Obesity is a preventable cause of death that has become a plague on New Mexico's children. So why is junk food being served at our public schools?
Face it: As a nation, we're fat and it's killing us. Over the past few decades, changes in the way Americans live, work and eat have made obesity a preventable cause of death that is second only to smoking. While parents, teachers, doctors, lawyers and government agencies have all gone to great pains to educate, legislate, forbid and otherwise appropriately demonize smoking, by bad example, ignorance and neglect on the subject of nutrition and exercise, we are raising a generation of children who are not expected to live as long as their parents.
At the start of 2005, Albuquerque Public Schools began a five-month Wellness Pilot Project. For students at 18 elementary and middle schools involved in the program, the most obvious change will be the snacks sold in vending machines and the hours during which the machines will be available. Elementary school vending machines will only dispense bottled water during the school day. In middle schools, Pepsi's vending machines are limited to water and juice and milk beverages. In all participating schools, vending machine snacks must comply with new nutrition standards—meaning kids will choose from things like pretzels and granola bars rather than tortilla chips and cookies.
There are many issues, besides food in schools, that the Legislature is tacking during this session. Legislators want to know what you think, what will make you happy and what will make you re-elect them. So call early and often.
Local commuter rail plans to run later this year
Many of us may not be old enough to remember the Doodlebug, despite the fact that for years the quaint and colorful commuter rail passed in and out of our city—transporting workers, students and families from Belen to Albuquerque and back again. One of many southwestern trains, it earned its moniker through a whimsical resemblance to the bug of the same name (in that it tirelessly dashed from city to city), and began its daily commutes in 1934. It was beloved by the folks who graced its seats and inspired many a young mother to require that her children dress in their Sunday finery before climbing on board. Yet, alas, after World War II, funding for the rail line trailed off, going instead to the more novel business of road-building—and, despite protests from the community, the Belen to Albuquerque Doodlebug made its last stop on April 9, 1968.
Au contraire, indeed. If you caught President Bush's live press conference on KOB-770 AM last week like I did, you heard this question from Jeff Gannon, Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent for some outfit called Talon News. After the president selected “Jeff,” this question followed: "Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. Harry Reid [D-NV] was talking about soup lines. And Hillary Clinton [D-NY] was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet in the same breath they say that Social Security is rock solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work—you've said you are going to reach out to these people—how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"
Mayor sits on public safety tax revenue
About a quarter of the $26 million raised by the city's voter-approved public safety tax was supposed to go toward preventing crime, helping kids before they get into trouble and giving a hand to victims of violence, abuse and addiction. The rest was tagged for police and firefighters.
He's selling hard again, but this time (so far) the voters don't seem to be buying.
Dateline: Portugal—Police didn't have to work too hard to crack the case of junior gangster Marco Guerra. The 17-year-old criminal apparently set up a Web page that featured photos of him posing with a machine gun along with cash he had obtained through crime. The site also listed Guerra's full name and telephone number. Guerra told the newsweekly Sabado that he was charged with illegal possession of firearms and drugs after police searched the room he occupies in his parents house in suburban Lisbon. “The police came and they took everything: the gun, a cap and the shotgun,” marveled Guerra. “They took the computer and now I don't have access to the Internet anymore.” Guerra's site included pictures of the teen holding a 9 mm handgun, carrying a rifle and waving a machine gun in the air, as well as shots of him posing at a table full of cash and marijuana. “Through illegal or obscure deals you can live really well,” Guerra's site advised. Guerra now faces up to three years in jail for the illegal possession of arms and another two years for the possession of drugs.
Several weeks ago, I reported in this column on the formation of another new locally-based regional label, Detach Records, and their “coming out” part at the Launchpad featuring live performances by bands on their roster. As of this week, the Detach crew have released their first official longplayer, the third record by Austin's The Onlys, titled Limbic System. Look for a review of the album in a coming issue. In the meantime, check it out for yourself at your nearest independent record store. ... As part of its “Latin Diva” concert series, the National Hispanic Cultural Center will present world beat/reggae/Latin jazz sensations Kátia Moraes & Sambaguru Friday, Feb. 4. Call 724-4771 or visit www.nhccnm.org for tickets, time and more information. ... Local band The Ground Beneath recently began working on an album, which they say should be completed over the next few months. They've also uploaded seven live MP3 tracks that can be downloaded for free at www.thegroundbeneath.com. The band also report that they've been in contact with Fred Durst's (Limp Bizkit frontman/shithead) management and that “big things” are perhaps in the works on the moving-up-the-music business-ladder department. ... If you haven't bought your copy of the brand new Shine Cherries self-titled debut, what the fuck are you waiting for?
