“As American as apple pie” is a phrase I’ve heard forever. Yet every immigrant culture that makes up our melting pot contributes to a growing definition of American food. Such is the case with my family’s celebration of New Year’s Day.
Dateline: Belgium—An accountant in Brussels purchased a long-shuttered Dexia Bank branch to house his business and ended up making a profit on the deal after finding more than 300,000 euros ($393,000) in an old bank vault. According to England’s Telegraph newspaper, Ferhat Kaya, 33, purchased the property at a cost of about $235,000 but turned down the real estate agent’s quote of $5,000 to remove an old safe. Instead, Kaya called a friend to help take out the building’s metal vault. “When the vault was open, it revealed bags of 20 and 50 euro bills,” said Murat Tufan, who helped with the demolition. “The receipts were still there dated Dec. 31, 2001. We started counting.” After speaking with his Turkish father, Kaya decided to call police and report the cash, which had been abandoned in the building for almost a decade. “My friend and I thought we would really make a statement with it: that even immigrants are people that say honesty is the best policy,” he told reporters. Dexia Bank spokesperson Ulrike Pommée said an investigation has been opened but suggested no trace of the money would ever be found. “We want to determine what happened. It was probably a human error. But the investigation will not be easy, because the money is from 2001.” Pommée said the company was looking into offering Kaya a reward.
According to Peter Hyams’ not particularly well-regarded sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi landmark 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010 was supposed to be The Year We Make Contact. No such luck. Aside from sending a bouquet of party balloons floating across New York City in October, space aliens kept their usual distance. Which just goes to show you: You can’t always believe what movies—or their trailers (or, for that matter, their critics)—are telling you. With that in mind, here are my picks for the best of the best of 2010.
Some will argue that 2010 was the year homemade sausage finally came of age, or the year the school garden movement exploded. Others will remember 2010 as the year KFC's Double Down sandwich made its glorious debut. With so many food preferences and priorities, you can hardly make an end-of-year food list to please everyone, so let’s start with what the people think. Some of them, anyway.
Community members share their best music moments of 2010
By Summer Olsson
When I asked a cross section of music-minded locals for their thoughts on the best moments of 2010, I expected more comments like “The new Arcade Fire album.” Silly me. What I got was a nice reminder that our city is host and home to a lot of amazing music and that experiencing it live is both powerfully communal and profoundly personal. These are some choice examples.
Captain America’s top five shows of 2010 at five different venues
By Captain America
Mecca Records & Books, Jan. 16—This last-minute set was Rachel Lujan’s second-to-last Pan!c gig before moving to Denver. Because of the impromptu excitement, it wasn’t all triste like her final appearance two weeks later but pure PBR-fueled fun.
Mad genius Whitman arms his modular synths with razor-sharp spurs and lets them fight each other to the death. Result: a tapestry of colliding sine waves beautiful in their autonomous complexity. This originally-cassette-only objet d’art is now available via iTunes.
Freak out this New Year’s Eve with Sabertooth Cavity, Great White Buffalo, Rawrr!, Sputniq,ROO and—the guest of honor—one dapper, intercontinental cheetah millionaire (don’t ask him how he lost his eye). The show happens Friday at 601 Solano NE. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Now that I live 5,000 miles away from Albuquerque—in London, a city as gray and lusterless as the stereotype—it’s easy to think of all the things I miss: sunshine, foamy beer and green chile chicken enchiladas probably top the list. But the unexpected one, the one that all the artsy hip Londoners would scoff at, is a painting on a building. Sure, London is supposed to be a street-art Mecca and there are tons of pieces all over the place, from Banksy to Space Invader to less well-known artists, but they all lack the kind of life that the Central rainbows embody.
Albuquerque didn’t have a months-long Marina Abramovic show to torture us into art world obeisance (the “Grandmother of Performance Art” sat immobile for more than 700 hours in the Museum of Modern Art). But 2010 was a year of exhibitions, performances and people that have come to define the alternative position our city is carving out in the larger art world.
