Two roiling basins of water press against each other, divided by a two-story-high concrete wall. One side is a gurgling brown mess of chemical dust—it looks like mud soup. But the other side glistens, clear as glass, tempting a dip of the hand.
Farewell, 2008. You were a suspenseful one to say the least, and already your Wikipedia timeline is shaping up like a best-selling novel by Michael Crichton (who, coincidentally, passed away this year). There wasn't a day when some huge and world-shaking event didn't parade through the headlines: financial turmoil, unprecedented bailouts, the extinction of our biggest corporate brands, lipstick-wearing pit bulls, the ongoing war, Hadron Super Colliders, pirates, Chinese earthquakes, Olympic firsts, and a historic election that awarded us both America's first Black president and Gov. Richardson's muy suave beard. You've been a real page-turner, 2008, right up to that Great Presidential Shoeing episode in Iraq (which was my favorite, by the way).
The year 2008 comes to a close, ushering out a mostly fine year at the movie theater. This summer, Marvel’s Iron Man and DC’s Dark Knight duked it out in a giant-sized crossover for superhero supremacy. The winner? Moviegoing audiences, who got two great films. Pixar delivered another winner with the adorable WALL-E. Three-dimensional movies had their best year since The Creature from the Black Lagoon terrorized audiences back in the ’50s. Among the new, higher-tech wave of 3-D flicks: Hannah Montana, Journey to the Center of the Earth and Bolt. Sex and the City made the leap from the small screen and scored a $150 million payday, proving it’s not just teenage boys who buy movie tickets. And a rush of Oscar contenders packed December theaters with critical faves (Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, Frost/Nixon, Doubt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Wrestler, Revolutionary Road).
“Blimey! This ’ere’s a right cock up, I’d say. Innat right, Mr. ’itler?”
By Devin D. O’Leary
If nothing else, the historical action drama Valkyrie proves that Tom Cruise isn’t necessarily a bad actor--but he’s often very poorly cast. Even before it hit theaters, people were starting to suspect something was off about Valkyrie. For starters, director Bryan Singer’s glossy take on Col. Claus von Stauffenberg’s failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler during the waning days of World War II cast celebrated couch-jumper Tom Cruise in the lead role.
“Life is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re gonna get,” intoned Forrest Gump with all the accentuation of a character reciting the tag line from his movie’s poster. Displaying more succinctness and less phony Southern drawl, Benjamin Button says of this mortal coil, “You never know what’s coming for ya.” Though equally obvious in their philosophical tone, both fictional narrators are aiming at the same sweeping, self-actualizing message: That life is an unpredictable affair intended to be lived day to day with much gusto and little regret. ... Hey, as mottos go, it beats “Life sucks, kill yourself.”
So, it’s Dec. 31, 2008. Aside from getting wicked drunk on cheap Champagne, eating way too many stuffed mushrooms and trying to steal an awkward midnight kiss from your next-door neighbor who has two screaming kids but looks surprisingly doable in the glow of your still-standing Christmas tree, what is there for you to look forward to this New Year’s Eve?
As the stock market ping-pongs lamely around this season and the financial doom-and-gloom casts shadows even on a good, old-fashioned night of heavy drinking, we see but one quick fix: beer that's strong, dark and cheap. Easier said then done, right? Some of the fancier American concoctions that fill the "dark" bill--Baltic Porters, artisanal, hand-numbered flasks of Scotch barrel-aged Stouts--can be just as heavy on the wallet. Lately the $3.99 bombers from Firestone Walker--especially its "Robust Porter"--have been drawing us away from the glitzier beer-fridge all-stars. Paying less than $4 for a thick, 650-milliliter bottle of roasty, toasty, squid-ink colored beer nowadays is more satisfying than many finer pleasures.
Walking into Farina is not unlike walking into my own ego. It's shiny and rough at the same time, all angles and pragmatic, utilitarian lines. Modern sophistication is the dominating aesthetic. Yet it’s also playfully submissive, as evidenced by a flat screen TV hung above the bar. It's a total dream.
How many calls is the unemployment office getting every day? What do you have to do to get tasered around here? Why was a Guadalupe County sheriff arrested? Problems plague the first few days of Rail Runner service to Santa Fe.
