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24 July 2011

"With Voices Out of Nowhere, Put On Specially by the Children, for a Lark"

Rudolfo Carrillo
By Rudolfo Carrillo

Hey there, people of Albuquerque!

Here is something for you to read on your Sunday evening, even as the thunder crashes and the rain you prayed for comes seeping, drenchingly out of big, fat gray clouds that look really, really beautiful in their aqueous magnificence.

I am going to warn you, though, it will probably piss you off. That’s okay as far as I am concerned. I already have the reputation of being a pugnacious, overly literate asshole, whose work is as difficult as it is charming.

So, I’m going to pose a question. You don’t have to answer it, but maybe you can think about its implications -- for me, for you, for the parallel cyberspace that permeates Albuquerque and its participating human membership.

Here’s the question, in case you are interested.

What the hell is up with Duke City Fix?

What started out as a quirky repository for Burque’s writerly talents has descended into a mediocre and somewhat poorly designed reflection of abandoned possibilities, cliquish commenter culture and obscenely bland poetics.

Now, before you get to the point where you point at the sour grapes that are just out of my reach on yonder rain-soaked cottonwood tree, let me tell you about my experience with DCF.

After the site debuted in 2005, I was mostly content to sit back and comfortably read the offerings therein. After a while, I thought I could do better than what I read and set out to do just that. Though I admired the work of some of the scribblers I encountered (Nora Heineman-Fleck and Paul Krza, for example) I was sure that I could contribute meaningfully and substantively to the Fix, as well.

After a meeting at the Frontier Restaurant with their managing editor in 2008, I was assigned a weekly column and given full reign over the contents of those yet-to-be observations, memoirs and eccentric interpretations of my life in Albuquerque.

As it turned out, I contributed 167 weekly columns for DCF. When called upon, I happily filled in for other weekly columnists as well. Most people liked my work and thought it was intense and thoughtful, though I have to admit some of it was snarky nonsense, mostly aimed at exasperating a growing readership which mostly (in my opinion) consisted of a sort of bourgeois clientele that was pleased as punch to be told where to eat and what to do, as opposed to having their imaginations uncomfortably stretched to the limits of sanity by what I penned on a weekly basis.

Besides, that, I had to contend with the other writers. One of 
their writers decided he would ape my style. Predictably, he was an adman whose life was apparently based on the clever appropriation of other’s work. Lucky for him, he didn’t read Infinity Report he didn’t have time for such abstruse sci-fi excursions, I reckon, plus which, it probably would have fried his Clear-Channel driven acquisitive mind.

On the few occasions I met with the rest of the staff, the results were predictable, and sometimes downright insulting. I remember one springtime gathering where the publisher made fun of my nascent obesity, offering me a tiny DCF t-shirt as a prize for my hard work.

Well, push finally came to shove in November 2010. I complained about the quality of the work on the site and the well-known fact that I was the only volunteer who contributed on a regular basis. The groupthink stuff came seeping out in an email the editor sent me. She told me plainly that she didn’t care how hard I worked because the others involved were part of an intimate community and, therefore, their positions on the masthead were sacrosanct.


In my usually fierce way of doing business, I responded by removing all my work from the site and moving on to better things.

The publisher wrote me to tell me thanks for my “creative posts” and that she thought her thankfulness meant we parted well. I responded by saying no way, further pointing out the hypocrisy of her words and intentions. Since I didn’t care for her further responses, I blocked her email address.

I would have blocked her on Facebook too, but over the three years I knew and worked with her, she never deigned to respond to my friend requests, as if I was an embarrassing presence in the midst of her high and mighty creative-class friends list.

From there, it seemed like it was all downhill, for them anyway, as the number of posts dwindled, longtime members abandoned the site and the awkward design of the place came into question by more than a few folks in the blogosphere.

Flash forward to summer 2011. The site is a mess. The managing editor disappeared into thin air. Editorial guidelines for posts and their accompanying graphics are all but ignored. Poor writing and self-promotional posts seem to have triumphed. The number of posts has dwindled to under 50 per month, when it used to average about three times that number. The main readership draw, The Morning Fix, was abandoned for lack of interest among the staff.

Oh, you still get occasional updates from the Whataburger man, but my marketing-savvy doppelganger has vanished to concentrate on conquering the world for Clear Channel. Otherwise, there’s not much to report, except occasional screeds by self-righteous bicyclists, the same group of local poets every week (as if on queue) and a bevy of overly concerned if utterly misplaced Nob Hill-centric commenters. You think they would at least try to fill in the gaps left by writing something meaningful about their experiences out here in the mysterious and eccentric west.

And it’s okay that I left. I went on to find my voice here in the desert. Infinity Report has more visitors than ever. I’m writing art and music criticism too.

But still, every pore in my body pours out sadness when I visit my old stomping ground. Though, as a native and a writer, I was the perpetual outsider.

I think of all those possibilities, vanquished by arrogance and cliquish certainty and wonder when DCF will finally be reduced to an occasionally viewed page at the Wayback Machine.

17 July 2011

Frightening Examples from the Animal Kingdom: Albuquerque Edition

Rudolfo Carrillo
By Rudolfo Carrillo

I had a boatload of clicks on the ticker to kill this weekend, so I spent part of those languid hours watching a teevee show my partner Samantha suggested for me.

The program she recommended is called National Geographic's Deadly Dozen and in case you are interested, it is about the eldritch collection of human-death-inducing creatures that hauntingly roam the planet earth in search of bipedal primates with which to negatively interact.

