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Morning Word: Me Can Read

Morning WordTuesday, July 25, 2017 by Matt Grubs

Underwhelming PARCC results
PARCC is the standardized test New Mexico public school students take to show if they're reading and doing math at grade level. They're not. Fewer than 29 percent of the state's students are reading at grade level—which is actually a slight improvement—and only about 20 percent are proficient in math. The Word isn't sure if that's underwhelming or overwhelmingly bad. Little of both?

Surprise!
Unfortunately, this is the bad kind. New Mexico outpaces national trends when it comes to surprise billing for out-of-network health care costs. The Office of the Superintendent of Insurance says a study in New Mexico shows 31 percent of patients have been unexpectedly billed at higher out-of-network rates for medical care they thought was covered in their network. The office is convening a panel to consider options for consumer protection legislation, though a measure that would have done that didn't get enough attention from legislators last session.

City ponders preventing 'oops'
After stucco crews slapped tan goo over a decades-old mural on City Hall recently, councilors on a city committee wondered openly Monday how to stop it from happening again. The general consensus seemed to be better communication, though some councilors said it should take place at a staff level instead of bringing every project to the committee's or council's attention. Staff pointed out such a mistake rarely happens, but admitted it was embarrassing.

Overworked, underpaid
That could describe a lot of people, but it seems to be especially true of prison guards. Despite a pay hike meant to attract more people to the business of corrections, the state's vacancy rate for guards is at 22 percent. Legislators and the governor are busy pointing fingers at each other. The second phase of a pay increase plan has been shelved due to the state's tight budget. 

Justice denied?
The state Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow as it considers the pleas of public defenders who say their office is too cash-strapped to handle the number of cases sent its way. The issue came to a head in Lincoln County recently, where a judge held the state's chief public defender in contempt of court after he turned down cases, citing the inability to provide a competent defense for those accused of a crime who cannot afford an attorney.

Arnold-Jones in for CD1
Former state representative Janice Arnold-Jones is running for the congressional seat in Albuquerque that's up for grabs after Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a run for governor. Arnold-Jones served four terms in the House, earning a reputation for supporting transparency laws. She faces Michael Hendricks, an attorney, who is the other Republican who has declared a run for Congress.

New homes for Four Corners pets
An anonymous donation to the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter covered the cost of adoptions last week, which meant 277 pets were adopted out to new homes. The shelter said it opened for business this week with just 12 animals in house, none of which were in the shelter last week.

Buyer beware?
Back in November, 40 percent of the state's voters chose Donald Trump as their pick for president. Today, the president's job approval rating in New Mexico is 37 percent. That's according to Gallup, which says that number is the 11th-lowest in the country and trails the president's national approval rating by three percentage points. Fifty-six percent of polls respondents were unhappy with Trump's performance as leader of our country.

Thanks for reading! The Word wonders how many consecutive non-breakfast meals of Asian food is too many.

Subscribe to the Morning Word at sfreporter.com/signup.

