Another year has passed and once again my son and made our annual trek to the Albuquerque Supernationals. Last year’s Car Porn entry is here. For those not in the know, the Supernationals is a car show featuring a lot of custom cars, classic cars, and general muscle cars. This year also featured Henry Winkler. Had I known he was there I might have been tempted to print out a Fonz picture and have him sign it. We did get to see him, though. I waved and Mr. Winkler nodded. It was epic. This is an image-heavy post, so be prepared to wait while everything loads.
Every year the Albuquerque Botanical Gardens puts on the River of Lights, an extravaganza where they take most of the park of light it up. This year my son was singing in the choir out there so I actually had the opportunity to go see what the hubbub was all about. All of these shots were taken with the camera on my phone, so don’t expect anything too amazing. If you’re even in Albuquerque when River of Lights is going on, it’s a heck of a show. Just bundle up; it gets pretty cold out there at night. You can even buy tickets online at Riveroflights.org.
Like all good stories, this one starts way in the past…
Ask the average person these days what they know about New Mexico and they’ll happily tell you blue meth and Heisenberg. I guess at least we’re famous for something modern, even if it was just revolutionizing the fictional drug trade. As a side note: I live around the block from Walter White’s fictional house; we used to see them filming out there all the time. Saul Goodman’s office was just down the street from where I live. It’s my own little brush with greatness.
That’s not this story, though.
Way back, even before Weird Al immortalized us in his epic song “Albuquerque“, we were famous for something else:
Okay, so maybe the Roswell Incident didn’t happen, but even if it did, it was nearly 70 years ago. Personally, I’m kind of the fence about it. At the very least, I could see it happening. Thank God for Breaking Bad or we’d be stuck forever as the UFO state. Seriously, aliens crash and that’s all anyone can talk about for seven decades. You’d think that was a rare event or something. Even now, a lot of people think New Mexico is nothing more than aliens chasing cowboys around.
Now, back in 1997, I was finishing off a Master’s degree in Communication. Or starting one. I forget which, but I do know it was a Master’s and I was going to school in Portales, New Mexico, which is not far from Roswell. In the summer of 97 it was the 50th anniversary of the UFO crash and Roswell held one hell of a gala event. People came from all over the world to swap stories and sell goods and generally have fun. That was also the year ID4 came out and a bunch of us watched it in Roswell. That was the most active crowd at an alien invasion movie I have ever seen.
If you ever have the opportunity to go to Roswell, it’s a fun time if you’re into aliens. They even have this place, which is a hell of a lot of fun:
So, flash forward a bit. Now, we’re actually getting to the story proper. Everything else was just leading up to this. In 98 I moved to Albuquerque and got a job working at the Kinko’s on Central. I worked as a graphic designer and general computer tech on the late shift. Met all kinds of interesting people. For some reason, Kinko’s had a policy that everyone wore ties to work every day. This was supposedly to ensure that our adoring public (and yes, that includes the coeds we caught photocopying their breasts and the college students who would test viruses on our computers) would see as professionals.
I hated that policy, but had to abide by it during the six months I was there before I found a better job. There was no policy on what the tie had to look like, only that we had to have one. I had a handful of Simpsons ties, some really ugly ones I’d found at a thrift shop, and one that I actually liked. I’d gotten it in college and adored it. It was all black and covered with neon green alien heads (see, there was a reason I was talking about aliens).
So, I’m going to work one day and stopped in at McDonald’s for lunch from the 99 cent menu because that’s all I could afford. Kinko’s paid minimum wage and ordering a drink with lunch was called splurging. I had just finished eating and was cleaning up my table when I look up and see the manager standing right in front of me.
“You’d better be careful,” he said.
Since I was already cleaning up my table I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. I mumbled something about being done and out of his hair soon.
It was then that the really crazy part of his brain kicked in and I realized he didn’t care about the table or the trash or perhaps even reality in general. “They’re looking for people wearing that symbol,” he told me and pointed to my tie. “Watch out.” Depending on your point of view, the scary part or the funny part was that he was completely dead serious. I saw him a few more times without the tie on and he told me it was good that I’d taken his advice.
Ah, Central Ave in Albuquerque.
He never did explain who they were. Which leaves me with but one logical assumption.
As a side note, when I was looking for pictures for this post, I came across this guy represented as the crashed Roswell UFO. The timeline is correct, but the manufacturing base – while not American – was certainly terrestrial. Say hello to the first jet-powered flying wing, courtesy of Nazi Germany. Built by evil to do evil, but most definitely not alien.
You can always tell it’s getting to be Fall in New Mexico because that’s when the chile harvests come in. As soon as the harvests come in, various places around town start roasting green chiles and Albuquerque smells amazing for a while. Most of the year, just like “Weird” Al said, Albuquerque smells like root beer, but during the Fall we get the smell of roasting chiles.
I love Fall in Albuquerque. It’s smells great.