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Alibi takes silver and bronze in AltWeekly Awards
Warning: own-horn-tooting ahead
Last Friday, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (we like to call ‘em AAN) announced the winners of their 12th annual AltWeekly Awards, and your little old locally-owned, independent Alibi managed to nab a few honors in its weight class. To wit:
• Jerry Cornelius, our pseudonymous tech writer (for whom I feel a certain fatherly affection) took second place in the web feature category for “Ecstatic Technology,” all about everyone’s least favorite videogame genre, the 2-D shooter.
Yeah, no gold medals, but we’re psyched anyhow, so sue us. And now, we’d like to thank all the little people …
Conservancy District Election is TODAY
If you are a property owner within the boundaries of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, today’s the day to vote for two board positions. Was that a “who cares?” from the back row? Listen, buddy, last time around nobody voted, and as a result we got a guy who buys water rights sitting on the board of a friggin’ irrigation conservancy. Can you say “conflict of interest”? I knew that you could.
Earlier this week, the Albuquerque Tribune provided an excellent overview of the recent MRGCD political chaos, with lots of inflammatory statements from both adversarial board member Bill Turner (”These people are evil, flat-out evil.”) and MRGCD mouthpiece (not to mention former Alibi staffer) Dennis Domrzalski (who calls Turner a “pathetic clown” in one especially vituperative press release). It’s all pretty entertaining, but the issue is serious: Valley irrigation creates a green space where there would otherwise be sand and scrub. The ditch system is already endangered and it needs protection from water rights scavengers. Who will provide the right guidance for the beleaguered MRGCD?
I voted for Adrian Oglesby, a progressive water attorney with ties to smart-growth advocates in the North Valley, and Eugene Abeita, an Isleta Pueblo farmer favored by the South Valley Acequia Association--both candidates also endorsed by the Journal, as it turns out.
Do you care yet? Don’t worry, polls are open until 7 p.m., there are a ton of locations, and I personally guarantee no long lines. For your convenience, here’s the list for Bernalillo County:
MRG 201 4-H Center 1500 Menaul Blvd. NW Albuquerque
The De-Albuquerque-ization of Albuquerque continues
I can hardly wait until it’s all gone!
Who are these boneheads trying to mold Albuquerque into a generic simulacra of Everywhere, USA? Let’s strip all the cool signs off Route 66 and put ‘em in a museum so Albuquerque looks less like Albuquerque. What a fucking brilliant idea! Hey, I’ve got the new tourist slogan: “Albuquerque, it used to be a trip!” Give this town another 10 years of this kind of thinking and it will become a uniform shade of gray. This ill-conceived ordinance with hazy “exceptions for some landmarks” [emphasis mine] is up for EPC Review on May 17.
Joanna Newsom show cancelled
The Joanna Newsom show--so loudly proclaimed to be a potentially happening moment for Albuquerque tonight--is cancelled. The singer has lost her voice and will have to cancel a bunch of shows from her tour, including this one. According to sources, Ms. Newsom expressed a desire to return for a make-up date, but it won’t be anytime soon. Word is the show was nearly sold out, so go to the Launchpad anyway and weep in your beer.
What’s Wrong With This Picture?
I never thought I’d be recommending a blog by a Republican ex-cop. but here I am doing it. M.G. Bralley’s What’s Wrong With This Picture? features critical commentary, thoughtful observations and personal photojournalism to produce an Albuquerque-focused blog of unusually high quality. Some highlights …
Bralley on the new STOP (Safe Traffic Operations Program) automated photo-ticketing ordinance:
Using the always-on passive radar or the unblinking eye of cameras constitutes a governmental intrusion of the populace. It is guilt until proven innocent, not the required presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
This is technology for technology's sake.
On John Dendahl’s sudden ascension to Republican gubernatorial candidate:
… I voted and now a faction of my party met in a backroom and took my vote away. The only one I had.
On city councilor Sally Mayer:
It is my opinion that in the 32-year history of the Albuquerque city council she is the second worst councilor to serve.
