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'Life' Review

Just like 1979’s Alien but with less Sigourney Weaver

Movie ReviewsFriday, March 24, 2017 by Kendall Mac

Director Daniel Espinosa’s (Safe House) new science fiction thriller, Life, follows six absurdly attractive astronauts attempting to control a celestial life-form. After recovering dirt samples from Mars, the team discovers a rapidly evolving single-cell organism unlike any intergalactic inhabitant ever seen. The malevolent Martian begins to fight back against its captors with gnarly open-mouth kisses and floating spacecraft bloodshed. This film’s ever-evolving extraterrestrial assassin will surely make you glad you’re seated safely on Earth, maybe for the first time since election night.

Before you write off this film as a shiny new imitation of Ridley Scott’s creation spawned by money-hungry Hollywood executives, don’t let the pretty-faced playboys, Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) and Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool), stifle an otherwise intense and entertaining movie; the acting is surprisingly impressive, the effects are outstanding and the sound cues will surely have you on the edge of your seat screaming, “Kill it with Fire!”

Though Espinosa may exploit the same basic storyline and similar shock elements of precursor sci-fi flicks, these inspirations further Life’s excellence rather than mangle its predecessors’ iconic, suspenseful style. Similar to the Xenomorph in Alien, this creature, lovingly referred to as Calvin, grows into a murderous squid-like desperado throughout the film, proving one of Life’s more horrifying lessons: Don’t screw with aliens.

Espinosa does pick up extra credit for including underappreciated international stars like Hiroyuki Sanada (Game of Chance), Rebecca Ferguson (The Girl on the Train), Olga Dihovichnaya (Twilight Portrait) and Ariyon Bakare (The Dark Knight), rather than center on the survival of one character. That being said, by the end of the film, Hugh Derry (played by Bakare) will probably go down in movie history as the worst fictional astro-scientist. Turns out, when you are emotionally invested in more than one character, it makes the inevitable internalization of “Who’s going to make it out alive?!” even more unbearable. The last five minutes of the movie alone make the film worth the down payment necessary for popcorn and a small soda.


9
+ Ryan Reynolds’ smarmy wit; intergalactic battle royale
- space is scary; no ugly astronauts



Weekend Picks: TGI-Eff Yeah!

Weekend PicksFriday, March 24, 2017 by SFR

Do you guys know those kind of weeks that find folks staring out their windows going, "Man. It's nice out there?" This was one of those weeks (until Thursday, at least), and while we don't wanna speak for anyone, we can bet we're all ready to get down to some serious weekend-ing. Do it. Feel no guilt, go where thou wilt and enjoy it. You deserve it.

Killer of Giants

This group show features works by more than 25 off-the-beaten-path, irreverent and perhaps subversive artists based in New Mexico. See paintings, prints and more at the opening party with a live electronica set by DJ Saggaliffik and refreshments by La Fogata Grill.

More Info >>

Reyes Padilla: An Introduction

Padilla creates bold lines and brush strokes in his works, which represent the artist's visual depiction of music. As a synesthete, Padilla sees forms when he hears sounds and he attempts to translate that onto his canvas. Through May 6.

More Info >>

Sean Healen

Americana and rock 'n' roll.

More Info >>


Springing Forward at Shidoni

Celebrate the return of spring and longer days at this party featuring live music by the Key Frances Band and food by the High Altitude Food truck. Have a picnic and listen to Americana on a Saturday afternoon.

More Info >>

Render Bender: A Collision of Artistic Wonderment

This drawing-themed community fundraiser supports CCA's visual arts program. See one-of-a-kind works you can purchase upon completion, listen to a live vintage jazz performance by The Shiners Club, and enjoy food and drink.

More Info >>

Solidarity Shakedown Party for Jambo Cafe

Shake your booty to the sounds of DJ Clemente and the Boom Roots band and enjoy a meal from Jambo Café at a time when they need community support more than ever.

More Info >>


All the President's Men: Special Event Presented by SFR

Watch this film about journalists during the era of Nixon's Watergate scandal and hear from contemporary journalists in a panel before the screening. Editor and publisher Julie Ann Grimm, contributing editor Jeff Proctor and culture editor Alex DeVore speak about what it's like being a journalist in 2017.

More Info >>

Through the Looking Glass

Concordia Santa Fe's Wind Orchestra presents a free concert conducted by Eric Rombach-Kendall of the University of New Mexico, featuring works by John Barnes Chance, Percy Grainger, and others.

More Info >>

Dervish: Magical Music from Ireland

Music from the west of Ireland! Dervish is one of Ireland’s most acclaimed bands, featuring the haunting voice of Cathy Jordan and award-winning instrumentalists on fiddle, lute and accordion.

More Info >>

Get more information about how to spend your fun days when you sign up for the SFR Weekend newsletter, delivered to your inbox each Friday afternoon.

