How I almost paid dearly for a bowl of borscht, and how to make it right
Late at night on a train in Siberia, I had a run-in with the Russian mob over a bowl of borscht.
Late at night on a train in Siberia, I had a run-in with the Russian mob over a bowl of borscht.
I used to laugh at the guy on “COPS” who insists on getting a badge number. There are threats to avenge, at some future date, the injustice being done to him. It’s so stereotypical. The police must hear this stuff even more regularly than we do on TV. Does anyone ever have a valid issue? Do they ever follow up?
During his time in New Mexico, Jon Bowman has served as associate publisher for New Mexico Magazine, columnist for The Santa Fe New Mexican’s arts insert Pasatiempo and editor/author of seven books including 100 Years of Filmmaking in New Mexico.
While the venerable Santa Fe Film Festival reaches its milestone 10th year, organizers of the upstart Santa Fe Independent Film Festival are grasping for a milestone of their own: their very first year. For its inaugural outing—taking place Friday, Dec. 4, through Sunday, Dec. 6—the SFIFF promises to bring “the most provocative” independent films from around the globe.
This weekend must have seemed like the perfect one for a film festival, because we’ve got at least three of them to choose from. In addition to the massive 10th Annual Santa Fe Film Festival and the inaugural Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, there’s the first annual Buddhist Film Festival taking place at the Cell Theatre in Downtown Albuquerque.
’Round these parts we like our Idiot Box ... well, idiotic. Education and art don’t usually factor into it when you’re confined to a steady diet of “E! True Hollywood Story,” “When Animals Attack” and “Cheaters.” Occasionally, though, we must all expand our horizons and admit that even TV is capable of delivering a little beauty into our lives.
The holiday season is in full swing, and there’s no use fighting it, Scrooge. It doesn't all have to be canned Christmas music and harried shopping. Instead, focus on the fun and festive aspects and leave the schlock and stress to someone else.
Something magical happened to me in UNM’s Theatre X last weekend: I laughed aloud and often during one of William Shakespeare’s plays.
The western slope of the Petroglyphs falls dark early, except for an aisle of towering floodlights in front of a lone building. Men in winter coats file out of an old school bus carrying bedrolls. Then they wait. Before the men may go inside, the women who have ridden in the back of the bus must first clear through to their separate wing. Here, in the old Westside jail, the Albuquerque Rescue Mission has been sheltering people from the cold for about five winters.
This week’s theme is: Stuff You Should Know. Don’t let Lady Justice keep her secrets.
One of the greatest tragedies of my life is that the crabby robot dude in The Matrix compared human beings to viruses before I was able to publish my doctoral dissertation, tentatively titled Infectious Intelligence: The World’s First Bipedal Disease. Sadly, The Matrix totally stole my thunder, because my dissertation explained how human beings have overrun the planet in the same way that a virulent infectious organism overruns its host. I demonstrated how we’ve colonized the Earth via senseless reproduction (Don’t believe me? Go stand in line at the mall next Black Friday.), and excreted our toxins into the environment while squandering resources and jeopardizing the health of our host planet. And just as infection by a microorganism would cause you to spike a fever, human activity has resulted in global warming.
Dateline: Germany—The long-standing editorial feud between two newspapers came to a head (so to speak) recently when German newspaper Die Tageszeitung unveiled a three-dimensional mural on its building facade depicting the editor-in-chief of rival right-wing paper Bild naked and sporting a 50-foot phallus. The unflattering portrait was erected (so to speak) in November by artist Peter Lenk. The plastic bas-relief features Bild boss Kai Diekmann spreading his legs and showing off a penis that stretches across five stories of Die Tageszeitung’s headquarters. The artwork also includes sensationalist, reproductive organ-based headlines from Bild’s history, such as “Federal Court of Justice: Now Everyone Can Say Pecker.” The unsubtle work of art is the latest round in the brutal editorial brawl between leftist-leaning Die Tageszeitung and Diekmann’s conservative paper. The row started some seven years ago after editors at the liberal paper ran a satirical article claiming their colleague at Bild had undergone a failed penis extension operation. Although the spoof was meant to highlight how Germany’s best-selling daily thrives by reporting on the misfortunes of others, Diekmann was understandably not amused. He sued and Die Tageszeitung was forced to expunge the piece from its archive. Since then, the two sides have expended considerable effort to outdo one another. Diekmann scored a major coup earlier this year by landing a seat on the cooperative that funds Die Tageszeitung’s endowment. “The penis row from 2002 is slowly becoming the stuff of legend,” Diekmann told Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel two week ago. Diekmann said he does not plan to take legal action over the gigantic penis portrait. “Apparently the artist got a free yearly subscription for it,” Diekmann was quoted in Der Tagesspiegel as saying. “As a member of the cooperative, I’m naturally not happy about wasting a subscription. But I’ll certainly ask about the financing at the next co-op meeting.”
