Gus Pedrotty—Gus, as he likes to be known—stopped by Alibi Headquarters to discuss a bid for mayor that began as idealistic—and some would say unlikely—but has since been transformed into one of the more vital and remarkable candidacies that have passed through this high desert city in ages.
Roadrunner Food Bank's Souper Bowl 2006
As you step through the doorway of the warehouse, you can see chefs' coats float by on a wave of excitement and hear sounds of hot-plate burners flaming. Someone scolds someone else about chilling the crème fraîche, and the scent of rich chicken broth assaults your nostrils before you see the light, airy Matzo balls floating to the surfaces of a hundred tiny bowls at the Flying Star booth. It's just one small scene from the "Souper Bowl," the Roadrunner Food Bank's signature benefit to help raise funds for New Mexico's hungry.
A brief history of soup
Soup experts believe that the delicious substance has existed since the development of pottery about 10,000 years ago. It has appeared in diets in prehistoric societies and in cultures on every inhabited continent around the world. A couple examples include Amazonian tribes who used turtle shells to boil their special version of turtle-entrail soup, and according to Greek historian Herodotus, the Scythians, who lived in Eurasia from approximately 800 to 400 B.C. and boiled animal flesh in water over bone fires.
"Sopa de Pedra" is a Portuguese fable about travelers who come to a village with an empty pot. Villagers will not give the strange men food, so the travelers fill their pot with water and a stone, which they cook over a fire in the village square. When curious villagers ask what they're doing, the travelers say they're making "stone soup," and ask the villagers to contribute. Villagers are able to offer different elements and in completion, by appealing to the people's desire to help and be a part of something successful, starting with nothing, the travelers and villagers have made a pot of soup for all to enjoy. The events of the stone soup fable supposedly took place in Almeirim, Portugal, where today most of the town's restaurants serve sopa de pedra.
A new program offered by PNM could help move solar energy in New Mexico into the future
Ken Lienemann is no stranger to energy. With a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Remote Sensing, he certainly understands the technical elements involved in the process of heating and cooling. As an employee with the New Mexico Environment Department, he also grasps the ecological implications of how we chose to fuel our homes, our cars and our lives. And as an Albuquerque homeowner who's spent the last four years revamping his abode to increase energy efficiency, it's fairly obvious that to Mr. Lienemann, energy is quite personal.
There are times when numbers just don't add up. Or rather, they add up, but the answer is all wrong. One of those moments when I had special difficulty wrapping my mind around the “new math” of public policy was in a recent Legislative committee hearing. The meeting was for the virtually automatic confirmation of a pair of very impressive women who had volunteered to serve the state as members of the Parole Board.
Dateline: Maryland—A Montgomery County judge ruled last Tuesday that the act of mooning someone is not illegal in the state of Maryland. The decision cleared Rockville resident Raymond Hugh McNealy, 44, on charges of indecent exposure after brandishing his buttocks to a neighbor during an argument. Judge John W. Debelius III said McNealy committed a “disgusting” and “demeaning” act when he exposed his posterior to his neighbor and her 8-year-old daughter on June 7 of last year. But the judge overturned an earlier decision by a District Court, clearing the defendant of criminal wrongdoing. “If exposure of half of the buttock constituted indecent exposure, any woman wearing a thong at the beach at Ocean City would be guilty,” Debelius said, according to a report in The Washington Post. McNealy allegedly had a heated debate with his neighbor, Nanette Vonfeldt, at a homeowners association meeting last June. The morning after the clash, Vonfeldt accused him of yelling at her as she and her daughter walked out of their apartment. “Then, for whatever reason, in full view of my daughter, he mooned us,” Vonfeldt wrote in court documents. Debelius agreed with McNealy's attorney that, under Maryland law, indecent exposure only covers display of a person's “private parts,” which does not include buttocks. McNealy attorney James Maxwell said the Debelius ruling should “bring comfort to all beachgoers and plumbers” in the state.
Will Rio Rancho lead the way for the state?
Nothing is more irritating than when a smaller, more nimble competitor seems to be getting the best of you. These days, that must to be how leaders in the state's 800-pound gorilla (a.k.a. Albuquerque) must be feeling about their pesky persistent neighbor to the northwest.
The readers write.
Q-Staff Workshop—The talented weirdoes of the Q-staff Company will begin hosting performance training workshops on the third Sunday of every month. The first is on Sunday, Jan. 15, from 4 to 7 p.m. Q-staff member Sandy Timmerman says that their "method is so different from the usual American acting method where actors walk in, they are handed a script and told where to stand ... it's hard to explain and much easier to understand by experiencing it." With that in mind, if you fork out $35, you can gain access to a presentation on the company's innovative performance philosophy to be followed by a 90-minute training session. Afterward, a light meal will be provided at Winning Coffee House. For details, call 255-2182.
The Importance of Being Earnest at the Adobe Theater
Oscar Wilde and wit are practically synonymous. Wilde's use of language, melodrama and satire have brought his plays much deserved attention from theater lovers of all experience levels. The Importance of Being Earnest is one of his last and best-known plays. Called a trivial comedy for serious people, it is almost more of a trivial comedy about people who take themselves too seriously—to disastrous avail.
