Michael Spies never anticipated going to work for the United Nations. "It always seemed to be something of an unobtainable aspiration for someone who doesn't have the pedigree," he says. He didn't attend a university in the Northeast, and he doesn't have any political connections. Instead, Spies got his bachelor's degree in political science from the University of New Mexico.
’Tis the twilight before Christmas and all through the house not a shopper has stirred yet—not even in Taos! The stockings you hung by the chimney are bare, but the thought of the mall makes you rip out your hair. Our Last-Minute Gift Guide should do you some good: We found local shops in your own neighborhood. From the Heights to Corrales, Nob Hill and more, just wait ’til you see what gifts lie in store.
Willy Wonka would approve. Decorated in oversized lollipops and gumdrops, this sugary wonderland has something for every sweet tooth. Melodie Maren opened The Candy Basket in January, and she lets her two boys—7 and 4 years old—help pick what's for sale. Smart move.
Funky Midtown fashion boutique H/G (or Hallowed Ground, to those in the know) packs its San Mateo Pavilions storefront with new and recycled fashion. The style is a mix of cool club wear and '80s fabulous—everything a retro-minded fashionista could want. Twenty bucks seems to be the break point for most items. Two of the store's walls are lined with Hallowed Grounds' own paint-spattered, graffiti-covered T-shirts—which bring to mind Malcolm McLaren's legendary punk boutique SEX by way of Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. Several tees are adorned with cassette tape imprints, furthering the '80s aesthetic. And yes, H/G also features a gallery of reasonably priced paintings and drawings from area artists.
The people that brought us Zap ... oh! children's boutique opened a sister shop, Besitos—which means "little kisses"—in October. Babies ages 2 and under will appreciate soft, plush blankets and clothes made from organic cotton. Practical pieces abound, with the occasional luxury item—rattles, books, toys and fancy little shoes—mixed in.
Nestled in the Poco-a-Poco garden patio, Tinhorn Toys offers merchandise that couldn’t be more different from the touristy souvenirs that pervade Old Town. This old-fashioned, battery-free store specializes in reproduction tin toys from the '40s, '50s and '60s—there are tops, trains, tea sets and a wide variety of robots. Tinhorn also carries classic toys such as Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, marbles, jacks, tiddlywinks, pick-up sticks and blocks. Bobbie, Tinhorn's exceptionally friendly co-owner, will help you find a gift, be it zombie action figures for an adult child or a sock monkey for a baby.
The Fat Finch calls itself a “Boutique for Birders,” but it’s so much more. Sure, the two-year-old shop owned by lifetime bird enthusiast Roberta Beyer is stocked with seed, feeders, baths, houses and an impressive array of bird-watching books. But you could find something for most anyone on your holiday list here. Its three rooms are dotted with games, puzzles, jewelry, T-shirts, locally hand-painted silk scarves, bath and body products, finger puppets, baby clothes, and some of the best cards we’ve seen in the city. Almost all of the inventory is bird-themed, in styles that range from the more mature to the decidedly hip.
The vibe at Galeria de Corrales is pleasant. It's nestled behind a yarn store on Corrales Road and easy to miss if you aren't looking. But once you find it, an artist on duty will take you on a tour of the newly expanded gallery, which features about 25 artists. Wildlife and landscape paintings abound, but there’s also a good deal of pottery, art clocks, stained glass, quilts, handbags, sculptures big and small, a futuristic metal kachina, and lots of metal working. For those on a budget, there are relatively cheap prints of paintings and greeting cards. Good gift idea: the mirror lined with beer caps. Another has googly eyes.
The Council elected Don Harris as its president during the Monday, Dec. 6 meeting. Councilor Rey Garduño will step in to do his turn as vice president. Former President Ken Sanchez will serve as chairman of the Committee of the Whole. Other appointments were tabled until the Dec. 20 meeting.
Dateline: Ghana—A 72-year-old grandmother suffered a horrific death when she was burned alive by a mob after being accused of witchcraft. As reported in Ghana’s Daily Graphic, a group of five people allegedly tortured Ama Hemmah in order to extract a confession of witchcraft before dousing her in kerosene and setting her on fire. The suspects, including the preacher of a local evangelical church, denied the charges. According to Pastor Samuel Fletcher Sagoe, 55, he and his compatriots were simply praying to exorcise an evil spirit from the woman when the anointing oil they had applied to her body accidentally caught fire. The incident occurred at Site 15, a suburb of Tema Community 1 near the capital city of Accra. A student nurse, who happened upon the scene, attempted to rescue the woman, but the victim died of her burns within 24 hours of arrival at the Tema General Hospital. So far, no arrests have been made, but the case has been turned over to the Attorney General’s Department for possible prosecution.
