BOB: Staff Picks
Best Use of Confusing Signage For an Office Supply Store
Staples on Menaul
The branch of this nationwide chain, located near the corner of Menaul and San Pedro, is like the Venus flytrap of office supply stores, luring innocent leisure-time seekers through its doors with false promises of bowling and fun. Before those tricked by the store's veneer can even attempt to escape, they are lost in a maze of toner, daily planner refill packs and fantastic deals. Either that or Fiesta Lanes is just wearing a scary Halloween costume.
--Mark Chavez, Alibi Contributing Writer
Best Place to Feel Out of Place
Once or twice a month I come to the great Burque to eat and critique. I stay with my in-laws, residents of Tanoan. By day, there are perfectly manicured lawns and the geriatric elite briskly walking to extend their years; by night, it’s security trucks slowing to suspiciously eye me as I grab a much-needed smoke. And, yes, neighbors wondering if they should report me to some law agency. Tanoan, and its McMansions surrounding a golf course that costs a bazillion dollars to play on, in addition to the gazillion dollars paid to live around it, represents everything this city and country shouldn’t be about.
Dammit, if I’m going to pay a fortune to buy into the circus, I at least want to be able to paint it up like a sideshow—with no fear of my neighbors crying to the homeowners’ association about my pink and green expression of independence.
--Maren Tarro, Alibi Food Critic
Best Place For a John James Audubon Moment
The Rio Grande Nature Center
No hiking boots required here--just the need to see some glorious birds in our natural bosque habitat. Ducks of all kind, cranes, geese, roadrunners (a personal favorite) and many other species of birds are there daily for your viewing pleasure. Take a walk around the grounds and check out the garden and the peacefulness the birds enjoy. Friendly volunteers are available to answer any questions or give you a tour. This state park is a glorious center that is available to everyone for just the price of parking: $3!
Please, drag your child out from in front of the computer, text messaging, playing video games or the mall and get the to the Nature Center. Nature is better than any video game, magnified because it's real, right there in front of you.
--Sarah Bonneau, aka The Roadrunner Lady, Alibi Senior Display Account Executive
Best Place to Look for Chupacabra
There are many nice places to see wildlife in the Duke City. The Corrales bosque is wonderful for small critters and birds; if you're wanting something a bit more exotic, there's the Albuquerque Zoo. But if you want a chance to see the mysterious goat-sucking chupacabra, there's no better place than the Westside. A dead chupacabra was found half-buried on the mesa near Rio Rancho in 2002, and just this past November, a live one was sighted along Coors near Paradise Hills. Bring a net!
--Ben Radford, Alibi Columnist
Best Place to Satisfy Addictive Avocations Beginning with “A”
1908 Carlisle NE
The exact address puts you on the sidewalk beside a very annoyed bear. To the north of the bear sculpture is the Archery Shoppe, to the south Langell’s Art Supply. Both long-established, locally owned stores carry huge inventories. If you longed for the 64-color crayon set in first grade, Langell’s will soothe your residual pain into sensual ecstasy. Every medium in every color, every implement and every surface for applying it. And the Archery Shoppe! Bows—compound, recurve or longbow—to rent or buy. Targets, sights, nocks, points, shafts and feathers and a shop for custom fabrication. An indoor shooting range. These folks offer lessons and even set up archery birthday parties.
--Laura Sanchez, Alibi City Council reporter
Best Geeks with Whom to Drink
Dukes of Ale
At a Dukes of Ale meeting, you'll discuss the hop shortage, how to keep your yeast happy and the operating temperature range of amylase enzymes. Topics become less cerebral, though, after you've sampled a variety of homebrew and carefully selected commercial beers. You might even get to taste some hard cider or mead. Trade your brew with other members, or pitch in for an economical bulk grain order. Meetings are on the first Tuesday of each month at the new Marble Brewery.
