The city is crawling with bicycles …and it’s fabulous!
A Tucson-based cyber journalist fights government secrecy, one Freedom of Information request at a time
While some folks fail at everything they try, Russ Kick has discovered one thing that he's really good at. You might say he's the master of digging up information that has been tucked away from public view by the federal government.
The Bush administration proves you can fool most of the people most of the time
If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth.—Joseph Goebbels
Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.—Franklin D. Roosevelt
In 1997, Texas Gov. George W. Bush signed a bill which allowed him to choose a different institution from the Texas State Archives to house his gubernatorial papers. The result: Bush deposited them in his father's Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M. This delayed the release of his documents for months due to confusion over whether they fell under FOIA timetables or quicker, in-state ones.
The first thing you need to do is decide which federal agency has the information you are seeking, You should go to the library and check the descriptions of the various agencies in publications like the United States Government Organization Manual (US Government Printing Office), or call the local office of your representative in Congress. Once you have narrowed down the possibilities, you might want to call the FOIA or the public affairs office of those agencies for more specific information.
If you think you know which agency has the records you are interested in, get the specific mailing address for its FOIA office. Just go to the agency's website or look up the agency's FOIA regulation in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) which you can find at the public library and on the Internet.
A Brief History of the Freedom of Information Act
Farsighted as they were, our forefathers missed a few key rights when they laid out the plan for our republic. Freedom from slavery leaps to mind, but less obvious is the right to examine some, if not all, of the innards of our government. It's so easy to overlook this "right to know," in fact, that it did not even emerge as a concept in the United States until after World War II.
In this week's chapter of “Where Are They Now?” we explore the trials, travels and recent successes of Gavin Rhodes, formerly of one of Albuquerque's shortest-lived but truly great alt.rock bands, Silver. Rhodes is living in Brooklyn, N.Y. where he's a grad student in NYU's Music Business program. But more importantly, he's still making music, currently as Honeypower, a “band” in which he wears all the hats himself. Jesus and Mary Chain fans will go absolutely apeshit over Honeypower's debut, Deflowered (Push Productions). Although Rhodes performed all of the album's instrumentation himself, another local, Joe Brian Stammer, contributed additional guitar on the shimmering “Exit Cue,” just one of a dozen intriguing tracks to be reviewed in a coming issue. Meanwhile, get your copy of Deflowered at www.honeypower.com. ... If you see a single national act this week, make sure it's chicken-pickin' bluegrass/Americana band Jeff & Vida on Wednesday, July 7, at Stella Blue. Their new record, Loaded (Binky Records) finds the New Orleans band sounding like a Texas roadhouse on fire. Guitarist Jeff Burke's stop 'n' roll staccato lines are worth the price of admission alone. 'Course, if you miss 'em at Stella Blue, you can catch them on July 8 at Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Santa Fe and July 9 at the Mine Shaft Tavern in Madrid.
Exquisite, refined -- even rarified -- and above all else captivatingly beautiful. Such descriptions come to mind as I listen to The Rain, the live debut album of Indian-Iranian ensemble Ghazal.
The Santa Fe Art Institute has put together an ambitious program of exhibits, workshops and lectures centered around explorations of sound and light in contemporary art. Called Transmit+Transform, the program will present a series of provocative events through October of this year.
The 2004 Santa Fe Opera Season
Unlike, say, pizza, opera is an acquired taste. Very few people pop out of their mamas' wombs and immediately start grooving to Puccini. It just doesn't work that way. Like many of the very best things in life, you have to put forth a considerable amount of effort to make sense of opera's odd little complexities. A little knowledge and experience, however, can quickly turn it into a bona fide addiction.
New Grounds Print Workshop and Gallery
A new exhibit opening this week at New Grounds Print Workshop and Gallery (3812 Central SE) presents art by two complementary artists whose work explores stylized geometric spaces. Hazel Orr's lush red-toned monotypes are loosely inspired by the colors and architectures of Morocco, Italy and Spain. Neil Bell's equally abstract etchings seem to exist in a limbo between two- and three-dimensional space. Their joint show opens this Friday, July 2, with a reception from 5 to 7:30 p.m. and runs through July 31. For details, call New Grounds at 268-8952.
Kenneth Parker's large-scale colored landscape photographs are snapped during week-long backpacking trips in which he lugs 75 to 80 pounds of heavy camera equipment into some of the most remote regions on Earth. The results, of course, are often spectacular. Over the last three decades, Parker has managed to compose some of the most eye-popping images of the natural world I've ever seen. An exhibit of landscape photographs from Asia opens Friday, July 2, with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. at Marigold Arts in Santa Fe. Light Over Ancient Asia runs through Aug. 3. (505) 982-4142.
Back in the 1500s, St. Teresa de Avila succumbed to a mystical vision of a crystal palace with seven chambers, each signifying a step on the path to complete communion with God. Teresa recorded her vision in The Interior Castle, a book that's been recognized as one of the world's great spiritual classics for almost five centuries.
