Thursday, January 31, 2008

Spew tube (press play)

Ladygunn --> from Koko

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bakersfield, CA: Goodbye Edwards, Hello....

I was driving from LAX to Bakersfield early this morning when I heard NPR confirm that John Edwards is dropping out of the race. I was really sad to hear that he wouldn't be sticking it out for Super Tuesday next week. I had really been looking forward to casting my first California for him.

Now that Edwards is out - and Kucinich dropped out this week too - I am not sure who I will vote for (what?? no more white guys??). I would have liked to vote for Cynthia McKinney but I realized that since moving west I registered as a Democrat for the first time. My vote will likely go to Obama, though he doesn't have the anti-poverty message that sold me on Edwards.


I just want to take the opportunity to toot the horn for two wonderful people in the news today:

1) Albany Times Union published Jordan's letter about farm worker rights in New York State:

"We will never be "one New York" as long as agricultural workers are categorically denied the basic rights and protections other workers have enjoyed for more than 70 years."

Jordan with Law and Order's Sam Donaldson at a Labor-Religion Coaltion Dinner

2) Phillip's TokBox got another press shout out in today's Guardian (UK):

"GMG, which owns the website, asked 120 influential digital practitioners to predict the brands, sites and people to watch this year. Respondents picked out the social travel network, the popular teen site Bebo, tech giants Apple and Microsoft as well as TokBox, the online video phone service."

New Song, New Dance

Last night I learned the final steps to "Sign, Sealed, Delivered" by Stevie Wonder, which we will be performing in a few weeks at the Uptown Club. You can listen to (and "watch") our version here:

Monday, January 28, 2008

2/18 Performance!

It looks like I will be performing with the Burlesqueteers again in a few weeks. We'll be doing the "Hubba Hubba Review" at the Uptown in Oakland again on Monday, February 18th. I'll be dancing in two group numbers this time (if I can learn them fast enough).

Several of the girls will be doing new solo acts - many that have yet to be choreographed. It amazes me how quickly they whip those numbers together. I've chosen the song for my first solo number but I can't think of any moves. I sit and listen over and over but nothing comes to me. Hopefully I'll be ready for whatever comes in March.

re: Not Written by Greenhouse. Surprise surprise.

Moynihan under arrest at CM in 2005

A few days ago I posted an article from the Times about recent IWW/Starbucks protests in NYC by journalist Colin Moynihan. I had to stalk him further as soon as I learned (via google) that he had once been arrested at a Critical Mass demo (!). My aunt looked him up for me in the employee directory but he is unlisted - apparently he only freelances for the paper. I then turned to one of the most fundamental people sleuthing tools for more info: the Facebook message. Low and behold he wrote back (see below.) I appreciate the fact that he won't bad mouth an elder colleague. I do know however that in his heart of hearts he too thinks Greenhouse is pretty weak. Look at the links Moynihan sent over in defense of Greenhouse: Wal-mart? Oh wow. That sure is some ground breaking journalism. Who knew that Wal-mart was among the worst employers in the country? Sheesh. Wal-mart is probably the easiest, most indisputable subject matter to criticize for labor abuses. Get real.

Anyhow, he DID open the conversation for suggestions regarding future articles. I will definitely get back to him on that one!

re: nyt iww article
Between Colin Moynihan and You

10:15pm Jan 22nd
i am not a stalker but i did want to tell you i think you are the best writer for the times. perhaps you could replace that old fart greenhouse? labor needs more people like you writing in big media.


Sorry for taking a while to respond to your note.

I don't think that anybody will be replacing Steve Greenhouse--who I've had only postive encounters with--anytime soon. (Have you read any of the lengthy investigative stories he wrote about Wal-Mart? At the end of this message I will include links to two of the ones I remember best, in case you are interested.)

Although I enjoy writing about occasional labor issues I'm nothing close to a specialist on the subject. I'm more of a generalist in my interests and I like roaming around the city--from the Criminal Courts building on Centre Street to Lower East Side street corners to the far-flung reaches of the Coney Island Creek--and describing different aspects of life in New York.