Watercolor Women Opaque Men
(Curbstone, paper, $15)
Cowboys and Hobos—If you missed Bill Daniel's excellent documentary Who is Bozo Texino? when it played at the Guild Cinema recently, then you've been granted a second chance. Daniel is still on tour with the film and will be passing through Albuquerque again on the night of Thursday, Jan. 12. Sixteen years in the making, Who is Bozo Texino? follows Daniel on his rail-riding quest to uncover the roots of traditional boxcar graffiti and to unmask the identity of the legendary folk artist known only as Bozo Texino. To make this an extra special event, Daniel will be accompanied by singer/songwriter Sandman (a.k.a. Chris Sand), an Olympia, Wash.-based performer known for combining rap, cowboy poetry and folk music. It's an evening of lowdown documentary film and underground cowboy rap. How can you go wrong? The event will take place beginning at 8 p.m. at Harlows in Nob Hill (3523 Central NE). Tickets are a mere $5. Daniel and Sandman will be moving on to Santa Fe the next night (Friday, Jan. 14), where he'll do it all over again at Backroads Pizza (1807 Second Street). For more film info, log on to www.billdaniel.com. For more music info, log on to www.rappingcowboy.com.
Korean drama/comedy proves political assassinations go down better when mixed with black humor
With The President's Last Bang, South Korea continues its unbroken streak cranking out some of the most interesting, most stylish films in current world cinema. Swing by a well-stocked video store and you might catch just a sampling of titles that have come to America in the last year: Attack the Gas Station; My Sassy Girl; Shiri; 2009: Lost Memories; No Blood, No Tears; Phone; Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring; Memento Mori; Blue Sky; A Tale of Two Sisters; Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance; Oldboy; 3-Iron; Untold Scandal; Save The Green Planet. Writer/director Im Sang-soo only adds to that impressive list with his satirical, snarky-title-and-all political thriller.
CGI toon is PS2 in an Xbox 360 world
When Disney declared the death of traditional hand-drawn animation by shutting down its old-fashioned animation studios and vowing to make Toy Story sequels ad infinitum, other Hollywood studios, more or less, fell in line. Computer animation is the wave of the future, everyone declared. Kids won't watch a cartoon unless it comes off an iMac, they repeated. The Polar Express is a work of genius, they claimed. ( ... Cough, cough.)
“The Soup” on E!
“Talk Soup” debuted on E! Entertainment Television in 1991 and made a successful run through 2002. The series was basically a cheap-to-produce clip show, designed to make fun of that week's talk show guests. Didn't have time to check out the transvestite hookers on that week's “Jerry Springer”? No need to worry, “Talk Soup” had you covered. For all its snarky, spot-on humor, “Talk Soup” was best known for its impressive roster of hosts, including Greg Kinnear, John Henson, Hal Sparks and Aisha Tyler--all of whom went on to greater fame and glory than that offered by simple basic cable.
The Week in Sloth
Highlights from around the dial. Except no one has dials anymore.
Have a Rocksquawkin' Week—The next heart-stopping show in the Rocksquawk.com Concert Series is going down this Thursday, Jan. 12, at the District (Fourth Street and Copper NW). The free show includes performances by The Dirty Novels, At Fault, Big Lips & The Skinny and The Isness. Looking ahead, the next batch of Rocksquawk shows is set for Saturday, Feb. 18, at Harlow's in Nob Hill, and then back Downtown to the Golden West Saloon on Friday, March 3. If you've got a few suggestions of your own, sign on to www.rocksquawk.com and let those puppies fly. We want to hear from you, caring local music supporter that you are.
You know you should avoid ladders, broken mirrors, black cats and other unfortunate acts of bad luck by staying indoors on Friday the 13th. However, the cunning lads and ladies of Scenster, Lousy Robot and Unit 7 Drain are conspiring to jinx you with a night of tunes and boozy carousing out at Atomic Cantina. Choose wisely, ill-fated friend. (LM)
Think about the resurgence of "rockabilly" in recent years—what's the first thing that springs to mind? Here's a guess: Dudes in cuffed Levi's drinking swill beer until sunrise. Or maybe chicks with Betty Page haircuts (be honest, they're probably big girls) lounging tomb-side in neighborhood graveyards. Cars. Pencil skirts and pompadours. People and things. Whenever post-'50s rockabilly made the transition from subculture to full-blown lifestyle, the music became more-or-less incidental. Lost in translation.
Reviews of new music releases.
The “Best of the Golden West” kicks off the historic venue's month-long birthday party
Grocery stores and movie theaters are pretty neat because you need food to live, and although you don't really need movie theaters, they're cool, too. Music venues are mostly neater, though, because you can enjoy the soothing, and sometimes not-so-soothing, elixir of music while eating peanuts and getting juiced up.
