On Friday, June 26, the Akon Freedom Fest sets off an explosive lineup of R&B/rap chart-toppers at the Journal Pavilion. Headlining is club-banging, Senegalese-styled Akon, who also gets paid for producing hits like Gwen Stefani's sugary "The Sweet Escape." (He threw in the frisbee-like "Who hoo! Yee who!" choruses). The bill gets harder as Plies, Fat Joe, Lil' Jon, the Ying Yang Twins, Multi and Jotorious stalk the stage, with L.D. the Mash-Up King representing Albuquerque's hefty endowment of DJ talent. It's shaping up as the summer concert to beat.
The New Mexico Film Office has announced the winners of the 2009 New Mexico Filmmakers Showcase, which took place at the Guild Cinema May 14 through 17. After four days’ worth of New Mexico-only films, the judges chose the following category toppers: Best Comedy Short went to Christopher Boone’s “Preschool’s a Bit**,” Best Documentary Short went to Jessie Weahkee’s “Abraham Lincoln: The One Sided Story,” Best Documentary Feature went to Michelle Friedline & Laureen Ricks’ A Sh’mal World, Best Drama Short went to Craig Strong’s “In the Wake,” Best Drama Feature went to Michael Amundsen’s The Price of the American Dream II, Best Horror/Sci-Fi went to Kim Liphardt’s “The Sitter” and Best Wildcard Film went to Bryan Konefsky’s “Vancouver.” Congrats to the winners and to all of this year’s participants. Keep up the good work.
Stark historical drama examines the details of one man’s death
By Devin D. O’Leary
Hunger—the new drama about noted IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands—begins, interestingly enough, with a man who is not Bobby Sands. He’s an ordinary family man, seemingly under a great deal of stress, getting ready for work. As it turns out, he’s a guard at Maze Prison in Northern Ireland. It is at this prison that a number of Irish Republican Army “terrorists” are incarcerated—among them, the as-yet-undistinguished Bobby Sands. The film is in no real hurry to get where we know it’s going, but it does eventually cede the spotlight to Sands (played with Herculean commitment by Michael Fassbender). This is a movie about Sands—specifically the last six weeks of Sands’ life. It is not a movie about a prison guard. But he’s there at the beginning, one of the countless people who must have interacted with Sands before his premature death. He’s there because Hunger is interested in details, turning the smallest of gestures, actions and words into moments of soul-rattling import. When Sands and our unnamed prison guard do eventually cross paths (a situation that doesn’t come until quite a bit later in the film), the simple “punch line” of this supporting character hits with brutal intensity. In this one moment, we see that no single person is innocent, guilty, good or evil—but all are damned just the same.
Broadway doc is one singular sensation. (Man, you could repeat these lyrics all day.)
By Devin D. O’Leary
When you think about it, Every Little Step is a mind-bendingly meta experience. On its surface, it’s a simple, straightforward documentary that offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the casting of a big Broadway musical. And what musical would that be? A Chorus Line. Sounds familiar. What’s that about? Well, A Chorus Line offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the casting of a big Broadway musical.
What TV needs now are more attractive psychic crimesolvers and more crusading nurses. Oh, and more Octomom coverage. While I can’t yet guarantee the first and third (although I’d pretty much bet the house on it), I can assure readers that they’ll be getting more hospital-based drama and romance courtesy of TNT’s new series “HawthorRNe.”
Women’s Voices concerts light up the Albuquerque Museum
By Mel Minter
At the 2008 edition of the Women’s Voices concerts, a perennial favorite presented by the New Mexico Jazz Workshop, what was happening offstage was almost as entertaining as what was happening onstage. Down front, audience left, a lively gaggle of divas who had already performed or were awaiting their turn watched their sisters onstage with genuine pride and delight, whooping it up in support.
It looked like every point was going to come at a punishing price.
In the early minutes, Duke City's Muñecas Muertas and the Dallas Derby Devils were locked in a defensive, hard-hitting bout at the Santa Ana Star Center. Then Muñecas’ star jammer Muffin drew first blood.
She tore through the wall of Derby Devils and racked up big points, giving the Muñecas an early 28-18 point lead. Her jam demonstrated that the Dallas defense was penetrable. "If you can go in and prove that scoring is possible, it's important," Muffin explained after the match.
One high school senior bolsters pride and acceptance in fellow LGBT youth
By Sarah M. Kramer
There's a parallel between Ruben Ortega's gay rights activism and his career goals—though it might not be readily obvious. When he starts at Cornell University in the fall, he wants to study hospitality administration. "I want to focus on real estate and project development, and opening hotels," Ortega says.
