What holds people back?

Take the right turn in Duke City and you can find anything.

The feeling of “living just enough for the city” as Stevie Wonder so elegantly phrased it is becoming more common in American cities.  Housing prices are soaring above wages and the gap between the working lower classes and the upper affluent classes is stark but opportunities remain.  There are always opportunities for the less fortunate, it just requires a little creativity.

I commute to my job on public transit and every day I see people who look as though they are going hard times – not well dresses, poor hygiene, a little spaced out (possibly on a foreign substance) – but they all seem to be able to scrape together enough money for a bus ticket.  What’s even more amazing is that most of these people have a smartphone in-hand with ear-buds or headphones on their heads.  Regardless of how my lower-class peers are able to afford these small luxuries, I don’t think they realize the kind of opportunities they can access with these devices alone.

A mobile phone can provide one with organizational tools for planning a day and recording other phone numbers for future reference (the start of any entrepreneurial endeavor) as well as grant you access to an internet connection via any public library or city-owned building.  Are most people even aware of the existence of public libraries these days?

I’m not the most entrepreneurial or business-minded person but I can still hold a job and keep hold of some money; it doesn’t take a lot of thought or effort.  What is holding so many people back?  Drugs, mental health, an inability to utilize money effectively, obsessive personalities combined with addictive (or even criminal) behaviors?  I genuinely want to know.

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Milk Mustachio Stout – Tractor Brewing

Creamy, smooth, muted hints of coffee, and superb drinkability – this stout is Tractor Brewing‘s coup de grace (if you like stouts).

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Milk Mustachio Stout, Tractor Brewing Company, 2019.

A smooth coffee-flavored, alcoholic beverage seems perfect for a Friday night as a lone guitarist provides some euphoric background tunes.  I may have been a little harsh in my last review of Tractor, one cannot judge a brewery by on beer.  It’s a good place to relax after a busy day at work serving fried food to fat Americans, a place where nostalgic millennials can go to lament about their lost hopes and forgotten dreams.

Happy holidays, you degenerate pig fuckers.  Be safe out there.

Claudio Tolousse Chills Out Zinc Bar

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

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PHOTO: Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 11/21/2019.

Musician/Songwriter Claudio Tolousse jazzed up the Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro Thursday night.  No band, no back-up singers, just Claudio.  It was a chill performance.

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PHOTO: Claudio Tolousse Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro, 11/21/2019.

Albuquerque gets a negative reputation from news media pessimistic attitudes and too few people overlook the city’s gems.  From my own experience, the best neighborhood in the city is Nob Hill (surrounding the University of New Mexico) with a stretch of Central Avenue that caters to nightlife entertainment and chill brew hipsters.  The Zinc Bar is just one of the many hangouts where you can order a beer, listen to some guitar strumming, and forget about life’s troubles for a while.

Claudio Tolousse also hosts a podcast called Art Talk Music in which he talks about “all thing music” with a variety of musical talents.

Who brews better beer in Nob Hill?

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

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The Tractor Brewing Company is a mid-size taproom in the heart of Nob Hill, Albuquerque, down the street from the Nob Hill Business Center.  The establishment contains a wide, U-shaped bar for plenty of hoppers to get in and immediately go for a drink.  There is also a plethora of tables scattered around the periphery of the building that makes for cozy spaces to sit down with friends for an interesting night.  I sat at the bar as I do.

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Tractor Brewing Company’s Double Plow Milk Stout

One look inside the beer menu and my eyes are drawn to the Double Plow Milk Stout which I order with some enthusiasm.  The bartender (or “beertender” as Tractor Brewing calls them) brings me a pint of the delicious dark brown elixir but, after the first sip, I feel underwhelmed.  The taste is okay for a stout but slightly bitter for my own taste.  It also is a dichotomy of flavors – through my nose, I detect a hint of chocolate flavor but, on my tongue, I only taste coffee.  This particular beer may not be for me.

A look at the specialty beers on the wall menu reveals another milk stout called Milk Mustachio Stout.  I may try that one next weekend.

