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Chop Suey on San Francisco Street

How George Park beat anti-Chinese laws and started a prominent Santa Fe family

FeaturesWednesday, January 18, 2017 by Steven Hsieh

The woman watched as soldiers confiscated her family’s land and beat her husband to death—another horror in the bloody land reforms of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Communist Party. She gathered up her daughter, paid a few bribes and laid low in British Hong Kong for two years, having fled her native China, like so many others, in fear.

By September 1956, she had hustled enough money for passage across the Pacific for her and her daughter. When the two refugees arrived in the United States on a tourist visa, they moved straight to Santa Fe.

The mother’s brother-in-law ran a successful restaurant a block from the Plaza. Her daughter, eager to learn English, agreed to work at the joint for no pay. It’s unclear who tipped immigration officers off to the arrangement, but the feds eventually arrested the mother and daughter and summoned them to Albuquerque, where they faced a deportation trial.

Fortunately, the brother-in-law had friends in high places.

Larry Bynon, a powerful Republican figure and radio personality who happened to speak a little Chinese, drove down to the courthouse and translated for the two young women. Rep. John Dempsey, New Mexico’s at-large delegate on Capitol Hill, filed an emergency bill to halt the family’s deportation.

Dempsey and Bynon were political enemies—Bynon previously mocked a speech given by Dempsey, a former governor, as a “second-rate fireside chat”—but a crisis for Santa Fe’s most prominent Chinese family compelled bipartisanship. The effort made it all the way to the White House. President Dwight D Eisenhower signed the intervention, granting reprieve to the two young women, Young Chang How and Chu Fung Lou.

Anything for the family of George Gee Park, the brother-in-law who moved to Santa Fe in the early 1900s, started two successful businesses, established the city’s first colony of Chinese Americans and networked like it was no one’s business, becoming the president of the local restaurant association and a founding director of the Bank of Santa Fe.

The Geary Act of 1882 required all American residents of Chinese descent to carry identification papers or else face deportation. Shown here are the certificates of identity for George Gee Park and Yon Shee.
Courtesy the National Archives of San Francisco

George’s brothers and business partners, Henry Gee Gay (older) and Joe Gee Soon Oey (younger) arrived around the same time and became well-known community figures themselves. The men were second-generation Americans, born in San Francisco to Chinese parents.

(Each brother adopted a new first name. Two of the men also Romanized a Chinese word to become their American last names: George became better known as Mr. Park and Henry became Mr. Gay, while Joe stuck with his ancestral name, Mr. Gee.)

If American history can be traced through the groups we fear the most—nationalities, races, ideologies, religions—then Park grew up during an era of anti-Chinese sentiment. In this Southwestern town, though, where few Chinese ever lived, he planted his roots and worked toward an improbable realization of the American Dream.

Park’s lived experience, along with that of his family members who came to this country—both in what confronted them here and in how they thrived—resonates with particular clarity today as the nation again grapples with its immigration policy. Further, a nationalist wave has empowered forces that threaten to intensify the fight and chill the melting pot.

It probably helped that the family made damn good food.

In 1923, Park, Gay and Gee acquired a restaurant called Majestic Cafe, where they previously worked as cooks and managers. Under their stewardship, Majestic Cafe became New Royal Cafe and then New Mexico Cafe. At last, in 1937, the greasy spoon on San Francisco Street rebranded as the New Canton Cafe, paying homage to the South China province from which its proprietors traced their roots. (Today, Canton is more frequently Romanized as Guangdong.)

Menu items cycled through over the decades, but the family always offered a wide selection of Chinese, American and New Mexican cuisine. Chop suey competed with cheeseburgers for diners’ attention. One reviewer marveled at the Cafe’s pies, doling out special praise for the peach and banana cream offerings: “Rotten for the figure, but oh, how good for the palate!”

On Sunday they served turkey. On Friday, clam chowder. Sue Lim, granddaughter of Park, recalls the latter was a favorite among guests. “We had people come up from Albuquerque to buy a quart,” she says.

The New Canton Cafe dished up Chinese and American food for more than years. Here it is in the 1960s.
Courtesy Sue Lim

While stationed in New Guinea during the Pacific campaign in World War II, Bynon wrote longingly of New Canton Cafe’s T-bone steaks, reported the hometown paper. The restaurant famously did not serve alcohol, but away in the jungle, Bynon pleaded for Park to save him a bottle of Ng Ka Py, a Chinese liquor.

Another friend of the family, US Sen. Bronson Cutting, enjoyed turtle soup and sliced chicken during a banquet held in his honor. More than 20 years before Rep. Dempsey stuck his neck out for Mr. Park’s sister-and-law, Cutting had helped secure entry to the states for Mr. Gay’s son, Gee Gow.

The New Canton Cafe shared a block with H Sax Fur Shop, Souders Furniture and Grose Jewelers. The Chinese immigrants’ eatery outlasted them all. Moviegoers likely dropped by the joint for snacks after catching the latest blockbuster down the street at the Paris Theater, which stood at 123 W San Francisco St. until it burned in 1945. The restaurant stayed open until 11 pm, except on Mondays, when it didn’t open at all.

Businessmen, congressmen and newspapermen all frequented the establishment, which had 10 booths and a private dining room that served up to 12 guests. Chinese lanterns and paintings, some donated by the Witter Bynner Foundation, adorned the ceilings and walls. Visitors were welcomed by a bright yellow neon sign that said, “No Liquor—But the Best of Food.”

