Overcoming an illness is only half the battle for cash-strapped New Mexicans
By Simon McCormack
Rebecca says she felt safe because she had medical insurance.
That sense of security lasted until she was diagnosed with cervical and colon cancer in August. Rebecca, whose name has been changed for this story, says her medical expenses quickly mounted. "What they don't tell you is, even with insurance, when you have cancer and surgery and chemo and every test in the book, it costs a lot of money," Rebecca says. "You kind of gotta look around and dig up the money."
Her insurance covered some of the cost, but Rebecca's out-of-pocket expenses came to almost $5,000. Rebecca used what little savings she had and credit cards to cover some of the bills. She also got help from the Anita Salas Memorial Fund, which helps New Mexico women diagnosed with breast cancer or cervical cancer.
The sometimes illegal and often dangerous sport of urban exploration
By Ty Bannerman
It’s a quiet spring morning and I’m in the South Valley, turning west from Second Street onto a dirt road I’ve never noticed before. The car I’m following traverses a curve of road between a cluster of industrial buildings. A quarter mile farther, we come to a dead end and park our cars beside an abandoned set of railroad tracks. On the other side of a bracken-filled ditch, the object of our expedition—a rusted, empty factory—rises out of the overgrown weeds and broken asphalt of a disused parking lot.
Keshet Dance Company has a new home—the historic KiMo Theatre. At the Monday, June 1 meeting, councilors approved two measures forging a partnership with Keshet to operate the KiMo and lease the Freed Building next door. Keshet has about $150,000 in state money to spend on programs.
It is widely assumed that Americans are heavily influenced by pop culture, including the belief that thin fashion models harm girls and women. But is there good scientific evidence to support this? That question was raised May 3, when the film America the Beautiful was screened in Albuquerque. The premise is simple: America has an unhealthy obsession with beauty and perfection, with disastrous consequences. The film claims that airbrushed media images of thin models are leading most women to a vicious cycle of starvation diets, low self-esteem and anorexia.
The race to be the city’s top dog saw some salvos fired to salute Mayor “still not an official candidate” Martin Chavez. AFSCME, the city’s largest union, endorsed the sitting mayor—though perhaps through gritted teeth.
Dateline: Japan—A publishing company has printed the world’s first toilet-paper-based book. Drop, a new novella by horror author Koji Suzuki, is being released exclusively on rolls of toilet paper. The nine-chapter story, which takes place in a public restroom, takes up about three feet of the roll and is designed to be read in just a few minutes, according to the manufacturer, Hayashi Paper. Each roll carries several copies of the story, in case someone else comes along and “uses” the chapter you’re on. Hayashi promotes the toilet paper, which sells for 210 yen ($2.20) a roll, as “a horror experience in the toilet.” Toilets in Japan were traditionally tucked away in a dark corner of the house due to religious beliefs that evil spirits could haunt the stinky bowls. Parents would tease children that a hairy hand might pull them down into the dark pool below. The TP’s author, Suzuki, is known as “the Stephen King of Japan,” having penned the popular novel Ring, which was turned into several films in Japan and Hollywood.
The New Mexico film industry resource website crewnewmexico.com is offering a 99 percent discount off acting profiles on its site. Now through Friday, June 12, interested actors can register in the CAST section for just 79 cents for an entire year. Members receive a personal Actor Profile Page where they can upload photos, fill out résumés and manage their career information. Crewnewmexico.com is working hard to become New Mexico’s go-to destination for information about filmmaking in our state. To receive the 99 percent discount, registrants need to enter the promotional code ACTNOW99 during online registration. Log on to crewnewmexico.com/membership for more info.
Bleary-headed party boys aren’t quite as bad as they wanna be–but they’re still funny
By Devin D. O’Leary
Once upon a time, “dude films”—the artistic antipode of “chick flicks”—involved some unwavering combination of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone or Bruce Willis, evil people with accents and a whole lot of high-caliber weaponry. But actors have aged and times have changed. In recent years, thanks to the efforts of directors like Todd Phillips (Old School), Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), Greg Mottola (Superbad) and David Wain (Role Models), a new school of dude film has emerged. Mixing raunchy comedy, smart writing, lowbrow hijinks and a sentimental undercoating of staunchly heterosexual male bonding, these films have proven themselves box office winners.
