The people, places and sights in Albuquerque make our fair city one of the finest places to live regardless of the studies that paint a gloomy picture. Just recap the past 12 months and there's plenty to cheer about. Downtown continues its revival, the media didn't uncover a single fundraising scam at the mayor's office, the Isotopes brought baseball back with a bang, Tingely Beach is finally getting a makeover and the arts are thriving like never before. And that's only a quick sample. But there are always things to gripe about and we like to do that too once in a while. So here's this year's Life in Burque winners (and losers), so one way or another, we can all feel better about ourselves. Enjoy!
Best City Political Stinkeroo
Mayor Martin Chavez
Not surprisingly, Marty won this dubious honor yet again, since every year it seems to go to whomever is warming the mayor's seat on the 11th floor of Civic Plaza. Battling for second place were the ABQPAC scandal—the mayor's fundraising debacle that ended over a year ago but apparently hasn't been forgotten—and the proposed art project at the Louisianna and I-40 interchange, which was commonly referred to as “money going for the green cones.” Rounding out the list was Heather Wilson, our creepy congresswoman whose embarrassing tirade is still featured on our website (log on if you haven't heard it—we guarantee it will make your skin crawl). Other notable entries included: “Forcible oppression of peace marchers,” “Arnold Swartzenhagert (sic)” and “I still like Judge Brown.”
Best Community Action Group
Downtown Action Team
The enormous, collective effort that has become known as Downtown revitalization over the years wouldn't be nearly as successful without the efforts of DAT. The folks cruising around on bikes and golf carts in the familiar red coats are always cleaning up the area and helping out-of-towners find their away around. 1,000 Friends of New Mexico took second after missing the cut last year, and NMPIRG finished third for the second year in a row.
Best Elected City Official
Mayor Martin Chavez
You're really messing with the mayor's personality complex here. Is he a stinker, or not? Pretty soon he's going to get all Dave Navarro, start wearing black eyeliner and tattoo love on one hand and hate on the other. City Councilor Eric Griego came in second by one meager vote, which might mean these two are set for an interesting battle in next year's mayoral race. City Councilor Martin Heinrich took third and Gov. Bill Richardson dropped two spots from last year, finishing fourth.
Best Use of Local Tax Dollars
OK, we had to get a little unscientific here, because there were so many entries that pertained to specific road construction projects, including improving bike lanes and paths, that the best we could do was simplify the winner into one word: “roads.” Education spending, i.e., any funding that went to the public schools, was a close second. Isotopes Park (old news that it is) came in third and Open Space/Parks fourth.
Best Wasteful Use of Tax dollars
It's really hard to sum this one up as well. We took all the disgruntled entries that listed green cones, green coffee filters, public artwork, the Oñate sculpture and anything else that pertained to publicly funded art, put 'em into the same pile, and there was the winner. Second place went to Isotopes Stadium, whichis freaking ridiculous considering that money was approved by voters during the Baca administration! Couldn't you think of anything else? The Metro jail didn't even get a single vote and that's a taxpayer disaster if there ever was one that we're still paying for. After that there was, shall we say, a plethora of entries ranging from city water waste, to paying APS administrators, to converting Lead and Coal to two-way, to picking up the tab for business lunches.
“Undercover cops that dress like hookers,” “Highland High School,” “anything that entertains prisoners” and “DNA testing on Billy the Kid” were other memorable entries.
Best Thing Mayor Chavez Could Do to Get Albuquerque Off of the Bottom of Virtually Every Meaningful List
Wow. Folks were not kind to Marty on this one either. Get out of office, go away and get out of politics were the most popular responses, establishing an obvious theme here. City residents who looked past their dislike for the mayor, chose those old standbys: improve education, combat drunk driving and lower crime rates.
Some folks chose to think way outside the box. Here's a sample: “7 p.m. citywide lockdown,” “Give us all tainted Kool-aid,” “Relocate the city to Texas,” and “Install Queer Eye guys on the City Council.”
