Here it is. Our annual compendium of complaints, grievances and joyous salutations toward the most outstanding stories we covered this year, broken down for you, section by section.
Best (and worst) of 2011
New Year’s Day around the dial
New Year’s Day doesn’t really count as a holiday. New Year’s Eve is a holiday. New Year’s Day is just the day you get off work to recover from New Year’s Eve. It’s the only holiday that requires a recovery period. So, odds are you’re going to be partying your brains out on this Saturday night, and then lying around the house all Sunday afternoon just trying to get your brain kick started in time for work on Monday. Don’t worry. Television is here for you.
The Week in Sloth
The rising cost of eating, medium-rare pork, nutrition guidelines and foodborne illness top the list of hot stories
Every December, the Hunter PR firm announces the results of a nationwide survey for the top 10 food news stories of the year. The list says as much about the media that writes the headlines as it does about the people who remember them.
A foodie’s pilgrimage to Prune and Masa
There’s a lot you can cram into two days in New York City. Over one weekend this fall, my friend Mike and I visited the Museum of Modern Art, took pictures at the Empire State Building and listened to Chick Corea at the Blue Note with Gary Burton and the Harlem String Quartet. But we came for the food.
No contest—my choice for No. 1 meal in 2011 is Masa’s omakase in New York City, and Prune is certainly in the top 10 (see Have Fork, Will Travel). But I’ve eaten some amazing food here at home this year. The dishes that follow, available on regular menus or as specials, stand out as top notch. I have a hard time distinguishing between them for quality and sheer enjoyment, so in no particular order:
It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times
A retrospective of 2011’s foremost albums
Honestly, I spent most of 2011 obsessing over mod music and glam rock from the ’60s and ’70s, and so I don’t feel quite equipped to compose an authoritative or complete list of the year’s best new sounds. (Besides, the Internet is populated by young bloggers on the hipster tip who are doing just that for me—not that I was into Real Estate, Youth Lagoon or Lana Del Mar in the slightest.) I did, however, spend hours obsessing over certain songs. Below are the five I repeated to an embarrassing degree.
Violin-playing performance artist shares her New Year’s Eve with Albuquerque
Bitch is a multi-instrumentalist—electric violin, ukulele, bass, keyboard—and solo performance artist. The one-woman band was once upon a time half of Righteous Babe Records alumnus Bitch and Animal. On her own, the exuberant, Technicolor, gender nonconformist singer released her first solo album on Kill Rock Stars and now runs her own label, Short Story Records. Trained as an actor as well, she starred in acclaimed feature film Shortbus by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch). Her music has appeared on “The L Word,” and she’s worked with the likes of JD Samson, Ani DiFranco and the Indigo Girls.
On 6 Times around the Sun, hubkaphonist Mark Weber presents an abundant collection of strange and wonderful music, teaming up with nine adventurous musicians on 38 improvised duet tracks recorded over six years.
The poster for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 classic thriller now serves as the announcement of a New Year’s Eve party at Dad’s House. Gusher, Great White Buffalo, Fart House, Music is the Enemy and Sputniq play beginning at 9 p.m. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Our favorite arty endeavors of 2011
Outrageous improv, a futuristic nautical vessel, black humor, an alligator-infested ode to dying swampland. In 2011, we at the Alibi covered some astonishing works ranging from theatrical spectacles to ambitious visual arts projects to impressive contributions to the literary canon. Our current Arts and Lit editor reached out to the previous two, as well as our resident theater critic. They put their nerdy, critical noggins together, and the result is this brainstorm of the more outstanding creative output we covered over the last 365.
Eclectic group show at Matrix focuses on identity
It’s the early-morning hours before the zoo opens. Many of the animals are still indoors. The lone mammal in the zebra pen is a beautiful girl, completely naked but for black-and-white-striped body paint.
We’re in the homestretch before the new year caps the 2011 party season. Office potlucks and impromptu festivities crowd the calendar—and at some point we have to decide what to bring to the next gathering.
This year in weird news
Another year down, another 52 weeks’ worth of idiotic behavior. Several things can always be counted on when it comes to weird news stories: People will get drunk and do stupid things, stoners love to dial 911, and bank robbers will hand over their IDs at the drop of a hat.
