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Morning Word: New Mexico Still A Top Gas and Oil Producer

The incentive to drill is dependent on pricing

Morning WordFriday, May 29, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
It's Thursday, May 29, 2015

New Mexico remains one of the top 30 natural gas producing regions in the world. The ranking is from 2012 numbers and includes data before a decline in prices last year. Reporter Staci Matlock found the state also ranks 32nd for oil production.

Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Speaking of rankings, the University of New Mexico’s law school is ranked ahead of big name law schools like Georgetown and UCLA, according to the Above the Law blog.
The rankings were based on employment data, large firm placement, federal clerkship placement and a "debt per job" metric, which measures how much student debt is accrued by a school’s graduates for every actual legal job obtained. Other factors included alumni ratings and tuition costs. 

Read it at ABQ Business First. 

Meanwhile, WalletHub has ranked the state as one of the top places for people retiring from the military to live.

Read why at the Portales News Tribune. 

A day after the American Civil Liberties Union issued a report documenting racial profiling of New Mexicans at federal checkpoints, the union representing border agents agrees that it can do a better job.

Read the Washington Post report here. 

Public Service Company of New Mexico executives continue to travel around the state to persuade people to support their power replacement plan. This week, they were in Silver City where resident Tom Manning told the Silver City Sun-News he hope the town’s council votes on a resolution opposing the utilities reliance on coal and nuclear power. 

Read more here. 

Economic development managers and coal miners are planning a rally in Farmington this weekend to show their support for PNM’s plan.
If the plan is not approved, the jobs that could be lost — about 350 at the power plant and 400 at the coal mine — would be dwarfed by the roughly 2,500 indirect jobs those 750 workers represent, according to Four Corners Economic Development CEO Ray Hagerman. He contends the plan's failure would send a seismic wave of economic pain throughout San Juan County. "The plant and mine workers' salaries average about $88 million in combined payroll. The plant and mine also bring in about $5.2 million a year in property taxes," Hagerman said. 

Read it at the Farmington Daily Times. 

City of Las Cruces officials have decided to intervene in the El Paso Electric rate increase case at the PRC. The utility that serves part of southern New Mexico has applied for a 9 percent rate hike.

Read it at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 

New federal water protection rules have some state business worried about additional “bureaucratic burdens.”
Earlier this month, an attempt to block the rule change was narrowly defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives, with New Mexico Democrats Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Luján voting against that attempt. The state Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte could not be reached for comment Thursday, but he testified before a House subcommittee in March that “the impacts of the rule are so potentially harmful, it should be withdrawn.” 

Journalist Margaret Wright has details. 

Despite protests and a series of appeals, it looks like a large commercial development in Bernalillo County is one step closer to approval. A final vote is expected earlier next month.
Santolina is a planned community that intends to build homes for up to 90,000 people spread across 22 square miles in the southwest side of Albuquerque. To its proponents, the development represents an opportunity to provide jobs for a growing population. 

Read more at New Mexico Political Report. 

A state district court judge in Bernalillo County is under pressure to explain why she cut seven years off a man’s sentence who is now accused of killing a Rio Rancho police officer.
KOB has learned a sweetheart plea deal made only months ago helped Andrew Romero avoid a nine-year prison sentence that would have had him behind bars the night he's accused of shooting and killing Rio Rancho police officer Gregg Benner. 

Caleb James has the story. 

In a battle of unbeaten teams, Santa Fe’s Fuego baseball team rocked the Trinidad Triggers last night, 8-5.

Read the game summary here. 

The Isotopes also had a good night. They broke a five game losing streak, and beat New Orleans 4-2. On Sunday, back in Albuquerque at the “lab” fans are being encouraged to bring their dogs to the game for the annual “Bark in the Park” promotion.

Read it at the ABQ Journal. 

It’s Curtains for Grendle

The Screen’s longtime manager steps down, makes move to Violet Crown

Art FeaturesThursday, May 28, 2015 by Enrique Limón

After nearly nine years at its helm, The Screen’s credits will roll on theater manager Peter Grendle as he leaves his post to take on the job of general manager at the Railyard’s new Violet Crown Cinema.

“The romance of the whole independent cinema experience,” is what he’ll take away from his tenure, Grendle told SFR Thursday afternoon. “I was a patron there before; I moved out here 10 years ago to work in the movies, found The Screen and then found the school, then became a professor there and it all kind of spiraled.”

