Alibi V.18 No.4 • Jan 22-28, 2009

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The Land of Disenchantment

New Mexico’s ongoing problem with government corruption and what can be done to fix it

Have you heard this story already? A couple weeks ago, Gov. Bill Richardson announced he wouldn’t be taking the post of U.S. commerce secretary due to a federal investigation into the possible connection between campaign contributions and lucrative state contracts awarded to a California company called CDR. Ever since the story broke, I’ve heard some version of the same question over and over again: Is New Mexico the most corrupt state in the country? Is it in the top three? Are New Mexico politicians all crooks? Why haven’t our elected officials done anything serious to address these scandals?

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Answer Me This

How much does a lawsuit say the state lost in another pay-to-play scandal? What's in New Mexico's cocaine? How much water did the citizens of Albuquerque use in 2008? What has a manager at a Hyundai car dealership been accused of?

Insider Satire

State senator partners with Working Classroom to chop legislators down to size

In the ancient tradition of making fun of politicians, Eric Griego and his communications director, Sharon Kayne, penned a script about the 2009 Legislature. Sen. Griego moonlights as a stand-up comic, and his view from the belly of the beast looking out sharpens this play's edge. No one escapes, not Republicans, not Democrats, not SunCal, not the deficit.

Making Sausage

Legislators were rolling up their sleeves last week, ready to get elbow-deep in the greasy bill-making process of the 60-day huddle. It happens every other year and yields the most new laws for New Mexico. Before the session even began, plenty of measures were posted in advance. The Alibi will bore into the insides of the session and pick out the most interesting bits for you here every week. But first ...

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Serbia—An armed robber was arrested after he held up a bank—and then returned minutes later to pay off his overdraft fees with the money he had just acquired. The man ran into the Kredi Bank in the Serbian ski resort Nova Varos wearing a ski mask and brandishing a shotgun. He demanded tellers hand over all the cash they had. The man got away with more than nearly $50,000 in cash. Staff were still recovering from the shock when the man—minus the ski mask—walked back in to settle his overdraft. Sharp-eyed staff recognized the distinctive red tennis shoes he was wearing and called police. The man, aged 33, was arrested and charged with armed robbery.

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Earwin IV

An interview with the Alibi's fourth Earwig playlist winner

Screen Name: chaseypoo

Real Name: Chase Carter

American Gothic

David Eugene Edwards' Wovenhand

Former 16 Horsepower frontman David Eugene Edwards has been a murky American music figure for approaching two decades. Having begat a genre that could be considered alt.country, indie rock, Christian music or, at the same time, none of the above, the Denver-based artist just released his fifth album under the Wovenhand epithet. In support of Ten Stones, Edwards pays New Mexico a visit this week, playing as a three-piece with Pascal Humbert on bass and Ordy Garrison on drums. We rang him up on the old horn for a chat.

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Reel World

Basement Films will host a special one-night-only touring show featuring a fine selection of modern experimental films. Channeling: An Invocation of Spectral Bodies & Queer Spirits is a collection of film and video programs curated by Latham Zearfoss and Ethan White. Both curators will be on hand for the screening at Guild Cinema on Thursday, Jan. 22, at 9:45 p.m. The 68-minute program features a mixture of digital video, saturated 8mm, home movies, animation, greenscreen and more. The works in this program take a personal approach in dealing with the political and historical problems that haunt the queer experience: the AIDS pandemic, the body in transition, the idealized nuclear family and the narrow cultural standards of desirability. Among the artists represented are Vanessa Renwick, Elliot Montague, Shana Moulton, Michael Robinson and John Di Stefano. Admission is only $5. For more details, log on to channelingqueerspirits.wordpress.com.

Revolutionary Road

Heavy drama paints marital strife in shades of midcentury modern

Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes continues his rumination on repression in suburbia (started in 1999’s American Beauty) with Revolutionary Road. That isn’t quite as big a headline grabber as “Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet reunite for the first time since Titanic.” But the truth of the matter is, those who come to the theater looking to recapture the heart-swelling romance of Titanic are going to be sorely disappointed—shocked even. On the other hand, those hoping for an even more soul-crushing dissection of the American Dream than the one depicted in American Beauty are on the right track.

A Christmas Tale

Apparently families suck no matter what the nationality

In reviewing Nothing Like the Holidays some months ago, I remarked that holiday-centric dysfunctional family dramas are best enacted by large, ethnic progeny. “If the family must be Caucasian,” I wrote, “at least make them a colorful Southern clan.” Mere weeks later and someone’s already trying to amend my rules.

