There are so many reasons to honor the passing of 2006. It brought us the Nintendo Wii, a democratic change of heart, a jobless Rumsfeld, Britney finally dumping K-Fed and my first kitten. There are also plenty of reasons to toast its demise, like the re-signing of the Patriot Act, massive flooding in Albuquerque, the rising death toll in Iraq and Mel Gibson's drunken “incident.” In retrospect, 2006 pretty much sucked until November. Getting my kitten was the best thing to happen before fall—the inevitability of 2007 must be rubbing off on the cosmos.
Award Winners--Gov. Bill Richardson recently announced the recipients of the New Visions/New Mexico Contract Awards. In its inaugural year, the program is providing 12 contracts totaling $160,000 for New Mexico-based producers and directors to create narrative films, documentaries, animation and experimental works.
Football fans looking for cinematic inspiration have had a pretty good 2006 season. Invincible, Gridiron Gang and Facing the Giants all hit movie theaters this year, giving touchdown lovers plenty of underdog teams to root for. Arriving late in the game, but with plenty of positive buzz, is We Are Marshall. Like the previous football flicks of 2006, this one is based on an inspiring true story--one that might just get Monday morning quarterbacks and non-sporting types cheering alongside one another for a change.
Movie musicals face a problem that not even films about dragons, fairies and/or hobbits run across. On stage, musicals work perfectly, functioning essentially as concerts with a slight storyline. On the big screen, however, suspension of disbelief is harder. Why are all these people singing? Why is that gang of juvenile delinquents dancing? Why are John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John flying into the sky in a convertible? It’s all so damn ... unnatural.
10. “The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood” (1965) Liza Minnelli starred in this lousy, long-lost musical which told the classic fairy tale from the point of view of the Big Bad Wolf. Vic Damone is the woodsman. Weirdest of all, Eric Burdon (from English band The Animals) is “Head of the Animal Pack.”
Bob's Fish and Chips is Really, Finally Closed--A "for sale" sign has loomed uncomfortably in front of Bob’s Fish and Chips for months, but the little drive-up kept turning out white paper sacks filled with frito pie and fish planks unabated. We figured it was a phase. We hoped that before Bob's finally got around to closing its doors, some benevolent fried food enthusiast would capitalize on a truly golden opportunity and seize up the orphaned fry shack. But Daddy Frybucks didn't make it in time. Last week, Bob's Fish and Chips served their last chili dog to Alibi Production Manager Tom Nayder.
I’ve had my share of food surprises over the years. Like when I was 14 and stayed overnight in a hotel for the first time and I went downstairs to take advantage of the “continental breakfast” only to find a box of donuts and a pot of coffee. What the freak is continental about those? I still haven’t figured that one out. Or the time when I was 16 and my dad’s buddies convinced me to try Rocky Mountain oysters at a fish fry. I chewed through a couple of them, nonplussed as to why everyone was watching me in breathless anticipation. I thought oysters came from the ocean—surprise!
Barbara Walters is an Idiot--Barbara Walters, in what appears to be shameless pandering to the lowest common denominator, brought the viewing public the “Ten Most Fascinating People” special Tuesday night.
The young man emerged from the bushes behind the Diamond Shamrock station on Central Avenue. He shivered violently. The temperature hadn’t climbed out of the low teens, and he had spent the night outside.
Employee-owned station breaks from corporate radio
By Marisa Demarco
The first thing Ellie Garrett does when she wakes up is the first thing many people do—she turns on the radio. For Garrett, the activity isn't recreation. She's checking. Checking to see that the station she cofounded with Sam Ferrara and Michael Warren in Santa Fe is on the air. Indie 101.5 FM began broadcasting July 4 with its "Declare Your Independence From Corporate Radio" campaign.
It's easy to become cynical these days. No sooner had the voters spoken at the polls last month with force and clarity about Iraq than we witnessed the spectacle of our absurd president digging in his heels and refusing to even consider ending the occupation.