We watched a couple of episodes; one of them was about South America.

I’ve been to the Amazon Jungle before, so I kept waiting for the narrator to talk about the dreaded Candiru fish. That’s the tiny river denizen that follows the urine streams of warm blooded creatures who swim in the river and its tributaries. The Candiru fish does its dirty deed so it can swim up into the host’s bladder for food gathering and reproductive purposes.

Instead of waxing swimmingly on those possibilities though, the folks at National Geographic were content to plumb darker waters. They dramatized an anaconda attack on an unsuspecting fisherman ( it can be further imagined that the dude never got out of his boat for fear of the dreaded Candiru fish) who nearly lost his leg in the process. Lots of ketchup was lost in the filming of that episode, I'm sad to report.

They also had a segment on huge tarantulas, with lots of scary close-ups. All the hairy mandibles and carapaces made me wonder if the cinematographer had graduated to this project due to his continued success in the porn industry.

And I'll be damned if all of this got me to thinking about Burque's equivalent; you know the rottenest and most damned animals of the Middle Rio Grande Valley, or something like that. After entering a state of disturbed and twitchy meditation, I finally came up with my own list. It went something like this:

  • The Western Diamondback Rattler: In the thirty-five years I've lived in Burque, I've only seen three in their natural environment. I nearly stepped on one in 1988, while trippingly hiking through Embudito Canyon. As it passed between my clumsy hiking boots, it hissed and flicked its tongue at me.
  • The Black Widow Spider: I generally declare war on this species every summer, and have come up with a book-length treatise on bellicose activities designed to shorten their individual life spans. Last night, SAS spotted one living in a roll of carpet I have stored out on the carport. I'm giving that arachnid twenty-four hours to abandon its post, elsewise it's an oily Armageddon that awaits.
  • The Scorpion: As far as I can tell, these critters are rare in town but dwell with some impunity and in significant numbers on the western mesas. The only reason I'd want to even see one of these scary little animals has to do with the simple fact that they fluoresce under black light. I suppose that could be really groovy if one had a glass jar in which to keep them. Okay, maybe not.
  • The Desert Centipede: When I was a child my aunt Annie told me that these poisonous arthropods crawled under the skin, that the only way to remove them after such a disastrous interaction involved the use of a hot iron. I'm just glad I've never had to find out. I found one hanging around the toilet the other day and let it crawl up a pencil I had layed out nearby (never know when the writing bug will strike, ha ha). I flicked it into the porcelain moat and flushed mightily.
  • The Coyote: I used to hike up around Supper Rock a lot. In the summer, at twilight, I'd hear whole packs of them whooping it up and waiting for dark, so that they could creep on down to the placid subdivisions below, for meals of fresh garbage, roaming kitty cats and the odd chihuahua. One time my old dog Arnold surprised a big male on the trail, it was hiding behind a scrub oak. They battled it out pretty fierce, but in the end Arnold sent his mangy cousin howling back up into the hills, forlorn and bloody.

Blogger's note: That banner at the top of this post is a photo of a vinegaroon, a type of arachnid common in the wilderness areas surrounding our fine burg. They are ugly as hell and smell bad, but are totally harmless.

01 July 2011

Report From Albuquerque, July 2031

Rudolfo Carrillo
By Rudolfo Carrillo

So, since I was a little bit bored today and waiting for the rain to come, I decided to use the technology available in my backyard shed to send my mentor and sometime time-traveling companion, the eminent local writer Kilgore Trout, into the future. I asked him to report back to me when he had gotten a clear glimpse of Burque's destiny.

This is the transmission he sent me via subspace channel 859702678.0870987.83.

By the time any significant amount of rainfall had gathered itself up into big puffy gray-white clouds (and then in an act of miraculous physical transformation - explainable only by a nearly mystical acceptance of atmospheric physics as they operated in the third dimension and upon a tiny clump of rock and poisonous salt water floating in a atramentous abyss on the edge of an even greater and darker void - lovingly fallen from the sky like the hand of a restoring angel or in a manner similar to those depicted in ancient images of waterfalls and fun parks) most of the city had been abandoned to hardy species of succulent plants; heavily armed survivalists with decidedly anarchist leanings and a formidable knowledge of solar energy-gathering techniques; black widow spiders and lots and lots of flies.

The best part of that summer, though, had to do with the approximately 3,521 nuclear devices stored at the dilapidated military base and forsaken government laboratories at the edge of town. In the year 2031, the territorial government, under the auspices of Grand Wazoo of the Western Lands (who is believed to be the bastard son of a former governor of what was once known as the state of California, though he claims to have been hatched under divine circumstances) decided to use telepathy in an attempt to remove the nukes to another planet or even, a passing comet.

I am told that this operation will be undertaken in August, after the yearly reign of fire ends and the water gathering spaceships that Richard Branson donated to the New Mexico Spaceport (right before he was lost in the chronosynclastic infindibulum that appeared on Ridgecrest Boulevard in the year 2019, incidentally) return from their thirty-third lunar expedition.

In the mean time, I am going to try and find someone who can pilot one of the old locomotives stored downtown, to take me up north and out of the smoke and radiation. There's still plenty of folks living near Denver, I hear. Besides Salt Lake City, it's apparently the only place nowadays to get a decent plate of enchiladas.

I'll send you another report next week.
Yer Pal,

End Transmission.

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