Friday, January 30, 2015

Two Excellent, Recent Articles Regarding The Menace Known Worldwide As The Albuquerque Police Department

Damn, it's getting to be like dealing with ISIS there in the Rio Grande Valley - the lawless cops and their many, many helpers:

Rolling Stone:
Unauthorized camping is a petty misdemeanor. The officers could have told Boyd to move along and left it at that. ... [S]etting off a spectacular circus, with as many as 40 police officers reportedly joining the standoff. Among them were uniformed cops and members of the SWAT team, the tactical K-9 unit and the Repeat Offender Project squad.

Not present, Boyd's family would later allege in a complaint, was anyone clearly in charge.

...Boyd's death conformed to many of the patterns governing deadly police violence in Albuquerque. Living with mental illness, Boyd fit the profile of the marginal Albuquerqueans most likely to find themselves shot to death by the city's police. The escalation of a low-level encounter to a standoff involving numerous heavily armed officers wasn't anything new, either. Few were surprised when footage from the lapel camera that Officer Sandy was required to keep running was inexplicably absent. And, as in so many previous officer-involved shootings, Boyd's death was followed by a press conference by the chief of police, who declared the shooting justified and painted Boyd as a dangerous criminal.

But Boyd's case was different. While Officer Sandy's camera didn't produce any video, the helmet-mounted camera of the other shooter, Officer Perez, captured the whole awful sequence of Boyd's death.

...In the past five years, the police department of Albuquerque, a city of just 550,000, has managed to kill 28 people — a per-capita kill rate nearly double that of the Chicago police and eight times that of the NYPD.

...In many respects, the systemic meltdown of the APD (department motto: "In step with our community") offers an excellent lens through which to understand how police in America can run amok. Militarization of gear and tactics, an overreliance on specialized tactical units, a blue wall of silence that protects bad cops from the consequences of their actions, and a heavy hand in interactions with mentally ill citizens — all these factors, present in other departments around the country, are painfully evident in the story of how Albuquerque's police came to kill so many of its citizens.

...But many observers trace Albuquerque's recent problems with excessive force to a decade ago. In 2005, officers Richard Smith and Michael King were killed in the line of duty by a man they were picking up for a mental-health evaluation. King had been an academy classmate of Police Chief Ray Schultz, who, in a tearful press conference after the killings, called it "one of the saddest days in the history of the Albuquerque Police Department." Inside the department, former officers say, the deaths were a turning point: Officer safety became the order of the day.

"It wasn't about the mission," says a former SWAT member. "The new culture was: 'anybody you could shoot.' "

Thomas Grover, a lawyer and retired APD officer who now represents cops in personnel disputes with the department, says, "The general directive of the department became, 'You do what you've got to do to go home at night — and forget the citizens.' "

...The same year Smith and King were killed, Martin Chávez, a centrist Democrat, was running for a third term as mayor on a promise to increase police staffing from 1,000 officers to 1,100. When Chávez won, the department struggled to find enough qualified hires to make good on his promise.

..."Standards were getting lower and lower," says retired APD Lt. Steven Tate, who was the director of training at the police academy at the time. "They were hiring people that other agencies in New Mexico wouldn't take."

The department didn't formally change any hiring policies, Tate says. Instead, it bent the existing rules.

...Among those hires were four officers who had just quit or been fired from the state police for double-dipping — getting paid for outside work even as they were on the clock for the state. They were among the contractors teaching classes at Coyote Canyon, a training site southeast of Albuquerque run by the Department of Energy where former Navy SEALs and Delta Force operators rub shoulders with state and local police officers, taking part in realistic live-fire drills and courses with names like "Rolling Day/Night Convoy Ambushes." Though some former APD officers defend the realistic shoot-house training and expert instruction, others wonder whether such a militarized, gun-focused environment is a healthy part of training for young, impressionable officers. "Looking back," one former officer told local KRQE News 13 reporter Jeff Proctor when he investigated police training at Coyote Canyon, "I'm really not sure how convoy ambushing translated to working as a police officer."

...John maintains that most Albuquerque cops are careful, restrained and good. But the changes on SWAT provoked a moral crisis for him. His whole career, he'd pushed back against the characterization of police as violent thugs. "I understand: We represent authority. 'Fuck authority' — I get that. But to take it to dehumanizing us, where you're just a murderer, a criminal, a wolf in sheep's clothing, I found that very offensive. And so to come to the end of my career and see that it was true — it totally messed me up."

As these changes were taking place inside the department and police shootings began to spike, there was little public outrage. "The targets of police violence were gang members, drunks or street people, and so it wasn't like they were preying on the people who had voted for the politicians," says Jerry Ortiz y Pino, a state senator who represents Albuquerque. "They were preying on the people the politicians were all too glad to see silenced."

The hostility of the city's government to its homeless population is perhaps best illustrated by an episode from 2010, when police began arresting volunteers who were feeding the downtown homeless on Sundays. "Who gave them permission to feed the homeless at all?" asked an internal police e-mail concerning the operation against the volunteers. The e-mail made clear that the initiative had the approval of City Hall. "Darren White [public-safety director at the time] is allowing us to take the gloves off and deal with some issues of concern," the e-mail began. "WOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOO!!!!!!!"

