Occitania is a cultural region centered on the narrowest part of the Iberian Peninsula. It includes Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, rugged mountains, fertile valleys, and grape terrace-filled hills. This land of figs and fish is mostly French but includes parts of Spain and Italy. The Northern Italian restaurant Torinos’ @ Home, off Jefferson in the Journal Center, is the next best thing to a plane ticket to Occitania’s northeast corner.
Albuquerque is a tough little piñon—a big old city trapped in a small town’s body. We love it here. But all of that natural splendor and quirky charm comes at a price. Mastering Albuquerque takes street smarts. If you want to thrive, first you have to survive—and finding the pitfalls is half the battle.
So, based on the most recent available data, here’s the battleground. Good luck navigating it, citizens of Burque. (Click below for our interactive Danger Map.)
Everyone knows arsenic is a poison, but did you know it's in your water too? Low levels of arsenic in your glass are naturally occurring. The Environmental Protection Agency says that drinking water must have fewer than 10 parts per billion of arsenic to prevent harmful effects of long-term exposure. According to the 2010 report by the Albuquerque Bernalillo Water Utility Authority, these water zones have as high as 8 parts of arsenic per billion. It’s worth keeping an eye on. Check your zone here: bit.ly/abqarsenicwater. (EK)
Ghost bikes are descansos (roadside memorials) that remind us of cyclists killed by vehicles. Although the New Mexico Department of Transportation documents more than 100 deaths of bicyclists in New Mexico since 1989, only 10 ghost bikes haunt Albuquerque’s streets. The Duke City Wheelmen Foundation installs ghost bikes when a friend or family notifies the group of a death. Jennifer Buntz, the group’s founder, says the Duke City Wheelman began memorializing fallen comrades in 2010. For more information on the individual memorials, how to install a ghost bike or to get involved, visit dukecitywheelmen.org. (EK)
We can't always blame it on the booze. Sometimes bad drivers are just bad drivers, particularly on Paseo del Norte. A report by UNM’s Division of Government Research breaks down the 50 worst intersections in the state based on data from 2007 through 2009. Paseo del Norte at Coors as well as at Jefferson tie for the No. 1 spots with 391 crashes apiece. Coors and Paseo is slightly more dangerous, as 118 of those crashes (or 30 percent) were fatal. (Paseo and Jefferson comes in at 110 fatalities, or 28 percent.) More intersections to steer clear of: bit.ly/abqcarcrashes. (EK)
Beware the coffee! This is the very McDonald’s where, in 1992, Stella Liebeck ordered a 49 cent cup of joe and then spilled it on her lap, resulting in burns, a successful $2.8 million lawsuit and a flood of hacky jokes from every two-bit comic in the country. Although most people have heard of the case, many don’t realize that the coffee was so hot (180 to 190 degrees) that Liebeck suffered third-degree burns requiring a skin graft, or that McDonald’s had refused to grant Liebeck’s initial request for just enough money to cover her medical expenses. Regardless of your take on the lawsuit, we recommend that if you buy coffee anywhere, you not hold the cup between your legs while driving. (TB)
Since 2005, seven dogs residing in zip code 87121 (south of Central between 98th Street and Coors) have been monitored by the city. The pups that are determined dangerous are licensed, sterilized, microchipped and cannot leave their owner’s property without an adequate leash. Two of the dogs are named Rufus, including one very intimidating Chihuahua. If you have an unfortunate canine run-in, visit 1.usa.gov/abqbaddogs. (EK)
Although we can't tell you which roads are guaranteed to bring you home safe on a Friday night, we can tell you which to avoid. Data gathered by UNM’s Division of Government Research between 2007 and 2009 ranks the odd little intersection where Central and Zuni merge (they’re parallel elsewhere) as No. 1 in percentage of accidents involving alcohol, with 11.8 percent of the 34 crashes caused by intoxication. To see how your intersection ranks, go to bit.ly/abqcarcrashes. (EK)
Eight months into 2011, and APD is already reporting 17 homicides throughout the city. Only two of the cases remain unsolved, says Sgt. Trish Hoffman. Officer-involved shootings are not included in those numbers. To see what’s near your address, go to crimemapping.com. (EK)
Kirtland Air Force Base is a morass of frightening stuff—namely, nuclear weapons and a massive jet fuel hemorrhage. Although Air Force head honchos neither confirm nor deny numbers, an estimated 2,000 nuclear warheads lie in underground storage at the base. If the threat of a Duke City nuclear holocaust isn’t enough, there’s also Albuquerque’s version of the BP spill. Millions of gallons of Air Force jet fuel creep closer and closer to southeastern Albuquerque neighborhoods every day. The base says the fuel seepage originated during a ’50s era pipe leak. Although it hasn’t hit drinking water wells, it has reached the monitoring wells and is nearing reserve water sources. (EK)
