A couple weekends ago, I ran into some friends standing outside a club against a backdrop of Downtown cruisers in near-deadlock. “What's up?” I asked. “Nothing,” one replied, nodding at the barely moving cars, “just watching some people who are obviously more bored than we are.”
Cruising bugs some people. Those who prefer to spend their Fridays and Saturdays at the nightspots on and around Central get annoyed by all the extra traffic, the slow-moving peacock display of vehicles vibrating with big bass. Some people want to zip Downtown, park in the paid lots and rush to wait in lines without the occasional hoot and holler from the snake of cars writhing slowly through Gold Avenue.
Some people are wrong.
I didn't always get it, either. Still, lowriders and cruisers have always had a home in my mental landscape, even if I didn't notice their presence. One of the major adjustments I had to make in college was the absence of bass in the mornings as people rolled to class, or the scrape of an Impala's belly as it rubbed up against a speedbump in the Valley High School parking lot. Those sounds and sights are as Albuquerque to me as grated drums roasting green chile in September—forgive the cliché.
Clichés exist for a reason. Maybe lowriders' long presence in Albuquerque renders them as such for those of us who can idle behind a brilliant, metalflake paint job, neon lights or intricate engravings and feel nothing but boredom and annoyance building. There in front of you, a beautiful if uninvited work of art, functional, historic, and it's in your freaking way.
The answer, pounding proudly at you from a kickin' system, drowning out your meager factory stereo: too bad. It's time to sit, time to chill, time to get to know something about the people, art and culture populating this town you're living in.
Meet, again, the lowrider.