A lonely woman used to call 311, the city's information hotline, in the dead of night. She said her husband was a doctor, that she was home alone and just wanted to say hi. Operators got to know her on a personal level, says Esther Tenenbaum, division manager. "That's great, but that's not why we're here."
On Dec. 14, 2009, I wrote a list of 15 predictions for 2010, published in the Alibi. Having investigated mysterious and unexplained phenomena for more than a decade, I actually have a documented history of accuracy. In fact, my success rate for 2008 was about 90 percent. As 2010 came to a close, I thought it was time to dust off my forecasts to see how I fared.
I was shocked and awed when UNM offered me the job of assistant to Dr. Carl E. Baum. What could I possibly offer the most famous electromagnetic theoretician in the world? I was just a local poet and burned-out newspaper man who couldn’t even grasp the fundamentals of elementary calculus.
There was something blue lurking in the shadows of the Monday, Jan. 3 City Council meeting. A large turnout of police was expected to comment on the end of the take-home car perk, but no officers came to speak at the meeting. Instead, police union president Joey Sigala and a few others paced in and out of the room.
Dateline: Connecticut—A would-be robber has been accused of taking a cell phone to a knife fight. Police in New London say Jerome Taylor, 20, wore a mask as he entered the Northern Indian Restaurant on State Street, pulled out what looked like a gun and demanded money. Several of the restaurant’s cooks snatched up knives and meat cleavers and refused to comply. At that point, the masked man told the cooks he was only kidding and fled the scene. Taylor was gone by the time police arrived, but they caught up with him a short time later. Officers said Taylor confessed to the crime, but told them he didn’t have a gun—only an iPhone.
Winter is cold and dark and sleepy. It turns people into marshmallow-shaped hermits, wrapping and zipping themselves into enough layers to survive brief intervals of the outside world before retreating back into their slightly warmer caves. But for three weeks in January, Revolutions International Theatre Festival brings a load of light and warmth.
A couple of years ago, I hooked myself up to the world of TiVo. I had a singular goal in mind—to record PBS’ Saturday lineup of cooking shows. I watch them all—Julia Child, Rick Bayless, Martin Yan, Lidia Bastianich, José Andrés, Steven Raichlen, Christopher Kimball and his “America’s Test Kitchen” and “Cook’s Country” crew, and the revolving cooks on Martha Stewart’s “Everyday Food.” I play the ones I like several times, take notes, and absorb their recipes and techniques before I eventually delete the programs to make room for new ones
Here’s another installment in my occasional series investigating food at Duke City sports bars. In particular, I’m interested in places that show televised mixed martial arts competitions, also known by the more sophisticated moniker “cage fighting.” To assist in this endeavor, I’ve recruited an assistant who goes by his fight name: the Pink Princess. As both an MMA expert and a bar snob, the Pink Princess doesn’t suffer fools gladly. At nearly every place I’ve taken him so far, he says something to the effect of “I can’t believe we came to this f-ing sh!t hole.”
Starting Saturday, Jan. 8, the Albuquerque / Bernalillo County Library System and Guild Cinema will join forces for the first annual Books to the Big Screen film series. The idea is to spotlight acclaimed novels that have been made into popular films. The series starts with The Shawshank Redemption on Jan. 8. Stand By Me follows a week later on the Jan. 15. Slaughterhouse-Five closes it out on Jan. 22. All shows begin at 1 p.m. at Guild Cinema (3405 Central NE). The screenings are free, but seating is limited. You can pick up your free tickets at the Guild box office or at the Main Library (Copper and Fifth Street NW).
French filmmaker approaches African civil war from a pale perspective
By Devin D. O’Leary
Over the past 20 years, French filmmaker Claire Denis (Chocolate, Beau Travail, Trouble Every Day, 35 Shots of Rum) has created a résumé filled with naturalistic, character-driven dramas that play compare/contrast games between lovely, static-shot landscapes and harsh human conditions. Time and again, she finds herself returning to colonial Africa—not too surprising, as she grew up there, the daughter of French civil servant. Her latest film, White Material, is among her most involved examinations of war-torn modern Africa and the death rattle of European colonialism.
While TV is still struggling to tell superhero tales in a live-action format, animated comic-book-inspired stories continue to soar on the small screen. Perhaps it’s because the entertainment industry is faintly embarrassed by the idea of people in costumes. Hence, just about every superhero series these days features heroes who refuse to wear costumes (“Smallville,” “Heroes,” “No Ordinary Family”). Why? It’s like making a musical in which the actors refuse to sing.
Ten years ago Jerry DeCicca, guitarist and vocalist for The Black Swans, was living in Albuquerque. Here he quietly managed Relapse Records, a short-lived UNM-area store sandwiched between McDonald’s and the Yale Blood Plasma donor center.
Local music predictions based on vast experience and Nostradamical premonitions
By Laura Marrich and Jessica Cassyle Carr
• The municipal “Footloose Amendment” goes into effect on July 1, 2011. Inadvertently passed by City Council members in 2006, the clause bans dancing and “rock and roll music” during the 2011-2012 fiscal year. The local music scene will die, at last fulfilling former Mayor Martin Chavez’ pact with Satan. (LM)
At last, someone has paired two of the world’s best typefaces—Creaky Frank (or some hybrid thereof) and Courier New. This text, along with an angular, monochromatic dove collage, announces a performance by mad accordion player Jason Webley. Ya Ya Boom and The Good Ship S.S. Perry open the all-ages show. A cover charge of $7 grants admission into Winning Coffee Co. (111 Harvard SE) on Tuesday, Jan. 11, at 8 p.m. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Former Burqueño Jerry DeCicca is the singer, acoustic guitarist and songwriter for Columbus, Ohio-based folk rock band The Black Swans. DeCicca says that MP3s are a new concept to him, as he usually deals in vinyl, tapes and CDs: “I never had an iPod until I bought this dumb phone back in September so I could ‘communicate’ with ‘people’ from the road,” he explains. “My bandmate, who is 22 and knows these things, says that 477 songs isn't a lot to carry in my pocket.” From that small, sonic pool, here are the first five songs that appeared.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.”
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.