Alibi V.16 No.52 • Dec 27-Jan 2, 2007

Music to Your Ears

Jesse L. Spicer is a man obsessed. Not with stamp collecting or American naval history or vintage amps with perfect tone, but with The Hardest Working Man in Show Business. He's obsessed with the late, great James Brown.

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Party Like it's 1776

The Alibi’s New Year’s Club Guide

Here it is again, New Year’s Eve. Time to round up your favorite buddies, figure out where to party, draw straws for designated drivers then toast the year behind us and look to the year ahead.

news

Answer Me This

Where’s your red-light camera money going? The federal dollars the state doesn’t want. This week in Spaceport America. Plus, A 14-year-old girl gets sent to the slammer.

Thin Line

The House and Senate pushed through big reforms to the Freedom of Information Act, more commonly known as the FOIA around newsrooms. What does FOIA do? If journalists want to lay hands on an unreleased but legally available document, they submit FOIA requests.

The TIDDs Roll In

After boycotting the last meeting, Heights councilors (along with District 1's Ken Sanchez) showed up on Dec. 17 to bestow a Christmas present on the Southwest mesa.

Streetology

A graduate of Hard Knocks University builds familia in the South Valley

To the casual observer, La Plazita café might look like your average Albuquerque coffee shop—serving fair trade coffee, free Internet and your choice of old-school tunes from the record collection. Well, look again. The kid who just walked in the door? He was tagging his gang’s “turf” last year—today he’ll be selling one of those paintings on the wall. The barista who just handed you your latte—she looks a little tired? She was up until 3 a.m. cooking for a group of Hopi runners traveling 1,500 miles from Arizona to Mexico City to raise awareness of water crisis in the region.

Gender Politics

Why more women in New Mexico need to enter government

It's starting to look like the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign may not be grinding its way to inevitable victory after all. Her once formidable lead in the polls has been slipping in recent weeks. She is beginning to look beatable.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Brazil--Santa Claus almost got a cap busted in his ass while flying over a notorious Rio de Janeiro slum. A helicopter taking Santa to deliver presents to children came under heavy gunfire while passing over the Baixa do Sapateiro favela, or slum neighborhood. The flight was bound for a Christmas party last Sunday where Santa was to deliver presents to underprivileged children. The pilot flew back to a heliport where Santa was transferred to a car and continued on his journey. Charles Gonzales, the president of the Baixa do Sapateiro Neighbors Association, said his group picked up Santa after being notified about the incident. No one was injured in the attack, but at least two bullet holes were found on the helicopter. Police blame the attack on drug traffickers at war with a rival gang in the nearby Vila João favela.

art

Culture Shock

Jump, dive, leap into your 2008 New Year's resolution to listen more attentively to the creative muse chiming in the back of your head. With the New Year come new gallery shows, new theater company seasons and opportunities for new artists to come out of hiding ... like these:

Step Right Up

Human Volcano at the Albuquerque Museum

These days, polite people feel guilty about the natural human tendency to stare at other people with physical deformities or quirks. Jump back a hundred years, though, and it’s an entirely different story. Back then, gawking at so-called “freaks” wasn’t just socially acceptable, it was good, wholesome family entertainment. Well, maybe not wholesome per se, but folks certainly didn’t feel bad about it, paying good money for the chance to see human oddities up close and in the flesh.

A Comet's Tale

Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black by Nadine Gordimer

Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black

film

Reel World

Congratulations are in order. After a successful run on the national film fest circuit (including the Halloween Horror Picture Show in Tampa, the Fright Night Film Fest in Louisville and the Full Moon Horror Fest in Little Rock), the locally produced, locally shot horror thriller Gimme Skelter is racking up the positive reviews. “Gimme Skelter is more than just another indie slasher flick,” raved the reviewer at EyeCraveDVD.com. “It is a glorious Go-Go frug of a meditation on moral hypocrisy, the cult of personality and the true meaning of ‘The Manson Family Christmas Special.’ ”

Juno

When is a teen sex comedy not a teen sex comedy? When it’s good.