Dateline: Guinea—Overwhelmed by criminal behavior, law enforcement officials in the coastal African nation of Guinea are encouraging citizens to burn any suspected criminals alive. Speaking in the capital city of Conakry last Tuesday, the new military government’s anticrime chief, Captain Moussa Tiegboro Camara, told citizens, “I’m asking you to burn all armed bandits who are caught red-handed committing an armed robbery.” Camara went on to say, “The prisons are full and cannot take more people, and the situation cannot continue like that.” Camara, who was appointed by the military junta to oversee the fight against drugs and serious crime, made his comments at a meeting of city officials. “These measures worry us,” Thierno Maadjou Sow, president of the Guinean Organization of Human Rights, told Reuters news service. “The law of the country must not be bypassed, whatever the circumstances.” The National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) seized power in Guinea, the world’s largest exporter of bauxite, last December after long-serving President Lansana Conte died.
The gallery at OFFCenter Community Arts Project (808 Park Ave. SW) is a single wall, but what's significant is that the work on this wall is created in the room the art overlooks. "In short, our mission is to build community through art making," says Ron Breen, Interim Director. The gallery hosts six to eight exhibits a year. "The shows are non-juried," says Breen, "We want to focus on encouraging people to create art rather than qualifying it."
You may be experiencing an electric charge in the air. And no, it's not from an electro-particle buildup in the ionosphere (which I'm fairly certain I heard about on a "Star Trek: TNG" episode). No, my friends, science can't explain it for you this time because it comes from something deeper. Something called love. Love for glitzy parades, fabulous parties and more rainbows than a Lucky Charms factory in Oz. It's Pride time!
In literature, focusing on the work of any one group of people has inherent dangers. Though it can shine a spotlight on underrepresented writers, this attention can also have the unintended consequence of limiting the significance of their work. Putting Jane Austen in the box of "Women Writers" and Richard Wright in the "African-American Author" box can obfuscate the important fact that they are two of the greatest writers in the English language, including all the white guys.
Yjastros Flamenco Repertory Company presents Blanco, Rojo y Negro
By Sarah M. Kramer
The centuries-old flamenco tradition hits another milestone in Albuquerque. Yjastros: The American Flamenco Repertory Company celebrates its 20th anniversary with an endurance test of sorts. The company will perform its entire repertory in a single weekend in three shows collectively called Blanco, Rojo y Negro.
Just a few miles north of Albuquerque, Placitas is an eclectic and beautiful village with a storied past. The one-time land grant area is now a bedroom community, the bar where the Dead once played is closed and the hippies have given way to artists. But through the years, the one thing that has eluded this funky town is a good restaurant.
This is undoubtedly the only recipe we have ever developed with a church potluck—the annual fundraiser for friend's mom's congregation—in mind. Next time we plan on whipping it up with wild white sage. Besides cleaning a room of evil spirits and reducing swelling, it tastes badass. In the meantime, green sage will work just fine.
The sometimes illegal and often dangerous sport of urban exploration
By Ty Bannerman
It’s a quiet spring morning and I’m in the South Valley, turning west from Second Street onto a dirt road I’ve never noticed before. The car I’m following traverses a curve of road between a cluster of industrial buildings. A quarter mile farther, we come to a dead end and park our cars beside an abandoned set of railroad tracks. On the other side of a bracken-filled ditch, the object of our expedition—a rusted, empty factory—rises out of the overgrown weeds and broken asphalt of a disused parking lot.
The New Mexico film industry resource website crewnewmexico.com is offering a 99 percent discount off acting profiles on its site. Now through Friday, June 12, interested actors can register in the CAST section for just 79 cents for an entire year. Members receive a personal Actor Profile Page where they can upload photos, fill out résumés and manage their career information. Crewnewmexico.com is working hard to become New Mexico’s go-to destination for information about filmmaking in our state. To receive the 99 percent discount, registrants need to enter the promotional code ACTNOW99 during online registration. Log on to crewnewmexico.com/membership for more info.
Bleary-headed party boys aren’t quite as bad as they wanna be–but they’re still funny
By Devin D. O’Leary
Once upon a time, “dude films”—the artistic antipode of “chick flicks”—involved some unwavering combination of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone or Bruce Willis, evil people with accents and a whole lot of high-caliber weaponry. But actors have aged and times have changed. In recent years, thanks to the efforts of directors like Todd Phillips (Old School), Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), Greg Mottola (Superbad) and David Wain (Role Models), a new school of dude film has emerged. Mixing raunchy comedy, smart writing, lowbrow hijinks and a sentimental undercoating of staunchly heterosexual male bonding, these films have proven themselves box office winners.
