A few miles from New Mexico, the border town is struggling for normalcy amid a drug war, corruption and exodus
By Maren Tarro
Walking through downtown Juárez, only steps from the border, Maria Vargas is unable to conceal her frustration and sadness. Where tourists and shoppers once crowded stalls and stores, heavily armed and masked Mexican troops now patrol. Shopkeepers lean in doorways, wariness at the edges of their eyes, their businesses deserted and hushed. The playful bargaining between customers and store owners is missing, along with the laughter and conversation that once spilled from restaurants and cantinas.
NMSU student uses poetry to fill in the blanks left by sparse reporting on the drug war
By Maren Tarro
Naomi Ruth Estrada, a 27-year-old English major at NMSU, was frustrated with the national media’s sparse reporting on Mexico’s violent drug war. So she put pen to paper last year to write "Speak a Stupid Brave," a poem using clips from articles she received through "Frontera NorteSur"e-mail updates. "Frontera"is an NMSU-based newsletter focusing on border issues.
Peace group cited for dishing up meals for the homeless without a permit
By Simon McCormack
A short line of young adults forms in front of a table covered with platters of cake, fruit salad, soup and bread. A few folks sit on the steps near the UNM Bookstore, noshing on their midday snacks while a man shouts, “Come have some free food.”
Something finally passed this session. Gov. Bill Richardson signed Rep. Gail Chasey’s controversial death penalty repeal into law on Wednesday, March 18, calling it the "most difficult decision" of his political career. According to the ACLU, 130 inmates on death row were proven innocent and released in the last 30 years. New Mexico is now the 15th state with no death penalty. (CC)
Dateline: Indonesia—Fundamentalist anti-porn protesters are threatening to ban a traditional Indonesian folk dance because it allows female dancers to expose their “erotic” underarms. West Java Governor Ahman Heryawan has warned practitioners of the jaipong dance—performed at official ceremonies and cultural festivals—to tone down their sexy moves and hide their underarms. Islamic parties in the multi-island nation are targeting the dance ahead of April general elections, after Parliament passed a controversial anti-porn law in December. “The worry is that once the anti-porn bill is fully implemented, the dance may be banned because it’s too erotic,” a senior leader of the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party told Agence France-Presse. Outraged professional dance groups have called on Indonesians to teach the protesters a lesson at the ballot box come April. “What are they talking about?” Mas Nanu Muda of the Jaipong Care Community said. “The dancers are all covered up in long-sleeved traditional kebayas, not sexy tubes.” Bandung Tourism and Culture Office Chief M. Askary Wirantaatmadja admits, “Without shaking or gyrating, you can’t call it jaipong. I don’t consider it erotic, titillating or lustful. That’s all in the mind.”
It has been a surprising week with Councilors Debbie O’Malley and Michael Cadigan dropping out of the mayoral race. Both said it would be impossible to collect the more than 3,280 petition signatures and $5 donations required by the end of the month to qualify for public election financing. Those who qualify will get about $328,000 to run their campaigns.
With America’s Hispanic population poised to eclipse the white population any day now, it’s pretty cool to see a full-service Hispanic-focused supermarket chain. Pro’s Ranch Market started as a family store determined to meet the needs of an ever-evolving Latin community and has grown into a chain with locations in California, Arizona, Texas and now New Mexico.
This weekend, on a testosterone-heavy desert camping sojourn, our friend Spencer enlightened us about a high school epiphany he once had: that Salsa Verde Doritos and a 20-ounce Coca-Cola are the "perfect combination" of flavors.
Gov. Richardson sent out his annual call for entries to the New Mexico Filmmakers Showcase. The 2009 showcase is a series of free public screenings designed to expose and celebrate the work of New Mexico filmmakers. This four-day event offers local writers and directors a chance to have their short or feature-length film shown publicly on the big screen at Guild Cinema in Albuquerque. Screenings will be free to the public, and there is no entry fee to submit. Narrative, documentary, animated and experimental films are welcome. The Guild will accept a total of 30 hours of films on a first-come, first-served basis. Deadline for entries is Friday, April 3. Entry forms are available at the Guild Cinema box office (3405 Central NE) or online at nmfilm.com. The showcase will take place May 14 through 17. If you’re a filmmaker looking to get some exposure, here’s your chance. Get on it!
