A longtime journalist discusses Obama and the 2010 elections
By Marisa Demarco
Gwen Ifill is not paying attention to the Senate race in Delaware, though tea party favorite Christine O'Donnell hits national headlines most days. And Ifill is not so interested in New York's gubernatorial race, where GOP candidate Carl Paladino's gaffes are the talk of the town. "Even though they make interesting cable news conversation, neither of the out-there candidates in those races seems to have a chance of winning," she says. "I'm more interested in what the outcomes are going to be."
There isn’t a true category of fall beers, as there is for winter warmers. But fall is the season when two popular styles, Märzen (commonly known as Octoberfest in the U.S.) and pumpkin are released. New Mexico gets imported versions of most of the beers served at Germany’s legendary Oktoberfest. Locally, Santa Fe Brewing has an Octoberfest available in cans, and Turtle Mountain has an excellent version available at their pub. Pumpkin beer choices are limited in the Albuquerque area as far as bottled offerings. I recommend the pumpkin releases from Marble, Hallenbrick and Chama River, which should be available in the next week. Chama will also debut a new version of theirs, dubbed “Punkin Drublic.”
A few dozen people spoke out at the Monday, Oct. 18 Council meeting on two main issues: feeding the hungry and nukes. The Council did not reply to the citizens concerned about efforts to feed some of Albuquerque’s homeless population. But councilors commented that the city will not speak against the weapons industry, which supplies lots of jobs.
Bruce Trigg is retiring from the state's Department of Health this year. The soft-spoken, scholarly and intensely committed public health physician has one last policy campaign he’s waging. It's a sort of farewell gift to us. He wants to wake New Mexico up to the silent plague that for at least 20 years has been mowing down hundreds of our young people. It kills them in the prime of their lives—and incredibly, draws scarcely any attention.
Dateline: Pennsylvania—A teenager who had just passed his driving test celebrated by crashing a car into a state driver’s license center. Bridgeville police Sgt. Brian Halbleib told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the accident happened when the unnamed teen pulled into the parking lot of the center to drop off the man who had administered the test. At least three people were injured, but officials said the injuries were not serious. The teen told officers he thought the car was in park, but it was not.
I prefer the term “Halloween Month,” because one day just isn’t enough to cover all the cool things you can and should be doing this time of year. So why not get started this weekend with the Halloween Spookshow and Monster Rally? Burning Paradise Video is sponsoring this event as a fundraiser for the upcoming 2010 TromaDance New Mexico Film Festival. For two nights only, Oct. 22 and 23, Guild Cinema in Nob Hill will screen Skeleton Farm’s Halloween Horrorshow. This virtual spook-house ride comes to us from the mad slice-and-splicers at Skeleton Farm, Albuquerque’s premiere found footage alchemists. This feature-length film is a madcap tour through hundreds of classic (and not-so-classic) horror film clips. Brain-melting shock, terror and outright confusion are sure to ensue. The film is only playing Friday and Saturday at 11 p.m., so get your seats early. And to make this an even cooler event, Burning Paradise is sponsoring a full-on monster rally on Friday night. What’s a monster rally? Well, it’s just like a zombie crawl, except it doesn’t discriminate against other forms of monstrosity. Throw on your best creature outfit and meet up on the southeast corner of UNM’s Johnson Field starting at 10 p.m.
Clint Eastwood’s new film isn’t dead, just resting
By Devin D. O’Leary
Who would have thought that, after decades (and decades) as Hollywood’s premier tough guy, Clint Eastwood would become such a stodgy formalist as a filmmaker? Not to insult his oeuvre or anything. Invictus, Changeling, Letters from Iwo Jima, Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Bridges of Madison County: They’re all classy pieces of old-school Hollywood cinema. Eastwood learned his lessons working for some of the finest directors in the business, and he knows how to construct a film with the best of them. But he seems more inclined toward stoic “Masterpiece Theatre”-inspired melodramas than anything with a discernible pulse.
