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25 December 2013

A Burqueña Listmas 2013

Samantha Anne Carrillo

I know it's been a while since I've written, dear reader. All apologies. I've been a busy, high desert honeybee: working as a freelance writer and full-time+ as managing & music editor at le Alibi, keeping up with the Carrillo canines and a husband (you know, Rudolfo, the backbone of TiL's present content creation engine).

So, I created a hashtagged slideshow of 30 photos I nabbed from my Instagram stream. And there are some shout-outs to be shouted out.

In order of appearance:

Free Art Friday Albuquerque
Samantha Glass (whose work soundtracks this slideshow)
El Sabor de Juarez
• Marrakech Kasbah Mediterranean Cuisine
100 Thousand Poets for Change
Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice
The Tannex

Happy soon-to-be-2014, y'all. Keep watching the skies.

21 December 2013

Three Winter Trips Away From Here

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Rudolfo Carrillo

One of the things I'd do in the eighties and nineties was to make sure not to be around Burque during the last week of the year. Places I went in the winter to avoid La Natividad in town included exotic locations in the United Kingdom and the Caribbean. But I had the best time in Mexico and made use of a variety of land routes and methods to check the place out. Sometimes I would drive and go as far as I could get, on a quest for an authentic holiday experience. Back then, that vaguely translated into looking for a party. The outcomes of all those trips varied from rousing to precarious. You can try going there if you like. After I got sick eating a cut of Argentinian beef in a seaside restaurant in Puerto Vallarta during the summer of 2001, I gave the country up for good. I heard it got dangerous after that, but has calmed down some these days. 

I took a short flight to Juarez on Boxing Day. Phil Collins was piping through all the headphones and it was one of those older jets, like a 727 or something. I grabbed my bags and walked over to the train station. I ended up on a commuter train to Chihuahua and stayed at a rundown hotel near downtown. The cabbie whistled and laughed when he dropped me off.

The next morning some dude was standing in the alley boiling ears of corn to sell later and I bought a hotdog wrapped in bacon from a street vendor. I found out from standing around the train station minding my own business that there was a train to the coast. It went through the mountains, and supposedly was an engineering wonder. It was cool alright, with a old fashioned observation car, but the electricity onboard was fucked up, so there was no hot food or lighted toilets for 12 hours.

On the other side of the mountains was a jagged and lush jungle with fruit trees and birds that were brightly festooned. The town of Los Mochis wasn't really memorable but there was a town further out where Chinese merchant ships docked and the sailors wandered drunkenly through town with red stars on their hats and hookers on their arms. I lost my glasses in the surf out by Topolobampo, but they mysteriously drifted back up and into my hands when the tide came back. I stayed at a hotel called the Santa Ana and ate scrambled eggs and corn tortillas in the restaurant next door.

Another time I drove a smashed up Datsun B210 down to the Sea of Cortes. I started out on Stanford Street and Lead Avenue. I took the freeway down to Las Cruces and crossed over in El Paso, headed straight for the mountains. This was back when you got a sticker for your front window when you made the border. About half an hour into the ride west I came to the conclusion that the sticker was a probably a good idea. The two lane road was twisty and the trucks coming the other way were constant. The sticky tag would probably survive a cascading trip down the mountain side, hooked to some window or its remnants.

Along the way there was a mining town all painted and lit up for Christmas with big colorful electric lights while the copper smelter down the road fumed and roared along though the night as we passed. A military patrol stopped the car in a town with a peculiar English name, but other than a brief and cautiously friendly question and answer session with ten heavily armed individuals on a dark road in a foreign country, and suicidal truckers pouring through the gates of hell and headed in the opposite direction I was driving, the ride was uneventful.

I checked into the Holiday Inn Hermosillo about one in the morning. They had a decent breakfast buffet with atole and everything, so I hung for a while and then headed for San Carlos. There was a Pemex station about half way.  After that the sea crept up and met the desert. I thought about how that scene might be what Mars looked like a million years ago, except without the half finished and long ago abandoned condos and occasional oyster shacks that dotted the horizon. Somehow I got sunburned on that trip and had to eat lobster, too.

Near the end of 1998 I rented a blue Dodge Neon in Chula Vista and decided to drive as far down the Pacific coast as a week would permit. Tijuana felt chaotic so I blew the place off after stopping at a pharmacy to pick up something to calm my gut. The pharmacist was friendly but kept wagging his tongue around a gap he had between his two front teeth. I stopped in Ensenda and got a stamp for my passport. There was a cruise ship parked in the harbor with lots of big sea birds swooping around the fancy boat. Passengers in white cotton disembarked and I put the car into second and zoomed south.

That night I stayed at a little ranch by the sea. It was off the main road, a crowded dusty thing crowded with wooden shacks and cinderblock businesses. They had been set up for continuous business; they were on the only way in and out of the peninsula. I got the name of the place from a Lonely Planet guide on Baja California. There were little huts made from stone and a lagoon with a couple of seals floating around in it.

Mostly the beaches on the west side were empty. I found a small dead whale walking around one day. There were a couple of hotels on the beach but they were empty. I wondered though one that was painted yellow and orange with buildings meant to resemble aztec temples. I finally ran into a bellhop. He had a thin mustache and was balding but just smiled and reached out to shake my hand when I asked about accommodations. I finally decided to stay at another hotel a few hundred meters further along the coast. The rooms were dark, cavernous, and air conditioned. The owners had a pet pig that walked around at night. Everything was painted pink and blue. There was a restaurant with decent enchiladas and a band that played tourist favorites like Jesusita en Chihuahua.

