The gloom of recession is everywhere, and the holidays, rather than providing a respite from the powerful reality of the financial crisis, may seem to exacerbate it. People are losing their jobs. Bindles are replacing briefcases. It ain’t pretty out there.
The Advent calendar tells no lies--Christmas is two weeks away. With so many stockings left to stuff, there's no time to waste driving all over town. Put the brakes on frantic holiday free-for-alls, and take the Alibi's tour of walkable shopping in a neighborhood near you.
Blak Rino owner Sam Oden says his store caters to the male and female punk, goth, hip-hop and skater crowds. His vintage T-shirts, designer handbags, and new and used threads are decidedly youth-oriented. Next door, the Pink Rhino has a similar college-age demographic, but with less goth garb and more trade-in clothing.
Simple and gorgeously cast, Nambé has been handmade in Santa Fe since the '50s. Though Nambé products may seem intimidatingly expensive, this shop offers limited-edition ornaments for only $22. Many other small household items made in the signature long-lasting silvery alloy remain in the two-digit range. Luz also carries candles, crystal and etched glass products.
Kam Langdon says it's always been her dream to own a flower shop. From the first burst of fresh air that welcomes you to her cheerfully airy boutique, the experience of buying flowers here is as pleasurable as receiving them. Langdon's style is modern and made-to-order, which has won her contracts with clients like Sandia Casino, Nob Hill Bar & Grill and Heart & Soul salon. Flower vases in many chic styles, sizes and colors run about $8 apiece, and the shop delivers all over the city with a $35 minimum order.
Entering this distinctive decorative shop is like walking into a 128-count box of Crayolas. Hand-painted wooden shelves and cabinets featuring original Southwestern designs line the walls. Bright ceramic crosses are mounted next to chromatic metal key hooks. Kaleidoscopic wind chimes glitter in the windows. Handmade beadwork purses, necklaces and bracelets add to the rainbow of color-coordinated options.
The name "Kelly Jo Designs" is appropriate, because that's exactly what Kelly Jo does. She designs. In fact, she designed all of the what-must-be thousands of ceramic items in her store (which are then made and painted with the help of local artists). She also just designed a red-and-white, old world-themed dining set for Nordstrom, which you can find among her stock. Her array of vases, boxes, coasters, jewelry, soaps and dining accoutrements are reasonably priced and begging to be wrapped with big satin bows.
A solid, well-designed garlic press makes a surprisingly fantastic holiday gift for the right person. As does a salad spinner. Or a Krups manual pump espresso machine. Las Cosas is teeming with cookware to knock any chef (or professional water boiler) off your list pronto. Who doesn't need a taco rack? Really.
New Mexico-based production company Galle Ceddo Projects recently received a filmmaking grant from the prestigious Sundance Documentary Fund. Sembene: Revolutionary Artist, by Samba Gadjigo and Santa Fe’s Jason Silverman, is one of only 20 documentary finalists selected from more than 800 applications. In fact, Sembene was one of just six projects by first-time filmmakers to make the cut. The film-in-progress revisits the life and work of Ousamane Sembene, the Senegalese filmmaker who almost singlehandedly created African cinema. Gadjigo is a well-known African-American and African Studies professor and wrote the definitive biography of Sembene. Silverman is director of the Cinematheque at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe.
Melancholy hyperlink drama shows off the ties that bind
By Devin D. O’Leary
With a handful of strong releases under his belt (1998’s Short Sharp Shock, 2004’s Head-On), German-born Turkish writer/producer/director/actor Fatih Akin has built his rep as an uncompromising, forthright filmmaker. Head-On packed an indelible punch, not because it provided a litany of graphic sex, violence, drug use and suicidal behavior, but because it presented its subjects in such an unvarnished, matter-of-fact manner.
In the region of Catalonia (mostly northeastern Spain, but dipping into parts of France), there is the long-standing Christmas tradition known as El Caganer. Translated politely as “the Pooper,” a caganer is a small ceramic statue of, most often, a small boy squatting down, pants around his ankles, taking a large dump. This defecating icon is hidden amidst a family’s nativity scene, on the mantle or under the Christmas tree. The first Catalonian child to locate the rude statuette crapping next to the Baby Jesus or copping a squat behind the Three Wise Men on Christmas morning gets an extra present.
