What can't you do at the University of New Mexico next semester? How's the state’s favorite produce doing? Why is Mayor Martin Chavez being called out in a federal lawsuit? Public school students may be able to abstain from ...
Genuine change in our school systems can’t happen until we get honest about education’s ugliest secrets. Namely, the fact that what we call “dropouts” are actually push-outs, force-outs and ignore-outs. And that most schools—and the administrators, teachers and principals that staff them—have no interest whatever in bringing them back in.
Dateline: Australia—Here’s a tip: If you’re huffing gas, try to avoid getting Tasered by the cops. An Aboriginal Australian who had been sniffing gasoline apparently burst into flames after a police officer zapped him with a Taser gun. Ronald Mitchell, who charged at police while brandishing a juice bottle full of fuel, is now recovering in a hospital in Perth. The incident happened in Warburton, an Aboriginal community 950 miles northeast of the city in the state of Western Australia. Cops said they were responding to a complaint at a house when Mitchell, 36, came out of the house and charged them. When he refused to stop, one officer hit him with his Taser. The man was immediately engulfed in flames. The officer threw Mitchell to the ground and extinguished the blaze with his hands. A police spokesperson said Mitchell appeared to have received third-degree burns over about 10 percent of his body.
You can add TromaDance New Mexico to the growing list of local film festivals looking for entries. For the sixth year in a row, this Southwestern spin-off of Lloyd Kaufman’s infamous TromaDance Film Festival—held in Park City, Utah, every January—is returning to Albuquerque’s Guild Cinema. Swing by burningparadise.net to download the official rules and entry form. Festival dates are set for Nov. 20 through 22, but the sooner you start assembling your short- to feature-length Troma-style madness, the better. Deadline for submission is Oct. 16.
Hitting theaters at the apex of the summer movie season, Goodbye Solo represents the precise cinematic antipode of blockbuster, mega-budget, FX-choked fare like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Written and directed by North Carolina-born filmmaker Ramin Bahrani, Goodbye Solo is a microscopic character study involving two people, a taxi cab and precious little else.
Inspiring documentary about corporate farming asks, “Can you swallow the truth?”
By Devin D. O’Leary
There have been a number of films in the last few years (Super Size Me, King Corn, Fast Food Nation) breaking the not-so-shocking news that we, as Americans, aren’t eating very well. But Robert Kenner’s to-the-point documentary Food, Inc. may provide the clearest cinematic answer as to why. This one brings it all home and does so in a whispered, conspiratorial tone that makes you feel like you’re being let in on all the Big Secrets behind the curtain.
The problem with most reality shows is not that they’re populated by idiots, it’s that the formula requires them to be idiots. People always complain that the characters in horror movies are morons who wander off in the middle of the night to get slaughtered by masked killers. Of course, if the characters were smart, locked their doors and survived until some highly competent police officers showed up, we wouldn’t have much of a horror movie. By the same token, if MTV’s “The Real World” was staffed by sober, sane and sexually responsible individuals, you wouldn’t currently be watching Season 22.
A home for new and unorthodox music feathers its nest
By Mel Minter
These are some of the “normal” ways of getting music done. But for adventurous musicians, such everyday forms—even everyday instruments—don’t always serve their artistic impulses. These musical explorers search for new ways to communicate. They also need an audience with whom to share their discoveries.
Enter Mark Weaver, architect, tuba player, and adventurous musician and listener, who wondered how he could help out. His answer: The Roost, a series of “emergent creative music,” says the statement of purpose, “curated with an eye to originality, freshness of approach, and artistic vision.”
The Alibi's annual Haiku Contest is finally here, so you can stop bugging me about it (and calling me Amy while you do so). As always, 10 categories offer you the chance to wax pithy, succinctly. This year, they are:
Our little flock of backyard chickens just started laying, and now I'm looking for a way to cook the eggs that doesn't hide the flavor with spices and vegetables, like a frittata does. I'm looking for a simple recipe that highlights their bright yellow yolks and creamy flavor.
