Eddie sure as hell didn't want spend the rest of his life in Burque, but it sure seemed like it would go that way as he loaded another pizza into the Pontiac. And the moon shone down on the elms and cottonwoods, the cicadas buzzed and nineteen-hundred and ninety-six was not a bad year.
He came back to town like a lightning storm from the Caribbean that January. A man with a scar across his belly and hands like starfish held a knife across Eddie's throat in Tobago because Eddie told the dude his haircut made him look new wave. The way it was tied up on his head like an abandoned coral reef made Eddie think it was just a convenient disguise; the kind the po-po used when they wanted you to be comfortable because they needed more information before they stepped in with machetes drawn and handcuffs at the ready.
He got to walk away from that incident on two accounts, the first being his fluency with slang and the second having to do with the civil war presidents that hung out in his left front pocket.
After that he wandered through town cursing his luck and studying the night sky. The next morning he left Crown Point with acid burning a glorious hole in his gut. The 10 seat Cessna that bore Eddie away made for the coast of the southern continent.
The Isle of Margarita was better, some of the streets were lined with orange trees, but even the good hotels had plumbing hanging out of the walls. Eddie hired a car and headed for the coast. The cabbie tuned in to a station that was playing "Stairway to Heaven" over and over. The sea was grey and despicable. At dinner an old European couple hit him up for a threesome. Eddie feigned shock and wandered back to his cabana alone.
Two days on and he was stranded in the student ghetto again, reading want ads in the Daily Lobo, smoking rolled up frajos made from butts found by the front door of the Frontier Restaurant.
Eddie finally scored a job as a substitute teacher. Shorn and shaved, wearing his old man's cast off business attire, it was easy enough to think he might be a teacher.
The year was burning by kinda like a rocket to the moon might look like from the proper vantage point. In May Eddie took a full time gig at the school.
He liked all the responsibility; the pizza in the cafeteria kept his spirit calm. But at night his head was still filled up with the mountains and seas and people that made up a faraway earth he reckoned he ought to conquer while youth permitted.
When summer school ended, he walked away from the job and rang up an old flame. Lorraine was living at the edge of the Himalaya mountains and goddammit if it didn't sound fine and picturesque where she was, with fruit bats a flyin' and the monsoon petering out to reveal an infinite, mountainous majesty that beat Burque to hell by comparison.
Since he needed some feria to get out there, Eddie took a temp position at the same college he had run screaming from four years before. They were pleased as punch to see his sorry ass and let him get their internet connections sorted out. Then he was in charge of dispensing keys and also sat in the front office typing memos.
Every night he would tumble out of there and walk downtown. He'd spend everything he could come up with drinking with acquaintances and coaxing beautiful strangers back to his pad for jazz cigarettes and strong coffee.
As summer waned he ran into a gal he had known in the 1980s. She was a townie with yellow hair and hands like a clock. They ended up back at Glenda's house where she wept while telling Eddie about her life. All Eddie could think about was that woman's mother sleeping in the next room, the scent of her dead father's shoes wafting solemnly through the family home.
Eddie picked up the phone at work the next day.. It was a trunk call from Nepal. The operator asked if he wanted to be connected. The voice on the other side was dulcet, was like velvet. Come out here, the voice said and we will make it work this time.
Eddie was all torn up. He liked the yellow-haired woman, even though she said he dressed like a punk and should trade in his patronage at Pacific Coast Sunwear for the comfort and cultural cachet of Macy's. And he had a history with Lorraine, could not resist her Oxford accent—especially given the hot dry air, the crackling insect desert, the dull clerk's identity he had gathered up into a bag called Albuquerque.
One morning after a party at Glenda's, he borrowed her car and drove over to Allsup's. Eddie bought a burrito with a Grant and poured the change—196 quarters—into the pay phone so he could tell Lorraine what exactly he had decided to do.
Eddie returned the car, took his skateboard and left. He withdrew all of his money from the bank, skated over to his favorite tavern and got good and drunk.
That night he fell alseep in a friend's back yard. When the short night had ebbed he hauled his sorry ass over to a travel Agency by the Sunport and bought a one way ticket to Kathmandu. He sure as hell hoped it would work out this time.
Six month's later when he returned for his mother's funeral—thin and worn with a head full of incense—Eddie took a job delivering pizzas. The third delivery ticket was for an address in Nob Hill; it was Glenda's house. He took her the pizza. She stood at the door, staring at the stars and weeping. As Eddie held the pie out toward Glenda her hands moved around and around in small circles exploring the space all around them.
