Michael Cooperman'sgenteel approach to demystifying wine
By Joseph Baca
There's much about wine that's open to satire, but no aspect of the industry is more caricatured than the sommelier. Wine experts have always been humorously depicted in popular culture as being erudite and intimidating in their patronizing indifference toward non-experts. The classic depiction of a wine steward is a tall, thin foreigner who belittles you for your lack of politesse.
Laurent Gruet is an animated character, to say the least. He possesses an unsettling self-assuredness, balanced with a quick grin and easy laugh. He talks fast with a thick French accent while wildly gesturing with his hands. It would be foolish, though, to not look deeper than his surface qualities, because beneath his playful, even boyish, demeanor is an intense man driven by a singular passion: wine.
People the world over know Rudolfo Anaya as the writer that has most eloquently articulated the Chicano experience for other cultures to appreciate. Most famous as the author of Bless Me, Ultima, Anaya is a retired UNM professor and a children’s book author, but few know that he is also an oenophile and wine critic. He's penned a series of wine reviews based on "The 12 Days of Christmas," in which he rated one wine a day. Here's a sample offering, in which this literary doyen clearly expresses the passion and poetry inherent in wine.
There's a saying among wine experts: "TYOP," or trust your own palate. Ultimately, only you can determine what’s good and bad in wine, so read what you can and attend tastings to discover which varietals and styles you like most. You'll figure out what's required for a wine to be above average or stellar along the way. Once you learn the basics, the rest is fairly subjective. Complexity (multidimensional flavors and aromas), balance and finish are what give a good wine its distinguishing characteristics. Over time, you'll be able to determine if a wine is flawed, how to properly pair food with wine, even which importer's products and which winemaker’s styles you have a preference for. You might even learn to identify the regional characteristics of a wine from a particular area.
There are a lot of wine terms the average drinker has to contend with: body, bouquet, legs, nose, yada yada yada. But the most disputed is terroir. Terroir is defined as a group of vineyards (or even vines) from the same region, belonging to a specific appellation, and sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions, grapes and winemaking savoir-faire, which contribute to the specific personality of a wine.
This Thanksgiving weekend, Albuquerque filmmakers David C. Valdez and Philip H.R. Gunn are pulling the curtain back on their crazed feature film debut, Klown Kamp Massacre. The campy horror/comedy will have its world premiere this Friday (10:30 p.m.), Saturday (10:30 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) at Guild Cinema in Nob Hill. According to the filmmakers (who oughta know), Klown Kamp Massacre “masterfully blends gratuitous sex, clown-on-clown violence and fart jokes.” Imagine Friday the 13thwith cream pies and you’re halfway there. The film stars local actors Ross Kelly, Isaac Kappy, Chris Payne, Jared Herholtz, Dan Gutierrez and Tara Hahn and includes a special cameo by Troma Films president Lloyd Kaufman. If blood, boobs and balloon animals aren’t enough to convince you to get out there and support local film, this weekend’s screenings will also feature the very first trailers for Phillip Hughes’ Jigoku and Ryan Denmark’s Romeo and Juliet vs. the Living Dead. Tickets are $8 and are available in advance at the Guild box office (3405 Central NE, 255-1848).
The fact that Transporter 3 is directed by a guy named Olivier Megaton bears repeating. Not only is this guy French, he’s a former graffiti artist and has voluntarily rechristened himself after a high-yield nuclear device. That should give you a fairly clear idea of Transporter 3’s caliber. It’s the bomb, baby! ... If you’re into loud, frantic and aggressively unsubtle cinema, that is.
The average American will be forgiven for not knowing the name Dalton Trumbo. A generation ago, he was the poster child for free speech, unfettered artistic expression and the consequences of government run amok. Today, he at least rates a paragraph (more or less) to himself in most film history textbooks.
Sci-Fi Channel has been struggling with an identity crisis of late. I’m not sure why. It’s all clearly laid out right there in the name. Nonetheless, executives at the cable net seem confused. How else to explain “Extreme Championship Wrestling”? Or the reluctance to greenlight “Caprica”?
