It’s been an eventful year for Albuquerque’s top chef, but she hasn’t forgotten the basics
By Mina Yamashita
It’s no small feat to make the James Beard Foundation semifinalist list for best chef in the Southwest, but there she is—Albuquerque’s Jennifer James lit up the roster in 2010. To put this in perspective, New Mexico had only three nominees this year, including James Campbell Caruso of La Boca and Eric DiStefano of Coyote Café, both in Santa Fe. There were only 20 nominees in all of Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Texas and New Mexico.
Another year, another year’s worth of our “Odds & Ends” column down the drain. As usual, citizens wasted the time of 911 operators, stoners called police looking for help finding lost weed, bank robbers volunteered an astonishing amount of personal information and drunk drivers crashed into many, many things. England led the world of weird with an amazing 24 “Odds & Ends” stories in 2010. Stateside, Florida scored 14 mentions, thanks largely to those industrious drunkards along the Sunshine State’s Treasure Coast. So who were the strangest standouts?
Business owners are shocked by the roadwork, but the city says they should have seen it coming
By Sam Adams
No one was prepared for this renovation. That’s the prevailing response from business owners on Lead who, for the next 18-months, will watch 35 blocks in their neighborhood undergo extensive construction. But city representatives are quick to say that they have been communicating with residents and businesses about the road rehab—for more than 20 years.
Police union president Joey Sigala had a last-minute Christmas wish for the City Council at its Monday, Dec. 20 meeting. He asked the Council to put a little something in the Albuquerque Police Department’s stocking and consider reinstating a take-home car policy. Sigala said the officers have offered to chip in $20 a week, which would generate about $187,000 annually to help offset the overall cost. He also said the plan to end the vehicle benefit for about 180 officers come Jan. 1 would cause financial hardship.
Dateline: Russia—In a scene that no doubt rivaled the storied days of the Algonquin Round Table in terms of witty, alcohol-fueled debate, a drunken dispute over the existence of God has left two Russians dead. The disagreement began in the western Siberian city of Tomsk when the female owner of a house, her son, a male roommate and an undisclosed male relative drank a liter of pure alcohol mixed “with snow.” A police investigator told the RIA Novosti news agency, “Soon after the drinking session, the suspect [the son] and the two other men got into a fight about the existence of God.” The son ended up attacking both men with a knife and killing them, thereby providing a clear-cut answer to their questions about God and the afterlife.
On Jan. 15 and 16, Albuquerque will be hosting its first full-blown comic book convention in more than a decade. There will be vendors, guest artists and appearances by several film and TV luminaries (Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery from TheBoondock Saints, “The Incredible Hulk” himself Lou Ferrigno, Gil Gerard and Erin Gray from “Buck Rogers,” Herbert Jefferson Jr. and Anne Lockhart from the original “Battlestar Galactica,” Peter Mayhew from Star Wars).
Honestly, I’m a bit wary of Jim Carrey these days. I prefer to think of him as a perfectly cute dog I’ve known for years that still bites me on occasion for no good reason. Really, I don’t want to like the guy. Sure, he’s been amazing in films such as The Truman Show, Man on the Moon and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But just when I’m lulled into thinking the butt-talking comedian has matured into a fine actor, he turns around and gives us forgettable crap like Fun With Dick and Jane or Yes Man. Hell, even his serious films aren’t without blemish (2007’s just awful The Number 23). Impressive or insufferable: Carrey doesn’t have much middle ground.
Do you fire up the TV on Christmas Eve in hopes of drowning out your relatives, or do you respectfully wait until after presents are opened on Christmas Day to do the same thing? I find that if the programming is holiday-centric enough, you can get away with ignoring everyone, turning up the volume and staring at the TV starting quite early on Dec. 24.
In the '90s, ska was experiencing its third wave, and Albuquerque was experiencing Giant Steps. The seven-member band formed in 1993 from the ashes of notable local groups Beat Fetish and Cool Runnins.
When Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley invited The Rondelles to record for his Smells Like Records label in 1998, there were typical grumblings from a few older and more established Burque bands—no names please. After all, they pointed out, Juliet Swango (guitar, vocals), Oakley Munson (keyboards, drums, vocals) and Yukiko Moynihan (bass) were barely out of high school.
Rather than engaging in the typical Christmas Eve activities (imbibing nog, wearing flannel by a fireplace, receiving diamonds from your lover, not getting a present then discovering your husband leased you a new luxury car with a big stupid bow on top) the lavishly tressed hippies in The Withdrawals will be jamming extended guitar solos for charity. The show unfurls at Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW) on Friday at 8 p.m. Admission is $8—get $3 off with two cans of food—and proceeds benefit the Roadrunner Food Bank. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Once upon a time, Robert Kerley was the keyboard player for ska band Giant Steps. The Albuquerque native relocated to Lawrence, Kan., where he still resides, playing in a few bands, including a ska group called Checkered Beat. On Dec. 29, he’s reuniting with Giant Steps for a show at the Launchpad. In anticipation of that reunion, we asked Kerley to put his digital music library on shuffle. “I promise this is how the list came out!” he says. “The sixthsong was actually from another band of mine—I have 30 gigs of music on my Zune and probably less than 1 percent is my own stuff.”
Comic returns to his hometown for one stand-up night
By Christie Chisholm
Marc Maron isn’t famous, but he should be. The stand-up comedian and ex-Albuquerquean has appeared on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” three-dozen times and “The Late Show With David Letterman” four times, and he’s had two of his own half-hour specials on Comedy Central. He was one of the voices behind the now-defunct “Morning Sedition” radio show on Air America. Plus, he was the irate promoter in Almost Famous (an appropriate title for Maron) who orders his minions to “Lock the gates!” on the protagonists’ hurtling tour bus.
Nearly 30-year-old “gallery” is in the business of more than beads
By John Bear
Stone Mountain Bead Gallery supplies artists, but the East Nob Hill store is also like a museum. Thousands of styles, shapes and colors fill plastic crates in space’s center, along the walls and inside display cases. Customers—established artists, collectors and kids making earrings for their mothers—are handed a tray for sorting as they shop.
Eating Chinese food on Christmas is a tradition in some American Jewish communities, since Chinese restaurants are the only places that stay open for it. Along with Jewish folks and much of Asia, most of world’s population doesn’t celebrate Christmas—which can be a bit hard to remember stateside.
Ballet: Boring or scary? Scary, says Darren Aronofsky’s new head trip.
By Devin D. O’Leary
Thanks most likely to the arresting imagery of its trailers, Darren Aronofsky’s beautifully nightmarish film Black Swanhas captured a lot of people’s attentions. Despite its rarified setting and artsy style, the “ballet thriller” (I honestly don’t know what else to call it) seems to have danced its way into the zeitgeist. Internet buzz is high, audiences seem curious and the film even scored its own pop-cultural reference on a recent episode of the NBC sitcom “30 Rock.” So what’s all the fuss about?
It’s Sunday night in the main showroom at the Hard Rock Casino, south of Albuquerque. The place is packed and excitement is high. “¡Otra! ¡Otra!,” shouts the crowd, encouraging a tall man in a gold mask to mete out “another!” viscous forearm smash to a beefy bodybuilder dressed like a cross between serial killer Jason Voorhees and an extra in Gladiator. Lucha libre has come to Albuquerque. And it’s got the locals cheering.
After my last article expounding the joys of an Elvis Christmas, I received dozens of responses (mostly from my cousin Dana) asking for more holiday recommendations. I don’t actually know of much Christmas music that is bearable, so I looked to the Internet for help. My fingers hovered over the keys as I dreamed of the perfect search criteria, until I was struck with a terrible impulse. The cynic in me was already screaming no and railing against the idea as I clicked out “dogs sing Christmas music.” Google yielded more than 20 million results—I found the best one. I’m going to spend the next three weeks holed up in my tiny apartment, ordering pizza and watching “Jingle Pet Song” on YouTube over and over until my eyes swell shut.
