Friday, April 28, 2006

Mon Dieux!!!! Le Petrol est Cher!!! Sa M'effarouche!!!

The crazy things addicts do when the fix gets more expensive or scarce...

  • I missed it and haven't seen a video link yet (anyone got one for me?), but evidently Senator Pete Domenici found his longtime husband Big Oil in bed with another Senator, a woman and $2 billion yesterday. Ol' Petey's exclamation of "I just violated the rules!!!" in the Senate Chamber is definitely going in the great quote vault alongside "Snakes on the __________ plane!", "Is it because I'm a lesbian?" & "Mr. Pibb plus Red Vines equals crazy delicious!".
  • Since I don't have video, I do not know whether Ol' Petey was wearing a French police officer's uniform like Claude Rains was when he said "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" in Casablanca.
  • Meanwhile, all Americans are scrounging for French police officer's uniforms to get ready for our annual exclamation: "I am shocked, shocked that gasoline prices are going up just before our Summer Vacations!"
  • Let's face it, we're all shocked. Gas prices are going up, oil company executives have been making obscene salaries and bonuses, and various politicians have been knocking each over to get to microphones to talk about rebates, dependence on foreign oil and strategic reserve utilization. It's incredible! It's unbelievable! Is it because we're all lesbians?
  • Meanwhile, along the Maginot Line Bunker of Contrarians With Wacky Ideas, we Resistance fighters are keeping silent in our secret hope that gasoline goes to $6 a gallon. Going public with an exaclamation like that now will surely lead to being found out by the Gas is Every American Sacred Right Nazis and a trip to Berlin for "questioning".
  • How do you say "The Sky is Falling!" in French?
  • Speaking of French, thanks to the wife for the French above. Readers, please direct all corrections, whether they be English or French words, to her.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Heart-Felt Call For Peace Between Print and Blog Media

I seriously never thought I'd say this, but in my non-typing hand I now hold an olive branch out to the world of 'Burque print media, in particular the Albuquerque Journal.

Please receive this branch, o hardcopy media sources, as a token of at least one blogger's meager attempt to bridge the chasm that spans between us smug, snobbish, sanctimonious blogger types and you ever-sober, awkwardly humorless purveyors of print journalism.

No, this branch isn't one of those insincere, fake-smiling kind of peace offerings where I disingenuously fawn over you as a means to get you to like me, just so I can stab you in the back at close range, over and over again.

No, it's a real, warts-and-all acknowledgement that maybe, just maybe, although slightly obscured by the sizable warts, you, the ABQ print world, have some redeeming qualities that we in the bloggin' world can recognize and emulate.

Yes, the last sentence had seven commas in it, and that gets me to the subject which finally led me to break the philosophical chains of blog/print jihad and break out the olive branch metaphor/figurative thing.

Namely, my Herculean efforts at making peace in this media Middle East (that is if Hercules had been a peacemaker, which he really wasn't, that is if in fact he actually existed, which, from my hazy remembrance of things Greek and mythological, he didn't) result from reading another blogger's "gotcha" that the Journal ran a story full of grammatical mistakes. As in multiple gaffes. In all embarrassing number of flubs.

And anyone who has spent any length of time at Burque Babble knows that its humble blogster has spent entirely more time than is necessary excoriating the Journal for countless offenses, lapses, and flat-out fall-down unintentionally funny "stories" on mind-numblingly non-newsy subjects.

And no, I won't stop doing that. It would be fake and disingenous of me to say that. What I will do is admit some statements that I think are true for the great majority of bloggers, even if they/I won't usually admit it.

Print media folks might want to kill some more trees printing out the short list below and post it below their computer monitors. Feel free to do so, no registration or subscription fee required. Also feel free to refer to the list as you would a mantra or Psalm, guiding you to serenity at times when bloggers are being nothing but smug, snobbish, sanctimonious pains in the ass.

Secret Confessions From an ABQ Blogger to ABQ Print Media:

  1. We are in total awe of the power you wield and would sell significant portions of our sexual organs to have your power for one day.
  2. We resent your power and criticize your misuse of it the same way we would bitch about Superman or Spiderman choosing to save one thing (like Lois Lane falling into a earthquake-related crevice) instead of another (such as whole neighborhoods of Fontana and Pasadena being killed, off-camera, in gruesome deaths).
  3. If your editors/publishers suddenly called and offered us a job turning our blog musings into a bonafide print media "column" we would drive over our Grandmothers and Playstations to get to Journal Center and accept.
  4. No, you wouldn't have to pay us.
  5. What. Are you kidding? Do you know how much we're making now?
  6. Some bloggers write nit-picky entries on the foibles of the Journal just to piss you off.
  7. One reason they (and please note the use of the pronoun "they", instead of "we") do this is because they realize the only people reading their blog (outside of coerced friends and Googling pissed-off ex-girlfriends) are journalists.
  8. Hi, journalists.
  9. Sorry, dear Googling pissed-off ex-girlfriend.
  10. If you print folks got together with us bloggin' folks over a variety of cordials, I think we would discover that are much more alike than we currently feel is the case. For instance, we probably have a very strong fondness for cordials. Perhaps more importantly, we have other things in common. You know, like a guiding desire to find truth and relate it to others. Like an overarching interest in the world outside ourselves and how fascinating the study of that world and the humans who inhabit it are. And probably more important than anything, how ludricrously little money we each make.
Okay, I feel better. I've offered that non-fake olive branch and made some admissions on behalf of my fellow bloggers. I think I even used "I statements" and I know for a fact that I didn't say things like "You Suck" and "You are a bunch of total losers". I think I can be acknowledged, if not out and out admired, for that. Okay, a little admiration wouldn't hurt.