Women laser away their ink—and their hard pasts
A festive playlist with less Christmas schmaltz
Tchaikovsky faces off with Ellington
Steven Spielberg double-dips with a couple of Christmas blockbusters
If you’re a fan of Steven Spielberg (and every filmgoer must be to some degree), then you’re going to find your Christmas stocking overflowing this week. Working like a sweaty elf in Santa’s factory, Mr. Spielberg has delivered not one but two feature films for Christmas.
Christmas Eve around the dial
Stuck home alone over the holidays like Macaulay Culkin in that movie Home Alone? Fill in the long, lonely hours that make up Christmas Eve with your good friend, television!
The Week in Sloth
It makes sense to fashion a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer character off Charles Bukowski. Both pop-cultural archetypes have big red noses (Bukowski from a career of professional alcoholism, Rudy from some sort of unexplained nasal phosphorescence); both were social outcasts before they got famous; they’re both horny—in their own way.
Mother Road delivers laughs and tears in tale of sibling camaraderie
With only a handful of days left slipping between our fingers until the new year, Mother Road Theatre Company has produced a show that may be the best to come out of Albuquerque in 2011. Shelagh Stephenson’s The Memory of Water, directed by Mark Hisler and Vic Browder, is in one great eruption heartbreaking, fantastically funny and absolutely riveting.
Holiday and 80-proof spirits collide in India Knight’s Comfort & Joy
N.M. beef burns down the house
It's amazing how a building as big and beautiful as the Monte Vista Fire Station can stay so hidden. The only Pueblo Revival-style fire station in, well, anywhere was built just before World War II and put up for sale in 1972, when it was no longer big enough for a new breed of fire trucks. Hoses used to hang from the roof of the tower all the way to the garage, which is now the dining room of the Monte Vista Fire Station bar and restaurant.
Blistering black comedy celebrates stunted development and spectacularly bad ideas
The last time director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody teamed up, it was for a little film called Juno. Four years later they’re back together for another drama-laced comedy, Young Adult. Perhaps the two have grown older and wiser. Perhaps times have changed. But the snarky, impossibly well-spoken wit of Juno has dried up, replaced by the cynical comedy of discomfort.
"Two more weeks before this thing!
Autoharps and hammer dulcimers are hard to come by in New Mexico. But Apple Mountain Music has them, along with a host of folk instruments you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Bodhráns, bouzoukis, Irish and Native American flutes, djembes, and didgeridoos are neatly displayed alongside more recognizable harps, ukuleles and fiddles. Ever hear of a bowed psaltery? Owner Debra Fortress is happy to pull one off the shelf of her cozy store and show it to you. They’re as beautiful to look at as they are easy to play. There’s not a lot of plastic at Apple Mountain—these instruments were clearly made with care. They glow with rippling wood grains, Celtic fretwork inlays, ceramic glazes and animal skins. Of course, Fortress sells the sundries—instruction books and strings, for example—that keep players in tune. Be sure to ask about regular playing circles, classes and performances at the store.
One of our favorite nerdy items in this store is Pictorial Webster’s: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities. Non-nerd types are likely to love the assortment of Ten Thousand Waves body products, or a fair-trade wooden xylophone, or a set of 20 iron-on decals in the shapes of birds and foxes and porcupines. Then there are the shelves of children’s books, the stamp sets, the boxes of beads and the stacks of cookbooks. And don’t miss the natural-material clothing, jewelry and hand-stitched wallets.
When it comes to inexpensive local crafts, The Octopus and the Fox is about as nifty and comprehensive as it gets. Featuring more than 60 New Mexico arts-and-crafters, the boutique has everything from felt-lined zia bracelets made from beer cans ($20) to popular recycled sweater cat dolls with button-eyes ($18) made by co-owner Belita Orner. And with a stock of screen-printed tees, girls’ dresses and knitted sweatbands with animal ears, there are as many treats for the kids on your gift list as the adults. (And animals, too; sewn catnip toys feature cute kitty faces.) In fact, just about everything at the store is cute and cozy, even felt Frankenstein and vampire dolls. There's also a full supply of organic body goods, and don't miss the awesome volcano and dinosaur wall art. Plus, the recycled-parts earrings made with bug wings and Plexiglas are bound to turn someone into a happy pixie.
Sukhmani is a family endeavor. Behind the counter, Sat Bachan Anthony smiles and says the store is named for his niece. His wife painted the images adorning the walls. With his mother, he makes the uncommon and beautiful jewelry they sell—chunks of stone in beautiful settings. His sister Sat Gurumukh Khalsa co-owns the small but uncluttered shop. The environment is calm and relaxing. Inexpensive candles and body products line the shelves, and glass cases house jewelry at a variety of prices.
