Born Lester William Polsfuss in Waukesha, Wis., Les Paul had just turned 94 in June. He died on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2009.
Les Paul’s solid-body electric guitar started as the basement tinkering of a gifted musician. Where it led was rock and roll as we know it—and the foundation of innumerable permutations we haven’t gotten to yet. Even if you just look at the instrument and the ways its architect figured out how to play it—put aside, for a moment, the game-changing recording processes he pioneered like multitracking, overdub or delay—without Les Paul’s innovations in design and technique, the Book of Rock would have scant few pages and not much of an alphabet. The Edison of amplified music is gone. But because of Les Paul, rock and roll will never die.
Freedom-loving ex-marine seeks a House seat on Republican ticket
By Alex E. Limkin
Given that I had just read Jim Baker’s Blue Jay Yarn, written by one Mark Twain, and given that I especially enjoyed the passage reading, “A jay hasn’t got any more principle than a Congressman. A jay will lie, a jay will steal, a jay will deceive, a jay will betray; and four times out of five, a jay will go back on his solemnest promise,” and given that I never have had a fondness for politicians—nor understood those that did—it was with no small amount of wickedness that I set out from the heart of Albuquerque to conduct an interview on the outskirts of Santa Fe with newly announced Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives Adam Kokesh. Mr. Kokesh, who professes a libertarian-leaning agenda, will be seeking to replace the current representative for the 3rd Congressional District, Ben R. Luján (D), who defeated Dan East (R) in 2008 after Tom Udall (D) left the seat to run for the U.S. Senate. Because the 3rd Congressional District is strongly democratic, Mr. Kokesh will have to exert a novel appeal as he stalks the Nov. 2, 2010 election. The 27-year-old veteran and New Mexican native saw action with the U.S. Marine Corps in Fallujah in 2004, became active with the anti-war movement upon returning home and studied political management at George Washington University.
The eighth annual Native Cinema Showcase launches this Thursday in Santa Fe. Produced by the National Museum of the American Indian and Santa Fe’s Center for Contemporary Arts, this year’s film fest includes two venues and tons more programming. New and classic films, panel discussions, filmmaker Q&As and media workshops are all part of the mix. The showcase runs through Sunday, Aug. 23, at the CCA and a new state-of-the-video venue in Cathedral Park. Classic features include Nils Gaup’s rarely seen 1987 historical drama Pathfinder, the first indigenous film nominated for an Academy Award. Brand-new features include Georgina Lightning’s Native American boarding school drama Older Than America, starring Wes Studi. There will also be a special premiere of Chris Eyre’s new docudrama Tecumseh. For a full program of films and events, log on to nativenetworks.si.edu or ccasantafe.org. Festival passes ($50) and individual tickets ($9) are available now through the CCA box office. Screenings at Cathedral Park are free and open to the public.
Robert Rodriguez loads his shotgun full of slapstick and CGI and starts firing
By Devin D. O’Leary
I don’t get Robert Rodriguez much these days. He’s directed some undeniably kick-ass pieces of cinema (El Mariachi, From Dusk Till Dawn, Sin City, Planet Terror). Yet his career has been tragically distracted with silly kiddie fare (those increasingly frantic Spy Kids films, the execrable Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D). Here we sit, waiting patiently for Sin City 2 or that promised Barbarella remake with his hottie home wrecker girlfriend Rose McGowan or that adaptation of Mike Allred’s Madman comic book or the live-action John Carter, Warlord of Mars or Predator 3 or Desperado 4—all cool freaking ideas linked at one time or another to Rodriguez. But what do we get instead? Shorts, another juvenile fantasy seemingly designed as babysitting material for the filmmaker’s five kids (Rocket, Racer, Rebel, Rogue and Rhiannon) and nothing else.
Simple drama about feuding neighbors makes for powerful Middle East parable
By Devin D. O’Leary
I’m no expert or anything, but I’m pretty sure it says somewhere in the Bible something about treating others as you would like to be treated. Funny, considering how many world religions use the Bible as the basis of their faith, the number of people who ignore that little nugget of wisdom. I don’t pretend to understand the Middle East much, either. But I’m convinced that, whatever the region’s problems are, they’re not suffering from a surfeit of “love they neighbor.”
What would “Friends” be like if all the characters were dead? ... Oh, wow. Now that I think about it, it would be a vastly improved show. But then, that wasn’t really my point. I was trying to figure out a way to describe “Being Human,” a BBC Three import airing stateside on BBC America. The premise asks: What would happen if a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf all shared a flat in Bristol? While it sounds like the setup for a joke, “Being Human” is a mostly canny mix of supernatural drama and buddy comedy.