Science Fiction

“Look Around You” on Cartoon Network

You can argue over whether Cartoon Network’s recent move toward more non-animated entertainment (“Goosebumps,” “Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace,” “Tim and Eric, Awesome Show, Great Job!”) is a good thing or a bad thing. Or you could just shut up and enjoy the laughs you’re given. Cartoon Network’s latest Sunday night Adult Swim addition is a fine example. “Look Around You” is a welcome BBC import largely devoid of animation but perfectly suited for CN’s block of mature, late-night weirdness.

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Culture Shock

While listening to “Studio 360” on the radio this morning (thank you, 89.1 KANW, for the awesomeness of your a.m. programming), I heard an interview with the poet Dana Gioia, departing chairperson for the National Endowment for the Arts. The program centered on artists' recommendations and wish lists for President Obama (say it with me, it's not a dream). Artists of all stripes are excited by the possibilities of this new administration; a commander in chief who confessed to not being a big reader has been replaced by one who is photographed with books of poetry tucked under his arm, his hands being full with BlackBerrys. It's become rote to say that America doesn't privilege art, but that's not necessarily endemic to our national character. Aside from Roosevelt's WPA program, Eisenhower recognized the importance of “soft diplomacy,” one that privileged cultural exchange, necessitating the development of our own artistic culture. Both Kennedy and Johnson were fierce proponents of arts funding as part of initiatives toward the realization of the New Frontier and Great Society. By the '80s, however, art had come to be seen as extraneous, or worse, un-American. My hard-earned tax dollars for a crucifix in a bottle of piss? Hell, no!

A Necessary History of Beautiful Things

Nancy Benson’s New Mexico Colcha Club: Spanish Colonial Embroidery and the Women Who Saved It

When the first settlers made their way from Spain to what is now New Mexico in the early 1600s, they brought with them the essentials: sheep, seeds and fine embroidery. Embroidered textiles in some permutation or another are a part of nearly every culture, and New Mexico’s traditional embroidery, known as colcha, sprang from the detailed work found in Europe and hauled over an ocean to New Spain.

Pins and Needles

Albuquerque tattoo artists unite

The way Noel Ortiz gushes about the tattoo culture in Albuquerque, you’d think his body was covered in ink.

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Namaste

Divine from beginning to end

Namaste,” says a small woman in a voice two decibels above a whisper. She pulls herself out of a shallow bow, her hands joined together as if in prayer. She opens her hands, gestures to a small, humble dining room and leads us to a white-clothed table, then disappears to get drinks.

Booze Infused

Like discoveries in other experimental fields, the ones that happen in the kitchen are often rooted in mistakes. When way too many black peppercorns got dumped into hot oil for a pre-bean-fry, it seemed they were lost. What to do with a pile of soggy, greasy peppercorns?

Alibi V.18 No.3 • Jan 15-21, 2009

Week One

The PJs (street name) open the festival with their trademark wit and sleepwear before heading off to New York and London to light up those dull burgs.

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We All Want to Change the World

Tricklock’s ninth annual Revolutions International Theatre Festival

The 21st century opened optimistically enough. If the previous two centuries were characterized by imperialism and oppression, then maybe the 21st would bring a close to all of that. America would guide as the sole, and benevolent, superpower. And the Internet! The bright star of a democratized future! It would surely be used only for important things. Yes, there was the discord stemming from Al Gore’s election as president, yet not becoming president. But with such tantalizing new promise offered by the dawn of a new century, how badly could things turn out?

Week Two

Written by Juli Hendren, directed by Summer Olsson, with dramaturgy by Elsa Menendez. The story of an Earth Liberation Front member whose actions are labeled eco-terrorism but may be something more.

Week Three

Emmy winner Overton has long mined the political landscape for satirical treasures. Laughing at the powerful has often been dangerous (shout out to my Smothers Brothers), and the Free Speech Comedy Series seeks to provide a stage for speaking truth to power while making at least several audience members pee their pants.

Festival FAQs

How long is the festival?
Revolutions began with a kick-off party on Jan. 13 and continues through Jan. 31.

How international are we talking?
Performers from four countries are represented, but the styles they embody number much higher.

Where is it taking place?

news

Answer Me This

Mayor _____? What is the governor proposing to take a swing at with his budget-trimming ax? How many part-timers do state colleges and universities keep on the rosters? A lead in a 10-year-old murder case may come from ...

2030 Challenge

How Ed Mazria plans to change our homes ... and the world

The new session of Congress is poised to pass another stimulus bill, one that will pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the ailing economy. The trick will be getting legislators to agree on who gets the money. Edward Mazria, a Santa Fe architect, says he’s presented the Obama transition team with a proposal that benefits all Americans instead of giving more cash to financiers.