When the road got bad after a couple of days, I turned back. I stayed at a ridiculously baroque hotel in downtown Ensenada, but got another hankering for salt water and decided to cross the peninsula. There was a party town called San Felipe on the other side of the peninsula and I got there just in time for New Year's eve. I sat around in a bar looking at all the other humansm, ate flautas and washed them down with Tecate. The sea was really still, just ripples crossing its width, some boat shadows too. The moon was nearly full and was in the middle of the sky when 1999 was announced over the loudspeakers.

01 December 2013

Five Albuquerque Instances

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Rudolfo Carrillo

I decided to assemble a collection of random memories about Albuquerque and put it down here, report fashion, for your reading pleasure. I have plenty of material. Maybe I'll do this a few times with some basic parameters, so it doesn't come off as tangential. Like tonight seems sort of long-legged and eighties style, except for one instance, if you happen to be concerned with topicality. I'll tell you though, sometime maybe I will unstring all this, make each paragraph into a different book like flowers coming out of the ground in springtime. But now it is just seeds and that is fine with me.

  • For a while I worked as a stagehand at Popejoy Hall, mostly before I was twenty. It was a helluva job and dangerous too. One of my duties was to climb up to the ceiling and drag around weights and pipes and scenery. The crew chief was huge guy who wore a denim vest over a variety of filthy heavy metal concert t-shirts. He chain-smoked Marlboro 100s and would yell, "You, up on the rail!" when he needed something from me. He hadn't combed his hair in ten years; his wife was named after a character on the Honeymooners. I think.
  • An automobile caught fire on the corner of Tulane and Coal one summer afternoon while I was trying to paint a picture of the apocalypse; staring at the Sandia Mountains for inspiration. A sky blue Dodge Colt rattled by and stalled at the curb. It was already smoking under the hood and the woman driving got out and started walking with a stiff gait, toward Nob Hill. Back then, a vicious Rhodesian ridgeback named Vincent lived on Tulane between Coal and Lead. As the driver of the burning compact rushed by, the dog leapt out into the street ready to bite.
  • During my freshman year at UNM the whole place was pretty much wide open. For instance, the basement of Castetter Hall was wrecked and abandoned but folks still went down there for the thrill, to make out, and to score broken lab equipment. The same with the labyrinth under the College of Fine Arts, dark and seemingly endless, with an occasional broken tuba or snare drum substituting for a distillation apparatus or busted autoclave.
  • I am sure as shit humans were living the Werner-Gilchrist whatever house as late as 1985, though media and historical reports seem reluctant to admit such. I lived three doors down the road that year. Whoever in hell was living in the dilapidated rancho  had a couple of late model chevys parked in the yard and a green house going that beat hell out of any other garden on that shabby road called after Cornell University. I'd hear the occupants playing the piano and carrying on late at night and wonder who they were. They did not come and go much.
  • I ambled in a very relaxed fashion around Johnson field twenty-three times while the three hippies I was with jogged and ran and threw themselves at the grass in great lithesome leaps, gamboling as they passed me again on that perimeter. It was just after dusk and the high intensity lighting array lent the action a dream-like quality that only dispersed after the outing, when the two women of the group began practicing astrology on guitars. I rose from the carpet and walked south toward the cemetery

15 November 2013

Vignettes from Trail Number 192

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Rudolfo Carrillo


Twelve years on, Charlie Jones, Jr. had grown to be fatter than hell. At least he was trying to lose it. Some days he was a hundred percent, fucking-A sure he was gonna have a heart attack. But on he went, huffing and puffing anyway, just to see how far he could get in the pinche universe where he had been randomly embedded.

Jones switched to a diet of falafel and Gatorade, and walked around as much as he could. His repeated circumnavigation of campus and through the labyrinthine parking facilities kinda reminded Charlie of the misty past, of the time when he walked around the world in a pair of combat boots stolen from the king of the heavily guarded watermelon ranch on the edge of town. Here was a simpler task called Embudito Canyon.


The enchiladas were decent and the sauce was bitter too. It was possible to imagine the tortillas were of extraterrestrial origin. Monroe favored corn tortillas, served in a stack. Abelard and Charlie argued over the remaining flour tortilla, rolled up in a bit of foil like a magic carpet or an extra-special cigarette.

Up there in the shadow of the famous mountain, the three returned a guitar with magical properties to a scientist, wandered through flat-roofed neighborhoods, rolled down the windows to let the dry air of the western lands wash through their eyes, and now sat eating lonche at Garcia's. Pass the honey, said Abelardo. 


Jones reckoned that one way to tell if a gal was the right one was to take them hiking and to start off with a rough trail too. A hearty New Mexican meal beforehand probably wouldn't hurt either. But Darlene was different. For one thing he could not tell one goddamn way or the other whether she was amused or horrified when red chile squirted out of the burrito he was consuming and onto his shirt, accompanied by a sound that resembled radioactive decay.

Charlie and Darlene trekked up Trail 192, stopped at a small meadow, and continued upward into a part of the Earth where huge trees erupted from huge rocks, waving their limbs greenly toward the heavens beyond the canyon walls. He talked a lot about all the plants and animals and people that he associated with the mountain, how some of them had walked here and they had been together. She looked up at the sun and smoked another cigarette, and crouched to touch a cactus and looked at the sun again with her small white hand over her brow.


Stop here and I will take your picture, said Abelardo. Monroe walked over to a datura plant and attempted to communicate with it using ceremonial Nahuatl. Charlie Jones, Jr. lumbered his elephantine arse over to the trail marker and remarked on the importance of making certain the sign was clear and visible in photographic reproduction. Who knows when we will ever be here together again, said Charlie, as a lizard zoomed by and into the multitude of sage while the datura plant replied by blossoming and Abelardo touched a button on his phone.

