Alibi Flashback Blog

alibi flashback blog

V.22 No.51 | 12/19/2013
V.14 No.40 • October 6-12, 2005


Alibi Flashback: Billy Jack in New Mexico

2005 Tom Laughlin interview

Actor-director Tom Laughlin will probably forever be less famous than his creation, ass-kicking pacifist Billy Jack, but that’s to be expected as, by all accounts, Laughlin pretty much was Billy Jack. He died this past weekend at age 82, but back in 2005 Alibi’s Devin O’Leary got a chance to chat with him about his pioneering indie film productions. An excerpt:

Billy Jack and The Trial of Billy Jack were both shot in New Mexico. What brought you here?

It was both Arizona and New Mexico. When Billy Jack was halfway through, Sam Arkoff [president of AIP] tried to screw me and Dolores on the picture—really tried something rotten and evil. So we shot the picture and worked on a deal to buy him out. At that time, the Academy Awards were on and all the state governments had their film commissions trying to hustle you to come shoot in their state. We had shot half of it in Arizona already, just because it was closer to us in Los Angeles. They had a big meeting. The governor [of New Mexico] came out. He'd been partying a bit the night before. He came out in his stocking feet. He saw Dolores there and he quickly changed. He comes out and he says, “I want you to finish this in New Mexico. What do you need?” She says, “I need helicopters for a week.” He says, “You got 'em!” She listed everything. “You got it! You got it!” Well, we couldn't say no to that. Later on, guys on the [film] commission, after he gave us all those, they really ripped him. They said, “You stupid idiot, those helicopters cost us 150 bucks an hour.” But in any event, the locations in both places were spectacular.

You can read the rest of the interview with Tom Laughlin in our back issue department.

V.21 No.39 | 9/27/2012
V.8 No.51 • December 23-29, 1999


Alibi Flashback: The original “Two-Minute Criminal” story

In last week's ginormous 20th Anniversary issue, former news editor Dennis Domrzalski namechecked this story as his favorite during his three years at the Alibi. After the AAN Altweeklies Wire picked up the story-about-the-story today, it seemed appropriate to unearth the original piece for posterity. Incidentally, Mr. Bralley now runs a (pretty darned good) citizen photojournalism blog focusing on local politics.

The Two-Minute Criminal

APD Officer in Big Trouble For Talking Longer Than Two Minutes

by Dennis Domrzalski

Publication date: December 23, 1999

Albuquerque police officer Mark Bralley can be annoying and a pain in the ass to his superiors and to government officials. When he was president of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association 1986 , he angered Police Department officials when he charged that the Department was run like a patron system. Also in the ‘80s, Bralley won a case against the Department in which he charged that he was improperly denied a job that he had tested for. This past April, Bralley infuriated the city’s Police Oversight Commission and Police Department officials when he flashed his badge at POC members during one of their meetings and alleged that they were violating the state’s open meetings law. This summer Bralley went to court with allegations that the POC had violated the open meetings law. He won the case. A judge ruled that the POC had indeed run afoul of the anti-secrecy law.

In his 23 years as an APD officer Bralley has been what bureaucracies, and certainly police departments, abhor: someone who isn’t afraid to speak his mind and to speak his mind in public.

But now, according to APD honchos, Bralley has crossed the line and has gone from being a mere annoyance and pain in the ass, to being a criminal. Because of his most recent actions Bralley faces the possibility of being disciplined or fired. APD big shots have launched two internal affairs investigations against him on charges of disorderly conduct, battery and bringing dishonor to APD. During a hearing for one of those internal affairs investigations APD officers dragged Bralley’s attorney out of the interview room.

What has Bralley done to be investigated for disorderly conduct and battery? What has he done to go from law enforcer to suspected criminal, to go from good cop to bad cop?

He has committed the heinous crime of talking for longer than two minutes at a meeting of the Police Oversight Commission. Bralley, in what one attorney in town called a case of “rolling stupidity” is facing a potentially career-ending investigation because in the United States of America, in the freest nation on the planet, he spoke at a public meeting of a government commission for longer than two minutes. Make no mistake, officer Mark Bralley has violated the two-minute rule.

The strange case reached its bizarre climax on the morning of Dec. 2 when was Bralley was being questioned about his actions by APD Internal Affairs Sgt. John Gallegos. Weekly Alibi attended the interview at Bralley’s request. During that meeting, Gallegos and other APD officers dragged Bralley’s attorney, Paul Livingston, out of the room because he, in Gallegos’ opinion was talking too much and was interrupting the meeting. Livingston had objected to a question that Gallegos had asked his client. And he was ejected for objecting and for allegedly disrupting the interview even though Gallegos had told him at the beginning of the meeting that he was welcome to interject at any time. It was while Gallegos and other officers were dragging Livingston out of the room on the first floor of the old City Hall building Downtown that Bralley got into more trouble. He placed his hand on Gallegos’ shoulder, in an attempt, he said, to calm Gallegos down. Gallegos didn’t see it that way, and now, Bralley is the focus of a second IA investigation in which he is accused of battery on and interfering with a police officer.

To be sure, not everyone has taken Bralley’s side on the matter. Some people think that Bralley is out to destroy the POC, which is charged with implementing civilian oversight of the Police Department. Bralley denied that charge. He said he believes in civilian oversight and that he challenges the POC only when they screw up.

POC member Fred Ward was pleased to hear that Bralley was being investigated for talking for longer than two minutes at the Nov. 8 POC meeting.

“I totally agree,” Ward said when told of Bralley’s situation. “They (Bralley and Livingston) have no respect for the chairperson. They are there for no other reason than to antagonize the board. I think they are a disgrace.”

POC member Susan Seligman said that Bralley and Livingston have spent nine months disrupting POC meetings. “They interrupt the meetings constantly. They speak longer than their allotted time,” Seligman said.

In fact, Seligman recently bore the brunt of Livingston’s ire when he called her and other POC members Nazis. She filed a complaint against him with the New Mexico State Bar Association. The Bar Association concluded that Livingston had done nothing wrong.

Jennie Lusk, who is also a POC member, said she wasn’t surprised to hear that Livingston had been physically removed from the room during Bralley’s IA interview. “He is so ill-behaved. He can make things a lot harder for Mark,” Lusk said. When asked whether the POC’s rule that no one can speak for longer than two minutes during a meeting was reasonable, Lusk said that Bralley and Livingston would violate a time limit no matter how long it was.

“I so much believe in their right to speak and I so much endorse that the Commission hear what their concerns are,” Lusk said, “But I have never seen two people who are more disrespectful of the process of the basic function of government. No matter how long they have to speak they are going to overstep it.”

But attorney Dave Cargo, who watched a video tape of Bralley’s Internal Affairs investigation, said the situation amounted to a case of “rolling stupidity.”