Instant holiday--just add soup
The holidays are really overrated. Months of planning and spending and party-going, peaking to the point of exhaustion and anti-social tendencies. It's not just limited to what is typically referred to as "the holiday season"--I mean all holiday seasons. New Year's, April Fools, Fourth of July—you name it, it's been overdone. That's why, in the perpetual quest to for social interaction, the members of my Tang Soo Do martial arts class host obscure "holiday" parties whenever we fancy. On the day after Christmas, head-instructor Richard Meyer and Cathra-Anne Barker host a super-excellent Boxing Day party. In November, Sven Redsun hosts the annual All-Soups Day party--making Halloween and Thanksgiving seem, well, incidental. The best part about a soup party is that no "holiday" is required; all you need is some friends and a few pots of the good stuff. Poof! Instant holiday.
The Revolutions International Theatre Festival
If you're a lefty anarchist, you're invited. If you're a right-wing corporatist, you're invited. If you know as much about politics as Eminem knows about Gustav Mahler, you're also invited.
"Because of the title of the festival," says Joe Perrachio, the artistic director of the Revolutions International Theatre Festival, "people often ask if this is a left-wing event. This festival has no wing. There are many definitions of the word ’revolution.' In this case, we're talking about revolutionary art, art that changes the way people view the world."
The festival kicks off this week at venues all over Albuquerque and Santa Fe, bringing some of the best experimental performers from around the world right here to New Mexico. Every year it's been claimed that the festival is bigger and better than ever, and every year it's been true. This year will likely be no exception. As part of Albuquerque's year-long 300th birthday celebration, this sixth annual installment is called "a Tricentennial celebration of world theater."
While most other Tricentennial events highlight our city's distinguished Hispanic heritage, Revolutions is bringing in acts from Canada, Thailand, Israel, South Africa and across the U.S., as well as performers from Mexico and Spain. As such, the festival celebrates Albuquerque's cultural history in the broadest, most egalitarian sense.
"If we had millions of dollars," says Perrachio, "we'd have people from everywhere, but we had to do this in broad strokes. The festival opens with a Native American troupe and closes with a Spanish one. Even chronologically, this says something about the heritage of our area, by bookending Revolutions with the two dominant cultures that identify the region. In between, there are works from a multitude of cultures."
Even more important, he says, is that these are new works, not traditional works. In this way, the festival glances back at the roots of Albuquerque's cultural heritage but also looks toward the future. "We can't escape the fact," says Perrachio, "that this is becoming an integrated world. By presenting Revolutions, we simply want to inspire creative people from different cultures into a dialogue with each other."
Over its short lifespan, Revolutions has quite possibly become the best show in town. This is cutting-edge performance in the truest sense. Watch your fingers—some of this stuff will slice right through the bone. Below you'll find a roundup of events with some tips from Perrachio for making the most of the next three weeks.
Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m.
Albuquerque Press Club
There'll be live music, catered grub and other entertainments. $5 at the door.
Raven Stole the Sun/Caribou Song
Wednesday, Jan. 11, and Thursday, Jan. 12, at 8 p.m.
This Native American theater company from Toronto will present a double header, mixing dance, masks and live music. Raven Stole the Sun tells how the trickster Raven transformed himself in a plot to steal the stars, moon and sun so humans could have light. Caribou Song explains why it's necessary to embrace the spirit of animals to live in harmony with nature. "These are family shows," says Perrachio. "Bring the kids along." $20 general, $12 students.
Saturdays, Jan. 14-28, at 10:30 p.m.
Tricklock Performance Space
For the past decade, the Reptilian Lounge variety show has entertained late-night adult audiences by showcasing local, national and international performers. "This year marks the 10th anniversary of the lounge," says Perrachio. "We had our first one in the spring of 1996, and this maniacal late-night cabaret keeps playing to sellout audiences." You never know quite what you're going to get, but with an audience as entertaining as the performers, odds are you'll be amused. $6.77 at the door.
Thursday, Jan. 19, at 10 p.m.
Tricklock Performance Space
For one night only, Tricklock Company superstar Chad Brummett will present Frankenstein, a one-man teaser for a planned full production that will be part of Tricklock's 2007 season. The show will incorporate music, illusion, poetry and, best of all, puppets. "There'll be a talk-back session after this show with the audience," says Perrachio, "so Chad can get some feedback to help with revisions." $8.
Friday, Jan. 13, and Saturday, Jan. 14, at 8 p.m.
National Hispanic Cultural Center
Thursday, Jan. 19, at 8 p.m.
Lensic Theatre (Santa Fe)
Guerrero sifts through his relationship with his father, the legendary mariachi musician Lalo Guerrero, in a one-man show that combines Chicago history with Dan's experiences as a gay man. Both funny and dramatic, some proceeds from ¡Gaytino! will benefit PFLAG New Mexico (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). "This show is about a guy who comes from a traditional Mexican family," says Perrachio, "but he grows up gay and wants to become a dancer on Broadway. It's about his struggle to become a modern artist, yet the performance itself is rooted in tradition." $25 general, $15 students. (For Lensic tickets, call 988-1234.)
Vivian Cruz and Hebe Rosell
Friday, Jan. 13, through Sunday, Jan. 15, at 6 p.m.
"This one is beautifully choreographed with wonderful poetry," says Perrachio. Renowned Mexico City performers Cruz and Rosell present an ambitious staging of surrealist Argentinean poet Olga Orozco's work, focussing on Latin women's varied roles as mothers, sisters and daughters. Combining elements of magic and prophecy, the show incorporates everything from poetry to video to dance to music to visual art. $18 general, $12 students.
