2021 Cowchips: From a flying sex toy to a motel with meth on tap, mind where you step! - Albuquerque Journal

2021 Cowchips: From a flying sex toy to a motel with meth on tap, mind where you step!

Illustration by Cathryn Cunningham/Journal

As the annual Cowchip Awards serve to provide an askew view of the year that just ended, there’s one positive thing to point out about Jan. 6: You’ll now never forget what day the Land of Enchantment entered statehood.

It’s why fresh-faced freshman U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez began last Jan. 6 by singing the birthday song “Las Mañanitas” in front of a golden, Zia-adorned flag outside her place in Washington, D.C.

And then, it was off to the Capitol to certify the presidential election. And then, we know what happened.

But the Cowchips don’t deal with the weighty issues of 2021.

Instead, they’ll inspire you to search the skies and remember the sex-toy-toting drone that entered the political arena.

They’ll remind you that the Santa Fe forest requires fig leafs for all, or loincloths at the very least.

QAnon lizard people? They’re mentioned, too, as is Couy Griffin — who’s thrown his Stetson into the ring for a Cowchip Lifetime Achievement Award.

So read on, tip your hat and maybe tilt your head to 2021.

Turns out, he DID want fries with that: An Albuquerque man told police “he was only trying to get a hamburger” back in January when he allegedly pointed a handgun at a McDonald’s drive-thru employee.

His beef? Workers got his order wrong.

A fast-food employee told the cops the dissatisfied customer pulled into the drive-thru to say his order was incorrect; the order was then corrected, but he drove back and pointed the gun at her. He drove off as police tried to make a stop, but was tracked by a police helicopter, ending the unhappy meal.

‘Lizard people’ look to shed incumbent governor: Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham launched her reelection campaign in June, which left the crowing, combative crowd of nonsupporters rallying outside the open-air event feeling — dare we say it? — blue.

Well-worn welcomes, such as “Wuhan Lujan” and “lock her up” carried over the walls — though not unexpectedly.

“I know it’s going to be loud,” MLG told supporters over protester sirens and shouts. “I just have to say I’m sorry that we picked the same location as the QAnon lizard people meeting.”

Illustration by Cathryn Cunningham/Journal

And speaking of out there … : TMZ caught up to Sen. Martin Heinrich making his way on a Washington, D.C., sidewalk and picked his brain on the subject of UFO sightings that military pilots say are becoming common.

“It’s pretty intriguing,” our senior senator said. “I don’t know what it is, but any time you have legitimate pilots describing something that doesn’t seem to conform to the laws of physics that govern aviation and is in U.S. airspace, I think it’s something we need to get to the bottom of.”

TMZ brought up “conspiracies,” “Roswell,” “alien bodies.”

“Can you tell me the truth — you’re on Intel Committee — is there anything in there?” the tabloid reporter asks.

“All I can say,” Heinrich says, “is I’ve never seen the bodies in Roswell.”

The Nusenda Credit Union at 401 Eubank SE sustained significant damage in June when a thief used a forklift to steal its ATM. (Jim Thompson/ Albuquerque Journal)

Someone forgot their PIN: Thieves back in June made an ATM withdrawal in the wee hours of the morning: they withdrew the entire ATM machine from the exterior wall of a bank near Eubank and Central, littering the pavement with legal tender.

The 1 a.m. transaction at the Nusenda Credit Union branch left the building with a gaping hole made by using equipment stolen from a nearby contractor.

“Officers were able to retrieve the forklift used to steal the ATM, the ATM itself, and they also recovered $13,000 in loose cash that was scattered on the street,” police said.

The most exclusive Pride celebration in town: Mayor Tim Keller kicked off Pride Month by raising the rainbow flag outside City Hall alongside members of the LGBTQ community — minus a couple of high-profile ones.

Councilors Pat Davis and Diane Gibson, the city’s two openly gay elected officials, weren’t in attendance, nor invited.

“Inclusivity is not a photo op,” Davis tapped out on Twitter in response to Keller’s own post marking the occasion.

Gibson seemed resigned, noting hizzoner “doesn’t (even) include me in events for projects in my own district.”

Only YOU can prevent nudity: The Santa Fe National Forest in June renewed its order banning nudity — not that there was “any kind of increase.”

“I figured I would get the question, ‘Oh, has there been a lot of nudity lately?’ ” Forest Service spokeswoman Julie Anne Overton explained. “But no, no, this is kind of a routine thing.”

The ban is to protect visitors — families and school groups included — who may be “sensitive” to twigs and berries, and other such scenery.