Tucked into the back corner of The Village Shops at Los Ranchos is this pleasingly retro mercantile store. If you're looking to cowboy up, Wagon Mound is the place to go. The shop specializes in ranch-style cookware—from Dutch ovens to cast-iron skillets. The skillets range in size from tiny four-inchers ($5.50) to pizza-sized stove-crushers ($59.95). Pair them up with a cookbook (Field Guild to Dutch Oven Cooking or The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook, perhaps) and you've got yourself a Christmas gift. Beyond the plentiful cookware is a colorful array of enameled tin dinnerware, from teapots to plates to those ubiquitous tin cups you see in every cowboy movie. Need more cowbell? Wagon Mound has got you covered from small ($5) to large ($66.95). Deerskin gloves, silk handkerchiefs, CDs and jewelry add to the stocking stuffer list for the old-fashioned cowboy or cowgirl in your life.
Nob Hill's Shop and Stroll was besieged by "an apocalyptic windstorm from hell" this year, says Self Serve owner Matie Fricker. It's supposed to be the biggest sales day on the calendar. But the weather depressed turnout, which was "really damaging for our bottom line," she says. It added momentum to a downward trend that started before the winter. "Many local businesses we love have closed in the last year."
“Bomb Patrol: Afghanistan” on G4
Working as a cameraman in reality television has got to suck. Imagine the poor schmuck saddled with the task of filming the orange-tinted “Jersey Shore” cast members as they wallow in their herpes-laden hot tub, alternately sucking face and puking up Goldschläger. Or the guy whose job it is to follow Khloe Kardashian around all day waiting for her to do something “interesting.” Ugh. What if, then, you were suddenly offered the opportunity to point your camera at something real, something maybe even newsworthy. ... Congratulations, Bob, you no longer work for “The Bachelorette.” We’re transferring you to “Bomb Patrol: Afghanistan.”
Lotus Eye Productions is casting for a new webisode series set to shoot every other Saturday in January. The series is being produced under SAG’s New Media Contract. No pay is involved, but “great exposure” is promised. Producers are looking for four main characters—two women, two men and one transvestite dominatrix—all in their thirties. Auditions will take place Saturday, Dec. 17, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Split Vision Studios (300-A Aspen Road). For audition time and sides, please email your pics and résumés to director Holly Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more details, go to nmactingstudio.com/Auditions.aspx.
The Week in Sloth
Santa Claus is coming to lunch
We associate growers’ markets with summer, and for good reason. That’s normally when stuff grows. Thanks to a combination of old-fashioned tactics and newfangled technology, however, farmers have figured out ways of extending the season. And if you’re out to absorb some social cheer as winter sets in, stock up on staples, and wolf down a breakfast burrito and a coffee, there’s no finer place than the Santa Fe Farmers Market—the state’s largest, oldest and arguably best.
Piggy’s, Plum and Pizza 9
Hacienda Express, on the corner of Central and Washington, is gone. Piggy’s opened in its place on Nov. 7, a drive-through and walk-up restaurant with some of the best dogs in town.
Does our desert city have the right to drink from the Rio Grande?
The Porter Draw is a friend to Albuquerque's Americana scene
Adios, Jenny Gamble Edition
Stranger Factory’s Winter Salon is like an adorable nightmare
A counterculture perspective on raising children in the real world
With a name like W.C. Longacre, it's no surprise that he looks like Willie Nelson and talks like a wise journeyman. "I like the term ‘trader,’ ” he says. “I find ‘artist’ is a little presumptuous. I dabble in a lot of creative endeavors." The entrepreneur, craftsman and lover of creativity is also a professionally trained chef (he co-authored Great Bowls of Fire! with Dave DeWitt, aka “The Pope of Peppers”). In the mid-’70s he created the first line of cosmetics made in Albuquerque that was non-animal tested, petroleum-free and used no animal products. These days the 59-year-old lives with the younger artists Colleen O'Callahan and Patrick Stokes. Together, the unlikely fellowship create and trade for a bevy of handmade artifacts. You may be familiar with them if you've been walking around Downtown during your lunch hour. They work from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday—and sometimes Tuesdays and Thursdays, if weather and inclination permit—in the open air downstairs from the Anodyne (409 Central NW).