Rejection

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Submitted some writing work. Results due yesterday. Felt really good about the piece. Poured all of myself into it. Targeted to a small publication and what I wrote seemed right in their wheelhouse. Was hoping to get some traction, finally.

Nope.

When I put that much into what I write (which is the only way I know how), a rejection of the work feels like a rejection of me. I know I have to get over that if I’m going to ever make any headway.

But still. I’m blue.

I’ll give myself the weekend to mope. Come Monday, I’m gonna toss that leg back over that horse and get back to work.

*sigh*

The more things change

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The more they stay the same…or so the saying goes.

Is that really true? It seems anymore that everything just changes. And changes. And changes.

Am I becoming my folks? Lamenting for days gone by. “Better days.” “It didn’t used to be like this.”

Is it an inevitable side effect of passing years?

Somewhere along the way in my tenure here in the Bay Area, just over ten years now, I crossed a line, passed a barrier, ticked off a marker. I had finally lived here long enough that I could pine for “how it used to be.”

Yesterday evening I had occasion to drive The Cute Boy™ to San Francisco. He’s laid up with a bum ankle (don’t ask). So Cute Boy is now Gimpy McGimperson on two crutches. He had some business in our fine City, so I took him there and decided to bide my time and wait for him to be done, más o menos, three hours all in.

So while waiting I decided to visit an old haunt in North Beach, a place I’ve waxed ecstastic about in these very pages. A lovely family owned restaurant called Sodini’s. Owned by the venerable Mark Sodini, when I first moved, a hay-seed-in-my-hair girl from New Mexico, Sodini’s was one of the few places I knew how to get to in that big mean city.

Back in those days I was trying to catch the eye of a local musician (it ended badly, don’t ask) who played at the bar across the street. So I’d go to Sodini’s for dinner and some liquid courage. It’s always a bit weird being a girl going to a restaurant or bar alone, but any trepidation I had quickly dissolved in the kind presence of the good people of Sodini’s. These folks couldn’t have been more cordial, and kind, and they took good care of me, looked out for me, and became my friends.

So it was a melancholy bit of business to sit, once more, by myself on a barstool, drinking a well made drink and tucked into a gorgeous Caprese.

My eyes wandered to the strangely quiet Green street out the windows, and my retinas were burned by a neon sign blaring FAX, COPIES, PHOTOS. I said to Mark, “What’s with the copy place? Didn’t that used to be a frame shop?” He laughed and said “Yeah, but it’s been a copy place for about two years.”

Two years? How do two years slip past without me knowing it?

Then I looked over at the old North Beach Video shop. It’s now an upscale restaurant (I don’t even remember the name) and the video store moved into a much smaller space next door.

I started getting depressed. “My neighborhood is vanishing!” I thought, nervously sipping my drink and spooning in Minestrone for comfort. That sort of demoralized anxiety was setting in, until I really stopped, took a breath, and looked around.

There was Mark at the end of the bar playing liar’s dice with Leo. I met Leo not long after I’d moved, on a night much the same. Leo owns Vesuvio, the bar next door to City Lights. If you are familiar with the Beat Generation writers, then those names mean something to you.

Leo has lived in North Beach for a long time. I can’t quote how many years, but I’m guessing somewheres between forty and sixty. On that night way back then, Leo told me stories of North Beach. Told me how he used to own a coffee bar (in the first popular incarnation of coffee bars in America) and that he once paid Janis Joplin twenty bucks to play all night. I asked him questions about her with wide-eyed wonder, and he remembered her fondly, remembering her as “a little odd”. He told me about Jefferson Airplane. And Grace Slick (who’s long been a hero of mine). Told me they were good kids and he enjoyed them, but they drank too much.

This was amazing to me. A living history book. And last night, there he was again, taking everyone’s dice and beating ’em all, like usual.

As I continued to gaze around the restaurant, I spotted a favorite waitress and the guy who used to work the door at the Grant & Green. And Mark said “You need another, Karen?” and I nodded. And he served it right up because he takes good care of his customers.

