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24 December 2011

Carrillo's Holiday Ruminations, Part Forty-Eight

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Rudolfo Carrillo

For some of these posts at Things in Light, I like to pretend that I am some really old and cantankerous guy who is looking back and then writing about things in el Burque from either the command center of a fairly complex time-travel/star cruiser parked at Tingley Beach and available to all local citizens in the year 2036, or, alternatively, from the back of a gasoline and rust-soaked 1968 Chevy El Camino that I end up living out of at Milne Field after the economy finally and utterly collapses.
Take your pick cause it's cold out there and I don't like the idea of you standing there, shifting from foot to foot on the cold concrete while you try to decide whether to read any more of this special Things in Light holiday blog post. I mean I could be writing undecipherable, paranoia-tinted sci-fi, but with old man winter howling around my front door, I gotta admit that I am in the mood for folksy and hope that you are too.
This season features a pale southern sun; that light has a certain thin fragility to it, like what's inside a dragonfly wing, or the wrapping tape from last year's gifts. The clouds and their produce mask whole geographies and are one of the few earthly phenomena that can make this place seem contained.
So, winter is damned poetic in these parts; a million times more poetic than any text or graphics-based representation I could come up with here. I'd be better off and more truthful as an artist too, if I invited you to go outside and take a walk around in it. If you do that, I'll step out the front door for a quick puff of tobacco, a mild stimulant which I prefer to use exclusively when turning sticks into RAM.
I told you it was cold out there. It is so cold that Samantha's miniature pug, Hannah, refuses to go out after dark. She just pissed on the kitchen floor for the third time this week and is obviously relying on her innate evolutionary advantage (perpetually small, bug-eyed cuteness) to get away with what would be seen as an abomination if practiced by my other dogs. During the sunny days just past, Hannah ran around in the backyard - soaking up the sun in the glad but awkward fashion of a tiny alien dog-creature sent to wreak havoc on the planet Earth -- for hours at a time. But at night lately, it's the same messy failure to launch. I am beginning to think her fear of the cold has a previously undetected co-efficient contributing to its intensity.
It could be all manner of things. But what if the little dog, who is all ears and nose -- and because of her size and position in the universe is imbued with a threat-recognition system that probably rivals that of any number of small Middle-Eastern democracies -- senses a predator out there in the winter night?
I've lived in Ridgecrest for going on 12 years. I've seen a few raccoons, three coyotes, a number of small hawks and burrowing owls, but never any large raptors. I can imagine that large owls, eagles and mammalian predators occasionally forage for prey between the mountain and the bosque too, slinking through town and taking pets when there aren't any healthy rodents afield. 
I am convinced this fleshy deficit is partly due to the seed and grain withering drought currently manifesting itself in the upper Chihuahuan desert. Most scientists are convinced that the dryness is the result of global warming caused by large scale human industrial processes.
So if Hannah gets snatched by a displaced predator, I am going to blame every last one of you unprincipled consumers currently driving around and around Nob Hill, looking for parking that is comfortably close to your favorite locally-owned, Chinese-supplied boutique. I am only sort of joking because it will never come down to that anywho.
When I do get la perrita to go out at night, I turn on a couple of lights and send Samantha's other dog, Schrodinger, out with her. He is orange and weighs about 100 pounds, with jaws made from a compressed and weighty metal spring. Mangy old coyote wouldn't stand a chance, plus the hound fancies bird meat, sabes?
So that's pretty much an accurate record of what I was thinking about last night. I let this post sit until the next afternoon, trying to decide whether it was mierda or not. I ended up thinking it was a sorta funny vignette of local experiencas en Burque, and decided to let it fly.
Before I toss this bit of paper into the wind though, here is one more situation I ran into today at the notorious Walgreens on Central and San Mateo. If you are wondering why I refer to the pharmacy as notorious, then you need to park your car and sit in their parking lot with feigned nonchalance for five minutes, as soon as is convenient.
So the guy in front of me at the cash register queue has a shopping cart of supplies to make luminarias. Bags, candles, sand, the whole enchilada, as it were. He was in his late twenties, well-dressed maybe from out of town, visiting or something. There is also an old woman behind me. She has a bag of Payaso brand Cheese Puffs in one hand and a bottle of mountain dew and her EBT card in the other. She looks over my shoulder at the guy hauling the cart of potential holiday mirth and starts cussing him in Spanish, telling him how its her tradition and that he is stealing it, and its all very shameful, et cetera.
This doesn't play to well with the young fellow, his reaction shows he doesn't understand la idioma. He starts to shift uncomfortably from foot to foot, like he is standing by the front door in the middle of winter and it is cold and he forgot his shoes by the fire.
Suddenly a rather large hawk descends from the ceiling and carries him away. I have to stand out of the way so I don't get clipped by the enormous wings.
The woman who called out in Spanish laughs and laughs until her head comes off.
Back in meatspace, I drive home and watch an old film I bought at the pharmacy. It is called Zulu and features the acting talents of Michael Caine. It's supposed to be about war, but really its about the relationships between race, economic class, religion, and bravery amongst the humans; plus the Brits wear neato red uniforms, just like the kind Kipling used to write about.

photo credit: Alberto Mena

14 December 2011

Frosted Landscapes: Winter in New Mexico

Samantha Anne Carrillo
Photo courtesy of Kimm Wiens

Things in Light asked artist Kimm Wiens to create a winter-themed photo essay for our readers and she happily obliged. Check out her beautiful images of things in Nuevomexicano winter light after the jump.