As you're reading this, you're most likely somewhere in the process of dealing with food; preparing, digesting, hoarding or reheating. Giving thanks for intangibles such as religious freedom and paid holidays is exhausting, which is reflected in the dearth of stuff going on this week. Once the first weekend of December hits, though, you'll be one busy consumer. So let me encourage you to avail yourself of the calm before the holiday storm (which may or may not be metaphorical) and enjoy these events at a leisurely, sated pace.
Belen’s Through the Flower Gallery shows Maureen Burdock’s feminist graphic novels
By Lisa Lenard-Cook
When feminist graphic novelist Maureen Burdock says she “can take a bad situation and transmute it with humor and with grace,” she’s being modest. Burdock has managed to find the light side in both incest and femicide. She is one of two winners of Through the Flower Gallery’s Feminists Under Forty juried competition.
Rumor has it the guv will take over which post in Washington? New Mexico may become home to what kind of controversial facility? What are kids getting high on these days? And which New Mexico industry needs help?
Local sci-fi novelist chats up a real-life space station commander
By Marisa Demarco
Walter Jon Williams found a unusual e-mail in his inbox in August. It was from NASA. Col. Mike Fincke would be lifting off in October, heading to the International Space Station for a four-month stint as its commander. The colonel’s a fan of Williams' work and is reading Implied Spaces—in space.
For six years, Amy Costello covered conflict zones in Africa, genocide in Darfur, child labor in Ivory Coast, AIDS orphans in South Africa. She worked as a correspondent for the BBC's "The World," Public Radio International and WGBH Boston. Ask Costello for a memory, and the story she tells is a curveball.
Is the city looking to hire private contractors to handle some of its recycling? Councilor Michael Cadigan wants to know. He started the Monday, Nov. 17 meeting by questioning Chief Operating Officer Ed Adams about the administration's plans. Adams said the city’s sorting facility is at maximum capacity, and the option's on the table. Cadigan said it would be better for the city to make money off recycling without going through a middleman. Farming the work to private companies, said Councilor Rey Garduño, sounds like privatization to him. Cadigan said he hoped the Council would be included in such a decision before the city signed what would have to be a big contract.
Dateline: Russia—Officials from the Russian Orthodox Church told BBC News that a 200-year-old church was recently stolen. The Church of the Resurrection had stood near the village of Komarovo since 1809. It was still standing in July, but some time in early October, thieves made off with it brick by brick. The disappearance of the historic church was not immediately noticed since it was in an out-of-the-way area and was not being used at the time. Church officials said they had been considering resuming services there. Unfortunately, all that remains now are the foundations and some sections of wall. It is assumed the church was sold off for building materials.
When it comes to vino, New Mexico has been in the ball game since 1629, when the first vines were planted in Socorro. This was years before the first Napa plantings were even a thought. Before you go jetting off to California’s wine country for your next tasting, investigate the ultra-hip regional wine destinations in your own backyard.
Film festivals are, traditionally, rather highbrow affairs. Genre-busting films are debuted, cinematic trends are discussed, famous filmmakers are feted and abstract golden statuettes are handed to various French, Senegalese and Kazakhstani directors. It’s safe to say that the company behind such movies as Blood Sucking Freaks and Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid would not be sponsoring a film festival of that nature. No, TromaDance New Mexico is not your father’s film festival.
And bring me the passengers--I want them alive! Hit By A Bus, The Big Spank, Sector 5, Seis Pistos and Felonius Groove Foundation have the death sentence on 12 systems. Friday, Nov. 21, at the Launchpad (all-ages, $5). (LM)
For seven years, Jim Ward tinkered with an Americana album.
The guitarist for defunct post-hardcore band At the Drive-In and lead singer of alternative rock outfit Sparta finally saw West Texas get pressed this spring.
Sleepercar is Ward’s very own project. He recruits a band to play on tours and gathers musicians (including his father) to play in the studio. Whether the group lives or dies depends on him. “It’s the band I get to have forever,” Ward explains. “Nobody can start or stop it, except for me.”
Twelve books for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or just ’cuz
By Lisa Lenard-Cook
This year's compilation focuses exclusively on books with New Mexico connections. Unlike the stock market, each of these books provides a guaranteed return on investment and will keep on giving throughout the year.