Now it's your turn 'Burque Print Media. How will you respond to this olive branch? What admissions in proper "I statement" form will you make? And are you looking for any columnists right now?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I've Been Tagged

Burque Babble is all about many things (well, I guess it is, I haven't really thought about it much) but if it is about any significant thing, that thing must surely be time-wasting solipsistic activities. And the use of big words where small ones will do.

But I digress and it's only the first paragraph. some sort of newfangled Internet gettin' to know you game, I have been "tagged" by fellow blogger friend Scribbilista and my "tag" penalty is to answer the questions below and then "tag" four bloggers into answering likewise.

Yes, it's a chain letter, basically, with all the attributes we attribute to the idea of chain letters. I must also note that I am suppressing incredibly massive childish/"satirical" urges to make stuff up in answering these questions. I make no claim as to whether those urges were overcome in the following responses.....

Four jobs I've had:
1. "Discount" stockbroker working from the 26th floor of a dowtown Seattle building overlooking Pike Place Market
2. Door-to-door "canvasser" seeking contributions to the Central American Peace Campaign
3. Philosophical turd in the punch bowl at a local charter school
4. Absolutely the world's worst life insurance salesperson

Four movies I can watch over and over:
1. The Big Lebowski
2. Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
3. Glengarry Glen Ross
4. The Maltese Falcon

Four places I've lived:
1. Denton, Texas
2. Another part of Denton, Texas
3. Olympia, Washington
4. The part of Denton, Texas near a large cemetery

Four TV shows I love:
1. Sopranos
2. Uh, that's it
3. Kill Your Television
4. Doesn't TV just take time away from the Internet?

Four concerts I'm glad I went to:
1. Billy Bragg playing solo at the Paramount in Seattle
2. Getting to go backstage and tell Roy Haynes to get back onstage and stop drinking champagne and eating deli tray meats at the South Broadway Cultural Center, Albuquerque. Thanks Tom Guralnick.
3. Beat Happening at the Eastside Tavern, Olympia, Washington. I think the cover was $1
4. Rory Gallagher, Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, Texas 1979
4a. Screaming Jay Hawkins and the heretofore unknown Reverend Horton Heat, Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas 1985-ish

Four places I've vacationed:
1. Carrizozo, NM
2. Grand Isle, NE
3. Edison, NJ next to a huge just-demolished General Motors plant
4. The coldest, most utterly unheated room imaginable in Blessington, County Wicklow, Ireland

Four of my favorite dishes:
1. Tom Yum Gai Thai soup
2. Cheetos, fried never baked
3. Seafood cioppino
4. My wife's lemon bars, any recipe

Four sites I visit daily:
3. to obsessively check the four or five hits a day my blog gets

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Canoeing the Columbia River near Golden, BC
2. Reaching 13,500 on any 14er in the Colorado San Juans
3. Kayaking around Orcas Island, San Juans, Washington
4. Talking broken Spanish to the regulars at some unnamed bar on the coastal highway between Caracas and Barcelona, Venezuela

And I see I'm supposed to pass this "tag" on to four other blogs. I had a few up earlier, but the proselytizing "chain letter' element is getting to me, so I will spare my fellow bloggers. In fact, this whole exercise was hard. Making fun of people is much easier, and we'll get back to that tomorrow.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Reason I Will Never Get Elected To Anything: #47,145

photo courtesy Albuquerque Journal

Now from time to time people accuse me of being negative, cynical, sarcastic and an overall total downer. I know...hard to believe. These accusations become more acute during "events" like "Balloon Fiesta", where the dominant paradigm is that the "event" is great and anybody who would put it down must be hunted down and killed (or at least ostracized and given that eye-rolling "just shut up" look).

So, believe it or not, I often keep my mouth shut. Well, I try. Really I do.

Take this last weekend for instance. I'm been a very nice boy, just nodding my head when someone talks about the plethora of events going on around town pertaining to 'Burque's 300th Anniversary. I distinctly remember telling someone at school just today something to the effect of "that's nice" when a celebratory event was described to me. In fact, I think that's exactly what I said..."that's nice".

I've kept my mouth shut, and when I didn't I replied considerately and with an earnestness of head nodding agreement that would make me an excellent halfway-house counselor.

But I can't keep it in, any longer, and that is reason #47,145 that I will never be elected to public office.

I can't stand the 300th "Anniversary" celebration. No that's not it. I absolutely do not care about the 300th "Anniversary", but when I do think about it I can't stand it. I can't stand it for so many reasons that listing them would only indicate my total obsession with how evil the whole thing is, when, in fact, I don't care about it. Really, I just don't care.

Is it over yet? Can I come out of the bunker, yet? Is Marty still handing that piece of paper over to that 117th generation removed person in funny clothes from the original Spanish guy who did gruesome, but evidently celebration-worthy, things way back when to the Natives.? Is Marty still dressed up in a funny hat handing over that piece of paper to the 117th generation removed person, a piece of paper that must be damn hard to read from all the Native blood staining it? Is that over yet?

'Cause whether it is or isn't over, I just don't care. I really just don't care.

Big Bill's Unafraid To Tackle the Big Issues

"Organ (village outside Las Cruces) animal rights activist Bob Young told Richardson he was "disappointed" that the governor has not shown more support for legislation to ban cock fighting. New Mexico is one of the few states that has not banned cock fighting.

'I have not made up my mind on that,' Richardson said.

The governor added the arguments for and against cock fighting have been strong on both sides."
--from "Richardson Conducts Meeting", Steve Ramirez, Las Cruces Sun-News, 4/21/06

I was gonna leave the Guv alone on this one, but the quote above kept gnawing at me all weekend. Maybe it was Artie shooting that rabbit on the Sopranos last night that has kept me thinking about Big Bill's strong cockfighting stance this morning.

