The clock is tick-tick-ticking off its judgments. Tick – stupid. Tick – Hey, stupid. It’s new. I bought it for six bucks at the local five-and-dime. La Virgen de Guadalupe smiles serenely from its face, held aloft by angels.

Black Swan, White Swan... Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

Formal logic might be the blackest of magics (and it makes for the most excruciating of reads). Just try figuring out the Black Swan Problem. Read a ton of obnoxious articles by formal logicians – who I imagine wear capes and brood in towers while they go about their dark art of turning language into math – without pushing your thumbs into your eyeballs until they pop.

Donald Duck: High Priest of the Illuminati

Conspiracy theorists are dreadfully thorough, but I guess most of them missed this one: Donald in Mathmagic Land, the 1959 Disney featurette starring Donald Duck which teaches us about the Pythagorean cult, the pentagram, the Fibonacci Sequence, and the Golden Ratio.

Jack Kirby And Comic Book Mysticism

You may not recognize the name Jack Kirby, but if you’ve ever argued with your friends over who gets to be Cyclops when you were playing X-Men in your backyard, then you’ve been touched by his creations.

Eye of the Skeptic

Those “I’m always right” types absolutely need faith, or else those vicious doubts start creeping in. Not only will you find faith in the religious mind, calling God a fact, you’ll also find it lurking in the atheist, saying He isn’t. Come to think of it, anyone who uses the word “fact” so easily must be pretty faithful, at least when it comes to their own nonsense.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Mutter Boxx Episode 1- Ted Heistman: Fascism, Isis, and Karaoke

We join writer-artist Ted Heistman as he tells us about his adventure in the Appalachians, his theory on the reality (or unreality) of the ISIS threat, the Reichian view of fascism, and a whole lot more.

Get your tin-foil mortarboards on. It’s the inaugural episode!

on SittingNow
on iTunes 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mr. Mayor, Put Down Your Pen -Alibi

Originally published September 16, 2015 via alibi.com

On Sept. 21, the Albuquerque City Council will be voting on a city ordinance to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, similar to legislation enacted by the City of Santa Fe last year. The bad news is that a similar bill made it all the way to Mayor Richard Berry's desk last year, where he firmly vetoed it to smithereens.

Last November's general election ballot contained a question: should marijuana be decriminalized in New Mexico? 59.52% of voters in Bernalillo County were in support of decriminalization, making proponents optimistic. But the good mayor has already said that he'll veto again. I'm sure he's already stomping around his office, eyes rolling and teeth grinding as he waits to chew the thing up.

On a YouTube video posted last August, Berry explains that he vetoed the bill in part because it included, “decriminalizing the posession of an illegal drug in our city.” There was no mention of why that would be bad, exactly. No references to health risks or worries about youth addiction, or whatever. Just: it's illegal.

Let's consider that perhaps Mayor Berry hasn't been exposed to all of the facts concerning this controversial plant. Maybe his office doesn't have an internet connection.

See, when I first smoked pot, there was no Google. All I had to go on was the wisdom imparted on me by my parents, Ronald Reagan and a mustached D.A.R.E. officer in the sixth grade. When the effects of the pot wore off I was relieved to find that I hadn't murdered anyone, sold a baby for heroin or grown feathers.

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Deserts of Mars -Alibi

Originally published July 9, 2015 via alibi.com

There’s something sexy and dangerous about robed occultists performing rituals for old gods in the moonlit desert.

With the arrival of my digital invitation to this weekend’s public performance of the O.T.O.’s Rite of Mars comes a flood of mental images provided by Hollywood films I’ve seen growing up: hooded figures silhouetted by firelight—long shadows lying in the sand like serpents, disembodied voices droning incantations in dead languages.

Of course this is all fantasy. I’ve been to these sorts of things before, and what they don’t show you in Eyes Wide Shut is the scene after the ritual, when the cultists have to go home and throw their robes in the wash before taking the dog out to pee. Under the masks are usually people like the rest of us.

