... Two young dudes from Wisconsin blew into town and made a newspaper. One of them, Chris Johnson, had launched The Onion in college and sold it. The other, Dan Scott, was the smartest guy Chris could think of to help create a new one. Two decades later, the newspaper you're reading is the newspaper Chris and Dan started.
• The biweekly NuCity manages to claw out of the ethereal womb on Friday, Oct. 9, with 12 black-and-white pages of op-ed and event listings. Page 3 gives Burqueños their first taste of “Real Astrology” by Rob Brezsny (still published all these years later! See page 85). “¿El Norte?,” a column in Spanglish by Juan F. Quiroga, makes its debut. Natural Sound, the Dingo, Beyond Ordinary, Guild Theatre and La Montañita Co-op advertise in this historic issue. Bandido Hideout offers a coupon: beef or chicken tostadas with a drink for $1.95. Complete list of computer equipment owned by the company at that time: Powerbook 140, rented laser printer, Macintosh SE.
When I was hired at the Alibi in 1996, I was a small-town Wyoming girl of barely 22 with an associate's degree in journalism in my back pocket. I was young, naive and ready for the "big-city" life Albuquerque had to offer. My first initiation into Burque and my new job as associate editor was an Alibi personals party at the Dingo, where readers slathered one another in hot wax on stage and led their submissives around on dog collars. I was surrounded by tight, black leather, far from the cowboy bar scene I had recently fled, and vividly remember one man who wore nothing but a black garbage bag, white athletic socks and loafers. Oh, the characters you meet in Albuquerque.
• The paper holds its first-ever haiku contest. A review of R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People appears in an early music section. Soon-to-be Film Editor Devin D. O’Leary’s byline pops up atop graphic novel reviews. Fred’s Bread and Bagel advertises on the Club Calendar pages. Note: All NuCity contributors are paid in “Fred’s Bucks.” Home sales across the state are booming, and the paper can afford four more pages in each issue, pushing the count to 16.
• NuCity goes weekly on Jan. 11.The paper reprints a column from young Seattle writer Dan Savage on the CDC’s new AIDS-prevention marketing campaign. Eventual Web Monkey-in-Chief Kyle Silfer pens a column with the opening line, “There is this thing called the Internet, and it is swallowing up the universe.” Staffer Alma García goes to Ciudad Juárez to write about the Mexican presidential elections. Best of Burque is born. From the introduction: “51 weeks a year we snivel, revile, quibble and criticize this city that we live in, all under our very own directive of cynicism, humor, sarcasm and hope. But the simple facts remain: Many of us came here (on purpose!) to experience life in this town ... .”
• We publish our first Gay Pride issue, as well as an epic gonzo-style interview with Hunter S. Thompson after two staffers follow the man through six days of chaos. NuCity changes its name to Weekly Alibi on Aug. 9 thanks to threat of legal action by Chicago’s New City newspaper, and we throw a party at the Sunshine Theater to celebrate. This includes a satirical “Miss Chicago” beauty contest and an “old-fashioned Chicago-style sausage toss.” This proves to be one of our most controversial events, with many Chicagoans claiming there’s no such thing as a “sausage toss.” Lousy sausage-tossers! The following Monday, 600 “Why I Hate Chicago” postcards are mailed to the New City publisher.
• We launch our first website: desert.net/alibi. The paper also sweats out its first Summer Guide, still appearing inside hot metal distribution boxes every May. Angie Drobnic Holan is a senior staff writer; she’ll go on to win a Pulitzer Prize in 2009 as part of the team behind Politifact.com. The paper has a thriving news section and promises an election issue: “Weekly Alibi will present the 1996 general election in a manner only Albuquerque’s alternative press is capable of.” We throw a KISS tribute show at the Dingo Bar.
• We launch the Weekly Alibi Music Awards (WAMmies), and Bovine plays the awards ceremony. Future Publisher Carl Petersen wins the Best Songwriter WAMmy for his work with the Ant Farmers. The first-ever Readers’ Choice Restaurant Poll hits stands. We buy La Cocinita, a food magazine started by Sergio Salvador. An article appears titled “Who Polices the Police?” about 25 police killings going before grand juries without resulting in a single indictment of an officer. Another story about 30 fatal officer-involved shootings within 10 years comes out in December.
• With Iraqi civilians starving en masse under U.S. sanctions imposed after the Persian Gulf War, Alibi staff writer Stephen Ausherman travels there and reports back in an in-depth, two-part piece. Cap’n Opinion runs a fake Q&A with Democratic congressional candidate Phil (m)Aloof titled “Interview with the Vapid.” The paper changes formats, adopting the short-tabloid.
