SELECT title FROM cont_articles WHERE id='' LIMIT 1 Santa Fe Reporter

7 Days


7 DaysWednesday, May 24, 2017 by SFR


Apparently we’ve been taking them too seriously up until now.



No joke, we love libraries!



Is that like Baywatch in any way?



And their butts are still sore today, we bet.



Thank. God.



Horrible drug addiction and catalog of songs stolen from black people not included.



When is that new Baywatch movie coming out?



MetroGlyphsWednesday, May 24, 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

Dispensary Land

Santa Fe’s five cannabis dispensaries serve a growing patient base

FeaturesWednesday, May 24, 2017 by Aaron Cantú

New Mexico’s medical cannabis program is an ongoing experiment. Long-standing federal limits on research into the plant’s medical uses have forced patients, doctors and dispensary owners to improvise their ways to wellness; meanwhile state regulations keep a lid on unbounded growth the industry might otherwise see.

Number of medical cannabis card holders in Santa Fe County in 2015: 1,934
2016: 3,151

Combined First quarter income for NM Dispensaries, 2017:
$19 Million

There’s virtually no limit to the ways cannabis can be harvested, cultivated, extracted, distilled and consumed, and each body reacts differently to the plant. A joint rolled with a sticky sativa strain might ease your stomach cramps, but cause your friend anxiety; perhaps your brother enjoys slathering a cannabidiol-rich salve on his neck to ease chronic pain, but your grandmother prefers leaning back on the couch and resting her eyes after wolfing down a handful of indica-packed gummy bears.

The state Department of Health reports 4,280 people were medical cannabis card holders in Santa Fe County at the end of April, about a 36 percent increase from one year ago and a 121 percent boost from 2015. Patients in Santa Fe who don’t want to travel far can peruse five local dispensaries, each of which reflects a distinct style. While their locations were once considered protected information and only patients can shop inside, the storefronts hold their own as a new retail sector in the city. And with the number of cardholders in the state climbing past 40,000 and predicted to grow at a rapid pace, dispensaries in Santa Fe and beyond hope to expand their patient base.

There are caps on how many plants each dispensary can grow, however, and some say that regulation, as well as a requirement that they run as nonprofit enterprises, hinder efficiency and keep the supply artificially low. Yet statewide, the industry’s intake is also growing at a brisk pace. First-quarter sales in 2017 were $19 million, a 91 percent rise over the same period in 2016, according to new data from the department.

Employment opportunties at local dispensaries include bud trimming. This worker is at New Mexicann off San Mateo.
The dispensaries that SFR visited have patients that include teachers, doctors, veterans and trauma victims who’ve used cannabis to wean themselves off cocktails of pharmaceutical drugs, and even former DEA agents who keep their personal medical histories closer to their chests. Some dispensary proprietors swear by their own intuitive abilities to heal the sick and comfort the weary, while others pride themselves on more meticulous record-keeping to figure out what works for their patients.

Nearly all offer today’s standard menu of medicine and vessels: edibles like chocolate bars, fruity hard candies and lollipops; glass pipes to smoke the bud; vaporizers for the delicate-lunged; tinctures to drop under your tongue. Because of the state’s plant limit, however, most couldn’t supply the kind of highly-concentrated oils and other specialty products regularly on offer in other states that require a higher plant count to manufacture.

Since SFR’s not a card-carrying patient, we could not sample the offerings. But we did visit all the licensed dispensaries.


The lobby of Sacred Garden feels like a social club. On the day of our appointment at the store near Salvador Perez Park, we arrive just in time to see co-owner Zeke Shortes walk in and embrace a boisterous older woman in turquoise, who complained to him of possible tongue cancer as she held his hands; either she was a paid actress or Shortes clearly has a relationship with his patients.

Sacred Garden on Luisa Street brings both the camaraderie and the cannabis.
Liliana Dillingham

Shortes then started a tour through the facility’s kitchen, where we met his lead chef, Mary, who was mixing a bowl of chocolate but was most proud of the gummy worms she’d just cooked up, each packed with about half a joint’s worth of cannabis. Between the lobby and kitchen was the green-tinged selling room, where patients consulted with three young budtenders. Jars of hard candy sat on the glass counters: red strawana mango sativa, indica jalapeno-watermelon squares.

Shortes knew little about cannabis before jumping into the business in 2009, having used it only occasionally before then. He migrated to Santa Fe that year from Austin, where he had worked for a decade at the company Applied Materials, “making systems that make semiconductor chips that make the world go ’round,”—a critical role within the architecture of global capitalism, maybe, but one that left Shortes feeling empty. He also had experience as a food broker at Whole Foods, for which he visited dozens of food manufacturing facilities around the world to convince them to sell food products under the store brand. He also did category analysis for the company, boosting its bottom line by figuring out which products weren’t selling and acting accordingly.

