Good for you, Albuquerque! 2004 was a banner year for innovative citizenship in everything from the arts to health care, independent business to urban planning.
Imagine you are serving in the National Guard or Army Reserves in Iraq or Afghanistan and the money you are sending home as the primary bread-winner is no longer enough to cover your family's basic living expenses. Imagine you are failing to make the mortgage payment and face losing your home, or that your spouse can no longer afford to remain enrolled in school, or your family is about to lose their health insurance, or the propane tank needs to be filled and there's no money in the coffee can to get it done.
Several years ago, when the state fair commission decided they no longer wanted the fairgrounds to serve as a temporary winter overflow shelter for homeless men, community members operating as the Homeless Advocacy Coalition planned to create a year-round, secular men's shelter in Albuquerque. It was an ambitious plan for a small coalition operating on a $35,000 annual budget.
During his family practice residency at UNM Hospital, Dr. Andru Ziwasimon said he became aware of the profound barriers and inflated costs of medical care for low-income and uninsured people, and he decided the best way to do his part to fix the problem was start a health clinic that offers primary care to uninsured patients.
Did you know that our little city boasts the largest community land trust west of the Mississippi River? It's right near Old Town in the Sawmill neighborhood and reflects a brilliant, uplifting example of neighborhood folks joining together to combine community values, government subsidies, private capital and new urbanism architecture to create jobs and long-term affordable housing for hundreds of area residents.
Imagine that your child has been diagnosed with cancer. Now imagine that in order to care for your child, either you or your partner has to quit your job. And, if you don't live in Albuquerque, get ready to move here, because the only Pediatric Oncology Clinic in the state is at the University of New Mexico Hospital. If that's not hard enough, imagine that, due to your job loss and the extra expenses of caring for a sick child, you're behind on your rent, your phone bills, your electric bills, and your landlord's threatening to evict you. Sadly enough, such a scenario is not uncommon among families who have a child with cancer.
"When things piss me off I act on them," Sam Slishman says. He was explaining why he invented and patented a collapsible ski pole that can function as a splint for broken leg bones, but he's also shedding light on the reason why he's spent the last two years working on solutions to Albuquerque's persistent problem with substance-dependent homeless people. Right now, intoxicated transients are constantly cycled through the Bernalillo County Detention Center and UNM Hospital's emergency room. The situation is extremely expensive and does little, if nothing, to help treat a deeply troubled segment of the population.
Felix Torres wants to grow high water-use forage crops (like alfalfa) with a low-water use method like hydroponics. This year, his organization, the Indio-Hispano Academy of Agricultural Arts and Sciences (IHAAAS), was awarded a grant by the governor's Water Innovation Fund to study the subject. Now the academy will be growing test crops in a 5,000 square foot greenhouse in the South Valley and looking at the impact hydroponics might have on water conservation techniques in New Mexico. He'll also study the social, cultural and economic aspects of what it would take to implement the practice. Convincing Valley farmers to switch to hydroponics could save tons of water, but it would be a tough sell. But Torres' project, he hopes, is bound to make it happen.
For years, Debbra Colman worked long hours as the executive project director for the Historic District Improvement Company, dedicating her career to Albuquerque's downtown revitalization efforts. Once the downtown Century Theaters complex was finished in 2003, she planned on taking a year off to travel and recover from years of exhaustive overtime. Then she went to the city's East Side animal shelter to retrieve a lost pet for a friend and her travel plans were abruptly put on hold.
It's mainly been a pretty good year for the awwwwwts here in Albuquerque. Yes, there have been a few tragedies. Magnífico gave up its swanky contemporary art space at 516 Central SW a couple months ago. Yeah, that sucked. It also sucked that the Walls Gallery, right next to the Artichoke Café, closed down and that Jon McConville, the long-time, highly innovative Downtown art activist, had to leave town suddenly to deal with a family situation in Idaho.
This last July, a man was found walking along Old Route 66, which, in itself, is not an unusual event. What is unique, is that the man had no name—at least, not one that he could remember. When "John Doe" was found he was dehydrated, starving and had total amnesia.
Elissa Breitbard had a eureka! moment about two years back when she heard of the emerging Boulder Independent Business Alliance (BIBA) of Boulder, Colo., and what the organization was doing in an effort to keep independent businesses alive amidst an ever-increasing threat of chain stores and mega-marts.
What are you doing on New Year's Eve? Well, you could go out to a bar and drink lots of repulsively bad champagne, never getting quite drunk enough to enjoy it when the really drunk people start the countdown to midnight at 11:37 p.m., then realize they've done it too early, and so do it again. And again and again and again. How much sincere woo-hooing can you do if you're not drunk enough to barf or kiss a stranger of the same sex? So, I see two solutions: either you need to drink more, much more, or you should make other plans. This week, I've written about a handful of restaurants that are serving special New Year's Eve menus. Wouldn't that be fun? If it's not in the budget, may I suggest cooking at home for a select group of your favorite people? Tell everyone to get dressed up, pull out your best dishes and light the house with candles. Tell the guests to bring decent bubbly. You can still get drunk enough to barf or kiss each other, but you'll be doing it with people who will hold your hair for you (or hold their tongues about the kissing thing).
