Alibi V.19 No.1 • Jan 7-13, 2010

Double Zero Fiction

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is awarded each year to an American author whose book in some way captures the spirit of American life. Early in 2009, I wondered what sort of snapshot of the U.S. one could develop by reading each of this past decade's winners. So I did. And what did America look like in the Aughts?

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Picture-Writing

For adults fond of pictures and art accompanying their reading, there is the graphic novel—what Daniel Clowes calls a "marketing moniker" in his depressingly hilarious 2005 book Ice Haven. "Are comics a valid form of expression?," he asks. "The jury's still out, I'm afraid. There exists for some an uncomfortable impurity in the combination of two forms of picture-writing (i.e. letter shapes that form 'words') while to others it's not that big a deal." The past decade saw abundant excellence in adult comic books. Below are a selection of 10 critics' favorites, volumes which also come with the Alibi seal of approval. In alphabetical order:

A Decade’s Detritus

What America watched, heard, said, read, ate and died from in the first 10 years of the 2000s

Take a bow, 2000 to 2009 A.D. You’ve given this millennium one hell of a first act to follow. Here in the U.S., the decade brought terrorism, biblical floods and two wars—the sort of hardships we always assumed (or pretended) we were exempt from. We no longer have the luxury of that thinking. Yet the decade also ushered some of our wildest dreams into reality—medical and technological breakthroughs that are redefining life as we know it, and a president whose election changed the very face of politics.

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Culture Shock

Albuquerque Little Theatre, now celebrating its 80th season, shakes up its reliable formula with Sundays @ 6, a series of programs that will bring together music, poetry, comedy and more. For $6 this Sunday, Jan. 10, at 6 p.m., check out the Dynamite Gang and its assured handling of a range of genres from the '60s to now. ALT is located at 224 San Pasquale SW. For info, call 242-4750 or go to albuquerquelittletheatre.org.

The Crystal Ball

Albuquerque’s visual arts in 2010

As we reflect on the breathtaking accomplishments of Albuquerque’s visual artists and arts organizations in 2009, at the works produced and the circumstances weathered, we marvel at the very thought of what the upcoming year holds. Lamentably, reliable clairvoyants are hard to find these days, so we can do little more than imagine how our art community will stun us in 2010. Unless, of course, community members tell us. Which is just what they did. Here’s what we discovered ...

Best in Arts of 2009

Because science continues to lag behind my imagination,the consciousness-splitting self-cloning device is years away from completion, making it very difficult for any one person to experience all of the art Albuquerque has to offer. That's why any "best of" list of mine is going to be incomplete, at best. Still, it's worth a look back. Here are just a few of the notable events, exhibits, people and organizations of 2009.

food

The Year in Food

As 2009 closes, most of the highlights in the food realm could be framed in the context of two competing paradigms that have clashed for much of the decade. In one corner we have big food: factory farms, fast food restaurants, mystery meat, biotechnology and other examples of the economics of scale applied to food. In the other corner, small food: farmers markets, ecology-based agriculture, seasonal diets of minimally processed food, locavores, etc.

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Best and Worst of 2009

The year in New Mexico drugs, murders, scandals and achievements

Best: U.S. Attorney General Tells Feds to Lay Off State-Licensed Growers and Patients

No-Bid Business

The Council clicked its way through business at the Monday, Jan. 4 meeting. New Councilors Michael Cook and Dan Lewis are still keeping pretty quiet but are starting to ask questions and express opinions.

Were the Aughts Really So Bad?

So, have you pulled your head out of your Oh, I am so glad that decade is over, everything was terrible, the world is coming to an end pity potty? Not yet? Then please spare the rest of us. If yes, or better yet, if you never went there in the first place, good on you. Be a shining light, will you?

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Maryland—A homeless man tried to leave the town of Frederick by stealing a single-engine aircraft at a municipal airport, but he crashed before reaching the end of the runway. Calvin C. Cox, 51, wanted to fly away from Frederick early last Monday morning but ended up in jail on felony charges of theft, burglary and trespassing. Cox was unhurt when the Piper Super Cub ran off a runway at Frederick Municipal Airport and upended in the grass around 2:15 a.m. A canine team tracked him into nearby woods where he was arrested. “He was familiar with aircraft, but I don’t believe he was proficient in the operation of aircraft,” Frederick Police Lt. Clark Pennington told reporters.