It’s a corporate-heavy background for somebody who now manages a nonprofit health organization, though Shortes has gone on record voicing his displeasure with the health department’s nonprofit requirement. But he has an affinity with his patients, 40 percent of whom he estimates suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (this tracks almost perfectly with the 42 percent of patients statewide who obtained a card for PTSD as of April). Shortes himself had a traumatic experience for which he says he medicates: While visiting family in Austin in 2013, an 18-wheeler slammed into his side of the Toyota Corolla, injuring him and his wife. It was more incentive to stay away from big-city life. He prefers the pace of Santa Fe.

“People move slower, and there’s more camaraderie,” he tells SFR. He smiles when he thinks of the early days in 2009. “At first, we didn’t even have a retail shop, and I was doing deliveries,” he says. “I was probably only growing three genetics at the beginning, and poorly, compared to what we do now.”

Shortes estimates that with his 7,500 patient count, he would be growing thousands more plants were it not for the Department of Health’s limit of 450 plants it imposes on producers. In the ideal world he envisions, Sacred Garden could function more like a regular business, taking funding from FDIC-insured banks and specializing in a particular area of the cannabis process, rather than doing everything—growing, cultivating, extracting and retailing—like it is now.

Sacred Garden
1300 Luisa St., 216-9686


Shift New Mexico is the county’s newest dispensary, located south of the city limits, far away from the competition. The business structure of Shift is complicated, but it’s important for understanding what the dispensary claims to be its greatest strength: the quality of its bud flowers.

Lyric Kali, operations manager at Shift New Mexico, says the newest medical cannabis dispensary in Santa Fe prides iteself on quality flower.
Aaron Cantú
“Shift New Mexico” is the business name for a nonprofit called Keyway, which holds the license to operate the cannabis dispensary, but the actual operator of the license—the entity that does all the cultivation, trimming and retail sales—is a management company called SNM. That company, in turn, is 33 percent owned by Colorado-based Shift Cannabis Company, which “provides oversight to [Shift New Mexico] to make sure they can produce the most cannabis they can with the highest quality, using what we’ve learned from operating in Colorado and other states,” says Reed Porter, co-founder and COO of Shift Cannabis Company.

The perceived stigma of out-of-state ownership, coupled with SFR’s previous report that two former employees of the Department of Health had invested in the company before it was awarded a license in a competitive process by the very same department, might explain the initial stiffness of our meeting. Shift Cannabis CEO Travis Howard, also a co-founder, is quick to point out that all of Shift New Mexico’s board of directors are state residents, but also leans on the dispensaries’ experience “consulting and working with people that are either cultivating, extracting, or selling cannabis” in Colorado and 13 other states as a reason Shift New Mexico has an edge over its competitors.

The dispensary opened March 1 and recently hired a full-time operations manager, Lyric Kali, a 10-year resident of Santa Fe who says the business will employ about 12 people and intends to contract with locals for Shift’s other needs. With plans to spend “a couple million” to open up greenhouses and extraction facilities in the future, the dispensary also hopes to to use its relatively deep pockets to build loyalty in Santa Fe’s business community.

The dispensary’s philosophy “errs on the side of allowing patients to keep their privacy,” Howard says, but notes the dispensaries’ budtenders are ready to work with patients to uncover their ideal cannabinoid and terpene ratios. He speaks with the kind of polished ease that would resonate in a courtroom. Shift sells cannabis wholesale to other producers, including New Mexicann, which also operates a dispensary in Santa Fe.

Behind the Bisbee Court dispensary are the grow and cultivation rooms, where Shift produces some of the bud it sells in the front. In a grow room where some plants are already several feet in height, high-pressure sodium double-ended lights beam down onto different strains of sativa (long and thin leaves), indica (wide) and hybrids. Howard explains that the operation uses sodium lights rather than more environmentally-friendly LEDs because the latter can’t heat the plants enough to expel their nitrogen. If you’ve ever tried lighting a bowl and watched the bud literally spark when touched by a flame, you’ve smoked nitrogen-heavy weed—and probably burned your throat in the process.

“Instead of coming down here and saying, ‘Hey Santa Fe, we’re going to do this awesome thing and take care of your electricity,’” Howard offers, “we said, ‘We will get there, and our test facilities in other states will bring the LEDs when we figure out how to solve this problem.’” He says it’s another example of how Shift is using its out-of-state experience to build its operations in New Mexico.