After watching its dozen-or-so flawless feature films (from 1995’s Toy Story to 2008’s Wall•E) on what now amount to multiple occasions, I think I’ve finally figured out what makes Pixar Animation Studios so head-and-shoulders above its computer-animating rivals. It’s not that the company’s technical skills are more advanced than Sony Pictures Animation (Open Season, Surf’s Up)—although they certainly are. It’s not that the company’s scripts are more meticulously crafted than those of DreamWorks Animation (Bee Movie, Monsters vs Aliens)—although they certainly are. Watching Pixar’s newest masterwork, the beautiful, buoyant feature UP, it hit me. The element that makes Pixar the studio to envy and emulate is the simple fact that it cares. Everyone at Pixar—from the animators to the writers to the directors—cares deeply about what she or he does. They love every character, they love every frame, and that emotion percolates up through the movie screen. It’s unmistakable. It can’t be faked, and it’s what makes audiences love, love, love Pixar films.
Last Monday night, television entered a new era. For only the fifth time in its 55-year history, NBC’s “The Tonight Show” acquired a new host. With the expiration of Jay Leno’s contract, “Late Night” host Conan O’Brien has assumed the seat he’s coveted for decades. Leno, of course, is getting upgraded to prime time, hosting his “Jay Leno Show” in NBC’s 9 p.m. slot five nights a week starting Sept. 14. But for now, it’s all O’Brien’s spotlight.
The last 10 years or so, extreme efforts have been made to "go green," living lifestyles and running businesses that are eco-friendly. Call it ahead of its time; when Regina Held opened the New Grounds Print Workshop in 1996, it was one of the first non-toxic print shops in the country. In 2002, New Grounds—which had already moved from the South Valley to Nob Hill in 2000—expanded and opened its own gallery.
The bulk of LAND/ART, an ambitious project of land-based art in New Mexico, gets going in mid June. 516 ARTS, the collaboration's organizer, starts things off a little earlier with its contribution Here & There: Seeing New Ground. Sixteen artists, including Norman Akers, Shelley Niro and Laurie Anderson, explore the connections between nature, art, land and identity. The opening reception takes place on Friday, June 5, from 5 to 8 p.m. at 516 ARTS (516 Central SW). For more info, go to 516arts.org, and stay tuned for the Alibi's upcoming coverage of the whole LAND/ART project.
Los Fantasticos’ Days of Future Past at South Broadway Cultural Center
By Erin Adair-Hodges
If you're like me, you took a road trip with your mom when you were in the seventh grade, driving from New Mexico to Illinois to visit your great-grandmother. You called her Mee-Maw. It was winter, and you and mom drove there and back in a 1982 Bonneville that had no cassette player. Instead, you used the boombox you had been given the previous Christmas, a neon-yellow number that represented the apex of mid-’80s, under $50 electronic design. And you'll also remember that mom didn't really like your music, which consisted of The Bangles, Genesis, and Huey Lewis and the News (it wouldn't be until the eighth grade that you discovered new wave). So mom played her one cassette, over and over, for thousands of miles: The Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed. It was the only time in your life when you got your mom to yourself for more than a few hours, and by the time you went back through the weird McDonald's that's in an overpass in Oklahoma, you had the whole album memorized.
Overcoming an illness is only half the battle for cash-strapped New Mexicans
By Simon McCormack
Rebecca says she felt safe because she had medical insurance.
That sense of security lasted until she was diagnosed with cervical and colon cancer in August. Rebecca, whose name has been changed for this story, says her medical expenses quickly mounted. "What they don't tell you is, even with insurance, when you have cancer and surgery and chemo and every test in the book, it costs a lot of money," Rebecca says. "You kind of gotta look around and dig up the money."
Her insurance covered some of the cost, but Rebecca's out-of-pocket expenses came to almost $5,000. Rebecca used what little savings she had and credit cards to cover some of the bills. She also got help from the Anita Salas Memorial Fund, which helps New Mexico women diagnosed with breast cancer or cervical cancer.
Keshet Dance Company has a new home—the historic KiMo Theatre. At the Monday, June 1 meeting, councilors approved two measures forging a partnership with Keshet to operate the KiMo and lease the Freed Building next door. Keshet has about $150,000 in state money to spend on programs.
