Maybe it makes me a tacky American to admit this, but I adore ornate Chinese restaurants. The more dragons, gold paint, big red lanterns and Buddha statues, the better. When you add all that eye candy to the delicious odor of incense mixed with cooking smells, it equals an exotic sensory experience that spears me right through the heart.
The special shapes emerging at this year’s International Balloon Fiesta
By Christie Chisholm
Over the next week, balloon enthusiasts from all over the world will congregate in Albuquerque to eat roasted corn, buy shot glasses with little balloons on them and get up at indecent hours to watch one of the city’s claims to fame glide into the air. Even for those of us who live here and see it every year, an early morning sky punctured with swollen polka dots does inspire a certain sense of awe. But while spectators enjoy most parts of the nine-day event, the best part for many lies in the “special shapes” balloons.
Last month, my father and I lucked out. A friend of my mother's revealed she and her husband were long-time balloonists and offered to take us up with them for a small fee: wake up at five in the morning and work as part of the crew. My mother has trepidations about heights, and I'm told my younger brother became rather disinterested when roused from bed at that time of morning, and so my father and I were left to rush across town feeling like people who were about to turn into tiny, flying ants. Here's what we saw.
The Instituto Cervantes is proud to present the second annual Cine en Construcción film series. The series starts this Thursday, Oct. 4, and continues every Thursday night through Nov. 1 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Cine en Construcción is a collaboration between the Festival Internacional de Cine de Donostia--San Sabastián (Spain) and Rencontres Cinémas d’Amérique Latine de Toulouse (France) and is designed to promote and distribute independent films from Latin America. This year’s selection includes films from Colombia and Argentina, including La Primera Noche (Oct. 4), Fugaz (Oct. 11), Ana y Los Otros (Oct. 18), Capital Rancho (Oct. 25) and El Transcurso de las Cosas (Nov. 1). All films are free to the public and will be presented in Spanish with English subtitles. For more info, log on to albuqurque.cervantes.es.
Farrelly Brothers dig through Neil Simon’s trash for inspiration
By Devin D. O’Leary
Ever wonder what would happen if you combined Neil Simon and The Farrelly Brothers? Yeah, me neither. Regardless, The Heartbreak Kidis a remake of a 1972 Neil Simon comedy retooled by the dirty-minded siblings who gave us There's Something About Mary. The result, as can reasonably be expected, is a mixed bag in which the highbrow and the lowbrow combine to form a style that can only be called monobrow.
How can the French make an English novel less sexy?
By Devin D. O’Leary
Ah, highbrow sex. Oh, arthouse erotica. Where would we be without you? From 1967’s I Am Curious (Yellow) to 1972’s Last Tango in Paris to 1974’s The Night Porter to 1976’s In The Realm of the Senses to 1986’s Betty Blue to 1994’s Exotica to 1996’s Crash to 2003’s The Dreamers to 2006’s Shortbus (with countless stops in between), foreign filmmakers have proven that private parts can be pretentious too.
I still can’t figure out how “The Bionic Woman,” a 1976 spin-off of the hugely popular ’70s action series “The Six Million Dollar Man,” trumped its more popular male counterpart in the pop cultural sweepstakes. How did Jaime Sommers rate a 2.0 remake before Steve Austin? Regardless of the gender politics at play, NBC’s revamped “Bionic Woman” is a fun, if familiar, addition to today’s action-heavy TV lineup.
Joseph Sullivan walks out of the Copper Lounge after our interview. And because this is Albuquerque, he knows the doorman. They greet each other, shake hands. The doorman's putting together a documentary about local graffiti art, and he wants Sullivan to be in it. "You got a number?" he asks. Sullivan digs his wallet from his jeans' pocket and pulls out a plain white card. The doorman's eyes widen briefly. "You're an attorney?" he asks.
National Coming Out Day gets the star treatment from Albuquerque’s best drag performers
By Laura Marrich
Hallelujah, I have a drag name! It was bestowed upon me by royalty, an Empress of both Albuquerque and Boise, Idaho, known as Fontana Divine. But most days you can just call him PJ Sedillo. A capstone in Albuquerque’s gay community, PJ has been organizing New Mexico’s largest drag performance event, called “Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are,” since its inception nine years ago. “Come Out” returns for one night of stellar drag performances at the king-sized National Hispanic Cultural Center Theater this Saturday, Oct. 6. A royal word of warning: This show sells out and starts promptly at 7 p.m.—the ladies have never been late. Get your tickets now.