In a year filled with unwanted pregnancies--from Waitress to Knocked Up to Jamie Lynn Spears--who would have guessed the funniest of all unplanned impregnations would occur on Christmas Day? Having built a considerable amount of eager anticipation on the film fest circuit, the post-teen-sex comedy Juno is finally being delivered to theaters. A labor of love from stripper-turned-writer Diablo Cody (author of Candy Girl) and famous-director-offspring-turned-famous-director Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking), Juno easily earns a spot as one of the best films of the year.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

What’s black and white and red all over?

From the word go, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street sounds like a match made in Heaven. Tim Burton directing Johnny Depp (for the sixth time!) in an adaptation of the famously grisly musical about a Victorian-era serial killer, complete with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim? Where do we start lining up?

The Return of Talk

Late-night TV is back on the air

It was probably inevitable, but late-night talk show hosts will be returning to the airwaves starting Wednesday, Jan. 2. Dismissing the Writers Guild of America strike, Jay, Dave and the rest of the lot will be back behind their respective desks starting this week. Actually, “Last Call with Carson Daly” was the first show to openly defy the strike, returning to ABC in early December. Not that anyone noticed.

music

Plans on Ice

Organizers disagree on how to get the Ice House all-ages space off the ground

2007 didn't have the flash of controversy surrounding all-ages shows of previous years. It was more like a slow illness. Blue Dragon shut its doors. The Curio opened and closed. Space Maybe winked in and out of existence. Sol Arts announced its closure just weeks ago.

The Big Spank CD Release Party

Building its own Latin ska-punk bandwagon

After 10 years of making music in The Big Spank, singer-guitarist Mike Garcia has seen his band go from an ultra-young, semi-serious ska-punk band to a bilingual pop-rock group that risks sanity and starvation to tour the country 11 months out of the year. One thing hasn't changed, though.

Flyer on the Wall

Blackbird Buvette (509 Central NW, 243-0878) says “adieu” to 2007 with a masquerade soirée and toast-worthy tracks spun by DJ Losack. Bring a mask and a 21+ ID (with a D.O.B. before 1987, if you’re keeping score). No cover. (LM)

food

No Need to Fuss about Thawing Meat

Q: Dear Flash,

I’ve heard it’s best to thaw frozen meat slowly in a fridge, like overnight. Is this true? And if so, why?

—Frozen Thoughts

A: Dear Frozen,

I’ve heard that too, and I think it’s a good idea. Unfortunately, this would require more foresight than I have on most days. I did do some digging in order to answer your question, wondering if I might learn something that might make me change my ways.

There is a reason, safety-wise, for thawing meat in the refrigerator, as opposed to a warmer environment. When thawed in the fridge, the meat can’t possibly warm up to temperatures at which bacterial growth or other forms of spoilage might occur.

Tony’s Pizza

David size, Goliath flavor

Tony, the sauce-slinger and namesake of Tony’s Pizza, learned his Italian grandmother's cucina skills by way of his mother. He works from a tiny kitchen on the corner of Tijeras and Seventh Street, where he pushes pies out to diners seated in one of the seven tables that make up his restaurant.

Alibi V.16 No.51 • Dec 20-26, 2007

Predictomatron

The Alibi’s year in preview

Oprah may be our next vice president, Brad Pitt will cry in public ... and then the world will end.

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news

SWOP Gets the Boot

Who's bending the ears of Albuquerque students?

Political solicitation is not allowed on Albuquerque Public Schools campuses. Military-based organizations are not considered political, says Rigo Chavez, APS spokesperson.

Answer Me This

The high school rumor mill strikes again. How will the State Senate kick off its next session? Why is the governor in hot water? How did a mail carrier allegedly dispose of his loot?

Wolf Music

Catch it while you can

Winter in the Gila. Snow sparkles between the trees. Ponderosas cast long shadows in the moon’s cold light. It is a magical, frozen night deep in New Mexico’s greatest wilderness.