Morning Word: Soda Tax Campaigns Paid For By Outside Groups

Morning WordFriday, March 24, 2017 by Matt Grubs

Fizzy Math
More than half a million dollars in cash, consulting, canvassing and other campaign expenses has flowed into Santa Fe's soda tax election. Almost all the cash on both sides is coming from outside groups like the American Beverage Association and the OLÉ political organizing group in Albuquerque. As expected, former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg played a large role, too. The last day to register to vote in the May 2 election is April 4.

Frozen
Gov. Susana Martinez has ordered the State Personnel Office to stop hiring state employees. Except for cops, child-services workers, wildland firefighters and some Tax and Revenue Department employees, the state won't hire anyone until further notice. The state's revenues are up slightly and actually in line with projected spending, but the state's reserves are so low that they could drop to just $25 million—compared to a more than $6 billion annual budget.

Eye-Opener
The New Yorker's Jonathan Blitzer looks at the effects of an immigration raid and the rumors that follow. The title says it all: After an immigration raid, a city's students vanish. Two days after an ICE raid in Las Cruces, he writes, 2,000 students didn't show up to class.

State Ed Chief Investigates SFPS 'Snow Day'
When Santa Fe Public Schools closed their doors last week to let students, parents, teachers and others go to the Capitol to protest the education budget, Hanna Skandera thinks they may have violated a state law that prevents public money from being used for political purposes. There's no love lost between Skandera and SFPS superintendent Veronica Garcia, who find themselves on opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Skandera Likely to Stay
Meanwhile, long-running rumors of Hanna Skandera's departure for the national stage were just about laid to rest yesterday, as Politico reported she's unlikely to get a job at the US Department of Education under Donald Trump.

Con Man Gets Probation
A judge sentenced former Santa Fe con man Matthew Sample to five years' probation after he swindled and spent more than $1 million from investors. Prosecutors wanted more than six years in jail, but the judge said she ordered probation so Sample can pay restitution. How, you ask? His current job is expected to pay $200,000 this year.

Starbucks On its Way to Española?
It may well be, giving the caffeine-crazed a small sanctuary of corporate consistency if they deem a stop at a local joint too risky. The rumor is that the store will be a "rural prototype" Starbucks—whatever that means.

Hey, It Snowed
Like, a lot. There's snow on the ground here, and both Taos and Santa Fe ski areas reported about a foot. Almost forgot winter was a thing.

Thanks for reading! The Word respects winter's pluck.

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

Fizzy Math

First finance reports show PACs in soda tax election are set to spend more than $500K

Local NewsThursday, March 23, 2017 by Matt Grubs

Sugar-sweetened drinks are kind of a big deal. As proof, witness the more than $500,000 poured into the campaigns for and against Santa Fe’s proposed 2-cents-an-ounce tax on such beverages. Money from the tax would be earmarked for pre-kindergarten programs for Santa Fe’s 3- and 4-year-olds.

Political committees had to file campaign finance reports Thursday for all the money and in-kind contributions they’ve collected and spent since the beginning of February. In some ways, it’s the first look behind the curtain to see who’s pulling the levers. And so far, the dollars for “no” are edging out those for “yes.” 

Better Way for Santa Fe & Pre-K, an anti-tax group that bills itself as “a coalition of concerned citizens, businesses and community organizations,” had just one cash donor: the American Beverage Association. The industry group wired $100,000 to Better Way on March 9.

Better Way received massive assistance with consulting, media buys, legal work and direct mail from the ABA—more than $150,000. The local Coca-Cola Bottling franchise kicked in with in-kind contributions, too, shelling out more than $40,000 for signs, flyers, employee time and meals.

The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, which offered $2,000 of “employee time and travel expenses” to Better Way, was the lone non-soda entity to contribute.

All told, Better Way raised $317,000 and farmed out $96,000 to out-of-state political groups.

“I think we would not define our support only in monetary terms,” Better Way spokesman David Huynh tells SFR. “We have a coalition of restaurants and local grocers—over 130 small businesses across Santa Fe.”

However, citing concerns about backlash against coalition members, Huynh would not release the list. The anti-tax group listed no individual donors.

Pre-K for Santa Fe, the pro-tax faction, is also largely funded by big donors, including former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and OLÉ—a political organizing group based in Albuquerque that falls under the umbrella of the Center for Popular Democracy in Washington, DC.

OLÉ gave $100,000 to the pro-tax political committee, and Bloomberg donated nearly that much in research and media buys.

Pre-K listed just nine individual donors who collectively contributed $855.

The United Way of Santa gave the group $2,800 worth of staff time and two local unions, the National Education Association of Santa Fe and IATSE Local 480 contributed as well.

The group’s total take was $234,000.

“We’re happy to have both local and national support so we’re not drowned out. We’re being outspent,” says political strategist Sandra Wechsler. “We’re super glad OLÉ jumped in. We couldn’t be prouder to be working with them to ensure pre-K for all of Santa Fe.”