Acco Theatre Centre of Acco, Israel
Prayer: Sacred Dances
Thursday, Jan. 19, and Friday, Jan. 20, at 6 p.m.
Orpheum Performance Space
Sunday, Jan. 22, at 2 p.m.
Wise Fool New Mexico (Santa Fe)
Composed of both Arab and Jewish performers, Acco made a well-received appearance in Albuquerque during Revolutions 2004. They're back this year with a show called Prayer: Sacred Dances, a performance incorporating Sufi dances with music based on Jewish and Muslim mystic prayers accompanied by text from Rumi, Jalal al-Din and other superstars of Sufi poetry. "In 2004," says Perrachio, "we couldn't get two of the Arab performers in the troupe into the company. Acco had to cast two UNM students in their production. This time around, we got one of the two guys into the country. It's these little victories that make Revolutions so satisfying for us. Prayer will be one of our more traditional performances in this year's festival." $18 general, $12 students. (For tickets to the Santa Fe performance, call 992-2588.)
Nigerian Spam Scam Scam
Wednesday, Jan. 18, and Thursday, Jan. 19, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 21, at 6 p.m.
In a piece directed by Paul Provenza, Cameron poses as a sexually confused Florida millionaire who engages in a nine-month e-mail correspondence with one of those annoying Nigerian cyber scam artists. "He uses the transcripts of his actual e-mail exchange as they're trying to get money out of him," says Perrachio. There'll be two men on stage with laptops. Victor Isaac plays the puzzled Nigerian scam artist. This hilarious performance got rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland in 2004 and 2005. It should be a hoot. $18 general, $12 students. (For tickets to the Santa Fe performance, call 992-2588.)
Billy the Mime
Wednesday, Jan. 18, and Thursday, Jan. 19, at 10 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 21, at 8 p.m.
Wise Fool New Mexico.
You might remember Billy from his astonishing performance in the recent hit film, The Aristocrats. During this Revolutions appearance, he'll use his miming talents to comment on current hot-button issues as well as historical events and people. No words can describe this. "This one's definitely for adults only," says Perrachio. "Anybody bored by mime won't be bored with this." $18 general, $12 students. (For tickets to the Santa Fe performance, call 992-2588.)
The Glorious & Bloodthirsty Billy the Kid—The Greatest Serial Killer of our Time! A Wild West Show & Cabaret
Friday, Jan. 20, and Saturday, Jan. 21, at 8 p.m.
The Tricklock Company brings a little senseless violence to UNM's Rodey Theatre stage with The Glorious & Bloodthirsty Billy the Kid. They've toured this show around the world to audiences who have been both appalled and thrilled by this surreal interpretation of Billy the Kid's biography. Chances are you've seen an earlier version of this shoot-'em-up doozie right here in Albuquerque. The performance at the Rodey features a brand new version. "We've rewritten the show," says Perrachio, "condensing it, bringing it back here after two international tours. We've found people around the world to be really interested in what Americans think of America, especially since so much information about us is filtered through the media. To see people show up and do a show about one of our most famous folk heroes, it makes people realize we're a culture of thoughtful people, capable of questioning our own behavior and values." Load up the six-shooter and head on down. This little doggie's sure to stir up trouble. $15 general, $12 students.
Friday, Jan. 20, at 10 p.m.
Best known for his role as Dr. Philip Capra on the hit TV show "Northern Exposure," Paul Provenza is also an accomplished stand-up comedian, and he'll do his hilarious shtick at the Guild. "This is a benefit for Tricklock," says Perrachio. "It's also a CD and DVD release party for The Aristrocrats, which Paul directed." $12 general, $10 students.
Sunday, Jan. 22, at 8 p.m.
"I was sitting on a beach in Greece on my honeymoon and got to thinking about how rarely people get to sit down with each other these days just to bat ideas around," says Perrachio. The result of that oceanside musing is Salon Sunday, in which local and international provocateurs will get together to discuss inventions, read from essays, poems and plays, and present off-the-cuff ideas. Perrachio says there'll be music, food and hookahs. Bring whatever you've got cooking and bring it down for a good public chewing. This event is free.
Albuquerque Youth Poetry Slam-Off
Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 8 p.m.
Tricklock Performance Space
ABQ Slam, which organized the National Poetry Slam here in Albuquerque last August, has pulled together this competition to determine which teen poets will be sent to the Brave New Voices youth poetry slam tournament in New York City later this year. Idris Goodwin (see below) will kick off the match by reading an original poem. $8.
I Have An Agenda
Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m.
Hip-hop poet and playwright Idris Goodwin of Chicago's Hermit Arts Theatre will present an evening of poetry from his latest collection. Then, aided by a live DJ, he'll dish out some songs from his current and forthcoming hip-hop CDs. Goodwin's play Braising was selected for the 2005 National New Plays Showcase at Stanford University. The Tricklock Company, in collaboration with Hermit Arts, will stage it in the spring of this year. $15 general, $12 students.
Kevin R. Elder
Black River Falling
Thursday, Jan. 26, at 10 p.m.
