A developmentally delayed man files suit against the system that put him behind bars for three years
By Marisa Demarco
The day started like any other. Christina Romero's nephew, 20-year-oldRobert Gonzales, was heading to West Mesa High School to say hi to his girlfriend. "I told him, ‘OK. Be back pretty soon so we can go to the store,’ ” Romero says. "I never even got to do that."
What legislation was turned into links, and what was left as greasy globs of guts? The session’s over, but Gov. Bill Richardson hasn’t taken action on everything that made it to his desk. We'll keep you in the loop as things progress by adding updates here.
Descansos are the roadside memorials that pepper our state. The word “descanso” comes from the Spanish word meaning “to rest” (as in a resting place, either a final one for a body or a temporary one for pallbearers making their way to a grave). Roadside memorials are both traditional and popular in the Southwest. Albuquerque Journal columnist Leslie Linthicum noted Dec. 21, 2008,that “the decorated crosses that dot our highways, marking the place where a soul left this earth in a car crash, are high on my list of what makes New Mexico the best place to live.”
Dateline: Australia—An Australian state minister has lodged a complaint after a city councilor put forward a motion to buy her a sex toy. Sydney Councilor Danny Lim lodged the motion to buy a "vibrator" for New South Wales Fair Trading Minister Virginia Judge. He wanted to encourage her to "stop screwing with the people of Strathfield and screw herself instead," reported the Australian Daily Telegraph. The Council refused to table the motion, but Ms. Judge has lodged a complaint calling for action against Mr. Lim. Lim admitted to the incident and said he had been behind a series of corruption allegations against Ms. Judge—claims that have been rejected. "The pattern of harassment and verbal abuse is intimidating and upsetting to me and my family," Ms. Judge said.
Last week, Secretary of Education Dr. Veronica C. García and State Historian Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez announced a film and photography contest for ninth-grade students in New Mexico. Students are encouraged to create an “original film or photomontage that relates a traditional trade or career to a community’s past.” These short film/video/photography projects should also aim to document the education and technology necessary to preserve that trade in the future. Suggested trades for students to document include farming, ranching, construction, weaving and the arts. The deadline for submissions is May 1. Although it sounds suspiciously like extra-credit homework, the four best entries will be selected and those schools will each receive a digital camera package. Student films will also be considered for inclusion in the Office of the State Historian’s Digital History Project, and the best projects will be included in a DVD for use by the Public Education Department and schools as a teaching tool. Not too shabby, really. For more information, go to ped.state.nm.us/press/2009/20090202-filmProjectStep1.pdf.
Amy Adams and Emily Blunt work hard for the money in offbeat dramedy
By Devin D. O’Leary
That the new dramedy Sunshine Cleaning comes to theaters courtesy of “the producers of Little Miss Sunshine” will be of little surprise to those who end up watching both films. Aside from the titular noun, the films share a similar dysfunctional family ethic, a near-identical maudlin sense of humor, the same Duke City setting and crotchety old actor Alan Arkin.
San Francisco, Calif. ... Gently nestled among the hipster coffeehouses, overpriced hotels and streets teeming with homeless poets sits the Moscone Center, a stark-white building erected in 1981 that serves as geek Mecca over the course of three caffeine-and-comic-book-fueled days. Every year, thousands of eager collectors and fans gather here to worship at the feet of popular culture at the annual WonderCon, the smaller cousin to San Diego’s gigantic Comic-Con. During a visit to WonderCon in late February, I had the pleasure of meeting David Gregory, president of Severin films, a DVD label based out of the U.K. that specializes in the distribution of classic Euro-sleaze titles. Personally, I’ll take the softcore antics of Emmanuelle over a major studio crapfest any day of the week, so David was a pretty easy guy for me to get along with. And I was surprised to discover that Severin’s latest offering is the amazing three-disc set of Inglorious Bastards, a great WWII “men on a mission” flick from 1978.
In what must go down in history as one of the most misguided attempts to come up with a newer, “hipper” image, the Sci Fi Channel is changing its name. Starting July 7, the longtime cable network will be known as ... drum roll, please ... SyFy! Yeah. Exactly. Huh?
This week, Albuquerque’s The Porter Draw celebrates its first recording. Trouble sometimes races, is sometimes slow and measured, is always at least a little forlorn. The album is a cross-country journey marked by excellent playing, refined harmonies and run-ins with the law. Formed in the summer of ’07 as a three piece, The Porter Draw is now comprised of Ben Wood, Josh Gingerich, Vince Edgerton, Russell Pyle and Mojo Atzberger. The bluegrass-y quintet, named after a Colorado off-ramp, e-mailed us answers to a few questions.