Relish (8019 Menaul NE, near Flying Star) shuffles ownership and takes a short holiday. Well, now that's confusing, and I don't want you to think that Chef/Owner Johnny Orr is leaving, because he's not, his business partners are. Tony Nethery, who is chef at Monte Vista Fire Station (Central and Bryn Mawr) and a huge lover of cheese, bought out Orr's other partners. Nethery and Orr plan to work together on some minor improvements to the Northeast Heights cheese and sandwich shop, and to accomplish that, they'll close from Dec. 23 through Jan. 2. The two also plan to talk about possible future plans for Relish, including the idea of expanding the shop's hours. Over the next few weeks, Nethery plans to divide his time between Relish and the Fire Station. He's reluctant to give up his chef duties at the restaurant, where he's implemented a series of popular menus that incorporate his Southern comfort-food aesthetic. I promise to follow Nethery, Orr and both restaurants all this all unfolds in the new year.
They defy moderation, so don't even bother trying
Raise your hand if you're tired of the holidays already. The rude traffic, the tackle-football shopping and the inescapable holiday jingles make me want to curl up with a bottle and emerge when it's over. Perhaps I have a case of seasonal dysfunction, but since I can't afford to check into Betty Ford, I can use her alcoholic coping mechanism as a mood enhancer. Yes, I believe wine can mellow holiday annoyances, like so:
Special dinners for a special occasion
New Year's Eve is a tough night for dining out, even tougher than figuring out which Albuquerque restaurants close on Sundays and which ones close on Mondays. Some of the places you'd expect to be open on a big, fancy night, close because they want to spend the holiday with their own friends and family. But then there are the little mom ’n' pop joints that remain inexplicably open. Some of the restaurants serving on New Year's Seasons will simply serve their regular menus, perhaps with the addition of a special or two. Others, like those listed here, have chosen to lure diners with flashy menus full of flown-in seafood, prime rib and filet mignon. Many of the prix-fixe dinners include wine; some don't. Be sure to go over all the details when you call, and call you must.
Mayor Chavez gives Councilor Debbie O'Malley the high hat
First term City Councilor Debbie O'Malley got a lesson in local politics recently when Mayor Martin Chavez announced his plan to increase traffic flow on a section of Montaño.
One less wart on the ass of Albuquerque's airwaves! After 24 years of basing an entire AM talk radio morning show on never having any ideas of his own, parroting spew from other media outlets and passing himself off as a politically savvy celebrity host, Larry Ahrens® refused a contract renewal offer last Thursday from Citadel Communications, the radio conglomerate that owns the microphone Ahrens used to mouth off into at 770 KKOB. In a statement given to the Journal last week, Ahrens® said he didn't think the offer made by Citadel was "commensurate with my value in the marketplace."
Payne and Gomez make cozy bedfellows
What a sad state progressives are in when we are getting advice from freshman state Rep. Greg Payne and his protégé, City Councilor Miguel Gomez (RE: “Payne's World,” [“City Council presidency highlights conflict between Gomez and Griego"]).
Bad banking policies bleed the poor
Just in time for the festive holiday season, I would like to share two stories about America's giant corporate banks, a couple of real-life incidents that didn't exactly warm the cockles of my heart when I heard about them. They did raise a few hackles, though—and the difference between activating hackles and cockles may be worth considering.
Dateline: Maine—Workers at the Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn, Maine, got an extra shipment of leafy greens recently. While unloading a truckload of watermelons, a volunteer came across a 20-pound bale of marijuana. The man told police the marijuana, which was neatly wrapped with packing tape, was loaded near the front end of a tractor-trailer that was dropping off watermelons at the food bank's warehouse. After the bale was discovered, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency was called. An agent quizzed the volunteer, but it was quickly determined he had nothing to do with the illegal shipment. “It was definitely bizarre,” the volunteer, who did not want to be identified, told the Sun Journal of Lewiston. The marijuana, assumed to be from Mexico and worth an estimated $20,000, was seized as evidence and will likely be destroyed. The Good Shepherd Food Bank distributes donated food to more than 470 food pantries and soup kitchens throughout Maine.
Gracious Grant—Immediately after snagging Second Place in the first annual Governor's Cup Film Challenge and Best Native Film at the recent Santa Fe Film Festival for his short film “Raven Tales,” filmmaker Chris Kientz announced sponsorship of a major film grant in the state of New Mexico. The Las Cruces-based filmmaker has teamed up with the Albuquerque-based nonprofit Media Rights Foundation to offer the grant, which will hopefully encourage our homegrown film industry. Details are still being worked out regarding the distribution of the grant. It will either go to the winner of next year's Governor's Cup or to a film selected by a jury from the Media Rights Foundation. Kientz has already donated $10,000 and was gifted with another $2,000 at the Santa Fe Film Festival. All private and corporate donations to the grant are tax deductible. In addition, $1 from all sales of the “Raven Tales” DVD will go into the grant. The DVD is available in Albuquerque at Andrews Pueblo Pottery and in Santa Fe at the American Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of the American Indian. You can also order it online at www.raventales.ca. For more info on the film grant (and other topics of artistic importance) check out the Media Rights Foundation at www.pbrainmedia.com/mrf.
Screechy, overstuffed Phantom dies of stage fright
Here's the problem: I think Phantom of the Opera is a crap musical. The songs are too literal, the music is smug and repetitive and the plot is frosted with far too much swooning romance. So the odds are pretty good I'm not going to enjoy the film version all that much. You, on the other hand, may love everything Andrew Lloyd Webber puts his rich little mitts on—from Jesus Christ Superstar to Cats to Aspects of Love. If that's the case, then you'll probably find plenty to enjoy in Joel Schumacher's garish, overstuffed film version.
