Alibi V.17 No.11 • March 13-19, 2008

Ash and Ember

The fire-ravaged Golden West and neighboring Launchpad shared a wall, but the owners differ in how they’re picking up the pieces

It's a strange scene, "like something you'd see in a movie," Kathy Zimmer says.

feature

Mañana Land

The Alibi's fifth annual Photo Contest

New Mexico has two mottos: one found on license plates and another uttered by natives, as much in jest as in seriousness. Both were proven by the photographers who submitted to our fifth annual Photo Contest—we live in an enchanting state that moves at the speed of mañana.

film

Reel World

On March 14 and 15, the National Hispanic Cultural Center hosts the 2008 Women & Creativity Film Festival. Over the weekend, the NHCC’s Bank of America Theatre (1701 Fourth Street SW) will screen a string of short films and videos created by female producers, writers and directors. Anne Stirling’s alternative-to-matrimony documentary Why Get Married?, Rebecca Rivas’ examination of Peruvian women’s reproductive health, Erin Hudson’s look at female long-haul truckers and several short-form narrative pieces will be shown Friday, March 14, from 6 to 9:30 p.m. A Q&A with the artists will follow. Saturday—from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., from 2 to 4:15 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m.—there will be additional blocks of shorts, documentaries and animations. All screenings are free and open to the public. For a complete schedule of films, log on to www.nhccnm.org.

The Rape of Europa

The art of war

Are you familiar with Stendhal Syndrome? It’s a psychosomatic condition, first documented by the 19th-century French writer Stendhal, in which people can be overcome by great works of art. Stendhal reported heart palpitations, dizziness and an almost religious sense of epiphany upon viewing the cultural riches of Florence. It’s an odd concept, to be sure--but one that seems all the more clear upon viewing The Rape of Europa, a mesmerizing, astonishing, highly emotional film about Adolf Hitler’s systematic campaign to steal and/or destroy Europe’s great works of art.

Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!

At least it doesn’t have Jim Carrey in gray makeup and big, rubber ears

Now that we’re all safely outside the biohazard zone created by 2000’s Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas and 2003’s Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, I think we can all agree that live-action versions of Dr. Seuss books are just wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s of some comfort, then, that the 2008 feature film translation of Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! arrives in animated form. It’s computer-animated, mind you, but at least it’s a cartoon, sparing us the horror of seeing Mike Myers covered in white spackle and black fur and prancing around leftover sets from Edward Scissorhands.

“New Amsterdam” on FOX

After 400 years, his pension must be awesome

John Amsterdam, the main character of FOX’s offbeat new crime series, is a 17th-century Dutch soldier cursed (or is it blessed?) to live forever, or at least until he meets his one true love. It sounds like an unusual premise for a show, but one of the sneakier strengths of “New Amsterdam” is that it’s really rather familiar.

music

Too Rude To Talk To

The English Beat's Dave Wakeling is actually one of the nicest

Between 1978 and 1983 The Beat (known in North America as The English Beat) was a pre-eminent part of the ska revival movement known as 2 Tone. As the second-wave legends they became, the group, already greatly endowed by Saxa, a saxophonist who had played with the likes of Desmond Dekker, shared the stage with the distinguished acts of the era such as David Bowie, The Clash, The Police, The Pretenders and Talking Heads. Three decades and 6,000 miles of separation later, the one original band has become two. Original toaster Ranking Roger continues the legacy in England as The Beat, and Dave Wakeling, the band's original singer, carries on the American contingent as The English Beat. Wakeling, also a 20-year stateside resident, a former Greenpeace employee, personal hero and an all-around nice guy, took time to talk to me over the phone this week.

news

PD Bill Wipes Out

Who needs an independent public defender?

Homer Robinson didn't expect the measure he was lobbying for to get as far as it did. House Bill 193 called for a commission to choose the state's chief public defender, an office that in New Mexico is appointed solely by the governor.

Answer Me This

Why is Ted Nugent coming here? Who is 10 million years old? Can I shoot you an e-mail about that public record? How long have a mother and son been missing?

Eye of the Storm

While world crises loomed, historic presidential primaries sizzled and trials for courthouse kickbacks stalled, the March 3 Council meeting moseyed along.

Could Udall Lose?

Democrats have a real fight ahead

Could Tom Udall lose the race for the U.S. Senate seat opened by Pete Domenici’s retirement? Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce not only think so, they’re convinced they can beat him.