Tricklock Performance Space
Tricklock Company member Kevin R. Elder presents another Tricklock work in progress for one night only. Based on a series of mysterious deaths that took place during the 19th century, Black River Falling incorporates music and puppetry with minimal text. Perrachio says this one has an all-woman cast and will feature a feedback session with the audience after the show. $8.
Boyzie Cekwana's The Floating Outfit Project
Thursday, Jan. 26, at 7:30 p.m.
South Broadway Cultural Center
As in past festivals, Global DanceFest will join forces with Revolutions to offer up a performance from a cutting-edge international dance troupe. The Floating Outfit Project is based in Soweto, South Africa. Ja'nee comments on such aspects of African life as male dominance, AIDS and violence. Rona is inspired by Japanese Butoh dance and celebrates South African spiritual identity. Both are choreographed by Boyzie Cekwana, who also performs along with the troupe's dancers. "Once again, for the third year in a row, we're collaborating with Global DanceFest," says Perrachio. "The Floating Outfit Project could be described as contemporary dance loosely inspired by traditional African forms." $20 general, $12 students.
Witness Relocation Company/Patravadi Theatre
In a Hall in the Palace of Pyrrhus
Friday, Jan. 27, and Saturday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m.
Witness Relocation Company of New York City and Patravadi Theatre of Bangkok are collaborating on a performance loosely based on Jean Racine's post-Trojan War tale, Andromaque. This show presents the kind of cultural bridging that Perrachio sees as the foundation of Revolutions. "This is movement and music theater drawing on modern contemporary American styles of theater blended with sword dances from Thailand," he says. "It's definitely one of the most interesting pieces in the festival." $20 general, $12 students.
Friday, Jan. 27, and Saturday, Jan. 28, at 9 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 29, at 2 p.m.
Spanish troupe Teatro Titzina caps off this year's Revolutions International Theatre Festival with a fusion of clowning, dance, music and other theatrical forms. Entrañas, which means "entrails," explores the nightmare of modern global warfare through the lens of highly physical theater. "These actors trained at Lecoque, the renowned physical theater institute in Paris," says Perrachio. "It's a very moving piece about the nature of war. We're very lucky to get them." $18 general, $12 students.
More than a dozen years ago, I joined with Jeff Cohen (founder of the media watch group FAIR) to establish the P.U.-litzer Prizes. Ever since then, the annual awards have given recognition to the stinkiest media performances of the year.
When I was a kid, I read the funnies in the Sunday papers with a devotion that bordered on the religious. I poured over those colorful panels like some biblical scholar searching for revelations in a newly discovered parchment scroll. Dick Tracy was one of my favorites.
Local political blogger Joe Monahan (www.joemonahan.com) launched the New Year with a rapturous love note to Garrey Carruthers, former Republican governor and current dean of the New Mexico State University College of Business. Monahan is beside himself with enthusiasm over Carruthers' "bold, blunt assessment" and "dose of reality" pinning New Mexico's current and future problems directly to the state's Latino and Native American citizens. (Ever notice how right-leaners reserve terms like "bold, blunt assessment" and "dose of reality" for comments dissing minorities, women, liberals or gays?)
New national and state initiatives demonstrate a commitment to finding the answer
Already through two cups of tea, and my friend was still telling me about her last visit to the doctor. The story took so long to tell, not because she is long-winded, but because there were so many different things that happened in her tale of a day-long doctor visit and subsequent day-long trip to a specialist. Still sipping my sweet Yogi tea, I became worried about insurance coverage for such complicated consultation, but she looked at me blankly, “Health insurance? I'm self-employed, I can't afford it.”
Dateline: Germany—Two armed robbers made off with considerably less than expected when they held up a money courier and made off with his first aid kit. The two unidentified bandits pursued the courier at high speed before shooting at his vehicle and forcing him to stop on a road in Gronau. After forcing the vehicle's trunk open, one of the crooks snatched a case and fled. Instead of taking the suitcase full of money, however, the confused bandit grabbed the car's roadside first aid kit. “If there was an award for the dumbest crooks, they would certainly be in the running,” police spokesperson Johann Steinlitz told reporters. The courier was not harmed in the incident and police are taking the investigation seriously, even though the crime failed miserably.
The readers write.
Love or Let Die—In theory, Valentine's Day can be the most joyful time of the year. In practice, it's usually a full-on psychological nightmare characterized by extreme levels of loneliness and torment. But you don't need to let it get you down. Show Cupid who's boss by entering the Alibi's Third Annual Valentine's Day Card Contest.
It's the top 10 local arts events of 2005!
There's no better time for an accounting of a year gone by than at the birth of new one that just popped purple and screaming from the loins of Mama Time. This year, I've decided to confine my top 10 arts moments (largely) to local arts. It wasn't easy to narrow this down. It never is. I know I left plenty of things out, but I'll pay my dues for that in the next life. Hopefully, the Lord will have mercy on my art-lovin' soul.
An interview with Amy Tan
Amy Tan's latest novel, Saving Fish from Drowning (Putnam, hardcover, $26.95), pulls a fast one on readers. It begins with a story about how Tan was inspired by a real-life San Francisco socialite named Bibi Chen. Then it asks us to believe her latest novel is narrated by Chen from beyond the grave. Only gradually will readers realize that there was no Bibi Chen.