Though sometimes derided as “low art,” no other medium better captures the zeitgeist of the mid-20th century than unlicensed velvet art, though purists will argue that the it is usually painted on felt board.
Another year, another year’s worth of our “Odds & Ends” column down the drain. As usual, citizens wasted the time of 911 operators, stoners called police looking for help finding lost weed, bank robbers volunteered an astonishing amount of personal information and drunk drivers crashed into many, many things. England led the world of weird with an amazing 24 “Odds & Ends” stories in 2010. Stateside, Florida scored 14 mentions, thanks largely to those industrious drunkards along the Sunshine State’s Treasure Coast. So who were the strangest standouts?
Business owners are shocked by the roadwork, but the city says they should have seen it coming
By Sam Adams
No one was prepared for this renovation. That’s the prevailing response from business owners on Lead who, for the next 18-months, will watch 35 blocks in their neighborhood undergo extensive construction. But city representatives are quick to say that they have been communicating with residents and businesses about the road rehab—for more than 20 years.
Police union president Joey Sigala had a last-minute Christmas wish for the City Council at its Monday, Dec. 20 meeting. He asked the Council to put a little something in the Albuquerque Police Department’s stocking and consider reinstating a take-home car policy. Sigala said the officers have offered to chip in $20 a week, which would generate about $187,000 annually to help offset the overall cost. He also said the plan to end the vehicle benefit for about 180 officers come Jan. 1 would cause financial hardship.
Dateline: Russia—In a scene that no doubt rivaled the storied days of the Algonquin Round Table in terms of witty, alcohol-fueled debate, a drunken dispute over the existence of God has left two Russians dead. The disagreement began in the western Siberian city of Tomsk when the female owner of a house, her son, a male roommate and an undisclosed male relative drank a liter of pure alcohol mixed “with snow.” A police investigator told the RIA Novosti news agency, “Soon after the drinking session, the suspect [the son] and the two other men got into a fight about the existence of God.” The son ended up attacking both men with a knife and killing them, thereby providing a clear-cut answer to their questions about God and the afterlife.
In the '90s, ska was experiencing its third wave, and Albuquerque was experiencing Giant Steps. The seven-member band formed in 1993 from the ashes of notable local groups Beat Fetish and Cool Runnins.
When Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley invited The Rondelles to record for his Smells Like Records label in 1998, there were typical grumblings from a few older and more established Burque bands—no names please. After all, they pointed out, Juliet Swango (guitar, vocals), Oakley Munson (keyboards, drums, vocals) and Yukiko Moynihan (bass) were barely out of high school.
Rather than engaging in the typical Christmas Eve activities (imbibing nog, wearing flannel by a fireplace, receiving diamonds from your lover, not getting a present then discovering your husband leased you a new luxury car with a big stupid bow on top) the lavishly tressed hippies in The Withdrawals will be jamming extended guitar solos for charity. The show unfurls at Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW) on Friday at 8 p.m. Admission is $8—get $3 off with two cans of food—and proceeds benefit the Roadrunner Food Bank. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Once upon a time, Robert Kerley was the keyboard player for ska band Giant Steps. The Albuquerque native relocated to Lawrence, Kan., where he still resides, playing in a few bands, including a ska group called Checkered Beat. On Dec. 29, he’s reuniting with Giant Steps for a show at the Launchpad. In anticipation of that reunion, we asked Kerley to put his digital music library on shuffle. “I promise this is how the list came out!” he says. “The sixthsong was actually from another band of mine—I have 30 gigs of music on my Zune and probably less than 1 percent is my own stuff.”
On Jan. 15 and 16, Albuquerque will be hosting its first full-blown comic book convention in more than a decade. There will be vendors, guest artists and appearances by several film and TV luminaries (Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery from TheBoondock Saints, “The Incredible Hulk” himself Lou Ferrigno, Gil Gerard and Erin Gray from “Buck Rogers,” Herbert Jefferson Jr. and Anne Lockhart from the original “Battlestar Galactica,” Peter Mayhew from Star Wars).