Grendle’s last day at the indie arthouse, located on the grounds of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, will be June 18.

He, along with a team of staunch supporters that included actress Ali MacGraw, was instrumental in saving the single-screen theater in 2009, when its future was uncertain after the closure of its parent College of Santa Fe.

He said “a big fat thank you” is in order for the slew of patrons that over the years have kept the place afloat. By his own estimation, yearly ticket sales float around 70,000.

“It’s the reason why I stayed in Santa Fe,” he said. “I found my little voice there. I just gush about how much I love the damn place.”

Although Grendle’s stepping down could represent a shake-up, school officials maintain that the lights will remain on at the St. Mike’s movie house. Its website currently includes the globally influenced programming it is known for through at least the end of June.

Saying the announcement was “too new for us,” Lauren McDaniel, SFUAD’s manager of external and public relations, chose not to speculate of the theater’s future. She promised a “thoughtful decision” would be made on the cinema’s transition plan in following days.

On the competition, Grendle said, “We’re all friends in the end…A single-screen independent cinema shouldn’t exist this day in age—it shouldn’t—but we have three,” he continued, tipping his hat to Santa Fe’s other arthouses, the Jean Cocteau Cinema and the CCA Cinematheque.

Grendle, one of about 130 people present at a planning meeting for Violet Crown in May 2013, is quick to sing his new home’s praises.

“The best thing about Violet Crown is that it’s half Avengers and Mad Max and Pitch Perfect teenagers, and the other half is Salt of the Earth and Clouds of Sils Maria and Arlo & Julie, which has no other theaters playing it. That’s what I love about it—it really spans the audience,” he said. “There’s a lot that The Screen can’t service, that in my mind, I felt I was overgrowing. I wanted to do a restaurant, I tried to get a liquor license but there’s a high school across the street, there’s all kinds of things that I wanted to do with The Screen, but I was limited there.” 

Free Lunch Served

The Food Depot in Santa Fe will deliver free lunches to 150 needy children in city's Southside this summer

Local NewsThursday, May 28, 2015 by Thomas Ragan

Hundreds of hungry children who live in mobile home parks on the outskirts of the City Different will be getting free lunches this summer, thanks to The Food Depot in Santa Fe.

Under a new program, Lunch Box Express, employees and volunteers from the food bank will be delivering sandwiches, fruit and vegetables and milk to nearly 150 children each day during the summer, seven days a week.

June 1 is the start date. August 14 is the end date. 

The lunches will be delivered by a schoolbus driver, "a symbolic gesture that the kids identify with," says Jennifer West, a community relations coordinator for the food bank on Siler Road.

Sherry Hooper, the food bank's executive director, says three areas have been targeted on the southwestern side of the city: Riverside de Santa Fe Mobile Home Park, Jemez Road Mobile Home Park and Country Club Gardens Mobile Home Park.

“Working families already struggling to feed their children find their budgets stretched even farther during the summer months,” Hooper says in a press release.

During the nine months out of the year at school, federal and state monies help the hungry children out, but once school ends, such aid disappears temporarily. That's where The Food Depot steps in to fill the void. In order to carry out the program, officials identified the children by merely pulling the school records of those students who receive free or reduced-cost lunches, then tracking down their addresses.

And of course, the food bank can never do what it does without the help of its various partners, which include Santa Fe Public Schools, New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department and Santa Fe County.

“We’re committed to ending hunger in Northern New Mexico,” Hooper says, adding that the Food Depot serves nine northern counties in the Land of Enchantment, delivering hot meals and essential nonperishables to more than 145 nonprofit agencies.

And hunger does exist.

Hooper, citing U.S. Census Bureau studies, says 1 in 4 children live in poverty and that New Mexico was found to have the worst rate of childhood food insecurity in the nation, with 1 in 3 children suffering malnutrition and hunger.

 

On average, she says 400,000 pounds of food and household products are doled out each month, along with 335,000 meals to people in need, whether it’s children, seniors, working families or those who are frail and not able to get around on their own.

Morning Word: Border Agents Accused of Racial Profiling

Investigation details more than 50 complaints

Morning WordThursday, May 28, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
It's Thursday, May 28, 2015

A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union alleges abusive border agent behavior at federal checkpoints in New Mexico.
The Border Patrol – a division of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency – said that racial profiling goes against its policy and that checkpoints “are a critical enforcement tool” to intercept smugglers intent on illegally moving people, drugs or other contraband into the U.S.
New Mexicans who live within 100 miles of the Mexican border face checkpoints on U.S. highways where border agents stop all traffic, ask for U.S. citizenship and immigration status and occasionally search vehicles as they look for illegal drugs or unauthorized immigrants. 
Lauren Villagran got an advance copy of the report. 

