I said to my mom,
I said, "Hey, Mom, what's with all the sauerkraut?"
And my dear, sweet, mother,
she just looked at me like a cow looks at an oncoming train
And she leaned right down next to me
and she said, "IT'S GOOD FOR YOU."
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Downtown Albuquerque, c 2006
(Thanks, Asaavedra32 - wikimedia)
“Albuquerque,” Weird Al Yankovic's magnum opus from the 1999 album Running with Scissors
, clocks in at around 11 minutes and 22 seconds, the longest song Yankovic has ever recorded. In interviews Weird Al has admitted the song was meant “to annoy people for around 12 minutes,” but instead, the song was well received by fans and remains a staple among Weird Al performances across the globe. This odyssey-like track begins with the narrator's childhood, but really begins to take shape when the character wins a “first class, one-way ticket” to Albuquerque, New Mexico, the largest city in the “land of enchantment,” for correctly guessing the number of molecules in Leonard Nimoy's rear end.
After a harrowing airplane journey that involves odorous seat mates, bad in-flight films, an inexcusable lack of Dr Pepper, and finally a tragic crash into a hillside, the narrator arrives at the Albuquerque Holiday Inn. Albuquerque, also known as The Duke City, is the largest city in the state, and as such, is no stranger to tourism and its associated industry. Situated upon the banks of the magnificent Rio Grande and butting up against the stunning Sandia Mountains, with a history that dates back to Spanish colonization, who would not want to visit this city tucked into the heart of the southwest? The narrator of Yankovic's ode to the city certainly finds a paradise in this oft overlooked city. Throughout the meandering tale, the character is attacked by not only a person with a Flock-Of-Seagulls haircut who eventually makes off with his snorkel, but also by a dozen “starving, crazed weasels,” and eventually finds true love. After being wed and having two children, the relationship ends when the girl of the narrator's dreams asks him to join the Columbia Record Club. But he's “just not ready for that kinda commitment.” The pair break up and never see each other again, to which the narrator remarks, “that's just the way things go in Albuquerque.”
Early snow on the Sandias (Thanks, PDTillman)
While the real history of the city of Albuquerque isn't quite as bizarre as Yankovic's personal take on the place, it is interesting and varied. First settled by Spanish settlers in the early eighteenth century, the city became a strategic military point as well as a sheep-herding center. Despite its locale in the far west of the United States, the city hosted a little known battle in the Civil War (The Battle of Albuquerque) when Albuquerque's Confederate troops fled from battle in Texas. Today, much of Albuquerque's history is preserved and is traceable in everything from its central squares to the unique blending of Native American, European and Mexican flair in its cuisine.
Unique in its looks, histories, and the possibilities it presents, especially in Yankovic's song, Albuquerque is a place ripe for exploration. And as Yankovic says in the final stanza of his epic song, “if one day you happen to wake up / and find yourself in an existential quandary / full of loathing and self-doubt... / at least you can take a small bit of comfort in knowing that / somewhere out there in this crazy mixed up universe of ours / there's still a little place called Albuquerque.” ~ Maggie Grimason
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