When you enter La Casita in Bernalillo, you’re greeted with a pair of chile-shaped chalkboards announcing the relative strengths of the red and green that day. Last time I went, the red was “hot” and the green was “extra-hot.”
More than 10 years ago the city's animal shelters were declared inhumane and abusive. It started in 1998, when a woman named Marcy Britton discovered practices that led her to file a lawsuit against the city (using her entire life savings in the process—a sum totaling more than $95,000). The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was called in, and the organization released a report in 2000.
When I was younger I didn’t have such a tough time obeying the law, but lately, in my mature years, it seems I’m hanging out more and more with a pretty hardened bunch of criminals. At least, to hear the city and state tell it, a whole raft of my friends and relatives have stamped themselves as notorious scofflaws ... myself included.
Dateline: Nigeria—A stuttering man who says he can’t find a girlfriend has announced plans to marry his pillow instead. Okeke Ikechuku, a 26-year-old laborer from Lagos, told Nairobi’s Daily Metro that his stammer makes it difficult for him to speak to girls, who laugh at him whenever he talks. Nonetheless, Ikechuku admits that he has needs and wants a companion to sleep with. Ikechuku says he has been sleeping with his pillow since he was 16 and has fallen in love with it. Unlike a woman, he adds, the pillow will cost him little or nothing to maintain. According to the article, he plans to spend the rest of his life with it.
When Boston's The Grownup Noise plays a show in Beantown, there's usually a solid turnout.
The fan base took about four years to fully cultivate. It began with family and friends, then strangers started taking notice. "When we first started, we would ask ourselves, Do they really like it, or are they just being nice?" singer and guitarist Paul Hansen recalls. "It's gotten to the point where a lot of them tend to be people we don't know. So, unless everyone's just being really nice, they actually like us."
What would Santa Fe be without art? While that may sound like a dream come true for some, it's not just the kitschy stuff we'd lose. Santa Fe is an international center for Native American art, both traditional and modern. Every year, 100,000 people or so converge on our capital for the Santa Fe Indian Market to see some of the best Native art in the world. Saturday, Aug. 22, and Sunday, Aug. 23, will feature film, sculpture, jewelry, painting and more. The market proper goes from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the plaza on both days, but there's a phenomenal amount of other activities to experience and sights to see. For more, visit swaia.org. And if you don't want to drive, which I suggest you don't, the Rail Runner has announced a special Sunday service for that weekend. That was nice of them.
Christopher Shinn's Four follows exactly that many characters one Fourth of July. It's difficult to talk about the plot of this play, produced by Sol Arts and directed by Blake Magnusson, without giving too much away, which is odd, since not much happens. Rather, it's the characters' relationships with each other that are intended to have a dramatic impact. A middle-aged man named Joe is connected to two young people, Abigayle and June, who is a boy despite his feminine name. Then there's Dexter, a bit older, who's connected to Abigayle. The majority of the action happens between the pairs of Joe/June and Abigayle/Dexter, the events between one set often mirroring or refuting the work of the other.
Mountainair’s Poets and Writers Picnic wants to know what’s in your basket
By Erin Adair-Hodges
The Poets and Writers Picnic has been spreading out its welcome blanket in Mountainair for 12 years. Started by self-described "poetry nut" Dale Harris when she and her husband owned the Hummingbird Café in the small town, it's become an anticipated treat for city slicker wordsmiths.
Seeing how Albuquerque is home to two of New Mexico’s largest institutes of higher learning, literally tens of new students flock to the city every fall. What is a novice Burqueño to do? If this is you, consider us your new best friend. And even if you’ve been around for a while, with the economy bleeding jobs, you might be thinking about hitting the books yourself. So sit back and get educated; Prof. Alibi has the floor.
Who knows what you should and shouldn't do in college? Not us, really. Plus, you probably won't listen to anyone, you animal. We're tired. We're world-worn. We've got bags under our eyes. Maybe that qualifies us as advice-givers after all. Humor us.
Use these resources to get personal services on the cheap
By Rebecca Nieto
It's back to school season, and you want to leave summer behind looking and feeling good. But the moths in your wallet have begun to procreate. What's a prudent-pocketed spender to do this time of year? Some of the best deals on haircuts, acupuncture and massages can be found through services rendered to the public through trade colleges. You pay a discounted rate to get yourself poked, rubbed and coiffed by students, and they receive training that goes toward their accreditation. Aces! Go forth, and relax thriftily.