The Worst Films of 2005
As hard as it might be to choose the best films in a year that offered few true standouts, it's doubly hard to choose the worst films in a year that offered a flood of risible sequels (Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, Son of the Mask, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo), horrid TV-to-movie translations (The Honeymooners, Bewitched), seriously dumb action vehicles (The Pacifier, xXx 2: State of the Union, Doom) and a movie starring Ashlee Simpson (the prophetically titled Undiscovered). Here, however, are the worst of the worst:
The top 10 films of 2005
This past year won't exactly go down as a high-water mark in the history of cinema. Feb. 24 kicked off an unprecedented 19-week box office slide that carried well into the normally lucrative summer movie season. By the close of 2005, attendance had dropped 11 percent and the box office was down more than five percent from 2004 (which isn't exactly chump change when you're talking about an $8.4 billion industry). The most likely culprit? Bad films. Despite a wealth of Oscar bait that just missed the mark (Cinderella Man, Walk the Line, North Country) and megawatt blockbusters that weren't quite up to snuff (Fantastic Four, War of the Worlds, Stealth), 2005 did manage a few standouts. This, then, is my collection of this year's best of the best:
The year 2005 may be remembered less for its shows and more for its news coverage. Sure, there was plenty happening in TV Land: Stars were learning to dance, Danny Bonaduce was breaking, “Lost” finally showed us what was in the hatch and “Desperate Housewives” was sinking into an almost insurmountable second-season slump. But it was the nonstop news events that had us glued to our sets, for better (the empathetic Katrina coverage) or worse (the scandalous Michael Jackson trial).
The Week in Sloth
Highlights from around the dial. Except no one has dials anymore.
Return of The Roxiehearts—Rejoice! Albuquerque all-girl garage punkers will hit the stage at Burt's Tiki Lounge after a baby-induced breather that lasted just under two years. The Roxiehearts are made up of Cara (drummer and babymaker), Penny (guitarist and singer), Amy (singer) and Burt's manager/bartender/booker Melissa (bassist). Melissa says that this show will be instrumental in helping them get back into the swing of things, adding "we will definitely be playing out more often and there will be new songs in the future." The show is slated for Friday, Jan. 6, at what's being billed as Amanda and Ethan's Going Away Party. (Note to Amanda and Ethan: Your friends will miss you and they wish you the best in New York.) The Roxiehearts are joined by Leche De Hombre, a reportedly kick-ass group of guys from Las Cruces, Swingin' Meat and The El Paso Hot Button, who's actually from Oklahoma City, and is really only made up of one guy. This is the show of the week, without a doubt.
Touch the glistening monster pecs of New Mexico metal with Minus Seven, Given the Grave, Last 15, The Bayonet and Last House on the Left at the always-all-ages Compound (3206 San Mateo NE). Doors open at 6 p.m. $5 gets you in. (LM)
with DV8 and special guests
Concord, Calif.'s power-pop purveyors Kid Moe have a sound that's part glowing metal fuzz and part cough syrup aftertaste. They haven't quite grown up all the way but, if bands like Weezer are any indication, you'd better hurry up and see them before they turn into Hugh Hefner-worshiping crumb bums. It's Kid Moe's walking-through-the-mukish style that makes the trio of two fellas and a lady so darn charming. Their latest release, Hella Okay, takes several digs at California culture while giving us bittersweet pop songs for the hopelessly unhip. Vincent Lay's vocals are free of embellishment, and although his lyrics could benefit from some tinkering ("why can't my new girlfriend be like my old girlfriend?" is a typical passage), his unapologetically a-melodic voice sets the band apart from their power-pop peers.
Newsflash! You are fat.
The Food Pyramid Gets a Facelift
Oodles of strudel and lots of brats
Of the top 10 reasons to eat at Dagmar's Delectables, the No. 10 reason is because, thanks to this über-yummy schnitzel den, it isn't impossible to find really good German food in Albuquerque. And if warm apple strudel is one of your favorite things, then you're in luck—they've got that in abundance.
The Best and Worst of 2005
Lord knows we all love a good story, and Albuquerque is full of them. From political skullduggery to progressive development to social activism and poetic glory, we're up to our elbows in tantalizing tales. If you haven't been paying attention, or if your memory's starting to go with age, don't fear: the Best and Worst of 2005 is here.
The non-native salt cedar is a plague on many waterways in the U.S., but over the past few years in Albuquerque, with a little money, time and effort, the reign of salt cedars could be coming to an end
“Salt cedar” is a term most Albuquerqueans have heard before. Also known as “tamarisk,” the plant came to the U.S. in the early 1800's as an ornamental shrub, but by the '50s had overtaken many waterways throughout the West, including our own local Bosque.
Political changes coming in 2006?
Thinking about next November's election this early is as shameless as those cheesy Christmas decorations that go up at the mall every October. But 2006 is a big election year for our city, state and nation. So here's a call to voters to put your good citizen caps on and start thinking about the upcoming elections, even as you recover from your holiday shopping/eating binge.
