According to Michael Haneke, the kids (plus the parents and basically everyone else in the community) are not alright
By Devin D. O’Leary
Over the course of his controversy-baiting career, Austrian auteur Michael Haneke has created can’t-look-away, punch-to-the-gut films that hover somewhere somewhere between the joyous sadism of Quentin Tarantino and the staunch-yet-demented ethicality of the Brothers Grimm. Pore over Benny’s Video, Code Unknown, The Piano Teacher, Time of the Wolf, Caché and the scabrous Funny Games (both the European and U.S. versions) if you’re up for the challenge. Are these upstanding, heavily moralistic tales about sex and violence and the pop cultural worship thereof, or does Haneke simply love a good wallow in mankind’s seedy, rotten shadow? You tell me.
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.
In the hospitality industry, three-story water slides aren't nearly as common as continental breakfasts. But Arthur Cooper, director of sales and marketing at the newly completed Radisson Hotel & Water Park, says it's a growing trend among hotels.
The Filling Station, a performance space on south Fourth Street established by Mother Road Theatre Company, is looking to sponsor a New Mexico independent film night sometime in June. If you’re a local filmmaker and you’ve got something you’d like to contribute, the deadline for submission is Sunday, May 16. Send your submission to: New Mexico Indie Film Night at The Filling Station, 1024 Fourth SW, Albuquerque N.M. 87102. Submissions should include genre, length, clips/copy/trailer and a summary of the film. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
The networks are getting ready to announce their “upfronts”—that is to say, the new shows we’ll be seeing (maybe) this fall. Question is, which shows are going to be canceled in order to make way for this new prime-time product? While we know a few shows that have already been given the hook—“Better Off Ted,” “Defying Gravity, “Eastwick,” “Scrubs,” “Ugly Betty,” “Three Rivers,” “24,” “Brothers,” “Dollhouse,” “Past Life,” “Sons of Tucson”—many are still sitting on the bubble. That’s industry talk for: We might cancel them, we might not—depends on how badly our new pilots suck. So what’s on this precarious bubble and how much danger are they in? Let’s look.
If you were to lasso the simple, heartfelt punk of Patti Smith, mash it together with droning guitars and send it down the Mississippi river to be peppered with soul, you might end up with Heartless Bastards. The band formed in the mid-aughts in Dayton, Ohio—hometown of Guided By Voices, The Breeders and Brainiac. Heartless Bastards is led by Erika Wennerstrom and distinguished by her voice's deep, velvety, slightly ramshackle qualities. Wennerstrom, who now makes her home in Austin, says she learned to sing by trying to emulate her idols and out popped her own voice.
It was James Hetfield who said, "There's always a new generation of angry young men who latch onto Kill 'Em All," and this was certainly true of the members of Albuquerque’s Anesthesia. The band got its beginnings in the ’90s when guitar player Jake Pacheco and drummer Steve Abeyta met in a middle school science class. Now full-grown adults, the group has been together for 14 years and working with its current lineup, which includes Aaron Bustamante on bass and Nathan Tramontina on guitar, since 2001. Playing in the technically challenging and headbanging-friendly style of traditional thrash metal—see Metallica—the band also sites Pantera and Alice in Chains as among its paramount influences.
New record store is packed with fine deals, fair prices and friendly folks
By Jessica Cassyle Carr
Dear Albuquerque: It is my deepest regret to inform you that there is an excellent new record store in town, and as soon as the collectors read this they will likely go there and buy up all of the precious vinyl that could be mine.
This flyer depicts a 1924 American interpretation of 18th century Europe. The image is accented with colors and fonts that would not have been accepted in either place or time period, and notifies the public that Milch de Máquina and Then Eats Them will perform their respective avant weirdnesses on Friday, May 14, at 8 p.m. This all-ages show costs $5 and takes place at The Kosmos (1715 Fifth Street NW). Also, something about a human sacrifice ... bring popcorn! (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Alex Rose grew up in Santa Fe, played in Albuquerque bands, then moved to Seattle to further his audio engineering career. Our native son has enjoyed a professional music career ever since joining prog / indie rock band Minus the Bear, which stops at the Sunshine Theater this Tuesday in support of Omni (released May 4). In anticipation of the rock that’s to come, here are random selections from his collection—this time with two bonus tracks!