I have lived in Albuquerque almost my whole life. To be more specific, I am a product of the Northeast Heights. That's the part of town where I've lived the most, where I went through public school and where I spend the majority of my time. But now I work Downtown. Having worked down here for several months, now I feel like I get what Downtown is all about. It's not as intimidating as it once was. The narrow roads and one way streets now only semi stress me out. I like walking the streets and noticing the varied people who congregate in this area. I've grown to love watching the trucks unload the cases of booze in the morning from the view from my desk and seeing the bands unloading equipment in the alleyway on my walk to my car. Having said all that though, today I did miss my turn and was almost immediately lost. Turns out, I haven't really explored more than my natural route down here. The only thing that saved me is that Albuquerque streets are on a grid system. I think I might have some more exploring to do.
There is something wrong with waiting for the Sun-Tran bus number eleven at seven in the morning thought Charlie Jones as he dragged upon a Camel straight and adjusted the band on his watch. A couple of pigeons wandered over and he threw them each ample quantities of the three-day-old Allsups burrito buried in his coat pocket.
Jones was wearing stuff from his father's closet. There was something about that woolen cowboy-style suit jacket and the bolo tie—a turquoise and coral affair that depicted the Zuni Sun God—that made Charlie itchy and paranoid.
—Someone else wore this stuff around Burque thirty years ago and now it's my turn, he mumbled to the small birds.
The Lomas bus followed a wide path made from concrete and dinosaur juice and ended up on the edge of the mountains, a place nearby to Charlie's destination. On board, Jones read through his notes for the day. Once in a while, he looked out the window. The bus drove through places that used to be open range, filled with sage and snakes and the ruins of cars that never made it to Califas.
—So Tony y la familia settled in Barelas, a passenger across the aisle gravely intoned.
Charlie got out of the bus after it crossed Juan Tabo and walked the rest of the way to the high school. The place was mostly painted purple. There were also about three hundred or so depictions of lions—some sculptural—
—The school mascot left its spoor everywhere, Jones whispered reverently.
As Charlie marched through the administrator’s area on the way to his classroom, he was mistaken for a student by the new community resource officer, a man who had just moved to Burque from New Jersey—looking for something he just knew was hidden somewhere in the sprawling western lands. His name was Dwight.
Jones produced his faculty ID. He gave the old man a solemn pat on the back, thanking him for his vigilance and incomparable public service. The two men wandered away from the other satisfied and confident about their ability to communicate with individuals from outside their respective subcultures.
It was still early; Charlie stopped by the teacher's lounge. He had a Sony Walkman in his bag. Jones was about to activate side two of the new Radiohead album when Bob Baca, the biology teacher appeared. Bob began chatting about invertebrates in a very excited tone and then with no small amount of verbal craft segued loquaciously and nearly seamlessly into a diatribe about the wonders of religion.
—A single dude like you ought to give church a try, said the biology teacher, inducing a sense of mock frenzy in Charlie’s fingers, which were unable to flip the cassette tape over at that precise moment due to an overwhelming sense of ennui in the rest of his body.
He reached his room, unlocked the door and activated the switch on the wall. Lights fluttered to life and computers booted. Students began to wander in. One of them asked Charlie if it was true that he was a communist and let his summer school students read Chairman Mao's little red book last year. Charlie waved off the question and made sure he stood with his hand over heart when they played the Star Spangled banner over the intercom that morning.
Jones gave a lesson about how technology was influencing rock music. One of his students, Zach, jumped out of his seat near the end of the talk, and began belting out "Destination Anywhere," by Bon Jovi while gesturing madly at the students in the back of the room. After a couple of verses, he retreated—funky, outrageous and parade-style through the classroom door, never seen again.
During the scheduled lunch break, Charlie sat behind his desk and played Oregon Trail on the Apple IIe. Afterward he spent the afternoon discussing a relatively new thing called the world wide web with a group of final-year students who he believed were probably going to end up designing nuclear weapons or implementing carnivorous global marketing strategies.
On the way out to the bus stop at the end of the day, he nearly tripped over Bob Baca. Jones was looking down, trying to find the rewind button on his music player. Just as he slid awkwardly past Baca, the tape inside the machine reset itself. A recording of Thom Yorke's voice began telling all about a dystopian world—filled with crash survivors and characters right out of Shakespeare—that was just around the corner.
—Fitter, happier, more productive, the voice on recording said with the informative precision of machines.
Charlie cranked up the volume, flashed Baca the peace sign and crossed the street. He walked to the bench where a bus was always waiting and listened.