I am willing to try Tractor Brewing again in the future but, at this current point in time, my favorite stout remains the Driftwood Oatmeal Stout from Bosque Brewing Company.

Albuquerque residents, what is your favorite local brewery?

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Bosque Brewing Company, Nob Hill Public House

Juxtapositions of Modern Success

As I walk through my city streets, I see a strange juxtaposition of modern progress.  I see rising infrastructure along the skyline with empty windows and “for rent” signs.  I see people in suits with high-tech phones stepping over the tattered and dirty homeless.  I see cold and desperate people sleeping outside of night clubs filled with affluent and arrogant college students.  I see middle-class workers with their heads in their phones hustling between multiple jobs while lower-class street-walkers beg for some charity.  I see all these examples of the dichotomy in America’s current success story and I don’t know what to do about it.  I don’t have any answers for the poor and the down-trodden besides all the cliches that have already been preached publicly hundreds of times over.

What happened to our sense of community across America?

Old Address, Out-of-Date Voting

I went to a polling place today to vote in a local election and I was confused when I realized that my new address was not updated in the City of Albuquerque’s list of registered voters.  Earlier this year, I relocated from Albuquerque’s District 1 (West ABQ) to District 6 (Nob Hill) and immediately re-registered to vote (as I usually do).  Perhaps municipalities should update their voter registration records more frequently, but what do I know?

I still voted this morning, I just had to vote for my former neighborhood rather than my current neighborhood; not a big deal in the macro.

(If I’m missing something, let me know in the comments section below.  Don’t forget to tell me how big of an idiot I am.)

 

Renting and Consuming in Albuquerque

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

Albuquerque isn’t a bad place to be (for New Mexico). It’s an urban oasis for city slickers trapped among the eastward migrations from the over-priced west coast, but the city is still a couple decades removed from the millennial generation. I’ve been living in Albuquerque for more than a year now and I still feel like Paul Kemp on his first day in San Juan, Puerto Rico, trying to make sense of a city plagued with vice and optimism while being flooded with hopeless venture capitalists. Two soul-sucking jobs in food service are paying my way through my latter 20’s while I try and force the words in my head into a coherent collection on paper with an intent for monetization. All the while, temptations of the mind are all around me, luring me through their doors with carefully crafted messages promising to take away from the daily despair to a heavenly euphoria. Tension seems to be the only thing driving me to get up in the morning, “the tension between a restless idealism and a sense of impending doom (Hunter S. Thompson, the Rum Diary, 1998).”

As long as I put aside the cash for next month’s rent, I’ll survive this city just long enough to get the hell out.

New Mexico – a lot of potential with an old mindset.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Living in New Mexico is like living in a trailer park that’s been granted statehood.  Our infrastructure is barely up to twentieth century standards, our politicians are unprofessional (technically), and most people don’t know how to drive.

 

School bus on Indian Service Route 5010 near Sanostee, New Mexico
Image Source: <http://www.newmexiconewsport.com/>.

 

New Mexico does have potential for growth if only the public would ditch this lingering old West, Libertarian mindset.  “Live free or die,” as they say – oh, wait, wrong state!  New Mexico’s motto is a question: “red or green?”  That’s also a good way to figure out if someone was born/raised in New Mexico, just ask the person if they like smothering their food in chili peppers to the point where you can’t even taste the main part of the dish.  Mexican-style food is delicious when it’s not smothered with one thing like chili peppers or cheese but I’ve digresed.

Perhaps I’m fixating on some things that don’t matter.  Perhaps I’m judging New Mexico a little too harshly.  New Mexican communities are heavily family-oriented which make for very cohesive communities, albeit communities that are not very well coordinated as one over-arching community throughout the entire state.  We’re more like a lot of isolated communties amidst an incredibly wide expanse of geography.  Maybe if we had some decent public transportation that was more widespread to more population centers, we could be operating as a more cohesive statewide community.

Albuquerque Public Schools should definitely do something about the lead in their sinks.

One area where New Mexico looks very promising is the film industry and we can hope that the state takes further advantage of of this.  With the new studio that Netflix is opening in Albuquerque, perhaps we can become the next Los Angeles in a few decades as an entertainment epicenter.