Writing this column is proving much more challenging than I anticipated. For the past three years, my life has been a whirlwind of activity, and the Alibi has been at the epicenter. I've learned many lessons, made lifelong friends and been a proud member of the kick-ass team behind Albuquerque's award-winning alternative newsweekly—which makes my departure that much harder.
Longtime New York art avengers ready to blow some ceilings in Albuquerque
By Marisa Demarco
In the 23 years since the Guerilla Girls started a feminist revolution on the streets of Manhattan, members worked their way into the belly of the exclusive art beast. At its conception, the group hung posters near museums to point furry, long-nailed fingers at sexism in the city's art houses. "Now we're in this position where sometimes the very institutions that we've criticized invite us to come show and to criticize them," says a Guerrilla founder, who goes by the code name Frida Kahlo.
I'm starting to notice a pattern: If it's interesting or good, and it’s in New Mexico, it's usually at the end of a dirt road. Whether it's people living on the fringe of society, stunning vineyards or, in this case, fresh pasta, I find myself turning off the pavement to bounce along dusty alleys in search of what's hidden from beaten-path travelers.
My friend Lisa likes to talk about her Italian family's Christmas tradition. Every year her parents prepare a dish called bagna cauda, a hot dip made from olive oil, butter, garlic and anchovies. The dip is served like a fondue with accompanying vegetables such as cauliflower and peppers, and occasionally meats.
Nob Hill shop offers job skills to women with harrowing backgrounds
By Adam Fox
Lawyer Lisa Simpson is used to seeing the same women work their way through the criminal justice system. “They'd get released, and a month later they'd be back in the jail.” She saw a need—especially in Albuquerque, where programs for women are rare—to provide a way to help women get their lives back on track.
On Wednesday, Nov. 12, pranksters handed out thousands of fake copies of the New York Times with the front-page headline "Iraq War Ends" to commuters at several busy New York subway stations.
The paper, which is dated July 4, 2009, also includes stories with headers like "Maximum Wage Law Succeeds," "Nation Sets Its Sights on Building Sane Economy" and "Ex-Secretary Apologizes for W.M.D. Scare."
The elaborate ruse was carried out by three unnamed Times employees, a film promoter and an art professor. Notorious left-wing hoax squad The Yes Men also provided software and Internet support for the paper's accompanying spoof web page, which looks like the Times' site. The paper was meant to encourage politicians nationwide to push for a more liberal agenda.
Social worker builds a dating website for the mentally ill
By Marisa Demarco
Social Worker Elizabeth Barrett noticed something about her clients combatting mental illness: Those in relationships were thriving. "With people who had these social connections, signs of the illness diminished, and they were staying healthier for longer periods of time," she says.
Amid the general euphoria of Obama’s Electoral College landslide, while Democrats around the country exulted, shed tears of joy and jumped up and down in celebration, there was one curious interlude that I found very sobering: John McCain’s concession speech.
Hardheaded types like scientists and skeptical investigators are sometimes portrayed as dour debunkers devoid of magic and awe. They are seen as eggheads and naysayers who don’t believe anything wondrous that they can’t put under a microscope. Yet I passionately disagree. In 1997, I visited two of the great mystical “energy centers” of the world: the pyramids at Ghiza and the Peruvian ruins of Machu Picchu in the South American Andes. The Peruvian ruins sit atop a steep, verdant mountain, surrounded by lower hills emerging regally from cottony white clouds. The huge stone complex, which is a remnant of the Inca civilization, was rediscovered only recently (in 1911), having escaped the Spanish Conquest because of its remote location and rugged terrain.
Dateline: Turkey—The mayor of a Turkish city called Batman is suing director Christopher Nolan and the Warner Bros. movie studio for royalties from this summer’s hit film The Dark Knight. Hüseyin Kalkan, the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party mayor of Batman, has accused the Batman movie producers of unauthorized use of his city’s name. “There is only one Batman in the world,” Kalkan told movie trade publication Variety. “The American producers used the name of our city without informing us.” The mayor says the film’s success has had a negative psychological impact on the city’s inhabitants, blaming it for a number of unsolved murders and a high female suicide rate. The mayor is working on gathering evidence that he claims will prove the city of Batman predates the 1939 debut of Bob Kane’s superhero in DC Comics. “We are only aware of this claim via press reports and have not seen any actual legal action,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson said in a statement.