For former APD Officer Dan Klein, the jailing of people for feeding the homeless shows why it's so hard to get popular support for police reform: "If your income is above $200,000 a year, and you live in a nice gated community, and you don't want to be bothered by the panhandler, and you don't want your kids to be accosted by the drunk outside of Trader Joe's, are you crying elephant tears for James Boyd?" he asks. It's not a problem unique to Albuquerque, Klein adds. "It's everywhere — we're just the pimple that is bursting."

...Eight years earlier, a federal jury had awarded a homeless African-American man named Jerome Hall $300,000 in a suit alleging that Gonterman, then a patrol officer, had applied a Taser to the unarmed Hall so relentlessly that Hall was eventually hospitalized with burns to his face, stomach, back, neck, shoulders and calf. According to his lawyer, Hall also lost part of his ear to the Taser burns.

"I've used Tasers," says Klein, the former officer. "The only way you can burn someone's ear off is if you're torturing them. And that guy's a major now!"

It also became clear that for all his public rhetoric of cooperation, Mayor Berry and his administration weren't just going to meekly accept the Justice Department's findings and recommendations. In June 2014, city lawyers argued in federal court that the DOJ's conclusions shouldn't be allowed into evidence in a trial concerning police use of force, saying the report was plagued by "inconsistent language," "inaccuracies" and "questions of reliability."

...It will be months before a judge hears the case against Perez and Sandy and decides whether there's enough evidence to try them for murder or some lesser charge. For observers in Albuquerque, the stakes couldn't be higher. Mike Gomez, who has helped lead the fight to hold police accountable since his son was killed, says the stark video evidence makes this the best chance to put the brakes on a police force out of control.

"The guy was killed in front of the whole world," he says. "If we can't hold you accountable for this, what can we hold you accountable for? What's it going to take?"

The New Yorker:

Stephen, in his eulogy, said that he considered the chief of police, Raymond Schultz, his friend. ... Stephen said that his son’s shooting resembled that of many young men in Albuquerque who were mentally ill and had been killed by police. He begged the chief and the mayor, who worked in Renetta’s building, to meet with him to discuss what had gone wrong. “My wife and I extend our hands to you, Mr. Mayor, and to you, Chief Schultz,” he said. “Please don’t reject our offers.” Schultz was not there. He and Stephen never spoke again.

...Wealthy residents tend to live in the northeastern corner, at the foot of the Sandia Mountains. The division reflects the social climate throughout the state, which has the widest income gap between rich and poor in the country. Gilbert Najar, the director of the police academy in Silver City, New Mexico, who worked for the Albuquerque Police Department for twenty-five years, told me that the department “did policing one way in the South Valley, where there were a lot of immigrant families and people of lower socioeconomic status, and we knew we could violate their rights. But we did not dare commit those tactics in the affluent neighborhoods, where we knew they would file complaints on us.”

...Samuel Walker, an expert in police accountability who was hired in 1996 to co-author one of the reports, after the police killed thirty-two people in ten years, said, “When we gave an oral presentation to the city council, I had a very strong impression that many city-council members were not interested.” He described his conversation with Martin Chávez, the mayor, as one of the most hostile interviews he’s ever conducted. He said that the police chief would not look him in the eyes when he briefed him. One city-council member refused to meet with him or return his calls.

...Morrison said that officers were socialized to be cynical about civilians. “We’re taught to almost dehumanize them,” she said. “It just got to the point where it’s, like, they’re a piece of shit. We don’t care if they raped a baby or were speeding in traffic—everybody’s a piece of shit.”

Lost My Reading Glasses

I'm now using ancient, badly cratered ones instead, and it's more than a month until I can get in.

It's the gnomes, I tell you....

Despair

In despair over the weather forecasts. Rains stopped here after December 20th, and I don't think it will rain again. Ever.


(H/t Gabe for the picture)

Bike Down!

Thrill a minute over at Step One. Had just taken class, was walking down T Street, waved hello to Krystle Morales as she arrived, turned the corner, and heard someone moaning in the distance down 19th Street. Flashing lights in the gutter; bicycle down!

Turned out OK, though. Fellow has banged up pelvis and ribs, but wasn't seriously hurt. Hit a small branch in the bike lane. It's the details that get you!

2016 Isn't Even Here Yet

ABC News headline: "Mitt Romney Calls Hillary Clinton 'Clueless'".

"I know you are, but what am I?"

Missing Woman Unwittingly Joins Search Party Looking For Herself

And as Jonathan notes: "Isn't the search for self the ultimate quest?"
The group was travelling through Iceland on a tour bus and stopped near the volcanic canyon in the southern highlands Saturday afternoon, reports the Icelandic news organization mbl.is.

One of the women on the bus left to change her clothes and freshen up. When she came back, her busmates didn't recognize her.

Soon, there was word of a missing passenger. The woman didn't recognize the description of herself, and joined in the search.

