Saturday, October 04, 2008

Ten Reasons I Hate the Balloon Fiesta: 2008 Edition

The past few years I've celebrated the onset of Balloon Fiesta with a little ditty reciting the "10 Reasons I Hate the Balloon Fiesta". I was going to pass on such a post this year, but the cancellation of a bike ride this morning (my bike just doesn't have the proper flotation devices needed for a ride through all the standing water down here in the South Valley) has left me sleeping in, watching the morning clouds and sprinkles, and drinking far too much coffee. Hence a nice relaxing rant is in order.

How dogs, horses, all other animals
and your humble blogster see the Balloon Fiesta

10 Reasons I Hate The Balloon Fiesta, 2008 Edition:

10. Local TV interviews with old people in green lawn chairs talking about how much gasoline costs in front of their aircraft-carrier sized RVs.

9. Local TV "breaking news" reports about the cancellation of "tonight's special shapes glodeo", with added comments that "there will still be activities going on at the Park tonight" as if the reporter is some carnival barker shill for the Balloon Fiesta and the City of Albuquerque.

8. Local TV coverage of the balloon fiesta, period. It's good to see, I guess, that local media is capable of covering more than just murders, traffic accidents and animal abusing scum who should be murdered by standing in the middle of an orchestrated traffic accident as thousands watch, but the Chamber of Commerce prostitution coverage added to the quite obvious desire by certain TV reporters to finally get the *&%$ out of Albuquerque by being seen by some out of town visitor looking to recruit TV talent in Minneapolis or Portland is disgusting. It's more than disgusting. It's even more disgusting than your typical day's local TV news. And that's saying something.

7. Out-of-towners. Sucking up to out-of-towners. Putting up with their aircraft-carrier sized RVs, green lawn chairs and inability to have a entertained retirement involving less than 5,000 gallons of gasoline and the disruption of a Southwestern city.

6. Some balloonist landing his (and yes it's always a guy) "craft" out in the alfalfa field behind our suburban ranchette, walking up to the locked ditch gate and then trying to find us to unlock it so he can get his off-course stupid balloon out of the alfalfa fields. It's hard to ignore knocks on your door with three dogs, but we can manage. Also irritating is the "I should be treated like a movie star" swagger of these incompetent balloonists. It's almost like they expect you to not only hand them the keys to the ditch gate, but ask for an autograph. You crash-landed a balloon far from where you were supposed to, dude...what's the "movie star value" in that?

5. As mentioned in previous years, the effect balloons flying low/landing have on all animals, particularly horses. I've often wondered if horses believe in some religion in which the "end times" feature aliens in large poly-colored objects landing around them while the sound of propane gas whooshes devilishly. Hmmm...sounds about as realistic as any other religion, now that I think about it.

4. The decision to hold this event during a well-documented transitional meteorological period for Albuquerque, one that leads to "breaking news" TV reports of cancelled "glodeos" with a level of seriousness and disappointment usually reserved for failed space missions and Category 5 hurricanes. Why is this event held in early October? Is it a twisted attempt to celebrate Columbus Day by giving us APS types a day off called "Fall Break"? Are we having "Fall Break" on Friday the 10th instead of Monday the 13th because to take the actual Columbus Day off is politically untenable? And given that we APS types have a lousy, stinking one day "Break" this year, shouldn't we all suddenly convert to Judaism, take off Yom Kippur this Thursday the 9th and just take a four-day weekend? And how about we just add Columbus Day, and make it a five-dayer? A five-day weekend might actually allow those who like the Fiesta to see a show or two without it being cancelled due to the bad weather naturally caused when scheduling an event during a well-documented meteorological transition.

3. Duke City Fix during Balloon Fiesta. This event is just perfect for a site largely designed to convince everybody that they live in a town worth living in. I can usually put up with the Fix's "social network" of civically insecure folks trying to rah-rah their way to some sort of communal positivism, but when the Fiesta comes around it gets way, way out of hand. This is most probably attributable to the fact that "out of towners" might be reading the postings, and we wouldn't want to disappoint them, now would we? Golly no, that wouldn't help our real estate values, now would it?

2. Stories like this one reporting on how the Fiesta represses election campaigning. You see, the Balloon Fiesta is supposed to exist in some sort of "Pleasantville" where there is no dissent, no free expression, just worshipful praying to the fact that a little heat and a little engineering can get some folks in a basket off the ground. Besides, this country isn't about elections, government or free expression! It's about marketing, tourism and having the God-given right to buy an aircraft-carrier sized RV, go through 5,000 gallons of gas driving it from Montevideo, Minnesota to Albuquerque and sit in green lawn chairs talking to local TV "reporters"!