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs Review

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

OperaMonday, July 24, 2017 by John Stege
That well-worn Lama Foundation/Ram Dass mantra, “Be Here Now,” gets multiple iterations in the finale of Mason Bates’ and Mark Campbell’s 90-minute one-act opera, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, just world-premiered at the Santa Fe Opera. It’s an ambitious piece whose libretto suggests that Jobs, a famously brilliant and seriously unlikeable guy, might get another chance at becoming a decent human being should Version 2.0 ever happen by. A fanciful thought at best. Just modify the Ram Dass injunction to read, “Be Here Then?"
Some capitalist geniuses like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Walt Disney—in whose company Jobs certainly belongs—may deserve a better break in the popular mind. Does Steve? That’s a question to be asked. A cruel denier of warm human relationships, a would-be übermensch whose icy stare out-basilisked the basilisk, Jobs might be comfortable keeping grand company with Milton’s Satan or Marlowe’s Faustus.
Or maybe not. (R)evolution makes a cautious if not always probable move toward humanizing historical Steve. Witness a sensitive, selective libretto by Campbell and an innovative score by Bates that provides multiple impressive, expressive electro-orchestral sound pictures. Campbell’s pointillist text carves the life of Jobs into 19 brief, nonlinear episodes ranging from 10-year-old Steve in his dad’s workshop to a calligraphy class at Reed to a Zen center encounter to a Yosemite wedding plus several more glimpses into the complicated Jobs-story.
Bates’ score works just fine on several levels. Forget the fearsome, distant electronic days of Stockhausen and Subotnick. Bates offers and performs a kinder, gentler use of electronica that works right along with his multi-hued and often brilliant orchestral patterns. This is an all-American opera that pays attention to all-American composers like Copland and Thomson while remaining totally original. When a jubilant Jobs introduces the iPhone to his public, you’ll hear more than a whisper of some Bernstein jamboree. And throughout the evening, you’ll be gratified by the power and propriety of the Bates method. Conductor Michael Christie with the composer keyboarding a couple of Macs in the pit make sure of that.
Taking the title role, baritone Edward Parks offers a nuanced and convincing portrait of this contradictory, impulsive genius, by turns warm and frigid toward his early lover, Chrisann Brennan, chipper then cold toward Steve Wozniak, Apple’s co-founder. Campbell’s libretto tones down Jobs’ impatient perfectionist fury towards his staff. Here Parks shouts, “Wrong, all wrong,” to his cowed subordinates. An accurately recorded comment is, “You assholes, you never do anything right.” Parks is onstage except for a few seconds throughout the evening, and is miked as are all the principals. Normally a big no-no for operatic voices, it’s effective in the electro-world that Bates and Jobs cohabit.
Sasha Cooke sings a faultless, warm, engaging Laurene Powers Jobs with a dignified stage presence and quiet charisma to spare. Her long closing soliloquy/eulogy after Steve’s memorial service is simply the opera’s finest moment. I’m reminded of Susan B [Anthony]’s similar soliloquy concluding Thomson’s masterpiece, The Mother of Us All. It doesn’t get much better than that.
As Woz, Garrett Sorenson makes a mighty impression, first in the dopey duet with Jobs when Woz—impersonating Kissinger on a call to the Vatican—confounds Ma Bell. But much more so when in his high-flying, ferocious “Goliath” aria he confronts Jobs’ monstrous ego and quits in fury the company he co-founded.
The opera makes much of the calligraphic ensō, Zen’s elegant, circular symbol for (vastly oversimplifying here) enlightenment and, as well, suggesting the episodic shape of the piece. Wei Wu’s warm and caressing bass portrays Kōbun, Zen priest, mild jokester and spiritual guide to Jobs, a quiet counterpoise to the unquiet Steve. Kelly Markgraf is the sympathetic papa, Paul Jobs, and apprentice Jessica E Jones is the excellent Chrisann. Susanne Sheston leads the busy chorus.
And then there are the visuals. SFO’s general director, Charles MacKay, dubs this show “the most technologically advanced we’ve ever attempted.” That’s the understatement of the summer. Six rectangular monoliths like massive iPhones glide about the stage in a smooth choreography  representing the 15 or so locations of Jobs’ biography. And magically—I do not exaggerate—they contain, support, display an astonishing array of visual projections that allow us to see realistic images and imagistic impressions of the “(r)evolution.” Words fail.
So. Let the credits roll: director, Kevin Newbury; scenic designer, Victoria “Vita” Tzykun; costume designer, Paul Carey; lighting designer, Japhy Weideman; projection design, 59 Productions; sound design, Rick Jacobsohn and Brian Loach; choreographer, Chloe Treat.
Whew. Such a crew. And they make it all seem so simple. Which should remind us of the very first Apple marketing brochure’s statement: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Game of Thrones for Noobs XXII

Season VII, Episode II: Stormborn

Pop CultureMonday, July 24, 2017 by Alex De Vore

So so so so many spoilers. Fairly warned be ye, says we.

The Story Thus Far
The moonfaced Arya Stark poisoned the shit outta just about every Frey while Jon Snow and Sansa gathered up their political pals to talk about Dragonglass (an element that kills the ice zombies) just as Snow’s pudgy buddy from the wall found a book explaining where to find the stuff—in a town that Daenerys and Tyrion just so happened to have sailed toward (and that was, like, all dragon-themed). Uncle Greyjoy went to Cersei to try and join forces but she was like, “No thank you.” Clegane spent a good long while digging a grave, and it was boring. Oh, and Ed Sheeran creeped everyone out. Hold onto your butts—it’s Game of Thrones for Noobs!

The Gist

It was a dark and stormy night in and around Dragon City, the new home of Deanerys “Dragon Tits” Targareyan and Tyrion “The Station Agent” Lannister. Danny is kinda bummed out, but some bald guy (who might be that guy Varys of the Westeros Pinfields, but hand to God I can’t remember) is there to be like, “Yeah, we should fight people.” She’s down, and she reminisces about the good old days when it wasn’t abnormal to take dragons to war. Tyrion, displaying the judgment of a saint, is ready to fight Cersei, but he points out they don’t have to kill everyone. Everyone agrees that Daenerys wasn’t famous til she married Aquaman a few years back, and that just don’t sit right with her. Her curly tresses flap and fly in the rainy wind. Oh! She refers to him as Varys, so cool—we’re good. Still, she makes him promise her he won’t, like, stab her while she’s asleep or something with a kicky little remark about burning him alive. He agrees just in time for that Red Witch (who brought Snow back to life last year and who’s name I couldn’t remember if my life depended on it) to show up and stare all creepy-like. Varys ain’t feeling it, especially since she made that Stannis guy burn his daughter alive in the old days, but maybe this witch has no place to go, so she has to be cool. “The long night is coming,” she says, “and we need a prince.” Daenerys isn’t a dude, but her progressive translater is like, “Fuck gender pronouns, they’re a regressive social construct for which I have no patience!” Everyone agrees that having an open mind and ditching annoying conceits rooted in systematic oppression is a good plan. Everyone also knows Jon Snow because he famous, but also he hates Cersei as much as they do. A win/win for everyone who wants to kill jerks.