If Big Bill can't make up his mind on an issue as simple as banning cockfighting and tick off a few people in the process, how he's gonna do at taking real stands on real controversial issues when it comes time to tick off sizable portions of the electorate to do the right thing?

Friday, April 21, 2006

I'm Tired...Let's Hear From

...someone saying exactly what I've been blathering about, only far more elequently and with far better credentials...

Daily Kos Founder Markos Moulitsas in today's blog entry entitled "November"....

"Democrats in DC think that keeping their mouths shut and letting the country see the GOP debacle in all its glory will earn them dramatic gains. The corrosive consultants whisper in their ears that taking a strong stance will only earn them enemies, galvanize partisan Democrats to turn out. So they remain in relative silence. Heck, even admonishing Dems like Russ Feingold who have the temerity to speak out against the disaster in DC.

But silence doesn't motivate. People ARE seeing that Republicans can't govern. There's no way around that. What they AREN'T seeing is how Democrats will be any different. How they offer change.

The GOP WILL motivate its voters come November. They'll rail on abortion and gays and scary brown people crossing the southern border and how Democrats want to take their Bibles away. And their core supporters will turn out. And Democrats, unless they realize that they need to inspire, will find those huge gains will fail to materialize.

You cannot have leadership without offending someone. Someone once said you could measure Bobby Kennedy's greatness by the number of enemies he had. George Bush and Karl Rove know this, and they don't care who they offend as they seek to inspire and motivate their core supporters.

DC Democrats are afraid to lead. They're afraid to inspire. They're afraid to offend. They're afraid to clearly state their core principles. They're simply afraid.

And that better change soon."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

LIvebloggin' (Jenga!) From the Bowels of the City

---Vincent E. Griego Chambers, One Civic Plaza

Epilogue in Reverse: First, thanks to Chantal at Duke City Fix for the "blog-in event" invite and the photo you see above. I'm one of the goofy looking guys sitting in the back. Second, the account of the roughly 3 hours I attended the meeting is in reverse order, last post at the top just below this "epilogue in reverse". Three, I didn't mention it during my posting last night but I got to the event late, after spending 45 minutes changing a flat tire in downtown ABQ in an busy alley right next to the Alvarado Bus Terminal. Besides arriving sweaty and a bit flustered, the whole tire-changing experience might have influenced the higher than usual level of snark in the postings below. And now...

8:00 -- Okay, I just checked with my accountant, and it's come to my attention that I AM NOT GETTING PAID TO DO THIS. My butt hurts and Bob Anderson is talking and I absolutely HAVE TO eat something now or the delirium will overtake me....and now it's....

Geraldine Amato! Geraldine...right after Bob Anderson? This is a sign from God or something. Having Bob and Geraldine back to back is like the "Star Spangled Banner" at the end of the old TV station's broadcast day. It's time to go off the air. It's past Sermonette, and the scenes with the babbling brook, and the National Anthem is over and it's time for the test pattern to come up and the Indian Chief to stare back at us until tomorrow morning.

I'm out of here. I enjoyed it and thanks to Chantal for the idea...where's that beer?

7:53 -- Sorry Cadigan, 5-1's a final. Chantal Foster from DCF is taking pictures like we're on vacation. At this point, the "special" meeting is getting to be like the boring part of the vacation when you're driving back home for 20 hours and everybody in the car smells bad and hates each other.

7:46 -- Councillor Michael Cadigan's big dilemma as he stares at his laptop...."Dammit, the Red Sox are down 5-1 in the bottom of the 9th to the friggin' Devil Rays. At home. C'mon Manny, c'mon Manny keep the inning alive!!!"

7:38 -- Don Harris rambles about how scary the narrowly failed wage referendum was, and that he feels "flight" might have happened if it passed. What in the Hell "business" is he talking about? Call centers? What out-of-city/state businesses aren't paying $7.50 an hour minimum, and why the Hell would we want them if they did? Some intense econo-"War on Terror" scare tactic action going on. A higher minimum wage is want the terrorists want. Osama hates freedom and loves raising the minimum wage.

Debbie O'Malley then points out that Eclipse Aviation is only here becuase of the subsidies they get from the City, etc. Definitely the point of the night, so far. Did I mention that I like Debbie O'Malley?

7:29 -- Forget selling beer in the Council Chambers...right now I'd just take John Cleese walking the chamber offering "Albatross!" at the top of his lungs. Sorry, obscure Monty Python reference. Hey, I wonder if I can find the script to that sketch on the 'Net? Gotta be better than listening to my stomach grumble while Debbie O'Malley talks about the American Dream. And I kinda like Debbie O'Malley.

7:21 -- Easily 4-to-1 support in public comments, but a guy is now offering opposition through a blizzard of exemptions. The Council is obviously more interested in these anti-folks as they actually ask questions to these guys. Call it a "courtesy question". The Council's way of saying "hey loser, here's a parting gift."

7:14 -- First real mention that the real problem is the War in Iraq and not the minimum wage in Albuquerque. Councillors now in active "go get coffee and bounce in the cushy chair" mode.

7:07 -- I'm all for hearing folks talk for two minutes on both sides of an issue, but I'd just as soon have the Council simply interrupt things, have a vote, and then invite everybody over to a bar to talk for as long as they want on the issue. I propose Pearl's Dive be reopened for this purpose. It's so obvious nobody is changing any votes based on the public comment, that the comment phase is really just as phony as that intentional five second pause at the beginning of the meeting to "pray" before the Pledge. Or maybe I'm just bitter because I'm already bored and I'm down to 55% battery left.

