Alibi Volume 16, Number 14
April 5, 2007
Best of Burque 2007
Contrary to what you might a heard, Albuquerque ain't the sticks. Yeah, sure, we got our fair share a whiskey-chuggin', banjo-pickin' rubes in these parts, but our town is mostly a sophisticated sort a place, filled with a sophisticated sort a folk.
The title of this section of our annual Best of Burque readers poll seems a bit vague, doesn't it? "Life in Burque." What does that mean, exactly? Is our existence summed up by the flaws of our elected officials, by the who's who of local celebrities, by the best and worst ways we spend our public money? The answer, of course, is absolutely not. "Life in Burque" should, at the very least, apply to the entire landscape of the Best of Burque ballot--arts, music, shopping, etc.--but even that would leave us lacking. The joyful reality of it is that no reader survey, no matter how mammoth, could even come close to capturing what it means to live in Albuquerque. Which is a wonderful thing.
We're not overstating things when we say life in Albuquerque revolves around eating and drinking. Among the first items of business for settlers entering the Rio Grande Valley was planting vineyards (just after unhitching the horses, but before building the churches). A day without chile is said to be like a day without sunshine. Generations of families still feud about whether sopaipillas come with or after a meal, and volumes are told about a person by the way he or she orders his or her enchiladas.
Underneath the blue sky, in the shadow of pink mountains, amidst the brown sand, paved desert and faux mud structures lies Albuquerque's commons of inebriation. We're talking about drinking establishments, and to the fretful chagrin of temperance types, our dens of sin are here to stay. That's because most Albuquerqueans, like most humans, enjoy stepping out and cutting loose. We know it's fun to drink, dance, gamble, swear, flirt and listen to music at deafening volumes, but we also understand that the nursing of these arguably bad habits is best reserved for designated areas such as our city's voluminous selection of drinkeries.
Albuquerque has a working-class, blue-collar reputation that belies its artsy, sensitive soul. You might not know it from all the strip malls and less than stellar public art displays, but there are a ton of talented artists in this town and plenty of fine venues exhibiting art.
For years we've been running the "Best Local Band" category buried somewhere amid the bars and cinemas in the nightlife section of Best of Burque. Last year, "Best New/Emerging Band" was added. But any fan of local music knows our fair city is home to all manner of gifted musicians.
We're all consumers. We buy clothes and shoes and used guitars. We need skull-and-crossbones shower curtains and love cute teddy bears with fuzzy ears and googly-eyes. What we don't need is overpriced crap from soulless stores. Lucky for us, Albuquerque is a booming, green-conscious shoppers’ paradise. From recycled vintage fashions to hand-carved (and fair-traded) soap dishes, somewhere in the Q there's a store to meet your consumer-driven lifestyle. Proclaim your love of spending and tap into your inner shopaholic at one of Burque's favorite retail establishments.
The First (and Possibly Last) Best of Burque (BoB) Awards for Lifetime Achievement
We've rolled a plush red carpet out to the curb. The stars of Albuquerque are all dolled up in their finest designer dresses and suits. Anticipation is so high, if it stood up on tippy-toes it could brush its fingertips against the surface of Mars. Yes, fellow Albuquerqueans, it's time for the unveiling of our Best of Burque Lifetime Achievement Awards, otherwise known as BoBs. These Albuquerque fixtures win the same categories every single year. In most cases, they deserve to win (the exception being the beloved Bart Prince residence's long association with the Best Architectural Nightmare category). It's time to pay extravagant homage to their success—with an imaginary, highly collectible gold statuette of a monkey box—and give someone else a shot at the top.
Felix, roll the video tribute ...
For this year’s edition of Best of Burque, we decided to do something a wee bit different. As much as we respect the electoral will of our readers, every time Best of Burque comes around we find ourselves wishing we could point out some aspects of our lovely city that fall through the cracks when the poll results are released. These staff picks are meant to plug a few, but by no means all, of these holes. Keep in mind that Albuquerque—contrary to popular opinion—is a big, vibrant, active place. We aren’t aiming to be comprehensive. That would be impossible. These are just a few things about Albuquerque that folks would surely enjoy if they gave them half a chance. Dig in!