Shift New Mexico
24 Bisbee Court, 438-1090


Ultra Health’s Santa Fe dispensary feels more like a doctor’s office than do the other cannabis storefronts in the city, only it sports framed pictures of purple-tinged cannabis in the lobby instead of stock photos of soothing landscapes. We even waited a relatively long time in the fluorescent-lit lobby for the dispensary’s young manager John Gurule to call us in, just like at the doctor. Out of the seven Ultra dispensaries scattered across New Mexico, this one is the “mother store,” Gurule says later. The company also hopes to soon open locations in Silver City, Alamogordo and Deming.

In 2014, Ultra Health, a for-profit company headquartered in Arizona, signed a 30-year management deal with dispensary Top Organics for access to the nonprofit’s license to staff, manage and operate dispensaries around New Mexico. Plants grow in Bernalillo for delivery all over the state.

Its owner and CEO is Duke Rodriguez, who served as former Gov. Gary Johnson’s Human Services Department secretary. He’s a fastidious market-watcher of the cannabis industry in New Mexico, and rolls his observations into press releases that the company blasts out every few weeks. The company reported $1.96 million in sales for the first quarter of 2017, making it the state’s top cannabis seller, and Rodriguez also says that Ultra Health is the top wholesaler of cannabis to other dispensaries in the state. He was not present on the day that SFR visited the company’s Santa Fe dispensary, and he said this was because Ultra Health does not put administrative staff at its New Mexico dispensaries. Rodriguez is also among chief proponents for the state to lift the plant cap for growers. Ultra Health is currently suing the department over what it calls an “arbitrary and capricious production limitation” on the number of cannabis plants that the state’s 35 licensed nonprofit producers can grow.

Although the company’s sprawling presence across the state and the sterile aesthetic of its Santa Fe dispensary may hint at an impersonal business approach, it was clear from our visit that there were regular patients at the dispensary who had relationships with the store’s budtenders. One slight woman who met the person at the reception desk with a hearty and familiar greeting was taken to the retail portion of the store, where another budtender began rolling her a joint with an indica strain she’d yet to try.

Gurule says that most of the dispensaries’ patients showed up after Ultra Health took over Top Organics, where he had been a patient. He eventually started working as a budtender after the two entities struck a deal, and worked his way up to be a manager. He’s most interested in talking about his dispensary’s relationship to its patients.

“We ask them how their day is, and then it just goes from there,” says Gurule, who says his own medication regimen helps him connect with patients. “I understand what they’re going through because I go through it too—maybe not the same scenario, but we’re pretty much on the same chapter.”

In a later phone call, Rodriguez told SFR that the company’s lawsuit against the health department over its plant cap will go to trial on July 24 if it is not resolved before then.

Ultra Health
1907 St. Michael’s Drive, 216-0898


Fruit of the Earth Organics is the most new-wave dispensary in Santa Fe, and seems tailored for the counterculture transplants who started arriving in the city in the ’60s. Patients can wait to see budtenders in a large tie dye-themed room with massive plush chairs and LED screens listing different strains on offer.

Fruit of the Earth budtender Emma Schutz can tell you how the dispensary stands out because of its outdoor cultivation.
Aaron Cantú
Owner Lyra Barren says she came to know the “shamanic” qualities of cannabis through her experience as a musician. Her dispensary is all about the art of the tincture: Barren claims to have a natural intuition for healing, and mixes all sorts of natural ingredients with variations of cannabis to cure a wide range of ailments, though she specializes in treating cancer symptoms. One of the most powerful effects of cannabis, she tells SFR, is its ability to enhance the healing properties when combined with other herbs. For that reason, Fruit of the Earth also manages a CBD (cannabidiol)-only room attached to the dispensary, where shoppers who don’t have a cannabis card can buy CBD-infused, non-psychoactive tinctures, desserts, juices and even caffeine drinks at an “elixir bar.” There’s also a jar asking for donations for the now-disbanded Standing Rock Sioux Tribe anti-pipeline encampment in North Dakota, hinting at the owner’s personal politics.

It can be easy to write off somebody claiming to have natural healing abilities, but Barren says many people swear by her CBD healing salve. Underneath colorful pieces of cloth shielding us from the harsh fluorescent light, she spoke more candidly about her personal relationship to cannabis than any other dispensary managers were willing to divulge. Fruit of the Earth is the only dispensary in town that gets all its cannabis from an outdoor grow, which is managed by Barren’s son, co-owner Jaum Barren. She considers indoor grows incompatible with plant’s spiritual needs.