6:59 -- It's official: Don Harris sounds like an unintelligent Gary Johnson. I'll just leave it at that, and let the reader extrapolate the cosmic meaning of that statement.

6:55 -- Cringing continues. Even those in favor of raising the wage are laughing at the last whack job pro-wage raise speaker. Oh, let's face it...I would sound like a brain-addled loser if I spoke publicly before the Council, too. Especially if I was looking at Don Harris...he's creeping me out and I'm sitting way at the back.

6:49 -- Our first no-name public speaker after Dede Feldman and other polirock stars. Let the cringing begin. Two minutes has never lasted so #*&^%)* long.

6:44-- Okay, I'll start putting new posts at the gotta admit that some of the new Councillors still look damn uncomfortable and bush league. And then there's Don Harris who just seems weird in a bad way. Doesn't he play saxophone...the guy just doesn't swing...and he likes Walmart. Purely Dixieland jazz for that guy. Meanwhile, Sally Mayer has the least sexy voice in the history of the female gender.

6:37 -- If Walmart says its good, it must be good! Don Harris brings up that he just found out Walmart favors a higher minimum wage. There is general agreement that this is as good as the Pope coming out with a edict. Everyone is comforted.

6:27 -- It's Terri Cole Time! It's Terri Cole Time! And Geraldine Amato is walking right behind her while she talks! Cole and Amato mere feet from each other...what was that new breakthrough in colliding black holes theory in the news a few days back?

And Terri only gets 2 minutes like every other schmuck. Worth the price of admission just to hear her get shut up, imho. she does get to keep blabbing, though because of questions and the rush of exhiliration is lessened.

6:19 -- Bruce Thompson (I think) from Santa Fe City Council/City does a real good job explaining the difference between the proposed ordinance and the legally messier Santa Fe city ordinance. Now ex-TV guy and current State Labor Head Honcho Conroy Chino who is pontificating about how much the Guv loves this ordinance. Stands about 3/4rds full. Still no beer sells. I'm thinking of drafting another ordinance to correct this.

6:13--- I just LOVE that faux Separation of Church and State pause they do before the Pledge of Allegiance. You probably know what I'm talking about, but to have this unexplained five or so seconds of silence is a great "wink, wink, say no more, say no more" moment.

....And...we're off.

6:05 (yes that's P.M.)-- Still not started. Stands about half full at this point, but half the folks are standing around. About half the Councillors are seated, too. Manana culture pervades this aspect of city services as well. Maybe I'm just paranoid about the time because of the laptop battery thing. 80% remaining.

5:58 P.M.--Why am I bothering to write "P.M."? Am I expecting this to go into early tomorrow morning? Actually, right now it looks to be quite the love fest, with the annoucement of a compromise avoiding a Mayor's veto hitting the newspaper. The pro min wage hike folks look ebullient in their red ACORN shirts. Looking like no fireworks tonight, just a Kumbaya scene...kinda of a pity but at least the meeting will be short. I'm betting a brief meeting suits the Councillors fine...they were just here on Monday night. Just about time to start now.

5:49 P.M.-- Gene Grant, man about town, is taking dig cam shots like we are at geek press conference. I wonder which of us is Scotty McClellan? By the way, I strongly suggest everyone visiting a Council meeting to bring a laptop..the broadband is smoking and you can check out all the baseball scores during the endless wait, delay and smooze. The internet has never looked better than when you're trying to avoid focusing on some smooze hounds five feet away wearing fancy suits and fake smiles.

5:41 P.M.--Am amidst a small stock tank full of laptop geeks set off to the side of the Council chamber like goldfish in bad haircuts. I avert the eyes of those looking at the geek fish from the other parts of the steadily filling chamber.

They really need to start serving beer at these things.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts (Insert Name Here)

I don't want to overly short-circuit the unmistakably laid back craniums of almost all Albuquerque and New Mexico citizens, but it IS POSSIBLE to both BE IN FAVOR OF something, and CRITICIZE IT. To restate this largely unseen phenomenon in the Land of Enchantment, it is possible, perhaps even preferable and positive, that a person can favor a politician, Party or idea while still being critical of how the favorable politician/Party/idea is acting or being implemented.

No, I'm not digging getting all pedantic on Burque Babble reader's craniums, but there seems to be a general lack of discoursive (probable invented word) sophistication in this regard. Needless to say, these comments are not directed at the uber-sophisticated discourse mavens who read this humble blog, but instead toward...uh...everybody but the fine readers of this humble blog.

Or so it seems. For instance, if one prefers Patricia Madrid over Heather Wilson, conventional NM discourse rules dictate that one is correct in saying something like "Patsy Madrid is the greatest thing since a grilled cheese sandwich and Heather Wilson is evil on a par with the Nazis, Karl Rove, and those guys from your alma mater who call every stinking week to beg for money even though you only got a BA from the place and it really didn't help you get a job or anything."

Anything deviating from this strict "Patsy Great, Heather Evil" line is unacceptable. Sure, it might be polarizing and kinda lead to extremely short political discussions around these parts, but them's the rules.

The same evidently goes for all Political Parties as well, with one little caveat. It is perfectly acceptable, in fact strongly encouraged, for one to publicly bash the Party and anyone involved with it in any previous election cycle. Take the '04 Democratic Party. It, anyone associated with it, and especially its Presidential candidate John Kerry can be lampooned, ridiculed and lambasted with total impunity. Kerry's face on a dartboard while being sliced with hurled glass slivers from smashed Heinz ketchup bottles is completely okay.