New Mexico farmsteads craft cheese ... without Kraft
By Maren Tarro
A couple of years back, Saveur magazine dedicated an entire issue to cheese. I settled into my reading chair and quickly became entranced with stories of small artisan cheese producers who had shaken off the big-city entrapments to spend their days crafting cheeses from milk they had personally coaxed from all sorts of beasts.
Apple season is a blessing and a burden. Excited by early October's glut of local fruit—so strikingly different from the homogenized four varieties that pack grocers' shelves the rest of the year—I tend to overdo it. There's at least one more bag of apples than I can eat. Regifting is out; my friends and coworkers are all in similar situations. So the orphaned apple sack sits whithering in a corner of my kitchen, scowling at me, until I finally throw it out. My guilt makes that trip to the dumpster even weightier.
Recent events in southern New Mexico connected to the Bush Administration’s peculiarly-named “Operation Stonegarden” cry out for much closer analysis in the press than they have been given so far. They are the tip of a very ugly iceberg that ought to be demolished before it causes an even bigger disaster.
Dateline: Nepal--Mountaineering authorities in Kathmandu are calling for a ban on nudity and attempts to set obscene records on the world’s highest mountain. Last year, a Nepali climber claimed the world’s highest display of nudity when he disrobed for several minutes atop Mount Everest’s 29,028-foot summit. “There should be strict regulations to discourage such attempts by climbers,” Ang Tshering, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, said last Wednesday. Mount Everest has always attracted record-setters, including the oldest climber (71-years-old), the youngest climber (15-years-old), the first climber with one foot and the first blind climber. In 2005, a Nepali couple became the first to be married atop Everest. Authorities hope their proposed regulations will discourage nudist climbers and those attempting to join the 5 1/2-mile club--although the mountain’s subzero temperatures would seem to discourage such activities already.
Wayne Campbell, the character created by Mike Myers on "Saturday Night Live"'s "Wayne's World" sketches, could have been based on Mike Trujillo. Like his NBC Doppelgänger, Albuquerque's Mike T. hosts a public access music show, worships hard rock and righteous babes with equal reverence, even sports long hair crowned with an ever-present baseball cap. Mike and Wayne both made their Public Access debuts in 1992.
Just kidding. Sarah West, Freddy Raygun and Leah Black do. Learn how at the Songwriters Showcase this Thursday, Oct. 4, at Ben Michael's Café (2404 Pueblo Bonitio NW, at Rio Grande, 224-2817). Free and all-ages. (LM)
Seven-year-old Oscillation Electronic Music Festival rails against conformity
By Laura Marrich
The Oscillation Electronic Music Festival is remarkably well-behaved for the strong, subversive stuff it spits out. The festival is a two-day gathering of weirdo electronic music that lumps together not-so-friendly-sounding tags like "glitch,""IDM,""EBM" and "darkwave." Yet the festival is drug- and alcohol-free and all-ages friendly, immaculately organized and executed in one of the nicest theater spaces in town. Oscillation is a polite 7-year-old, but one that likes to raise hell.
A silver anniversary approaches the songwriting geniuses behind "Birdhouse in Your Soul" and "Particle Man"
By Marisa Demarco
In spite of their unorthodox sound and nerdy science- and history-based lyrics, They Might Be Giants managed chart toppers and radio play with the best of them. And they've been at it, fresh and inspired, for a quarter century. "I think most things that have been around for 25 years tend to have this safe quality to them. They were probably already slick in the first place," says John Flansburgh, one of two Johns that founded the band in 1982. "The most interesting stuff from our culture doesn't usually stick around that long."
The Southwest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival turns five in grand fashion
By Devin D. O’Leary
“It’s amazing how much we’ve grown,” marvels Southwest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Director Roberto Appicciafoco. The festival he helped found is entering its fifth year, and a glance through the list of films and events for 2007 shows a schedule bursting at the seams. This is both a sign of good, organic growth and an indication that the folks behind the festival are throwing themselves one fabuloso birthday party.
It's sad, but we understand. There's a fairly good chance you're unaware that Oct. 2 is Election Day. Even if you are aware, you may not be planning on voting. It's just a municipal election, right? Four Council seats are up for grabs along with a recall for one district and a number of bonds and propositions. No big deal. You don't really need to go; you'll just take a long lunch instead. But it's precisely that mentality that leads to such small turnouts at municipal elections, making it even more critical that you show up. Your voice matters, and in citywide elections, it matters even more.