The music is gentle and meditative, with expansive soundscapes that softly explore the more reclusive aspects of human consciousness. Featuring the cello of Elaine Kreston, the disc also draws on the multi-dimensional talents of co-composer Ray Regan, whose artworks, soundworks and video bridge the natural and digital dimensions.
with Gavin DeGraw
Saturday, Feb. 8; Sunshine Theater (21 and over, 7:30 p.m.): Admittedly, I don't generally consider the Dave Matthews/John Mayer/Matchbox 20 set as my proverbial bag. But I've also got to admit that there are certain days—certain moods on certain days, actually—on which music by that particular singer-songwriter subset and the artists it encompasses seems absolutely perfect. Add to those artists Georgia-based roots rocker Michael Tolcher, whose debut, I Am (Octone) proves that the age of soaring pop melodies and rock-driven, folktastic songwriting are still alive and well both inside and outside the mainstream.
At least a full decade before electronica, techno and ambient were officially declared genres, the music that defined them was lumped in the new age category and, therefore, unfortunately stigmatized as bullshit background music for tofu-eaters looking to get their yoga on. French electronicist Jean Michel Jarre's earliest and best work was among the falsely imprisoned. Fast-forward to the '90s and bands such as Stereolab, High Llamas, St. Etienne, Air and countless others. What was then considered to be the latest craze was actually a co-opting of Jarre's pioneering work in electronic music. Listen, learn—this is whence it came.
New Year, Same Problems—The People Before Profit film/lecture series at the Peace & Justice Center (202 Harvard SE) kicks off 2004 with Bush Family Fortunes. This English documentary trails the Bush family, from the Florida election fraud to the Saudi connection. It's based on Greg Palast's hard-hitting investigative reports for the BBC and the UK's Guardian and on his bestselling book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. The screening will begin at 7 p.m. Entrance is free, but seating is limited.
Newly expanded local video store throws party for loyal patrons
It's Friday night and you're craving a movie. Cruising the aisles of Hastings, all you're able to turn up is row after row of Catwoman DVDs. Kurly Tlapoyawa feels your pain.
Asian art house offering studiously contemplates its own navel
While movies about the art of moviemaking are fairly common (just look at this year's The Aviator), movies about the art of watching movies are fairly rare. Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso is pretty much the capstone of this largely untenanted genre. A nostalgic portrait of growing up in a movie theater and loving cinema in its purest form, Cinema Paradiso examines what it's like to be a viewer, a passive participant captured by the flickering magic of a movie projector.
“Super Bowl XXXIX” on FOX
February is an amazing month, television-wise. First of all, it's Sweeps, which means the networks will be straining their budgets to shoehorn big celebrity guest stars into each and every sitcom. Secondly, February now boasts the two biggest TV viewing days of the entire year. Later this month, we get the Oscars, and this very weekend, the worlds of sports and television come together to deliver nothing less than the Super Bowl.
The Week in Sloth
Being a space case isn't necessarily a bad thing. This will be especially true this weekend when the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra (NMSO) joins forces with the LodeStar Astronomy Center for a performance that should please classical music enthusiasts and space geeks alike.
Reservation Stories at the Jonson Gallery
Even out here in the heart of Indian Country, a lot of people harbor garishly distorted ideas about Native Americans. Albuquerque might be sandwiched between two Pueblo reservations, but for many Anglos knowledge of Native America begins and ends with buying slabs of fry bread at the State Fair and maybe the occasional fake arrowhead crudely mass-produced in some factory south of the border.