Best Reason to Vote Bush in 2004
Plain and simple, that was the overwhelming number one answer. After that the reasons why folks don't like Dubya were so numerous it was hard to come up with a second place finisher. So our quick-thinking ballot counters, Samantha Scott and Stefanie Enochs, came up with: Misanthropy/Mental Illness/Intoxication/Nihilism. That about sums up the general great disdain for our idiot prez.
Bush supporters, while clearly outnumbered, did give Dubya a little love. Those entries included: “Dems are all losers,” “He's not wishy washy,” “I own stock in weapons companies” and “He kick (sic) ass, ’nuff said.”
Best Reason to Vote Democrat in 2004
Get Rid of George W. Bush
The pollsters and pundits say this year's presidential race will be all about the incumbent. If he's popular, it doesn't matter who is running against him, he'll win. If he's unpopular, well, then it's likely to be close, win or lose. And remember he's George W. Bush and he approved “this meshshage.” No surprise then that folks hardly mentioned John Kerry, John Edwards, Wes Clarke or even Hillary Clinton, but instead focused on their contempt for the Pretender-in-Chief. Other provocative answers: “Poo on the Demos,” “There are enough dead soldiers” and “more sex scandals.”
Best Local Hero
Here in the Wild West folks still seem to appreciate individuality in all forms and once again Mr. Schrader discovers that his admirers are plentiful. Without Don kicking around UNM in his custom-fit trousers and sharing his political views with motorists, just think how boring life would be. Our local firefighters came in second (give 'em a hand when you see 'em, dammit!). Don Chase, the most cheerful guy you'll ever find in a traffic jam, came in third.
Best Local Crackpot
Not to take anything away from our resident nudist celebrity, but isn't it about time we found somebody else to admire for their, um, uniqueness? Don's a been-there-done-that kinda guy by now, people. Maybe it's you. Maybe you're the next local crackpot. So get off your ass and out of your car and do something creative for the greater good, or Don's gonna win this one for time immemorial. Geraldine Amato, who has her moments of lucidity when sharing her conspiracy theories with the City Council, and her tenacity certainly matches her level of zaniness, took second. Coming in at a distant third was talk-jockey, politician and Alibi political columnist Greg Payne.
Best Actor to Play Pete Domenici in the Made for TV Movie of His Life
That's right, Alibi readers chose the Sundance Kid, despite the fact that Redford probably detests Domenici's environmetal policies more than any other Hollywood icon. At least he once was a handsome devil. Second place went to Clint Eastwood, while Charleton Heston (Would this be before or after the booze-fueled Alzheimer's kicked-in?) and Christopher Walken tied for third.
All in all, practically every leading male celebrity, from Steve Buscemi to Danny Glover to Bob Barker, were recommended. Some of the more interesting suggestions included: “Fat Tony,” “Moe from the Three Stooges,” “Major Frank Burns,” “Mini Me” and “Sigourney Weaver.”
Best Place to Pretend You're in an Episode of “The Simple Life”
This category went over like a lead balloon this year, since folks just stuck to the rural theme, without seizing the opportunity to work in a few Paris Hilton jokes. Belen was second, Los Lunas third and Wal-Mart fourth, while my personal favorite, Coronado Salvage, got a few mentions.
Best Bowling Center
Bowling is one of Albuquerque's most popular and time-honored social events. Some folks even call it a sport. After Silva took the top spot, Holiday Bowl, Leisure Bowl and Santa AnaCasino rounded out the top finishers.
Best Place to Meet Dates From Alibi Personals
Perhaps it's the easy-to-find, well-lit and guaranteed-to-be-crowded environment that makes Flying Star the perfect place to meet someone that might turn out to be a little creepy. Maybe it's the succulent chocolate treats that help settle your nerves while you bubble over with excitement when your mystery date is hotter than you imagined. Frontier took second and the bar at Zinc finished third. Starbuck's and Anodyne rounded out the field.