With sitcoms such as the unsung “My Name Is Earl” and the recently added “Raising Hope” under his belt, it’s time to name writer/producer/creator Greg Garcia the Patron Saint of White Trash. That’s not an insult, mind you. Nobody’s done as much to champion America’s questionably tasteful lower middle class since Roseanne Barr.
Squash Blossom Boys’ debut album is sneaking up on you
By Summer Olsson
A pioneering band in Albuquerque’s Americana scene, the Squash Blossom Boys brings expert musicianship and rollicking energy to standard and original tunes. The squashies have played in various locales—bars, growers’ markets, on tour earlier this year opening for the Meat Puppets, maybe even at your backyard barbecue—and the band’s popularity is on a steady upward climb. But even fans may not know the winding path these bluegrass men have traveled.
Producer John Sandlin gives us the lowdown on the low-down sounds of his Django Festival
By Mel Minter
The New Mexico Django Festival returns to Albuquerque in its fourth, nearly annual edition after a layoff in 2009 in deference to the imploded economy. Producer John Sandlin, perhaps best known hereabouts as the rakishly handsome, devilishly talented guitarist for Le Chat Lunatique, has once again put together a stellar lineup, including up-and-coming international acts as well as local favorites like Zoltan Orkestar, The Hot Club of Santa Fe and Django Rhythm Meat Grinder. For four days, they’ll all pay homage to the Belgian whiz-kid guitarist Django Reinhardt, who put a unique gypsy spin on swing.
Steve Eiland—of Beefcake in Chains notoriety—and his betrothed observe their upcoming nuptials at Cap’n Creepy’s Halloween Weddin’ Party. Music is to be provided by Icky and the Yuks, The Gracchi, Dead On Point Five and None of the Above. Beefcake in Chains will also stage a mini-reunion. The free, 21-and-over show/party happens at the Launchpad (618 Central SW) beginning at 9 p.m. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Le Chat Lunatique vocalist and violinist Muni Kulasing has never heard most of these songs
By Jessica Cassyle Carr
Muni Kulasinghe is the talented vocalist and violinist for Le Chat Lunatique. He’s also a friendly, multilingual gentleman who’s always armed with a smile, a wink and maybe a dirty joke. This weekend his gypsy jazz band plays local host to the New Mexico Django Festival. In honor of the event, Kulasinghe was asked to provide shuffled tracks from his music library. “I don’t have an MP3 player, nor an iPod; only my computer, which means the music I happened upon is not necessarily music I have listened to much, if ever,” he explains. “As it turned out, I was wholly unprepared for what spouted forth.”
Aux Dog is a good little theater. It has heart, and the productions that come out of it are generally well-conceived and entertaining. Many of its efforts are made by people who are new to the industry, but even though their greenness is noticeable, there’s a zest or charisma that rises above, making its shows nice, solid fun. Coming Attractions is, sadly, not one of those shows.
Ladies and gents, it’s time for the 22nd annual Equestrian Cup Wine & Food Tasting. Hosted by Albuquerque’s Active 20–30 Club and Wells Fargo bank, this gala event will benefit the Children’s Safe House (run by All Faiths Receiving Home) and other children’s charities. In keeping with the spirit of the national Active 20–30 Club, the Albuquerque chapter is dedicated to community service, particularly to provide financial and in-kind assistance to kids. Jason Deshayes, four-year member and president of the Albuquerque club for the past two years, tells me that this event is the highlight of the club’s activities and that it engages a broad cross-section of Duke City businesses.
Albuquerque doesn’t have any professional sports teams. And while the Duke City Derby, los Lobos and the mighty Isotopes give us a strong tradition of amateur action, what few pro athletes we have tend to be cage fighters. Maybe we should call it “Put Up Your Dukes City.” But since there aren’t major pro Mixed Martial Arts competitions held here, our only public forum is to gather at sports bars and cheer the hometown fighters. This week’s column is the second installment of an occasional series on the best Albuquerque sports bars in which to watch televised hand-to-hand combat. The first installment in the series, in April, covered the Fox and Hound. The third installment, probably sometime next year, is a secret because I’m still actively researching and don’t want to tip anyone off. But if you want to suggest a sports bar in which to watch MMA, please do. Just remember it has to serve good food.