The wind was coming down the canyon. Snakes could appear and there was a certain blueness to the colors the three men saw up there. They climbed up onto the rocks. There was some blood but mostly symbols mixed up with the granite and sandstone. Here was a water hole, there a length of sandy earth crossed with animal tracks. After an hour passed and dusk washed over their skin, Charlie and Monroe and Abelardo naturally wandered back to the rental car. They were fascinated with metal and electricity. The moon hovered.

04 November 2013

Peace and Love

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Larry Goodell

Peace and Love –
evolve backwards into the above.
When everything was perfect.
When was that? 
Do you have a balloon under your hat?
Even the super wealthy live in fear of being
In fact I am their fear.
“Those poets, why doesn’t someone shut them up?”
Nobody has it easy and it takes guts to get old.
But if you’ve got to have a goal
Peace is pretty good.
Stick those drones up your ass, Mr. Military Fart-face.
Stop warring against your own people, Everybody.
Go against your petty self-serving nature
Mr. Human and stop putting down women &
       screwing over your neighbor.
You don’t need Viagra, you need
Love by the Acre!
Real love that is blushing with compassion.
The ability to touch and hug yourself
            out of this mess.
You need a benevolent group that can
            calm down your ego.
You got your dharma, your teachings, your Wikipedia,
      your books, your intenet, libraries
     of the world – 
You got your Buddhas, your Jesus, your Moses,
     your Black Elks, your swamis
     your gods galore, your teachers –
But you need your Sangha, like Thich Nhat Hanh says
     you need a community, a community of positive 
     to build up the commons, what’s good for everybody
     everybody gives some for the good of all –
Don’t laugh, it’s possible, it’s inevitable, it’s
filling in the blanks, connecting the dots, seeing the vision
     that exists in love, a talking circle of direction
from the drums of the original land, the indigenous
thoughts and prayers, the cycle of the seasons,
the locality of love, and produce, and
cooperation, a locality of friends not
to gouge each other’s eyes out, or
work each other to death for gain
but to get together to build a platform for song,
for music, for performers, and for the art
of governing ourselves.

10/26/2013 for the 100 Thousand Poets for Change, Albuquerque Reading Performance
larry goodell / placitas, new mexico

photograph by Carl Michener-Rodin. l to r: Joe Bottone, Olivia, Steve Rodefer, Bill Pearlman, Beverly Buffington, Mel Buffington, Laura Linsley at the door, Gene Frumkin, Kell and Betsy Robertson with baby Amy, Charlie Vermont, and me (1968, Albuquerque, North 4th Street across from the present El Patio)

04 October 2013

Charlie Visits Walmart

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Rudolfo Carrillo

He is driving a car that is colored like ashes or the far reaches of intergalactic space and will be good and goddamned when an oil-smeared and dustylike the petroleum gathering machinery of Oklahoma in the Thirtiesgroup of humans stops right in the fucking road, and he has to turn the wheel sharply to the left, else those folks be rendered lifeless components of the inanimate galaxy all around them.

They are waiting for a straggler who is still on the other side of the wide avenue. Leonard is taking a piss on the big, green electrical transformer that sits next to the rubbish dumpster behind the Walmart Supercenter. Yelling and cajoling him to be done with his relief, fearful of the heat which such watery pause often brings, at least one of them is also thinking about the simplicity and order of life in jail. None of them see the car turn the corner on a vector that might well forcefully intercept their desperate but satisfying congregation.

Thanks to Charlie's lightning-fast reflexes, a collision does not occur. He is past them and gliding into a parking space before the group's laggard finishes his work and passes out with his pants around his knees. The man's associates are fairly howling with laughter and recrimination and head on down the street, leaving Leonard to rot in the bright sunshine while our protagonist pulls himself out of the driver's seat using a kind of leverage that is ordinarily reserved for those obsessed with the weather.

The doors to the Walmart Supercenter slide open automatically when you approach them. Before he is in range of that miraculous technological demonstration, a sun-flattened man wearing a mesh baseball cap
with the name of a natural gas supplier in Lubbock, Texas embroidered roughly up frontrambles up casual-like and asks about the rain and wind. Charlie tells him it ain't ordinarily this dry and just wait until October. When the conversation veers toward money, Charlie draws out a fiver from his left front pocket and hands it over with stormy admonitions accompanying the transaction.

It only takes them a few minutes to account for and bag up his purchase: objects designed for consumption, the mysterious high-tech life-saving devices of probable Venusian origin that generally come along with those solid, liquid and gaseous forms. Charlie rushes home afterward so he can spend the rest of the early morning investigating other worlds.

He did not see the humans in the parking lot again. Charlie believes they retreated toward the tool section of the Walmart Supercenter. Maybe some of them are watching the tropical fish in the pet department. After unpacking, admiring and then storing his new acquisitions, he falls into a deep sleep and dreams that a navigable river flows through the midst of the Sandia Mountains, that there is a colorful restaurant on the edge of town, down a muddy road, where anyone who asks for a meal will be fed until they nearly burst.

22 September 2013

Three Eternal Devices for Navigating the Fall

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Rudolfo Carrillo

The clock on my computer says summer is over.

We have a few of these sorts of graceful machinesnote to local burglars: I also have a ninety-pound red hound dog with a blue tongue and white teeth who is trained to devour strangersbut most of the time I do my work on a G4 that runs Tiger, Motorola processor y todo.

It can be slow and is ornery as hell, but it is just fine with me and I would keep it forever if I could. I've been through a few keyboards. (Flat white is a damn poor color if you like to eat pizza whilst typing.) But I think there have only been two times when the thing did not boot. 

Using the G4 is part of a personal ritual. My rite late last night, taken up with due gravity as the Pleiades swung into view, was about how everything before now continuously leaks away into the air, leaving consequences turned out into the world. The retrieval of the past's output as image and narrative is one result of this process.