Gov. Bill Richardson announced last week the winner of the “New Visions/New Mexico” Contract Awards. Fourteen New Mexico-based film/media projects have received contracts ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. This money will be used by the winning producers, directors and writers to start or complete various narrative, documentary, animated and experimental works. In the Documentary category, the winners were Marcos Baca of Albuquerque (The Zia’s Heart); Jimmy Baca of Albuquerque (Rising from the Ashes); Joseph Concha of Taos (Smokey and the Snowballs); Elke Duerr of Albuquerque (Wolves in New Mexico--The Great Divide); Ramona Emerson of Albuquerque (Gambling With Our Future); and Florentina Garnanez of Santa Fe (Yellow Fever). In the Animation category, winners were Catherine Friday of Albuquerque (The Sands of Time) and Kevin Ulrich of Edgewood (The Restoration: Rise of Zerad). In the Narrative category, winners included Jocelyn Jansons of Santa Fe (The Baby Monitor); Riyanka Kumar of Santa Fe (Mercury in Retrograde); Margot Segura of Las Vegas (Lipstick Princess); and Craig Strong of Santa Fe (La Bola Blanca). In the Experimental category, winners were Stephen Ausherman of Albuquerque (Kammer 2.1) and Melissa Henry of Albuquerque (Navajo Wool: As Told By Baa Baa).
Your hometown alternative paper has run Tony Millionaire’s “Maakies” comic strip for ... well, a really damn long time. Now, after, like, a freaking decade or something, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim animation block has turned the cult hit comic into a weekly series. Just goes to show you how far ahead of the curve we are here at the Alibi. Or something.
Johnny Vee (not to be confused with famed Florida chef Johnny V) has penned his first cookbook. Known in Santa Fe for his food columns in Santa Fean magazine as well as his cooking classes at Las Cosas, Vee—short for Vollertsen—is a man with a big personality. I've sat in on a couple of his classes and have to admit, it's hard to not like the guy. I still laugh when I recall his story about giving Shirley MacLaine diarrhea by overusing truffle oil. With his big laugh and inability to keep food-related gossip to himself, it's no wonder his students keep coming back for more.
Yeesh. It's time to take a break from all of this Joe Serious stuff and put a figurative comic book in our figurative primary school volume. Slack off and geek out at once with this page-o-fun. But wait! Throughout the paper you will find more quizzes, puzzles, comix and other things spelled with Z and X. Enjoy, egghead. —Jessica Cassyle Carr
You’ve reached the point in your life where you’ve figured out you’re crazy. The problem is you don’t know how crazy, or for that matter, what kind of crazy you are. Finally, somebody has taken the time to help you figure yourself out. All you need to do is answer this multiple-choice quiz (and remember to be as honest as possible). Tally your answers and refer to the key below to determine what brand of crazy is right for you.
Get your winter ski stoke on with the Powderwhores. ... I don’t know what that means. But apparently, a group of self-proclaimed “snow sluts from Utah” have produced a new extreme skiing film called The Pact. It features trailblazing skiing from the Wasatch Mountains in Utah to the snowy peaks of Hakuba, Japan. There will be two screenings of The Pact at the Santa Fe Film Center (1616 St. Michael’s Drive) on Thursday, Nov. 13 beginning at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door.
Feel the need to bone up on your Bond history before catching Quantum of Solace? The 22nd film in the official 007 series hits theaters this Friday. Here’s all you need to know about the last 46 years’ worth of cinematic superspies.
Following the excitement, controversy and sold-out screenings of last year’s inaugural Pornotopia Film Festival, founders Molly Adler and Matie Fricker vowed to return to Nob Hill for another sexually charged cinematic outing. This weekend, they will do so, ushering in the Second Annual Pornotopia Film Festival at the storied Guild Cinema. If last year is any indication, you’ll need to bring your ID, your loved one (or ones) and possibly your lawyer.
