Veterans’ Blogs Offer a Glimpse into Life on the Front Lines

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Last week was the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the start of the Allied landing in Normandy, France, that contributed to the end of World War II.

While some marked it with (deserved) pomp and circumstance, we observed it by reading the latest from some of our favorite veterans’ blogs on WordPress.com:

Carrying the Gun

Then-infantryman Don Gomez served two tours in Iraq with the US Army in the early 2000s. After a stint in graduate school and a dissertation on the experiences of Iraqi soldiers during the Iran-Iraq War, he re-upped and heads to Afghanistan later this summer as a Second Lieutenant.

carrying the gun

His blog, Carrying the Gun, is a mix of  thoughtful essays on everything from modern soldiering to women in combat to the transition from soldier to civilian. Sprinkled throughout are photos and letters from his Iraq deployments — a fascinating portrait of the life on the front lines.

O-Dark-Thirty

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Concert at the Zoo

Concert at the Zoo is a wonderful family time and an inexpensive way to get the whole family out of the house. Costing $10 per adult and $3 for children 3-12 and seniors are $5.  For more information please check the Concert at the Zoo website here

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line for tickets at Rio Grande Zoo

The gates opened at 6pm for admission to the concert. While the concert starts at 730pm the early arrival is recommended as the seating fills up quickly. But early arrival also allows you to visit the exhibits for a twilight viewing of the animals outside of the heat of the day.

There are food vendors present along with the Zoo’s café. Plus for those who are 21 and over there are a few options for some adult beverages. And guest are also welcome to bring their own picnic baskets of food as well, only stipulation is no glass can be brought onto the grounds.

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Now the seating is great. Out on the field before the theater a guest can bring blankets or camping chairs to sit on while they enjoy the show. This gives the best view of the performers and a sense of space no matter how packed the concert gets.

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The entire atmosphere was so fun and energizing while at the same time relaxing. It was fun to be out in the open air with families all to enjoy great music and fun. And the best part is it doesn’t go super late ending at about 930pm so those that wish to go out to the clubs after the concert can still do so.

Only word of advice I would give, as caution to a guest is this: check the weather before you attend Concert at the Zoo. I wound up not taking an umbrella tonight and had to leave early due to the rain.

Other then that one little hiccup into the viewing of of tonights concert I suggest this event to everyone. The music selection varies week to week so there is always an option for a genre that you will enjoy.

Historic El Rey Theater is Back

The El Rey Theater on the corner of Central and 7th Street is back after closing in February and it is better then ever!

Albuquerque review was invited to the theater for a night of live DJ’s led by DJ Arty on June 5th. I was granted early access to meet the staff and see the theater before the crowds started arriving.

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I must admit, for a building with so much history, I was surprised at how clean and bright it was inside. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful, going above and beyond to help set me up at the best vantage points for photos and providing details on the DJ list.

Most of El Rey Theater’s events are now 18 and over; the main bar is on the main floor with a second fully stocked bar on the balcony for those who are over 21. While the 21 and over crowd has a separate area for alcohol, the dance floor is the place to mingle so groups of friends that include persons under 21 can still hangout and dance the night away.

DJ Tyran’s spinning filled the air when the doors opened to let in the waiting crowd. A mixture of what I would call Trance and House expertly executed greeted each paying customer.

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DJ Tyran gave the acoustics in El Rey a great workout as he cast a hypnotic spell over the crowd gathered at the base of the stage. It was amazing to watch them sway and gyrate to the music as DJ Tyran danced on stage while spinning.

With the arrival of the crowds, you could feel the temperature steadily climb. The staff of El Rey became a flurry of activity filling built-in swamp coolers and activating them to battle the heat. After those got going the temperature was once more at a comfortable level.

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It was not long before the next DJ of the night took the stage: DJ Trans-X. The crowd was kept in a state of anticipation like the calm before a storm as DJ Trans-X filled the space with a fluid beat. That fluid beat would build up to a crescendo before releasing our emotions and gently lowering us back down. He held us in a trance with his music while the light show hypnotized us all.

It was during this time that one of the El Rey Bartenders, Brandon, brought me a glass of water. Brandon offered amazing service as a bartender compared to many of the clubs I have been to in Albuquerque.

I also had the pleasure of having two of his mixed drinks. The first a Vodka Redbull that was smooth and had a rather pleasant taste for a Redbull mixed drink. Shortly after finishing that standard drink, I asked Brandon to “surprise me” with a second drink. He quickly whipped up a “Grateful Dead”. Needless to say I think I may have found my new favorite drink. The tequila wasn’t overpowering and there was a perfect blend of vodka, gin, and raspberry liqueur…expert mixology rating!

