Finches, Food Trucks & Chine Colle

I promised in my last blog that my next blog would be all about the beings and doings right here in sparkly, dirty, punchy New Mexico.


So let’s start with the beings. For the beings we use stative verbs: New Mexico is kind of square-shaped. New Mexico feels dry. New Mexico smells like pinon.

None of these verbs is active…they’re about states of being, feelings or senses. You wouldn’t use them in the progressive tense with the same meaning. (New Mexico is being kind of square-shaped. New Mexico is feeling dry.)

Grammar ambush over. The thing is: New Mexico is a prickly place, a gritty place…you have to root around for the good stuff. Which is not a bad thing; it keeps out the “destination” transplants that have smothered such otherwise fine places as southern California and the Colorado front range. It also means more rosy finches, lithographs, and food trucks for the rest of us. Yes, these are three of my favorite things happening right here at home. Let us take a gander.

Rosy Finches:

rosyfinchRosy finches come in three varities–black, gray-crowned, brown-crowned and graycapped. The French call them roselins. All three North American varities of these rare alpine birdies are found in the Sandia mountains on holiday from their Arctic homes. My friend Nessa and I found out the hard way that you have to climb the mountain to see them. By the hard way, I mean the gift shop attendant at the bottom of the tram told us. But not until we had spent a good two minutes staring steadfastly into the desert brush. Apparently, birders fly in from all over the continent to hoof it up to the Crest House where these birds are fed and, with full bellies, pose happily for pictures. Apparently they are also merchandising rosy finch t-shirts, pins and patches up there, for birders who are proud of their incredible conquest. Never mind them. The point is: Hooray for our rosy finch!

The Tamarind Institute

good in the kitchen_webimage

Remember back in the 60’s when lithographic artisan-printers were a dying breed? You’d walk into a room and say, “Can anyone here transfer this drawing I made with greasy pigment on metal plates to paper?” And it was like crickets chirping. Awwkward.

Those were the dark, demoralizing days of lithography printing. Out of that darkness emerged the Tamarind Institute in L.A. funded by the Ford Foundation, charged with the romantic mission to “save a dying art.” Within a decade, the art of lithography was not so dead after all, and the entire institute moved under the aegis of UNM to Albuquerque. That’s right, there’s all sorts of lithographers out there roaming our city streets, blending in, walking their dogs, buying butter and clementines beside us in the grocery line. They look like you and me, but they come from the 19th century and all have their own identifying symbol called “chops,” to mark their work. Pretty badass.

If you want to learn more, I could explain it to you poorly here, or you could scamper on down to the Tamarind Institute on Central and Stanford any first Friday of the month at 1:30 for their free tour. OR, if you read this in time, you should go to the reception for their Good in the Kitchen exhibit tonight from 5-7pm, where you will be treated to images of domestic bliss, comfort, captivity and terror. Muffins, buttons, dolled-up little girls, spontaenously combusting vacuum cleaners, that sort of thing. It’s a great little show. And bonus: chine collé all over.

Food Trucks (and Tap Rooms)


I think we can all agree that the food truck/tap room/neighborhood park symbiosis is one of the most exciting things to happen to Albuquerque since the Railrunner Express first meeped its little horn. Rather than going on about the brilliance of catered picnics where entire neighborhoods are drawn to dine in the park en masse, and the fun re-invention of pub life, I”m just going to refer to the latest issue of the Alibi, and the article  Tapping the Market by Brian Haney: “(the food truck/microbrew tryst) adds color, it adds life, it adds flavor, and it adds smell to the neighborhood and creates a whole new sense of community.” And beyond food or drink, it seems that’s something people want to support.”

So this spring: Supper Truck shrimp and grits, Boiler Monkey crepes, picnic blankets, amateur ukulele music and cut-throat croquet. We dont’ need to go to gay Paree after all! All that we could ever want is right here in our communal backyard.


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