Thin Line

Most of us can identify the major national figures who have an impact on our lives: the Cheneys, the Clintons, the Richardsons. Few would probably know the name Kevin Martin. He's the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and his actions Tuesday, Dec. 18, reduced your options in this media-soaked environment.

A Closer Look at Psychic Predictions

While going though files on psychics in my Buffalo, N.Y., office a few years ago, I came across a newspaper article listing annual psychic predictions--in and of itself, an unremarkable find. The article appeared in this very newspaper, and featured predictions from local psychics for the following year. What made this particular article interesting was the year being predicted: 2001, in an issue dated Jan. 11-17.

Fueling the Revolution

Local company shows you how to run your car on H2O

Russell Pickavance's short list of life goals reads something like this: 1) Make an affordable, water-powered car. 2) Feed everyone in the world.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Japan--An aquarium in Tokyo has turned to a Japanese inventor for a novel way to light a Christmas tree--using electric eels. Inventor Kazuhiko Minawa said it took him more than a month to devise a system that would effectively harness eel power. Two aluminum panels were eventually placed inside the eels’ tank to serve as electrodes. Cables attached to the panels supply the lights on a nearby tree with electricity. “If we could gather electric eels from all around the world, we would be able to light up an unimaginably giant Christmas tree,” Minawa told Reuters Television. The tree, which will stay illuminated until Christmas, is proving itself a popular attraction, drawing tourists from all over the country.

film

Reel World

The year is approaching its end, and that means only one thing--it’s time to hand out a lot of awards! With Dec. 31 looming, a multitude of organizations are scrambling to enumerate the nominees in their best films of 2007 lists.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Musical biopic remembers the lyrics, forgets the laughs

Given the number of high-profile musical biopics in recent years (Ray, Walk the Line), it’s inevitable that someone would get around to making a spoof of the genre. Unfortunately, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story isn’t a spoof so much as a scene-for-scene recreation. With jokes. And occasional laughs.

What Would Jesus Buy?

He wouldn't buy this crappy documentary, that's for sure

Considering outward appearances, it may seem like the period between late November and late December is a lovely time of year, filled with family gatherings, endearingly tacky decorations, yule logs, latkes, turtle doves, dradles and an alarming, yet welcome abundance of gifts. But to the prickly, Scrooge McDucks of the world--and moreover, anyone opposed to holiday commercialism--the holiday season is a dystopian nightmare that doesn’t end until you wake up hungover on New Year’s Day. When we see the chilly parking lots surrounding malls filled with shoppers going into debt to buy wares made in Third World countries, the spirit of Christmas seems dead. Only it’s not just dead--its bloated corpse has been roasting in the sun in a remote desert for a few weeks with vultures pecking at it.

The Gift of TV

Christmas around the dial

Face it: You’re probably not going to get what you want for Christmas this year. You’re just going to end up with a bunch more useless stuff that will be used to crowd your already overstuffed shelves until your next yard sale.

music

Music to Your Ears

Is there any better way to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus than attending church? Of course not. ... Unless that church is hosting some kind of charitable event for needy children. And there's also progressive rock involved.

Father of the Flood

Weather event or concert?

The first time I saw Father of the Flood, his slow-morphing tones vibrated the art off The Stove's walls. Some of the audience ran from work to work, pulling glass-enclosed pieces down before the chest-rattling low end could cause them to leap to their doom. Then we sat and felt the notes thundering from four 15-inch speakers into our bodies. When the flood was over, I had no idea how much time had passed. Was the set five minutes long or 30?

The Lotus Sound

Label of Love

Father of the Flood is putting out his first CD on Dec. 18 through The Lotus Sound, a label run by Mike D'Elia. The label's been around for a decade, though for a large portion of that it was in hiatus while D'Elia got Astro-Zombies, his Nob Hill collectible toy and comic shop, off the ground.

art

Home Sweet Home

ArtStreet presents Home is Where the Art Is

The talking heads on a prime-time news station said Paul Tucker would be homeless. The Vermont resident spent too many days in the Good Samaritan Haven and took too long to get a real job, they said. Tucker would live on the streets, just like the people he was earning money for outside the local shopping mall with a red Salvation Army kettle and a bell. He spent his time doing charity work, calling for coins to help the less fortunate during the holiday season, instead of making an income. It seems homelessness can hit anyone, even those who would be saints.

food

Zinc Wine Bar and Bistro

A tale of two restaurants

It was the best of meals, it was the worst of meals … we had everything before us, we had nothing before us. OK, so maybe that’s a little on the dramatic side, but in many ways dining at Zinc brought to mind the contrasts Dickens was so fond of fictionalizing, so read this with a British accent.