If you’ve ever been to Albuquerque, you’re aware that driving here is pretty fucking awful. It’s a tossup every time you drive: It’s either going to be fine or it’s going to potentially wreck your car and you. I don’t know how many times I’ve driven with a friend and been scared shitless because they think they know what they’re doing. I try to call people out whenever I’m driving with them, and I usually get called a backseat driver. Excuse me, but I don’t want to die trapped in a fiery cage while shouting, “I told you not to do that you nitwit!”. Let’s explore why nearly everyone in Burque sucks ass when driving.
The worst time to drive in town is during rush hour. Since Albuquerque is pretty spread out and not as populated as other western cities, one would assume that it would be easy to drive here (whatever that means). That would take common sense and attention, though, which most Burqueno-drivers lack. Drivers tend to be overly aggressive and brash during prime driving hours. I try to avoid driving around 7am-9am and 4pm-6pm, but unfortunately that’s not realistic. These are the rush hours for a reason: It’s when most people have to get to places. More than trying to avoid driving during a certain time, I make a large effort to not drive in certain areas during this time.
I’ve found that the interstates are a shit-show during rush hour, along with major roads and highly condensed areas. When I worked in Rio Rancho (circa 2012), I would usually get off around 4pm. I would walk ever-so-slowly to my car dreading driving back home to the East Mountains. Driving on I-25, especially around Jefferson was scary. I would only loosen my grip on my steering wheel once I was past the Tramway exit on I-40. I also hate driving around the Base during the mornings. Afternoons are fine, but mornings? Fuck that.
When I was a teenager, my mom and I would carpool most of the time. We would have to leave our house (which is about 35 minutes from the Base if you drive the speed limit), and our goal was to leave about an hour before she had to be at work on Base. We would usually sit in traffic at the Eubank gate for 5-20 minutes; we could never be sure how long it would take. I also don’t like driving through the center areas of Downtown. It never works because people don’t understand that you have to drive the speed limit to catch all the green lights.
Recently I was driving home—which is Downtown for me—and I was going through the traffic circle. I think 80% of the drivers that go through there don’t know how to use traffic circles. I was driving in the circle (so I had the right-of way) and a truck pulled up to the circle going east and almost hit me and then they had the nerve to honk at me like I was the one who didn’t know how traffic circles work.
The only people that are comparable to the god-awful drivers in Albuquerque are Italian drivers. Half of the time when I was in a vehicle in Italy, I was genuinely afraid for my life. I’m never as scared of driving as I was then, but it’s nevertheless daunting. We don’t use our blinkers, we drive too fast, we don’t check our mirrors, we’re distracted (texting and talking on the phone while driving is still illegal, dummies), we run red lights and stop signs, we all-out ignore signs, and road rage is getting wild. To paraphrase John Mulaney, we’re all like a one hundred year old, blind dog who’s texting while driving and drinking a smoothie.
It seems as a city, we’ve agreed recently to try to do better. Let’s drop the ‘try’ and just do better.
Time to quit your job and become an astronaut!
Want to help fight Islamophobia?
Santa’s replacement is coming to town.
Tis the season! Here’s a gift list for everyone you hate.
Remember that guy who jacked up the price for life-saving meds overnight this September? Well, this thing just happened to him (HA).
Are you a typical shitty driver in Albuquerque? Probably. This teen is calling you out.
Blue and Red agree for once on how much Trump sucks.
2015 was a strange year. People in the future will look back at these trends and think we were all freaking insane.
Apple overprices their battery case. Shocker.
Get clean for Christmas. A South valley clinic is offering free acupuncture detox treatment for the next couple of weeks.
A bill that would ban panhandling in certain places is on the agenda for Tuesday's City Council Meeting.
No Child Left Behind finally goes away. Hopefully its replacement is more helpful.
Snapchat trying to cover news via their story is like trying to make fetch happen. It’s not going to happen.
Robert Downey Jr. and I have one thing in common and it’s not being able to keep surprises a secret.
The only thing on the internet that I’m obsessed with is Anna Kendrick’s Tweets.
On a more emotional note, as if feelings weren’t already uncontrollable, frontman of the Stone Temple Pilots dies at 48.
I am going to need another tug off that bottle of Thunderbird if I am going to go down there and rescue one of those kittens said Charlie to the spare but shabby living room of the house on Silver Avenue.
Chauncy was in the room under the stairs which contained a sink, a shower and crapper. He did not hear Charlie talking nonsense about the cats because he was getting ready for his evening shift at the steakhouse. Chauncy was frantically trying to coax chicken fat stains out of his black trousers with a toothbrush and a bottle of Florida Water.