Opeth rules. This is not a matter of opinion. Metal fan or not, you have to give it up for any band that has covered as much ground, with as much bold artistry and attention to detail, as this Swedish quintet without coming out the other end sounding like Sun Ra or Throbbing Gristle (no offense to either and props to both, by the way). Considering that Opeth has continually pushed the proverbial envelope despite ongoing major roster changes commands even deeper reverence.
Le Chat Lunatique’s Jared Putnam releases Brontosaurus on Pluto
By Mel Minter
When it was suggested to Jared Putnam that his new recording, Brontosaurus on Pluto, indicates a wonderfully imaginative and possibly quite sick mind at work, he responded, “I prefer to think of my mind as possibly imaginative and wonderfully quite sick.”
Last week in my article “Vinyl X-Mas,” which overviewed good places to buy records in Albuquerque, I wrote that “ ... I don’t like that Charley’s shrink-wraps used vinyl, preventing pre-purchase inspection (and previewing the music) ... .” The comment drew fire from the owner, employees and loyal customers of Charley’s 33s & CDs (7602 Menaul NE, 296-3685). This was my experience at Charley’s—about two years ago, I bought a used copy of Prince’s Purple Rain, but I wasn’t permitted to cut through the shrink-wrap and check out the condition of the vinyl before my purchase. I brought it home to find that “When Doves Cry” skipped. After speaking with Charley’s co-owner Colleen Corrie last week, she assured me that my case is totally unusual. She says the store will open and play any record for a customer, and that the shrink-wrapping measure is taken to preserve the quality of the vinyl. The store also carries thousands of $1 records that aren’t wrapped. So, I hope that clears things up, and that no reader hesitates to check out Charley’s. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Never, ever underestimate the power of scissors and glue sticks. This geometrically exciting flyer announces a rock performance by ROO—which is getting back together—along with Ahniwake, Then Eats Them and Music is the Enemy. The all-ages show happens of Wednesday, Dec. 22, from 7 to 10 p.m. Admission is $5, or whatever you can pay, and it all takes place at Winning Coffee Co. (111 Harvard SE). (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Jared Putnam is the bassist and a vocalist for Albuquerque’s filthiest jazz act, Le Chat Lunatique. This week he releases a solo album—read all about it after the link below this article. We asked Putnam to put his iPod on shuffle, and below are the first five songs that appeared, along with some intentionally undesirable grammar construction.
Maybe it was a premonition of things to come that big, weird landmarks were a happy part of my childhood. At 25-feet high, the Michigan Stove Company’s giant stove marked the entrance to the Belle Isle Bridge on Detroit’s riverfront. The monument was built in 1893 for Chicago’s Columbian Exposition and was moved to celebrate a merger with Detroit Stove Works in 1927. To me it represented family picnics at Belle Isle—food!
If you haven't been inside one of the many Mexican markets around town, you're missing out. They're enclaves of culture as well as food, filled with goods and services to make their customers feel at home, not unlike an Asian supermarket or a Whole Foods. Some Mexican markets have developed a loyal following among the English-as-a-first-language demographic as well; because in addition to the fresh papayas, phone cards and goat-milk candy, they have restaurants with great Mexican food. Today we explore the culinary offerings of the locally owned El Mezquite Market chain, with four stores in Albuquerque.
He was pulled over for speeding and then escorted to the border
By Marjorie Childress
Albuquerque has a number of rules in place governing how local law enforcement should handle immigration. But none of the city’s policies prevented two men from being escorted to the border after a traffic stop this summer.