Scorsese soars with stunning star-studded biopic
Director Martin Scorsese is one of the most celebrated American filmmakers. But even he has his ups and downs. Scorsese's last film, Gangs of New York, was an invigorating, epic look back at New York's brutal birth. It was also a wildly uneven picture with a sprawling story line and some questionable casting. (Cameron, honey, I'm sorry, but you just didn't belong in that one.) Nonetheless, the film did introduce Scorsese to his new favorite leading man, Leonardo DiCaprio. It was this introduction that led, no doubt, to Scorsese and DiCaprio's latest collaboration, the magnificent Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator.
Christmas Eve around the dial
Christmas Eve is typically a time to spend with friends and family. You drink some egg nog, sing some carols, play some Cranium, open some presents. Then again, maybe that's not your style. Maybe you're in prison. Maybe you're an orphan. Maybe you're just antisocial. Who am I to judge? Perhaps the best policy would be to lock your door and curl up in front of the warm, flickering glow of the television this holiday season.
The Week in Sloth
Highlights from around the dial. Except no one has dials anymore.
The Library Bar & Grill opened its doors last Friday, Dec. 17, at 312 Central SW, formerly the home of Brewster's Pub. The Library began as a concept bar nearly three years ago in Tempe, Ariz., catering to the lunch and dinner crowd, then transforming somewhat in the later hours of the evening into a bustling nightclub. Live bands will reportedly be an established part of the Library's entertainment, which also includes servers dressed as Catholic schoolgirls who dance on the bar at prescribed times each night for the deeply religious among you, 26 screens featuring music videos, and special events to be announced. ... Local band Frostbite will celebrate the release of their debut CD on Tuesday, Dec. 28, with Evenkeal and 20/20 Blind at 9 p.m. ... In other local band news, at long last KI have put the final touches on their new CD, Powdershy, which they'll officially release on Friday, Jan. 7, at the Launchpad. Meanwhile, you can get a taste of what's in store on the new record by visiting www.kimusic.net where you can download a pair of the fresh tracks. The band are currently busy confirming a second, all-ages CD release party, and you can get the latest update on that show as well by visiting the website.
This much anticipated pairing of our greatest young Britten tenor, Ian Bostridge, and most versatile countertenor, David Daniels, yields impressive results. Britten was a devout Christian and pacifist who wrote much of his vocal music for his life-partner, tenor Peter Pears.
With fans still waiting for Neil Young's boxed set for more than a decade now, the release of Young's first-ever official greatest hits collection last month was something of a letdown in that it indicates that Shakey will spend perhaps another 10 years working on his mythical career retrospective. What you here get are 16 Young classics you've heard a million times, compiled, as his liner note states, “based on original record sales, airplay and known download history.” The included “supersaturated” stereo DVD version of the album is the best reason to buy it, as the sound is truly enormous.
You've got one last chance to see a local production of The Nutcracker. Don't miss this opportunity to expose yourself and the kids in your life to the most popular ballet ever made. Ballet Theatre of New Mexico will be putting up its yearly rendition of the Tchaikovsky classic at the KiMo Theatre (423 Central NW ) on Thursday, Dec. 23, at 7 p.m. and Friday, Dec. 24, at 1 p.m.
Comin' Down the Mountain at the Donkey Gallery
Given the current rate of urban sprawl, it's reasonable to assume that 50 years from now Albuquerque and Santa Fe will merge into a single urban unit. We might as well get a jump on our inevitable union by letting bygones be bygones. There's no need to keep fighting. We're sisters, after all. Sure, Santa Fe is a prissy cosmopolitan educated at Yale who married the ambassador to Japan, while we here in Albuquerque are a cheap bimbo with a weakness for Kahlua who dropped out of school in the 11th grade to pursue a dubious career as an exotic dancer—but that doesn't mean we don't have a lot of common interests.
Reflections of Life in Our Town
How could something that most of us only experience for 12 minutes a year be the driving force of humanity? A new book explores the rich, strange history of the orgasm.
"Aside from the need to breathe and eat," writes Jonathan Margolis, "the pursuit of orgasm has been one of the strongest single determinants of human behavior throughout history." It is hard to disagree with him, especially once you've come to the end of his new book, O: An Intimate History of the Orgasm. Documenting attitudes toward sex from the cavemen to modern times, Margolis shows how human culture has been driven by the pursuit of that most elusive, fleeting and inconsistent pleasure. For despite our obsession, he writes, "most individuals will experience a mere twenty seconds of orgasm a week, a minute or so a month, or a total of twelve ecstatic minutes a year."
National energy saving campaign comes to Albuquerque
Armitha French is the kind of woman that reminds you that there are beautiful people walking around on this earth. Although at 83 she seems fragile, her spirit must surely be stronger than her bones. Gently, with even breath and a strong desire to hold back her tears, she talked about how several years ago she had been forced to retire after being diagnosed with ruptured tendons in her arms, a condition that permeates nearly every corner of her life.
Thin, thin line. Without fail, this time of year we get—yes I'll say it—a plethora of syndicated columnists and wannabes sending their help is on the way, feel good about yourself advise columns to the Alibi offering discount rates or free samples in an effort to convince the editors how necessary said columns are for our publication. Here's a classic example:
With Councilor Brad Winter absent, the Dec. 6 council meeting lasted just over two hours. Winter's flight home was held up by bad weather in Chicago and Councilors deferred 14 bills along with the scheduled election of a new president. Winter is considered the leading presidential contender, certain of votes from Republican-realtor Councilors Sally Mayer, Craig Loy and Tina Cummins. Council President Michael Cadigan will support Winter, who supported the extension of Paseo del Norte in Cadigan's district last year. If Councilor Miguel Gomez, who supported Cummins for vice president last year, tacks to the right again, Winter will receive at least six votes from the nine-member council.