Earlier this week, we shared a story about how health insurance customers in New Mexico were in for sticker shock. Now, we’re reading that Blue Cross will seek a 51 percent increase.
The company made the request in a preliminary rate proposal filed with New Mexico Insurance Superintendent John Franchini, who will make the final decision. Blue Cross and Blue Shield – which insures an estimated 600,000 people statewide – said the proposal affects an estimated 35,000 customers who signed up for qualified individual health plans through the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange, but also those who bought the same plans off the exchange.  
Presbyterian Health Plan is only asking for an average increase of 6 percent on its individual plan premiums. New Mexico Health Connections wants a hike of 4 to 5 percent on its individual plans. Blue Cross says it got hit with higher-than-expected costs on its Affordable Care Act plans.

Jessica Dryer has more details. 

As expected, Public Regulations commissioners have delayed making a decision on the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s power replacement plan. On Wednesday, they voted 4 to 1 to give the power company more time to finalize a coal supply contract.

Listen to Rita Daniel’s report at KUNM.org. 

New Energy Economy’s Mariel Nanasi, and other renewable advocates, say PNM missed the deadline and the case should be determined on the record that was built over the past 18 months. Photojournalist Charles Arasim recorded this press conference after the PRC decision.

Watch it here. 

Meanwhile, a new 1.3 megawatt solar plant is online in Springer, New Mexico.

Read it at ABQ Business First. 

US Reps. Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham, both New Mexico Democrats, say innovation and a bipartisan approach to legislation is the best way to jump-start the state’s economy.

Dan Boyd has more. 

Something is needed here. Unemployment numbers are inching back up in New Mexico.

Read the stats at KRQE.com 

Trade and diplomatic relations with Cuba are closer than ever, according to Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, who visited the island nation on Wednesday.
Udall was asked about the presence of criminals suspected of crimes in the United States who have found refuge in Cuba. The senator raised the example of Charlie Hill, who fled to the island after killing a police officer in New Mexico in 1971, and said he should be extradited.
“I assume with the normalization of relations we are going to have a lot more discussions about things like that,” Udall said. 
The Associated Press story is here. 

If you haven’t been reading Bryant Furlow and Laura Paskus’ series on teen suicides in Native communities you should.

Check them all out at New Mexico In Depth. 

There are very few services available to help women transition back into communities after they’re released from state prisons in New Mexico.
There are about 1,000 women behind bars in New Mexico—women constitute the fastest-growing prison population. And about 50 percent of people released from lockup will wind up back there. Rose Bobchak, acting director of the state Probation and Parole Division, said cutting that number would save taxpayers money. And transitional living centers around the country have been proven to do exactly that. "Success for an offender is also success in the community because if the offender’s successful, then we’re providing public safety for that community as a whole," she said. 
Marisa Demarco has the story. 

Jeffrey Padilla, a convicted murderer and ex-husband of boxing promoter and gym owner Teresa Tapia, was found guilty of parole violations in state district court yesterday for allowing Tapia to visit him in the hospital and at his apartment despite a no-contact order. However, Judge Angela Jewel said the state did not prove Padilla abused Tapia, who claimed in media outlets that she feared for her life after alleging he beat and bruised her. Padilla will be sentenced on June 24.

Rick Wright was in the courtroom.

Tapia did not testify in the case. Albuquerque Attorney Ray Twohig, who represents her in a trademark infringement civil suit with Padilla's father, Jerry Sr., sent an email to her ex-husband's criminal attorney, Kari Morrissey, before the hearing on Wednesday and stated she would would not show up to testify in the hearing if Padilla Sr. would agree to a $20,000 civil settlement.

Read a copy of Twohig's email offer here.

Teachers and administrators in Las Cruces face 3-day furloughs during the next school year. It’s a cost-cutting measure as the district faces a budget deficit.
In a 3-2 vote, with board members Maury Castro and Ed Frank dissenting, the board approved the reduced budget, trimming $7.6 million from the operating budget. Board president Maria Flores expressed her reservations before voting in favor of approval. "It pains me to do so," said Flores, adding that she would continue to look for ways to reduce the furlough from three days to two. "I'm not a happy camper." 
Read it at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 

While they’re out of class, those employees might want to head to Angel Fire. The resort’s mountain bike park is off to a big start this year.

