Unreal estate

Apologies to Chuck Jones. No bull.

Apologies to Chuck Jones. No bull.

Oh, the Universe is a funny old place.

Once upon a time I hardly thought of Albuquerque at all, other than as a place to drive through en route to somewhere else. Then, sometime in the past few years, Duke City became an occasional cycling getaway; closer than Fountain Hills, cheaper than Santa Fe.

And now the sonofabitch is in my thoughts more or less constantly, like one of those work-related cocktail parties your spouse drags you to without having the common human decency to slip you a mickey first.

“You’ll have a wonderful time.”

“No, I won’t.”

“Well, that’s too bad, because you’re going and you might as well try to enjoy yourself.”

Herself has been in residence in Albuquerque since Friday, the thin edge of our family wedge, house-hunting with a vengeance and filing detailed, illustrated reports with Your Humble Narrator. As a consequence I have peeked in more strangers’ windows this weekend than a CIA drone, but the only thing I’ve learned is that some people should not be allowed in a Lowe’s with an idea and a credit card.

No, that’s not true. I also know that the rozzes are apparently shooting everyone except the bratchnies tolchocking homeless vecks to death, and that if it keeps raining Albuquerque is in line to be home port for the New Mexican Navy (no jokes about adobe submarines, por favor).

So I’ve instructed Herself to focus on properties above the high water line, and I’m shopping for razor wire, machine guns and a Nadsat-English phrasebook.

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37 Responses to “Unreal estate”

  1. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Just don’t go outside with a M1 rifle and tell the cops to get off your lawn.
    Any sweet 3 car garages show up? You know, the ones that are insulated, heated, cooled, and have room for the beer fridge, bike repair stand, and a couple of morris chairs.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    Had not seen that Times essay. I suspect property values are down ten percent.

    • John in GJ Says:

      Hey Khal! Been meaning to give you credit where credit is due. I noticed your comments on NPR’s website on that wretched piece (and I do mean “piece”) they did about the LA bike trains. I’d like to think you set some people straight.

      I still can’t believe the NPR reporter let some asshole boast about harassing and assaulting cyclists without bothering to mention that what this guy was bragging about was not only dangerous but, you know, ILLEGAL.

  3. Russ Says:

    Just learn to say “ya’a ta hay” and you’ll be ok.

  4. John in GJ Says:

    Whoa, and I thought Dysfunction Junction was bad! Here the cops have been known to raid homeless camps brandishing knives to slashing tents and bicycle tires, but murder of homeless by cop has been most unusual. In fact, I can think of only one possible case and that was ruled a suicide. (Shot in the head…while in the back of a police car…while handcuffed. That one didn’t even pass the “giggle test”).

    If you’re like me, you subscribe to the Big Lebowski school of fashion sense, which means that you could be mistaken for homeless. And don’t forget the difference between being homeless and being a bicycle tourist: one of them thinks it’s “fun”.

  5. md anderson Says:

    Quite frankly I wouldn’t trust anything the NYT says about anything west of the Hudson River. We are all so quaint don’tcha know.

    There are multiple issues going on with law enforcement everywhere; the increased militarization of local cops thanks to FREE MONEY (tm Charles Pierce) from Homeland Security; a huge dearth of mental health facilities/treatment/monies; and a populace increasingly likely to be packing heat, paranoid and just waiting to escalate the least little dispute into a bullet flying conflict.

    You’ll like Albuquerque, there really are many worst places to live.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      There you have it from a “resident expert.” The only thing that stopped us from moving there was the winter weather and size. We have become small town desert rats it seems. Real winter wimps we are!

      • md anderson Says:

        Haha, can’t claim to be an “expert” on Albuquerque, but have friends that live or have lived there and like it. Several lived in the Nob Hill area. One lives on the west side in Corrales, which was nice older community by the river, until it got surrounded by Intel. It still hangs on but now has to deal with malls, big box stores and crazy traffic on it’s edges.

        We have “real winter” here about 15 miles north of Santa Fe. But it’s a local banana belt compared with Los Alamos and the City Different.

        And I am familiar with your neck of the woods, and have been snowed on riding up Sonoita Pass in March.

    • Steve O Says:

      // There are multiple issues going on with law enforcement everywhere; the increased militarization of local cops thanks to FREE MONEY (tm Charles Pierce) from Homeland Security //

      Not sure militarization is the right word. The one thing the military never figured out is how to make money off their work*. And around these parts, the number one job of the police isn’t public safety but revenue generation.

      Although, I’ve never understood the math behind paying a trooper $65k to sit behind the wheel of a $45k land yacht with $12k in computer/commo gear, writing $100 tickets.

      Hey … now that I think about it … Militarization is exactly the right word! That’s Army math if I’ve ever seen it.

      * just to be clear, other people, namely contractors and whatnot, making money off of our work is s time honored tradition.