After watching its dozen-or-so flawless feature films (from 1995’s Toy Story to 2008’s Wall•E) on what now amount to multiple occasions, I think I’ve finally figured out what makes Pixar Animation Studios so head-and-shoulders above its computer-animating rivals. It’s not that the company’s technical skills are more advanced than Sony Pictures Animation (Open Season, Surf’s Up)—although they certainly are. It’s not that the company’s scripts are more meticulously crafted than those of DreamWorks Animation (Bee Movie, Monsters vs Aliens)—although they certainly are. Watching Pixar’s newest masterwork, the beautiful, buoyant feature UP, it hit me. The element that makes Pixar the studio to envy and emulate is the simple fact that it cares. Everyone at Pixar—from the animators to the writers to the directors—cares deeply about what she or he does. They love every character, they love every frame, and that emotion percolates up through the movie screen. It’s unmistakable. It can’t be faked, and it’s what makes audiences love, love, love Pixar films.
Last Monday night, television entered a new era. For only the fifth time in its 55-year history, NBC’s “The Tonight Show” acquired a new host. With the expiration of Jay Leno’s contract, “Late Night” host Conan O’Brien has assumed the seat he’s coveted for decades. Leno, of course, is getting upgraded to prime time, hosting his “Jay Leno Show” in NBC’s 9 p.m. slot five nights a week starting Sept. 14. But for now, it’s all O’Brien’s spotlight.
Wipe away your tears, acoustic grunge lovers of Albuquerque. In late April, I shared Fast Heart Mart's announcement that a family emergency could call Burque's beloved singer/songwriter away to the East Coast. But the winds of fate have shifted, and all is well again: FHM isn't going anywhere. He's already lined up a boatload of interesting performances for the summer, including a show with Kate Mann on Friday, June 5, at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice. And on Thursday, June 4, FHM is making a rare appearance as himself—Martin Stamper, the songwriter, all alone—at The Albuquerque Songwriter Series. The free show is at Slate Street Café (515 Slate NW, one block north of Lomas between Fifth and Sixth Streets) from 7 to 9 p.m., and it features the added creative juices of Johnny Wilson of Chokecherry Ranch and CK Barlow.
The first-ever Alibi Pride party: We're taking Pride to another planet!
By Jessica Cassyle Carr
With modern-day frights like asteroids, the plague, supervolcanoes, the bomb, sea pirates and Snuggies, the time is right to toss one's cares aside and indulge in the velvety, shimmering pleasures of the universe. In the ’70s, androgynous, first-wave glam acts such as T. Rex, Sweet, Slade, Ziggy Stardust and the New York Dolls developed a proto-punk/heavy metal franken-rock that flew its Moog-tinged spaceship to the outer reaches of raunchy hedonism and glittery artifice. While much of the resulting music is fabulous now-classic rock, the theater behind the highly conceptual movement is almost more interesting. Glam rock incorporated sci-fi themes, sexual ambiguity, absurd makeup and silver platform boots. Behold: The results were sexy.
The last 10 years or so, extreme efforts have been made to "go green," living lifestyles and running businesses that are eco-friendly. Call it ahead of its time; when Regina Held opened the New Grounds Print Workshop in 1996, it was one of the first non-toxic print shops in the country. In 2002, New Grounds—which had already moved from the South Valley to Nob Hill in 2000—expanded and opened its own gallery.
The bulk of LAND/ART, an ambitious project of land-based art in New Mexico, gets going in mid June. 516 ARTS, the collaboration's organizer, starts things off a little earlier with its contribution Here & There: Seeing New Ground. Sixteen artists, including Norman Akers, Shelley Niro and Laurie Anderson, explore the connections between nature, art, land and identity. The opening reception takes place on Friday, June 5, from 5 to 8 p.m. at 516 ARTS (516 Central SW). For more info, go to 516arts.org, and stay tuned for the Alibi's upcoming coverage of the whole LAND/ART project.
