Challengers come out swinging in races against established state senators
By Marisa Demarco and Simon McCormack
State legislative seats aren't always as hotly contested in the primaries as they are this year. Campaigns are spending a lot of money, and a host of challengers have jumped in, guns blazing, to contest longtime state senators.
Place your bets with the Alibi's 2008 Primary Election Guide
By Christie Chisholm and Marisa Demarco
Not many people typically vote in primary elections. They're just not on the public radar, especially when it comes to local offices. But this year is different. Look no further than the swarms that came out to vote in the national Democratic caucuses for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. This year we're making history in more ways than one.
Job Description: Every state has two senators. They serve longer terms than U.S. representatives, and that means they don't have to spend all their time stumping, ducking and restocking the armory. Senators have more direct influence in Washington, which is probably why all of our state's reps (Heather Wilson, Steve Pearce, Tom Udall) are running for a soon-to-be vacated but still warm seat.
Basement Films is bringing “Supermarket” to the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice on Friday, May 30. What the hell is “Supermarket”? you may ask. It’s “an experimental dose of original electronic music and imagery, delivered in equal emphasis.” Break beats of varying tempos from dub to drum and bass will be mixed with animated and celluloid imagery for a dual-natured assault on the senses. Australian animator/experimental film dude Dan Monceaux will be there jamming out the sequenced beats and collected samples on his retro analogue synthesizers while trippy visual work from Emma Sterling flickers around him. The show gets underway at 8:30 p.m. and will run you a mere $7. An artist talk follows. The Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice is located at 202 Harvard SE.
What do kids who loved Speed Racer want to play with? Cars? Racetracks? Hell, no! They want a fake cell phone. According to the manufacturer, this plastic contraption “captures the fun and excitement of the Summer 2008 hit movie Speed Racer.” (Boy, that sentence is wrong on several counts.) It’s also described as “a fun way for boys to feel like they are staying in touch with Speed as he prepares to race.” Note to kids: Driving and talking on your cell phone is illegal in most cities.
E.T. goes overseas in Stephen Chow’s oddball assemblage
By Devin D. O’Leary
Actor/director/writer/producer Stephen Chow is a superstar in Asia. His films often outgross those of legends like Jackie Chan. But in America, his works have long divided fans of Hong Kong film into “love him/hate him” camps. Early slapstick-and-sight-gag-filled films like Sixty Million Dollar Man, God of Cookery and Royal Tramp please as many as they annoy. Since the international success of his last two kung fu-based flicks, Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, however, Chow’s popularity in America has risen considerably.
NBC--Executives at the Peacock Network seem to have taken the lessons of the recent Writers’ Guild strike to heart. Earlier this month, as the networks laid out their fall 2008 schedules, NBC offered up a 52-week program strategy featuring staggered launches and premieres throughout the year. Gone are the traditional fall and spring season premieres. In their place are new shows designed to take advantage of NBC’s vaunted “Super Season” of events, including the Olympics and the Super Bowl. Set to debut at some point are “America’s Toughest Jobs” and “Shark Taggers” (both blue-collar reality shows from the makers of “Deadliest Catch”), “Chopping Block” (another reality chef competition), “Crusoe” (drama about a modern-day castaway), “Kath and Kim” (remake of an Australian sitcom), “Kings” (knights, kings and maidens apparently set in modern times), “Knight Rider” (remake of the ’80s classic), “The Listener” (a paramedic who can read minds), “Merlin” (teen-based retelling of the myth), “My Own Worst Enemy” (suburban spy thriller), “Thee Philanthropist” (renegade billionaire tackles global poverty with extreme prejudice) and an as-yet-unnamed spin-off of “The Office.”
With Robert Mondavi's passing on May 16, the world lost a visionary and the single most influential force in American winemaking. "Wine to me is passion," he wrote of his life's work in his autobiography, Harvests of Joy. "It's family and friends. It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It's culture. It's the essence of civilization and the art of living.” Through this trailblazing philosophy, Mondavi demonstrated to America—and the world—that Napa, California and the United States were capable of making some of the best wines on the planet. Mondavi was able to inspire Americans to contend in the competitive global wine market. And through wine, he showed that ancient European standards for life enriched with art, food and wine were attainable even for us in our young nation. In essence, he made us believe in ourselves and in our capacity to improve our own lives.