Party house becomes home for proselytizing at UNM
The Lord would be pleased to know that heathens have been exorcised from at least one frat house on UNM's campus. That is, profanity, pornography and other faith-based immoralities are now banned from the recently renovated Sigma Chi fraternity house.
The Saudi-Bush Affair. So far, the best rebuke of Michael Moore's new film Fahrenheit 9/11 comes from Christopher Hitchens. In a virtuoso rant published on Slate.com, Hitchens calls Moore's film "a piece of crap" and then proceeds with a flourish of 50-cent words and deep, subjective analysis aimed at discrediting the film.
Following the announcement of Chief Administrative Officer Jay Czar's decision to leave office at the June 21 council meeting, Mayor Martin Chavez appointed James B. Lewis as new CAO, effective July 1. Lewis' current position as chief operations officer tops a résumé that stretches from the U.S. Department of Energy to a previous Albuquerque mayoral race.
Would the nation's founders have imagined a $4.1 trillion national debt?
Ahh ... the Fourth of July! In 1776, our Founding Fathers declared independence from the British monarchy and an end to "taxation without representation." Two hundred and twenty-eight years later, Thomas Jefferson and company might be less than thrilled knowing the government of the nation they founded is piling $4.1 trillion of new debt on its citizens over the next decade—an obligation for every American of about $37,450.
I don't belong to an organized religion; I'm a Roman Catholic. That's a paraphrase of Will Rogers' great line, except he was talking about being a Democrat. Lately I've been thinking about Democrats and Catholics a great deal. The two go together a lot more smoothly than some pundits would have you think, despite the White House's efforts to pretend they don't.
Dateline: England—Exotic dancer Donna Cleeve was forced to quit her $1,500-a-week job because she's allergic to, well, pole. The 20-year-old from Portsmouth, who used the stage name Honey, worked at two strip clubs in Bournemouth and Portsmouth. Unfortunately, according to The Sun, Cleeve would develop a red rash after each performance. After three months, she realized that nickel used in the poles was to blame. Cleeve knew she was allergic to the element, but was unaware that it was used in the construction of metal stripper poles. “Because I kept on dancing around the pole, it just got worse and worse. It's hard to look sexy when your legs and body are inflamed. I tried to ignore it, but in the end it wasn't worth the pain,” Cleeve told the newspaper. Since quitting, she has taken up a job in sales.
Locally Shot Film Sees Light of Day (Probably)—There's been plenty of talk lately about films being shot here in New Mexico thanks to recent state tax incentives. So far, not many of these films have seen the light of day, however. One of those films, the serial killer thriller Suspect Zero, was shot in and around Albuquerque all the way back in the summer of 2002. Now, it looks like the long-delayed film will finally hit theaters late this summer. Paramount Pictures announced last week that the film would be released on Friday, August 27.
If only it were a dream
If sarcasm is the refuge of the weak, then Michael Moore's enormous, artistic success as a documentary filmmaker would be a farce. Tragedy is not supposed to funny. But in these brutish times, Fahrenheit 9/11, a depressing film in its exposure of the realities in Iraq, is also comical when it shows us, as Americans (our Marine recruiters, peaceniks, congressmen and Brittany Spears to name a few), who we really are.
Bigger, darker and more dramatic, this Spidey sequel is almost too much of a good thing.
For people of a certain age—those raised in the '60s and '70s, certainly—comic books are the Vedic Texts of their generation. Much as tales of Beowulf or King Arthur instructed generations of plague-ravaged Europeans on the meaning of right and wrong, Spider-Man, Superman and Batman provided shining paragons of heroism for generations of Slurpee-addled Americans.
Independence Day around the Dial
As Americans, we like to spend at least one day a year celebrating our patriotism with large doses of macaroni salad, canned beer and low-grade Chinese explosives. Yes, this Sunday is Independence Day. And, as the sadly unpaid spokesperson for network, cable and satellite TV providers, it is my duty to encourage you to add a dose of slothful television viewing to your Fourth of July diet of artery-clogging food, liver-damaging booze and finger-endangering fireworks.
The Week in Sloth
Don't you dare make a Cool Whip, frozen pound cake and berry dessert in the shape of an American flag. Don't you dare. Those crap-ass Parade magazine recipes represent everything that is evil in this world. Did your grandmother use Cool Whip? Hell no. Your grandmother made cakes with mayonnaise because she had no butter. She cried herself to sleep every night, because she knew that in the morning she'd have to squirt a packet of yellow dye into a pale white tub of margarine and spread that junk all over her toast, pretending to like it because anything else would seem unpatriotic. Cream in her coffee? What coffee? She boiled chicory root and thought real hard about what coffee tasted like. Your grandma ate the fake stuff because she had to. Times were tough. And you're too lazy to make your own pound cake and whip your own cream? She came up with two dozen recipes for Spam and this is how you show your respect? With whipped topping? You ought to have your ears boxed, you whiny, pathetic sack of ingratitude. Get back into that kitchen and show those old timers what you can do with a pound of sour cherries and a quart of real cream.