I've been marking time this way for years and years, though meaning creeps toward abstraction and into sudden sea change as the middle of my century rises. The procedure also has the potential to mutate into cleverly shitty, multi-paragraph introductions designed to defend the use of a type of symbolism based in the neuro-mechanical reflections and quantum entanglements that comprise the past.

If your universe does not work in the manner I just told about, that is just fine with me; every head is a world. But I probably could not make anything at all from the temporal residue data collection area I've built from starlight and bad decisions, if not for dreamy mechanism.

I have bound myself variously to elaborate and arcane techniques perfected in the foothills of the Himalayas or else incorporating passages from all American television broadcasts into my skeletal structure with the specific purpose of gathering evidence of the discomfiting presence of magical postmodernism among a representative collection of widely divergent human organisms.

I hope you think that's funny. It is important to me that you have a good laugh while reading this, because I sometimes see my memory as a curse, and you ought to, as well, I reckonwhen every moment is just hanging there like a big iron rock in the asteroid belt waiting to be mined by the well-intentioned but nonetheless colonial forces of some eccentric Earthling's half-ass literary career.

Eleven years ago, when a very different summer was declining, I met a dog that had been run over by a fellow I happened to know from art school. I saw that dude the other day in Nob Hill. He was driving a bright green convertible and hell, he is my age. I was going to walk over and bust his balls about the car or how he split after the accident, leaving me with a bloody and frightened dog, but "Karma Police" came on the radio and I kept driving. I figured he had probably forgotten all about me and was probably late to this or that country club anywho.

Back then, the dog lived, and she turned out to be a good friend of mine. I wrote all kinds of stuff about that day, about the years that followed. Now, this has been the second summer she is gone from here. I did not notice the summer before this one. I stayed in and wrote and dreamt. That summer of two-thousand-and-twelve I dreamed I left the back gate openthat her owner had finally seen a found dog sign I left at the community center ten years before, and had come to take the dog home.

She had the worst kind of cancer. The doctor ended up amputating her left leg. Her right leg had been busted on the faraway day in September I told about. I was always worried about her legs; she could not stand the rain. The night she died, I was sitting next to her, trying to convince her to contemplate the goodness of water.

She was unconvinced, was weary of earthly stuff. The dog looked up at me, nudged me with her nose and as death washed over her, an elaborate, elusive, smoky and oscillating structure appeared between us briefly and fluttered. I reached out with one hand, and the form vanished. She left behind an empty vehicle. It had the shape of dog, but it was not a dog.

After that, and at night, asleep in order to reckon with the permanence of that passage away from the land and the food and the flowers, I began to employ an all-access, backstage pass to Tlalocan, given to Cabeza de Baca after years of servitude and lonely wandering. I inadvertently scavenged this talisman from a landfill in Hermosillo in 2001, while searching for a G4 possessing magical properties and applications from beyond the stars.

The temporal displacement unit usually lands me in a vast laboratory with astronomical qualities or a byzantine transport center filled with thin locomotives and speedy aeroplanes. Sometimes, I see Rosie and the dog hops up into my lap or leads me to a telescope where I can see planets on the very edge of the galaxy, against the darkness of the void. In the morning though, the sun is bright. I am surrounded by life; yet she is nowhere to be found on this earth.

The ritual begins again as I wander out into the living room, shoeless, and greet my wife. The rest of the pack circles around her and then follows me out the back door, into autumn.

15 September 2013

State Fair, Part 49

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Rudolfo Carrillo

Imagine for a second it is the future and you leave the Earth behind. Your spaceship is well-equipped though, and it is easy enough to make contact with your handlers back at the watermelon ranch.

Maybe one day, when you've started to lose track of the distance between Lomas Boulevard and Jupiter's inner moons, when the days melt into one long dream of calabacitas, you decide to give headquarters a bell. You ask them if it has been raining lately. When the words, "yes, a lot" crackle and hiss through your specially designed bio-engineered headset, you reply, your sense of time and space kindly reconnected. And you say to the folks in Burque, who are just about a billion miles away by now, "Have you all been to the State Fair yet?"

That is a supposed vision of the future, just to sorta float around the idea of ubiquity, sabes? Besides being the preeminent event in this town three-hundred years from now, it is a well-known fact that the fair is a culturally weighty aspect of our beloved military outpost in the desert. Among citizens, visitors and wanderers, it remains a source of many highlarious and culturally relevant anecdotes.

With that in mind, here are some vignettes, highlighting over forty years of engagement with the gaudy and sublime moving object that rises up yearly from semi-trailers, champion vegetables and twangy guitars echoing in the rodeo hall.


The old man would set aside three days to see the fair. It was good as hell to get away from Gallup. We would stop at the Dairy Queen in Grants for lunch. In nineteen-seventy-five we crested Nine Mile Hill while Kung Fu Fighting played on the radio.

We had a room at the Hilton and drove over to the Fairgrounds in the morning. The other Rudolfo liked to park the car under a big mulberry tree behind the Wine Cellar, which was a bar in Fair Plaza. He said it was a special parking place that belonged to his mysterious business partner. He called this man Sabu. That wasn't his real name and he wasn't from around these parts.

I ended up eating way too much fry bread to compensate for the anxiety such knowledge brought. I refused to get on the tilt-a-whirl with my brother and sister because I felt weird. But I was okay with all of that. Later on, I met a gal named Lisa at the hotel swimming pool. We shared a cigarette and she told me all about California. Her mother had an Arabian horse.


Some friends of mine at art school thought it would be really ginchy to enter some of their work in the fine arts competition at the nineteen-eighty-six New Mexico State Fair. They wanted to show off the idea that not all artists in New Mexico were painting pictures of this or that church or elsewise carving eagles and cutthroat trout out of tree trunks.