America’s entrance into WWII signaled the end of the Great Depression. As the war effort ratcheted up employment, the country was at last pulled out of its second-longest recession. Americans were relieved to once again have work, but food shortages meant there was little to purchase with their still-meager earnings. Ration cards dictated how much food was allotted to each person, while pocketbooks still directed what could be purchased, rationed or not.
Candidate participation in Political Courage Test drops
By Rachel Miller
After allowing more than a month for responses, the nonpartisan organization Project Vote Smart compiled the results of its Political Courage Test that asks primary challengers to reveal their positions on a range of topics. Out of the 24 surveys given to U.S. congressional candidates in New Mexico, only five candidates returned them: Joe Carraro, Robert Pidcock, Rebecca Vigil-Giron, Greg Sowards and Dan East.
Apparently subscribing to the belief that if you can’t beat ’em, defeat ’em, Gov. Bill Richardson has gotten involved in the June 3 Democratic Party primary races for the state Senate in a big way. Money and influence from the executive branch are being openly employed to shape the makeup of the next state Senate, particularly of the Democratic majority.
Dateline: Japan--Yosuke the parrot, who recently flew out of his cage and got lost, was returned to his owners after doing exactly what he was trained to do--reciting his name and address to a stranger willing to help. Police rescued the African gray parrot three weeks ago from a neighbor’s roof in the city of Nagareyama, near Tokyo. After spending the night at the station, Yosuke was taken to a nearby veterinary hospital while police searched for clues. After a few days with the vet, his beak loosened up and he began chatting. “I’m Mr. Yosuke Nakamura,” the bird told the veterinarian, according to policeman Shinjiro Uemura. The parrot also provided his full home address, down to the street number. “We checked the address, and what do you know, a Nakamura family really lived there. So we told them we’ve found Yosuke,” Uemura said. The Nakamura family told police they had been teaching the bird its name and address for about two years. Though he spoke and even sang for veterinarians, Yosuke clammed up around the cops. “I tried talking to him, but he completely ignored me,” Uemura said.
They're two to three times pricier than a show at the Sunshine, but don't let sticker shock keep you from experiencing New Mexico's independent music festivals. You can get passes to two of the best in the West at an attractive discount—but you've got to buy them within the next two weeks.
Star Tattoo blows out the candles on seven years in the pain-for-pleasure biz this Saturday, May 31. Starting at 3 p.m., there'll be free cheese from Little Anita's, crawfish from Copeland's and beer-soaked rawk from eight bands at Elliot's (Alameda and Coors Bypass). It's the Star kids' way of saying, "You could have picked any of Albuquerque's 373 tattoo parlors to give you ass antlers, but you chose us. Thank you." No, Star Tattoo. Thank you. (LM)
A band on the verge of adulthood comes home for a backyard fundraiser
By Simon McCormack
He was barely out of his teen years, but Beirut's Paul Collins recognized a budding star. "The first time I heard Zach [Condon] sing, I knew he was going to be more than just a local musician," Collins says. "I've never seen someone play where I just knew they were going to be something amazing."
Jonno Katz plays Agent Seymour Foggs, who goes undercover as Stig Kanai, in the world premiere of The Spy—a perilous tale of intrigue, subterfuge and double agents (according to the top-secret press release our undercover operative procured). Katz came to Albuquerque from Melbourne, Australia, to work with Director Mark Chavez (of The Pajama Men) on The Spy, which employs Katz’ talents in physical comedy and "Pythonesque" absurdity. The one-night-only performance, before The Spy heads to another unknown location, is Friday, May 30, at q-Staff theatre (4819 Central NE). Meet-and-mingle starts at 8:30 p.m., the show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12 general, $10 students and seniors. Call 255-2182 for info and tickets.
When Robert Rauschenberg died three weeks ago, I started thinking of his time teaching at Black Mountain College and of stills I’d seen of his collaborative performance pieces in the '60s and '70s (like Pelican or Elgin Tie). He seemed wholly invested in the possibility of what could happen when you mix with other creative energies to expand the limitations of your material.