Directory Kelly Reichardt follows last year’s much-praised indie Old Joy with the tonally similar Wendy and Lucy. Like Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy is a contemplative tale of relationships. Though the former film told the story of two out-of-touch friends reunited for a camping trip, the latter explores the connection between a rambling woman and her loyal pooch.
Nonsensical thriller mixes supernatural, science, science fiction, religious prophecy, Nicolas Cage, whatever was on hand
By Devin D. O’Leary
Warning: This review contains spoilers. Seriously. Lots of them. I don’t normally give out spoilers. Studios hate when reviewers do that. So do a lot of moviegoers. But I simply can’t insult the new techno-supernatural-whatsis thriller Knowing without giving away its few meager secrets. If you really want to see Knowing, I suggest you spend your 10 bucks on 10 Big Beef Burritos at Taco Bell or give it to charity or throw it in a wishing well—something useful instead. If you really, really want to see Knowing, I suggest you stop reading this review right now.
Last year’s crippling Writers Guild strike signaled an end to TV’s traditional pilot season. Stuck with sagging ratings and crummy shows, however, the networks are scrambling to come up with new product for fall 2009. It’s hard to guess which of these shows will actually make it onto the air, but here’s a quick sampling of the star-studded series pilots shooting in Hollywood (and elsewhere).
CrazyFool releases its third album, Corruption Rock, on vinyl, CD and MP3 this week. Preview the funky madness at the Launchpad on Friday, March 20, as the band plays an all-ages show with La Junta, Fighting Chance and El Mono Sucio. Then stick around for the 21+ after show with Felonious Groove Foundation and Fantastic Planet. The music starts at 8 p.m., and cover’s $7. (Laura Marrich)
The Arts Alliance Gallery primarily features exhibits from local and state artists and craftsmen, grouped by medium or artistic societies. Past exhibits showcased work from New Mexico Wood Turners, New Mexico Bead Society and New Mexico Silk Painters Guild. The space, located on the corner of Lomas and San Mateo, also hosts receptions and meetings for Albuquerque art organizations. Till the end of March, the 1,500 square-foot gallery hosts "Beyond the I: From the Personal to the Cosmic," featuring work by New Mexico and Arizona artists from the Society of Layerists in Multi-Media. The Albuquerque-founded society shares the commonality of the holistic ability art across all mediums. The gallery's April exhibit is the work the New Mexico Polymer Clay Guild. The juried show opens Friday, April 3 and will feature polymer clay jewelry and art.
Last week, President Obama touched upon some of his plans to address our country's increasingly disastrous education system. What garnered the bulk of the attention was the proposal of tying teacher pay to performance. Most teachers find this idea anathema, and many outside of education don't understand why. In the business world, it's easy to quantify someone's performance: It's all in the numbers. Education, however, cannot be run like a business, even though that’s been the trend for the past 15 years. The problem is: How is a teacher's worth determined? If it's solely tied to student performance, then good teachers who inherit struggling students could be penalized and poor teachers in good school systems rewarded. And what students have learned doesn't always show up in a test taken that same school year; it emerges over time as they learn to synthesize the information and skills into their lives.
UNM students must wait years to get campus child care
By Simon McCormack
Monnica Garcia says she lucked out.
After she became pregnant, she hopped on the waiting list for UNM’s Children’s Campus for Early Care and Education while she was still in high school. A year and a half later, her son’s name was called. Garcia enrolled him at the daycare center just in time to start taking classes at UNM in 2002.
Over the years Albuquerque, like much of America, has seen both the slow fade and outright demolition of untold pieces of culture. Buildings rise and fall, eras come and go, and in the midst of it we shrug off the history like wheezy, archetypal grandpa stories of walking to school in the snow.