And I relaxed. And smiled. And let out a little bit of the whole lotta stress I’ve got working me.

Because everything might change. This world moves too fast. Everything looks different when you turn around and look again. And in this fast pace world, sometimes you just know that certain places will remain enough the same to keep you sane, and that’s good enough for me.

(Don’t even get me started on my fair New Mexico and what the hell has happened to my beautiful Albuquerque. Oy! Guess it’s time to move somewhere new where I don’t remember what it “used to be,” and leave before I cross that same line again. Ah well, I love New Mexico. I love the Bay Area. And most of all, I love The Cute Boy™, and that is something that, good lord willing and the creeks don’t rise, will always be there, growing a little stronger every day)

Sadly

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Back in April I had a chance to sound off about the kerfuffle involving the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe and Fisk University.

Fisk is the owner of the Alfred Stieglitz Collection (O’Keefe’s husband) and since the university needs funds, they wanted to sell off a couple things. The museum made an offer and Fisk agreed to sell. Then the Tennessee Attorney General stepped in and said it wasn’t enough money.

Everyone stepped back, negotiations were had, and a new price was agreed on. Everything looked great.

But reading today’s ABQjournal, it seems things have gone south again.

Everybody was happy until one of the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune (with scads of money, no doubt) decided she wanted the painting for an as yet to be opened museum being built in Arkansas.

Long way around the barn, since the museum has rights to the estate of O’Keefe they could have sued to take ownership, and Fisk could have lost the entire collection. A Tennessee judge actually thought the university should risk it. A big risk, I’d say, for a cash strapped university. Not only the cost of legal fees but the risk of losing a big collection. I’m dumbfounded.

In a move that makes me sad, but shows the nature of the O’Keefe museum, they’ve decided to back off. They see no need to punish Fisk in this whole process.

And in the end, no one wins.

Bah!

Here is the painting again…the one causing all the fuss, “Radiator Building— Night, New York”:

"Even for Albuquerque, this is pretty Albuquerque"

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A great line uttered in a dark but entertaining movie, “Ace in the Hole” set in New Mexico.

Kirk Douglas utters it with convincing New York callousness to the editor of the fictional Albuquerque Sun-Bulletin. (I’m certain it doesn’t apply to the reining king, the ABQjournal….right?)

And I laughed. I think he just called out the rasquache-ness that is my hometown!

I decided I might incorporate it into my lexicon. Expect to see it here, soon, in this blog.

“Ace in the Hole” is a “lost” Billy Wilder film, recently released on DVD. I heard about it in an article in the Albuquerque Tribune. The movie originally opened in 1951 to unfavorable reviews and box office. I can see why, this isn’t a happy Hollywood film. It was nominated for an Academy Award for screenplay, and though it didn’t win, it is a really well written story.

I’m surprised at how prophetic the movie is, a commentary on the circus nature of the media. The story, a man is trapped in a collapsed mine that is part of Native American sacred land. Kirk Douglas, a drunkard reporter fired from a variety of big town newspapers is looking for the big story to earn him back his New York job. He senses the story of the man trapped, convinced he’s being punished by Native American spirits, is the kind of human interest story that will earn him his way back.

His scheme is successful. The news story catches fire and soon people are coming in droves to hang outside the mineshaft, waiting for the trapped man to emerge alive. It literally becomes a circus, complete with Ferris Wheel.

Kirk Douglas plays a truly unlikable character to perfection. And even in black and white, our beauty of a state looks great. The film is shot near Gallup and it has big skies and beautiful hills.

I enjoyed this lost gem of a film, liking it even better for its locale. If you like old films, this is worth the time. Don’t expect to emerge happy, it’s got a lot of bitter lines and hateful dialogue. But it’s well made and enjoyable. And available from Netflix.

¡Feliz Cumpleaños!

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Happy Birfday to Tingley Coliseum. The venerable old gal is 50 years old and like an aging film star, in close up, she’s pretty much showing her age.

Doors opened for the first time in 1957 to kick of the New Mexico State Fair. Friday kicked off the 2007 Fair, and with that, Tingley ushered in her 50th festival of rodeo, cotton candy and all things New Mexico.