There are three criteria for a great video game: story line, game play and graphics. It's the trifecta of gaming brilliance all designers must perfect if they want their fish to dominate in a highly populated ocean. But in the world of webgames, a designer can hone one or two of these elements to create a successful product. In honor of our video game issue, here are a few casual games that have mastered the interactive art inherent in the genre.
The National Video Game Championships boot up in Albuquerque
By Amy Dalness
Ben Eberle is what you'd call a YouTube-made celebrity. In the past year, the video of Ben slaying Guitar Hero II's "Psychobilly Freakout" on expert level has attracted more than 8 million hits. Its appeal is immediate: Ben's fingers flying across the color-coded buttons of his video game guitar, his back turned to the television screen, playing from memory while bobbing his head in true rock-star fashion.
The sun rises in the east and sets in the west; God's in his heaven, all's right with the world; video game designers design and video game players play. Except, that is, when the players come up with their own rules. Theorists call this "emergent play."
All of my friends enjoy playing video games, and so do I, but there's a problem. You see, I still play the games of my childhood—Frogger, BurgerTime, Tetris, Duck Hunt, Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, etc. The console doesn't matter; as long as it supports games made between the early '80s and the early '90s, I'm all for it. As is deducible, my friends' gaming concerns are more modern. They like LAN parties and play popular games like WoW, Halo, Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. To them, the vintage two-dimensional games I play are a novel joke compared to the superior graphics and gameplay embodied by their favorites. I like video games and I like my friends, but I fear that being stuck in the past is compromising my relationships. But I just like helping Peter Pepper make those burgers so much! Brenda, what should I do?
Athleticism and optimism lead amputee to a 215-mile bike ride
By Miela Kolomaznik
Brett Weitzel is uncomfortable with the idea that his physical abilities are in any way amazing. "It's not like I'm working out like crazy. It's just I'm going out and doing the stuff I used to do that I'm excited to be able to do again," he says. Weitzel, who skis, bikes and kayaks, lost his right leg to a third bout of cancer about eight months ago. "Anything's really possible if you're willing to figure it out," says Weitzel. Almost as an afterthought, he adds, "or if you're willing to do it at a slower pace than someone who has two legs."
Friday, May 16, was a good day to buy a newspaper.
You would have a souvenir to show to your descendants. Headlines declaring "California High Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban" will be something to see, especially if the decision becomes one of many affording same-sex couples the right to marry—and to call it marriage. Because there may be a day when anything other than equality, regardless of sexual orientation, is unimaginable.
Domestic partnerships and civil unions aren't a fair substitute for marriage, the California Supreme Court decided on May 15. But don't throw rice at this thing yet. A coalition of conservatives is sending in an assassin: a ballot measure in November that would lodge a ban on gay marriage into the state's Constitution. That would trump the court's Thursday decision.
Unlike astrologers, I don’t think people should be stereotyped and subjected to prejudice. (I use prejudice in its original meaning: forming an opinion about a person or group on the basis of generalizations, assumptions or stereotypes.)
Dateline: Japan--A suicidal man who had doused himself with kerosene in front of police burned to death after asking officers for a smoke his during interrogation. Hifumi Kubota, 45, was taken for questioning to a police station in Nagoya last Saturday after a woman who was living with him told police he was acting violently. When officers arrived at the house, “he poured kerosene over himself in front of police,” a police spokesperson said. Kubota refused to change out of his kerosene-soaked clothes at the police station and asked to smoke during questioning, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaperand other Japanese media. Despite a no-smoking rule in the building (and the presence of kerosene-soaked clothing), a police official provided the flammable felon with a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. After bursting into flames, Kubota was rushed to a hospital where he died the next day from burns over a major portion of his body.
I bet you didn’t know May is National Masturbation Month. Well, it is, and to help celebrate, Self Serve in Nob Hill is bringing the documentary Passion and Power: The Technology of Orgasm to the Guild Cinema this Friday, May 23, and Saturday, May 24. Self Serve has offered the Alibi two free single passes (masturbation being a solo activity and all) to give away. The Technology of Orgasm, chronicling the history of the vibrator, is based on the book of the same name. The first two Alibi readers to e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and identify the author of that book will snag those free passes, good for either day. Be sure to include “Orgasm” as your subject line--I’m sure our spam filter won’t mind that.