This year, a new section on the Best of Burque ballot required voters to send in digital photographs for five categories. Here are the winners, with lots of runners-up available for online ogling at alibi.com.
Joe Monahan—Political Blogger (joemonahan.com)
Readers gave us tons of suggestions about aspects of our city that aren’t necessarily reflected in this year’s poll. Here’s a sampling of some of the more useful and/or entertaining.
How Wise Wolfe turned Albuquerque into Pittsburgh
Last year, a television and film location scout found himself in Albuquerque with a mission that could justifiably be considered a location scout’s worst nightmare—to make places here look like scenes from, of all places, Pittsburgh, Penn. The towns are as distant aesthetically as they are geographically.
Burque makes a name for himself
It's hard to characterize Albuquerque. Some days, the politicians and headlines depict a city ready to modernize, courting businesses and industry found in real cities. But there's the rub. If Burque were a man, he'd have a pretty big little-dude complex.
Answers on the city’s new animal ordinance
The laws of living with pets changed for Albuquerqueans on Oct. 10 of last year, the day the city’s HEART ordinance went into effect. Yet the real deadline for the legislation is still a few days away, on April 10, when the six-month grace period for the new rules will expire. The legislation—which stands for Humane and Ethical Animal Rules and Treatment—requires a number of actions from pet owners within Albuquerque city limits: They must have their dogs and cats spayed or neutered or else buy annual “intact permits” for their pets that allow them to go unscathed; owners must have their pets microchipped or tattooed; and if their pets are going to have babies, owners will have to purchase litter permits from the city, set with a six-month expiration date.
Free Dumb of Speech--Move over, Fox News. Make way, Barbara Walters. There’s an even more despicable faux journalist out there.
Oppressive talkers might consider shutting up every now and then
Imagine this: You're surrounded by people you barely know. The conversation turns to a subject to which you can contribute. You're a shy person, and mustering the courage to speak around unfamiliar people involves a considerable amount of anxiety. There's a break in the banter, you finally begin to speak, but in the midst of what you're saying some dolt interrupts you, keeps talking and makes no amends for the discourtesy he or she has created. You feel humiliated and annoyed.1
Democrats are salivating over the prospect of watching Congresswoman Heather Wilson and the previously unassailable U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici struggle during their upcoming re-election campaigns.
Dateline: Gaza Strip--A woman who guards described as “strangely fat” was stopped and searched at the Gaza-Egypt border crossing last Thursday. Alerted by the woman’s unusual shape, a female border guard at the Rafah terminal searched the woman and found three crocodiles strapped to her waist. The animals, each about 20 inches in length, were concealed beneath a loose robe. Though it did not ultimately involve terrorism, the incident sparked a panic at the crossing. “The policewoman screamed and ran out of the room, and then women began screaming and panicking when they heard,” said Maria Telleria, a spokesperson for the European observers who run the crossing station. Still, “everybody was admiring a woman who is able to tie crocodiles to her body.” The animals, which were eventually returned to the Egyptian side of the border, were most likely intended for sale to Gaza’s small zoo or to private collectors.
Shootout + Early Bird = Dead Bird?--This summer, Albuquerque will play host to the 8th Annual Duke City Shootout. The idea of this script-to-screen film festival is to cast, shoot, edit and premiere a short film in just seven days. Organizers of this year’s festival are currently beating the bushes looking for quality scripts of 12 minutes or less. If Duke City chooses your script, you’ll get transportation to Albuquerque (not such a big deal for you locals) and help making your short film. The festival provides cast, crew, digital cameras, equipment, mentors and everything else needed to make your movie a reality. The early bird deadline for scripts is Monday, April 16. You can save five whole bucks on your entry fee if you submit your script by then. If you can’t get it done in time, the final deadline is May 11. This year, prizes for the best completed films will include screenwriting courses valued up to $1,300 from Writer’s Boot Camp and software from Movie Magic. The festival itself will take place July 20-28. For more information about submitting your hot little script for the Shootout, log on to www.dukecityshootout.com.
