Old Town is one of the best pedestrian shopping districts in Albuquerque, and Old Town merchants know how to do up the holidays right. Park your wagon in the neighborhood, and you can easily accomplish most of your holiday shopping in a single afternoon.
Holiday shopping is as dreaded to me as paying rent; it must be done, but I really don't wanna. To make the experience as pain-free as possible, I make a list, check it twice (maybe three times) and feel no shame about giving the same gift to many of my friends and family. If Nob Hill is your shopping district of choice, then your options are many and getting something for everyone on your list will be no problem.
Jimi Mod Spacepod (1, 112 Morningside SE, 804-2331) is a swankadelic vintage store specializing in mid-century modern furniture, with a special eye toward the space-age. Tin robots (original and reproduction) litter the store's many shelves. Odd old paintings of astronauts and spaceships plaster the walls. Funky, 2001-esque couches recline beside lava lamp-inspired blobs of Murano glass. Danish modern coffee tables jockey for floorspace amid a positively orgasmic selection of plastic fantastic lamps. If Tom Jones owned the penthouse in a casino on Mars, it would look a hell of a lot like this.
I followed Wyoming Boulevard like the great Mississippi River, navigating 'round rocky chains and impersonal megastores, searching every strip mall north of Montgomery for an oasis of great local gifting. Land ho!
The construction dust has barely settled at Riverside Plaza (Coors and Montgomery), but there is a smattering of local vendors there to help you stay out of Wal-Mart.
One of the most widely ignored areas for holiday shopping is the East Mountains, which is a shame, considering how many local artists and business owners take up shop within its scenic boundaries. There are far more shops along Route 66 and N. Hwy. 14 than most people realize, and all it takes to find some of the most unique stores in the area is a pair of eyes and a pretty ride. So step down off your high horse and raise your altitude—you'll be pleasantly surprised (and avoid the migraine-inducing mall crowds).
Gentlemen, Gold Street is a great place to shop for ladies, so this where our journey begins, and Glowing (1, 317 Gold SW, 243-GLOW) is the first store in the row. If, like me, the prospect of pregnancy makes you shudder, steer clear of this store because with it's über-stylish, high-end maternity clothing and baby paraphernalia you may begin to think the whole idea isn't so bad, after all. If you've impregnated someone this holiday season, you're pretty much obligated to go here for a gift certificate. (And if you want to impregnate someone, the lovely lingerie seller Seventh Goddess is right next door.)
In October, The Free Lance-Star out of Fredericksburg, Va., ran an op-ed piece with the headline, "In New Mexico, season's always open for man, car and chopper." The writer, who lives in a rural area, describes a phone conversation with a friend who lives in Albuquerque during which the resident who supposedly lives in a good neighborhood hears a semi-automatic weapon being fired in the near distance. When he hears that "distinct popping noise" again he calls the police. The writer's friend returns to the phone and explains that our local gunfire situation is so bad that residents no longer pay attention to it.
After not quite one year in the State Legislature, one of the most important lessons I've learned is that we have, in our legislative processes, a powerful platform for the voice of the people ... though sometimes how that voice gets heard is not always readily clear.
In politics, success has many fathers, especially when it comes to big projects like arenas, baseball stadiums and building a light-rail system. Ask local leaders to show up at a press conference announcing a big new project and its like Fathers' Day at Furrs Cafeteria. Yet, ask them to sponsor funding (like a new tax) for one of these big amenities—and suddenly these projects become awkward, bucktoothed orphans.
Dateline: Ireland—Proof positive that, if there is a god, he loves the Irish: Fishermen on both sides of the Irish border netted an unexpected Christmas present, hauling in bottles and bottles of Irish cream liqueur from the ocean near the English coast. The bottles of Carolans Irish Creme liqueur were part of a consignment of 8,000 bottles lost last month when a container was swept overboard in a storm in the Bay of Biscay, between Spain and France. The fisherman's nets brought up the bottles still wrapped in special presentation packs that had been destined for the Christmas market in Spain. The presentation packs included not only the bottles of booze, but the glasses from which to drink it. Prawn fishing boats from such diverse ports as Dunmore East and Kilmore Quay in southeast Ireland, Clogherhead in the northeast and Kilkeel in Northern Ireland had reported catching the gift packs in an area off the English coast known as the Smalls. “We don't know how it got to be there,” John Chamney, export director for Ireland's C & C International drinks company, told AFP. “The liqueur was in a container that was swept off a ship in the Bay of Biscay. The container must have broken up when it hit the bottom, and then I suppose the Gulf Stream must have taken it. I haven't spoken to anyone who has sampled the booze but it would appear it is in perfect condition. The glasses hadn't been broken and the Carolans is very drinkable.”