A contract with Arizona-based Redflex expired in Oct. 2010, and we thought they were gone. No such luck. A month later Mayor Richard Berry reinstated red-light cameras at 14 intersections throughout the city. Not only do the cameras catch you red-handed, estimates say that an additional $370,000 was needed in tax money to keep the program in place. On average, 73 citations are issued per month and make up one-third of the city’s moving violation tickets. Data from 2010 put the intersection at Central and Coors as the clear frontrunner, with 3,036 citations issued between January and August. Add that to 4,385 citations at the same intersection in 2009. Fines are $75 and can be paid by mail or online. The question of whether to keep the system in place goes to Albuquerque voters on Oct. 4. For more on these robocop cameras: 1.usa.gov/abqredlightcameras. (EK)
The EPA says the Sandia Labs Mixed Waste Landfill isn’t a threat, but a 2011 report by Citizen Action says otherwise. The mixed-waste landfill lies directly above the main source of water for 600,000 Albuquerque residents. From 1959 to 1988 the landfill was used for disposal of low-level radioactive materials. Contaminants include nickel, cadmium, nitrate and chromium, all of which can cause nasty health problems with overexposure. What’s more, Mesa del Sol—a “green” community development touting that its “respect for the environment result[s] in a healthier, simpler, more sustainable way to live”—just broke ground adjacent to the site. (EK)
Hide your kids, hide your wife and keep that mace handy, especially if you live in zip code 87108. The New Mexico Sex Offender Information Page, developed by Department of Public Safety, lists 146 registered sex offenders in the area south of Lomas and east of Carlisle. To see who’s hiding out in your zip code, visit: bit.ly/abqpervs. (EK)
On average, what kind of nightlife do Albuquerque, Santa Fe and surrounding areas have to offer? Based on a sample taken from this week’s Music Calendar, a lot of DJs. People playing prerecorded music of various forms, formats and qualities is nearly twice as common as the next highest ranking genre—jazz. Rock, Americana (which includes folk, singer-songwriter, alt.country and bluegrass) and karaoke rounded out the top five. For proportional illustration, view the makeup of the Alibi’s Music Calendar in this appetizing pie chart.
Burqueño reggae-rock band ¡Revìva! has been making music about peace and positivity since early last year. In that short time, the group has had the honor of opening for acclaimed acts like the Wailers. But after ¡Revìva! releases its first album, Change, on Saturday, the band will be transformed. Vocalist Chris Brennan, who sings in English and Spanish, is taking a two-year assignment in Nicaragua with the Peace Corps. Brennan shared some random tracks from his music library with the Alibi.
Portland post-punk/shoegaze band The Prids returns to Albuquerque on Saturday, Aug. 20. The performance—part of what is rumored to be the heavily touring band’s final spin around the country—happens at Burt’s Tiki Lounge (313 Gold SW). Albuquerque acts The Glass Menageries and Lady Uranium open. This 21-and-over show is free and begins at 9:30 p.m. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Shootings, lack of oversight have plagued police for years
By Carolyn Carlson
Officer-involved shootings and a lack of oversight have plagued police for years. Reporter Carolyn Carlson looks back at a report from the ’90s spurred by civil rights abuses, as well as all the headlights shining on Albuquerque police today.
Third Annual Albuquerque Film Festival packs schedule with diversity
By Devin D. O’Leary
The motto for the third annual Albuquerque Film Festival is “Hip. Cool. Funny. Strange. Social Change.” That all-things-to-all-people promise is more than fulfilled in the festival’s eclectic lineup of events, which runs Aug. 18 through 21.
Admirable, no-budget sci fi gets sucked in by the gravitational pull of sad teenagers and planet-sized metaphors
By Devin D. O’Leary
Writer-director Mike Cahill and writer-actor Brit Marling have cleverly concocted a sci-fi premise that requires little to no effort (or money) to bring to cinematic life. Marling stars as Rhoda Williams, a bright-star teenager who graduates high school on a fast track to MIT. Unfortunately, one very poor decision involving a party, a lot of booze and a car leads to tragedy. A few years down the road, Rhoda is released from jail, her once-promising life now in shambles. A lot has changed since Rhoda’s ill-fated night. Chief among those changes has been the discovery of a new planet, seemingly identical to Earth, in rotation around the sun.
