The Albuquerque Hawt List: Fall Edition

Uh oh, it’s that time of year. The season has changed, and with the season, the fashions. Things that were once smoking hot are now kind of smoldering lame. This is comme il faut. We are a novelty-driven culture even if those novelties are old-fashioned relics like baroque wigs, and lace doilies, and typewriting machines.


But don’t worry. You, personally, don’t need to keep up with what’s hot in Albuquerque. That’s what you have me for. I have turned this town upside down and given it a good shake until all of the cool stuff fell out of its pockets and jangled on the floor. (That’s where people usually keep their cool stuff.)

But first let me get up on my super stylish retro soapbox for a spell and preach against confusing fashion with style. I’d like to open with a quote by Coco Chanel: “Fashion fades. Only style remains the same.”

I think everyone on this list has a foot in both fires–the one may flame out by January (Fashion), but the other shall endure F-O-R-E-V-E-R (Style).

And that concludes my speech in which I quoted Coco Chanel and said one other thing. So without further ado, I give you the Albuquerque Hot List for Fall 2013!!!!!

1) Cactus Tractor

A sweet little local band has put together a Kickstarter campaign for their first album. They call themselves Cactus Tractor and I stole these pictures from them. If you donate money to their campaign they will come to your house in their swim togs and wash your dog or give you a songbook of their songs or make you a felt creature to cuddle with. Give them some money before all of these insider opportunities dry up and suddenly they’re rich and famous (or at least critically acclaimed) and wouldn’t come near your dog for no amount of flattery. Listen to some of their hot and lovely ditties here.  Also read their blog. It’s funny.



2) Sophia Rose & La Abeja Herbs

What can we say about Sophia Rose, wood nymph, concoctress of elixirs, Venus of the junipers? She can give you a name and vignette for almost any flower or herb in the mountains or bosque. She makes dream catchers out of antique doilies. She has her own yurt spread with animal pelts and woven rugs. She cures meats, infuses honeys, pickles lemon peel and tinctures everything. Also she collects weird vintage memorabilia, as pictured below.

Someday I’m going to leave the rat race behind and run away with her into the woods. All we’ll need is a plastic horse, some world globes, an antique typewriter and a bundle of feathers. Oh and a captain’s hat. And a lamb’s fleece. And a derelict hornet’s nest. That’s all we’ll need. And some dead butterflies. That’s all. And a miniature shiny gold pyramid thingy. That should cover it. Until then I’m just going to take some of her classes.



3) Whoo’s Donuts

Last week when I was talking about a donut vendor just steps away from my new house, I was referring to Whoo’s Donuts. Yes, they’re made in Santa Fe, but Michael Thomas Coffee imports them city-side every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Flavors are either seasonal–like apple cider, caramel apple, pumpkin cream filled–or just exciting like blue corn cake with lavender icing and orange chocolate espresso. Quantities are limited so prepare to fight me for the pumpkin cream.

Oh there’s two. You’ll have to fight me for two pumpkin creams.

4) Arturo’s Jewelry

Arturo is this Columbian architect guy who I’ve known as an acquaintance for years. This weekend I found out that he sells Columbian-made artisanal jewelry on the side under the name Etnico.

I didn’t actually know whether to believe him at first when he asked if I wanted to see his jewelry. He’s always telling falsehoods: “I’m a monster!!!!” he’ll scream at the kids waving his arms around and they’ll run clear across the park.

But then he showed me his business card and I thought, “That’s a lot of effort for a prank.” So he displayed his wares and there on the table where he was pointing (his display table) were some real beauts–necklaces, rings and earrings molded from glossy, glassy resin. Here’s the ring I bought for only five dollars. (!!) Unfortunately Arturo doesn’t have a website or Facebook page yet. But, then, his elusiveness is part of what makes his stuff so cool. He informs me that he is working on devising a Facebook page right now. When that happens I will post the link on my own Spartan Holiday’s Facebook page (which incidentally you should “like” if you haven’t already).

