February 11, 2014
Interstellar Culture Reporter
19214 Rue du Château d’Eau
Paris, France, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy
Ms. Anna Wintour
Director, Cultural Planetary Studies
91374 Xarlon Street
Voguelandia, New New York, 18X2-B, Andromeda Galaxy
My dear Anna,
Oh, how I miss the sophistication of our home planet! I have heard several colleagues in our industry describe Albuquerque as an armpit, but now, having been trapped several months here on assignment for Armani-knows-why, I am inclined to make a far more vulgar comparison. Allow me to describe to you the uninspired, almost nonexistent “nightlife” of this sad and dusty place.
Owing, I believe, to the proximity of a national laboratory, this city’s highest concentration of wealth is observed in the “Northeast Heights.” Don’t expect to find any classy or tasteful venues in this neighborhood, though (let alone any class or taste). Inhabitants of this corner of the “Duke City” often flock to “The Dirty Bourbon,” a country-western-themed bar whose mechanical bull, line dancing, and tacky ambiance all lend to such a staggering dose of “Americana” that you’ll be reeling and heaving in the morning, even if you’ve abstained from imbibing all night—which, believe me, is hard to do when attempting to mingle with *these* bar patrons. Stimulating conversation, wit, and political affairs apparently are all foreign notions to these simple bar-goers; mention American football, Kim Kardashian’s derrière, or your new Dodge Ram pickup truck, however, and you’ll have your ear talked slurred-ly off—but not before having at least two Bud Lites spilled down your jacket.
If a traveler to this city seeks a more, erm, “cultured” experience that is unique to New Mexico’s largest city, they should not fail to visit the downtown area. Here you can expect to find—most prominently and almost proudly on display—the “best” of Albuquerque’s homelessness, illicit drug use, gang activity, and slovenly performances of insobriety. There are many watering holes that attract a wide variety of “Burqueños,” as the people here so proudly call themselves: Sister, for the bearded hipsters and their stoner girlfriends; The Library, for the saggy-trousered young men rapt with the weekly “Booty Shaking Contest”; Effex, for the “mal habillé” gay community, whose catty self-importance is so embarrassingly pronounced; and, among other Jäger-ridden breeding grounds of depravity and hopelessness, Burt’s Tiki Lounge, for those just one drink away from their third DUI, because they swear they’re okay to drive and besides, esé, it’s only like, ten minutes away and we don’t have to get on the 40, so chill, okay?
A quaint neighborhood just up the road from the University’s main campus, Nob Hill is no less of a sight to be seen—especially on Tuesday’s, affectionately heralded by students as “college night.” Ten cent hot wings, cheap bottom-shelf liquor, and the possibility a sloppy, “not gonna call you tomorrow” sexual encounter are but a few of the attractions that draw hordes of twenty-somethings eager to spend their parents’ money. Bring an umbrella for when the bars shut down and people stumble over to Last Call, where streams of nacho cheese, green chile and one too many Mai Thai’s rain down on the sidewalk in a chunky, multi-colored flavor I often hear described as “Never Drinking Again,” or “Hgglbubabalahahlhhh,” or “Where’s My Phone?” How sad it is, these individuals’ failure to see that it’s their dignity they’ve lost…
Why, Anna, do these students wait complacently in line for seemingly nothing? Do the steep facades of the Sandias and the cracked, evaporating banks of the Rio Grande serve as boundaries, both in thought and in place, to the residents of this tired excuse of a “metropolis?” Does the rest of the country know, thanks to Bugs Bunny, that there is anything to do here other than make a left turn? Why do people of this city refer to their state as the “Land of Entrapment,” as if that were a good thing? These are just some of the many troubling questions I ask myself as I prepare to return home.