Best Local TV Newsperson
This category is as predicatable as blue skies when it comes to first place. Just like the past two years, Mr. Stucker is most everyone's favorite bubblehead. Alibi readers just seem to love the guy. And why not? His happy mood is as regular as your morning stool, and besides good cheer, he's got lots of friendly news and reliable weather waiting for you at the crack of dawn. He's an animal lover to boot! What more can you ask for? Dick Knipfing knocked off Diane Anderson for this year's second place. The venerable KRQE-13 newscaster has been around so long, it's a wonder he wasn't asked to pose for the Oñate memorial ... as himself. If there's a sex offender running loose, a sickening dog attack, or garden variety homocide anywhere near your house, Dick will be in studio live at 10 to fill you in on the particulars. Now that's public service! Carla Aragon took third and Mark Ronchetti made his debut at fourth. Nice work, Mark.
Best Use of Hair on a Local TV Person
Ms. Anderson, hopefully, gives her stylist a generous tip, because he/she deserves it for whipping together that luscious lid. Same goes for the lovely Carla Aragon who missed a first place tie by one vote. Third place goes to Doug Fernandez, who can get that serious three-inch rise going on top, like nobody other than, maybe, Peevy Piedmont from GWAR (What's under there?).
Best Adult Establishment
If ever there was a retail outlet that epitomized one-stop shopping for pornography and its related accoutrements, it's Castle. Coming in second was TD's when we factored in the votes for both locations. Some folks, one would hope, were being naïve when casting votes for this category. What else explains these answers? “Chuck E. Cheese,” “League of Women Voters” and “Abundant Living Senior Center.”
Best Radio Station
100.3 The Peak
Ah, yes ... everybody loves Gene and Julie in the morning. Or wait. That's right, Kit and Mike are everybody's favorite morning drive-time duo on the fun-loving Clear Channel station. No wait, are they still. ... Well, either way it must be the format, because regardless of who is manning the mic over there, Alibi readers gave them the serious love. So keep up the good work; you won in a landslide. KUNM 89.9—offering more musical variety than the rest of the dial combined—came in a solid second. Finishing out the top three from a distance was former Radio-Free-Santa-Fe-now-world-class-rock-station 104.1 FM, serving-up music for the rest of you that might not listen to “music for the rest of us.” 103.3 The Zone squeezed past 94 Rock for fourth. For those stations wondering where's the love, be advised that practically every major station—The Edge, Big-I, The Buzzard, Horizon,Kiss-FM, The Sports Animal, you name it—were represented.
Best Radio Personality
True, anybody that get's paid to sit in traffic has to be brilliant. But either there was some serious ballot stuffing going on, or Donny is quickly become a radio legend. He won first place in a landslide. Second place goes to Michael Moxey of 103.3 the Zone. That's right Moxey, you're scatalogical humor, shameless self-promotion and occassional use of 50-cent words has brought you the kind of fame that some day might just lead to a job as a production assistant on “American Idol.” From there, the world's your oyster. Of course, why would you ever want to leave a gig that pairs you with the amazingly witty, profoundly articulate, not to mention hot and blonde Kit Missile, who came in third?
Best Radio Personality to be Ground Into a Fine Powder
What? Are you folks suggesting that it's dog track time for TJ, considering he's in his 99th year doing the morning show at 94 Rock? Personally, I'm hoping that old Q-ball Head still has a few good jokes left in him, because tradition is important. Second place goes to the 2003 Drug Addict of the Year, Rush Limbaugh. If it wasn't for all you loyal dittoheads, Rush would never have been able to afford all that black market oxycotin. So, really, it's all your fault. Third place goes to Jackie and Tony from 100.3 The Peak's morning show. A close fourth place was had by 770 KKOB AM's moronic morning windbag Larry Ahrens, whose specialty seems to be twisting the words and statements of any caller who disagrees with his thoughts and opinions (none of which he actually forms himself) into such nonsensical analyses as: “So, you're one of those, ’Hooray, we're losing!' guys,” and “So, you support the Baathist rebels.” Ahrens really ought to stick to what he actually knows: Where to get oil changes and have your dry cleaning done based on how much money those vendors are willing to spend for his endorsement.