In preparation for the end of 2007, former Arts Editor Steven Robert Allen and I sat down to talk art over hot bowls of phở. Between slurps, we traded memories of our favorite events from the past year—gallery openings, theater productions, book launches and poetry readings. After chewing on hot noodles and waning memories, we narrowed our picks down to 10. Here they are, the Alibi's top 10 art happenings for 2007, in no particular order.
Driving home while thinking about the cultural profoundity of events like Weekly Alibi’s upcoming Best of Burque Music Showcase—which is happening on Saturday evening, March 24, downtown, in case you did not know that fact—led me to the shores of ghetto Smith’s where I repaired to the produce section for some fresh fruit to calm my florid mind.
There's often more bad than good in the news and on the Alibi's year-end list. After searching and debating, we found this year there were a fair number of successes for our state, like publicly financed elections and the surprisingly rational decision by the Legislature to legalize medical marijuana.
Bratz: The Movie--Normally, movies based on toys are brilliant (see He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Transformers and The Care Bears Movie for reference). Not so with this dim, mixed-message “comedy” based on the whore-like prepubescent doll line.
When is a romance not a romance? When it has more on its mind than simple liplocks. This vigorous, visually poetic adaptation of Ian McEwan’s “unfilmable” World War II-era novel sets the bar high for period dramas. Not only does it feature love, betrayal, bloodshed and genuine passion (a rare element in most romances), it ponders long and hard on the power of imagination as a force both positive and negative. A great many films could be benefit from such self-reflection.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
“Laws are like sausages,” states the famous aphorism by Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck. “It is better not to see them being made.” It's an appropriate quote to start off a review of the new poli-sci parody Charlie Wilson’s War, as the film spends an awful lot of time inside America's biggest sausage factory.
Battlestar Galactica: Razor (Sci-Fi)--I could just list “Battlestar Galactica.” It’s still one of the best-written, most topical series on TV. Instead, I’ll single out this movie event as a perfect example of why: gripping drama, startling plot development, powerful characters and some of the juiciest political debate you’ll find on the idiot box. ... Plus, there are spaceships.
Food stories of 2007 that amount to more than a hill of beans
By Laura Marrich
A rash of recalls, high drama in the health food isles and corporate ecology wrestled in a battle royale—with cheese—for spots at the media table. Chances are it’s not the last we’ll see of them. The top food stories of 2007 are served!
What if white history and white people were excluded from society's consciousness except for a handful of days? White History Week is an effective way to ask that question, says Jered Ebenreck, one of the event's planners. "How would you feel if you had just a month for your history? It's kind of a silly notion. We have the whole year for white people."
What has workers at abortion clinics citywide on high alert? Why was a fire department dispatcher arrested for? How did Albuquerque make a national list? Why is a Santa Fe County sheriff’s sergeant suing?
Many journalists qualified for the annual P.U.-litzer Prizes, but only a few were able to win recognition for turning in one of the truly stinkiest media performances of the year. As the judges for this un-coveted award, we have done our best to confer this honor on the most deserving.
Dateline: New Zealand--On the weekend before Christmas, a rampaging gang of 50 or so drunken Santas plowed through a movie theater on New Zealand’s South Island. The Santas molested customers, yelled obscenities, ripped down posters and participated in other decidedly un-jolly behavior at the Hoyts Cinema complex in Christchurch. Despite video footage of the incident, police believe it will be impossible to identify participants due to their identical beards, hats and fuzzy red suits. Speculation says the Santas were a group of university students involved in a holiday prank.
Whether it was rock, pop or rap, it all sucked in ’07
By Simon McCormack
If it makes Reel Big Fish happy to cling to the dream of a third-wave ska revolution, then more power to them. Still, making ska for the sake of keeping the genre alive doesn't produce the best results. Even though their songs are still upbeat as ever, I can't help but think there were some tears shed behind the scenes for a genre that once was.
2007 was a grim year for the book industry, but not for the books themselves. As newspapers took deep cuts out of their literary sections in a mad dash to save their business model, and the publishing industry got its last dose of Potter, a pack of terrific books traveled just below the radar. Here is a subjective list of the very best of those books (in no particular order), by my yardstick the must-reads of 2007.
A graduate of Hard Knocks University builds familia in the South Valley
By Tami Brunk
To the casual observer, La Plazita café might look like your average Albuquerque coffee shop—serving fair trade coffee, free Internet and your choice of old-school tunes from the record collection. Well, look again. The kid who just walked in the door? He was tagging his gang’s “turf” last year—today he’ll be selling one of those paintings on the wall. The barista who just handed you your latte—she looks a little tired? She was up until 3 a.m. cooking for a group of Hopi runners traveling 1,500 miles from Arizona to Mexico City to raise awareness of water crisis in the region.