Apple 2

We’re not known for luxurious desserts—it’s not our thing. We get too full too fast. We prefer savory salts, the occasional soft, ripe, bloomy artisan French cheese and hard after-dinner liqueurs. We gorge on calories in other ways. But for the holidays, when the fruitcakes and weird chocolate logs start showing up on people’s tables, there are some far easier, more awesome ways to serve festive treats—and get drunk at the same time. We’ve become obsessed with baking apples in apple beer.

Alibi V.16 No.50 • Dec 13-19, 2007

Music to Your Ears

Peter Gelb has transformed New York's Metropolitan Opera since becoming general manager in the summer of 2006. His goal is broadening the opera house's audience, trimming down opera's overstuffed pomp and replacing it with populist circumstance. Basically, he wants regular people like us to enjoy opera again.

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Last-Minute Gift Guide

Don't get malled

Let's get right down to business: You still need gifts, and Christmas is less than two weeks away.

East Nob Hill

Central between Washington and Carlisle

Featured in magazines like Elle Decor and In Style Home, this furniture, décor and fashion store runs most of its business online. But passing up the exquisite showroom with custom design leather trunks, woven blankets from New Zealand (made by the same weavers who created the magic cloaks in Lord of the Rings), hand-felted wraps and camel bone necklaces would be a crime. Plus, it's remarkably affordable.

Near Northeast Heights

Lomas between San Mateo and Girard

Thrill your lady love with frilly lingerie and soft robes from this charming boutique. If her dresser drawers are already overflowing with silky undergarments, opt for some fragrant lotions or tasteful accessories instead. Most of the bras and panties sold here are from French clothing lines, and while that may not mean anything to you, chances are it will to her.

Midtown

Menaul between San Mateo and University

If beads are what you're after, you can find thousands from all over the world at Elinor Oldham's Art & Bead Gallery. Oldham also carries dozens of fine art pieces, jewelry, earrings, decorative pots and tons of trinkets. You won't have to know what you're looking for when you walk into the gallery—a few minutes of browsing should have your head jam-packed with possibilities.

North Valley

Second Street and Fourth Street, between Candelaria and Osuna

This high-ceilinged adobe is flanked by tall windows and has the feel of a church. Acequia Booksellers' approach to the printed word is indeed reverential, but it's not inaccessible (cued by comfy, crackling jazz piped in from iTunes). The store specializes in rare and out-of-print works, Southwest and Native American subjects, and the humanities, with a large number of French selections. "It's called Acequia because bookstores feed people's minds like an acequia feeds farms," explains owner Gary Wilke. "And it starts with A."

Los Ranchos de Albuquerque

Fourth Street between Montaño and Alameda

Run by Paddy O'Riley and his grandson Kenneth, this strip-mall repository has a lock on Albuquerque's paint-flinging needs. For $170, you can score a Tippmann 98, a full-package machine for the beginner. Upgrades are easy, and these folks live up to the “N-Stuff” part of their name with tons of custom stocks, barrels and response triggers. Fill a stocking with paintballs ($14 a box, $54 a case) and don't forget the masks!

Corrales

Corrales Road near the center of the village

On the higher end of used clothes, Karleen's collection of recycled fashions is fairly select and not built with fly-by-night teen or college trends in mind. Quality, timeless fashions live in the racks of this tiny shop. With women's clothes only, gift your favorite fashion queen with jewelry, a hat, a vintage purse or campy poofed slippers. The friendly, eager staff will gladly assist you in choosing the right one-of-a-kind item.