On Wednesday, I walked into The Normal Gallery in Barelas to view Scott Williams’ installation With Great Abandon. “Man,” I said with a good deal of exasperation. “That is some weird shit right there.” Williams laughed and said, “That’s the reaction I like.” Scott has placed two space coyotes, yes, space coyotes, in the middle of the gallery. Two stuffed coyote heads have been retrofitted to Williams’ handcrafted astronaut bodies. They’re shaking hands, but eyeing each other suspiciously. I don’t know if there is any way to make stuffed coyote heads eye one another suspiciously or if they do that naturally. Either way, they made my day. Scott said he’s making a statement on the fear people have that humanity won’t survive. He looks at the coyote as a symbol of survival; they flourish even when other species are in decline. Scott is holding out hope for people. Personally, I think we’re doomed, but that’s why Scott is an artist and I’m a writer. You must go see these coyotes. Come between 1 and 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 24, or by appointment. Scott can be reached at 908-5526. The gallery is located at 1514 Fourth Street SW. They have a cat.
There's a line in Thomas Hine'sThe Great Funk: "Every part of American culture, from its leaders to its cars and even its linoleum, seemed to promise expansiveness and progress, but nothing had turned out as advertised. By 1975 the future had turned from a promise to a shock."
Dateline: India—Hampered by setbacks and budget shortfalls, the Indian government has stepped up its security forces during this month’s Commonwealth Games in an attempt to appear safe and secure under the glare of the international spotlight. In addition to fending off potential terrorist attacks with surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft guns spread throughout New Delhi, 100,000 security guards have been drafted into service. As if that weren’t enough, 38 monkeys have been hired to keep an eye out for any simian wrongdoers. Earlier this month, India’s NDTV showed off members of an elite squad of fierce, black-faced Hanuman langurs. The highly trained monkey guards—named after a Hindu deity—have taken up positions around two stadiums in the city, defending athletes and spectators from potential attacks by smaller, wild monkeys. Eric Randolph, a correspondent for The National, an Abu Dhabi newspaper, explained to readers that, “the new contingent of langurs is expected to focus on the swimming complex, seen as a likely target for primate shenanigans.” Wild monkey attacks are not uncommon in New Delhi. The city’s deputy mayor died after a monkey attack in 2007.
A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline brings the music of a country master to Rodey Theatre
By Christie Chisholm
A Closer Walk with Patsy Clineis more a concert than a piece of theater. Its nearly two-hour run time (intermission included) consists almost entirely of songs by the titular singer, performed by Laurie Finnegan. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s very good. A Closer Walk is a well-polished piece suited for a city larger than ours; it will blow the dust off your sense of nostalgia and leave you with a bittersweet glow.
Independently owned book stores tend to be darker and more cavernous than their chain store counterparts. They are a source for used books rather than new ones, places to dig through stacks, search for that used copy of Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick or hunt for an Edward Bunker crime novel. They lean toward the eccentric titles that can be hard to find outside of the Internet but, unlike their electronic counterpart, don’t rob you of the joy that accompanies scoring a Richard Yates book after scouring the shelves. It’s easy to click on a PayPal button; it’s much harder to embark on a used bookstore rampage. (Those can last for days. Sweat beads form on the temples. The eyes strain.)
For the past few months, I’ve been snooping around the Nob Hill corner of Central and Amherst, formerly the home of Natural Sound. Small signs are posted in the windows of the empty space. “StreetFood Asia,” the posters announce, and along the bottom, “dim sum, satay, sushi, noodles”—all the enticement I need to drive my curiosity to a fever pitch. But it took weeks of sleuthing before I lucked into a connection in the U.K., who kindly e-mailed the new proprietors of StreetFood Asia. I was able to finally meet Tai Tok, Paula Frahm and Miguel Santana.
Which is better: having the best location and the worst tamales, or the best tamales and the worst location? Only soul-free capitalists would choose the former, while a soulful stream of Burqueños regularly choose the tamales at El Modelo.