Top local musicians come to the rescue as the Outpost hosts five benefit concerts
By Mel Minter
A few weeks back, Tom Guralnick, executive director and resident visionary at the Outpost, was onstage introducing David Sánchez when he mentioned that the internationally recognized saxophonist had appeared at the Outpost previously. He couldn’t remember when, though.
Aristeia injects Amped (4200 Lomas NE) with a dose of Portland experimental shoegaze on Saturday, March 28. Locals Poema, Shekinah and Authors & Illustrator bring the rubbing alcohol. The show’s $3 and all-ages as ever. (Laura Marrich)
Though Weyrich Gallery is a small space, it presents work intended to surpass limits. Weyrich's focus is harmony. The gallery shows handmade jewelry, photography, etchings, hand-painted silk and mixed media. The gallery also carries ceramics and specializes in Japanese-style porcelain.
Though we've had a mild, even meteorologically boring, winter, that doesn't dampen the excitement at spring's arrival. Humans have always celebrated the thaw and bud of spring, mostly by dancing around in circles of some sort. Tune in to your tribal essence and celebrate spring with song and dance and venturing to San Francisco and the insertion of flowers in your hair.
Talking family with Sweet Nata author Gloria Zamora
By Lisa Lenard-Cook
Because Gloria Zamora is one of my own former writing students, Sweet Nata’s publicationgives me special joy. But despite the thrill of seeing her memoir in print, it’s been a difficult winter for Gloria. Only five months ago, Mike, her husband of 33 years, died suddenly while cutting wood in the Jemez. Still stung by this loss, Gloria chose not to change her biography on the back of the book; it states that she lives with her husband in Corrales.
The path to growing your own food is lined with good seed catalogs
By Ari LeVaux
Gardening season starts when you open your first seed catalog in the dead of winter, and it doesn’t end until you’ve dug your last carrot, plucked your final Brussels sprout or eaten your last pickled pepper of the season.
A few miles from New Mexico, the border town is struggling for normalcy amid a drug war, corruption and exodus
By Maren Tarro
Walking through downtown Juárez, only steps from the border, Maria Vargas is unable to conceal her frustration and sadness. Where tourists and shoppers once crowded stalls and stores, heavily armed and masked Mexican troops now patrol. Shopkeepers lean in doorways, wariness at the edges of their eyes, their businesses deserted and hushed. The playful bargaining between customers and store owners is missing, along with the laughter and conversation that once spilled from restaurants and cantinas.
NMSU student uses poetry to fill in the blanks left by sparse reporting on the drug war
By Maren Tarro
Naomi Ruth Estrada, a 27-year-old English major at NMSU, was frustrated with the national media’s sparse reporting on Mexico’s violent drug war. So she put pen to paper last year to write "Speak a Stupid Brave," a poem using clips from articles she received through "Frontera NorteSur"e-mail updates. "Frontera"is an NMSU-based newsletter focusing on border issues.
Peace group cited for dishing up meals for the homeless without a permit
By Simon McCormack
A short line of young adults forms in front of a table covered with platters of cake, fruit salad, soup and bread. A few folks sit on the steps near the UNM Bookstore, noshing on their midday snacks while a man shouts, “Come have some free food.”
Something finally passed this session. Gov. Bill Richardson signed Rep. Gail Chasey’s controversial death penalty repeal into law on Wednesday, March 18, calling it the "most difficult decision" of his political career. According to the ACLU, 130 inmates on death row were proven innocent and released in the last 30 years. New Mexico is now the 15th state with no death penalty. (CC)
Dateline: Indonesia—Fundamentalist anti-porn protesters are threatening to ban a traditional Indonesian folk dance because it allows female dancers to expose their “erotic” underarms. West Java Governor Ahman Heryawan has warned practitioners of the jaipong dance—performed at official ceremonies and cultural festivals—to tone down their sexy moves and hide their underarms. Islamic parties in the multi-island nation are targeting the dance ahead of April general elections, after Parliament passed a controversial anti-porn law in December. “The worry is that once the anti-porn bill is fully implemented, the dance may be banned because it’s too erotic,” a senior leader of the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party told Agence France-Presse. Outraged professional dance groups have called on Indonesians to teach the protesters a lesson at the ballot box come April. “What are they talking about?” Mas Nanu Muda of the Jaipong Care Community said. “The dancers are all covered up in long-sleeved traditional kebayas, not sexy tubes.” Bandung Tourism and Culture Office Chief M. Askary Wirantaatmadja admits, “Without shaking or gyrating, you can’t call it jaipong. I don’t consider it erotic, titillating or lustful. That’s all in the mind.”