Duke City Derby's skaters are at practice at the Heights Community Center a little early today. A photographer from ABQ Sportsmagazine is on hand to take photos, and even though he’s the one with the camera, it's the roller girls who direct the shoot. “We're all going to shake our faces,” a beskated player in the front row tells the photographer. “You'll have about a two-second window to take the picture.” Without further instruction, each skater madly shakes her head, and the photographer snaps away.
Duke City Derby will open the 2010 season in yet another venue. The league has scheduled six matches in the Albuquerque Convention Center, starting with the season-opener on Saturday, May 15. Location isn't the only major change this season—in a bid to make matches more competitive, players on the league's three Albuquerque-based teams (Derby Intelligence Agency, DoomsDames and Ho-Bots) have been shuffled. Plus, a new team, hailing from Taos, will jump into the fray.
I remember when derby hit the scene in the 505. Reporters covered it from many angles, but no one could seem to get a handle on whether this was hot chix with crazy socks on skates or a real sport. And maybe we’ve learned, finally, that it can be both.
O, fair Albuquerque! While you were nestled all snug in your bed this winter, your Auntie Betty was out patrolling the trails on bikeback, coming home with perpetually chapped cheeks from the cold. Spring has since sprung, summer is nigh on high, and our city's Bosque and bikeways are teeming with life. It's a rich taxonomy: Cyclists can spy roadrunners and rattlesnakes and rollerblading trophy wives. Almost everyone is welcome in the benevolent eyes of Betty Sprocket, but there is one species that must be stamped out. A type of rider more pernicious than the salt cedar, more insidious than the Russian thistle. The most despicable cyclist of all: the bike punk.
Dateline: Oregon—The owner of a waste removal service settled a feud with a deadbeat customer by simply returning all the dog poop she had removed from the customer’s property—with interest. According to a report on KTVZ, Melinda Hofmann, owner of The Bomb Squad dog waste pick-up service in Bend, tried to collect a long overdue $150 payment from Deborah Dillow last Monday night. When Dillow didn’t answer the door, Hofmann got an idea. “I started to go back and write another note,” Hoffman told reporters on Wednesday. “But I just decided to give her poop back.” Hofmann backed up her work vehicle and dumped the day’s haul—30 gallons of feces—onto Dillow’s front yard. Hofmann said it wasn’t the most adult of decisions, but admitted, “As I was flinging the poo all over her yard, it felt really good, and I just kept doing it.” In fact, Hofmann didn’t stop “flinging the poo” until police arrived. “Very messy,” police Sgt. Dan Ritchie said. “I would imagine it probably took the homeowners quite some time to clean that mess up.” Hofmann was taken away in handcuffs and charged with criminal trespassing, criminal mischief and offensive littering. Dillow said she always intended to pay Hofmann, but is battling cancer and recently had to spend $700 on medication. Despite the outcome, Hofmann seemed unrepentant about her chosen course of action, telling KTVZ, “Do I have regrets for dumping poop back in her yard cause she’s a slacker client? Nope.”
New Year's resolutions are for suckers. Why would anyone choose to turn over a new leaf in January, a month best reserved for footie pajamas, hot chocolate and weight gain? The real time to explore and expand is now. Though you may not have been in school for decades (and while summer doesn't officially begin for another month), there's something uniquely exhilarating about the end of May. So make your summer arts resolutions now; coincidentally enough, I have a few suggestions for this week to start you off.
Duck inside Nob Hill’s best-kept secret passageway and the first side-room to appear is the Magic and Juggling Shop—a zany bazaar where trick kits entice from glass cases, sleight-of-hand artists trade tips, how-to DVDs perch next to packaged rubber vomit and snippets of esoteric conversation may include, “Sorry, we just sold out of Bite Coin.”
Summer may be synonymous with a break from education, but that doesn’t mean you want your brain to rust. Plus, when the heat starts to boil your insides, what better way to escape it than to dash into the air-conditioned halls of a museum and admire art, learn about our ancestors or play with giant bubbles?
The art and science of beating the heat, from the Far Northeast Heights to the South Valley, Philly to Michoacán
By Ari Levaux
Philadelphia doesn’t jump to the top of the list of hot places in the world, but during the peak of summer it can be worse than Albuquerque thanks to its humidity and concrete. Somewhere in the streets of South Philly, the old Italian art of granita became the new science of water ice, also known as Italian ice.