And, if you're in need of some estival meditation, check out her first TIL photo essay here

Photos: Copyright 2011 © Kimm Wiens

08 December 2011

Things in Light Podcast #10: Cock-of-the-rock Mix

Samantha Anne Carrillo
Flier by Christoph Knerr and Steve Hammond

Things in Light's tenth podcast, Cock-of-the-rock Mix, features some of our favorite XY Burqueño solo projects  Retard Slave (Steve Hammond of Leeches of Lore, Tenderizor), Ipytor Gavyen Machislav (Clifford Grindstaff of The Jeebies, Shoulder Voices), and Raven Chacon  and Leeches of Lore, Sabertooth Cavity, Tenderizor, and Xicana Machete. We wanted to include some I CUM DRUMS (Kris Kerby of Sabertooth Cavity, Tenderizor) but aren't aware of any recordings. Take a listen to this podcast and then head down to Small Engine Gallery (1413 Fourth SW) on Saturday night for an evening of memorable performances by boss dudes. Make with this click for the show featuring Hammond's long-awaited live solo debut! — deets and see the full track listing below. 

1. Retard Slave - The Creation and Subsequent Revolt of Horseborg
2. Ipytor Gavyen Machislav - Piano Song
3. Xicana Machete - Dollspit (Grita)
4. Retard Slave - O Morto Surge
5. Raven Chacon - This is where we went/were
6. Ipytor Gavyen Machislav - Stupid Handshake
7. Leeches of Lore - Night of the Llama
8. Sabertooth Cavity - Duke City Shuffle
9. Tenderizor - The Falconor

04 December 2011

a note on the unpredictability of winter weather in el burque y la vecinidad

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Rudolfo Carrillo

I am busy tuning in on the local weather and the data I am receiving seems to indicate the possibility of snow. The information is coming to me in electronic pulses distilled by the formless agents of  technology into decipherable graphic objects and text-strings. it is iterated in such a strictly conditional tense that its transmission only serves to multiply the electric tension swirling around, in front of, and ultimately, through me.
You can't trust the weatherman. Especially as regards Burque. As far as I'm concerned, and on this account, I am convinced  he's sitting in the same lofty castle as the economist. For your information, the air-traffic controller lives far away, in a totally different kingdom, hanging out with the likes of civil engineers and such.
If you get my drift, I'll take it a bit further and reckon that all that weather forecasting, even the sort backed up computer models that come out of the fertile minds of the most recent top-notch graduates of the most high-faluting computer science schools in the country, can't say with any appreciable degree of certainty what is going to happen now or in the future as regards Burque's weather.
Oh, I get the global warming thing and I will be damned to admit this is the driest year I have seen this time around, with a summer basically bereft of monsoons except in their most truncated and momentary variations and an autumn wind on Friday that seemed like it had risen up from hell, mostly because it sustained itself violently for hours, which is something I imagine a demon would do, before being absorbed back into the earth.
I happened to drive through that diabolical draft, just as night began its ascendency and humans everywhere in the city retracted themselves toward home.
I saw a Honda Element on Coal Avenue and it was blocking both lanes. I thought it had broken down until I finally crawled past past. Somehow the SUV had become momentarily entangled with a tree that had continued past. An act of rampage had been played out here and now the human participants shouted into their cell phones and made wild hand gestures, walking as if on stilts, up and down the adjacent sidewalk.
Now the wind has blown and blustered about for a couple of days. Some snow came to visit, but only late and unannounced, with every intention of disappearing into liquidity and ultimately the cruel evaporate of drought by midday. It's really cloudy and cold and maybe it will snow.
The interwebz say yes, and at 11:27 pm on Sunday, the fourth day of December in the year of their lord dos mil once, one discrete electronic data emission source gravely intones:

Areas of light snow and fog will continue to develop over portions of western and northern New Mexico...including the upper and middle Rio Grande Valley. Before midnight...snow will increase in intensity and areal coverage. In addition...gusty southeast to east winds to around 35 mph will be encountered from the Taos vicinity south through Santa Fe and then eventually into the Albuquerque Metro. Visibilities will drop as low as one half mile at times in snow and blowing snow.

Areal coverage, eh? I just had to turn the thermostat on the furnace up, so that the room where my terminal is remains comfortable, sabes? So, maybe it will snow after all.

Or, it could be clear and cold in the morning, too, with the only clouds around being the low-lying, generated by piñon kind that you get all over the city when some Burqueños are trying to stay warm on dark, dry mornings.

27 November 2011

Sounds Like Weekend, Rhymes With Fix

Rudolfo Carrillo
by Rudolfo Carrillo

Down yonder in the labyrinthine structure and circumstance that defines Things in Light, we are in the business of presenting you with regional information, ideas and events. Of course, it's all filtered through our own peculiar lens. Given that postmodern bent, it is sometimes the case that we appropriate the appropriate. 
This is what I'm getting at: I had a craving the other day for an old format. An internet communication interface, if you will kindly indulge me, that eschews deep analysis for brief and pithy hyperlink-supported teasers. That's what journalists used to call short paragraphs below the fold that described what was going on inside the newspaper, trying to gain a reader's interest, sabes? Well, they didn't have hyperlinks back then, but just lonely old page references to guide the reader to their new and abrupt fascinations.
If that ain't clue enough to what is going on this week at the blog now handily located at Things in Light, then I reckon I ought to just go ahead and fill you in on stuff that happened this week in  good old Burque. Some of it is news, and some of it is not.

The Persistence of Culture Along Route Sixty-Six
On the night before Thanksgiving, the missus and I decided to go to the closest fast-food hamburger joint in the vicinity, on a lark. We usually eat brown rice and farm-caught salmon seven days a week, and we wanted to see how the other half lives, as they say.
Anywho, we had to wait in line an inordinate amount of time, as the two young gentlemen in a Buick Riviera with deeply tinted windows and a Florida license plates completed a complicated order. I say it was complicated because oddly, when they got to the window, they chatted with the clerk and then traded him a really tiny piece of paper for three bag loads of burgers, with loads of fries tumbling out of the overfilled bags, too. I wonder if that was some kinda new credit card deal or something. Kids these days. The guy at the window did seem real perky and excited by the time our turn came, I might add.