Domestic Partnership Bills Get a Second Wind

This year should be different.

That's the motto domestic partnership advocates carry with them as the 60-day legislative session commences on Jan. 20.

For two years, supporters have seen the domestic partnership bill pass the House only to get squashed in the Senate. Many new legislators will head to the capital in 2009, and advocates say several are likely to support the bill. Domestic partnership-friendly lawmakers are replacing senators who were not sympathetic to the cause.

Democratic Rep. Mimi Stewart, who is sponsoring the legislation in the House, says she's optimistic about her bill's odds of survival. "I think we have a better chance of passing it than we did before," Stewart says. "We've increased the number of legislators in both houses who are more open and not tied to outdated, outmoded views."

Thin Line

Behind all the photos of Gov. Bill Richardson frowning as his plans turn to dust, there's another story at the Albuquerque Journal: layoffs.

Pirate Nation

Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist and respected author on the globalization-age economy, wrote about one of the worst aspects of the economic crisis. He wrote that our corporations and financial institutions had turned their backs on those attitudes and values that have always been our hallmarks for success: hard work, prudent investment and careful saving.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: China—Police in the Chinese seaport of Ningbo were called in to settle a lovers’ dispute after a man refused to warm up his girlfriend’s feet. Police officer Xiao Deng said he received two consecutive calls: one from a woman complaining her boyfriend refused to warm her feet, the other from the man saying his girlfriend was too demanding. Xiao went out to the couple’s rental apartment near Ningbo University to try to resolve the conflict but found the couple still engaged in a heated argument, reports Modern Times. “Have you ever seen such a girlfriend? She put her cold legs on my belly, giving me a stomach cramp,” the boyfriend allegedly told the officer. “I asked her to take them away and she said she would only put them there for a short while. I agreed, but after 10 minutes she still had them there, saying it was very comfortable.” Xiao eventually persuaded the boyfriend that it was a man’s job to warm his girlfriend’s feet, but warned the woman not to leave her feet there too long.

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Baby Steps

Q: I have an Oster blender. I paid $29 for it at Wally and it seems the blades stop blending due to things being too thick. What do I do? Add liquid first then fruit or fruit then liquid? Also, which is better for making baby food--a blender or a food processor? The blender is easier to clean.

El Norteño

Still smokin’—and not because of the fire

Long adored by locals for its Mexican (not New Mexican) eats, the summer's smoky demise of El Norteño’s Zuni location was mourned by many. But fear not, the place is back--in the Northeast Heights space vacated by Le Café Miche--to satisfy all your mole and ceviche cravings.

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Reel World

This weekend, Uncanny Entertainment and Third Star Films are proud to present the U.S. premiere of the feature film Jigoku at Guild Cinema in Nob Hill. The film is a giant monster movie set in Japan but features a cast and crew of largely New Mexico-based talent. Writer-director Phillip Hughes, formerly of Albuquerque’s Eat Drink and Be Larry comedy troupe, moved to Okinawa, Japan, several years ago and began work on his debut feature. The story concerns a group of international students on a leadership program in Southeast Asia. Stopping in Okinawa in the wake of a sudden typhoon, the group finds the city deserted. But are they truly alone? Not by a long shot. An eclectic group of actors and crew from New Mexico, New Zealand, England, Canada and Okinawa came together to shoot Jigoku in the summer of 2006. Post-production was based out of New York, while the effects work and musical score were completed in New Mexico.

The Wrestler

Requiem for a Heavyweight with less talk and more rock!

If Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman can be considered the perfect encapsulation of crumbling manhood in ’50s America, then Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler is the ideal contemporary companion piece—an equally crushing dissection of masculinity in free fall. Whereas increasingly impoverished salesman Willy Loman found his American Dream crushed under the weight of post-World War II responsibility, aging pro wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson finds his fame and fortune disintegrating in the post-millennial U.S. of A.

Last Chance Harvey

Hoffman and Thompson bring experience to the “slowmance” genre

Back in 1967, Dustin Hoffman made an indelible impression on cinematic history by crashing a certain wedding in The Graduate. Roughly 42 years later, Hoffman finds himself in a similar matrimonial milieu in Last Chance Harvey. A lot has changed in those 40-odd years, and Last Chance Harvey wisely exploits Hoffman’s well-aged persona.

We’ve Got Big Balls

Inauguration around the dial

Back in November, our nation watched eagerly as Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election. So why wouldn’t we be there for him again, channel-surfing as he’s sworn in as the 44th President of the United States this coming Tuesday? And while we’re at it, why not get the party started early?