Congratulations are in order. After a successful run on the national film fest circuit (including the Halloween Horror Picture Show in Tampa, the Fright Night Film Fest in Louisville and the Full Moon Horror Fest in Little Rock), the locally produced, locally shot horror thriller Gimme Skelter is racking up the positive reviews. “Gimme Skelter is more than just another indie slasher flick,” raved the reviewer at EyeCraveDVD.com. “It is a glorious Go-Go frug of a meditation on moral hypocrisy, the cult of personality and the true meaning of ‘The Manson Family Christmas Special.’ ”
When is a teen sex comedy not a teen sex comedy? When it’s good.
By Devin D. O’Leary
In a year filled with unwanted pregnancies--from Waitress to Knocked Up to Jamie Lynn Spears--who would have guessed the funniest of all unplanned impregnations would occur on Christmas Day? Having built a considerable amount of eager anticipation on the film fest circuit, the post-teen-sex comedy Juno is finally being delivered to theaters. A labor of love from stripper-turned-writer Diablo Cody (author of Candy Girl) and famous-director-offspring-turned-famous-director Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking), Juno easily earns a spot as one of the best films of the year.
From the word go, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street sounds like a match made in Heaven. Tim Burton directing Johnny Depp (for the sixth time!) in an adaptation of the famously grisly musical about a Victorian-era serial killer, complete with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim? Where do we start lining up?
It was probably inevitable, but late-night talk show hosts will be returning to the airwaves starting Wednesday, Jan. 2. Dismissing the Writers Guild of America strike, Jay, Dave and the rest of the lot will be back behind their respective desks starting this week. Actually, “Last Call with Carson Daly” was the first show to openly defy the strike, returning to ABC in early December. Not that anyone noticed.
Jump, dive, leap into your 2008 New Year's resolution to listen more attentively to the creative muse chiming in the back of your head. With the New Year come new gallery shows, new theater company seasons and opportunities for new artists to come out of hiding ... like these:
These days, polite people feel guilty about the natural human tendency to stare at other people with physical deformities or quirks. Jump back a hundred years, though, and it’s an entirely different story. Back then, gawking at so-called “freaks” wasn’t just socially acceptable, it was good, wholesome family entertainment. Well, maybe not wholesome per se, but folks certainly didn’t feel bad about it, paying good money for the chance to see human oddities up close and in the flesh.
The House and Senate pushed through big reforms to the Freedom of Information Act, more commonly known as the FOIA around newsrooms. What does FOIA do? If journalists want to lay hands on an unreleased but legally available document, they submit FOIA requests.
Why more women in New Mexico need to enter government
By Jerry Ortiz y Pino
It's starting to look like the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign may not be grinding its way to inevitable victory after all. Her once formidable lead in the polls has been slipping in recent weeks. She is beginning to look beatable.
Dateline: Brazil--Santa Claus almost got a cap busted in his ass while flying over a notorious Rio de Janeiro slum. A helicopter taking Santa to deliver presents to children came under heavy gunfire while passing over the Baixa do Sapateiro favela, or slum neighborhood. The flight was bound for a Christmas party last Sunday where Santa was to deliver presents to underprivileged children. The pilot flew back to a heliport where Santa was transferred to a car and continued on his journey. Charles Gonzales, the president of the Baixa do Sapateiro Neighbors Association, said his group picked up Santa after being notified about the incident. No one was injured in the attack, but at least two bullet holes were found on the helicopter. Police blame the attack on drug traffickers at war with a rival gang in the nearby Vila João favela.
Jesse L. Spicer is a man obsessed. Not with stamp collecting or American naval history or vintage amps with perfect tone, but with The Hardest Working Man in Show Business. He's obsessed with the late, great James Brown.
Organizers disagree on how to get the Ice House all-ages space off the ground
By Marisa Demarco
2007 didn't have the flash of controversy surrounding all-ages shows of previous years. It was more like a slow illness. Blue Dragon shut its doors. The Curio opened and closed. Space Maybe winked in and out of existence. Sol Arts announced its closure just weeks ago.
After 10 years of making music in The Big Spank, singer-guitarist Mike Garcia has seen his band go from an ultra-young, semi-serious ska-punk band to a bilingual pop-rock group that risks sanity and starvation to tour the country 11 months out of the year. One thing hasn't changed, though.
Blackbird Buvette (509 Central NW, 243-0878) says “adieu” to 2007 with a masquerade soiréeand toast-worthy tracks spun by DJ Losack. Bring a mask and a 21+ ID (with a D.O.B. before 1987, if you’re keeping score). No cover. (LM)
I’ve heard it’s best to thaw frozen meat slowly in a fridge, like overnight. Is this true? And if so, why?
A: Dear Frozen,
I’ve heard that too, and I think it’s a good idea. Unfortunately, this would require more foresight than I have on most days. I did do some digging in order to answer your question, wondering if I might learn something that might make me change my ways.
There is a reason, safety-wise, for thawing meat in the refrigerator, as opposed to a warmer environment. When thawed in the fridge, the meat can’t possibly warm up to temperatures at which bacterial growth or other forms of spoilage might occur.
Tony, the sauce-slinger and namesake of Tony’s Pizza, learned his Italian grandmother's cucina skills by way of his mother. He works from a tiny kitchen on the corner of Tijeras and Seventh Street, where he pushes pies out to diners seated in one of the seven tables that make up his restaurant.