One fellow, a formidable sculptor by the name of Stanley Olivarez, submitted an intricate, highly crafted kinetic sculpture. The only reason I can't describe his work in more detail is because of Rob Hawkins. Hawkins' submission caused me to forget about any other work of art on display at the fair that year.

Hawkins had been trying to get into grad school and was known for coming up with ideas that were guaranteed to infuriate his professors. So, Rob asked if I would drive over to the fair with him to deliver his piece. We parked under Sabu's tree and Hawkins opened the trunk.

He grabbed a dirty old basketball, the right half of a rotten pair of Converse All-Stars and said, let's go dude. Inside the exhibit hall, Hawkins set the ball on the shoe, filled out the paperwork and winked at the judges on the way out. He won a second place ribbon for that concoction. Olivarez got top honors and sold his work for some decent feria, but I still can't remember what his sculpture looked like.


They used to have a paint-ball booth on the midway. Some dude dressed up in a gorilla suit would come out of nowhere and folks would shoot at him. I went to the paint-ball booth with Rob Hawkins after he picked up his award, after a camera-jockey from the local newspaper took his picture.

Hawkins looked me over like he was trying to decide whether he could trust me or not. He bought thirty rounds of paint-balls with his award money. Then he let loose on the gorilla suit. He said between clicks that he had been rejected by the MFA program at UNM. After about a minute of that, the dude in the gorilla suit ripped his mask off and told Rob Hawkins he would come over and kick Rob's ass if he kept aiming for the head. Hawkins gave the finger and zapped the dude right between the eyes.

The chase that ensued followed along, past the Asbury Cafe and through Villa Hispana across San Pedro and over to Sabu's secret parking spot and magical mulberry tree. "Kung Fu Fighting" was playing in the background. Rob Hawkins climbed up into the tree and disappeared in flash of postmodern mumbo-jumbo.

His former target wandered back to the midway office, took what pay was coming to him and spent the rest of the day wandering though the fair eating roasted turkey legs and tiny donuts.

07 September 2013

Two Interludes from the Heart of Fringecrest

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Rudolfo Carrillo

The staff of Things in Light, dogs, ghosts and ghosts of dogs included, are listening to the Jefferson Airplane tonight. One of the Carrillos is piping Crown of Creation through a computerized audio output device. We are just getting buried in the first side, in case you want to know, and that activity is a perfect opportunity to test out the new shiny white keyboard on the G4 in the corner. As is our custom, two random observations or incantations follow.



The episode of Star Trek available for consumption tonight by Albuquerque residents in possession of a specific brand of satellite reception equipment is an episode called "Errand of Mercy". It's about how the Enterprise was dispatched to a faraway world to prevent further atrocities from being committed by a ruthless, militaristic empire composed of dark men with pointy eyebrows, metallic sashes and murderous methods.

Anyone who's been to an American studies conference knows that teevee shows like that were meant to serve as commentary on the conflict the USA had with a horrible bear-shaped thing called the USSR, back before anyone at all had a computer at home. This was when telephones were big, heavy affairs with cables and dials and a thing called a trunk connected the continents together.

On that faraway segment of the space-time continuum, our nation was at war, not so much with the bear but with the ideas the bear had spread to its neighbors. Instead of having to confront the bear itself, it was widely thought to be adequate to fight his far-flung followers, to make blood sacrifices of them in a country and among a culture that neither the bear nor his American adversary really understood.

Eventually the bear died from an ironic combination of neglect and greed. Meanwhile on this week's iteration of Star Trek, Kirk goes on and on about justice and the price of war and whatnot. As usual, Spock does most of the heavy lifting. Somehow, better angels prevail and war is averted. At story's end though, one of the swarthy enemies of civilization remarks that a war between two superpowers, on a planet and among a culture neither understands, would have been glorious. Pretty locochon, eh?


When I was growing up in Gallup, New Mexico, there were three movie theaters. One of them was a drive-in called the Zuni. The other two were sit-down joints in the middle of town. The two film houses, El Morro and The Chief, were only a half a block apart in the generally enforced reality that bound them to the earth, but they might as well have been separated by a distance comparable to what one would experience flying to the moon on an Orion III space plane. 

I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Zuni. It was the late show and the rest of my family, except my infant sister, was asleep in the old man's Pontiac Executive. I gave her some Similac and she laughed mysteriously near the end of the film, during the Starchild part.

El Morro was dark and wooden with red velvet curtains and a clock that glowed in the dark. One Saturday I watched Soylent Green down in the front row.  I spent the next month terrified whenever I accompanied my mother on her errands. I was convinced that large government bulldozers would appear at any moment to scoop up the hapless patrons of the California supermarket.

That all sounds really bitchin' and nostalgic, but the shitty thing was the Native population of Gallup didn't really get to go to either the Zuni or El Morro. They all went to the Chief. The classism and racism that supported this example of segregation was quiet and efficient, de rigeur. The town soaked in the oil of despair. The Chief was Gallup's symbol of the dire consequences of colonialism.

The Chief was a stormy place. There were no rules under that roof, but ashen clouds over it. The fare was grindhouse (kung fu and violent horror, mostly) and in-between shows hard rock crackled through the sound system. I am pretty sure the Chief closed down the same summer we left for Albuquerque. I don't know what happened after that, but I reckon things got better when some corporation or another built a multi-screen megaplex on the north side of town.


Now we are just about finished listening to Crown of Creation. Everyone here at Things in Light agrees side one is where it's at. Especially the opening track, you know, "Lather." It's also been clearly reckoned that, when read aloud, both of the brief narratives included here have a sense of completion about them. Plus which, it rained this afternoon, and we want to walk around in the dark in Fringecrest, listening to the plants and trees rejoicing.