Dateline: Ireland--Staff at the Mullingar Equestrian Centre in central Ireland were forced to postpone festivities after a wayward camel devoured 200 mince pies and downed several cans of Guinness intended for their Christmas party. Gus the camel, who was starring in the riding school’s Santa’s Magical Animal Kingdom show, tucked in to the holiday feast while staff members were getting changed for the party. “Gus found his way out of his pen and helped himself,” Robert Fagan, owner of the Equestrian Centre said. The 11-year-old camel, originally from Morocco, cracked open six cans of Ireland’s famous stout with his teeth after the door to his stall was left open. Gus appeared well after the evening’s feeding frenzy. “We were all looking forward to it,” said Fagan. “But you couldn’t blame him. He’s really a very gentle, docile sort of camel.”
Lily Comes Home--Cutting-edge guitarist/composer Lily Maase (see Mel Minter's "Spotlight," May 18-24) has left the frozen coasts of Brooklyn, N.Y., for a sojourn in her hometown of Albuquerque. The purpose for her return is a "creative development residency" called Music in Motion. Lily will spend a week teaching classes and developing new material for her forthcoming album, unbind, due out early 2007. She's also bookending her visit with two solo performances at the Blue Dragon, giving listeners a rare glimpse at how music composition evolves (and through what looks like will be a period of intense refinement). Hear her Tuesday, Dec. 26, and again on Wednesday, Jan. 3, for the full impact. There's a suggested $5 donation for each 8:30 p.m. performance.
It was only life in 1999 that scattered members of Giant Steps around the country. "Jobs, wives, kids, promotions," sax player Mike Silva ticks off the list of things that come up, even for local ska heroes who made as big a stride as the Steps. "We didn't want to go on with just bits and pieces of our former band." Members realized they had gone as far as they were going to go, he says. Still, Silva remembers his time with Giant Steps as one of the best in his life.
How Merry?—Very merry. The New Mexico Symphony Orchestra presents its popular Very Merry Pops show this Friday, Dec. 22, at 8 p.m. at the National Hispanic Cultural Center and Saturday, Dec. 23, at 6 p.m. at UNM's Popejoy Hall. The program consists of fave Christmas and Hanukkah tunes along with a screening of the British animated film, The Snowman. The Albuquerque Academy Chorus and Manzano Day School Chorus will accompany. Tickets are $16 to $52 for the Popejoy show and $15 to $40 for the NHCC show. They're available at nmso.org or by calling 881-8999.
Suzanne Sbarge calls it the M-word. As far as dirty words go, this one's fairly tame, of course, and she doesn't exactly cringe when she hears it. Still, Sbarge is eager to put Magnifico, the defunct arts organization she once served as executive director, behind her.
By Laura Marrich, Steven Robert Allen, Christie Chisholm, Amy Dalness, Marisa Demarco, Devin D. O'Leary, Jennifer Wohletz
The holiday gift-giving season will commence in about 15 seconds, and you're still in your PJs. You're cutting it close. But it's going to be OK. After all, why should you suffer through weeks of parking-lot circling when you can wait until the last possible second to lift a finger? You've always worked better under pressure, anyhow.
By Laura Marrich, Steven Robert Allen, Christie Chisholm, Amy Dalness, Marisa Demarco, Devin D. O'Leary, Jennifer Wohletz
Monte Verde Diva Lipstick Ballpoint Pen, $35
114 Amherst SE
It’s impossible to get through the holiday season without making a pit stop at Papers! The parchment boutique specializes in (among other things) art paper, stationary, cards … and pens. But these aren’t just any pens, mind you—these babies are drool-worthy. One of our new favorites is this ballpoint in drag. Disguised as a lipstick, the cap unscrews, the ink rolls up and the seemingly innocuous purse dweller transforms into a high-caliber writing instrument. Genius. Plus, it comes in this gorgeous box.
Long hours in the newsroom mean I have to get pretty "creative" sometimes when rushing off with pens in my hair to some kind of present-giving event. (Here, Sally and Rick! An ice-cold soft drink wrapped in Post-its! May you have a long and happy marriage.) Luckily, my loved ones were eventually saved from ugly presents by my discovery of the newspaper bow. It's cool because the quirkier the material you're using, the better it looks.