Los Fantasticos’ Days of Future Past at South Broadway Cultural Center
By Erin Adair-Hodges
If you're like me, you took a road trip with your mom when you were in the seventh grade, driving from New Mexico to Illinois to visit your great-grandmother. You called her Mee-Maw. It was winter, and you and mom drove there and back in a 1982 Bonneville that had no cassette player. Instead, you used the boombox you had been given the previous Christmas, a neon-yellow number that represented the apex of mid-’80s, under $50 electronic design. And you'll also remember that mom didn't really like your music, which consisted of The Bangles, Genesis, and Huey Lewis and the News (it wouldn't be until the eighth grade that you discovered new wave). So mom played her one cassette, over and over, for thousands of miles: The Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed. It was the only time in your life when you got your mom to yourself for more than a few hours, and by the time you went back through the weird McDonald's that's in an overpass in Oklahoma, you had the whole album memorized.
When an audience takes in Song Cycle, it's tough to say what they'll see.
There will be dance, music and video. You can bet on it being abstract, comical and improvised. Other than that, each time it's performed, the piece takes on dramatically different forms.
"We always allow ourselves the room to make any kind of decision on the spot," explains Song Cycle director Kevin Paul. "We have this love of our own creative process so, as challenging as it may be, we love to set up a situation where we're having to invent and make creative decisions on the fly all the time."
Song Cycle, presented by Ecotone Physical Theatre of Albuquerque, is one of five performances that make up Wild Dancing West. The fourth annual festival of local and regional contemporary dance spans three weekends beginning Friday, June 5. Curators Zsolt Palcza and John Davis say they wanted the festival to capture the diversity that exists within the realm of contemporary dance. "We try to find a combination of companies so we're not doing the same kind of dance three weekends in a row," Davis says. "We get some variety in styles."
The green papaya salad called som tam is my preferred litmus test for judging Thai restaurants. When done right, the shredded papaya is crisp and the sauce is tangy and light, and not overpowering in terms of heat or fish sauce. When I ordered som tam the other night at May Thai the waitress asked “How hot?”
Though the term "escabeche" formally refers to pickled fish in Spanish cooking, to us Americans, it's the stuff of plastic bags. In L.A., a taco truck is generally considered remiss if they don't hand out big, glowing orbs of free escabeche—spicy carrot, pickled jalapeños and sweetly spiced white onion mingling in their combined brine, precariously pressing a baggie to its limits.
Black Market Goods Gallery is a gallery that’s cultivated roots. Gallery director Josh Jones began a traveling art collective in 2005. Every three months the collective put together a new showing at a new gallery, a purposely nomadic artistic community. When the Stove Gallery on Morningside closed, they offered their space to Black Market Goods first. BMG moved in and opened the doors to their permanent home in February 2009.
The trio’s always looking for different ways of working ideas into a pastiche of sounds, bringing forth images of vibrant colors and obtuse forms. The psychedelic, experimental thrust behind the band's sample-heavy creations has gotten gentler over the years. No longer intent on challenging the ears, Animal Collective plays nice and lets in melody from time to time. But the thirst for innovation is still strong.
The band's latest endeavor is a DVD with a vague release date of sometime this year.
Indie shoegazers Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk from Lawrence, Kan., may keep it light like hollow avian skeletons on Friday, May 29. (FYI, it’s true. Baby birds don’t consume calcium-based lactation from their mothers. Weighty bones are no good for flying.) Local experimental outfit Yoda’s House and the singer-songwritery Brothers open. Drag your heavy skeletal system, the one that keeps you earthbound, to Winning Coffee Co. (111 Harvard SE) at 7 p.m. $5. (Marisa Demarco)
The folks over at Blackout Theatre have big hearts, hearts so gargantuan they can't keep all the goodness inside. If you need any evidence, get over to Black Market Goods (112 Morningside NE), where the two entities have teamed up to present The Black Lab Improv Comedy Lab, a night of improv intended to help BMG bring home the bacon and pay the rent. It all takes place on Saturday, May 30, beginning at 8 p.m., and will feature the barely prepared work of The No Good Nicks, Star Ship: Improv for Trekkies, Big Fuzz: Improv with Puppets, A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.- We Stand for Nothing, Starving Horse and No Holds Bard: Shakespearean Improv. Better yet, Tractor Brewing Company will be there to wet your whistle, which you will need, what with all the laughing. It's a 21+, pay-what-you-can show, and we suggest you pay up.