A jazz musician’s most important asset lies on either side of his or her head. As trumpeter Bobby Shew said a couple of weeks ago at a concert at The Cooperage, “You can’t play this music if you don’t listen.”
Alt.country and Western is one of the most honest genres to emerge from America within the past couple of decades. As popular country music continues to dissolve into the shimmering, surface froth of “just pop,” the alternative remains immersed in vast landscapes, organic production and sincere articulations. The listener gets a traditional kind of music rounded out with a modern vibe.
Citizens of Earth: The spaceship known as Leeches of Lore flies into Burt’s Tiki Lounge (313 Gold SW) this week, pounding high hats and Mai Tais while shredding the clothing right off your body. The Spittin’ Cobras (which contains members of ’80s psycho-sexual punkers The Dwarves and German industrial band KMFDM) joins the intergalactic mission along with Black Guys. The rock invasion, which shall only be beheld by those over 21 years of age, can be sighted free of charge Downtown near the tenth hour on Tuesday, Dec. 8. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Mildred McGillicutty (nom de screen of a local blogger) is a keeper of books, collector of velvet matador paintings and murderer of goldfish. She is also a closeted lover of Joni Mitchell, and she was very relieved that none of the sweet, soprano songwriter’s ’60s swill tainted her randomly shuffled playlist found below.
Just in case anyone ever phones you up and asks if you wanna meet writer/director Wes Anderson at a café near the Albuquerque train station in a half-hour for a brief interview, the correct answer is yes. Even if he isn’t your favorite filmmaker (and he’s definitely in my top 10), he’s a smart, soft-spoken guy with a good vocabulary and a disarming fashion sense.
Anyone can build a wine list. It’s just a list of bottles, after all. But ultimately, the love and enthusiasm that a sommelier (or wine steward) invests in writing the list is what makes for a page-turner.
Cruvinet: A Cruvinet is a temperature controlled wine dispensing system, similar to beer taps. It uses gas to keep an open bottle of wine fresh for about two months, a fact that’s revolutionized the wine industry. Restaurants can now serve an immense variety of wines by the glass without waste. Today, restaurants can open many bottles at any price range, then serve the wines at the proper temperature, prevent spoilage and increase marketability because of the Cruvinet’s elegant appearance.
You can’t help but notice Ray Vigil’s intense energy. His mind and body are always in motion, but his most noticeable characteristic is his positive outlook and contagious sense of possibility. When discussing his two favorite topics—cooking and wine—the Vin Iberian Wines founder becomes almost childlike in his enthusiasm. Speaking with him, you realize it’s his passion for these two hobbies, and not profit, that led him to his career as an importer of Spanish wines.
Drinking responsibly used to mean having a designated driver and not showing strangers your naughty bits. But, as with all things in the 21st century, being “responsible” has evolved to include knowing the ecological status of what we consume, too.
Last week’s release of Beaujolais Nouveau arrived like clockwork, just as it does every third Thursday in November. Whether the harvest was good or bad—and whether the wine is good or bad—signs in bistro windows shout to passersby, “Le Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrivé!” (“The Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived!”)