Sometimes one David just isn't enough. Michelangelo's David, he of the giant hands, has been around for 500 years now. To celebrate this momentous occasion, a bunch of local artists have each made new art that incorporates, in one way or another, images of Michelangelo's famous sculpture. Some pieces are heartfelt tributes. Some are hilarious satires. Many are impossible to categorize. A reception for 500 Davids will be held Friday, Feb. 4, from 5 to 9 p.m. at Galeria Artopia (5100 Constitution NE), a gallery located in the home of Allan Rosenfield. The show runs through March 12. 254-0504.
Ana Chavira Theatre
In the immortal words of the J. Geils Band: "Love stinks!" Everyone at one time or another has been made to suffer at the chubby, pink but surprisingly agile hands of that deceptively cute cherry-cheeked bastard, Eros. Musical Theatre Southwest gives viewers an opportunity to laugh at other people's romantic misery with its remounted production of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, which originally ran at the Cell Theatre back in 2003. The show runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. in the Ana Chavira Theatre. $20 general, $18 students/seniors. 262-9301.
Have you seen this new thing where they're selling packets of Crystal Light drink powder next to bottled water at convenience stores? What an interesting idea. I suppose they're marketing the single-serving tubes of Peach Tea and Raspberry Ice to thirsty women dieters who are already familiar with the Crystal Light non-carbonated, low-calorie beverage concept, trying to get them to drink Raspberry Ice water instead of plain old Aquafina. I see only two problems: First, they already sell Crystal Light beverages in plastic bottles, right next to Aquafina. Second, you'd have to drink Raspberry Ice-flavored Crystal Light. Why choose artificially-flavored water over water-flavored water? If I want my water to be exciting, I'll have a half-dressed 22-year-old weight-lifter spank me while I drink it. You'd think these marketing geniuses could use their time more wisely. Why can't they make beer crystals and sell the powdered brew in baby formula-sized cans? Oh yeah, because it would probably taste like ass, and you'd still have to pick a million red party cups out of the backyard bushes. That's why they make kegs: so you don't have to buy so many cans. Oh, and kegs always have a way of attracting a fresh crop of 22 year-old weight lifters.
Scalo has a new owner. Steve Paternoster was general manager and a part owner of the Nob Hill restaurant from 1993 until leaving and selling his stake in 1999. Since then Paternoster has had his hand in several different ventures, including Sun Country Chile and Honey, whose sopapilla syrup is under fire in this section this week.
The honey substitute you didn't know you've been eating
I came into work the other day to find a single-serving packet of Sopapilla Syrup sitting on my keyboard. Hmm, Sopapilla Syrup. What is this stuff? The ingredients are printed right on the packet: High fructose corn syrup, sugar, honey, corn syrup, natural flavor, caramel color. Good God. Fake honey.
If cooking for yourself doesn't give you that warm, fuzzy feeling, sign up to make dinner for families of sick children at the Ronald McDonald House. Call 925-2220 to volunteer.
The time for conservation, greater energy efficiency and a conversion to renewable energy has finally arrived in New Mexico. That is, the bills are on the table in the Legislature this session.
Question: What do you get when you combine impeccable environmentalist credentials with a relentless enthusiasm for science? Answer: Dr. Alan Zelicoff.
"There's a huge gap between ideas, good intentions and reality"
Tick. Tock. In case you're wondering, that's the sound ringing in the ears of more than 27,000 animals a year at the Albuquerque Animal Care Center, where progress seems to move about as quickly as the proverbial snail. Despite findings by the Humane Society of the United States five years ago that animal care practices at the two Albuquerque shelters were abysmal, and followed by promises by the city to improve said abysmal conditions, it seems that any real improvements in animal welfare have yet to begin. At least, that's what animal rights activists around the city are saying, who are irate over what they call "empty promises."
With no help from the Bush administration—but plenty from Europe, Japan, New York and California—solar power is edging into the mainstream
If you're like most Americans, you've spent your life invisibly attached to an electric meter. When you wake up and switch on the light, you nudge it forward a little faster. When you toast bread, watch TV, open the fridge, flick on the computer, you push its pace. For all practical purposes, it only goes one way.