You don’t see that headline in the Alibi too often, huh? All politics and karaoke classics aside, there is no denying that American craft beer innovations are influencing the world to emulate our beers. True, once we were identified by tasteless, watery beer, and there are still plenty of uninformed people who think American beer = yuck. Since I pass time trolling local liquor stores, I hear people talking up unremarkable European and Asian lagers and snubbing anything American. I can’t keep my mouth shut, so I explain how far our beers have come and how creative our brewers are, but my vaguely homeless appearance keeps me from being taken seriously, and off they go with their 12-packs of Stella Artois.
Breaking up the long menu at Saigon Far East are bold descriptions of the food that lack neither color nor modesty. Consider the bun bo hue: “We are proud to introduce this famous spicy bowl of soup which was located in Central Vietnam,” the menu crows. “A combination of sliced and well cooked beef shank and slowly cooked pork hock sliced. This bowl will spark your imagination and take you far away.”
Every now and again, my mother will look at my sisters and me with a self-satisfied little smile and declare, “I grew you girls!” Technically, she’s correct. She successfully performed one of nature’s coolest party tricks and produced three other healthy human lives. Furthermore, she suffered no birth-related injuries or residual complications (except for the mild mental derangement that most parents develop). Mom has every right to feel proud of her achievements. But the odds for such happy outcomes were stacked in her favor.
In his autobiography, Sam Cutler—tour manager for The Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead in their raucous heydays—seems coy about the path his life took after splitting with the Dead about 35 years ago. But it’s obvious that a lengthy hangover must’ve ensued. From snorting cocaine with Janis Joplin to dropping acid with Jimi Hendrix to chugging Southern Comfort with the Dead’s Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Cutler spent his time as “rock ‘n’ roll nanny” in the company of some seriously self-centered and out-of-control stars, nearly matching their risky behavior and living to tell the tale. Just be careful—you may not be a fan of some of your favorite classic rockers after reading this.
A musical installation gently leads audiences down the garden path
By Summer Olsson
Garden is a three chapter series of performances, incorporating live music and video projection, exploring themes of night, place and the intersection of humans with their environment. Albuquerque music lovers can catch chapter one, “Night,” this weekend. Chris Jonas, the Santa Fe-based composer and multimedia artist behind Garden, hopes to give audiences a richer, more layered experience than a standard concert would. Meshing music with art installation, he’s working with different musicians and artists for each piece of his trilogy.
Years ago Kate Mann traded her New Mexico home for Portland, Ore. She’s just returned to Taos, guitar in hand, packing a songbook full of brilliant lyrics and discreet melody. Often backed by a rotating cast of musicians known as the Calamities, this week Kate plays her welcome-home set as a solo.
Guitarist Ila Cantor's trio finds new routes to familiar destinations
By Mel Minter
Listening to the variety of compositions penned by guitarist Ila Cantor, you get the sense that she is as comfortable in Brooklyn’s new music scene as she would have been filling in for Charlie Christian at Minton’s, that Manhattan crucible of bebop, in the ’40s. Then again, she might have been equally at home subbing for Barry Melton, Country Joe and the Fish’s lead guitarist, at San Francisco’s Fillmore in ’67.
Despite having a name that might suggest Americana, Willy J and the Storytellers plays lively and cathartic alternative rock, and the members cite acts like Pearl Jam, Incubus, Rage Against the Machine and Oasis as influences—smells like '90s revival. The band’s front man, a shaggy-haired painter from Montana by way of Tennessee, says the name suits the quartet. "Our songs are stories,” says Willy J, “and the songs I like the most are the ones that do have a story behind them." Find out what it's all about on Friday, May 7, at Low Spirits when the band releases its first album, Chopping Trees. Listen and find out more on alibi.com. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
David Hevener is a preschool teacher and the guitarist, vocalist and mystic rattle player for Santa Fe’s Gnossurrus. The robe-cloaked mystic-prophecy metal band is releasing its first album, Beast of Destiny, this Saturday at Burt’s. To get a feel for some of Gnossurrus’ inspiration, take a look-see at five random tracks from Hevener’s collection.