But if you think there are any good labor stories that are being ignored, please feel free to let me know.

Thanks for reading the Starbucks story and thanks even more for your kind words about it.

Good luck with everything,

Colin Moynihan


A Very Large Array, NM

We hit the road early on Sunday after a final soak in the mineral bath. We drove north to the town of Soccoro, NM and ate breakfast at a bustling dinner/Mexican restaurant. We took a local road about an hour west past the town of Magdalena to an area without a municipality. Here we saw the Very Large Array. The VLA is a set of large telescopes that study the universe by analyzing radiowave emissions from stars and galaxies going through certain phases.

It too was pretty surreal. What's up with this state??

A light meter makes all the difference; Bucky, is that you?!

Truth or Consequences, NM

I had first seen mention of Truth or Consequences several months back in a Vanity Fair article. In a Manhattanite fantasy I envisioned a small dessert outpost lead long ago by a great American Indian chief who bestowed this fine name on his village to foster its main virtue.


The town was originally named Hot Springs until 1950 when host Ralph Edwards of popular radio show Truth or Consequences announced that he would broadcast the program from the first town to rename itself after the show. Though it no longer goes by that name, the town still benefits from the abundant hot springs the flow below it. There are several public bath houses and many private spas. With the mountains rolling behind it, T or C looks something like an old Western movie. With a lot of RV parks.

Many RVs; some old cars

All of the geothermal energy floating around seems to have attracted a certain type of person: about 85% percent of the local economy is dedicated to a faux-scientific New Age lifestyle. Not surprising given the statement on one hotel brochure: the T or C hot springs has "quite possibly" the highest mineral content in the world. Upon arriving at our hotel, the Pelican Spa, late Friday night received an "Artist Directory" of the local talent. Most of these "artists" are astrologers, tarot card readers, purveyors crystal jewelry. We found advertisements for "Vaatsu: The East Indian Science and Art of Placement," "Mary Clark Reiki Master and specialist in Chrystal Layouts," "Sazi Sacred Dance and Ritual Performance," among others. Our favorite was Jan Thedford, QXCI/EPFX, SCIO Quantum Biofeedback Practitioner. One website aptly pinpointed T or C, "We had our best 'Twilight Zone' moment at Xochi’s [a bookstore], listening to the owner and two guests discuss how to chase away whatever it was that was producing the 'bad energy' just inside the front door." The local merchants here are the descendants of traveling potion peddlers and snake charmers of yore.

Sir Richard Branson recently chose an area near Truth or Consequences as the headquarters for the first space tourism company. T or C was also home to serial killer David Parker Ray and his infamous "toy box."


Phillip and I work up on Saturday morning and got breakfast at the local diner. We took a soak in one of our hotel's bathhouses. The bathhouses are rustic rooms, each with a deep clay tub large enough for two people. The steaming mineral water flows out of a large PVC tube connected to each room.

We spent the afternoon wandering along the outskirts of town were it bleeds into Caballo State Park. We walked around the Rio Grande. We examined the local flora. We got dinner at the town's fancy steak house, which hasn't changed since the 1960s.

T or C from above; the Rio Grande

Happy cactus; Christmas tree cactus

Some fishy evidence; Turtleback Mountain

A public bathhouse; funky digs @ the Pelican

Its a pretty trippy place - you can imagine what it must have been like after some xxxx xx xxx.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Adventures on Turquoise Trail

I slept in today and checked out of the Turquoise Bear. On my way out I asked the manager for a testimony behind the alleged haunting. He confirmed the rumors and said that he has seen many "spirits" in the house, though mainly in the front office. He describes the apparitions more like shadows caught in the periphery than actual ghoulish figures. There were many people coming in and out of the the house during the height of entertaining at the Brynner estate. His theory is that people got so comfortable from hanging out there that they just stuck around in the after life. This explanation satisfies my curiosities though I can't say I regret not running into any ghosts!