The 2010 edition of the genre-crazed independent film festival TromaDance New Mexico starts up this weekend at Guild Cinema in Nob Hill. The festival launches on Friday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. with the Troma Entertainment trash classic Tromeo & Juliet, followed by an opening-night screening of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Catholic Church-meets-freakshow freak-out Santa Sangre. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 11 and 12, are filled with blocks of shorts as well as local premieres of the slasher flick Exhibit A-7and the comic art documentary Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods. Locally shot comedy In Trouble and New Mexico-lensed action flickA Lonely Place For Dying will also be screened. Tickets and passes are available at the Guild box office (3405 Central NE).
If you’ve got a film lover in your life, then you might appreciate a little guidance on what to get them this holiday season. The year 2010 was a banner annum for hot DVD/Blu-ray packs. Whatever your cinephile loves, you’re sure to find something to suit his or her taste amid the following suggestions. And if you stumble across something that you might like to bug Santa for yourself, that’s OK too.
It’s not often that Duke City denizens get to see a TV show being filmed. Sure, “Breaking Bad,” “In Plain Sight,” “Wildfire” and “Scoundrels” all made their mark on Albuquerque, lensing (and in the case of the first two, continuing to lens) lots of local landmarks. But aside from the random sighting of a film crew camped out Downtown, our opportunity to really see a show being shot is slim.
“Damn right I have the blues,” proclaims singer/songwriter/guitarist Felix Peralta in a burst of enthusiasm about his new, almost solo CD, Gato Malo,Acoustic Blues for the Grave, Volume 1. The front man for Felix y Los Gatos, Peralta is better known for the consistently upbeat dance music that band pumps out. But he has another side, one he’s been more in touch with recently.
The consumerist orgy that annually masquerades as Christmas is upon us and—maddeningly awful Mariah Carey Christmas songs aside—preparing to exchange gifts can be a hassle monetarily and sentimentally. Luckily there is some consolation to the annoyance summoned by this spending spree. If you're reading this, chances are you have a few musically inclined folks on your list: Enter the vinyl record, the X-mas shopping fun-maker.
This endearingly crude handmade flyer is one in a series of four announcing a performance by Alabama pop punk band (I’m hearing emo, but that’s a dirty word nowadays) Heroes For Tonight. The four-piece headlines at REVLIS (712 Central SE) on Tuesday, Dec. 14. Show starts at 6 p.m. and is opened by The Ill Motion, Emergency Ahead and Doomed to Exist. Five dollars gets you into the (not emo) show. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Matthew Ezzard is the upright-bass player for Swingin’ Meat, purveyor extraordinaire of Albuquerque-based alt.country. Let’s find out what kinds of ditties dwell in Mr. Ezzard’s music library, shall we?
Bodies ... The Exhibition has been up for about two months at the Albuquerque Convention Center (401 Second Street NW, Northwest Exhibit Hall). It features real preserved corpses in various, though usually sports-related, poses.
Holiday gift shopping should never cause the anxiety that it does for so many of us. There’s always that one person you need to shop for who likes ... nothing. Sure, you can rely on blah fallback gifts that leave you feeling vaguely ashamed: something from Bath and Body Works or the Craftsman tool section.
Ashley Armstrong, the director of events at Los Poblanos Inn and Cultural Center, watched Alibi scavenger hunts come and go before she decided to sign up in 2010. When she finally sat down with the just-released list on the evening of Friday, Nov. 19, it looked easy. "Deceptive" is the word she uses now.
The Albuquerque music scene is a nostalgic place. Inevitably its participants will all find themselves with broken hearts, yearning for a defunct band. On a local level, it's not just about the music—it's a phase in your life, the people you shared it with and the places where you spent it.
Remember when music on vinyl was pronounced dead? That was soon proved wrong when even “hit” groups like Pearl Jam released LPs. If you paid any attention to underground and indie bands, you knew that vinyl never went away. It was just quietly in the background like stealth spyware on your computer, waiting ...