Before it was a film featuring the cold, dead eyes of Julia Roberts, Closerwas a wildly successful British play staged at the Royal National Theatre. Written by Patrick Marber, it follows failed writer Dan, doctor man Larry, photographer Anna and the professionally mysterious Alice as they fall in love, lust and hate with each other. Prepare your scorecards, because the betrayals are as constant as they are compelling. RyBan Productions and director Christy Lopez bring the play to The Filling Station (1024 Fourth Street SW) May 7 through May 23. Tickets are $16, or $12 for students, seniors and Albuquerque Theatre Guild members. Fridays are couples night ($10 for each half), and actors rush tickets for $10 are available on Sundays. Want more discounts off of the regular full price? Bring your own red or green apple (so, no rotten ones, kids) and get $2 off. Or follow in the footsteps of obituary writer Dan and bring your self-penned death notice. Grim? Maybe, but it'll get you $5 off. Call 507-0598 for reservations, and go to fillingstationabq.com for more details.
The week before a play’s opening, most theaters work overtime to fine-tune performances and get the word out to potential audiences. But the week and a half before the premiere of Auxiliary Dog Theatre’s production of Wonder of the World found the theater dealing with an additional imperative: keep the doors open.
Corinne Tippett never cared one way or the other about chickens. She harbored no childhood dreams of becoming a farmer, an egg seller or a butcher. But one day in 2004, without much planning, the Northern New Mexico resident found herself with a roost full of more than 100 birds—chicken, ducks, geese, quail, pheasants and a myriad of other tiny, feathered hatchlings.
I can’t remember any of their names, but they are all my best friends. That’s how I regard the thousands of beer geeks who made the pilgrimage to Munster, Ind., for the annual Dark Lord Day. Not the Satanist convention it sounds like, Dark Lord Day is a holy grail trek for people like me. It’s the one-day release of Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout, a 13 percent ABV beer that ranks among the highest-rated and hardest to find beers in the craft world.
Will a new law protect students from predatory credit card companies?
By Patrick Lohmann
Alicia Elgar got her first credit card before she headed off to college. She quickly maxed it out and, $5,000 in debt, found another offer poking out of her mailbox midway through her junior year at the University of New Mexico. The 23-year-old biology major is $9,000 incredit card debt, swimming in student loans, working two jobs and trying to finish her degree.
No one would give Iran a nuclear congeniality award, but the Washington Post’s coverage of the Islamic republic is starting to look like an unhealthy fixation. After all, Iran isn’t the only Middle Eastern country with nuclear issues.
City councilors urged us to share our hearts, lungs, livers, kidneys and other body parts—and not just when our time on planet Earth is up. Councilor Dan Lewis introduced a proclamation supporting Donate Life, an organ donation organization. This is a family issue for Lewis, who gave a kidney to his brother. Tim Lewis spoke at the meeting along with a handful of other organ recipients. One woman talked about the miracle of her double lung transplant. Another woman said she received a heart and a new life from an 11-year old. There are around 960,000 people who’ve signed up to be organ donors in the state, though the population is about 1.9 million.
In yet another case of my fellow white people embarrassing the bejesus out of me, the Arizona Legislature has passed a fascist immigration bill that allows law enforcement to stop people suspected of being in this country illegally and make them prove otherwise.
Dateline: Australia—A restaurant in a suburb of Adelaide has been ordered to pay a blind customer $1,500 restitution after refusing the man entry under the misguided impression that his guide dog was a “gay” dog. Adelaide’s The Advertiser reported that Ian Jolly, 57, was barred from dining at Thai Spice restaurant in May 2009 after a staff member mistook his guide dog Nudge for a homosexual canine. Restaurant owners Hong Hoa Thi To and Ahn Hoang Le said in an official statement to the Equal Opportunity Tribunal that Thai Spice waiters understood Mr. Jolly’s partner, Ms. Chris Lawrence, “to be saying she wanted to bring a gay dog into the restaurant.” Although the restaurant is required by law to accept guide dogs and even displays a sign to that effect, there is no government policy on gay dogs. So, the restaurant refused to seat Jolly, Lawrence and the dog. “The staff genuinely believed that Nudge was an ordinary pet dog which had been desexed to become a gay dog,” the owners’ statement went on to say. As a result of the Tribunal’s conciliation hearing, the restaurant owners agreed to provide Mr. Jolly with a written apology, pay him $1,500 and attend an Equal Opportunity education course.
