Top Ten

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With a wink and a nod to the Late Show, I present my own version of the Top Ten.

This came to me on the ride home from work on Friday. I got to thinking about all things New Mexico and how crazy our state must look to an outsider.

Without further ado…

Top Ten Things Said By a First Time Visitor to New Mexico:

(in no particular order)

10) What’s with all the orange barrels?

9) Clean water and fast ducks?

8) Ok, so to get from Las Cruces to Albuquerque I get on I-25. Then what?

7) *This* is Roswell? I thought it would be bigger.

6) *This* is the Governor? I thought he would be smaller.

5) Red or Green what?

4) Why is that car on a stick?

3) I wonder how much it would cost to buy land?

2) Why is that car so wide/low/loaded down?

and finally….

1) Wow. You don’t *look* Mexican.

Happy Easter and Happy Sunday. I’m out to enjoy the sun…..

The high price of popular art

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As an artist in my own way, it always hurts me to see squabbles over how to price the stuff of well-known artists. Recent mind-boggling accounts of auction prices for Van Gogh paintings come to mind….

You know, I’ve never been much of a fan of Georgia O’Keeffe, a shocking admission, I know, for a New Mexican. Actually, that’s not true. I think many true-bred New Mexicans aren’t real partial to her work and less partial to all the hubbub made about her stuff. It’s an out of towner, Santa Fe/Taos trying-too-hard art society thing and I’m just not in that groove.

But I’m saddened to see the recent squabbles between the State of Tennessee and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe over a particular painting called “Radiator Building— Night, New York” (1927). A picture of this particular painting can be found at the end of this post.

Near as I can put the story together based on an ABQjournal story is that a deal was struck with the cash strapped Fisk University for the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum to buy the paining for $7M. That’s a nice tidy sum of money, actually. I don’t know what kind of funding the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum gets but I’m certain that’s a substantial chunk of change to try to bring Ms. O’Keeffe’s work back to the State of New Mexico. It was originally a donation to the university so now they stand to make some money, which works out great.

Since the deal was struck and approved by the Tennessee Attorney General (who looks over charitable donations and such), and I guess since news got out about the deal, there have been a variety of offers from art dealers and the like for substantially more money. Like around $25M. Wow.

This makes me sad on both sides of the table. Fisk University needs the money. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum wants the painting for obvious reasons. Meanwhile I think the damn Attorney General is being greedy, and that makes me grumpy.

While this argument languishes in the courts, the school is still floundering for money, the museum is anxiously twiddling it’s thumbs, and the attorneys are getting their rocks off jumping up and down and getting paid by the bounce.

Boy does this make me steamed.

I, of course, didn’t know Ms. O’Keeffe but I’d bet she would be a bit steamed by all this too. She was, by all accounts, a humble woman. I’d like to think she’d like to do what’s best for both sides. In cases like this it’s hard to know what is best.

As a negotiator for a living, I’d love to see this one get settled without the courts. Could the university and the museum get together and agree on a new price? And could the frapping Attorney General just agree to abide by the deal they strike?

I say get them all in a room with coffee and bagels, cater in lunch, and let them hash it out. Good people tend to make reasonable decisions. Just keep that frapping Attorney General out of the room. You know how them law dogs tend to complicate matters…..

Anyhow, here’s to the memory of the artist, Georgia O’Keeffe. I’ll bet when she painted the canvas, the thought of a squabble over money never crossed her mind. Here’s to all the struggling artists of the world who’d give their eyeteeth for twenty-five bucks for one of their pieces.

*sigh*

Dining al fresco

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The Albuquerque Tribune has a feature called “Viewfinder” which has a picture and a bit of an essay or editorial around it.

I read this one today, just before lunch, so of course it resonated.

I also love dining outdoors. I mean LOVE it in a weird obsessive kind of way. Much like the article’s author, Steven St. John, I think eating a meal outdoors has a special feel to it, and one that we who live in nice climates tend to take for granted.