Freedom Demands That We Surrender Freedoms

Vindictive baloney from the Sooner State:
Atheists need not apply: A bill proposed by Oklahoma Republicans would restrict the right to marry to people of faith, and would mandate all marriage licenses be approved by a member of the clergy.

House Bill 1125, filed on Tuesday by Republican State Representative Todd Russ, is a radical measure that would end secular marriage licenses in the state. In addition, the bill would bar all judges and other secular officials from performing marriages in Oklahoma.
Well that's a bold proposal to try and end same-sex marriage! Since Oklahoma doesn't recognize common-law marriage, atheists or agnostics or people whose faiths don't require clergy simply wouldn't be allowed to marry at all.

But what happens to religious clergy who would be willing to sign off on same sex marriages? Are they to be sold into slavery, or something? What is the penalty to be if court clerks try to marry people anyway? Boiled in oil, perhaps?

Too many loose threads. Badly-written legislation invites court intervention. Probably by some liberal judge who thinks America is supposed to be about freedom, or something.

"State Of The City" Address By Mayor Kevin Johnson, Memorial Auditorium, January 29, 2015

I've lived in Sacramento since 1990, and Memorial Auditorium is less than three blocks from where I work - I used to work across the street - but in all these years I've never been inside. Part of the reason is that it was closed for many years for earthquake retrofitting, but still, I knew no graduating high school students from Sacramento well enough to get an invite.

Still, Jackie suggested I come along to view the annual "State Of The City" Address By Mayor Kevin Johnson. Like me, she didn't have a ticket either, but someone she knew was going to give her two tickets at the door and maybe we could both get in.

Parking was a zoo, so we were late arriving and her friend had already split, so there was no way to get inside. Still, Jackie persisted and persisted, pushing and pushing, stressing out that Sacramento Choral Society was already inside and just about to start. When one of the guards bowed her head in what appeared to be prayer, she saw her chance. We quickly bounded past and vanished into the crowd.

Festivities had just started. Lots of local politicos there. Lots and lots of them! We wandered through the upper tier of seats trying to find the best seats there, and I learned just how dangerous doing that is in the dark in an unfamiliar place like Memorial Auditorium! Ooooohhhh!

Gazing at the stage from the cheap seats, house left.

Sacramento Choral Society (with Donald Kendrick conducting) sing the national anthem.

The well-known artist David Garibaldi (and his well-known assistant whose name I can't remember) create an electronic (or at least multi-media) painting to stirring music. There was another video shown to stirring music that I liked, which portrayed Sacramento as a bustling world city - what the Maya might call the "Center of Creation".




Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson announces an investment by the San Francisco 49'ers ownership team in the proposed Sacramento professional soccer bid.


Final tableau.  "Lip Service" sings behind the notables.

The band.

Afterwards, as we were making our exit, a reporter from KCRA TV-3 stopped us, pushing a camera and mike in our faces, and asked our reactions to the speech. Startled, Jackie gushed about Mayor Johnson's sports initiatives, but forgot about the arts initiative. I followed up about the arts. I don't think our interview aired, however.

Outside we bumped into Adam Sartain, who was there to hobnob with his fellow political wizards. They were all there, too!

Afterwards, we stopped at Step One. Pepper had asked me to come Thursday evening to give a testimonial to Fierce Funk on camera (camera hound that I was Thursday night, I couldn't resist) but the camera crew had already left. So, we just visited Pepper and friends instead, and talked about old times.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ballerina Brides From the American Ballet Theatre - BRIDES Magazine Photo Shoot



Forgot to post this last September - distracted by the Astronomy.

Six ballerinas associated with American Ballet Theater were getting married at the same time, so Brides Magazine to a photo shoot featuring them. One of the six, Brittany, hails from Linda Walker's Tucson Regional Ballet, and she is the pride of the studio. (Last visited there in October, 2013.)

More beautiful pictures.

Wendy Whelan's "Restless Creature" At The Mondavi Center

On Saturday evening, I was over at the Mondavi Center with Sally. The event was Wendy Whelan's "Restless Creature": a modern dance show where she danced duets with four different partners, each of them her choreographer. Each of the dances were distinctly different in style.

Even though I follow ballet to some extent, I clearly don't follow it closely enough. Wendy Whelan is a major ballerina recently-departed from a long career with New York City Ballet (starting in the 80's), and now venturing into modern dance. My problem was that most people seemed to know who she was, but I hadn't heard of her. Throngs of ballet-bunhead girls filled the hall, and they clearly knew who she was. I felt a bit like the lost little brother who knew none of it, and kicked the seat in front of him instead.

Pam was there with Elaine. Saw Megan Stark too! Ruth Rosenberg led a question and answer session afterwards.

The four dances were:

  • Ego et Tu (with Alejandro Cerrudo);

    Conditional Sentences (with Joshua Beamish)

    The Serpent and the Smoke (with Kyle Abraham)

    First Fall (with Brian Brooks)


    I liked "The Serpent and the Smoke" the best (daydreaming that if "Breaking Bad" was set to music, Abraham and Whelan could be Walter and Skyler White). Lots of quick, serpentine motions. My second-favorite was "First Fall". This one was the real crowd-pleaser, with challenging and adroit shifts of weight. "Ego et Tu" was my third-favorite and "Conditional Sentences" my least-favorite. I found the Bach (Partita No. 2 in C Minor BMV 826) to be tedious after a while. Still, Beamish was the most well-spoken of the four choreographers, and described well his intentions with the dance.