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Music to Your Ears

Albuquerque composer and virtuosic oudist Rahim Alhaj calls his newest composition, “Fly Away,” an unusual piece. Its instrumentation—oud and four guitars, including a six-string contrabass—isn’t exactly common on the chamber music scene.

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The Good News

Though we're firmly in the midst of a recession, with the very real possibility of slipping into a full-on depression, that's not all bad. If the last depression is any indicator, some truly amazing art could come out of this time of economic insecurity. So put on your coveralls and join me, won't you, in my Culture Shock time machine for this edition of:

Loud and Proud

Chicana Badgirls: Las Hociconas at 516 Arts

Delilah Montoya says that Chicana Badgirls: Las Hociconas is simply part of her desire to “demonstrate the history of Chicana artists.” A photographer, Montoya co-curated the show at 516 Arts with Laura E. Perez, a professor of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. They noted a legacy of several generations of artists that was largely unknown. “What I wanted to do,” Montoya says, “was bring in those women of the first generation and then the subsequent generations.” The result is a show that sees contemporary Chicana art as the latest permutation of a conversation that began with the civil rights and feminist movements.

Alibi V.18 No.2 • Jan 8-14, 2009

Music to Your Ears

For more than two years, Michael Burke has worked his ass off to provide a place for bands to rock without worrying about pissing off the neighbors.

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Portents and Prognostications

Prophecy is as old as civilization itself. For as long as history has chronicled humanity’s adventures, there have been mythologies, omens and divinations to accompany them. It is in that tradition that we bring you the Alibi’s annual Psychic Predictions issue, where we seek local soothsayers and ask them to impart to you their forecast for the coming year. We’ve gathered two psychics, a medicine man, a tarot reader and a couple of folks from the street to give you their readings. We also tried to glean some knowledge from a Magic 8 Ball.

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Pato Banton

Reggae for your mamma

Pato Banton was born in a home plagued by violence.

When his family separated, Banton and his five siblings were placed in government care. It took more than two years for his mother to get all her children back under one roof. "It wasn't ideal," Banton understates. "There were times I can remember that I went to look for food in the cupboard and there wasn't any."

In those economically oppressive times, Banton found solace in music. "For a young kid in England who didn't really stay in school very often, music was really my only escape," Banton says. "It was what I knew."

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Culture Shock

This Sunday sees a host of interesting literary events that, unfortunately, take place at the same time. Can you make all of them? Probably not, and certainly not without the unethical use of time travel. But go to one, tell friends to go to the others and then celebrate the fact that we're a community that's able to support concurrent readings.

The True History of Coca-Cola in Mexico by Aldo Velasco and Patrick Scott

Directed by Becca HolmesStarring Demet Vialpando and Nick Lopez

Ka-HOOTZ’s first production at Aux Dog is the regional premiere of The True History of Coca-Cola in Mexico, a work Holmes believes is a perfect fit for Albuquerque. It follows two young filmmakers as they travel through Mexico to document what they see as the corrosive influence of American capitalism on Mexican culture. In the process of capturing this exploitation, they themselves exploit a people they know little about beyond assumptions and stereotypes.

So Happy Together

What’s a seven-letter word for collaboration?

Ka-HOOTZ Theatre Company is the brainchild of playwrights Lou Clark and Clareann Despain. After graduating with MFAs from UNM, they realized that the opportunity to have their work staged locally was less than abundant. Clark wanted to create a space for the work she loved, work that was seeing the stage in other cities but was going unproduced here. “How can I make that happen?” she asked. “I'd produced over a hundred new plays in the past five or six years, so I thought if I can do it for all these other people, I can do it for me and I can do it for my friends. Help other like-minded people.” So in 2007, Ka-HOOTZ was born with the mission to “focus on new work by living writers.”

Books To Start Anew

Local librarians and independent booksellers give you the skinny on books to refresh your cold, cold heart

It’s early January, which means you’ve probably identified several areas for self-improvment. But don’t rely solely on yourself to guide you through your reawakening, because let’s face it, you need the help. Thankfully, we have experts to recommend tomes to light the way. Many thanks to all the respondents, who collectively have read approximately 24 million books and have taken the time to help you start your new year off on a hopeful note.

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Sizing up Vilsack

What Obama’s secretary of agriculture pick means for the future of U.S. farming

When former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack's name first surfaced as a possible secretary of agriculture, it triggered an outcry among progressive foodies. The Organic Consumers Association organized a massive campaign in which 20,000 e-mails opposing Vilsack were sent to the Obama transition team.

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Answer Me This

Gov. Bill Richardson does an about-face. What will APS give students who can't pay for lunch? How to stop suicides on the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. What minor crime is the city busting?