“It’s kind of drumhead justice. ‘You have a right to a lawyer and all of a sudden a hand reaches in and you see the guy’s (Livingston’s) shoes go out the door.,” Cargo said. the former New Mexico governor was also critical of the POC’s two-minute rule for speakers. “If you are going to have public input you have to have a little patience with the public, and two minutes is not reasonable. He (Bralley) has some position and credibility. It’s not like he just dropped in from a homeless shelter. Bralley spends a lot of time studying this stuff and a lot of times he is right.”

The Beginning: Nov 8

The case began on Nov. 8 when a sullen-looking Bralley attended the POC meeting in the City Council chambers in City Hall. He had signed up to speak during the public comments portion of the meeting. When his name was called he walked to the podium and addressed POC Chairperson Jill Marron.

“My name is Mark Bralley. I’m an Albuquerque police officer,” Bralley said. “I am here to protest the two-minute rule on speech and public comments (and) your expression of disgust for certain people who come before you, the people who go to work, who work the streets at night when you’re not willing to be out there traveling around, but they’re out there making them safe so you can if you had to.”

Bralley then went on to tell Marron that he resented her statements that the lawsuit he filed against the POC and won was a bad thing. “The lawsuit has been dealt with. The judge has ruled that you acted improperly and that is a good thing,” Bralley said.

[There] is not free speech in this office. … You have no right to free speech in this office, Mr. Livingston.

—APD Sgt. John Gallegos

At one point, a bell rang, signaling that Bralley’s two minutes to speak were up. Bralley continued talking. Later, Marron interrupted him. “You’re two minutes are up,” she said.

“I’m not finished speaking,” Bralley replied.

After he had spoken for nearly six minutes, Marron interrupted him again. “I’m not sure what your point is,” she said. “But all I have to say about this is I’m glad Ms. Seligman filed the complaint against Mr. Livingston. I’m embarrassed he is a member of the bar and acts the way he does.” Marron then called for security to intervene in the matter.

Bralley was ready for her. “If you think that my standing here and talking to you about an issue that is pertinent to this discussion constitutes disorderly conduct and disruption of a public meeting, you are in error,” Bralley said.

“It does,” Marron replied. “I have asked you to sit down. I have asked you to cease.”

“No sir,” Bralley said. “I won’t.”

A city security guard approached Bralley, who then said, “We have a deputy chief (Bill Weiland) here. If he thinks I am out of order he can order me to sit down. If he thinks that I am violating the First Amendment he can order me to sit down.”

Weiland did just that and ordered Bralley to sit down. And it was Weiland, who used to head up APD’s Internal Affairs Unit, who filed the complaint against Bralley that accused him of disorderly conduct and conduct unbecoming of a police officer.

Police Chief Jerry Galvin said he could not discuss the specifics of Bralley’s case because it was an internal investigation and a personnel matter. But Galvin did say that talking for longer than two minutes during a public meeting could be improper conduct for a police officer.

“An officer on and off-duty is certainly under scrutiny depending on what they do,” Galvin said. “If they are disorderly and bring the Department into disrepute, certainly we are going to investigate that. an officer’s conduct on and off duty that brings the department into disrepute and is a violation of the law is going to be investigated by the Department.”

The Internal Affairs Interview

Sgt. John Gallegos’ office on the first floor of the old City Hall building Downtown is small, about 8 feet by 10 feet, has cream-colored walls that make the room look yellow. Gallegos appeared ready for Bralley and Livingston at 10 a.m. on Dec. 2. He had a tape recorder set up on his desk ready to record the interview. APD Sgt. Levi Anaya was also in the room to help with the questioning. the meeting got off to a bad start when Gallegos, in an off-the-record comment, explained to Bralley and Livingston how he conducted his interviews. Here is a transcript of that conversation:

JG: Before we go on the record, before we go on my record, what I do, my interviews, I’d like to explain my interview process. At the beginning I’ll read Garrity (a recitation of a police officer’s rights regarding internal investigations). I’ll ask. I ask if you want to read your warnings and we’ll identify everybody in the room. is Mr. Livingston acting as your legal representative or just an observer?

MB: To clarify that I’m entitled to two representatives and whether they are legal or not legal—

JG: What I mean, is he going to be talking and making objections and that stuff or is he going to be a quiet observer?

MB: No, a representative, under the (police union) contract, is entitled to speak at any point.

JG: “I understand that. Will he be speaking?

MB: Yes.

JG: OK. Thank you.

PL: Yes, I will be speaking, probably extensively.


PL: I often speak ...

JG: Mr. Livingston, what I’m going to do is I’m going to remain in control of this meeting and what we will do is, at any time I will give everybody the opportunity to say something at the beginning, after officer Bralley reads his card and any opening dialogue or dissertation he wants to go through. I will offer all of you that opportunity as well. and then once that is done and is reasonable and in a relatively reasonable time, we’ll go into, I’ll ask officer Bralley about the incident specifically. After he explains the incident to me we’ll go through a question and answer thing, until I run out of questions or he runs out of answers, whatever. At any time that either of you want to interject, please do so. However, if the interjections become to the point of disrupting the meeting or if I feel like I’m starting to lose control of the meeting. I mean of the interview, then I will stop these interjections and we will break it and bring it back down.

No Free Speech at Internal Affairs

PL: Are we on the record?

JG: No.

PL: I’d like to hear this on the record, or I’d like to have it on the record.

MB: there is a record going (referring to his digital video camera that was set up in the room).

JG: You’ve got your record going.

PL: I’d like to have this on your record. I think this is something I need to respond to and I would like to have it on your record.

JG: OK, great. You’ll have that opportunity when I give you your opportunity to speak on the record.

MB: What he is saying is that he wants the statement you just made on your record for the formality of—

JG: The neat thing about that is it’s my record. I’ll decide what’s on it, OK?

PL: (Inaudible)

JG: Thank you Mr. Livingston. See what I mean about disturbing. I’m not going to tolerate this, sir.

PL: This is about free speech.

JG: No sir.

PL: This is a case about free speech.

JG: This is not free speech in this office. This is an administrative investigation. I will give you your opportunity to speak. You have no right to free speech in this office, Mr. Livingston.

PL: I have a right to common civility.

JG: But you do not have a right ...

PL: You don’t let me finish when I say something.

JG: Sir.

PL: I have a right to common civility.

JG: Sir.

PL: I’m talking and you’re interrupting. That’s not common civility.

JG: First warning. You interrupt me again and you will be asked to leave. Do you understand.

PL: No. I don’t understand. I’m officer Bralley’s legal representative.

JG: And you will be asked to leave and you will be forced to leave if you disturb the meeting.

PL: Will I be arrested?

JG: No. You will be forced to leave, and if your conduct supports an arrest ...

PL: I would like this on the record.

JG: You’ve got the record. Sir, I decide what’s on my record, OK?

PL: I think it should be on the record.

JG: We’re done.

PL: I don’t think we’re going to respond to whatever you are saying now.

JG: Sir, do not interrupt me.”