“I believe there’s a spirit that goes into the plants,” she tells SFR. “When they’re growing out with the breezes and the birds, they’re more happy and ecstatic, and have a higher vibration. ... Everyone else does regular rotation out of warehouses, but we grow one big harvest, which allows us time to cure the medicine properly for six months.” She also says that Fruit of the Earth does not take money from big investors “who can influence what we do for profit,” and says she intends to keep it that way.

Fruit of the Earth Organics
901 Early St., 310-7917


“We are definitely advocates for our patients,” New Mexicann Natural Medicine dispensary manager Josh Alderete tells SFR. “Cannabis is still considered a Schedule 1 drug [by the federal government], and we still come out here and get it done because we believe in what it does.”

Alderete has just taken a pause from consulting with a patient at the New Mexicann dispensary in Santa Fe, which looks like a cross between an Americana beer hall and a doctor’s office. Behind the front counter is a large sign that says “We Only Serve New Mexico Grown,” and paintings from local artists adorn the walls in the waiting area. Cannabis-themed issues of Sunset Magazine and the New Yorker lay on a coffee table, and a t-shirt from the Drug Policy Alliance that demands “NO MORE DRUG WAR” hangs on a window.

New Mexicann Natural Medicine is bouncing back after a serious accident in 2015, and copes with product shortages due to a Department of Health cap of 450 plants per grower. Pictured is grow manager Gabriel Bustos.
Aaron Cantú
Alderete says New Mexicann is moving forward after the July 2015 accident in which two of its workers, Mark Aaron Smith and Nicholas Montoya, were severely burned while using butane to extract THC from cannabis. Both men have open lawsuits against New Mexicann, but Smith is also suing Montoya, who Smith alleged in a suit asked him to assist in the extraction process despite a lack of experience.

The accident happened at a time when New Mexicann was growing quickly, having added a greenhouse and a hoop house to increase plant production for new dispensaries in Española, Taos and Las Vegas. The dispensary was forced to pay $13,500 in fines for labor violations to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and its board of directors removed its former executive director, Len Goodman.

It’s a lot of drama for a place that genuinely appears to work with people throughout the inpatient process and likes to boost other local businesses in Santa Fe. A table in the lobby offers businesss cards from services such as a hair salon, architect and natural phsyician.

Alderete says the dispensary has doctors and pain specialists that frequent the facility to help people obtain cards and consult with the budtenders. If you don’t have a card but want to know how you can get one—assuming you have one of the 21 qualifying conditions—you can pop into the dispensary and ask New Mexicann staff. You can also get a member discount if you submit a W2 and make below a certain income threshold.

Peering into the future, Alderete says he’d like for the health department to remove the 450 cap on plants so the dispensary can produce a wider variety of products. He says there is “definitely” a shortage of cannabis in the program.

“Once we have a strain, we only have it for about a week and then it’s sold out,” he tells SFR. “It’d be nice to have more supply so people can have the most consistent medicine that works for them.”

New Mexicann Natural Medicine
1592 San Mateo Lane, 982-2621,

READ MORE: Looking Ahead: Gubernatorial Candidates on NM’s Cannabis Future

Looking Ahead: Gubernatorial Candidates on NM’s Cannabis Future

Local NewsWednesday, May 24, 2017 by Aaron Cantú

Come 2019, Susana Martinez will no longer be in control of the state’s medical cannabis program. Whoever replaces her as governor will need to have a plan for how to adapt the program—or to even branch out and make cannabis legal for all adult buyers like other states that started with a medical-only program. SFR spoke to potential gubernatorial candidates about their views on cannabis—all Democrats. We also reached out to US Rep. Steve Pearce, rumored to be considering a run for governor on the Republican ticket. He did not reply by presstime.

Jeff Apodaca

Apodaca’s father, former governor Jerry Apodaca, was governor when New Mexico became the first state to legislate the medical use of cannabis in 1978 through Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act. The law authorized New Mexico State University to grow a small number of plants for cancer patients, but by the 1980s the program lost all funding. That’s how Jeff Apodaca was able to use medical cannabis throughout high school and college after he was diagnosed with cancer.

“I did experience and saw the benefits across the board on medical cannabis and how beneficial it can be,” the former media executive tells SFR.

He says a gap between rising demand for the plant and limits on supply call for the next administration to “seriously take a look at expanding medical cannabis.” Apodaca says his plan to create over 200,000 new jobs in the state includes the development of the hemp and cannabis industries. Specifically, he says the two industries together could create “almost 32,000 jobs” during his time as governor—including through recreational cannabis.

But Apodaca says cannabis could be more than a driver of jobs: It could also be an area where New Mexico’s universities lead other states in research and development.

“If they can create 34 different strains of green chiles, are you telling me we can’t lead the world, the country, in [cannabis] research from our university?”

