Monday, March 22, 2010

Albuquerque: A Quaint Japanese-Inspired Home

Many of the homes in Albuquerque subscribe to a neo-Pueblo architecture. That makes this modest, Japanese-inspired home (situated near Central Avenue) all the more captivating.

Note the gravel-strewn front yard; this a staple in desert metropolises like Albuquerque and Phoenix. Here, grassy lawns are a folly, a fool's game, a battle you're bound to lose.

A pair of forboding yucca plants create a spiky symmetry to the front yard, fully situating this home in the high desert, not Osaka.

I picture an aloof, complex and mysterious artist living here, perhaps a divorceé with dark hair and curious habits...

Albuquerque: An Actual Conversation

Setting: The Albuquerque Museum of Art. The "Grizz" is at the ticket counter, purchasing a single adult admission to the Museum.

Grizz: One adult, please.
Ticket Girl: OOOOOO-kay, could I get your zip code?
Grizz: Sure, it's "7-3-1-1-8."
Ticket Girl: Hmmmm, what state is that?
Grizz: Oklahoma.
Ticket Girl: (Beaming) OKLAHOMA!! I love that song!!
Grizz: It's a great song.
Ticket Girl: It IS a great song! I love that song!
Grizz: Rodgers & Hammerstein, you can't beat it.
Ticket Girl: (Making direct eye contact) You know, I learned how to spell "Oklahoma" by listening to that song.
Grizz: Wow.
Ticket Girl: (singing) "O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A, Okla-HOMA... OK!
Grizz: (Nonplussed) You guys need a song like that to help kids learn how to spell "Albuquerque."
Ticket Girl: No doubt! I've lived here all my life, and I still don't know how to spell "Albuquerque!" It still takes me like, five minutes to figure it out.
Grizz: (Sympathetically) Hey, it's a tough word to spell.
Ticket Girl: (handing over one ticket) Enjoy your visit.
Grizz: (winking & smiling) Oh, I plan to.

photo from Wikipedia Commons

Santa Fe

If you were born and raised in Santa Fe, the rest of the U.S. would seem very strange to you.

You would wonder, "Why isn't the sky as blue? Why isn't the air as crisp?"

You wouldn't understand why the buildings outside Santa Fe look so formal, so English, so... fake.

You would miss the sound of the snow-melt dripping onto the street.

Though your city is wealthy, you would miss the unpretentiousness of your surroundings, the raw, wooden logs that support your home, the earthen tones that fill the horizon.

Simplicity and harmony. Earth and sky.

Sun and rain, night and day. The beauty of a simple, turquoise etching telling a story on someone's front door. Sixteen strokes capturing the sweep of history. This is the sort of thing you see in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe is the smallest capital city in the United States. It's far smaller than most of the suburbs surrounding cities like Houston and Chicago. It also sits at the highest altitude. You can quickly lose your breath strolling across the Plaza.

Yet people are drawn to this city, this old town filled with art galleries, cutting-edge restaurants, and adobe buildings. Artists come here, because of the sky, that ancient cerulean sky, ever-changing, ever the same. Santa Fe is a place to escape from life in the U.S. It's a place to discover the artist inside of you.

Santa Fe makes you think, "I need for my life to change. I need to approach things differently." Each time you visit, you hear the silence. It's deafening. You feel yourself becoming a better person. This is why you never want to leave, yet you can't wait to get back home.

Albuquerque: A Most Poetic Moment

Crossing the intersection of busy Rio Grande & Indian School Road, in Albuquerque, we spot a tiny Yorkie galloping across the street.

Cars slow down to avoid this little creature, running with joy and confidence, completely indifferent to danger. In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd swear the Yorkie was smiling.

A small white van suddenly swerves onto the scene. It's the county dog catcher, in hot pursuit of this rogue mutt. A dog catcher? Am I in a dream? Do people still earn a living capturing stray dogs?

The dog catcher gets close to Yorkie, but at the last minute, BAM! The Yorkie sprints away, literally bounding with glee. Those of us driving slow down to watch. It's comical, like something from a Little Rascals short, watching this tiny critter repeatedly elude authority (and capture).

We drive on, watching through the back window, as the Yorkie continues to confound the dog catcher... so much delight, so much poetry, all in the space of less than 15 seconds. We are all Yorkies now.

Go Yorkie, Go!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Places I Miss: Quincy Park, Parkersburg, WV

I'd spent an entire year in Parkersburg before discovering this jewel of a park. It's a bit off the beaten track, not that easy to find (if you're not a local), but the view is glorious.

The park overlooks downtown Parkersburg, the Ohio River, and Belpre, Ohio, just across the river.

The view from Quincy Park inspires me to seek out the most stunning, panoramic views of any city I visit. These photographs, found on Flickr, are wonderful, and capture a charming side of the old city of Parkersburg.

When I climbed the picturesque steps of Montmarte, in Paris, I thought, "This reminds me of Quincy Park" (only not as steep).

I look at these pictures and I'm 19 again, sitting on a park bench with friends, gazing off into the horizon, wondering where life will lead us...

photos by Andrew & Courtney Holbrook