18 August 2013

Summer's Lease: Mysterious Quantum Forces Unraveled

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Rudolfo Carrillo

I dreamt I went to a party in the Northeast Heights. Esta accion was up on Montgomery, near Morris. For those of you with an interest in psychogeography, that vecindad is where my brother and I delivered the Albuquerque Tribune in the late nineteen-seventies.

Some of the houses around there were awfully deluxe, and now and then we'd run into a pool party complete with roast beef sangwiches and mimosas. We soon found those were the types of habitations with owners likely to tip around the holidays, especially if the paper was laid out by the front door, neat and regular.

Otros chantes thereabouts were shambling testaments to the fragility of the middle class with cars parked on the lawn and porches that smelled of dog shit and Coors Banquet Beer. You'd more likely get bit than collect, so we usually let those customers be until the Albuquerque Publishing Company cancelled them for non-payment.

Anywho, my dream wasn't anything like that because the fiesta que estoy describiendo took place in a high-rise apartment, but you could still see the Sandia Mountains from the balcony, sabes? I did not know a soul there. I mostly spent my time in one of the bedrooms staring at a wooden cabinet that somehow seemed familiar. In the hallway, folks were admiring the carpet and talking about a bat flying around the light fixture.

When I looked away again, the place was empty. Even the murciélago was gone.  I checked the refrigerator for pizza and sat down in front of an oversized plastic television set with a cold slice of Godfather's. Star Trek was on. It was the episode where two planets are waging war by computer and the losers have to self-disintegrate. Kirk and Spock destroy the computers in the end; fear of real war brings peace. Bárbaros, that's some cold war shit, I said to the dreamworld as I got up to leave.

Outside it was an emergency because the entire building was on fire. Everyone from the party was standing on the corner watching the flames wag their tongues like hungry leaves all around the doors and windows. Since there were a number of cool ranflas parked nearby, I picked a nineteen-seventy-one Saab 96 with pneumatic controls and switches designed specifically for underwater use, and I got the hell outta there.

The sun was just flickering back on as I made the corner of Morris and Lomas Boulevard, turning west toward our headquarters, where I let the old car float away and promptly crawled back into my sleeping skin. I was waiting for the alarm to sound.

10 August 2013

Sonnet Composed Under Saturn

Rudolfo Carrillo

With summer's peak brooding on this portion of the earth
and thunder everywhere, I walked you to the restaurant with
legs carved from saturnine consequence. You know the place
I mean, it beckons the hungry with visions of the last frontier and
a tortilla machine that came from the future. Carlos the ragman
was in the corner by the toilet folding cigarette papers
into swans, lifting his eyes to heaven. The light from the sun
was changing into a crafty autumnal version of itself. You wanted
me to know all about that process as a function of interactions 
between rain-soaked hands and the moons of distant moments.

I watched shadows jangle around while a voice in the air
called out a series of numbers symbolizing discrete nutritional units
ready for consumption by the humans surrounding our conditionally
ringed universe in back of the joint, under the painting of John Wayne.

