• With Iraqi civilians starving en masse under U.S. sanctions imposed after the Persian Gulf War, Alibi staff writer Stephen Ausherman travels there and reports back in an in-depth, two-part piece. Cap’n Opinion runs a fake Q&A with Democratic congressional candidate Phil (m)Aloof titled “Interview with the Vapid.” The paper changes formats, adopting the short-tabloid.
• The Alibi holds its first Crawl, shutting down Central and filling Downtown’s stages with nearly 70 bands, including: Red Earth, Giant Steps, Atomic Love Medicine, Kimo, Ben Hathorne, Fatso, Stoic Frame and Alpha Blue. We also run a special comics issue, in which the paper’s usual content is turned into comic strips. The “Six Degrees of Luke Skywalker” Summer Film Guide connects every movie in the feature to Mark Hamill. Gwyneth Doland is hired as food editor, ushering in an era of pork love and Atkins Diet abhorrence.
• The Crawl splits in two, offering a spring and fall version. In the fall intro: “Much has been said lately about a soon-to-be revitalized Downtown shimmering with retail and entertainment possibilities that Albuquerqueans of a decade ago could only dream of.” The lineup includes: Oh, Ranger!, Pilot to Bombardier, Concepto Tambor and The Shins. Then-Arts Editor Steven Robert Allen makes a case for instant runoff voting, a system still discussed as an alternative to today’s method, which caters to two-party elections.
• The much-loved University-area movie theater The Lobo closes in early August. Built in 1939, the brick-walled space goes on to house a reformed Christian megachurch.
• On Sept. 11, four passenger jets are hijacked. Two crash into the World Trade Center, one crashes into the Pentagon, and one is diverted into an empty field after passengers fight back and take control. Nearly 3,000 people die.
I worked for the Alibi as an intern, freelance writer and staff writer between 2005 and 2009. Some of my very favorite stories I wrote during my time at the paper included a series of 2009 pieces about a cement transfer plant in the North Valley. The plant requested, and eventually received, a permit to drastically increase the amount of pollution it could spew into the air. Neighbors near the plant spent hours collectively voicing their opposition to the proposal at public hearings. Though the permit was granted, there were several conditions placed on the plant's operating procedures in no small part because of the public outcry over the request.
• We turn 10 years old. The Alibi returns Midnight Movies to Albuquerque, hosting late-night screenings at Guild Cinema in Nob Hill. The first film to be featured is the surreal Japanese horror film Uzumaki, paired with the locally shot short “Science Bastard.”
• The Baltimore-set crime drama, “The Wire,” debuts on HBO in June. Airing 60 episodes between June 2002 and March 2008, the gritty series is soon hailed by many critics as the greatest TV drama of all time. R.I.P., Omar.
• The Alibi moves its offices from Nob Hill to Downtown. Writer Jeremiah Luria Johnson attends APD’s training academy. Our annual Survival Guide opens with a line about PalmPilots. We hold our second-annual mail art contest, which yields an antiwar dinosaur sculpture and a punched tin batch of “Art in a Box.” At the Spring Crawl: Rage Against Martin Sheen, The Roxieharts, Simple., Oktober People, The Dirty Novels and Jet Black Summer. The Alibi ponders again whether Downtown revitalization will fix Albuquerque’s economy.
• The final, 10th annual Alibi Short Film Fiesta is held at the Lobo Theater. Among the films screened: “Allison” by Jeff Drew, “Orange Barrels From the Phobosphere” by Brandon Scott Jensen and “Date 1.0” by Ryan Denmark. We also launch the popular Valentine’s Day Card Contest. In July, a long-serving soldier and registered Republican tells the Alibi that “the Bush administration did exactly what al-Qaida wanted us to do. It's created a huge recruiting opportunity for our enemies, and we've alienated the whole world in the process."
The Alibi almost fired me before they even offered me a job.
• The Alibi defends Downtown clubs as Mayor Chavez works to eliminate all-ages shows where alcohol is served. We also call out the Party Patrol, which is accused of violating civil liberties. Former Alibi staffer Norma Jean Thompson eulogizes her former lover Hunter S. Thompson. Intern Simon McCormack is assigned to prank the city’s new helpline, 311. Staff Writer Jessica Cassyle Carr spearheads the first Quiz and Puzzle Issue. And finally, at long last, an edition devoted entirely to fish sticks. Someone had to do it.
• A Veterans Affairs nurse writes a letter to the Alibi criticizing the Bush administration and its handling of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War. She’s investigated for sedition. Her office computer is seized. The story goes national, appearing on NPR and in the New York Times. Ours is the first paper that’s not the O.C. Weekly to run the now-syndicated ¡Ask a Mexican! column. Readers react. Big. We conduct our first citywide scavenger hunt. News Editor Christie Chisholm profiles an ongoing “mental health emergency” as treatment centers across the city close down for lack of funding. Well-loved Alibi Account Executive Greg Medara and his wife Lauda are killed in a car accident. We still smoke cigars in Greg’s honor.
While shopping at Thrift Town one Saturday—must’ve been 1996 or 1997—Chris Johnson and I, for some reason, thought it would be funny to purchase matching coveralls, which came emblazoned with name and shop patches like “Doug” and “Dick’s Auto.” Anyway, months went by and these stupid things never came out of our respective closets (mine did a fair job of stinking up the rest of my clothes, also mostly from Thrift Town, so that I went to work every day smelling of stale booze and motor oil) until one fateful fall evening when The Call came through.
Do I Smell Marijuana?
When I first started working at the Alibi in the late '90s, a worse-for-wear strip mall in Nob Hill housed the paper’s headquarters. A mishmash of dingy offices on the first floor served as the sales, administration and production departments. To get to the editorial department, you had to climb a metal staircase, loosely attached to the outside of the building. At the top was a rickety tin box crammed to capacity with five or six disheveled editorial types. The shelves were filled with toys and comic books. The fridge was filled with beer. Every day felt like Friday … except for Friday, which was deadline day. Friday felt just like Monday.
• In honor of the the First Amendment and the Fourth of July, the Alibi hosts a free speech rally in the Fourth Street Mall called “Soap Box: A Festival of Opinions.” The crawls run their course, and Fall Crawl is our last. We try to wrangle APD into conducting a test on sprays that are said to make your license plate invisible to red-light cameras. No luck. The Alibi runs a tribute to Canada, eh, and a feature on how to eat the city’s weeds. Virginia Lovliere Hampton pens a great essay on being black in the Southwest called “Can I Touch Your Hair?”
• A singed ham makes its way to our offices in the form of a Valentine’s Day Card Contest offering. Columnist and Army veteran Alex Limkin pens a letter to his deceased colonel on the five-year anniversary of the Iraq War. Homebrewing sweeps the nation, and the Alibi greedily gulps some samples. We publish our most massive and comprehensive Election Guide to date. Rudolfo Anaya writes about wine and Christmas in our pages. The Alibi takes home 25 awards from local and national newspaper contests. Future Editor-in-Chief Laura Marrich wins several for editing.