Neither Wechsler nor Huynh would share much in the way of strategy, other than both reiterating the importance of the election and of education. They’ve also both been paying attention to how similar campaigns were waged in cities like Berkeley, California, and Philadelphia.

No forums have been announced that would let voters hear both sides of the debate at the same time.

With six weeks to go until the May 2 election, it seems likely mailboxes and radio commercial breaks will be full of sugary-sweet messages on both sides of the proposed tax. Already, a former city councilor has filed a complaint with the citizen advisory board that monitors elections. The Ethics and Campaign Review Board is set to consider a campaign mailing that didn’t provide the name and phone number of the person responsible. Wechsler has said it came from her camp and the oversight was unintended. 

The last day for city residents to register to vote is April 4. Early voting begins on April 12.

 

The Fork

Chocolate & Coffee

The ForkThursday, March 23, 2017 by Michael J Wilson

Happy spring everyone. Town starts to pick up this time of year. Brace yourselves for tourists, events, warm weather, and lots of outdoor activities.

Let's FORK!


This weekend is the Southwest Chocolate & Coffee Fest. Vendors of chocolate, coffee, baked goods, wine and spirits—140 of 'em!—will descend upon Albuquerque for two days to give out free samples and talk about artisanal awesomeness. There are great events as well—a latte art competition, discussions on chocolate beans from farm to bar, music, eating contests and more. This year the expo attempts to get the record for the largest hot chocolate party! I've gone the last few years; this is one of the best events in the region.

Santa Fe vendors include: Caveman Coffee, 35 North Coffee, Aroma Coffee, American Pie Bakery and CG Higgins, plus a ton of others from around the state. You can find a full list of vendors HERE..

  • WHEN: 10 am-6 pm Saturday and Sunday, March 25 and 26
  • WHERE: NM State Fairgrounds, Manual Lujan Buildings A, B, C, 300 San Pedro Northeast, Albuquerque
  • COST: Adults $10, Seniors/Students $8, Military $8, 4-12 $3, 3 & under FREE. Special events cost extra. Buy on the festival's website HERE.

March 25 is International Happiness Day. I can't think of a better way to celebrate than with cocktails. The folks at La Cienega's Sunrise Springs Spa Resort (242 Los Pinos Road, 780-8145) agrees, so they have partnered with Santa Fe Spirits mixologist James Reis to create a unique class where guests can create their own garden-to-glass cocktails. The class will use herbs grown at the spa. Lemon verbena and rosemary vodka will feature. There will be appetizers.

This is to be the first of hopeful monthly events between the spa and Santa Fe Spirits. The spa has also announced their new Moon House Lounge to open in May.

  • WHEN: 3:30-5:30 pm Saturday, March 25
  • COST: $35 single; $50 couple
  • RSVP: 877-977-8212


Last Thursday, La Montañita Co-op Food Market awarded its first Marshall Kovitz Memorial Scholarships to UNM Sustainability Students. Four students each received $1,000 to continue their education.

Huge congrats to Carly Anderson, Christina Hoberg, Pam Quintana and Amy Sedillo, who were selected due to their outstanding academic records and essays submitted and reviewed by the Sustainability Studies Program faculty and La Montañita’s Marketing and Communications Director.

“These students are playing a major role in contributing to a sustainable future for all of us," said Karolyn Cannata-Winge, La Montañita Co-op’s marketing and communications director. “We are excited to assist them achieve their educational goals." The award is named for founding member of the Co-op, Marshall Kovitz.


A few readers pointed out that Biadora Bakery (1807 Second St., Ste. 9) has—temporarily?—closed its doors. A slightly ominous sign on the front door refers to owner/baker Sal Biadora having a "life journey." I reached out to Sal but haven't heard anything. If anyone knows more let us know!

See you next week,
Michael


What news do you want to see in this newsletter? We want to hear from you! Let us know! Email thefork@sfreporter.com


Morning Word: Soda Tax Campaign Gets Sticky

Morning WordThursday, March 23, 2017 by Matt Grubs

Soda Tax Chicanery or Sugary Slip-up?
The head of a pro-tax political group is apologizing after distributing a flier that didn't say who paid for the blast. Former city councilor Karen Heldmeyer has filed a complaint with the city, because the fliers are supposed to list a contact person and phone number.

Lawmakers Say Special Session Rhetoric is Over the Top
Calling the governor's pronouncements about a special session "brinksmanship," Speaker of the House Brian Egolf says the state should be able to weather the financial storm without the kind of deep cuts threatened by Gov. Martinez.

Taos Deputy Charged With Medicaid Fraud
Sheriff's Sgt. Ricky Romero faces criminal counts after investigators say they found him filing for medical costs of providing care for his neighbor despite the fact that he was on duty as a cop during the time he claimed to be providing care. Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe would not say if Romero had been placed on leave or otherwise suspended.

Judge Accepts Freeze on ICE Holds
A federal judge has given the OK to a proposed class-action lawsuit settlement that would bar the San Juan County jail from holding inmates at the request of federal immigration officials. The suit claims the county was violating the rights of inmates by holding them for the feds for no substantive reason and beyond the time they should have been in jail for their original accused crime.