Peter DeBenedittis

Peter DeBenedittis thinks it’s “inevitable” that the state’s Legislature will expand patient access to medical cannabis, and he says he’s not going to stand in the way of any such legislation that arrives to his desk. But he’s also not necessarily going to stand up for it.

“I’m neutral on it,” he replies after SFR asks him his position on medical cannabis. DeBenedittis seems to distinguish less between its medicinal and recreational uses than the other two candidates, and justifies his ambivalence by citing the moral hangups he believes people have regarding the plant. He also does not conceive of either medical or recreational cannabis as integral to his top five priorities as governor, which include introducing universal healthcare in the state, a living wage, state banking, early childhood education and tax reform.

Those efforts, he says, are going to take “a lot of political capital and effort,” and says he won’t use that capital on cannabis until “the economy is fixed.” However, he does plan to remove restrictions on growing hemp in New Mexico as one of his first priorities for jobs and growth, and believes a cannabis industry would follow.

Joseph Cervantes

While state Sen. Joseph Cervantes hasn’t officially declared his candidacy, he’s hinted at it very strongly, and he’s prepared to talk pot. He voted in favor of legalizing medical cannabis as a state representative in 2007, and is in favor of removing the legal plant cap limit on dispensaries. As he sees it, it’s a choice that should be hashed out between the health department and producers, not the legislature.

“It doesn’t serve any purpose to restrict or limit crop production,” Cervantes tells SFR. “We shouldn’t be creating an artificial barrier and making it harder for people who have qualified for this program.”

He’s also more comfortable with the idea of a recreational market for cannabis in New Mexico than he was before states like Colorado began their experiment. But his one sticking point is the potential for impaired driving to increase. He’d like to see a standardized way for law enforcement to confirm how stoned drivers are when they’re stopped, similar to breathalyzer tests for alcohol.

“We’ve got to get to a place where we have a test and we have a standard,” he says. “I think we’ve got to have those laws in place.”

Michelle Lujan Grisham

“Incredibly favorable,” is how US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham describes her current view on medical cannabis. She points to her time as health department secretary rolling out the state’s medical cannabis program in 2007 under then-Gov. Bill Richardson as proof of her bonafides.

At the federal level, she supports legislation that would allow banks to take money from medical cannabis businesses, but she does not support a bill currently sitting in Congress that would regulate marijuana like alcohol and bring it under the purview of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. That’s because she sees cannabis primarily as a medicinal substance, and is a bit less favorable to the idea of legalizing it for social use. She says she’d like to see more “longitudinal studies” on the recreational markets in states like Colorado before bringing them to New Mexico. Any legislation legalizing recreational cannabis that arrives to her desk would have to address workers’ compensation, public safety and education, she says.

It’s a balancing act she is also pursuing when it comes to lifting the caps on plants that dispensaries can grow. While some advocates for patient access want to completely do away with any limits, Lujan Grisham says she would be open to simply amending the caps so that the state’s supply of cannabis never exceeds patient demand.

Matt Grubs contributed reporting.

Ticket to Ride

Angel Fire’s lift-served bike park makes for a love affair for ‘gravity riders’

The EnthusiastWednesday, May 24, 2017 by Elizabeth Miller

Few are the moments a human can start at the top of a 2,000-foot hill and cruise down in a manner that feels like flying. That’s the promise of downhill mountain biking—at least according to its acolytes. The dubious, or the well-initiated simply looking to drool over a new ride, will flock to Angel Fire Resort for Memorial Day Weekend, when the largest bike park in the Rockies kicks off its summer season with Demo Daze.

Fleets of bikes available for free demos come from Yeti, Santa Cruz, Specialized, Scott and Jamis. For the price of a lift ticket, riders can access more than 60 miles of trails, and that’s just in the downhill portion.

Not into downhill? (Fair—some riders think it feels much more like flirting with death than like flying.) Another 40 miles of cross-country trails wend through the valley, some of them taking off right from the ski area parking lot.

“The pitch is really just getting away from the norm and trying something that’s a little different,” says Hogan Koesis, bike park manager for Angel Fire Resort. “People of all ages and abilities, if they make a leap of faith and try it, they generally like it.”

New riders at Angel Fire may, however, be a little surprised by just how vast the terrain can be.

“People are taken off-guard by how lost they get. It’s not just a handful of trails where it’s a one-day experience; it’s at least a weeklong experience, and one where if you don’t have a guide, you can get pretty lost the first couple days,” he says. He then quickly adds, “Not lost in a bad way, just lost from the trail options. It’s all signed. There’s so much to ride that you get overwhelmed. If you’re just here for a day, it’s like, good luck. Good luck finding the trails you want to ride, because there’s such an array.”