Nostalgic indie tries to impart the power of movies
By Devin D. O’Leary
The term, in case you haven’t heard it, is “sweding.” It comes from Michel Gondry’s mostly ignored film Be Kind, Rewind. It refers to the act of remaking something from scratch and in a ridiculously inexpensive manner with whatever is at hand. The Internet is rife with sweded films (Star Wars re-shot in someone’s garage, Raiders of the Lost Ark re-done with Legos, Night of the Living Dead re-animated with stick figures).
You can’t keep a good man down. So, nearly 20 years after his last outing, Indiana Jones is out of mothballs and back in search of high adventure. With the Hollywood triumverate of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford back on board, viewers can rest relatively assured of some serious summer movie fun.
Daddy Long Loin—or Kevin Kinane, if you want to talk day jobs—is used to being by himself. Not socially, but categorically. He's the only local musician I know of who brings a 12-string Chapman Stick (a bass/guitar hybrid that somehow looks Thai to me) to all of his shows. He's just one guy, decked out in colors so bright he needs to wear shades, shuffling in harmonica, keys, foot-powered drums, loops and samples, and that arresting Chapman, like a many-armed Vishnu-Zappa incarnate.
Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione met at a costume party—a fitting beginning for a band that's sprouted stage makeup, painted-on eyebrows, thick eyeliner, striped stockings and a black bowler hat. More than that, the Dresden Dolls cultivated tendrils of thorny but beautiful lyrics and shoots of surprising and precise rhythmic sensibilities.
It plots a course, cranks the speed to “skate-punk," finds the straightaway and drives. It's rowdy, trashy and nasty, but if you can't take a few wisecracks with your aggression, Seattle's Steel Tigers of Death says look elsewhere.
The Agency (111 Fourth Street NW) presents The Governors of War Simulvision (co-starring Freddy Mercury) this Friday and Saturday, May 23 and 24, at 9 p.m. As best as we can tell, "simulvision" is kind of like a mulitmedia rock opera-rave hybrid. Or something. $15 tickets (each night) at www.the-agency.org. (LM)
Chamber Music Albuquerque broadens its audience by diversifying its talent
By Simon McCormack
It began with a small group of volunteers bringing world-class musicians to their hometown 67 years ago. Since then, Chamber Music Albuquerque has watched classical music shrink from the consciousness of mainstream America. As the organization gradually expanded its season, the folks at Chamber Music Albuquerque felt the need to stem the tide of the nationwide trend. To this end, they brought in Executive Director Joseph Franklin and gave him a mission: Put new faces in the seats.
Some foods are just as fun to say. Take baba ghanouj; when I say it I start in a low voice for "baba"and swing up high for "ghanouj."I always say shawarma with a “Sopranos” New Jersey accent, while falafel becomes “full-awful” because I heard it that way in some movie. And I love putting a northern-Illinois/Wisconsin twist on shish kebab, coming out something like “sheesh-ki-BAB.”
Our friend Meghan's been busy baking cookies to raise money for a nutso bike tour she's doing for an AIDS services donation. Last time we hung with Meghan, she was building her first road bike and still getting used to riding next to cars. Now she's placing in Wolfpack biker races and riding upwards of 50 miles a day to train for her upcoming mission. We include her super-moist recipe for vegan chocolate death cookies as a gift to you all. Break a leg, Meghan; show those Wolfpack bastards how to bake!
Food critics have their work cut out for them in Albuquerque. With more than 1,000 restaurants, several opening and closing almost daily, just keeping them straight can be hard work. Add in editors (mine’s lovely, of course), deadlines and bathroom scales that refuse to lie, and we’ve got a lot on our plates. On the plus-side, we do eat for free (good food or bad) and even receive an occasional paycheck.