CYFD Chief Bemoans Lack of Progress on Child Protection Bills
A handful of bills that would have instituted tougher penalties for crimes against children and closed what the Martinez administration believes are loopholes in the justice system were left on the sidelines in the recent legislative session. To some degree, it's a punishment-versus-prevention argument. CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson gave a few interviews yesterday, and it wouldn't be surprising to see a bill or two on the agenda for the promised special session.

State Relocates Treatment Facility to Roswell
After months of fighting to keep Yucca Lodge, an 18-bed inpatient treatment facility, a host of southwest New Mexico community leaders and elected officials learned the state Department of Health is transferring the facility to Roswell. The state says it's doing so to ramp up care for veterans; the community leaders say that's news to them.

SFR Preps for Court Case Versus Governor
The Reporter is going to court next week as part of a push for more open, accountable government. Here's why.

Nun Better
A new TV pilot based on Santa Fe nun Sister Blandina will be shooting in Santa Fe, Chama and Albuquerque. New Mexico will be telling its own story, which is a welcome change from standing in for Texas and Afghanistan all the time.

Thanks for reading! The Word tries not to make a habit of watching nun-based television, but could make an exception. Get it? Habit? Woof. One more day, people.

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

Morning Word: Healthcare Changes Could Hit NM Hard

Morning WordWednesday, March 22, 2017 by Matt Grubs

Fed Changes Could Cost Medicaid
With money scarce and a projected $140 million cost to keep New Mexicans added under Obamacare on Medicaid, the program faces an uncertain future. Lower reimbursement rates from the feds and a cap on yearly benefits could affect everyone on the plan, especially seniors in nursing homes.

State Ponders Medicaid Copays
The federal debate on repealing Obamacare takes place as New Mexico is already considering adding copays and other cost-sharing measures for things like hospital visits. Medicaid is a huge chunk of the state's budget, with more than 40 percent of New Mexicans enrolled in the program—that's more than 900,000 people.

What Would That State Government Shutdown Look Like?
In answer to a budget that would require the governor to either cut spending or raise taxes and fees, Susana Martinez threatened a shutdown and promised to call lawmakers back to the Capitol to resolve the mess. The first step could look something like closing museums and state parks. That would hit all of New Mexico, but Santa Fe would hurt disproportionately.

City Slows Speed SUV Return
A city council committee asked for more details about the proposed return of speed-tracking and ticketing SUVs to Santa Fe streets. Police say they handle relatively easy work without adding manpower and generate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Maybe the new ones are bulletproof, too?

Welcome to New Mexico, Get Out of the Car
Mayor RJ Berry likes to refer to the Sunport in Albuquerque as "New Mexico's front porch." Well, yesterday afternoon, David Carpenter got held at gunpoint as carjackers visited the porch.

Gov's UNM Regents Picks Can't Serve
A long-running feud with the state Senate and Rules Committee Chairwoman Linda Lopez seems to be the reason Jack Fortner and Bradley Hosmer will stay on as regents at UNM despite the governor having picked replacements. The governor's picks to replace the long-serving pair did not get a confirmation hearing and cannot serve.

Wind Farm
Xcel Energy plans to spend $1.6 billion to build two new wind farms, including New Mexico's largest. The projects will be in eastern New Mexico and likely serve customers in that part of the state as well as West Texas.

Storm's A-Comin'
It's going to be windy today as a storm front moves into the state. The best chance of seeing anything more than wind and cooler temperatures from the storm will be in high elevations and way out east. Ski areas are closing fast after another lackluster February-March stretch, so this is it.

Thanks for reading! The Word reminds you that it's "for all intents and purposes," not "all intensive purposes." Unless, of course, you're actually talking about intensive purposes.

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

SFR’s 2017 Spring Poetry Search Winners

FeaturesWednesday, March 22, 2017 by SFR

Wow, Santa Fe. You are really into poetry right now. This year’s Spring Poetry Search blew us away with hundreds of entries that ran the gamut from short and sweet, long and funny to downright beautiful and moving. For a contest judge, we tapped Arthur Sze, renowned wordsmith and Santa Fe’s first-ever poet laurate. First published in the 1970s, Sze has won the Lannan Literary Award, the American Book Award and even made it to the finalist round for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize with his book, Compass Rose. In other words, poets, your offerings were deemed excellent by someone who absolutely knows a thing or two about excellence.

“I think the [poetry] audience is small, and it’s always been small, but it’s a passionate audience [and], in many ways, there’s almost a renaissance of poetry,” Sze says. “There are so many different styles and it’s not like there is one prevailing trend—there are so many talented poets working in so many different styles.”

Sze gravitated toward poetry for its sense of discovery and, he says, he often uncovers a feeling or insight about the world that hadn’t occurred to him as he reads or writes.