It is widely assumed that Americans are heavily influenced by pop culture, including the belief that thin fashion models harm girls and women. But is there good scientific evidence to support this? That question was raised May 3, when the film America the Beautiful was screened in Albuquerque. The premise is simple: America has an unhealthy obsession with beauty and perfection, with disastrous consequences. The film claims that airbrushed media images of thin models are leading most women to a vicious cycle of starvation diets, low self-esteem and anorexia.
The race to be the city’s top dog saw some salvos fired to salute Mayor “still not an official candidate” Martin Chavez. AFSCME, the city’s largest union, endorsed the sitting mayor—though perhaps through gritted teeth.
Dateline: Japan—A publishing company has printed the world’s first toilet-paper-based book. Drop, a new novella by horror author Koji Suzuki, is being released exclusively on rolls of toilet paper. The nine-chapter story, which takes place in a public restroom, takes up about three feet of the roll and is designed to be read in just a few minutes, according to the manufacturer, Hayashi Paper. Each roll carries several copies of the story, in case someone else comes along and “uses” the chapter you’re on. Hayashi promotes the toilet paper, which sells for 210 yen ($2.20) a roll, as “a horror experience in the toilet.” Toilets in Japan were traditionally tucked away in a dark corner of the house due to religious beliefs that evil spirits could haunt the stinky bowls. Parents would tease children that a hairy hand might pull them down into the dark pool below. The TP’s author, Suzuki, is known as “the Stephen King of Japan,” having penned the popular novel Ring, which was turned into several films in Japan and Hollywood.
Wipe away your tears, acoustic grunge lovers of Albuquerque. In late April, I shared Fast Heart Mart's announcement that a family emergency could call Burque's beloved singer/songwriter away to the East Coast. But the winds of fate have shifted, and all is well again: FHM isn't going anywhere. He's already lined up a boatload of interesting performances for the summer, including a show with Kate Mann on Friday, June 5, at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice. And on Thursday, June 4, FHM is making a rare appearance as himself—Martin Stamper, the songwriter, all alone—at The Albuquerque Songwriter Series. The free show is at Slate Street Café (515 Slate NW, one block north of Lomas between Fifth and Sixth Streets) from 7 to 9 p.m., and it features the added creative juices of Johnny Wilson of Chokecherry Ranch and CK Barlow.
The first-ever Alibi Pride party: We're taking Pride to another planet!
By Jessica Cassyle Carr
With modern-day frights like asteroids, the plague, supervolcanoes, the bomb, sea pirates and Snuggies, the time is right to toss one's cares aside and indulge in the velvety, shimmering pleasures of the universe. In the ’70s, androgynous, first-wave glam acts such as T. Rex, Sweet, Slade, Ziggy Stardust and the New York Dolls developed a proto-punk/heavy metal franken-rock that flew its Moog-tinged spaceship to the outer reaches of raunchy hedonism and glittery artifice. While much of the resulting music is fabulous now-classic rock, the theater behind the highly conceptual movement is almost more interesting. Glam rock incorporated sci-fi themes, sexual ambiguity, absurd makeup and silver platform boots. Behold: The results were sexy.
The green papaya salad called som tam is my preferred litmus test for judging Thai restaurants. When done right, the shredded papaya is crisp and the sauce is tangy and light, and not overpowering in terms of heat or fish sauce. When I ordered som tam the other night at May Thai the waitress asked “How hot?”
Though the term "escabeche" formally refers to pickled fish in Spanish cooking, to us Americans, it's the stuff of plastic bags. In L.A., a taco truck is generally considered remiss if they don't hand out big, glowing orbs of free escabeche—spicy carrot, pickled jalapeños and sweetly spiced white onion mingling in their combined brine, precariously pressing a baggie to its limits.
Indie shoegazers Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk from Lawrence, Kan., may keep it light like hollow avian skeletons on Friday, May 29. (FYI, it’s true. Baby birds don’t consume calcium-based lactation from their mothers. Weighty bones are no good for flying.) Local experimental outfit Yoda’s House and the singer-songwritery Brothers open. Drag your heavy skeletal system, the one that keeps you earthbound, to Winning Coffee Co. (111 Harvard SE) at 7 p.m. $5. (Marisa Demarco)
Black Market Goods Gallery is a gallery that’s cultivated roots. Gallery director Josh Jones began a traveling art collective in 2005. Every three months the collective put together a new showing at a new gallery, a purposely nomadic artistic community. When the Stove Gallery on Morningside closed, they offered their space to Black Market Goods first. BMG moved in and opened the doors to their permanent home in February 2009.