Albuquerque's City Charter has the same relationship to the city that the Constitution has to the federal government—that is, it defines how the city operates as well as the rights and responsibilities of its elected officials and its citizens. One of the perks of living in Albuquerque is that voters regularly get to vote on propositions to amend the charter. This year, voters have five propositions to consider.
It’s no secret that Council President Debbie O’Malley has a contentious relationship with Mayor Martin Chavez. That reality has, unfortunately, fueled the District 2 race, leading constituents to choose their vote based on who they side with rather than on which of the two actual candidates—O’Malley and challenger Katherine Martinez—would be better for their district. We’ll ask you right now to put all that aside.
The District 4 contest has turned into a real cringer. It was bad enough that the race turned negative so quickly, with incumbent Brad Winter and challenger Paulette de'Pascal trading nasty barbs in the press. Then an errant e-mail revealed that Albuquerque Transit Director and former city councilor Greg Payne was working on de'Pascal's campaign, a major ethics violation if he was doing so on the city's dime.
District 6 is lucky. It has a track record of excellent councilors. Hess Yntema, one of Albuquerque’s all-time favorites, filled the seat for more than a decade. When he left four years ago, the position was filled by “movie star Martin” Heinrich, who has come to be another city favorite. Heinrich has garnered such a large fan base in his district and in Albuquerque that he’s decided to pull a “Heinrich maneuver” (you have no idea how long we’ve been waiting to use that term) and run for Congressional District One against incumbent Heather Wilson. That little move leaves his Council seat wide open, and now several outstanding candidates have entered the ring to take his place.
The Alibi didn't endorse lawyer Don Harris during his run for City Council two years ago, but we haven't been nearly as annoyed with him as we thought we'd be. As Alibi Council reporter Laura Sanchez says, “Don Harris hasn't been as bad as I expected. He's certainly worked harder for his district than the appalling Tina Cummins [Harris' predecessor] and has been more independent than expected.”
Yep, it's true. I'm leaving the Alibi. (Actually, by the time you read this I'll already be gone.) I did all my major blubbering in last week's issue, and I'm not going to go there again. But you should know that while they're searching for a replacement for the arts and books part of my job, Amy Dalness will be filling in. Luckily, she's already the calendars editor, so arts releases are (hopefully) already going to her. If you need to contact her about editorial coverage in this section, call 346-0660 ext. 255, or e-mail her at email@example.com.
Kids are the perfect audience to Jon Scieszka. They are ripe to explore the world, go along with a story (no matter how unlikely) and demolish the status quo by laughing wildly at end pages placed in the middle of the book. Any adult smart enough to get Jon's jokes is welcome to join the revelry, just don't expect a life lesson on every page. Scieszka, with some help from illustrator Lane Smith, is the author of the life-changing children's book The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales as well as other award-winning yarns based somewhere between absurd and genius. Scieszka is touring in support of the duo's latest release, Cowboy and Octopus,a tale of two unlikely friends doing what friends do best. Before heading out West, he took some time out of his stinky day to talk with the Alibi.
Villa Del Mar is one of many mariscos restaurants, but they are set apart from the masses by the way they prepare squid. Sautéed in butter with paper-thin shaved onions, it positively melts into a meaty, salty orgy of epicurean proportions. Too often squid is forced to be tough. Here, it's elegant simplicity.
Most our homies don’t need encouragement to eat their leafy greens, but hey, it happens. For those who don’t get salad (and they are out there, even among vegans), there is one and only one cure: excellent croutons. They can turn a plate of salad into a big bowl of tasty bread that happens to have some lettuce mixed in it.
An interview with one of Albuquerque’s favorite chefs
By Kate Trainor
Beloved chef Jennifer James, formerly of Graze, is back on Albuquerque’s food scene after a year-long hiatus. Last week the Alibi spoke with James about her current stint at Chef du Jour, why she left Graze and her plans to open another restaurant in the near future.
Albuquerque business the largest exporter of Mexican jumping beans in the world
By Marisa Demarco
Joseph Hindi was originally in the cloth bag-making business, but it wasn't going very well. "Some nuns in Texas were blowing us out of the water," he laughs. The nuns were able to make shopping bags a lot cheaper. So Hindi thought he needed a gimmick, something to help move his products. Someone suggested he throw in a few Mexican jumping beans.