I had occasion to ponder this just last month while in Scottsdale, Arizona for baseball Spring Training. It was a particularly cold winter here in the Bay Area and I was very happy to embrace the mid 80 temperatures in balmy Arizona.

After the game one day, we sat out on the patio of Julio G’s visiting with a friends (one of whom is also a minor league player in the Giant’s organization). The sun was getting more towards low on the horizon at 5:30ish, the patio was warm but not hot, the guacamole was fresh made on site and the margs were on special. Oh yes, and there was much baseball talk…..

I had a moment, calmly sipping my on the rocks house marg and nibbling at crisp chips and avocado where it felt like everything in the universe was just….I don’t know…right. I tend to remember very well those few times in life where there is a convergence of all things good, and you just let your shoulders down, you deeply exhale and you, you know, relax.

Relax. That’s a nice thing. It’s a nice thing to ponder here on the eve of the weekend.

Maybe if I’m lucky I can convince that wonderful man I carpool with to find a place to eat outside. That sounds like a nice way to start the weekend….

Until then, I remain…nose to the grindstone. Bah!

Well whaddya know?!?

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My favorite source of material to lambaste has managed to write herself a decent article in today’s ABQjournal. Ms. Polly Summar wrote a nice (and for her, shockingly respectful) article regarding the Penitentes who worship in their particular ways during this Holy Week leading up to Easter. Some folks make treks to places like Santuario de Chimayo. Others worship in their moradas as they remember the origin of the Easter holiday.

It is an annual tradition dating back centuries. I remember as a kid listening to the newscasts each year telling about the people making the long trek to Chimayo, sometimes flagellating themselves or inflicting other self-pain. It is a long Catholic tradition with some renewed interest since the popular success of both the book and the movie “The DaVinci Code”.

I refuse to get into any religious discussions here because I feel every person needs to figure out for themselves what they believe and how to be ok with that. What I’m here to talk about is a New Mexico tradition that has memory and meaning for me.

I was pleased to see yesterday that the state has taken steps to make those that travel on the highways and roads a bit more safe (for both pilgrim and general traveler). I know in past years there’s been tribulations around this on both sides. Here’s to a workable solution.

Hearing of the New Mexico Penitentes puts me into the Easter spirit. It’s how I know the holiday is nigh. It’s been years since I attended Mass, but Easter to my memory was always a nice day. Not only did they throw the dark purple cloaks off the statues at church but we all got to get back whatever we gave up for Lent…which usually makes folks glad.

Then there was the singing of joyous songs. My mom particularly loved “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”(mind your volume if you click that link) and sang it in full voice all day long.

The aaaaaaahhhhhleeeeeeeluuuuuuujahs really got to her…and to me after several hours…..she loved them almost as much as the In Excelcius Deo’s from Christmas.

The weather in New Mexico was usually wonderful so it was great to be out in the sun. My mom always got both my sister and I a new dress to wear to Mass. Usually new white shoes too. My mom was, of course, a traditionalist, and so no white shoes and no sandals before Easter, so breaking out the white sandals was a new sense of freedom. Toes got to come OUT in the flip flops! Summer was near! My birthday was less than a month away! And I got to wear a new dress!

AND THERE WAS CANDY! And eggs hidden in the backyard. Easter is usually pretty good memories for me, and that’s saying a lot. I think as the years go by, I’ll hang on to the good memories like Easter. Seems healthier that way.

So this year, however you choose to enjoy your holiday, either by meditating, worshipping in your own way or eating ham with potato salad that looks like you dropped confetti in it from the colored eggs, do please have a safe and wondrous day (especially YOU, Polly).

Aaaaaaaaahhhhhllleeeeeeeluuuuuuujah!

Lime+Tequila+Triple Sec+salt+ice = love

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What’s a girl gotta do to get a good margarita in this town?