It was one of the sickest crimes that many in Albuquerque had ever seen; so grotesque, destructive and brazen that even veteran Albuquerque Police Department officials, many of whom had spent their entire careers dealing with the most heinous of crimes, could only stammer and sputter in outrage and disbelief at the terrible act.
• The Alibi holds its first Crawl, shutting down Central and filling Downtown’s stages with nearly 70 bands, including: Red Earth, Giant Steps, Atomic Love Medicine, Kimo, Ben Hathorne, Fatso, Stoic Frame and Alpha Blue. We also run a special comics issue, in which the paper’s usual content is turned into comic strips. The “Six Degrees of Luke Skywalker” Summer Film Guide connects every movie in the feature to Mark Hamill. Gwyneth Doland is hired as food editor, ushering in an era of pork love and Atkins Diet abhorrence.
• The Crawl splits in two, offering a spring and fall version. In the fall intro: “Much has been said lately about a soon-to-be revitalized Downtown shimmering with retail and entertainment possibilities that Albuquerqueans of a decade ago could only dream of.” The lineup includes: Oh, Ranger!, Pilot to Bombardier, Concepto Tambor and The Shins. Then-Arts Editor Steven Robert Allen makes a case for instant runoff voting, a system still discussed as an alternative to today’s method, which caters to two-party elections.
• The much-loved University-area movie theater The Lobo closes in early August. Built in 1939, the brick-walled space goes on to house a reformed Christian megachurch.
• On Sept. 11, four passenger jets are hijacked. Two crash into the World Trade Center, one crashes into the Pentagon, and one is diverted into an empty field after passengers fight back and take control. Nearly 3,000 people die.
I worked for the Alibi as an intern, freelance writer and staff writer between 2005 and 2009. Some of my very favorite stories I wrote during my time at the paper included a series of 2009 pieces about a cement transfer plant in the North Valley. The plant requested, and eventually received, a permit to drastically increase the amount of pollution it could spew into the air. Neighbors near the plant spent hours collectively voicing their opposition to the proposal at public hearings. Though the permit was granted, there were several conditions placed on the plant's operating procedures in no small part because of the public outcry over the request.
• We turn 10 years old. The Alibi returns Midnight Movies to Albuquerque, hosting late-night screenings at Guild Cinema in Nob Hill. The first film to be featured is the surreal Japanese horror film Uzumaki, paired with the locally shot short “Science Bastard.”
• The Baltimore-set crime drama, “The Wire,” debuts on HBO in June. Airing 60 episodes between June 2002 and March 2008, the gritty series is soon hailed by many critics as the greatest TV drama of all time. R.I.P., Omar.
• The Alibi moves its offices from Nob Hill to Downtown. Writer Jeremiah Luria Johnson attends APD’s training academy. Our annual Survival Guide opens with a line about PalmPilots. We hold our second-annual mail art contest, which yields an antiwar dinosaur sculpture and a punched tin batch of “Art in a Box.” At the Spring Crawl: Rage Against Martin Sheen, The Roxieharts, Simple., Oktober People, The Dirty Novels and Jet Black Summer. The Alibi ponders again whether Downtown revitalization will fix Albuquerque’s economy.
• The final, 10th annual Alibi Short Film Fiesta is held at the Lobo Theater. Among the films screened: “Allison” by Jeff Drew, “Orange Barrels From the Phobosphere” by Brandon Scott Jensen and “Date 1.0” by Ryan Denmark. We also launch the popular Valentine’s Day Card Contest. In July, a long-serving soldier and registered Republican tells the Alibi that “the Bush administration did exactly what al-Qaida wanted us to do. It's created a huge recruiting opportunity for our enemies, and we've alienated the whole world in the process."
• A Veterans Affairs nurse writes a letter to the Alibi criticizing the Bush administration and its handling of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War. She’s investigated for sedition. Her office computer is seized. The story goes national, appearing on NPR and in the New York Times. Ours is the first paper that’s not the O.C. Weekly to run the now-syndicated ¡Ask a Mexican! column. Readers react. Big. We conduct our first citywide scavenger hunt. News Editor Christie Chisholm profiles an ongoing “mental health emergency” as treatment centers across the city close down for lack of funding. Well-loved Alibi Account Executive Greg Medara and his wife Lauda are killed in a car accident. We still smoke cigars in Greg’s honor.