And they're as tasty as a diabetic koala's morning urine
In an unfortunate show of just-a-little-off timing, the major cola players have just rolled out their latest line extensions, low-carb, low-sugar colas designed to jump the Atkins bandwagon just as said conveyance is starting to go off the rails, as frustrated and carb-denied consumers rise up and say, as a nation, "Fuck this! I want a sandwich!"
Make it in a molcajete
Have you ever peered behind the counter at a fast food restaurant and seen some zitty 16-year-old squirting guacamole out of what appears to be a caulking gun? You're standing there, waiting for your burrito, thinking "hmm, the last time I used a caulking gun was to water-seal the gap between my new toilet and the floor. Man, that was a dirty job. Hey, those refried beans look just like ... whoa! Cancel that! I'm getting a salad." Get the picture? Faux-ca-mole is a bad, bad idea. Nothing good or even edible should come from a caulking gun.
Bars Within Restaurants Go Smoke-Free July 3
This Saturday, July 3, marks the one-year anniversary of the Albuquerque Clean Indoor Air Ordinance, which banned smoking in city restaurants. If you recall, restaurants were given until this July to bring their in-house bars into compliance with stricter ventilation requirements or forbid smoking in them. According to Leo Bottos of the Environmental Health Department, most establishments have chosen to go nonsmoking rather than completely enclose their bars and install separate ventilation systems.
The Alibi's Ridiculously Short Fiction Contest
We live in a lazy sound-bite culture. With each passing year, Americans demand that their lives become a little bit faster, a little bit simpler, a little bit easier. Jello Biafra once said, "Give me convenience or give me death," and this really is our new sacred patriotic creed. It's central to every aspect of our hurly-burly, Internet-and-latte lives, even here in slow, laid-back New Mexico. Wouldn't Patrick Henry be proud?
A broken cup of a girl, shocked numb and colorblind, rattled through cold tunnels of unpopulated perception, free of the weight even of dreams. That was after the Moonies, after the deprogramming. In the house with boards nailed over the windows, they had cracked her open, mopped up the spill. They tossed away her chill dark mornings singing ’Arirong' by the sea, carnations sold on street corners, praying in tongues. For a moment, I thought she might not have heard me. "Yeah, OK. I'll marry you," she finally allowed, her pale wafer-thin smile queer under the mercury vapor moon.
The first time Marlys felt the baby move inside her, she fainted. A fan of sci-fi movies in her youth, she had seen too many aliens exploding from swollen bellies.
DigiFest Gets Definition—The annual Digifest Southwest Film Festival has wrapped up another week of frantic filmmaking here in the Duke City. Last Saturday night, an estimated 900 people descended on the Kiva Auditorium to watch the festival's premiere screening. Seven short films were shot in and around Albuquerque last week, and all seven were handed in, shot and edited, just under the wire for Saturday night's screening. This year was the first in which filmmakers got to work with High Definition digital cameras, giving this year's Digifest's the most high-tech lineup to date.
Slapstick crime comedy proves laughter is as simple as black and white
Are you familiar with the term “high concept?” It's a Hollywood buzzword used to describe a film so simplistic that the entire concept can be summed up in a single, catchy sentence. Hollywood likes high concept. White Chicks, the new comedy jam from the Wayans brothers, could very well be the highest concept film of the summer. Basically, somebody walked into a movie studio one day and said, “How about a movie in which two black guys dress up like white chicks?” The studio executives thought it over for all of two seconds and said, “Great! We'll call it White Chicks.”
Funky docudrama gets to the roots of the Blaxploitation genre
Movies about the making of movies tend to be self-indulgent sitcoms about the trials and tribulations of filmmaking—winking mea culpas issued by directors and writers who have fed long enough at the Hollywood trough to be faintly embarrassed by it all. When Hollywood turns the camera on itself, the results can be hard-hitting and satyrical (The Player, certainly); but, more often than not, the final product is more slyly self-aggrandizing than the material it purports to mock (Burn, Hollywood, Burn anyone? Sim0ne perhaps?). The simple truth may be that Hollywood just doesn't have a very good perspective on itself.
Place your bets
Reality TV isn't the most original genre on the Idiot Box. So it should come as little surprise that two networks would debut two shows within a week of one another, both centering on the ritzy realm of Las Vegas casinos.