Perhaps it’s the bad economy that’s got us all hunkering down in survival mode. The very week that Science Channel premieres “JUNKies” (a show about no-budget inventors making cool machines out of junk), the cable station also hands us “Stuck With Hackett.” Following in a similar Dumpster-science vein, this show introduces audiences to survivalist savant and “post-apocalyptic MacGyver” Chris Hackett.
The newest film to shoot in our fair state is The Banshee Chapter. The modestly budgeted horror film is being produced by actor Zachary Quinto’s Before the Door Pictures. Quinto is best known as Sylar on the TV show “Heroes” and as Spock in J.J. Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek. No word on whether Quinto will star in the film. The film is to be written and directed by Blair Erickson, who’s making his feature film debut with this one. Chapter is allegedly based on a series of real CIA programs, and it concentrates on a female journalist who goes in search of a friend who’s been experimenting with mind-altering chemicals developed in secret government drug tests. Shooting is scheduled to go in front of the lens in late August.
Abstractions in Balance is imaginative, sophisticated and poetic. The new collections presented by Lorna E. Smith and Harley Kirschner, running this month at the Range Café in Bernalillo, both draw inspiration from the natural world, but contain nuanced differences. Kirschner says “at the core of both bodies of work is a Zen simplicity.”
Playwright Neil LaBute is known for his unflinching, cynical plays that feature characters at their worst, often worthy of audience disgust. He is also regarded for his rapid-fire, true-to-life dialogue that has actors talking over one another and cutting off each other’s lines. Duke City Reparatory Theatre’s production of reasons to be pretty has both of these elements. But Amelia Ampuero, the director of the play, says this LaBute script is much more palatable than some of his other material.
New Mexico intrigues revealed by former CIA officer
By Christie Chisholm
E. B. Held wasn’t a spy, but he was a spy recruiter. He worked as a clandestine operations officer with the CIA for 27 years, stationed around the world in Asia, Latin America and Africa. His book, A Spy’s Guide to Santa Fe and Albuquerque, details a number of spy activities that took place in the two cities before and during the Cold War.
Chow’s Chinese Bistro opened in Santa Fe in 1993. I remember a friend telling me about a great new Chinese place I should try, and I did. The food was a step up from ordinary—fresh, bright flavors, and ingredients beyond mix-and-match vegetables. In 1999, the first Albuquerque Chow’s opened on Juan Tabo, followed by another at Cottonwood mall in 2005. Proprietors Richard and Lucy Zeng and their son Jason opened Fan Tang two weeks ago in Nob Hill.
Recall, if you can, the moment in Robert Altman’s The Player when a bunch of crass movie studio executives sit around decrying the need for screenwriters when stories can simply be plucked out of the newspaper free of charge. First-time screenwriter Michael Diliberti has beat such corporate shortcutting to the punch with 30 Minutes or Less, a raunchy, rapid-fire action-comedy based ever-so-loosely on the unbelievable true story of a Pennsylvania pizza delivery guy who was killed after being forced to rob a bank with a bomb strapped around his neck. A gung-ho director and an able cast work some explosive laughs out of this touchy germ of an idea.
The ridiculous trend of planking—i.e., lying face down on things—has taken root globally. To better assist you with the understanding of this phenomenon, the Alibi brings you the Planktionary, as well as the newest, digitally-enhanced companion to the fad: flanking.
More than a decade after the beloved PBS show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” went off the air, the series is getting a sequel. Fred Rogers passed away in 2003, leaving behind a legacy of nearly 900 (!) TV show episodes spanning five decades. Despite his passing, The Fred Rogers Company has announced the creation of a “multi-platform animated series aimed at preschoolers.” The new show will be called “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” and will concentrate on the 4-year-old son of Daniel Striped Tiger, a resident puppet of Mister Rogers’ well-known Neighborhood of Make-Believe.
The Native Cinema Showcase is a welcome addition to the popular Santa Fe Indian Market, taking place in the capital city this coming week. The 11th annual Showcase will run Monday, Aug. 15, through Sunday, Aug. 21. A yearly collaborative partnership between the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, the Native Cinema Showcase spotlights the vitality and diversity of Native filmmaking around the globe.
A raunchy creation propagated from the Sunset Strip’s infamous ’80s metal scene, L.A. Guns is an old-salt act with nearly 30 years of rock action under its studded belt. Aesthetically, the group is part glam and part punk—black hair, aviators, tattoos and motorcycle jackets laden with skull and pistol imagery have long lent an air of playful toughness. Aurally, the group is quintessential hair metal—rock and roll songs that deal with girls and hell-raising punctuated by killer shredding.