Rallies and marches erupted across the country over May Day weekend in reaction to Arizona’s SB 1070. The measure makes illegal immigration a state crime and requires law enforcement to question people suspected of being in the United States illegally. Without legal challenges, it will become law by August. The Arizona Republic reported that demonstrations in other major cities brought in far greater numbers—50,000 in Los Angeles, for example—than Phoenix. Still, thousands attended a morning vigil and afternoon march in Arizona’s capital.
Registration has opened for the Albuquerque leg of the 48 Hour Film Project. In this annual filmmaking challenge, teams of eager moviemakers are given a few touchstones (a genre, a prop, a line of dialogue, a character) and have just 48 hours to write, shoot, edit and premiere their short films. Albuquerque has had fantastic participation in years past, and several local films have gone on to national and international glory. If you’re interested in getting a crew together and making a run at it, log on to 48hourfilm.com/albuquerque. Screenings of the finished films will take place July 15, 16 and 18 at the KiMo Theatre.
Two weeks ago, just in time for Earth Day, Disney released its family-friendly documentary Oceans. This weekend, just in time for Mother’s Day, Focus Features releases its family-friendly documentary Babies. Like its watery predecessor, there’s no false advertising in Babies. It’s about babies.
I don’t know about you—but with “BSG” dead and gone, only three episodes of “Lost” remaining, “V” still waffling around for a tone and “Heroes” just begging for a burlap sack and a swift river—I’m desperately searching for the next TV obsession. ABC has kindly offered up “Happy Town,” a serialized drama that seems to want to combine elements of “Twin Peaks” and Fargo. So far, I’m mildly intrigued but unconvinced it’s going to be worth my weekly investment.
Congratulations are in order. SEMBENE!, the locally produced documentary about leading African filmmaker Ousmane Sembène, was selected to take part last week in the prestigious Tribeca All Access Program. The program is part of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. SEMBENE! is directed by Samba Gadjigo and Santa Fe filmmaker Jason Silverman. The film was one of only 20 selected as part of this year’s All Access Program, which was created to “cultivate relationships between filmmakers from traditionally underrepresented communities and film industry executives.” SEMBENE! is a work in progress. The filmmakers hope to have it completed by 2011.
On May 5, 1862, a small army of about 5,000 ill-equipped Mestizos and Zapotec Indians defeated the French army at Puebla, a small town in southern Mexico. The nearly miraculous Mexican victory temporarily stopped France’s progression toward Mexico City and its ultimate goal of an empire in Mexico. Unfortunately, the triumph was short-lived. As soon as Napoleon learned of the humiliating defeat, he deployed an additional 30,000 troops. Within a year, he'd taken over Mexico City and installed the Archduke Maximilian of Austria as ruler of the new empire.
Although the band's been performing since 2001, Shoulder Voices never officially released an album. This week, however, the eclectic Albuquerque group—powered by Little Bobby, The Musk and a rotating cast of characters—will unleash its first proper, non-CDR collection of recorded material. In Space! is a concept album rooted in '70s psychedelia, as well as a means of furthering the band's aggressively festive shows.
In the pack of snarling dogs that is a music scene, scraps of praise, stage time and fans are hard-won. Somehow, Black Maria finds itself with more meat than it can eat. You won't see members badgering social networking friends with notices or merch. Fans spread the word, and they do it well. A Black Maria gig doesn't happen all that often, and when it does, it's an event of towering amplifiers, volume you can feel in your chest cavity and a big, rowdy audience.
This week we honor a flyer designed in-house by Jeff Drew for our Cinco de Mayo party. [See this week’s feature for more historical and cultural dirt on the holiday.] The Alibi plans to observe May 5 by sitting outside, enjoying music, micheladas, Mexican sweets and other treats. Oh yeah, and free Frito pies while they last! Join us on the Blackbird Buvette patio (509 Central NW) on Wednesday from 5 to 10 p.m. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Little Bobby is an avid runner, vegetarian and fan of psychedelic music. His band Shoulder Voices is realeasing its first album this week. Peer into his Technicolor mind by way of the randomly selected songs below.
On its cross-country tour two years ago, Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog—a quirky, lovable indie-soul band—packed bars that held 200 people when the fire department wasn’t looking. Last year, Dr. Dog electrified crowds at 400 to 500 capacity clubs, and this spring the endearing, addicting band is filling even bigger theaters. Luckily for New Mexicans, Dr. Dog still loves to play the rare smaller gig, and getting bigger certainly hasn’t made the band cocky.