Photo on 10-17-13 at 12.01 PM

5) Not Having Internet in Your Home

Disconnect your internet. When I heard all of the cool people were doing it (like the hip bearded guys at the public library), I did it myself. So far, I’ve made some stunning progress on the ukulele, completed a king’s ransom of crossword puzzles and read heaps of hard copy books. Hard copy! So don’t be trying to email me after 5:00 pm or get upset when I text you for phone numbers and addresses to places around town. That’s very uncool. Anyone else off the juice? Come over! We’ll play some board games and pretending we’re Skyping each other in person.

6) Jewish Apple Cake

While some people (unfashionable people) may be trotting out one long cortege of apple pie this season, apple cake is where it’s at. It’s easier than apple pie, it’s prettier than pie. And it’s cakier than pie. It feeds twelve freakin people at least and has been perfected by the Jewish people. I like Deb Perelman’s version from Smitten Kitchen. I love it so much I stole this picture from her.

Make one.


7) Sichler Farm Stand

An uncool person trying to look cooler by holding a gray-ish green pumpkin.

Another thing that’s really hot right now in Albuquerque is red chile and pumpkins. They are absolutely everywhere. It seems like butternuts, ristras, and the like are en vogue every autumn, but even more so this year.

Like, you wouldn’t be caught dead walking around without a pumpkin under your arm. Especially a grayish-green pumpkin which, I’ve been told, makes the best pies. As a matter of fact I made pumpkin whoopie pies with one this week and they were exquisite.

I think the chic-est and worldliest place to buy chiles, beans, pistachios or winter squash is probably the Sichler Farms stand on San Mateo just south of Lomas. They’re only open till the end of October, so if you don’t get there soon, you’re screwed.

8) Vintage Patriotism

Why is that suddenly patriotic bunting and playing the bugle and the glamor of flying Pan Am are hot again? Vintage patriotism is trendy because modern patriotism is impossible. What was all that crap that just happened in Congress? Tiny patriotic cherubs everywhere are weeping and have been weeping from almost the beginning (says Howard Zinn). Their tears fall on us all.

What should we believe in if we can’t believe in America? For now the hot thing to do, until we have a new economic and political system, is place our faith in things like the hostile and impenetrable forests of Appalachia, artisan blacksmiths, and New England clam bakes. I know it. It sucks.


Okay, that’s the end of the list. There’s some other hot stuff too, but I’m having technical difficulties with blogging, what with this crappy laptop I’m working on and no internet at my house.

I DO hope you all feel a smidge hotter than you did before you read this and that you’ll come back for the Fall Fashion Edition of Spartan Holiday.

Yes! That’s right! In two weeks, check back to see what the hottest Albuquerqueans are wearing this season.

Well, hej dah, until we meet again.

(That’s “goodbye” in Swedish. Swedish things are really hot in London now, by the way, as you can read for yourself in this article.)

The Royal Palace of Stockholm. A picture stolen from my cousin Kim.


Obsessive Compulsive Wall Painting Disorder: A Case Study

There comes a time in many a person’s life when they decide it’s time to light out for new territories. Somewhere they can have a chicken coop in the backyard, and a stiff drink on the front porch, and a stacking washer/dryer in the bathroom, and glass windows and a pedestal for their monkey lamp, and a donut vendor half a block away, and whimsical plumbing, and an actual bedroom for their 3-year-old daughter.


For me that time was now.

And that place is Anderson Avenue!

Stop on by. It looks like this:


If you need more specific landmarks, there are some dog–llama-merman thingies on the gate.


If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look for these horse heads on the fence posts:


Where was I? Oh yeah, we were ready to move in, but we couldn’t help noticing the walls were brown. So my idea was to paint them. After conferring with others and doing extensive internet research, this seemed to be the popular choice when faced with wall colors you don’t like.

Little did I know that once you start painting, you can hardly stop!!!

But I’ve stopped now. After eight coats. Mostly because I ran out of paint and also because after eight coats it finally looked right. It finally looked the color of magnolia blossoms for which it was named (portrayed here in bottom left corner).


