What Obama’s secretary of agriculture pick means for the future of U.S. farming
By Ari LeVaux
When former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack's name first surfaced as a possible secretary of agriculture, it triggered an outcry among progressive foodies. The Organic Consumers Association organized a massive campaign in which 20,000 e-mails opposing Vilsack were sent to the Obama transition team.
Prophecy is as old as civilization itself. For as long as history has chronicled humanity’s adventures, there have been mythologies, omens and divinations to accompany them. It is in that tradition that we bring you the Alibi’s annual Psychic Predictions issue, where we seek local soothsayers and ask them to impart to you their forecast for the coming year. We’ve gathered two psychics, a medicine man, a tarot reader and a couple of folks from the street to give you their readings. We also tried to glean some knowledge from a Magic 8 Ball.
The City Council rang in the new year by tackling an agenda loaded with leftovers. While the Council cleared most of its plate at its Jan. 5 meeting, it deferred once again an ordinance that requires the city to phase out and retrofit wasteful toilets and other plumbing fixtures. Chief Administrative Officer Ed Adams said the city owns between 2,500 and 4,700 water-wasting toilets. Councilor Michael Cadigan introduced this idea months ago as part of a broader water conservation measure, but fellow councilors shied from it. So Cadigan split the ordinance into two separate bills, hoping to at least get the water-greedy toilets dealt with by the end of 2009. Council members still balked at the estimated $750 per toilet replacement cost and sent Cadigan and Adams back to get more accurate numbers and a better plan on how to pay for the project.
We arrived at Laurel's at the stroke of two. Jenn's sister was hosting the second of our two Christmas celebrations. Aside from her mother and half-sister, we would be supping with the exact same people we’d seen 60 minutes earlier at her father’s. I was already exhausted.
I’ve spent much of the past decade searching in vain for solid evidence of psychic powers, investigating claims of “psychic detectives” who profess to have solved cases and found missing persons. I’ve tested psychics who allege they know the future and communicate with the dead. So far, the evidence has fallen far short of the claims.
Dateline: Sweden—A 33-year-old man’s attempt to impress his girlfriend backfired when he wound up in the hospital with serious burns. The woman told police in Västervik, in southeastern Sweden, that her boyfriend had poured gasoline over his arm and set it on fire. “It obviously didn’t go well. He burned his arm and other parts of his body and was in a state of shock,” Kalmar police spokesperson Reine Johansson told the TT news agency. “Don’t ask me what the point of the trick was supposed to be.” Following the failed stunt, the unnamed man was taken to a nearby hospital. Police are considering charging the man with negligence that endangers the public.
Pato Banton was born in a home plagued by violence.
When his family separated, Banton and his five siblings were placed in government care. It took more than two years for his mother to get all her children back under one roof. "It wasn't ideal," Banton understates. "There were times I can remember that I went to look for food in the cupboard and there wasn't any."
In those economically oppressive times, Banton found solace in music. "For a young kid in England who didn't really stay in school very often, music was really my only escape," Banton says. "It was what I knew."
This Friday, Jan. 9, the historic El Rey Theater (622 Central SW) will host its monthly Movies and Music party. Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda’s New Mexico-shot counterculture classic Easy Rider (1969) will be screened starting at 8 p.m. Following the film, local jam bands Liquid Gypsy and The Goatheads will perform live. Tickets are $7 at the door. This is a 21-and-over event.
Chilly French drama leaves viewers waiting for the thaw
By Devin D. O’Leary
It’s British actress Kristin Scott Thomas’ face that haunts the Gallic export I’ve Loved You So Long (Il y a longtemps que je t’aime). The film’s poster is a close-framed shot of Thomas’ face, classically beautiful as always, but pale of skin and drained of fathomable emotion. What’s going on in the bottomless well of those eyes? It’s a question that lingers past the movie theater lobby and well into the film at hand.
Lovely and confusing art film fights its way back into theaters
By Devin D. O’Leary
Back in 1994, Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai took a stab at creating a new wave wuxia film, a classic martial arts chivalry pic reimagined as abstract art. Wong had just come off a career-defining run of As Tears Go By, Days of Being Wild and Chungking Express (which was actually written, cast, shot and released during a break in Ashes’ lengthy editing process). Nonetheless, Ashes of Time ended up a mostly misunderstood and largely ignored curiosity piece. Wong went on to helm more successful films like Fallen Angels, Happy Together and In the Mood for Love. But something about Ashes of Time stuck with the filmmaker. Now, 15 years after its initial release, Wong has returned to contemplate his noble failure with Ashes of Time Redux.
Doctor Who?—Producers of the BBC’s revitalized “Doctor Who” series have announced their replacement for current star David Tennant. The 11th actor to take on the role of the time-traveling Doctor is 26-year-old unknown Matt Smith. The gangly, tousle-haired Smith looks like he’s in an emo band, and his hiring could be seen as a rather blatant move to court today’s tween-age Twilight crowd. Producers claim he’s the right man for the job, though, and the strength of the new “Doctor Who” has rested mostly on its clever, up-to-date writing. Unfortunately, the show’s executive producer, Russell Davies, will be leaving the show along with Tennant. Taking over is new head man Steven Moffat (who gave us BBC hits “Coupling” and “Jekyll”). Tennant and Davies took it pretty easy in their last season, delivering a handful of seasonal “specials,” which are expected to air stateside in 2009. The Smith-centric season of “Doctor Who” should hit our airwaves in 2010.
This Sunday sees a host of interesting literary events that, unfortunately, take place at the same time. Can you make all of them? Probably not, and certainly not without the unethical use of time travel. But go to one, tell friends to go to the others and then celebrate the fact that we're a community that's able to support concurrent readings.