On the Record and Immediate Tension

A moment later Gallegos turned on his tape recorder and the official interview began. Gallegos asked Bralley if he understood that he could be fired for not answering questions. Bralley said he didn’t and he asked for a copy of the Garrity rights that Gallegos was reading. Gallegos untaped a piece of paper from his wall and handed it to Bralley, who started reading from it. a while later, Gallegos demanded the sheet of paper back.

JG: OK, stop officer Bralley. Give me this back.

MB: No sir.

JG: Give it back to me ... this is mine.

MB: The thing is ... it is very dangerous.

PL: Why are you doing this?

MB: You may not stop me

JG: Yes I may. I may ask for this back.

MB: You gave me ... an opportunity to respond to this statement and you asked me a question.

JG: And I’m asking for it back, officer Bralley.

MB: You asked me a question. You asked me a question which I am trying to answer.

JG: Officer Bralley I’m warning you of insubordination. Be quiet at this point.

MB: No sir.

JG: Yes. Are you refusing? That is an order. Are you refusing to cooperate with my investigation?

MB: The thing is, I am trying to cooperate.

JG: Release my paper. Officer Bralley, that is an order. ...”

Livingston is Dragged Out

At one point, Gallegos told Bralley that he was under investigation for disorderly conduct and for conduct unbecoming of a police officer. Gallegos then asked Bralley if he understood the allegations. It was then that Livingston interrupted and the process began which led to his ejection from the meeting.

PL: Before he answers ... and I don’t want to interrupt him.

JG: Mr. Livingston I told you I would give you an opportunity to speak and I explained to you the structure of that order.

PL: But before my client answers another question I need an opportunity to speak responsibly to the last issue and you didn’t let me do that. I thought you would. Every time he speaks I should at least have an opportunity to say something otherwise you are going to do exactly the same thing that the Police Oversight Commission has done to us. Let me—

JG: Mr. Livingston, be quiet.

PL: Let me.

JG: Be quiet.

PL: Let me place—

JG: Sir, this is your first warning at this moment.

PL: Oh, come on.

JG: You will be asked—

PL: This is nonsense, what are you doing?

JG: You will be asked to leave, sir.

PL: You’re trying to treat me the same way the POC treats me.

JG: Mr. Livingston, please keep quiet. Sir this is your second, this is your second warning.

PL: And you’re going to count from 10 to one and then explode, or what?

JG: Sir, sir, third warning.

PL: Oh, stop this.

JG: You need to leave the meeting, sir.

PL: No I don’t.

JG: Yes you do. Sir, you have disrupted an internal investigation. You need to leave right now.

PL: I have not disrupted an internal investigation. I’m trying to finish a sentence.

JG: (To Sgt. Anaya) Would you get the lieutenant and somebody else to escort Mr. Livingston out of the meeting please.

PL: Please stop that.

Gallegos asked Livingston to leave the office and told Bralley to “be quiet” when he objected to Livingston’s ejection. Gallegos left the room. He eventually returned with other officers. He ordered Livingston to leave one more time. When Livingston refused, the officers, including Gallegos grabbed him and tried to pull him out of his chair.

PL: Wait a minute, what are you doing? What is wrong with you?

JG: Officer Bralley, unhand me.

MB: You’re committing a battery.

JG: Unhand me.

MB: You’re committing a battery.

JG: Unhand me. ... Stand up and leave.

PL: Who are you?

JG: Leave this office now.

PL: Let me see your identification.

JG: You’re not helping me. Stand up.

PL: I don’t want to stand up. I’m in the typical civil rights position of resisting a civil arrest.

JG: Sit down officer Bralley. That’s an order. Sit down.

MB: You don’t have a right to do this.

JG: You’re being insubordinate. Sit down.

MB: I don’t recognize your authority.

PL: I don’t really want to be thrown out ... what are you doing to me?

JG: You unhand me officer Bralley. You touch me again, you will be booked. You understand me? Don’t you dare touch me.

A Final Irony

After Livingston had been dragged out of the room, Gallegos returned and resumed the interview. Bralley said he did not want to continue because of his emotional state.

JG: I respect your opinion, officer Bralley. Section five. You have the right to consult with counsel before each question.

The investigation continues.

V.21 No.38 | 9/20/2012
V.4 No.44 • July 4-10, 1996


Alibi Flashback: Captain Opinion, the Alibi’s most hated columnist

Back in the ’90s the Alibi ran an infamously popular column written by a mysterious figure known only as Captain Opinion. Letters from our flabbergasted readers rained in expressing outrage at the Captain’s stance on everything from eating the homeless to hatred of bass fisherman. Much of it seemed tongue-in-cheek to the newspaper staff, yet our letters section sputtered with indignant rage and death threats. Hence, the captain’s identity remained a closely held secret for safety reasons. Next week, in our 20th Anniversary Issue, a clever reader may be able to glean the identity of the Alibi’s most hated columnist. Then again, maybe not.

Pennies for Politicos

by Captain Opinion

Got a traffic ticket that you just beat in court? Or how about a DWI or parking tickets that were tossed out?

If you worked up any legal bills defending yourself against the charges, send them to Gene Gilbert, Al Valdez, Ken Sanchez and Les Houston.

Those men are the four Bernalillo County Commissioners who recently approved a law that would let the county—meaning you—pay the legal bills of public officials who are accused of crimes while acting in their official capacity as public officials but who were acquitted at trial.

The legislation was aimed specifically at paying off the legal bills of former County Treasurer Patrick Padilla, who was indicted for misusing public money and other charges in a public money investment fiasco his office was involved in.

A jury acquitted Padilla, and now Gilbert and the others (Commissioner Barbara Seward voted against the legislation) want you to pay Padilla’s legal fees.

The public reasoning behind the move is that we must protect elected and public officials whom we ask to serve from bogus or trumped up charges or something like that.

It’s a crock. There are all kinds of problems with this move.

First, not too long ago, Gilbert worked as Padilla’s lawyer in a bankruptcy case where Padilla lost a South Valley car wash he owned. The legal fee bill was sponsored by Gilbert. I guess it’s no longer a conflict of interest to shape legislation that could financially benefit people who you’ve worked for. Has anybody asked Gilbert if Padilla owes him any money for the bankruptcy work?

Second, it wasn’t the state or an evil prosecutor or even Bernalillo County that went after Padilla on criminal charges. A grand jury was plunked down in the courthouse as the result of a citizens petition for an investigation into Padilla’s office.

Third, Gilbert now apparently has second thoughts about the legislation since it can also lead to the payment of legal fees for former Bounty Sheriff Ray Gallagher, who was also charged with crimes and not convicted.

And finally, the line about we the people asking, perhaps begging, politicians to serve us is one of the stupidest things I’ve heard in a while. It’s not as if we drag these people out of their beds in the middle of the night and demand they run for office. It’s the other way around. They’re the ones who plunk down 50 bucks or whatever it is and collect a few thousand petition signatures to get on the ballot and run.