By Michael Henningsen, former Editor in Chief / Music Editor
While shopping at Thrift Town one Saturday—must’ve been 1996 or 1997—Chris Johnson and I, for some reason, thought it would be funny to purchase matching coveralls, which came emblazoned with name and shop patches like “Doug” and “Dick’s Auto.” Anyway, months went by and these stupid things never came out of our respective closets (mine did a fair job of stinking up the rest of my clothes, also mostly from Thrift Town, so that I went to work every day smelling of stale booze and motor oil) until one fateful fall evening when The Call came through.
• In honor of the the First Amendment and the Fourth of July, the Alibi hosts a free speech rally in the Fourth Street Mall called “Soap Box: A Festival of Opinions.” The crawls run their course, and Fall Crawl is our last. We try to wrangle APD into conducting a test on sprays that are said to make your license plate invisible to red-light cameras. No luck. The Alibi runs a tribute to Canada, eh, and a feature on how to eat the city’s weeds. Virginia Lovliere Hampton pens a great essay on being black in the Southwest called “Can I Touch Your Hair?”
By Steven Robert Allen, former Alibi Editor in Chief / Arts Editor
When I first started working at the Alibi in the late '90s, a worse-for-wear strip mall in Nob Hill housed the paper’s headquarters. A mishmash of dingy offices on the first floor served as the sales, administration and production departments. To get to the editorial department, you had to climb a metal staircase, loosely attached to the outside of the building. At the top was a rickety tin box crammed to capacity with five or six disheveled editorial types. The shelves were filled with toys and comic books. The fridge was filled with beer. Every day felt like Friday … except for Friday, which was deadline day. Friday felt just like Monday.
• A singed ham makes its way to our offices in the form of a Valentine’s Day Card Contest offering. Columnist and Army veteran Alex Limkin pens a letter to his deceased colonel on the five-year anniversary of the Iraq War. Homebrewing sweeps the nation, and the Alibi greedily gulps some samples. We publish our most massive and comprehensive Election Guide to date. Rudolfo Anaya writes about wine and Christmas in our pages. The Alibi takes home 25 awards from local and national newspaper contests. Future Editor-in-Chief Laura Marrich wins several for editing.
Trying to pinpoint just one moment in time during my three years at the Alibi is a surprisingly challenging undertaking. On the day I applied for the calendars editor position, I was exactly one day late for the application deadline. I had grabbed an Alibi the night before to search for a job opening and saw the classified for the position ... with an application deadline of that day. Truth be told, the Alibi was the only publication in town this journalism major wanted to work for. I have to go for it, I thought, pulled together a mishmash of a cover letter and résumé and wandered sheepishly into the Alibi's office the next morning. Then-Editor-in-Chief Steven Robert Allen came up to the lobby to greet me with a smile and asked me back to his office to chat. The "chat" turned into an impromptu interview with the entire editorial department. It was my first, real, post-college job interview. I was sweating.
• The Alibi starts throwing themed Group Hug parties, including the likes of: Monster Paws, LOW ON HIGH, The Hi Lo Tones, The Ladies’ Society of Grenadiers, Le Chat Lunatique, Mondo Vibrations and many more. Nurse columnist Whitny Doyle profiles a funding debate taking place over the state’s only residential treatment center for drug-addicted pregnant women. On the 10th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, the longest in American history, we run all the names of U.S. troops who’ve been killed.
By Christie Chisholm, former Alibi Editor in Chief / News Editor
As I’m writing this, I am exactly 24 hours away from a new phase of my life. Outside my window, it’s morning on Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg, where hipsters and baby strollers weave among each other on their mission for iced lattes. This will be my station for the next nine months, while I pursue a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Gregg Turner is alive and well in Santa Fe, and playing the hits
By Geoffrey Plant
Gregg Turner is known to most as a founding member of the Angry Samoans, a Los Angeles hardcore band that began in 1978. He is also known, perhaps, to a different slice of the population as a record reviewer for Creem Magazine (1976-1998) where he was noted for his inspired hatchet jobs on the likes of Bon Jovi, The Who and even Iggy Pop.
Real-life drama serves up some heavy moral questions
By Devin D. O’Leary
Compliance, the scary and controversial drama from first-time writer-director Craig Zobel, stirred up quite a bit of noise at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The audience response included multiple walkouts and some contentious shouting matches during the film’s Q&A session. So what’s got audiences so worked up?