Honestly, I’m a bit wary of Jim Carrey these days. I prefer to think of him as a perfectly cute dog I’ve known for years that still bites me on occasion for no good reason. Really, I don’t want to like the guy. Sure, he’s been amazing in films such as The Truman Show, Man on the Moon and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But just when I’m lulled into thinking the butt-talking comedian has matured into a fine actor, he turns around and gives us forgettable crap like Fun With Dick and Jane or Yes Man. Hell, even his serious films aren’t without blemish (2007’s just awful The Number 23). Impressive or insufferable: Carrey doesn’t have much middle ground.
Do you fire up the TV on Christmas Eve in hopes of drowning out your relatives, or do you respectfully wait until after presents are opened on Christmas Day to do the same thing? I find that if the programming is holiday-centric enough, you can get away with ignoring everyone, turning up the volume and staring at the TV starting quite early on Dec. 24.
Comic returns to his hometown for one stand-up night
By Christie Chisholm
Marc Maron isn’t famous, but he should be. The stand-up comedian and ex-Albuquerquean has appeared on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” three-dozen times and “The Late Show With David Letterman” four times, and he’s had two of his own half-hour specials on Comedy Central. He was one of the voices behind the now-defunct “Morning Sedition” radio show on Air America. Plus, he was the irate promoter in Almost Famous (an appropriate title for Maron) who orders his minions to “Lock the gates!” on the protagonists’ hurtling tour bus.
Nearly 30-year-old “gallery” is in the business of more than beads
By John Bear
Stone Mountain Bead Gallery supplies artists, but the East Nob Hill store is also like a museum. Thousands of styles, shapes and colors fill plastic crates in space’s center, along the walls and inside display cases. Customers—established artists, collectors and kids making earrings for their mothers—are handed a tray for sorting as they shop.
It’s been an eventful year for Albuquerque’s top chef, but she hasn’t forgotten the basics
By Mina Yamashita
It’s no small feat to make the James Beard Foundation semifinalist list for best chef in the Southwest, but there she is—Albuquerque’s Jennifer James lit up the roster in 2010. To put this in perspective, New Mexico had only three nominees this year, including James Campbell Caruso of La Boca and Eric DiStefano of Coyote Café, both in Santa Fe. There were only 20 nominees in all of Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Texas and New Mexico.
Eating Chinese food on Christmas is a tradition in some American Jewish communities, since Chinese restaurants are the only places that stay open for it. Along with Jewish folks and much of Asia, most of world’s population doesn’t celebrate Christmas—which can be a bit hard to remember stateside.
He was pulled over for speeding and then escorted to the border
By Marjorie Childress
Albuquerque has a number of rules in place governing how local law enforcement should handle immigration. But none of the city’s policies prevented two men from being escorted to the border after a traffic stop this summer.
It’s Sunday night in the main showroom at the Hard Rock Casino, south of Albuquerque. The place is packed and excitement is high. “¡Otra! ¡Otra!,” shouts the crowd, encouraging a tall man in a gold mask to mete out “another!” viscous forearm smash to a beefy bodybuilder dressed like a cross between serial killer Jason Voorhees and an extra in Gladiator. Lucha libre has come to Albuquerque. And it’s got the locals cheering.
The sore throat starts on Monday. Tuesday adds a headache and congestion. On Wednesday, you ask to leave work after almost hacking up your lungs onto a client, but your boss is being uptight. So you tough it out and go home exhausted, skipping dinner and falling into bed. You feel a little better on Thursday, so off to work you go. But by Thursday night, you feel like the victim of a hit-and-run. So you call the doctor early Friday. She can squeeze you in that afternoon. You ask your boss if you can leave early for a doctor’s appointment. He gives you a disapproving look like you’re a naughty 4-year-old, informing you that he’ll need to see a doctor’s note.