Uneasy Breathing

Board members quit over a wheezy clean-air resolution

Two members of the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board say they resigned because the board isn’t doing enough to keep air clean.

Something Old, Something New

The City Council rang in the new year by tackling an agenda loaded with leftovers. While the Council cleared most of its plate at its Jan. 5 meeting, it deferred once again an ordinance that requires the city to phase out and retrofit wasteful toilets and other plumbing fixtures. Chief Administrative Officer Ed Adams said the city owns between 2,500 and 4,700 water-wasting toilets. Councilor Michael Cadigan introduced this idea months ago as part of a broader water conservation measure, but fellow councilors shied from it. So Cadigan split the ordinance into two separate bills, hoping to at least get the water-greedy toilets dealt with by the end of 2009. Council members still balked at the estimated $750 per toilet replacement cost and sent Cadigan and Adams back to get more accurate numbers and a better plan on how to pay for the project.

A Jewish Christmas

We arrived at Laurel's at the stroke of two. Jenn's sister was hosting the second of our two Christmas celebrations. Aside from her mother and half-sister, we would be supping with the exact same people we’d seen 60 minutes earlier at her father’s. I was already exhausted.

I Must Be Psychic

Benjamin Radford’s 2008 predictions

I’ve spent much of the past decade searching in vain for solid evidence of psychic powers, investigating claims of “psychic detectives” who profess to have solved cases and found missing persons. I’ve tested psychics who allege they know the future and communicate with the dead. So far, the evidence has fallen far short of the claims.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Sweden—A 33-year-old man’s attempt to impress his girlfriend backfired when he wound up in the hospital with serious burns. The woman told police in Västervik, in southeastern Sweden, that her boyfriend had poured gasoline over his arm and set it on fire. “It obviously didn’t go well. He burned his arm and other parts of his body and was in a state of shock,” Kalmar police spokesperson Reine Johansson told the TT news agency. “Don’t ask me what the point of the trick was supposed to be.” Following the failed stunt, the unnamed man was taken to a nearby hospital. Police are considering charging the man with negligence that endangers the public.

film

Reel World

This Friday, Jan. 9, the historic El Rey Theater (622 Central SW) will host its monthly Movies and Music party. Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda’s New Mexico-shot counterculture classic Easy Rider (1969) will be screened starting at 8 p.m. Following the film, local jam bands Liquid Gypsy and The Goatheads will perform live. Tickets are $7 at the door. This is a 21-and-over event.

I’ve Loved You So Long

Chilly French drama leaves viewers waiting for the thaw

It’s British actress Kristin Scott Thomas’ face that haunts the Gallic export I’ve Loved You So Long (Il y a longtemps que je t’aime). The film’s poster is a close-framed shot of Thomas’ face, classically beautiful as always, but pale of skin and drained of fathomable emotion. What’s going on in the bottomless well of those eyes? It’s a question that lingers past the movie theater lobby and well into the film at hand.

Ashes of Time Redux

Lovely and confusing art film fights its way back into theaters

Back in 1994, Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai took a stab at creating a new wave wuxia film, a classic martial arts chivalry pic reimagined as abstract art. Wong had just come off a career-defining run of As Tears Go By, Days of Being Wild and Chungking Express (which was actually written, cast, shot and released during a break in Ashes’ lengthy editing process). Nonetheless, Ashes of Time ended up a mostly misunderstood and largely ignored curiosity piece. Wong went on to helm more successful films like Fallen Angels, Happy Together and In the Mood for Love. But something about Ashes of Time stuck with the filmmaker. Now, 15 years after its initial release, Wong has returned to contemplate his noble failure with Ashes of Time Redux.

TV News

Televised tidbits from around the dial

Doctor Who?Producers of the BBC’s revitalized “Doctor Who” series have announced their replacement for current star David Tennant. The 11th actor to take on the role of the time-traveling Doctor is 26-year-old unknown Matt Smith. The gangly, tousle-haired Smith looks like he’s in an emo band, and his hiring could be seen as a rather blatant move to court today’s tween-age Twilight crowd. Producers claim he’s the right man for the job, though, and the strength of the new “Doctor Who” has rested mostly on its clever, up-to-date writing. Unfortunately, the show’s executive producer, Russell Davies, will be leaving the show along with Tennant. Taking over is new head man Steven Moffat (who gave us BBC hits “Coupling” and “Jekyll”). Tennant and Davies took it pretty easy in their last season, delivering a handful of seasonal “specials,” which are expected to air stateside in 2009. The Smith-centric season of “Doctor Who” should hit our airwaves in 2010.