The family frequently held gatherings at the New Canton Cafe. George Park, Henry Gee Gay and Joe Gee are all pictured in this undated photograph.
Courtesy the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives
In 1941, a journalist observed a tourist marveling at the overhanging lanterns. “We’ve seen a lot of strange things in Santa Fe,” he reportedly said. “But can you beat this? Here we are in a Chinese restaurant listening to a bunch of Hawaiians play Spanish music while people talk French and we eat Mexican shrimp.”

When Chinese immigration to the United States took off in the mid-1800s, enclaves of laborers tended to sprout along mining and railway hubs. The Territory of New Mexico, too, saw an influx of Chinese immigration.

Small colonies formed in Deming, Hillsboro and Silver City, where demand for cheap labor attracted workers who were willing to take tough jobs for little pay, according to Anna Naruta-Moya, an archivist who studied Chinese American communities in New Mexico for the Office of the State Historian. Food service, laundries and housekeeping rounded out the other gigs offered to the Chinese.

At first, the Old West welcomed the cheap labor. An 1868 report from the Santa Fe Weekly Post described the 60,000 or so Chinese immigrants in California as “frugal, temperate and industrious.”

But as the Chinese population grew, tolerance at times turned to hostility. In New Mexico, souring racial relations erupted into violence. Miners in Soccoro rioted when a superintendent hired a “Chinaman” to work as a servant, leading to one death when a worker got shot in the neck.

An 1881 editorial in The New Mexican captured the day’s prevailing anxiety, warning of a future in which “representatives of the Celestial Empire are so thick in our midst that as in the case of San Francisco and California generally, it is a crying evil with which we are unable to combat.”

To summarize: They’ll steal our jobs.

Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, the first federal law restricting immigration of workers based on ethnicity. Ten years later, the Geary Act extended the ban on Chinese immigration and required all persons of Chinese descent to register with Department of Labor authorities. The undocumented faced arrest, imprisonment and deportation.

But despite the air of xenophobia directed toward their community in the early 20th century, some Chinese made well. Naruta-Moya recently dug up the story of Sam Ho Kee, an immigrant who graduated as valedictorian of his 1906 class at Albuquerque High School. By some accounts, he was the first Chinese person in the nation to earn the distinction.

There’s also the Lew family of Deming, who operated a farm that became an agricultural model for the small town. Known as the Chinese Garden, the Lews’ fields produced legendary yields of watermelons, pecans and Irish potatoes, not to mention a small fortune for the family.

Before he set up shop on San Francisco Street, Park lived in San Francisco, California, where his father worked as a cook. He was about 10 years old when city officials, citing bubonic plague, installed a barbed-wire fence around Chinatown. He was 16 years old when a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the Northern California coast, killing more than 3,000 people.

He lived with two other families on the third floor of a brick building, above a grocery store. When his father returned to China in 1911, Park, then 20, was taken under the wing of a laundryman on Mission Street.

In 1915, Park sought to visit China for the first time in his life. But before he could leave the country, he had to prove his citizenship under the Geary Act, submitting a form to the Department of Labor’s Immigration Service. In the spring, he boarded the SS Mongolia and eventually arrived at Chong Shing, a village with four dwellings where his parents lived in a brick home with an open courtyard and dirt floors. Villagers shared a well for water.

Not long after he arrived, Park met Yon Shee, a woman from a different village. Within three months, the two had married. Within two years, they had a son. By the time George Park left China again, another child was on the way, this time a daughter (Sue Lim’s mother).

Park sailed back to the United States on the SS Siberia Maru in 1917. During the next seven years, he moved to Santa Fe, opened a restaurant and sent monthly payments of $300 to his wife and children, who had moved in with his parents.

When Gay made his own trip to China, he delivered a gold coin to the village of Chong Shing. Mrs. Park handed him a message, addressed to her husband, saying she wanted to come to the United States.

In 1924, Yon Shee Park sailed aboard the SS Cleveland from China to San Francisco with the couple’s two children, named Gee Fat Park and Helen Park. Mrs. Park’s certificate of identity, also required for Chinese aliens under federal immigration law, lists her occupation as housewife and notes two scars above her left eyebrow and a “faint pit” at the outer corner of her right eye.

The tracks of the American transcontinental railroad never ran through Santa Fe. Deprived of an economic boom, the town’s growth stalled through the late 1800s, with the population hovering between 5,000 and 6,000. Archives give no indication of a significant Chinese population in the city before the turn of the century.

By the time his family arrived, Park and company had expanded, opening a laundry, which doubled as a gift store. In the space of a dozen years, it had burned down, reopened and relocated.

Park at first was treated as a foreign curiosity. His mother wrote him a letter from Guangdong in 1929. It became the subject of a New Mexican article that quotes the businessman’s broken English. “I do well Santa Fe. My family live Santa Fe. Why leave?” Park said, addressing whether he would ever return to his native China.

But as New Canton Cafe rose in popularity, so did the family’s place in society. And as the family grew, newspapers began to refer to them as Santa Fe’s first “Chinese Colony.”

The men employed their wives and children as waiters at the restaurant and ironers at the laundry. Several of the male children went on to serve in the US military, including Gay’s son Robert Gee Kong, a marine who was wounded in the Korean War.

Outgoing and charming, Park became something of a liaison for the colony. Locals spoke of his smile and affability. “He was definitely Mr. Personality,” says Sue Lim, who is now retired in Marin County, California, after a career in the insurance industry. “He spoke with anyone who came into the restaurant. And the next time they came in, he’d remember them.”