But I have to admit a touch of excitement as I drive to the home of Soror Luz, a representative of the local encampment of the Ordo Templi Orientis. The O.T.O. may be one of the most famous occult fraternal organizations of this century and the last, thanks largely to the influence of its one-time leader, Aleister Crowley—the infamous drug-fiend, sodomist and blasphemer. Crowley (which rhymes with “holy” and not “bowely,” as Ozzy would have you believe) was also one of the greatest minds to come out of the 20th century. His influence blasted through popular culture, leaving the ’60s in its wake (Timothy Leary really did claim to be the reincarnated Crowley, and you can find the old sod’s head poking out between Sri Yukteswar and Mae West on Sgt. Pepper. As for the myth that he fed Aldous Huxley his first mouthful of peyote ... the results are still out).

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Beauty, Terror, and the Mysteries of Flamenco -Alibi

Originally published June 4, 2015 via alibi.com

Flamenco is life or death, and the best artists give the impression that they could drop lifeless at the end of a performance with no regrets. It calls to those who are willing to reach deep inside, push through the layers and yank out the squirming bloody core of what it is to be human.

There's also music. And dancing.

Albuquerque is quickly becoming the flamenco capital of the US, and every June the National Institute of Flamenco hosts the Festival Flamenco Internacional—the largest of its kind in the country, with an entire week's worth of performances from some of the biggest names in the genre.

Much of the credit for our city's status as a talent magnet can be given to the National Institute of Flamenco's dance program at UNM.

“In a university you can expose large numbers of people to an art form,” says Professor Eva Encinias-Sandoval, founder of NIF. “There are hundreds of people going in and out of those classes every year. There are people that I taught 30 years ago that now bring their children and grandchildren to study.”

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Quilt Outlaws -Alibi

Originally published May 21, 2015 via alibi.com

“Do you like quilts?” asks Linda Hamlin.

“Well,” I say, “there's comforter men, and there's quilt men. And I am definitely a quilt man.”

Hamlin is a member of the Albuquerque Modern Quilt Guild. She and one of the guild's co-founders, Lois Warwick, have met me at Hip Stitch (7001 San Antonio NE), Albuquerque's first “sewing lounge” and home to the guild. They're hosting a collection of 20 quilts selected at this year's QuiltCon in Austin to be displayed at the 10th biennial Fiber Arts Fiesta this week. The Fiesta will be the first stop on the collection's worldwide Modern Quilts tour.

Spread out before us is “For Tanya,” an improvisational piece by Emily and Miriam Coffey. Unlike traditional quilts—where a strict pattern is designed and adhered to—improvisational pieces start with a patch of fabric and build from there, allowing the pattern to grow organically.

This piece is made up of countless little blue and orange rectangular scraps—some no larger than your fingernail—coming together to create the impression of a sunset reflecting off an ocean. “It's a tribute to a friend of theirs who lost her life to cancer. This was one of her favorite things: sunsets over the ocean,” Hamlin tells me. I heroically withstand the urge to wrap myself up in it and take a nap. It looks very warm.

The subject of traditional quilting versus art quilting brings me back to a conversation I had yesterday with Judith Roderick, featured artist at the Fiber Fiesta, whose silk-painted quilts will be a part of a 40-year retrospective exhibit.

“Most people are relating to the quilts that people make to put on beds—that their grandmothers made—and that is still a valid form of quilt-making. But more and more, art quilts are becoming just as valid.” The implication is that there are quilters out there who don't think it's so valid.
To find these Quiltsnob Traditionalists—bristling with menace and clutching their wicked, titanium-coated topstitch needles while grinding their teeth and hemorrhaging from their eyes—just Google “dumbing down of quilting.”

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Quirky Doesn't Begin to Cover It -Alibi

Originally published May 6, 2015 via alibi.com

From NM-536, the Tinkertown Museum (121 Sandia Crest Rd., Sandia Park) is barely visible behind a row of trees, looking like something you'd find in an elaborate fish tank. Flashes of light reflect off the blue and green glass of a bottle wall, creating impromptu fireworks that leak between the leaves.
It took the late Ross Ward, local painter/sculptor/you-name-it, over 40 years to build Tinkertown. The museum is often described in tourist maps and vacation guides with words like “whimsical” or “quirky”—words I try never to use—leading me to expect a bland afternoon of “family fun.” But when I push open the swinging saloon doors at the entrance, leaving the feverish sun to enter a cool and dim corridor, my breath catches in my throat.

The entire right side of the hall is a miniature Western town peopled by antique toys and hand-carved figurines. Stores and bars and markets come to life as tiny inhabitants act out a variety of scenes. Every inch of the town seems to sizzle with action.