They are Here
News giant KRQE reports on an increase in UFO sightings in the Albuquerque vicinity. In a stroke of stylistic genius, the reporter goes on to note that one witness photographed a "UFO-shaped cloud", that is, a cloud that resembles an unidentified flying object. Very stealthy usage, but I'd still like to draw the reporter's attention to the words saucer and cigar, if I may.

Where to Now, Makers of Democracy?
The Occupy Albuquerque movement, also known as the (un)Occupy Albuquerque movement, held a general assembly meeting this past weekend. It is supposed that members worked on the vision thing. Notes published on the the official website, however, continued to confirm tension and fractious relations between two groups of protesters whose polemic revolves around semantics. One group says colonized peoples have always felt occupied, so to claim such in name would be yet another unbearable tragedy. Contrariwise, advocates of the original appellation say that the post-racial nature of the protest means abandoning closely held beliefs about how race often times becomes intertwined with social status. There is the distinct possibility that the local iteration of OWS will splinter. By the way, I tried to find some humor in that situation, to end this vignette, but only felt a sore sense of cynicism and disappointment as I considered the political consequences for a group that has yet to definitively decide on a name.

Felt Good to Burn
Returning home from the petroleum depot on the edge of my luxurious neighborhood, I spied a column of smoke rising from the middle of the glorious and much coveted Parkland Hills area adjacent to mi chante. Sure enough, the folks with Massachusetts license plates and daily deliveries from this or that local organic farm (plus Schwann's) were getting fiery with the autumn leaves that dozens of unwieldy but beautiful-in-the-summertime mulberry trees had deposited all over the place. Before you could say Jiminy Cricket, there were police cars everywhere. Somebody forgot to read the complex details of the city's Open Burn Program. I'll let you all figure out who that was, exactly.

That's Slob Hill, Pal
My friend the artist drove me over to Ghetto Smith's this afternoon. She was gonna borrow my inkily atrementous Toyota star-cruiser for a quick trip out to the Volcanoes, for religious purposes, she said. On the way, and before the space-warp generator engaged, limiting coherent conversation for a duration of fifteen milliseconds, she told me that folks in town were referring to the student ghetto by a new moniker. She laughed and loftily intoned the words, "Slob Hill," as we slid back into real time. In the supermarket, among the fruits and vegetables, I wondered if that newly defined reputation had anything to do with the demolition earlier this week of the Werner-Gilchrist House.
There is a great local blog about that event and it is here. The only thing I take exception with is the fact of the old house's habitation. I am certain that when I lived next door as an undergrad, in the mid-eighties, the old wreck was still occupied. I remember nights in the late fall of 1984, walking past the crumbling, tree-of-heaven-infested place after the UNM art studios had closed up. I heard an eery and rambling piano being played somewhere inside every time I ambled home.

That's all for now. Be seeing you.

26 November 2011

Things in Light Podcast #9: Aural Alms Mix

Samantha Anne Carrillo
The medium is the massage, so meditate on the many reasons to attend the EarnMirror to MirrorAlms, and TAHNZzz show at Small Engine Gallery (1413 Fourth SW) on Friday night. RSVP to the show here. Alms' Nathan Young's other project, Ajilvsga, is also represented on TIL's ninth podcast.  See the full track listing below. 

1. Alms - Buried Secrets
2. Mirror to Mirror - The Same Restlessness
3. Earn - Hundreds of Years/Only Black/A Following Shadow
4. TAHNZzz - Full Metal Cardigan (Extended Version)
5. Ajilvsga - Wounds Received in Battle
6. Mirror to Mirror - Untitled III
7. Ajilvsga - Rose Pyramids
8. Earn - Leather Rose/Living Daylight/Pressure of Speech/Avenue

24 November 2011

A Very TIL Thanksgiving: The Rest is Gravy

Samantha Anne Carrillo

Thanksgiving is a culturally relative holiday, especially in this neck of the woods. But, since your editor is obsessed with music for all holidays, she slow-roasted an aural mix of 23 classic and modern tunes to soundtrack your cookin', eatin', and snoozin' on the couch. It's an unusual TIL podcast in that there's only one local track, Trilobite's "Pumpkin Farmer." TIL is thankful for all y'all -- family, friends, artists, and patrons -- and wishes you and yours a beautiful day.

See the full track listing below.

1. Cab Calloway & His Orchestra - Good Sauce from the Gravy Bowl
2. Gore Gore Girls - Sweet Potato
3. Dee Dee Sharp - Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes)
4. Cass McCombs - My Pilgrim Dear
5. Trilobite - Pumpkin Farmer
6. Animal Collective - Pumpkin's Funeral
7. Curve - Turkey Crossing
8. Zomes - Pilgrim Traveler
9. Doris Day - Easy as Pie
10. Cab Calloway - Everybody Eats When They Come to My House
11. Beastie Boys - Gratitude
12. Little Eva - Let's Turkey Trot
13. Girls - Vomit
14. Beck - Nicotine & Gravy
15. Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds - Pumpkin Pie
16. Rosemary Clooney - Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep
17. The Ventures - Mashed Potato Time
18. The Ohio Players - Jive Turkey
19. Grady O'Neil & The Bella Tones - Turkey Neck Stretch
20. The Flaming Lips - Thanks to You
21. 10CC - I Hate to Eat Alone
22. Al Bowlly & Ray Noble - Make Yourself a Happiness Pie
23. Andrews Sisters - Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep

19 November 2011

Things in Light Podcast #8: Sign of the Horns Mix

Samantha Anne Carrillo

Rawk out with heavy Nuevomexicano peeps past and present on TIL's eighth podcast, Sign of the Horns. I mean, RAWK. See the full track listing below. 