The Kosmos channels the alluring powers of art deco in announcing its second annual Holiday Bizarre Bazaar. Peruse the wares of more than 25 New Mexico vendors while enjoying selections from DJ Tahnee’s record collection and to-be-announced live performances. The event, happening Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. at 1715 Fifth Street NW, is free. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Armed with an awesome byline, Sam Adams is a talented writer, photographer and copy editor. And, lucky for us, he’s the Alibi’s super swell new intern. He recently moved to Albuquerque from Chicago, bringing his music collection with him. Below are five randomly selected tracks.
Confession: I’ve never read a David Sedaris book. But a lot of people love the guy, and so the good folks down at The Cell Theatre (700 First Street NW) are putting on The Santaland Diaries, based on the writings of Sedaris. The play documents the wacky, true adventures of Crumpet the Elf, the character Sedaris played while working at a Christmas display inside Macy’s, apparently a menial job he held before becoming a pre-eminent humor writer. Sometimes I’m glad I was just an alcoholic before becoming a professional writer. The production runs Dec. 2 through 19, Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday shows at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, $15 for students and seniors. The 2 p.m. show on Dec. 5 is pay-what-you-wish.
We’re in the holiday homestretch—marking time with lunches, dinners, incoming guests, shopping and all the rest that fills December. It’s when you learn to say “no” or commit yourself to a month of event-hopping.
As a cook-turned-sailor stopping at ports of call throughout Asia, Nang Thai was on the lookout for details that defined the cuisines he encountered. And now, as the owner of Asian Grill on Gibson, he’s more than happy to stand by your table and tell you about his various epiphanies. Like that time in Chiang Mai, Thailand, when he first ate beef cooked with pineapple: The way the fruity sweetness interacted with the slices of beef made an impression on him. That’s why it’s on his menu, which is a selection of some of his favorite dishes from the Eastern Hemisphere.
Michelle knew she was close to the edge, but she didn’t realize how close until her fiancé found himself out of work. He had been employed as an electrician on a construction site. When the project finished, he didn’t have another gig lined up. He searched, but two years ago during the height of recession phobia, no one was hiring. Suddenly Michelle’s waitressing income was the only thing supporting the two of them and her five girls, ages 4 months to 14 years old. A few months later, after falling behind on rent, they were evicted.
Dateline: India—A village council in the northern district of Muzaffarnagar has ordered all unmarried girls to stop carrying or using cell phones. It is believed this move will prevent local girls from running away with their boyfriends and getting married. Spokesperson Rajender Malick told the Indian media that the village council in Lank “imposed a ban on the usage of mobile phones by unmarried girls to prevent them from eloping with young boys against the wishes of their parents.” The Lank village council decided unmarried boys could use mobile phones, but only under parental supervision. According to police, 34 couples in the Muzaffarnagar district eloped last month. Among those who eloped, eight were reported beheaded by their families in “honor” killings. In some cases, it is the village councils themselves who have ordered the punishments. The local women’s rights group Disha said banning cell phones for unmarried females demonstrated the council’s archaic mindset, and warned it could put girls at a disadvantage. “These help in easy communication, which in turn help these youth to get jobs. One cannot discriminate use of these contraptions on basis of sex,” Disha president K.N. Tiwari told reporters.
Filmmaker Justin Evans’ locally shot action film A Lonely Place For Dyingjust nabbed an award for Best Stunts at the Maverick Movie Awards. The MMAs are awarded to outstanding independent/underground movies with “a sense of style, a foundation in craft and the power to communicate.” Albuquerque stuntman Kurly Tlapoyawa (an occasional Alibi contributor) served as the film’s stunt coordinator and says he was honored to get the award. “It just goes to show that the quality films being shot in New Mexico right now are locally made, independent films,” says Tlapoyawa, “far removed from the Hollywood system that everyone seems to be so enamored with.” A Lonely Place For Dying will screen at the upcoming TromaDance New Mexico film festival, which runs from Dec. 10 through 12 at the Guild Cinema in Nob Hill.
Actor James Franco had an interesting 2010. To say the least. He played a perverted, pillow-loving version of himself on “30 Rock.” He joined the cast of a soap opera for a while. He stars in this fall’s Oscar-baiting feature 127 Hours—in which he plays the rock climber who amputated his own arm with a pocket knife. Within the last week, Franco was named co-host of next year’s Oscar telecast. And now he pops up in Howl, a multimedia independent biopic about Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg.