It’s been the hot topic for months (at least in the Internet’s nerdier sectors): Does NBC’s “Heroes” suck complete rocks at this point? Is it beyond repair? Is it time to finally give up and go back to watching FOX’s “Prison Break”? Until last week, the answer was an unequivocal yes, yes, YES!
Why is the leader of a suspected cult going to trial? Who is UNM’s next football coach? The city is selling what surplus items online? And teachers are asked to do what because the Rio Rancho Public Schools system is broke?
Although it has been three years since my return from Iraq, I am not free of the shadows of war. The memories are insinuated into my life like falling leaves in an endless November, swirling about my feet, catching at my heels, crackling underfoot like small bones. I wake up in silence, a suggestion of desperation and exhaustion hanging in the air like the breath of a hunted animal. I blink to ward off the silence, listening for the sounds of destruction to startle me into wakefulness. But there is only the leaves rustling, swirling, like the edge of a poncho disturbed by rotor wash, revealing an arm, a leg.
You may have noticed that school administrators, their teacher employees and their contract lobbyists were in Santa Fe in early November. They were demonstrating in support of the proposed “reforms” in the public school funding formula, a “reform” now calculated to come with a price tag in excess of $320 million.
Dateline: England—Santa and three of his elves were attacked by disgruntled customers at a holiday theme park. Lapland New Forest, located on the Dorset Hampshire border, promises a magical festive experience. According to the Daily Telegraph, however, the park has received more than 1,300 complaints for its Nativity scene crudely painted on a billboard, its broken ice skating rink and its collection of bored Huskies chained up in a muddy field. Adrian Wood, 49, a worker who resigned from the park, told the newspaper, “Santa was punched by a furious father who had been waiting in line for four hours. He had got to the front only to be told he couldn’t take a picture of his children and that they weren’t allowed to sit on Santa’s lap.” Henry Mears, from Lapland New Forest Limited, admitted his staff has been attacked. “So far about six of our staff—three elves and three security—have been assaulted and all have been verbally abused.” Ivan Hancock, from Dorset County Council’s trading standards department, said, “I’ve never known anything to spark so many complaints in my 20 years of working with three different authorities.” Despite customers attacking Santa and dubbing his theme park “Crapland,” Mr. Mears insisted, “I would like to point out that 95 percent of the people who come to Lapland New Forest are extremely happy with it.”
When it rains, it pours! There are eight album releases--that we know of--planned for this Friday and Saturday, but we just don't have enough ink to cover them all. Consult the music calendar for even more Albuquerque and Santa Fe celebrations.
Vocalist Patti Littlefield and tubaist/didgeridooist Mark Weaver enjoy walking out on a musical limb. Now, with the release of their group’s eponymous CD, Resonance, you can waltz on out there with them whenever you like.
On its second CD, the “twisted folk” duo Charmed—Alicia Ultan and Bambi Wolf—once again take on the darkness and find the light. In 12 original, emotionally powerful songs, Bitter Suite 7 explores love, loss, betrayal, memory’s hauntings, the search for a center, and the promise and sometimes redemptive certainty of love.
Every story needs conflict. For the good to emerge, it must struggle valiantly against the often overwhelming bad. Christmas proves this rule, way back to the beginning. Jesus managed to avoid King Herod's infanticide net, allowing the young lad to grow up and say some stuff and do some things. Kris Kringle faced the perpetually unjolly at every turn and was denied bank loans for reindeer 12 times before securing a U.N. microloan. Don't even get me started on the guy with the mustache who wanted to steal Frosty's hat. Christmas has its share of grumpy baddies, so I welcome you to the Christmas Villain edition of Culture Shock to witness the transformative power of tiny beseeching children on green, miserly Republicans.
These days, even art might need a government bailout
By David Leigh
The students, faculty and staff (myself included, as I work at the college’s Fine Arts Gallery) at the College of Santa Fe are presently waiting to hear the fate of the private school, founded in 1859 by the Lasallian Christian Brothers. Last year’s proposed buyout of the college fell through, and the short of it is that CSF needs a financial partner in order to remain solvent. By the time Christmas rolls around, the college may be on a path to becoming a part of New Mexico Highlands University or UNM, or perhaps on the path to closure—though, I think the latter scenario is doubtful. My vote is that CSF becomes a part of one of the state schools, retaining its continued focus on the arts, which I think is what the community at the college and greater Santa Fe are hoping for as well.