Hang around on filing day, and you’ll see the candidates—a huge group of arrogant airheads, pompous buffoons, hangers on, incompetents, misfits and mental wretches in need of a quick fix of publicity or public money, primping and preening and strutting and telling dumb jokes.

So when you hear that we must protect these people because we demand their services, don’t believe it. It’s a self-serving line.

I have a suggestion, though, for Gilbert, Valdez, Sanchez and Houston. If you guys feel so strongly that Padilla’s legal fees should be paid, pay them yourselves. You each make about $19,000 a year as county commissioners. Between the four of you, that’s $76,000, more than enough to pay Padilla’s legal fees. And you’ll have enough money left over to throw a party and congratulate yourselves on being such good, responsible citizens.

I would think that as bold, innovative, concerned leaders, you would lead by example and do it yourselves. But since that’s not going to happen, I encourage everyone who has gotten a ticket while driving to work and beaten it to send your legal bills to Gilbert and the gang. After all, by going to work, you’re acting in your official capacity as taxpayers. You’re making money so the government can take it.

I occasionally dig in my pocket and give loose change to bums. A quarter is about all it’ll cost the average taxpayer to pay Padilla’s legal fees. Not much, I suppose.

But I’d rather give the quarter to a wino. They’ve got a better use for it.

V.21 No.37 | 9/13/2012
V.3 No.26 • July 4–10, 1994
Cover artist: Henry A. Adelson; Art Director: Jason Waskey


Alibi Flashback: On gay marriage, July 4, 1994

If you get the “Love, American Style” reference, you’re officially old

V.21 No.35 | 8/30/2012


Alibi Flashback: Ad Time Machine II

Some places where I used to rock

V.1 No.5 • February 26-March 11, 1993


Alibi Flashback: Rainy day activities and puzzles

For snarky hipsters, that is

Back in the pre-interweb days, concocting satirical games, puzzles and brain-teasers that appeared torn from the pages of some demented alternate-universe Highlights for Children would invariably cause the paper’s staff to laugh hysterically long into the night. (Well, at least someone was laughing.)

V.21 No.31 | 8/2/2012
V.14 No.47 • December 1-7, 2005
Jeff Drew


Alibi Flashback: 20 Years of Great Monkey Covers

Yes, we know apes are not monkeys

The simian theme just does not quit at the Weekly Alibi, mostly thanks to longtime art director Tom Nayder’s fearless refusal to back down from the challenge of finding excuses to put his hairy best friends on the cover. (We have it on good authority that he does in fact harbor a chimp in his home.) Feast your eyes on 18 eye-gouging, monkey-riffic covers after the jump.

V.2 No.2 • January 15-28, 1993: “Advice from Miss Magdalena,” syndicated column


AlibiFlashback: Dating advice over the decades

From Magdalena, Norma Jean and friends

Q: Dear Alibi Flashback, is there any way I can find dating advice throughout the years?

A: Dear Confrazzled, you’re in luck. The Weekly Alibi has run several dating advice columns over the past two decades. Enjoy!

V.21 No.30 | 7/26/2012
V.4 No.3 • January 25-31, 1995: Eagle eyes will spot that the cover incorrectly says issue 4. Oops.
Art Director and cover artist: Henry A. Adelson; Design Director: David Dabney


Alibi Flashback: 1995 Burque Band Family Tree

Or, “Dude, didn’t I see you at the Venus Diablo show last Saturday night?”

So it was written in ancient tomes of Alibi that fallen gods of melody both foul and fey did once converge numberless upon the plains, melting matter and thought with formless shrieks before crumbling to shriek no more. Yea, though new demons doth rise to assault these walls of silence, let us yet tribute the elders again and raise our mead in memory.

V.21 No.28 | 7/12/2012


Alibi Flashback: Ad Time Machine!

ABQ merchants we have known and loved

V.21 No.27 | 7/5/2012
V.7 No.42 • October 21-27, 1998


Alibi Flashback: Marty Chavez vs. Gary Johnson

Or, “Nasty vs. Flaky”

We were reminiscing about the good old days when New Mexico’s Republican governor granted interviews with the Weekly Alibi.

We’ve talked to Gov. Susana Martinez’ spokesperson plenty and read all his canned, emailed responses to questions. But we've never had a heart-to-heart with the guv. Still holding out hope, though. In this 1998 piece, former News Editor Dennis Domrzalski compares candidates for New Mexico’s top job: Martin Chavez and incumbent Gary Johnson. Domrzalski describes Johnson as a little rough around the edges, lacking in slickness.

In contrast, today’s news editor, Marisa Demarco, interviewed Johnson who’ll be on the ballot for president in all 50 states as the Libertarian candidate. Looks like he learned something over the years.

“Nasty vs. Flaky”

by Dennis Domrzalski

One would be a dog, the other an eagle. One believes fiercely in government, the other distrusts it. One wants to send kids to kindergarten all day, the other wants to cut the state income tax.

Although Martin Chavez and Gov. Gary Johnson at times have sounded like each other during this year’s gubernatorial campaign, the differences between the two are as stark as the ones between the animals they see themselves as.

Chavez would be a charming, eager-to-serve Golden Labrador, while Johnson sees himself as an eagle. Chavez, sounding much like a Republican, has said repeatedly during the campaign that government can’t solve every problem, that the private sector creates jobs and that environmental extremists have hurt economic development efforts in Mora in Northern New Mexico. He believes in making prison inmates serve 85 percent of their sentences instead of being eligible for gobs of good-time as they currently are.

Johnson, sounding like a Democrat, has made a big deal about his support for education, saying he’s helped increase education funding in the state by $300 million in the past few years. He rides a bicycle and picks up trash from the sides of highways, exercises regularly and says that “what’s good for Mora is good for the rest of the state.”

But those brief sentences and short sound bites are where the similarities between the two men who want to be governor end.

They oppose each other on the issues of tax reduction, school vouchers and charter schools, hate crimes, economic development, gambling and the role of government in peoples’ lives. And although both men are intense, enthusiastic and even stubborn campaigners, their styles differ greatly. During a recent, televised debate between the two, Chavez seemed like Mr. Nasty, constantly criticizing and attacking his opponent. Johnson could have been dubbed Mr. Flaky. He participates in debates like 12-year-olds play soccer—acting spacy in the first half and snapping out of it only after the opposition scores points.

Although style does matter in this era of TV and sound bites, it is the style combined with the substance that makes the two candidates so different.

The Eagle

As he did four years ago, Johnson, 45, is billing himself as a non-politician who has the interests of real people and not political insiders in mind. He will never be accused of being slick or polished. At times he fumbles for words, seems inarticulate and uninformed on some subjects. But what he lacks in polish, Johnson, a North Dakota native who moved to New Mexico at age 13, makes up in pure enthusiasm and an almost boyish honesty. During a recent taping this year of the Dyson & Company weekly talk show on KOB-TV, Channel 4, Johnson, in a very unpolitician-like way, spread his arms and pretended to flap them like a wounded duck. It is Johnson’s unpretentiousness that endears him to some people. The talk about Johnson is that what is before you is what you get. No ulterior motives. No slickster.