Councilor Michael Cadigan called out Mayor Martin Chavez and his administration for not issuing a public statement about the 13 bodies excavated from the mesa. Councilor Ken Sanchez said he spoke to Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz about the situation, and the chief is willing to keep the Council updated. Councilor Trudy Jones gave a shout-out to Schultz, who was sitting in on the meeting, and requested an update right then and there. Chief Schultz declined, saying he would prefer to talk with the councilors about the case in a one-on-one setting out of public view.
Remember last November, when it slowly began to dawn on us poor sap taxpayers that the hundreds of billions of dollars of public money the federal government had poured into the bailout of our failing multinational financial industry was going nowhere but into the bankers’ pockets and their corporate lockboxes?
Dateline: Australia—Police in Queensland were called out to a “mini-riot” after a man refused to take off his clothes at a notorious nudist colony’s sex party. Police were summoned amid threats of violence and ordered John Harrison of Brisbane and his wife to leave the “anything goes” orgy, reports the Courier-Mail. The incident happened at the White Cockatoo resort, near Port Douglas, which is promoting a month of “adults only” hedonism to boost sagging tourism figures. Owner Tony Fox said the row erupted when four naked female guests protested when confronted by the fully clothed man. “They felt uncomfortable with him eyeing them up, and I asked him to show some respect and take his clothes off,” said Fox. “He then threatened to bash me. There was some argy-bargy and I ordered him off the premises and police were called.”
Puppeteers practice an ingenious breed of artistry that blends playfulness, resourcefulness and beauty to practical ends. That's a fancy way of saying "Puppeteers are my favorite." Michael McCormick is a native New Mexican who's built puppets, masks and props for The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Star Wars: Episode VI—Return of the Jedi. He'll show his personal and commercial work and reconstruct part of his studio space at the William Platz Gallery in the Art Center Design College (5000 Marble NE). The exhibit will be on display through Friday, April 17, and the gallery is open on Thursdays from 2 to 7 p.m., Fridays from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
ArtStreet’s Synergy: Word + Visual Art + Printmaking
By Erin Adair-Hodges
Community is a word that gets thrown around a lot in the art world—how art brings community together, how community fashions dialogue, etc. It gets so much play that its meaning can be lost or rendered redundant. But the thing is, ArtStreet is really, really about community.
Some foods punish with criminal flavor, but are they unethical?
By Maren Tarro
Albuquerque’s public school lunch menu made national headlines when it was announced that children with outstanding lunch bills would be treated to cheese sandwiches until their parents paid up. Parents were outraged, claiming it was insulting and humiliating for their precious darlings to be served such pedestrian fare. Others questioned whether it was fair to punish students for their parents' oversight.
From the people who brought you Hamlet the Vampire Slayer (no, really) comes Romeo & Juliet vs. The Living Dead. On Friday, March 13, Guild Cinema will host the premiere screening of this locally shot horror comedy. The film is directed by Ryan Denmark and stars Hannah Kauffmann, Jason Witter, Mark Chavez, Kate Schroeder, Kevin R. Elder and a whole host of familiar Albuquerque actors. Screenings will be at 7 and 9 p.m. and are absolutely free. Seating is limited, though. If you haven’t already sent your RSVP, you might be SOL. Give it a shot, though, by sending a request for tickets to email@example.com. If you can’t get in, you can at least scope out the trailer by logging on to thirdstarfilms.com. Congratulations, by the way, to all involved for another successfully completed local indie feature!
In the years since its publication (1986 to be exact), writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons’ groundbreaking graphic novel Watchmen has become something of a holy writ of illustrated lit. Referred to as The Catcher in the Rye of comic books, Watchmen has become a necessary right of passage for anyone who claims to love the superhero genre and arguably the most important point of reference (Frank Miller’s Batman:The Dark Knight Returns being the other contender) among nerdy intelligentsia. So it is with both crushing trepidation and manic anticipation that fans have awaited director Zack Snyder’s filmic adaptation.
