For the real Albuquerque diner experience

May 18, 2007 17:27 UTC

               Diner1.jpg                    If youre looking for a Route 66 experience that looks the part, then this Route 66 Diner (left) in Albuquerque on the highway itself could hardly fit the bill more closely:

Its not the first diner weve seen on this trip that evokes Route 66 and it most certainly wont be the last before we reach Chicago.

But while its clean, locals say its just for tourists. 

If you want the real Albuquerque experience, they say, the Frontier Restaurant, a little further east and opposite the University of New Mexico, is it, faded yellow roof and all.


Apparently the Albuquerqueans (as so they are called, apparently) who leave town for a long period of time and then return home always make this one of their first ports of call for a genuine taste of Albuquerque. It’s a taste of home, they say.

Pit stop to meet Roswell Alien Amber Ale maker

May 18, 2007 17:18 UTC

Rich Wbeer1.jpgeber is midway through fixing up a large batch of beer for a Benedictine monastery in Pecos, New Mexico, just north of Santa Fe.

This mildly hoppy Belgian-style ale is not for the monks to drink, mind you, but to sell under their own label: Monks Ale (made with care and prayer).

The recipe comes from the monks themselves and is just one of a number of beers that Rich Weber produces all within a few minutes walk of old Route 66 – most of them under the label of the Sierra Blanca Brewing Company he runs.

Afternoon with Albuquerque’s ‘gang suppression unit’

May 18, 2007 16:59 UTC

gang.jpgSergeant Larry Bitsoih (left) says gangs have been active in Albuquerque since at least the 1930s and are likely to be around for a long time to come.

Gangs have always been around, they are a cultural issue in America, said the head of a new gang suppression unit set up by the city last week as part of a public campaign by Mayor Martin Chávez to combat gang violence.

Although we only just started the new unit, its already beginning to make a difference in what we do, added Bitsoih added. We can never get rid of gangs altogether, but we can make it more difficult for them to operate here. Larry Bitsoih on the gang violence cycle here

Is Clines still worth waiting and stopping for?

May 18, 2007 15:35 UTC

Clines6.jpgFor decades, that was the big promise: Clines Corners a restaurant, gas station and gift shop located at a remote crossroad in central New Mexico — was the ideal place for travelers on old Route 66 to pull off and rest.

On orange and red billboards that start popping up at the Texas state line in the east and the Arizona state line in the west, and that reappear with an almost manic urgency as drivers get closer, Clines warns weary travelers:  

Dont be a sucker. Dont fall for the false allure and instant gratification of the places like Grants, Albuquerque, Tijeras and Moriarty that youll pass before you get here. Clines Corners is something special — something you might even tell the folks back home about. Clines_web.jpg

It’s Cannes, Jim, but not as we know it

May 18, 2007 15:10 UTC

You think showbiz is glamorous? If so, then it doesnt get any more glam than the Cannes film festival on the French Riviera, right? Well, that all depends on who youre with and what youre doing.
While Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney stroll up the red carpet outside Cannes Palais for glitzy premiCannes film market eres, underneath them in the basement bunker is the Marche du Film.
Forget the Warner Bros. and films like “Ocean’s Thirteen,” this is the real movie market takes place, where the down-and-dirty buying and selling goes on, and where businessmen and women will spend and make hundreds of millions of dollars before the festival ends next week.
Hundreds of companies such as Maxim Media, IndustryWorks and Phranakorn Film hawk rights for television, DVD and other products for movies with titles such as Autopsy: A Love Story, Mans Job, Hanuman: The White Monkey Warrior and documentary Bakushi which tells of The Incredible Lives of Rope-Masters.
Asked what a Rope-Master is, a representative for Tokyo-based Gold View Co Ltd., replied: about men who tie up women. Enough said. And ever wondered what happened to Oscar winner Faye Dunaway? You can catch her in Fashion The Movie. Ah, Faye, its been a long time since Bonnie and Clyde.

Rock’n'roll at 8 in the morning?

May 18, 2007 09:55 UTC

I don’t want sleep deprivation to become a blog obsession during Cannes, but having sat through a screening of “U2 3D” starting at 8 a.m., I feel a mild rant coming on. I mean, a 3D film of the band’s high-octane perfCannes51.jpgormances on their “Vertigo” tour in South America is all about rock’n'roll. But it’s hard to get pumped up for Bono’s balladeering at such an ungodly hour, particularly when wearing outsized dark glasses over my regular glasses (it’s too early for contacts) and feeling like I am at the optician’s.