Q: While being especially thankful the other week during "Genocide Appreciation Day," I realized I should also thank you. So thanks, especially for convincing me to grow shallots this year and eat more local food. We feasted on deer tenderloins with our own shallots, garlic, baby arugula and not-our-own mushroom sauce. Pretty much everything else was from our garden, backyard or neighborhood.
The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center on 12th Street is an enormous outreach by the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico. With a mission to "preserve and perpetuate Pueblo culture,” the center houses a museum, theater and gift shop--and the completely renovated Pueblo Harvest Café and Bakery.
The city considers three options for expanding Albuquerque’s recycling program
By Simon McCormack
About 5 percent of the trash the city picks up gets recycled.
Mayor Martin Chavez and the City Council would like to see that number go up, but deciding the best way to make that happen is tricky.
Albuquerque doesn't actually recycle anything itself. Instead, recyclable materials left on the curb are sent to the city's processing facility, where items are sorted, crunched into WALL-E-style bails and shipped out of town to recycling plants.
Here’s one positive result of our economic downturn: Unike previous years, the 2008 Santa Fe Film Festival is short on sellouts, ensuring plenty of tickets for even last-minute visitors. SFFF executive director Jon Bowman admits, “We’re down a tad. It’s not the same level of attendance [as 2007].” Still, the man who helped found the much-respected festival nine years ago notes the “soft sellouts” mean even those who show up late can get tickets to most of the festival’s 115 different programs starting this Wednesday night, Dec. 3, and running through Sunday, Dec. 7. “If you procrastinated, you can wing it,” says Bowman. “Show up, wait in line and you’ll probably get in.”
When it comes to Oscar bait, you can’t go wrong with a biopic: Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland, Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line, Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote, Jamie Foxx in Ray, Adrien Brody in The Pianist, David Strathairn in Good Night, and Good Luck, Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator, Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland, Don Cheadle in Hotel Rwanda, Will Smith in Ali, Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, Geoffrey Rush in Quills, Ed Harris in Pollock, Javier Bardem in Before Night Falls. ... And that’s just the Best Actor nominations since 2000.
Timothy Hutton? Good to see you again. Where you been keeping yourself, man? Lymelife? Reflections? The Alphabet Killer? The Killing Room? When a Man Falls in the Forest? Never heard of ’em. “Kidnapped”? Oh yeah. I meant to watch that, but they yanked it off the air after five episodes. The Last Mimzy? You don’t wanna bring that up, do you? Off the Black? Falling Objects? Heavens Fall? The Kovak Box? Avenger? Stephanie Daley? Nope, not ringing any bells. Yeah, well, you won an Academy Award for Ordinary People. That was cool.
You cannot avoid art this week. I would even dare you to try, if I countenanced such things. This first weekend of December is possibly one of the Albuquerque art scene's busiest of the year, so stuff yourself on the fruit of inspiration.
Designer's Lounge seeks to become a center for the creative crafting community
By Erin Adair-Hodges
As a child, Teresa Romero didn't have the patience to learn how to sew. Her mother, Patty Melvin, a self-described “old-school” seamstress, tried with little success to teach her daughter what she herself had learned from her own mother and grandmother. It wasn't until Romero went to San Francisco's Design Institute, where sewing is required, that she picked it up again. Now, more than a decade later, she's decided to make teaching others how to sew and design her job.
Who started a petition against Gov. Bill Richardson? What kind of punishment could be abolished in New Mexico? Where, oh where to put an arena in Albuquerque? What's the hot item for thieves this season?
Dr. Carlton Huitt tries to move out of the way when the Akita lunges into consciousness. He steps back as one of the dog’s legs makes contact with the bowl full of fluid he just pulled from the dog’s lungs with a large syringe. The container goes airborne, showering the doctor and veterinary technicians as they move quickly to hold the dog in place and keep her from falling off the X-ray stand.
Dateline: Japan—Puzzled zookeepers at the Kushiro Municipal Zoo in Hokkaido have finally figured out why a pair of polar bears intended for breeding have failed to get it on: turns out neither is a lesbian. Since June, Tsuyoshi, a four-year-old “male” polar bear, has been paired with an 11-year-old female partner named Kurumi. Neither showed much romantic interest in the other, leading zookeepers to a belated conclusion. “Observing his behaviors, we got suspicious as to whether or not Tsuyoshi was really a male,” the zoo said in a statement. The zoo put Tsuyoshi under an anesthetic early last month for a gender checkup and determined that he was a she. “I have mixed feelings,” Yoshio Yamaguchi, head of the zoo, told reporters. Tsuyoshi is very popular at the northern Japanese zoological park, and Kyodo News agency reported that zoo officials would not change his name to a female name. Tsuyoshi is a common Japanese name for boys. Experts say when polar bears are young, it is difficult to determine their gender as their long hair covers reproductive organs.
