back in the day
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.
Oh, the Characters
Two Minute Criminal
It was one of the sickest crimes that many in Albuquerque had ever seen; so grotesque, destructive and brazen that even veteran Albuquerque Police Department officials, many of whom had spent their entire careers dealing with the most heinous of crimes, could only stammer and sputter in outrage and disbelief at the terrible act.
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.
The Alibi almost fired me before they even offered me a job.
I was a few years out of college, putting my fine arts degree to good use by answering phones for a baby-clothes manufacturer in Rio Rancho, and submitting unsolicited essays and short stories to various publications on the side. An internship at the Alibi opened up; I applied and got the gig.
"This is it! I've hit the big time!" I shouted to my pet cactus.
I promptly quit my job hawking onesies (which I never could differentiate from creepers, anyway) and under the tutelage of Devin O’Leary began compiling movie showtimes once a week, in exchange for magical dollar bills that could be spent only at Fred's Bread and Bagel.
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.
As I’m writing this, I am exactly 24 hours away from a new phase of my life. Outside my window, it’s morning on Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg, where hipsters and baby strollers weave among each other on their mission for iced lattes. This will be my station for the next nine months, while I pursue a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.