In the six years he’s been at Angel Fire, he’s seen families dabble and return, addicted. Some people go all-in, buying houses to access the bike park.

“It’s really exciting to see that shift,” he says.

Part of what has worked is how the town has received mountain biking in general, taking care to welcome the culture and staff a good trail crew that keeps trails well-maintained.

“There’s a lot more that goes into it than just, ‘Build it and they’ll come,’” he says. “You have to have a trail system that’s worth fighting for.”

Events have worked to draw people in, but he contends it’s the trails that keep them coming back. That it’s a system a new rider can get lost in is key. If you have just a handful of trails, riders move on quickly to the next mountain town. Angel Fire also works to constantly improve trails, adding material or culverts, building new jumps and berms. This season will see the opening of a new trail, DaVinci Code, and new wood features and bridges thanks to a recently acquired sawmill.

If there’s something bigger at play here, it is perhaps a community-building effort that keeps people in a ski town through the summer months, equally drawn by its appeal as a biking destination.

While Santa Fe has lots to please those motivated to pedal uphill, or use an RTD bus to deliver them to the top of the Winsor Trail, niche “gravity riders”—those who purchase the 1 percent of bikes made specifically to run downhill—have to look elsewhere for their lines. Lifts here shut down in April at the end of ski season and re-open in October for leaf-peepers, leaving the ski basin primarily hikers’ territory in the summer months.

Is downhill riding really for everyone? Koesis points to two older ladies in their mid-60s, who come up to Angel Fire every other day, between days spent golfing, to take a couple laps on the beginner-level trail, and then call it a day. “We see both ends of the spectrum,” he says.

Like any sport, it has a learning curve. And like skiing, it has trails labeled green, blue or black according to level of difficulty.

“Once you figure it out, it’s a whole lot like skiing and snowboarding—it feels like you’re floating,” he says. And here it is again: “It’s like flying. It’s actually kind of quiet, and really peaceful.”

Demo Daze
Saturday and Sunday May 27 and 28. Lift tickets: $39-$49.
Angel Fire Bike Park,
Highway 434, Angel Fire,

Letters to the Editor


Letters to the EditorWednesday, May 24, 2017 by SFR

Cover, May 17: “The Heart of Darkness”

Ain't What You Think

Of course global warming is real and disastrous. But there ends the reliable science in this article. Instead, we get the usual US Forest Service propaganda that “decades of fire suppression” are the problem—and as the tree/matchstick image suggests, that trees are the problem.

Recent peer-reviewed science has disproved the notion that high-severity fires were historically rare. Forests managed themselves very well for tens of thousands of years, and they will continue to do so. The best thing humans can do is learn to live with natural fires and leave the forests alone. But there is no money in that. Forest “management” is all about money, not forest health. ...

One hundred percent of the Jemez fires were/are human-caused, most of them intentional “prescribed burns.” The Jemez were burned up by the US Park Service (which started the biggest fire, Cerro Grande) and a utility company that failed to maintain its power lines. The incredible thing is that the Forest Service is still burning aggressively in the Jemez. It seems they will not stop burning and logging (aka “thinning”) until there is no tree left standing.

Most people do not know that the Forest Service’s stated goal is to kill 95 percent (not a typo!) of the trees on our public lands. ... Killing 95 percent of trees is not management; it is deforestation. Opposition to prescribed burns is growing. As this article points out, the trees will have a hard time coming back.

Cate Moses
Santa Fe

Cover, May 10: “Sugar Crash”

Follow the Money

Huh. Not enough to fund pre-K? Can someone write a story on what Michael Bloomberg’s interest in the sugar tax really is and if he’s a contributor to the mayor’s fund to run for governor? I’m just a flaky arts writer but gosh I bet the hard news folks could find *something* about that, gosh darn.

Gregory Pleshaw
via Facebook

SFR will correct factual errors online and in print. Please let us know if we make a mistake, or 988-7530.

Mail letters to PO Box 2306, Santa Fe, NM 87504, deliver to 132 E Marcy St., or email them to Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.



EavesdropperWednesday, May 24, 2017 by SFR

“I miss Rouge Cat. It was the one place I could go and have dudes buy me drinks. I feel like it was karma for all the times I bought women drinks and it didn’t go anywhere.”

—Overheard at HQ Santa Fe

”It’s humid, but it’s a dry humidity.”