Whenever the annual Fiesta Parade rolled around, Park spearheaded the design and construction of a Chinese-themed float. In 1937, according to one report, “A gaping green and white and gold dragon reared its head above the float. Fireworks were exploded in every block and in front of La Fonda, a disgusted white bulldog tried vengefully to eat them while they were going off.”

George Park celebrated his 80th birthday at La Fonda.
Courtesy Sue Lim

Before and during the second Sino-Japanese War, Park leveraged his social status to raise money for relief. Under the banner of Friends of China, he organized fundraiser after fundraiser. For one event in 1936, the group held a showing for The Plow That Broke the Plains, a documentary on the Dust Bowl. During another gathering, they sold tea, jewelry and paintings at the home of Eleanor Brownell and Alice Howland—a pair of teachers who give their name to Brownell-Howland Road near Bishop’s Lodge.

Mrs. Park also earned legendary status in Santa Fe. Since she didn’t have an English name, locals referred to her as Mama Park, or sometimes just Mama. Lim recalls that her grandmother accrued no shortage of karma over the years.

“Some of these newspaper delivery boys didn’t have something to eat, so she would bring them in and care for them. When they got older and had great jobs, they would remember her,” she says. In 1942, Mama Park became the first Chinese person in Santa Fe to be naturalized as a United States citizen.

The following year, Congress repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act. But it would take another two decades before the last vestiges of immigration restrictions for Chinese people would be dropped from the books.

On Mondays, when New Canton Cafe was closed, Park and company would throw parties at the restaurant, stocked with liquor from the Payless Drug Store. Sometimes they invited friends. Other times, the gatherings were strictly family affairs.

George Lim and Sue Lim sit for a family portrait with their mother, Yon Shee Park.
Courtesy Sue Lim
Bigger occasions, like birthdays and births, called for bigger venues. Calla Hay, long-time society editor at The New Mexican, covered regular shindigs at La Fonda and Hacienda el Gancho (on Old Las Vegas Highway). On the occasion of George Park’s 71st birthday, on January 27, 1962, Hay reported that more than 400 guests formed a reception line at La Fonda to honor the “patriarch” of Santa Fe’s Chinese colony. Family flew in from out of town and then-governor Richard Dillon drove up from Encino with his wife Maurine Williams.

As guests left the hotel, the family handed them “handsome bowls, Chinese spoons and bright red chopsticks.” Yon Shee Park and the other women in the family wore silk dresses, specially tailored for the gala and flown in from Hong Kong.

New Canton Cafe closed in 1975, after more than 50 years in business. The same month that Park closed the books, a pair of siblings named Toni Contreras and James Maryol opened a new diner in the same location. They called it Tia Sophia’s.

By that time, Park was already spending more time on his other career, as a director of the Bank of Santa Fe. He died in 1986.

The third generation of Gee family children, unlike their parents, didn’t need restaurant gigs. Those children went onto college and became architects and underwriters, lawyers and nurses. Most moved to California, except for the grandson who went to Memphis to become a pharmacist. Says Lim, “I guess that’s the reason the Chinese came over to the United States; to give their children an education.”

On a bitterly cold Thursday afternoon in December at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico, curators were installing La Frontera y Nuevo México, an exhibit billed as an “anthropological investigation of the US-Mexico Border.”

A Donald Trump piñata hangs next to a glass case showing three red baseball caps, arranged vertically, that say: “Make America Great Again,” “Make America Mexico Again” and “Make America Native Again.”

Down the corridor, the museum’s largest temporary exhibit hall displays more than 100 pieces of Chinese ceramics spanning 6,000 years, from ancient statuettes to Mao-era bowls and plates. Across from that collection, arranged horizontally across a single wall, was an exhibit called Chinese Americans in New Mexico. That exhibit has since closed, but the ceramics are on view until mid-June.

“I’ve made an effort to do exhibits relevant to the local community,” says Devorah Romanek, museum curator. When China emerged as a theme, Romanek reached out to members of the local diaspora, who in turn loaned collections of teapots and cups.

Emblazoned with roosters and dragons, the tea accessories are cased midway through a timeline of photos and newspaper clippings tracing the history of Chinese immigration to New Mexico. Visitors can gaze at the immigration papers of Sam Ho Kee and his parents, provided by Naruta-Moya.

Santa Fe also makes an appearance, but not through images of the New Canton Cafe or its proprietors. Rather, we see a sepia-toned view of St. Francis Cathedral, dated between 1890 and 1895. Along San Francisco Street, a white hanging sign marks Sang Kee Laundry, perhaps the oldest known Chinese business in Santa Fe.

The photo offers evidence of Chinese life in Santa Fe before George Park and Henry Gee Gay came to town. Whoever was the enterprising man behind Sang Kee Laundry, it seems he did not benefit from geniality with his community.

In the spring of 1882, the Santa Fe Democrat reported that two men, one wielding the butt of a pool stick, broke into the business and beat the laundryman. Using a rope fashioned as a noose, they attempted to choke the man, identified by the Democrat as Lang Kee. Through moans, the man got the attention of neighbors. But the burglars had already made off with 80 bucks and a watch.

The exhibit on Chinese Americans opened with a political cartoon, drawn by Thomas Nast in 1870. Men dressed in suits look over a barrier labeled “The ‘Chinese Wall’ Around the United States of America.” Other men, standing on the other side, wearing ponytails and conical hats, watch as a ladder once perched against the wall comes crashing down before them. Below his drawing, Nast writes, “THROWING DOWN THE LADDER BY WHICH THEY ROSE.”