Pushing one of the buttons found at intervals along the length of the town causes a scene to animate. An angry restaurateur clutching a meat cleaver chases a chicken in circles. Drunkards at the saloon raise their mugs.

This is not the dusty kitsch nightmare designed to bilk passing travelers that I've been expecting. It's an honest-to-God work of art. In fact, Tinkertown proper is only one room of 22 in the museum. Visitors still have to make their way past a miniature three-ring circus, Otto the one-man band and a 35-foot sailboat permanently docked in the side of a mountain.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Native Current -Alibi

Originally published April 23, 2015 via alibi.com

Art is the symbolic language of a culture. Like all languages, it must grow and mature. It must trade and assimilate. Stagnation equals death, and a dead language communicates nothing.

Warren Montoya says Native art never stopped speaking.

Montoya is the founding artist and owner of Rezonate Art, a company based in Albuquerque that promotes and sells the work of Native artists. He’s preparing for the upcoming Creative Frequencies show, a collaboration between Rezonate Art and Beyond Buckskin showcasing contemporary Native art, fashion and music.

“There's countless representatives for traditional Native arts,” Montoya tells me. “There's silver and turquoise shops online and everywhere in the Southwest. But there's not really a lot dedicated to representing contemporary Native arts.”

“Natives are sometimes a myth,” points out Eric Manolito, Rezonate Art's project manager. “We don't really exist beyond the Southwest as an everyday experience. We're mascots, or we're cartoons, or we're just 'made-in-China' turquoise and silver. This event is great because it presents the art as living art.”

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Warrior in the Dancer -Alibi

Originally published April 9, 2015 via alibi.com

Standing in the corner of the space where the Yjastros dance company is rehearsing, beads of sweat begin to dot my hairline. By my calculations, the thermostat must be somewhere in the 180s, but Joaquin Encinias looks as cool as a cucumber. He is a cannonball of contained energy, silently watching the dancers work through their number for a moment, then suddenly shooting to his feet and clapping his hands. “Yes!”

Encinias is Yjastros' art director and one of the choreographers for their upcoming performance, XXIXth Season. Yjastros is the only dedicated touring flamenco repertory company in America. It boasts some of the greatest talents in the country and has become inextricably linked with Albuquerque's emergence as a flamenco capital. Encinias is a world-class flamenco dancer, and though I am at least a head taller than him, I get the feeling he could take me down without blinking and then dance on my head with graceful ease.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Surviving Social Justice -Sitting Now

Originally published February 13, 2015 via sittingnow.co.uk

The amygdala itches. Catecholamines dump into the brain. Heart rate increases. Hyperventilation occurs. Digestion stops. Pupils dilate. Eyes focus on the target. Muscles tense and the body trembles. Epinephrine dances with norepinephrine.

It gets you higher than heroin. It’s cheaper than speed. More abundant than aspirin. The“fight or flight reaction.”

Anger feels so damn good. But you can’t say that out loud. No one likes a Pissy Pete, after all.
The Anger Junkie examines his surroundings, looking for any source of stress. With a shrill and victorious growl, he pounces upon his prey and vomits bile onto its torso, the digestive process beginning before he even takes his first bite. His mouth dribbles corrosive spittle as he gobbles up his victim feet-first. His prey screams. He humps the dusty earth, giving himself over to the hate. But the high only lasts about twenty minutes before the maddening itch begins anew. He will drop his plaything, broken and already forgotten in the dirt, scanning the horizon once more.
You’ve known some of these people. They yell and rage about the traffic on the beltway so much that when the spittle starts flying and the veins start pumping, you just roll your eyes with irritation and try your best to be invisible while blocking them out.

They are the boy who cried, “Bullshit! I hate everything!”

And yes, that angry jerk at the office can really drop a crap in your Cheerios and ruin your whole day with his bad attitude, but he is only a minor annoyance, easily deflected. He can rant and sputter about traffic all he likes, but when he leaves the room everyone else gets to sigh and talk smack about him. Someone says, “Christ on a crutch, who took a crap in his Cheerios?” and the tension is broken with community disapproval.

But what if the Office Jerk figured out how to get his anger fix in a way that was not only justified, but praised? Getting pissed at traffic every day might make his peers call him a jerk, but getting pissed at a racist cop for beating a young black kid will make them call him a hero.