On Wednesday, Sept. 19, the KiMo Theatre will be hosting its 85th anniversary extravaganza. How about coming out and celebrating with the beautiful old gal? The night starts off with Pueblo Indian drumming and dancing at 5 p.m. on the sidewalk outside the theater. City officials will be on hand to unveil a National Register and City Landmark plaque. At 5:30 p.m., there will be an architectural tour of the renovated venue. Restored murals and a brand new silver screen are just some of the sights you will see. At 6:45 p.m. the festivities really begin with beloved local author John Nichols introducing Robert Redford’s 1988 adaptation of The Milagro Beanfield War. Nichols wrote the screenplay based on his 1974 novel, and it was filmed on location in Truchas, N.M. Rúben Blades, Sonia Braga, Melanie Griffith, Christopher Walken, Freddy Fender and John Heard are among the classy cast. The film screening starts at 7 p.m. sharp. Following the film, at 9 p.m., there will be a meet-and-greet reception in the lobby. I hear there will be cake. What’s a birthday celebration without cake? So, what’s the cost for this fabulous event, you ask? It’s free! The mayor’s picking up the tab, so get there early and grab a seat.
Maybe it’s the approaching end of the Mayan calendar. Perhaps it’s Chuck Norris’ talk about President Obama’s re-election ushering in “a thousand years of darkness.” Whatever the reason, human beings have got the apocalypse on their minds again. Never one to miss a trend, NBC jumps on the doom-and-gloom bandwagon with its new end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it series, “Revolution.”
Some background: I have been convicted (a very serious word indeed) of unemployment fraud, for underreporting part-time employment. The underreported amount was ... one dollar. I have been appealing, unsuccessfully, for six months.
Laurie Anderson’s shrunk her setup and grown her sound
By Marisa Demarco
Though "Dirtday!" was initially intended to be an instrumental work, lyrics started creeping in—then a narrative, then a flood of them. "It's a long shaggy dog of a story that goes between politics, economics, dreamscapes, theories, personal stories, and it's glued together by this weird violin."
I can’t think of better imagery to represent DJ Wae Fonkey’s ‘80s disco / funk / R & B / hip-hop-based night. Bust a move with the fresh DJ and dancer on Friday, Sept. 14, starting at 10 p.m. at Blackbird Buvette (509 Central NW). (JCC)
The 2012 International Symposium on Electronic Art is soon to raise its glittering, vibrating, chattering, clicking form over the city. It has the potential to be one of the most significant events to center itself here to date.
A gray snapper is split down the middle so perfectly and precisely that, after the spine is removed, the fish lies flat, flatter than any flounder. It’s arranged skin-side down with nothing but white flesh exposed, then covered in onions and a creamy, mustardy chile sauce before it’s baked into something you’ve never seen or tasted before.
True sensibility distinguishes the music of Slumgum, which includes Rory Cowal (piano), Dave Tranchina (bass) and Trevor Anderies (drums). Thoughtful and adventurous, the quartet makes the listener feel at home.
With the baseball season reaching its climax and the tomato plants demanding attention, it gets harder to find time for music. Nonetheless, a few albums in a variety of jazz genres have snuck past late-inning heroics and the tomato hornworms, and into the rotation this summer.
A look back at the winners and losers of summer 2012
By Devin D. O’Leary
The last day of summer hits Sept. 21. But for most folks, the season has a Memorial-Day-to-Labor-Day symmetry to it: 15 glorious weekends to luxuriate in swimming pools, ice cream trucks and air-conditioned movie theaters. For the box office, however, summer petered out weeks ago, coming to a dead stop the weekend after The Bourne Legacy got released and limping forward for another three weeks on cheap-ass horror movies (The Apparition, The Possession). So, now that it’s all over, who triumphed and what got marked as a tragedy in the dog days of 2012?
Huh. Apparently, Mark Wahlberg will spend September shooting not one, but two movies in our fair state. Aside from the based-on-a-comic-book cop drama 2 Guns (with Denzel Washington), Wahlberg will also star in the based-on-a-true-story war drama Lone Survivor.
TV writer/producer/director Ryan Murphy has had a solid run of it. He went from “Popular” to “Nip/Tuck” to “Glee” to “American Horror Story.” Now, he’s trying his hand at sitcoms with “The New Normal.” Murphy’s never shied away from humor, but he’s always had the hour-long format to play in. That’s allowed him plenty of room in which to shoehorn his trademark social criticism. “Glee,” for example, has about a 1:1 song-to-sanctimonious-speech ratio. Clocking in at a network-standard 22 minutes, “The New Normal” doesn’t leave a ton of room for the funny. But Ryan’s working on it.
Your favorite newsweekly invited local artists to makeover our distribution boxes. We’re unveiling the results at Boro Gallery on Friday. Danny Skinz, a style writer, tells us all about tackling his inventive box project.