Romanek, giving a tour of the exhibit, pauses for a second to contemplate the illustration. “Some things never change.”


By the Hour

Hundreds of thousands in public money flows to private attorney, but Gov. Martinez’ staff won’t say how much

Local NewsWednesday, January 18, 2017 by Jeff Proctor

Gov. Susana Martinez’ administration continues to insist on keeping secret how much taxpayer money has flowed to a well-connected Albuquerque attorney who frequently represents the governor in court. And that’s despite a determination from the state attorney general that withholding the information breaks the law.

SFR has sought to pry attorney Paul Kennedy’s billing records out of the state since late 2012. Officials sent journalists working for this newspaper on a wild goose chase to various government departments, claimed records didn’t exist or can’t be released because of the attorney-client privilege and, most recently, cited a state law most commonly used to protect confidential settlement amounts.

Taken together, the state’s incomplete, untimely responses to SFR’s records requests and the withholding of Kennedy’s payment amounts violated the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA). That’s according to lawyers in the office of Attorney General Hector Balderas, who is responsible for enforcing IPRA and the state’s other transparency laws.

Martinez’ General Services Department (GSD) “violated the IPRA by failing to properly respond to IPRA requests and by refusing to provide responsive records which are subject to inspection,” Deputy Attorney General Joseph Dworak wrote to Alexis Johnson, general counsel for GSD, in a letter dated Dec. 15.

Dworak’s letter came five months after SFR filed a complaint with the attorney general over the administration’s most recent refusal to disclose how much Kennedy has been paid. It continued: GSD “should have provided, at minimum, copies of the billing records requested with redaction of specific details of the attorney services which constitute attorney-client privilege information.”

Kennedy is close to the governor and was once Martinez’ choice for a seat on the New Mexico Supreme Court. She has hired him to push back on allegations that state officials doctored emergency food assistance applications, public records lawsuits and other controversial matters in court, although when SFR asked for information about all the cases he is involved in on the state’s behalf, officials did not identify all of them.

One of those public records cases was filed in 2013 by this newspaper. Kennedy is Martinez’ outside lawyer in that case and has argued strongly for her right to keep records under wraps.

Responding to an email from SFR this week, Kennedy said he was “not authorized to comment at this time.”

It is not uncommon for governors, mayors and other top elected officials to hire outside attorneys, even though they employ staff attorneys who draw government salaries. Complex, legally difficult cases can stretch government legal staffs. That often leads to contract work for private attorneys representing officials.

Citizens have likely shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars for Kennedy’s legal work during the past several years, according to the state’s transparency website and conversations with former Martinez administration officials. But how many hours he and other attorneys at his firm have worked, what they’ve done and exactly how much they’ve been paid is anyone’s guess.

That’s because GSD has not turned over any records indicating how much state money has gone to Kennedy and his firm. Johnson, the GSD attorney, promised in a letter on Jan. 13 to turn over records from two cases in which the governor has settled lawsuits for alleged IPRA violations, but not until he has blacked out information he deems protected by the attorney-client privilege.

And he refuses to release any of Kennedy’s billing records related to SFR’s lawsuit, scheduled for trial in late March. Johnson claims state law requires him to withhold any documents associated with “open” cases until six months after they are closed.

However, GSD already has provided contracts spelling out Kennedy’s scope of work and payment for the two closed IPRA cases and for this newspaper’s case. Those documents show Kennedy has been awarded $850,000 in sole-source contracts to represent the governor at an hourly rate of $250 for his work and $150 an hour for less experienced attorneys at his firm.

The state’s Sunshine Portal database, which Martinez touts as a transparency tool, does not match the records GSD has turned over to SFR. It shows contracts in at least four other cases for Kennedy, including the food assistance fraud case. Kennedy, the database shows, was awarded $716,633 in contracts between September 2013 and June 2016—far less than the amount shown just in the three contracts the state has turned over—and that he was paid $413,528 during that time.

SFR cannot independently verify those figures.

The city of Santa Fe has a different take on letting the public see how much money is being spent on outside attorneys.

Bernadette Romero, the city’s records custodian, said she releases bills for contract attorneys in response to IPRA requests—but only after redacting information that would, for example, reveal legal strategies. No matter what stage of litigation a case is in, Santa Fe officials believe the amounts of money paid, the dates of service and the hours worked are public record.

“When it comes to taxpayer dollars, the people have a right to know what it’s being spent on,” Romero said. “We just go ahead and release the amounts when people ask.”

Deputy AG Dworak, in his letter to Johnson, pointed out that whether the government’s outside legal bills are public records has never been litigated under IPRA. But Dworak cited a New Mexico case in which the Northern Rio Arriba Electric Cooperative was forced to show its outside legal bills to shareholders. He also cited cases in state and federal courts around the country in which courts forced government entities to release records that showed the amounts of money paid for outside legal services—although not detailed narratives that could give away officials’ legal strategies.

Dworak concluded his legal analysis this way: “We believe that this persuasive authority would lead a New Mexico court to find [GSD’s] blanket invocation of the exception to hold records improper.”


Cash Withdrawal

Grassroots movement urges city to divest from Wells Fargo, which funds Dakota Access Pipeline

Local NewsWednesday, January 18, 2017 by Steven Hsieh

Come the fall, the city government could sever ties with a bank that’s helping to fund the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Santa Fe in 2013 approved a four-year contract with Wells Fargo, agreeing to pay the bank about $449,000 over the period for fiscal agent services. But the city is free to sever ties with Wells Fargo in October, due to a clause in the agreement that allows either party to terminate the contract 60 days before the end of 2017.