It wouldn't be the holidays in Albuquerque without the New Mexico Jazz Workshop's Yule Struttin' party. Way back since 1992, the state's nonprofit jazz steward has decked the halls with shiny baubles, fine art, food, wine, women and song to put some sparkle in the holidays and a little coin in the organization's cash box. No "Gift of the Magi" corollary here--Yule Struttin' is a win-win for jazz in New Mexico.
Several years ago, NOBUNNY was hoping to travel the country as an animal Elvis impersonator. “I figured I could fill the animal niche since there’s already like a Thai-Elvis and an extreme-Elvis and all that stuff,” he explains.
Drive south along the San Diego shoreline in fall, spin inland toward the breweries of San Marcos and Escondido, grab a pint of double-hopped West Coast IPA at a beach-front pizzeria in Carlsbad and you'll deeply comprehend why Southern California beer tingles: It is the epitome of nature in a bottle, from a place where nature means teal waves and blonde babes.
It might seem a little strange to review frozen dessert when it's, to borrow a phrase common in the Midwest, “colder than a witch's booby in a brass bra.” But hear me out. Seasonally resplendent foods are great, but eventually steaming soups and endless turkey reincarnations get tiring. Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I need to rebel and duck out for some good, holiday-inappropriate chow.
Belen’s Through the Flower Gallery shows Maureen Burdock’s feminist graphic novels
By Lisa Lenard-Cook
When feminist graphic novelist Maureen Burdock says she “can take a bad situation and transmute it with humor and with grace,” she’s being modest. Burdock has managed to find the light side in both incest and femicide. She is one of two winners of Through the Flower Gallery’s Feminists Under Forty juried competition.
Laurent Gruet is an animated character, to say the least. He possesses an unsettling self-assuredness, balanced with a quick grin and easy laugh. He talks fast with a thick French accent while wildly gesturing with his hands. It would be foolish, though, to not look deeper than his surface qualities, because beneath his playful, even boyish, demeanor is an intense man driven by a singular passion: wine.
People the world over know Rudolfo Anaya as the writer that has most eloquently articulated the Chicano experience for other cultures to appreciate. Most famous as the author of Bless Me, Ultima, Anaya is a retired UNM professor and a children’s book author, but few know that he is also an oenophile and wine critic. He's penned a series of wine reviews based on "The 12 Days of Christmas," in which he rated one wine a day. Here's a sample offering, in which this literary doyen clearly expresses the passion and poetry inherent in wine.
There's a saying among wine experts: "TYOP," or trust your own palate. Ultimately, only you can determine what’s good and bad in wine, so read what you can and attend tastings to discover which varietals and styles you like most. You'll figure out what's required for a wine to be above average or stellar along the way. Once you learn the basics, the rest is fairly subjective. Complexity (multidimensional flavors and aromas), balance and finish are what give a good wine its distinguishing characteristics. Over time, you'll be able to determine if a wine is flawed, how to properly pair food with wine, even which importer's products and which winemaker’s styles you have a preference for. You might even learn to identify the regional characteristics of a wine from a particular area.
There are a lot of wine terms the average drinker has to contend with: body, bouquet, legs, nose, yada yada yada. But the most disputed is terroir. Terroir is defined as a group of vineyards (or even vines) from the same region, belonging to a specific appellation, and sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions, grapes and winemaking savoir-faire, which contribute to the specific personality of a wine.
Michael Cooperman'sgenteel approach to demystifying wine
By Joseph Baca
There's much about wine that's open to satire, but no aspect of the industry is more caricatured than the sommelier. Wine experts have always been humorously depicted in popular culture as being erudite and intimidating in their patronizing indifference toward non-experts. The classic depiction of a wine steward is a tall, thin foreigner who belittles you for your lack of politesse.
When it comes to vino, New Mexico has been in the ball game since 1629, when the first vines were planted in Socorro. This was years before the first Napa plantings were even a thought. Before you go jetting off to California’s wine country for your next tasting, investigate the ultra-hip regional wine destinations in your own backyard.
