Contrary to what you might a heard, Albuquerque ain't the sticks. Yeah, sure, we got our fair share a whiskey-chuggin', banjo-pickin' rubes in these parts, but our town is mostly a sophisticated sort a place, filled with a sophisticated sort a folk.
The title of this section of our annual Best of Burque readers poll seems a bit vague, doesn't it? "Life in Burque." What does that mean, exactly? Is our existence summed up by the flaws of our elected officials, by the who's who of local celebrities, by the best and worst ways we spend our public money? The answer, of course, is absolutely not. "Life in Burque" should, at the very least, apply to the entire landscape of the Best of Burque ballot--arts, music, shopping, etc.--but even that would leave us lacking. The joyful reality of it is that no reader survey, no matter how mammoth, could even come close to capturing what it means to live in Albuquerque. Which is a wonderful thing.
We're not overstating things when we say life in Albuquerque revolves around eating and drinking. Among the first items of business for settlers entering the Rio Grande Valley was planting vineyards (just after unhitching the horses, but before building the churches). A day without chile is said to be like a day without sunshine. Generations of families still feud about whether sopaipillas come with or after a meal, and volumes are told about a person by the way he or she orders his or her enchiladas.
Underneath the blue sky, in the shadow of pink mountains, amidst the brown sand, paved desert and faux mud structures lies Albuquerque's commons of inebriation. We're talking about drinking establishments, and to the fretful chagrin of temperance types, our dens of sin are here to stay. That's because most Albuquerqueans, like most humans, enjoy stepping out and cutting loose. We know it's fun to drink, dance, gamble, swear, flirt and listen to music at deafening volumes, but we also understand that the nursing of these arguably bad habits is best reserved for designated areas such as our city's voluminous selection of drinkeries.
Albuquerque has a working-class, blue-collar reputation that belies its artsy, sensitive soul. You might not know it from all the strip malls and less than stellar public art displays, but there are a ton of talented artists in this town and plenty of fine venues exhibiting art.
For years we've been running the "Best Local Band" category buried somewhere amid the bars and cinemas in the nightlife section of Best of Burque. Last year, "Best New/Emerging Band" was added. But any fan of local music knows our fair city is home to all manner of gifted musicians.
We're all consumers. We buy clothes and shoes and used guitars. We need skull-and-crossbones shower curtains and love cute teddy bears with fuzzy ears and googly-eyes. What we don't need is overpriced crap from soulless stores. Lucky for us, Albuquerque is a booming, green-conscious shoppers’ paradise. From recycled vintage fashions to hand-carved (and fair-traded) soap dishes, somewhere in the Q there's a store to meet your consumer-driven lifestyle. Proclaim your love of spending and tap into your inner shopaholic at one of Burque's favorite retail establishments.
We've rolled a plush red carpet out to the curb. The stars of Albuquerque are all dolled up in their finest designer dresses and suits. Anticipation is so high, if it stood up on tippy-toes it could brush its fingertips against the surface of Mars. Yes, fellow Albuquerqueans, it's time for the unveiling of our Best of Burque Lifetime Achievement Awards, otherwise known as BoBs. These Albuquerque fixtures win the same categories every single year. In most cases, they deserve to win (the exception being the beloved Bart Prince residence's long association with the Best Architectural Nightmare category). It's time to pay extravagant homage to their success—with an imaginary, highly collectible gold statuette of a monkey box—and give someone else a shot at the top.
Felix, roll the video tribute ...
For this year’s edition of Best of Burque, we decided to do something a wee bit different. As much as we respect the electoral will of our readers, every time Best of Burque comes around we find ourselves wishing we could point out some aspects of our lovely city that fall through the cracks when the poll results are released. These staff picks are meant to plug a few, but by no means all, of these holes. Keep in mind that Albuquerque—contrary to popular opinion—is a big, vibrant, active place. We aren’t aiming to be comprehensive. That would be impossible. These are just a few things about Albuquerque that folks would surely enjoy if they gave them half a chance. Dig in!
This year, a new section on the Best of Burque ballot required voters to send in digital photographs for five categories. Here are the winners, with lots of runners-up available for online ogling at alibi.com.
Best Elected City Official
The best elected politician is the one serving their first six months. After that, look out. That's why we have elections.
Best Use of Local Tax Dollars
Have we done a good job around here of building parks or what? (Sorry Westside—you have to catch up). It's a great tradition that started in the ’30s.
Best Radio Station
Readers gave us tons of suggestions about aspects of our city that aren’t necessarily reflected in this year’s poll. Here’s a sampling of some of the more useful and/or entertaining.