Albuquerque is, in many ways, a city of neighborhoods. Even though you can basically get anywhere you’re headed in 20 minutes, the scenery can change drastically from one place to the next. Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of the lay of the land.
It's an obscure "Simpsons" reference. An animated Burque mayor wants to steal Springfield's baseball squad, the Isotopes. In the final shot of the episode, he turns to the camera and says, "For I am the mayor of Albuquerque." Our non-cartoon city team takes its name from the ep.
A tragic event in Albuquerque on June 25 cast a pall on the July 4 weekend. According to a front-page article by Albuquerque Journal writer Hailey Heinz, “A woman attending a church conference in Albuquerque with her husband didn’t call for medical treatment while giving birth to twins in a hotel room, even as one of the newborns struggled to breathe. ... That child died while church members gathered in prayer. ... Samuel and Tammy Kaufman told police at the scene they did not believe in man's medicine, only God, and that their child’s death was God’s will.”
Dateline: Russia—Russian soccer fans apparently have a sure cure for a worldwide epidemic. Russians heading to Wales next month to watch a World Cup qualifier match are being urged to down lots of whiskey in order to ward off the H1N1 swine flu virus. “We urge our fans to drink a lot of Welsh whisky as a form of disinfection,” Alexander Shprygin, head of the country’s supporter organization (VOB), told Reuters. “That should cure all symptoms of the disease.” Russia’s Health Ministry has issued a public warning against traveling to Britain because of the spread of the H1N1 virus, but Shprygin said he expected several hundred fans to attend the Sept. 9 qualifier in Cardiff. “Russian fans don’t fear anything or anybody, so this virus will not stand in our way of supporting our team,” Shprygin added.
Babies love salsa. The dance. Please don't give your baby salsa to eat, even if you think the crying is funny. Instead, scoop up your little pooper and head over to the National Hispanic Cultural Center (1701 Fourth Street SW) for Baby Loves Salsa! With José Conde on Saturday, Aug. 15, at noon. Brought to you by the NHCC, ¡Globalquerque! and the New Mexico Jazz Workshop, an imaginary band of cats and dogs weaves together a hearty mix of Afro-Latin musical styles that your wee bairn won't be able to resist. Come for the music, stay for the baby dancing. Have you seen babies dance? It's hilarious. Tickets range from $5 to $15 and can be had at the NHCC box office or through ticketmaster.com. For more, see nhccnm.org.
This past Tuesday, Aug. 11, saw the DVD release of a little film called Lonely Street. This information is of special note to Albuquerque residents because it’s based on the book by former Albuquerque Tribune columnist Steve Brewer. It was directed by Albuquerque native Peter Ettinger (whose short “The Phoenix” captured first place in the 2000 Alibi Short Film Fiesta). Part of it was even shot right here in the Duke City. The film is based on the first of Brewer’s popular Bubba Mabry mystery/comedy novels. Lonely Street stars comedian Jay Mohr as gullible Albuquerque P.I. Bubba Mabry, who’s hired by a still-living Elvis Presley (Robert Patrick) to recover some long-lost demo tapes. Order the film from Amazon.com, rent it from Netflix or just head to your local movie retailer for a copy. You can check out the trailer and get more info at www.lonelystreetthemovie.com.
We’re exporting our jobs, why not our sci-fi films?
By Devin D. O’Leary
Thanks to the ever-increasing worldwide domination of the Hollywood product, we don’t see a lot of films coming out of Mexico these days. Science-fiction films even less so. You’d have to go back to ... I don’t know, Santo vs. the Martian Invasion in 1967 to find a notable piece of Mexican sci-fi. (Nacho Vigalondo’s excellent 2007 flick Timecrimes was Spanish.) That alone makes writer-director Alex Rivera’s debut feature Sleep Dealer something of a must-see. Despite its micro budget, this intriguing experiment in south-of-the-border cyberpunk hits some definite high notes.
Effects-driven action film documents alien Apartheid
By Devin D. O’Leary
For the last year or two, famed New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) and unknown South African digital effects wizard Neill Blomkamp had conspired to produce and direct (respectively) a film based on the Halo video game franchise. For whatever arcane Hollywood reasons, the collaboration fell through. Unwilling to sit on their thumbs, Jackson and Blomkamp opted instead to shoot a feature-length version of Blomkamp’s celebrated short sci-fi film “Alive in Joburg.”