The sore throat starts on Monday. Tuesday adds a headache and congestion. On Wednesday, you ask to leave work after almost hacking up your lungs onto a client, but your boss is being uptight. So you tough it out and go home exhausted, skipping dinner and falling into bed. You feel a little better on Thursday, so off to work you go. But by Thursday night, you feel like the victim of a hit-and-run. So you call the doctor early Friday. She can squeeze you in that afternoon. You ask your boss if you can leave early for a doctor’s appointment. He gives you a disapproving look like you’re a naughty 4-year-old, informing you that he’ll need to see a doctor’s note.
Dateline: India—A herd of drunken elephants went on a rampage in eastern India, destroying 60 homes and killing three people, after downing gallons of liquor. Villagers along the remote border of neighboring states Orissa and West Bengal had been stockpiling a popular fermented-rice-based drink for an upcoming festival. According to Bijay Kumar Panda, a local administrator, the elephants found the earthenware containers full of rice wine and proceeded to guzzle it all. They then staggered through a string of villages, only “to fall asleep hither and thither, throwing local life completely haywire.” According to New Delhi’s Pioneer newspaper, the elephants are known for “their love for local country-made brew” which they “gulp down” and “make merry at the cost of villagers.”
In January, Indie Q will celebrate its one-year anniversary. The e-mail distribution list and networking group for local, independent filmmakers was started by the Albuquerque Film Office in January of 2009. Indie Q members meet the third Wednesday of every other month to discuss the New Mexico film scene, network with one another and screen works-in-progress. Starting Monday, Dec. 20, Indie Q will operate out of a new website, independent of its cabq.gov address. If you’re already signed up to get Indie Q’s helpful e-mails about upcoming auditions, film festivals, screenings, classes and the like, they’ll now be coming to you from firstname.lastname@example.org. If, however, you’re Duke City dweller involved in the independent film scene and aren’t signed up at Indie Q, now’s a perfect time to jump on board. Simply head over to the new website at indieq.ning.com and post a free member profile. There are already 200 locals who have. A profile on Indie Q will allow you to interact with other filmmakers, post events, start film-related discussions and receive those handy film industry e-mails. (And since they’re sent right to your inbox, it’s not like you have to log on to Indie Q every week to find out what’s going on.) Obviously, the more filmmakers involved, the more valuable this group will be. What are you waiting for?
TV has gotten mighty sneaky about trying to sell us stuff. Realizing that viewers don’t actually like to watch commercials, television networks and their pals over on Madison Avenue have come up with some clever ways of getting us to absorb ads in the past few years. There are the title sponsorships, now common in sports broadcasting (the “FedEx Orange Bowl,” the “VISA Halftime Show”). There’s the rash of “embedded” commercials (Randy and Simon grinning over jumbo-sized cups of refreshing Coca-Cola on “American Idol,” NBC working Subway into several plotlines of its Monday night show “Chuck”). There’s even been a movement to “micro-size” commercials, adding more commercial breaks during a show, but reducing their length from the industry standard two minutes and two seconds. (“We’ll be back in two and two,” as Chuck Woolery used to say on “Love Connection.”)
Being homeless is no fun, but Josh Jones of Black Market Goods wants to help. For the fourth year running, the gallery owner is holding a benefit for those in need. Wasted Youth, held at 1816 Haines NW, will gather artists, musicians and dancers together at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18. The theme of the show is nostalgia pieces reflecting video games, comics and toys from the artists’ formative years. The show will feature art from a variety of mediums. Five bands are set to perform, along with a DJ, body painters and a burlesque troupe. There is a $3 donation at the door that can be substituted for clothing, toys and food, which will be donated to Toys for Tots, Roadrunner Food Bank and other charities. Jones says he has been "kind of homeless" before, so he wants to help others out. "It sucks to be out there in the cold," he says. Yes, it does.
There’s that joke: What do you get when you play country music backward? You get your house, your truck and your wife back. At its heart, it’s a joke about how depressing country music can be. Nobody wants to hear about the realities of divorce, alcoholism or depression through their radios. Artists have often used life’s lows as rich fodder for their visual material, and the current drawing show at The Normal Gallery is a good example of that.