There’s a race among network executives to come up with the simplest, most reductive, so-stupid-it’s-genius television show. For these single-minded programmers of digital pabulum, dating shows, singing competitions and WWE spin-offs are far too sophisticated. These are the men and women who greenlight weekly offerings like “Yo Momma” (Wilmer Valderrama’s televised trash talk battle), “Hurl” (a show in which people eat a lot and try not to puke) and “The Tyra Banks Show.”
Leading up to the Nov. 4 election, the Vortex Theatre hosted an evening of eight 10-minute plays by local playwrights called Electoral Dysfunction. In honor of the democratic process, audience members were asked to vote for their favorite play. After a meticulous count of every vote, the theater electoral college has determined a winner. Playwright and Albuquerque Journal columnist Gene Grant gets the $500 cash prize for his play "Enter on the Execution," which follows President-elect Barack Obama into a private White House restroom before his inaugural address, where he encounters a janitor who's seen many presidents walk through those bathroom doors. Grant picked the president-elect long before Election Day—wonder if the bathroom encounter will manifest as well.
Three monkeys in a cage with typewriters. Given an infinite timeline, would they write Shakespeare’s masterpiece Hamlet or just defecate on a pack of cigarettes in protest of their unethical incarceration? These are a few questions addressed in The Adobe Theatre's production of All in the Timing, a collection of seven one-acts by David Ives, where things get comedic, tragic and a little wacky.
Judge throws out the lawsuit against nonprofits brought by outgoing politicians
By Marisa Demarco
A lawsuit filed by state legislators who lost primaries this summer was dismissed. State Rep. Dan Silva, and state Sens. Shannon Robinson and James Taylor—all Democrats—brought the suit blaming certain nonprofits for their defeat.
Two city employees expressed their disappointment with the City Council during the Wednesday, Nov. 5 meeting. The Council failed to override Mayor Martin Chavez’ veto of a bill on Sept. 3 that would have allowed for arbitration between the city and its workers. One of the workers said a single councilor’s vote kept them from getting an ordinance that would allow an independent arbitrator to oversee labor-management negotiation. Councilor Sally Mayer said four councilors, not just one, voted against arbitration. To override a veto, the council must have a 6-3 majority.
Dateline: Sweden—Supporters of the Stockholm-based AIK ice hockey team demonstrated their disdain for a rival player at last Tuesday night’s game by showering the ice with dildos. The tumescent taunts were directed at Jan Huokko, a former AIK team member now playing defense for the Leksand hockey club. Ahead of Tuesday’s match against Leksand, the website for AIK’s unofficial supporter group instructed fans to bring dildos to the match to remind Huokko of the sex scandal that plagued him earlier this year. Back in June, a sexually explicit video clip featuring the 34-year-old athlete and his girlfriend ended up on the Internet. Huokko had recorded the clip on his cell phone and wasn’t surprised to see it spread across the Internet after the phone was stolen. “It was a private thing between me and my girl,” he said at the time. “That’s what people do when it comes to sex.” The Expressen newspaper reported dozens of sex toys littering the ice before the Tuesday night match started. Vulgar chants directed at Huokko continued throughout the match, which Leksand ended up losing 3-2. AIK club management was aware of the fans’ plans but elected not to intervene. “We’d also heard mention of it, but we decided that it would only be worse if we went out and told the fans they were absolutely not allowed to throw dildos on the ice,” AIK club head Mats Hedenström told the newspaper.
A son of Seattle's underground music tradition, rapper Grieves is as independent as they come. He certainly has the independently produced albums and hard-won, growing national status to prove it. Grieves spoke with the Alibi from his new home in California (the move was "all for the sunshine," he admits) about speed-writing an album--88 Keys and Counting, out Nov. 12 and featuring Seattle producer Budo--touring across genres, touring and more touring.
Auguste Escoffier's 1903 Le Guide Culinaire is an exhaustive reference of French cuisine. It still serves as a guide to all who seek to create the perfect selle de chevreuil briand (saddle of antelope larded with bear fat, roasted on a bed of vegetables and garnished with pears poached in red wine), as well as a look back into culinary history. If you're feeling confident, try your hand at this quiz that delves deep into the pages of this intimidating tome.