1. Tenderizor - Touch the Sword
2. Roñoso - Nature Defier
3. Leeches of Lore - Pig Scrapings
4. Noisear - God is a Sadist
5. Los Subliminados - Female Cop
6. Dread - Brace for Destruction
7. Old Man - Phesh
8. Leeches of Lore - Deathgrip
9. Sabertooth Cavity - Pisachi y Diablerist
10. Great White Buffalo - Handful of Darkness

17 November 2011

Things in Light Podcast #7: Spookasem Mix

Samantha Anne Carrillo

The Scrams are almost dead. Burque's warehouse rocanrol darlings are holding a raucous wake for their beloved band at the final Scrams show on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011. [Click here for deets on The Scrams' last show.] In their final act, the boys got the folks at Immigrant Breast Nest to remix six of their tunes. Since we really dug the resulting recordings, we created a podcast around our favorites, "Chimp Necropsy (Seismologist Remix)" and "Steve Sangre (FluiD Remix)." We call it the Spookasem Mix, because, like the Akfrikaans word for cotton candy -- which literally translates to "ghost breath" -- our time listening to this project was super-sweet and unspooling the last gloriously sticky strands is more than a little bittersweet. Dear Scrams, thanks for the memories and, perhaps more importantly, the recordings.

The below podcast is dedicated to Scrams past and present: Joe Cardillo, Nate Daly, Dan Eiland, Kenta Henmi, J.J. Papadopoulos, Juan Carlos Rodriguez, and Matthew Vanek. Heart-hug. See the full track listing below.

1. The Scrams - Chimp Necropsy (Seismologist Remix)
2. Chemtrail Pilot - Legion of Wolves
3. Occasional Detroit - Freek
4. Discotays - Goldtooth
5. The Scrams - Steve Sangre (FluiD Remix)
6. Glad as Knives - Tears of Fire
7. Autopoesis - Love and Electroshock
8. Mama Coma - Can't Stand the Rain
9. Discotays - Cheii

03 November 2011

ABQ MTV: Resurrections, Zoology, and Pliers

Samantha Anne Carrillo

Things in Light is pleased to present the fourth episode of ABQ MTV.

William Fowler Collins' new LP, The Resurrections Unseen, will be available in the U.S. on November 7. The limited edition record was pressed on blood-red vinyl. This mooning -- and, yes, somewhat morbid -- music video provides a fitting visual counterpart to WFC's dark ambient track "Abattoir." Type Records' press release leads with, "There are dark forces at work deep in the deserts of New Mexico." Indeed.

William Fowler Collins - Abattoir from John Twells on Vimeo.

Zoology's video for "Don't Step" showcases slick moves, sick beats, and downtown Burque. Simply put, it's tight. Forward motion, unpretentious enthusiasm, and Nuevomexicano skies make this music video a pleasure to watch. Good on ya, Zoology crew!

Gusher's first music video shows the band -- decked out in gas masks and medical garb -- alternately torturing a bound woman on a school bus and rocking out. So, yeah, the video's narrative is perhaps best described as "beating a dead cliché." But the sound, cinematography, and editing ain't bad. I'll admit I was waiting for a clever twist or satirical ending that never materialized, but that's a matter of personal taste. Watch it below and make your own assessment. And somebody get these guys "some fucking pliers."

12 October 2011

"But won't we all parade around and sing our songs, a magic kingdom, open-armed."

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Rudolfo Carrillo

On my way home and whilst navigating the very periphery of the academy, I decided to allow myself an anomalous deviation from what I considered tried and true, roaring through the green light at Yale and steering my motorized symbol of complicity in everything that is evil and bad for the earth into the parking lot of McDonald's.

In case you didn't know it, that place is the penultimate iteration of a process that begins when an innocent and well-meaning animal is tormented and killed and then processed into a slow form of poison that just about anyone you ask in this nation will gladly admit to savoring, one way or another. I am the last step in the process, unless you want to count the fellow that runs the sludge-clarification machinery down at the city works. But that would make the whole system seem cyclic, which I am dead set against at this moment, having decided instead, on a vector.

Across the street from the charnel house is the encampment of folks who call themselves Occupy Albuquerque. There were a couple of bright lights high up in the trees and a heap of signs calling for an end to this and the reform of that. The lights got their power from a process that began with the destruction of large swaths of the earth in order to extract from it all the stuff that burns. The signs were hanging on ropes and chords that dangled and wagged in the breeze. All of that material was probably made from the stuff that burns, too.

And I gotta tell you, the scene seemed sorta mournful and lonesome to me on account of that realization, from the other side of the road. Just about everybody over there was in the shadows, so I really couldn't make out any faces and that didn't help matters.

Well, in order to pass the time and so as not to have to think about the unfolding tragedy of the decline of Western Civilization, I started leafing through a copy of the Daily Lobo. I had it along to use the glorious corporate hamburger coupon that was ofttimes printed within the pages of that venerable publication, but reckoned it could also serve as entertainment while I waited to be presented with my own greasy albeit temporary symbols of acquiescence to a system that frightened me, but which nonetheless provided me little green pieces of paper that I could readily convert into snacks.

I was drawn to the editorial page and settled on giving the letters to the editor a whirl; it was late after all and I still hadn't had my fill of outrage for the day.  One fellow wrote in and was going on and on about how the university had violated the first amendment rights of the protesters, how that's against the law and so forth.