Read it at the Sangre de Cristo Chronicle. 

The Sangre de Cristo Chronicle and the Raton Comet published their last print editions yesterday. Robin Martin, owner of the Taos News and the Santa Fe New Mexican, said it was not an easy decision.
"After months of careful deliberation, we are closing the newspapers in Angel Fire and Raton because print advertising revenue could not support a weekly newspaper in either community. Our management team in Taos is exploring ways to serve the Moreno Valley with print magazines and an online presence.”  
Read it at the Taos News. 

This is good news if you hate getting telemarketing calls on your personal phone: The Federal Communications Commission is taking new steps to block the stem of those automated robo-calls.

Read it at ABQ Business First. 

The Albuquerque Isotopes have lost four straight games. They will finish their series with New Orleans on Thursday. They will then come back to Albuquerque for an eight-game home stand starting with Omaha on Friday at 7:05 pm.

See more at KRQE.com. 

Audit Oversight

City readies for state-mandated special audit of parks bond spending, approves next budget contingent on fund transfers

Local NewsWednesday, May 27, 2015 by Julie Ann Grimm
Santa Fe city councilors who are wrestling with balancing the budget for the next year have another unknown cost to contend with. State Auditor Tim Keller announced Wednesday that his office is designating the city’s problematic 2008 parks bond for a special audit.

State law allows the auditor’s office to hire outside help with such a project, and Sunalei Stewart, chief of staff for the office, indicated to councilors at their meeting May 27 that’s the direction the office might go.

“We are not looking to just redo work that has already been done,” Stewart said “but we are trying to move forward with a process that I think people have confidence that it’s an independent and quality review.”

Stewart told councilors that he can’t really estimate the cost until the scope of the audit is determined.

“Make no mistake," added Mayor Javier Gonzales, "this audit is going to be expensive. It’s important that we spend the money to assure there is financial accountability in place.”

Councilors, many who have expressed alarm at questions from an earlier city audit of the $30 million bond, welcomed the intervention from the state, which came after Gonzales wrote Keller.

The city posted thousands of documents online this week and held a press conference to say they had proven that money was not misappropriated.

In other money debates, councilors adopted a resolution for a contract for "historian services" for youth and visitors, with an unnamed funding source and no fiscal impact report; they also voted to give 2 percent salary increases to classified, term and exempt non-union employees as part of the budget.

They also gave the green light on a 7-1 vote on the budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. The annual plan for shuffling of cash is contingent, in part, on the city passing a rule change later this summer that will allow the use of millions from the water utility division for other purposes. Councilor Patti Bushee cast the dissenting vote, citing that raid on the utility fund as her reason.

Several councilors noted before their affirmative votes that the city was again "kicking the can down the road" by adopting "unsustainable" practices of transferring between funds without raising revenue or cutting expenses. 

Note: An earlier version of this story attributed the "Make no mistake" quote to Stewart. We've corrected the story to reflect that Gonzales made this statement.


Morning Word: Immigration Injunction Stands

Deportation policies impact thousands of New Mexicans

Morning WordWednesday, May 27, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
It's Wednesday, May 27, 2015

President Barack Obama's plan to shield as many as 5 million immigrants living in the US, and tens of thousands of New Mexicans, from deportation remained on hold Tuesday after a federal appeals court panel refused to allow it to take effect immediately. The decision disappointed state immigration advocates.
While New Mexico Immigrant Law Center is deeply disappointed in today’s decision, we still believe that we will ultimately prevail and DAPA and expanded DACA will move forward. The proceedings regarding the injunction will likely be heard by the entire Fifth Circuit before ultimately being decided by the Supreme Court. The facts of the case and legal precedent are on our side. 
Read more about the court's split decision here. 

Recent rains are helping put a dent in the drought that has gripped New Mexico. Reservoir levels are up, and no part of the state is in extreme drought.

Ollie Reed has the story. 

The extra water is good for farmers and fish alike.
Along the Rio Grande, federal water managers have decided to take advantage of the natural spike in river flows to move some water from El Vado Reservoir downstream to boost spawning of the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow. 
The AP’s Susan Montoya Bryant reports. 

