Sometimes you have a bad day. It happens. There isn't much you can do about it. The alarm goes off and you think, Great, here we go.
But no matter how bad it’s going, it can't possibly compare to the one Ivan Denisovich is having.
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962) by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn chronicles 24 hours at a Gulag camp. Solzhenitsyn was a Russian writer who did some time in a Soviet prison facility out in the wasteland of Siberia.
Ivan's routine goes like this: Wake up at about 5 a.m. and march several miles at gunpoint. It's winter and the temperature is about 30 below zero. If it dips below 40, no work. Cool? No. It’ll have to be made up on Sunday.
Once the march is over, Ivan lays bricks. It’s so cold that another man has to stir the concrete, lest it freeze. Breakfast is soupy oatmeal. More subzero masonry work. March back at gunpoint. Dinner is a thin soup. Anyone who asks for crackers is shot.
This book brings new meaning to the phrase "bad day." Read it. It's only 150 pages or so. It won't take but a few hours. Life will suddenly seem pretty awesome.
Thank goodness for cameras. They’re like drawing machines for people (me) who can’t draw. Right now, there are two places to go see works by photographers. The Expo New Mexico Fine Arts Building (300 San Pedro NE) is hosting the annual New Mexico Photographic Arts Show. There are about 250 images this year and the exhibit runs through Dec. 27. Open everyday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Tuesdays, Christmas Eve and Christmas. Across town at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History (2000 Mountain NW), two continuing exhibits are extending their stays. The Portrait Tradition: Albuquerque Photographers explores the old days when you had to go to the studio or find an itinerant photo jockey to take your picture. While you’re there, check out Ships on the Line: Albuquerque and the Golden Age of Aviation, a collection of early aviation photographs from the Frank Speakman Collection. Both exhibits are hanging around until June 2011.
Goodbye, Street Art
STREET ARTS: A Celebration of Hip Hop Culture & Free Expression at 516 ARTS brought together talented artists from all over the world. It’s coming to an end now, but Albuquerque artist Ernest Doty is helping with one last hurrah. He and Steven Armenta have been atop a hydraulic lift, spray cans in hand, for about two weeks, painting a mural on the side of the HDIC Theatre Building in an alley behind the Sunshine Theater (120 Central SW). Doty says the finished piece will feature two ravens mirroring each other with some rainbows for good measure. He fashions his own spray tips, and the result is a quarter-of-an-inch-wide line, perhaps even finer. Doty anticipates painting up there through Christmas Day, so get out there and gawk. It helps stave off the boredom.