Eighty crimes, from murder to shoplifting, are included in an amendment introduced by City Council member Craig Loy. Loy feels the current wide-ranging Nuisance Abatement Ordinance needs more teeth. Promoted as a necessary measure to control nuisance properties such as large apartment complexes and places like the Blue Spruce Lounge, the amendment actually includes all real property, both commercial and residential, plus personal property and vehicles.
My track record with keeping New Year's resolutions has been decidedly lame in recent years—viz., my vocabulary continues to demonstrate a propensity for scatology and obscenity; my addiction to television sports remains un-remediated and my vows to begin each morning with 15 minutes of quiet reflection hold sway until, oh, sometime right before Three Kings Day on Jan. 6. So this year, I've decided to abandon resolutions and instead attempt a series of predictions about improbable but very desirable revolutions I think will occur in the upcoming year.
The readers write.
Dateline: New Zealand—According to police reports, some 40 drunken Santa Claus clones rampaged through the streets of Central Auckland last Sunday, stealing from stores and assaulting security guards. The New Zealand Herald reported that the event was designed as a protest against the commercialism of Christmas. Police said some of the red-clad Santas threw beer bottles, one jolly old elf tried to climb the mooring of a cruise ship and a security guard was punched during the fracas. One of the bearded troublemakers allegedly attacked a Christmas tree. “They came in, said ’Merry Christmas' and then helped themselves,” convenience store staff member Changa Manakynda told the Herald. The event's organizer, Alex Dyer, said the event would end only when someone was arrested. The mass protest was linked to the online site www.santarchy.com, which records similar events going back 12 years. Police said attempts at identifying the criminals led to some confusion. “With a number of people dressed in the same outfit, it was difficult for any witnesses to confirm the identity of who was doing what,” Senior Sergeant Matt Rogers told Reuters News Service.
Tarantino Two-Step—Quentin Tarantino is planning on releasing his long promised single-film cut of Kill Bill. Tarantino said he spent so much time working on the two-part film that he wanted to take a year off from it. Starting early next year, though, Tarantino will begin editing the two films, Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Kill Bill: Volume 2, into one epic saga. The mega-version is expected to differ in several respects from the original releases and will hit theaters sometime late in 2006. A special DVD version, featuring plenty of supplementary material, will come out shortly after. ... Of course, this is all on top of directing duties for the horror anthology Grindhouse, which Tarantino is splitting with pal Robert Rodriguez. Grindhouse is expected to begin official filming sometime in January.
Stale remake of '70s comedy knows the fine art of ripping people off
To remake or not to remake: That is the Hollywood question. ... Although, considering the number of remakes clogging cineplex marquees this year, it's probably a moot question. The more apt question, I suppose, is what to remake? Logic dictates that remake-hungry movie executives should probably stay away from classic, already perfected films with which audiences are intimately familiar. Except that Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong was one of the best films of 2005. By a similar token, little-known, cleverly conceived but poorly executed films are probably perfect for remaking. Except that the brand new update of 1977's little-known, cleverly conceived but poorly executed Fun With Dick and Jane isn't really much fun at all.
Well-crafted slasher flick misses the heart, but gets the guts, at least
You've got to give freshman filmmaker Greg McLean all the credit in the world for trying to make a good horror movie. As it stands, the year 2005 will go down in history as producing some of the worst horror movies since the dawn of the drive-in era. Amid the 2005 tangle of White Noise, Alone in the Dark, House of Wax, Cry_Wolf, The Fog and countless others, McLean's lean, mean Aussie import Wolf Creek stands as an impressive achievement. It is genuinely shocking, impressively acted and McLean proves he knows his way around a camera right out of the gate. ... Which is why it's such a crying shame Wolf Creek is saddled with a totally generic Texas Chainsaw Massacre ripoff script.
Ledger, Gyllenhaal reach new heights with heartfelt drama
Brokeback Mountain, the much-buzzed-about new drama/romance, makes a powerful and timely statement. No matter how often some in society try to marginalize, denigrate or “amend” away the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, love will always exist--whether it's between people of the opposite sex or people of the same sex, whether in rural or urban America. Brokeback Mountain isn't a “gay cowboy” story, as some in the media and pop culture have tried to portray it--it's an American love story, plain and simple.
New Year's Eve around the dial
There are plenty of good reasons to watch TV on New Year's Eve--not the least of which is it's the only way to settle arguments over whose watch has the correct time. If you don't use the Idiot Box as tiebreaker, you'll have people shouting “Happy New Year” at a dozen different intervals.
The Week in Sloth
Highlights from around the dial. Except no one has dials anymore.
Born in New Mexico, Based in Austin—Rock 'n' rollers The Dirty Hearts may not live in New Mexico any more, but that doesn't mean they can't come back for a visit every now and again. The Dirty Hearts are originally from Española (Low Rider Capital of the Free World!), where they joined forces after each member's former bands "either got jobs or pregnant" roundabouts of 2002. They've since moved on to the exponentially more fertile musical pastures of Austin, Texas, but they'll be coming back New Mexico-way on Friday, Dec. 30. Too bad the gig's in Santa Fe. Regardless, this band is worth the drive. They'll play at the Second Street Brewery (1814 Second Street, Santa Fe) sometime after 9 p.m., along with singer-songwriters Calida and Billy Bartley. Don't let the odd booking shake you—just check them out at www.myspace.com/thedirtyhearts. And note to The Dirty Hearts: Next time, come to Albuquerque instead.