In an interview with SFR, Mayor Javier Gonzales threw his support behind such a change.

“When the city has money involved with banks that invest in projects harmful to our community and counter to the will of our city, we need to look at viable alternatives,” Gonzales said in an phone call from Washington DC, where he’s meeting with the US Conference of Mayors. He also reiterated his support for a study on the feasibility of establishing a public bank to manage Santa Fe’s finances.

"When the city has money involved with banks that invest in projects harmful to our community and counter to the will of our city, we need to look at viable alternatives."
-Mayor Javier Gonzales

A coalition of local activists last week asked the City Council to divest from Wells Fargo over the bank’s investments in the pipeline, following a national movement to boycott financial institutions that fund the construction project. Gonzales previously demonstrated outside Wells Fargo as part of a national day of action on Nov. 15.

The council’s second-highest-ranking member also hinted at support in an email to SFR. “I think we would all feel more comfortable using a local institution,” said Mayor Pro Tem Signe Lindell.

The city maintains 15 Wells Fargo accounts, adding up to holdings of about $46.8 million, which covers payroll, general liability insurance claims, workers’ comp claims, savings, utilities and other functions.

Wells Fargo is among the 35 institutions bankrolling the Dakota Access Pipeline or the companies overseeing its construction. The bank has pitched in about $500,000, according to a study by Food and Water Watch, a progressive research group.

About two dozen Santa Feans spoke in support of the effort during last week’s council meeting on Jan. 11, commandeering the chambers during the evening’s public comment session. Earlier in the day, the activists demonstrated outside the downtown Wells Fargo branch on Washington Avenue.

Since last spring, thousands of activists have swarmed a campsite north of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota to protest the construction of an oil pipeline near the tribe’s land. Tribal members worry a rupture in the Dakota Access Pipeline could contaminate their water supply, as the proposed route runs beneath the Missouri River.

Over the summer, the protest camp near Standing Rock became something of a mecca for environmentalists and supporters of Indigenous rights. Social media users circulated footage of police crackdowns on the site, including one episode in which law enforcement sprayed cold water on the protestors in freezing temperatures.

The City Council late last year passed a symbolic resolution supporting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and condemning excessive force on protesters. It also called on “local financial institutions to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline Project and invest instead in life-supporting projects and renewable energy projects.”

But Santa Fe should offer more than gestures to the self-described “water protectors” camping out at Standing Rock, said Jeff Haas, a civil rights lawyer who is representing a number of anti-pipeline activists. “I’m not asking for a symbolic statement of support,” Haas told councilors. “We can make a difference.” “The record on spills is consistent,” said activist Margaret Kuhlen. “Pipelines break.”

The actions last week were sponsored by Earth Care, the environmentalist organization, and Retake Our Democracy, a progressive organizing group that grew out of the local campaign supporting Bernie Sanders for president. Jeff Ethan Au Green, a former City Council candidate who now lives in Colorado, drove here last week to help direct the campaign.

Paul Gibson, co-founder of Retake our Democracy, says his volunteer corps of about 50 people will research viable alternatives to Wells Fargo for the city’s fiscal agent. That effort likely got a boost from city council on Dec. 14, when the governing body lowered the collateralization requirement for Santa Fe’s fiscal agent from 102 percent to 50 cents per dollar.

Another proposed change would require the city to consider as criteria social responsibility before selecting a fiscal agent, inspired by a resolution currently being considered by Seattle’s City Council. Alongside Wells Fargo’s pipeline investment, the bank recently came under fire for a high-profile scandal wherein the bank’s employees created thousands of fake accounts to meet sales quotas.

The campaign against Wells Fargo represents the first high-profile cause championed by Retake Our Democracy since the November elections. Gibson said City Council should be prepared for more. “This is all part of a larger plan that recognizes that right now, given the changes in Washington, the best avenue for progressive change and policy change is at the local level,” he said.


MetroGlyphs

01.18.17

MetroGlyphsWednesday, January 18, 2017 by SFR
Russ Thornton is a Santa Fe local who has replaced his first passion, cooking, with a new love interest, the weekly SFR comic he's created called MetroGlyphs. Reach him at santafechef@hotmail.com

7 Days

01.18.17

7 DaysWednesday, January 18, 2017 by SFR
1

PEOPLE STILL HATE THAT PROPOSED SUGAR TAX

Soda is apparently super-important to our citizens.

2

BUT AT LEAST THERE’S NEW BLOOD FOR THE UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Expect crazy wait times at Rio Chama.

3

LOCAL MAN ARRESTED FOLLOWING FAILED MEDPOT DISPENSARY BURGLARY

He should’ve stuck to eating gummy candy and watching daytime TV.

4

MUSIC ON THE HILL SUMMER SERIES HOPING TO ATTRACT MORE SPONSORSHIPS OR FACE POTENTIAL TROUBLE

Too bad, because you can’t see aging jazz and Americana musicians perform just anywhere around here.

5

EPA WON’T PAY FINES FOR WASTE SPILL IN COLORADO

It’s so weird, because usually we can trust government agencies to do the right thing.

6

STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS PROMISES PENDING BUSINESS ANNOUNCEMENT

We can’t wait to see which corporate overlord gets a kickback this time.

7

BUT AT LEAST THERE’S ...

Wait. What? We can’t think of anything.