--John Millington, Alibi Webmonkey
Best Daily Visuals
Almost 20 years of living here and I am still struck by how quiet Albuquerque is at night, and how one can look out and see where the city lights actually end. Twenty-three years in Los Angeles make you very aware of those things. Taking visitors for a trek along the Sandia Crest trail always astonishes, and the newly opened Open Space park off Coors and south of Paseo del Norte is a meditative gem that many people aren't even aware of—an example of public money well spent.
—Rex Barron, Alibi Illustrator
Best Place to Light Up in Spite of the Smoking Ban
If you're looking for somewhere to light up that replaces the barstool, try these on for size: 1) Outside your favorite bar, where you can chat it up with fellow lung destructors and the ever-present panhandlers (they love the smoking ban). 2) Your very own front porch with your very own cheap beer (you don't even have to shower before you go there). 3) Local casinos aren't discriminating either, they still love the money of smokers. Or, 4) You could just go to one of our public golf courses--Marty said it's OK.
--Molly Lindsay, Alibi Controller
Best Way to Celebrate a Birthday and Thumb Your Nose at Getting Older
Hike the Sandia Mountains--the Entire Sandia Mountains--In One Shot
Start at the Tunnel Springs rec area in Placitas, climb to the crest and hoof it to Canyon Estates in Tijeras Canyon 26 miles south. Unless you have the metabolism and conditioning of a 19-year-old cross-country runner, try to avoid grabbing a beer at the Tram. Have someone meet you at your hike's finish with a cold six pack and let them drive you back into town.
--Jim Scarantino, Alibi Columnist
Best Route From Louisiana/Menaul to Downtown
West on Menaul to San Mateo
It seems like common sense to blast down Louisiana to the I-40 onramp, and that was once the case, but increased traffic from the new Albuquerque Uptown mall and 70 or more traffic lights between you and speedy driving suggest no such clear-cut answer. I’ve found that the fastest and least rage-inducing route is to drive west on Menaul to the San Mateo ramp. What’s the best way to teleport to Rio Rancho? Close your eyes and say “Rio Rancho” three times.
--Nick Brown, Alibi Contributing Writer
Steven Robert Allen
Best Place to Hook a Severed Body Part
A Burque Ditch
One of Albuquerque’s best-kept recreational secrets is its centuries-old ditch system. Many ditch banks are perfect for jogging, walking and mountain biking. Some pools also provide fantastic urban fishing opportunities, with an abundance of native catfish and stocked trout.
By the year 2023, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, which maintains the city’s ditches, plans to start offering digital maps of the system on its website, www.mrgcd.org. For now, you have to trudge down to the District’s main office at 1930 Second Street SW and shell out 10 bucks for a printed copy. It’s worth it.
The city has an alarmist Web page (www.cabq.gov/flood/ditches.html) that suggests anyone who gets within 50 yards of a ditch will spontaneously combust. Don’t believe it. Sure, this is Albuquerque. So you might find the occasional dead body, or body part, floating down current. But, hey, that only adds to the charm, right?
--Steven Robert Allen, Alibi Contributing Writer and Editor Emeritus
Best New Thursday Night
The weekends have always belonged to straight people. But for years on end in Albuquerque, Thursday was the one night when weird kids of bar-going age could cut loose and dance—the goths at Pulse, the mods at Burt's, the rockers at Launchpad and rockabillies at Atomic—in a cloistered environment with reliably good music. That time has gone. Not content to merely suck all the fun out of weekend nights, meatheaded binge drinkers are crashing Thursday night and running the nerds off the dance floor. So, while the assholes sleep off their hangovers on the Lord's Day, the most resourceful slackers are saving their strength for small, Sunday morning concerts in home backyards or at art spaces like Stove. If there aren't waffles and whiskey, there will certainly be bagels and beer; and absolutely no jocks will spill Jäger on you while attempting to grope your fanny pack.