It is Johnson’s politics that has confounded both Democrats and Republicans. In four years he has repeatedly challenged the state legislature and the state Supreme Court in power struggles with the different branches of government. Political insiders often remark disdainfully that Johnson is more of a Libertarian than a Republican or a Democrat.

Johnson has complied a record during his four years in office. He signed controversial gambling compacts with the state’s gaming tribes, brought managed care to the Medicaid program, built private prisons, cut the number of state employees and pushed through a welfare reform program.

Chavez has criticized Johnson for signing the compacts. He says that Indian gambling has hurt business in Albuquerque and elsewhere in the state.

But Johnson doesn’t apologize for the compacts. He says he legitimized something that had been going on for years.

“Well, this is our 14th year now of gambling in New Mexico,” Johnson said recently. “I think it’s important to point out what I have done. When I ran for office four years ago I said that I was going to negotiate and sign compacts with the Indians and I was elected. Maybe no one was listening to what I was saying four years ago. All of the games that are being played today, roulette, cards, all of those games were being played before my election. So what I said four years ago and what I say today is ‘I don’t think Indian gambling is going to go away. Let’s regulate it. Let’s share in the revenues.’ On the plus side, you have arguably the poorest areas of the state, the pueblos and the tribes, that now have a purse for the first time.

“None of the money from Indian gambling goes into individual pockets, that isn’t true in that they do hold jobs within the casinos, but the profits go into tribal programs, into health care, community centers, scholarships, so you are seeing that that is the plus side.”

Johnson supported a bill in the past legislative session that cut the state’s top income tax rate from 8.6 to 8.2 percent. He wants to cut that rate down to 3.5 percent over three years. It’s that tax cut that Johnson says is the key to economic development and pulling the state up from its rank as the poorest state in the nation. How will a tax cut create jobs?

“Very quickly, Intel,” Johnson said. “They bring thousands and thousands of jobs to New Mexico. Why is their corporation not headquartered in New Mexico? Well in a heartbeat, it is the income tax, the 8.2 percent rate. You know, we’ve got America On Line that comes here and sets up. But their highest paying jobs are not in New Mexico. They leave those somewhere else. They leave their corporate headquarters somewhere else because of the income tax.”

To illustrate his point, Johnson said that Hughes Helicopter was recently looking to locate a manufacturing plant just over the border in Texas. When someone came to him and asked what New Mexico should do to get those jobs into this state, Johnson said he responded:

“With an 8.2 percent income tax rate, why is a $100,000 job going to come to New Mexico when in Texas they pay no income tax on that?”

New Mexico’s tax would equate to a $8,200 tax bill on a $100,000 salary, Johnson said. If given the choice, a company would prefer to see its employees put that $8,200 toward a new car or a new house or for their childrens’ education.

Johnson differs from Chavez on other issues. He believes that New Mexicans should be allowed to carry concealed weapons so long as they have taken firearms safety courses. He opposes hate crimes laws, saying that the idea borders on government regulation of thought. Johnson favors school vouchers and more charter schools. He says that bringing competition into education will mean better teachers and better schools. Johnson also favors opening up the state’s electric industry to competition.

The Labrador

Chavez, 46, is a politician. And he doesn’t apologize for it. During a debate, Chavez, a New Mexican native and former Albuquerque mayor, chided Johnson for calling himself a non-politician. Chavez said Johnson insulted New Mexicans by saying that.

Chavez is slick. He is rarely at a loss for words and seems always to have an answer and a program for every problem. As Albuquerque mayor from December 1993 to December 1997, Chavez set a whirlwind pace that was a 180-degree turn from his predecessor, Louis Saavedra.

Holding what seemed to be a news conference a week, Chavez, as mayor, took solid, middle-class positions when it came to crime. He formed an anti-graffiti unit at City Hall that has all but eliminated graffiti in the city. He challenged gangs and had the police department saturate the Barelas and Old Town neighborhoods in an attempt to fight gang activity. He backed a curfew law that was declared unconstitutional, gave cops a whopping 15 percent pay raise, tried to prevent the opening of an all-nude club Downtown and tried to hire more cops.

On the water front, Chavez was a middle-of-the-road conservationist. He supported a voluntary water conservation program in the city with the aim of reducing per-capita water consumption by 30 percent. Chavez’s critics wanted a mandatory water conservation program.

And Chavez angered conservationists when he pushed for and built the Montaño Bridge in the North Valley. It was during the bridge battle and during a controversy over overcrowding at the City/County Jail that Chavez’s “don’t get in my way” style of governing became evident.

When the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque continued to fight Montaño in court, Chavez threatened to counter sue and make the village pay the City of Albuquerque’s legal fees in the case. Bridge opponents and Chavez’s critics proclaimed Chavez guilty of using bullying tactics.

In the jail crisis, a federal court judge capped the jail population and ordered the city to release prisoners who couldn’t fit in the jail. But Chavez junked the release plan and instead chose to build a new, $4 million temporary jail on the West Side. Trouble is, Chavez didn’t consult any of the Bernalillo County Commissioners on the matter. The commissioners were angry, since the county and the city jointly operate and maintain the jail.

Although he implemented a water conservation program for the city, Chavez backed the idea of extending Paseo del Norte through the Petroglyph National Monument.

Much like Johnson stands by his decision to sign the gambling compacts, Chavez defends his support of Paseo and of Montaño.

“I’m proud of what I did. Had that bridge been proposed in the South Valley it would have been built 30 years ago,” Chavez said. “That was never an environmental issue. That was just the issue of an affluent neighborhood that didn’t want a bridge in their back yard. I never faulted them for not wanting a bridge in their back yard. I wouldn’t want one in my back yard. But at some point the collective good has to prevail over the individual needs.

“On Paseo, the long answer, I think as mayor, it’s not what happens this year or next year, although you have to pay attention to those things, what is your community going to be like 50 years from now, 100 years from now? You need a long-term perspective. Assuming we do everything right in the city of Albuquerque, that we all took the bus to work this morning, we bicycle, we carpool, whatever it may be ... if we did everything right we will still continue to grow and there is only one place we are going to grow, we are going to grow out to the Rio Puerco. You can’t have a city that size with only one east-west arterial. You have to have at least two.

“As a state senator I appropriated the majority of the state’s money to create that national monument. I got the money because I believed in that monument. Everybody agreed. They all agreed on the road. There was no disagreement. Some put it in writing, some didn’t. But I walked with them and talked with them and we worked together on this thing. Had there been even an inkling that there was a disagreement, that would have gone into the legislation.”

