Radio project reaches out to inmates and their families, breaking the silence around America’s prisons
A mix of songs with academic themes
Fundraising for tiny texts at The Projects
A pueblo harvest
Don’t be afraid to blend your own spices
ACLU calls out Sheriff’s Department for holding an event in the Lord’s house
Dark Irish comedy finds humor in murder, drugs, blackmail and hookers
The term “black comedy” has become a bit shopworn of late, covering a wide variety of films from mildly edgy dramedies to movies with a truly morbid sense of humor. So let’s try and expand the designation a bit and call The Guard a dark gray comedy. It’s a fitting label, as the film takes place in the dingy, cloud-covered environs of coastal Ireland. And you couldn’t mistake its sense of humor for the lighthearted, good-natured laughs of a Tom Hanks comedy. Put it on a shelf next to other self-mocking, hardscrabble Irish comedies like Neil Jordan’s movie The Butcher Boy or Martin McDonagh’s stage play The Lieutenant of Inishmore, however, and you’ll find a fitting kinship.
Who’s in and who’s out
Out: Charlie Sheen. In: Ashton Kutcher. This is the most painfully obvious transition of the upcoming fall 2011 season. In one of the most high-profile (and well-tweeted) Hollywood feuds of all time, “Two and a Half Men” producer Chuck Lorre booted troubled actor Charlie Sheen. And hired Ashton Kutcher to replace him. Sheen is busy shopping his TV adaptation of the Adam Sandler film Anger Management. So far, no network seems interested in even bankrolling it. Kutcher, meanwhile, steps into a sweet, $800,000-per-episode gig. Producers have estimated (perhaps a bit optimistically) that the Sheen-less season premiere of the CBS sitcom will draw 50 million viewers. Sheen, meanwhile, got a job hosting Insane Clown Posse’s annual Gathering of the Juggalos.
Eric Morrell—an art director, set decorator and props stylist out of New York—is looking for art department interns for an upcoming feature shooting here in New Mexico. The film is described as “a low-budget 3D feature with name talent.” (I believe that translates into the Zachary Quinto-produced psychedelic horror thriller The Banshee Chapter.) The film is scheduled to film in and around Albuquerque through September. On-the-job responsibilities include: “set dressing, runs, painting, small building and graphics.” No experience is necessary, but interested candidates “must have a willingness to learn” and are expected to make a commitment for at least three days a week. If you’re interested in being part of Morrell’s art department, send a résumé and a small paragraph about why you want the job to Eric Morrell at email@example.com.
The Week in Sloth
Show up for The Show
Body of work points a finger at genocide
Spectral figures clad in white float into the intersection of Fourth and Central. They carry armfuls of bones, which they deposit on the ground. As they retreat, more couriers appear and they too place dozens of skeletal pieces in the street. The cycle continues until 50,000 white offerings fill the crossroads. This is the first round of the activist art installation One Million Bones, and it happens on Saturday, Aug. 27.
We put out a call to local artists, asking them to show us how they’d redesign an Alibi distribution box. We were subsequently showered with submissions, and we spent weeks poring over drawings, sketches, digital renderings, and mad ramblings in letters and emails. Notions of every sort sloshed across our desks, fresh from the minds of our city’s creative geniuses.
European road pic travels familiar path, but snaps a pretty picture
A foreign accent, an eccentric cast, some gorgeous scenery and a lighthearted joie de vivre attitude about dark subjects: These are a few of the elements necessary for constructing an art-house crowd-pleaser. Vincent Wants to Sea (Vincent Will Meer) is just such a film. Having nabbed Outstanding Feature and Best Actor at the 2011 German Film Awards (while nailing down nominations for Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Screenplay), Vincent is now pulling into America looking for easily charmed audiences.
TV gets real
For decades, summertime was the time for TV reruns. If you missed a few episodes of your favorite network sitcom in fall/spring, you could catch them in July. Or you could go out and play Frisbee. But these days—what with the proliferation of new cable TV stations and broadcast networks expending extra effort to create original summertime programming—reruns are hardly the hot topic. September is fast approaching, and summer is almost gone. We’re just weeks away from the debut of the fall 2011 TV season. What better time to ask the question, “What have we been watching all summer?” I’ll give you one big hint: There ain’t a lot of scripts involved.