From the Window of the Rail Runner

Imagine passengers encapsulated within a shiny, new train car, gazing out on an industrial and often decayed desert landscape. It's a lush and uniquely New Mexican juxtaposition of prosperity and poverty, modernity and the pastoral—an experience possible via the state's roadrunner-themed commuter train. Already coursing across the brown and blue landscape between Belen and Sandoval County, the Rail Runner, which began its travels in the summer of 2006, arrives in Santa Fe in December. When completed, the project will have cost the state a few hundred million contentious dollars.

Karmas and Dogmas

While waiting in line for coffee in Santa Fe a few years ago, I met a nice young woman. She was in her early 20s—an intelligent college student and a bit of a free spirit. While her double-mocha-soy-something was being made, we struck up a brief conversation. I don’t know what prompted the talk—perhaps it was one of those nuggets of wisdom printed on the cups—but we briefly discussed beliefs.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Japan--It’s probably not the first time they’ve come in handy, but a Japanese pinup model was saved a stint in jail thanks to her overly large breasts. Serena Kozakura, 38, was charged with breaking into a man’s apartment by kicking a hole in his door and crawling through because he was with another woman. The bikini model was later cleared of all charges after defense lawyers held up a plate showing the size of the hole that Serena was accused of kicking in. The lawyers demonstrated that Kozakura’s 44-inch bust would not fit through the opening. “I used to hate my body so much, but it was my breasts that won in court,” Kozakura said. Judge Kunio Harad of the Tokyo High Court threw out the guilty verdict, saying there was reasonable doubt about the man’s story.

art

Culture Shock

First, I must extend my thanks and congratulations to all the photographers who submitted works to our fifth annual Photo Contest this year. The high quality and artistic merit of the entries made for some nerve-racking judging, but, somehow, we narrowed it down to the winners found in this week's feature.

The New Deal Revisited

For the Greater Good at UNM Art Museum

The Great Depression left many marks on the U.S. in the history books and the hearts and minds of the people. It also left a more physical trail: memories etched into sides of buildings or captured in photographs. With the hard times came desperate measures and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did what he felt was best by creating the New Deal, paving the way for art on a scale we'd never seen before and haven't since.

food

Empire Burritos and Santa Fe Peppers

Where burritos come smothered in déjà vu

By and large, I’m not a fan of chain restaurants. I just can’t get onboard with corporate-formulated burgers and pasteurized food “experiences.” But there are exceptions. Sometimes a chain comes along that serves genuinely good eats you can’t find in every other joint on the block. Chipotle, for example, has long been my go-to burrito place when I’m craving something other than a pulverized pinto mash-up. More than once I’ve thought it’s too bad Albuquerque doesn’t have one.

The Wine Geese

Another reason to kiss the Irish

The wines of Bordeaux are touted around the world as brilliantly complex, stunningly powerful and, of course, staggeringly expensive. They are the pride of France and the lust of Franco- and oeno-philes everywhere. But just how French are France’s biggest and brightest?

Cult of the Curry Carrot

Quick preface: We bow low before the soup kitchen altar of our friend Astara, soup wizardess and ancient soul, who throws together far superior carrot creations than we with the mere flick of her pinky finger—her curry carrot soup and her herbed carrot purée are both criminally delicious. If we could join a white-robed, Nike-wearing cult to follow her soup into future worlds, we would. Instead, we attempted merging those two soups for a rosemary roasted carrot curry soup. It was great, an absolute success; but somehow we doubt it’ll gain us any suicidal hippie followers anytime soon.

Alibi V.17 No.10 • March 6-12, 2008

Diary of a Locavore

Is it possible to eat nothing but local food in a New Mexico winter?

Eggs, milk, peanuts. It didn’t look good.

I had spent the last hour scavenging the isles of La Montañita Co-op, and that’s what I was left with: eggs, milk, peanuts. I was hungry just looking at them. I offered my meager basket to the cashier, pausing to turn around and grab a hauntingly aromatic chocolate chip cookie from the deli counter behind me. If all I had to eat for the next seven days were eggs, whole milk and peanuts, I was going to enjoy my last meal, and I was going to have dessert.

feature

What is “Grass Farming”?