City Council presidency highlights conflict between Gomez and Griego
Earlier this year, warring factions in the Republican Party of New Mexico made headlines as back and forth battling led to the defeat of longtime party chairman John Dendahl. Dendahl's defeat was followed a few months later with the abrupt resignation of the person who beat him for the job, former State Sen. Ramsay Gorham. Gorham, whose district represented a chunk of Albuquerque's North Valley, apparently decided to throw in the towel rather than deal with the counterinsurgency she faced at the time.
Invest in our youth, not in our prisons
Last week I was amused to see a photo from the governor's press conference announcing a new "anti-gang initiative" in the morning paper. Our states' three premier antigang policy leaders stood shoulder to shoulder to announce their united front against the menace of juvenile crime. The trio's appearance was a political diorama to be savored and relished, one marred only by the essential falsity of their premise.
The readers write.
Dateline: England—Church leaders have united to condemn a Christmas nativity exhibit at Madam Tussaud's wax museum in London. The tableau depicts soccer star David Beckham and his wife, former Spice Girl Victoria Adams, as Joseph and Mary. Australian pop star Kylie Minogue hovers behind them as an angel. Further stretching credulity, Tony Blair, George W. Bush and the Duke of Edinburgh are depicted as the Three Wise Men. The shepherds are played by American actor Samuel L. Jackson, British star Hugh Grant and campy Irish talk show host Graham Norton. “This is worse than bad taste. It is cheap,” an official Vatican source told Reuters news service in Rome. A spokesman for Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of 70 million Anglicans worldwide, reacted with resignation. “There is a tradition of each generation trying to reinterpret the nativity. But, Oh Dear ...” he said.
Well, well, well ... I can't simply (no pun intended) ignore the fact that after ranting about local bands dropping out of tribute night shows at the last minute, Joe Anderson's band, simple. was one of two bands who actually did drop out of the Launchpad's Metal Tribute III last Saturday night at the last minute. Anderson reported that simple. guitarist Dan Previtt dislocated a shoulder the previous night and was unable to play guitar or lift a variety of relatively small objects, so all is forgiven. As for the bands that did show up, all did a pretty spectacular job pulling off metal tunes that ranged from the comically awful to the actually pretty killer. In my humble opinion, Cue the Wing-ed Serpent, the first band of the evening, which most people missed, were the highlight of the evening, serving up renditions of “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” “The Final Countdown” and “Don't Stop Believin'” that were sights and sounds to behold. ... Does anyone other than me find it odd in a sort of the-end-is-near way that Marty Robbins, John Lennon and Dimebag Darrell all died on the same date, Dec. 8? ... and the three shows not to miss this week are the Seventh Annual Antichrist Mass on Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Launchpad, featuring Phobia, Catheter, Curse of the Nation, Noisear, Tortus and Pretty Little Flower; the Launchpad Employee F*ck Jam on Monday, Dec. 20, featuring a bunch of stupid shit; and kick-ass Texas-based instrumental band Collect All Five at Stella Blue on Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 9 p.m.
Holiday in Eastern Europe
Women's vocal ensemble Kitka sing-in the season
Admittedly, I've become a bit jaded when it comes to holiday-themed music. I have, after all, spent every early December listening intently to and reviewing the latest of such releases for the past 11 years, and it doesn't get any easier. But usually, there's at least one stunning new addition to the Christmas music canon each year. In 2004 it's Kitka's Wintersongs (Diaphonica).
Composed of eight uncommonly gifted singers, Kitka capture the tradition, intrigue and spirituality of music of Eastern European origin that commemorates the Christmas season and, in the case of the melodies that predate Christianity, the corresponding winter solstice. Far removed from the mind-numbing holiday music courtesy of Bing Crosby and every other long-dead crooner and contemporary country music artist known to mankind, Kitka's Macedonian-based music aims straight for the soul and hits its mark without exception. Consisting of ancient village chants to eerily complex harmonic arrangements, the group's repertoire sounds timeless with a unique urgency. Accompaniment is generally sparse and rooted in traditional Slavic instrumentation, affording the music with a calm that's synonymous with winters that are long, dark and cold.
with These Arms Are Snakes and Everlovely Lighteningheart
Friday, Dec. 17; Launchpad (all ages, 8 p.m.): Frankly, Isis may be the most important metal band on the planet at the moment, and not just because they're able to rock with the best of them. Isis represent the last vestige of hope first proffered nearly a decade ago by pioneering post-hardcore bands Neurosis and, later, Tool. Unfortunately, the promise those bands showed never quite manifested fully in the psyches of fans who flirted with serious, artful metal, only to eventually be sucked in by poseurs like Korn and a half-dozen frat metal bands whose music was fun to drink, fight and plan date-rapes to.
Beginning with the iPod theme song, “Vertigo,” U2's latest release brims with that Rattle and Hum self-absorption fans of the band have been forced to come to grips with over the course of the past 14 years, with the notable exceptions of Achtung Baby and 2002's All That You Can't Leave Behind. Here, U2 attempt to strike a balance between their distant past and their perceived future, and they very nearly succeed. The Edge is allowed back in the driver's seat, accelerating each of the album's 11 songs with his trademark effects-soaked, chiming guitar figures.
