Alibi Volume 13, Number 49
December 2, 2004
The search for new hi-tech weaponry brings defense dollars to local labs and a few ethical questions as well
Follow the bare, concrete lined walls in the basement of the University of New Mexico Engineering Building and you'll find the signs forbidding anyone to enter the laboratory of Professor Edl Schamiloglu without proper authorization. Due to X-ray generation and high voltage safety, researchers and students who work there are required to wear a radiation badge, just like people who work in comparable science facilities.
Councilor wants the city to condemn the old Santa Fe rail yards if redevelopment doesn't start soon
The old Santa Fe railroad district Downtown has been a sad, familiar sight for decades. The dilapidated pre-World War II buildings, the busted windows and the chain-link fence have become such a familiar part of the landscape, area residents have gotten used to ignoring them. But City Councilor Eric Griego has maybe, and perhaps finally, come up with a plan to resurrect the area.
Let There Be Light. Everybody can remember that special teacher, the one that changed the course of your life, the one you deified for at least half a semester, the one that made you laugh and pushed your intellectual curiosity to new limits, taught you to think analytically and with an open mind and, yes, was such a potent force in the classroom that you thought to yourself, secretly of course, that maybe someday you too would become a college professor and live the noble, erudite campus life. As Jonathan Swift so aptly put it: Whoever excels in what we prize, will be a hero in our eyes; each student when pleased with what is taught, will have the teacher in her thought. Or something like that.
Ten days after our national election, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, my wife and I went to El Salvador. We traveled separately, of course, intent on very different missions, but still it was disheartening to travel so far in an effort at getting away from the grim realities of our national crisis only to be greeted by Rumsfeld's all-too-familiar face squinting out at us from the front page of the Prensa Gráfica.
Some more news nuggets to chew on from the week that was
There's a minor bit of housekeeping to get out of the way before moving forward with this week's column. The following sentence appeared in this space last week:
Few people in the United States know the name Mordechai Vanunu. Nineteen years ago, working as a scientist in the then secret Israeli nuclear weapons program at its Dimona facility in the Negev, a desert region in southern Israel, Mordechai Vanunu, in a brave act of conscience, revealed the existence of this program to the rest of the world.
Dateline: India—An army officer has been dismissed and another suspended after a court martial found them guilty of faking a bloody battle scene with a camera and a bottle of ketchup. An army spokesman said Col. H.S. Kohli took photos of civilians covered with ketchup and posing as corpses and then gave them to his senior officers as proof of dead separatist rebels in the revolt-torn northeastern state of Assam. “The colonel tried to use the photographs to back up his claim for a gallantry award,” the spokesman said. Unfortunately, the fraud was exposed when scrutiny of records following the colonel's claim showed no such deaths had ever occurred. “It was indeed bizarre to find him trying to claim a bravery award for the kills which in fact did not take place,” said the spokesman. Following the court martial hearing, the colonel lost his job and a major who conspired with his was suspended for five years. The incident, dubbed the “saucy scandal” by local media, is the latest incident to shake the Indian army. Last May, India's Defense Ministry said Indian troops staged fake battles on the world's highest battleground on the Siachen glacier and made false claims about killing Pakistani soldiers in a bid to win medals.
Fifth annual cinematic soiree offers a wealth of diversity
It's a week before the Fifth Annual Santa Fe Film Festival, and festival director Jon Bowman has a problem. Four of the festival's big-ticket films have already sold out. The Assassination of Richard Nixon, A Very Long Engagement, Zapata and Travelers and Magicians have already filled up. Several other screenings are on the verge of running out of tickets as well. All things considered, it's not the worst problem that a film festival director can face. Still, Bowman is scrambling to add additional screenings for eager audiences.
The Librarian: Quest for the Spear on TNT
They say there are two kinds of knowledge in the world: book learning and real-world smarts. You could charitably say that the folks behind TNT's new made-for-TV feature, The Librarian: Quest for the Spear are suffused with the first kind of knowledge. I say that not because they're deeply intelligent, but because they've obviously never been exposed to anything remotely real.