An interview with one of the nation’s pre-eminent experts on the subject

Joel Salatin loves his work. He loves getting up at the crack of dawn and taking his chickens for a walk. He loves the succulence of tender, grass-raised beef. He loves observing his pigs, which snort with glee while sifting through piles of manure. And he loves the philosophy of his business, which is that a truly sustainable farm should also support a local food system. He loves it so much, in fact, that he refuses to ship any of his products. Aside from a few deliveries made to local restaurants, if people want ’em, they can come get ’em. And that’s basically how Joel Salatin became famous.

film

Reel World

Honestly, it’s an exciting time to be a filmmaker in New Mexico. Even if you aren’t going to be one of the rare few industry pros employed by Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins (shooting in and around Albuquerque this May, June, July and August--get used to it), you’ve still got plenty of opportunities in this town.

Semi-Pro

Ferrell is reliable as ever in the paint, but can’t hit from 3-point territory

Over the last decade or so, Will Ferrell has dug for himself a very familiar Hollywood niche. In his films, he invariably plays some sort of enthusiastic, well-meaning doofus toiling away in the lower echelons of some random career ladder. Ferrell surrounds himself with a collection of comic compatriots, all of whom add their own improvisational spin to the loose, sketch-comedy shenanigans. Racking up far more in the hit than the miss column, Ferrell’s formula has afforded the former “Saturday Night Live” star a comfortable movie career.

VideoNasty

Double Dare (2004)

I’m standing on a soundstage at Albuquerque Studios. In front of me is Gerard Butler (300). To my left is Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”). On either side stand nine of the best stuntmen in the business. I take a deep breath. This is really freaking surreal. I am working as a stuntman on Game, a futuristic action film that took over downtown Albuquerque for several weeks. I’m getting ready to do a stunt called a “deadman.” Basically, I need to run full tilt at Gerard, and the cable strapped to my harness will whip me back when he turns and kicks me. You remember those Warner Bros. cartoons when the dog chases Foghorn Leghorn only to clothesline himself on his leash? Yeah, it’s basically that. When the director calls out “action,” I bolt forward, mindful of the camera tracking alongside me. Gerard turns and kicks, I feel the pull of the cable on my back, and my feet fly into the air in front of me. Everything goes black. I awake seconds later to the applause of the other stuntmen. They ask if I am all right (I didn’t tuck my chin enough; no matter, as I will have to repeat this action about seven more times for proper coverage) and pat me on the back, welcoming me into the brotherhood of stuntmen.

Virtually Nothing

“quarterlife” on NBC

Last week came further proof (as if we needed any) that popularity on the Internet does not necessarily translate into popularity in the real world. The web-sensation-turned-TV-show “quarterlife” drew a tepid 3.1 million viewers when it debuted on NBC last Tuesday. It was NBC’s worst performance in the timeslot in nearly 20 years. Which doesn’t bode well for a long and healthy life.

music

The Saloon That Rock Built

Many bands' first steps were across the threshold of the Golden West

U.K. oi! band The Business takes the stage. Young testosterone-riddled skinheads start slam dancing, but the Party Vikings, a local gang of rowdy punk rockers, have named themselves the kings of the pit. It isn't too long before a full-scale riot breaks loose, remembers Gordy Andersen, Black Maria singer and Albuquerque rock stalwart. Punks throw pool balls down from the Golden West's balcony. Tables and chairs cartwheel through the air and are smashed into sticks. And The Business just keeps playing.

Jazz is Just the Beginning

Anat Cohen, award-winning clarinetist/saxophonist, brings her quartet to the Outpost

When she was busy mastering American jazz on her tenor saxophone, Anat Cohen gave little thought to the clarinet collecting dust in her closet, or to other genres of music. But she now moves effortlessly between both instruments and among a variety of musical styles.

news

A Call to Arms

African-American sports stars may net fame and cash, but how much power do they hold?

William Rhoden's inflammatorily titled book 40 Million Dollar Slaves isn't as confrontational as its name. It's an exploration of sports history and an appeal to African-American unity more than an angry protest against exploitation. New York Times columnist Rhoden draws parallels between plantation slavery and the power structure in professional sports, where the athletes are disproportionately African-American and the owners are typically white men. Last week, Rhoden was the keynote speaker at UNM's Black Cultural Conference. Before hopping on a plane to the Duke City, he talked with the Alibi about how he got the idea for the book and what it will inspire in its readers.