Holiday gift shopping should never cause the anxiety that it does for so many of us. There’s always that one person you need to shop for who likes ... nothing. Sure, you can rely on blah fallback gifts that leave you feeling vaguely ashamed: something from Bath and Body Works or the Craftsman tool section.
’Tis the twilight before Christmas and all through the house not a shopper has stirred yet—not even in Taos! The stockings you hung by the chimney are bare, but the thought of the mall makes you rip out your hair. Our Last-Minute Gift Guide should do you some good: We found local shops in your own neighborhood. From the Heights to Corrales, Nob Hill and more, just wait ’til you see what gifts lie in store.
Willy Wonka would approve. Decorated in oversized lollipops and gumdrops, this sugary wonderland has something for every sweet tooth. Melodie Maren opened The Candy Basket in January, and she lets her two boys—7 and 4 years old—help pick what's for sale. Smart move.
Funky Midtown fashion boutique H/G (or Hallowed Ground, to those in the know) packs its San Mateo Pavilions storefront with new and recycled fashion. The style is a mix of cool club wear and '80s fabulous—everything a retro-minded fashionista could want. Twenty bucks seems to be the break point for most items. Two of the store's walls are lined with Hallowed Grounds' own paint-spattered, graffiti-covered T-shirts—which bring to mind Malcolm McLaren's legendary punk boutique SEX by way of Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. Several tees are adorned with cassette tape imprints, furthering the '80s aesthetic. And yes, H/G also features a gallery of reasonably priced paintings and drawings from area artists.
The people that brought us Zap ... oh! children's boutique opened a sister shop, Besitos—which means "little kisses"—in October. Babies ages 2 and under will appreciate soft, plush blankets and clothes made from organic cotton. Practical pieces abound, with the occasional luxury item—rattles, books, toys and fancy little shoes—mixed in.
Nestled in the Poco-a-Poco garden patio, Tinhorn Toys offers merchandise that couldn’t be more different from the touristy souvenirs that pervade Old Town. This old-fashioned, battery-free store specializes in reproduction tin toys from the '40s, '50s and '60s—there are tops, trains, tea sets and a wide variety of robots. Tinhorn also carries classic toys such as Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, marbles, jacks, tiddlywinks, pick-up sticks and blocks. Bobbie, Tinhorn's exceptionally friendly co-owner, will help you find a gift, be it zombie action figures for an adult child or a sock monkey for a baby.
The Fat Finch calls itself a “Boutique for Birders,” but it’s so much more. Sure, the two-year-old shop owned by lifetime bird enthusiast Roberta Beyer is stocked with seed, feeders, baths, houses and an impressive array of bird-watching books. But you could find something for most anyone on your holiday list here. Its three rooms are dotted with games, puzzles, jewelry, T-shirts, locally hand-painted silk scarves, bath and body products, finger puppets, baby clothes, and some of the best cards we’ve seen in the city. Almost all of the inventory is bird-themed, in styles that range from the more mature to the decidedly hip.
The vibe at Galeria de Corrales is pleasant. It's nestled behind a yarn store on Corrales Road and easy to miss if you aren't looking. But once you find it, an artist on duty will take you on a tour of the newly expanded gallery, which features about 25 artists. Wildlife and landscape paintings abound, but there’s also a good deal of pottery, art clocks, stained glass, quilts, handbags, sculptures big and small, a futuristic metal kachina, and lots of metal working. For those on a budget, there are relatively cheap prints of paintings and greeting cards. Good gift idea: the mirror lined with beer caps. Another has googly eyes.
Bodies ... The Exhibition has been up for about two months at the Albuquerque Convention Center (401 Second Street NW, Northwest Exhibit Hall). It features real preserved corpses in various, though usually sports-related, poses.
Michael Spies never anticipated going to work for the United Nations. "It always seemed to be something of an unobtainable aspiration for someone who doesn't have the pedigree," he says. He didn't attend a university in the Northeast, and he doesn't have any political connections. Instead, Spies got his bachelor's degree in political science from the University of New Mexico.