- Rudolfo Carrillo

27 July 2013

3. Guadalupe Santos Trujillo and the Night Sky

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Albino Carrillo

Guadalupe Santos Trujillo had been riding a silver-green15-Speed Ross Mountain Bike since he saw it for sale during a dope run over to the college campus.  After he dropped off some G-13 for a couple dumb hippies from Vermont who were waiting for him in the all night Laundromat (these were in his “bicycle days”) he found himself in the tree-lined part of town banging on the heavy oak door of an old Professor who was waiting for a Ms. Julia Walpole to take a look at the thing:  a sky blue 1967 Volkswagon Squareback.  He had seen it in the distance and likened it to candy.  Sweet metal candy.  The coolest thing was that it was in almost cherry condition.    After selling a pillow, Guadalupe had the cash then and there, and even though this greatly confused the old man at first, twenty minutes later they were at the kitchen table, filling out the title transfer.  
Guadalupe had plans.  Snatching up the title so quickly that the professor’s yellow Lab barked from where it was on floor beside the stove,  he strode out, just as Julia Walpole knocked on the door.  He slipped past her and past the professor, who still held tightly in his weak hand the wad of fifteen 100 dollar bills that he’d just made.  The only thing Guadalupe left behind was a certain acidic smokiness that wouldn’t linger in the air much longer that Walpole’s patchouli.  Her eyes were wide with astonishment.
Now the car had never acted up before, and with the car Guadalupe thought he could extend his business and his social life.  He had been riding up to Santa Fe on the Sun-Runner every weekend to sell weed to the hippie crowd frequenting the Japanese-Style hot-spring baths, the same who went dancing to World-Beat music all night at El Club Suroeste.   Guadalupe Santos Trujillo’s main problem was that he was always running away:  this started when he was a boy.  He’d sit at his desk all day at school making up other realities—he thought for a while he was the son of a king, lost and adopted, certainly not the son of his real father, an old alcoholic encyclopedia salesman who’d disappear into the deep expanses of Central Texas for days in search of profit.  Because he could too clearly imagine his father hobbling up to a small one-story stucco house framed by 3-foot high galvanized fencing in search of a sale, he could also imagine that he’d be rescued someday, recognized and taken to a castle or palace that would be all his, somewhere in La Extremadura de España.  Of these places he’d read, and had spent hours copying heraldic shields from the set of Britannicas his real dad had won in a sales contest.
So when he found The Audubon Society Field Guide to the Night Sky under the passenger seat one evening while he was trying stash a pillow of Diesel under it, the first thing he thought was how far he could already see:  back then, the night sky in New Mexico was still clear and black and icy.  He drove to Santa Fe on the back road, through Madrid.  The crowd at El Club Suroeste was typical for a Saturday night in mid-June:  güeras from the U, local gals from Taos dressed up like their mothers, like fresh young hippie things:  toe rings, hip-huggers and flip-flops.  The boys and men mostly a mix: the Santa Fe locals who, as lawyers in the daytime, wore pressed chinos and starched shirts; the locals with black, straight hair, leather jackets and big belt buckles; the star-struck boys who liked the wild hippie southwestern look—turquoise rings, maybe even a heishi, faded 501’s, Birkenstocks, the distant pot-soaked bedroom eyes of John Lennon.
It occurred to Guadalupe, at that moment of intimate self-reflection when he dug his hand around and underneath the passenger’s side seat in the blue VW and could hear the noise of the band playing on the patio, that he had come upon very lucky moment:  kneeling, with the door open, Guadalupe, while fishing for the big bag, grabbed the book instead—with it, the first thing he did was turn to the point in the book that is full with color pictures of stars, nebulae, and galaxies, in particular a crystal clear shot of M 51, the Whirlpool Galaxy.
The streets in Santa Fe are small, narrow paths that remind you that the Spaniards built this city in the 1600’s.  They reminded Guadalupe of the time he’s gone to Spain for the summer, actually traveling to the small city Alburquerque. It was the cobblestone, the neat two- and three-story stucco buildings that did it for him.  In the bar, he immediately and without plan ran into Julia Walpole who of course, when the blue VW pulled-up on the curb, next to the bar, was sucking on her second clove smoke, her schooner sized margarita almost drained.  Walpole had become what a TV producer or urban sociologist might call a semi-regular—she knew two of the waitrons by name and the host often talked to her about his trouble getting good bus help.  This because Walpole had once accused an ugly, slightly chubby Peruvian bus-boy of stealing her watch from the bar where she’d left it while talking to a friend she’d met in the hallway by the restroom. It was behind the door labeled Mujeres all the time.   The watch, a sliver-banded Bulova, actually had been her father’s; she simply picked it from the bedpost the night after her father died in his sleep—all it needed was a new mainspring.
It was the way he was sitting in the car that drew her attention.  Guadalupe had bought the car before anyone even had a chance to drive it around the block or make an offer.  It had been sitting for a while.  The truth was that they had known each other in college, 20 years ago now, the desert still the same night after night the same stars, the same lonely people, now in their 40’s driving drunk between ‘Burque and Santa Fe, still looking for kicks and UFO’s out there on the Turquoise Trail, stoned on ecstasy or G-13.  Being lost in the Southwest was a gift and a sentence.  The blinding blue sky literally drains your will to move on, drains you of ambition and color.   And even though you may be skin-darkened by the insufferable sun, that is in itself is a reminder from the desert, of human frailty.
At the wrought-iron entrance to el patio del Club Suroeste, then, Walpole walked right up to poor stoned Guadalupe and with one hand grabbed the book of stars and kept smoking with the other: 
“Hey, motherfucker, that should’ve been my car.”
She pushed him hard, like Elaine Benes would, as she grabbed it, twisting with all her weight like she’d learned in a self-defense class.  Too stunned to react (he had smiled broadly at her as he entered the courtyard) he stumbled away.
            “Hey man, what the fuck…nice to see you, too!  He pushed back against the wall and she slipped in a puddle of beer.  He kept his hands up like he’d learned in jail.  “No way.  I fell in love with it the minute I saw it, and I had the money and I, you know, it was the right time.  Like it was all set up, cosmically.  I wanted something like that car since High-School.  Have you seen the dashboard?  Not a bit of sun rot.  And, anyway…why do you want an old hippie car?  Some goddamn book came with it too.”  Guadalupe knew he was lost.  The book might explain, what?  He was way past that here, and the alarm was ringing in his head.  They opened it together.
On his right, the open portico to the street yawned and was tired.  Walpole hung back on the patio wall and Guadalupe was vaguely sick.   “Have you ever seen the stars from behind the Sandias?” he asked, as he hot-boxed Marlboro Menthols and nursed a beer he didn’t want.
“No.  Well, driving, yes, she said.  You know I’m from Missouri.  We have stars out there too.”
“Naw, what I’m talkin’ about is the thick white Milky Way you can see if you drive to Madrid and then over the mountains.  There’re some clear meadows out there and you can see forever!”   He said this as his heart pounded and he wondered if he were really alive.  Julia drank another Lone Star as she flipped through the Field Guide, dog-earring some pages as she went.   
            The drive down to ‘Burque is always furious.  Even more furious that Walpole was following him down I-25 at 75 miles an hour in her 1985 Ford Ranchero GT.  After sitting in the bar for almost an hour, they’d decided to go out to the llano to see the stars in the naked black sky that was there, hanging over the desert.
            It’s almost all downhill to ‘Burque.  Guadalupe could see Julia closing at times as he neared the Sandia Reservation cutoff that would take him into the dark hills.  They drove like racers, taunting each other, flying by at 85, shouting, flipping the bird at one another, laughing, thowing empty bottles of beer out their windows.    But it was on a straight two-laner just north of Burque that his mind began to drift into the dark night swallowing the foothills into fog.  He had formed a map in his head:  soon, he and Julia would be sitting on the hood somewhere, staring at the nothingness that is space, naming stars from a book, looking for a page not in that book.
            A bottle tumbled carelessly under his feet as he made the wide, dancing curve that took him onto Sandia Pueblo land.  He could see the lights of ‘Burque far to the south and they looked like lost stars from a map he imagined.  He gunned the engine, with Julia riding him parallel along the two-lane highway that lead to the other side of the Sandias.  They threw kisses and cursed one another.  Going east briefly, his eyes caught the dull, surprised eyes of a coyote crossing the road.  As they both roared past, it vaguely turned to watch a rabbit farther down the road.  In a few minutes, the rabbit would be dead in the coyote’s jaws.   Far in front of him, in the darkest corner of the northeast sky he could see the Pleiades rising, its cup of hot blue stars casting a 440 year old light on the scene.   