--Laura Marrich, Alibi Managing Editor/Music and Food Editor
Best Alley to Find a New Cat
Any off Central in the Student Ghetto
Screw any traditional ways of getting a new pet! Everyone knows you can just go to the back alleys off Central and the student ghetto. There are tons of cats waiting to be picked up. Most alley cats are really friendly; they've had to beg for food, which makes them extra cuddly. They are also super smart. They know how to open doors and search for small places to hide ... sneaky little things. So go find your new kitty off the street! It may be a little beat up at first, but once you give it a bath, it’s as good as any.
--Kristin Garcia, Alibi Display Account Executive
Best Place to Ruminate on the Squandered Potential of Urban Albuquerque
No other place in our fair city provides quite the opportunity to revel in the failed urbanism of Albuquerque than Downtown's Civic Plaza. It shares a surprising amount of characteristics with the southern Polish town of Nowa Huta, considered to be the gem of Stalinist Social Realism. Vast expanses of dreary concrete? Check. The occasional worker darting across the bleak plain, rushing as if afraid to be caught in the square's crushing emptiness? Yep. A dearth of any semblance of anything local or organic? To Avogadro's Number. "Civic" comes from the Latin, meaning "of the people." So, which people is Civic Plaza "of"? The guy in the green jacket holding a burrito who quacks at me? No offense to Mr. Quack, but there are about a half-million other people in this here burg who might like the heart of Downtown to be "of" them, too.
--Erin Adair-Hodges, Alibi Copy Editor
Devin D. O'Leary
Best Way to Simultaneously Kill and Exercise Your Brain Cells
Geeks Who Drink
The local chapter of this "authentic pub quiz for beer-soaked nerds" meets three times a week, and each night is cram-packed full of brainy boozers. Monday it goes down at Burt's Tiki Lounge in Downtown. Wednesday it moves to O'Niell's Pub in Nob Hill. Thursday it takes over Gecko's Bar and Tapas up on Academy. Gather up a team and puzzle your way through eight challenging rounds, including the ever-popular "audio round." (Can you identify your Disney tunes if they're sung in Spanish?) Alternately jeering and cheering other teams as the scores are tallied is heartily encouraged. Plus, you can even answer bonus questions for cheap drink specials!
--Devin D. O'Leary, Alibi Film Editor
Jessica Cassyle Carr
Best Non-Functioning Women's Bathroom Stall Door Latch In a Downtown Bar
The Handicapped Stall at Anodyne
While the broken metal door next to the sink at Burt's is pretty spectacular, this honor goes to the door on the handicapped stall at Anodyne. Try as you may, no ma'am, that lock refuses to serve its purpose. Jimmy-rigging it by wedging toilet paper between the lock and its slot is not an option--the door is too heavy to be phased by industrial bathroom tissue. And unless you are a tall woman, urinating into the toilet and holding the door closed doesn't work either. It's. Just. Out. Of. Reach. By the time you resign to doing business with a two-inch crack that leaves your bare thighs visible to whomever might stroll past, you could have just waited for one of the two other stalls to free up. But, hey, imbibe more of the bar's stiff, reasonably priced beverages and you won't care. Or take solace in the fact that the stalls are now actually separated and not the low-walled Euro-jokes they used to be.
--Jessica Cassyle Carr, Alibi Web Editor
Best Doomed Open Space
Ten Acres of Farmland at Isleta and Raymac SW
This particular open space isn't terribly unique, but it is representative. I used to buy green chile from the long-gone farm stand across the street, so I had to drive out there to be sure that gnarled old cottonwood still held court over the cultivated field around it. (Whew, it does.) Open space is one of Albuquerque's unique cultural advantages: Where else do you get a bucolic vista inside the city limits? Sure, some open space has already been preserved--like the marvelous Los Poblanos Fields--but with ticky-tack housing gobbling up acres of fallow farmland throughout the valley, we have to worry about the rest of it. If you know somebody about to sell his irrigated pasture to a townhome developer, tell ’em about the Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust. You'll be glad you did.