The Week in Sloth
Mark Friday, June 26, on your calendars as the night Stoic Frame return from the wilds of Los Angeles for an increasingly rare “hometown” show at the Launchpad with Concepto Tambor, Tabula Rasa and simple. The rock begins at 9 p.m., and if you're under 21—as is often the case in el Burque—you're shit out of luck. ... Which brings me to my next item: I saw quite a bit of killer local music last Friday night at, of all places, the Mountainside YMCA. Being back at the place where I learned to swim to see a rock show titled “Band-It Together” started out on the surreal side, but I was quickly distracted by some damn fine young bands, especially the emo-minded One For Hope, who possess more depth than most bands twice their age and are polished enough to get signed tomorrow. And they don't even realize it. Someday, Whatsoever and, of course, Unit 7 Drain, all gave outstanding performances as well. Kudos to Jordy Gailard, Jade Wright and all of the other teenage YMCA organizers for putting together a great local music event, and to the folks at Music Go Round for providing backline free of charge. ... Sausage Hang (pictured above) will provide live, play-by-play coverage of the Fourth Annual Star Tattoo Party at Elliot's in Corrales on Sunday night, June 27. Bands on-hand include New Weapons, Church Camp, Black Maria and at least one other to be announced. Beware of Joe Anderson.
Though many, shall we say less-than-intelligent, Americans cannot or refuse to see the advantage of using the sun as a source of energy in lieu of sources that produce pollution, some New Mexicans can and do. Since the '70s, residents of Taos, N.M., (a.k.a. the “Solar Capital of the World”), have been putting the giant, burning ball in the sky to work in their homes, businesses and community.
Apparently, God has a record deal. Israeli Hewbrew teacher Uri Harel has taken a page from Michael Drosnin's book, The Bible Codes, and come up with a formula by which he assigns each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet to a musical note, then “composes” boring classical-based pieces of music to select Psalms and chapters of Exodus supposedly according to the naturally occuring patterns of letters in the Hebrew Bible. If the result is what music sounds like in Heaven, I'd rather burn in Hell. Thanks for the jewel case.
Jim Cosgrove returns to Albuquerque
Tuesday, June 29-Friday, July 2; Various Albuquerque Public Library Locations (all ages, 11 a.m., see below for times and branch locations): It's summer. School's out. And by now, your kids are likely driving you up the wall. When was the last time you took them to a public library? And when was the last time you took them there not just to check out books, but to check out some great children's music as well? If you're sick of hearing junior repeat the “Barney Theme” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” over and over again, children's music maestro extraordinaire (and University of New Mexico grad) Jim Cosgrove could save your life.
with an acoustic guitar and some hippie songs ... and Weapons of Mass Destruction and Fivehundred
Thursday, July 1; Former Dinosaur Jr. leader and indie rock guitar wizard J Mascis is giving his ears—and ours—a break this tour. Instead of bringing Mike Watt and four full Marshall stacks to the Launchpad stage and playing so freaking loud some people actually get nauseated, he's playing all by his lonesome. Having seen little bits and pieces of Mascis' solo act previously in Austin, I can say with confidence that just because he's playing acoustic guitar, you shouldn't immediately assume he's not going to rock. In fact, with the help of a distortion pedal and various other effects, you won't really be able to tell the difference at times between Mascis' hollowbodied instrument from an electric guitar.
While his hippie-trip sets certainly have that singer-songwriter air to them, there's something rebellious and (gasp!) alternative about just knowing that it's J Mascis up there, still giving it up for the people in his own, uncompromising way.
Friday, June 25; The Paramount (Santa Fe, 21 and over, 9 p.m.): Co-founded by Molly Sturges (vocals, accordion) and Chris Jonas (saxophones), Bing is essentially a groove collective, borrowing rhythmic and melodic components from a host of musical genres and using them to create transient soundscapes that are as reliant on improvisation as they are on carefully calculated unison passages and solo figures. Add to that soulful vocals from Sturges and the musical contributions of Mark Weaver (trombone, tuba), Tim Gagan (guitars), Nina Hart (bass) and Dave Wayne (drums, percussion), and you've got yourself some pretty mind-bending dance music.
Nels Andrews' most recent release finds him fronting El Paso Eyepatch, his live band that features multi-instrumentalist Jeffrey Richards. Like Crazy Horse, EPE can be incendiary and legendarily powerful when it comes to extended jamming and/or solo sections that swell and recede in ocean-like waves of sonic resolve. But the 'Patch's work on this batch of Andrews' songs is more restrained for the most part, showing yet another side of this fine collective of talent and passion. Andrews' melodic structures recall Lyle Lovett, while he's vocally on-par with guys like Josh Ritter. Nice!
Low income families storm Westside accounting office
A national organization advocating for low-income families' rights is taking its fight against alleged unethical business practices by several well-known tax preparation companies to a new extreme.