Hollywood Rumor Mill—It's been forever since we dug into the Hollywood Rumor Mill looking for juicy movie industry tidbits. What say we devote this week's column to all the interesting gossip floating around Hollywood these days? ... From the “Don't Believe Everything You Read (Thank God!)” department comes word that former boy band boy Justin Timberlake will not be starring in the new Iron Man movie. Director Nick Cassavetes (John Q, The Notebook) has signed on to helm the Marvel Comics adaptation. Despite Internet rumors, no star has yet been signed. Timberlake is actually appearing in the film Cassavetes is shooting right now, the drug dealer drama Alpha Dog. ... Director Sam Raimi has said in several interviews that when he's “done” making Spider-Man movies, he'll go back to making the Evil Dead films. Raimi stirred fans recently when he announced that he was planning a “remake” of the original Evil Dead. Raimi says he will not direct the film and it seems like it will not involve longtime star Bruce Campbell (who says no one has mentioned the remake to him). Now Raimi says that, in addition to the remake, there will be a fourth Evil Dead film, which he plans to write and direct. Of course, none of this will take place until after a third (possibly fourth) Spider-Man movie. So don't hold your breath. ... Fans of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series were disappointed to hear that executives at New Line Cinema (which is adapting the award-winning fantasy series) got a wee bit panicky recently when they realized the story is heavily critical of organized religion. Since the film will be released in 2006 (while George Bush is still in the White House), the producers have told Pullman and director Chris Weitz (American Pie, About a Boy) that all references to church and religion must be expunged from the screenplay. Weitz and Pullman promise the first film, The Golden Compass, will still be in tone with the books, but fans are already griping. ... Speaking of fantasy-novels-turned-movies, the official “Narnia” newsletter recently announced that actor Brian Cox (X2: X-Men United, Troy, The Bourne Supremacy) would be providing the voice of lion king Aslan in Disney's upcoming live-action version of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. The big-budget film, currently shooting in New Zealand, is expected to hit theaters next Christmas. ... The latest old TV show to hit the big screen? “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” Warner Brothers has hired Matthew Vaughn, who produced the Guy Ritchie film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, to direct. No word on casting yet.
Goth fantasy has style to spare, but begs for more story.
It seemed like, in the wake of Harry Potter's monumental success, school kids suddenly became literate. Reading was, if not exactly cool, at least trendy among the elementary school set. One of the people riding this big business boost to Scholastic Book Services (from whom I purchased many an Encyclopedia Brown volume) was author Daniel Handler's pseudonymously written kiddy book series Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Diverse documentary traces one man's family ties to the tobacco industry
Documentarian Ross McElwee achieved the perfect blending of fact-based documentary and personal reminiscence when he shot his hit 1986 film Sherman's March. The film was intended to be a look at the long-term repercussions of General Sherman's Civil War march through the American South. Distracted by assorted women along his route, McElwee's documentary took on a brilliantly personal tone, becoming a clever metaphor for the director's own search for love in this crazy ol' world.
“Mummy Autopsy” on Discovery Channel
Mummies, when you think about it, are really just very elaborate dead people. But there's a certain mystique about them. They're part of history, they're a backbone of archeology, they're a staple of horror movies. Plus, they look really cool in a grisly kind of way.
The Week in Sloth
Highlights from around the dial. Except no one has dials anymore.
Everybody knows that the holidays are a lousy time of year for a lot of people. If you aren't in a satisfying romantic relationship, or if your last name isn't Walton, this might not quite be the season of limitless bliss.
The Eight: Reindeer Monologues at the Cell Theatre
For some reason, most people just assume Santa Claus has the moral authority to compile a list every year of who's been naughty and nice. But what gives him that authority? What do we really know about the jolly fat fellow? He only makes an appearance below the 48th parallel once a year for a few hours in the middle of the night. What's he up to the rest of the year?
No Rule of Thumb at the Downtown Contemporary Art Center
English common law allowed a husband to legally beat his wife with a rod the width of his own thumb. That barbaric law is long gone, yet the rule of thumb serves as an appropriate entry point for Stephanie Lerma's current one-woman show at the Downtown Contemporary Art Center. The rule reminds us how past acceptance of domestic violence has been soaked up into the roots of our culture, growing a fresh harvest of bitter fruit with each new generation.
China has been honing the fine art of acrobatics for millennia, and the Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats are the most famous Chinese acrobatics troupe in the world. They've been here in Albuquerque before, and crowds loved them. They're returning this Sunday, Dec. 19, for two performances—at 2 and 7 p.m.—at UNM's luxurious Popejoy Hall. Combining incredible costumes, dazzling choreography and some of the most jaw-dropping acrobatic moves on the planet, the Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats do not disappoint. $22, $18 and $12 for adults, $15, $12 and $6 for kids. Pick up tickets by calling 925-5858 or logging on to www.unmtickets.com.
This Friday, Dec. 17, is Albuquerque's monthly Artscrawl tour, when local art geeks and freaks come out en masse to meander through the city's many fine galleries. One of the best exhibits on display this time around will undoubtedly be the 2004 edition of the yearly Recycle exhibit over at the Outpost's Inpost Artspace. Artists Mitch Berg, Kristin Diener, Matt Jones, Stephanie Lerma and Joe Nickels offer up a range of innovative work constructed from found materials, including rubber dolls, paper, wood, glass, rubber hoses, bicycle inner tubes, zip ties and grape seeds. A reception will be held Friday, Dec. 17, from 5 to 7 p.m. Runs through Jan. 15. For details on this exhibit, call 242-6781. For info on the rest of the Artscrawl tour, log on to www.artscrawlabq.org.
Roberta Price's Huerfano: A Memoir of Life in the Counterculture
According to the Associated Press, approximately 3,000 active communes once dotted the United States. At one time, as many as three million people were involved in these diverse social experiments that sought to branch off in some significant, sustainable way from the destructive, militant, consumer-driven culture of mainstream America.