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Reel World

Comic and collectable toy shop Astro-Zombies in Nob Hill is hosting an awesome “Nightmare After Christmas” event this Saturday, Jan. 9. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., cult actor Sid Haig will be at the store meeting his fans and signing autographs. You can buy photos, figures and DVDs at the store and get them signed for free. If you bring your own stuff, there is a small fee. Recent cult film converts will recognize Haig from his work on Rob Zombie’s films—appearing as the creepy killer Captain Spaulding in House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects and doing some fine cameo work in the Halloween remake. Quentin Tarantino is also a fan, having cast Haig in both Jackie Brown and Kill Bill: Vol. 2. Longtime watchers of the weird have seen him in dozens of TV shows (including a fun run as the villainous Dragos on “Jason of Star Command”) and a string of memorable ’70s exploitation flicks with director Jack Hill (Spider Baby, The Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage, Coffy, Foxy Brown). Astro-Zombies promises this is just the first of many special in-store appearances slated for 2010. Astro-Zombies is located at 3100 Central SE.

TV Extremes

The best and worst of 2009

The Best

Torchwood: Children of EarthBBC America has become a far more reliable source for fine science fiction than SyFy Channel. Look no further than the invigorated and chart-topping run of “Doctor Who.” (R.I.P. David Tennant, we’ll miss you something awful.) The only reason I’m not putting the good Doctor on “The Best” list is because the “Doctor Who” spin-off “Torchwood” gave us this unforgettable mini-series in 2009. It posited an alien invasion of Earth—but in a way I’ve never seen before. This invasion wasn’t some explosion-filled War of the Worlds story, but rather a frighteningly realistic diplomatic scenario in which Earthly politicians willingly struck a Faustian bargain with some creeeepy alien overlords.

music

Top Ten Country Songs Of The Decade

“Oh, Changalang, Y'all" by the Changalang Gang

"Corndogs" by the Nashville Bullies

"Ain't No We In We Need A Dirt Bike" by Amanda

"You Coulda at Least Told Mama" by Crybaby Keith

"And Your Blouse, M'Lady?" by Brant Cobbler

"Google My Horse" by Todd Globb

"Go-Kart for Bobby" by Yearn Heart

"Frozen Dogwater Boogie" by the Keggers

Cerebral Wax

DJ Rob Swift Cuts it up, symphony style

What Ludwig Beethoven is to a piano, DJ Rob Swift is to a set of turntables. The award-winning DJ’s career spans more than two decades. Raised in Queens during what many refer to as the golden age of hip-hop, Swift was exposed to graffiti writing, break-dancing, MC-ing and DJ-ing in their rawest forms.

Flyer on the Wall

Nothing wrong with a little emo babe-age every now and then, no sir. Although, personally I’m quite a bit more excited about the black-and-white checkered floor. On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Diverside, In The End, TransfRictioN and Red Letter F bring the metal (and possibly a little gangsta clown punk) to the Launchpad beginning at 9:30 p.m.—doors open at 8 p.m. Cover charge is $4. This 21-and-over show is not for the young’ins. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)

Top 10 Indie Rock Songs of the Decade

To some, indie rock is an aesthetic, something between Sonic Youth and Pavement that’s only played by people with mop-tops, ringer T-shirts and cans of Pabst atop their amplifiers. Others might take the genre literally as music recorded and performed by musicians not affiliated with major labels. Whatever your definition, here are 10 tracks from the past 10 years that continue to amaze.

Alibi V.18 No.53 • Dec 31-Jan 6, 2009

The Next Decade of Sound

As the aughts are filed away in the annals of time, we look to the future and consider what’s to come in the next decade. What will it sound like?

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The Odds & Ends Awards

Odds & Ends, the Alibi’s weekly column of strange news from around the world, is among the most popular features of our paper. It gives even our dysfunctional and maladjusted readers a chance to feel holier-than-thou. Sure, you might have gotten hammered last night and drunk-dialed your ex, but at least you didn't try (and fail) to run over your wife with a dumptruck like that idiot in Maine.

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Reel World

So we bid a fond farewell to 2009, a year of Transformers, Avatar and more 3-D computer-animated cartoons than you could shake a Twizzler at. But what will the futuristic world of 2010 hold, cinema-wise? Let’s gaze into the crystal ball and see which treasures await us at the cineplex in the next 12 months. ... I hope you like remakes and sequels!

The Yes Men Fix the World

Merry pranksters 2.0

Two guys in an undisclosed location create counterfeit websites of real corporations. If this sounds like part of an identity theft scheme, well, it is. But instead of phishing for your personal information, the pranksters, known as The Yes Men, quietly wait until they’re invited to industry conferences and television studios. Once there, The Yes Men steal (or at least borrow) the identities of multinational corporations like Halliburton, Exxon and Dow Chemical.