1. My wife has just informed me that this year's list of "10 Reasons" looks even more cynical than in previous years. As my wife is not only an excellent writer/editor, but also a good critic, I think I will dispense with a #1 Reason why I hate the Fiesta, and instead focus on a small list of what I really, honestly like about Albuquerque:

Ten Reasons I Like Albuquerque, Really:

A. The 50 weeks of the year in which the Balloon Fiesta is not held.
B. The River Bike Path
C. The weather during the two-weeks of the Balloon Fiesta, especially the rare cloudy, rainy Sunday morning.
D. That newish bike path along I-40 going from the Big-I area uphill. It's fantastic.
E. The Chama River Taproom on 2nd between Central and Gold.
F. That a bus driver let me carry my bike into the bus recently when the bus-front rack was full.
G. The Sandias.
H. The fact that very few people hike in the Sandias, especially given how close they are to a rather sizable urban area.
I. My life down here in the South Valley, even when the wife and I are hiding out in our home to avoid opening the door to balloonist guy who is stuck in the alfalfa field behind our house.
J. The Phở at Cafe Trang, followed by a grocery visit to Talin Market.

There, that should even up the cynical negativity/positivism quotient...well, at least a little. Enjoy the Fiesta Period everyone as best you can. It will be over soon.


Steve said...

How can anyone hate the Balloon Fiesta? It is our Eiffel Tower and the foundation of APS elementary school Fall curriculum. I love the fiesta for bringing us the word "glodeo" too. Its just a nice word to say, or yodel.(I wonder how the OED defines it). October is a great month to live in NM and especially Albuquerque--apple time, fresh-roasted chile, and the Balloon Fiesta are 3 of the reasons.

Anonymous said...

There are two kinds of Albuqueans:

Those who love or quietly tolerate Balloon Fiesta, and horse people.

And never the twain shall meet on this topic. I like colored globes floating magically over my commute as well as the next --SCrreeech! Pow! Crash!--driver, but my horses just can't get into it.

Perfectly sound 5 year old who is almost trained did a back flip on cross ties yesterday and that was inside the damn barn! I can't wait for it to be over.

Anonymous said...

So heartily agree as regards your assessment of Duke City Fix. I honestly can't bear to read it.

"We ARE hip and cosmopolitan! WE TOTALLY ARE!"

Black is the new Black said...

You're totally right, I wrote a positive blog post about how you can now bike to the Balloon Fiesta on Duke City Fix not because I enjoy the fiesta, nor biking, nor biking to said fiesta, but because I was hoping the tourists might be reading DCF.

That was APD level detective work.

As for Anon 6:54 - celebrating what we enjoy about Albuquerque and discussing it isn't pretending to be hip - it's celebrating what we enjoy about Albuquerque and discussing it. Many of the more frequent writers on DCF are from truly cosmopolitan areas (SF, LA, NY, etc.) and are under no illusion about Albuquerque being cosmopolitan. We find Albuquerque refreshing, unique, quirky, and yes hip (not in the contrived Urban Outfitters way but more in the frito pie way). It's so fantastic to live in a place where people really don't give a shit what car you drive, how big your house is, or what your political afiliation is. Ironically many people here do get riled up when you start talking about why Albuquerque is great - and they start to get glassy eyed and confused when you attempt to explain why you would never live anywhere else (until you lie and claim it is housing prices).

As a transplant from the SF Bay Area I've observed that many Albuquerque natives prefer to labor under the impression that Albuquerque sucks and have an ascerbic reaction to anything positive people have to say about the city. This is, ironically, one of the more charming aspects of Albuquerque - it has no idea how truly great it is and is almost actively attempting to be an awful ugly city yet failing at it utterly. The same can be said about the Balloon Fiesta - it's the most cliche, stupid, contrived, event full of even more idiots than the state fair yet is an amazing and gorgeous spectacle despite itself.

black is the new black said...

For the record though, I too am really annoyed at how amazingly whin'y the balloon pilots can often be.

I can't help but roll my eyes when they:
1) Complain about the pueblos putting rules on when and where balloonists can land
2) Complain that the city has grown and no longer is a spotty patchwork of empty fields for them to land in
3) Complain when it rains (same goes for the vendor's) as though it is somehow Albuquerque's fault that the first real rain for weeks almost always happens during the fiesta
4) Complain that people don't treat them with respect (sorry, but a pilot who can control a craft with the options of "slowly up, slightly less slowly up, slowly down, and fast down" doesn't deserve much respect in my opinion).
5) Complain that private land owners seem put out when they land on their property

However, my love affair with the fiesta is not with the pilots, nor with the ridiculously self important "zebra's" but with the actual site of the balloons themselves. I also have to admit to a fondness for all the food-on-a-stick available, I don't know why but food on a stick is almost always better (could you imagine eating a corn dog with a fork and knife, gross!).

black is the new black said...

god damn it. sight, not site. argh!

no more beer fueld blog commenting!

Gerald said...

I can't say I hate the fiesta. I can't say I hate the DCF. However, sometimes I am rather annoyed at what I find in the area at Fiesta time. I find traffic where i want to walk. I see crazy out of towners. I can experience the event by just being in the area. However, at the same time I meet all kinds of new people who honestly are interesting and the employment I occasionally get at the fiesta gives me more motivation not to hate it.

Larry said...

Hey, I am an out-of-towner who visited three years ago to see the Fiesta. Thanks for putting up with it and us. (stayed with the in-laws.)

Carol said...

Wonderful list. Not everybody can understand it, but there are times I don't like being a part of a crowd.

al said...

You forgot to mention the genius pilots who fly to Rio Rancho to get themselves caught in the power lines leaving huge sections of this northerly burg without electricity. THANK you for posting. I don't feel alone now.