Sneak Preview the City's New Home for All-ages Music—MAP, a collective of under-21 musicians and their parents, has swapped their mommy-related moniker (Musicians And Parents) in favor of more neutral Media Arts Promotion. Not that having your folks take an interest in your musical ambitions is a bad thing. The group's monthly “MAP21” zine-assembly party hits the Blue Dragon on Sunday, Dec. 17, at 1 p.m., with an acoustic performance by teen act Deadright.
For the record, I don't even like this kind of music. I prefer the drone instead of the song, experimental tones instead of acoustic instruments, free jazz instead of trad, and almost never the intrusive caterwaul of the human voice. After so much disposable rock posturing, so many lame lyrics, so many "frontmen" just standing in the way of the band behind them, I have just about had it with singers.
Behold, a critic shall conceive, and share his thoughts. Of the 48 season-related CDs and DVDs that arrived at Casa Bellecci-Serinus this year--heed my prayer, Oh Lord, no more!--here’s my pick of the best.
It's a cruel fact of life that one day, voluntarily or involuntarily, gracefully or pathetically, we all have to grow up. First, it's bidding adieu to the baby bottle and moving on to a big boy cup. Next, it's no longer appropriate to stay up all night drinking booze and listening to rock ’n’ roll (or playing Magic, drinking high-caffeine soft drinks and dorking out, as it were) in the grimy dives of your 20-something youth. Behaving the way you did 10 years ago is implausible and would make you subject to daytime talk show-style ridicule.
I used to cook salmon on the grill, wrapped in tinfoil and soaking in a marinade. I’ve recently heard that cooking with tinfoil is bad for you, and now I don’t have a go-to way to grill salmon. What do you suggest?
Maybe cooking with tinfoil is bad for you, maybe not, but since tinfoil hasn’t been manufactured since the middle of last century, who cares? If you’re referring to aluminum foil, I’ve heard those rumors too. I’ve also heard the aluminum in antiperspirant gives you breast cancer, but since a) I’m not in a high-risk group for breast cancer; b) my sweat smells like roses; and c) that rumor’s been widely discredited, I’ve not given much thought to the antiperspirant side of the story. But Alzheimers runs in my family, so I’ve paid more attention to the … what? Wait. What was I talking about?
I was about 11 years old when I caught and ate my first whole fish. I was on a camping trip with two older (and at the time, I thought wiser) cousins. We went fishing in an old muddy pond filled with catfish, bass and bluegill. I baited my own hook and reeled in a pesky little panfish, just as my boy cousin cleverly whacked it on the head with a rock to prep it for snacktime. So, just like we’d seen in the movies, we impaled it on a small tree branch and proceeded to roast the life out of it. It took forever to cook, and when I finally took a bite of the poor thing, it tasted like the inside of a port-o-potty smells.
It's as close to a miracle as we've seen lately in the Land of Enchantment. Take 40 people from wildly different backgrounds and viewpoints, set them a killer deadline and give them the impossible job of designing a lifeboat for New Mexico.
Local activist travels to Oaxaca to interview those embroiled in all sides of the movement
By Marisa Demarco
As the Mexican political climate continues to boil, Albuquerque's Rebeca Jasso-Aguilar will journey to Oaxaca on a fact-finding mission. She'll travel with the Oaxaca Solidarity Network from Dec. 16 through 22, interviewing the protesters whose May strike lasted months and gained international attention. She'll speak with human rights groups investigating claims of police abuse suffered by protesters.
Pork-Induced Paralysis--I took a much deserved day off last Tuesday. I had contracted a scorching case of dysentery from eating cheap pork sausage--purchased at a massive corporate catch-all that has overtaken every small town in America like some terrifying economic Genghis Khan. It is, sadly, the only affordable food depot in my new hometown (Alamogordo) for the woefully underfinanced wordsmith.
At the Dec. 4 meeting, councilors elected leaders for the coming year. District 2 Councilor Debbie O'Malley is the new president and District 7 Councilor Sally Mayer is the new vice-president, both elected unanimously. Councilors thanked each other for their service during the previous year and praised outgoing President Martin Heinrich, calling him considerate, compassionate and honorable, and noting that the Council had seen less acrimony during his term than in recent years.