Rumor has it the guv will take over which post in Washington? New Mexico may become home to what kind of controversial facility? What are kids getting high on these days? And which New Mexico industry needs help?
Local sci-fi novelist chats up a real-life space station commander
By Marisa Demarco
Walter Jon Williams found a unusual e-mail in his inbox in August. It was from NASA. Col. Mike Fincke would be lifting off in October, heading to the International Space Station for a four-month stint as its commander. The colonel’s a fan of Williams' work and is reading Implied Spaces—in space.
For six years, Amy Costello covered conflict zones in Africa, genocide in Darfur, child labor in Ivory Coast, AIDS orphans in South Africa. She worked as a correspondent for the BBC's "The World," Public Radio International and WGBH Boston. Ask Costello for a memory, and the story she tells is a curveball.
Is the city looking to hire private contractors to handle some of its recycling? Councilor Michael Cadigan wants to know. He started the Monday, Nov. 17 meeting by questioning Chief Operating Officer Ed Adams about the administration's plans. Adams said the city’s sorting facility is at maximum capacity, and the option's on the table. Cadigan said it would be better for the city to make money off recycling without going through a middleman. Farming the work to private companies, said Councilor Rey Garduño, sounds like privatization to him. Cadigan said he hoped the Council would be included in such a decision before the city signed what would have to be a big contract.
Dateline: Russia—Officials from the Russian Orthodox Church told BBC News that a 200-year-old church was recently stolen. The Church of the Resurrection had stood near the village of Komarovo since 1809. It was still standing in July, but some time in early October, thieves made off with it brick by brick. The disappearance of the historic church was not immediately noticed since it was in an out-of-the-way area and was not being used at the time. Church officials said they had been considering resuming services there. Unfortunately, all that remains now are the foundations and some sections of wall. It is assumed the church was sold off for building materials.
This Thanksgiving weekend, Albuquerque filmmakers David C. Valdez and Philip H.R. Gunn are pulling the curtain back on their crazed feature film debut, Klown Kamp Massacre. The campy horror/comedy will have its world premiere this Friday (10:30 p.m.), Saturday (10:30 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) at Guild Cinema in Nob Hill. According to the filmmakers (who oughta know), Klown Kamp Massacre “masterfully blends gratuitous sex, clown-on-clown violence and fart jokes.” Imagine Friday the 13thwith cream pies and you’re halfway there. The film stars local actors Ross Kelly, Isaac Kappy, Chris Payne, Jared Herholtz, Dan Gutierrez and Tara Hahn and includes a special cameo by Troma Films president Lloyd Kaufman. If blood, boobs and balloon animals aren’t enough to convince you to get out there and support local film, this weekend’s screenings will also feature the very first trailers for Phillip Hughes’ Jigoku and Ryan Denmark’s Romeo and Juliet vs. the Living Dead. Tickets are $8 and are available in advance at the Guild box office (3405 Central NE, 255-1848).
The fact that Transporter 3 is directed by a guy named Olivier Megaton bears repeating. Not only is this guy French, he’s a former graffiti artist and has voluntarily rechristened himself after a high-yield nuclear device. That should give you a fairly clear idea of Transporter 3’s caliber. It’s the bomb, baby! ... If you’re into loud, frantic and aggressively unsubtle cinema, that is.
The average American will be forgiven for not knowing the name Dalton Trumbo. A generation ago, he was the poster child for free speech, unfettered artistic expression and the consequences of government run amok. Today, he at least rates a paragraph (more or less) to himself in most film history textbooks.
Sci-Fi Channel has been struggling with an identity crisis of late. I’m not sure why. It’s all clearly laid out right there in the name. Nonetheless, executives at the cable net seem confused. How else to explain “Extreme Championship Wrestling”? Or the reluctance to greenlight “Caprica”?
As you're reading this, you're most likely somewhere in the process of dealing with food; preparing, digesting, hoarding or reheating. Giving thanks for intangibles such as religious freedom and paid holidays is exhausting, which is reflected in the dearth of stuff going on this week. Once the first weekend of December hits, though, you'll be one busy consumer. So let me encourage you to avail yourself of the calm before the holiday storm (which may or may not be metaphorical) and enjoy these events at a leisurely, sated pace.