Having a good, honest mechanic is as valuable as having a good attorney or accountant. Just like the latter two, a mechanic is there to sort through and make sense of a system that’s inscrutable to the layman. Lucky for Albuquerque, two friendly, reliable and skilled gearheads founded a full-service automotive and diesel repair shop back in January. Having another local business like this is swell on its own, but this one is musician- and women-owned.
Kalyn Heffernan was nominated this year for Best Female MC in Denver’s Westword. Some people questioned why the best-of category was restricted by gender, but Heffernan wasn’t ruffled because she’s confident in her skills. “I feel like could compete with all the male MCs in that category too,” she tells me by phone. “I think I approach the mic with just as much talent as the majority of rappers that I appreciate. Like, I wouldn’t be putting myself out if I wasn’t confident enough about it—that it’s just as good, or close to as good, as the people that I think are good.”
Get down to nu disco and deep house funk at the Moonlight Lounge (120 Central SW) on Saturday, Aug. 13. The righteous jams will be generated from the record collections of Ni3to, At_One, Dave 12 and Billa starting at 9 p.m. This 21-and-over dance party is free. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Native youth group bikes 200 miles on the Trail of the Ancients
By Elise Kaplan
Jake Foreman, a member of the Absentee Shawnee tribe of Oklahoma, says riding along the trail is a step toward healing historical traumas. “We’re retracing that route on bicycle and learning from spiritual leaders at every stop,” he says.
Free birth control was rolled into the country’s coming health care reform at the beginning of August. Yet the suggestion that women ought to have access to preventive measures predictably outraged people who confuse contraception with abortion.
Extensive archive illuminates vision of hunter-turned-conservationist
By Summer Olsson
Ernest Thompson Seton spent his life making people aware of their impact on nature and introducing youth to the outdoors. He was an artist, woodsman and mentor who wrote more than 50 books. He confounded the worldwide Boy Scouts movement. And he was once an avid hunter who was changed into a conservationist by a spiritual experience he had in New Mexico. The Academy for the Love of Learning, based outside Santa Fe, is about to open its permanent Seton Gallery.
Church of Beethoven’s older, cocktail-swirling brother
By Summer Olsson
When I found out I could hear live classical music and drink a beer and not get up “really early” on Sunday morning, I was totally in. Club Beethoven is the afternoon version of Church of Beethoven, the long-running Sunday morning event featuring classical music and a bit of spoken performance, usually poetry. The Club is held in the afternoon, at Casablanca, inside the Hotel Andaluz.
Only about eight booths long, the Cuba Farmers’ Market has a big heart. And since there’s not always enough booty to go around, getting there early is recommended. Cuba is a hub for a large, beautiful and funky area. The market is a distillation of the surrounding mountains, canyons, valley and scrubland, and it foments a sense of community that’s been waiting to happen. Locals are “over the moon about it,” says Shari Smoker of the UNM Prevention Research Center, which helped create the market last year. “They just love it so much. It’s giving people a place to have a sense of community and talk to their neighbors and get to know their growers.”
I fell in love with Greek food in my high school years in Detroit’s Greek Town. Among the recipes I’ve made my own is this one for baklava—rich with butter, crispy layers of phyllo and sweet New Mexico honey. It’s one of my favorites. My friend Marissa Evans and I got on a baklava jag and, over two weeks, made piles of the stuff.
In the syrupy charm of New Orleans' Garden District or the debauchery of the French Quarter, you might think the city has recovered from the trauma of Katrina. Streetcars are running, music is playing and tourists have stumbled back with beads on. But in the poorest part of the city, which also happens to be the lowest part, it's a different story.
But despite the setbacks, Our School at Blair Gorcery in the Lower Ninth Ward is using composting and farming techniques to bolster their situation in a fragile economy.
Now in its fourth season, the critically acclaimed “Breaking Bad” is about as much a cultural signifier of New Mexico—and Albuquerque in particular—as green chile and sunshine. But sunny the show's theme and direction are not.
Bryan Cranston, creator Vince Gilligan and cast members weighed in on the show’s theme, locality and the role of politics in the film industry.
Bryan Cranston on seeing red, going black and being a chameleon
By Sam Adams
He's won three consecutive Emmys for his leading role on AMC's "Breaking Bad." Watching him alternate between the feeble, stomped-upon character of Walter White and a meth kingpin persona known as “Heisenberg,” the dramatic range that brought Bryan Cranston such acclaim is clear. “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan calls him the greatest talent he’s ever worked with—“an actor who comes along every hundred years or so.”
The Alibi spoke with Cranston about Albuquerque, getting inside the mind of Walter White and why Michael Jordan should step aside.