Last week, as it has each year for the past decade, the Center for Policy Alternatives, a progressive think tank in our nation’s capitol, convened a meeting of state legislators, advocates, state analysts and savvy resource people from academia and the halls of Congress.
Dateline: Tennessee--An American Airlines flight from Washington Reagan National Airport to Dallas/Fort Worth was grounded early last Monday due to severe flatulence. American flight 1053 was forced to make an emergency landing in Nashville after passengers reported smelling struck matches, said Lynne Lowrance, a spokesperson for Nashville International Airport. The plane landed safely. Fearing terrorist activity, the FBI, Transportation Safety Administration and airport authority responded to the emergency. The passengers and crew were removed from the plane along with the luggage and sent through security screenings once again. Bomb-sniffing dogs were brought onboard the aircraft and located some spent matches. The FBI questioned a passenger who admitted she struck the matches in an attempt to conceal a sudden attack of bodily odor. According to Lowrence, the woman lives near Dallas and has a medical condition. The flight eventually took off from Nashville, but the gassy woman was not allowed back on the plane. “American has banned her for a long time,” Lowrance said. While it is legal to bring as many as four books of paper safety matches onto an airplane, it is illegal to strike them.
Silent-Era Southwest--Are you in the mood for some serious New Mexico film history? The New Mexico State Archives and the New Mexico Film Museum have announced a special screening of films made by Sallie Wagner. Wagner was a Santa Fe Living Treasure, author, anthropologist, activist and philanthropist who passed away on Aug. 30 at the age of 93.
In terms of sheer quantity, Paul Rachman’s music-minded documentary American Hardcore is filled to bursting with interviews, concert footage and archival material from the pioneers of the American punk rock scene. The film barely goes a minute without cutting to a different interview, an alternate song, another shot of teenage crowds going stage-dive wild. It’s as if Rachman and collaborator Steven Blush (who wrote the book the movie is based on) used a shoehorn instead of an editing knife to cut the film together, ensuring as much material as possible got crammed onto the screen. A list of people interviewed in the film alone would fill up the rest of this review. Bottom line: If you are/were a fan of the scene, American Hardcore is an eat-till-you-puke smorgasbord.
Since it was first published in 1952, author E.B. White’s kiddy opus Charlotte’s Web has been translated into 23 languages and sold more than 45 million copies. It is the best-selling children’s paperback of all time. Safe to say, then, that a large chunk of the current American population has grown up reading Charlotte’s Web.
The way I figure it, at a relative 98.6 degrees, my heart is sufficiently temperate. I don’t require regular heartwarming. Judging from the number of saccharine-filled films Hollywood produces each year, some people may need the occasional heartwarming. I do not, thank you very much.
Scottish Xmas—Instead of a golden goose, this Christmas perhaps you should consider dining on a big steaming sack of haggis. Or not. I suppose you could also get your Scottish fix simply by attending the Scottish Christmas concert at UNM's Popejoy Hall on Sunday, Dec. 17. Expect traditional Scottish carols, wassail tunes and Highland dances along with three-time U.S. Scottish fiddlin' champ Bonnie Rideout and other renowned Celtic musicians such as Jerry O'Sullivan, William Jackson, John Doyle and Matthew Bell. The show starts at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $20, $29, $35 and $39. unmtickets.com, 925-5858.
The Dolls blow out the candles on 10 years of laughter and kitsch
By Laura Marrich
On a chilly evening at the Albuquerque Social Club, Matthew Bubb helps a cast member of The Joan Crawford/Marilyn Monroe Christmas Carol select a costume. "Now, I don't care if you are hairy," he says, holding up an iridescent mini-dress with aqua, silver and gold sequins. "We can put a big necklace on you, but honestly, I don't care if Jayne Mansfield has a hairy chest."
Aside from lotto tickets, it’s hard to think of a gift with a greater upside than a book. If your beloved doesn’t fall for the latest Donna Leon mystery, she can put it down after 20 minutes and a have nice piece of décor, then later take it to the charity shop. Little time wasted. But if for some reason the book speaks to her, she has eight hours of enjoyment to look forward to. And on top of that, a lifetime memory of having been inside that book--something only blunt trauma and age can take away. Here’s a mini guide to what’s in the stores and worth giving.