Most of the Dec. 15 City Council meeting was deferred due to icy roads and snow. The councilors still managed to get a couple things out of the way. The most interesting items—sweeping water conservation measures, sector plan approvals and what to do with all those water-hog city toilets—will be heard sometime in the new year.
Dateline: China—London’s Telegraph reports a Chinese man was struck and killed by a wayward weather rocket—a fact that was not discovered until the man’s body exploded while being cremated. The body of Wang Diange, from the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia, was found in the wreckage of a house where he had been overseeing the wake of a recently deceased family member. As it was raining and thundering at the time, family members concluded Wang had been struck by lightning. Several days later, after his own funeral, Mr. Wang’s body blew up as it was being fed into the cremation chamber, blasting the metal doors from their hinges. When the fire had been put out, the only clue left was a small, twisted piece of metal, which seemed to be the glowing remnant of a screw. A military serial number was found on the metal and a lengthy investigation traced it back to the local weather bureau. The day that Mr. Wang died, the weather bureau had been firing shells into the atmosphere to break up hail in a bid to protect the local tobacco crop. Inside the shells was silver iodide, a chemical that helps break hail into rain. The weather bureau’s own investigation concluded that one shell must have failed to explode, hit the house in which the wake was being held and lodged inside Mr. Wang’s body. As a result of the investigation, the weather bureau paid out a 80,000 yuan (about $15,000) settlement to the Wang family.
The bad news is STOVE is closing. The good news is the space isn't going away--it's getting passed on to the folks of Black Market Goods, an underground traveling gallery (skip to the arts section to read about the details of the handover). The bad news is that means no more (ir)regular live music at 114 Morningside NE. But the good news is the last music event at the East Nob Hill artspace/venue will be a reunion of Albuquerque pirate queens Potty Mouth Sherry's. Relocated bandmate Cassady Fernandez is back in New Mexico for Christmas, and so PMS is rebooting for a quickie. Say “hi” to PMS and “bye” to STOVE as a music venue this Friday, Dec. 26, with Fando and Roñoso. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. and cover's $5.
So, how was your Christmas? What's that? Mom dipped a bit heavily into the egg nog? Yeesh. Oh, your brother was visiting from Seattle—that's nice. And he brought up the time you auctioned off his underwear on the first day of his freshman year? Oooh. Accused you of ruining his life, blaming you for his arson spree? Huh. Well. How was mine, you ask? Pretty much the same, actually. Virtually identical. What's say we get out of the house so we won't be around when those emotional vultures come to pick our bones clean: Let’s go see some art. Even better, let's catch some shows that are wrapping up their run in the next week or so before we miss our chance.
The brief and unpretentious life of an art cooperative
By Marisa Demarco
A long time ago, STOVE founders Naython Williams and Thomas Haag took a guerilla art road trip. The goal: to do street art as they traveled, painting invented superheroes in the places they passed through. "And we couldn't think of anything," Haag says. "Everything is so overdone. It's hard to think of an original idea that still has meaning and holds interest."
By Erin Adair-Hodges, Tom Gibbons and Lisa Lenard-Cook
Good girls love books. And so do bad girls. And boys. Grandmas, too. So it would be a nice idea to reward the bibliophiles in your life for their good (or deliciously bad) behavior over this year with a book that’s right down their alley. They’ll either thank you or spank you for it.
The subject of our “Draw the Head on the TJ Trout” sweepstakes analyzes the entries
By Jessica Cassyle Carr
Among the clicking of typewriters, the bustle of newspeople with transatlantic accents and the hum of our very large and impressive printing press, here at Alibi headquarters we know just as well as anyone that media is serious business. On the other hand, it doesn't take seeing our articles wrapped around a fish carcass for us to also know the media deserves ridicule. Try as we might, constantly deprecating ourselves would verge on masochism, so it's all we can do to mock others and hope they return the favor some day.
Which prominent New Mexican may have been blackmailed? How are criminals coming up with extra holiday dough? Winrock Mall is set to make a big improvement. What makes our state attractive to identity thieves?
