Monday, January 02, 2006

Santa Fe and Albuquerque

As part of my recovery from my recent personal disasters, I have moved from Santa Fe back to Albuquerque. Thought I'd use this move as a way to compare the two cities and what I like and dislike about them.

In a few ways, I am sad to be moving from Santa Fe. There are not a lot of walking cities in the US these days and I was happy to live in one of them. It's nice to be able to walk almost anywhere you'd actually want to go within 30 minutes or so. It's a quite pleasant place to take a walk; in fact, the city seems to almost beckon you to take walks. So that's really nice. I will also definitely miss the movies. Santa Fe is one of the top movie towns in the nation. For it's size, I can only imagine that such places as Park City are better. Not only does Santa Fe get all the major movies, it has 3 separate art theaters that show a wide variety of things from documentaries to obscure Asian films to Film Noir festivals. Quite wonderful. I wish I would have taken more advantage of it. This in comparison to Albuquerque, which has nothing more than a 1 screen art theater that shows some good stuff but some odd stuff too that I have little interest in--for instance a rather healthy dose of gay cinema which is fine, but I wish it was more diverse. To me, wanting to go to a movie because it features gay protagonists is like going to a movie because it was filmed in Illinois. Could be interesting if that's your thing, but it doesn't really seem like a good reason to go to a movie. Anyway, I'll also miss the weather of Santa Fe. I like it cold. Santa Fe is pretty cold, well not this winter so much, but usually in the winter. Plus, lows in the 50s during the summer is nice.

On the other hand, I am not going to miss the bullshit of Santa Fe. I hate the fake history. I loathe the forced architectural conformity, where everything must be covered in adobe stucco so that it all looks historical--what a crock. I'm not going to miss the pretension of the people, nor the aging tourists, nor the absurd mid-life crisis fashions, nor the turquoise markets, nor the outlandish prices.

And this brings us to Albuquerque. I am mixed on moving back there. The random crime is kind of a bummer, you know. The heat is brutal in June and early July. It's dirty and dusty. It's sprawl central. You can't walk anywhere unless you have a desire to be run-over by the crazy drivers. On the other hand, it's real. Unlike Santa Fe, there's very little bullshit in Albuquerque. It's a working-class town with working-class people and that's what it is. No, there may not be made up festivals like Santa Fe's Zozobra, nor are there very many markets where Indians can come and sell there goods to 65 year old upper East Side New Yorkers, but it's a place where what you see is what you get. And that is going to be quite refreshing after 2 years in Santa Fe Fantasyland.