Interestingly, this same rule applies to failed seekers of U.S. House #1 versus Heather Wilson. Even the mention of the two words "Phil" and "Maloof" are enough to send anyone within earshot into paroxysms of spit laughter. By the way, never say the words "Phil" and "Maloof" together when someone has liquid or food in their mouths. That stuff is gonna be flying out of that mouth at supersonic speed right toward you before you can blink. I haven't heard much about Eric Griego's comedy act since the Mayor's race, but my suggestion for his next bit is to simply say "Phil" and "Maloof" over and over and over. It could become for him what a watermelon is to Gallagher.

And now that I think about it, it's the same with the other ugly princes who took on the Heather dragon. Bring up John Kelly and Richard Romero and it's considered perfectly fine to do that "pinch your nose, something stinks" face, or the "finger thrust deep into open mouth in order to gag" schtick.

The funny thing was, during the failed ugly princes' campaign to beat Heather it wasn't nearly as cool to criticize them. For instance, I remember attending that kooky, inspiring Michael Moore appearance at the Pit just prior to Election 2004. It was a marvelous event, and one that almost makes me start to cry (seriously) thinking back to that time and the chance those on the Left had and how that Election was scarring, patently scarring in its psychic damage. I have to pause to think about it....

Anyway, those thousands in attendance doubtless remember that Richard Romero gave a speech during the event, given a powerful platform to associate himself with the positive energy of the shindig and mobilize us toward rabid Romero-mentum.

What a disaster. The obviously well-intentioned Romero quickly demonstrated that he couldn't rouse sharks to a bleeding beach swimmer. It was tangibly embarrassing to listen to. So embarrassing one was tempted to do the "put fingers in ears and say 'la la la la la la la la la la la' real loud" trick. To be honest, I think I did do that trick toward the end of the speech.

Still, in thinking back on Romero in '04 and '02 I can't recall any meaningful Democratic criticism of his candidacy. Sure the Greens were, in their own meaningless way, harping that Romero wasn't Left enough, but the rank and file Democrats just backed the Romero team like some die-hard NMSU Aggie football fans living in denial that their team doesn't suck.

And that's not right.

We need to ratchet up the level of discourse 'round these parts to include a healthy criticism of those we support. I know terms like "tough love" and "Critical Friends" are overused, creepy and almost as bad as "branding" and "issue framing", but we've got to thicken the political skin here. And raise the bar on depth of analysis.

Now any reader of Burque Babble over the last few months knows that this is the absolute LAST PLACE to expect deep political analysis. But maybe the collective ABQ/NM blog world can at least add a thimble or two of political savvy to what is now pretty much an Elephant Butte dry bed of political discourse.

And we can begin by calling Patsy as we see her, knowing damn well we're voting for her in November. Well, most probably. We do want to play at least somewhat hard to get.

In typical digressive fashion, I had originally planned to include points about how I love light rail but have concerns over ABQ's Old Town/Nob Hill & Downtown/Airport plans, but we'll wait on those outpourings of "tough love" for the next post.

P.S.: I was also gonna bring up my attendance at tomorrow night's City Council "Blog-In", but self-imposed space and a high degree of personal embarrassment about going to the "blog-in" make that impossible. I'm sure I'll write about it (obviously giving a "unique" perspective on an event which will lead to 1,000 blog postings, minimum), but I'm still picking out which paper bag I want to wear over my head to the event.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What's In A Fire Name?

It's mid-April and much of the state is already in a perpetual swath of "red flag warning" alerts on Wunderground for fire danger. If I follow the news correctly, firefighters just finished containing the "Lumbre" fire near Vaughn and are in process on putting out the "Ojo Feliz" fire north of Mora. The danger has become at this point a semi-permanent fixture for New Mexico.

I could get into my personal beliefs about global warming (and it's interesting to use the word "belief" in reference to human-influenced meteorological phenomenon) and my limited understanding of "La Nina", so I'll just focus on something that's bothered me regarding the fires for some time. Namely, how do we name these things?

Who gets the job of naming these fires, and why are the names almost universal in their bewildering obscurity? I know there must be a rhyme/reason to the process, and that putting monikers on them like "that big ass fire over there" doesn't relate significant information, but how much useful information is being generated by giving names like "Lumbre" and "Ojo Feliz"? What's the percentage of New Mexicans who would respond to terms like "Lumbre" by saying, "what the Hell is that?" and "Ojo Feliz" by saying, "is that the bar in Jemez Springs or that village with the hot baths up past Espanola?"

Which gets me to an idea. Let's put in a system to naming fires similar to the hurricane naming thing. Why should the hurricane-naming World Meteorological Organization (WMO) get all the fun, when we could create a New Mexico Big-Ass Fire Organization (BAFO) whose job it would be to create a list of annual alphabetized names to rattle off as the inevitable conflagrations start up around the state.

BAFO could get the kids involved by starting up a naming contest every Winter for the upcoming year. School districts and teachers could stop the continuous cycle of testing and more testing to have one day of in-class brainstorming to think of a new batch of names for the next year's fires. BAFO could pick the winners ala the Spelling Bee.

Fires that proved to be really awful could have their names retired by BAFO, leaving us all to remember them in a vaguely twisted nostalgia: "man, I remember Fire Betsy back in '07, now that was some big-ass fire."

The way I see it, the fire danger is pretty much a fixture on the NM scene for, well, forever. We might as well have some fun with it. Naming things "Lumbre" and "Ojo Feliz" just reminds people that they suck at geography and that "ojo" is Spanish for "eye" ("Lucky/Happy Eye"...what kind of name for a fire is that?)