Two hot button bills on the Jan. 19 City Council agenda—the Old Town missile bill and a Montaño restriping compromise—were deferred when Councilor Debbie O'Malley fell ill and left after the break. The recently passed quarter-cent public safety tax budgeted money for social services. Five resulting bills passed, funding programs for adolescent substance abuse treatment, services for victims of sexual assault, child witnesses of domestic violence, treatment for domestic violence offenders and DWI workplace education.
Public schools deserve voter support
It seems incredible, but the election to choose four Albuquerque Public School board positions and to decide the fate of a proposed $218 million bond issue and mill levy to pay for building new schools and repairing existing ones takes place on Feb. 1.
Dateline: England—A village in Cambridgeshire has decided to celebrate its history by erecting a five-foot-tall statue of dinosaur poo. According to London's Daily Telegraph, parish council members in Bassingbourn chose the $15,000 bronze sculpture in a competition. It beat rivals including a sculpture of one of the World War II bombers the flew from a local airfield. Fossilized dinosaur droppings, known as coprolite, brought wealth to the area late in the 19th century. “It's an excellent idea; unusual and very imaginative,” said Jack White, the parish council chairman. “Something like a bomber, which used to fly out of here in the war, would have been too obvious.” The winning design came from David Billings, a former teacher at Bassingbourn Village College, who described his design thusly: “The idea is to have a heap of muck on top of a plinth.”
You think you eat out too often? Ha! I met a woman the other night who told me that she lived in her current place for months before setting the oven on fire—by turning it on with the instruction booklet still resting on the top rack. Now I don't feel so guilty for cooking as rarely as I do. Yes, it's true: I use my oven as often as I vacuum. (Was that not clear? It's not often.) Why cook when my phone is full of hungry friends who will gladly meet me at [insert name of charming ethnic eatery here] in half an hour? I'm single and I'm a Leo, so why would I waste time whipping up a minor masterpiece when no one will applaud? As a tree's unwitnessed fall makes no sound, a chef's most savory creation is wasted without a tongue to tell the tale of it. Or something like that. The truth is that being your own worst critic makes for some pretty miserable dinners. So, like the rest of you, I eat out nearly every night. The rest of the time, I exhume decomposing creatures from their Styrofoam sarcophagi and reheat, until they once again resemble wild boar chops and chicken curries. I use the stove to heat up water for the dog's dinner. He likes it with a little gravy, you know, and he's awfully appreciative.
Stop, drop and roll. Last week the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) issued an egg roll recall for three kinds of egg rolls manufactured by Schwan's Pasadena, Texas plant, and distributed through Schwan's home delivery service in Belen, Chaparal and Roswell. (You've seen Schwan's old-fashioned delivery vehicles that sorta look like refrigerated dog catcher trucks.) If you have any 3.75-pound packages of Minh Gourmet chicken egg rolls, or 11-ounce packages of Pagoda chicken or Pagoda pork and shrimp egg rolls, throw them out right away. Apparently, the company got a bunch of complaints from people who found little pieces of glass in their egg rolls. What, did someone on the production line accidentally drop his 40-ounce into the egg-roller? "Dude! Where'd my beer go?" As NMED's press release suggests, "anyone concerned about an injury from consumption of the products should contact a physician." They don't need to mention you might also contact a lawyer. If I choke on a piece of glass in my pork and shrimp egg roll, you bet your corporate insurance policy I'm gonna be spraying bloody mucus all over my cellphone as I dial 1-800-LAWSUIT.
The flavor of Earl Grey without the tea
One of the best ideas I've come up with lately was this bergamot-scented apple thing. When my family came to town for Thanksgiving, I dusted off the dishes and got cooking. But when it came time to make the traditional apple pie, I realized that all of my Pyrex pie plates had been reassigned to potted plant drip-catching duty. The closest thing my cupboard held was a 10-inch cake pan. So the pie became a deep-dish apple tart-thing with a crumble top. To spice it up a bit, I added a few drops of essential oil of bergamot to the tossed apples. The result was fantastic, full of apple flavor, but the mysteriously citrusy bergamot aftertaste was addictive.
and the birth of canola oil
Pretty much every morning, our editor pops into my office, lifts a cheek to fart, asks me why I haven't yet cleared out my desk, then crawls around on all fours with a stuffed bunny in his mouth, trying to engage my terrier in a tug of war. But one morning this week, Dear Leader also presented me with a test of my professional qualifications.