      • md anderson Says:

        Militarization in terms of the hardware and training that alot of local police forces get. Have you seen some of the armored vehicles they have these days? heck, I saw that the Ohio State Univ police even had some sort of heavily armored assault style vehicle

      • khal spencer Says:

        I read where the Santa Fe PD has one of those freaking mine-resistant half-tracks. Its outa control. Its Santa Fe, guys, not Fallujah.

  6. Bill Says:

    My first morning in an apartment near the UNM campus I was awakened to the sound of someone beating a dumpster with a baseball bat. I shouted down the garbage man and he said something like the homeless had taken to sleeping in the dumpsters and one was killed nearby a week or so ago–he wanted to rouse them so it didn’t happen again. That was in ’89–sounds like the homeless are now an intentional target of abuse. Sick.

  7. Larry T. Says:

    Geez, thought Tucson was awful but Albuquerque is worse? Watching Breaking Bad, me and the wife would say “Gawd, that’s not a place I’d ever want to live.”
    On the other hand I survived growing up in Los Angeles as well as staying alive there for a couple of years back in the mid-90’s, though my car was stolen from in front of our shack and one time I called the cops about a guy with a gun in the back alley – the operator asked me to describe the guy, then responded “he’s one of ours…stay inside your house until he’s gone”.
    Life is a series of trade offs…I just hope this one doesn’t mean you’ll be trading your life for herself’s new gig.

    • md anderson Says:

      I would choose Albuquerque over Tucson any day. Breaking Bad is TV.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Breaking Bad is TV. My cousin Lori Bonati lives in Tucson. Loves it, but she only avoided the Gabby Giffords massacre because she couldn’t get to the “meet and greet” that day. Cheap plug for Lori and Chuck: they are musicians. I can barely play the radio.


      • Larry T. Says:

        OK, Albuquerque is horrible, but better than Tucson? But I think the scenery in “Breaking Bad” was real …or was it shot in Tucson? Don’t wanna live in either place!

      • khal spencer Says:

        Don’t know, Larry. Would you rather be shot in Albuquerque or Tucson?

      • md anderson Says:

        Well see now Larry, I think the desert scenery is beautiful. Each to their own I guess.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Well MD, we sure agree on the desert scenery. If you were riding near Sonoita today, you would think you were in Kansas. Green and lush as far as you can see. But, I too have been caught out in the rare flurries in March and April.

        Pay no mind to Larry. Italia has stolen his heart. It is good to be in love, right Larry?

      • Larry T. Says:

        It’s NOT really the natural scenery…I like Sicily for example. It’s that American West awfulness, the ghastly 2 by 4 and chicken wire shacks and endless stream of chain store sterility. Not that it’s unique to this region, but as a place to CHOOSE to live, places like that are far from ideal for me… even without dodging the flying bullets.
        Los Angeles is not much different for example – the final two years there for us were solely for the purpose of enough employment for me that the wife could work full-time on her PhD dissertation. As soon as that was done, we were outta there!

  8. khal spencer Says:

    Radley Balco has written extensively on the militarization of police, overuse of SWAT teams, etc. Google him or go over to Amazon. As MD says, a lot of this is due to free DHS money. Some is due to the overemphasis of violence in police training, as recently reported on in the Santa Fe New Mexican. The drug money and guns don’t help, but neither do drugs and guns explain many of the recent high profile killings such as that of James Boyd.

    We thought seriously about moving to Albuquerque so I could be close to UNM Dept. of Geosciences after I hang up my WMD for the last time here at Le Bombe Factorie. The overpowering heat does put me off, and I do mean that as a pun. As do the bad drivers and huge roads. I’m spoiled up in BombTown, plus, I am enjoying the fruits of my labor, since I pretty much wrote the bike plan up here and have seen large parts of it implemented. Frankly, that has given me more joy than my day job.

    Our friend Ellen lived over by Sandia NL for several years, off of Katherine Street, and is now lives off of Constitution near UNM. She has lived a peaceful existence in spite of the headlines, and when we visit her, which is often, I see very little of the trench warfare I read about. Its a big city and I suspect you have to be in the right place at the wrong time, or somewhere along Zuni any time of day. The only time I ever thought I might have to hurt someone (prior to this last weekend’s interaction with the meth queen) was when a clearly disturbed individual went bonkers on me when I slowed to let him cross Zuni as a pedestrian. Of course this being Albuquerque, he may have thought I was waiting for him to get in front of the car so I could floor it.

    Any big city has its problems and Albuquerque has its share. Avoid the bad karma, and it will likely avoid you. I’m tickled to see Patrick and Herself down in this neck of the woods, and will have to buy them beer and lunch whenever Patrick can get down this way.

    • John in GJ Says:

      “We thought seriously about moving to Albuquerque so I could be close to UNM Dept. of Geosciences…”

      Don’t tell me you’re buds with Karlstrom! I was a 4.0 undergrad shopping for a grad school, and I really wanted to study what he was researching, but that jerk wouldn’t give me the time of day. My emails and phone calls were completely ignored. I think my adviser must have pissed him off some years earlier and that was all it took. I hate academia.