Ballers

New Year’s Eve around the dial

Who needs friends when you can get drunk New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest? Or ring in 2010 with Carson Daly? Or watch the ball drop alongside Carmen Electra?

music

I Hear the Sadness Holler

Long before punks turned to Americana, local Hazeldine (née Blister) played the finest y’allternative music on bills with hard rockin’ Burque outfits like Elephant and the Drags. Hazeldine held its own. After an especially hot set you’d feel pleasantly washed-out, as if you’d just seen a raucous punk show.

Flyer on the Wall

While many are doomed to stumble around pouring cheap Champagne all over their lumpy bodies while dodging falling ammunition, you have the opportunity to spend New Year’s Eve with some of the koolest and most artful Albuquerque citizens. The Scrams, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Raven Chacon, Sorority and DJ Caterwaul perform Thursday, Dec. 31, at Wonderbread (1016 Coal SW). Festivities begin at 9 p.m. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)

Song Roulette

As a graphic artist, animator, toast-lover and member of the Alibi’s art department, Jeff Drew is a man of many hats—metaphorically and literally. When he’s not making art or analyzing the quality of various Downtown sandwiches, he makes jams under the name Caribou Music. He also has an excellent personal playlist series entitled Found Objects. Below is a sample of Drew’s shuffled tunes.

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Baby Blues

A same-sex couple's quest for a child

Tamara and Joanna thought they'd already be in Albuquerque, fixing up the home they own, nesting with a newborn. Instead, their attempts to have a baby drained away tens of thousands of dollars. "Here we are, $40,000 or so down the line, and nothing to show for it," Tamara says. "That's hard."

Answer Me This

You, too, can be a star. What does Denzel eat when he's in town? Who's out of step with environmental health codes, according to the city? Why are a couple of South Valley kids bummed out?

A Surplus of Bravery in the Capital

Beware the paper patriots. Beware those wearing flag pins on their lapels and calling for war while risking nothing. Their voices are shrill and strident. They drape themselves in the flag, pound the podium and sneer at the cowards in the crowd. But take away the flag, strip them to the flesh, and beneath their creased suits you will find no battle scars, no indication that their mortal form has ever known the hazards of war. Beneath the flag you will find only the jelly flesh of the bean counter, the war profiteer. It is the soft flesh of the grub. Some of these grubs ascend to high levels of government, even that of the presidency.

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Culture Shock

Though it’s still winter break for some, there are plenty of artists who can’t sit still. ADD? Nah (well, not diagnosed, anyway). Think of it as creative urges that refuse to be contained. Why usher in 2010 in the usual way, nursing an Irish car bomb hangover while watching a Smokey and the Bandit marathon, when you can greet the new year with new art? Lucky for you, this weekend is a perfect time to do just that.

The Ethical Slut

An interview with an alternative lifestyle pioneer

It comes up at parties. It’s frequently referenced in alternative lifestyle 101 classes. It has changed countless lives, saved numerous relationships and ignited new ones. What resource do we speak of? None other than the groundbreaking book The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy. Published in 1997, The Ethical Slut gave language to a practice that many people had been participating in, some blindly, for generations—polyamory. The Ethical Slut is a guidebook to what consensual, ethical, non-monogamy can be, and outlines how to do it in a logical, practical way. Needless to say, when the new edition of the book came out this past year many people were ecstatic, but nowhere near as ecstatic as we were when Easton agreed to participate in a virtual interview with the Alibi. She found some time on a trip to Europe to answer a few questions.

food

Ask Ari

Q: In a recent cold snap my garlic and winter squash harvest froze in my unheated garage. It remains frozen. Is this a bad thing? If so, what can I do to salvage/preserve what's left of it?

The Hunting Hangover

What hunting and your appendix have in common

The propensity to hunt is like the appendix—built into every one of us, although unnecessary for modern-day survival. Unlike the appendix, the hunting habit can't be so easily removed. This is a good thing.

Alibi V.18 No.52 • Dec 24-30, 2009

Psychic Predictions, Past and Future

The Alibi's resident skeptic places a few bets

It’s that time of year again: thick morning frost on the windshield, flickering luminarias along adobe walls and psychic predictions for the upcoming year.

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Leader of the Pack

A new director helms Albuquerque’s animal shelters

Albuquerque’s new mayor, Richard Berry, walked into his 11th-floor office for the first time on Dec. 1. But that Tuesday wasn’t just Berry’s first day on the job. It was also Day 1 for all of his city appointments, including Barbara Bruin, the head of the city’s two animal shelters.