A: Welcome to the world of egg-snobbery. I feel bad for anyone who invites you over for breakfast if they don't have their own flock. Ditto for the restaurant servers who bring you a three-egg breakfast, and anyone else within earshot. Everyone's going to have to listen to how yellow the yolks are in Buttercup's daily masterpieces.
If you’re from the Deep South, the food at Pepper’s might remind you of what you eat at family reunions. But this stuff is probably better. It’s high-end backyard food, at home on paper plates. Rolls of paper towels adorn every table, Kool-Aid flows, there’s a selection of hot sauces and smoke is in the air.
What do you get when you mix banjo, 8-bit Nintendo and karaoke? (Aside from a Missourian out on the town in Japan.) You get programmer/picker Bud Melvin’s LP release for Popular Music.
Bud Melvin creates a solo novelty using the banjo and chiptunes—music produced by older video game and computer systems that generate sound in real time. It’s both retro digital and pastoral, an unlikely combination that interacts with the dynamism of yin and yang. On Sunday, a live collision of Luigi and Jed awaits release party revelers at Ed's Pub, Leisure Bowl's wood-paneled, karaoke-fraught watering hole. The show is free and followed by a night of open karaoke. In the meantime, the Alibi shipped off a few electronic questions to Melvin about the record.
Dateline: Bangladesh—Police in the northern part of the country say they have arrested dozens of swindlers who conned people out of money by calling them on mobile phones and claiming to be genies with supernatural powers. “It has become an epidemic,” Farhad bin Imrul Kayes, police chief of Gobindaganj province told Agence France-Presse. “In the last three months alone we have arrested 24 of these so-called ‘Kings of Genies,’ some of whom have even become rich in just a year.” According to Kayes, the scammers would gather personal information about their victims beforehand, then call them and speak “in a tone similar to Arabic.” Claiming to be genies who had descended from the sky, the scammers would demand money, threatening a family tragedy if the victims did not pay up. In addition to rattling off detailed family information, the callers would recite passages from the Quran. Police in Gobindaganj used phone taps to catch the scammers after receiving numerous complaints.
The public is invited to attend a public screening for the Institute of American Indian Arts’ Summer Television and Film Workshop. The six-week workshop was held in collaboration with Disney/ABC Television and featured work by 12 Native American students from across the country. Six short films were produced, including “Love’s Story,” “The Confession,” “Doc O’Mine,” “Kokopelli,” “First Impressions” and “Torn Emotions.” The free screening of these films will take place Friday, July 24, at the Library and Technology Center at IAIA’s College of Contemporary Native Arts (83 Avan Nu Po in Santa Fe).
An interview with underground filmmaker Jon Moritsugu
By Devin D. O’Leary
Do-it-all, DIY filmmaker Jon Moritsugu has a body of work that floats somewhere in the artistic ether between the pop art obsessions of Andy Warhol and the trashy aesthetics of John Waters. Shooting often on grungy 16mm film stock to a punk rock soundtrack, Moritsugu has built a résumé that runs the gamut from early experimental shorts (“Der Elvis,” “Sleazy Rider”) to feature-length cult curiosities like 1990’s My Degeneration, 1993’s Terminal USA, 1994’s Mod Fuck Explosion, 1997’s Fame Whore and 2002’s Scumrock. As he bounced between Hawaii (where he was born), San Francisco (where he had his most productive years) and the Seattle area (where he most recently resided), Moritsugu became a key figure in something some journalist dubbed the “West Coast Independent” movement.
I’ve been a fan of man-vs.-nature flicks ever since I saw Henry Silva get his ass eaten by a giant gator in John Sayles’ magnificent and appropriately named exploitation flick Alligator. As a kid, I ate a steady diet of these films—movies featuring fearsome creatures just itching to take a bite out of our hides. My interest would be especially piqued if these creatures dwelled underwater. The idea that something ferocious is living just beyond our view is a fear that resonates with all of us. My fave, of course, is Jaws. But a multitude of Jaws knockoffs such as Orca: The Killer Whale, Piranha (another John Sayles classic!) and Tentacles still hold a warm place in my darkened heart. And then there is the gloriously goofy, blatantly racist piece of cinematic trash known as The Big Alligator River. Now, don’t get me wrong; I mean “trash” in the best way possible.