The Week in Sloth
It’s late summer, and that means it’s definitely film festival time. Everybody is lining up to curate a festival of cool independent films this time of year. We just got done with the Albuquerque Film Festival and the Native Cinema Showcase and we’re gearing up for the Southwest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and the Truth or Consequences Film Festival. In between, we’ll just have to make due with the White Sands International Film Festival. The sixth annual WSIFF will take place Thursday, Aug. 25, through Sunday, Aug. 28, in Las Cruces. The new dramedy Refuge by award-winning playwright / Las Cruces resident Mark Medoff will start off the festival on a high note, serving as the opening night premiere. Throughout the weekend, there will be a ton of films, workshops, parties and more to keep festivalgoers busy. Val Kilmer will be on hand to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award on Friday. The Doors (1991) and Tombstone (1993) will be part of the fest’s Kilmer retrospective. Aside from that, there’s a wide range of films to choose from in the festival’s schedule—from the Native American high school track documentary Run to the East to the New Mexico-shot romantic comedy The Bigfoot Election. Screenings take place at the Cineport 10 and all-festival passes are on sale right now. They’ll run you between $25 and $75 dollars. Individual tickets can be purchased at the venue, if available.
Fresh ideas in “health care”
I spend a lot of time driving around looking for individuals, restaurants, food boutiques and other businesses that sustain Albuquerque’s gustatory cravings. In this crazy economy I remain eternally hopeful, buoyed by the seemingly endless stream of entrepreneurs ready to open their doors to the Duke City. From brand-spanking new, to oldies but goodies, here are a few of my latest finds.
In the fight for equal rights, transgender issues have been left in the dust
Criminal justice reform may still be in the cards for New Mexico
Andy Warhol was among the most iconic and prolific visual artists of the 20th century, a highbrow and low class culture cultivator of profound influence. The pop artist is just as recognized for his soup cans or Marilyn Monroes as he is for the silver New York "Factory" where those works were produced (while his Superstars and other celebrities milled about, glamorously bored). But Warhol was also an avant-garde filmmaker, publisher, producer and dabbler in performance art. One facet of this multidimensional career was The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, a series of traveling multimedia shows that occurred between 1966 and 1967. The shows featured Warhol's films, dancing and performances by Factory regulars and house band The Velvet Underground.
Atmosphere’s Slug on life after death
Serial killer digs Thelonious Monk in Swedish crime novel
A totally killer schedule is in place for Albuquerque’s annual, homegrown festival of science fiction and fantasy. The theme of this year’s convention is steampunk, which we at the Alibi are crazy about [Feature, “Full Steam Ahead,” July 21-27]. There’s a costume contest on Saturday night, a discussion on “Steampunk Definitions: More Than Victorian Clothing,” a make-and-take workshop with gears, and vendors selling corsets, cloaks and all the other bits and bobs to fulfill your mechanical-wonder needs.
Indoor surfing? Yeah, dude, it’s a trip. Just remember to knot those shorts tight.
So, based on the most recent available data, here’s the battleground. Good luck navigating it, citizens of Burque. (Click below for our interactive Danger Map.)
Everyone knows arsenic is a poison, but did you know it's in your water too? Low levels of arsenic in your glass are naturally occurring. The Environmental Protection Agency says that drinking water must have fewer than 10 parts per billion of arsenic to prevent harmful effects of long-term exposure. According to the 2010 report by the Albuquerque Bernalillo Water Utility Authority, these water zones have as high as 8 parts of arsenic per billion. It’s worth keeping an eye on. Check your zone here: bit.ly/abqarsenicwater. (EK)
Ghost bikes are descansos (roadside memorials) that remind us of cyclists killed by vehicles. Although the New Mexico Department of Transportation documents more than 100 deaths of bicyclists in New Mexico since 1989, only 10 ghost bikes haunt Albuquerque’s streets. The Duke City Wheelmen Foundation installs ghost bikes when a friend or family notifies the group of a death. Jennifer Buntz, the group’s founder, says the Duke City Wheelman began memorializing fallen comrades in 2010. For more information on the individual memorials, how to install a ghost bike or to get involved, visit dukecitywheelmen.org. (EK)