Answer Me This

What caused the fire at the Golden West? How many Whole Foods does Burque have? Who gets Journal profits? What did jokers do to anger Albuquerque police?

Habitat Gardening

First steps into a new land

The dead zone out our back door is gone. It took five men, two jackhammers and a hydraulic breaker to remove tons of concrete patios, sidewalks and a swimming pool installed a generation ago. Our Northeast Heights house had been landscaped with concrete. All those hard, flat surfaces meant no trouble and no maintenance. It also meant no natural life outside our doors.

Nuclear Hair of the Dog

New Mexico’s elected leaders have begun to sound ominously like the drunk asking for just a little “hair of the dog” to get him through the roughest hours of the day: those when the sun is shining.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Romania--Cops have closed their investigation of a vandalism case that left local houses in ruins by concluding ghosts were to blame. Families living in the town of Lilieci reported broken windows, bicycles flying through the air, objects moving on tables and candles blown out when there was no wind. At first, police scoffed at a supernatural source for the damage, but a police spokesperson concluded, “There were bottles and things flying around. I did not know what to dodge first. We can find nothing to suggest it was anything other than what the people claim.” A priest has been called in to exorcise the homes in question.

art

Culture Shock

The Perpetual Art Machine (also known as [PAM]) started as an open source Web 2.0 research and archive project. The creators—artists Aaron Miller, Chris Borkowski, Lee Wells and Raphaele Shirley—programmed [PAM] for Scope New York in 2006. Just a few years later, [PAM] has traveled around the continental U.S. and throughout Europe, featuring the video art of more than 300 creative minds from more than 50 countries.

Journeys Africa

Global DanceFest 2008

Certain endeavors—sports, art, music, chess—serve as bridges between countries and cultures. Their universality creates an understanding between all involved. The difficulty of these exchanges, however, is in establishing a context. Programs need to accompany the goods, so to speak, to make an effective connection.

Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones …

An interview with Natalie Goldberg

When Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones was published in 1986, it tapped into a vein most would-be writers weren't aware existed. Practically singlehandedly, Goldberg began the "Just Write" movement. By the early '90s, one couldn’t find a table at a coffee shop because each had been commandeered by a Goldberg devotee, frantically scribbling down his or her own bones.

food

Falatkes

Sometimes kooky fusion combos are better, more soulful, when improvised on the spot rather than premeditated. This one was borne from us being too tired, lazy, brain-dead and starving on a weekday night to be pithy or political with our pairings.

Alibi V.17 No.9 • Feb 28-March 5, 2008

Music to Your Ears

Regular readers of the alibi.com blog already know it, and now you do, too. Seminal Albuquerque punk trio Scared of Chaka is reuniting for one show on March 28, at the Washoe Club in Virginia City, Nev. It's the first time Yanul Hernandez (now known far and wide as Dave Hernandez), Dameon Waggoner (now Dameon Lee) and Ron Skrasek (still Ron Skrasek) have played together in 10 years. You have questions. I have answers.

feature

Next in Line

What you don’t know about the governor’s right-hand woman

Diane Denish may look unassuming—cropped blond hair and frameless glasses accent a face you might recognize on your neighbor, or your friend’s mom, or your real estate agent—but throughout the last year, she’s been your acting governor more than a handful of times. As New Mexico’s lieutenant governor (her first elected position), Denish takes over when Big Bill is away, and in 2010, she may be taking over for good if she wins the race she’s already entered for his office.

news

Unkind Bud

How legal is medical marijuana in New Mexico?

On Sept. 4, Leonard French had some unexpected visitors.

When he opened his door, French came face-to-face with Eddy County Sheriff's deputies, who said they wanted to see his marijuana. French, a Malaga, New Mexico, resident who suffers from chronic back pain, showed the deputies his supply and a license from the New Mexico Health Department that allows him to possess medical marijuana. The deputies took French's marijuana and left.

Answer Me This

What did a man and his daughter find on their bike ride? Who's clogging the courts? A first at the Albuquerque Aquarium. And who helped slap the cuffs on a serial robber?

Martha Calls it a Day

Longtime Nob Hill shop prepares to shut its doors

Martha Doster folds a brown velvety scarf for a tall, stern-looking man. She places it carefully in a small gift box, humming along to the Sting song that's on the store's speakers. It's a busy day in the little shop that's been a staple in the Nob Hill area for more than three decades. Everything is on sale for 40 percent off or more. As the last days wear on, the discounts will go deeper.