Back in King’s Landing, Cersei sits on the sword throne scaring her constituents with promises of dead kids and burned villages. She clearly wants them on her team and is pretty evil. Her haircut still looks good, though, so maybe prison wasn’t that bad? She’s amassing an army to fight Daenerys, but people know about her dragons because that’s, like, her fucking thing she does. People are nervous, especially Jamie, who meets some guy named Dickon (Georgie must’ve been running out of fantasy-sounding names by then) and tries to get him on the team. He makes promises about how his Cersei love has less to do with their gratuitous incest and more to do with lust for power. He badmouths eunuchs, which is wack because what else can they really go through? Cersei, meanwhile, is thinking about renovating the castle basement. Her contractor is like, “See, your problem is you’ve got a huge-ass dragon skull in here taking up all the room.” Also discovered is a trebuchet, which they’ll presumably use to slay them dragons if and when it comes down to it; there are not really animal cruelty laws in Westeros, probably because they’re more worried about ice zombies.

Once again in Dragonstone, Danny and Tyrion have what’s-her-face—the queen of that Persian-esque country…seriously, what’s her name!? Anyway, she’s there along with Olenna and her pillbox hat to wax philosophical about respect born of fear. Daenerys, however, plans on starving out King’s Landing instead of murdering everyone she comes across. Right on, that’s nice, I guess. In the background, Theon and Sheon hang about silently wondering where their murderous uncle might be. Most everyone leaves, but Olenna and Daenerys hang around to tal about how being a lady is hard. They’re not wrong. And then the former slaves sply a one-way ticket to Bone City since they’ll probably be embroiled in a fucking dragon war any day now.

Over at the library where Pudgy Junior spends his days shelving books and carrying buckets of shit around, Jim Broadbent is still laying into this dude. See, Pudgy thinks he’s got the cure for stone-itis, but Broadbent is old-school as fuck and just is like, “No way, sucker.” But you know Pudgy, and he brews a concoction for Jorah anyway. Somehow it’s less believable that this idiot could cure an infamous disease than any of the rest of the dragon shit and ice zombies and whatever else. I mean, he’s not a doctor, right? The most he’s ever done is to follow Snow around like some lovesick little punk. Anyway, he starts cutting into the stuff, which is super gross and oozy, and Jorah just kind of deals with it, although you’d think they could at least have knocked him out or something before cutting him all up.

We finally catch up with Arya, who sneakily became about the best part of this show because she’s ready to kill literally anyone who crosses her. She is, in fact, so badass, that she keeps telling people she’s out to kill Cersei. She does, however, find out that Ramsay Bolton is dead and Jon Snow is, like, the guy up in the North now. She immediately hops on her horse and heads off somewhere. Snow, meanwhile, announces his intentions to travel to Dragonstone to forge an alliace and get the stuff to kill ice zombies. He’s the king, right? So why does he have to explain his shit to people? Ugh. He should just die again. And don’t get me started on Sansa—always fucking nay-saying Snow’s choices and stirring up shit. Epithets and shit-talkery abounds in the great hall, though, because ain’t nobody like a Lannister and ain’t nobody like a Targeryan. Why!? Aw, who cares. Anyway, they tell him he shouldn’t leave the town, but Snow makes a speech about how he can go where he wants and everyone should be afraid of ice zombies. And even though she never lets up on him, Snow puts Sansa in charge for while he’s gone. And oh wow, suddenly she’s all onboard with whatever he wants to do. Jeeze. To celebrate, Snow hangs with Baelish in some horrible fucking catacomb and the pair critiques the states they have there and stoke each other’s egos. Snow doesn’t like Baelish because he married Sansa to Ramsay, so threats are made while the rest of us wonder who lights the candles in the fucking catacombs. Its snows and snows and snows some more, and Sansa waves from the balcony pretending like she’s conflicted about her newfound power and already drafting laws that no one will like.

While that goes down, Arya is just straight-cold woods hanging, but her horse doesn’t like it one bit. He’s seen The Neverending Story and knows what happens to horses in creepy forests and swamps and such. Gigantic wolves appear as if from nowhere, and Arya seems awfully spooked for a magic assassin who kills whoever she wants. But wait, actually, the biggest wolf of all time shows up. Good thing Arya knows it. Like, she knows this wolf. By name. “It’s me, Nymeria,” she says, “I’m going on a trip and you should come with,” and the wolf is all like, “All I know is ripping up flesh with my fangs!” before leaving. I mean, I guess that sucks, but it also didn’t eat her, so it’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened to her. "That ain't my wolf," she thinks to herself. 