The others were in the first-floor bedroom, across from all of that. They couldn't hear Charlie either. Michael was smoking dirt weed out of a pipe he had carved from an apple, reclining like royalty on the bed while his stunned girlfriend Sherri sat in the corner picking glitter out of her hair and counting Jeffersons. They moved in last week and Charlie knew them about as well as any of the other punk rockers from across the street.
Charlie looked around and realized he was speaking to empty space, chatting with the void. He got up and dragged himself to the kitchen. Tim Lodgeson was in there cooking a chicken in the microwave. He had the whole thing in the oven for ten minutes while the two of them sat around jawing about school. Charlie couldn't make heads or tails of what Lodgeson told him. It was something about forests and capitalism.
When the meat came out it was gray. It had the appearance of plastic. Tim took the bird and skewered it with a big silver serving fork he had taken from the cafeteria last semester, around Thanksgiving. He started gnawing on the chicken as if he had not eaten for a week, like he had conquered a small but vicious dinosaur with teeth and technology.
Charlie excused himself politely, gagged and walked out onto the back porch. He could hear the kittens in the basement mewling for their mother. The hell with the Thunderbird, he thought, I sure would like a new pet cat. Further reasoning that such an outcome would be a pleasant surprise for his girlfriend, he sauntered down the stairs and into the darkness.
He felt his way around for a bit until he could reach out and pull on the chain that turned on the light bulb in the middle of basement. Sure enough, there was a litter of cats in the basement. Their mother was nowhere to be seen. Charlie crept over to snatch up a tiny calico.
An eruption of teeth and fur and hair and blood coincided with that action as the hidden mother pounced. The living fury would not come off him, though he clawed and clawed at it. He retreated and was filled up with a queasy combination of shame and horror. The damn thing finally let up when he got to the door, lunging for the knob and hitting his head on the concrete as he fell toward the yard.
Back inside of the house on Silver Avenue, Michael and Sherri had crept out their room and were watching Hee Haw in the big front room. Chauncy was in the kitchen critiquing Tim's culinary procedures as he attempted to saw a leg off of what was left of the poultry experiment. Chauncy was dressed for work now. He looked like a million bucks and was being awfully careful not to get any schmaltz on his waiter's uniform as he danced around Tim's meaty methodologies.
As the two went on and on about the wonders of microwave cooking and with the mellow sounds of George Jones drifting through the whole place, Charlie entered from the porch. He asked for a wet towel and wondered aloud where his bottle of wine might have gotten to. Saturday night had just begun.
Things I see on my way to work:
(3) APD Cars, two going to the same destination, and quickly.
(1) Santa Fe Police Car, attracting disdainful looks.
(1) Back bumper of a Ford Mazda. Bumper sticker reads ‘If you can see this you’re too close’.
(1) Shattered brake light, presumably from the same car.
(1) Shattered headlight, presumably from the tailgating asshole.
(2) People dressed nicely, a man and a woman separately. Life has treated them well, they tell themselves as they scream into their cell phones.
(5) People dressed casually, half wait for the bus, the others walk. The ones with company don’t seem to mind as much the time of day and the bitter cold.
(3) People dressed in many layers of tattered clothing. One sleeps in a slouched position, one waits for the bus, and one walks seemingly aimlessly.
(3) Very large murals painted on the walls of city buildings. People from different cities would wonder how vandalists are able to create such intricate pieces without anyone stopping them.
(2) City buses, struggling to turn the tight corners of small downtown streets.
(4) Pieces of actual graffiti. Two are small tags with gang names and the others are aborted works of art not commissioned by the government.
(1) Puddle of indeterminable nature. It hasn’t rained in a week, and the puddle smells like a pit to hell.
Last night's GOP debate is calm and mature... Relatively.
The people at BuzzFeed share with us their lousy sex experience.
Albuquerque honors its veterans- with free stuff!
Yet another “Beauty Through the Decades” video, but this one takes the romantic filter off of the past to show what women were really doing.
A planet far far away causes scientists to rethink the way they see planetary orbit.
Space is terrifying. Death is around every corner, and these astronauts have faced it head on.
Here's a page thats full of people gushing about Fallout 4. If that interests you.
There could be major changes to the bail system in New Mexico, from eliminating bail for non-violent crimes, to doing away with the informal parody between bail amounts and specific charges.
A transgender student in Cibola County will be allowed to use the restroom of her choosing after changes were made to the school district's code.
To get around a permit problem, Albuquerque's Lantern Fest will be holding a "slow speed race" all day at Sandia Speedway.
Yes, given the opportunity, Jeb Bush would kill baby Hitler.
You already knew Unicorns poop ice cream, but have you heard of the Squatty Potty?