'Paterson' Review: Sheer-ish Poetry

Jim Jarmusch almost gets there

Movie ReviewsWednesday, January 18, 2017 by Alex De Vore

When I was a kid, my aunt bought an 1980s-era Mercedes; her dream car, and I started to notice them everywhere. A similar catalyst occurs in the life of Paterson (Star Wars’ Adam Driver) in the new film Paterson from auteur Jim Jarmusch (Only Lovers Left Alive, Dead Man), a sort of love letter to the New Jersey city of the same name, but also an examination of the enormity hidden in everyday human existence.

The mere suggestion of twins from Paterson’s live-in girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) causes him to notice similar pairs everywhere, and it’s like a doorway to his constant observation of the beauty discoverable within the commonplace or mundane.

Paterson carries with him what he calls a “secret notebook” which he fills with poems based on the seemingly inconsequential moments and objects found in his day-to-day. Something as simple as a box of matches flips a switch in Paterson’s mind, causing him to draw connections between the potentially ignited match and an almost painful love for Laura. Yet Paterson isn’t exactly what you’d call emotional, nor does he appear willing to open up to anyone. It’s almost as if he were taught long ago to never rock the boat.

Jarmusch hides clues from his past throughout the film, such as a photo of Paterson in a Marines uniform or an obsession with the poet William Carlos Williams, whom we learn also hails from Paterson, but our hero seems more content to quietly drink in the world moving around him rather than engage or affect it in any particular way. It’s almost unnerving at first, but as coworkers complain and former lovers clash and his girlfriend perpetually changes her dream from interior decorator to country music superstar to cupcake master, we begin to appreciate his introverted nature for its dignified simplicity; Paterson is a good man.

There’s a comfort in his soft existence, and though Paterson ends with a whimper—and it would have been helpful to get a clearer idea of his origins—Jarmusch has tapped into an often-overlooked type of storytelling that favors relating a simple tale told well over spectacle or, even worse, the assumption that audiences can’t enjoy a film without nonstop explosions or CGI. Of course, that’s kind of Jarmusch’s whole deal, but whereas previous films in his repertoire have had some sort of borderline fantastic element lurking in the background (like vampires or mistaken identity), Paterson is a patiently executed microcosm that serves to remind us how sometimes the most beautiful minds toil in obscurity.

7
+ Well-acted; quietly beautiful
- Weak ending; not for the impatient

Paterson
Directed by Jim Jarmusch
With Driver and Farahani
Violet Crown,
R,
118 min.


'20th Century Women' Review

Movie ReviewsWednesday, January 18, 2017 by Julie Ann Grimm

Jamie isn’t your average teenage boy raised by a single mom and coming of age in 1979. Or maybe he is. We join the unorthodox family in 20th Century Women as Jamie’s mom Dorothea (Annette Bening) is riddled with insecurity when she suddenly realizes she knows her teenage son (Lucas Jade Zumann) less with each passing day.

So she enlists the help of seemingly every friend the two can claim. This includes their two housemates—Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a punk-rock feminist with a killer record collection, and William (Billy Crudup), a hot hippie handyman with a sensitive streak. She also recruits Julie (Elle Fanning), Jamie’s longtime friend.

Together, they forge a sort of Montessori school wherein Jamie gets all kinds of man-building experiences and some straight-up doses of Life Ain’t Easy.

We were relieved Dorothea’s character comes across more like a real person than the over-dramatized TV mom she threatened to be. We want to be invited to one of her dinner parties. We admire her tenacity. Her deeply wrinkled, mostly make-up-free face annotates the raw pain of her aloneness. As Jamie begins the move from boy to man, she’s more aware that there’s not one in her life.

It’s tiresome, though, to always see Dorothea with a cigarette clamped between two fingers. We get it—people smoked all the time and wherever they wanted in the ’70s. Just maybe make it feel less like a dramatic crutch so we can laugh harder when she has to sneak one during William’s attempt to teach her how to meditate. It makes us sigh with relief when Julie tries to teach Jamie how to “look cool” and he replies, after a few minutes of failed lessons: “Smoking’s gross.”

Some other jokes in this film elicit laughs not because you see, but because you know. What diagrams does Jamie see in his new copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves? What happens when he explains his newfound knowledge of the clitoris to his high-school peers? In the end, it’s clear they’re all raising each other—but then again, we kind of all are. (Julie Ann Grimm)

8

+ Historic photos add to sense of context

- Put down the Salem, Mom

20th Century Women
CCA, Violet Crown,
R,
119 min.


'Strike a Pose' Review

Movie ReviewsWednesday, January 18, 2017 by Kim Jones

In 1990, infamous pop star Madonna launched her Blond Ambition tour, which proved one of the most controversial concerts of all time. Critics found it overly sexual, but her fans found Madonna’s willingness to address AIDS and the importance of safe sex groundbreaking. Co-directors Ester Gould (A Strange Love Affair with Ego) and rookie Reijer Zwaan detail the highs and lows of one straight and six gay male backup dancers who performed with the tour in the new documentary, Strike a Pose. Madonna herself documented the tour behind-the-scenes in her (also-infamous) 1991 documentary, Truth or Dare. Gould and Zwaan dig deeper, exploring the dancers’ lives as well as a 1992 lawsuit that claimed Madonna had outed them in her film without their consent. After the lawsuit was settled, however, the dancers reportedly realized their important respective roles in the gay community had given others the courage to express themselves.