Heavy Metal

The city says a sculpture’s base weighs too much for Civic Plaza

The city’s latest public art controversy has nothing to do with style or subject matter. It’s all about weight. And process.

Thin Line

Last Saturday, the Albuquerque Tribune published its final issue, and in its dying gasps, it may have breathed new life into a community thirsting for alternative media.

The Taste of Hope

Albuquerque’s Altela holds the promise of clean water for millions of people

Ned Godshall hands me a glass of water. I pause to consider the origin of this drink: a holding tank of foul, dark, brackish slop from a natural gas well.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Israel--Earthquakes are gay. At least that’s what a member of Israel’s parliament believes. Six earthquakes have hit Israel and the neighboring nations of Lebanon and Jordan in recent months. Shlomo Benizri, of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas party, has suggested the tremors are being caused by his country’s liberal laws on homosexuality. The Israeli parliament, or Knesset, decriminalized homosexuality in 1988 and has passed several laws on the subject since, including decisions to recognize same-sex marriages carried out abroad and granting inheritance rights and other benefits held by married couples to gay partnerships. Two weeks ago, to the outrage of the religious right, the country’s attorney general, Meni Mazuz, ruled same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children. In what Mr. Benizri believes is no coincidence, an earthquake struck the region two days later. “Why do earthquakes happen?” Benizri said during a parliamentary debate on earthquake preparedness. “One of the reasons is the things to which the Knesset gives legitimacy, to sodomy.” Benizri told his fellow legislators the most cost-effective way of preventing future earthquakes was to stop “passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the state of Israel, which anyway brings about earthquakes.” The London Telegraph quoted Benizri as saying, “God says you shake your genitals where you are not supposed to and I will shake my world in order to wake you up.”

film

Reel World

Curious what New Mexico’s homegrown filmmakers are up to? Friends of Film, Video and Arts will present an evening of short films by professional New Mexico film artists on Friday, Feb. 29. Among the films scheduled to be shown on the big screen are “Director’s Cut New Mexico: The Art of Storytelling” produced by Rebecca Dakota, “Susan Klebanoff--Waves” produced by Anton Kozikowski, “Black Eagle Flying Free” produced by Brad Stoddard, “Cycling” produced by Ken Knoll, “The Truth About Walden Matussey” produced by Tim Boughn, “Climate Change: What It Means for New Mexico” produced by Anton Kozikowski and “Teardrop” produced by Fritz Eberle. Following the screening will be a Q&A session with the filmmakers. This event will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. at UNM’s Continuing Ed North Building (1634 University). Admission is $19 or $10 for Friends of Film, Video and Arts members. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to FoFVA, a local organization working in conjunction with Harwood Arts to support local, grassroots filmmakers. For more information on the event or the organization, log on to www.filmvideoarts.org.

City of Men

When is a sequel not a sequel?

One of the reasons City of Men isn’t quite as good as Fernando Meirelles’ 2002 film City of God may be that the two are only loosely related. City of Men covers much the same ground as City of God, features the same two actors, has almost the exact same title and feels--for all the world--like a direct sequel. But it’s not. It’s actually based on a 2004 Brazilian TV series directed by Paulo Morelli. That series was based on a short film from 2000 called “Palace II.” That short was based on a novel by Brazilian writer Paolo Lins. That book was the primordial inspiration for both City of Men and City of God--hence the loose relationship.

Meeting Resistance

One, two, three, four, what are they fighting for?

The year 2007 saw a flood, a spate, a “surge” if you will of films about America’s so-called War on Terror. Few of them made much of an impression on the box office, proving Americans are so weary of the conflict they don’t want to face it at their local cineplex. But to paraphrase one of Jon Stewart’s better jokes from the Academy Awards, we can’t back down now. If we stop making war movies, then the audiences have won!

Truth in Adjectives

“Unbeatable Banzuke” on G4

I’m starting to think no nation on Earth understands the Idiot Box better than Japan. Granted, we only see the tiniest sliver of Japanese programming here in America. But every minute of it just makes me want to consume more. Sure, there are probably plenty of boring news shows and the like in Tokyo, but I imagine prime time there to be a wonderland of frantic anime, hilarious commercials involving American celebrities and inscrutable game shows in which contestants are placed in constant mortal danger.

music

VxPxC

Improved psych myth-makers map their way to the desert

It began with a lie.