--Kyle Silfer, Alibi Systems Manager
Best Day Trip
Only an hour's drive from Albuquerque, Jemez is not only one of the most magical places in New Mexico, but perhaps the entire planet. When I have out-of-state visitors I usually try to take them to Jemez, stopping at various spots along the way. The drive up to Jemez Springs alone is great as you drive through the red rocks and into the breathtaking canyon that leads you up to the village. I like to stop for quick bite at the Laughing Lizard Inn and Café and then head to the ruins at Jemez State Monument (just north of the village). After exploring the monument, we usually make a stop at the waterfall and caves at Soda Dam then continue up Hwy. 4 past Battleship Rock to Spence Hot Springs for a quick soak. Then we drive past La Cueva and go left to the tent rocks off of 126/485. After that, we continue back down to Hwy. 4 and head to the stunning Valle Grande. If it sounds like a lot, it is, and I can't even begin to describe the many more (time permitting) special places that can be discovered by spending time in the Jemez Mountains. From ghost towns to ancient ruins to weird rock formations to hidden hot springs, exploring options in Jemez are practically endless!
--Jeremy McCollum, Alibi Web Monkey
Best Truckload of Compost
They say you're a true gardener when you get excited by dirt, and there's nothing more inspiring than a pile of fresh, organic compost from Soilutions to get your gardening juices flowing. Located on Bates Road in the South Valley, if you can borrow your friend's pick-up, it costs $32 for a truckload, which takes two minutes to load via tractor (they also deliver). Then get ready for your plants to go crazy.
--Alyson Steinman, Alibi Delivery Driver
Best Semi-Private Club to Play Alternative Folk/Bluegrass Music in Front of Your Family
Albuquerque Press Club
It's an old log cabin structure with a goat in the basement, er, I mean ghost. The acoustic instruments themselves will be happy you brought them; leave your power amps at home.
Bring the kids and even the grandparents. They can relax on the porch overlooking a charming patch of EDo; or, in the front music room, there are couches to sit a spell--kick your shoes off. On occasion, an eccentric regular of the club will join in on the evening's hootenanny playing a washtub bass.
APC is a private club, but annual membership fees are reasonable and if you're a FOB (friend of band) you can sign in as their guest. Smokers are jokers, and they're welcome to puff free of legal worry in the Press Club Bar, where, incidentally, a segment of Beerfest was filmed.
--Darrell Sparks, Alibi Circulation Manager
Best Place to Watch a Sport You Don’t Care About
Perhaps you’re trying to become more familiar with the local sports scene in Albuquerque, or maybe someone you love has convinced you that, if you truly want to understand them, you’ll spend nine innings watching fly balls and ground outs by their side. Whatever the reason, if you’re less than jacked-up about the prospect of seeing America’s favorite pastime live, the most accommodating place to do it is Isotopes Park.
Besides having plenty of beer (the ultimate boredom mitigator), there’s a ton of foodstuffs to keep you focused on your pallet instead of the game. By the time you finish pigging out on barbecue nachos, steak sandwiches, Greek salads and soft-serve ice cream, the game will be almost over. And, if you need to stretch your legs, take a walk through the serene berm area behind right field. Before you know it, you might find yourself glancing at the action on the field featuring players who are just one step away from the major leagues.
--Simon McCormack, Alibi Staff Writer
Best Use of Your Valid New Mexico ID Before Noon on Sundays
Free Museum Admission
We can't order mimosas with our Sunday-morning pancakes, but we can use the early hours of the day to fill our lives with art and cultural history without paying admission fees. The Albuquerque Museum and the National Hispanic Cultural Center both offer free admission to New Mexico residents on Sundays, and many museums in Santa Fe (New Mexico Museum of Art, Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Museum of International Folk Art and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian) do as well.
--Amy Dalness, Alibi Arts and Lit Editor
Best Balcony in Which to Watch the Meat Puppets
The Sunshine Theatre
With an incline that can make one dizzy, this outstanding feature of the Sunshine gets one that much closer to the beautiful stained glass in the ceiling while allowing one to also get an aerial view of the crowd and stage. Before some authority ripped out the theater seats, I had the pleasure of witnessing David Yow of Jesus Lizard tie his meat puppet in a knot from this vantage point. It's a trick called the Hamburger.