Chavez is stressing education in his gubernatorial campaign. He wants full-day kindergarten, student/teacher ratios of one teacher for every 15 students in grades 1-2, and higher teacher pay. He says the one-time cost of his kindergarten proposal is $60, with recurring costs totaling $40 every year. Chavez says that education, and not a tax cut, is the key to promoting economic development.

“What’s happening now is that kids aren’t learning to read and write properly, so around the fifth or sixth grade, it starts to disconnect and they’re not keeping up with all of the subjects. And I think it’s one of the biggest reasons why we have such a high dropout rate,” Chavez said.

“The problem is not that rich people pay too much in taxes. It’s the quality of the workforce. It’s all about work force development and the problem they’re having is with fundamentals. People don’t read. People don’t write ... and it’s a huge problem in New Mexico today. So yes, education is intimately associated with the creation of wealth.”

Chavez does not support school vouchers, private prisons, gambling or the right to carry concealed weapons. He believes that vouchers will destroy the public school system. Like Johnson, Chavez supports the deregulation of the state’s electric industry. As mayor, he asked the state’s Public Utility Commission to approve a pilot electric competition program in Albuquerque.

Chavez said he believes that government is about “the solving of problems collectively instead of individually.

“If you leave air quality up to the individual in the free market, air wouldn’t get clean until you had totally destroyed the environment,” Chavez said. “It wouldn’t get clean until there was a profit in it.”

V.21 No.26 | 6/28/2012
V.4 No.24 • June 21-27, 1995: The   NuCity   name gets dropped 7 issues later.
Photographer: Jennifer Lipow; Art Director: David Dabney


Alibi Flashback: Gay Pride!

Loud and proud through the years

Equal rights are equal rights. And for the life of us, we can’t understand why people of all sexual and gender orientations aren’t allowed the same benefits, aren’t given access to the same opportunities, and don’t receive the same thundering applause for ccomplishing great things. It doesn’t compute. Journalists that we are, that lack of logic is an irritating grit to us. But we’re making pearls out of it.

There’s a yawning lack of coverage on gay and gender issues by New Mexico information outlets—and our frustration compels us to bridge that gap ourselves.

As the most widely read alternative weekly in New Mexico, we’re loud and proud about the local LGBTQ community. We do it by unearthing and reporting stories that don't get told anywhere else. We see the Alibi as a megaphone held aloft to mouths that have been excluded in traditional media. It's our mission to make those voices heard.

We don’t just talk the talk about supporting New Mexico LGBTs, we walk it—or rather, we build parade floats and glide down the street on them.

In honor of this week’s Pride events, here’s some colorful coverage from years past:

See also historical pics from Pride Parades gone by: Pride 2011, Pride 2010, Pride 2009, Alibi’s 2008 Freddie Mercury float, Pride 2007, Pride 2006, Pride 2005

V.21 No.25 | 6/21/2012

Alibi Flashback

Alibi Flashback: An interview with Ray Bradbury

The death of Ray Bradbury at the age of 91 sent us on a time-tripping flashback to 1999 A.D. The famed author passed through Albuquerque then as keynote speaker at the 50th anniversary of Los Alamos National Labs. We were lucky enough to score an interview with the man.
V.21 No.24 | 6/14/2012
V.8 No.35 • September 2-8, 1999
Tony Millionaire


Alibi Flashback: Hey Kids! Comics!

Two-fisted words and pictures team-up was an annual tradition

Picture this: Back in the day, Alibi produced an annual comic-centric issue. It featured columns illustrated by many of the talented cartoonists with which we’ve worked. This was labor-intensive, time-consuming and really hard to do on a deadline. The result, however,was some of our favorite copy.

V.21 No.23 | 6/7/2012
V.8 No.13 • April 1-7, 1999
Kevin Curry


Alibi Flashback: Motel Hell

Seven Nights of Sleaze

Albuquerque’s Central Avenue, once a significant layover on Route 66, is home to scores of motels. In the ’60s and ’70s many of them fell into decline right alongside the fabled highway and wound up functioning as retreats for unsavory characters. Only in recent years have city officials and citizens taken action to preserve some of these places. Each year there are fewer and fewer.

Back in 1999 Noah Masterson undertook some real investigative journalism in his darkly satirical feature "Motel Hell." He spent a week's worth of restless nights at Central's finest neglected lodging establishments, reporting on the number of crack pipes, roaches, police and prostitutes he encountered.

Since then, four of the seven places he inspected have been demolished—Sand 'n Sage Motel, Zia Motor Lodges east and west, and the Aztec Motel. (He found the landmark Aztec pleasant, kept up and not deserving of its reputation.) Still standing are Nob Hill Motel (which was smartly converted into offices), The Crossroads Motel (reported to be too nice for his research—his room there was the only one containing a bible) and Prince Motel (now Motel 21—rooms are $35 per night).

Author: Noah Masterson
Photos: Kelly Dylan and Noah Masterson
Publication date: April 1, 1999

Note: photos do not necessarily coincide with the text.

For a Few Dollars Less

For just under $30, you can get a simple, clean room at one of Albuquerque’s low-end chain motels. Or, for a few dollars less, you can get a seedy room with stained sheets and stale odors at one of many historic motels and motor lodges on Route 66.

After careful research—eliminating any motels that advertise clean rooms, AARP discounts or rates over $25—we settled on seven of the least savory motels on Central. Drug peddlers and prostitutes earned bonus points, as did broken windows. I disguised myself as a trucker, and, on seven consecutive nights, slept one night in each motel.

The motels ranged from uncomfortably creepy to boring and tame, but there were common traits throughout all of them. For starters, it is more difficult than one might expect to register at a motel under a false name; all seven motel clerks asked for a driver’s license; some took down my social security number. Also, motel owners do not condone illegal activity on their premises. Signs clearly state this, and a few times I was given a verbal warning about visitors to my room. But most—to an extent—are willing to look the other way when guests break the law. I should know, given all the whoring and crack smoking I did last week. (That’s a joke, son.)

During my week in Motel Hell, I watched more television than at any other point in my life. And I got to hold a real crack pipe on my first night!

Monday: Sand ’n’ Sage Motel

6522 Central SE • 265-8381
Cost per night: $25
Roaches: 2
Cops: 3
Drugs/Paraphernalia: 1 (crack pipe)
Prostitutes: 1
Bibles: 0
Toilet paper: No
Cable: Yes
Telephone: Yes
Demolished: 2000

When I pulled into the lot at Sand ’n’ Sage, I was worried—not because the place looked sleazy, but because it didn’t. The freshly painted yellow and green trim made the brick building appear almost wholesome. My first impression was soon crushed, however, when I stepped out of the car. A guy with a sunburn and open sores approached.

“You goin’ to the Cubanos?” he asked, pronouncing it “kyoo-BAH-noze.”


“The Cubanos!”

“Why, what’s going on over there?” I asked innocently. The guy muttered and walked away.