Do I recommend eight coats of paint in all situations?


Let me break it down for you:

Primer 1: To cover up existing paint

Primer 2: To seal in primer

Paint 1: To color over primer

Paint 2: To doubly color over primer

Paint 3: For nice, thick texture

Paint 4: To paint over all the painting you’ve already done

Paint 5: To paint over the paint that was covering all the other paint

Paint 6: To definitively seal in all that paint with more paint

Photo on 10-11-13 at 2.18 PM #2
It’s weird and sad that we didn’t even get to use these extra rollers

Did my partner in prime (that’s a joke referencing primer, then prime, then crime) find marathon painting as joyfully addictive as I did? Let’s chat with him and see:

me:  Dave, remember when we painted the house for an entire week?

Dave:  nope…when was that?

 me:  nonstop day and night with all of our free time?
 Dave:  hmmm….not ringing any bells…
 me:  I’m pretty sure you were there.
 Dave:  was I? okay…let’s assume I was…what’s your question?

me:  If you could do it all over again would you? And what would you do differently?

 Dave:  I would buy my own f&*ing paint. Any other questions?
 me:  Oh. But in retrospect it was kind of fun, right?
 Dave:  What? Are you f&*ing kidding me?
This pretty much concluded our interview. I think with enough time and distance, Dave will also look back on that week as a zany and delightful home improvement project.
So thank you Property Manager for buying such cheap-ass paint instead of what we asked for! My former landlady likened painting with cheap paint to painting with milk. So next time I’m just going to go out and buy 10 gallons of milk instead.
Here I am reminiscing about my week-long painting jag. Was it really as fun as I thought?
Here I am reminiscing about my week-long painting jag. Was it really as fun as I thought?
Yes! It was!
Yes! It was!
But seriously if you want to be enveloped in magnolia blossom and/or drink some tea and/or hear me play B flat on the ukulele, do stop by!

The Latest in Drug Addiction and Pastry News

Uh oh. It’s happened again. Someone in Scotland has put fake meth on cupcakes in homage to Breaking Bad. After criticism from the local press the bakery responsible for the cupcake has discontinued their production.

Rebel Donut, here in Albuquerque where Breaking Bad was filmed, has offered a Breaking Bad donut with blue icing and sugary crystal-meth like sprinkles for over a year now to no public outcry or serious media questioning. Puffery pieces, is what Slate calls the coverage of drug-themed desserts. Slate is calling for a little more gravitas…because drug addiction isn’t funny.

Rebel Donut’s photo

In other drug news, Dr. Carl Hart, a psychologist at Columbia University has completed a study  in which results seem to indicate that drug addicts are much more rational thinkers than we think…that hopelessness fuels drug use more than any insatiable, irresistible addiction to crack or meth and that we demonize the drugs and afford them inordinate power because that’s easier than dealing with the root problems of societal dysfunction, economic collapse and oppression.

This begs the question…if a drug addict was presented with a dozen really fresh, delicious donuts covered with actual crystal meth and they had to choose either the donut or the meth…might they possibly choose the donut? Yes! This study says.


Back in Victorian days the drug of choice was opium. A tiny bakery in London probably made puddings with fake dope on it to be funny. Honestly I probably would have laughed a little, not being an opium addict myself and finding puddings funny to begin with. But then I guess if I was eating the pudding and inadvertently popped into a squalid opium den on the way home, I might feel differently. Humor is difficult that way–it’s a sensibility built on incongruency and absurdities (including the absurdity of our own smallness) and it serves to relieve tension around the terrifying, seeming insanity of life. So sometimes I get mad when dark humor is beaten to death with the propriety stick.

Other people’s drug of choice is coffee, alcohol, nicotine, dopamines, theobromine, tryptophan, oxytocin or mid-century modern furniture.

midcentury chairs

Do you know what’s also bad? Rum cakes and bread puddings that contain actual alcohol. Not to mention beers, wines and liquors that contain alcohol. Also cakes decorated with cigarette butts. Or a fresh garden salad with a big pile of donuts and gravy on top.