The reigning king of the eargasm gives us one more spin before a self-imposed hiatus
You'd be hard-pressed to find a local DJ with a musical taste as all-embracing as DJ Lowkey. After spinning for 20 years, nine of them spent in Albuquerque and five as the house DJ at Raw, Lowkey (aka Philip C. Pino) will get a chance to get back to his eclectic roots at Gulp on New Year's Eve, before taking a breather from the DJ biz.
Tuesday, Jan. 3; Launchpad (21-and-over), $15: The hardest working man in Punkabilly, The Reverend Horton Heat, is making his annual appearance in Albuquerque, and he's out to prove that, as far as grimy boot-stompin' licks that you can booze to go, they don't come any better than the Rev's. 2004's Revival is a blistering reminder of the Reverend's roots and commitment to his live, loud-ass show. The album comes complete with some new licks, including a mystery track that, although its name remains unknown to the Reverend's loyal listeners, is sure to kick you in the teeth with a steel-stringed size 12.
... And that's before the "special goat dance" competition. Have a New Year's Eve bash to remember through pieced-together accounts of what your friends tell you later with Black Maria, Unit 7 Drain and Sin Serenade. It's free, over-21 and at Burt's Tiki Lounge. Balls! (LM)
Meet Midget Mogul Productions, a mighty little music promotion team headed by a man named Peter Martin. Peter is the guy who coordinated the first successful Nob Hill bar crawl this past October, uniting every bar and restaurant in the "Haunted Hill" neighborhood under a progressive circuit with live music at each stop along the way. Peter hopes to continue that momentum at this weekend's Nob Hill New Year's Eve Crawl (see "Lucky 7" for details).
Fast Heart Mart's Martin Stamper marches to the beat of a different mutant
Little did you know that Martin Stamper, half the guts behind enigmatic acoustic duo Fast Heart Mart, is the reluctant parent of his own record label, which will be on display at the New Year's Eve Mutant Mariachi showcase at the Blue Dragon. Bet you didn't know he has a pacemaker, either.
Reviews of new music releases.
Spot of Tea—John Cacciatore, owner of Dartmouth Street Gallery, takes tea-time seriously. Recently, at his home just west of Downtown, I sat down with him at a table specially designed for serving tea. He let me sniff a beaker full of oolong that he got on a recent trip to Asia, informing me that it's quite possibly the best tea to be had anywhere in Albuquerque.
Picasso to Plensa at the Albuquerque Museum
It's been a long, strange trip through time and across space, but the journey is almost over. In April of this year, the Albuquerque Museum unveiled its swanky, expanded new digs with the first in a trio of exhibits designed to dig deep into the history of Spanish art. This project was both ambitious and expensive, especially for a city Albuquerque's size, but city leaders and museum administrators put a lot of muscle into it because these exhibits are the crowning element of Albuquerque's Tricentennial celebration, a testament to the inestimable role Spanish culture has played in the history of our fine city.
Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and the Rise of the Hip-Hop Hustler
Best and Worst Brands for Equality—I'm all excited because the Human Rights Campaign (you know, the nonprofit responsible for those ubiquitous square blue and yellow "="stickers) just came out with a new consumer buying guide geared towards the GLBT community. It's called Buying for Equality: A Guide to Companies and Products That Support Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Equality. The information for rating companies listed in the guide comes from the HRC's 2005 Corporate Equality Index, which researched policies and procedures that affect employees at Fortune 500 and Forbes 200 companies. (Companies with less than 500 employees were not included in the research.)
Quiche and cassoulet: Have a bite to eat, s'il vous plâit?
There's plenty to love about the French—the food, the wine ... Gerard Depardieu. (Hey, what would '80s comedy have been like without him?) And, of course, there are the beautiful, lilting refrains of a shared conversation en français over a café au lait and a nice plate of crêpes Suzette. The next time you dine out in a snazzy French place, try a few of your own: "Vous avez de la ciboulette sur votre dent" (You have a chive stuck on your tooth), or maybe "Est-ce que vous êtes ivre?" (Are you drunk?)
Shun friends and alienate people with your own Asshole's Tea Party
The "Teddy Bear's Picnic" is a song they teach kids at daycare. I don't really even know if it's a song, to tell you the truth. It might be a card game. All I know is that bears are dangerous.
Just as its name implies, The Spicy Food Lover's Bible should be kept as a pantry staple for hot-heads, filed right alongside the garam masala, hot sauce and red chile flakes. "Pope of Peppers" Dave Dewitt (editor of Fiery Foods & BBQ magazine) and expert partner-in-peppers Nacy Gerlach investigate the hot stuff from every angle, penning a hardbound school of spice that delves into the science, history, geography, nutrition and flavors of piquant foods everywhere. The Bible's collection of recipes is extensive and takes its inspiration from virtually every heat-seeking place on the planet.