There is no lobby at Sand ’n’ Sage, merely a window. I rang the buzzer and a cardboard partition was slid aside, revealing a scared looking middle-aged woman. She told me the rooms were $25 plus tax. I gave her $30 and waited for my change. She handed me a key. No change. I didn’t ask.

It took me five minutes to open the door to room number 18. The door knob was loose, as if it had once been forced, and the key spun uselessly inside the lock without catching the bolt. I felt the stares from the small community of people who dwell at Sand ’n’ Sage: a mother with two scrawny children, a fat man with a tattooed belly, a guy with a vacant gaze and shriveled, atrophied legs, bundled beneath him in a wheelchair.

Once inside, I was surprised by my room’s ample size—I’ve lived in smaller apartments. There was a living room with an old, beat-up couch in front of the television, a kitchen with a stove, oven, sink and refrigerator. The bedroom contained nothing but two full-size beds and a cracked mirror. To get to the bathroom, I had to inch past the refrigerator in the kitchen. The shower had a cement floor and a Sani-Fresh soap dispenser bolted to the stall. The place had been given at least a cursory wipe with a damp cloth; it wasn’t so much dirty as it was merely old.

The thermostat on the wall was broken, hanging by wires and coiled metal. I shook the gas heater, trying to get it to work, and a crack pipe tumbled to the floor. There was still some resin left inside. I finally got the heater to work, but it made the room reek of gas. I couldn’t bring myself to leave a window open that night.

Once I settled in, watching the end of White Men Can’t Jump on HBO (there was cable!), I heard shouting through the walls. I could only make out the bad words.

The cops arrived three times during the night; the second time, I overheard a woman complaining about a stolen wallet. The other two visits were a mystery.

At 2 a.m., there was a knock on the door. I peered out the window and saw a man and a woman. They looked nervous. The man announced himself as “Carlos.” Carlos had the wrong room, it turned out.

A prostitute knocked on one of my neighbors’ doors and announced herself as “Candy.”

After awhile, I fell asleep on one of the beds, which was stained with hot pink nail polish. The phone rang at 10:30 a.m. It was the manager, asking if I was checking out. Fifteen minutes later, she came by to collect my key.

Tuesday: Zia Motor Lodge (east location)

4611 Central NE • 265-2896
Cost per night: $20
Roaches: 0
Cops: 0
Drugs/Paraphernalia: 2 (pills and syringe)
Prostitutes: 0
Bibles: 0
Toilet paper: Yes
Cable: Yes
Telephone: Yes
Demolished: 2005

“We get a lot of bullcrap around here. Drug dealers, prostitutes. I try to keep that sort of thing away, but … you know how it is.”

This from the manager of the Zia Motor Lodge, a middle-aged black man wearing a red jogging suit. Behind him, in room 26, a woman sat on a couch, smoking. A big dog paced around. There hadn’t been anyone in the main office, but a sign directed me here.

Once I gave him my assurances that I would be alone, the manager walked me to my room. On the way, a giant man in a cowboy hat mumbled drunkenly. “He’s such a joker,” the manager said. Inside, he smoked a cigarette while I filled out a registration form.

Like most motel managers, I later learned, this guy wanted to run a clean operation; he took down my driver’s license and social security numbers. But with rooms as dismal looking as this one and rates so cheap (he charged me $20—no tax), there can’t be many respectable people willing to stay here. Torn blue drapes matched the carpet, a bare bulb hung from the ceiling, and the bathroom window offered a view of a narrow alley, filled with trash. I pulled a pillow from its case, and it looked like it had been passed through someone’s digestive tract.

One of the few decorations in the room was a Native American dream catcher, hanging high on the wall, its feathers and beads in contrast to the dingy blue drapes and carpet. A kicked-in heater with exposed coils hovered dangerously over the floor. Snooping through the medicine cabinet, I found a syringe, along with a plastic spoon and some prescription pills. They were Clonodine, which I later found out is a drug used to treat Tourette’s Syndrome. I have no idea what the plastic spoon could be used for; to my knowledge, you need a metal spoon to cook up drugs.

At 7:30 a.m., I was awakened by near-deafening traffic noise. The south window was probably six feet from Central Avenue. Dogs barked, drunks argued, I tried to go back to sleep. At 9 a.m., the manager walked into the room. “Sorry, I thought you’d left. I didn’t see your car,” he said. (I’d switched cars.) He returned at 9:45 to ask if I was checking out. I’d barely slept at all and spent the rest of the day in a sick, hungover funk.

Wednesday: Nob Hill Motel

3712 Central SE • 255-3172
Cost per night: $24 plus $3 deposit
Roaches: 3
Cops: 0
Drugs/Paraphernalia: 0
Prostitutes: 0
Bibles: 0
Toilet paper: Yes
Cable: Yes
Telephone: No
Redeveloped: Nob Hill Court office complex, 2009

The proprietor of the Nob Hill Motel took great pains to make sure I wasn’t a bad guy—recording my license plate number, asking if a companion waiting in the car was my wife and demanding a key deposit—then rented me the filthiest room yet.

The defiled, blood-colored carpet was rife with blackish-brown stains. The bedspread was a deep yellow, urine-like color, and it, too, was stained. The medicine cabinet housed a quarter inch of dirt and hair; the cabinet below the sink was worse. There were two items of furniture that were once dressers. Now they had boards nailed over where the drawers once were and served only as end tables. I lay on the bed and nearly sunk to the floor; it felt like being smothered in a corpulent mother’s arms (not exactly a bad thing). I turned on the television, cracked open a beer and scratched at the myriad itchy places on my body. There was a refrigerator, sink and stove present, which were in as bad shape as the rest of the room. I spilled some beer on the carpet and, when I went to clean it up, couldn’t figure out which stain was mine. I didn’t want to touch the door knobs. Only because of the previous two sleepless nights, I managed to sleep soundly here.

After my departure, I realized that I’d left two beers in the fridge. I returned the next night, after checking into the Aztec, to ask for them. They were, after all, decent beers. Naturally, the proprietor claimed to know nothing about them. But I think I smelled Guinness on his breath.

Thursday: Aztec Motel

3821 Central NE • 254-1742
Cost per night: $22
Roaches: 0 (1 hopping spider thing)
Cops: 0
Drugs/Paraphernalia: 0
Prostitutes: 0
Bibles: 0
Toilet paper: Yes
Cable: Yes
Telephone: No
Demolished: 2011

The Aztec was the exception. I didn’t choose it based on sleaziness, but rather because of its quirkiness and landmark status. Built in 1931, it is the oldest continually operated motel on Central. You’ve noticed it before: It is the motel on Central and Aliso, elaborately decorated with pinwheels, plastic flowers, green glass bottles and all sorts of other knickknacks.