Strike a Pose is a sassy and fierce journey into the ’90s, well-equipped with interviews and concert footage that helps alleviate the film’s painfully slow pace. The directors often repeat concert clips and lawsuit technicalities, which seems redundant but ultimately emphasizes the key points of the film. Even if you’re not a Madonna fan, the dancers in Strike a Pose are enough to intrigue pop lovers and mainstream music critics alike. Viewers may find themselves more interested in the dancers than in the singer herself—which could be due to a lack of comment from the pop icon, who refused to be interviewed.

Gould and Zwaan were permitted to use footage from Truth or Dare, and through the focus on the lawsuit in Strike a Pose, they insinuate that there is lingering bad blood between Madonna and her dancers. In the end, though, they seem appreciative for the push toward being themselves, admitting they still love and admire good ol’ Madge. (Kim Jones)






7
+ Nostalgic footage; interesting characters

- Slow build; sort of redundant

Strike a Pose
Jean Cocteau Cinema,
NR,
83 min.




Angry Jams

Get pissed on Inauguration Day

Music FeaturesWednesday, January 18, 2017 by Alex De Vore

It’s happening, you guys, and short of some miraculous eleventh-hour long shot, we’re gonna have four long years of Trump shoved down our collective craw. And no matter how many people tell you to get over it already or that you’re a snowflake or that “we survived Obama, you’ll survive this” or that you don’t deserve to feel outraged, saddened and even just a little bit terrified, you absolutely, 100 percent do have that right—and I’m here to help you wallow (just a little bit, let’s not be morose here). I mean, sure, musician Amanda Palmer’s glib statement about how “we’re all going to crawl down staircases into basements and speakeasies and make satirically political art” aside, there is catharsis in music. So come Jan. 20, let’s get pissed together, friends, because no matter who you are or where you live, one thing’s for sure: This is going to suck.

Dead Kennedys “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” (1981)

It’s an obvious one, but there’s still no denying the power behind this opus from the Bay Area legends. And though it’s kind of more about poseurs trying to co-opt punk, there’s a certain delight in lyrics like, “You still think swastikas look cool/The real Nazis run your schools/They’re coaches businessmen and cops/In a real fourth Reich you’ll be the first to go.” Plus, have y’all seen the rise in hate crime out there from white people? There’s no denying hate-mongers are feeling emboldened of late.

MDC “Born to Die” (1981)

Dave Dictor and company actually came through Santa Fe not too long ago, and shortly thereafter, Green Day channeled MDC’s “Born to Die” by chanting “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA” at the American Music Awards. While the original lyrics use “war” in place of “Trump,” the message should be clear, and I do wonder how Trump voters reconcile voting for the same candidate as the fucking Klan in their minds. Ugh. I’m pissed already!

Elected Officials “The Lobby” (2015)

Not only is this band semi-local (some members live here, some in Austin, Texas), they’ve got an album called Appetite for Corruption and that’s just smart. On their song “The Lobby,” Elected Officials thrash the idea of bought policies and legislation, standing up for the little guy with lyrics like, “It’s all about the money and not for you and me/Billions of Ben Franklins speak to higher policy.” Yikes. Oh, and PS—these guys are touring China with MDC as we speak. Boom.

FIRST TRACKS

Hear, Here

We’ve got our ear to the ground in search of interesting tidbits of music-related information, Santa Fe. Are you recording an album? Hitting the road to tour? Thinking of going major-label? We want to know about it.

Johnny Bell of gothic Americana weirdo act Cloacas is hard at work on some new, original banjo tunes. Ever the perfectionist, Bell doesn’t have a release date set, but we’ve seen him play before and he has an oddly satisfying drone quality that may not spring to mind when one imagines banjos, but it exists nonetheless. You can stay up-to-date at johnnybell.bandcamp.com.

DJ Melanie Moore’s annual Sex on Vinyl event has hit the planning stages, and Moore says this year’s version, the 12th in the long-running series, will feature an all-ages component come Feb. 11 at Skylight. We’ll have more info as it comes.

Send your good vibes out in the direction of local rocker Jessie Deluxe, who recently broke her arm in a snowboarding accident. Not only is that never fun, it extra sucks for adults who heal more slowly and EXTRA sucky for a guitarist. Get well soon, Jessie!

Andy Mason, the music teacher at Little Earth School (which enrolls kids up to 6th grade), is trying to raise $500 to buy the school some ukuleles. To do this, he’s recorded an original song with the kids aptly titled “Little Earth” which y’all can download on iTunes or get through cdbaby.com. The school gets the proceeds. Of course, you can also just pop by or send them money if you so choose.

Local musician/DJ Ben Wright plans to retire from his bi-monthly Open Songs Night event at Second Street Brewery in the Railyard following the Jan. 24 event with Felix Peralta of Felix y los Gatos. His successor is yet to be announced.

Phil Ochs “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” (1965)

Think of it like a soldier who once blindly followed orders who now prefers to ruminate on peace and what is right. Phil Ochs rules. Oh, and Portland, Oregon-based indie genius Ben Barnett has a whole album of Ochs covers with his Kind of Like Spitting project called Learn: The Songs of Phil Ochs that is really worth searching out and picking up.

NOFX “The Decline” (1999)

Did somebody say 20-minute song about the sad state of affairs in the country? NOFX deftly weaves between issues like absurd marijuana laws, gun control, the opiate of the masses and more with reckless abandon and more than a few brilliantly executed tempo and musical changes. Not only is this one of the finest political songs of all time, it proved that even pop-punk has the ability to get deep now and then. “We’ve lost the battle, lost the war, lost the things worth living for,” singer Fat Mike laments, and it’s hard to not focus on how Trump is just another in a long line of political disappointments in this country … at least for people who care about other people.