While dystopic visions of a world in which technology has gotten the better of us are in vogue, they aren't new (hello Frankenstein) either. The just-opened show at 516 ARTS, Artificial Selection, is mindful of this. The exhibit nods to the past with a play off of an old theory, that of Charles Darwin's natural selection, but with a few decidedly modern twists.
It’s a Cold War-era warhead that Griffin has emptied of explosives and packed with poems—and it’s headed our way. The Poetry Bomb and its L.A.-based bombardier will zero in on Albuquerque for two performances this Sunday, May 2, as part of a five-week cross-country onslaught.
Reports are on the rise but resources are spread thin
By Christie Chisholm
You probably know someone who’s been raped. In fact, you probably know several people who’ve been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives; and if you’re a woman, there’s a one in four chance one of those people is you.
I meet Gus and his two horses at an empty dirt arena in Santa Fe. It’s a cold morning but the sun is bright. The nearby mountains are capped with snow. There are rows of vacant stables alongside the arena. I move slowly, wrapped in a cloudy haze from lack of sleep. The horses look sleepy as well, tethered to their trailer nodding off. When they yawn, they seem on the verge of speaking. “Get away from me,” I imagine them saying. “What's that, an apple? Give it here.” Such teeth. Such manners.
Dateline: England—A British man has been arrested for drunk driving after being caught in the driver’s seat of a small, battery-powered Barbie car. Paul Hutton, 40, was spotted—hands on the wheel, knees tucked up under his chin—by a police patrol car in Essex, in the southeastern part of the country. According to The Sun, Hutton admitted in Colchester Magistrates’ Court to being a “complete twit.” Hutton, who was found to be over the legal limit, was banned from driving for three years as a result of the incident. “I was very surprised to get done for drink-driving, but I was a twit to say the least.” The former Royal Air Force aeronautical engineer had modified the 2-foot-high, pink plastic Jeep with his son as part of a college project. It has a top speed of 6 kilometers per hour. Speaking after the hearing, Hutton said, “You have to be a contortionist to get in, and then you can’t get out.” Hutton was allegedly driving the kiddie car to a friend’s house to show off his work when he was pulled over.
Comic book-turned-movie turns up the boom-boom-pow
By Devin D. O’Leary
With Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk all chugging along in their own successful movie franchises (plus Thor, Captain America and Green Lantern busy filming their debuts), it’s no surprise that Hollywood is running out of A-list comic book characters to exploit. Lately, the poor movie industry has had to make due with relatively unknown properties like Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are plenty of fantastic stories on the back shelves of your local comic book store. (As both comic and movie, for example, Kick-Ass is bloody good fun.) But movie studios hoping for a little name recognition are S.O.L. when it comes down to stuff like Surrogates. (Yes, that non-successful Bruce Willis sci-fi film you didn’t see was based on a comic book you’ve never heard of.)
Pay cable movie channel Starz has been following in the footsteps of HBO and Showtime, introducing a slate of original, hour-long dramas (“Crash,” “Spartacus: Blood and Sand”) and half-hour comedies (“Gravity,” “Head Case”). Last week, Starz launched the second season of its successful sitcom “Party Down.” That, my friends, is a good thing.
Yeah, it makes me cringe, too. I’ve got bad memories of cross-country road trips where I wasn’t smart enough to plan ahead and have good beers at the ready. The low point may have been the time I had to buy 3-2 beer (that’s half-strength 3.2 percent alcohol beer—and this was Dos Equis, no less!) from a Wal-Mart in El Reno, Okla. I learned that it is biologically impossible to get drunk from 3-2 beer. Dry counties also seem to haunt my road trips. One otherwise forgettable journey, I was ready to stop for the night after a 13-hour drive took me to Nowhere, Ark. When I pulled into a gas station for my own personal fuel, I was told that there was no beer to be had for another 60 miles. I hastily drove to the next sane county. (Unfortunately, I had to settle for Icehouse, which left me feeling kind of dirty in the morning. Like if I stayed at a motel on Central and agreed to some “entertainment.”)
Stepping into the pragmatically named Thai Cuisine II is like taking a 15-hour plane ride in the blink of an eye. While it’s not exactly Thailand inside, the dining room is a pleasant sanctuary, warmly painted in earthy red and sunset orange, and hung with near-florescent paintings of colorful, idyllic scenes. You quickly forget that you just walked into a red metal roofed A-frame that looks like an old Dairy Queen.