The Land of Bush--Yes, we've finally begun to question whether the Iraq War can be won at all, but it seems to come too late, especially since the whole thing has been an obvious sham since the beginning. The fact remains that the media has let Dubya slide for too long. Nobody's asking him why he keeps changing his mind about why we went to Iraq in the first place. And his reasons keep getting more vague. First it was because of very specific horrible weapons, then it was a very specific horrible person, now it's just "Iraq was a threat."
Pundits Doll Up Three Measures for Next Year's Legislative Session
By Marisa Demarco
It's that time of year again. Statesmen and women in New Mexico are looking toward the next Legislative Session (Jan. 16 to March 17) with a peculiar gleam in their eye. It's the shine of potential laws aimed to support their causes. There's no telling which measures will find a sponsor or corner the support they need to become one for the lawbooks, but this week, the Alibi'shighlighting a few contenders: a bill that would call for automatic, state-funded recounts in certain elections; statewide expansion of parts of Albuquerque's HEART ordinance; and Think New Mexico's "30 percent solution," which would require the lottery to put more of its revenue toward scholarships.
Dateline: Canada--A Red Deer man has been jailed after an outraged burglar stumbled across massive amounts of child pornography on his computer and called police. William Mitchell recently pleaded guilty in Red Deer provincial court to charges of possessing child porn. Mitchell was charged in October 2005 after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, acting on an anonymous tip, searched his home. An agreed statement says someone had broken into Mitchell’s residence and taken a video camera. The burglar later contacted police, telling them the camera contained images of child pornography and would be left on the steps of a local church. Police retrieved the camera and soon realized the burglar had videotaped a computer monitor displaying the illegal images. Following the address printed on the burglar’s note, police seized computer equipment containing 13,315 pornographic images. Mitchell will remain in jail until his sentencing. Cpl. Greg Brown of Red Deer RCMP told the Canadian Press that the burglary remains unsolved.
We Will, We Will Rocku--Since the first time I laid eyes on This Is Spinal Tap by Christopher Guest, I've derived way too much pleasure from watching musicians in their meteoric rise to fame and inevitable, cataclysmic fall from grace. Mock or not, rockumentaries rule. This weekend, the Santa Fe Film Festival will screen nine original films (some made right here in New Mexico!) that shine a spotlight on music. We Like to Drink: We Like to Play Rock 'n' Roll follows The Unband, three alcoholic men-children who like to play loud, lewd rock music, as shot by Tesuque-based documentary filmmaker Lexie Shabel. Dangerous Highway gives voice to the "greatest unknown musician you've never heard," guitarist Eddie Hinton. Fellini-esque Russian filmmaker Rustam Khamdamov does a study of his country's stunning operatic talent in Vocal Parallels. Novem is an honest-to-god mockumentary about a confederacy of college songwriters in the ’70s (it won the Jury Prize for best indie film in Sonoma). Bob Dylan's hometown of Hibbing, Minn., gets rifled through by Natalie Goldberg and filmmaker Mary Feidt in Tangled Up in Bob, whilenative musicians from northern New Mexico are the partial focus of Native Spirits: Forgotten Warriors. Finally, Life in G-Chord is the bittersweet account of Hisao Shinagawa, a Los Angeles street musician who still dreams of the stardom he chased upon first entering America in 1974. Log on to www.santafefilmfestival.com for a complete schedule of the films.
Trumpeter’s trio builds music on fearless trust and intuition
By Mel Minter
Trumpeter Cuong Vu attacks his instrument with a ferocious intensity usually reserved for rock guitars, and he uses many of the same electronic processors favored by adventurous guitarists from Jimi Hendrix to Bill Frisell.
One fall day in Santa Fe, Zia Cross had just finished with her volunteer shift at the High Mayhem music festival and ran across the street to Alegria Liquor. Cross found herself chatting with George Rivera, the shop's owner. She pressed him about what he was doing with the beautiful club space, empty for three years, that’s attached to his store. Nothing, she remembers him saying. You do something.