Same-Sex Cinema—Local film company Crone Productions is holding a fundraiser this weekend at the Guild Cinema in Nob Hill to help finish work on their latest effort, Faces, a documentary about same-sex marriage in New Mexico. On Saturday, Jan. 29, The Guild will be screening the hearfelt gay romance Big Eden, starring Ayre Gross (Minority Report, “Ellen”) and Eric Schweig (The Missing, Skins). On Sunday, it's the culture clash lesbian romance Chutney Popcorn starring Jill Hennessy (“Crossing Jordan”). Both shows start at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the box office. or more information, log on to www.croneproductions.com.
Boxing drama prefers to beat the tears out of its audience
With movie awards season heading into its final round, Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby comes bobbing and weaving its way into theaters with just about as many laurels as possible resting on its head. It's already landed Best Actress awards from the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Phoenix Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics. It nabbed Best Director awards from the Chicago Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the San Diego Film Critics Association and the Seattle Film Critics Association. It also received a special achievement award from the National Board of Review and won Best Director and Best Actress at the Golden Globes. Now would be the perfect time to get in this film's corner and start cheering. ... But I'm not going to do that.
Eye-opening documentary knows the value of hard work
Avi Lewis, host/producer of “CounterSpin” on CBC Newsworld, and Naomi Klein, author of No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, have been highly visible, highly vocal critics of the International Monetary Fund and the predatory practices of today's corporate giants. Right wing pundits have, for years, needled them with the snippy charge, “Well, what's your solution then, Smartypants?”
Johnny Carson: TV God
The entertainment industry took an emotional hit last Sunday when it was announced that retired talk show king Johnny Carson had passed away from complications of emphysema.
The Week in Sloth
Santa Fe's Red Letter Records has released its first compilation CD and will celebrate that fact by hosting a party at Warehouse 21 (1614 Paseo de Peralta). Bands performing include oneDOWN, The Hollis Wake, Raine Vivian, Enigmatik and Brian Botkiller, all of whom are featured on the disc. Admission is $1, or $5 for admission and a copy of the CD. The release contains 19 tracks by mostly northern New Mexico bands representing about every rock genre imaginable. Find more information at www.redletterrecords.org. ... In other local CD news, newly formed bluegrass troupe Raising Cane have released their debut, and The Foxx have added three tracks to their 2003 EP, dropped some dough on cover art and released a proper album. Look for both at local-music friendly record stores all over town. ... On a sad note, Club Rhythm & Blues will close—by all indications for good—on Monday, Jan. 31. The Nob Hill establishment has been a haven for local blues and roots musicians for the past seven years and has hosted its share of national touring acts as well. Club manager and local blues legend John Patrick Nieto cites a sputtering economy as the main reason behind the closure. It's a sad ending to yet another chapter of Albuquerque's music history. ... On a painful note, Black Maria bassist Brian Banks slipped and fell last week, breaking Gordon Andersen's pen ... no, wait ... he broke his own tibia in three places. He's scheduled to spend this week hopped up on morphine while getting to know the three screws and metal plate that have a new home in his leg.
What is it about siblingdom that intensifies musical collaboration? Its a decades-old phenomenon that has left its mark on nearly every genre imaginable, but perhaps none as deeply as rock music and its seemingly endless personalities. And while one group of Texas brothers, Los Lonely Boys, seem to be receiving the highest percentage of accolades for their Latin-infused, blues-drenched rock, there's a pair of Texas-bred brothers, who, along with a singer who fancies himself the Latino Steven Tyler and a drummer, bassist and percussionist that are capable of putting most other rhythm sections to shame, are quietly and methodically taking the rock and world music stages by storm one by one.
Since extinguishing his Bowl of Fire, Andrew Bird has come on strong as a viciously talented singer-songwriter or the Randy Newman stripe. The Mysterious Production of Eggs comes two years after Bird's debut solo outing, Weather Systems, confounded Bowl of Fire fans and won Bird an entire cache of new ones. According to Bird, the new album was scrapped three times and re-recorded in as many different studios. But whether he's just a perfectionist or a pretentious, obsessed manic-depressive, the guy has made an incredible record—the best of his career.