Out at sea, the queen of the Persia-like lands trash talks the booze situation on their ship while her daughters argue about who’s gonna kill who. Theon and Sheon maybe don’t know how much this lady likes to kill people, but it seems like it’s gonna be more of a sex situation for Sheon and Queen What’s-Her-Dick. Too bad the ship gets attacked, though, especially since it’s Uncle Greyjoy and his armada of floating death machines. He’s completely nuts, too, and a blood-spraying sea battle takes place. Fire is everywhere, throats are slashed with wild abandon and dudes with spiky brass knuckles punch so many faces it’s unreal. Theon gets a few good stabs in for sure, but they’re losing an awful lot of buddies. Don’t even get me started on the bonkers crotch stabbings that go down or how Uncle Greyjoy is so good at fighting that even Queen What’s-Her-Dick’s assassin daughters can’t fight him (they get killed so hard). The ultimate family feud slows only as Sheon is held captive leaving Theon to try and fucking do something positive for once in his life. But instead he runs away. Or swims away. Either way, he’s a fucking coward, although the crotch stabbing would probably freak anyone out. He floats at sea like his name is Rose Dawson or something while the last ship standing sails off into the distance. Good luck going home after this shit, you fucking dick.

The Good
The fight scenes were pretty exciting.

The Bad
What is this emphasis on gross-out stone-itis surgeries and the stabbing of crotches? Why do they need to go that far!?

The Grade: C
Stormborn was probably full of useful information and is surely meant to just set the stage for some pretty good stuff, but there was way more jibber-jabbering between the good stuff than seemed necessary. The gargantuan wolf was pretty alright, but there was a fair level of mostly boring crap at play. 

Morning Word: Rio Arriba Wants Suspected Shooter Moved

Morning WordMonday, July 24, 2017 by Matt Grubs

Sheriff says murder suspect attacked jail guards
Damian Herrera, the 21-year-old Ojo Caliente man accused of killing three family members and two strangers in a daylong string of shootings last month, apparently attacked two guards at the Rio Arriba County Jail last week. A report says Herrera tricked a guard into coming into his cell, then locked him inside while he attacked another guard with a flashlight. Now, county officials want him moved.

Man shot by police released by St. Vincent hours earlier
When two Santa Fe police officers shot and killed Anthony Benavidez after a violent standoff last week, it had been less than a day since he'd undergone a mental health evaluation at Christus St. Vincent hospital. The hospital discharged him. Police say he later stabbed a mental health caseworker before holing up in the apartment from which he'd just been evicted. His mother says the 24 year old was living with schizophrenia.

Indian Market application shuffles artists
The recent addition of a computer application process for Native artists to enter the juried Indian Market show means some familiar faces won't be selling at the August event. The market says 1,300 artists applied for 900 spaces and, this year, it's eliminating the tenure program that assured past winners and widely known artists a place at the market without having to apply. But some artists say the technological specifications are too rigorous for older artists who aren't as familiar with computers. 

Dylan Redwine's father charged with murder
Mark Redwine was arrested over the weekend and charged with second-degree murder and child abuse in the death of his son, Dylan. The boy was 13 when he didn't return from a visit with his father near Durango. His remains were found the next summer in the forest. Redwine's mother credits a new sheriff and district attorney with advancing the case

Hatch hammered
The well-known chile-producing town was hit with a ton of rain over the weekend. Some estimates were as much as 3 inches. The mayor says city crews worked overtime on the weekend to sandbag critical areas. No word on if the chile harvest will be impacted.

Apo research
Democrat Jeff Apodaca is cruising around the state trying to drum up support as an outsider candidate for governor. He cruised through Deming and offered a few ideas, such as investing more money in Spaceport America to win over the satellite industry and attracting rural doctors by subsidizing their medical school if they stick around for seven years. That last idea is similar to another government program, which recently dropped to just two the number of years a doctor would have to live in a rural community to qualify.

Cervantes fights farmworkers lawsuit
State Sen. Joseph Cervantes, another Democrat running for governor, is defending one of his family's businesses in a lawsuit that claims a labor contractor for the agriculture business didn't try to fill jobs with US workers before asking for temporary visas. Lack of labor has long been a complaint of agriculture producers near the border, but the group filing the lawsuit says the wage offered by Cervantes was high enough that it would have attracted local workers.

Monsoon!
This looks like it'll be a classic monsoonal moisture week in Santa Fe. Highs will be in the low to mid 80s and afternoon storms are likely. Santa Fe could get half an inch of moisture out of the pattern and the rest of New Mexico seems on track for rain, too. Cross your fingers for some great sunsets.

Thanks for reading! The Word reminds you that getting caught in the rain is okay sometimes. Like if you're Rupert Holmes and you're looking for a late-70s hit song. But other times, too. 

Subscribe to the Morning Word at sfreporter.com/signup.

'Dunkirk' Review

The horrors of war

Movie ReviewsSunday, July 23, 2017 by Alex De Vore

In 1940, near the start of World War II, the Allied forces suffered a tremendous defeat against German forces in the town of Dunkirk in France. Subsequently, 300,000 soldiers would be evacuated by military and civilian watercraft, but the losses were nearly immeasurable. It’s a harrowing tale not known to many who aren’t WWII buffs before now, but in Christopher Nolan’s sprawling yet concisely told Dunkirk, we see the tragic events play out with a relentless pace and attention to detail.