I’ve had a good hard think, and I’ve come to the conclusion that E! hates women. And not in the casual way that television in general hates women, homosexuals and minorities. No, I’m pretty sure E! is part of an organized misogynist conspiracy to drag down the female gender. How else to explain the network’s lineup, which runs the gamut from reality shows about skanky gold-diggers (“Married to Rock”) to reality shows about do-nothing celebutards (“Keeping Up With the Kardashians”).
FCC commissioner rallies New Mexicans around Internet freedom but remains silent on plans
By Sam Adams
Michael Copps of the Federal Communications Commission had a lot to say about the importance of access to information and the Internet. But he remained tight-lipped on how and when the FCC would protect it.
The roots of our state’s wine industry reach deep into the past, and, like tangled vines in an ancient vineyard, many surprising tidbits are found in its unraveling. For instance, grapevines were planted in the Rio Grande valley 140 years before California broke ground on its first vineyards. And while California is considered the premier wine-producing region in the New World, New Mexico has attracted a growing interest from European vintners over the past 30 years. Now more than ever, the Land of Enchantment is becoming a formidable contender in the highly competitive arena of the world’s favorite fermented juice.
If you enjoyed Experiments in Cinema v5.1—Basement Films and UNM Department of Cinematic Arts’ annual celebration of international experimental film—then fear not. Experiments in Cinema v6.3 (not really clear on the numbering system myself) is coming up in April 2011. It’ll be another five days’ worth of film screenings, lectures, workshops and more. Of course, if you’re a filmmaker interested in getting your very own genre-busting, media-bending work into next year’s fest, you need to act quickly. All entries must be postmarked by Dec. 1. To get details on the festival or to download an application for submission, log on to experimentsincinema.com.
We hereby postpone this striptease act to give you a Christina Aguilera concert
By Devin D. O’Leary
The best way to break it down is like this: If you’re going to see Burlesquefor the burlesque, you’re in for a major disappointment. If you’re just going to see it for Cher and Christina Aguilera belting out the tunes, then you’re in marginally better shape. Despite the art form’s alterna-chic revival, average American citizens have no freaking idea what burlesque is anyway. As a result, most viewers will be in the second filmgoing category. To them, I say: The soundtrack is available for download on iTunes and OPI has a new Burlesquenail polish collection. Enjoy the show!
America is the only country that celebrates Thanksgiving—a holiday dedicated to eating as much as humanly possible and then lying around on the couch in a tryptophan-induced coma until you’ve digested enough to attack that pecan pie your aunt Rose brought over. What could be more all-American? To aid you in this day-long salute to gluttony and sloth, here are the TV highlights that will keep you and your fat relatives couch-bound this Thursday.
In addition to a delightfully unusual name, Leslie Acosta-Isengard has a magnificently light voice. It’s dainty and guileless, the perfect complement to her hands, which are so slender that when shaking one of them, you almost wonder if it’s going to dissolve in your palm. Add to these traits a head of jet-black hair and a sylph-like physique, and you’re basically dealing with a woodland sprite. But although she may seem delicate, she’s a woman who isn’t afraid of chasing down what she wants.
The original script by Tricklock Company member Kristen D. Simpson weaves together the stories of Benedict Arnold, Judas Iscariot and Sen. Joseph McCarthy. On the surface, the play is a reflection on the nature of betrayal, patriotism and forgiveness. But there’s another surprising current that sweeps through the show. Religion is the undertone of the production, and its presence left me more than a little confused.
Ten days after the election, I took our collies for their regular morning romp at one of Albuquerque’s dog parks. I pulled up alongside an ancient vehicle. In the window was a declaration: “If Obama is too stupid to understand what the voters said this year, we need to repeat the message in 2012.”