Not a fan? These are not the droids you’re looking for.
By Devin D. O’Leary
Arriving a full three years after it was shot here in New Mexico and with all the attendant timeliness of a Jennifer Wilbanks joke (oh, how quickly we forget), Fanboys finally stumbles into Albuquerque theaters. Aimed squarely at the titular demographic, the film is a genial love letter to Star Wars geekdom disguised as a mildly raunchy road movie.
The late-night airwaves are going through a major sea change, at least on NBC. After a run of nearly 17 years on “The Tonight Show,” Jay Leno is making a rather surprising move, bringing his mainstream-America style of chat show to NBC’s prime time lineup five nights a week. That means that Conan O’Brien is getting bumped up a slot, abandoning “Late Night” and taking over Leno’s old gig as host of “The Tonight Show.” (That’s scheduled to take place later this summer.) Of course, that historic changing of the guard leaves a power vacuum back on David Letterman’s former “Late Night” haunt. As a result, NBC executives have reached into their network talent pool and plucked Jimmy Fallon from “Saturday Night Live” (a gig he gave up in 2006). Fallon debuted on “Late Night” last week to generally solid numbers (his first show beat time slot rival Craig Ferguson by 35 percent) and kind (if not exactly glowing) reviews.
Take your vitamins and go out. Quite a few of the bands you'll see padding out local lineups in the coming weeks are on their way to or from SXSW in Austin, and that means a concentrated froth of bigger, better, weirder touring acts than what usually rambles through town. You can't afford to stay home.
OK, so it’s time again for high winds, evil leprechauns, disgusting green beer and arming yourself with a stout shillelagh. Lighten up dude, it’s also time for the good things ... remember parades and bagpipes?
The Ramones-obsessed, headfirst slide into power-pop punk bumps up against its yang: layer upon layer of cacophonous sound that’s impossible to pick apart.
Though the result is messy, guitarist Randy Randall says everything is carefully designed. “Even the sense of chaos is planned in there,” Randall says. “Ninety-nine percent of it is all written out. If you were to see us every single night on the road, you might eventually become bored, because it’s the same sound every day.”
The upside of globalization is that it’s supposed to eliminate the distances between countries. The irony of the current economic state means that even the most budget-conscious of aspiring travelers will have a hard time venturing beyond their own cities, much less outside the country.
I'm no daredevil. I never drive more than four miles above the speed limit. I always wear a helmet when I’m supposed to. I refuse to take kickboxing for fear of shattered shin bones. And heights greatly increase my heart rate.
Congratulations are in order for everyone at Fat Man Media, the New Mexico-based film production company behind the short film “On the Bus.” The film received five awards at the Indie Distribution Festival, a virtual film festival based out of La Jolla, Calif., earlier this year. Late last month (Feb. 21-24), the short was screened at MAGA, the Macon Film & Video Festival in Georgia. The dramatic short, about a mentally disturbed man riding a city bus, was written and produced by Jonathan Harnisch & Maureen Cooke and was directed by Willie Ford. For more info on the production, log on to fatman.net.
Local theater teams with national arts org to take viewers on a tour of the underground
By Devin D. O’Leary
The Guild Cinema, with its mixture of award-winning documentaries, acclaimed foreign cinema, cutting-edge indie films and cult midnight movies, continues to expand Albuquerque’s viewing options. This month, the venerable Nob Hill theater joins forces with a number of under-the-radar arts organizations to bring the multi-week Other Cinema DVD Warmup series to town. Covering nine flicks in just three weekends, this series of “engaging, lively, provocative and darn interesting movies” aims to expose viewers to a wide range of filmic arts. These subculture-minded documentaries, inventive experimental films and assorted cinematic miscellany are intended as a warm-up/teaser/background education to the upcoming appearance of noted underground filmmaker Craig Baldwin, who will be at the Guild for a three-day festival in April.