TB by day; downtown Santa Fe has been molded entirely out of adobe clay

After leaving the hotel I went downtown to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. The small multi-room gallery exhibits the spectrum of her work from the early water colors to her more well known pieces. In addition, the museum housed a new exhibit of fellow American modernist and contemporary of O'Keeffe, Marsden Hartley. Like O'Keeffe, Hartley drew from the New Mexican landscape for much of his material. His paintings were indeed beautiful but I certainly preferred the O'Keeffe oils. O'Keeffe is among the painters I feel most emotionally connected to, as she is one of the artists I had most exposure to as a child. Pacing slowly through the gallery, I was able to get in touch with my secret wish to have been an Art History major. I bought two small framed prints at the gift shop; one of her iconic cow skull, the other a photograph of O'Keeffe in her 80s, taken at Ghost Ranch sitting below a Calder mobile.

Blue new Mexican sky from atop Museum Mile

I made my way out of central Santa Fe to an area in the outskirts of town called the "Museum Mile" - where the city keeps several of its museums - to visit the Museum of International Folk Art. Folk art is relatively new to me; I hadn't really been introduced to this genre until quite recently. I think this is one of the reasons I like it so much: it is all mine, I came to love it on my own as an adult. The museum featured a large exhibit on a group of African American artists from rural Alabama, drawing on Americana classics like quilts and sculptures made from metal scraps. The presentation of the pieces, which involved a lot of background text and video, gave credit to a large part of American art culture that is so often overlooked. The permanent collection was also quite impressive. An entire hall is filled from floor to ceiling with folk art from around the world. The curator of this exhibit grouped much of the display by theme: dolls, villages, religious pieces, food. I recently read an article in the Times that the Modern Art Museum in Detroit is regrouping its collections in the same fashion. This style of display allows the spectator to draw from commonalities that exist for all members of humankind, making the subject matter much more accessible. The gift shop has some great Day of the Dead figures but were all pretty expensive so I bought a Bhangra mix CD and a CD of music from the 1970s Favela (Gabby I thought of you!)

A map of the Turquoise Trail

Heading south I took the scenic route back to Albuquerque via rt 14 called the Turquoise Trail, which almost triples the length of the drive. There a many things to see along this road but so few are marked that I bet many people miss them.

North of the town of Madrid I stopped at one of the most surreal places I have seen in my life. Just off the side of the road is a massive junkyard of toys and sculpture under a sign reading "Tiny Town." I originally thought this was "Tinker Town" that I had read about on but apparently this is something different (Tinker is unfortunately closed for the winter). I got out of the car and walked onto the grounds expecting to see some sort of authority or at least another person, but it was empty of life, barring a mass of feral cats (Recoletta/311 w. 110th street-style). I wandered around for a while, stupefied by my surroundings. The area is dead silent with only the hum of a wind fan from the perimeter of the garden. As I was leaving I tried setting up my camera on the roof of the car so I could take a self portrait. With the car door left ajar, three of the wild cats hopped in my P.T Loser! For real! I shooed them out and sent them on their way. Of all the sights in New Mexico this was by far the best. Words - nor my paltry photography skills (click to enlarge!) - can't justly illustrate this place.

Sign to Tiny Town: don't blink or you'll miss it!; the gates of Tiny Town

"Violetta! Get the fuckouttamycar!!!"; Finally a self portrait

Back on the road I passed though the proper town of Madrid. I stopped of at a shop called "Cowgirl Red" and bought a pair of vintage cowgirl boots. The shopkeeper told me that a local eccentric named "Tattoo Tammy" is the creator and sole resident of Tiny Town. She gave me the history of Madrid itself. It was once a busting coal mining city with a population of 3,000 people. During the 1950s, as the mines dried up, people fled the city en mass and it was left a veritable ghost town for twenty years. During the 1970s artists from Santa Fe started trickling back and restored many of the boarded up buildings. The town has been an artist colony since. Several of the old mine shafts are visible from rt. 14 on the way out of town.

Madrid, Lazarus town extraordinaire

I now await Phillip to arrive in Albuquerque. Tonight we are driving down to Truth or Consequences. We decided to skip Roswell, despite the prospects of being taking down by stealth fights at Holloman AFB, because it would be too much driving for our short weekend here. I am so excited!