There was a time when the legendary San Diego Comic-Con was all about comic books. That was, of course, before films like X-Men, Spider-Man and Batman Begins took comic books mainstream. In the last eight years, Hollywood has co-opted the annual event, turning the four-day geek fest into a movie industry publicity machine par excellence. This year, though, television seems to be taking over the convention (scheduled Thursday, July 23, through Sunday, July 26). If you aren’t already planning on going (all 140,000 tickets sold out months ago), here’s a peek at what you’re missing.
Siblings Pascal and Lauren Balthrop are living the small-town life.
They walk nearly everywhere they go, stopping to say hello to people they recognize on the street. They chat with store owners who know them by name and socialize at the neighborhood coffee shop where all their friends hang out.
The sonically and visually talented Bud Melvin agreed to share photos taken on his Game Boy Camera. Here’s a selection hand-picked by us. To see more, click here, and link to more photos at the bottom of each page.
An interview with Charles MacKay, General Director of the Santa Fe Opera
By Steven Robert Allen
John Crosby, the founder of the Santa Fe Opera (SFO), was a bona fide visionary. The SFO was—and, in many ways, still is—his wailing baby. His brilliant idea to construct an open-air opera house in the middle of the desert Southwest has had a profound and lasting impact on New Mexico’s image of itself. Yes, we live in the sticks, but we can always point to that funky spaceship opera house on the hill as proof of the existence of hoity culture in New Mexico.
Because it was Bastille Day, a guest wandered into the kitchen and serenaded the cooks with "La Marseillaise," the national anthem of France. Outside the insulated walls of Café Jean Pierre, the sun beat down on a maze of interconnected parking lots and the Century Rio megaplex. But inside, it was Paris.
It is gazpacho season. Don't know if you've ever noticed, but very few recipes as simple as "buy vegetables, blend and chill" inspire such strong preferences as this iconic cold soup. (We give props to the oil-laden, paprika-orange smoothie variety over the chunky salsa in a bowl style, but hey, that's just us.)
It was sometime after midnight, and a steady, cold rain was falling. Thunder broke above the mountain ridge, seemingly only feet above my tent. Neither the stormy symphony nor the pillow wrapped around my head came close to muffling the combined thumps of more than 100 drums that climbed to a rhythmic cacophony and filled every space in the dark pine forest. Pounding endlessly day and night, hundreds of calloused hands struck the stretched skins, hammering out a sort of heartbeat. It rose and fell, slowed and quickened collectively. At times it was almost gentle and timid; then, without warning, it built to a frantic pace. Regardless of the tempo, the primitive palpitation always sounded as though it was seeking something out. It never ceased.
Bassist Matt Brewer comes home to open the fourth annual festival
By Mel Minter
A prophet may have no honor in his own country, but a bassist is a different story. Matt Brewer, who spent his formative years here but now resides in New York City, has the honor of opening the Albuquerque end of the 2009 New Mexico Jazz Festival at the Outpost Performance Space, and he’s bringing players who are helping to shape a new generation of jazz.
Sputniq releases an album and embarks on a tour. The Oktober People, Zagadka and Reighnbeau do their part to flood Winning Coffee Co. with reverb on Friday, July 17. $3 donation. Creatures of all ages welcome. (Laura Marrich)
CiRQ Gallery took over the former Sol Arts building at 712 Central SE and opened its doors in February 2009. "We're trying to show contemporary artists, often with edgy themes and ways of presentation," says gallery co-founder David Hampton. "We're looking for new blood, to introduce newer artists to the scene and bring Albuquerque alternatives to the typically Southwestern style, landscape art." The result is a gallery representing Albuquerque art with a distinctly urban streak.