 Well, says I, that's a common name in the local blogosphere and ain't that the guy that strongly implied in this blog and that one, that he was all for running stop signs and that paying attention to traffic laws, being a bicyclist, "makes absolutely no sense". I don't know about you all, but that sort of conflict of interest, choosing to be a scofflaw when it comes to local law, but being more than willing to invoke federal law when it suits one seems on its surface to be sketchy, as the kids are wont to say.

Plus which, referring to UNM as a banana republic made me laugh. Ain't a banana republic a place where they don't take the rule of law seriously? Well then, what do you call thumbing ones nose at certain city ordinances that one finds distasteful, for any reason?

It does not seem likely to me that these sorts of preoccupations will result in progressive change, but what the hell do I know.

And to me that affair points to a central problem, that the protesters, Jah bless every one of them, need to clear up; that of credibility and consistency of vision. A poet's entitled  consternation don't hunt, especially when it ends with the admonition that you are either fer or agin us.

Now that's all I gotta say tonight; I already missed Carson's monologue and I'll be damned if I am going to miss tonight's star-studded line up. Supposedly, Criswell's gonna come on after intermission and predict the end of the world.

09 October 2011

"Welcome to the Camp, I Guess You All Know Why We're Here"

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Rudolfo Carrillo

Actually I really did not know for certain why they were down there.

I had some ideas that had formed in my head. I got them by scrolling through a few pages of status updates, videos, photographs, and statements read by crafty teevee celebrities - and then doing some thinking on my own about what all of that meant.

By the way, those sources of information I just mentioned were being piped into my home through a vast and intricately organized network of wires and circuits, digital transmitters and receivers. When they finally reached my end of the void through which they travelled, all those signals, symbols, signages, and other electronic intricacies transformed themselves into useful data whose output was governed by an assemblage of absolutely huge corporations.

I'll try to tie that winsome fact into this discourse in a paragraph that will probably come to reside near the bottom of the post. To get there, you're gonna have to read through this, which comprises a series of observations I made whilst visiting the Occupy Albuquerque site currently manifesting itself on the remnants of Yale Park.

In case you are interested, I went down there and walked around for a while this morning. I chatted here and there, but mostly just hung back, watching and listening. I knew in my heart that I couldn't figure the thing out without seeing and hearing it myself, sans electronic contrivance.

The first fellow I spoke with was sitting under an banner that had the word information written on it in big colorful letters. I jokingly asked him to take me to his leaders and even used my index fingers to pretend I had antennae sprouting from my head.

A couple of bearded men in the background immediately chimed in that I was the leader and they were too. Everyone was a leader, one of the hirsute guys said, sounding sorta poetic. I asked how they made decisions and was solemnly handed a piece of paper that turned out to be a printout from part of a Wikipedia article on the subject of Consensus Decision Making.

Just then, an angry cowboy dude came marching up with his kid in tow. He was dressed all in black and was driving a monster truck with sign on it that read "Report Police Misconduct." He wanted to complain about the upside-down American flag he had planted earlier in the day. It was at the edge of camp, but had disappeared, he lamented.

Another heavily bearded fellow appeared from behind the kitchen with the flag. He was wearing a long tie-dyed skirt and explained that some of the protesters were unsure of the flag's meaning and so took it down.

A heated discussion ensued, which mostly went round and round the subjects of how the country was in distress and how proper flag etiquette played a part in that perception; the flag was ultimately returned to its place on the periphery of things. The tragic dark horseman told the crowd that his son had been killed by the police and then drove off in a storm, with The Charlie Daniels Band blaring from his stereo.

Two native kids in full Juggalo regalia walked around shaking hands with the campers who were mostly homeless men. Those ones seemed sunburned and dusty and weary from living on the street. Mostly they sat in front of their tents, patching their broken shoes or talking about how cold it had been at night. Some of them had their dogs along and the Juggalos patted the dogs on their heads, asked to know their names.

A young woman walked up to me and spontaneously offered me a piece of home-baked bread and two teenage girls made up to be flower children gamboled around, passing out flowers and singing songs they must have learned from their grandparents.

After all of that, bells were rung and a general meeting was called. When everyone had gathered into a half-circle, a smoky blessing was initiated and two college types asked the group to follow along and read back the camp rules, so that everyone could hear, all fifty of them.

It was a man and woman doing the talking and they kindly asked that all present make themselves familiar with the anti-corporate declaration that had come down to them from New York City.

I found a copy of the pamphlet and read through it. The word that is most common in that manifesto is the word "They". After listing all they things "they" did to betray humanity, decency and democracy, it calls on "The People of the World" to "generate solutions accessible to everyone."

The thing was, I really didn't see any evidence of active or progressive solution generation going on. Maybe I came at the wrong time, but when I asked about that, the young fellow under the information banner told me, "It took them a while to come up with these ideas in New York City; we'll come up with our own version of them sometime or other."

Meanwhile, cars continued speeding down Central Avenue and occasionally somebody would honk or yell a cuss word out as they passed by. My cell phone started chirping and it was Samantha on the line telling me to come home and help her walk the dogs, as they were getting mighty restless.

On the way back home, the radio was playing a song about revolution and I thought about who exactly "they" might be, reckoning finally, that for all intents and purposes, it might do as well to replace every utterance of that loathsome word with this one:


We brought the corporations to life. We allowed them in our homes. We have enlisted them towards a definition of our own leisure and convenience. We are watching Monday Night Football and listening to Spotify. We are on Facebook. We buy stuff from China, We waste food, We lead countless animals to their untimely deaths. We have friends and neighbors, sons and daughters, wives and cousins who are soldiers or who work as nuclear physicists or bomb technicians. We apparently do not have the knowledge of history to understand that We have done this to ourselves.

And now suddenly, and by invoking a collegial sort of magic, We want to save what We have already ruined. 