We might not be able to stop the weather patterns or our influence on them, but we sure as heck can put better names on 'em than "Lumbre". If we can spend $300,000+ to change TVI to Central New Mexico Community College, why can we spend a few bucks to give our new permanent friend, the out-of-control fire, a name as well?

The fires are now part of our state...our collective culture. Let's slap some real names on 'em.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Old Rancid Wine in New Wicked Bottles

I've had Kevin Boyle's telling of a 1925 race-related murder and aftermath, Arc of Justice, on my shelf for a few months and finally picked it up. I find the paragraph below in the prologue of the book:

"The nativists campaign reached high tide in 1924. Anti-immigrant groups had been demanding for years that Congress restrict entry into the United States. The pressure became intense in the early 1920s. Veterans groups lobbied their representatives, the Klan launched a massive letter-writing campaign, businessmen endorsed restriction, and nativist scientists and authors appeared before congressional committees to explain the growing threat to the American racial stock. Congress finally surrendered in the spring of 1924. The National Origins Act imposed such strict limits on the number of immigrants allowed into the country that, for all intents and purposes, it ended the great era of immigration, now eight decades old. Ethnic spokesmen pleaded with the president to veto the bill. But (Calvin) Coolidge remained silent, as was his habit."

How far we've come in 80+ years. How very far.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Who Doesn't Love Surveys?

In an effort to make Burque Babble even more irritating, I threw a little survey together....let's see if this works

Click here to take survey

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Sublime and the Ridiculously Useless

I finally got off my lazy bohiney Sunday and experienced for the first time this year my absolute favorite thing about ABQ: the Bosque Bike Trail. Evidently, the trail is a favorite for many of us, as approximately 70% of the city's population was using it as I huffed and puffed my way up and back to Paseo from Rio Bravo.

Perhaps hard to believe, but I don't have a single sarcastic thing to say about the trail. Well, okay there's is one thing, but it doesn't have to do with the trail itself. Have you seen the Disneyfication of Tingley "Beach" yet? I was in wanna-be Lance Armstrong mode and didn't take any pictures last Sunday, but here is a webpage from the City on the "beach" including pictures of the new "train" and "train station".

If anything ever deserved quotation marks, it is the Tingley Beach renovation and in particular its "train" and "train station". It is precisely projects like this that make me wonder about humanity and whether I am a member of the same species as other supposed homo sapiens. I say this because from all accounts I've read this wholly inorganic, superficial tourist attraction is popular. Meanwhile, in my book about the lowest thing you can ever call something is an "inorganic superficial tourist attraction".

And besides...didn't Feudal Prince Marty balk at building a new Amtrak station? So instead he/the City builds a useless Disney train station gift shop for a "train" that runs about 400 yards?

That's it...I want some DNA screening. Either I or most of the "humans" on the planet have some pretty big gene coding differences.

Oh...but the Bosque Trail itself is great, and I'll be out there again this weekend.

Monday, April 10, 2006

La Raza and the Democrats-in-Hiding

The "National Day of Action" Immigration Rallies (AKA: "National Marches to Cause Lou Dobbs to Have a Brain Aneurysm") are interesting on a number of levels:

  • Where are the Democrats, especially New Mexico Democrats running for office at these things? In the wholly mortal words of 70s rock band UFO it's "Too...Too Hot...Too Hot to Handle" (and yes, I'm guessing that will be the only time I ever make a mention or even think of the band UFO again).
  • But what would Bobby Kennedy have done in this situation? Exactly.
  • I guess it's pretty obvious the Democratic Party could use a Bobby Kennedy or two right now.
  • Or a Hispanic Bobby Kennedy, and no I haven't seen hide, hair nor cowboy boot from Bill Richardson anytime lately. Only quotes from conference calls with reporters while he "explores" running for President. Here's the latest quote I've found from him:
"While they're debating in Congress, while we're talking on this conference call, illegal immigrants and drugs are crossing the border into New Mexico," Richardson said. "They're in our communities, they're in our hospitals, they're in our alfalfa fields, their children are in our schools."

  • And yes, the level of fear-mongering in that quote (especially the "they're in our....") is on a par with what you might expect from a description of Al Qaeda.
  • Local Report Interlude #1: Speaking of missing something, a co-South Valley resident just reported that the drive home down Bridge and over toward Central and Coors was a bit of a madhouse. The highlight: a woman pops through a car sunroof topless except for a scant Mexican flag bandana/chestwrap.
  • Local Report Interlude #2: A friend who works at Highland High School reports that the lunchtime protest was calm and orderly, perhaps made more so by the announced policy that no "calls to incite violence" would be tolerated. "Si, se puede!....well, we can if we keep our voices down, maybe to a whisper and then just shuffle off to Fourth Period".
  • Meanwhile, back in the world of making political sausage, that new moderate Republican Heather Wilson was one of 17 House Republicans who voted against the heinous Tancredo, et. al. House Bill passed last December. That's the one that included provision for 698 miles of double-layer border fence, and was significant in getting us to the marching we've seen the past few days.
  • Okay, enough Heather's creeping me out.
  • My point is that I don't understand the complete avoidance of New Mexico Democrats at rallies such as these given that even the so-called enemy has voted the same way on the issue. What is so controversial about standing up for a sensible immigration policy that acknowledges and appreciates the Mexican and other Central American "citizens" that are at the center of the debate?
  • And why do I get the feeling the Left is somewhat uncomfortable with this whole "It's about Mexicans" thing? The Lou Dobbs foaming mouth old white guy arguments are sickening and overtly racist, but there's a vibe undercurrent to the Democratic response that doesn't feel quite right.
  • By the way, if you haven't seen the Lou Dobbs show on CNN, it's because you have a brain and are not sickeningly fixated on bad political shows like I am, especially when I am at the health club and stuck on a treadmill with nothing to do but either stare at a mirror (why the mirrors at these health clubs...aren't we there because we don't like how we look in the mirror?!?) or stare at Lou Dobbs frothing about our "Broken Borders".
  • But getting back to the Democrats...maybe in part the rather unsettling vibe is there because the Democrats are so obviously uncomfortable with the issue on some level, But why should they be?
  • And I reiterate...what would Bobby Kennedy do?
  • And lastly, speaking of feeling creepy....any series of marches in which the most prominent name/organization involved is Archbishop Michael Sheehan/The Catholic Church is gonna make me a little creeped out. Maybe the strong Church presence is one reason some on the farther Left are tip-toeing on the issues/rallies, but I'm just asking for a little more State and little less Church on this issue in the future. Especially State Democrats.
  • Yes, that would include the current Governor and Attorney General.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Madrid And The Church of the "Heather = W" Chant