Gov. Richardson appoints a new public defense boss
By Simon McCormack
It's not a title that's on the lips of New Mexicans every day. Many may not even know it exists. But New Mexico's Chief Public Defender (CPD) is in charge of a government agency that handles about 90 percent of the criminal defense work in the state. The department has a $42 million operating budget and close to 300 lawyers who represent 60,000 people a year. The CPD must work closely with the governor to ensure the department has enough resources to represent all of its clients and must maintain a good relationship with New Mexico's district attorney's office and the state courts.
The Six Degrees of Indiana Jones Summer Film Guide
By Devin D. O’Leary
Way back in 1999, the Alibi dedicated its entire Summer Film Guide to the release of Star Wars: Episode 1—The Phantom Menace. In a fit of fanboy enthusiasm, Film Editor Devin D. O’Leary created the now-legendary “Six Degrees of Luke Skywalker Summer Film Guide” in which he linked every single film released that summer to actor Mark Hamill through six actors or less.
Albuquerque's derby athletes got good enough that it wasn't safe for them to be playing at Midnight Rodeo any longer, says Nan Morningstar, a derby founder. And the derby has yet to find a permanent residence or set up a schedule as a result.
VA nurse accused of sedition honored two-and-a-half years later
By Marisa Demarco
Laura Berg is not a black-tie kind of person. But she found herself in nice clothes at a PEN American gala in New York City getting a First Amendment award. She says she felt a little like "Cinderella tapped to go to the ball" on April 28, sitting alongside the likes of Salman Rushdie and Toni Morrison. The PEN American Center counts among its literary missions the defense of free expression.
Eileen Welsome says reporters in Albuquerque should look more closely at large projects funded by the taxpayers "and why these projects end up being three to four to five times what the original estimates were." Welsome published the results of weeks of investigation and six public records requests at ClearlyNewMexico.com last week.
Anti-smoking activists showed up at the May 5 meeting to support Councilor Michael Cadigan's anti-smoking bill even though it was not on the agenda. Cadigan said a great deal of misinformation had been spread about the bill, which adopts state law as city law and eliminates an exemption allowing smoking in retail tobacco stores.
Miley Cyrus, star of the “Hannah Montana” series, is sorry because, um—well ... it’s not really clear what she’s sorry for, but whatever it is, it has to do with a series of photos taken by Annie Leibovitz for the June 2008 issue of Vanity Fair. One photo shows Cyrus’ bare back and shoulders; in another, she’s draped across her father, Billy Ray “Achy Breaky Heart” Cyrus.
I’m not sure how it got started, but the last man standing in the Republican Party’s nominating process circular firing squad, Sen. John McCain, has developed a reputation for “straight talk.” It's not deserved.
Dateline: New York--A rude motorcyclist who flipped the bird at a police cruiser and then popped a wheelie is recovering from injuries after crashing. Suffolk County Police said Frank Patti, 26, of West Islip, rode by the police car at a service station in Copiague at 7:30 p.m. last Sunday. Police say Patti made an obscene gesture to two officers in the car, popped a wheelie and then sped away. Police gave chase and, shortly thereafter, Patti turned into a parking lot and crashed into another police car that had joined the chase. Patti was treated for minor injuries at Southside Hospital. He’s charged with fleeing police, resisting arrest and several traffic violations.
It's been one hell of a year for The Old Main. After releasing its first album in November, Rod Lacy's project won Best New/Emerging Band in this year’s Best of Burque poll. Lacy also co-organized Rock the 9, the first all-Native rock showcase held over Gathering of Nations weekend at the Sunshine Theater [featured in theApril 24-30 Alibi]. But for all his band's accomplished, Lacy must realize—wisely—that he couldn't have come this far without his fans.
The concept is straightforward, if a bit unusual. For its latest release, Brujas, Albuquerque noise emitters cobra//group and countless other musicians recorded 10 hours of music in the dark. They went to a handful of abandoned buildings in Albuquerque and Corrales, turned out the lights and played. The group invited friends to participate in the sessions, but no one knows how many people showed up. People were allowed to enter quietly and leave whenever they wanted to.