Volunteers from New Mexico are headed to help clean up flood-ravaged parts of Texas that claimed the life of 18 people, including a Highland High School graduate.

Read it at KRQE.com.

After more than half a decade the dairy industry and environmental groups have reached a compromise deal they say will contain pollution and water contamination.



Two former Las Cruces police officers will be prosecuted for the beating of a handcuffed suspect in a holding cell that was captured on surveillance video.
Video of the beating shows the two officers slamming Ross Flynn, a 47-year-old Las Cruces resident, against the wall and kneeing him in the stomach. Flynn was in police custody following his arrest for allegedly threatening a neighbor with a firearm. 
Richard Garcia and Danny Salcido were fired last week after an internal investigation found that the two men violated department policies and procedures.

Read it at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 

Rio Rancho residents are mourning the loss of the first police officer killed in their community. Meanwhile, the feds are considering charges against the career criminal arrested in connection with the deadly shooting.

Read it at KOB.com. 

Native American youth continue to face serious challenges blending their traditions and fitting into the modern world. That’s led to an alarming number of suicides. Reporters Laura Paskus and Bryant Furlow spent months studying the issue.

Read their New Mexico In Depth story here. 

State Auditor Tim Keller’s office will review that $30 million parks bond project in Santa Fe. While the audit gets under way, city officials have posted documents online that they say prove the money wasn’t squandered. 

SFR’s Tom Ragan has details. 

The great-grandson of President Teddy Roosevelt, Mark Roosevelt, will be the new president of St. John’s College starting next year.

Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican.

A Santa Fe taxi company wants the New Mexico Supreme Court to review new rules for ride-sharing company Uber. They say driver drug testing rules are not sufficient. Uber officials say the tests are too “burdensome.”

Read Steve Terrell’s story here. 

Some people believe ride-sharing will make the state’s economy more resilient.
In the face of sluggish growth and stagnant wages, we should be looking to bolster high-performing sectors of our economy. Ride-sharing services support tourism, one of New Mexico’s most important industries. The popularity of these efficient and reliable services with tourists is undeniable. Whether it’s to get to the next meeting or check out the restaurant scene, leisure and business travelers are using ride-sharing in increasing numbers. 
Read their viewpoint here. 

The Public Regulation Commission will meet today. They're expected to decide whether or not PNM should be able to introduce a new coal supply contract for its San Juan Generating Station months after testimony in a power replacement case closed. PRC Commissioner Pat Lyons has said the contract is a "game changer," but environmentalists say PNM's proposal is late and shouldn't be included in the decision-making process. We'll have the story in tomorrow's Morning Word.

Paper Gallery

Summer Arts PreviewWednesday, May 27, 2015 by SFR

Aug. 7-Sept. 30

All Action Figure

Lego-inspired figurines as subversive art? If Steven Paul Judd and Pop Gallery are involved, the answer is yes.



 

June 13

On the Road and in the Studio with Nirvana

Tesuque’s Glenn Green Galleries showcases Shelli Hyrkas’ intimate, behind-the-scenes shots of one of the most influential bands of all time.


Sept. 25-Jan. 10, 2016

From New York to New Mexico

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum presents exquisite sections from the Vilcek Foundation Collection.


 

Feb. 5-28, 2016

First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare

Love that old book smell? Boy, oh boy, your ship has come in at the NM Museum of Art.



Yay! It Up

Local arthouses provide your summer movie fix

Summer Arts PreviewWednesday, May 27, 2015 by David Riedel

So my wife and I just had a baby,* and when he’s not screaming his head off demanding love, affection and breast milk, I like to nap. When he sleeps longer than six hours (not yet, by the way), I like to check in with my local arthouse cinemas to see just what the hell is going on for the summer. New parents gotta get out sometimes—and so does everyone else, unless you’re my great-uncle Bud, who literally never left his house—and that presents us all with some sweet choices.

Do I want to be wowed by Alfred Hitchcock’s brilliance? Do I want to check out beaucoup foreign flicks? Do I want to catch a movie in a place that may have a dragon lurking around the corner?

The answer to all three questions is yes. Here’s what you can find at Santa Fe’s local cinemas, which fulfill each need specified in those questions. (All the theaters have more showing than this, but I only have 1,000-ish words, so these are highlights. Standard disclaimer—check the theater websites for all dates, as films/times are subject to change because blah blah not everything is etched in stone.)