30 September 2011


Rudolfo Carrillo
By Rudolfo Carrillo

Yeah, the State Fair is always an animal-flavored mess of rustic fun, even sans freak shows.

I didn't visit the midway this year but asked around about it instead, so I don't know if the fine folks over there ever got around to reconstituting the human oddities section of the show or if they still consider the Snake Woman and her lot to be examples of a most nefarious form of familial subversion. Everyone I asked told me plainly they did not have the feria for that part of the feria. Maybe things will be better next year when people need an amusing diversion from the looming presidential elections and the tick tock of the Mayan clock.

Anywho, the autumnal events that follow on through Burque after the fair ends, the things about October that I recall long after they roll up the tents, reduce the tilt-a-whirl to an easily transported collection of metal struts plus hexagonal nuts, and send all those deep fried butter machines back to Venus, seem to strike a deeper resonance than whatever it is that transpires at Tingley Colosseum during the first weeks of September (I'm told it's called a rodeo, whatever the hell that means.)

For instance, the
Balloon Fiesta is a great and popular event, but you wouldn’t know it from the way I’ve seen some dogs react.

Here's a quick story about that. My family had a pit bull named Iris, como
arco iris, the rainbow, sabes? That dog was mean as hell to strangers and other dogs, but loyal and protective to her human family. One October she ended up at our house for good, on account of me.

Our next door neighbor was a veterinarian, his wife was a doctor. They had a kid and the kid had a babysitter who was my age. She went to Manzano High School which I thought was very exotic. I thought she was the utmost, you know, the ginchiest. So, I was always looking for an excuse to talk to her. One day I heard her singing to the kid in the backyard and so stuck my head over the fence to say hello. They were playing with a little black puppy. The doctors saw me and came out onto the patio, friendly and happy as usual. As they walked into the autumn afternoon, they both asked simultaneously, "Do you guys want another dog?" I forgot about the babysitter for a time and by that evening, Iris the dog was living it up at the Carrillo household.

The only thing old Iris was a scared of was hot air balloons. She lived 15 years grand and glorious years but nearly succumbed every October from high-blood pressure and continuous barking. Otherwise she was fierce as hot steel and for years the mailman and many a Jehovah's Witness would run fearfully into the street when they spied her dark and toothy countenance on the front porch.

As it turns out, Albuquerque’s famous but dog-frightening Balloon Fiesta is related to the
Sandia Peak Tramway, a local attraction that continues to engender an eldritch fear in me. Both sprang from the same creative, entrepreneurial minds, though I am certain neither of the folks behind those affairs ever considered the effects their civic produce would have on a beloved mutt or certain waggishly weird local blogger.

I’ve heard it said the tram is a great way to see Albuquerque and I’ve certainly seen it come and go from its loading bay at the base on the western side of the Sandia Mountains - too many times times to count. It’s definitely
an awesome feat of human engineering; the riders glide upward in little metal cars, riding on a wire that looks like a spider web from just a mile or two down the road from the lower terminal.

However, the cables are quite thick. The tram runs on four track ropes, which are made of steel. They each have a diameter of 40 millimeters, a weight of 52 tons. I’d hate to see the Sandia Mountain canyon-dwelling spider that could produce something like that. That sorta tale woulda made for a cool post at
My Strange New Mexico, though, eh, Mr. Smith?

In reality, most of the
technology and materials used to build the tram came from Europe, where they have a lot more experience lifting people up mountains in mechanical devices what with the the Alps and all, sabes?

The development of the Sandia Peak Tramway and Ski Area was due to the brilliance of two prominent Albuquerqueans,
Robert Nordhaus and Ben Abruzzo. Nordhaus, native New Mexican and Yale graduate, returned to Albuquerque after college, where he lived to be 97.

I hope you already know
the story of Ben Abruzzo. His efforts and legacy are floating around by the hundreds, in October, in Albuquerque, as well as hoisting hundreds of curious and athletic sorts of humans up to the top of a very big mountain, daily.

That all sounds really chido, but even if I read it over a thousand times, I still can't bear the thought of actually riding in the tram, much less sailing like a cloud over our dusty town in a balloon. About 15 years ago, I had the chance to ride in the
elevators inside the Saint Louis Gateway Arch. I wouldn’t do that either.

This might be the year I finally give the tram a shot; I'm getting long in the tooth and probably will want to get some kinda kicks in the next few years, before any number of various organ systems fail and my joints totally deteriorate. I know I'll at least take a deeply reflective look at the balloons, in awe of what each represents.

As far as Sandia Peak goes, I’ve always preferred to drive up from the east side of the mountains. There’s a great hike to the upper tramway terminal, but when I was younger, my friends and I liked to hike away from the dock, across to the north peak and into
an area filled with transmission towers.

If you’ve been up there, you know the place. It’s closed off now.

Back in the twentieth century my friends and I would hike past the transmitters and equipment, pretending that we were in the midst of any number of science-fiction scenarios. We would pretend the buildings and towers were the remnants of a once great civilization, that we were there to make an initial assessment of the surrounding environment and capture specimens of the local inhabitants, which strangely enough looked like whip-tail lizards. Eventually, we would arc off into one of the steep canyons at the edge of the mountain top, through a well-made but seldom used trail.

At the end of this trail, in the trees at the edge of a small meadow that ended in a precipitous cliff, we built a sturdy wood and stone fort. We had picnics there, built a fire-pit from big rocks we found laying around, camped there sometimes, and generally thought of the place as ours.

It seemed only a few people knew where the trail that led to the fort was located, amidst the crushed granite and scrub oaks that define that part of the mountain.

And so that place remained intact for years and years, even into my young-adulthood.