The Exploited “Fuck the USA” (1993)

OK, so they’re Scottish, but The Exploited still provides an interesting glimpse into how our country is perceived by other parts of the world while reminding us that sick people looking for help will probably have a hard time without money and the rich often don’t much care or even really think about the poor.

Woody Guthrie “All You Fascists Bound to Lose” (1944)

It’s Woody Guthrie, you guys, and he’s mad! His machine kills fascists, y’know?! Billy Bragg also does this song (both with Wilco and all by himself), but whatever way you ingest the message of this tune, it’s pretty triumphant and hopeful which, God help us, we could we could really use right about now.




Send your music tips and tricks to alex@sfreporter.com


Sonic Youth

Performance Santa Fe courts a younger audience by tapping two insiders

Art FeaturesWednesday, January 18, 2017 by Jordan Eddy

When Lily Carbone and Cav Cavanaugh launched the Facebook page “Friends of Performance Santa Fe” on New Year’s Day, they didn’t wait around for people to happen upon it. Instead, they released a volley of intriguing messages to young, culturally engaged friends and acquaintances. In exchange for inviting a friend or two to the new online community, Performance Santa Fe was offering heavily discounted tickets to a cirque performance by The 7 Fingers in February—and a chance to rub elbows with the troupe afterwards.

“We got 100 likes in less than three days,” says Cavanaugh, Performance Santa Fe’s operations and education coordinator. “I told my friends about it, and they said, ‘Are there even 100 young people in this town?’ There are, but they’re in hiding.” She and Carbone, the nonprofit organization’s design and web manager, had been working for months on a strategy to flush younger Santa Feans from their dens. It’s a notoriously elusive audience for arts organizations—especially those that specialize in classical music performances—but this project has a secret weapon: At 26 and 33, respectively, Carbone and Cavanaugh are their own target audience.

From Cuisine and Confessions, a performance by The 7 Fingers, an offshoot of the famed 
Cirque du Soleil, coming to the Lensic in February.
Alexandre Galliez

Performance Santa Fe has an 80-year history, beginning in the late 1930s. Until 2014, the organization was called the Santa Fe Community Concert Association, and was a presenter for Columbia Artists Management. Eight straight decades of performing arts seasons later, the group has hosted theater, opera and dance performances, but it’s best-known for attracting a world-class array of classical musicians to Santa Fe. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, 80 is also a common age among Performance Santa Fe’s supporters.

“Most of our audience is 45 and up, which is very consistent with any kind of performing arts organization,” says Jonathan Winkle, the organization’s executive director. Back in November, he posed a question to his staff: “How can we approach the sub-40-year-old set in a way that makes sense?”

Winkle has seen other arts organizations try to engage younger demographics with mostly poor results. “So often, it seems to be a top-down approach, where people who are much older are trying to crack into the younger crowd,” Winkle says. “I thought it was really important that people from the actual community really craft how it’s going to look and sound and taste and feel.”

Enter Carbone and Cavanaugh, Performance Santa Fe’s youngest employees. They swiftly sketched out a program for a 21- to 39-year-old demographic that would offer affordable tickets to performances, discounted drinks at local bars and behind-the-scenes access to performers: Friends of Performance Santa Fe.

The goal was to foster a casual, culturally engaged community, something that both women struggled to find when they were Santa Fe newcomers.

“It’s a little bit harder to find a group here, because they can be so tight-knit,” says Cavanaugh, who moved here five years ago from Tallahassee, Florida. “Finding things to do is more difficult as well, and I think creating social groups that are based around organizations like this is a great way to give people that outlet.”

Carbone, who’s originally from Maryland and has lived here off and on for about four and a half years, adds that she often faces a trade-off when she’s deciding what to do with her time and money. “It’s expensive to live here,” she says. “I have to budget between activities that I actually can do. Do I go to a nice restaurant, get drinks, or go to a show?”

Fostering friendships and changing perceptions about the cost of attending performances became central goals of the project, as did avoiding some of the more awkward quirks of the average networking event. Cavanaugh and Carbone categorically rejected the term “young professionals” to describe the group, instead opting for the more open term “friends.”

“I’ve been to so many soul-sucking networking activities in my lifetime, and we definitely wanted to change that idea,” Cavanaugh says. “This is about appreciation of the arts, and bringing people together from all subsets to make these classical performances more relevant and accessible today.” Carbone adds, “We wanted to create events that we ourselves would be excited to attend.”

Friends of Performance Santa Fe’s first event is a production called Cuisine and Confessions by The 7 Fingers, an offshoot of the legendary production company Cirque du Soleil. Friends of Performance Santa Fe members can purchase seats that regularly run $78 for just $19, a markdown of over 70 percent, though the only way to access that price point currently is to call Performance Santa Fe (984-8759) and join the Friends program. Carbone and Cavanaugh say they’ll update the Performance Santa Fe website to make buying discounted tickets a simpler process in the coming weeks.

Following the Feb. 21 performance at The Lensic, a Friends of Performance Santa Fe launch party is scheduled at Agave Lounge (in the Eldorado Hotel & Spa, 309 W San Francisco St., 988-4455) and several of the featured performers are slated to appear. Cavanaugh and Carbone are busy planning a Friends of Performance Santa Fe schedule for the to-be-announced 2017/2018 season, which should be up on their Facebook page, facebook.com/FriendsOfPSF, soon.



The 7 Fingers: Cuisine & Confessions
7:30 pm Tuesday Feb. 21. $19-$85.
Lensic Performing Arts Center,
211 W San Francisco St.,
988-1234


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