On the padlocking of the El Vado motel:
At one point this motel along with many others created a trail of lights, like a string of pearls, across the city following the path of US Route 66.
Bralley’s civil-libertarian brand of conservatism is an unusually reasonable response to these divisive times. The Blogspot-driven site is heavy on the load times and sluggish to scroll through, but well worth a visit. I’ve subscribed to the RSS feed and I recommend you do the same.
Rail Runner Hauls Ass
Yes, It's Fast!
Unable to control myself any longer, I joined the throngs of curiosity-seekers aboard the 5:25pm Rail Runner from Albuquerque to Bernalillo last night. The train left a few minutes late, but once in motion, the Rail Runner quickly ramped up to a cruising speed of 80 miles per hour, blasting through North Valley back lots and pastures like a bat out of hell.
To convince the unbelievers, I took some out-the-window digicam footage that captures the sense of speed, particularly this one of the Rail Runner handily smoking cars en route to Bernalillo on Highway 313. The Toonerville Trolley this ain't.
The cars are comfortable. I didn't try the WiFi to see if it worked, but some of the seats have small tables for laptop users. There's nothing to shock anyone who has been on a commuter train elsewhere in the world, but the trains are certainly state-of-the-art.
I asked one of the PR flacks about how ticketing will eventually work. He said, "We have about three months to figure that out."
USA Rail Guide
Amshack, take that!
More justified unhappiness with our dumpy rail station
The clamor for a decent rail station in Albuquerque continues to rise in volume. Last week on Duke City Fix, Jon Knudsen, of Albloggerque fame, posted a scathing critique of our downtown Amshack and its “welded rows of imitation Eames era chairs with low backs to keep everybody awake.” Best line: “All in all, the scene reminds me of a north valley laundromat I used to frequent in the early '70's.”
While we can all agree that the Amtrak station sucks (and it does), both Knudsen and most subsequent commentators on his post fail to grasp that the reason it sucks is that Amtrak has been made unwelcome in the Alvarado Transportation Center thanks to the greedy, un-civic-minded policies of the City of Albuquerque. Here we have a friggin’ intermodal transportation center full of administrative offices and ONE mode of transport: buses. Oh wait, two modes: pedestrians. Why? Because Amtrak can’t pony up enough cash to make it worth the City’s while. Lame.
There are gorgeous rail stations in downtowns across the nation (even El Paso has a rocking Amtrak station), largely because local and state governments have assembled the funds to make it happen. As I’ve written before, the Alvarado was a publicly-funded project supposedly engineered for the common good. Its management should reflect that mission. It doesn’t.
And to those who question the relevance of cross-country passenger rail in this day and age: You’re dumb. A criminally underfunded entity, Amtrak performs heroically with outdated equipment and limited access to rail right-of-way. Airlines and airports are subsidized far beyond the pittance with which Amtrak squeaks by on a year-to-year basis. In this era of rising gas prices, urban congestion (not to mention the occasional nationwide grounding of all air traffic), only a moron would shut down a functioning, energy-efficient alternative system because it doesn’t make a profit. What the hell are my tax dollars for, if not a decent transit infrastructure? Oh that’s right, imperialistic wars of aggression. Never mind.
Shojo Manga! Girl Power!
Pop-culture literacy alert: A significant traveling exhibit of Japanese comics--shojo manga, to be precise [link] --has been installed at UNM's Masley Gallery (105 Masley Hall ) for a week now, and you probably don't even know where Masley Hall is. Neither did I. [link] According to curator Masami Toku, the exhibition will “introduce the innovations in visual composition that were invented in girl's manga.” [link] She'll elaborate tomorrow in person (Tuesday, Jan. 31) at 4 p.m. and a panel discussion will follow. Media geeks and magical girls get in free. [link] Gallery hours: M-F 11am-4pm.
Amtrak breaks Mayor Marty's heart
Says cash on table would improve relations
Last Friday's (Dec. 16) Albuquerque Journal provided a lengthy and well-written cover story on Amtrak's ghetto-boy status in Albuquerque by Journal staff writer (and, apparently, closet rail advocate) Toby Smith. The snappy, impossible-to-ignore, 72-point, above-the-fold pull-quote? “This place is a dump.”