25 July 2013

Doña Trujillo: There’s a place in the desert outside of Hatch

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Albino Carrillo

            There’s a place in the desert outside of Hatch, New Mexico that you knew about.  Wild mallow, sagebrush, lots of cottonwood and pecan growing along the irrigation ditches.  We’d been there when we were both younger.  I probably didn’t even talk to you then.  Seriously.  Your mom had become estranged from the rest of us.  I don’t know why.  Then one day we told her that Ruby Martinez had died in fire—a terrible way to go, out in her mobile home while Mosca was away getting some feed for the goats.  Some said he done it:  after all, 12 years before he had set up an ingenious method of killing her with a booby-trapped door, some wire and a shotgun.  He was stupid enough to try it out and ended up losing a lot of his gut.  Blood everywhere.  She thought he was trying to kill himself.  Can you believe it?   They sent him up to Santa Fe.  Five years for nothing.  When he tried to pretend he was insane, they got a hold of some letters he’d written to his brother. 
             I wanted to take you out here to see the land your grandfather used to farm.  He couldn’t get it right:  every year the field would flood, and we’d be left with rotten melons or drowned alfalfa.  When the well he dug went dry, he started fixing people’s toilets and sinks, sometimes he’d dig a well for someone.  That’s why there’s all the plumbing in the barn now.  He was the only one the neighbor could count on.  There were always the pecan trees and the pigs and goats to get by.  By the time John was born, we’d lived in two different double-wides:  dad finally found a spot that didn’t flood.  We even had a patch of lawn on the shady side under some old hickory trees.  The bugs were always a problem:  their numbers would swell in August with the heat and the vapor rising from the fields cut into the dry, yellow New Mexican desert. 
            I didn’t know if you’d make it out here.  Your mom told me that you and your new girlfriend were driving from Phoenix to get away from the heat.  I know there’s a road that cuts out from Deming through the wild llano:  there was a town halfway between here and Deming … just a bar actually, and a couple gas pumps.  Since the Union Pacific line ran right along that highway, you could stop to see the long trainloads of cotton, pecans, and cattle streaming toward from the border, their hungry crews sometimes stopping the 120-car train with five engines humming like giant bugs right by the road so they could eat a burrito and have a Budweiser before continuing to Radium Springs then north to Albuquerque.  You and me are like brothers and sisters separated in that old way:  you know, your dad was one of 7 kids in his family growing up on that melon farm in Las Cruces.  I’m so glad you made it out here.  We can smoke a joint in the arroyo here, under the bridge.  When you and John were kids, you’d go out there to shoot bottles and bats and even crows who hung out in the telephone wires overhead. 
            Well, my mom asked me to tell you that they think John was high and drunk when he got into it with the cops.  It went like this:  you know, he’d been driving between here and Silver for that job.  Working for the mine is a big deal, you know?  It beats fuckin’ doing nothing here in Hatch—yeah, um there’s the Orquiz warehouse and the highway department picking up dead dogs and towing cars from the interstate—working at the mine at least provided pay, and a change of scenery.
            You’ve gotta know, right away, that the accident itself was crushing … He didn’t have a chance.  Your dad got us the names of some good attorneys in Silver and in Cruces.
            John had been stopped before, for DUI, holding, and even got roughed up in the juzgao a couple times.   It’s just so hard to think he’s gone.  When he’d drive down to Tucson to see me, he seemed like he’d grown up and he was ready to live.  “Hey, I know you,” he’d say, like I was his sister, and not his mom.  There was something in the way he said it that I knew he was angry and incomplete, mostly because of me.  What kind of life did he have in Hatch?  What I remember most is that long drive through nothing between cities:  erosion, sandstorms, maybe one thunderstorm in the summer boiling over Elephant Butte, drenching the valley in one violent amethyst passage from heaven. 
            The last time you came out here your mother was still alive and actually talked to us.   I’d been living in South Dakota with John’s dad.  Remember, ese?  We came down to see you guys when you were only ten or eleven.  Your dad was working in Gallup and your mom wouldn’t talk to me because I had given John up to my mom the way my mom had given up your mom to Nicanora.   But there wasn’t any indifference on my part—see, I loved John and wanted him to be safe in Hatch.  That’s why I brought you out here.  His grave sits alone in the yellow dust day after day. You can see the Deming Mountains from there, and when the sky is really clear, you can see the whole Mesilla Valley folding out along the Rio Grande.
             What I wanted to tell you was about the darkness I found in my heart after John died.  His life never allowed me to see it.  That was the joy of life.  But since I didn’t have much to do with him as a kid, that darkness grew and grew in me.  And in him.  I knew this when he started drinking and drugging.   I knew this when he’d fight with dad and when he’d come back with loaded guns—you know I love my dad and can’t accept what your mom says.  But John hated him.  Even when they were out in the field at the end of the day shutting off the irrigation pumps, even when they were sitting in the kitchen eating the fresh tortillas and beans my mom had cooked.   They say John hated the world and that he was a petty criminal, a drunk, a pothead kid from the fields who was just following through on the path hewn by some guys just like him … His friend Rich had been in and out of jail just like him, and they’d known each other since fifth grade.  So it all added up to shit, mijo:  the fast pick-up trucks, the beer, the long highway drives for no good reason other than to get wasted and go fast on some farm road.  Maybe it was the speed, the acceleration, that freed him up from who he was and who he couldn’t be.  I can see him now flooring the old Ford 150 on the interstate, unaware of the darkness around him, slowly becoming tuned to the darkness inside that beat the hell out of him when he slept, when he dreamt.

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