A small, limited-production winery known for powerful high-altitude Malbecs. Located in Argentina’s famed Mendoza region, terroir-driven Achaval Ferrer has been the winner of multiple international awards, including Wine & Spirits magazine’s Top 100 Wineries. (JB)
The day after Thanksgiving has become known as Black Friday, not for any increased diagnosis of bubonic plague infections, but rather for the result it has on retailers' bottom lines. I'm not going to be a hypocrite--I like to shop. And even more than I like to shop, I love a sale. I haven't paid full price for anything since the heart-shaped sunglasses I saved up for in 1986. But there's no way in hell I'm going to any mall or fluorescently lit barn of savings on that day. My inherent misanthropy and hatred of parking lots forbids it. If, on reading this, you feel the need to yell, "Testify!" then join me in exploring some artsy alternatives to the shopping soul crush this weekend.
If art is a means of articulation, consider artist Fay Ku fluent. Double Entendre, her solo exhibition at Eight Modern in Santa Fe, features nine recent works on paper. The majority are drawn and painted in variations of graphite, ink and watercolor. Two of the pieces are lithographs, the breathtaking results of Ku’s November residency at the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque. Altogether, the collection communicates incongruous concepts—purity/eroticism, solitude/association, fulfillment/affliction, elegance/disgrace——as balancing counterparts.
Registered Nurse Danielle Radaelli thought the University of New Mexico Psychiatric Center felt more like a prison than a hospital. She wasn't the only one.
The aptly named Casa Vieja, in Corrales, shares a 300 year-old adobe with a handful of ghosts, a shrine to Our Lady of the Conception and some priests buried in the walls. In addition to being a monastery for a spell, it was also a brothel and a courthouse.
In the village of Kisesini, which sits southeast of Nairobi in Kenya’s Yatta District, water is scarce and brackish and food mostly comes in the form of nutrient-empty porridge. Breast milk can be the difference between life and death for the population’s youngest members. Nearly half the children in the region under the age of 5 are malnourished.
Before we begin, allow me to introduce myself: I'm a registered nurse and a family nurse practitioner graduate student. My background includes newborn, maternal and general medical-surgical nursing. You can bet that my column will be liberally peppered with many big words and things that sound like facts. Medicine is super cool, and nurses learn how to be fierce patient advocates, which is why I'm passionate about both disciplines. I believe health care should focus on prevention and wellness. I love babies, old people and hot doctors. Reading my column may unclog your arteries and make you more fabulous.
On Tuesday, Dec. 1, Martin Chavez will leave his seat in the Mayor's Office free for the buttocks of incoming Mayor Richard Berry.
Dateline: Russia—The U.K.’s Daily Mail reports that a Russian judge handed a more lenient sentence to a cannibal who killed and ate his mother because the defendant was “hungry.” Sergey Gavrilov was given reduced jail time after confessing, “I did not like the meat very much. It was too fatty. But I was hungry, I had to eat it.” The judge in the case said the 27-year-old was starving and had little choice but to cook and eat parts of his dead mother after spending all his money on vodka and gambling. Gavrilov hit his 55-year-old mother over the head with a brick and strangled her to death with an electric cord after she refused to give him her pension money so he could buy more alcohol. A court heard how he put her body on the balcony of the family apartment near Samara, in southern Russia, and took her money before going on a two-day drinking and gambling binge. Returning to the apartment, he soon ran out of food and started slicing meat from his mother’s body. “She was frozen, like meat in the freezer,” he later told police. Gavrilov snacked on his mother’s corpse for more than a month before local police officers, investigating a cell phone theft, located the body. Russian criminal code dictates 15 years in jail for Gavrilov’s various crimes, but the judge reduced his sentence to 14 years and three months, stating that the drunken cannibal “was not keen to eat the meat, he just was hungry.” Psychiatric tests found the man to be “normal” and fully aware of what he was doing.
Are you a terrible parent? Would you like to broadcast that fact to the rest of the world? Well, you’re in luck. ABC’s reality show “SuperNanny” is casting for Season 5 right here in New Mexico. You can e-mail local casting director Aaron Giombolini of Kathryn Brink Casting at Casting505@gmail.com with contact info, family size and troubling (yet entertaining) parenting issues. Or you can brave the open casting call on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Albuquerque International Balloon Museum from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Try not to feed your kids before you go. They’ll be extra cranky that way. Oh, and be sure to tell them Richard Heene sent you.