It’s good. Would I lie to you?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Writers rarely make good subjects for film. They’re too insulated, too self-centered and can rarely be considered men of action (Hemingway aside). Liars, on the other hand, are fine cinematic protagonists. Liars are interesting and complex and frequently quite outgoing. And when you think about it, there’s a rather fine line between writing and lying. It’s the job of writers--those penning fiction, anyway--to make things up. Consequently, people shouldn’t be too shocked to find out that even journalists occasionally fabricate their stories. Tales of disgraced journalists like Janet Cooke, Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass should come as no surprise to readers who demand more and more sensational stories on their front pages.
Short but sweet
It’s not surprising to find that documentary filmmaking--covering concepts from penguins to politics--is in the midst of a major renaissance. Considering that 70 percent (charitably) of Hollywood features are poorly made, profit-minded pabulum (from conception to completion), documentaries represent America’s last best chance of finding intelligent discourse, skillful cinematography and a near total absence of fart jokes. ... OK, so The Aristocrats might have slipped in one or two of those.
Nets ax shows
Clear the decks, people, it’s upfront season! In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s that nerve-wracking time of year when the broadcast television networks start greenlighting pilots for the fall season, hammer out their schedules and decide what will and will not be returning in 2007-08.
The Week in Sloth
“We’re a little nervous,” James Mercer says into a cell phone as he stands outside the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., a slight unease in his voice. “But we’re really looking forward to it.”
In-demand vocalist emphasizes her jazzy self with new group
Vocalist Hillary Smith has so much on her plate right now she’s just going to have to get herself a bigger one.
Captured by Robots, The Teddy Bear Orchestra, and Unit 7 Drain play for your enjoyment at the Launchpad on Wednesday, April 11th!
Theatertown, USA—Slowly but steadily, Albuquerque is transforming into a genuine theater town. This month, two more theater troupes open shop in our city.
Here's a sampling of a few of the poetry events going on throughout the month. For more information, go to www.poetz.com/nm/
The Grand Slam Poetry Finals at the National Hispanic Cultural Center
The Albuquerque poetry scene has come a long way in a very short time. Ground zero was the 2005 National Poetry Slam Championship, which people are still talking about two years later. Held in Albuquerque, the hugely successful four-day event brought a ton of attention to local poetic talents, partly because Albuquerque took home the team title, the first host team to do so since 1992.
An interview with David Tucker
David Tucker has been in the newspaper business 28 years and is a deputy managing editor at The Newark Star-Ledger. He writes odes to that sweet spot between deadlines, when time slows down and he can notice the world again.
Auspicious Chutney—In a city where restaurants open and close faster than a blinking eye (Starky's ABQ and California Witches are two recent examples of both), India Kitchen is a welcome anomaly. Saturday, April 7, marks the 25th anniversary of the restaurant.
Save it for the morning after
Procuring a hot pizza pie in this town can be easy, but the quality is not always above the bar. Ordering pizza from a delivery chain is a straightforward process—that is, until the driver shows up at the door. I’ve had my share of cold, sticky cheese, orders of hot wings lost in the Bermuda triangle and, worst of all, the parade of pizzas lacking heat, toppings and even sauce. This is why I was really looking forward to picking up a nice, fat pie from homegrown Rio Rancho staple Sal-E-Boy’s Pizzeria.
I’m frequently asked: “Andres, oh wise guru of wine, how much do I spend on wine for my date?” Giving this advice a friend is easy—I already know way too much about their lives and dating history. However, giving this advice to someone I don’t know well is trickier.