I had the opportunity—or misfortune, depending on how you look at it—to visit the jewel of the Texas Panhandle: Amarillo. I was meeting a friend from Oklahoma so we could take in some North Texas culture.
WASHINGTON—Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, like many before them, called on Americans to gather in D.C. for an afternoon of calling for sanity, fear and reason.
There’s been something missing from City Council meetings since the last election: the wagging tail of former Councilor Sally Mayer’s “pet project.” Homeless dogs and cats are no longer led into the Council chambers by Animal Welfare Department employees. Mayer's featured shelter animals were available for adoption at a reduced fee to those attending the meeting or watching on GOV TV. The creatures always brought a more congenial air to the chambers, put everyone in a better mood for a minute or two, and were truly bipartisan. The item is still listed on the agenda, so maybe there’s a chance that some of the city’s furry friends will return to Council meetings.
Some diseases, like people, just have a special “it” factor that captures the imagination of the public. For instance, Ebola erupted on the scene with unprecedented dramatic flair. The virus achieved fame by learning to demolish the inner layer of human blood vessels. This little trick causes hemorrhagic death grisly enough to put all those horror-movie faux grotesqueries to shame. Or consider the case of last year’s media darling, the dreaded H1N1 “swine” flu. Like a sadistic serial killer with major mommy issues, this disease made a name for itself by killing off children and pregnant women faster than you could say “front page news.”
Dateline: Pennsylvania—The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that a 21-year-old Uniontown man called police to report that the weed he had must purchased tasted “nasty.” Police were summoned to the man’s apartment at around 9:50 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 20. The man told them that he had just bought a small amount of what he thought was marijuana. It did not, however, taste good, so he called police to come check it for him. They did. Using a field test kit, officers discovering that the green, leafy substance sitting on the man’s coffee table was not, in fact, marijuana. The man was not immediately arrested and police declined to release his name. Although he did not break a law by purchasing actual drugs, he could still be charged with possessing a counterfeit controlled substance.
The Fans of Film Festival for Social and Environmental Change starts this Sunday, Nov. 7. From 1 to 6 p.m., the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice (202 Harvard SE) will become ground zero for a collection of films aimed and changing the way you think about life on this planet. (Or so the organizers hope.) Features include the carbon footprint comedy Local Warming, the free speech documentary Speakers’ Corner: You Have the Right to Remain Vocal and the immigration drama Anchor Baby. In addition to the features, a number of shorts will also be screened. A suggested donation of $7 gets you in the door. For a complete rundown of events, log on to fansoffilmfest.com.
For a country defined by freedom of speech, America can be alarmingly intolerant when people express themselves. Amiri Baraka knows this firsthand. Over half a century, the award-winning poet, playwright, music critic, political activist and Black Arts Movement founder has stirred controversy and incited criticism for his work. In 2002, for instance, Baraka was named poet laureate of New Jersey and published the poem "Somebody Blew Up America." The poem deals with 9/11, racism and classism. The first stanza, with preface, reads:
Someone had free time in study hall and made flyers for the punk rock show—there are two versions, and the other depicts a skull-headed person playing guitar. On Sunday, Nov. 7, Fat Wreck Chords bands the Cobra Skulls and Dead to Me play an all-ages show at Amped Performance Center (4200 Lomas NE). Locals Spring-Loaded Hot Dog, The Ill Motion and 3 Times Toxic begin opening performances at 6 p.m. sharp. Admission is $10. Go to ampedperform.com for more. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
ARIES (March 21-April 19): In Marcel Proust's novel In Search of Lost Time, one of the characters makes a vulgar observation about the odd attractions that sometimes come over us human beings: "Anyone who falls in love with a dog's behind will mistake it for a rose." It's my duty to point out that the opposite occurs, too. People may think a marvelous thing is worthless, and dislike it or ignore it as a result. Van Gogh's paintings, for example: He sold only one while he was alive, although today his work is regarded as extraordinarily beautiful. My advice to you, Aries, is to avoid both of these errors in the coming week.