      • khal spencer Says:

        I know some of the folks in the Institute for Meteroritics including Jim Papike (although I think he is now pretty much retired) and Chip Shearer. Thought I might be able to do some part time work without costing them a fortune and keeping my brain engaged, at least what is left of it. Don’t know Karlstrom.

  9. sharon Says:

    Khal – do you happen to have a copy of the bike plan, along with any notes or explanations in MS Word or PDF? I am serving on our city’s road committee and I want to ease into asking to formulate a plan. We are getting just big enough that long-range planning is really starting in a big way and I want to be sure peds and cyclists are being considered in a thoughtful and intentional way. The city already does a pretty decent job, they just don’t have a legitimate plan.

  10. Jon Paulos Says:

    Well, Patrick and you others,

    Speaking as the guy who triggered this string by posting the link to the NYT story, I will say that you do need to take it with a grain of salt. I live in York PA, and routinely encounter similar attitudes. The downtown area was cored out by white flight starting in the 60’s, and we now have completely balkanized government and schools. The city school district is a basket case, with over 90% of the students on free and reduced lunch. All the crime stories are about shootings in the city, and so on. I talk with friends about meeting downtown at the Central Market, and their attitude is that it is some daring adventure.

    Yet. I commute straight through the area on my bike, and I take the back streets to avoid the lights (the city can’t afford anyone to program them properly), so I see the dark underbelly. And it just isn’t that dark. At 6:00am the streets are quiet and I see a good number on the way to work. Maybe not in a Beemer, but chasing their American Dream. At 6:00pm, a lot are out and socializing with their neighbors, more so than in my neighborhood. I have yet to have a run-in with a car driver in the city, while the outskirts are another matter. No one gives a pudgy old guy on a tank of a bike a second look.

    So move to Albuquerque, Patrick, get to know the people instead of the labels, and you’ll be fine.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      Yep, good advice. I had a similar experience many years ago on the West side of Chicago.

    • Larry T. Says:

      Well written. Our friends from Rome, while visiting us in Sicily cautioned us about going to certain areas of the island we called home. Streets (if you could call them that) I’d walked down a zillion times scared the crap out of them. They even told us they’d seen a “Mob Hit” outside their hotel. My mother moved from SoCal to escape the crime – but the only crimes she escaped from were those shown on her local TV news broadcast.
      Your last line says it all – and P’OG, if herself is moving to Albuquerque and willing to let you come too……you should do as I did when my wife took the college job here in Sioux City – consider yourself LUCKY she’s letting you come along!

  11. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    ‘Preciate the input from everyone. I’ve lived in some sketchy places before.

    13th and Clayton in Denver was slightly hairy in the Eighties. Crackheads for neighbors and a gang wandering around attacking senior citizens with golf clubs (we called them the Congress Park Country Club). But it was a very walkable/bikeable ‘hood with a ton of good bars and restaurants.

    Española (actually La Puebla) was interesting. Everyone thought I was insane for living there when I first worked for The New Mexican in Santa Fe, but I found the cycling excellent and the people friendly, though my high-school Spanish coupled with Seventies-vintage San Luis Valley Spanglish didn’t cut the mustard. Plus the combo plate at El Paragua was something like three miles away.

    When I hooked up with Herself we took up digs in SF on Romero Street, across from The Ark bookstore, and were lulled to sleep most nights by the soothing melodies of burglar alarms. The area has since been overwhelmed by The Railyard, but The Ark is still there, and so is our former fauxdobe hacienda.

    Tucson was OK in 1980, when I worked for The Arizona Daily Star. I was way out north on Orange Grove Road but spent a lot of my free time down on Fourth Avenue in general and at The Shanty in particular. Lots of weirdos, which is to say my kind of people. It’s where I learned never to drink with Australians.

    And of course in Alamosa, Greeley and Cherry Creek, my friends and I turned wherever we happened to be hanging out at any given moment into a sketchy neighborhood. I’m still surprised four decades later that none of us wound up dead or in prison.

    Almost forgot: The scenic Patty Jewett Yacht & Cricket Club Neighborhood, where I’m sitting right now, is the only place I’ve ever seen the bomb squad and the SWAT team at work up close and personal, just a few short meters from Chez Dog. When I wasn’t being a police reporter, that is.

  12. Pat O'Brien Says:

    They just had a timely piece on this topic on Hear and Now.


  13. Kevin G Says:

    Patrick, I’ve lived in New Mexico twice. Firstly, down in Almogordo and the second time in ABQ. I spent two years up in the Heights, and 4 years living in Nob Hill as someone else mentioned. Indeed, there are some areas that are shit, worse actually. But ABQ has some great areas too, its one of the best places to bike I’ve ever lived (not counting Italy) and the arts & Music scene is pretty damn good. We saw more live music in the six years in ABQ than the rest of my 49 years combined. And the food, well I left in 08 and still have my friends overnight me tamale’s from El Modelo’s.
    If you haven’t already, check nmcycling.org they have a great “rides” page.
    http://nmcycling.org/?action=RidePage&id=3, the Sandia Crest gig is a favorite.


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