Perhaps the best evidence of “TJ's Fever” can be found from a "story" posted on "Duke City Fix"(DCF) a couple of weeks back. Now there is nothing wrong with DCF…hell, Chantal et. al. even post my deranged musings from time to time (and yes I rather enjoyed writing “Chantal, et. al.”. Far more than I should).
At the same time, many of you who are daily readers of DCF realize that the Fix could just as well be entitled “Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau: Ultra-hip Annex” for all the retro-lounge pom-pom waving Albuquerque cheerleading seen there . A lot of the cheers led at DCF take the form of wishing/begging for certain store chains to move to ABQ, thereby ostensibly making ABQ even more hip than it already ostensibly is. As if the Smith’s Food and Drug at Yale and Coal doesn’t already make this town cooler than the Arcata, CA, Burlington, VT, and Ithaca, NY combined.
Now, truth be told, we in the South Valley Confederacy don't really cotton to newfangled technologies like blogs or retro-lounge or Podcasting or Pod People, whatever. Still, some of us couldn't help but notice that whereas most "stories" on DCF get about 12 comments max, a posting on Trader Joe's opening received approximately 2.5 million comments, or 10 for every Northern Albuquerque resident. And that was for a two-line “story” simply announcing the opening date of the store. We also noticed that many of these comments took the form of gushing salutations, greeting TJ’s like meth junkies responding to the rap on the door from their pusher.
One would get the impression that folks up North are confusing the opening of a trendy, upscale sorta-kinda grocery store with the combined reappearances of Jesus, Buddha and Jack's Lounge on Central. Meanwhile, us South Valley types just shake our heads and think the following:
1. These Northerners are getting apoplectic about yet another place to buy strange foreign cheeses when we down here wouldn't know an artisanal montchevre with chives from a Sardinian Capradoro. Hell, we wouldn’t even know they were cheeses.
2. These Northeners are frothing about another fancy place to shop/eat when we down here have to book airline flights to get Thai food. Even Starbucks won't come down here, and they have four locations in Oman. Oman! We Southerners don't even know where Oman is, or if it is, in fact, a made-up country.
3. Folks down here notice that many up North are conflicted about Trader Joe's because it is a store chain and not a locally-owned business. We down South don't quite understand such moral/ethical dilemmas. For instance, down here the recent opening of our first ultra-evil Walmart store was generally greeted as if the school Homecoming Queen had, for some reason, asked us out to the Prom. We couldn't believe it. "A Walmart? For pimply-faced 'ol us? Now we have to rent a tux and borrow Dad's car!"
4. One of our Confederates, namely me, just drove north of I-40 for the first time in months and can report that, given today's traffic density, the time it would take to get to a Trader Joe's at the corner of Paseo del Norte and Ventura is roughly three days. The chances of being either the victim or perpetrator of a "road rage" incident during this trek would be approximately 99%. Is three days and possible death and/or significant prison time really worth a high-quality artisanal goat cheese? Even one with chives?
From what I read in the DCF blog “story”, the new TJ's is scheduled to open on March 10th. To all those Northerners in a frenzy about the opening, we friendly folks down South wish nothing but the consumer best. We'll think of you fondly from afar as we shop at the corner El Mesquite Carniceria or dine out front of Kathy's Carry-Out or another of our 1,450 Mexican/New Mexican restaurants. Maybe if we have a three-day weekend we'll visit TJ's and stay at the new Sandia Casino Hotel. We'll be the ones staring tourist-like at you Northern types dressed up in your Darth Vader costumes and deciding between artisanal goat cheeses. Do you mind if we take your picture?