Whither “The Carlisle”?


(Photo from KRQE story


So “The Carlisle” seems imperiled, if not gone forever.

It was never perfect and rubbed a great many the wrong way. Like an overzealously filled water balloon, it plopped over sidewalk space, alleys, and the sky. It had an inappropriately pretentious name intended to evoke Bobby Short singing at NYC’s Cafe Carlyle and/or Mahattan’s toney Carlyle Hotel, but Albuquerque’s never been much of a cabaret singing, toney, “we deserve nice things” kinda town.

Sure, The Carlisle seemed a bit out of place, but not enough to burn down, and, besides, what was so great about the tattoo parlor and such it replaced at the corner of Central and Carlisle anyway? Speaking of “replaced,” what happens now? What becomes of the huge, burned-out relic so reminiscent of The Great Gatsby and other symbolic renditions of nice, inappropriately pretentious, things torn asunder?

If “The Carlisle” is not rebuilt, what should stand at this important Nob Hill intersection, especially something with such a large “footprint”? Readers, we at Better Burque have an idea or two. Here are a few humble suggestions for this space:

  1. The Lensic, Albuquerque Version: Every single time we go to Santa Fe we think to ourselves: “I could pretty much do without any of this often irritating town, except for The Lensic. Why don’t we have a Lensic?” Yes, we have Popejoy, a KiMO and a Kiva, but we don’t have a 800-1000 seat venue that could feature Nick Cave one day and “Tosca” the next without one act seeming completely out of place. We don’t necessarily need an opera house here (too “The Carlisle”), but the venue gap here has certainly stopped many acts from stopping by, opera included.
  2. The University of Not New Mexico – Main Campus:  Some folks are perfectly happy with a commuter school featuring quality music events that draw audiences in the tens of people, and a mystifying slavish and profligate attention to low-quality sports that just as few locals seem to care about. This school would, instead, cater to students and alums who prefer a liberal arts college with no sports, other than a full scholarship marching band with a 12 “game” schedule competing against other schools for a shot at the “Band Championship Series” march-off, sponsored by Dr. Pepper and shown exclusively on ABC. March practice would, of course, occur on the campus roof, serenading Nob Hill al fresco diners, as well as those waiting for A.R.T. buses at Bryn Mawr and Solano stations.
  3. The Albuquerque Museum/Crypt of the Dead Nob Hill Restaurants:How often have you bemoaned the closure of another Nob Hill restaurant, the occurrence of which has seemingly happened just about every weekend for decades? Now, under one roof, you can revisit the good ‘old days, as Vivace, La Provence (back when it was good), Satellite Coffee, Ecco Gelato, Bumble Bee’s, the seventeen places Fan Tang was before Fan Tang, Kelly’s (the good small one before it moved and ruined everything) can be found, resurrected, under one giant, overzealously filled water balloon roof. Speaking of that roof, Fred’s Bread & Bagel will also make its long-awaited return there during special Friday/Saturday midnight shows, along with the blues place that Fan Tang eventually replaced but that we can’t quite recall the name of.
  4. Megalomarijuana Warehouse:  Your big-box, Sam’s-meets-Costco, one-stop shop for all things weed, once the law is changed and we finally stop basing our economy solely on brewpubs, bad movies and the capricious pricing of some out-of-date and toxic method of energy production.
  5. The Albuquerque Police Department Video Editing Center: You might think the space too large, but APD, allegedly, needs a film studio sized space for this work.
  6. Or…Just Create the 70-Story Parking Garage Albuquerque So Desperately Craves: The only thing that warrants a horizontal and vertical footprint larger than “The Carlisle” is the never-ending and sacrosanct need for parking motor vehicles. Anything less than enough parking for every car, truck, RV, “Good Times” van, and Mack truck that will or might ever be anywhere close to The Mother Road that is Route 66 goes against everything the Duke City stands for and is to be considered a “cultural catastrophe,” The Carlisle included. That said, The Carlisle’s inventive use of underground parking could also become the genesis for a vast underground network of connecting tunnels to other ABQ parking garages all over town. Naturally, all parking would be free, as this is not just ‘Burque but America, and we’re all about freedom in America, except for the increasingly countless times we aren’t.

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