  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015

    Joe Ransom "White Whale" Interview

    In early November, Joe Ransom posted a wonderful Breaking-Bad-inspired video for his song "White Whale". Now, he has posted an interview describing his inspirations, and also posted a link where the digital album can be downloaded.

    Joe Ransom is a Melbourne, AU, musician who now lives in Mexico City. He wanted to come to Albuquerque to film his video, but instead did so in Chihuahua, near Ciudad Juarez.

    Take a look and a listen. Link to Digital Album.

    Video




    Interview

    "American Sniper"

    I went with Joe the Plumber and saw 'American Sniper'. A very well done movie, but Chris Kyle is such an unreflective person - basically just a pure warrior on steroids - that the movie comes very close to being about absolutely nothing at all. Just very, very, very loud sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    The Michael Moore critique, that being a sniper isn't honorable, missed its target. In urban warfare snipers are necessary to provide cover and thus have value. The warrior part didn't bother me very much. What bothered me was the utter lack of interest in Iraq. (Kyle has won a reputation of being a liar too; not that it mattered much in the movie).

    There is a long history about celebrating pure warriors, but it's important to note they don't make much of an impression on history. When the Romans departed Britain after hundreds of years, it was almost as if they had never been there at all. When the Americans finally leave Iraq, it will be almost as if they had never been there at all. Americans never cared about Iraq and care even less about it now. All that blood and treasure, for what, no one can say.

    And we're supposed to not notice that the opposing sniper Mustafa fights on behalf of the Sunnis early in the movie, and the Shias late in the movie. In the context of the movie, this egregious error doesn't matter, but the fact that it doesn't matter is the entire problem. It's like a World War II movie that can't distinguish between Japs and Nazis; between the Atlantic and the Pacific. These distinctions do matter!

    Joe The Plumber Weekend (Jan. 23-26)

    Friday

    I picked up 2 "free" IMAX tickets at the Wildlife Care Assn. fundraiser in December, so I invited Joe the Plumber to see American Sniper. As a Liberal's Liberal, I wasn't much interested in seeing the movie, but I thought it would appeal to Joe. Plus, if you're going to watch people getting ripped apart by bullets, it may as well be on a huge screen with Surround Sound.

    Joe's been more-or-less homeless since I first met him in 2001, but I haven't seen him lately since he's stranded in Rancho Cordova without a vehicle. I haven't been able to catch up much on homeless news since early 2013, when he tangled me in the stolen laptop fencing scheme (from which it was awkward to untangle). A lot's happened in homeless circles too, like people passing away, etc. Since Joe loves to talk (albeit somewhat incoherently, due partly to minor brain damage from the 2003 beating on Del Paso Blvd.) I'll hear all about it, plus other lurid Sacramento underbelly tales. If I'm lucky, he'll talk during the movie, and I won't even notice the flying body parts.

    Surprisingly, Joe didn't like the movie much. Said it brought back bad memories!

    Saturday


    Today was one of those "joys of homeownership" days. In the distant corner of the shed, I found an immense pile of what I thought at first were squirrel droppings (eventually decided these must be rabbit droppings no more recent than 2011), under which was a 3" thick, 2 sq. ft. slab of shit cemented with pee. No wonder the neighbor's cat has been "acting out" there! In the basement, I picked at a sliver of what turned out to be rust on the washing machine drain pipe, revealing a huge hole. As wash water sprayed out across the basement, a shelf toppled over, dumping an old TV and VCR, a sack full of paperback books (some of Helga's Buddhist philosophy and science fiction movie collection), and half a quart of motor oil in a squalid, soggy pile. I miss apartment life.

    Had to move a bunch of stuff into the yard for cleaning.

    Sunday


    Spent much of the day addressing leaky faucets and broken drain pipes with Joe the Plumber, plus doing basement cleanup and working on a solution to the cat problem. Almost finished. Best part of the day was trapping the cat, forcing it to try and flee through the now-grilled window, and humiliating it by forcing it to retreat right past me. Hardest part of the day was spending 11 hours with someone who simply wouldn't shut up, ever.





    Monday

    Out at Joe's storage unit. Even though he lives in Rancho Cordova, his storage unit is in North Highlands. Go figure.

    I seem to lose important things when Joe the Plumber comes over. Last time it was my ATM card; this time it's my reading glasses. But I can always find his storage unit.

    A Compendium Of Recent Dreams

    Not restful sleep:

    Dream 1:

    I fell asleep but had to reboot the process after half an hour because of an exasperating dream where I kept misplacing the lyrics of an audition song faster than I could sing them.