Last week, ABC Media Productions announced it was firing the hosts of the long-running cinema review series “At the Movies.” It wasn’t a particularly shocking announcement. Since the departure of original hosts Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, a string of co-hosts have worked their way through the show’s balcony seats. Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz—collectively known as “The Bens”—were only the latest, added to the show last season. Ratings took a drop, and the duo will now be replaced by A.O. Scott, co-chief film critic of the New York Times, and Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips. No big deal. Happens all the time. So what’s with all the celebratory cheering?
Everybody and their mom hosts a music festival during the summer.
Only a few fests deserve the spotlight. Fewer still warrant a three-hour drive into the heart of Northern New Mexico. The first-ever Taos Mountain Music Festival on Saturday, Aug. 15, is poised to make it worth your while. Genre-melding Ozomatli headlines a full day of music held on four acres of Taos Ski Valley. Bob Marley's backup band The Wailers and singer-songwriter Joan Osborne beef up the bill.
Alejandro Blake, events director for Taos Ski Valley, says the lineup reflects a desire for diversity. "What we were really trying to do is have an eclectic group of artists," Blake says. "Somebody who listens to Joan might not listen to Ozo, but I think they'll come up here and appreciate Ozo's music and vice versa. There's no music that's going to be too harsh for anybody."
You’ve probably noticed the structure that houses One Up Elevated Lounge, located Downtown on Central and Third Street. It’s the building leaning ominously over the street, looking ready to fall on its face. This is appropriate, because everything about One Up seems designed to inebriate. In addition to the exhaustive list of beer, wine and specialty drinks at One Up, many of the tapas come in wine-based sauces. Others are accompanied by shot glasses of booze meant to complement the dish. And the “Recessionista Fridays” happy hour menu (5 to 8 p.m.) includes $3 well drinks and Coronas, $4 draft beers, and a free taco bar.
On a recent U.S. National Forest expedition, we broke a golden rule of camping and snapped off a piece of nature to take with us. It was to make an emerald beverage ... a pine sap-arac. Infused into a tart lemon-lime juice that's more whiskey sour mix than lemonade, this uses the bitter medicinal notes of pine to make whiskey that much sweeter. The stuff's fine hand-mixed and room temp if you're still out in the pines. But if you bring the loot back home, blended is better.
The Wildlife West Music Festival is wheeling in Grammy-nominated folk musician John McCutcheon and more than 10 other acoustic acts. If somehow you get bored of listening to McCutcheon, a man Johnny Cash called "the most impressive instrumentalist I've ever heard," you can always go gawk at a mountain lion.
What creature ambled into Albuquerque? Which type of renewable energy does PNM intend to use? What needs to be removed before Taos County can build its new judicial complex? And why are mountain rescue crews so busy?
The idea of putting "health care" in the headline of this Thin Line makes me recoil. We're inundated with health care stories. They're everywhere. And the subject isn’t exactly flashy or gripping—not like the news about the man who, according to Albuquerque police, made love to his car last week. (Though, he may have some health care issues of his own after that sweet night of passion in a Smith's parking lot. Remember, friends, you can love your sexy vehicle, you just can't love your sexy vehicle.)
After a month's vacation, the City Council looked gloomy on Monday, Aug. 3, facing an agenda that was impossible to complete. The house was packed with motorcyclists and more police than usual. The Council tried to address the most pressing and dated items and deferred what it could. The extra cops did not have to tangle with the biker folks but instead were called upon to escort out a woman who spoke against the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. She got a little upset when her allotted speaking time was up.
Dateline: Mexico—Tourists in Cancún were surprised to find a little piece of paradise ringed in crime-scene tape and filled with gun-wielding sailors. Environmental enforcement officers backed by navy personnel cordoned off hundreds of feet of pristine white beach in front of the Gran Caribe Real Hotel last Thursday, accusing the hotel of illegally accumulating sand. The Mexican government spent $19 million to replace Cancún beaches washed away by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Since then, much of that sand has been erased by tides, leading some property owners to relocate sand from neighboring beaches or from below the breakwater. “Today, we made the decision to close this stretch of ill-gotten, illegally accumulated sand,” announced Patricio Patrón, Mexico’s attorney general for environmental protection. Patron said five people were detained in the raid for allegedly using pumps to move sand from the sea floor onto the beach in front of the Gran Caribe Real. The attorney general apologized to inconvenienced tourists but said this was simply a question of enforcing the law.