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It was during this second drink that the Headliner took the stage. DJ Arty started spinning to cheers and screams from the crowd. DJ Arty is truly a master of taking a crowd into another dimension. The energy from his music had the dance floor swaying, bouncing, and fist pumping in rhythm to the beat. The dance floor was standing room only and no one was complaining.

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El Rey Theater has made a serious comeback! Personally, I am already planning on attending future shows at El Rey Theater.  The venue, staff, and performers make a person want to get out of the house on a Thursday night. El Rey Theater will be regularly open on Friday and Saturday nights hosting local talent and big names alike; there are also several Thursday night events scheduled. This was a great event and I had a ton of fun!

Fans of Film Cafe

the front entrance to Fans of Film Cafe
the front entrance to Fans of Film Cafe

 

For those that love independent movies there is no better source than the Fans of Film Café. Then again who can resist good food and an interesting movie?

According to the Fans of Film website the Fans of Film Café was built by Michael Palombo in 2012 with the goal of “Building community around film and creating a space for social change is my passion at Fans Of Film”.

When a guest arrives at Fans of Film Café they walk into a very well stocked library of books about film and political movements. Giving off the feel of comfort and relaxation while promoting Michael’s statement of space for social change.

Then it is just another few steps into the café and theater room. Here is where the guests can gather for stimulation conversations and to enjoy a special order of breakfast or lunch.

The first item I sampled was a double shot espresso. The Barista was amazing and super polite and conversational. Once I received my espresso I moved out front to the only sidewalk table. And I must say the warm sun of Albuquerque combined with the taste of great espresso is an awesome way to start the morning. The espresso had a great taste, and none of the burnt flavor that is so common to espresso.

After I finished the espresso I had a rather difficult choice to make as far as what to choose from the Fans of Film lunch menu. Finely I decided on having the quesadilla. Came out piping hot with green chile added in to combine for such ooy gooy goodness. And since lunch is not complete without something to drink I had a strawberry Italian cream soda made right there to order by the barista.

Italian Cream sodas
Italian Cream sodas

While enjoying lunch I got to hear the interesting conversations of the other patrons. While stimulation and thought-provoking it did make me a little uncomfortable as one of the patrons used the F bomb a lot while talking. While an adult I just do not feel that such grammar was necessary for the relaxed environment of Fans of Film Café. However other than that I rather enjoyed my lunch. The food and the Café itself was a fun environment.

And the Fans of Film café also has movie Mondays according to their website calendar. I highly recommend Fans of Film for both coffee and lunch, and I am looking forward to going back in the future for movie night as well.

Gay Pride Parade 2014

The Gay Pride Parade is always a fun time. Filled with lots of cheering and dance music. Lets not forget lots and lots of bright colors. People always smiling and shouting “happy pride!”

A great family friendly event to sit and watch the floats roll by and eat some great candy handed out by parade participants, guaranteed to fix anyone’s sweet tooth.

Many of the floats are for advocacy or local organizations open to helping the Albuquerque LGBTQ community. Ranging from wedding planning to healthcare. Including several church organizations.

Then there are floats that are for local organizations that are allies to the LGBTQ community. While they may not seem commonplace they are a huge support system for those that are LGBTQ.  Again ranging from little league teams to politicians running for office.

I love attending the Pride Parade. To me it is like watching a flow of beautiful ideals on display for all to see. The wide range of people and ideas that are there to have fun and celebrate their differences.

On top of all the floats to enjoy is also the crowd itself. The energy and the feeling of connectedness from the crowd just helps to make the Pride Parade a comfortable and safe feeling environment.

Speaking of safe, the Albuquerque Police Department is also present directing the flow of traffic along the parade route. And many APD officers like Officer Philip Olivas were handing out swimming pool passes to the children that were present at the parade.

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Only complaint I have about the parade was self-induced as I showed up late to the procession and had to park on Lead and Morningside. So be warned: Early arrival is mandatory for great parking.

Other then that one thing it is as always a great experience, And I hope to see you next year at the Gay Pride Parade and Expo.

New Mexico Fashion Week May 29-31 2014

This has been the first Annual N.M. Fashion Week hosted by Albuquerque Apparel Center. The AAC is the fashion-networking hub for New Mexico and the southwest, but it is much more then that, it is also the hopes and dreams for future designers.