That said, the 55-minute preview of a longer version did succeed in recreating some of the atmosphere of a sellout rock concert, with cameras swooping above an 80,000 crowd and Bono reaching toward the camera and practically touching your nose. The real pop glamour comes on Saturday night, when the film is screened at midnight at the main Cannes cinema for invited guests. There are rumours the band might perform a couple of songs outside the theatre just beforehand. Now that’s rock’n'roll.

While on the subject, music is big in Cannes this year. One of the most talked-about films so far is “Control”, a biopic about the life and premature death of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis. Sam Riley’s performance as the tragic singer is superb, as is Samantha Morton as his wife. If ever you want a reminder of how the rock’n'roll life can turn around and devour you, this is it. But, good as it was, do we really need another biopic of a troubled rock figure? And was Curtis himself really big enough to attract an audience beyond hard-core Joy Division fans?

Speedometer situation on Route 66 drives James mad

May 17, 2007 21:53 UTC

Wednesday was a day ospeedo_celebrate_250.jpgf milestones good and bad for the Route 66 team. Both milestones, ironically enough, revolved around the trip odometer on the 1967 Porsche 912 we’re driving across the country.

The day began with a decision to veer off Route 66 for a spell and head north on New Mexico state Route 491, which runs through the heart of the Navajo nation, for some stories we’re working on.

As we travelled north, the odometer, which was set to zero on Sunday in San Diego, turned over to zero again, indicating the car had successfully put the first 1,000 miles of the estimated 2,500-mile trip behind it.

Good reason for those flag-waving trucks in Bloomfield, NM

May 17, 2007 19:16 UTC

flags7.jpgOK it’s true: Bloomfield, New Mexico is actually more than 120 miles north of the path that old Route 66 took across this stark, beautiful state. But sometimes it pays to veer off the beaten path.

You reach Bloomfield from Gallup by taking state route 491 north through the heart of the Navajo Nation’s tribal lands. The journey is one that’s not easily forgotten: stunning natural beauty side by side with grinding poverty.

Bloomfield and Farmington are not just off the Navajo reservation — they’re practically on another planet, thanks to oil fields in the surrounding San Juan basin that provide well-paying jobs to many of the locals.

Little Water? How about none at all?

May 17, 2007 19:10 UTC

Little-Water3.jpgThe most remarkable thing about the Little Water stream or even river to a newcomer to the desert is that there is no water in it.

Travel across Arizona into New Mexico and at periods along the road you will see scorched, serpentine trenches in the red desert earth and rock that look like they should contain streams or rivers but are bone dry.

Some rivers like the San Juan, which passes through the town of Shiprock about 25 miles north of Little Water, are actually full of water. But many others like Crazy Creek or Dead River in Arizona are as moist as Little Water.

Sleeping on the job in Cannes

May 17, 2007 18:38 UTC

Thanks to the reader who responded to our blog yesterday talking about whether a film’s reception at Cannes was important to its box office prospects. He/she referred to a claim in today’s Times (I must confess I could not find the story during a quick search of their site) saying journalists attending early previews the morning after a long night of partying chose long, foreign films, knowing they would provide a good chance to catch 40 winks.Cannes4.jpg

I certainly have seen journalists and critics sleep their way through movies in Cannes, and in Venice and Berlin for that matter. Not many though, and I hasten to add it’s not something I have tried myself. Of course, there are all sorts of shortcuts and tricks weary reporters resort to during festival movie marathons. One well-respected TV presenter came to me the other day and asked my views on a film he had not had time to watch but needed to report on during a broadcast. Non-professional? In a way, yes, but it’s easy to understand, with so many time pressures. There are other examples of course, and not things that I recommend you try at home. One is to sweat your way through “junket” interviews with stars and directors for a film you have not managed to see. It is that “please-don’t-catch-me-out-and-let-me-get-out-of-this-thing-unscathed” nightmare.

Of course, we are implicitly blaming the audience here. But is the film at fault too? If a film is too long, or boring, or badly made, does the critic or journalist have the right to a bit of much-needed shut-eye? I just came out of a screening of “The Banishment” by Russian director Andrei Zvyagintsev, a 2-1/2 hour picture in which very little happens for the first 90 minutes. In fact, the last hour was full of sinister twists and turns that slumberers would have missed, and I’m not suggesting for a minute that the film deserved the pillow treatment. A critic I was sitting next to was less than impressed however.