Canadian rapper discusses day jobs, pretty hip-hop songs and his love of Albuquerque
By Summer Olsson
Buck 65 has created hip-hop music under the mainstream radar for more than two decades. Originally from Mount Uniacke, Nova Scotia, he taught himself to rap and DJ, then started recording in his bedroom. He’s earned a reputation for disregarding genre limitations. Buck 65, whose given name is Richard Terfry, raps over violins, collaborates with female vocalists in French, makes whole verses by cutting in single-word samples with turntables and does pretty much anything else he wants to. His new album, 20 Odd Years, is a tribute and testament to his life in music so far. Its 12 tracks, many of which were co-written and recorded with different collaborators, have snappy beats and smart lyrics. They also have lovely melodies, nods to multiple styles and equal parts of melancholy reflection and playful quirkiness. The Alibi called Terfry at his home in Toronto, during a few days off in the middle of his tour.
There are lawn chairs strewn across a sandy field, the sunset in front of you, Sandia Mountains behind you, people with picnic baskets, gourmet takeout, wine bottles and blankets. A singer stands on a trailer-turned-stage that’s painted to look like the New Mexican desert, complete with cacti and mountains against a blue sky. This is the Placitas Campfire Series.
Octopus imagery has reached meme status (while the meme has attained metameme status), but for good reason. Octopi posses eye-catching beauty, and the biology, behaviors and diversity of these aquatic creatures are just as mesmerizing. With the mighty, eight-tentacled invertebrate mascot on their side, three locals— Ghost Circles, Molat The Tank and Waiting For Satellites—fill Burt’s Tiki Lounge (313 Gold SW) on Friday, Aug. 5, around 10 p.m. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Concurrent exhibits at 516 ARTS home in on alternative communities
By Drew Morrison
The first thing you notice is a bearded man with “Hug Life” tattooed across his beer gut, standing on a homemade raft. This image, and numerous other examples of alternative living, are the focus of two summer exhibits at 516 ARTS: Across the Great Divide, a collection of photographs by Roberta Price, and Worlds Outside This One, featuring more than a dozen contributors. Across the Great Divide documents life in Southwestern communes―small, rural communities based around collective land ownership. Worlds Outside This One shows environmentally friendly and often portable methods of housing from around the world.
Not only is it a squishy place to watch TV from, not to mention a place for your too-drunk friends to crash, it’s also a huge art and design festival in Santa Fe. The third annual SOFA (Sculpture Objects and Functional Art Fair) WEST runs Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 4 through 7. Exhibitors include galleries and artists from all over the states and as far away as Argentina. You can buy and/or ogle artwork, furniture, jewelry and even things that are fascinating but hard to identify.
Midwife-run nonprofit births alternative for expectant mothers
By Christie Chisholm
Dar a Luz Birth & Health Center sits on a lush plot of land in the North Valley, set back from the road and abutted by agricultural plots. The sprawling center seems about as un-hospital-like as Abigail Lanin Eaves could make it.
Having helmed the feature film version of The Joy Luck Club, director Wayne Wang knows a thing or two about making sentimental Asian-flavored films for Western audiences. Like The Joy Luck Club, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is an Oprah-approved, New York Times best-seller-based tale of female empowerment, grrl power, sistahood, mother-daughter relations, herstory, womyn’s issues, repressed lesbianism, whathaveyou.
American networks have been happily appropriating British TV series for decades. Everything from “Sanford and Son” to “Being Human” once had an English accent. By contrast, Australian TV hasn’t proved to be as deep a wellspring for inspiration. There was that American version of “Kath & Kim” starring Molly Shannon and Selma Blair a few seasons ago, but the less said about that, the better. Aside from that, we had ... not coming up with anything.
For the very first time, the international 48 Hour Film Project is adding a music video portion. The 48 Hour Music Video Project will be tested out right here in Albuquerque this September. If it’s successful, it’ll go international next year alongside the 48 Hour Film Project. So what does it consist of? How about 20 bands and 20 film teams attempting to shoot 20 music videos in just 48 hours? Sound like your cup of tea? Registration is underway right now, and only 20 teams will be allowed to compete. The very first meet-and-greet between bands and filmmakers will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Blackbird Buvette (509 Central NW). Completed videos will be shown to the public on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at a special KiMo Theatre screening. Winners will land cash prizes and the opportunity to screen at 48 Hours’ annual Filmapalooza gathering
Albuquerque is busting at the seams with new eating spots. I salivate whenever I see a chain-link fence with a wind-whipped banner shouting, “Opening Soon!” But on the hunt for recently opened eateries, I also found an established treasure or two.