We follow three main narratives; that of soldiers stranded on a beach waiting for rescue over the period of a week, an hour in the lives of British fighter pilots, and a single day for a civilian pleasure yacht captain who helps retrieve said soldiers alongside his son and his son’s friend. Nolan presents an off-kilter look at each timeline, weaving in and out of the stories, though Dunkirk never feels disjointed. Rather, as bits and pieces from each angle are revealed, we begin to understand the incredible scope of the evacuation and just how lucky the survivors really were, though we're faced with some hard truths before the credits roll.

It is, in fact, somewhat rare to see a mainstream film that deviates from the cinematic formula, but Nolan doesn’t let up for an instant. From the terrifying desperation of those stranded on the beach to a shell-shocked soldier (Cillian Murphy of Netflix series Peaky Blinders as well as Nolan’s Batman films) too broken to return to battle and a selfless dogfighter (Tom Hardy) barely hobbling along in the sky, dialogue becomes sparse compared to the frantic reality of sinking ships, dropped shells and the cruelty of the human survival instinct.

Of course, there are only so many times you can see a bunch of soldiers abandon a ship, and the jarring nature of the heaving seas becomes nearly as difficult to watch as the violence. Still, moving performances from Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh—not to mention a surprisingly natural turn from Harry Styles (yeah, from One Direction)—remain a joy to watch, and the utter unfairness and brutality of war hang heavy over every last scene. This isn’t just one of the best war movies in recent memory, it’s one that will no doubt be shown in schools and referred to forever as an artful depiction of one of the ugliest chapters in human history. Just do yourselves a favor and pop into the Jean Cocteau Cinema for the 35mm version, a form in which Nolan intended the film to be seen. It’s worth it.

10
+ Relentless yet beautiful
- Lots of people jumping off ships

Dunkirk
Directed by Nolan
With Murphy, Hardy, Rylance, Branagh and Styles
Jean Cocteau Cinema, Violet Crown, R, 106 min.


Get your tickets on Fandango now!

Know Your 'Enemy'

Middle Eastern teen girls team up for peace, leadership and empowerment

Local NewsFriday, July 21, 2017 by Lauren Thompson

Every summer, worlds collide in Santa Fe for a handful of teen girls living thousands of miles away from home. Nearly two dozen young women, half of them Israeli and half Palestinian, travel from across the world to come together and attend a three-week summer program in the name of peace.

The camp, established in 2003 by humanitarian Rachel Kaufman, was created in response to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Increasingly disheartened by stories of violence and loss in the Middle East, Kaufman believed that peacemaking could not be achieved through older generations of Israelis and Palestinians too entrenched in a learned hatred for each other. Instead, she believed that peace could be found within the next generation of young leaders. Thus, Creativity for Peace was born.

Over the course of the three-week program, campers learn more about each other by living and working together and by sharing their stories. As Executive Director Dottie Indyke explains, “Our organization is based on the idea that an enemy is a person whose story you haven’t heard. Once you’ve heard that person’s story, they’re not your enemy anymore. You can’t stereotype them; you understand them.”

The camp aims to change this idea of the “other” through routine and structured conversations they label as dialogue. Led by one Israeli facilitator and one Palestinian facilitator, dialogue functions as a way to share personal accounts of the girls’ experiences living in the Middle East. Former camper, now Young Leader—the title for junior counselors—Shai Keidar of Israel explains that the dialogue period is often challenging.

“My brother was a soldier in the Israeli army when I was a camper, which was very, very hard for the Palestinian campers to hear; their experience with soldiers are not good, so hearing that my brother was a soldier was confusing for them because I told them how amazing he is, and how gentle he is,” Keidar tells SFR. “I cried so much when they told stories about other soldiers, because that’s my brother, and then one of the Palestinians came up to me and gave me a warm hug—she put everything aside and was feeling what I was feeling, even though she had a lot of bad experiences with soldiers.”

Creativity for Peace also builds connections between the girls through a variety of activities in addition to sharing a living space. “Being in dialogue and hearing those stories and asking many questions is one part of the experience,” Keidar continues. “Living together, sharing everything from a bed to a shower, and keeping the house warm and clean, or going to the opera or the movies, that’s the other part that brings us together and connects us in a way that’s hard to find anywhere else.”

This week, the girls work on building connections by heading up to the Santa Fe Mountain Center with SFR in tow. With just under seven days of camp under their belts, there’s a palpable sense of budding friendship among the girls, but they still have a ways to go. While they share English as a second language—a requirement for camp—they’re still working through many cultural, linguistic, political and religious differences. It is this lack of common ground at the start of camp which make activities like a this a challenge. The campers whoop and cheer for two of their junior counselors who begin climbing upwards towards the ropes course. The triangular course, known as Team Journey, consists of two climbers walking different ropes before coming together in the center. From there, the climbers must work together to reach the third corner as a team. As everyone else watches from below, Indyke tells SFR why they chose the activity. 