We can't always blame it on the booze. Sometimes bad drivers are just bad drivers, particularly on Paseo del Norte. A report by UNM’s Division of Government Research breaks down the 50 worst intersections in the state based on data from 2007 through 2009. Paseo del Norte at Coors as well as at Jefferson tie for the No. 1 spots with 391 crashes apiece. Coors and Paseo is slightly more dangerous, as 118 of those crashes (or 30 percent) were fatal. (Paseo and Jefferson comes in at 110 fatalities, or 28 percent.) More intersections to steer clear of: bit.ly/abqcarcrashes. (EK)
Beware the coffee! This is the very McDonald’s where, in 1992, Stella Liebeck ordered a 49 cent cup of joe and then spilled it on her lap, resulting in burns, a successful $2.8 million lawsuit and a flood of hacky jokes from every two-bit comic in the country. Although most people have heard of the case, many don’t realize that the coffee was so hot (180 to 190 degrees) that Liebeck suffered third-degree burns requiring a skin graft, or that McDonald’s had refused to grant Liebeck’s initial request for just enough money to cover her medical expenses. Regardless of your take on the lawsuit, we recommend that if you buy coffee anywhere, you not hold the cup between your legs while driving. (TB)
Since 2005, seven dogs residing in zip code 87121 (south of Central between 98th Street and Coors) have been monitored by the city. The pups that are determined dangerous are licensed, sterilized, microchipped and cannot leave their owner’s property without an adequate leash. Two of the dogs are named Rufus, including one very intimidating Chihuahua. If you have an unfortunate canine run-in, visit 1.usa.gov/abqbaddogs. (EK)
Although we can't tell you which roads are guaranteed to bring you home safe on a Friday night, we can tell you which to avoid. Data gathered by UNM’s Division of Government Research between 2007 and 2009 ranks the odd little intersection where Central and Zuni merge (they’re parallel elsewhere) as No. 1 in percentage of accidents involving alcohol, with 11.8 percent of the 34 crashes caused by intoxication. To see how your intersection ranks, go to bit.ly/abqcarcrashes. (EK)
Eight months into 2011, and APD is already reporting 17 homicides throughout the city. Only two of the cases remain unsolved, says Sgt. Trish Hoffman. Officer-involved shootings are not included in those numbers. To see what’s near your address, go to crimemapping.com. (EK)
Kirtland Air Force Base is a morass of frightening stuff—namely, nuclear weapons and a massive jet fuel hemorrhage. Although Air Force head honchos neither confirm nor deny numbers, an estimated 2,000 nuclear warheads lie in underground storage at the base. If the threat of a Duke City nuclear holocaust isn’t enough, there’s also Albuquerque’s version of the BP spill. Millions of gallons of Air Force jet fuel creep closer and closer to southeastern Albuquerque neighborhoods every day. The base says the fuel seepage originated during a ’50s era pipe leak. Although it hasn’t hit drinking water wells, it has reached the monitoring wells and is nearing reserve water sources. (EK)
A contract with Arizona-based Redflex expired in Oct. 2010, and we thought they were gone. No such luck. A month later Mayor Richard Berry reinstated red-light cameras at 14 intersections throughout the city. Not only do the cameras catch you red-handed, estimates say that an additional $370,000 was needed in tax money to keep the program in place. On average, 73 citations are issued per month and make up one-third of the city’s moving violation tickets. Data from 2010 put the intersection at Central and Coors as the clear frontrunner, with 3,036 citations issued between January and August. Add that to 4,385 citations at the same intersection in 2009. Fines are $75 and can be paid by mail or online. The question of whether to keep the system in place goes to Albuquerque voters on Oct. 4. For more on these robocop cameras: 1.usa.gov/abqredlightcameras. (EK)
The EPA says the Sandia Labs Mixed Waste Landfill isn’t a threat, but a 2011 report by Citizen Action says otherwise. The mixed-waste landfill lies directly above the main source of water for 600,000 Albuquerque residents. From 1959 to 1988 the landfill was used for disposal of low-level radioactive materials. Contaminants include nickel, cadmium, nitrate and chromium, all of which can cause nasty health problems with overexposure. What’s more, Mesa del Sol—a “green” community development touting that its “respect for the environment result[s] in a healthier, simpler, more sustainable way to live”—just broke ground adjacent to the site. (EK)
Hide your kids, hide your wife and keep that mace handy, especially if you live in zip code 87108. The New Mexico Sex Offender Information Page, developed by Department of Public Safety, lists 146 registered sex offenders in the area south of Lomas and east of Carlisle. To see who’s hiding out in your zip code, visit: bit.ly/abqpervs. (EK)
A Superfund site is a polluted area that the federal government has determined is harmful to public health or the environment and is in need of immediate cleanup efforts. Lucky Albuquerque has three.