Council Bite

City Councilors zipped through the city’s Monday, Dec. 21 business, bringing the last meeting of 2009 to a close in less than two hours.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Germany—Two Germans ended up in the hospital after a supermarket battle involving cold cuts. The fight took place in the western city of Aachen when a 74-year-old man and a 35-year-old woman tried to take possession of the same shopping cart. As the elderly man wrestled the cart from the hands of his rival, the woman’s 24-year-old brother stepped forward and decked him with a punch. The brother and sister, along with their 53-year-old mother, took their four-wheeled spoils of war into the store. But the defeated pensioner followed them to the deli counter where he snatched up a tube of salami and started clubbing the younger man. Thinking fast, the 24-year-old’s mother grabbed a sharp, 4-pound wedge of Parmesan and used it to fend off the meaty blows of the salami. At some point during the food fight, the 53-year-old woman was knocked over, hitting her head on the deli’s glass countertop. Police eventually arrived to break up the melee. Two of those involved were treated in at a local hospital for minor injuries. According to London’s Daily Telegraph, the trolley was undamaged.

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Culture Shock

Though this week of the year—the filling in our Christmas and New Year’s cookie sandwich—is brimming with social engagements, there’s little in the way of public performances. It’s a hard time to be an arts writer, especially when one of the only events happening this week includes said arts writer, a writer who’s terribly uncomfortable with self-promotion (the event rhymes with Schmurch of Schmetoven; that’s all I’ll say).

The Code Talkers

Fire department calls Burque theaters on safety issues

Lt. Skip Navarrette wants citizens to know that the Albuquerque Fire Department’s primary aim is education: the prevention of injury and loss of life through shared information, community awareness, and general understanding of safety rules and regulations. And he embodies this objective. Though his regular workweek spans Monday through Thursday, Navarrette volunteered his Saturday morning in the name of comprehension. But the lesson is neither as catchy, nor as straightforward, as “stop, drop and roll.”

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Reel World

Typing your name into Yahoo or Google or Bing or whatever the kids use to search the InterWebs these days isn’t simply a vainglorious way to waste time at work. It’s also a helpful tool to measure your worth in today’s post-Twitter world. Plus, it’s a good way to keep track of any crazy stalkers who are blogging about you and your sleep habits.

Sherlock Holmes

Reboot of literary classic plays fast and loose but remains reverent

The cinematic watchword for 2009 was “reboot.” For better or worse, Hollywood has been cautiously rebooting film series for a few years now (James Bond, Batman, The Pink Panther, Halloween). But in 2009, the movie industry started rebooting the hell out of stuff. We got all-new, updated, reimagined versions of Friday the 13th, The Last House on the Left, Sorority Row, Star Trek, Terminator, Land of the Lost, The Taking of Pelham 123, G.I. Joe, Fame, Astro Boy and A Christmas Carol. The latest major character to get a ground-up spit-shine is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's immortal “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes.

Beats Staring at a Yule Log

Christmas Eve around the dial

The majority of Americans spend Christmas Eve with family—trimming the tree, roasting some large dead bird and hanging the stockings by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there. The rest of us just fritter it away at a dive bar drowning our seasonal depression in cheap whiskey and Hank Williams songs. Either way, nobody’s watching a lot of TV. But if you feel the need to turn to your old friend the Idiot Box this Dec. 24, here’s what you can expect to find.

music

Music to Your Ears

A tiny uproar erupted in web-o-land last week when the dubiously monikered Rock and Roll Hall of Fame named its 2010 inductees: Genesis, The Hollies, Jimmy Cliff, The Stooges and ABBA. Euro-pop act ABBA received an abundance of ire (yet few complained about Genesis, eww), the big gripe being that ABBA, a glam-pop group, got the honor, while glam-rock group KISS failed to be inducted. It was like the ’70s all over again with former teenage boys flying "Disco Sucks" flags all over the Internet.

Blue Bar

Low Spirits haunts the building that once housed Bear Assets

On Friday night the bar was comfortably full, populated by a crowd teeming with baby boomers and twentysomethings alike. Despite the place’s given name, everyone seemed to be feeling festive, there to take in a little local blues, have a drink and maybe a dance.

food

El Pollo Real

Real Colombian cuisine

With a name like El Pollo Real (which astute readers will recognize as meaning The Royal Chicken), you’d expect chicken to reign supreme. Instead, the restaurant is more democracy than monarchy, where chicken—crispy, juicy, falling-off-the-bone tender and full of smoky charbroiled flavor—is represented without dominating the menu.

The Pleasures of Cooking for One

Here’s an idea for singles: Instead of spending lonely evenings dining on beer and canned tamales, head out to your local high-end grocers for some duck fat, veal broth and San Marzano tomatoes. And while you’re at it, pick up a copy of Judith Jones’ newest cookbook, The Pleasures of Cooking for One, so those ingredients will make sense to you.