Talking to Ski Martin about the Owl Café's green chile cheeseburger reminded me of the conversation I had with George Motz, the guy who made the film Hamburger America. It is Motz' opinion that grinding your own meat is one of the key elements of a fantastic burger. I was surprised and pleased to learn that the Owl grinds meat on premises. Most of you probably aren't interested in shoving chunks of chuck into a meat grinder (or your Cuisinart!), yet you want to make great burgers yourself. One of the biggest differences between many home burgers and restaurant burgers is seasoning. You've got to add copious amounts of salt and pepper to your meat before frying the burgers. And yes, most places fry the burgers on a griddle rather than over an open flame. Frying allows the meat to retain more moisture. Also, don't choose the leanest ground beef you can find. Fat equals flavor and you'll need fat in order to make a big, greasy burger. For a healthy burger, use turkey. For a tasty burger, use nice, fatty ground chuck, season well and fry in a pan. When you're done with the burgers, brush the buns with butter and brown them in the same pan. And if that doesn't work, you can always go out to eat.
The Route 66 Malt Shop (1720 Central SW, 242-7866) is expecting to open for dinner this week. The tiny shop only has seating for 16, but still does a brisk lunch business because they deliver, via pedi-cab, all over Downtown and Old Town. (Yes, the Malt Shop owners also operate Route 66 Pedi-cabs.) For a while now they've wanted to open for dinner, but when they finally decided to do it, they ran into a snag. The big neon sign they ordered was too heavy to be safely supported by the building's façade. Without the sign, however, it would be nearly impossible for hungry diners to see the tiny Malt Shop. So they had to erect a pole on which to rest the sign, and wait for the sign to be lit before beginning dinner hours. So as you drive along the stretch of Central between Rio Grande and 14th Street, look for a big neon jukebox. If it's lit, stop in for a blue cheese green chile burger and a mug of their house-brewed root beer.
Schtick it up with cheese schmear
If you're anything like me, December was the only time year when your parents came anywhere close to throwing what could be termed a cocktail party. Because it was the suburbs, my mom's friends mostly sat around the kitchen table nibbling directly from the serving trays and trading neighborhood stories. Because it was Texas, my dad's friends mostly stood on the porch, drank beers from the iced-down washtub in the garage and talked about cars and poon-tang. (I kinda miss Texas.) But the food was always good, nobody got into a flaming car wreck going home, and as far as I know, no divorce proceedings were ever initiated, so there you go.
Ski Martin and the original Owl Café's cousin, twice-removed
Two decades ago, Ski Martin purchased the franchise rights to the original owl Café in San Antonio, N.M. and opened another Owl on Eubank NE. Now, Martin has joined with Frank Marcello and his partners, who own Copeland's and ZEA franchises, to open another version of the famous burger restaurant in the Shops at I-25! We recently chatted with Martin about the long journey of the famous Owl burger.
Give the ultimate gift this holiday season—yourself
There's no denying that Christmas (in the commercialized sense) has become a celebration of consumption. The minute Thanksgiving has ended, visions of barcodes, prices and endless lists dance in our heads, making the holidays either an extremely bountiful or stressful season.
Box Up This Year's Best DVD Boxed Sets
This giant collector's set is the ultimate nerd gift for the ultimate nerd on your list. If you know someone who really liked The Matrix--I mean really liked The Matrix--then this monster will keep them busy for the next two years. Seriously, there were only three movies, and there are 10 freaking discs here! Plus an 80-page book, plus a collector's display case, plus a ceramic bust of Keanu Reeves (OK, that last item's a little creepy). I can't even get into all the extras on these discs. This thing is so damn cool it almost makes me want to watch The Matrix Revolutions again. Almost.
The Joy of the Boxed Set
Nowadays, there's a boxed set available for just about everyone on your list. And if there's not, then there's certainly one that could change his or her taste in music forever. You are the educator, so be thoughtful. The best part is that boxed sets are easy to get your hands on at any one of the few mom 'n' pop record stores left in Albuquerque, and they come in all price ranges, from the several hundred dollar-retrospective to the twin-disc best-of to the emerging trend toward DVD/CD collections.
Last Minute Holiday Book Ideas
Books make ideal last minute gifts. Matching the right book with the right person, though, is a riddle that can stump almost anyone. We here at the Alibi want to make sure your holiday book shopping goes as smoothly as possible. With that in mind, here are a wide variety of excellent options to put you on the right track.
It's been rescheduled at least three times because local bands are renowned for committing, then not bothering to learn any songs. But Metal Tribute III looks like it's actually going to take place on Saturday, Dec. 11, at the Launchpad. Icky & The Yuks, The Foxx, The Surf Lords, Young Edward, simple, Love Overdose, The Dirty Novels, Rage Against Martin Sheen, Foma, Scenester, Cue The Wing-ed Serpent and DJ IROC are all onboard (at press time, at least), and shame in advance on any of the above mentioned bands that ultimately back out or fail to show up. ... Musica Antigua de Albuquerque will perform three concerts of medieval and Renaissance Christmas music beginning on Saturday, Dec. 11, in Santa Fe at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church at 7:30 p.m., then at Saint Michael's and All Angels Episcopal Church in Albuquerque on Sunday, Dec. 12, and 19, at 4:30 p.m. Call 842-9613 for more information. ... The 2004 Outpost Winter Season is starting to wind down, but there's still time to get clarinetist Kenny Davern back to Albuquerque for two shows before it's time to hibernate. Davern and his quartet will appear at the Outpost on Sunday, Dec. 12, and Monday, Dec. 13, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 general, $15 Outpost members. Call 268-0044 for more information.
