Alibi V.21 No.38 • Sept 20-26, 2012 


20 Years Ago ...

... 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.

It's hard to remember what Albuquerque was like before the Alibi. Personal computers were a rare luxury, for one thing, so email and the Internet were not in common use. But it was that budding computer technology that made it possible for two guys and a handful of contributors to produce an alternative publication that changed everything.

Pre-1992, Frontier didn't have a tortilla machine. The Dukes were still around. Telephone poles were coated in stratified layers of band flyers. There were no casinos. The Big I was less big, and the Lobo Theater showed movies. More people had pagers than cell phones, and most had neither. Most of the buildings at UNM that loom over Central didn't exist. Most of the Westside and Rio Rancho didn't exist. There were more cicadas in the summer, and it snowed more in the winter. MTV showed music videos. Winrock was an actual mall. Colored jeans and impossibly pungent hair products were popular. There were two daily newspapers. There was no Marty Chavez viewing deck at the airport. My 20-year-old son was in diapers.

The first time I met Johnson, I made him sign a contract to pay for struts on my band's van so our singer could deliver NuCity, and I was kind of a jerk about it. Back then, I was taking care of my diapered son and running a failing law practice during the day, then playing bar gigs, cleaning out movie theaters and working a 7-11 graveyard shift at night. I started delivering the paper, too. On the night of NuCity's first anniversary party, my birthday, Johnson visited me at the 7-11. He gave me a big bottle of whiskey and offered me a full-time job. I don't feel like I've wasted my life. Not one bit.

Albuquerque allowed the Alibi to survive by reading it and advertising in it and working on it. Over the years, hundreds of good folks worked way harder on this paper than was rational, just because the Alibi was a good thing that gave Albuquerque a voice, and a forum, and a distraction and an identity. Because it made the city better, and it still does. We of the Alibi, past and present, thank Albuquerque's readers, advertisers, contributors and everyone else for allowing us to live here. We intend to live here until the sun burns out.