JEAN COCTEAU CINEMA

The (presumably) serpent-loving cinephiles who run this indie house have put together a stellar and diverse roster of films since its opening. Where else can you have a choice of watching the cult film Roar, the manic horror comedy Witching and Bitching or a big-ass blockbuster such as Mad Max: Fury Road, which just ended a run? (By the way, everyone should see Mad Max: Fury Road now. Right now.)

Silver Films

This summer, the JCC is featuring some choice restored films, including René Clément’s celebrated Forbidden Games, which won the 1953 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film (one of the few years Oscar got something right). It’s the story of a 10-year-old girl orphaned during the Battle of France, and her friendship with Michel, a peasant kid whose family takes her in. It’s spectacular and tackles a theme—a child’s innocence—not often seen in films about World War II, until perhaps John Boorman’s Hope and Glory. Forbidden Games has recently been restored and features new subtitles.

Also in the restoration cannon (and part of film canon) is Carol Reed’s The Third Man. This movie has been written about to death, and there’s a reason: It’s one of the greatest films ever made. It’s also the rare film to use a city so effectively as character. Vienna was bombed to hell during World War II, and Reed shot the movie in the city’s war-torn ruins. Plus, The Third Man showcases Orson Welles before he became huge (physically). Of note: Welles would have been 100 on May 6 had his heart not attacked him in 1985.

On the foreign film front, JCC will show The Tribe, a unique film from Ukraine about deaf students told without subtitles or dialogue. It won the Critics Week Grand Prize at Cannes in 2014, and my Spoilerpiece Theatre colleague Kristofer Jenson calls it “astounding, gripping and holy-shit disturbing.” In short, it sounds like a must-see. (And Spoilerpiece Theatre is a must-listen. Find it on iTunes.)

In the indie category, I’m most looking forward to Set Fire to the Stars. Elijah Wood has made unpredictable choice after unpredictable choice since completing the Lord of the Rings trilogy (see the ultra low-budget 2002 gangster picture Ash Wednesday, directed by Edward Burns, and the 2012 remake of the super violent Maniac). While it isn’t as radical as starring in the FX series Wilfred, Set Fire to the Stars has a nifty plot. Wood plays poet John Brinnin, and Celyn Jones (who co-wrote the script) is Dylan Thomas. And it’s in glorious black and white.

Finally, and this is très cool: The JCC will host a monthly series called the New Mexico Film Circuit that runs new independent flicks shot in Burundi. Just kidding! You figure out where the films were made. The first film is Truth, a sci-fi thriller shot around Silver City, playing on May 30 and June 1.

THE SCREEN

The good people at the Screen always have a solid line-up of movies, but at press time, they were still sorting out the details. But here’s what we can report for sure:

BehindTheLine ProductionsBehindTheLine Productions

On June 5, the Screen will host Charlie’s Country director Rolf de Heer. The film, about Aboriginal Australians and their relationship with contemporary Australia, was co-written by its star David Gulpilil, a wonderful actor who has appeared in films as diverse as Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout and the Paul Hogan vehicle Crocodile Dundee.

The Saturday Night Live documentary Live from New York will show in late July. In addition, I’m told “[w]e’re going all art, all the time this summer, [a]iming for hard-to-market titles that truly define the ‘arthouse.’ And Doctor Zhivago at some point.” In short, you’ll find the really off-beat stuff at the Screen.

VIOLET CROWN CINEMA

This Railyard branch of the Austin, Texas, movie house hosts the Austin-made Arlo and Julie. Director Steve Mims will be in attendance on May 29. The comedy features Alex Dobrenko and Ashley Rae Spillers as Arlo and Julie, a couple whose relationship is threatened by a jigsaw puzzle. Arlo and Julie marks director Mims’ first film since the 2011 documentary Incendiary: The Willingham Case.

For more information on summer releases, check the Violet Crown’s website.

CCA CINEMATHEQUE

The Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival may be wrapping up, but that’s the tip of the summer’s iceberg (to mix metaphors—and badly). The Auteurs series, presented by St. John’s College Film Institute, returns starting June 13, and it’s a bumper crop of cinematic goodness.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Charles Chaplin’s The Gold Rush kicks things off, with live accompaniment by Hank Troy. Chaplin was already a star by the time he released this feature, and it has some of the most famous images in all of his films. Remember the cabin teetering over the cliff? That’s here. The other Chaplin film showing is City Lights. While City Lights is technically a talkie, it features no dialogue but has a soundtrack with sound effects and music. And that final moment when the Blind Girl (Virginia Cherill) realizes the Tramp (Chaplin) paid for her sight-restoring surgery? A heartbreaker.