Last Wednesday was a historic day for the World Wide Web. It saw the keystone of pay-to-view Internet news pulled from its snug position on top, leaving the other bricks in the arch ready to tumble at any moment.
City Hall tackles police misconduct against peace protesters
By Jim Scarantino
The eyewitness and news accounts of police misconduct against peace demonstrators on Sept. 15 triggered vivid flashbacks of police misconduct during the early stages of the Iraq War. My first drafts of this column began “Here we go again.”
The New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) is trying to keep its cool after a refrigerator malfunction in July that compromised $4.3 million worth of children’s vaccines. The DOH is still uncertain as to what caused the malfunction as well as precisely how and why the loss occurred. The malfunctioning refrigerator remains in use in the Immunization Department’s Santa Fe pharmacy, where the state’s vaccine supply is stored.
DATELINE: NEW JERSEY—A car crash may have saved the life of Vineland resident Bryan Rocco. “I was on my way back to the office and stopped at Burger King and bought a chicken sandwich and onion rings,” the 43-year-old foreman for DJ’s Painting told the Daily Journal. “I started to choke on one of the onion rings and then I guess I just blacked out.” Rocco’s company-owned Scion swerved across the road, hit a curb and then struck a tree. “Next thing I knew, when I came back to,” said Rocco. “I was on my side, facing the opposite direction.” Police speculate the vehicle’s air bag struck Rocco in the chest, dislodging the bite of onion ring stuck in his throat. Aside from a cut on his head, a few bumps and bruises and a swollen chin, Rocco was fine.
The controversial new reality series “Kid Nation” debuted on CBS last week to so-so ratings (second place in the timeslot behind FOX’s “Back to You”) and some speculation that advertisers had shunned the premiere. (The first 38 minutes of the pilot were aired commercial-free, though CBS execs insisted the second episode would have a “regular and full” commercial load.) Brushing aside the idea that the New Mexico Legislature might have delayed the passage of child labor laws in order to accommodate the show’s month-long shoot (a claim that still needs investigating), much of the “children in jeopardy” talk seems to have been in vain.
Experimental folk from your favorite weirdo musicians: Mark Weaver (trombone, tuba), Brett Sparks (vocals, bass, saw), Mark Ray Lewis (vocals, guitars), Michelle Collins (vocals, theremin, etc.), Jessica Billey, (violin, vocals) and Jason Aspeslet (drums) appear as Trilobite this Thursday, Sept. 27, at Zinc (21+, free). Show starts at 9:30 p.m. (LM)
Fast Heart Mart made quite a few stops while touring the United States this summer but, except for the odd bathroom break, none of them were at a gas station. The Albuquerque band has put more than 4,000 miles on a van that requires no petroleum. Its only fuel source is recycled vegetable oil.
Five songs of 2007 help put politics back in our playlists
By Marisa Demarco
Religion and politics—the two topics you're not supposed to bring up in mixed company or, until pretty recently, in your songs. Of course, there are plenty of both in conversation and in music, but it wasn't all that long ago—pre-wartime, perhaps—that it was once again passé to put your political views into your pop tunes.
It's no secret that customer service in this country has gone down the crapper. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been ignored, insulted, patronized and even lashed out at by various food service employees over the last decade. This is why I had a hard time twisting my psyche around my first 15 minutes at Oak Tree Café.
Those words were some of the first bestowed upon me when I started working at the Alibi as an intern three years ago. Then News Editor Tim McGivern sat me down on the gnarled couch in his (now my) office, turned down the Tom Waits bellowing from his computer and explained that every story worth telling answers those two basic questions: Why does it matter, and why does it matter right now? I’ve tried to apply that lesson to every story I’ve written since and, in that tradition, I’ll try to do it for this one as well.
Bittersweet isn't my favorite flavor in the world, but sometimes you just have to swallow the pill and hope the effect will be a healthy one. Indulge me for a moment while I daydream about how I got to this point.
Church plans renovation of four-story, 50,000-square-foot building
By Marisa Demarco
The night clubs, shops and lunch spots of downtown Albuquerque are about to get a new neighbor. The Church of Scientology is in the process of purchasing the Gizmo's building at 410 Central SE near Fourth Street, says Gabriel Rivera, a redevelopment planner with City Planning. "From what I've heard, in other places and other cities, [Scientologists] usually locate in the Downtown areas," Rivera says. Local Scientologists confirmed the deal.