July is hot; unbearably, blisteringly hot. Though I'm a New Mexico native, I'm not made to endure this kind of heat. Composed entirely of recessive genes, my body and mind are breaking under this thermal assault. And don't even get me started about sunshine. Some people get depressed by rainy weather; I get depressed by heat and sun. In order to counter the effects of this potentially debilitating season, this week's Culture Shock is focused on me and things I like. Once someone out there can arrange for it to be overcast and 72 degrees, I'll think about you. For now, it's too hot to be considerate.
Albuquerque's homegrown comedy superduo The Pajama Men, along with musician Luminous Craft, recently returned from a six (or so) month tour of the U.S., Europe and Australia, where they slew audiences with their particular blend of physical and surrealist humor. They won a ton of awards and shamed the comedy world with their clear superiority and impeccable hygiene. Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez left their jammies at home to meet the Alibi for a vegetarian brunch and interview.
Scanning the room Sunday night at the 48 Hour Film Project party, I flashed back to a conversation I had about the contest with someone close to the now dormant Duke City Shootout (DCS), the original Big Dog of run-and-gun filmmaking contests, which started in 1999.
Dateline: Poland—According to England’s The Sun newspaper, a Polish woman has filed a lawsuit against an Egyptian hotel claiming that her teenage daughter got mysteriously pregnant after using the facility’s swimming pool. Magdalena Kwiatkowska claims her 13-year-old daughter became inseminated thanks to a stray sperm swimming around the hotel’s mixed-sex pool. The teen allegedly returned from a vacation in Egypt pregnant, and Kwiatkowska says her daughter certainly did not meet or fraternize with any boys while in Egypt. Tourist authorities in Warsaw confirmed the complaint. The knocked-up teen’s mother is seeking unspecified compensation from the hotel.
Matthew McDuffie, an instructor in the Dramatic Writing Program at UNM and a professional screenwriter, is hosting another series of one-day workshops for filmmakers and storytellers looking to sharpen their writing chops. Classes are scheduled for July 18 and 25 and will cover the foundations of screenwriting: mechanics of plot and development of storyline. Participants are encouraged to bring ideas, as the goal will be to create a complete outline of a film by day’s end. The workshops will be held at KNME studios in Albuquerque from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost is $125. Call 385-1323 or write to email@example.com for information and reservations.
Documentary filmmaker Kirby Dick must like lifting trash can lids, looking under rocks and opening doors that most of us would rather leave closed. How else to explain a résumé that includes investigations of psychotherapeutical prostitution (Private Practices: The Story of a Sex Surrogate), genital torture as performance art (Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist), pedophilia in the Catholic church (Twist of Fate) and—perhaps worst of all—the Motion Picture Association of America’s super-secret ratings board (This Film is Not Yet Rated). With his latest cinematic muckraking effort, Dick leaps headfirst into what could be his most controversial subject to date.
The magic doesn’t run dry in Potter’s sixth outing
By Devin D. O’Leary
Given the almost incalculable success of the Harry Potter books and the guaranteed gravy train of subsequent movies, you could easily forgive Warner Brothers for slacking off a bit on the later entries in the film series. You could. But thankfully, you don’t have to.
“Parenthood” Down One Parent—NBC announced last week that its big fall sitcom “Parenthood” would be pushed back to midseason because of an unspecified illness suffered by star Maura Tierney. The show’s sudden move to midseason was done to accommodate an eight-week “medical evaluation” of the actress—which sounds like one hell of an evaluation. Shortly after “rehab” rumors began to fly, Tierney annouced that she is having a tumor removed from her breast. ” Tierney’s past credits include “NewsRadio” and “ER.”
It’s rare that Mexican food reminds me of my Jewish mother’s cooking, but that’s what happened with a bowl of albóndigas at Dahlia’s. A mildly aromatic broth crowded with chunks of carrot, celery, zucchini and a single large meatball comprised this bowl of Central Mexican comfort food. The meatball’s almost ethereal texture and mellow, satisfying flavor reminded me of mom’s matzo balls.