Dr. John Fogarty was sure his case was cut and dry.
But after two hours of deliberation on Friday, Dec. 12, the jury pulled the plug on his years-long case against Albuquerque police and the city. The verdict was not in Fogarty's favor.
On March 20, 2003, the day the United States and three other countries invaded Iraq, several hundred citizens demonstrated near the University of New Mexico. "The mood of the crowd was almost festive," Fogarty says. "People were playing music. People were singing and chanting."
Longtime Senator Pete Domenici announced his retirement in October 2007 under the worst of circumstances. He wasn't retiring because of some political scandal; instead, it was something far more tragic. He announced his diagnosis of a fatal brain disease called frontotemporal lobar degeneration.
Dateline: China—A Chinese woman who had not cut her hair in 10 years called police to report that her lengthy locks had been purloined. Xiao Hong, 30, of Siping told the Beijing Evening Post someone cut off her 4-foot braid as she walked out of a shopping mall. “People were squeezing together out the door, and when I stepped out I felt I lost something,” she explained to the newspaper. “I subconsciously touched my hair, but it was gone.” In the past, Xiao said she had been offered the equivalent of $500 for her hair, but refused to sell it.
I have it on good authority that Burning Paradise Video--Albuquerque’s top stop for your more esoteric, cult-oriented video rentals--is liquidating its stock of VHS films. From now through Friday, Dec. 19, you can purchase classic and not-so-classic VHS titles from the store’s extensive selection for a mere $3 a pop. If you’re planning on buying in bulk, you can help BP clear off its shelves by snagging 10 VHS tapes for only $25. What a deal! Get there quick, as hot titles are going fast. Burning Paradise is located at 800 Central SW and can be reached at 244-1161.
Stylish CGI fairy tale is surprisingly complex affair
By Devin D. O’Leary
Last week’s release of the largely unadvertised, mostly unseen and deservedly unloved film Delgo and this week’s release of The Tale of Despereaux point out a hard-and-fast rule of computer-animated films: It takes a great deal of skill to make one. Delgo, a product of Atlanta’s Fathom Studios, opened on 2,160 screens and made all of $511,920. That averages out to about 2 people per screening. Of course, even the highest quality of CGI work can’t cover up for a poor story. Delgo sported neither skill nor story. On the complete, polar opposite hand, The Tale of Despereaux boasts impeccable animation and a delightful story.
Boyle confounds expectations with orphans, torture, game show hosts, romance and musical numbers
By Devin D. O’Leary
Woe to the ambitious journalist, author or film critic who, 30 years from now, tries to write the definitive study of director Danny Boyle’s career. How to summarize a man who’s made a modern film noir (Shallow Grave), a blackly comic look at junkies in Scotland (Trainspotting), an uncategorizable comic crime romance fantasy (A Life Less Ordinary), an exotic thriller about utopian society (The Beach), a ’roid rage zombie movie (28 Days Later...), a quaint family drama about a kid who stumbles across a fortune (Millions), a high-minded space opera that morphs into a slasher film (Sunshine) and a Bollywood-inspired wish-fulfillment drama in which a poor Indian kid gets on the Hindi version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” in order to impress his lifelong ladylove?
Artistic Director Bobby Shew leads the Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra onto higher ground
By Mel Minter
Renowned trumpeter Bobby Shew has come full circle, and the Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra couldn’t be happier about it. For Shew, who returned to the Albuquerque area about two years ago to “retire,” developing a quality jazz orchestra for his hometown is something he first dreamed of as a teenager. For the orchestra, the decision to offer Shew the position of artistic director—the first in the group’s long history—reflected its decision to go to another level.
Christmas is a singular holiday for many reasons—presents, food, flying animals—but the reason it’s such a focal point of the year is that the celebration doesn’t just happen on that one day. Retailers would have you believe that the revelry starts approximately the second Tuesday of November, but it’s really this week that marks the beginning of the holiday. New Mexico has its own special blend of traditions, alternately old, weird and made-up. Even if you celebrate Hanukkah, are French or think that Santa Claus is a Biblical character, avail yourself of the opportunity to enjoy these very New Mexican Christmas traditions.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.