Santa Fe

South Guadalupe Street and Sanbusco Market Center near downtown. Unless noted, all hours for stores listed in Sanbusco Market Center are: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m..

Walking among the whitewashed bookshelves of the converted house that is now Big Star Books feels more like perusing a historic library. Shelves of pre-loved volumes neatly organized by topic make the selection process effortless, and you never know what you'll stumble upon since Big Star buys out libraries and collections. There were a few classic Choose Your Own Adventure books on the shelves not long ago—nostalgic stocking stuffers, anyone?

film

Reel World

Actor/director Lee Kitts has taught acting since 1987 in California, Oregon, Hawaii and Kentucky and has recently relocated to Albuquerque. Kitts will be teaching a series titled “Acting Technique 1” early next year. The 10-week course starts on Jan. 14 and is now enrolling adults of all skills and levels. Classes will take place in the afternoon or evening (call for schedule) and will run three hours per week. Total cost is $295 with a $100 deposit to enroll. Kitts’ class is decribed as “an in-depth, step-by-step approach for the beginning student or the experienced actor, which translates to authentic, organic behavior for stage and film with focus in the following areas: Acting as action, focus outside the self, clarity and specificity of intention, theatre ethics/ensemble.” For more information, call 872-2349.

Atonement

Sweeping romantic drama has nothing to apologize for

Atonement presents viewers with the kind of sweeping romance and epic storytelling that hasn’t been seen since the likes of Reds or Doctor Zhivago or Gone with the Wind. (Yes, I consciously left The English Patient off that list--it’s highly overrated.) Admittedly, that’s a mighty bold statement to make. It’s not merely a reflection on the film’s quality, which is impeccable, but a description of the classic cinematic style for which Atonement is reaching. So many modern Hollywood love stories are obsessed with the petty and the miniscule (mistaken identities, ridiculous lies and other formulaic contrivances). When lunkheaded dirty jokes like The Heartbreak Kid pass for romance, we’re in serious need of some old-fashioned affairs of the heart.

King Corn

Corn-based documentary unearths America’s No. 1 crop

Corn: It’s everywhere, though most of us probably don't realize it. During the past 30 years, the New World plant has become absolutely pervasive in the United States, turning up in everything from soda to meat to jokes (just joking), and contributing to cheap foods that have negative effects on our health. Hence, the documentary King Corn. Without calls to action or divisive language, this artistic little piece of investigative journalism explores the hand-in-hand transformation of corn and the American food supply.

Back to the Drawing Board

Anime: Drawing a Revolution on Starz

Is it possible you’ve lived for the past seven years amid the wreckage of post-20th-century pop culture and you still don’t know what the hell anime is? Well, if that’s the case, Starz is coming to your rescue with Anime: Drawing a Revolution, a documentary primer on this wacky new thing called Japanese animation.

food

A Locavore's Winter Salad Bar

Q: Dear Chef,

My family is trying really hard to do the local foods/seasonal-eating thing. The onions, squash, carrots, potatoes and garlic in our basement were all purchased at the farmers’ market. My daughter picked the strawberries in the freezer and says she wants to go hunting next year! This year we went in on a cow and a pig, both from a local farm, with our neighbors.

Phở Nguyen

In the middle of the pack

Vietnamese restaurants have proliferated in Burque faster than Starbucks over the last couple of years. More than ever, local phở fans have plenty of options for where they can slurp their rice noodles, and with more choices comes the need for each place to set itself apart.

news

Sanctuary Grows New Roots

Day shelter for homeless women seeks to replant itself in Albuquerque

As Maria helped the new staff of Almas de Amistad set up shop again, she recognized some of the furniture. Couches, shelves and knickknacks from the old Amistad, open for about six years as a sanctuary for women from the streets trying to get clean. Amistad lost a federal grant and shut its doors at the end of February, ceasing the specialized services it provides to homeless and drug-addicted women. "The first week I found out they [reopened], I came and started painting with them," Maria says.