If silent flicks are your game, Buster Keaton’s The General plays from June 20-22. Though a dud in its initial 1926 release, The General is now recognized as one of the best films ever made. Too bad its contemporary audience didn’t get it; when the movie flopped, Keaton lost the ability to make films as he wanted to and struggled professionally for the rest of his life.

There are more wonderful films in the Auteurs series, but for my money, if you can only see one on the big screen, make it Bicycle Thieves, which screens from July 11-13. Vittorio De Sica’s masterpiece of neorealism deserves to be seen in a theater with an audience, not just on Hulu Plus (though you should remember the entire Criterion Collection is available there). Actually, see Hitchcock’s Rear Window, too. And The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and Nights of Cabiria, and Journey to Italy and Welles’ Touch of Evil.

BIG-ASS MOVIES

New Line Cinema

As for the big-budget nonsense headed your way this summer, most of it looks like garbage, but it’s best to keep an open mind. After all, your air conditioning may fail and you’ll need to spend an afternoon in a huge cinema, if for no other reason than to escape the heat (I know it’s a dry heat, but goddamnit, it’s still heat). In that case, maybe peek in on the Vacation reboot starring Ed Helms. It opens July 29, and if the red band trailer is to be believed, it may actually not be shit.

As for the arthouse movies, the list will grow longer as the summer days do. Check in with the local theaters to see what else they have brewing. Maybe someone will get around to bringing back the delightfully terrible The Incredible Melting Man to the big screen. A guy can dream. Time to nap before my kid wakes up hungry.

*Funnily enough, he thinks Anthony Cumia fans are dicks, too.


Communication Gets Complicated in The Moment of YES!

Theater Grottesco explores the humor and humanity of the journey

Summer Arts PreviewWednesday, May 27, 2015 by Emmaly Wiederholt

The Moment of YES! begins with four people—Tara Khozein, Apollo Garcia, Danielle Reddick and Eric Kupers—finding themselves on the stage of the Santa Fe Playhouse. When they collectively decide to build something together, what ensues is all of the comedies and struggles that come with communication as they commit themselves to a common history, culture and, eventually, a society.

Assent, accord or agreement is necessary on some level for communication to be successful. In other words, a “yes” must be involved. How that “yes” comes about and what it looks like is the topic of Theater Grottesco’s The Moment of YES!, which previewed last Thursday, May 21, and runs through June 7.

"I hope our audiences are psyched...some audience members might be surprised, confused or uncomfortable, and I think that’s OK too."

“There are a multitude of ways people communicate with each other and with themselves, and those communications are sometimes interpreted correctly and other times incorrectly. In every communication, there is the required next step to either accept or reject, hence, the moment of yes,” reflects co-director Kent Kirkpatrick. The 85-minute show invites audiences to say yes to its tapestry of dance, theater and music as it navigates the many propositions faced in day-to-day life.

Or, as cast member Eric Kupers sums it up, “It’s a deconstruction of the history of human society down to its bare essence of communication. Someone makes a proposition, and others somehow say yes or no to it, and then the evolution is moved that much ahead in whichever direction.”

Founded in 1983 in Paris, Theater Grottesco creates a visually explosive performance that juxtaposes classical theatrical styles with daring, poetic imagination. Co-directed by Kirkpatrick and John Flax, The Moment of YES! is Theater Grottesco’s newest original creation, which Kirkpatrick quickly sums up as, “entertaining, challenging and very fulfilling.”

Tara Khozein, a Santa Fe native, brings to the table her extensive training in theater and voice. Fellow Santa Fe native Apollo Garcia traveled the world, ending up in Paris at Lecoq Conservatory. He encouraged Khozein to follow him, and both are Lecoq graduates now, back home in Santa Fe, sharing their skills with several local theater and arts organizations. They are joined in The Moment of YES! by Danielle Reddick—veteran of the first national touring company of STOMP—and Bay Area-based Kupers, artistic director of the multidisciplinary performance company Bandelion.

Kupers hopes audience members take away “a sense of having gone for a ride and not knowing exactly what it all means, but feeling nourished from both the audience and performers who share the ride, all going along moment to moment, saying yes or no to each thing that arises in a thousand ways.”