The Vintage Poster Gallery in Santa Fe is opening an exhibit called Reel Power: Great Vintage Film Posters featuring more than 300 rare film posters from The Rosenberg Collection. The show opens with a reception this Friday, Oct. 15, from 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibit will run through Jan. 30, 2011, so you’ve got plenty of time to get up there and check it out. Vintage Poster Gallery is at 901 Canyon Road, Santa Fe.
Amiable action comedy proves old people can still kick ass
By Devin D. O’Leary
Lethal Weapon may not have been the first film to coin the phrase, “I’m too old for this shit!” But since then, every film wishing to jokingly acknowledge the fact that its action star is a day or two past his prime has tipped a hat in the direction of Danny Glover and company. The phrase—for better or worse—has become a pop cultural trope. Now comes Red, which may very well be the ne plus ultrain “I’m getting too old for this shit!” action cinema.
TV’s deadpool seems particularly shallow this season. The fall 2010 TV season has barely started and already we’ve got two major casualties. FOX’s polygamist Texas con man drama “Lone Star” and ABC’s high-school-plus-10-years faux-documentary drama “My Generation” were both canceled last week after only two airings apiece.
Professional success is a matter of consequence to anyone who takes his or her job seriously, and Frankie O'Malley is no exception. He wants his band, The Safes, to make it big. What comparable level of success is he ultimately working toward? “Oh, for me, The Beatles,” says the guitarist, using the faintest of pauses between question and answer. “I want to be the biggest band ever.” O'Malley makes his aspirations sound a bit more general: “I believe wholeheartedly that we can cross over into the mainstream. Without a doubt.”
Long before the local clubs would demean themselves by booking punk bands (and before “punk” became a genre and not an outlook), Albuquerque had a seething, seamy musical underbelly of garage bands that actually gigged in garages, cellars and even frat houses. These shows were sometimes promoted by hand-scrawled flyers but mostly by word of mouth. There was a DIY record label (Resin). There was a record store that sold Resin releases (Bow Wow). And there were bagels, lots of bagels, and shows in a Nob Hill basement near sweltering ovens (Fred’s Bread & Bagel). There was also a man who counted a cast of characters among his friends, acted as their attorney and confidant, and hauled in mountains of crawfish from the Gulf for band parties. This Friday, friends of New Orleans native Gary Wayne Nelson (who is seriously ill) will be on deck at the Launchpad to return his many favors with a benefit show.
More and more, our remote, wild Western burg is proving to be an oasis of music and art that explores new frontiers. Nay, you say? Here’s evidence: Albuquerque Experimental is a two-day festival composed of 25 performances. The lineup is largely local with notable out-of-town troubadours sprinkled throughout (NYC psych pioneer Silver Apples; John Dieterich of Deerhoof, who’s performing with New Mexico’s own Raven Chacon). This event, masterminded by KUNM music host Peter Mezensky, will take place at The Kosmos (1715 Fifth Street NW) on Friday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m. and on Saturday, Oct. 16, at 3 p.m. Two-day passes go for $20, while single passes are $10 on Friday and $15 on Saturday. For a full lineup and more information, go to albuquerqueexperimental.com. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Random selections from the collection of I is for Ida’s Harry Brown
By Jessica Cassyle Carr
Harry Brown is a local musician and scooter entrepreneur (downtownscooternm.com). On Monday, Oct. 18, you can find his band I is for Ida performing for the first time in more than a year. Armed with new songs, the band plays in the middle of a tangy Portlander sandwich made of psychedelic disco act Lookbook and gloomy post-punker headliner The Prids. The show happens at Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW) beginning at 9 p.m. A mere five ducat admission will be granted only to those of legal drinking age. Below lies a random smattering of Brown collection tracks that might provide some sonic foreshadowing for Monday’s show.
A look at officer-involved shootings and police training in comparable cities
By Patrick Lohmann
Darren White stood before the City Council alongside Police Chief Ray Schultz. The director of public safety was trying to give context as to why Albuquerque officers have shot at or killed 11 members of the public this year, nearly twice the city’s average since 2004.