“The creative process is a mysterious one, but it’s about continual growth,” he says. “I’m as excited writing today as I was over 40 years ago when I first started.”

Sze’s next collection, dubbed Sight Lines, is slated for a 2019 release through Copper Canyon Press. “For the first time I’m looking into things in American history, our country and our context in the world,” Sze says of the recently completed manuscript. “One of the things I’m working with is how disorienting the world can appear to us but, fundamentally, like it or not, all things are moving together.”

Things converge, such as the following locally scribed pieces from you, our dear readers.

“I’m always interested in imaginatively forceful and compelling writing,” he says. “I was delighted to read the sestina by Caleb Thompson; he wrote in a particularly difficult form.”

Of course, whittling down the many submissions was no easy task, so in addition to three winners who are awarded cash prizes, you’ll also find honorable mentions plus a few faves from the SFR staff.

“Poetry is language at its most intense,” Sze says. “I love how so much can be said with so few words.”


1st Place

Whiskey and Blood

By Caleb Thompson

I sat at my desk cleaning my service pistol,
A Smith and Wesson. Outside, it was pouring rain.
It was the kind of a night for drinking whiskey.
Fitzpatrick was free now, out on bail for murder.
He was no fool; he knew I had the evidence
To put him away for good. He was out for blood.
Mine. My head ached badly; my temples throbbed, blood
Pounding in my veins. I needed a good whiskey
Shot. When the door opened, I reached for my pistol.
It was a woman, her dark hair wet from the rain.
Her husband, she said, was a victim of murder.
She said, if I came, she would show me evidence.

She was badly shaken; there was good evidence
Of that, her eyes wild, her face taut, drained of blood.
Tears glistened on her cheeks. Or were they drops of rain?
I took out the bottle and poured her a whiskey.
“Why not go to the cops,” I said, “if it’s murder.”
The phone on the desk exploded like a pistol.

I let the phone ring, and re-holstered my pistol.
She told me her story, to the drip of the rain.
She had married rich, a man named Astor, blue blood.
But lately he had started hitting the whiskey.
He was nervous, on edge, looking for evidence
Of intrigue. Dark thoughts flocked to him like a murder

Of crows. When he disappeared she assumed murder.
She had come home late Tuesday, delayed by the rain.
He left no note. There was no sign, no evidence
Of a struggle; no telltale trail of human blood.
No empty shells casings from his Browning pistol.
In the drive sat his Porsche, a Targa in whiskey.

When she stopped, my immediate thought was Whiskey,
Tango Foxtrot. “You said you had the evidence.”
“I do,” she said. “It’s right here.” She pulled a pistol.
“Fitz wants to talk, dick. Let’s take a walk in the rain.”
The nails on her hand were the color of blood,
The color of a crime scene, after a murder.

The puddled neon streets glowed, evidence of rain.
She’d fought like murder to hold on to that pistol.
She’d punched hard; my mouth tasted like whiskey and blood.


Caleb Thompson has lived in Santa Fe since 1996. When he is not reading Raymond Chandler novels, he teaches at St. John’s College.


2nd Place

The Fox

By Ioanna Carlsen

Fox, you said,
is written on the wall
of my bedroom—
and there it was,
F O X
low down on the wall,
between your bookcase
and the door.

I laugh now
at this relic,
the first word you learned
your first day of school,
and you slyly mention
that I got mad
when you did it
then.

Thinking how fast
you grew into
a foxy
sixth grade eleven
I wish now
I’d let you fill
all the walls
with your childish scrawls.

But no. This is
perfect.
This one word fox.
I’ll never paint it out
as long as we live in the house
this F O X—
who sits there
by the door

waiting for you
in capital letters
as, clever,
you worked your way,
up and out,
into the adult
behaviors
your sister’s
already driving around in.


Ioanna Carlsen is a published poet whose work has been featured in several literary magazines and in her book, The Whisperer. In 2015 the book won second place in the New Mexico Press Women Communications Contest.


3rd Place

Night Yard

By Barbara Rockman

“It is hard to find the right way in or out”
      
-Brigit Pegeen Kelly

You can have which flower you want
though the penstemon will no longer ring its
bells if you pluck it.

Take the coreopsis. True, its green feathers
will rash your hands. Its bright suns shrink at
your touch.

And the roses, pale as antique linen
will fall into your cupped palm, break into frail
layers.
Close your hand or the breeze will rob you.

Dear sweetling, I call the black dog as we turn
our heads to stars.
3am, the flowers dead to us, garden disappeared
by night rebels
but our feet steady on invisible earth.

The Dipper pours her milk upon the dog’s back;
she’s suddenly star freckled and frisky.

Blessed the only way out of the ring of fire in
which we live,

one kindness here, one shared joke. Helpless we
wake
and pace abandoned yards.

We wander as if we had a destination but the
heart’s
accordion folds, roads and green ranges
creased so often, trace no scenic byways.