A month or so after indie auteur Spike Jonze’s iconoclastic take on Maurice Sendak’s beloved childhood classic Where the Wild Things Are hit theaters comes indie auteur Wes Anderson’s iconoclastic take on Roald Dahl’s beloved childhood classic Fantastic Mr. Fox. Cynical viewers could be forgiven for sensing a trend: thirtysomething nerd-hipsters doing postmodern spit-shines on their most cherished childhood memories. Whether we’ll soon see Sofia Coppola’s take on Harold and the Purple Crayon remains to be seen.
When you get right down to it, Thanksgiving isn’t much of a holiday. There’s a big meal and then ... not much else. No Easter egg hunts, no opening of presents, no knocking on neighbors’ doors begging for candy. Not even a little dreidel spinning. Basically, after pigging out on turkey and mashed potatoes, everybody just sits around and digests. Which makes it a little confusing as to why television networks refuse to air anything remotely interesting. What else are we going to do besides watch TV? Talk to our relatives?
First of all, I want to apologize for writing a technical article that's admittedly directed toward professional musicians. I've been playing excellent music for what many people say seems like an eternity.
Dear Albuquerque Goth Scene,
We need to talk. I know it’s hard for you to tell how I'm feeling sometimes. I know you've grown used to pretty much constant stylized moodiness. But that's just the problem—you're self-absorbed and I'm tired of waiting for you to change. This is a very one-sided relationship. You never think of my wants or needs. You always listen to the same generic four-on-the-floor music ... and I know you do it in a sad attempt to attract impressionable 18 year-old girls.
I need change and variety in my life. I want to have good conversations and be introduced to new things and ideas. But your idea of change is resurrecting the 300-year-old corpse of the Marquis de Sade once a month. It's not fresh and subversive; it’s the same old chips, dips, chains and whips. You talk about the same old topics ... dungeons and dragons, and that VNV Nation concert you went to six years ago. You repeat the same stale party ideas when you feel the need to spice things up.
This year give thanks for black vinyl pants, blue Manic Panic, German expressionism, legalized absinthe and Peter Murphy. Retro’s (1410 Wyoming NE), typically thought of as a mod affair, goes unpop tonight with DJ Sparquis and DJ Twig playing tracks culled from a variety of Gothic subgenres. This dark, 21-and-over holiday event is free. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Ross Source is Anodyne’s jack-of-all-trades. He’s steward of the Downtown bar’s diverse boozes and beers, caretaker of its inviting flora, manager of music, and an ideal person to play this game. Source is responsible for what was once, and what will soon be again, the best jukebox in Albuquerque. Below are random, shuffled selections from his vast music library.
Having just passed my first year on the backyard chicken bandwagon, I'm watching the temperatures cool off and wondering what measures I should take to winterize my chickens.
The secret is out.
Albuquerque is home to an underground of league of geniuses, and they’re poised to take over the world. They’re armed with sophisticated super powers, able to create spectacular, never-before-imagined items from almost nothing. No one can stop them. And based on our intelligence, only a few citizens of Burque have even heard of them. But we can’t keep mum any longer. These local gift-makers are awesome!
It’s almost as though Santa embedded an especially resourceful brigade of elves in the Albuquerque area; here they are, toiling in obscurity, so very far away from the North Pole. The weird thing is, everyone outside of New Mexico already seems to know it.
An enterprising 3rd grade student at Georgia O'Keeffe Elementary School named Toby designed these nifty slogan-covered dog tags to help raise money for the Ethiopia Reads charity. In a very short amount of time, the school was able to fully fund the building of a library in Addis Ababa. The brightly colored, laser-engraved accessories—which have been featured on CNN—come with dozens of positive messages and a 4- or 24-inch chain. At a mere $5, they make great stocking stuffers—plus, a portion of the proceeds go toward building more libraries. (Devin O’Leary)
Plenty of big-budget Hollywood movies have been shot here in New Mexico (Transformers, Terminator Salvation), but we've also got our own homegrown film industry filled with talented writers, directors and actors. Here's just a sample of some of the local indie efforts available on DVD.