AAC is also a design school. Teaching students the basics in fashion design as well as giving them the support needed to grow their business. AAC focuses on all aspects of fashion design from shoes, jewelry, handbags and much more.

All of this has been the careful cultivation of Melissa Lea Beasley founder of the AAC and organizer of New Mexico Fashion Week. Melissa is a powerhouse when it comes to the fashion world of New Mexico. Sweet and charming I never saw her lose her smile even as she rushed around working with her staff to coordinate last minute tasks. And from a guest standpoint it seems like the entire show has gone off without a hitch.

It was through Melissa’s hard work and effort that the Calgary Stampede Rodeo Queen Danica Heath with Princesses Shannon Black and Stephanie Patterson were present all the way from Canada.

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From left to right: Miss Earth New Mexico Lena Montoya, Calgary Stampede Princess Stephanie Patterson, Calgary Stampede Queen Danica Heath, Calgary Stampede Princess Shannon Black

And to greet them was our very own ensemble of Royalty

• Miss Rodeo New Mexico 2014, Alexandria (Alex) Tapia

• Mrs. New Mexico United States 2014, Melissa Salazar

• Miss Rodeo New Mexico 2013, Ashlee Rose

• Miss Colfax County, New Mexico 2014, Janna Mills

• Miss Earth New Mexico 2013/2014, Lena Montoya

• Miss New Mexico Latina 2013, Michelle Parra

• Miss Teen New Mexico Latina 2013, Alejandra Castillo

• Miss Santa Fe 2014, Ashley Fresquez

I got the chance to meet and talk with both Miss New Mexico 2014 and Miss Earth New Mexico 2014. Again both of them were very sweet and willing to answer my questions and even pose for a few pictures.

I first met Miss Earth New Mexico 2014 at the New Mexico Fashion Week kickoff party meet-and-greet.

The Kickoff party was a great time. Held in the 20 first plaza Galleria Mall this event allowed the guest to brush elbows with not only the designers but also the models that are participating in New Mexico Fashion Week. Everyone kept saying how excited and nervous he or she was for the show tomorrow.

At the kickoff event I met the brilliant and upcoming designer Kayleigh Dawn and her twin sister Allyson. Kayleigh and Allyson came to New Mexico Fashion Week all the way from Kansas. “We did it in a two day drive. It was so long and exhausting,” Allyson said.

 

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from left to right: Kayleigh and Allyson Dawn, Zandi-Ashley Cabiltes, Asia Noriega and Summer Cassidy

Also the models I met were Zandi-Ashley Cabiltes, Asia Noriega, and Summer Cassidy. I enjoyed talking with them immensely and hearing about the exciting fashions they were going to be wearing for the runway show. Everyone was approachable and full of fun and laughter over glasses of tea and lemonade. All too soon it was time to go so everyone could be well rested for the showcase in the morning.

The showcase featured the designers and several artists, include Kym Loc a local artist from Albuquerque, giving the public a special sneak peak of their designs before the runway show.This also allows a guest to get to know the designer and find out the inspiration behind your new favorite outfit.

The Showcase is held in the Albuquerque Convention Center on the top floor of the East Complex. It is filled with the oo’s and awe’s of people discovering a new great design or beautiful accessories.

The information from the showcase on how to become a designer yourself and be able to participate in future New Mexico Fashion Weeks is beyond valuable. The networking I saw between designers and models was amazing to behold.

I also got to meet Terrence Au. Terrence works at UNM helping students break into the film business as well as modeling by coordinating them and helping them get assignments and building their portfolios.

I truly recommend this event as there is only one day left till next year. I had such a blast over the past two day meeting the designers and models but also just taking in the world of Fashion. The showcase starts at 10am and the runway starts at 6 pm. Hope to see you there.

Espresso Fino Cafè

Espresso Fino is a charmingly cozy café is a perfect spot to sit and read for a bit while enjoying an excellent cup of coffee.

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Hidden away near the southwest corner of 2nd and Gold. Espresso Fino offers sidewalk seating reminiscent of many European cafes. While the inside is small the staff makes you feel like you are meeting old friends.

 

Plus you will not be served with as much flair anywhere else. The medium latte I ordered came complete with whipped design. Not the usual service I have come to expect visiting big chain coffee shops instead far above the standard.

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Sitting outside and being able to enjoy the sunshine in Albuquerque is one of the greatest opportunities to relax. Especially in a city that is always sunny. So go enjoy a great cup of coffee in a reminiscent feel of a European vacation with out the passport.