I moved from the great State of New Mexico about ten years ago. This Memorial Day, in fact, marks ten years ago. Oh how far I’ve come in lo these ten years. The span between 28 and 38 sometimes feels like a lifetime.

I was a wide-eyed innocent back in the day. I’ve become more cynical, less career driven and much, much calmer in these ten years. Not to say that wouldn’t have happened had I stayed in Albuquerque, but I think living in “the big city” has grown me up…a lot.

At first I wanted to throw off my New Mexico roots. I didn’t tell many people I was from there thinking it foreign and backward. The people I did mention it to said “oh, like Taos?” Good lord, if they only knew there was SO much more to the state than Taos. Or Santa Fe.

A lot of people in San Francisco have asked me about Santa Fe. I think the Madison Avenue advertisers have done a good job of hyping “the mystique”. I guess if you aren’t from there it’s all mysterious and stuff. For a local, it’s a tourist place. Locals avoid tourist places.

In order to help my fellow San Franciscans understand, I began to liken Santa Fe to Pier 39. I’d get a startled “oh!”, but they got it. I’d tell them there was much to see in a state that big that didn’t include Santa Fe or Taos. Then I’d drop this tidbit on them: you can’t fly into Santa Fe on any of the major airlines. That was usually enough to get them talking about something else.

But time has passed and I’ve gotten perspective on my state. Now I find I’m proud as hell of being from New Mexico, and I’ll shout it from the rooftops. My boss at work wears a USC shirt on most Fridays because it’s his alma mater and he’s very proud. So I got online and ordered up a nice crimson NMSU shirt and began wearing it on every Friday, grinning at him in staff meetings. Sadly he didn’t notice until I pointed it out…..

NMSU made it to the NCAA this year. Oh man, after years of looking at the Duke posters and brackets outside of my VP’s office (and my executive VP and the VP of the group I worked in a few years back) I was so damn proud to post up the wall outside my office with NMSU schwag this year.

I had a laugh when a group stood outside my office looking at the stuff and laughing about how they hadn’t heard of New Mexico State. I said, “hey, by the damn way, our Governor is running for President!” They looked at me with blank stares. I said “Bill Richardson” helpfully. The response was an appalling, “who?”

Bah!

But ok, I’ve gotten used to people thinking I’m from Arizona. I’ve gotten used to “oh Taos” being the answer to the statement “I’m originally from New Mexico” or jokes about a left turn at Albquerque. I’ve learned to deal.

What I’m still struggling with is the lack of good Mexican food around here. You’d think a state with a population of Latinos at or better than half would have some kicking Mexican food. You would be wrong. At least for the Northern part of the state. I lay no claims to the food down south not having spent enough time in research down there.

My loving partner thought he knew from good Mexican food until this past October when, on a road trip, I turned him on to the delights and joys of the fruits of Hatch, New Mexico.

But more than that…more than using tomatillos for the green in your salsa, more than finding *gasp* CARROTS in my fajitas, more than seeing low fat refrieds on my plate, the one thing I miss is a real good margarita.

It can’t be that hard, right? And yet it is. It’s all about the mix. Gardunos does it well, really well. My mouth is watering as I type…. Sadies also does a fine job. I think one of the best margs I ever had was in Juarez at Señor Frogs (I don’t think it’s still open at that location). It was great because it was fresh squeezed lime juice, a bit of sugar, and tequila. All nice and unmessed with. Fresh and oh so delicious.

You should taste the crap I have to put up with around here. It’s unnatural! It makes a homesick girl want to cry.

Now there is a LOT of food that the Bay Area does REALLY well, (I’m talking to you Peter and Mark Sodini), but so far…Mexican food isn’t one of them.

Don’t EVEN get me started on guacamole. Avocado, lime juice, tiny bit of cilantro, tomatoes. THAT’S IT!

Why’s it gotta be so hard?

Sigh, sometimes it doesn’t pay to be an expatriate New Mexican…..