No doubt you've seen Anne Taintor's goods. Her images of smiling women from '30s, '40s and '50s ads coupled with sassy lines such as, "I feel a sin coming on" and "Guess where I'm tattooed" adorn products as diverse and useful as emery boards, pill boxes, cosmetic bags and, thankfully, flasks (all priced from $4.50 to $25). But did you know that Taintor's a local girl? She's been designing her wares out of Abiquiu since 1985. Her line is available anywhere anything awesome is sold and at annetaintor.com. What says "I get you" to your new-mom friend more than a bag embossed with "Wow! I get to give birth AND change diapers!"? Nothing. Except maybe that flask ...
Persephone Wilson knows a thing or two about children's clothing: She has two daughters of her very own. So the longtime South Valley resident set up her kids’ apparel business, P's Tees, right in her own neighborhood. Wilson's pint-sized artistry is displayed on everything from T-shirts to dresses and onesies, with children’s sizes ranging from newborn to 4T. Wilson’s designs include skulls, lightning bolts and light bulbs—motifs you won’t find at a regular department store.
Give the gift of relaxation with this compendium of New Mexico-made body products. Prices generally range from around $5 for a bar of soap to about $14 for lotions and the like, while a gift set can go for up to $30.
The Range Café began the same way the Alibi did—penniless in the autumn of 1992. (The Range has a month of seniority, opening on Sept. 2 to the Alibi’s Oct. 9.) After inflation, the Alibi is still basically penniless. The Range, meanwhile, has three locations worldwide. And it’s even gotten into the publishing business.
Legendary B-movie director and president of Troma Films Lloyd Kaufman is returning to New Mexico this weekend (Nov. 20, 21 and 22) for the sixth annual TromaDance New Mexico Film Festival. Starting this Friday night, TromaDance will unhook the leash and let three days’ worth of mind-bending, low-budget, high-trash cinema loose inside the Guild Cinema.
If you’re already addicted to the suave, mid-century setting of AMC’s “Mad Men,” you might want to give An Education a look-see. Think of it as an across-the-pond rumination on much the same temporal subject. Based on the memoir by British journalist Lynn Barber, the film relates Barber’s mildly scandalous teenage affair with a much older man.
After having our eyes thoroughly scourged by the monstrous, 3-D “performance capture” technology of Disney’s A Christmas Carol (Kill it! Kill it with fire!), the comparatively old-fashioned computer-animation of Planet 51 comes as something of a soothing balm. The film isn’t anything special, but the high-concept setup, pleasing animation and intriguing art design make for a fun family romp.
One of the bright spots on the fall 2009 schedule (at least for those of us who are ’80s-obsessed) looked to be ABC’s “reimagining” of the camp-classic 1983 sci-fi miniseries “V.” But before it even aired, the Internet was atwitter with ugly rumors. First, ABC fired and hired a number of showrunners (a TV term for “a non-writing producer responsible for day-to-day operation of a series”). Then, ABC tried to screw the show’s original creator, Kenneth Johnson, out of credit (and therefore royalties) by saying this new TV show called “V” (about lizard-like alien invaders plotting a wholesale looting of Earth’s resources and fighting off a scrappy human resistance while pretending to be beneficent) had nothing in common with that old TV show called “V” (about ... yeah, pretty much the exact same thing). Not surprisingly, the network lost that battle. Finally, ABC came up with the ridiculous idea of running just four episodes of the show and then pulling it off the air until next spring.
I'm no stranger to pumpkin pie. I owned and operated a small pumpkin pie business after college, where I experimented widely, trying countless permutations on the basic theme, and tweaked my way to some fantastic pie. I thought I knew most everything there is to know about pumpkin pie. But walking around a night-market in Bangkok, Thailand, I had an experience that turned my concept of pumpkin pie inside-out.