Dateline: India—A herd of drunken elephants went on a rampage in eastern India, destroying 60 homes and killing three people, after downing gallons of liquor. Villagers along the remote border of neighboring states Orissa and West Bengal had been stockpiling a popular fermented-rice-based drink for an upcoming festival. According to Bijay Kumar Panda, a local administrator, the elephants found the earthenware containers full of rice wine and proceeded to guzzle it all. They then staggered through a string of villages, only “to fall asleep hither and thither, throwing local life completely haywire.” According to New Delhi’s Pioneer newspaper, the elephants are known for “their love for local country-made brew” which they “gulp down” and “make merry at the cost of villagers.”
Being homeless is no fun, but Josh Jones of Black Market Goods wants to help. For the fourth year running, the gallery owner is holding a benefit for those in need. Wasted Youth, held at 1816 Haines NW, will gather artists, musicians and dancers together at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18. The theme of the show is nostalgia pieces reflecting video games, comics and toys from the artists’ formative years. The show will feature art from a variety of mediums. Five bands are set to perform, along with a DJ, body painters and a burlesque troupe. There is a $3 donation at the door that can be substituted for clothing, toys and food, which will be donated to Toys for Tots, Roadrunner Food Bank and other charities. Jones says he has been "kind of homeless" before, so he wants to help others out. "It sucks to be out there in the cold," he says. Yes, it does.
There’s that joke: What do you get when you play country music backward? You get your house, your truck and your wife back. At its heart, it’s a joke about how depressing country music can be. Nobody wants to hear about the realities of divorce, alcoholism or depression through their radios. Artists have often used life’s lows as rich fodder for their visual material, and the current drawing show at The Normal Gallery is a good example of that.
Maybe it was a premonition of things to come that big, weird landmarks were a happy part of my childhood. At 25-feet high, the Michigan Stove Company’s giant stove marked the entrance to the Belle Isle Bridge on Detroit’s riverfront. The monument was built in 1893 for Chicago’s Columbian Exposition and was moved to celebrate a merger with Detroit Stove Works in 1927. To me it represented family picnics at Belle Isle—food!
If you haven't been inside one of the many Mexican markets around town, you're missing out. They're enclaves of culture as well as food, filled with goods and services to make their customers feel at home, not unlike an Asian supermarket or a Whole Foods. Some Mexican markets have developed a loyal following among the English-as-a-first-language demographic as well; because in addition to the fresh papayas, phone cards and goat-milk candy, they have restaurants with great Mexican food. Today we explore the culinary offerings of the locally owned El Mezquite Market chain, with four stores in Albuquerque.
In January, Indie Q will celebrate its one-year anniversary. The e-mail distribution list and networking group for local, independent filmmakers was started by the Albuquerque Film Office in January of 2009. Indie Q members meet the third Wednesday of every other month to discuss the New Mexico film scene, network with one another and screen works-in-progress. Starting Monday, Dec. 20, Indie Q will operate out of a new website, independent of its cabq.gov address. If you’re already signed up to get Indie Q’s helpful e-mails about upcoming auditions, film festivals, screenings, classes and the like, they’ll now be coming to you from firstname.lastname@example.org. If, however, you’re Duke City dweller involved in the independent film scene and aren’t signed up at Indie Q, now’s a perfect time to jump on board. Simply head over to the new website at indieq.ning.com and post a free member profile. There are already 200 locals who have. A profile on Indie Q will allow you to interact with other filmmakers, post events, start film-related discussions and receive those handy film industry e-mails. (And since they’re sent right to your inbox, it’s not like you have to log on to Indie Q every week to find out what’s going on.) Obviously, the more filmmakers involved, the more valuable this group will be. What are you waiting for?
Ballet: Boring or scary? Scary, says Darren Aronofsky’s new head trip.
By Devin D. O’Leary
Thanks most likely to the arresting imagery of its trailers, Darren Aronofsky’s beautifully nightmarish film Black Swanhas captured a lot of people’s attentions. Despite its rarified setting and artsy style, the “ballet thriller” (I honestly don’t know what else to call it) seems to have danced its way into the zeitgeist. Internet buzz is high, audiences seem curious and the film even scored its own pop-cultural reference on a recent episode of the NBC sitcom “30 Rock.” So what’s all the fuss about?