    Dream 2:

    I'm starting to dream about Sweeney Todd's neighborhood and my place in it. Last night, I dreamt I ran a grim beer hall where we enticed customers with pigeon meat pies (some raised in Franz Leibkind's coops; most grabbed in the street). Still, this was too fancy, so I had rat meat pies too, passed off as pigeon. I would chew the meat for a taste, then spit it out in corners of the darkened dance floor, because it's January and time to lose weight. I would do the Bottle Dance from Fiddler on the Roof to entertain the few customers, but without bottles, because alcohol is unhealthy and serving it isn't profitable. Still, the Sacramento News and Review gave the establishment one star, so it couldn't have been that bad.

    "I'm On The Board"

    Saturday night, I got to exercise my vast powers at DMTC. Dressed in my suit after the short ballet show at the Mondavi, I brought cleaning supplies to DMTC and arrived right at "Anything Goes" intermission. Putting supplies in the janitor's closet, I discovered one of the bottles had a rupture. Fluid was spilling.

    An usher passing by became concerned, and for good reason. A patron in a suit was spilling hazardous waste all over the floor of the janitor's closet. "May I help you?" she asked. I stood tall, looked her in the eye, and said, "That's quite all right; I'm on the Board."

    Tom McClintock Says Stupid Things About The Minimum Wage

    What the GOP wants is no minimum wage at all, but if people insist on one they should at least be grateful for what they have now and not seek more. McClintock isn't as obnoxious as Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who advises the swarthy rabble to be grateful for the current minimum wage. She condescendingly tells of being happy as a teenager making $2.15 an hour. (I would have been happy too: minimum wage in 1970 was $1.60 an hour.)

    Stupid McClintock:
    Only [raise the minimum wage] if you want to rip the first rung in the ladder of opportunity for teenagers, for minorities, for people who are trying to get into the job market for their first job.

    The minimum wage doesn't support a family. We all know that. It’s not supposed to support a family. The minimum wage is that first job when you have no skills, no experience, no working history. That’s how you get into the job market, that’s how you develop that experience, develop that work record, get your first raise, then your next raise, then your promotion. That's the first rung of opportunity.

    If your labor as an unskilled person just entering the workforce is worth say $7 an hour at a job and the minimum wage is $10, you have just been made permanently unemployable. That first rung of the economic ladder has been ripped out and you can’t get on it. That is a tragedy.

    People From New Mexico Get So Melodramatic!

    People from New Mexico get so melodramatic these days! Everybody who is anybody has a Cartel connection. Like some kind of inverse Santa Claus, the Cartel must be so busy traveling around the state, and slapping various Land of Enchantment nobodies around, they don't have time for anything else:
    A recent trip by three Albuquerque strippers to the Pink Slipper Gentleman’s Club in Artesia ended in a kidnapping, police say.

    Two of them – a mother-daughter stripping team – kidnapped the third stripper and kept her blindfolded in a closet for a night this week over a $1,700 alleged debt incurred during the trip, according to the Albuquerque Police Department.

    ...The mother-daughter pair then started hitting the victim, and Alida Alvillar told her they would kill her and her entire family using Alida Alvillar’s “cartel connection” if she didn’t give them the money, according to the complaint.

    Thursday, January 22, 2015

    Just Love Baz Luhrmann's Vision In "The Great Gatsby"!

    Within a couple of days, the Cable TV people aired two recent versions of the Great Gatsby: Jack Clayton's 1974 version with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, and Baz Luhrmann's 2013 Australian version with Leonard DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan.

    It's quite amazing how much better the Luhrmann version is - kinetic rather than plodding - and captures the mercuric 20's far better, even though it's full of heterogeneous elements, like Jay Z's rap music, that have no place in the 20's. Artistic vision at work!

    Because Baz Luhrmann loves musicals, he knows better than most directors how to film riotous scenes and cut to their essence. The Jazz Age as it never was, but better!

    Some People Become Cat Ladies; Others Like Me....

    In 2007, hoping to attract Scrub Jays, I started feeding the local birds by the edge of the DMV parking lot. Turns out, most Scrub Jays prefer other methods, but I had won a following among sparrows and juncos and various other local urban fauna - particularly among my biggest fans of all.

    Wednesday, January 21, 2015

    Lindsay Lohan Has Chikungunya

    Damn, that's a nasty disease:
    Lohan previously revealed on social media that she contracted Chikungunya on her island getaway.

    ...There are no antiviral medicines to treat the disease, only medicines to reduce the fever and pain.

    Most patients feel better within a week, but some may develop long-term joint pain, the CDC warns.

    Judgemental Map of Albuquerque

    Caesar's Without A Paddle

    I was surprised by this little news item from the other day. I didn't realize how far up the creek they were:
    Casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. placed its largest unit under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Chicago on Thursday, leaving it to a judge to settle the bitter dispute among the company’s creditors and the investment firms whose buyout left the unit with $18.4 billion in debt.

    The move follows months of fierce negotiations with creditors and years of declining performance at Caesars, once the world’s largest gambling company. It struggled after a 2008 leveraged buyout that crippled its balance sheet right as the financial crisis hit. The parent company has posted losses for each of the last four years, and its total liabilities have climbed to $28.2 billion.

    Tuesday, January 20, 2015

    Missing Tev

    In a Facebook post, Tomas mentioned finally being able to cry over Tevye's passing....