Is there any better way to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus than attending church? Of course not. ... Unless that church is hosting some kind of charitable event for needy children. And there's also progressive rock involved.
The first time I saw Father of the Flood, his slow-morphing tones vibrated the art off The Stove's walls. Some of the audience ran from work to work, pulling glass-enclosed pieces down before the chest-rattling low end could cause them to leap to their doom. Then we sat and felt the notes thundering from four 15-inch speakers into our bodies. When the flood was over, I had no idea how much time had passed. Was the set five minutes long or 30?
Father of the Flood is putting out his first CD on Dec. 18 through The Lotus Sound, a label run by Mike D'Elia. The label's been around for a decade, though for a large portion of that it was in hiatus while D'Elia got Astro-Zombies, his Nob Hill collectible toy and comic shop, off the ground.
Electro-dance duo sets the crowd on fire one last time
By Simon McCormack
DJs Brandon (Sciarrotta) and Ethan (Moya) believe the paradigm of indie electro music is shifting. The days when the genre consisted of a small, pretentious group of know-it-all technophiles have disappeared. Now crowd satisfaction is the new MO.
The talking heads on a prime-time news station said Paul Tucker would be homeless. The Vermont resident spent too many days in the Good Samaritan Haven and took too long to get a real job, they said. Tucker would live on the streets, just like the people he was earning money for outside the local shopping mall with a red Salvation Army kettle and a bell. He spent his time doing charity work, calling for coins to help the less fortunate during the holiday season, instead of making an income. It seems homelessness can hit anyone, even those who would be saints.
It was the best of meals, it was the worst of meals … we had everything before us, we had nothing before us. OK, so maybe that’s a little on the dramatic side, but in many ways dining at Zinc brought to mind the contrasts Dickens was so fond of fictionalizing, so read this with a British accent.
We’re not known for luxurious desserts—it’s not our thing. We get too full too fast. We prefer savory salts, the occasional soft, ripe, bloomy artisan French cheese and hard after-dinner liqueurs. We gorge on calories in other ways. But for the holidays, when the fruitcakes and weird chocolate logs start showing up on people’s tables, there are some far easier, more awesome ways to serve festive treats—and get drunk at the same time. We’ve become obsessed with baking apples in apple beer.
Most of us can identify the major national figures who have an impact on our lives: the Cheneys, the Clintons, the Richardsons. Few would probably know the name Kevin Martin. He's the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and his actions Tuesday, Dec. 18, reduced your options in this media-soaked environment.
While going though files on psychics in my Buffalo, N.Y., office a few years ago, I came across a newspaper article listing annual psychic predictions--in and of itself, an unremarkable find. The article appeared in this very newspaper, and featured predictions from local psychics for the following year. What made this particular article interesting was the year being predicted: 2001, in an issue dated Jan. 11-17.
Dateline: Japan--An aquarium in Tokyo has turned to a Japanese inventor for a novel way to light a Christmas tree--using electric eels. Inventor Kazuhiko Minawa said it took him more than a month to devise a system that would effectively harness eel power. Two aluminum panels were eventually placed inside the eels’ tank to serve as electrodes. Cables attached to the panels supply the lights on a nearby tree with electricity. “If we could gather electric eels from all around the world, we would be able to light up an unimaginably giant Christmas tree,” Minawa told Reuters Television. The tree, which will stay illuminated until Christmas, is proving itself a popular attraction, drawing tourists from all over the country.
The year is approaching its end, and that means only one thing--it’s time to hand out a lot of awards! With Dec. 31 looming, a multitude of organizations are scrambling to enumerate the nominees in their best films of 2007 lists.
Musical biopic remembers the lyrics, forgets the laughs
By Devin D. O’Leary
Given the number of high-profile musical biopics in recent years (Ray, Walk the Line), it’s inevitable that someone would get around to making a spoof of the genre. Unfortunately, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story isn’t a spoof so much as a scene-for-scene recreation. With jokes. And occasional laughs.
He wouldn't buy this crappy documentary, that's for sure
By Jessica Cassyle Carr
Considering outward appearances, it may seem like the period between late November and late December is a lovely time of year, filled with family gatherings, endearingly tacky decorations, yule logs, latkes, turtle doves, dradles and an alarming, yet welcome abundance of gifts. But to the prickly, Scrooge McDucks of the world--and moreover, anyone opposed to holiday commercialism--the holiday season is a dystopian nightmare that doesn’t end until you wake up hungover on New Year’s Day. When we see the chilly parking lots surrounding malls filled with shoppers going into debt to buy wares made in Third World countries, the spirit of Christmas seems dead. Only it’s not just dead--its bloated corpse has been roasting in the sun in a remote desert for a few weeks with vultures pecking at it.
Face it: You’re probably not going to get what you want for Christmas this year. You’re just going to end up with a bunch more useless stuff that will be used to crowd your already overstuffed shelves until your next yard sale.