The Living Blues
Dave “Honeyboy” Edwards Brings the Delta to You
At 89 years old, Mississippi bluesman Honeyboy Edwards is still every bit the voice of the Delta he was when he was sharing the stages at juke joints across the south with Robert Johnson in the '30s. His gnarled voice and extraordinarily aggressive and unapologetic guitar work are as much innate gifts as they are the result of a career that has spanned some 60 years—and counting. Edwards, along with Robert Lockwood, Jr., is one of the last remaining lifelines to the Delta blues as the genre originated. Time has stamped its influence on the music over the years, so to have the opportunity to hear them blues as they once were is monumental indeed.
with his age- and gravity-defying hair
Saturday, Dec. 11; Route 66 Casino (21 and over, 7:30 p.m.): How did Wayne Newton get so famous? Christ, how does he stay so tan? The answer to the former will perhaps never be understood by mere mortals. As for the answer to the latter ... well, just ask George Hamilton the next time you bump into him at IHOP.
featuring Mariachi Los Arrieros de Valle and Ballet Folklorico Paso del Norte
Sunday, Dec. 12; Popejoy Hall (all ages, 3:30 p.m.): Once again, Popejoy Hall's renowned Ovation Series presents the Mariachi Christmas Extravaganza, a program of traditional music and dance from various states in Mexico that has become synonymous with the holiday season in Albuquerque. Mariachi Los Arrieros de Valle are a 12-piece ensemble from McAllen, Texas, who have captivated audiences across the nation with their youthful vitality and superior command of traditional mariachi music and singing. Joining them this afternoon is Ballet Folklorico Paso del Norte, along for their sixth appearance at this annual Ovation Series event. The El Paso-based ballet company began 25 years ago and have since risen to international acclaim.
Don't miss what has become one of the traditional highlights of the holiday season in New Mexico.
That it was bound to happen makes it no less unfortunate. No Doubt chanteuse Gwen Stefani, after better than a decade of exercising her formidable songwriting talent and propelling No Doubt from Orange County club band to international superstars, has finally given in to celebrity, allowing her significant starpower to control the direction of her debut solo effort rather than the inspired, passion-bred consciousness that has spawned more than a handful of killer ND singles. Devoid of an ounce of soul, L.A.M.B. falls flat on its over-powdered, over-hyped face. Skip it and pray for the next ND record.
Looking for a creative way to get involved in the community that doesn't involve ladling gruel into bowls? Artstreet, a program of Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless, has open studios on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. During these periods anyone can come in and make art using Artstreet's supplies.
Outpost Performance Space
And now for something completely different. The ensemble Out of Context, founded and directed by J.A. Deane, will be performing this Friday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m. at the Outpost. The event serves as the launch party for One Inch Equals 25 Miles, a collection of experimental prose pieces by Santa Fe author Sumner Carnahan. Carnahan's books are designed to be performed with music. In this case, Out of Context will create a live improvised musical accompaniment to recorded readings from the book. It's innovative. It's rare. It might just blow your brain right out of your skull. $15 general, $10 Outpost members. 268-0044.
You might think working for old Saint Nick would be just about the sweetest gig on the planet, but you would be wrong. In Jeff Goode's The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, Santa's "elite" team of eight tiny reindeer dish the dirt on the big guy, and, trust me, he ain't the jolly twinkle-toed grandpa figure he pretends to be. Directed by Robb Sisneros, a production of the play starring some of Albuquerque's finest opens this week at the Cell Theatre. Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. Sundays at 2 p.m. $22 general, $17 students/seniors. Group rates available. Runs through Dec. 19. For adults only! 766-9412.
Artists are among the poorest people on the planet. This year, while you're thinking about what to buy for your loved and not-so-loved ones, you'd do well to consider local nonprofit art organizations. A good way to start is by taking a look at ArtX3, an innovative holiday collaboration between OFFCenter Community Arts Project, VSA Arts of New Mexico and Out ch'Yonda.
Bush administration suspends Santa Fe church's tea ritual
From the moment Drug Enforcement Agency officials confiscated 30 gallons of hoasca tea from Jeffrey Bronfman's Santa Fe office on May 21, 1999, folks practicing the religious beliefs of O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal (UDV) have been missing a key ingredient of their faith.
Dude, where's my congresswoman? The Republicans in Congress, at least those in control of the House of Representatives, no longer care about ethics or good government. What they care about is power. That, we know for sure, following the disgraceful Republican Conference meeting last month where GOP congressmen revised ethics rules so that Tom DeLay, the Republican majority leader, could continue at his post while being investigated for corruption in his home state of Texas. The Republicans said poor Tom was just the victim of a partisan attack and had done nothing wrong and therefore shouldn't lose his post for a little ol' Grand Jury indictment.
Mothers step up campaign to solve Juarez murders while coverup continues
Like other mothers, Patricia Cervantes has heard promises sung like empty lyrics by a chorus of presidents, governors and law enforcement authorities working in northern Mexico. Their reassuring words vow to end impunity and find justice for their murdered daughters.
Money taints our once fair and balanced election process
For a poor state, New Mexico sure seems to have a lot of elections, don't we?
I mean maybe we ought to figure out some way to turn our year-round, practically continuous, voting efforts into economic opportunity. Could we charge admission, sell the film, television or naming rights or perhaps even make book on them ... you know, pari-mutuel betting on the outcome, with odds set by experienced touts and the proceeds at least paying for the recounting costs. Or would that take all the fun out?