    I remember when my father died. I didn't cry at any point during the funeral, etc. Later, I was driving a van full of his former belongings back to Cali, and stopped for the night in a motel in Flagstaff, AZ. I watched the movie "Babe" on TV, and when Babe wins the sheep herding contest, that's when I cried.

    Dick Bills And The Sandia Mountain Boys

    In the early 60's, before syndication took over, many of America's cities had quirky, variable-quality, but always interesting locally-produced TV shows aimed at kids.

    Albuquerque, NM, was fortunate. The early 60's was a Golden Age: we had three high-quality kiddie TV shows.

    First, there was Uncle Roy. When I appeared as a narrator in a fifth-grade Christmas play on the "Women's Report" on KOAT TV-7 back in 1966, I remembered how rattled I got when I realized Uncle Roy was sitting in the darkness at the back of the TV studio, watching US!

    Then there was Captain Billy on KGGM TV-13, with his maritime dress and Dutch Boy mustache. Captain Billy was a favorite, but his legacy was overshadowed by his murder in 1972. Animation veteran Mike Judge (Beavis & Butthead; King of the Hill) has even mentioned Captain Billy's murder as a shocking formative episode in his youth.

    Then there was Dick Bills on KOB TV-4. His lead guitarist was a talented youth named Glen Campbell. Maybe you've heard of him!

    The hard part was our tube-dense television set would overheat after 20 minutes, so you could watch the beginning of a half-hour-long TV show and miss the end, or miss the beginning and catch the end, but you could never, ever watch the whole thing.

    Dick Bills and the Sandia Mountain Boys from James L. Perry on Vimeo.

    RIP, Reies Lopez Tijerina

    RIP, Reies Lopez Tijerina.

    My father was a member of the Alianza in the mid-60's, and even substituted as Secretary in a couple of meetings. As a ten-year-old in 1966, I remember waiting in the car parked outside the meeting hall, half-hearing Tijerina's rousing speeches. Exciting, but terrible times.

    One time, Tijerina was beaten by NM State Police, but only below the neckline (since he was frequently-televised public figure). Rough New Mexico politics!

    And still, the fundamental complaints about expropriation of communal lands in Northern New Mexico in the 19th Century were never addressed. It was, and remains, a sore point in Chicano history. My father taught us we had a claim to a portion of Cañada de los Alamos Grant, long-rooted in history, but denied us, and people like us.

    Here is a link that describes the issue a little more. One trouble with the cause is that heads into the legal weeds almost immediately, so it's hard to follow. The problem seems to be there is a mismatch between Spanish communal land law and Anglo-American land law, and guarantees to follow Spanish law in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo were ignored. Communal lands were converted into Federal lands (as a possible waypoint for sale to private users) and subsistence users were turned into trespassers, and the more that time passes, the more-clouded titles get. Many families in northern NM harbor long-standing grudges that can get inflamed at times.


    Tierra Amarilla Courthouse Raid



    Here is an interesting, favorable 10-year-old documentary about Reies Lopez Tijerina and the Tierra Amarilla Courthouse Raid.

    The Raid could have led the national TV News for several days, but it happened at exactly the same time as the 1967 Six-Day War in the Middle East, and thus got completely overshadowed.


    Legacy of Reies Lopez Tijerina

    Great Video Of Dolly's Zumba Birthday Party!



    Excellent video of Dolly's Zumba birthday party last month at Momo's (the lounge above Harlow's)! She says she can front the cost to do at least a few more of these before asking for $$$ help. That's great! These Hollywood-style parties are the best thing, EVER!

    Mercifully, I'm glimpsed briefly just twice in the video. Better to keep the focus on my peeps, the best-looking Zumba people in Sacramento!

    Friday, January 16, 2015

    They Found The Beagle!

    It never worked. No one knows why:
    The missing Mars robot Beagle2 has been found on the surface of the Red Planet, apparently intact.

    High-resolution images taken from orbit have identified its landing location, and it looks to be in one piece.

    The UK-led probe tried to make a soft touchdown on the dusty world on Christmas Day, 2003, using parachutes and airbags - but no radio contact was ever made with the probe.

    ...Mark Sims on Beagle2's silence: "It was most probably a bad luck scenario"

    "Without full deployment, there is no way we could have communicated with it as the radio frequency antenna was under the solar panels," explained Prof Mark Sims, Beagle's mission manager from Leicester University.

    "The failure cause is pure speculation, but it could have been, and probably was, down to sheer bad luck - a heavy bounce perhaps distorting the structure as clearances on solar panel deployment weren't big; or a punctured and slowly leaking airbag not separating sufficiently from the lander, causing a hang-up in deployment," he told BBC News.

    A Big Circle!

    Interesting!:
    During a routine flight over the Antarctic ice shelf on 20 December last year, geophysicist Christian Müller spotted something strange: a huge, 2-kilometre-wide circle on the ice.

    Müller, a contractor with research consultants Fielax from Bremerhaven, Germany, was in Antarctica as part of a polar survey conducted by the German Alfred Wegener Institute. Six days after spotting the weird ice-ring, he and his colleagues returned and flew over the site at two different altitudes, to photograph and scan it. Their working theory is that the ring marks an ice crater left by a large meteorite that slammed into Antarctica in 2004.