Which it is. If you've ever taken the train to or from Albuquerque (our fair city has daily service to Chicago and Los Angeles) you know that passengers arrive and depart not from the gleaming Alvarado Transportation Center, but from a slovenly “Amshack” in the dirt parking lot one door south. (I always imagine first-time visitors on the southbound Southwest Chief cheerfully looking out the window as the train slows down, saying to themselves, “Hmm. Nice station! Really classy ... Hey, wait a minute! Hey! Hey!”)
Per Smith's story, Amtrak had a deal with the city to move into the Alvarado--but now they don't. Amtrak says the city “decided not to” make room for them. And while other cities on the same route (L.A., Flagstaff and Gallup to name three) view the creation of an adequate passenger rail station as a clear municipal directive good for tourism and the local economy, Mayor Marty cries crocodile tears at Amtrak's inability to buy in to a seat at the big transit table: “It just breaks my heart what is happening to Amtrak. But they don't have penny one. ... We can't carry their burden.”
And even though Governor Richardson's Investment Partnership (GRIP) pro-rail project list actually includes a trial run of Amtrak service “between El Paso and Albuquerque and between Albuquerque and Denver”, Marty prematurely declares doom for Amtrak, stating that he doubts “we'll have passenger service in New Mexico in two years”. Does he consider Amtrak competition for the zoo-to-botanical-gardens kiddy railroad, or is it that he much prefers Greyhound's $1 million cash outlay and land donation which got them into the Alvarado. You decide.
It's pretty sad when a public project built with public funds like the Alvarado suddenly becomes a for-profit enterprise rather than a true transportation hub. The itsatrip.org website [link] still brags that “the Alvarado Transportation Center, located Downtown, is Albuquerque's transportation hub, directing both train and bus travel.” Better update that page, fella. We'll probably see a TGI Friday's in there before Amtrak, if Mayor Marty keeps wanting to charge admission. In a word: lame.
Matthau in Pelham at The Guild!
Great film, soundtrack, dialogue
Lt. Garber: Frank, how much longer before the track's clear all the way to South Ferry?
The boys at The Guild continue to keep the flames of repertory cinema burning brightly in Albuquerque, God bless 'em. Hot on the heels of their inspired Western festival (featuring one of the best, most criminally underrated Westerns in history, One-Eyed Jacks) comes "Cult Classics of the 1970s" of which we are right this moment smack dab in the middle.
The seventies, as the elderly in the audience might recall, was when Hollywood wasn't afraid of greenlighting films that were adventurous, unique, intelligent or countercultural--roughly the same time period when all the good rock came out of major labels and you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting someone who had tried LSD. Things were, ya might say, a little different.
My personal favorite this week is The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) screening Wednesday (8/17) and Thursday (8/18). Walter Matthau, who always annoyed me in his allegedly comedic roles on screen, is brilliant and hilarious as a transit supervisor who has to deal with a hostage crisis on a subway train. Sharp dialogue by screenwriter Peter Stone (Charade) and a strong ensemble cast deliver a tense, clever, driving narrative with a supremely satisfying conclusion. The unbelievably fierce 12-tone jazz soundtrack by David Shire is used sparingly and powerfully, a testament to the "less is more" technique of wiser filmmakers--contrasted with the wall-to-wall music cues of modern Hollywood blockbusters.
They really don't make 'em like this anymore. Double-featured with the not-on-DVD-yet Robert Aldrich film Emperor of the North. Skip work! Go!
Dig the links:
• Guild Cinema [link]
• IMDB [link]
• Alibi [link]
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) at KiMo Theatre
Celebrate Halloween with a classic horror film, featuring Robert Englund as dream-killer Freddy Krueger.
Harry Potter and Parallels in Psychic Phenomenon at Whitt-Pritchette Studio
Texylvania • rock • YOU • Abandoned Mansions • Storming the Beach With Fliers • Count Rockula at Burt's Tiki LoungeMore Recommented Events ››