“The purpose of this exercise is twofold: One of the purposes is empowerment; this is an opportunity for them to have an experience that they otherwise may not have had before of doing something scary and challenging that pushes them outside of their comfort zone,” she says. “The other purpose is to give them an opportunity to work together to work to a common goal. The experience of helping each other creates a bond that shows them what it actually feels like for someone not to be your enemy any more. They’re there to help and support you.”

Next week, the girls continue to challenge and express themselves in the form of a community event. On Thursday July 27, Creativity for Peace campers, Young Leaders and staffers plan to join together for Salaam~Shalom: A Celebration of Peace. The event, which takes its name from greetings in Arabic and Hebrew, respectively, features talks given by the program’s Young Leaders open to sharing their stories and discoveries with the community. Creativity for Peace brings the Middle East to the Farmers’ Market Pavilion with food, music and dancing from the region and community members can learn more about the young women's cultures.

As Salaam~Shalom demonstrates, Creativity for Peace’s message is even more relevant than ever—not just for these girls, but for the people of America. “We’re taking hate and suspicion and misinformation and we’re turning it into love and respect and friendship,” Youth and Volunteer Coordinator Alysha Shaw points out. “The things that we’re teaching these girls and the skills that we’re giving them are things that we desperately need in this country, but we are lacking right now.”

 
Salaam~Shalom: A Celebration of Peace
5:30 pm Thursday July 27. 
$15-$40.
Farmers Market Pavilion, 1607 Paseo de Peralta, 983-7726.

Leather Lo Mein

Harris News plans to open lady biker clothing store at former Mu Du Noodles location

Local NewsFriday, July 21, 2017 by Aaron Cantú

And here endeth the mystery.

Harris News Inc., a company that purchased the deed to the former location of Mu Du Noodles at 1494 Cerrillos Road, will transform the location into a store specializing in clothing for women, particularly leather “for women who fancy themselves as motorcycle riders.”


Company president John Coil says Cruisers Boutique will not feature private booths or adult theater screenings, nor will it sell adult DVDs. Instead, he says, the store will specialize in women’s leatherwear, shoes and lingerie, as well as party and adult novelties.


By Coil’s telling, it sounds like Cruisers will be something of a spicier, more eclectic version of the chain store Spencer's Gifts. 


Cruisers could be open within a few weeks.


“There will be very few men coming in the store as customers,” Coil tells SFR. 


Coil’s announcement on Friday ended weeks of speculation—featured in the July 19 issue of SFR—about what kind of business was moving into the former Cerrillos Road digs of Mu Du Noodles, an Asian restaurant.


Coil says Harris News employs about 350 people and operates 60 stores east of the Mississippi River in multiple states, many in small towns. Only four of them have “Sexually Oriented Business Licenses,” including Arcade News on Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe. However, Coil acknowledges that some of his businesses selling adult material do not have such licenses.


At publication time, a phone call to city of Santa Fe officials seeking comment had not been returned. 