    Two previous studies seem to back up this theory. First, a trail of dust was seen 30 kilometres above Antarctica on 3 September 2004. An Australian team speculated at the time that this was the remnants of one of the largest meteoroids to have entered Earth's atmosphere during the decade (Nature, 10.1038/nature03881).

    Second, in 2007, another team used global infrasound (low-frequency sound) data to triangulate the location of a big bang that was picked up by remote sensors on that same date (Earth, Moon and Planets, 10.1007/s11038-007-9205-z. They pinpointed the Antarctic ice shelf, very close to where Müller spotted his ice crater and speculated the bang had been made by a meteoroid the size of a house

    La Sonora Dinamita-El Viejo Del Sombreron



    Los Hermanos Barreto been playing this in Zumba class. The "beep, beeps" throw me off every time. Silly song!

    Rorschach Test

    Shattered eyeglasses in the Safeway parking lot. There's a story here, but the evidence is mute.

    Damn Cat

    Puzzled by the secret life of cats. They can get into my shed, and I had noticed an increasing cat odor. Went to the back of the shed and found an immense number of droppings. Like, WTF?

    Colorful dreams lately. The latest may have been triggered by this discovery. Last night, I dreamt I was chagrined to discover the cord of maple firewood I had stored in a fastidious friend's yard had become infested with uncountable numbers of marmorated beetles. It's funny the way the brain represents things to itself.

    Glitter

    I like the Q&A in this article about sending glitter to your enemies:

    Q.: Are you on your own or is anyone helping you with this crazy plan?
    A.: The website is 24 hours old and despite my cries for help I stand alone.

    Q.: How many orders have been placed so far?
    A.: Over 2,000 of the world’s brightest people have spent money on this service. It's good for business, but bad for society.

    Q.: Who, would you say, is your target consumer?
    A.: People with too much disposable income.

    Q.: This might be a dumb question, but do you see this a long-term viable business plan?
    A.: God I hope not.

    "The Room Source, Of Course!"

    Last week, a satchel-laden homeless man asked for spare change. The smallest denomination I had was $5, which I handed to him. He was surprised, and pleased, and started talking animatedly. Apparently he was recently a furniture salesman. Looking for new work was unexpectedly-difficult at age 61. He sang the store jingle: "The Room Source, of course!" For a while I didn't think he would leave me be. I was thinking how employment was the only thing separating him from me, and how tentative that might be.

    Monday, January 12, 2015

    "Big Eyes"

    Pleased to hear Amy Adams won Golden Globes for 'Best Actress In A Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy' for portraying Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's movie "Big Eyes". Saw the movie this weekend and liked it a lot. I liked Christoph Waltz and Krysten Ritter too. Lying lies, and the lying liars who tell them! A very San Francisco movie with a friendly portrayal of Jehovah Witnesses.

    I was talking up the picture this weekend, and it jostled one of Charlotte H.'s memories. In her court reporter days she took a deposition in the Keane lawsuit that is central to the movie. She's eager to see the movie now!

    Lana del Rey's theme song didn't win Golden Globes, but I like it too:

    Sunday, January 11, 2015

    Charges To Be Filed In Boyd Killing

    It's taken a lot of determination to get to this point, and a lot more will be required to get convictions. (I don't think there have been police convictions in the U.S. in more than a generation).

    People have a hard time accepting just how deep the corruption has gotten in the APD. For me, the most-offensive part of the Boyd video was the triumphant "booyah!" when the officers shot Boyd. It was a easy hunt, nothing more. (And still, people say booyah was the name of the dog. People will say anything, and make any excuses - they can't help but resist the obvious and disturbing truth):
    ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – District Attorney Kari Brandenburg plans to file murder charges on Monday against the two Albuquerque police officers who shot James Boyd in the Sandia Foothills last March, according to multiple sources with firsthand knowledge of her decision.

    It will mark the first time an APD officer has faced criminal charges for shooting someone in the line of duty in New Mexico’s largest city. APD has one of the highest rates of police shootings in the country, and the Boyd’s death was the result of the most controversial in a series of 27 fatal shootings here since 2010.

    Boyd, 36, had been camping in a restricted area of open space at Albuquerque’s eastern edge. During a four-hour standoff with police who had responded to a call about Boyd from an area resident, he brandished two small knives multiple times.

    One officer’s helmet-mounted camera captured the final moments of the encounter, when Boyd appeared to be complying with commands to leave the area. As he bent down to gather his belongings, an officer threw a flash-bang grenade at his feet. Another officer sicced a police dog on Boyd, who pulled the knives out of his pockets again. As he was turning away from the officers, two of them fired three rounds apiece from assault-style rifles, striking Boyd in the back.

    Boyd, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, died later at the hospital.

    Prosecutors will charge officer Dominique Perez, of the APD SWAT team, and former detective Keith Sandy, who was allowed to retire from the department eight months after the shooting, by “criminal information,” the sources told KRQE News 13.