The Council elected Don Harris as its president during the Monday, Dec. 6 meeting. Councilor Rey Garduño will step in to do his turn as vice president. Former President Ken Sanchez will serve as chairman of the Committee of the Whole. Other appointments were tabled until the Dec. 20 meeting.
Dateline: Ghana—A 72-year-old grandmother suffered a horrific death when she was burned alive by a mob after being accused of witchcraft. As reported in Ghana’s Daily Graphic, a group of five people allegedly tortured Ama Hemmah in order to extract a confession of witchcraft before dousing her in kerosene and setting her on fire. The suspects, including the preacher of a local evangelical church, denied the charges. According to Pastor Samuel Fletcher Sagoe, 55, he and his compatriots were simply praying to exorcise an evil spirit from the woman when the anointing oil they had applied to her body accidentally caught fire. The incident occurred at Site 15, a suburb of Tema Community 1 near the capital city of Accra. A student nurse, who happened upon the scene, attempted to rescue the woman, but the victim died of her burns within 24 hours of arrival at the Tema General Hospital. So far, no arrests have been made, but the case has been turned over to the Attorney General’s Department for possible prosecution.
The 2010 edition of the genre-crazed independent film festival TromaDance New Mexico starts up this weekend at Guild Cinema in Nob Hill. The festival launches on Friday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. with the Troma Entertainment trash classic Tromeo & Juliet, followed by an opening-night screening of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Catholic Church-meets-freakshow freak-out Santa Sangre. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 11 and 12, are filled with blocks of shorts as well as local premieres of the slasher flick Exhibit A-7and the comic art documentary Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods. Locally shot comedy In Trouble and New Mexico-lensed action flickA Lonely Place For Dying will also be screened. Tickets and passes are available at the Guild box office (3405 Central NE).
If you’ve got a film lover in your life, then you might appreciate a little guidance on what to get them this holiday season. The year 2010 was a banner annum for hot DVD/Blu-ray packs. Whatever your cinephile loves, you’re sure to find something to suit his or her taste amid the following suggestions. And if you stumble across something that you might like to bug Santa for yourself, that’s OK too.
It’s not often that Duke City denizens get to see a TV show being filmed. Sure, “Breaking Bad,” “In Plain Sight,” “Wildfire” and “Scoundrels” all made their mark on Albuquerque, lensing (and in the case of the first two, continuing to lens) lots of local landmarks. But aside from the random sighting of a film crew camped out Downtown, our opportunity to really see a show being shot is slim.
“Damn right I have the blues,” proclaims singer/songwriter/guitarist Felix Peralta in a burst of enthusiasm about his new, almost solo CD, Gato Malo,Acoustic Blues for the Grave, Volume 1. The front man for Felix y Los Gatos, Peralta is better known for the consistently upbeat dance music that band pumps out. But he has another side, one he’s been more in touch with recently.
The consumerist orgy that annually masquerades as Christmas is upon us and—maddeningly awful Mariah Carey Christmas songs aside—preparing to exchange gifts can be a hassle monetarily and sentimentally. Luckily there is some consolation to the annoyance summoned by this spending spree. If you're reading this, chances are you have a few musically inclined folks on your list: Enter the vinyl record, the X-mas shopping fun-maker.
This endearingly crude handmade flyer is one in a series of four announcing a performance by Alabama pop punk band (I’m hearing emo, but that’s a dirty word nowadays) Heroes For Tonight. The four-piece headlines at REVLIS (712 Central SE) on Tuesday, Dec. 14. Show starts at 6 p.m. and is opened by The Ill Motion, Emergency Ahead and Doomed to Exist. Five dollars gets you into the (not emo) show. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Matthew Ezzard is the upright-bass player for Swingin’ Meat, purveyor extraordinaire of Albuquerque-based alt.country. Let’s find out what kinds of ditties dwell in Mr. Ezzard’s music library, shall we?