The Week in Sloth
Check the “Music Calendar” and “Lucky 7” this week. If the plethora of holiday-themed events doesn't get you in the mood, nothing will. And just to add a little to the insanity, New Mexico Tech's Macey Center in Socorro will host “Christmas Joy,” a performance by the lavishly costumed, brilliantly choreographed Performers Ballet Company, featuring Socorro-based dancer Johnnie Taylor Trujillo, who will reprise her role in four performances at UNM's Popejoy Hall later in the month. The Macey Center performance takes place Saturday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $16, $14 and $12. Call (505) 835-5688 for more information and tickets. ... Also on Saturday, Dec. 4, the Bill Hearne Trio (with Susan Hyde Holmes and Don Richmond) will appear at the Outpost Performance Space at 8 p.m. with special guest Linda Myers. Call 268-0044 for more information. ... On a lighter note, Bury Your Dead, Scars of Tomorrow, The Acacia Strain and Minus 7 will present their own version of an all-ages holiday-themed concert on Sunday, Dec. 5, at the Launchpad at 7 p.m. ... Finally, former Flat Duo Jets guitarist and personal hero Dexter Romweber will appear Wednesday, Dec. 8, at the Lobo Theater with the musical desert oasis that is The Sadies and headliner Neko Case, all of whom have new records out.
He's Paul Gonzalez. You probably recognize him as a trumpet player in local ensembles like Tetragon, Son Como Son, Straight Up and the Albuquerque Latin Jazz Orchestra. He's also done stints with Caribe, Carlos “Patato” Valdes, The Platters, The Pete Escovedo Orchestra and locals Doug Lawrence and Ottmar Liebert, as well as leading his own groups.
Gonzalez recently recorded Warm Valley, a sexy, smoky CD that brims with sultry horn passages and upbeat Hot Club jazz. Joining him on the recording is a near peerless quartet of local jazz masters, including the magical drummer Arnaldo Acosta, bassist Milo Jaramillo and pianist Steve Figueroa, along with guest appearances by saxophonist Kanoa Kaluhiwa, trombonist César Bauvallet, and drummers Victor Rodriguez and Tomás White.
with Brian Keane
Saturday, Dec. 4; Super-secret AMP House Concert Location Near You (all ages, 7:30 p.m.): Wisconsinite Jeffrey Foucault could just be the risen savior of the country-folk inflected flock of contemporary singer-songwriters. He's recorded just two albums during a career influenced by the Texas Great Ones—Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt—and marked by nods to the varied talents of Greg Brown, Chris Smither, Kelly Joe Phelps, John Hammond, etc.
with Jumbo's Killcrane, Black Maria and Under The Sun
Tuesday, Dec. 7; Launchpad (21 and over, 9 p.m.): Man, they must grow some killer skunk in Wilmington, N.C. There's simply no other excuse—no other likely cause—for the likes of Weedeater, whose Dixie Witch-meets-Lynyrd Skynyrd brand of bong water-soaked, Southern-fried swamp sludge will make you a believer, whether you're a stinky pot head or not.
Like labelmate Suzanne Vega, Vanessa Carlton has a knack for setting her deepest emotions to craftily hewn melodies in such a way as to infect the listener with the actual feelings. A remarkable feat for a 24-year-old who's made but two albums, but Carlton's Harmonium sounds ageless and timeless nonetheless. There's a depth here, both lyrically and instrumentally, and with regard to arrangement, that creates a far greater sense of urgency and maturity in Carlton's latest batch of songs than in the previous bunch, including her breakout hit, “A Thousand Miles.” To ignore this record would be criminal.
It's a well-known fact that some of the best contemporary art talent in New Mexico comes out of the graduate art program at UNM. These young artists aren't just talented, though—they're also organized.
Spiritually Incorrect: An Existential Comedy at the KiMo Theatre
Aung San Suu Kyi has spent much of her adult life in a nonviolent struggle to bring democracy to her home country of Burma. In exchange for her valiant efforts on behalf of her fellow citizens, the military dictatorship in charge of that nation has repeatedly thrown her in jail.
December bookstore events
New Mexico Books & More (344-9382), the cooperative of independent New Mexico publishers and authors stationed temporarily at Cottonwood Mall, continues its creative efforts to hawk New Mexico books throughout the month of December. From Friday, Dec. 3, through Sunday, Dec. 5, the coop will present a bunch of cool readings for kids with such authors as Terry Avery (Who Will Save Mr. Squeaky?), Bonnie Larson (When Animals Were People, Watakame's Journey) and Mary Powell (Wolf Tales). For a list of other December events, log on to www.nmbookcoop.com.