SuperGiant kicks off a very large array of West Coast shows in support of their first full-length album, Antares (order online at supergiantrock.com). HDR (heavy coed three-piece from Los Angeles) is along for the ride. Hometown support by Leeches of Lore (triumphant cosmic-metal duo) this Tuesday, May 20, at Burt’s Tiki Lounge (free, 21+). (LM)
The Center for Contemporary Arts Cinematheque’s successful annual African Effect film festival starts again this Thursday, May 15, and runs through Sunday, May 18. This sixth annual outing features films, discussions and presentations about African culture and Africa in diaspora. Samba Gadjigo, one of the world’s foremost scholars of African cinema, returns as co-curator. Among the 2008 programming will be a focus on African-American comedy and a tribute to Ousemane Sembene, the father of African cinema. For a complete list of films and events, log on to www.ccasantafe.org. The CCA is located at 1050 Old Pecos Trail in Santa Fe.
Age-defying documentary evokes a menagerie of emotion ... and it rocks
By Jessica Cassyle Carr
In the world of documentary filmmaking, it’s rare to come across a story containing more than mere topical analysis tinged with one or more of the following: hip music, activism, wacky narratives, gratuitously artistic shots, dry humor and cool graphics (like star wipes). Absorbing human drama tends to be more elusive and reserved for works of fiction, while the reality captured within the nonfiction genre’s actuality, continuity and imagery is often void of grand emotions. Stephen Walker, director of Young@Heart, is either very talented or very lucky. His film manages to cross a threshold, capturing to the fullest potential a tragicomic slice-of-life story about usual people doing unusual things.
High-speed, color-saturated action film out-cartoons the cartoon
By Devin D. O’Leary
In their first writing/directing effort since the conclusion of the epic Matrix trilogy, the Wachowski brothers grab the steering wheel of Speed Racer, a live-action adaptation of the classic Japanese cartoon from the ’60s. Given the groundbreaking, if audience-splitting work the Wachowskis did on the techno-mythical Matrix films, Speed Racer seems like a somewhat junior-grade assignment. Despite the subdued expectations, this kiddie flick freak-out looks like it was shot not with a camera lens, but with a kaleidoscope. Watching it is roughly akin to taking LSD at Disneyland. (My God, the colors!) The result is a 10,000 RPM action movie that is somehow more cartoony than an actual cartoon.
Spike TV’s new two-part micro-series event “1000 Ways to Die” bills itself as a documentary that “combines the science of living and the randomness of death with a dash of Darwinism.” What the show really does, however, is combine the notorious (and mostly fake) snuff footage of Faces of Death with the “at least it wasn’t me” snarkiness of the Darwin Awards, and paints the whole shebang with a thin veneer of “CSI”-style forensic info.
The National Hispanic Cultural Center (1701 Fourth Street SW) has been banging out weekend after weekend of events. This Friday and Saturday, May 16 and 17, New Mexico Arts brings the first-ever gathering of Matachines groups from the Southwest to the NHCC for two days of dances and panel discussions that are free and open to the public. Matachines dancers, known for their large masks with beads usually covering the eyes, will perform the story of El Monarca Montezuma and the triumph of good over evil. Matachines groups can be found in Mexico, as well as Northern New Mexico and border towns. This weekend's event marks the first time groups from all over the state will meet and perform at the same location. Dances take place every hour from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the Plaza Mayor both days. For more info, visit www.nhccnm.org.
The release of New Mexican comic Dead in Desemboque
By Amy Dalness
E. Robert Arellano recalls the arrival of the bookstore in Desemboque, Mexico, with clarity. Once a week, a road-worn pickup truck would drive up the road, he says, and the townsfolk would trumpet: "The bookstore's here! The bookstore's here!" The truck stopped and the back opened, revealing stacks of ratty little books called historietas—popular Mexican comics read by millions each month.
Pardon my French—mostly because it sucks—but zut, zut et zut! And by that I mean Chef Jean-Pierre Gozard is making damn fine crêpes over on Candelaria and San Pedro. (Not an exact translation, but you get the idea.)
In March, after a fine afternoon in San Francisco, I was riding a train back to Alameda when I started feeling sick. At first I thought it was the maiden stage of a migraine, but later when the headache subsided and the nausea surfaced, I knew it was something else. I had dined at a vegan restaurant before boarding the train, where my red curry dish was tainted with fake chicken I didn't order. I scornfully ate around the mystery “meat”: What resulted wasn’t pretty.