The third annual Ballet Pro Musica Festival comes to the National Hispanic Cultural Center Wednesday, Aug. 5, through Sunday, Aug. 9. Just because ballet is a classic art form doesn't mean there aren't new innovations. Chamber Music Ballet is just such a new twist, partnering live chamber music and ballet. As I dropped out of ballet shortly after the infamous “Cuddle Bug” performance of ’81, I'll have to take their word for it. Also featured will be the work of the National Ballet of Mexico. Classes will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, with performances on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Seniors and students can get 50 percent off tickets one hour before the show. If you're neither, grab ’em at the NHCC box office, call 724-4771 or go to ticketmaster.com. See balletpromusica.org for more.
Weaving has been a hallmark of human culture for thousands of years, with evidence placing it back as far as 5000 BCE. Until about 150 years ago, that work was done by hand, taught to apprentices by masters. Though human hands have largely been replaced by machines, there are still those who patiently work their looms and teach their craft to others, as evidenced in Arts Alliance Gallery’s new show, Donna Loraine Contractor: Mentor and Apprentices.
The New Mexico State Fair has extended its deadline for the Moving Image Art entries to be exhibited in the Fine Arts Gallery at this year’s fair. You now have until Friday, Aug. 7, to have your work considered for inclusion. Cash prizes of up to $300 will be awarded to the best of show in this brand-new contemporary art category. All entries must be submitted in a DVD format and have a time limit of 15 to 20 minutes. Each entry needs to be accompanied by artist name, title, running time, date made, 50-word synopsis and artist biography. Online entry is no longer available, but you can contact Moving Image Art Judge Bryan Konefsky at 235-1852 or Expo New Mexico Art Director Sundi Tyler at 222-9738 for further information.
Seagoing documentary lets audiences in on a shocking secret
By Devin D. O’Leary
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but summer is rapidly coming to a close. It’s not ending tomorrow or anything, but vacations are wrapping up, the Fourth of July is a distant memory and back-to-school sales are in full swing. It’s evident in the summer box office as well. Star Trek, Terminator, Transformers, Ice Age, Harry Potter: The franchises have all come and gone. The only “big” movie left (and it definitely belongs in quotation marks) is G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. With that, you can stick a fork in summer 2009 because it’s ovah. Perhaps, then, it’s time for a return to more somber cinematic fare. In other words: You got your talking gerbils in G-Force, now how about some endangered dolphins in The Cove?
Given our city’s growing importance in the film industry, it’s surprising that it’s taken Albuquerque this long to work up to hosting a mainstream film festival. There have been contenders in the past, of course: specialized fare like the Southwest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, the New Mexico Italian Film Festival, Sin Fronteras Film Festival, TromaDance New Mexico and Experiments in Cinema; or shorts-based showcases like the Duke City Shootout, the 48-Hour Film Project, Local Shorts and the late, great Alibi Short Film Fiesta. Those weren’t good enough for Rich Henrich, though.
Mired as we are in summer rerun season, we might find time to take pause and wonder: Why bother with TV in the first place? No, I’m not talking sacrilege here, my friends. I still love television with an unhealthy devotion. But why, in this age of cable, satellite, TiVo and other technological wonders, are we still chained to the traditional fall/summer new/rerun loop created by the broadcast networks?
New Orleans pianist/composer Tom McDermott has never played in a bordello (although he could once see one from his home), but he has absorbed the New Orleans piano professors’ traditional approach to the eighty-eights. That tradition owes a significant debt to the Big Easy’s classier houses of ill repute, which expected the solo pianist to reproduce all the excitement of a small combo—but at a much lower cost.
New Orleans' Quintron and Miss Pussycat entertain the Land of Enchantment
By Jessica Cassyle Carr
Mr. Quintron is an inventor, organist and one-man band. Miss Pussycat is a puppeteer and musician. Together, as a married couple and an artistic team, they posses the gifted imaginations required in the creation of something truly original. In New Orleans the duo is an acclaimed part of the city's music and art scenes. In fact, next year the New Orleans Museum of Art will feature their work in a three-month exhibition. Meanwhile, the two are making their way across the country along with a Drum Buddy (the photoelectric rotating drum machine of Quintron's invention) and a bunch of murderous puppets. They appear in New Mexico this week. The Alibi spoke with each of them as they prepared for the expedition from their headquarters in the Ninth Ward.
Alain Passard, founder and head chef at L'Arpege in Paris, pulled meat from his menu in 2001 because, he announced, he wanted more culinary challenges. "One day I woke up and asked myself, 'What have I done with a leek, with a carrot?' Nothing, or maybe just 10 percent of what can be done with a carrot."