There is a pretty thorough article in the Albuquerque Tribune, an interview with Mahlon Love, former act who performed in the venue and also former State Fair commissioner.

In the story, Mahlon shares some memories from the long history of Albuquerque’s most well known multi-use venue.

Being a child of Albuquerque, I’ve many of my own memories from Tingley. I remember my first rodeo, with entertainment from the aforementioned Freddy Fender. We sat way up in the nosebleed seats, on the bleachers, not seats with backs (my mom always was a cheapo).

We watched the rodeo first (always the best part), then afterward watched them tow out a stage and set it up. Then the lights went down. A shiny convertible came rolling out of chutes where the livestock had just been, a shadowy performer stepped on stage. The lights came up to cheers. And as Freddy began singing, the stage started slowly revolving.

“…in 1966, a revolving stage…was introduced in Tingley.” Ah, the ubiquitous revolving stage.

Even as a kid I thought that was pretty damn rasquache.

Now, I get why they do it. Tingley wasn’t meant to be a concert venue, and no one should pay good money to look at the hindside of a famous act for two hours. However, it really is kind of ridiculous, in a way only New Mexico can be.

I remember seeing Alison Krauss there in the mid-90’s. She played one hell of a show, but made several comments throughout the night about how disorienting it was being on the spinning stage.

There has been many a great show at Tingley. The Garth Brooks show in 1996 seems to be one for the memory books. (It’s mentioned in the article.) I was there, the guest of a supplier who had an extra ticket. I do remember Garth putting on one hell of a spectacle that night, like nothing I’d ever seen. I also remember that it was raining outside…and inside. As I sat there watching Garth work up a lather on stage, I was busy trying to avoid water running out of a leaky roof. Looking around I noticed several of us scootching and moving out of the way of the variety of leaky spots.

However, one of my most vivid memories was seeing Randy Travis (who I understand is playing the Fair again this year). I had *really* cheap seats, and ended up sitting at the very tippy top row. In fact, it was kind of nice because that bleacher rail in the very last row backed up to the wall of Tingley, so I actually had a makeshift seatback. I leaned back and enjoyed the show, singing along to the faves. Not that I could actually see the performer, but…you know.

The show was rolling along fabulously when Randy started up with “It’s Just a Matter of Time”, a song that was popular then and a fave of mine. I smiled as he sang and I sang along. Now, if you are familiar with this song, Randy has to hit some pretty low, low notes and Mr. Travis has a pretty deep voice. When he hit those deep bassy notes, the wall behind me, the one I was leaning against, noticeably vibrated. I’m not making this up, I could physically feel the walls shuddering as Randy sang “Iiiiiii knooooooow” (<--deep vibrating bass) "ooooh-whoa Iiiiii knooooow, that someday you'll wake up and fiiiind…" That deep bass voice vibrated the walls, my backbone and my sternum….it was the most visceral music experience I’d ever known. I swear to God I thought Tingley was going to collapse from the strain, like a crystal wine glass in a storm of operatic vibrato. But she held, and has continued to hold up through the years for more raucous concerts than Randy damn Travis. I mean, Pearl Jam played there in 1998. If Seattle grunge angst rock can’t bring down the walls, then a country crooner certainly can’t. I wonder if Randy can still hit those low notes? I wonder if the walls will rattle like that again this weekend? Would be cool to be there again to see. Meanwhile, the venerable old Tingley still stands and welcomes a new crop of Fair goers into her rickety arms. The bulls and broncs will buck, the pretty girls will race barrels, and the crowd will look at a new cast of popular acts (spinning on a new spinning stage that comes down from the ceiling. Rasquache goes high tech). She’s a grand old girl with a lot of stories to tell and a lot more history yet to be made. Gary Roller, former backup man to Michael Martin Murphey sums it up best (from the end of the Tribune article). “You can’t go anywhere else in the state and find that legacy,” he said. “Roy Rogers opened the place, for goodness’ sake.” (post updated to remove images)