Update: Damn! I just spent a bunch of words/time on Patricia Madrid when I could have been writing about the far more important news that KATIC COURIC IS GOING TO CBS NEWS! Wow! Mindblowing! Worthy of multiple news stories, including one interviewing "media experts" on what it all means! (rr)

Well, criminy. I already spent all the words/time below on Madrid, so what the hey. If the extreme lack of KATIE COURIC coverage continues I'll weigh in on the global position altering importance of KATIE....but for now, less meaningful stuff....
Okay, I just saw Patricia Madrid in action at the Democracy for New Mexico monthly meeting and I gotta say I have mixed feelings. I wanted to like Madrid as much as most of the crowd, a crowd at the Unitarian Church that admittedly would have cheered a Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat as long as the Australian marsupial constantly chanted "Heather IS George W. Bush...Heather IS George W. Bush" repeatedly between munches of sedge and roots.

And don't get me wrong...Madrid said all the right things, but almost exclusively only "right things" that were national in scope. Namely, she mentioned the following (in a stump speech with rather rambling interludes in which her wispy voice would almost sound like she was crying or at least getting her heart stuck in her throat):
  • Katrina response
  • Other incompetence and corruption in the W Administration
  • The Fourth Amendment and the need to protect it
  • Other Bill of Rights amendments and how the Administration was attacking them
  • Something about Trade and China and the Dubai ports deal and how it all shows that the rest of the world is trying to buy the United States
  • Medicare D "deserves a D" (this got a big laugh)
  • Heather/Domenici voted for the evil Energy Bill
  • An understandably long attack on the Iraq Invasion, including everything from "Mission Accomplished" to "Heather is not asking the tough questions" and "Heather just voted for more money for the war"
  • Bring the troops home, set timeline (Big claps and excitement)
Then followed what I thought was the closest thing to a real New Mexico mention in the speech: a well-delivered explanation of the environmental work Madrid has done and positions taken on various enviro issues like Otero Mesa, Valle Vidal, roadless rules, groundwater restoration, silvery minnow/ESA stuff.

I realize that the environmental issues aren't limited to New Mexico, but, outside of a brief mention of predatory loans, there wasn't any reference to anything in or about New Mexico directly in the whole spiel. Nothing. So it was immediately back to:
  • Heather voting for the evil Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005
  • Why the Democrats must take back the House
  • An interlude of sorts in which she talked about meeting Isabel Allende and Allende bringing up her uncle, the one assassinated in a CIA-sponsored coup by military thugs (great crowd groaning during the "with CIA help by the way" line), and how the same thing might happen here
  • Oh, and by the way, Heather IS George W. Bush...Heather IS George W. Bush...Heather IS George W. Bush
The upshot was that Madrid's speech could almost have been delivered in Pennsylvania or Idaho to similar effect. And what is the effect of the Madrid campaign choosing to run against George W. Bush? I remember reading elsewhere on the blogs (and I forget who mentioned it earlier...was it Tim McGivern?) that this was the Madrid strategy, but having had a chance to see it live and in person I've got to say:

  1. The maxim from the famous/infamous big-nosed Tip O'Neill that "all politics is local" is still my dominant paradigm.
  2. Patsy selling Bush Bashing at the Dean-influenced Democracy for New Mexico is like shooting fish in a barrel with clusterbombs.
  3. I still wonder how effective a purely national focus is gonna play in other constituencies and other parts of town.
  4. I realize that Madrid might have a very different speech for more centrist crowds. For instance, AG Madrid never mentioned once her offices' extensive work on nabbing online predators. I'm sure that's in the speech in other venues, and I plan on attending some of those in coming weeks.
  5. Still...I get a very queasy feeling with such a national focus. Study after study shows that voters might hate their national officeholders and national political institutions, but they still tend to disconnect their local Representative/Senator from the national institutions.
  6. So, in my mind, Patricia/Patsy/Madrid needs to also run against Heather as a local representative, not merely as a national symbol of a national problem.
  7. One part of my queasiness is the "national" focus of this race. As Madrid mentioned in her speech, the House #1 race is one of the most talked about in the nation. A disporportionate amount of press and punditry has been created already. Right now, Madrid seems to be responding to this national reaction by speaking to a national audience instead of a local one. I might be overreacting, but it was certainly the vibe I got, a vibe given some credence I think by the sheer preponderance of the national in her stump speech tonight.
  8. Oh, by the way, despite saying the right thing about the Iraq Invasion, Madrid didn't sound very knowledgeable about what the military situation is now or what should happen to make it better in the near future. Right now if she debated Heather on this issue, it would be almost as ugly for Patsy as is the war itself. Definite work needed here.
Finally, after giving the speech with occasional somewhat rambling interludes, she only answered four questions from the audience. Four. Four stinking questions after having stood up DFNM a few months back at a scheduled meeting. It was mentioned that she was under a time constraint. Sorry, but that left a bad taste in my mouth...I mean I know we are the lefty choir and are very used to, at this point, being mistreated by our Democratic candidates.