All right. This is probably the cutest darn story I've heard in a long time. Dylan Cast is a 7-year-old first grader at Montezuma Elementary School. Like most of us, when Dylan learned of the destruction caused by the recent tsunami he was utterly appalled. Unlike most of us, he vowed to actually do something about it.
Four Distinguished Artists at the KiMo Theatre Gallery
As kids in California, we used to hunt for sand dollars on the beaches north of San Francisco. They were a precious commodity because we almost never found anything but broken shards. The waves and rocky coastline weren't kind to the slim, fragile disks.
Teatro Nuevo Mexico brings an innovative production of José Rivera's Sonnets for an Old Century to the Vortex Theatre starting this weekend. Rivera's play is a series of monologues delivered by different characters in a waiting room for the afterlife. Project director Michael Blum has recruited a dozen Albuquerque directors to direct each separate monologue. Genius or madness? You decide. Sonnets for an Old Century runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. $10 general, $8 students/seniors. Sundays at 6 p.m. $8. Runs through Feb. 6. 247-8600.
Poet, playwright, lyricist and performance artist Sekou Sundiata appears at UNM's Rodey Theatre this Saturday evening, Jan. 29, at 7:30 p.m. to perform his one-man show Blessing the Boats. The multimedia performance covers three difficult years in Sundiata's life during which he battled against renal disease, got a kidney transplant and almost died in a car accident. Funny, wise and deeply personal, Blessing the Boats should be an amazing show. It's being performed as part of the Revolutions International Theatre Festival. $16 general, $12 students/seniors. 266-2826.
It took cartoonist Jeff Smith 13 grueling years of blood, sweat and laughter to compose his epic comic adventure, Bone. A grand total of 38 international awards have been bestowed on the series, which follows the three Bone cousins—Fone Bone, Phony Bone and Smiley Bone—on their tragicomic journey through a fantasy medieval landscape. The entire series was recently compiled into a massive 1,300 page volume. Smith himself will be making an appearance at Santa Fe's True Believers Comics and Gallery (435 S. Guadalupe, (505) 992-TRUE, www.true-believers.com) this Thursday, Jan. 27, from 5 to 7 p.m. It'll be worth the trek for comic fans.
Albuquerque doctor Steven Hsi's humanitarian legacy lives on
Like people from all walks of life, physicians themselves occasionally become ill. But when Albuquerque doctor Steven Hsi became seriously ill in 1995, he decided to document his illness and create a narrative of his experience, struggles and the sudden change in the role he faced as a doctor becoming a patient. His is a story that has become a spiritual lesson for those in the medical profession, as well as those faced with a life-changing disease.
When Frank Gilmer says he has "a feel for Albuquerque and my neighborhood," he might be underestimating the power of his institutional memory. Mr. Gilmer is a deacon at the First Baptist Church on the corner of Broadway and Central, which sits across the street from the retired Albuquerque High School, whence he sprang as a member of the class of '46. He'll tell you about the days when Broadway was the main commercial street in the city, with its parallel access to the bustling railyards and medians plush with grass and shade trees. He remembers the fountain in the middle of the Broadway and Central intersection, placed there for thirsty horses providing transport along Route 66 in the dust bowl days of the Great Depression.
A Tale of Two Editorials. On Monday morning, I had the great misfortune of receiving two editorials in an e-mail, side-by-side, regarding the nomination of Alberto Gonzales as our next attorney general. The contrast was striking.
Six new bills will promote renewable energy conversion
Here comes the sun, legislatively speaking. And for solar power advocates, it's about time considering our state is soaked in sunbeams more than 300 days a year and solar power could be produced here in abundance.
Staggering homeless rates in Albuquerque demand more public attention
In the days following the devastating earthquake and resultant tsunami which brought death and destruction to the coasts surrounding the Indian Ocean, it seemed that each successive newscast brought staggeringly higher casualty totals. At 7 a.m. on day two it was 23,000; 27,000 by noon and 35,000 by the 10 o'clock news, with a similar pattern in subsequent days until the total is well over 125,000 as I write this piece.