Answer Me This

Why are some Albuquerque High School parents atwitter? What surprising discovery did a Santa Fe woman stumble upon? Why did the mayor say he was dropping out of the U.S. Senate race? How is Moriarty helping DWI victims’ families?

The Red and Green Mile

Keeping it Querque for Christmas

To get my Christmas shopping going, I needed a pin and a piece of string. The pin went into an Albuquerque map at the spot where I live. Then I measured the string to match the equivalent of a mile radius around my house and drew a circle.

Hey, Big Spender

When it comes to loans, consumers are advised to protect themselves before they wreck themselves

For many, consumer credit can provide convenience, easier access to high-dollar items and security not always afforded by cash. On the other hand, misused loans infer a false sense of wealth, leading to financial troubles that may range from minor setbacks to overwhelming crises.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Australia--Apparently, Australia was serious about its ban on Jolly Olde St. Nick. Professional Santa John Oakes claims he has been fired for saying “ho, ho, ho” and singing Christmas carols on the job at a department store in Cairns. Temporary employment agency Westaff recently made headlines for ordering its seasonal Santas to say “ha, ha, ha” instead of “ho, ho, ho” because the phrase might frighten children and could be offensive to women. Mr. Oakes, 70, told the Cairns Post, “After my shift on Monday, I got a call from my manager telling me my services were no longer required. I hadn’t done anything wrong so I asked her why, and she said, ‘You said ho, ho ho and that’s not appropriate.’ She also said I wasn’t supposed to sing, but I was only singing ‘Jingle Bells’ to get the kids to laugh for their photo.” A company spokesman for the U.S.-based Westaff said, “The candidate was not sacked nor was his use of the term ‘ho, ho, ho’ a factor in our decision.”

music

Leah Black and Friends

Acoustic jams from electric performers

As someone whose music is sometimes not taken seriously because of her day job, it makes sense that 93.3 KOB FM DJ Leah Black wants people's hidden talents to shine. Black has gathered up four musicians who made names for themselves with amplified guitars and asked them to strip it down for an evening. From her experiences in her rock/soul pop band, Black has seen the highs and lows of being an acoustic performer, who thrives on the vulnerability of being without electricity. Black talked to the Alibi about being naked on stage.

Greg Ruggiero’s Balance

Albuquerque native returns to celebrate release of new CD

Warm and liquid, the music of jazz guitarist Greg Ruggiero slides into the ear so easily, you don’t notice until it’s already had its way with you. The first signs include a slowing of the breath, a relaxed attentiveness and a heightened awareness of one’s blessings.

Down With Christmas

A selection of the Christmas albums we received this year, all of which fill us with urges to stab each other with sharpened candy canes

Whether you're having problems with money, family, food, Jesus or Christmas in general, those minor issues will all be eclipsed if you happen upon this agonizing Michael Bolton album. Not only are these songs awful, they're crooned by one of the most horrid musical demons of our time. This Christmas, your troubles are of a Michael Bolton nature. (JCC)

art

Culture Shock

The newsletter-style e-mails from Sol Arts always start with the same headline: "Here's what's next at Sol Arts!" The e-mail I received last week was no different, except what's next at Sol Arts is nothing. While it's sad to see a local, grassroots art space close its doors, the folks at Sol Arts are doing it for a positive reason. The members, including UNM theater professor and Sol Arts founder Kristen Loree, have decided to devote their time and focus into their own artistic creations and put running art space on hold, at least for now.

Jaded for the Holidays

The Santaland Diaries at The Box Performance Space

There should be a bumper sticker that reads "Take the mas out of Christmas." More gifts. More decorations. More shopping. More debt. The season of giving often means more stress than celebrating, so why not say "No mas!" and hit the eggnog? Or just take a holiday breather with The Santaland Diaries—a one-man, one-act based on an essay by David Sedaris that says "Up yours!" to the mas.

Twelve Books for Christmas

Or Yule, or Kwanzaa, or no reason at all

Got some impossible-to-buy-for types on your list? One of these twelve books should satisfy even the most difficult name on your list. Plus, you’ll be supporting a Southwest writer at the same time.