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.
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.