Inside, the room wasn’t much better than the others. The curtains were nailed to the walls, and the heater was stuck on “3.” But there was a decided sense of well-being here. When so much effort is put into appearance, a more desirable clientele is attracted. A lovely Japanese print adorned the outside of my door, and big, leafy plants—both real and fake—lined the windows and walkways.

Most of the guests at the Aztec seemed to be semi-permanent residents; high quality mountain bikes were locked outside the rooms, and some guests had added their own decorations. Sure, there was a hole in the bathroom wall, cigarette burns on the shower curtain and television and a weird, hopping spider-like thing on my pillow, but, for once, I didn’t feel like some gun-wielding maniac was going to kick down the door and murder me. I slept like a baby.

Motel life was getting to me, though. I got up in the middle night and walked to 7-11 to buy a pack of cigarettes. Then I chain-smoked Camels and watched “Danny Sisneros’ 8-Count Boxing Hour” on public access channel 27. I don’t even smoke.

Friday: Crossroads Motel

1001 Central NE • 242-2757
Cost per night: $26 plus tax
Roaches: 0
Cops: 0
Drugs/Paraphernalia: 0
Prostitutes: 0
Bibles: 1 (Gideon’s)
Toilet paper: Yes
Cable: Yes
Telephone: Yes
Demolished: no

The Crossroads Motel has a reputation for sleaze that it does not deserve. For $26 a night—just a couple bucks more than a room at that squalid pit known as the Nob Hill Motel—you can get a clean room with two beds, cable television, a desk, night stand, tub and telephone. I knew from the moment I walked into the lobby that this place did not meet my sleaze requirements; there was a rack of brochures and maps for visiting tourists. Bad sign. The only elements of sleaze in my room were a hole in the bathroom door and a missing knob on the desk drawer. Otherwise, it looked like a room at Holiday Inn—for half the price. There weren’t even any creeps lurking out front that night, although, granted, it was that unseasonable night in March when snow dumped down like monkey shit.

One quirk: I was charged for two local calls that I did not make. And, incidentally, the Crossroads was the only motel on my stay equipped with a Gideon’s Bible.

Saturday: Zia Motor Lodge (west location)

400 Central SE • 764-8870
Cost per night: $22 plus $3 key deposit
Roaches: 1
Cops: 0
Drugs/Paraphernalia: 0 (plenty of junkies outside)
Prostitutes: 0
Bibles: 0
Toilet paper: Yes
Cable: Yes
Telephone: Yes
Demolished: 2002

When we scouted for sleaze on Central, the Zia’s west location topped the list. The two-story motel on Central, between Broadway and Edith, is notorious for the drug-dealing riffraff that skulk about in the parking lot. And on a Saturday night? There’s sure to be some action. I checked in early, after cruising the hallways to search for an employee. The guy I found was almost too friendly—and clean cut, too. He could have been a desk clerk at the Hilton. I almost expected him to say, “Enjoy your stay.” He did not.

The Zia’s office doubles as a convenience store, which offers everything from laundry detergent to Twinkies. I made some asinine comment about the variety of goods in the store, and received a curt nod of agreement.

Cigarette burns in the comforter are a common motif at sleazy motels. Are people who rent cheap rooms more likely to smoke in bed? Do nicer motels sell their linens to cheap motels the moment an indelible stain or burn shows up? (There is evidence of hand-me-downs in the motel industry; the Aztec used a Days Inn television, and Howard Johnson’s soap was de rigeur at the Zia’s east location.) Other than the cigarette-burned bedspread, there were relatively clean sheets, a wood-paneled wall with notches carved in it like someone was counting days, a chain lock on the door— which dangled uselessly with no place to fasten it—and an ugly print of some tulips placed next to the sink as an afterthought. The TV got decent reception, and there was even a smoke alarm. Someone left a copy of John Jakes’ North and South on the night stand. I didn’t take it.

I left for awhile to buy groceries (the convenience store, unfortunately, was closed). I returned around midnight and, when I pulled into the lot, saw a half dozen loiterers—presumably drug dealers—eyeing me suspiciously. They were half hidden behind pillars, corners and cars, wanting to be noticed, but avoiding scrutiny. I trotted up the stairs to my second floor room and, like true bourgeois, dined on brie and crackers.

In the morning, a guy camped out at the foot of the stairs mumbled something as I passed. When I got to my car, I realized he had asked for a cigarette. I remembered my impulse purchase from the other night, turned back and gave the guy a smoke. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone more thankful for one lousy smoke. I wish I’d given him the whole pack.

Sunday: Prince Motel

2411 Central NW • 247-2751
Cost per night: $30
Roaches: 0
Cops: 0
Drugs/Paraphernalia: 0
Prostitutes: 0
Bibles: 0
Toilet paper: Yes
Cable: Yes
Telephone: Yes
Demolished: no, now operating as Motel 21

On my final night of sleaze, it was obvious—the manager of the Prince Motel didn’t like me. He told me that the only room available contained a king-size bed, so he’d have to charge extra (an unheard of $30!). This claim was dubious, as there were only two cars in the parking lot. He told me checkout time was 10 a.m., an hour earlier than anywhere else in town. He was abrupt and mean.

So I smuggled a dog into the room.

Inside, the room reeked of Lysol. There are worse smells, I suppose, and you do get used to it. The shower curtain was decorated with cartoon frogs—swimming, playing volleyball and all sorts of other things. Aside from a few tapioca-colored stains on the sheets, the place was clean. I should have gone across the street to El Don Motel. When I drove past, four cop cars were parked out front, amidst a sea of people.

Magda (the dog) and I woke up twice in the night and early morning. At 4 a.m., Magda woke to bark furiously at something. I tried to calm her down, but I didn’t try very hard—she could have been saving my life! At 7 a.m., our neighbors decided to hold a conversation right outside the door. I couldn’t decipher much, but I could swear I heard a small child ask his mom for a drag on her cigarette.

Promptly at 10 a.m., the manager pounded on the door. “We’re checking out!” I hollered. It was a mistake to say “we’re,” instead of “I’m.” He demanded the key. I cracked the door and handed him the goddamn key. Magda stuck her nose through the opening and sniffed his crotch in defiance.

Hotel, Motel or Motor Lodge?

I used to work at a Howard Johnson Lodge in Miami, Fla. Even at a reputable chain in a nice suburb, I enabled countless one-night trysts and solicitations of prostitutes, was robbed at gunpoint, evacuated the building due to fire and hurricane, and I called the cops numerous times on assholes who beat their wives and girlfriends. More importantly, though, I learned the difference between a motel, hotel and motor lodge. A hotel is usually one building, with the lobby on the ground floor and elevators leading to the rooms. “Motel” simply means that the rooms are separate from the lobby; you must drive or walk outdoors to get to your room. A motor lodge is a one-story motel, at which you can park your car directly in front of the door to your room. The difference between a Howard Johnson Lodge, a Howard Johnson’s (with possessive s) and a HoJo Inn are more difficult to delineate, and I will not attempt to explain it here.