More than a thousand people from around the globe gathered in Downtown Albuquerque from Nov. 12 through 14 to forge a plan for better drug laws. The International Drug Policy Reform Conference brought together scientists, police chiefs and law enforcement officers, think tank policy-makers, human rights activists and government officials. Three days of workshops pointed toward one idea: The “war on drugs” is a failure.
The last meeting of Albuquerque's 18th City Council started with goodbyes to Michael Cadigan and Sally Mayer. There were slight quivers in some councilors' voices as they shared not only warm and fuzzy memories but reminders of the prickly times as well.
Let us pause, briefly, to applaud Mayor Martin Chavez for his efforts on getting Albuquerque “green”—most notably, on just the idea of being “green.” We can have our quibbles on how this effort was done and what was accomplished, but let’s be clear here: We’ve moved well beyond “why.” That is no small accomplishment.
Dateline: South Korea—A would-be motorist has finally passed the written exam for a driver’s license—after her 950th attempt. Cha Sa-Soon, 68, has spent more than 5 million won ($4,200) in application fees and has taken the test on a near-daily basis since April of 2005. Until now, the vegetable seller had failed to score the minimum 60 out of 100 possible points needed to get behind the wheel for her driving test. But police officials in Jeonju, 130 miles south of Seoul, confirmed last Wednesday that Cha finally passed the test with exactly 60 points. Officials were unsure how many times Cha had failed the written exam, but local media put the estimate at 950. Now all she’s got to do is pass the physical driving test.
In 1968, Beatle Paul McCartney and Beach Boy Mike Love were at the breakfast table in India. McCartney had come to Love with a very rough form of “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” which he began writing on the trip. Over pancakes and fruit, McCartney started singing the chorus. “Paul sang me the verse. I told him he should talk about the Russian girls in Moscow,” Love explains. “He took my idea and incorporated it into the song.”
Meeting an Albuquerque musician who makes more than $50 at an average show nowadays is rarer than sighting the elusive yeti, and as most can tell you, earning a respectable sum via song is almost unheard of. Almost.
During a career that spanned more than three decades, exhalted composer, guitarist, visual artist, film director and general avant garde visionary Frank Zappa wrote and produced a multitude of songs. His music strode a squiggly line between jazz rock and experimental classical music, and there was nothing like it then, or now. A few years ago, Zappa's oldest son Dweezil went on the road, re-creating his father's original compositions. The Grammy-winning tour, which continues to be met with success, comes to Albuquerque this week. Dweezil told us about it in a telephone interview.
Admire this seemingly French new wave-inspired poster, then see the show on Friday, Nov. 20, 10 p.m.-ish, at Burt’s Tiki Lounge (313 Gold SW). The evening features performances by an eclectic, extra-X chromosome-laden cast headlined by hell-raising honky tonk heros Sin Serenade, supported by all-girl thrashers Suspended, beatbox queen Saywut?! and Ben Hawthorne (we think he’s a dude). Free, 21+. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Tom Frouge is the creator of ¡Globalquerque!, owner of an artist management company called Avokado Artists and partner in a music licensing company called Masterscape, Inc. (see “Sound and Sight”). He’s also one of our first victims in Song Roulette, a new column where music fans are asked to put their music libraries on shuffle, sharing and commenting on the first five tracks that happen to show up.
The Corrales Bosque Gallery (4685 Corrales Road) is celebrating 15 years of beautiful business with a new show of the work of artist Rashan Omari Jones. His incredible glass sculpture (he is a borosilicate lampworker) is inspired by the nature of the Southwest, using organic shapes and a love of molten glass. His show opens on Friday, Nov. 20, with a reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and runs for three months. See corralesbosquegallery.com for directions and details.
A window swings open. A wiry, crumpled figure flounces into its frame and lurches onto the stage, veiling her face with her petticoat. Out of the silence and flickering candlelight leaps the terrified—and terrifying—voice of a young girl: “What are you doing out of your grave?”
Working in the field of nonprofit arts education, while always noble, is often difficult. There's the grant writing, the scrambling for funds and, some days, the wondering if anything you do really makes a difference. Those are the bad days.