The best food in the West, according to the Alibi’s readers
Welcome back to Best of Burque Restaurants! Feast upon nearly 100 lip-smacking categories of the best food in Albuquerque, selected through thousands of votes cast by voracious Alibi readers just like you. Your Best of Burque votes reward local businesses with hard-earned recognition. And as long as you keep eating and voting, we'll be able to amass these indispensable guides to the best food our city has to offer.
My first attempt at getting people to send in art has been a complete success: four entries as of press time. You have to start out small. Two weeks ago I asked people to send in images of bird art. It was partly an effort to interact with readers, and partly a need to know whether other people like photos of, or artwork about, birds as much as I do. Call me crazy. Arlaina Ash sent in an abstract piece she made of birds standing over a nest of eggs; very cave art. Gina Yates contributed a painting of owls reading with some other owls looking on from outdoors. She says people often find hidden meaning when they see this piece, like the reading owls represent the elite of society. Crazy stuff. Deanna L. Nichols sent in some lovely images of cranes, owls, herons and other birds she took, sharper than a Hanzo sword. Kent R. Swanson offered up some linoleum cuts of Bosque birds on paper. Thanks, guys. The art will be posted on alibi.com as a blog (”Give ’Em the Bird”) on Thursday. I want to make this a regular thing. For next week, I’m requesting velvet pop art. I keep seeing these paintings, mostly because there are at least three hanging in the Alibi office: Elvis, a Pink Panther and a weird poodle. I’ve also seen a Snoopy in recent weeks. If you have any of these old velvet paintings laying around, please, send some pictures of them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Extra points for paintings of The King or some of that ’70s black power themed stuff.
While there may have been lots of hot air in our skies, there was not much inside City Hall on Monday, Oct. 4. It was a quick-and-easy Council meeting with a sparse crowd. First, councilors picked over the agenda and postponed a number of items. Then they approved a large package of police department grant applications and the sale of about $135 million in general obligation bonds. They also made some committee appointments. Not much debate was stirred by these issues.
It was a little irrational, I admit. But ever since last summer, when I got the job as a parking attendant for the University of New Mexico's special-events staff, I had taken to scouring the newspaper's sports section after every home game. Be it football or women's basketball, I was fully expecting to see mention of how my colleagues and I acquitted ourselves the night before.
Dateline: Brazil—Political critics who are trying to prevent an actual clown from running for office are calling for the candidate to pass a simple literacy test. Francisco Silva—better known as Tiririca, which means “Grumpy” in Portuguese—is running in October’s general election in an attempt to represent Sao Paulo in Congress. Incredibly, the TV comedian in the multicolored hat is ahead in the most recent polls thanks to slogans like, “It can’t be any worse than it is now!” Opponents say he is unqualified, since the country’s constitution states members of congress must be literate. According to Sao Paulo’s Metro daily, critics have filed a lawsuit demanding that Tiririca be forced to take a literacy test. Época magazine recently reported claims by people who have worked with the clown/politician that he is illiterate. A video on the publication’s website shows a reporter asking Silva to read questions from an election poll. The candidate appears unable to do so, and has a campaign aide read them for him.
As if the Southwest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival weren’t enough to keep film fans busy this week, Albuquerque will also play host to Duke City DocFest. Billed as New Mexico’s “first and only international documentary film festival,” DCD will give audiences a chance to view 90 entertaining, educational and inspirational documentary films from around the world.
The National Hispanic Cultural Center kicks off its lavish 10th anniversary this weekend by teaming up with the New Mexico Chapter of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers. Together, they’re presenting a red carpet Celebration of Latinos in the Media. This celebrity-filled event will take place at the Albuquerque Convention Center’s Kiva Auditorium on Friday, Oct. 8, from 7 to 10 p.m. Scheduled guest include a dizzying parade of actors (Bokeem Woodbine, Elizabeth Peña, local boy Steven Michael Quezada), MMA fighters (Damacio Page, Elias Gallegos), writers (Yolanda Acosta, Barbara Madrid-Gutierrez), boxers (Johnny Tapia, Danny Romero), models (Miss United States 2005 Nicole Falsone), recording artists (Trini D, Jesus Jr.), basketballers (NBA champ Michael Cooper), artists (Amando Peña Jr.) and radio personalities (Erica Viking from Coyote 102.5 FM). The evening’s festivities will include an awards presentation and a screening of the classic Latino film La Bamba. Erik Martinez, who appeared in ABC’s short-lived shot-in-Albuquerque series “Scoundrels,” will host. Tickets of varying levels ($10, $25, $100) are available through ticketmaster.com. For more information, log on to redcarpetnm.com.