Still, there should have been more questions. More questions about things in Albuquerque, New Mexico. More questions about gay marriage, Green Party status and some of the other "wacky" issues that might prevent a few on the supposedly far-left from voting for Madrid. Because we all know that it will only take a few to possibly swing this race, and because Democracy for New Mexico meetings is the perfect place to clean up issues like Madrid's gay marriage stand.

You know, the stand she took about the marriage licenses in Sandoval County. You know, in New Mexico. Real close to Albuquerque, New Mexico even. Like dangerously close to NM House District #1.

Update #2: A real good add-on follows in comments from Scott Hale, another spectator last night. I'd like to hear from others who were there as well, especially as the predominant vibe seemed much more positive than I felt. Maybe as a group we were just being nice...or maybe we lefties are so deprived of political love than when a politician just shows us the merest smidge of affection we get all blubbery.

And I'm even more ticked off about only being given four questions this morning than I was when I wrote the above last night. Geez...four.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Spring Training Politics, Beer and Other Sinful Matters

I notice Joltin' has spent another 10 inches of electrons relating that Big Bill Richardson might not get 60% in his re-election win, this time because Hispanics can't stand him. I'm all for building excitement in political races, but last time I checked you can still win one of them Guv'nor races with less than 60% of the vote. If debating whether Big Bill gets 60 over and over constitutes building excitement we got us one hell of a boring Guv'nor race here.

And speaking of building electoral excitement...I'm giving Patsy Madrid one more chance and am actually venturing beyond the four psychedically painted walls of the Burque Babble Bunker to attend her alleged appearance Thursday night at the Democracy For New Mexico monthly meeting. My avid readership might remember that Patsy stood me up some months back at a scheduled DFNM meeting (which would have been the first I've ever attended). I was stung by the non-appearance, but I've had a few sessions of really helpful therapy on the subjects of grasping and letting go of insensitivity in those around me.

I'm ready and I'm giving Patsy another shot. Unless I don't get to my laundry by Thursday. Or I really feel a need to take a nap because of this darn time change. Or something. But seriously, that's it...I'm going this time, and Patsy's going. It's like we're going together. I'll have a report on BB here in a few days.

Yes, I am one of those people who shorten things down to an acronym when they really are short enough already and don't need acronymization.

On the subject of Patsy v. Heather (or Madrid v. Twistedly Kindler, Gentler Domenici Disciple [TKGDD] if you prefer a more respectful use of last names), my only current wager on the race is a six-pack of beer. That needs to change. So I'm making an all-call to those who wanna make an early season friendly wager on the House One race. I'll take the incumbent. No, you don't get points, or odds. Straight up, I've got Heather (AKA TKGDD) and you take Patsy.

I didn't say that's what I WANT to happen (not yet anyway...I still have the long-awaited date with Patsy coming up). It's just what I think WILL happen. You know, incumbents, never underestimate the stupidity of the American people...that sort of thing.

By the way, if brazenly announcing public call-outs for wagers on political races is illegal in New Mexico, that's pretty lame. Still, if so I'll add one of those disclaimers that my discussing the issue is purely for informational purposes only. And I'll post a Gambler's Anonymous 800 number, and make it flash at the bottom of the screen, along with a picture of our current NM Attorney General. I promise.

And for those of you still thinking it over, I'm not talking about some weak-ass Miller Light crap, but a six-pack of Stone IPA or equivalent. Let's get serious here.

We need something to liven up this heretofore less-than-tantalizing political season, and talking about Big Bill being below 60% sure ain't gonna do it. And that's when you roll out the rampant gambling and beer. Works every time.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Black Dahlia: Part Infinity

Leaving the Constitution/Carlisle Smith's late this afternoon I pass by "newspaper guy", his sales made more brisk by a relatively large special sales display over a small wire rack. "Astorga Nabbed" the large print says atop a black/white copy of the now-famous photo. The photo we've seen in all ABQ media for the past ten days. The same photo used in all the many 10 O'Clock News teasers, above-the-fold newspaper updates, and wherever finest news is sold. In many cases, sold in a disgusting manner.

I realize I'm not breaking any new ground when I say that news organizations take advantage of public fear and outrage in the same way the Lottery takes advantage of people's dreams and inability to understand probability math. But when the signature news-as-sales hyperhype kicks in, like it has in the McGrane shooting, it's hard to stomach the sheer audacity of a media in full slithering feeding frenzy.

Yeah, I get the other argument. It's the public's right to know. Yes, I understand the other position. Maybe the media does go overboard, but it's only responding to what people want. And true, I understand that this same debate of journalistic ethics happens with every Astorga, Schiavo, Katrina, Peterson, etc. It's nothing new, and the ABQ/NM media is no more guilty than the ABQ/NM citizenry, or the media and citizenry of countless other hyperhype stories in the past and to come.

Still, it was hard not to walk by that sign display at the "newspaper guy's" rack outside Smith's today and not think: "I wonder what a few more Astorgas could do for newspaper sales in this town?" "I wonder if there's a news producer at a local station in town secretly wishing the crime could have taken place during May sweeps?"

So, Hurricane Astorga has made landfall. It was a slow moving system, but now it's hit. We're winding down coverage now to some damage reports, interviews with a few displaced, a face-to-face with a insurance adjuster or weather historian. And then it's time to wait for the next storm.

Back to you Carla.