"24" plays product placement game with U.S. foreign policy
By now, most Americans know how product placement works. So when America Online sponsors a checkpoint during "The Amazing Race," or selling M&Ms becomes a challenge on "The Apprentice," it's no accident we hear those brands mentioned eight or 10 times. And when you cut to commercial, guess what's being advertised?
Dateline: Michigan—Tony J. Young wasn't about to lose his customized 2003 Ford Mustang Coupe for a second time, so when he found the person who stole it, he grabbed it and held on for dear life. Young noticed his car had been stolen after he woke up at a friend's house last Thursday morning. While getting a ride to work, Young spotted his beloved car at a stop sign and clamped on. As soon as Young grabbed the dark gray car's rear spoiler, the thief hit the gas, and took the 35-year-old owner on a chase through the snowy streets of Flint. Despite speeds that reached up to 80 mph, Young held fast, even managing to pull out his cell phone and dial 911. City 911 dispatcher Holly Wilson encouraged Young to let go of the car. “Sir, you can get another vehicle,” Wilson noted. Fearing that letting go of the vehicle at such high speeds might kill him, Wilson held on, announcing streets signs to police as they whizzed by. At one point, Young announced that he had just passed downtown Flint's police station. Flint police eventually caught up with the car and gave chase, along with Genesee County Sheriff's deputies and state troopers. Young lost his cell phone, though, when the Mustang made its way on to Interstate 475. “It got scary toward the end,” Young told The Flint Journal, “People on the expressway were tripping.” The chase finally came to an end when the thief stopped the car and fled on foot. He was caught about 10 minutes later. Amazingly, Young escaped the incident uninjured--especially surprising since he recently had back surgery and is on worker's compensation. Two months previous, the Mustang had been stolen and stripped of everything including its $3,500 stereo. “If I let go, I figured the car was gone for good,” he told reporters, dismissing suggestions that it would have been better to let the car thief get away. “I would do it again if I had to.”
Time this week for another installment of Gen'esis for the Arts. On Saturday, Jan. 22, the celebration will take place at El Rey Theater and Pucinni's Golden West Saloon, and it'll include live music by sometimes Dave Matthews sideman and virtuoso guitarist Tim Reynolds, Jenny Gamble, Twenty 5 South, Feels Like Sunday, Rage Against Martin Sheen, The Blue Room, Buddha Betties, Shiva, Mike G, Scarlett's Playdo and so many others I simply don't have space to mention. Call 242-2353 for more information and advance tickets. ... While Alibi Spring Crawl still seems pretty far off, the calls and e-mails are already starting to come in seeking information on how to “apply for” or get booked into the event. So once again, here's the standard, honest answer: There is no application process. We do not require demo tapes or take into consideration that you once opened for Quiet Riot at the Bennigan's St. Patrick's Day Bash. So forget all that. Each participating venue provides us with a “wish list” of bands they want to play in their respective rooms. From those lists, we book 95 percent of the Crawl slots. So you'd better get out and play some gigs Downtown, share bills with better-known bands and endear yourselves to venue owners and talent buyers so they'll ask for you by name. After all, if the Crawls don't work for the venues, they don't work at all. So book, promote, play and make your band as visible on Central and Gold between First and Seventh streets as possible.
Not a single manmade musical instrument exists that can be as colorful, inspiring and versatile as the human voice. Granted, such a voice is rare and must be capable of conveying intense emotion coupled with pristine melodies, harmonies and the subtle nuances that amount to the difference between fine singers and enormously gifted artists. Multiply that formula by six and you've got Sweet Honey in the Rock. Simply put, they sound like a miracle—a cappella angels who adorn their songs with brilliantly colored wings, giving them flight and then sending them soaring overhead in a rush of fantastic harmony and reverent soul.