The folks over at Blackout Theatre have big hearts, hearts so gargantuan they can't keep all the goodness inside. If you need any evidence, get over to Black Market Goods (112 Morningside NE), where the two entities have teamed up to present The Black Lab Improv Comedy Lab, a night of improv intended to help BMG bring home the bacon and pay the rent. It all takes place on Saturday, May 30, beginning at 8 p.m., and will feature the barely prepared work of The No Good Nicks, Star Ship: Improv for Trekkies, Big Fuzz: Improv with Puppets, A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.- We Stand for Nothing, Starving Horse and No Holds Bard: Shakespearean Improv. Better yet, Tractor Brewing Company will be there to wet your whistle, which you will need, what with all the laughing. It's a 21+, pay-what-you-can show, and we suggest you pay up.
Fear and hoping with the Mother Road Theatre Company
By Erin Adair-Hodges
Life During Wartime opens with a young salesman trying to sell a woman a security system. He touts its features, throws around technical language, but most importantly, uses statistics. Burglary rates, murder rates, rape. The exact numbers are vague, but the message is clear: You are in danger. There’s a whole world to fear.
The sweetest ending to any good meal is, of course, dessert. Sugary confections are food’s natural conclusion, perfectly punctuating simple dinners and extravagant feasts alike. In this vein, for my final review, I chose a place that specializes in sweet teeth.
At the Center for Peace and Justice, it’s been a rallying quarter century
By Marisa Demarco
It was more than two decades ago that Lee Sims rolled into Albuquerque to visit a friend she'd met at a peace march. "The day I was here, she took me down to the office and said, ‘Here she is. Use her.’ ”
They’re holding another election on June 2. But the organizers have got to be hoping you won’t go to the polls because they are doing their darnedest to keep it quiet. Yes, it’s time once again for our biennial exercise in stealth democracy, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District board election.
Dateline: New Zealand—Police are searching for a couple who allegedly cleaned out their bank account and fled the country after receiving an accidental loan of nearly $8 million from their bank. Huan Di Zhang and Hui Gao were mistakenly given $NZ10 million ($7.8 million) after requesting a loan from Westpac Bank for a mere $NZ10,000 ($7,800). The couple had requested the loan to help save a small gas station convenience store they ran in Rotorua. The station was shut down earlier this month after its operator, Heights Service Ltd., went into receivership. Banking Ombudsman Liz Brown told Rotorua’s The Daily Post that technically it was a criminal offense for someone to spend money accidentally deposited into their bank account if they knew the money wasn’t theirs. “The individuals associated with this account are believed to have left New Zealand, and police [are] working through Interpol to locate those individuals,” said Detective Senior Sergeant David Harvey of New Zealand Police.
Crewnewmexico.com is hosting its monthly Film Industry Happy Hour on Thursday, May 28, at O’Niell’s Pub in Nob Hill. Men and women from all levels of the filmmaking industry are invited to a night of networking, meeting-and-greeting and just plain kicking back with a few beer specials. No RSVP is required; simply show up at O’Niell’s between 5 and 9 p.m. O’Niell’s is located at 4310 Central SE.
Arresting Iranian documentary examines the tribulations of troubled teens
By Devin D. O’Leary
The Glass House, a documentary about a one-of-a-kind rehabilitation and education center for at-risk teen girls in Tehran, could easily have gone for the easy uplift of an “Oprah” episode. The elements are there: Founder Marjaneh Halati, an Iranian expat now working as a successful therapist in London, exudes confidence and class and is all but worshipped by her young charges. The girls themselves are a screenwriter’s fantasy—a mix of troubled archetypes with humble dreams, difficult family lives and heartbreaking obstacles. But filmmakers Hamid Rahmanian (director and cameraman) and Melissa Hibbard (writer and producer) have avoided imposing any false uplift or narrative manipulation on the story that unfolds in front of their cameras. The result is an honest, compelling, often frustrating look at real life in modern-day Iran.
Jesse James is a badass. I can tell because he has a lot of tattoos, claims to be related to the Old West outlaw Jesse James, says he stole Scott Hamilton’s car when he was 17, was allegedly a bodyguard for Danzig, builds expensive custom motorcycles, fathered a child with porn star Janine Lindemulder and is now married to Sandra Bullock—all of which sounds like the résumé of a badass. On the other hand, he could just be a total, self-promoting douche bag who got fired off “The Celebrity Apprentice” and is defiling America’s sweetheart on a nightly basis. It’s a fine line, really.