VxPxC created the legend that the band had found all its music in a box hidden away in a closet corner. Slowly, the band was releasing the material, members claimed, unearthing it and offering it up to the world. "We got a couple calls from record labels that were like, Oh, we wanna hear all the box set and think about releasing it," says VxPxCer Grant Capes. There's a big interest right now in found material, he adds. Bandmate Justin McInteer commented on an art gallery website that the myth was all a big joke. "That got a lot of people mad," Capes says.

The Everybodyfields

Putting the alt. in alt.country

What is it that separates alt.country from its unpunctuated counterpart? Is "alt." just something new artists attach to their brand of country to keep people from picturing Toby Keith? For the Everybodyfields' Jill Andrews, the alt. is the rough edges.

Jonathan Meiburg

He's letting you into his room

During our phone interview, singer/songwriter and avid bird watcher Jonathan Meiburg asks to halt our conversation. "Hang on just a second," Meiburg says. "I'm looking at this bird and I can't tell what it is." After fumbling with his binoculars for a moment, Meiburg exclaims, "Oh, it's an osprey! That's what I thought it was."

art

Culture Shock

Part of The Cradle Project's mission to raise money for orphans in sub-Saharan Africa includes filling a warehouse with 1,000 cradles and cribs made by artists from around the world. The original warehouse space was a 20,000-square-foot building in the railyard that was once a locomotive repair shop. The lease of the space to Albuquerque Studios has changed the plan slightly.

Waiting Out the Fog

Life During Wartime at UNM's Theatre X

Perhaps the wisest words ever uttered by Franklin D. Roosevelt were "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” In today's culture, we could sure use a dose of that idiom, straight down the gullet without a sugary chaser.

Zimbabwe Through a Lens

When a Crocodile Eats the Sun author Peter Godwin

It would require some luck to peg the trim, thoughtfully bearded 50-year-old man sitting in the fading afternoon light as a foreign correspondent. Indeed, dressed in a sweater and jeans, wearing pink argyle socks that flash as he crosses a leg, Peter Godwin seems about as far from a war zone as one can get in a room of ceiling-high bookcases and an elegant symmetry of lamps and décor. In its lush, ordered calm, this salon is a world apart. Even Manhattan's nearby West Side Highway has been reduced to a soft whisper.

food

The Black One

At its inception, Imperial Stout was a savage concoction. The Russian czars’ thirst for stouts could not be quenched, and English and Irish producers couldn’t produce beer that would survive the brutal cold of a month-long trip to St. Petersburg. Their answer was a beer that could withstand any voyage; a brew so high in alcohol that it would not spoil, and so flavorful from roasted malts that it would still taste amazing in the event that it did. Imagine bulging barrels of viscous beer the color of crude oil, hefted deftly one after another by British maritime brutes. Cargo hulls full of alcoholic ballast destined for the dead city of the Eastern Lords …

Wimpy’s

A rose by any other name

From its humble and often disputed beginnings to its rise as America’s iconic gastronomic offering, the hamburger is a symbol of everything that’s right and wrong with this nation. It stands for the New World transformation of immigrant foods, and for our country’s rapidly expanding waistlines. Hamburgers illustrate the American dream of mastering capitalism through hard work and ingenuity, or the American habit of overindulgence and instant gratification. Either way, there’s no getting around how tasty they are.

Captain Capsaicin

Pepper guru Dave DeWitt gets fired up for the National Fiery Foods and Barbecue Show's 20th anniversary

The hot and spicy business is smokin'. This year's National Fiery Foods and Barbecue Show—held at the Sandia Resort and Casino Ballroom this weekend—is expected to draw 14,000 people. That's in contrast to 20 years ago, when the first Fiery Foods and Barbecue Show made a profit of just $100. But it was a profit nonetheless, and the number of people in attendance has increased every year since. "The one thing about people who like hot and spicy," says the show's organizer, Dave DeWitt, "is they don't suddenly wake up and say, Oh, I used to like it hot and spicy, but now I'm going back to bland. They just don't do that." The New Mexico author and figurehead for all things hot sat down with the Alibi to figure out why.