Khozein echoes, “The Moment of YES! is an invitation. Of course, I hope our audiences are psyched, choose to be present with us and embrace the world we’ve created, but some audience members might be surprised, confused or uncomfortable, and I think that’s OK too. For me, as long as people come to the show and feel something and are left with a deepened curiosity, then we’ve succeeded.”

With its minimalist set, stark lighting and measured pacing, the show definitely invites a certain level of introspection. While it is indeed theatrical at its core, it evades categorization in terms of both content and medium. It rides like a well-choreographed dance with no moment unconsidered.

“The ensemble creation process for this show has been extremely creative and joyful,” Kirkpatrick notes. “The ensemble has created a piece of theater unlike any seen before in Santa Fe, and to experience that in the presence of our audience is thrilling for me. Though it may be very challenging for some audiences, it might be transformational for others.”


Aspen Santa Fe: Ballet on the Edge

Not another generic dance company

Summer Arts PreviewWednesday, May 27, 2015 by Julie Ann Grimm

Looking for classic ballet with tutus and Swan Lake and the whole bit? Keep looking. Or better yet, catch that on your next vacation.

If you’re interested in explosive, powerful, expressive and energetic contemporary dance forms presented by athletic artists, however, you need look no further than the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.

With a reputation for commissioning new works from rising choreographers, this year the company celebrates two decades running, and executive director Jean-Philippe Malaty says that’s likely to be the ongoing course for dancers who split their time between the two mountain cities, as well as touring to dozens of locales each season.

Aspen Santa Fe’s 2015 summer season includes pieces like Cayetano Soto’s fan favorite Beautiful Mistake.

“In our 20-year existence, we have commissioned 30 new ballets, which is a remarkable amount,” Malaty tells SFR. “We have created a unique identity for the company, and so now the company is really in high demand, because if you want to see those works by those choreographers, we are the only one to perform it.”

That avant garde identity matters greatly, he explains.

“It’s important to us. America didn’t need another generic dance company, and so when we set up to start this ballet company, we really wanted to have a unique identity and a unique sense of aesthetic, and we want to represent the communities where we are from,” he says, noting that the approach resonates more with time.

“We really have played a role in educating the audience and developing a taste for contemporary ballet. I’m sure it was not the case when we first started, but I think we have built up the brand, and people trust that they are going to see great dance, and they have acquired a taste for it.”

The upcoming season features three works, including the July 10 world premiere of a commissioned work from Alejandro Cerrudo of Spain, currently in residence at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. That one is so new that as of press time, it still doesn’t have a name.

Cerrudo worked with the company in November to experiment with phrases and movements, and he’s due to meet with dancers again next month. Malaty says the name might just wait until the choreographer sees how the production, including light design and costumes, is living up to the vision.

Also scheduled for July and September performances are 1st Flash by Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo and the return of Beautiful Mistake by Cayetano Soto.

Soto’s work is a “fan favorite,” Malaty says, in part because it’s the third work for the company by the choreographer, also from Spain.

“He has a good understanding of our dancers’ strengths, and he is also able to really tap the essence of the company and the forward-looking ethic,” Malaty says. “I would say it’s a very edgy work. He’s from Europe, and that’s kind of what contemporary dance looks like in Europe, and we don’t have an opportunity to see that in this country very often. It’s abstract, and it has a very cool side to it. It is very popular with the younger crowd, and it is visually stunning, with light and design.”

Yet ASFB’s role in Santa Fe isn’t all modern. Dancers from the company’s ballet school in Santa Fe also participate in the annual Christmas-season performance of one of the most famous classic ballets, at least for American audiences.

“We are not a classical dance company; we don’t do full-length story ballet. We don’t do Swan Lake. We don’t do Sleeping Beauty. That’s not who we are,” he says. “We do have the exception that every year we do The Nutcracker, and that is as classical as we get. That is our gift to the community.”

Why give that gift?

“That’s an opportunity for the students to dance side by side with the professional dancers and to be inspired to be in a professional production—to one day dream of being the Sugar Plum Fairy. So that is the one exception that we make once a year.”

In another nod to tradition, the company also recently took over management of the Juan Siddi Flamenco Company, an ensemble of 13 dancers and musicians that plans shows on July 12, 21, 26; August 1, 29; and Sept. 5.


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