Even if unauthorized personnel found the trail, that was no guarantee of being able to navigate to the fort. The trail was rocky and steep; one side was adjacent to the rock wall of the mountain, the other connected to nothingness, to the air surrounding the mountain itself.

The last time I went there was in 1993. We took some British exchange students who had become part of our circle of friends to that hidden
chante. One of them complained of the altitude and vomited all over the log house. Another kept saying out loud that he thought we were going to die on that day and on that mountain.

As we led them out to the very edge, a rocky outcropping that looked down on a pine forest about two hundred feet below, I looked over and saw the tram rising in the distance, suspended between two towers.

“Look”, I said, "there goes the tram."

"Why didn’t we take that thing up here?" asked one of the fearful flatlander exchange students, dizzily unaccustomed to the altitude.
"It looks a lot safer than what we just did."

"I dunno", I replied gravely while winking to my fellow Burqueno buds, "I reckon it has something to do with my dreadful fear of mechanical lifting devices." Then, I kicked a pebble off into the canyon below where the October wind was busy tossing and fluttering all the golden aspen leaves around and around. There was a balloon floating aimlessly on the western horizon, which was layed out all pretty and blue and vast right there in front of me. For a second, I thought I heard Iris barking in the distance.

28 September 2011

Things in Light Podcast #6: Up, Up and Away

Samantha Anne Carrillo

Contrary to its title, The 5th Dimension's "Up, Up and Away" is not included on the sixth TIL podcast. That Nena tune ain't in the mix, either. This Balloon Fiesta tribute features 12 less well-known balloon-themed tracks and even a little comedy, old-time radio, and spoken word stuff. See the full track listing below.

1. Mitch Hedberg - Hot Air Balloon (excerpt)
2. Twin Shadow - Yellow Balloon
3. The Kills - Black Balloon
4. The Raincoats - Balloon
5. Steven Jesse Bernstein - Party Balloon
6. Spell - Big Red Balloon
7. Wavves - Convertible Balloon
8. The Kinks - Loony Balloon
9. Ween - Blue Balloon
10. Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians - Balloon Man
11. Beastie Boys - Pop Your Balloon
12. Nervous Norvus - Noon Balloon to Rangoon
13. Matmos - Supreme Balloon
14. Adventures in Research - Birth of the Balloon (excerpt)

17 September 2011

Things in Light Podcast #5: Church of Rock

Samantha Anne Carrillo
 Georgia O'Keeffe, Ranchos Church, New Mexico

Enjoy eight songs from the relatively recent past by New Mexico artists like Gingerbread Patriots, Veery, and The Drags. See the full track listing below.


1. Karen - Strength for the Weaker Ones (Sink or Swim Pt. II)
2. Gingerbread Patriots - Wax Lips
3. Veery - I'm Not in Love (10cc cover)
4. The Oktober People - Projector Enthusiast
5. The Drags - Jet Lag
6. The Rondelles - Kersmash! Eye, My
7. Churchfires w/ Keith Galler - Mass Leisure
8. Flake Music - Nuevo 

15 September 2011

Things in Light Podcast #4: Songs in the Key of Nuevo Mexicano

Samantha Anne Carrillo
Georgia O'Keeffe, Ram's Head White Hollyhock and Little Hills, 1935

Enjoy eight songs themed on New Mexico, by artists like Beirut, Oppenheimer Analysis, and Roy Rogers. See the full track listing below.

1. Oppenheimer Analysis - New Mexico
2. Roy Rogers - I'm Gonna Gallop Gallop To Gallup New Mexico
3. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Lonesome New Mexico Nights
4. Jimmy Driftwood - Tucumcari
5. Jeff & Jane Hudson - Los Alamos
6. Joe West - Trip to Roswell, New Mexico
7. Beirut - Santa Fe
8. Dale Watson - Tucumcari, Here I Come

13 September 2011

Post for Howard Bryan

Rudolfo Carrillo
by Rudolfo Carrillo

Listen up folks, because the news from the wild frontier ain't good today and with the bright summer receding fast into the restive darkness of the seasons that follow, you ought to know that Howard Bryan has died.

Bryan was ninety-one and enjoying life, eating and smoking and typing with continuous grace and autumnal authority until he was diagnosed with terminal cancer four months ago. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported today the old man spent his last days helping out with research for a colleague's book, rallying against the infirmity that was hot on his heels. If that ain't dignity in the face of death, I don't know what the hell is.

Bryan's oeuvre as a journalist, newspaper columnist and historian is remarkable in its depth of knowledge, subtly wicked wit and gloriously colloquial stylings, period. In person, the man was affable and kind and could talk for hours with great confidence on just about any subject that had anything at all to do with this city or state. He wrote everyday, too, and his dwelling was lined with hardcover books and photographs of all the amazing people that flowed through his life.

I began reading Bryan's column, Off the Beaten Path, when I was a kid. That collection of musings, essays and outrageously true histories from the heart of Burque's past and present appeared in the Albuquerque Tribune, a daily that went defunct about three years ago.

Way back there further, as the seventies lapsed into the eighties, Bryan's writ went straight to my brain and made me wonder what it would be like to be a writer.

So, when I was about seventeen, I scored a job as a features stringer at the Albuquerque Journal. In that epoch, the whole operation for the Journal and the Tribune - newsroom to press - was located downtown, on the corner of Seventh and Silver.

After meeting with my boss, some guy named Arnholz, some days, I'd sneek over to the Trib newsroom and ask Bryan to read the stuff I was writing. Since the Trib was an afternoon paper, their newsroom kept way different hours than its morning counterpart. Sure enough, some days, Bryan would be still be sitting at his desk, reading or talking on the phone way after the paper had been put to bed.

In recollection, I'm sure he thought it was weird for me to wander into that place so youthfully unannounced and brimming with false confidence, but he gave me good tips anyway. One of the best things he ever told me was to stop using the word "that" so much.