It has been a surprising week with Councilors Debbie O’Malley and Michael Cadigan dropping out of the mayoral race. Both said it would be impossible to collect the more than 3,280 petition signatures and $5 donations required by the end of the month to qualify for public election financing. Those who qualify will get about $328,000 to run their campaigns.
The Arts Alliance Gallery primarily features exhibits from local and state artists and craftsmen, grouped by medium or artistic societies. Past exhibits showcased work from New Mexico Wood Turners, New Mexico Bead Society and New Mexico Silk Painters Guild. The space, located on the corner of Lomas and San Mateo, also hosts receptions and meetings for Albuquerque art organizations. Till the end of March, the 1,500 square-foot gallery hosts "Beyond the I: From the Personal to the Cosmic," featuring work by New Mexico and Arizona artists from the Society of Layerists in Multi-Media. The Albuquerque-founded society shares the commonality of the holistic ability art across all mediums. The gallery's April exhibit is the work the New Mexico Polymer Clay Guild. The juried show opens Friday, April 3 and will feature polymer clay jewelry and art.
Last week, President Obama touched upon some of his plans to address our country's increasingly disastrous education system. What garnered the bulk of the attention was the proposal of tying teacher pay to performance. Most teachers find this idea anathema, and many outside of education don't understand why. In the business world, it's easy to quantify someone's performance: It's all in the numbers. Education, however, cannot be run like a business, even though that’s been the trend for the past 15 years. The problem is: How is a teacher's worth determined? If it's solely tied to student performance, then good teachers who inherit struggling students could be penalized and poor teachers in good school systems rewarded. And what students have learned doesn't always show up in a test taken that same school year; it emerges over time as they learn to synthesize the information and skills into their lives.
Gov. Richardson sent out his annual call for entries to the New Mexico Filmmakers Showcase. The 2009 showcase is a series of free public screenings designed to expose and celebrate the work of New Mexico filmmakers. This four-day event offers local writers and directors a chance to have their short or feature-length film shown publicly on the big screen at Guild Cinema in Albuquerque. Screenings will be free to the public, and there is no entry fee to submit. Narrative, documentary, animated and experimental films are welcome. The Guild will accept a total of 30 hours of films on a first-come, first-served basis. Deadline for entries is Friday, April 3. Entry forms are available at the Guild Cinema box office (3405 Central NE) or online at nmfilm.com. The showcase will take place May 14 through 17. If you’re a filmmaker looking to get some exposure, here’s your chance. Get on it!
Directory Kelly Reichardt follows last year’s much-praised indie Old Joy with the tonally similar Wendy and Lucy. Like Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy is a contemplative tale of relationships. Though the former film told the story of two out-of-touch friends reunited for a camping trip, the latter explores the connection between a rambling woman and her loyal pooch.
Nonsensical thriller mixes supernatural, science, science fiction, religious prophecy, Nicolas Cage, whatever was on hand
By Devin D. O’Leary
Warning: This review contains spoilers. Seriously. Lots of them. I don’t normally give out spoilers. Studios hate when reviewers do that. So do a lot of moviegoers. But I simply can’t insult the new techno-supernatural-whatsis thriller Knowing without giving away its few meager secrets. If you really want to see Knowing, I suggest you spend your 10 bucks on 10 Big Beef Burritos at Taco Bell or give it to charity or throw it in a wishing well—something useful instead. If you really, really want to see Knowing, I suggest you stop reading this review right now.
Last year’s crippling Writers Guild strike signaled an end to TV’s traditional pilot season. Stuck with sagging ratings and crummy shows, however, the networks are scrambling to come up with new product for fall 2009. It’s hard to guess which of these shows will actually make it onto the air, but here’s a quick sampling of the star-studded series pilots shooting in Hollywood (and elsewhere).
Sorry, even this tale of post-hardcore math rock is about the economy.
In late February, Chicago’s deified Touch and Go Records announced the closure of its distribution operations, squeezing off a vital route for indie bands and smaller labels that depended on Touch and Go to spread their sounds. The label is not just a business but a trusted brand invested with the credibility of treasured albums by bands such as The Jesus Lizard, Slint and TV on the Radio. Listen and you’ll hear the whooshing sound of opportunity deflating.
