by Rudolfo Carrillo
Here are some things about Albuquerque you might like to know.
There was a thing called the Wyoming Mall. It was indoors y todo and had a fancy movie theater in the middle. The film house was decorated in blue and various shades of grey. This was in direct contrast to other suburban cinema hideaways in the city. The other movie theaters in town were for the most part red and gold colored on the inside. All of them showed the latest in popular celluloid fantasies but the ushers at the Wyoming Mall Cinema had to wear bowties.
A small record shop stood beside the theater and a store called Yanamoto's next to that. At the former a man in thick-lensed glasses went on and on about The Animals and The Yardbirds. He made most of his money selling rolling papers and small stone pipes from Mexico that resembled carved onyx chess pieces. At the latter outlet, rare Asian imports were craftily combined with a vision of post-war SoCal, at once confusing and robust. It was possible to get lost in the kimono aisle; the smell of tiki lamps blazing away during daylight could be intoxicating.
If you walked past the hobby business and it smelled like model airplane cement, that was okay. The sign in the window said they only sold the junk with the purchase of a complete kit, something along the lines of the Queen Mary. Or a tricked-out '55 Chevy Belair, a P-38 Lightning, or a 1/32 scale, assemble-it-yourself diorama of Washington crossing the Delaware. Each boxed project cost about 20 clams, way steep for casual users. Mostly it was pretty square like that, except for the shortwave radio display. A dude with a flattop and shop glasses (like the ones what are considered hep by kids these days) would yell at anyone who tried to tune in Moscow or Havana.
The cafeteria was decent but lacked the dusky theatrics of the big dark Italian restaurant on the periphery of this lost world. Over there were 42 varieties of sauce, possibilities of sausage, pasta shaped like smooth orifices into another world. Primitive video games and mechanical fortune tellers beeped and clunked while Neapolitan art songs were piped through crackly speakers. It was moody, mostly lit by candles and colored lights. The tablecloths were the checkered kind. Sitting down at a table for bread and antipasto meant forgetting whether it was dark outside or light.