Painting the town ill
On the sleepy Labor Day streets of Nob Hill, the alley between Flying Star and the Slice Parlor attracted quite a crowd. Three artists jammed out to hip-hop while keeping their brushes to concrete on the 100-foot long wall. Everyone passing by stopped to watch, dance, talk and take pictures.
The psychedelic street art is a mishmash of images and colors reflecting the styles of the collaborating artists: Jaque Fragua, Ernest Doty and Ryan Montoya. A sickly green skeleton hovers in the smog of a nuclear reactor above the message “A good Indian is a live Indian.” A large Native/east Indian spirit guide with four eyes looks on. The hands of God descend from the sky controlling marionettes.
Fragua says the artwork is meant to draw attention to environmental and cultural degradation. “We wanted to put everything under one umbrella,” he says. “This includes all of the issues that face the way indigenous people live in the area and around the world.”
Fragua says he sees the piece as a parody of what he calls “art slavery” along Route 66 where billboards advertise Indian wares for tourists. “We’re advertising the truth,” he says. “It’s something that doesn’t require money to look at, just attention.”
The mural is part of a larger show called Bomb the Canvas, featuring graffiti-style art around Albuquerque. The fourth-annual expo ended Sunday, but the street art lives on.
Driver’s license checks no mas. For now.
Everyone is talking about driver's licenses. First Gov. Susana Martinez required 10,000 foreign nationals to show proof of residency. Then, Mexican-Americans rallied to fight back: protests, letters, and lawsuits abound.
Yesterday, a District Court judge in Santa Fe, Sarah Singleton, issued a temporary halt to the guv’s push. The order came in response to a lawsuit brought against the Taxation and Revenue Department. Freedman Boyd, working with the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund, filed the suit. He says Martinez’ license verification effort violates the separation of powers between New Mexico's executive and legislative branches.
“We think it's a great step towards ending this unconstitutional action once and for all,” says David Urias, an lawyer who also worked on the lawsuit. “We believe the courts will step in and stop it.”
This would be good news for El Centro and Somos un Pueblo Unido, organizations that advocate for immigrant rights. Both groups have vocally opposed the program, saying Martinez is targeting immigrants for political gain.
Somos un Pueblo Unido issued a news release yesterday about the judge's decision, explaining their stance on the residency certification. The organization “believes the program is inefficient, costly, confusing, and is being used to intimidate immigrant families in New Mexico … .”
Today El Centro will hold a rally called “Don't Target our Families” outside of the Taxation and Revenue Department at the northeast corner of Central and San Mateo at 5 p.m.
Goodbye, old house
Casa Vieja's 300-year-old walls succumbed to old age earlier this month. Owners Josh and Kate Gerwin closed their doors until further notice after a building inspector deemed the collapsing adobe a hazard.
The charming 18th-century structure is one of the oldest in Corrales and has housed stage coaches, military headquarters, tightrope walkers and a general store. For the last 30 years it has been a restaurant.
Since buying the restaurant in 2009, the Gerwins' food and drink have been well-loved by Alibi readers. In last year's annual Alibi poll, Casa Vieja was voted Best Restaurant in Albuquerque. Josh was runner-up for Best Chef and Kate won Best Wine Steward by a landslide vote.
The restaurant's emphasis on locally sourced ingredients made it a favorite with foodies, and the eclectic cocktail and wine lists made even the pickiest drinker happy. The menu reflects the slow food movement by embracing organic and sustainable fare that's never seen the inside of a can.
The Gerwins have not revealed their next step after the condemnation of their building, but here's hoping they bring their culinary creations further into the city.
The ballot for the 2011 Best of Burque Restaurant Poll will hit stands next week. Voting starts on alibi.com Wednesday.
Dune surfing. Couch surfing.
Late Sunday night found my roommate and I sitting on top of a dune in White Sands National Monument with an English couple we'd met earlier that morning. We'd lent them a tent, dropped their backpacks at our house and set out for a five-hour road trip through southwestern New Mexico. Bring a swimsuit for Elephant Butte Lake, we said, and a sleeping bag.