Brian Cook, bassist for These Arms Are Snakes, recognizes the significance of the collapse of the indie rock distribution powerhouse. TAAS—a Seattle outfit that manufactures a hybrid of shrieking punk and wonky prog metal—will release a 7-inch split record with All the Saints distributed by Touch and Go before the distribution arm is severed.
CrazyFool releases its third album, Corruption Rock, on vinyl, CD and MP3 this week. Preview the funky madness at the Launchpad on Friday, March 20, as the band plays an all-ages show with La Junta, Fighting Chance and El Mono Sucio. Then stick around for the 21+ after show with Felonious Groove Foundation and Fantastic Planet. The music starts at 8 p.m., and cover’s $7. (Laura Marrich)
With America’s Hispanic population poised to eclipse the white population any day now, it’s pretty cool to see a full-service Hispanic-focused supermarket chain. Pro’s Ranch Market started as a family store determined to meet the needs of an ever-evolving Latin community and has grown into a chain with locations in California, Arizona, Texas and now New Mexico.
This weekend, on a testosterone-heavy desert camping sojourn, our friend Spencer enlightened us about a high school epiphany he once had: that Salsa Verde Doritos and a 20-ounce Coca-Cola are the "perfect combination" of flavors.
UNM students must wait years to get campus child care
By Simon McCormack
Monnica Garcia says she lucked out.
After she became pregnant, she hopped on the waiting list for UNM’s Children’s Campus for Early Care and Education while she was still in high school. A year and a half later, her son’s name was called. Garcia enrolled him at the daycare center just in time to start taking classes at UNM in 2002.
Over the years Albuquerque, like much of America, has seen both the slow fade and outright demolition of untold pieces of culture. Buildings rise and fall, eras come and go, and in the midst of it we shrug off the history like wheezy, archetypal grandpa stories of walking to school in the snow.
You want to bring a gun in to a restaurant that sells alcohol? The Senate's OK with that. A bill sponsored by Democratic Sen. George Munoz and backed by the National Rifle Association was passed by the Senate and is on its way to the House. Opposing lawmakers balked at allowing patrons to carry concealed weapons into family restaurants where liquor is served.
Councilor Michael Cadigan called out Mayor Martin Chavez and his administration for not issuing a public statement about the 13 bodies excavated from the mesa. Councilor Ken Sanchez said he spoke to Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz about the situation, and the chief is willing to keep the Council updated. Councilor Trudy Jones gave a shout-out to Schultz, who was sitting in on the meeting, and requested an update right then and there. Chief Schultz declined, saying he would prefer to talk with the councilors about the case in a one-on-one setting out of public view.
Remember last November, when it slowly began to dawn on us poor sap taxpayers that the hundreds of billions of dollars of public money the federal government had poured into the bailout of our failing multinational financial industry was going nowhere but into the bankers’ pockets and their corporate lockboxes?
Dateline: Australia—Police in Queensland were called out to a “mini-riot” after a man refused to take off his clothes at a notorious nudist colony’s sex party. Police were summoned amid threats of violence and ordered John Harrison of Brisbane and his wife to leave the “anything goes” orgy, reports the Courier-Mail. The incident happened at the White Cockatoo resort, near Port Douglas, which is promoting a month of “adults only” hedonism to boost sagging tourism figures. Owner Tony Fox said the row erupted when four naked female guests protested when confronted by the fully clothed man. “They felt uncomfortable with him eyeing them up, and I asked him to show some respect and take his clothes off,” said Fox. “He then threatened to bash me. There was some argy-bargy and I ordered him off the premises and police were called.”
Puppeteers practice an ingenious breed of artistry that blends playfulness, resourcefulness and beauty to practical ends. That's a fancy way of saying "Puppeteers are my favorite." Michael McCormick is a native New Mexican who's built puppets, masks and props for The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Star Wars: Episode VI—Return of the Jedi. He'll show his personal and commercial work and reconstruct part of his studio space at the William Platz Gallery in the Art Center Design College (5000 Marble NE). The exhibit will be on display through Friday, April 17, and the gallery is open on Thursdays from 2 to 7 p.m., Fridays from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The de la Torre Brothers’ Meso-Americhanics at the National Hispanic Cultural Center
By David Leigh
When nine-months pregnant M.I.A. performed at the Grammy Awards a few weeks ago, it seemed a real possibility that she could have her baby on stage while Jay-Z, Kanye West, T.I. and Lil Wayne danced around the afterbirth. And while the big-bellied Sri Lankan/British artist sang vocals on “Swagga Like Us,” with a riff from her 2008 hit “Paper Planes,” it felt like it could happen.I wanted it to happen.