Dateline: Massachusetts—School administrators at North Brookfield Elementary School were forced to clarify policy after a teacher sent students home with a note stating that all writing instruments had been banned from classrooms. Earlier this month, sixth-grade teacher Wendy Scott sent a letter to all parents of sixth graders announcing that she and fellow teacher Susan LaFlamme were instituting a new rule banning students from carrying writing implements—including pencils, pens and mechanical pencils. According to the memo, students would be issued a pencil for use in class. That pencil would be collected at the end of the school day. The memo went on to say that any student found with a writing implement on their person or in their backpack after Nov. 15 would be assumed to be using it “to build weapons.” The memo said any offending students would be sent to the principal’s office for disciplinary measures. Within a day of the memo’s release, however, interim Superintendent Gordon L. Noseworthy explained that the teacher’s memo had not been reviewed or approved by either the principal or the superintendent. Noseworthy told Worcester’s Telegram that the memo was “over the top” and does not reflect any North Brookfield School District policy. Police Chief Aram Thomasian Jr. told the newspaper he was approached after the memo was released by parents of one student who had been suspended for having a pen that had been altered to fire a wadded-up piece of paper. “The student showed me how it worked. I'd be surprised if the spitball traveled 4 feet. And at that, I'm not even sure it had any spit on it,” he said. The school’s principal sent a follow-up memo to the families stating that no changes would be made to school procedure, Mr. Noseworthy clarified. “This was an attempt by a fairly new sixth-grade teacher to make changes that were not warranted. The student who was found with an altered pen was suspended and as far as administrators were concerned, the matter was put to rest.”
Say what you like about Elvis—culture thief; sad, boozy drug addict; cheese sandwich—but the man had a voice that could soothe volcanoes, particularly the volcano that is my head during the 29 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is a time when every single store in the country, from Nordstrom to 7-Eleven, feels obligated to play Christmas music. And it’s not even the good stuff. As far as I can tell, no one except little kids enjoys hearing syrupy, cutesy “Jingle Bell Rock” played ad nauseam. Last year I made an obnoxious and totally doomed pledge to not shop anywhere Christmas music was playing. I should have stocked up on groceries in October.
Old-skool in tha house! When it comes to classic grind, no one did a more Fangora-worthy job back in the day than Autopsy. There were equals, forebearers and even bands like Napalm Death, Carcass, Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation that eclipsed the California trio both technically and stylistically, but in terms of unabashed bloody gore fests, no one pulled it off time and time again with Autopsy’s sublime dedication to good old-fashioned splatter.
Ravi Coltrane’s quartet ascends to improvisational heaven
By Mel Minter
The title of saxophonist Ravi Coltrane’s most recent album, Blending Times (Savoy Jazz), released in 2009, works on two levels. First, harking back to a track of the same title on his previous album, In Flux (Savoy Jazz), it refers to the simultaneous blending of time signatures in a composition. Second, it refers to two distinct time periods in both Coltrane’s personal life and the recording of Blending Times. Those periods are divided by a cataclysmic event: the death of his mother, Alice Coltrane, musician, composer and spiritual leader, on Jan. 12, 2007.
Taking a break from the T-shirts of marijuana-steeped college students, socialist icon Ernesto “Che” Guevara calls on New Mexico denizens to do their duty in service to rock music on Saturday, Nov. 27, at Hallenbrick Brewery (3817 Hawkins NE). The Dregz plays from 7 to 10 p.m. and the show is free. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Michael Henningsen has played in many a band—Bad Touch Uncle, The Strawberry Zots, Young Edward. He now plays in the David Kurtz Band, and will soon reunite with the Ant Farmers for a reunion show at Low Spirits on Dec. 4. Henningsen was also the Alibi’s editor-in-chief and music editor for a million years. As of this month, he’s back writing about scary black metal in a column called Coffin Break (see the second edition in this week’s issue). Below are random selections from his music collection.
I’ve been reading a lot of food books by and about chefs lately, and in doing so, found a few titles that have been referenced repeatedly. This particular trio of tomes helps the cook understand flavors, why food behaves the way it does, the reason behind recipes and how to make dishes your own. The information in these books is useful for beginners and professional cooks alike. It’s about understanding the logic of recipes in general and why they work—or don’t. Fair warning with McGee: You may become an unending source of food trivia.
Congress will soon vote on the most significant piece of food legislation ever passed. Here's some of what's at stake.
By Ari LeVaux
Produce, milk, meat, eggs, nuts and all manner of processed foods have made people sick in recent years, and Congress has been understandably itching to cook up a big pot of food-safety legislation. The result, Senate Bill 510, is likely headed for a vote soon in the lame-duck session.