The Reagan-Bush Affair. Salon.com just keeps on opening a daily can of editorial whoop-ass on Dubya like no other news source in America. Recently, the e-zine was the first to seize upon Ronald Reagan Jr.'s scorn for the current Bush administration. At his father's burial service, Ron Jr., said: "Dad was ... a deeply, unabashedly religious man. But he never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage." The statement clearly rebuked the current Bush administration's faith-based governmental policies, and days later Salon scored an exclusive interview with the famous dog show host that has since made it difficult for Bush to wrap himself in the Reagan legacy.
South Valley Bosque fire gets doused with a dose of manic hysteria
On the night of Thursday, June 10, Bernalillo County Fire Chief Bett Clark was leading a troop of local TV reporters down Brown Road in the South Valley, to the property where a fire in the Bosque ignited earlier that afternoon.
The Gipper was a low-rent actor, and Dubya's in a category by himself
Listening to, watching and reading the tidal wave of elegiac gushings occasioned by the death of former President Ronald Reagan was a peculiar experience for me. I mean, I had no idea who it was that they were all gushing about. It certainly wasn't the man I remembered.
Time to demand more accountability from the judiciary
Reforming the state's judicial system is a hot topic no matter where you turn these days. Whether certain state legislators, journalists, trial lawyers or judges of New Mexico choose to acknowledge it, the overwhelming majority of our residents suspect that something is rotten in Denmark or, in this case, something is screwy within the halls of justice. And it is.
Dateline: Poland—Plastic surgery: It's not just for movie stars anymore. The seaside town of Ustka is giving a makeover to its official mascot, the Ustka mermaid. The classical seafaring image, featured on the town's coat of arms, is used in tourism campaigns. City officials announced earlier this year that the mermaid's waist would be reduced and her bust enhanced in an attempt to lure tourists. An Ustka official says the breast enhancement will make the mermaid “more attractive and Ustka will gain publicity.”
Everyone from filmmakers to spoken worders to slammers, fire throwers, drag acts, musicians, visual artists and satirical clowns have hopped onto the stage at Backroads Pizza over the past year. They've come to Santa Fe's new hipster hangout at the invitation of the legendary Cooper Lee Bombardier, a transgender visual artist and performer who hosts a monthly queer and trans performance cabaret called Lisp.
Buddy! The Buddy Holly Story at the Albuquerque Little Theatre
Among the pantheon of golden age rock and rollers, Buddy Holly is in a class by himself. He didn't have Chuck Berry's poetry or riffs. He didn't have Little Richard's erotic, animalistic fury. He didn't have Elvis' slippery voice or demonic pelvis. What Holly did have, however, was an immediately identifiable hiccupy singing style that expressed so much more than the plain meaning of his goofy, teen-oriented lyrics. He also had a choppy guitar technique that, while not as flashy as Berry's, made up for its lack of intricacy with pure, raw emotional force. (For my taste, the chord-based break in "Peggy Sue" ranks among the greatest guitar solos of all time.)
Tricklock Performance Space
The Israel Solo Show Festival in Acco, Israel has traditionally only featured Arab performers. Next month, however, our very own Kerry Morrigan, of Tricklock Company fame, will be the first American ever invited to perform in the festival. Is that cool or what? Her one-woman show, Death's Door, which she performed in January during the Revolutions International Theatre Festival, showcases some of her trapeze work. Catch it now before she boards a jet bound for the land of oil and blood. Morrigan will perform Death's Door for one weekend only at the Tricklock Performance Space on Friday, June 25, and Saturday, June 26, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, June 27, at 6 p.m. $12 general, $9 students/seniors. 254-8393.
516 Magnífico Artspace
For New Mexicans the subject might be old hat, but Europeans, I've noticed, are often obsessed with the Wild West. Starting this weekend, three Europeans (Stefka Ammon, Bjorn Hegardt and Godrun Rauwolf) and an American (Ethan D. Jackson) will re-examine the cultural refuse of the West in an exhibit that's traveled from Berlin to Philadelphia to Texas and finally comes to downtown Albuquerque's 516 Magnífico Artspace. The show gives us locals a chance to view our own cultural heritage through the eyes of some very perceptive outsiders. Wild West opens this Friday with a reception from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and runs through July 31. 242-8244.
If you're thinking of trying out the basil remedy for cramps then you ought to consider growing your own basil plants. Much of the fresh basil found in grocery stores is a different variety, normally called sweet basil. Holy basil is native to Asia and is the familiar flavor found in Thai dishes. The name holy basil comes from the sacred status of the herb in Ayurvedic traditions; many researchers claim that holy basil has higher concentrations of the active ingredients. Look in the herb section at the nursery and examine the plant tags carefully, looking for the word holy or the Latin name, ocimum sanctum. Holy basil is available with red or green leaves that have jagged edges; other varieties have smooth-edged leaves. This stuff has a much more pungent aroma and flavor but there's no reason you can't use it in recipes that call for the regular kind. Try filling a big pot with a combination of red and green plants. Pinch off the flowers when they come up and you'll have leaves at least until the winter.