Then there’s fast food which is addictive in itself and leads to proliferations of certain, dastardly, fat-making microflora in our intestinal tract.

So the question is how do we separate food from drugs and drugs from food? Sometimes they seem so enmeshed.

Let’s go to an interview with an anonymous person I met at Michael Thomas Coffee who has some really strong opinions.


Spartan Holiday: So is there a difference between food and drugs? Seriously.

Guy: Well there’s the food and drug administration. So if they’re the same thing, that wouldn’t make sense because it’s redundant.

SH: That’s a good argument. But does food destroy lives?

Well without food you starve, and without drugs you could also die, when sick I mean, so again… similar. In that sense food and drugs both destroy lives by not being readily available.

SH: But that’s the opposite of what I was asking.

Exactly. Food and drugs both destroy lives and save lives. It’s a paradox.

SH: I don’t think that’s the definition of a paradox

Are you going to eat that biscotti?

SH: Yes. But what about addictive drugs? Recreational drugs?

Eating is also recreational. But, see, the thing with recreational drugs is…they’re really fun, but you don’t need them to survive.

SH: Right! So that’s kind of what I’m getting at…

But you also don’t need donuts or beer to survive. And that’s food. Except for the beer which is both.

SH: Now we’re right back where we started.

That’s the nature of a paradox.

SH: Okay, just tell me which is more offensive. The actual cupcake or the non-actual crystal meth on top?

I am equally offended by both. But I’m easily offended. Meatloaf shaped like handguns…not cool. Bananas flambe…not cool. Pornographic pastas shapes, not cool. Gum shredded and packaged like chewing tobacco. Not cool.

SH: Candy cigarettes…


Not cool. Tofu shaped like turkey. not cool.

SH: Okay, I’m going to shout out something and you tell me if it’s a food or drug.


SH: Turkey!


SH: Tylenol!


SH: Pumpkin Seeds.


SH: Poppy Seeds


SH: Special brownies


SH: Baby Corn


SH: Coffee


SH: I’m not really sensing any patterns here.

Yeah. But I think there are patterns. You just need to know where to look.

SH: Have you read that new study out of Columbia University about drugs not being as irresistible as we think they are?

Yeah, the guy offered meth addicts another hit or a $20 bill to be paid at a later date and they chose the $20. Probably for their drug budget though…like they were building a kitty to spend on future drugs. Do you know what was really interesting about that article?

SH: What?

It quotes a guy named Dr. Nutt. I don’t think I would tell people my name, if my name was Dr. Nutt.

SH: Or you could change your name.

That takes a lot of legal doing. It would be easier just not to tell people your name. You could just say, “Hello. I’m a doctor in neuropyscho stuff. Pleased to meet you.”

SH: But take this scenario. Hi my name is Andrea… what is your name?

Hello Betty, I’m a doctor.

SH: Alright. Yeah. Well anyway, do you have any concluding remarks about food vis a vis drugs?

Just that drugs aren’t funny. Food is not funny. The whole act of eating and defecating is not funny, just as our mortality and general body processes are not funny. We’re all going to die someday and we’re all going to die alone. Then everyone who ever knew us is also going to die and at that point we’ll truly cease to exist as anything other than a infinitesimal part of the historic human collective.

SH: Yeah, I know what you mean. I was thinking the same thing last night when I wanted an ice cream cone and realized Dave had eaten all of the ice cream.

This is pretty much where the interview ended. I didn’t learn much of anything from the anonymous person but he did give me $20 for my biscotti. I think he wanted to see if I’d go get twelve more biscotti with it, which I did not.

Anyway, I don’t like being experimented on, and I left the coffee shop pretty annoyed.

This is my new office by the way–the neighborhood coffee shop, until I get interwebs at home. I have an elaborate plan to not get addicted to coffee working here. My elaborate plan involves drinking tea instead.

Enter a caption

Happy October.