ArtStreet’s Synergy: Word + Visual Art + Printmaking
By Erin Adair-Hodges
Community is a word that gets thrown around a lot in the art world—how art brings community together, how community fashions dialogue, etc. It gets so much play that its meaning can be lost or rendered redundant. But the thing is, ArtStreet is really, really about community.
Some foods punish with criminal flavor, but are they unethical?
By Maren Tarro
Albuquerque’s public school lunch menu made national headlines when it was announced that children with outstanding lunch bills would be treated to cheese sandwiches until their parents paid up. Parents were outraged, claiming it was insulting and humiliating for their precious darlings to be served such pedestrian fare. Others questioned whether it was fair to punish students for their parents' oversight.
From the people who brought you Hamlet the Vampire Slayer (no, really) comes Romeo & Juliet vs. The Living Dead. On Friday, March 13, Guild Cinema will host the premiere screening of this locally shot horror comedy. The film is directed by Ryan Denmark and stars Hannah Kauffmann, Jason Witter, Mark Chavez, Kate Schroeder, Kevin R. Elder and a whole host of familiar Albuquerque actors. Screenings will be at 7 and 9 p.m. and are absolutely free. Seating is limited, though. If you haven’t already sent your RSVP, you might be SOL. Give it a shot, though, by sending a request for tickets to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can’t get in, you can at least scope out the trailer by logging on to thirdstarfilms.com. Congratulations, by the way, to all involved for another successfully completed local indie feature!
In the years since its publication (1986 to be exact), writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons’ groundbreaking graphic novel Watchmen has become something of a holy writ of illustrated lit. Referred to as The Catcher in the Rye of comic books, Watchmen has become a necessary right of passage for anyone who claims to love the superhero genre and arguably the most important point of reference (Frank Miller’s Batman:The Dark Knight Returns being the other contender) among nerdy intelligentsia. So it is with both crushing trepidation and manic anticipation that fans have awaited director Zack Snyder’s filmic adaptation.
Not a fan? These are not the droids you’re looking for.
By Devin D. O’Leary
Arriving a full three years after it was shot here in New Mexico and with all the attendant timeliness of a Jennifer Wilbanks joke (oh, how quickly we forget), Fanboys finally stumbles into Albuquerque theaters. Aimed squarely at the titular demographic, the film is a genial love letter to Star Wars geekdom disguised as a mildly raunchy road movie.
The late-night airwaves are going through a major sea change, at least on NBC. After a run of nearly 17 years on “The Tonight Show,” Jay Leno is making a rather surprising move, bringing his mainstream-America style of chat show to NBC’s prime time lineup five nights a week. That means that Conan O’Brien is getting bumped up a slot, abandoning “Late Night” and taking over Leno’s old gig as host of “The Tonight Show.” (That’s scheduled to take place later this summer.) Of course, that historic changing of the guard leaves a power vacuum back on David Letterman’s former “Late Night” haunt. As a result, NBC executives have reached into their network talent pool and plucked Jimmy Fallon from “Saturday Night Live” (a gig he gave up in 2006). Fallon debuted on “Late Night” last week to generally solid numbers (his first show beat time slot rival Craig Ferguson by 35 percent) and kind (if not exactly glowing) reviews.
Take your vitamins and go out. Quite a few of the bands you'll see padding out local lineups in the coming weeks are on their way to or from SXSW in Austin, and that means a concentrated froth of bigger, better, weirder touring acts than what usually rambles through town. You can't afford to stay home.
OK, so it’s time again for high winds, evil leprechauns, disgusting green beer and arming yourself with a stout shillelagh. Lighten up dude, it’s also time for the good things ... remember parades and bagpipes?
The Ramones-obsessed, headfirst slide into power-pop punk bumps up against its yang: layer upon layer of cacophonous sound that’s impossible to pick apart.
Though the result is messy, guitarist Randy Randall says everything is carefully designed. “Even the sense of chaos is planned in there,” Randall says. “Ninety-nine percent of it is all written out. If you were to see us every single night on the road, you might eventually become bored, because it’s the same sound every day.”
Before he and drummer Dean Allen Spunt unleash their premeditated madness on South by Southwest, Randall told us about up-and-coming noisemakers, eating New Mexican vegan food on tour and playing bizarre venues.