The Golden Cockerel Review

Poshlost at its best

OperaFriday, July 21, 2017 by John Stege
Poshlost: a virtually untranslatable and highly uncomplimentary Russian noun signifying banality, vulgarity, triviality, stupidity and, well—you know. Like 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. It’s the sort of thing that Rimsky-Korsakov and his librettist, Vladimir Belsky, were sending up, only more so, in their strange and wonderful 1907 opera, The Golden Cockerel.
Part edgy fairy tale, part satiric attack on Tsar Nicholas II and his awful political misadventures, part proto-surrealist depiction of a world gone wrong, Cockerel can be by turns savage, outrageous, absurd and hilarious. Think SNL on steroids. Or stop thinking, please, and just let Rimsky’s glorious melodic score carry you away.
Which it surely does in the Santa Fe Opera’s delirious, delicious new production of Rimsky’s final opera. Oliver Prezant, pre-performance lecturer par excellence, calls much of the score “slippery,” especially where it bears upon the exotic Eastern tonalities describing the world of the Queen of Shemakha. She’s the femme fatale who seduces infantile, idiotic Dodon, Tsar of all the Russias, into sacrificing his kingdom and his life—a fatal attraction with its “bloody outcome” as described by the mysterious Astrologer in the opera’s epilogue.
Leading the SFO’s exemplary band, Emmanuel Villaume coaxes every sinuous thread from that slippery score. Rimsky wrote the book (literally) on orchestration, so you’ll hear all those caressing woodwinds, boisterous brasses and silken strings familiar from the composer’s kaleidoscopic orchestral warhorse, "Scheherazade."
As that mad, bad and dangerous-to-know Queen of Shemakha, Russian soprano Venera Gimadieva owns the second act and in this production steals the finale as well. The well-known “Hymn to the Sun,” in her creamy, impeccably phrased reading, is the stuff that dreams are made of. Another voluptuous dream—her casting aside garment after filmy garment to tease the fatuous Tsar into paroxysms of adolescent lust—makes Salome look like Mother Teresa.
As that grotesque dodo,Tsar Dodon, baritone Tim Mix struts and mugs his ignoble way across the stage in fat-suited red long-johns, proving that this Emperor indeed lacks clothes. The role really demands a blacker, weightier bass, but Mix’s agility and comic instincts carry the day. Singing Polkan, supreme general of the feckless Tsarist armies, Kevin Burdette and his magnificent mustachios sustains his SFO command of the sublimely ridiculous.
Meredith Arwady, about the darkest, deepest contralto going these days, gobbles up the succulent part of Amelfa, Dodon’s bossy housekeeper. As the Astrologer, the show’s sort-of emcee and resident brujo, Barry Banks parades his stratospheric “tenor altino,” an uncanny vocal presence that raises the neck-hairs.  
SFO’s apprentice program provides plummy character roles for Richard Smagur as dumb Prince Guidon and Jorge Espino as even dumber Prince Afron. Kasia Borowiec cock-a-doodles the off-stage Cockerel with focused finesse, and Susanne Sheston molds her singers into a convincing imitation of Russian choral style.
We all cherish Jim Henson’s invention of Big Bird. Now, out of director Paul Curran’s imagination, flaps the Biggest Bird—the Astrologer’s gift to Dodon, that eponymous cockerel that pecks the Tsar to death after Dodon has seemingly murdered its master. Curran creates a storybook kingdom of technicolor pageantry, packed with pertinent allusions galore.
His Dodon is a sharp take on Jarry’s Ubu Roi. The Queen’s va-va-voom entrance entourage, all glitter and ostrich feathers, seems straight out of Vegas. The Cockerel itself exists simply as a dynamic, brilliant projection, suggesting the insubstantiality of both Dodon’s world and the Astrologer’s gift. The savage satiric spirit of Gogol presides over all.
Scenic/costume designer Gary McCann’s gleaming skeletal set recalls the work of Constructivist artist Vladimir Tatlin, and those flamboyant costumes, photo representations of historic fabrics, pop the eye. Paul Hackenmueller does the lights; projection designer Driscoll Otto offers a complex palette of visuals, notably a mocking sequence of grotesque, distorted masks suggestive of James Ensor’s disturbing paintings.
Another of Curran’s bright ideas is, near the finale, to present Dodon in a bloated pin-stripe suit with red tie, accompanied by the Queen in a sleek white Milanese trouser ensemble. Not a particularly subtle allusion, perhaps, but—hey—we take our poshlost where we find it.

Raising Hell in the Halls of Power

Activist Medea Benjamin doesn’t stop working long enough to reflect much on her long career

Democracy in Crisis Friday, July 21, 2017 by Baynard Woods

Medea Benjamin, the firebrand activist and author of a dozen-odd books, looks surprisingly small in the midst of the lunchtime crowd jostling one another in the basement cafeteria of the the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Her pale face is framed by straight-cut bangs that are pretty darn close to pink in color.

I was surprised at her size because I’ve seen her twice at recent protests, and on both occasions she seemed to rise up and loom over the people around her, as if a projection of sheer will made her appear positively gargantuan.


But hunkered down at the long table, where she often sets up a makeshift office with other members of Code Pink, the radical feminist-oriented activist group, she seems almost invisible. That’s probably a good thing for someone who has made a career out of making trouble.


Across from her are an assistant and an intern working on laptops. A Code Pink sticker glowing on the back of one of their gleaming Macs reads “Make Out Not War.”


It’s hard to keep track of what they are talking about, there are so many projects and issues to deal with: a trip to Cuba, a book on Iran, mobilizing against the Senate health care bill, fighting the proposed increase in the Pentagon’s budget, and advocating for a bill that would halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia.


“We were here running up and down in the halls all day yesterday and all night until the police kicked us out,” Benjamin says with a sly grin.


Benjamin, who is also the president of the Benjamin Fund, which reported a value of more than $12 million in 2013, started her career as an activist nearly 50 years ago, when she was in high school.


“My sister had a boyfriend who was sent off to Vietnam and about six months later sent her home the ear of a Viet Cong as a necklace to wear,” she says. “I was so disgusted by that, I remember throwing up and saying I’m going to become an anti-war activist.”


That was when Medea Benjamin was born. Before that, she was Susan. “I was studying Greek mythology right after I finished high school. I thought as soon as I was 18, I wanted to change my name,” she says.


At first she just liked the way the name sounded. Over the years, people who didn’t know she chose the name have always asked why someone would name their child after the queen who, in Euripides, kills her children when her husband leaves her. But Benjamin read about a different version of the myth where Medea didn’t actually kill her children—but was blamed for it because she was a powerful woman in a patriarchal society. She liked it.


She did not legally change her name, which gives an activist of her notoriety another kind of invisibility. That could come in handy for someone who estimates that she’s been locked up somewhere around 80 times.