Looking for a quiet place to sit and have a cup of tea? Hadley's Tea opened about a month ago at 7600 Jefferson NE, Suite 9 (near Café Voilà and Hello Deli!). Owner Linda Butler serves both hot and iced teas, and a dozen or so pastries from Le Chantilly. Butler's stock includes over 100 types of teas and though they're all for sale, she rotates a smaller selection through the tea menu so customers choose from a list of around 20 teas on any given day. Hadley's also serves chai from Anapurna chai house and one daily coffee selection. Butler used to own Linda's Antiques and Sweets, a small shop on "antique row" in Nob Hill. At Hadley's, she sells all sorts of tea accessories but not antiques. Stop by and check it out or call 821-4832 to inquire about the tea menu.
Garlic flowers, known as scapes, spice up summer
The technical name for this beautiful and delectable apparatus is "scape." Such a harsh name—sounds more like an injury, or a disease, or misplaced blame—is a cruel injustice to the world of pleasure the name represents. That's why I refer to them as flowers, despite the fact that botanists advise otherwise. At least I'm not alone.
A chefs' trick with science behind it
Why does eating a handful of fresh basil seem to relieve menstrual cramps? Sounds crazy, yes, but it's true and (who knew?) there are actually several good scientific reasons why. Years ago, the sous chef of the hotel I cooked at turned me on to this basil thing. I had terrible cramps at work and he told me to roll up 10 or 12 leaves of fresh basil and chew them. By the time I had picked the last green bit from between my incisors, the cramps had abated.
City folks get in touch with the land through community garden projects
It's the tomatoes we complain about most. Pale, salmon colored and hard as baseballs, they barely look like real tomatoes much less taste like them. Even the pretty red ones with vines attached come from Holland and the flavor suffers from the journey. Like peaches, tomatoes are very delicate fruits that taste best when picked ripe and eaten immediately—but they don't survive the rigors of shipping if picked ripe. So we're stuck with tasteless tomatoes that have probably been grown with tons of chemicals and then sprayed with gas in order to look ripe. Or are we? Tomatoes grow well here; they love the sun and tolerate the heat. Many of us remember the tomatoes our parents or grandparents grew, on their farms, in their gardens and in pots on the patio. Why can't we buy tomatoes like that in the grocery stores?
MCI's defection caused by “several negative factors”
The words economic development flow easily across the lips of New Mexico politicians who build their careers on promises of improving the quality of life and improving the state's unemployment rate by bringing a steady flow of new jobs to town. However, in order to make good on this promise they often resort to courting flighty companies that bring with them low-level, menial jobs and an abrupt exit strategy that leaves the local economy staggered.
After last week's marathon coverage of former-President Ronald Reagan's death went from sublime to surreal, a little dose of reality is in order. Not to bash Reagan (it is tragic that his brain died at least 10 years before his body would admit it), but after reading a full-page elegy in the Wall Street Journal that practically deified the Gipper and looking at seven days of awe-struck headlines in the Albuquerque Journal, I was left to wonder: Where is the news media getting all this information about Reagan being one of the most popular presidents of the 20th century? Well, not from Gallup polling data.
The June 7 City Council meeting seemed close to scoring unanimous agreement on every bill. Councilors Brad Winter and Craig Loy were excused, leaving seven members racing for the historic goal. It looked like a sure thing coming into the home stretch, but then the next to last bill regarding a city Personnel Board appointment hit the table around 9 p.m. By this time, Councilors Sally Mayer and Tina Cummins had also vanished from the track, leaving only five members galloping toward agreement. Four voted down the appointment, but Council President Michael Cadigan supported the bill and became Albuquerque's Birdstone, wrecking the unanimous record.
Another take on East Downtown's urban renewal efforts
I was amazed at the reaction I got to my recent piece suggesting gentrification (in the form of the East of Downtown Development just approved by the Planning Commission) might be a blessing for some neighborhoods, not a curse.
Brennan's bust exposes clueless local media
Where would the Chief Justice of our State District Court buy cocaine? Tony Montana might have the answer, but a 57-year-old judge? Where does someone in his position go to score blow?
Dateline: Germany—This disgusting highway spill-over story comes to us from Bremen, where a truck hauling 9,000 gallons of pig blood spilled its entire cargo on the Autobahn last Wednesday after it was rear-ended. At least one other vehicle crashed due to the sanguinary spill-over. Authorities had to close the highway for several hours. The truck had reportedly been hauling the waste blood from the Netherlands for disposal.
Compared to his 2002 album, All Rise, which consisted of an extended composition for big band, gospel choir and symphony orchestra—some 200 players, all told—trumpet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis' latest platter is child's play. Which, according to Marsalis, was the point. "I wanted to restate my basic love of jazz music in a quartet format," he says.
