¡Feliz Cumpleaños!

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)

And then there was one

Was reading Jim Baca’s blog “Only in New Mexico” yesterday (if you aren’t reading it, you should. Jim rocks).

Jim’s reporting that the eventual is coming to pass: The Albuquerque Tribune is going buh-bye, leaving just the Albuquerque Journal as the source of news for our fair city.

This troubles me, not the least because I know that readership in newspapers is going down. That’s a well documented trend. But what I fear will happen in Albuquerque is what happened in San Francisco. The San Francisco Examiner was, for years, the “second” newspaper, behind the San Francisco Chronicle (that bastion of Phil Bronstein-ness). When the Examiner started struggling, it was clear that the Chronicle would emerge the winner.

The Examiner is now a toothless free paper, and the Chronicle, left to it’s own devices and without competition, has become something just short (in my opinion) of yellow journalism. The articles are woefully biased, censored, and slanted. At least once a week I read a Chronicle article and actually get pissed off.

So goes the way of the Trib and the Journal, I suppose. The Trib has never been the top paper in the city. I know that. I did used to love grabbing the afternoon paper out of our front yard and reading the funnies. Their comics were always far better than the Journal. (I think Jim agrees with me, he says in his post that the Journal should pull over the Trib’s funnies ASAP. Couldn’t agree more!). I also thought the Trib had a lot more heart than the Journal. You could always find a feel good story in there, or something to make you smile.

It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out. I think a little competition is a good thing in any space, but I know the Internet has basically submarined most print papers. So we soldier on….here’s hoping the Journal (which I actually do like) can keep up the quality in a space without anyone chomping at their heels (not that the Trib actually chomped their heels much in recent years, but you get what I mean….I think).

I can’t complain too much…I’m one of those “read the news online” people….guess I’ve contributed to the demise of print papers. Wonder if it’s possible for there to be a major shift in thinking in a fairly stalwart industry?

And on we go…in the name of progress.

Sure could use, a little good news…today

Been a bit maudlin of late, I admit, my blog reflecting my mood. I’m depressed, no two ways about it, and a variety of culprits are the cause.

So today I thought, after many whinging and moaning posts, I’d try to find something upbeat to write about.

If it doesn’t skeeve you out, it’s actually good news. Something I knew to be true after my own non-official analysis while visiting the Sun City where my mom, aunt and uncle are current residents.

The old folks? They be getting’ *down*.

As reported by the quite respectable New England Journal of Medicine in an article in the Albuquerque Tribune.

“… more than a quarter of those up to age 85 reported having sex in the previous year.”

“Sex with a partner in the previous year was reported by 73 percent of people ages 57 to 64; 53 percent of those ages 64 to 75, and 26 percent of people 75 to 85. Of those who were active, most said they did it two to three times a month or more.”

Well all right!

Let’s overturn that “crusty mean old fart” stereotype and re-imagine our seniors as calm, happy and sporting that “knowing smile”.

I think it’s great. I really do. I have been impressed by the folks in the community where my mom lives. They are a bunch of vibrant, active people and since exercise is a great social outlet, my mom is in the best shape she’s seen in a long time, as are most of the folks who live there. No sitting in a rocking chair whiling away the days, nope. These folks are *living* their twilight years. And I, for one, support it wholeheartedly!

I know that a lot of the folks in that community are dating and yes, having sex. Why not? These are some of the less stressful years of their lives. Kids are raised, no more nine to five, they’ve paid their dues and are financially set. Why not have a little fun?

I like what one woman who was interviewed had to say, “At age 79, she said, ‘I don’t ever answer personal questions’ about sex. But she added, ‘I certainly have a zest for life.'”

Mmmm, zesty!

Albuquerque Arts Scene

Yeah? There is one?

There is if you read Eric Griego’s opinion piece A Cultural Mecca in the Albuquerque Tribune.

I think he oversells it juuust a skosh, but I’ll be fair. I think the arts and entertainment scene in Albuquerque has ramped up muchly in the ten years since I left. (Ten years? TEN YEARS!??!?! That cannot be…and yet…it was Memorial Day 1997 that a scared sh-tless ABQ girl loaded up her Jeep and took off for parts west…)

Since I left, the Journal Pavilion was built. Wow. THAT was a much necessary addition to ABQ to allow big name acts a decent place to play and incentive to stop in ABQ. I’ve not been there myself but have heard great reviews of the place despite the long single road access to the venue.

Sure beats the hell out of, oh, I don’t know…Tingley. I mean….going to a Megadeath concert in the same place they hold rodeos always held a certain bit of irony for me…..but it’s so rasquache it almost hurts. I remember going to a show, sitting in the nosebleed seats, I mean TOP row, leaned back against the wall and feeling the whole building vibrate. I wondered how much longer it would stand. I remember seeing Garth Brooks there as water leaked from the roof onto concert goers….

And for the life of me I can’t remember the name of the place where I saw my first concert…it’s killing me (after much Googling…I believe it was the Civic Auditorium). It was a small music venue, back at that time we all went there and the only good bands that would come to ABQ would play there. And as the band Missing Persons rocked out, bits of ceiling tile fell on my brother and me. I am not making this up. I believe it finally closed due to asbestos issues. That was early 80’s. Oy.

I was heartened to see that many of the casinos have built nice venues for acts. True, it’s just a ploy to get people to come out and pay to play, but still…it’s at least a decent venue and I’m guessing the casinos pay the acts fairly well. I’m planning a trip to ABQ this summer to catch a show at the amphitheater at the Sandia Casino. I’ve not attended a concert there yet but I’ve seen the venue and I think it’s beautiful.

It’s a start.

Griego mentions the National Institute of Flamenco (discussed here a couple posts back) and the Tricklock Theater Company. Yes. These are all good starts….but if your local arts scene is reduced to Taos artist colonies, Flamenco and a stage theater company…then no, you aren’t yet ready for prime time.

I’ve always said I saw more concerts and cultural events in the first two years living in the Bay Area than I did in the nearly three decades I lived in NM. That’s just sad. And one of the main reasons I’ve always thought I probably can’t go back. My own art has grown leaps and bounds because I’m surrounded by creatives. Creativity is sewn into the DNA of the Bay Area. North Beach in San Francisco fairly hums with the vibe. You sit in a historic coffee shop and channel the writers and musicans, poets and photographers that have come through over the years. And your art is appreciated, accepted, encouraged. And given room to breathe, to be shown, to be admired.

So my fair Albuquerque. Yes, you have MUCH culture to be shared. And I love you dearly, but sorry Mr. Griego, “Burque” (god i *HATE* that euphemism) has a long, long way to go before it can play in the bigs.

Not saying it doesn’t have potential…just saying there is a lot of growing up yet to do……

It’s just….so wrong…..

Got to reading an article in the Albquerque Tribune today titled, “Even presidential candidates have their dream jobs”.

It’s an insightful bit about the current roster of candidates and their answers to some AP questions. Sort of a “get to know you better”.

But that’s not the problem.

The problem is that…as is well documented, our Governor, one Mr. Bill Richardson wanted to be a baseball player as a youth. This we know. And to illustrate that, the paper includes a file photo from 2003 of the Guv tossing out a first pitch at an Isotopes game. And when you click the photo it gets large. Real large. Large enough to see more detail than you need….

Click at your own risk: Be Disturbed

I have seen the furry belly of our Governor. I might never be the same……

It also bugs me that Hillary couldn’t give a succinct answer and that Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo smarmed it up and said President. But that’s another post for another day…..