TV has gotten mighty sneaky about trying to sell us stuff. Realizing that viewers don’t actually like to watch commercials, television networks and their pals over on Madison Avenue have come up with some clever ways of getting us to absorb ads in the past few years. There are the title sponsorships, now common in sports broadcasting (the “FedEx Orange Bowl,” the “VISA Halftime Show”). There’s the rash of “embedded” commercials (Randy and Simon grinning over jumbo-sized cups of refreshing Coca-Cola on “American Idol,” NBC working Subway into several plotlines of its Monday night show “Chuck”). There’s even been a movement to “micro-size” commercials, adding more commercial breaks during a show, but reducing their length from the industry standard two minutes and two seconds. (“We’ll be back in two and two,” as Chuck Woolery used to say on “Love Connection.”)
After my last article expounding the joys of an Elvis Christmas, I received dozens of responses (mostly from my cousin Dana) asking for more holiday recommendations. I don’t actually know of much Christmas music that is bearable, so I looked to the Internet for help. My fingers hovered over the keys as I dreamed of the perfect search criteria, until I was struck with a terrible impulse. The cynic in me was already screaming no and railing against the idea as I clicked out “dogs sing Christmas music.” Google yielded more than 20 million results—I found the best one. I’m going to spend the next three weeks holed up in my tiny apartment, ordering pizza and watching “Jingle Pet Song” on YouTube over and over until my eyes swell shut.
Opeth rules. This is not a matter of opinion. Metal fan or not, you have to give it up for any band that has covered as much ground, with as much bold artistry and attention to detail, as this Swedish quintet without coming out the other end sounding like Sun Ra or Throbbing Gristle (no offense to either and props to both, by the way). Considering that Opeth has continually pushed the proverbial envelope despite ongoing major roster changes commands even deeper reverence.
Le Chat Lunatique’s Jared Putnam releases Brontosaurus on Pluto
By Mel Minter
When it was suggested to Jared Putnam that his new recording, Brontosaurus on Pluto, indicates a wonderfully imaginative and possibly quite sick mind at work, he responded, “I prefer to think of my mind as possibly imaginative and wonderfully quite sick.”
Last week in my article “Vinyl X-Mas,” which overviewed good places to buy records in Albuquerque, I wrote that “ ... I don’t like that Charley’s shrink-wraps used vinyl, preventing pre-purchase inspection (and previewing the music) ... .” The comment drew fire from the owner, employees and loyal customers of Charley’s 33s & CDs (7602 Menaul NE, 296-3685). This was my experience at Charley’s—about two years ago, I bought a used copy of Prince’s Purple Rain, but I wasn’t permitted to cut through the shrink-wrap and check out the condition of the vinyl before my purchase. I brought it home to find that “When Doves Cry” skipped. After speaking with Charley’s co-owner Colleen Corrie last week, she assured me that my case is totally unusual. She says the store will open and play any record for a customer, and that the shrink-wrapping measure is taken to preserve the quality of the vinyl. The store also carries thousands of $1 records that aren’t wrapped. So, I hope that clears things up, and that no reader hesitates to check out Charley’s. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Never, ever underestimate the power of scissors and glue sticks. This geometrically exciting flyer announces a rock performance by ROO—which is getting back together—along with Ahniwake, Then Eats Them and Music is the Enemy. The all-ages show happens of Wednesday, Dec. 22, from 7 to 10 p.m. Admission is $5, or whatever you can pay, and it all takes place at Winning Coffee Co. (111 Harvard SE). (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Jared Putnam is the bassist and a vocalist for Albuquerque’s filthiest jazz act, Le Chat Lunatique. This week he releases a solo album—read all about it after the link below this article. We asked Putnam to put his iPod on shuffle, and below are the first five songs that appeared, along with some intentionally undesirable grammar construction.