Animated documentary paints awful memories with artistic brush
By Devin D. O’Leary
It’s rare in this day and age of instantaneous remakes and endless rip-offs to encounter something even remotely fresh in the film industry. At the very least (and there is quite a bit more to it), Ari Folman’s Academy Award-nominated Israeli film Waltz With Bashir introduces us to an untapped, perhaps wholly original genre: the animated documentary.
The stock market is contracting so fast you can almost hear it snap. But there's an upside to tight times. They remind us that wealth isn't how much we own, it's valuing what we have. And the most fortunate people are rich in friends, neighbors, family, community.
Can’t wait for Friday? Shake off those weekday blues at Blackbird Buvette’s (509 Central NW) Lipp Servus dance party, held every Thursday night with rotating DJs and deep cuts galore. Free, 21+. (Laura Marrich)
Scammers sneak you a computer virus while pretending to be who? The latest in airport-security tech at the Sunport. How much stimulus money is HUD giving New Mexico? And what's new with the Rail Runner?
Dateline: Russia—British newspaper The Sun reports that a 28-year-old Russian man died after ingesting an entire bottle of Viagra in a bid to participate in a 12-hour orgy. Two women told Moscow police they bet mechanic Sergey Tuganov $4,300 that he wouldn’t be able to satisfy them both during a nonstop half-day sex marathon. Tuganov won the bet but collapsed a few minutes later from a heart attack. “We called emergency services but it was too late, there was nothing they could do,” said one of the female participants, who identified herself only as Alina. Medics on the scene said Tuganov’s death was most likely caused by the quantity of Viagra he consumed. There are 30 pills in an average 100mg bottle of Viagra.
Before the Harwood Art Center was Albuquerque's largest multi-media art space, the building housed the Harwood Girls School from 1925 to 1976. The former Methodist boarding school has been transformed into a community learning center and houses four galleries; the dorms and classrooms were converted into studio space, and the former dining hall now serves as a performance space. Harwood offers all-ages art classes, including painting, sculpture, jewelry, photography, book making and graphic design. This spring's roster of weekend art workshops includes themes like "Boot Camp for the Imagination" and "Loosen Up! Intuitive Artmaking."
Harwood also maintains the spirit of a community center in its gallery space -- two of the galleries are community art galleries. The main gallery and the front gallery house works from local and national artists in all visual mediums, including installations.
There's quite the hubbub going on over at UNM. Something about cuts to faculty pay, votes of no confidence in the administration, the eliminating of ethnic student support services and a rumored rash of pantsing incidents in Hokona Hall. It seems like the perfect opportunity to remind ourselves that UNM is, aside from a hotbed of indignant controversy, a veritable machine of art. You may not be a Lobo (I'm not, and I'm OK), and you don't have to be to take advantage of our local uni's offerings.
Women’s History Month began as a week. It was 1981, and though the Equal Rights Amendment had failed to pass, Congress designated seven days to recognize and celebrate the contributions of women to our nation’s history and character. Which was swell of them. In 1987, this appreciation was expanded to an entire month.
Q: I'm preparing for the economic apocalypse, but I suspect the 15 cans of pickled beets, bag of dried morels and half-dozen jars of unidentifiable tomato-based something-or-other in my pantry aren’t going to last very long after the Super Wal-Mart shelves are looted. What do I need to do to start preparing a garden now, so when spring comes I'll be ready to farm my way into another year of existence? Any seed suggestions or other preparations for a year-one raised-bed garden? —Apocalypse Chow
Looking over Zohra’s menu was frustrating. My issue wasn't limited to classifying, or perhaps clarifying, a rundown of far-reaching Middle-Eastern cuisines. Attempting to separate Indian dishes from Pakistani dishes from Afghani dishes from Iranian dishes is challenging enough; try adding Navajo tacos, hamburgers and spaghetti to the mix. Zohra does, apparently covering its bases by offering anything a Downtown diner could possibly want. It’s a lot to consider. The menu comes off as muddled, but the broad claim of “authentic cuisine” covers a little bit of everything. Don't concentrate too hard. Just point somewhere and start chewing.