“When I was doing work more on the economic issues, getting arrested outside a store or embarrassing a company would have almost immediate results. It was quite remarkable,” she says. “I would do a lot of work around the sweatshop issues and we would do demonstrations and get arrested outside the stores of The Gap or Nike.”


Global Exchange, which Benjamin founded with her partner, Kevin Danaher, helped organize the protests against the World Trade Organization, and she was arrested in Seattle in 1999. “We slowed down that entire global governance infrastructure,” she says.


In 2000, when she announced plans for demonstrations outside 30 different Starbucks to protest conditions in coffee fields, the company approached her before the demonstrations even happened and created a fair-trade certification program.


The government, she says, has been harder to sway. “They don’t have a brand they want to protect because there are so many interests at play.” She ran for the US Senate herself in 2000, on the Green Party ticket, but says she isn’t interested in trying that again.


In an effort to stop the Iraq War, Benjamin and other activists founded Code Pink, a radical women-led group that uses costumes, satire, and direct action to fight against militarism and defend human rights. When the group protested the confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year, two members dressed as Klan members and greeted Sessions like an old friend. They were arrested, and maybe expected to be. Desiree Fairooz, a librarian who was sitting beside Benjamin in the gallery, was also arrested during the hearing—for inadvertently laughing.


Code Pink is more radical than many of the groups, such as Indivisible, that have arisen in the wake of Trump’s election. Benjamin finds hope in the new wave of activists, but she has been around long enough to be a little skeptical. “You scratch beneath the surface of some of these organizations, you’ll find the Democratic party,” she says. She doesn’t mind working with Democratic activists, but fears they will fall away when the Democrats regain control in Washington.  


Benjamin does light up a little bit when Senator Bernie Sanders walks into the cafeteria to buy lunch, but it’s more like she’s recognized a friend than spotted a star.


And then it is cheerfully back to work, going over details of a video with Code Pink intern Kristina Brunner. Brunner, who lives in the Code Pink house in DC, seems really, really excited about the work. But Benjamin, who has been fighting for so long, seems equally enthusiastic about, say, what they can do with Facebook Live.


Wondering how she maintained such passion for so long, I asked Benjamin about self care, a common topic among a younger generation of activists. Did she have any advice?


Her privilege, she says, requires her to keep working.


“Don’t stop long enough to get depressed. Don’t stop long enough to think you need self care,” she says. “I just keep going, because I learned really early on that it’s a luxury to feel like you’re so burned out you might have to stop.”


This is an installment of the syndicated column Democracy in Crisis. Woods is the editor-at-large of Baltimore City Paper, reporting from DC. Get more at @demoincrisis and @baynardwoods on Twitter; contact Baynard at baynard@democracyincrisis.com.

Weekend Picks: April (or July) Showers

Weekend PicksFriday, July 21, 2017 by SFR

Rain, glorious rain: Our gardens survive, we can wear a comfy hoodie, the populace stops turning on one another ... it's good. We are all, in fact, much calmer with the recent moisture in the air and think we deserve a treat in the form of cultural bad-assery! Behold—your weekend picks!

Angel Wynn: Adelita, Women Soldiers of the Mexican Revolution

Wynn presents a body of work honoring the legacy of the exceptional women soldiers of the Mexican Revolution who followed their husbands, brothers and fathers to war. Through Aug. 9.

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Ashley Raines with Jake Stanton and Vanessa Aricco

Raspy Americana out of Kansas City, Kansas.

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Platinum Music Awards: A Celebration of New Mexico Music

This awards show honors six major musicians who are rocking the local scene. See New Mexico’s musical talent perform live and stick around to celebrate the winners. Proceeds benefit the New Mexico Music Commission's Music in the Schools Program and the Solace Crisis Treatment Center.

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Evarusnik & Woven Talon

Seating is limited for this concert brining together the eclectic five-piece orchestra Evarusnik with an opening acoustic performance by Woven Talon.

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Cabaret

The scene is a nightclub in Berlin in late 1920’s. The Master of Ceremonies welcomes the audience to the show and assures them that, whatever their troubles, they will forget them at the Cabaret.

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The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

Jobs is a household name, and he changed the world. While connecting the world, he maintained walls between himself and others and arguably lost his humanity to his visionary genius. This opera, written by Mason Bates and Mark Campbell, makes its world premiere at the Santa Fe Opera this season starring Sasha Cooke and Edward Parks.

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Love Letter to Frida

Local musician and cantadora Nacha Mendez, with other local readers, presents a spoken-word and musical tribute to Frida Kahlo.

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Entreflamenco: 2017 Summer Season

Antonio Granjero, Estefania Ramirez and Antonio Hidalgo Paz co-direct this summer series featuring Granjero and Ramirez performing original choreography.

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Aspen Santa Fe Ballet presents Compagnie Hervé Koubi

Marvel at the combination of ballet with modern dance and acrobatics to the tune of Bach and Hamza El Din & the Kronos Quartet.

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