—Overheard at the Plaza Café

Send your Overheard in Santa Fe tidbits to:

'The Commune' Review

Movie ReviewsWednesday, May 24, 2017 by Alex De Vore

The fragility of aging relationships takes center stage in The Commune, a tense vision of 1970’s Denmark that manages to tell an honestly painful love story through unconventional yet believable means. Erik (an entirely unlikable Ulrich Thomsen) is a stuffy architecture professor who seems quick to anger and altogether unsuited for communal life. But when he inherits his sprawling childhood home after his father’s death, Erik’s wife Anna (Trine Dryholm of 2012’s A Royal Affair) convinces him to embrace the ideals of the then-burgeoning concept, though it ultimately becomes their downfall in director Thomas Vinterberg’s (2012’s The Hunt) loosely-based retelling of his own childhood growing up in a commune of his own.

Erik wants to ditch the house for the money, but Anna, fearing the doldrums of a 15-year marriage, views the inheritance as an opportunity for growth. Old friends, flighty hippies and young couples join forces with Erik and Anna, and a family unit begins to form. But when Erik begins an affair with a young student named Emma (Helene Reingaard Neumann), the betrayal runs deep. To Anna’s credit, she tactfully agrees to see where it goes which is, of course, disastrous, and Erik’s innate ability to gaslight his wife without the least bit of concern for her mental well-being is absolutely infuriating.

At times funny, The Commune straddles the line someplace between Wes Anderson-y character dramedy and uncomfortable cautionary tale, though rather than feel sad for its main characters, we ultimately pity their flawed humanity. Will people do the worst things when given enough rope and does idealism or misguided belief in others goeth before a fall? Either way, it’s nice to see a character-driven film made well, even if one does wonder how the hell seemingly enlightened people could do such terrible things to one another. (Alex De Vore)


+ Beautiful, painfully realistic
- While believable, not entirely relatable

The Commune
Jean Cocteau,
111 min

Savage Love


Savage LoveWednesday, May 24, 2017 by Dan Savage

I have two female sex partners who want to be breath-play dominated. I know the practice is dangerous, and I employ the rules of consent and communication a pro-Dom escort friend taught me. But is there a legal release document we could sign that protects consenting adults in the event of an accident or death?

-Ruminating About Consensual Kinks

Restricting someone’s air intake is always dangerous, RACK, and while we all too often hear about people dying during solo breath play, aka “auto-erotic asphyxiation” (an activity no one should engage in ever), we rarely hear about someone dying during partnered breath play. (I recently discussed partnered breath play with Amp from Watts the Safeword, a kink-friendly sex-ed YouTube channel. Look up Episode 533 at

That said, RACK, someone can’t consent to being strangled to death by accident.

“The lawyers in my office discussed this, and we agree that there is no way to ‘waive’ or ‘consent to’ criminal negligence resulting in substantial bodily harm or death,” said Brad Meryhew, a criminal-defense attorney who practices in Seattle. “I don’t think you’ll find any lawyer who would draft such an agreement. Even if an agreement were executed, it is not going to constitute a complete defense if something goes wrong. There are principles of criminal liability for the consequences of our decisions, as well as public-policy concerns about people engaging in extremely dangerous behaviors, that make it impossible to just walk away if something goes wrong.” Another concern: Signing such a document could make breath play more dangerous, not less. “A person who had such a waiver might be tempted to push the boundaries even further,” said Meryhew.

And now the pro-Dom perspective…

“As consenting adults, we assume the risks involved in this type of kink,” said Mistress Elena, a professional Dominant. “But if you harm your partner or they become scared, shamed, shocked, or, even worse, gravely injured, it’s the Dom’s problem. At any time, the submissive can change their mind. Some cases have been classified as ‘rape’ or ‘torture’ afterward, even though consent was initially given. It’s our job as Dominants/Tops/Leads to make sure everyone is safe, consenting, and capable.”

I’m a 32-year-old guy, my gal is 34, and we’ve been together for two years. Every time we get it on or she goes down on me (though not when I eat her out), my mind wanders to fantasies involving porno chicks, exes, or local baristas. A certain amount of this is normal, but I’m concerned that this now happens every time. When I’m about to come, I shift my mind back to my partner and we have a hot climax, but I feel guilty. Advice?

-Guilty Over Nebulous Ecstasy

I’ve been asked what biases advice columnists have. Do we favor questions from women? (No, women are just likelier to ask for advice.) Are we more sympathetic to women? (Most advice columnists are women, so…) Are we likelier to respond to a question that opens with a compliment? (Of course.) But the solvable problem is our biggest bias. Some people write in with problems that they’ll need an exorcist, a special prosecutor, a time machine, or some combo of all three to solve. I could fill the column week after week with unsolvable problems, and my answers would all be variations on¯_(ツ)_/¯.