--Geoff Plant, Alibi Delivery Driver
Best Place to Get Groceries Downtown
The real answer to this question: Trader Joe's on the corner of Paseo and fucking Mars. Also, let it be known Lowe's doesn't count! If you walk there from Downtown you'll notice cemented metal plaques in the sidewalk alerting pedestrians that they've crossed over to Old Town. If you want groceries in Downtown proper, you'll need to get really creative.
Butcher: Sevy's has a fine selection of rotating, microwavable meat products. Produce: During the off-season for the growers' market, and during the week, bananas can always be found at Central Market in front of the cigarettes. Bakery: Sometimes Johnny and the nice people at Relish leave a bag of baguettes for the taking on their patio after closing. You will have to fight your way past bums and pigeons, but, hey, they're free.
--Matt Salazar, Alibi Office Manager
Best Lazy Afternoon Urban Bike Ride
The Country Club Neighborhood
Too often bike rides seem to come with goals: The goal of getting from Point A to Point B; the goal of burning X amount of calories; the goal of riding for the required time slot or desired distance. Goals are great, but they've elbowed out an often more enjoyable two-wheeled pastime: the joy ride.
Coasting on a bike in springtime late afternoons, drifting under trees and through neighborhoods with no destination, humming to the purr of a warm breeze gliding past your ear—the joy ride offers a different kind of emotional fulfillment.
The best spaces for biped meanderings come in the form of wide, shady, tree-lined streets in quiet communities. Such places are rare in Albuquerque, but they do exist. My favorite is the Country Club neighborhood off Tingley Beach. Take Silver west past 14th Street until it veers to the right, aiming right at the heart of ideal joy ride territory. Then wander the streets, enjoying both the charm and intimidation of old, ivy-stained mansions and rich lawns. The only people who seem to come into this neighborhood are residents, so be respectful and mindful. If you are, spending an afternoon floating amid speckled canopies and inspired architecture is glorious.
--Christie Chisholm, Alibi Editor
Best Place to Become a Cheese Devotee
One wall of Cary Smoot's grocery is lined with glass-doored refrigerators. In those coolers are more than 80 kinds of cheese from around the world. I didn't know much about cheese. The words "brie" and "gorgonzola" had begun to sneak into my vocabulary. I had no idea that cheese could be a beckoning sweetness, a hearty nuttiness or a biting acidity. Smoot will skim you off a piece of any and all cheeses. She'll know its history and what to look for in the flavor, appearance and texture. For each cheese, she knows why she likes it and why she brought it into her store, which is packed with all the sundries you might want to accompany your new cheese find. She'll worry if you look like you're walking away with too much--Smoot's excellently priced cheeses are not meant to die a moldy death at the bottom of your fridge. She also prepares three meals a day, which you can pick up to go. Mon-Fri: 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sat: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
--Marisa Demarco, Alibi News Editor
Jerry Ortiz y Pino
Best Free Fun Locale for Grandparents and Single Dads to Spend Time with Kids
The Downtown Growers' Market
You know the drill: You love the little tykes but they live someplace else, so your time together is limited. You want your visit to be enjoyable, memorable even, and you’d love seeing their faces light up—but you’re on a tight budget and payday is still a week away. Sitting around the house watching cartoons or playing video games keeps them quiet, but you want the day to be something more … on a shoestring. Cheer up, absentee parent/grandparent: help is at hand! The Downtown Growers' Market beckons. Saturday mornings at Robinson Park during warm months have become so much more than times to buy local produce. Music, jugglers, dogs, lots of other kids and plenty of cheap treats make these mornings gateways to a veritable medieval fair of entertainment and booth-hopping. Come one, come all … and the price is right.
--Jerry Ortiz y Pino, Alibi Columnist