Do not ignore beauty’s markers: the dog at the
dark door,
the lover who sleeps through your going out
and your coming in.


Barbara Rockman teaches creative writing at Santa Fe Community College and in private workshops. As workshop coordinator for WingSpan Poetry Project, she brings poetry to victims of domestic violence. She is author of Sting and Nest, which received the National Press Women Poetry Book Prize and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. A new collection is forthcoming from University of New Mexico Press.


Honorable Mention

The Definition of Tragedy

By Robert Wilder

The Definition of Tragedy,

the Chinese exchange student
explained,
is when “something precious is
broken in front of you
and you are forced to watch until
every last piece is ground to dust.”

No one said anything in class after
that,
all the American students having
been fed
Western definitions from Cliff’s
Notes versions of Odysseys and
Oedipi.

As the teacher, I am required by
pedagogical law
to fill silences with open ended
questions or affirming hums,
sounds to cushion sadness and
atonal beats of the human heart

but that day something had already
broken inside of me
something fragile,
like an ancient vase from some far
off dynasty.

Now I remember: That wasn’t the
assignment at all—
I wanted the students to write
about the opposite of tragedy,
not tragedy itself, because every-
body knows the sad stuff already.

In needle-perfect English, the
Chinese exchange student
continued:
“The opposite of tragedy must be
something
held close or kept whole by love.”

I reached out with my arms to
illustrate her point
but managed only to knock a
dictionary onto the floor
which startled almost everyone

except the Chinese exchange
student
who was too busy
dreaming of home.


Robert Wilder lives and works in Santa Fe.


Lungs of the Earth

By Gabe Gomez

For Hilary

According to the bulletin board the Amazon is known as the lungs of the Earth
Where tenured tucum palms
are meaningless
Save their spiny bark and
industrious fiber
The place, and I‘m quoting, is
full of life

We begin to forget this moment as it begins
Our disappointing sleep on
planes bookend the hours
apart
Reading into things you’ve
photographed and eaten
In seven seconds, something
new will begin

We dream of echoing folding chairs
Over parquet floors of
Versailles or mom and dad’s
Its own moment cracks the sky
And its collusion with sense

How it will travel from the lungs, exit the lips,
Then slip quietly into the ears
to confuse
Consequence of order, vertical
lift, recycled air
The science is soft but
alarmingly good

We dream of ourselves as puzzles and quarks
Your face takes shape in the
curtains
We are its sun-bleach stains
Safety webbing in the glass

A crane afloat in my breathing
You land in its fiery wind
Ignite the atmosphere
Then sleep beautifully, if not,
sheepish to the
Violence shared by the markings
Left on our bodies after coming
home


Gabe Gomez has two published collections of poetry: The Outer Bands and The Seed Bank. He lives in Santa Fe.


Staff Picks

The SFR staff also painstakingly pored over the nearly 300 submission to choose a few of our favorites. These are the works that stood out among many stellar others.


Letter to an Amateur Anthropologist

By Margaret Wack

Do not only take photographs
of beautiful women. This is your
impulse,
the eyes naturally gravitate
to the sweet milk skins, the
awkward
and elegant curve of bone.
Take photographs of everything,
you are not an artist

but a historian: remember this,
the way the hair emerges
from a leg, infinitesimal,
the way flesh accumulates
against your hands.
Study delicate black pores,
gasping
and gentle, dark windows
into the body’s mechanisms. The
mouth

flushed and curving, teeth sturdy
like a horse’s, something to love.
This is important, the diet, the
habits,
the peculiar dialects invented or
assumed.
At what frequency was language
spoken, sung, whispered. What
was worshiped,
what gods were prayed to, what
rituals. What dreams.

Take photographs. The way the
bleary eye
is asleep still, the sunlight across
the bed,
the weird, warped flesh. Round
hands,
smooth jugular. In action:
making breakfast,
converted to still life. The myths,
the history,
each delicate and convoluted
story with meaning
or no meaning. Write everything
down,

each colloquial phrase, docu-
ment the coughs and hiccups,
messy excretions, blood, tears.
This is after all a science,
with primary sources: x-rays, so
intimate, bones
sloping gently inward, the heart
palpitating
slightly too fast. The colorful
brain is alight,
is ablaze, unable to save itself
from itself
or from diagrams of anatomy,
numbers, facts.

I admit you are a specialist,
devoted
but nearly irrelevant: this is
important,
the way we held hands by the
reservoir,
when I am gone there must be
someone to tell everyone
exactly how I was, someone to
remember
beyond remembering.


Cabresto

By Andrew John Wilder

Father pulls me from the mud
Left by a lake shrunk by drought,
And I follow him back to our fishing rods.

We step in together, the caked mire
on my legs
Diffusing as we wade to the place
Where the river mouth cuts through the
shore.

Lazy brook trout, ready to spawn,
Glide in the cool mountain water
That feeds their lake,

Called Cabresto after the rope and halter
Of the burros the Spanish needed
To climb the steep trails that led there.