Here are highlights from the June 2011 Albuquerque Police Department Monthly Report (cabq.gov/police/reports). They happened in a ’hood near you. (EK)
Entertainment genre demographics
On average, what kind of nightlife do Albuquerque, Santa Fe and surrounding areas have to offer? Based on a sample taken from this week’s Music Calendar, a lot of DJs. People playing prerecorded music of various forms, formats and qualities is nearly twice as common as the next highest ranking genre—jazz. Rock, Americana (which includes folk, singer-songwriter, alt.country and bluegrass) and karaoke rounded out the top five. For proportional illustration, view the makeup of the Alibi’s Music Calendar in this appetizing pie chart.
Portland post-punk/shoegaze band The Prids returns to Albuquerque on Saturday, Aug. 20. The performance—part of what is rumored to be the heavily touring band’s final spin around the country—happens at Burt’s Tiki Lounge (313 Gold SW). Albuquerque acts The Glass Menageries and Lady Uranium open. This 21-and-over show is free and begins at 9:30 p.m. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Shootings, lack of oversight have plagued police for years
Death is in the details
Third Annual Albuquerque Film Festival packs schedule with diversity
The motto for the third annual Albuquerque Film Festival is “Hip. Cool. Funny. Strange. Social Change.” That all-things-to-all-people promise is more than fulfilled in the festival’s eclectic lineup of events, which runs Aug. 18 through 21.
Admirable, no-budget sci fi gets sucked in by the gravitational pull of sad teenagers and planet-sized metaphors
“Stuck With Hackett” on Science Channel
Perhaps it’s the bad economy that’s got us all hunkering down in survival mode. The very week that Science Channel premieres “JUNKies” (a show about no-budget inventors making cool machines out of junk), the cable station also hands us “Stuck With Hackett.” Following in a similar Dumpster-science vein, this show introduces audiences to survivalist savant and “post-apocalyptic MacGyver” Chris Hackett.
The newest film to shoot in our fair state is The Banshee Chapter. The modestly budgeted horror film is being produced by actor Zachary Quinto’s Before the Door Pictures. Quinto is best known as Sylar on the TV show “Heroes” and as Spock in J.J. Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek. No word on whether Quinto will star in the film. The film is to be written and directed by Blair Erickson, who’s making his feature film debut with this one. Chapter is allegedly based on a series of real CIA programs, and it concentrates on a female journalist who goes in search of a friend who’s been experimenting with mind-altering chemicals developed in secret government drug tests. Shooting is scheduled to go in front of the lens in late August.
The Week in Sloth
Abstractions in Balance is imaginative, sophisticated and poetic. The new collections presented by Lorna E. Smith and Harley Kirschner, running this month at the Range Café in Bernalillo, both draw inspiration from the natural world, but contain nuanced differences. Kirschner says “at the core of both bodies of work is a Zen simplicity.”
Duke City Rep offers reasons to be pretty
Playwright Neil LaBute is known for his unflinching, cynical plays that feature characters at their worst, often worthy of audience disgust. He is also regarded for his rapid-fire, true-to-life dialogue that has actors talking over one another and cutting off each other’s lines. Duke City Reparatory Theatre’s production of reasons to be pretty has both of these elements. But Amelia Ampuero, the director of the play, says this LaBute script is much more palatable than some of his other material.
New Mexico intrigues revealed by former CIA officer
The pig face is local!
Occitania is a cultural region centered on the narrowest part of the Iberian Peninsula. It includes Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, rugged mountains, fertile valleys, and grape terrace-filled hills. This land of figs and fish is mostly French but includes parts of Spain and Italy. The Northern Italian restaurant Torinos’ @ Home, off Jefferson in the Journal Center, is the next best thing to a plane ticket to Occitania’s northeast corner.
Stalwart Asian bistro is reborn in Nob Hill
Chow’s Chinese Bistro opened in Santa Fe in 1993. I remember a friend telling me about a great new Chinese place I should try, and I did. The food was a step up from ordinary—fresh, bright flavors, and ingredients beyond mix-and-match vegetables. In 1999, the first Albuquerque Chow’s opened on Juan Tabo, followed by another at Cottonwood mall in 2005. Proprietors Richard and Lucy Zeng and their son Jason opened Fan Tang two weeks ago in Nob Hill.