As bizarre as it was for my roommate and I to find ourselves camping with strangers, it was stranger for Julia and Fen who had started the day at Einstein Bagels without a plan.
Such is the beauty of CouchSurfing.org, a global nonprofit network connecting travelers with locals. The network encompasses more than 230 countries and three million members.
Each surfer (or surfer-couple) creates a profile describing their interests, goals, travel stories and pictures. Travelers send out messages asking if they can crash on a couch during their time in a city. Some people host every week, others only do so occasionally. No money changes hands, although it's considered polite to offer a bottle of wine or a home-cooked meal.
It takes a lot of trust to open your doors to a stranger or to spend the night on a foreign couch, so the network has set up a series of verification practices. The site confirms a member's name and address but the community relies on hosts and surfers vouching for each other. Perhaps the leap of faith is that the person you connect with will be someone with whom you want to spend a couple hours or even days.
While the four of us lounged on the marshmallow frosting dunes, we discussed the unusual circumstances that brought us together. Perhaps all CouchSurfers share a willingness to be spontaneous in the search for adventure—even if it means journeying deep into a 275-square-mile desert with strangers.
Jobs rally at Civic Plaza tonight
Unemployment, the economy and budget cuts can be boring topics, but once you start paying attention, they're scarier than that time you watched The Shining late at night, alone. Instead of cowering in fear of a federal ax hacking away at social programs, the American Dream Movement will rally at Civic Plaza today from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
The American Dream Movement, a progressive response to the Tea Party, includes MoveOn.org and 30 other organizations. It’s mission is to create economic justice for veterans, students and others in need. The movement grew out of the turmoil in Wisconsin and was named by Van Jones, who was the green jobs adviser to the White House in 2009. The debt ceiling deal and cuts to Medicare, education and transportation spurred a recent round of demonstrations.
“The priorities are upside down,” says Margo Morado, the council coordinator for the Albuquerque chapter of MoveOn.org, “Taxes have not been raised, and the cuts are going to affect the poor, elderly and disabled the most.”
Albuquerque's rally is one of 254 nationwide taking place today. Morado says 200 people have signed up, and she estimates an attendance of 250 to 400 participants. The demonstration will feature a reading of “A Contract for the American Dream,” a plan to get the economy back on track based on ideas from 131,203 people. The 10-point proposal was developed through online forums and house meetings.
Democratic state Sens. Eric Griego, Jerry Ortiz y Pino (an Alibi columnist) and state Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas will speak in support of job creation and halts on spending cuts. In addition to policy discussions, the rally will also include poets, music from the Route 66 Revelers and a flash mob.
Join your neighbors for National Night Out
Block parties, ice cream socials and potlucks may seem like a strange way to prevent crime, but that’s what neighborhoods throughout Albuquerque will do on Aug 2. for the 28th Annual National Night Out. Events take place between 7 and 9 p.m.
National Night Out aims to strengthen community bonds to deter incidences involving drugs and violence. The events also create partnerships between civilians and police and send the message that neighborhoods are organized to fight back against crime.
APD Crime Prevention Manager Steve Sink says Albuquerque has participated in National Night Out at least since 1999. Every year, he says, about 120 events organized by Neighborhood Watch Programs and Neighborhood Associations occur throughout the city. Nationally, more than 15,000 communities from all 50 states, Canada and military bases join the cause.
Although communities throughout the city participate, Sink says the Northeast area is typically the most organized. He says approximately 30 to 35 Neighborhood Associations throw picnics and parties in local parks. The rest of the events are individual block parties for Neighborhood Watch Programs.
Karl Rove in the Land of Enchantment
When you Google: Karl Rove scandal, Heather Wilson makes the top 10 search results. Despite a history of “he said, she said,” former Rep. Wilson (R) asked Rove, the former deputy chief of staff for President Bush, to join her at an Aug. 11 fundraising reception. The event in Albuquerque will benefit her 2012 campaign.