Robert Gilkeson has a lot in common with the 73 cubic yards of transuranic waste festering in Sandia National Labs’ Mixed Waste Landfill. Both are homeless. Both are situated in dangerous locations. And both are waiting for the day when a bunch of scientists will make a decision that will allow them to move on.
How many citizens pack heat in New Mexico? Which schoolyard barb did APD use on war protesters? What drama began unfolding for UNM's football team? How's the economy faring in Santa Fe with a $9.50 minimum wage?
"What's driving this desire for disclosure? So-called citizen groups and the media that says we want this information. I don't think anyone except people belonging to these organizations would say, ‘We want this [campaign finance] information.'"
Seldom does an issue move me to drop the newspaper and pen a commentary on-the-spot. But after reading Michael Orick's letter in support of armed security guards on APS campuses [Re: "Armed Education," Sept. 13-19], I felt compelled to write—and swat Orick with my ruler.
DATELINE: RUSSIA—Officials in the province of Ulyanovsk are giving away prizes, including a refrigerator and an all-terrain vehicle, for its most fertile couples. Sept. 12 was officially “Family Contact Day” and was designed by Gov. Sergei Morozov as a way of “encouraging procreation.” A series of concerts and exhibitions were organized to promote family values and employers were encouraged to give workers a discretionary day off in order to, well, procreate their brains out. The event was timed precisely nine months ahead of next year’s Constitution Day so that mothers “ideally should give birth on June 12,” a spokesperson for the administration told England’s The Sun. Mothers who pop buns out of their ovens on the magic date will be included in a drawing for fabulous free prizes. Not all the locals were enthusiastic about the idea, though. Human rights activist Alexander Bragin complained, “We’ve already sunk to the level where the governor is ordering us on what day to conceive a child and on what day to give birth.”
Late September. You can't drive down the street without bumping into a roadside chile roaster, blistering New Mexico's favorite fruit in big metal baskets. But before you get elbows-deep into a fresh batch of red or green goodness, let's separate the fact from the fiction. Here are a few of your most frequently asked questions about chile. Special thanks to the Chile Pepper Institute and www.fiery-foods.com for being invaluable resources!
The other shot-in-New-Mexico feature hitting theaters this weekend is a decidedly lower profile, lower budget affair than Paul Haggis’ In The Valley of Elah (see the other film review in this issue). Filmed in 2001 and finally earning itself an art house release, Tortilla Heaven is a more markedly “New Mexico” film, a broadly comic morality play about small-town Southwest life.
Murder mystery muddies the water of our post-Iraq world
By Devin D. O’Leary
Writer/director Paul Haggis follows up his Oscar-heavy string of assignments (Crash, Million Dollar Baby, Letters from Iwo Jima) with the quietly controversial, war-weary mystery In The Valley of Elah.
“Torchwood” is the BBC’s officially sanctioned, adult-oriented spin-off to “Doctor Who.” Originally launched in 1963 as a sci-fi-slanted kiddy show, “Doctor Who” got the latest in a long line of reboots in 2005 courtesy of head writer/executive producer Russell T. Davies. Having served previously as writer/producer on “Queer as Folk,” Davies brought a rather more mature style to the long-running BBC series. Thanks to the popularity of his work on “Doctor Who,” the BBC let Davies run wild with “Torchwood.”
Carl Newman rambles eloquently on playing The Game, ever-weirder ways to write songs and always sounding new
By Jim Phillips
If ours were a truly civilized society, Carl Newman would be King. For now, he is front man and chief songwriter for the Canadian pop band The New Pornographers. I had the pleasure of speaking with him last week as he took some time off during the band’s North American tour.
All this hipster rigmarole and so much more awaits you! Snugfit Social Club dance party returns with DJs Paul, Brandon and Ethan plus live electro by The Booty Green. Friday, Sept. 21, at The Launchpad (21+). $4 at the door. Get down. [LM]
In Dale Dunn's new play, Body Burden, a middle-aged woman recovering from thyroid cancer returns to her hometown of Los Alamos to confront her past. Set against the backdrop of the development of the atomic bomb, the play features six characters, including the ghost of Robert Oppenheimer and a time-traveling girl scout.
The theme of the show, 20 photographers using the same model, is not so much a curatorial endeavor as it is an assignment. Like Fish Story, on view last month at Exhibit 208, the works have a superficial connection through their subject matter, though I got the sense that the fish show was comprised of artists who had already been considering fish as their subjects before being asked to exhibit their work. In the case of 1x20, the work was clearly crafted for the show—a gimmick that provides little context in which the works can cohere.