Fear and hoping with the Mother Road Theatre Company
By Erin Adair-Hodges
Life During Wartime opens with a young salesman trying to sell a woman a security system. He touts its features, throws around technical language, but most importantly, uses statistics. Burglary rates, murder rates, rape. The exact numbers are vague, but the message is clear: You are in danger. There’s a whole world to fear.
The sweetest ending to any good meal is, of course, dessert. Sugary confections are food’s natural conclusion, perfectly punctuating simple dinners and extravagant feasts alike. In this vein, for my final review, I chose a place that specializes in sweet teeth.
At the Center for Peace and Justice, it’s been a rallying quarter century
By Marisa Demarco
It was more than two decades ago that Lee Sims rolled into Albuquerque to visit a friend she'd met at a peace march. "The day I was here, she took me down to the office and said, ‘Here she is. Use her.’ ”
They’re holding another election on June 2. But the organizers have got to be hoping you won’t go to the polls because they are doing their darnedest to keep it quiet. Yes, it’s time once again for our biennial exercise in stealth democracy, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District board election.
Dateline: New Zealand—Police are searching for a couple who allegedly cleaned out their bank account and fled the country after receiving an accidental loan of nearly $8 million from their bank. Huan Di Zhang and Hui Gao were mistakenly given $NZ10 million ($7.8 million) after requesting a loan from Westpac Bank for a mere $NZ10,000 ($7,800). The couple had requested the loan to help save a small gas station convenience store they ran in Rotorua. The station was shut down earlier this month after its operator, Heights Service Ltd., went into receivership. Banking Ombudsman Liz Brown told Rotorua’s The Daily Post that technically it was a criminal offense for someone to spend money accidentally deposited into their bank account if they knew the money wasn’t theirs. “The individuals associated with this account are believed to have left New Zealand, and police [are] working through Interpol to locate those individuals,” said Detective Senior Sergeant David Harvey of New Zealand Police.
Crewnewmexico.com is hosting its monthly Film Industry Happy Hour on Thursday, May 28, at O’Niell’s Pub in Nob Hill. Men and women from all levels of the filmmaking industry are invited to a night of networking, meeting-and-greeting and just plain kicking back with a few beer specials. No RSVP is required; simply show up at O’Niell’s between 5 and 9 p.m. O’Niell’s is located at 4310 Central SE.
Arresting Iranian documentary examines the tribulations of troubled teens
By Devin D. O’Leary
The Glass House, a documentary about a one-of-a-kind rehabilitation and education center for at-risk teen girls in Tehran, could easily have gone for the easy uplift of an “Oprah” episode. The elements are there: Founder Marjaneh Halati, an Iranian expat now working as a successful therapist in London, exudes confidence and class and is all but worshipped by her young charges. The girls themselves are a screenwriter’s fantasy—a mix of troubled archetypes with humble dreams, difficult family lives and heartbreaking obstacles. But filmmakers Hamid Rahmanian (director and cameraman) and Melissa Hibbard (writer and producer) have avoided imposing any false uplift or narrative manipulation on the story that unfolds in front of their cameras. The result is an honest, compelling, often frustrating look at real life in modern-day Iran.
Jesse James is a badass. I can tell because he has a lot of tattoos, claims to be related to the Old West outlaw Jesse James, says he stole Scott Hamilton’s car when he was 17, was allegedly a bodyguard for Danzig, builds expensive custom motorcycles, fathered a child with porn star Janine Lindemulder and is now married to Sandra Bullock—all of which sounds like the résumé of a badass. On the other hand, he could just be a total, self-promoting douche bag who got fired off “The Celebrity Apprentice” and is defiling America’s sweetheart on a nightly basis. It’s a fine line, really.
Muñecas Muertas jammers spent the better part of 30 minutes behind a brick wall of Rat City blockers. When the buzzer sounded, Burque’s squad was facing a 42-point deficit. Players looked frustrated—but collected.