In 2006, Rove and Wilson were implicated in a scandal involving the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, including N.M. Attorney General David Iglesias.
Rove says Wilson called on the Bush administration to fire Iglesias because he was not progressing quickly enough with a corruption probe into state democrats. Wilson denies that she said anything about the matter. “Attorneygate” ended without criminal charges, but U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned.
Rove left the Bush administration in 2007 amid rampant unpopularity due, in part, to his leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity.
The campaign ties between Rove and Wilson prompted outrage from democrats, who say this is why she was named one of “Congress' most corrupt members by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in 2007.”
Wilson, who served in the House of Representatives from 1998-2009, entered next year's race to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D). She is running on a platform of protecting the free-market system, economy and limited government.
Down With DOMA
This move comes in part after the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico collected more than 1,400 signatures supporting the end of the act. The DOMA defines marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” It further specifies: “The word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” Because of this federal law, states are not obligated to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
Bingaman voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, but he will co-sponsor the 2011 Respect for Marriage Act to repeal it. “I now believe it was a mistake for the federal government to legislate in this area ... ,” he said on the Senate floor earlier this month when he announced his decision. The federal government should not be able to override state laws, he added, and married couples should be treated the same, regardless of sexual orientation.
Twenty-seven senators co-sponsored the bill.
In January, Attorney General Gary King said in his legal opinion, same-sex marriages from other states should be recognized in New Mexico. However, Gov. Susana Martinez opposes gay marriage. State courts or the Legislature have not weighed in.
Martinez requests proof of residency from 10,000 undocumented immigrants
Gov. Susana Martinez announced Tuesday that the Motor Vehicle Division sent letters to 10,000 foreign nationals with state driver's licenses to request proof of residency. Letter recipients will have 30 days to contact the MVD and schedule an in-person appointment to verify their New Mexican address.
According to the guv's July 19 news release, there are about 85,000 foreign nationals with N.M. driver's licenses. The letters were sent to one-eighth of them, selected at random.
Martinez is seeking data on the percentage of driver’s licenses that have been issued to people from other countries who are no longer residents of New Mexico, according to the news release. If results indicate many licenses are held by nonresidents, the Tax and Revenue Division and the MVD will investigate the residency of more people.
Since passing a 2003 law, New Mexico is one of two states that allows drivers to obtain licenses without a Social Security number. The other state, Washington, permits residents to sign a declaration of their legal foreign worker status to obtain a license. Although Utah allows undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses, they cannot be used for identification purposes.
Since Martinez took office earlier this year she has fought to repeal policies that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. Advocates of the practice argue that licensing is beneficial for public safety and the economy.
Newsland is closing
Saddest thing I've heard all week
When I heard Newsland is closing on July 24, part of me died inside. The fight for print media will lose a valuable asset.
Newsland, across from UNM, opened in 1972 in a very different world. It was a world before the Internet, Kindle, iPads or smart phones. Owner Roger Walsh says business dropped off after the popularization of online media and declined even more in the past two years as the economy suffered. Walsh bought the store 29 years ago.
Sales no longer generate enough money to keep the store afloat, Walsh says. The most popular magazines he sells are Scientific American and Albuquerque the Magazine. I go for Harper's Magazine orJuxtapoz. Or to peruse the shelves looking for an obscure poetry journal to bring to Winnings and leaf through over a cup of coffee.
Newland's closure comes on the heels of the national liquidation of Borders by the end of September due to a lack of interested buyers. It's hard not to feel a little doomed.
Walsh says the store will receive credit from the publishers for any magazines they do not sell in the next couple days. He doesn't know what his next step will be, he says, but it would be nice to work for someone else and skip the long hours and responsibility of owning a business.
My next step will be to head on over, load up my arms with magazines and search for another venue half as good as Newsland.