Dad casts the line for me,
The way he always did, when I was
Still shorter than him.

When a fish is hooked, he hands the rod
to me,
And I play the trout clumsily
Until he nets it deftly from the water.

I hook its gill to a stringer hanging
From my belt and let the fish rest in the
water
By my leg. Dad casts for me again, and
again,

Until my stringer is heavy with trout,
Females bloated with roe and tired males
Whose jaws are beginning to hook and rot.

When he’s caught our limit,
We turn and wade back to shore,
Where a boy still struggles in the mud.


An Alternate Route

By Miles Merritt

Nature (unlike some
huge metropolis)
treats us like adults:
we must discover all
its glory by ourselves.
Imagine how disheartening
if wandering inside this
intricate wood we came upon
small placards reading— TURN LEFT for Quaking Aspen.
MERGING STREAM AHEAD.
SLOW DOWN: Strawberries


Backyard Canyoneering

Explorations in local slots seek out the best of what New Mexico canyon country has to offer

The EnthusiastWednesday, March 22, 2017 by Elizabeth Miller

The first time Brett Kettering and Daniel Creveling lowered themselves into Pajarito Gorge near White Rock, they had only a vague image of what they were getting into. The committed canyoneers were searching for home-turf, a place they could train and practice with others members of Los Alamos Mountaineers. They’d stared at what looked like a gigantic drop while climbing nearby, wondering what waited off the edge, and hiked either end of the gorge, peering down and up its extremities.

“We finally decided one day, ‘Oh, let’s go do it,’” Kettering says.

They used natural features to build an anchor, secured a rope and tossed one end down, leaning over to see it touch the next ledge. Then they rappelled into the narrow chambers of rock, lit by the ambient glow of sun striking the far canyon wall and baking the thread of the Rio Grande flanked by piñon and sand far below.

Three times, they’d have to set gear, rappel—sometimes into and around potholes carved deeper than anyone has yet to determine—then pull the ropes down after them, eventually arriving at the bottom of a boulder field. The hike out meant scrambling up heaped black basalt to reach nearby trail systems.

The canyon catches rainy season runoff and the detritus that comes with it, car parts and mangled bicycles among the garbage. But still, it’s like a beautiful secret, a space few visit, reachable only by those trained in the technical aspects of canyoneering and willing to brave the possibility of stuck ropes, flash floods and rattlesnakes as well as the near certainty of wet boots.

Their first descent may have been the first time anyone dropped into that canyon in this style, but now, Creveling revisits it to see traces of others having traveled there. It’s becoming popular.

Like so many outdoor sports, stare too long at canyoneering and its contrivances prompt existential crises. Why climb to the top of a cliff just to be lowered back to its bottom? Why seek out a route through slot-like canyons and jumbled terrain with mandatory rappelling and views deliberately limited to the stretch of rock wall right in front of you? Why descend a canyon just to hike back out of it?

“I sometimes say canyoneering is like hiking through canyons with some rappelling thrown in, so you get to hike through canyons and see some interesting things,” Kettering says. “But there’s a little bit more adventurous aspect to it in that you get to rig a rope and rappel. I like also the fun of figuring out, ‘How am I going to build a good anchor here?’”

That problem-solving is appealing, Creveling echoes, but so is the sense of adventure and exploration.

“You get to see things that aren’t usually accessible, so they’re usually more pristine than other areas because not a lot of people go through there,” he says.

Heavy rains in September 2013 sent huge columns of water through Pajarito Gorge, and a boulder the size of a small Volkswagen they used as an anchor disappeared.

“It’s completely gone. There’s no sign of it,” Kettering says, surmising that it shattered on the canyon floor. “Those kinds of things happen, right? The canyon changes. You get these big water events, and all the sudden what used to be an anchor is no longer there.”

The two connected through Los Alamos Mountaineers, where both instruct and lead trips. The gorge is now a test piece for those looking to get on board with that organization’s outings.

Kettering enrolled in one of their courses looking for more skills to pursue his hobby of “high pointing,” visiting the tallest summit in every state. But canyoneering hooked him, and he and Creveling began exploring nearby options rather than traveling all the way to the well-known canyon country in southern Utah.

After venturing into Chavez Canyon, near the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in Abiquiú, Kettering recounts, “We thought, ‘There’s got to be some more interesting stuff maybe closer to home.’”

That fueled poking around nearby canyons. The process for setting a new route starts with hiking either end of it, taking GPS readings and comparing elevations from the top and bottom to estimate the number of rappels required. Those explorations are still underway. If the trip goes poorly—if a rope gets stuck or the route dead-ends—there’s equipment to ascend the rope, and plenty of stories about the time someone climbed up only to discover the rope holding their bodyweight on some breathtakingly small feature. Hair-raising near-misses aside, the buzz online about get-togethers through Meetup.com and new routes points to a growing interest.

