahan (www.joemonahan.com) offered some commentary on three recent votes by Congresswoman Heather Wilson and how those votes might be play into her re-election strategy. The votes of interest were 1) to cut CIA funding by 25 percent until the Bush administration turns over all documents dealing with the treatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, 2) against a corporate tax bill that included targeted tax breaks for pharmaceutical companies and 3) against a budget overhaul favored by Republican leadership.
Dateline: Belgium—A couple who have named all 15 of their children in honor of Elvis Presley say they have run out of names for their 16th child. Jean-Pierre and Carine Antheunis from Gent are lifelong Elvis fanatics and their children's names are all linked to the music legend. Elvis, Priscilla, Dakota and Tennessee are among the swelling Antheunis brood. But the parents are now stumped for a name to give their new baby boy. “If it had been a girl, we would have called her Linda. Elvis once had a lover with that name,” said Jean-Pierre. According to the daily newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, the couple are now thinking of naming the new child Ohio. “There's no connection with Elvis, but it's in America,” said Mr. Antheunis.
Two R.I.P.s begin this week's column. After decades in business—I can't say exactly how many years because the phone has already been disconnected—Midnight Rodeo closed its doors for good last Tuesday. Word on the street is that ownership simply grew tired of the nightclub business and retired. Who could blame them? More than just a country bar in the Heights, Midnight Rodeo played host to just about every '80s metal washout band I can think of, and was also home to Gotham, the dance club for folks with a closet full of black clothing and a penchant for the occasional wet T-shirt contest. Midnight Rodeo's was a niche that isn't easily replaced. ... Nonsequitur, the organization that for many years has presented some of the finest quality experimental music in the Southwest has, sadly, ceased to exist in New Mexico. Nonsequitur's driving force, Steve Peters, has moved to Seattle, Wash. where he's taken a job as Arts Program Manager at Jack Straw Productions. Peters will continue to present Nonsequitur events in Seattle, and those interested in keeping tabs can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org to remain on the listserve. ... Singer-songwriter and former Albuquerque resident Jason Riggs will be back in town for the first time in many moons on Saturday, July 10, for a CD release concert at Winning's Coffee at 8 p.m. The CD, titled Pawn Shop Special, contains a track or two locals might recognize from Riggs' debut released back in the Dingo days, but it's full of new material that's quite refreshing. Visit www.jasonriggs.com to get a copy of the new record or pick one up at the show.