Happy Trails, Cheryl— Cheryl Hooks, host of KUNM's "Ear to the Ground," panel member of the Albuquerque Music Association and champion of the all-ages music community in Albuquerque, is leaving New Mexico for a full-time on-air position in Arizona. "I'd like to say thanks to everyone in the New Mexico music scene," Cheryl said in an e-mail last week. "It's been a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of this community." I call say is, it's been a real honor working with the caliber of tireless local music advocacy that Cheryl has embodied through her work here in New Mexico. In parting, you can read Cheryl's "Crawl Out and Get Active" piece, here.
Get it on with ex-Fever Hot punky new-wave threesome Bang! Bang!, N.Y.C. evil bass-punk duo Mommy And Daddy, Burque's glam-bam thank-you-ma'ams The Foxx and maximus rockus via The Gracchi. Free on Saturday, Dec. 10, at Atomic Cantina. You must be 21 to ride this train. (LM)
Thursday, Dec. 8, 10 p.m.; Burt's Tiki Lounge (21-and-over), free: DJ Swamp is stepping out from behind Beck's turntables with his recent hip-hop release, Never Is Now, and a solo tour. Yes, he played with Beck for four years, but he's not piggybacking off that fame; he's making his own. Never Is Now showcases Swamp's "turntablism" and rapping talents, and it sounds like what nü-metal should be aiming to achieve--a real collaboration of rap and rock. It's dark, hard rock with a kickin' beat and some majorly skilled scratching. In an interview with Alexander Laurence, Swamp said he was working as a street sweeper, even after winning the USA DMC Championship in 1996, until he posed as a reporter and dropped Beck a demo. Following in that "make my own opportunities" vein, Swamp wrote, produced, recorded and performed everything in Never Is Now. His life performance is self-produced, too—and it's much more than dark hair hanging in his face with an occasional hand gesture. He is a pyromaniac; well, a self-described "fire retard." He lights his hands on fire, breaks LPs--and then uses them as instruments--and, apparently, scratches his tongue with phonograph needles. Since it's low budget, he doesn't use flame retardant and has been hospitalized (though I don't know if Burt's allows fire displays of any kind during performances). In "Ring of Fire," Swamp calls himself "the inferno, burning down the show.” I think he's got a theme going here. So mod-clash dance partygoers: Be ready for a different reason to dance Thursday night. It's not the kind of DJ experience we often see in Burque.
Tuesday, Dec. 13; Atomic Cantina (21-and-over), free: Alain Whyte, Morrissey collaborator and current lead singer and songwriter for Los Angeles/London's Red Lightning, is bringing the stripped-down sound of his new three-piece to the Atomic Cantina. Whyte, who helped create such Morrissey faves as You Are the Query and Your Arsenal, has put together a power trio that draws much of its creative ammunition from bands like The Cult, The Smiths and U2.
A Shadow of Our Former Elves—Santa's elves have had enough with slave wages and lousy working conditions. They'll be letting off a little steam in a late-night Christmas variety show beginning this weekend at Sol Arts (712 Central SE). With live music, flicks from Basement Films and surprises around every corner, A Shadow of Our Former Elves should be a welcome alternative to the staid conventions of more typical holiday entertainments. Fridays and Saturdays at 9:45 p.m. through Dec. 17. $5. Proceeds to benefit United Elf Workers of the World, Northern Branch. 710-7724.
Every winter in Iceland, friends and relatives give each other a book. It is a national tradition, this exchange of literary presents, which means that all the books in Iceland are published around Christmastime.
We Have a Winner!—Congratulations to Jason Archuleta for correctly answering all the components of last week's food section quiz and puzzle! Jason emerges $50 richer in Wild Oats groceries and Belgian chocolates, and is the proud new owner of a FirmGrip Straight Peeler by Edge Resources. Way to go, bro!