Duke City was losing 80-38 at halftime against Seattle's travel team, the Rat City Rollergirls. They’d capitalized on penalties against the Muñecas' jammers and threatened to turn the game into a blowout.
Judy Chicago’s Belen vs. The Hometown I Narrowly Escaped
By Erin Adair-Hodges
There's a 1971 photo of Judy Chicago taken by Jerry McMillan that shows her dressed like a boxer in a ring. She stands in the corner, her arms crooked back over the ropes, gloved hands dangling. Her chin is thrust forward and her eyes challenge the camera and, presumably, anyone else. Across her shirt is emblazoned in block, gym-class letters, “JUDY CHICAGO.” It's badass.
In case you didn’t know, ’70s comedy sensations Cheech and Chong have reunited and are playing the Sandia Casino on Friday, May 22, beginning at 8 p.m. If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet (and they ain’t cheap), you’ll be pleased to note that longtime University area poster shop Louie’s Rock-N-Reels (105 Harvard SE) will be raffling off a pair of tickets to see the big show. The drawing will take place on Thursday, May 21, at 7 p.m. at the store across from UNM campus. Get in there before then to register! ... Of course, if you don’t win the tickets, you can always come to Guild Cinema on Friday and Saturday night to catch Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong in all their cinematic glory. Alibi Midnight Movie Madness will be presenting the duo’s 1978 stoner comedy debut Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke beginning at 10:30 p.m. both nights. Super fans are encouraged to attend both the concert and the movie screening. Bring your ticket stubs from the Sandia show, flash them at the Guild box office and you’ll get $2 off the admission price on Friday or Saturday night.
Terminator series gets a reboot up the ass courtesy of McG
By Devin D. O’Leary
Thanks to the success of Batman Begins, Casino Royale, Friday the 13th and Star Trek (plus laziness on the part of consumers and a complete lack of creativity in Hollywood), we are now in the era of the franchise relaunch. Film series that burned out years ago are being resurrected, given a spit shine and shoved back into theaters to the tune of hundreds of millions in box office grosses. It’s only a matter of time (mark my words!) before we are subjected to Back to the Future IV or Weekend at Bernie’s III.
German-by-way-of-Azerbaijani comedy finds whimsy in age-old battle of the sexes
By Devin D. O’Leary
From the evidence at hand, German writer-director Veit Helmer isn’t much at home in his own country, having helmed productions in Bulgaria, Portugal, Japan and Kazakhstan. The globe-hopping filmmaker is best known for his magical 1999 comedy Tuvalu, about romantic entanglements at a broken-down bathhouse in Eastern Europe. Helmer’s newest offering, the tonally similar Absurdistan, finds him back on the international scene—this time in the Eurasian nation of Azerbaijan. The result of this cinematic sojourn is an inordinately enjoyable throwback to ’90s cinema when the foreign/art house environment was filled with films that were cute, charming, exotic and slightly naughty.
Chuck Saves a Buck—ABC has agreed to bring the spy-fi series “Chuck” back next season with one caveat: The budget needs to be slashed. The network will only be producing 13 episodes next season, and the show will have two fewer writers and at least one less cast member to work with. (No word yet on who gets the ax.) Apparently, the penny-pinching is not an unusual request these days. At the same time, ABC opted not to renew the Christina Applegate sitcom “Samantha Who?” for a third season after producers failed to trim around $500,000 (ouch!) from each episode’s budget.
There's no one way to be a female artist these days, as evidenced by what's going on around town this week. This 21st-century world is our oyster, and oyster may or may not be a metaphor for lady parts and birth; it’s totally up to us.
Larry Harris says he loves to see people's reactions when they confront folk art.
One of his favorite stories is about an offshore oil worker from Houston who came along on an art tour. Harris wasn’t sure the trip would be up the oil worker's alley. After five days of visiting Chicago's folk art treasures and scoping out much of the city's modern architectural wonders, Harris got a pleasant surprise. "He was the first one to say, ‘Larry, where are we going next year?’ ” Harris recalls. "He totally got into it and that's kind of what drives me."
For 20 years, Harris has worked as a volunteer for the Orange Show, a folk art environment made of salvaged building materials in Houston. Orange Show creator Jeff McKissack created the space in 1979 as a tribute to oranges and vitamin C.
