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.
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?"
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.
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.
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-
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.
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.
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.
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-
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.
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.