At this point, New Mexico had better get good and used to its relationship with Hollywood. Because right now--with Steven Seagal shooting a movie near UNM, the Terminator TV spin-off “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” getting underway and a $70 million film studio being built on Mesa del Sol--it shows no signs of slowing down. As a result of this burgeoning relationship, it’s no surprise to see the Santa Fe Film Festival bursting at the seams for its seventh annual incarnation.
Cute romantic comedy manages to do a few things right
By Devin D. O’Leary
It’s no secret to more than casual observers that the mainstream Hollywood romantic comedy genre ran off the rails more than a decade ago, and has done little but spin its wheels in the intervening years. Some dedicated romantic cynics calculate that 1993’s Sleepless in Seattle was the last great RomCom Hollywood produced. Looking over the past few years’ worth of offerings--Picture Perfect,Serendipity, Maid In Manhattan, The Wedding Planner, Sweet Home Alabama, Little Black Book, The Break-Up, Just My Luck, Failure To Launch, et al--it’s hard to argue.
When, oh when, will America learn the valuable lesson imparted to us by Japanese game shows? While America blindly accepts and even celebrates dull crap like “Deal or No Deal” (the TV equivalent of Keno), Japan pumps out inexplicably brilliant game shows that simultaneously puzzle, terrify and delight. We get “pick a number between 1 and 26” and they get “Fear Factor” crossed with “Super Sloppy Double Dare” and a random Bollywood musical.
Tighty Whities—What does it mean to be white? Tough question. The provocateurs at Out ch'Yonda (929 Fourth Street SW) have produced an innovative event to explore this difficult question. It's called White History Weeks, and it runs through Dec. 10. A host of white artists from the community—including Bryan Konefsky, Bill Nevins, Ourania Tserotas, Mark LeClaire, Peter Chase and others—will use film, music, performance art, visual art and other creative techniques to examine white identity and race relations. Don't worry. Prussian Blue will not be performing. It's not that kind of event. 385-5634.
According to the program notes, Eugene O'Neill didn't much care for his play Anna Christie, despite the fact that he won the Pulitzer Prize for it in 1922. He pushed the script through several arduous revisions, but even when it was finally done O'Neill told people the story was “too easy,” a charge that could hardly be made for his other major plays.
An interview with Valentino Achak Deng and Dave Eggers
By John Freeman
If you simply looked at the state of his hotel room, Valentino Achak Deng might be any other college student enjoying New York City on fall break. The bed is unmade, a pair of pants splays across the floor; an open box of powdered cookies beckons. “It’s not normally like this,” says the 6-foot-3-inch Deng, busy picking up after himself.
There are lots of good reasons to hit the streets of Nob Hill this Thursday, Dec. 7, for the annual Shop and Stroll. The best reason, though, has to be the Art Bra show hosted by Martha's Body Bueno (3901 Central NE). More than 40 New Mexico artists are creating these miraculous undergarments with all sales benefiting the New Mexico Cancer Center Foundation. Stop by from 5 to 10 p.m. during the Stroll to check out the bras, scarf some snacks and listen to live music by Wagogo, the Rhinestones and others. 255-1122.
Two Blackbirds and a Pearl--The old home of Pearl's Dive is getting a new lease on life, thanks to four young entrepreneurs with a passion for the Downtown neighborhood. Joey Gonzales is already a co-owner of Atomic Cantina and, in his free time, the drummer for The Dirty Novels. But when he and his bandmates discovered they all secretly dreamed of opening a bar-restaurant, they decided to collaborate on a new project somewhere Downtown. 509 Central NW, formerly Pearl's Dive, was a natural fit. They're calling it Blackbird Buvette.
Which is better: living in the city or the country? Both have distinct advantages and drawbacks. The city has more paved streets, a larger variety of places to eat and shop, and more people to dilute the memory of that idiotic stunt you pulled at your senior prom. But there are also parking meters, overpriced necessities and a general lack of concern for your well-being. Country living is simpler. They've got gravel roads, mom 'n' pop chicken shacks and neighbors who'll cheerfully loan you a tractor (if you ask politely). Of course, life in the sticks ain’t all meat pies and rainbows. Chances are you'll have allergies, and those neighbors are probably the nosy type. What you did in high school will be a matter of public record until you die--or at least until you move back to the city.