After three and a half years of employment, I recently resigned as the Floor Director of one of our local television news programs.
Dateline: Indonesia—Public works officials on Sumatra Island are worried that a local bridge may collapse because too many people are taking a leak on it. According to the Jakarta Post, the Ampera Bridge, a landmark of Palembang City, the capital of South Sumatra province, has begun to lean at an angle and now rocks slightly when traffic is heavy. “We are concerned that one of its main support piers has been weakened by urine, as it is a popular spot for locals to relieve themselves,” Azmi Lakoni, an official from the public works department, told the Post. Lakoni added that the corrosive properties of human whiz could eventually contribute to the steel bridge's complete collapse. Cargo vehicles weighing more than one ton are now being diverted from the bridge.
The readers write.
Anarchy for the U.S.A.—On Thursday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m., the Peace and Justice Center (202 Harvard SE) will screen A Peace of the Anarchy. This new documentary is described as a quick summary of 20th Century American radical activism. The film focusses on vegetarian Christian pacifist anarchist (wow!) Ammon Hennacy. The film also spotlights other radical activists preaching the anarchy and peace mantra and the belief that goodness will overcome evil. For more info about the film, log on to movies.lovarchy.org/POA.
Vampire action series still alive and kicking
While it would seem that the Christmas holiday is an odd time to release a full-tilt horror film, it could be chalked up to clever counterprogramming on the part of some opportunistic Hollywood executive. Plus, with The Polar Express still hovering around the holiday box office, Blade: Trinity doesn't even count as the creepiest film in theaters right now.
Nuclear-power documentary provides chilling postscript to the Cold War
Rarely seen, even in its initial 1985 release, director Dennis O'Rourke's sad but essential documentary Half-Life has been revived as part of the Guild Cinema's Nuclear Winter series. The film explores life in the Marshall Islands, a small island-chain-turned-nuclear-test-facility in the '50s. The film examines the expected social and biological repercussions of these tests on the modern-day Marshall Islanders, but quickly evolves into the promised parable--a frightening look at a careless adoptive parent, some badly mistreated foster children and the chilling worldwide effects of the Cold War.
Star-packed sequel gives larceny a good name
The original 1960 version of Ocean's Eleven isn't exactly considered a cinematic classic. It was really just an excuse for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and pals to hang out in Las Vegas, have a good time and make a few bucks in the process. The fun of the film's shoot was infectious, however, and the film is still a blast to watch.
“The Real Gilligan's Island” on TBS
I don't know whether I've told you this or not, but “Gilligan's Island” is the perfect television show. It is the shining, golden stupidity to which all Idiot Box offerings aspire. So, when TBS announced that it would be producing a reality show remake of the classic sitcom, I was ... let's call it intrigued.
The Week in Sloth
Highlights from around the dial. Except no one has dials anymore.
Champagne. When you can't think of what to give, buy a bottle of champagne. When you've been invited to a dinner and they ask you to bring wine: bring bubbly. See, champagne is an event of its own and it doesn't have to go with the food so your hosts will always be happy to receive it. The cooks could be making barbecue, stir-fry, cassoulet or tamales and you could still start the evening off with a bottle of Gruet. Speaking of Gruet, they've got a new pink sparkling wine that is absolutely beautiful and not anything like the sickly sweet pink champagne that you drank on New Year's Eve when you were 17. Gruet Rosé costs the same (about $13) as their Blanc de Noirs, but they only made a small batch of the stuff. You can still find it at Jubilation (Lomas and Carlisle), Cost Plus World Market (Menaul and Carlisle) and at the winery (8400 Pan American NE). The smart thing to do is to buy champagne by the case. It's not that expensive and you can keep it in your fridge, ready to go whenever you need something to take to a last-minute get together, birthday party, tree-trimming soirée or New Year's bash.
Filipino food! Albuquerque has Filipino food! Ooh, it's always so exciting when we get something new. Fil-Am Fastfood Mart is the name of a little café and market that has been open for a few weeks at 600 Louisiana SE (265-4064), the former home of Asian Palace. Fil-Am's name, including a hyphenation of Filipino-American, makes the place sound like a gas station that also sells beer and cigarettes, but it's nothing like that. The dining room is humble and spare; orders are taken at the counter and filled from a steam table holding trays of noodles, grilled meat skewers, egg rolls and veggies. Service is nonexistent, but who cares, right? The egg rolls, noodles and soup were perfectly fine, but we were most surprised by the pork skewer and adobo pork. (Yay pork!). Both were far more savory than they looked, the adobo benefiting greatly from a dunk in a little cup full of spicy vinegar. Next time I want to try the big rolls stuffed with meat and veggies. You should go! Try something new! Buy yourself a $1.50 jar of spicy vinegar, as Devin O'Leary did. You'll definitely have money left over from your very cheap lunch.
A little curry makes goat taste good
It's good to have friends who are goat farmers. Every Friday, for example, they brought me cheese. Last week: Swedish curds and fresh mozzarella. They also brought two pounds of freshly slaughtered goat. The kid and his milk, in one delivery.
Gifts Albuquerque foodies would love to get
You love to eat; your beloved loves to cook. And it's lucky, too, because you don't know a China cap from a coolie hat and you've never seen a mandolin that didn't have strings. So, how are you supposed to shop for someone who's already got more gadgets than Bond, James Bond. I asked a few local foodies what topped their holiday wish lists. Their best suggestion was books. If you're not sure, give the cook a cookbook.