So, why? At the bottom of the gorge, still shady on a day with temperatures rapidly ramping up, it’s quiet and cool beside the murky pool left from recent rain. There, the scenery functions like a haiku, made richer by its brevity.



The Enthusiast is a twice-monthly column dedicated to the people in and stories from our outdoor sports community.


Into the Fire

Three years later, SFR’s anti-secrecy and free expression case against Gov. Martinez heads to court

Local NewsWednesday, March 22, 2017 by Marisa Demarco

After years of legal wrangling over press freedoms and the public’s right to know, the Santa Fe Reporter is set to finally have its day in state District Court at the end of this month.

At the heart of the case: Is it a violation of the paper’s free expression rights under the state Constitution if Gov. Susana Martinez blacklists SFR for critical coverage?

Martinez’ press secretary refused to comment on pending litigation. And the governor’s high-powered private attorney, Paul Kennedy, says he’s “not authorized to comment on this matter.”

Katherine Murray, one of the lawyers representing SFR, says the tensions rising nationally between President Donald Trump and the press highlight the dangers of government officials playing favorites. “To a certain extent, when you choose the messenger, you’re also getting to shape the message,” she says. “We need our press to be unpopular, to pursue the topics nobody wants to talk about.”

The case already has made some history, Murray says. Laws on the books are one thing, but until they’re tested in court, how they work can remain a mystery. Freedom of the press is protected under New Mexico’s Constitution, she says, but a paper’s right to access public information without facing discrimination is a novel issue for New Mexico courts.

The three-day bench trial is slated for March 29-31 before District Court Judge Sarah Singleton in Santa Fe. (Court dates scheduled for last November were vacated when Murray had to travel unexpectedly to receive her adopted son.) Martinez is not scheduled to testify, although several of her current and former staffers are. SFR journalists past and present also are expected to take the stand.

When reporter Joey Peters came to SFR from Washington, DC, he was surprised at how difficult it was to reach anyone at the governor’s office. “Responsiveness was better from the federal government,” he says. Peters remembers writing in emails to the governor’s spokesman, “Get back to me ASAP,” a naive turn of phrase that makes him laugh today. “I came in expecting that spokespeople for government agencies would contact you back.”

In 2012, SFR documented the unfolding story of Martinez’ leaked emails, the inner-workings of her administration and public business conducted on private email accounts. In December, the paper published a cover story headlined “The Year in Closed Government,” digging into those emails and juxtaposing them against the governor’s promise to run the most transparent administration in state history.

“After that, I think they just cut us off and wouldn’t respond to us at all, not even emails or anything,” says Peters, now a reporter for New Mexico Political Report.

In the absence of direct communication, SFR increased its reliance on public records requests, Murray says. That also proved fruitless, and the paper contends the administration repeatedly violated the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA)—New Mexico’s sunshine law that allows everyone access to documents and other records.

So in the fall of 2013, SFR sued. Murray says the serial IPRA violations created an either/or scenario: “Either this is a deliberate withholding of information that the governor’s office thinks is potentially politically embarrassing, or something about the way they handle IPRA requests is just flawed and results in us not getting the public records.”

After rulings from Singleton on some of the issues in the original court filing, claims stemming from five alleged IPRA violations will be contested at trial.

Kennedy wrote in a brief that the state’s public records law is an “unfunded mandate” that’s hard on the state’s limited resources.

The lawsuit also says the governor’s office interfered with a free press by stonewalling SFR. The paper’s reporters weren’t receiving even basic information the administration was providing to other news organizations. It was retaliatory “viewpoint discrimination,” according to the lawsuit, and it happened because the governor’s office didn’t like the tone and content of the paper’s coverage.

The lawsuit doesn’t say the governor has to give a sit-down interview to every paper that wants one or offer comment on every single issue. But that decision has to be based on the issue at hand, Murray says, not whether the news organization seeking comment covers the governor in a favorable light.

Kennedy also argues that evidence shows it wasn’t viewpoint discrimination when the governor’s office didn’t respond to SFR, and that the paper isn’t the same thing as the Associated Press or the Albuquerque Journal. It has a smaller staff and it doesn’t distribute breaking news, he wrote.

But Murray will tell you this lawsuit gets at the heart of the media’s role in a democracy, and SFR brought it not just to ensure the paper’s own rights, but because the ability to gather and report news is essential to a free press.

“I certainly don’t want the Washington Post or the New York Times to start being gentler on President Trump because they just want access to the room,” she says. “That doesn’t benefit any of us.”

Problems like this don’t often get to the lawsuit stage, which can be expensive and time-consuming, according to Gregg Leslie, the legal defense director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Washington, DC. “So often reporters just feel kind of helpless when they’re confronted by something like this,” he says, “so it’s good to see that somebody’s really pushing for their rights.”



Marisa Demarco is covering the trial jointly for KUNM radio and SFR as an independent journalist. Contributing editor Jeff Proctor is supervising her coverage for SFR, including planned daily reports from the courtroom that will be published at SFReporter.com.


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