Albuquerque Passes Clean & Green Retail Ordinance on a 5-3 vote.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

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Inside the Vincent E. Griego Chambers prior to the start of the city council meeting.

The Albuquerque City Council met with a full house of spectators last night, forty-one of those people signed up to speak publicly in front of the Council on a specific item agenda.  Councilor Cynthia Borrego was absent from the meeting which brought the quorum down to 8 from the full 9-member council.  The spotlight was on the Clean & Green Ordinance, a local measure to “pressure businesses (Councilor Pat Davis)” into transitioning to more environmentally-friendly consumer containers.

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The Clean & Green Ordinance as listed on the council meeting agenda.

The ordinance was amended to a phased-in ban to take effect on 1/1/2020, rather than an immediate ban as a temporary reprieve for local businesses from the extra costs of transitioning away from cheap plastics.  In the meantime until January of 2020, plastic grocery bags and plastic straws will be available upon request of individual customers.  The ordinance was also amended to add a charge of ten cents onto customers asking for plastic bags as a way to encourage consumers to start transitioning to reusable containers.

Opposition to the ordinance came from the restaurant industry, specifically the New Mexico Restaurant Association, arguing that the current cost of transitioning from plastics would be to great on business owners and that consumer prices would inevitably increase as a consequence.  A counter-point to that argument was made by private citizens in favor of the ordinance, that the cost is already artificially low and that consumers should be paying more for the luxury of take-home containers.  A representative from the New Mexico Recycling Association also made an appearance to speak on behalf of the ordinance.

The proponents of the ordinance focused their arguments on the environmental impacts of plastic trash and claimed responsibility on governments to force the hand of businesses for the sake of the planet.  The counter-point to that argument focused on individual liberty and government over-reach, the responsibility of clean environments should be on individuals and businesses making better choices willingly rather than out of necessity.

The three Councilors who voted against the ordinance in the final vote were Councilors Brad Winter, Trudy Jones, and Don Harris.

City Councilor Draws Mid-sized Crowd at Weck’s on Louisiana Blvd. @ Montgomery

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Albuquerque City Councilor Diane Gibson organizes a regular event in her district to meet with city residents (posted on the city website).  The meet-up this morning was a very cordial one of a couple dozen or so concerned citizens albeit the majority of attendees were senior citizens.

I was not disappointed about who was in attendance but rather about who was not in attendance; only a handful of faces in the crowd looked younger than 40.  It baffles me that most individuals from my own generation have no interest in prospecting their local political processes.  Although cynicism is understandable, it is not excusable.  Regardless of the overwhelming burden of political activism on an individual, it is still necessary to at least attempt to understand the issues happening around you and make an effort to exert your influence (no matter how small it may be) on the people elected/appointed to represent you.  Governments do not stop operating simply because you choose to bury your head in the sand.  In fact, averting your eyes from government processes will only ease the temptation toward corruption on government officials, a temptation that pulls on every human in a position of power.

The group discussion began with the possibility of a land bank for the City of Albuquerque, basically a method for the city to identify vacant lots and run-down structures to acquire and flip for productivity.  There was a majority support for this idea as a main concern throughout the meet-up was blight and property values.  I asked Councilor Gibson about this so-called land bank being used to identify vacant lots and dilapidated structures to be transformed into new public parks, she said public parks could be a possibility but the main focus was on acquiring old and vacant homes to flip on the housing market.  I also asked Councilor Gibson about how the Council could improve the city buses, she replied that she would like to see a larger fleet of buses to reduce wait times at bus stops.  Councilor Gibson joked that she would probably be long dead before we saw more bridges constructed across the Rio Grande so a larger fleet of buses is the next best thing to reduce traffic on the roads; she said that she is a ardent supporter of public transit.  The meeting ended with a vibrant discussion on how the city can “go green” regarding his consumption and energy use, it seems to be an issue on a lot of residents’ minds which is hopeful for the future.

It’s Monday so be sure to set a new goal for the new week and try and be a better than person than you were last week.  We all have our “bad days” but, if we tackle life just a little bit at a time, we can get through anything.

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