Magic Hour is Marsalis' debut for the legendary Blue Note label, and represents a marked departure from his recent ensemble work. By surrounding himself with a cast of youthful musicians for whom he served variously as a musical mentor during their formative years, Marsalis has managed to build a record from the ground up, beginning with bassist Carlos Henriquez' bouncing grooves, accented by Ali Jackson's intuitive drumwork and rounded out melodically by Eric Lewis at the piano and, of course, Marsalis taking the lead on trumpet.
If you've never seen Cape Breton fiddling virtuoso Natalie MacMaster and her phenomenal band, you'll get your chance on Friday, June 18, at the Rio Grande Zoo at 7 p.m. (show up as early as 5:30 p.m. to get a good space on the grass). Those of you who have seen her need no further prodding. See you there. ... The Big Spank are set to usher in the release of their new CD on Friday, June 18, at the Launchpad with performances by special guests Concepto Tambor, Ask the Man, The Disclaimers, AVISO and Suburban Shock Syndrome. This one's all ages, so get there at 8 p.m. ... The ugliest, most misogynistic dancehall reggae legend the world has ever known, Yellowman, will return to Albuquerque with the Sagittarius Band for a show at the Sunshine Theater on Saturday, June 19, at 8 p.m. ... ZoukFest presents The Jenny Vincent Trio, Spanish-American dance music from New Mexico on Sunday, June 20, at the Adobe Bar in Taos from 6 to 9 p.m. Contact Roger Landes at (505) 751-3512 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. ... Ray Charles' funeral should have been at least three times bigger than Ronald Reagan's, but hey, that's just my opinion.
The Mountainside YMCA showcases local bands
Friday, June 18; Mountainside YMCA (12500 Comanche NE, 292-2298, all ages, 7 p.m.): I've long held that the “Battle of the Bands” is one of the worst concepts ever spewed forth. It does nothing but pit loca bands against each other and create animosity when what's really needed is unity. Thank the Baby Jesus that the YMCA got it right. “Band It” is a music showcase in which eight local bands will appear on one stage to perform their original music for an audience of their peers and a few older folks like myself.
with Young Edward
Saturday, June 19; Stella Blue (21 and over, 9 p.m.): On the strength of a rushed demo and without ever having played a proper live show, newgrass phenoms Railroad Earth found themselves with invitations to the three most prestigious bluegrass/folk festivals in the United States, followed shortly thereafter by a recording contract with Sugar Hill, a couple of road stints and a rabid underground following.
with Memphis P Tales
Who would have thought that listening to the blues can make you feel happy?
This can be said for W.C. Clark's music which is described as soul cleansing blues. Listening to Clark's music is an enlightening experience, that makes you feel baptized and born again after just one listen.
Clark combines the blues with rock 'n' roll, funk, ragtime and big band styles. He is BB King, Ray Charles, Chuck Barry and Muddy Waters all rolled into one, combined with his own unique style of Austin Blues.
If it wasn't for bands like NYC's Candiria, filling the void left by the demise of Helmet and Quicksand, I'd have taken my own life a long time ago. Tragically, Candiria's last tour took the life of their van, equipment and, very nearly, the lives of all five members when a semi smashed into them at freeway speed. After two years of physical and mental recovery, Candira are back with their fourth—and best—record. Part prog metal, part hardcore and part classic thrash, this one's close to perfect.
It's been a good, long time since we dug our grubby fingers into the Hollywood rumor mill. Let's see what we can dig up this week. ...
Overblown sci-fi spectacle still explosive entertainment
Vin Diesel is pretty much the definition of a modern, manufactured movie star. He's famous, but it's a little hard to figure out why. He's usually cited as the star of The Fast and The Furious and xXx. Fast and the Furious made a respectable $140 million at the box office. Unfortunately, the non-Diesel-fueled sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious, made $130 million without him. xXx also made $140 million. Unfortunately, it cost nearly $90 million to make. Like 2 Fast before it, the sequel will be made without Diesel's expensive help.
Lightweight romantic comedy reaches new heights on airy charm
While pal George Lucas continues to isolate himself from the realities of filmmaking, emerging occasionally from his hermetically sealed “ranch” to exert Nero-like control over yet another inaccessible Star Wars sequel, Steven Spielberg seems to be moving in the opposite direction. Spielberg's last movie outing was the jaunty little caper Catch Me If You Can. Though it boasted the star power of Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, it was a simple, modestly budgeted character piece. So too is his latest work, the humble romantic comedy The Terminal.
Salem's Lot on TNT
Everybody of a certain age cites the 1979 Salem's Lot mini-series as one of the scariest things they've ever seen—largely due to one creepy ass dead kid scratching at a bedroom window. At the tender age of 10, that particular image was more than enough to haunt my dreams for weeks. Fright fans will be happy to note that TNT's new update of Stephen King's smash novel retains the kid.