One of the keys to producing a successful film festival is finding a unifying theme, an identity that lets viewers know what sort of experiences are awaiting them. For eight years now, the Southwest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival has had little trouble with that. Reveling in its identity as the premiere outlet for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender cinema in the Southwest, Albuquerque’s own SG&LFF has been able to attract hundreds of quality features, documentaries and shorts. With festival founder and director Roberto Appicciafoco beating the bushes for content, the festival has forged a solid reputation as an annual must-attend.
Overly restrained sci-fi experiment fails to create life
By Devin D. O’Leary
Some people seem to think the new film based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s acclaimed sci-fi(ish) novel Never Let Me Go is highly subject to spoilers and that those wishing to see the film should avoid any and all reviews revealing the slightest narrative surprise. OK. The film doesn’t play coy with its narrative, tossing aside any lingering sense of mystery right off the bat. But if you’re really curious to see the film and don’t want to know anything about it, here’s the short, entirely spoiler-free review: It’s drab, slow and very talky. Now, if you wanna learn more, read on.
NBC has spent a lot of time likening its new conspiracy thriller “The Event” to ABC’s recently wrapped sci-fi series “Lost.” That is what I like to call a big mistake. Having watched the first few weeks of “The Event,” I can only come to the conclusion that the show more or less sucks rocks.
In most fields of study there are systems of classification. Taxonomy, originally applied to organisms, helps differentiate between, say, an oak and a maple and an elm. Similar schemes can be applied to the humanities; hierarchies can be created within language, religion, movements in art, anything. This kind of classification is necessary because it helps those engaged in the study of a specialized area to communicate about that topic.
Nii Otoo Annan and friends beguile with old styles in a new setting
By Mel Minter
Famed Ghanaian percussionist Nii (Mr.) Otoo Annan has wowed audiences in the States with a polyrhythmic mastery that has earned him the moniker “the Elvin Jones of West Africa,” after the late great jazz drummer. But Annan has kept a secret from his U.S. fans: He is also a master guitarist whose music—as unassuming as it is mesmerizing—draws on the West African highlife and palm wine styles.
On the morning of Sept. 18, Mantis Fist guitarist Steve “Oki” Nance passed away, leaving behind a wife and two small boys, and an empty space in Albuquerque's hip-hop community. Pay your respects at the Launchpad (618 Central SW) on Saturday, Oct. 9, when Myka 9, The Big Spank, New Mex.Icon, Ntox, Clout, Shakedown, Zoology, The Emphericans and Mic Deli come together to raise money for Nance’s family. The 21-and-over show begins at 6 p.m. Don't be surprised if you see a few grown men cry. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Levi Eleven is a local musician and fashioner of band paraphernalia with his merch operation I Heart Machine (iheartmachine.com). He used to write “Retrospeculative” reviews of movies he saw as a kid for the Alibi’s blog. He also plays guitar in some bands that don’t yet have names. You might have seen him around. Here are five random songs from his collection.
I visit with David Edwards over a pot of Lady Londonderry tea and fresh-baked empanadas as the New Mexico Tea Company nears its fourth anniversary. Edwards and business partner Dianne Edenfield first opened their doors on Nov. 1, 2006, in a smallish shop that is reminiscent of cozy tea purveyors of earlier days, though the decor is decidedly contemporary.
As I was preparing my move to New Mexico, a Blackfoot Indian woman came by to see about renting my house in Missoula, Mont. She didn't rent the house but we became friends, and before she left she gave me some bright red kernels of dried corn she got at a powwow.