WRITING:

Great ideas,

beautifully stated

No matter what the topic--art, culture, food, animals, travel, or column writing--certain elements remain consistent in my style: a lively start, seamless transitions, some element of surprise, and solidly researched information.

Feature writing

The Place of Taos Pueblo

A nation behind--and beyond--walls

Imagine growing up under the curious gaze of strangers who circle your village and peep into doorways all day long, taking pictures. Eventually you learn that this happens because your people are unique on this earth--not only for their fields of yellow flowers, river teeming with fish and frogs, and secret trails on the silent blue mountain, but also for something more complicated and abstract that you will have to deal with the rest of your life, a twisted history of admiration and expoitation.

Vanishing Point

Art blooms where earth meets sky--in Roswell, New Mexico

It is the drive that first informs you where you are. Pass through the dilapidated outpost of Vaughn, New Mexico, and you descend slowly across a hundred miles of nothing but grassland and sky, which renders your speeding vehicle motionless. Wherever they come from, the generations of artists who have made this journey to the city of Roswell in far southeastern New Mexico probably did not expect this of their year in residence at the top of the competitive heap.

Emotional Mascots

From Topsy the elephant to Cecil the lion, certain animals emerge to personify our hidden anxieties

We learn at a young age that animals are not created equal. The dog is a member of the family. Cows and pigs are food. Snakes are nightmares, and squirrels are road kill. Uniquely magical are those big exotic animals seen only at the zoo, whose likeness is everywhere--in cartoons, commercials, toys, and starring in every fable and myth....

A Little Light Reading

In a state known for its woo-woo factor, Keiko Ohnuma offers a sincere but not-too-serious guide to finding the right New Mexico psychic

     "Where am I going?"

     "Did I make a wrong turn?"

     Big landscapes call forth big questions, and sometimes we thirst after clearer directions than our well-worn spiritual road maps can provide. When the road to happiness forks, we need the equivalent of GPS--personalized, on-board navigation--to find our way.

Gearing Up

Building the better Burque bike experience

When Vincent Distasio started riding his Peugeot bike around Albuquerque in 1979, he made such a strange, unwecome sight that motorists would throw beer bottles at him. "The only ones riding then were these 'racers,'" recalls the jack-of-all-trades, now 76. Drivers were so hostile, he packed his .38 and actually lurked on a side street once to see if a particularly aggressive pursuer would like to come get shot.

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Columns

 

When a woman needs to unwind, there's only one way to go

     Ladies, it's your night off. The man is out of town, the kids are at your mother's, and you've got a whole delicious evening to do something just for you, to pamper yourself.

     Quick — what are you going to do?

     I know: The "pamper" gave it away. You are going to take a bath.

Reality dictates that nearly everyone is addicted to something

     Hi, my name is Keiko. I am a woman who loves too much.

     I love deep-fried foods. I love beer. I love to buy things, especially things I don't need. Whatever it is, if it feels good, I love it.

The Dogs in France

One of the hardest realities of traveling abroad is seeing how animals are treated in some countries--and not only the poor ones. So it was with happy wonder that I had a completely different view of things on a trip last month to France.

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Food and cooking

Natto! Or not

A surprising cross-section of isle residents enjoy the smelly, fermented bean dish

     To say that natto gets no respect may be an understatement as gross as the dish itself. Gaijin (foreigners) are so predictably repulsed by the Japanese fermented soybeans that they are called upon to declare a preference soon after landing at Narita International.

     "Do you like natto?" comes the textbook query -- followed by giggles of delight as foreigners break out in a sweat at the memory of their first encounter.

Any time's right for pesto

Say bye-bye to the basil blues with a new twist on pesto dishes

There was a time in the mid-1990s when you could not escape the overpowering aroma of pesto wafting out of every office microwave. Some of us got so slap-happy with the basil and blender that we can barely stifle an eye-roll now when the stuff reappears in a panini or stuffed chicken breast. That is so last century!

New American, Old School

Mark Kiffin expounds on contemporary cuisine

Chef Mark Kiffin earned his stars at Coyote Cafe in the 1990s, at a time when sweating over a hot stove was just beginning to garner celebrity status among the coastal cognoscenti.He sweated alongside the best of them for decades, he says, so don't talk to him about farm-to-table, or fusion, for that matter.

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Art writing

Grand Illusions

Scott Greene casts a wry romantic eye on the contradictions roiling through the American landscape

You could be excused for taking Scott Greene's work as yet another example of postmodern pastiche. For here are the grandiose subjects and style of Romanticism--storm-tossed clipper ships, breathtaking canyons, pastoryl idylls with grazing sheep--disrupted by the detritus of our post-industrial age, from gas masks to cellphone towers to plastic garden lattice. It might, at first read, be a clever mash-up of our self-imposed exile from an Edenic past. Yet there is more going on here than paradise lost...

Metal as Metaphor

Paula Castillo digs deep into material history, giving shape to our human predicaments

What if we raised our children not to surrender so easily to the laws of physics? Freed them, that is, to dream like the builders of pyramids, Stonehenge Easter Island, and Machu Picchu, where the only thing standing in the way of a vision was a series of engineering problems? That's the kind of environment that might account for the paradox of a sculptor like Paula Castillo: small woman, big ideas, and heavy metal objects that seem as permeable as air.

Beyond cute

Yoshitomo Nara's work teeters between adorable and creepy

We're all familiar with the giggling, overwrought type of the Japanese fan, whose single-minded obsession attaches to a megastar such as Michael Jackson or creates one through mass devotion. But Yoshitomo Nara -- who enjoys a legion of secret admirers even in Honolulu -- is no rock star or movie idol. He's an artist -- and a reclusive, unassuming one at that.

Free expression

Being selected to show in Hawaii's most prominent juried art exhibition may mean less -- or more -- than appears

Imagine that you are invited to be the juror for Hawaii's biggest, longest-running all-media art exhibition of the year, open to all. One day, you get some 1,000 slides of artwork at your door -- 10 to 11 carousels worth of the good, the bad and the ugly. Three hours later it all looks the same -- abstract paintings, clay pots, wire mobiles, junk assemblages, silver gelatin prints, tray after tray after tray of them. How do you decide what to keep?

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Travel writing

Let's Go Jump in a Lake

It's hot and dry. Also known as July--high time for a little immersion therapy

Water may not be exactly what you came to the desert to find--especially large bodies of it. But that doesn't mean you wouldn't stand on the brakes if such a mirage appeared in the blinding light of midsummer. Happily for travelers and residents alike, clean, clear, refrehingly large lakes can be found in every quadrant of our state. Lakes may, in fact, be New Mexico's best-kept secret.

Top Weekend Getaways

This summer, New Mexico Magazine brings you the best weekend road trips around the state--no matter what you're looking for.

We've all seen enough three-hanky movies to know that romance begins and ends with the right setting--sublime enough to inspire sighs, but not so jaw-dropping that your own assets get overlooked.

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