Albuquerque was born on the banks of the Rio Grande and grew up climbing the Sandia Mountains. Now in November it’s cool and sunny down by the river where I live (elevation 4900 feet or so) and cold and sunny up here in the beginning of the foothills where son Steven and family live (over 6000 feet high). So why aren’t we called the Mile High City? Because we are the Duke City, after the Duke of Alburquerque (spelling intentional) from Spain or Portugal. I think.
Steven is spending the weekend in Portland, Oregon where Michele sometimes works so I’m hanging out with Sara the Cheerleader here at home…her home last night, then my home tonight, then her home before Monday morning school. We’ll journey back and forth through the climates of Albuquerque—from my Tingley Beach ducks to bear-spotting up here in the wilds of the Heights as this part of town with its mostly Anglo population, a bigger middle-class and more Republicans is called.
I am not so fond of the Heights. It lacks character; no flavor of a New Mexico almost equally divided between its Anglo and Hispanic citizenry, or the strong presence of the original Native American New Mexicans. Even the small but active African American population doesn’t seem present up here. It is, as I said, very white, very middle-class, very conservative. I’m happy to say my kids are among the Democratic minority up here. Still they like it and my granddaughters have had the benefit of some of the better public schools in Albuquerque—and better cheerleading squads!
I prefer the Valley. My granddaughter asks, “Why do you live in the ghetto, grandma?” Really, dear? Property values in my ‘ghetto’ are higher than most of the uptown blocks. But our downtown scruffiness is more obvious. And charming in its own way. We are seriously multi-cultural downtown/Old Town…more rich people (out along the Rio Grande a little farther), more poor people, more Latinos, Native Americans, gays, Democrats, artists, homeless people, more…us.
Watching ABC Family and “Holes.” It’s what one does with the granddaughter that’s still a mid-teen and lounging about between cheering for the game last night and going to practice this afternoon. Besides I quite like “Holes.” She was going to watch “Gray’s Anatomy” but fortunately could not get Netflix to work this morning. I’m not sure I could handle that…watched for a season years ago but it did not grow on me like “Orange is the New Black” for example.
Now it’s evening. We’ve had a fine Whole Foods dinner. Pasta, a roasted happy chicken, Cranberry baguette and oatmeal raisin cookies. And back to TV. “The Hunger Games,” which I’ve missed until now. I do like Jennifer Lawrence finally but am not at all enamored of the film. Didn’t think I would be but with so much attention there was always the possibility. So that’s today.
I live downtown and yet almost never go the eight blocks to its very heart. An odd and …is eccentric the right word…little downtown it is. I worked there for many years managing the KiMo Theatre, a restored art deco movie house that, for awhile, was quite a thriving performing arts theater. It was never dull downtown even though the transition from being frequented by winos to horny young men and women in search of booze and each other had not yet transpired. Then, for food and entertainment there was only Lindy’s, a sort of great old-fashioned coffee shop on the corner across from the KiMo. Now there’s a multiplex with lattes and mineral water and a good Brazilian restaurant next door. Also many bars and pizza joints. The plan to make downtown a hub of arts and culture did not work out although 516 ARTS, a classy little contemporary arts gallery, does well and the KiMo seems to be okay sticking to a steady diet of classical movies. But I like it down there in a way because it hasn’t been renovated to that super cute stage. Between 1st and 8th along Central feels kind of like any one of a thousand small towns across the country that’s tarted up Main Street just enough to have an espresso bar and at least one restaurant that serves salads with field greens and cranberries. Albuquerque is a small city and not a small town, but I think it’s okay to have a vaguely old-west main street. After all we have malls and Uptown and Starbucks all over the place so our basic needs are pretty much covered and we can a afford a little funky ambiance here at the center.