Trains make some people lonesome, others horny. Me ... well, as a food writer for the Alibi, it shouldn’t be a surprise that trains make me hungry. This is not always a welcome thing. Once, on a train through southern Siberia, I got mugged by Russian mobsters in the dining car.
When I was but an intern reporter at a daily newspaper, I got an assignment I'll never forget. Due to a lack of drainage in the South Valley, even a little bit of precipitation sent rivers of rainwater up to and beyond doorsteps. A big rain for one of my eventual sources meant moving the kids out to the camper to sleep because the water level in his house was higher than the electrical outlets.
A report says rising temps will hurt the nation’s moneymaking crops. But can wind save them?
By Christie Chisholm
Americans love corn. This year, our nation planted nearly 85 million acres of it, making it our largest agricultural crop. (The second-largest crop is soybeans, with a little more than 76 million acres planted this year.) That’s according to the USDA. It makes sense that we put so much of it in the ground; sometimes it seems like everything we produce in this country comes with a side of corn.
Dateline: New Zealand—A pregnant woman arrested on her eighth drunk driving offense couldn’t be sentenced because she was too drunk in court. Rachel Brown, 28, registered nearly 2 1/2 times the legal limit on a breath alcohol test when she was arrested last July at a police checkpoint in the North Island city of Rotorua. At the time, she was seven months pregnant. After her arrest, Brown told police she was driving because she was “the least pissed” of the three people in the vehicle. Brown was due in court for sentencing last week but failed to show. A warrant was issued for her arrest, but police spotted Brown near the courthouse and took her back there. Rotorua District Court Judge James Weir held over sentencing, however, when he realized Brown was having trouble standing. Witnesses said she had been drinking wine with friends outside the courthouse. The judge remanded Brown into overnight custody so she could sober up before her sentencing. The next day, Brown was sentenced to at least six months in jail. She has never held a driver’s license and was banned in 2005 from ever getting one. The baby that Brown was pregnant with when she was arrested last year is in the care of a family member.
I just had the good fortune to leave my job as a police reporter in a crime-infested cesspool, in a state affectionately referred to by its residents as “The Buckle on the Bible Belt.”
Normally a high crime rate and the authorities’ penchant for locking everyone up would equate to job security. But the local Powers That Be didn’t approve of my total coverage approach to journalism (John, we need you to stop writing about it every time we shoot someone).
After being diagnosed with several mental illnesses and high cholesterol, I packed my laptops into my Yaris and moved back to Albuquerque to search for any kind of anonymous hack work with which to pay the bills (and smack dab in the middle of a recession—my nervous breakdowns have impeccable timing).
We might be slightly embarrassed to admit it, but there are many of us out there who crank up the volume on the car radio when "Follow You Down" comes on The Peak. Yes, friends, the Blossoms we call Gin are coming to Albuquerque.
After five years in the womb, the little baby has arrived
By Simon McCormack
Sean McCullough says he's sick of listening to his band's new album.
Albuquerque's The Oktober People spent five years writing songs then recording Explore The Sky Too. McCullough produced the album. "I've listened to it so many times that I don't ever want to hear it again," McCullough says with a chuckle. "I'm still really proud of it. I think people will notice that we really just put a lot of time into it."
Singer Nate Santa Maria says the band developed a personal relationship with each track. "I love those songs," he asserts. "They're our little babies."
Every tune was meticulously crafted and tweaked. Keyboards and extra guitar were added to the already enormous mound of sound. McCullough, who's also produced several local groups' albums, says it's a little tougher when he's recording his own band. "You take it so personally and it's hard to be objective," McCullough says. "You have all these tools at your disposal, and you can spend so much time trying different things. That ends up being too many options, in a way."
On Monday, May 25, Burque’s long-worshipped cult of raunchy rock will make its final boobie-jiggling, gravy-covered appearance. Steve Eiland and his demonic Beefcake in Chains will slip and slide all over the Launchpad stage for the last time with The Meatmen, Chapstik and Spin Dry Kittins. The concluding descent into madness starts at 9:30 p.m. 21+ only. Duh. (Laura Marrich)