    Filing charges by information is common in many parts of New Mexico, but rare in Bernalillo County. The process is authorized under New Mexico law and allows prosecutors to charge suspects without obtaining an indictment in a secret grand jury proceeding.

    The move is likely to trigger a preliminary hearing in state District Court, where Sandy and Perez would be able to contest the charges. Prosecutors also would present evidence at the hearing, which would be open to the public. At its conclusion, a District Court judge would decide whether there is probable cause to bind one or both of the officers over for trial.

    Brandenburg’s filing will charge Sandy and Perez with open counts of murder. That means a trial jury could consider a range of charges from voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison, to first-degree murder, which carries a potential life sentence.

    Reached by telephone, Brandenburg refused to comment for this story. So did attorneys for the two officers.

    Saturday, January 10, 2015

    "The Addams Family" - Runaway Stage Productions


    The Addams Ancestors, at bows.

    A very fun show! Very clever script. My favorite leads were Gomez Addams (Mark Ettensohn), Wednesday Addams (Karissa Lee Carleton), and Alice Beineke (Celia Green), with Uncle Fester (Chad Marquis) a close fourth. I don't remember seeing Karissa Lee Carleton before, so I was surprised by her strong performance. In many ways, this show is a triumph for her. Uncle Fester's performance (together with Female Ancestors) of "The Moon and Me" is delightfully trippy!


    Left to right, Gomez Addams (Mark Ettensohn), Wednesday Addams (Karissa Lee Carleton), Lurch (Jerry Gray), and Lucas Beineke (Michael Roivas)


    Bows


    Ana Hansen


    Jenny Plasse and Ana Hansen


    Alice Beineke (Celia Green)


    Marc & Celia


    Pugsley Addams (Riley Spieler), Uncle Fester (Chad Marquis), and Wednesday Addams (Karissa Lee Carleton).

    Friday, January 09, 2015

    Latest Cluster**** From ABQ



    What happened?:
    ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – An Albuquerque police officer has been shot by another officer in a busy area of town. According to Chief Gorden Eden said they were both undercover.

    Chief Eden said a detective was shot during an undercover narcotics operation by another Albuquerque police officer. He said both have been with the department for several years and they were both working in plain clothes when it happened.

    The Eternally Clueless GOP

    I like how higher taxes on the wealthy in California have resulted in balanced budgets and I like how budget catastrophes have befallen states like Kansas and Arizona that cut taxes on the wealthy, to the point where they can't even keep highway rest stops open. It just goes to show GOP economics is, and always has been, and always will be, clueless:
    Remember how Republicans used to mock California as a failed state? Greece on the Pacific? Well, a few years ago, voters kicked Republicans out of power and changed the absurd supermajority budget requirements that had given minority conservatives veto power over state government. The result? With voter approval, the state raised taxes on the highest income earners to fund education. It started to reinvest in water and transportation infrastructure and rebuild the social safety net. It completed the implementation of a robust cap-and-trade program to restrict carbon emissions and fund sustainability projects. And the result? A rapidly growing economy and surging tax revenue.

    Now In The Center Ring...



    Along with her other sets of skills, Nani is now learning how to do trapeze art.

    Tuesday, January 06, 2015

    David vs. Goliath


    Yesterday, two vehicles collided at the nearby intersection. It was a brawny David vs. Goliath match. The Fiat microcar lost a fender, but appeared to be mostly OK. The pickup truck was more fragile than it first appeared. Its drive shaft broke free and it had to be towed away.

    Welcome To New Mexico: Worthless Lottery Ticket

    His wife is right: New Mexico will never pay:
    By John Wines' calculation, the scratch-off ticket he bought at a Roswell, N.M., gas station is worth $500,625. The state lottery says it is worthless.

    Wines, a retired heating and air conditioning repairman, bought the $20 "Ruby 7s" ticket on Dec. 6, and went to his car to scratch it off. When his effort appeared to reveal four prizes - two of $250,000, one for $75 and another for $50, he excitedly ran back in to present it to the cashier.

    "She scanned it in the machine and told me it isn't a winner," Wines, 65, told FoxNews.com. "I couldn't believe it."

    It turned out the ticket bore at least two critical misprints above the $250,000 jackpots. Wines' winning numbers, listed on another portion of the ticket, were 1 and 2. If either of those appeared above the prize, the ticket is a winner. Wines' ticket appeared to show a 1 above both of the six-figure payouts, but an abbreviation code for the single-digit numbers did not match. It indicated that one was supposed to be a 12 and the other an 18. On each, the second digit was just a tiny smudge.

    "NMLA is not responsible for lost, stolen or misdirected tickets," reads a disclaimer on the back of the ticket. "Liability for void, altered or misprinted tickets or disputes, if any, is limited to the refund of the retail sales price."

    Wines called the state lottery, where officials offered him $100 worth of free tickets, but flatly refused to pay out what Wines sought.

    ..."I woke up the other morning, and she said, 'What's wrong?'" Wines recalled. "I said, 'I just can't stop thinking about that lottery ticket.'

    "She told me to forget it," he said. "She said they're never going to pay me."