In 2001, I interviewed Bryan for a short freelance feature in the local alt-weekly's Best Of issue. For that interview, I went over to his apartment and we hung out for about two hours, with him discoursing about history and the newspaper, chain-smoking and offering me an ice cold soda pop now and again. That was the easiest most comfortable interview I ever did.

Nine years later, I rang Bryan up during a particularly potent bout of writer's block. Of course, he remembered me and referenced with nearly instantaneous certitude, something or other I had recently published.

We talked for a few minutes and I got around to asking him how he stayed so productive. He told me about the time one of his editors assigned him to write five columns per week, and it couldn't be all history, either, the editor told Howard. At first, Bryan did not appreciate the assignment. But then he started to write down the stories people told him, started trying to find things that were funny or wondrous in what was going on right there in front of him. He suggested the same for me.

He also told me "never be afraid to make fun of yourself", and that others were fair game too, as long as it was done with humor, grace, and good intentions. At the end of the call, he started coughing a lot and I told him that I wished he'd stop smoking. He laughed and said it would be awfully inconvenient to stop now, at the age of ninety and, besides, he was on deadline.

10 September 2011

Things in Light Podcast #3: A Scream is Never Just That

Samantha Anne Carrillo
Enjoy eight experimental tracks from past and present Nuevomexicano artists, including Mammal Eggs, Ipytor Gavyen Machislav, and Milch de la Máquina. See the full track listing below.

1. Mammal Eggs - La Lune Autour La Tete Des Amis 
2. Milch de la Máquina - Titwrench Performance on 7/10/10
3. Ipytor Gavyen Machislav - Stupid Handshake
4. Aural Anomaly - Damaged Goods
5. Alchemical Burn - Mammals at Mach Speed
6. Discotays - $30
7. Raven Chacon - Neezná (with Mask)
8. Vomit the Void Volume - Talking God Speaks

07 September 2011

Not One of Us

Rudolfo Carrillo

By Rudolfo Carrillo

The doctor I visited asked had I ever undergone surgery.

He worked in a building on Gibson Avenue, near the airbase. The building he worked in was near the very spot where the first American astronauts came to have tests done, before each got the chance to roar into space on the tip of a large flaming stick.

The astronauts came to Albuquerque in the late 1950s to be examined by a doctor named
 William R. Lovelace. He had developed the first high-altitude oxygen mask, while working at another airbase, in Dayton, Ohio, a place in America, coincidentally, where my twin brother lives and works.

had been hired by NASA to make sure that the spacemen could withstand the rigors of rocket flight, could successfully go to and return from a place where there was no oxygen or gravity at all.

Dr. Lovelace was a New Mexico native. He founded a clinic in Albuquerque that became a set of hospitals that still bear his family name. Now, there are advertisements for this hospital all over town.

Do me a favor. Next time you see one of those signs, while you’re thinking about your health, like the sign asks you to, take a moment and look up into the sky.

Anyway, there is a replica of one of the metal sticks that the 
Gemini 7 used to visit outer space, right here in Burque. It’s parked at a museum near the edge of town. The museum chronicles the history of large flaming sticks. Some of the sticks, as I mentioned before, were used to lift fragile and living human bodies into the unexplored void that surrounds the earth.

Other versions of these magic sticks had 
a less noble purpose, however. That purpose was also defined here in Albuquerque and in the areas that surround our fair city.

But back to the surgery thingy, which also took place in Albuquerque and has got some outer space stuff going on, too.

I was 
born with pointed ears. The ears I was born with were not quite as pointy as Mr. Spock’s ears, but they were very noticeable none the less — just about every one of my school chums referred to me as Spock, a situation which amused me but horrified my parents.

After one of my teachers told my mom and dad that casual parental marijuana use had been shown to have produced minor congenital defects of the sort I manifested, after the sailor framed his retort with the most elegantly insulting Spanish ever heard in Rehoboth New Mexico, my outraged mother decided that enough was enough.

She made an appointment with a plastic surgeon in Albuquerque. His name was Gooding and he was a tall thin man with big hands. He examined me, asked me how I felt about my ears. I pretended to be stoic and logical and did not smile or smirk when he took pictures of my profile with a large Polaroid camera.

Afterwards, my dad took us to the 
Los Altos Twin Cinema to see the new Peter Sellers film, which was about a bumbling French detective. I couldn’t concentrate on the film and wished instead that he had taken us to see Escape to Witch Mountain, a film we had heard was about outer space. It happened to be showing on the other screen. When it was quiet in our half of the building, due mostly to the fact that American audiences really didn't understand Sellers' brand of humor,  I strained my pointed ears trying to hear what was going on next door.

Two weeks later, my family returned to Albuquerque. I was admitted to 
a small hospital in the Northeast Heights. The hospital was called Anna Kaseman Hospital. Everything was new and glistening and clean at that hospital, which resembled the inside of a fancy spaceship, as far as I was concerned.
I was treated like royalty there. I was treated like a very high emissary from another world, I imagined at the time.

The next evening (which, by the way, 
was spread out against the sky), I was wheeled into the operating room and anesthetized. When I awoke, my head was bandaged and my brother was standing over me in the recovery room.

—How you doing, 
Spock? How was space?

—It was dark and quiet, but warm. Nothing like books or television... or movies. Not quite what I expected.

A man in gray brought in some white ice cream, my smiling parents trailing behind. We looked out the window at the city of Albuquerque, where it was still nighttime, but on the verge of dawn, a time when there is faint light  on the edge of things that you would never guess is coming from a huge fire in depths of eternal darkness.

Note: This piece was cross-posted to a writing blog called Report on City 119n. It is a blog run by the author of this post. The Eds.

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