Much like a glass of premium bourbon, The Nutcracker tastes especially delicious on the rocks. Roll over Tchaikovsky—James Brown, Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin are moving in when the Keshet Dance Company presents its rockin' Nutcracker on the Rocks, complete with giant Harley, at UNM's Rodey Theatre starting this weekend. The show runs Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Dec. 12. Tickets are $20 general, $18 students/seniors. Group rates available. Order by calling 925-5858.
The Tulane Deli is long gone, replaced with a hip new Japanese paper shop and gallery called PaperGami (114 Tulane SE). Cynthia Cook, one of our most popular local artists, currently has an exhibit at the shop featuring some of her most recent mixed-media shadowbox pieces. Incorporating recycled pieces along with various organic bits, Cook's work has always had an attractive mystical pagan flavor. The show will be up through Jan. 4. The store is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 255-2228.
My mother is the type of fearless eater who loves the gelatinous texture of pigs' feet and eats tripe without batting an eye. She always orders the weird thing on the menu, whether it's kidney pie or squab on a spit. And yet there are a few things she won't eat. They are a small but mysterious group: watermelon, meatloaf, Brussels sprouts and chestnuts. Watermelon is a visceral thing with her. One whiff of that treacly sweet pink flesh and she gags as though she's just caught you brushing your teeth (oh yeah, spit makes her gag too. Weird, huh?). As for meatloaf, it was one thing we never ate in our house growing up, along with other normal American foods like steak and pot roast. Far too normal for us. Anyway, I think she recently told me about a veal and pork meatloaf she made and actually liked, so maybe that has to come off the list. But as I write this, it's two days before Thanksgiving and we're still fighting about the last two on the list. I want to make Brussels sprouts with bacon and chestnuts (I think I saw it in Food and Wine) but she refuses. Oh, I'll win alright. And I'm including this week's story on chestnuts just to spite her.
Oh yeah, it's gingerbread time. This weekend at Coronado Center, the Make-A-Wish Foundation will be displaying and selling dozens of gingerbread houses for the 17th straight year. Some of the modest abodes are made by kindergartners. (Imagine a tub of royal icing and bag of gumdrops in the hands of a 5-year-old. If these houses don't look like they've been hit by a category-four hurricane, then you can tell grownups helped.) Others are made by Four H-ers, artsy teenagers, professional pastry chefs and graduates of baking classes at the Specialty Shop. Gingerbread artists compete in several categories and prizes are awarded by a panel of experts including Yours Truly. I've judged this thing for four years or so now, and I've seen gingerbread houses made to look like the church in Ranchos de Taos, Noah's Ark, Barbie's Dream House, a mobile home (compete with Donette tires on the roof!), the Luna Mansion and Rapunzel's castle tower. They are truly amazing. And, contrary to what I wrote a few weeks ago, judging this event is actually fun for three reasons. First, these kids are total geniuses. Last year, one of them used strips of Fruit Stripe gum to make little skateboards and built a full-on skate park in the back yard of his gingerbread house. Secondly, I don't have to taste any of this stuff. I merely award points for creative use of Fruit Stripe and deduct points for use of inedible items like plastic Santa figurines. Make that Santa out of royal icing, you little cheaters! Which brings me to my last point, how the nice and understanding folks at Make-A-Wish don't give a crap how I come up with my winners. It's art for chrissakes. Art and math only intersect at the moment you decide to buy a gingerbread model of San Felipe de Neri church. Yes, all of the houses at Coronado this weekend will be for sale. The houses usually bring in about $3,000 for Make-A-Wish; it costs anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 for them to grant a wish to a child with a life-threatening illness. Check it out this Friday through Sunday, during mall hours.
The future looks bright for these once blight-stricken trees
A century after the discovery of a devastating blight, a fabled fruit, yes, fruit, is on the road to recovery.
Santa Fe's Bobcat Bite was one of eight restaurants profiled
What inspired you to make a movie about hamburgers?
I love hamburgers! You know, people always say you should work on projects that you love. ... My inspiration came from Eric Schlosser's book Fast Food Nation. I was afraid he'd turn everyone off to hamburgers, and that would be a great injustice.
Santa Fe's Bobcat Bite was one of the stops on your cross-country quest. How did you find out the place and how did their burger measure up?