The third Thursday "Mix" is a popular networking concept around the country, but it's struggling to get rolling in Santa Fe. In October, the professional design association AIGA hosted its mix with the Chamber of Commerce at Cowgirl BBQ. It was kind of dismal. There are a lot of things vying for the attention of young professionals—other networking events, going home and sitting around naked, YouTube clips of crazy people like Glen Beck, situations where they can actually get a drink without doing a handstand. The Mix is a good idea—why not gather people who are interested in entrepreneurialism, growing businesses, professional exchange, generating ideas, etc?—it just needs a little organization. Like some music, some good food, an accessible bar and some value-added education or entertainment. A bunch of folks standing around like they all stumbled into the wrong high school reunion isn't a mixer, it's a practical joke.
Speaking of YouTube
Fox News pseudo-libertarian cum laughingstock Glenn Beck broke down crying last week—an increasingly common ploy designed to imitate sincerity—as he lamented the passing of a simpler America from a fictional past. He invoked Coca-Cola and Kodak advertisements, and blathered incoherently about being a teenager who gets suckered into going to a party and ends up smelling like pot and beer even though he didn't really do anything wrong, apparently as a metaphor for the current condition of the United States.
Beck's inane babbling about a confused and divided nation was made lamentably poignant in the face of the 30 Republican senators who voted against US Sen. Al Franken's, D-Minn., amendment to the 2010 defense appropriation bill, an amendment that does nothing more than make American defense contractors protect their employees from raping each other. These Republicans presumably represent the stern (but distantly loving) father by whom Beck longs to be reprimanded. It's funny how people like Beck and Rush Limbaugh wonder what happened to our country, but are unable to see that they happened to our country.
Dumb It Down
While Beck was busy sobbing, Liz Sidoti, a writer for the Associated Press, gave journalists some pride by opining that President Barack Obama may be "obnoxiously articulate." Just too well-spoken. Sidoti drove home a point that Sarah Vowell makes in her last book, The Wordy Shipmates: If Americans were actually puritanical, we'd be more literate.
Popcorn vs. Housing?
What's up with City Councilors Rosemary Romero and Chris Calvert wanting to back Councilor Matt Ortiz and subsidize construction of a Railyard movie theater? Here are two councilors who've told us how financially irresponsible it would be for the city to sink a few million into affordable housing in the Northwest Quadrant, and they suddenly demand more movie screens…presumably for the good of the people? A good use of $30 million is expansion of the city's trail network and improvement to the park system. A good, if less-common use of $30 million (give or take) is the purchase of the College of Santa Fe property. These are big-ticket items that citizens can get behind—situations in which the city works to improve its livability and the quality of life for all its citizens. A poor use of $30 million is the subsidization of a movie theater on the Railyard. If that kind of strictly private enterprise can't find funding, then it can't reliably pay down a new city bond issue.
There have been good offers on the table to develop theaters before and there have been bad offers on the table. The Railyard Community Corporation's problem has been passing on the good offers. If a new downtown theater is viable, another good offer will eventually come along; $30 million is a lot to pay for impatience and a full city parking garage.
But then movies are on the brain for local politicians. The $6 million that Santa Fe County recently agreed to loan Santa Fe Studios is just another in a long line of treats designed to finally kick off a project that's starting to feel like a fantasy plot. Land deals, tax breaks, special districts and magical Legislature dollars have all coalesced around the Hool family project, but you've got to wonder when those Hollywood dollars are going to step up to bat. There's nothing wrong with courting a non-extractive industry that pays high wages, but one wants to make sure it's done in the right way. A project that keeps needing a new crutch from government is a project that starts to raise eyebrows. Let's just hope the county has better luck than the state in terms of keeping track of its return on investment.