The Week in Sloth
I'm folk. You're folk. He's folk. She's folk. Folk music, folk art and folk culture can be made and played by anyone. That's the beauty of it. Last year, I had the pleasure of attending the Albuquerque Folk Festival, and I have to tell you I had a sweet banjo-pickin' good time from morning 'til night.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest at the Vortex Theatre
At one point or another in their lives, many otherwise normal people have felt like they could use some time in a mental institution. I know I have. Mental illness isn't black and white. Those suffering from it are capable of moments of startling lucidity. Those who usually behave sanely are capable of skipping off the brink into the abyss.
Nicasio and Janet Romero's Gallery and Sculpture Park
The heat down here in Albuquerque is driving locals north in droves. This weekend many of them will be driving up to the El Ancon Outdoor Sculpture Show in the picturesque Pecos River Valley. In its 17th year, the show has become a staple on the calendar of many New Mexican art enthusiasts. The show opens this Sunday, June 20, with a party featuring live music as well as paintings, sculpture, prints and drawings by over 40 artists. After Sunday, the show will be open to the public by appointment only through August 1. For directions call (505) 421-7057.
Nobody conjures up a stormy landscape better than Angus Macpherson. There's nothing static about a Macpherson painting. In his vision of the world, nature is in a constant state of flux. His often brightly colored landscapes also seem to crackle with emotion. An exhibit of paintings from Macpherson's "Rain Series" opens this Friday, June 18, with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. at his own MoRo Gallery. The show will run through July 15. 242-6272.
Can't be with your dad on his special day? Celebrate Father's Day the way the Old Man would if he were around: Get drunk and fall asleep on the couch watching reruns of "Shadetree Mechanic." Be sure to wear your filthiest jeans and don't take your shoes off before you get comfy on the new white couch. Then, spread a thick litter of dad snacks in a wide circle around your body, making sure that at least half of the crumbs get pushed down between the sofa cushions. (For real authenticity, throw about $4 worth of loose change under the cushions too.) Shop ahead for a bag of honey mesquite barbecue-flavored potato chips, some jalapeño beef jerky, a can or two of cheese puffs and a tall tin of mixed nuts. Dads don't give a damn about calories—except when it comes to beer—so neither should you. Don't worry that each handful of nuts contains 14 grams of fat, you're drinking Bud Light! Don't answer the phone or get up for any reason other than to avert an impending rupture of your distended bladder. Then, around 6 p.m., get up the energy to make a run for a bucket of fried chicken and more beer. Get back on the couch but switch to whatever channel is running the James Bond marathon. Enjoy!
Somebody at Wrigley should be fired. In fact, a whole team of hacks need to get canned for releasing the world's most hideously disgusting chewing gum. Just when you thought the extreme flavor revolution had reached its pinnacle, the mad scientists over Wrigley dig deep into their vaults to unearth this wretched beast of a grocery store checkout line impulse buy. Showing that the experience of flavor is a vicious circle, not an unending march in the direction of tastebud pleasure progress, Wrigley's Eclipse team has come up with new maddeningly repulsive cough syrup flavored gum. Actually, the stuff is called Uniquely Soothing Cherry Chill. What's uniquely soothing is that the gag-inducing cherry flavor has a slow-release menthol aftertaste that will cool your throat after you vomit. I encourage you, dear readers, to avoid the stuff at all costs. I also highly encourage the in-house counsel at Robitussin to consider suing Wrigley for raiding their flavor files.
Taking the pain out of picking wines
Although people get hitched all year 'round, brides' magazines bloom on supermarket racks in the spring. Filling their pages, in between the infinite glossy ads, are articles designed to make the ceremonious marriage rite run smoother, classier and sometimes cheaper. I'm not married—nor planning to be—but browsing through these mags makes me realize that the endless wedding decisions can drive you to cancellation. The wine choice shouldn't be the hardest, but, if you're to believe what you read, some intimidated brides feel it is. Ignore the overwhelmed feeling ... it should be fun, easy and inexpensive.
Recipes from James Campbell Caruso's new cookbook
Spanish food is perfect for summer. When it's hot and you're feeling sluggish—not peckish—and little plates of cool tapas come to the table, your tummy is suddenly ready for some action. In the summertime, Santa Feans are particularly fond of El Farol, a Spanish restaurant in a beautiful old adobe on Canyon Road. There, Chef James Campbell Caruso puts out a mouthwatering menu of tapas that can reinvigorate even the most wilted appetites. Santa Fe can be too far for us to drive when the mood suddenly strikes so aren't we lucky that El Farol finally published a cookbook? The eponymously titled El Farol (hardcover, Gibbs Smith, $29.95) is a collection of the chef's favorite dishes, including a large collection of both cold and hot tapas. Here's a preview of the book, a collection of tapas (plus soup and dessert) that would work beautifully together as a refreshing backyard dinner.