Your letter, GONE, is a good example of the solvable problem—a letter likelier to make it into the column—and, as is often the case, the solution to your problem is right there in your letter. You’re able to “shift [your] mind” back to your partner when you’re about to come, and when you eat her out, your mind doesn’t wander at all. My advice: Make the shift earlier/often and engage in more activities that force you to focus (like eating her out). Problem solved.

P.S. A lot of people allow their mind to wander a bit during sex—supplementing the present sensations with memories, fantasies, local baristas, etc. If it keeps you hard/wet/game and isn’t perceptible (if you don’t start mumbling coffee orders), your partner benefits from your wanderings.

My college girlfriend and I were together for four years. The relationship ended 10 years ago when she cheated on me. She did eventually marry the guy, so, hey, good for them. She recently gave birth to a boy. She gave her son my name as his middle name. Nobody in either family has this name and it isn’t an especially common name. I’ve asked dozens of people with kids, and nobody can think of a reason why a person would give their child a name anywhere close to an ex’s name. Thoughts?

-Nobody’s Answers Make Effing Sense

Maybe your college girlfriend remembers you a little too fondly. Maybe a family friend had the same name. Maybe she met someone else with your name in the last 10 years, and she and her husband had a few threesomes with that guy, and she remembers those fondly. Maybe you’ll run into her someday and she’ll tell you the real reason. Now here are a few definitelys to balance out all those maybes, NAMES: This is definitely none of your business and you definitely can’t do anything about it—people can definitely give their children whatever names they want—and there’s definitely no use in stressing out about it.

I’ve been reading your column forever—like “Hey Faggot!” forever—and your response to CLIF (the guy whose wife could no longer orgasm from PIV sex after having a child) is first time I’ve felt the need to gripe about your advice. My wife was also the “Look, ma, no hands!” type, and it was amazing to be able to look into her eyes as we came together. But after a uterine cyst followed by a hysterectomy, something changed and that came to an end. It was a pretty hard hit for us sexually and emotionally. Toys, oral, etc. had always been on the table, but more as part of being GGG than as the main source of her coming. For a long time, it put her off sex as a source of her own pleasure. Things have gotten much better, but I’d be lying if I said we didn’t occasionally talk wistfully about that time in our relationship. I can empathize with what CLIF is going through. When we went through this, we did research and spoke with doctors wondering the same thing: Is there some way to reclaim that PIV-and-her-orgasms connection. We even thought of writing you, the wise guru of all things sex, but am I glad we didn’t. In response to CLIF asking for some fairly simple advice, you bluntly said that it’s not a problem that she can’t come from PIV sex. You ignored the fact that up until fairly recently, she could. Then you suggest that, because he hasn’t mastered the subtle art of acronyms, he might be a shitty lover whose wife has been faking orgasms for years and is just tired of it. Dick move, Dan.

-A Callous Response Only Negates Your Motivation

You’re right, ACRONYM, my response to CLIF was too harsh. But as you discovered, there wasn’t a way for you and your wife to reclaim that PIV-and-her-orgasms connection. So CLIF would do well to take Dr. Gunter’s advice and embrace how his wife’s body works now and not waste too much time grieving over how her body/PIV orgasms used to work then.

On the Lovecast, Nathaniel Frank on the marriage-equality movement:
@fakedansavage on Twitter

3 Questions

with Ryan Stark

3 QuestionsWednesday, May 24, 2017 by Alex De Vore

In December 2013, the New Mexico Museum of Art (107 W Palace Ave., 476-5072) opened Renaissance to Goya, a collaboration with the British Museum that featured gorgeous Spanish prints. This Friday, the NMMA kicks off its second show with the British Museum titled Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to Now (through Sept. 17). With drawings that span back to ancient Egypt and cover the likes of Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Cézanne, Mondrian and many more, the massive show not only represents a glorious cross-section of the fundamental beginning of most visual arts, it proves Santa Fe can hang with the best of ‘em, no problem. We caught up with NMMA’s Head of Communications and Special Initiatives Ryan Stark to get the lowdown.

How big is this show, exactly?
There are 70 drawings in the show, and there’s going to be something that stretches all the way through ancient Egypt up through 21st-century works.

Why do you think some of these artists have been so enduring?
Someone with an art history background could probably speak better to the technique and development, but the way I look at it is: These are artists who, from the very time they began putting their work out there, have managed to strike a chord with people by commuinicating on a massive level in terms of age and in terms of longevity.

Is there anything in the show you’re particularly blown away by?
I’m especially curious about the Da Vinci drawing, for the simple reason that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a Da Vinci work in person. Like a lot of people who might come to the show, I’m going to experience my first in-person viewings of these things. I think, given the depth and notoriety of quite a few of these artists, that it will appeal to year-round and first-time visitors.

7 Days

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