Canadian-born Harry Manx sounds as if he grew up simultaneously on the Mississippi Delta and the banks of the Ganges, which is actually pretty close to the truth. After spending five years in India becoming a master of the mohan veena, a 20-stringed cross between a sitar and a guitar, Manx returned to Vancouver and set about the business of melting the blues of the South and traditional Indian music in the same pot. The result on his latest disc is a lazy afternoon blues sound that's colored with the vivid hues and spirituality of world music. Subtle, but amazing.
Big Stink—The locally made zombie flick The Stink of Flesh, written and directed by Scott Phillips, has finally been picked up for nationwide distribution. The film will be released by Tempe Entertainment on a special edition DVD, set to hit store shelves May 24. U.K. distribution will follow shortly thereafter, meaning Scott's Stink will now be seen (smelled?) around the world. If you caught the film last year at one of its sold-out screenings at the Guild Cinema, there are plenty of reasons to pick up this new version. The special edition DVD will feature tons of groovy extras, including the “making of” documentary, outtakes, a 5.1 SurroundSound mix, a bunch of cool shorts and two feature-length cast and crew commentaries (including yours truly, who appears in the film as the unseemly soldier Lt. Vega). For updates on this and other trashy horror flicks, log on to www.tempevideo.com.
True-life horror story proves enlightening, inspirational
Tragically, many Americans may end up ignoring Hotel Rwanda for the very same reason they ignored the war that inspired it: It simply sounds too depressing to contemplate. What this hard-hitting drama does so expertly, however, is hold up a mirror to all us complacent Westerners and ask what were we doing while all this was taking place.
The American Dream goes sour in gritty '70s-style character study
The '70s were a grim and cynical time. I mean, not for me personally. I spent most of the decade concerned with Stretch Armstrong and Big Mouth bubble gum. Still, for America it was a grim and cynical decade. Much of that darkness was reflected in the films of the day: Pop Catch-22, Straw Dogs, The Last Detail, Marathon Man, Taxi Driver and Joe into your fancy new DVD player for a flashback of glorious depression.
“Battlestar Galactica” on Sci-Fi
Sometimes my inner nerd just shines through. I can't help it. I grew up on Star Wars and all the sci-fi action that proceeded it. Among my favorite childhood TV shows was “Battlestar Galactica.” I dug it not because of its execution (which was often cheapjack and repetitive), but because of its interesting setting and dramatic story line. Back in 1978, a lot of people dismissed the show as a rip off of Star Wars. Actually, it was a rip off of the old Western series “Wagon Train”--a fact that slipped under the radar of most viewers.
The Week in Sloth
It's been a hugely successful experiment that hopefully will be repeated for many years to come. New Mexico Books & More is a co-op that was located in the Cottonwood Mall during the holiday shopping season. Operated entirely by volunteers, the store sold books exclusively from and about New Mexico. According to the organizers, the co-op ended up selling more than 3,400 volumes in 40 days. Not too bad, eh? To make matters even better, the store will be donating much of its profits to local literacy groups. For details, call 344-9382.
Hughie at SolArts
Stepping into a theater to see a Eugene O'Neill play is sometimes like volunteering for a good, stiff beating. O'Neill isn't exactly known for his light, optimistic view of human relations. His best plays—The Ice Man Cometh, Mourning Becomes Elektra, Long Day's Journey into Night—are dark masterpieces filled to the brim with delusion, heartbreak, addiction and murder.
Raised on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, Zig Jackson has dedicated his artistic life to deconstructing "the pervasive myths and misconceptions about Native Americans." A graduate of UNM who went on to become a groundbreaking photographer, Jackson will be featured in an exhibit going on display starting this week. Reservation Stories: The Photography of Zig Jackson opens Friday, Jan. 21, and runs through March 4 at UNM's Jonson Gallery (1909 Las Lomas NE). For details, call 277-4967.
UNM art professors Mary Tsiongas and Steve Barry joined forces last semester to conduct a six-hour art studio called "Out of the Box." Basically, it was a free for all. Students did preliminary interviews in which they presented proposals for art projects. When approved, they got down to work. Experimental art in every imaginable medium was the result. Much of it will go on display at Halflife (125 Harvard SE) in an exhibit opening with a reception this Saturday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. Rub.rash.peel.claw.burn.suck runs through Feb. 6. 217-0952.