Sleeping in the Old Jail
Is Albuquerque’s winter haven for the homeless up to code?
The western slope of the Petroglyphs falls dark early, except for an aisle of towering floodlights in front of a lone building. Men in winter coats file out of an old school bus carrying bedrolls. Then they wait. Before the men may go inside, the women who have ridden in the back of the bus must first clear through to their separate wing. Here, in the old Westside jail, the Albuquerque Rescue Mission has been sheltering people from the cold for about five winters.
This week’s theme is: Stuff You Should Know. Don’t let Lady Justice keep her secrets.
H1N1 and Other Diseases of Civilization
One of the greatest tragedies of my life is that the crabby robot dude in The Matrix compared human beings to viruses before I was able to publish my doctoral dissertation, tentatively titled Infectious Intelligence: The World’s First Bipedal Disease. Sadly, The Matrix totally stole my thunder, because my dissertation explained how human beings have overrun the planet in the same way that a virulent infectious organism overruns its host. I demonstrated how we’ve colonized the Earth via senseless reproduction (Don’t believe me? Go stand in line at the mall next Black Friday.), and excreted our toxins into the environment while squandering resources and jeopardizing the health of our host planet. And just as infection by a microorganism would cause you to spike a fever, human activity has resulted in global warming.
Odds & Ends
Dateline: Germany—The long-standing editorial feud between two newspapers came to a head (so to speak) recently when German newspaper Die Tageszeitung unveiled a three-dimensional mural on its building facade depicting the editor-in-chief of rival right-wing paper Bild naked and sporting a 50-foot phallus. The unflattering portrait was erected (so to speak) in November by artist Peter Lenk. The plastic bas-relief features Bild boss Kai Diekmann spreading his legs and showing off a penis that stretches across five stories of Die Tageszeitung’s headquarters. The artwork also includes sensationalist, reproductive organ-based headlines from Bild’s history, such as “Federal Court of Justice: Now Everyone Can Say Pecker.” The unsubtle work of art is the latest round in the brutal editorial brawl between leftist-leaning Die Tageszeitung and Diekmann’s conservative paper. The row started some seven years ago after editors at the liberal paper ran a satirical article claiming their colleague at Bild had undergone a failed penis extension operation. Although the spoof was meant to highlight how Germany’s best-selling daily thrives by reporting on the misfortunes of others, Diekmann was understandably not amused. He sued and Die Tageszeitung was forced to expunge the piece from its archive. Since then, the two sides have expended considerable effort to outdo one another. Diekmann scored a major coup earlier this year by landing a seat on the cooperative that funds Die Tageszeitung’s endowment. “The penis row from 2002 is slowly becoming the stuff of legend,” Diekmann told Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel two week ago. Diekmann said he does not plan to take legal action over the gigantic penis portrait. “Apparently the artist got a free yearly subscription for it,” Diekmann was quoted in Der Tagesspiegel as saying. “As a member of the cooperative, I’m naturally not happy about wasting a subscription. But I’ll certainly ask about the financing at the next co-op meeting.”
What shocked me most reading Christie Chisholm’s report on health care in rural Kenya [Re: News, “Aid From Afar,” Nov. 26-Dec. 2] is the absence of doctors in even overnight facilities that sick patients walk many miles to get to.
Festival of Trees
I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as hundreds of Christmas trees filling up Albuquerque Convention Center’s Ballrooms A, B and C from Friday, Dec. 6 through Sunday, Dec. 8 from 10am to 6pm. This 12th annual Festival of Trees raises funds for the Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation through the $1 donations requested at the door. It is chock-full of Christmas decorations, wreaths, Santa, hot cocoa and, of course, trees. For more information on this all-ages event, see festivaloftreesnm.com.