Directed by Becca HolmesStarring Demet Vialpando and Nick Lopez
Ka-HOOTZ’s first production at Aux Dog is the regional premiere of The True History of Coca-Cola in Mexico, a work Holmes believes is a perfect fit for Albuquerque. It follows two young filmmakers as they travel through Mexico to document what they see as the corrosive influence of American capitalism on Mexican culture. In the process of capturing this exploitation, they themselves exploit a people they know little about beyond assumptions and stereotypes.
Ka-HOOTZ Theatre Company is the brainchild of playwrights Lou Clark and Clareann Despain. After graduating with MFAs from UNM, they realized that the opportunity to have their work staged locally was less than abundant. Clark wanted to create a space for the work she loved, work that was seeing the stage in other cities but was going unproduced here. “How can I make that happen?” she asked. “I'd produced over a hundred new plays in the past five or six years, so I thought if I can do it for all these other people, I can do it for me and I can do it for my friends. Help other like-minded people.” So in 2007, Ka-HOOTZ was born with the mission to “focus on new work by living writers.”
Local librarians and independent booksellers give you the skinny on books to refresh your cold, cold heart
By Erin Adair-Hodges
It’s early January, which means you’ve probably identified several areas for self-improvment. But don’t rely solely on yourself to guide you through your reawakening, because let’s face it, you need the help. Thankfully, we have experts to recommend tomes to light the way. Many thanks to all the respondents, who collectively have read approximately 24 million books and have taken the time to help you start your new year off on a hopeful note.
An American Carol You know what poor, beleaguered right-wing demagogues needed this fall? A petty, liberal-bashing, slapstick parody of A Christmas Carol from the guy who made Airplane! With a cameo by Bill O'Reilly!
Now in their 17th year, the P.U.-litzer Prizes recognize some of the nation’s stinkiest media performances. As the judges for these annual awards, we do our best to identify the most deserving recipients of this unwelcome plaudit.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Every year—from Dr. Zhivago to The English Patient—there’s got to be a “Top 10” space for some epic, sweeping, visually seductive romance. That slot falls, this year, to David Fincher’s lush, effects-filled take on a F. Scott Fitzgerald short story. Take it apart, and it seems like too much about too little. Aging backwards is nothing new. Technically, Robin Williams did that on “Mork & Mindy”--the show just didn’t go on long enough to show us the tragic end of that particular romance. But look at the cumulative effect of this film’s slowly rising tide of detail: Brad Pitt’s soulful performance, the carefully burnished cinematography, the deathly symbolism, the matter-of-fact fantasy, the inevitable melancholic outcome. Surrender to the sad beauty of it all and you get a dramatic, eloquent, highly artistic rumination on the uncertainty of life and the inevitability of death.
The seemingly endless Writers Guild of America strike finally came to a halt in February, causing near-irreparable damage to this year’s television schedule. Most series ended up with truncated seasons (“Lost,” “Desperate Housewives”) or a complete delay until 2009 (“24,” “Battlestar Galactica”). Many of the shows that did manage to make it back on the air in the fall returned to double-digit drops in viewership courtesy of their nine-month hiatus.
In late 2008, the New Mexico Book Co-op revealed the winners of the New Mexico Book Awards in a number of categories, ranging from adventure to New Age. In this time of hardship and privation, won't you consider making your next book purchase a local one? A state can only handle so many starving artists, and New Mexico is pretty full up. Here is a terribly brief sample of the award recipients and your potential new book-friends:
Top picks by a washed-up, used-to-be arts editor by no means create an immutable list of the best art events of 2008. My initial list was about 30 deep, and trimming it down to 10 was quite an exercise, but it had to be done. So here they are, my top 10 picks for 2008 in no particular order.
At first, it all seemed to come together beautifully, a near-miracle of synchronicity: President-elect Obama picked Bill Richardson for a cabinet post in the new administration. When our governor agreed to become the next U.S. secretary of commerce, we all assumed he’d quickly leave the governor’s position two years before the end of his term, just as a new year, a new Legislature and a new budget crisis would all turn up in Santa Fe, ready to confront a new governor.
Dateline: Saudi Arabia—An 8-year-old girl who was married off by her father to a 58-year-old man has been told by a Saudi court she’s too young to get a divorce. Lawyer Abdu Jtili said the divorce petition was filed by the unnamed girl’s divorced mother in August after the marriage contract was signed by her father and the groom. The judge dismissed the plea because the mother did not have the right to file. He recommended the girl refile the petition herself once she reaches puberty. Relatives of the girl said the marriage had not been consummated and that the girl was still living with her mother. The case was handled by a court in Qasim province, north of the Saudi capital Riyadh. Mr. Jtili told the AFP news agency that he would appeal the judge’s decision.
The list kept growing. When we finished flipping through the Alibi's 2008 calendar and editorial archives, the number we were left with shocked us. From our count, local musicians released 55 albums in ’08--slightly more than one album a week. That has to be a record (excuse the pun). With so much to choose from, coming to a consensus on the 10 best Albuquerque-born albums went out the window. So it's with no ranking (other than alphabetical) that the Alibi's music critics sound off on their favorite local releases from the past year. Please buy them. You'll be guaranteed at least another year's worth of listening pleasure. (Laura Marrich)
For centuries, it has captivated humans and gods. It's been associated with worship, commerce, romance and comfort. But why has it so completely seduced the world? Just what's so special about chocolate?
The Year of Empty Cupboards--The sinking economy and rising gas prices that raged throughout most of 2008 affected our pantries as much as our pocketbooks. Thirty-seven countries faced food crises, aided by shrinking food reserves and severe weather.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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."