If you haven’t seen it in full force, you’ve seen hints of it — Albuquerque is where ambition goes to die. This basic human weakness is the theme in “The Land of Manana.” Being lackadaisical and whimsy seeps in and takes deep root as a motif of easy living.
Staying at home and getting high is the contributing factor of thought to never follow through with anything that requires effort.
The lulling sense of entitlement and lethargy through low costs of living and an environment thick with like-minded people is this state’s common complacency. The question of causation, the chicken-and-egg logic, is never far from my mind. Does the inactivity come from living here? Or do you move here to become inactive?
I’ve often visualized Albuquerque as the basin at the bottom of Route 66. This city is a place where things and people tumble steadily into, following the soft gravity. UNM is cheap and central in the Mecca of New Mexico. All the smaller towns of the state filter their children into a great apathetical guise of education. The uncaring beast accepts them easily, letting them flounder while six or seven years pass without notice. Once it’s over, the pomp and purposelessness of their education fades, leaving the squandered despondents to sit and forget in the laps of their lives. Many can’t even bring themselves to finish the middling tasks, becoming a new generation and legacy of American dropouts.
Our river valley lets others tumble into its depths. Low-cost living keeps even the most exorbitant ceilings low for those who migrate to the city with their Texas or California wealth. Even as the city’s poor or disenfranchised collect and mass at places for mental illness, the APD clears them out.
Artistry seems affected by this benevolence, which supports a small music scene, fueled by a few bands that come together and separate with a regularity that can be counted on. A gaze over the bios of community theatre actors reveals expensive educations but yielding performances. The embarrassment of the UNM film program is that it spits out students versed in pretentious theory and distended egos that effectively amount as a degree in watching movies.
Maybe you were born here. Maybe you’ve made it here by mistake. Maybe you’re so new, you just don’t know the mistake you’ve made yet. Maybe you tried your hand at one art or another in bigger, more romantic places, only to ultimately slip back down to our basin. Albuquerque is like a safety net, one of low expectations and the comfort of universal indifference. If you return, don’t expect fanfare — only an assurance against effort. You know, “Happiness.”
The path of least resistance is one of inertia. It’s paralysis through indecision, it’s death come early, it doesn’t have to be this way.
If any part of you still cares, harness that feeling and get out; get out while you can.