Turns out the forest is no fun at all: Underage drinking and extended camping are also a no-no.

Illustration by Cathryn Cunningham/Journal

APD finds a way to speed up response times: An Albuquerque police officer was taking a suspect in when he was purportedly overtaken by a “cloud” of cocaine.

“The officer arrived at the substation and was preparing to take custody of the male when he opened the door to the police vehicle,” a police spokeswoman said. “At that time, an unknown cloud of a powdery substance came out of the vehicle and the officer inhaled it.”

The “cloud” was later identified as cocaine.

For the record: Colorado is still green with envy: Northern neighbor newspaper The Pueblo Chieftain issued a “For the record” after publishing a Gannett story touting Hatch, New Mexico, chile.

The nationally distributed story reportedly titled “Pep Talk: 10 easy ways to use freshly roasted Hatch chiles” didn’t mention Pueblo, Colorado, chile — which apparently is a thing.

“The article that ran in Wednesday’s paper was not meant to cause harm or to infer that the Hatch chile was superior,” The Chieftain humbly told local readers. “… The Pueblo Chieftain understands the importance of the Pueblo chile and will continue to report on that importance. We apologize for the harm and offense the story has caused.”

It takes some big ball bearings to attempt something like this: A former high-ranking civilian official at White Sands Missile Range and an El Paso contractor were being investigated for possibly stealing 232,000 pounds of nickel ball bearings from the southern New Mexico test area.

A federal search warrant said the 3/8-inch ball bearings were removed from the Large Blast Thermal Simulator and pegged at a hefty price tag — $2 million — though the contractor took issue with the assertions.

“In the first place, it wasn’t stolen. And it’s not $2 million worth,” he told the Journal before referring further comment to his attorney.

Kickin’ it old school: Mayor Tim Keller, New Mexico United head Peter Trevisani and others lined up a free kick of sorts: All voters in The Q had to do was boot the ball into the net by bubbling in “For” and $50M in public money would be used to help build a stadium — for all intents and purposes, a facility for the local pro soccer team.

Residents of this river city bounced the idea around and decisively, intentionally, kicked it into Row Z.

Area dwellers didn’t appear game even early on, or as reader JRM in Corrales remarked in the Journal’s Sports Speak Up months before the outcome: “Rather go to a Ricky Romero wrestling match at the Civic Auditorium than watch a 0-0 United soccer game in a $70 million stadium.”

Hint to Herrell: It’s not under ‘Z’: U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell at an August appearance before fellow Republicans in Roswell told them letters to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham calling for more security at the border with Mexico weren’t well received.

“We’ve written to her three times and now she calls me a xenophobe — whatever that is,” Herrell said.

Which drew this Twitter retort from an MLG spokeswoman: “Dictionary.com is free to use.”

Add a bottle of Tums to that Wagyu beef order: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s groceries generated some heartburn after her discretionary fund spending in 2020 was scrutinized by KOB-TV, the New Mexican and other news outlets.

Among the nearly $13,500 in purchases during the last half of the year was $6,500-plus spent on groceries, including Wagyu beef and tuna steaks, while at least five bottles of tequila, two bottles of vodka, two bottles of merlot, and bottles of whiskey and gin filled the cart on one trip to Sam’s Club, the New Mexican reported.

An MLG spokesman said the goods were not just for the governor, but for her staff, including her security detail, and visitors, while the potent potables were for a holiday party that never happened. The Auditor’s Office later issued a report saying spending over an eight-month period was on the up and up, though lawmakers should clarify spending guidelines.

Nonetheless, MLG realized the “bad press” early on.

“I’m thick-skinned,” she told a virtual news conference, the New Mex reported. “Apparently, with all my eating, it’s just getting thicker.”

The Albuquerque Police Department unveiled its Youth Leadership lowrider car at a drive-thru car show in May. (Source: City of Albuquerque)

It’ll be used to lie low and bounce the bad guys: It was a tough year crime-wise, so Albuquerque Police Department officers hoisted their pants and got serious: They pimped their ride, unveiling the department’s new lowrider back in May.

FYI, the city said funding for the community project involving youth came “mostly” from donations and in-kind contributions.

Ding-a-ling disrupts Duke City mayor’s race: The Albuquerque mayor’s race got off the ground on June 1 as the “Dongcopter” violated Manny Gonzales for Mayor airspace.

Gonzales was speaking at a campaign event, answering a question from someone he later suggested was “planted” and a “political operative,” when a drone armed with a wobbling warhead — a dildo hung from it — buzzed toward the stage.

“Is that a dong on a drone?” a woman in the audience asks.

“We have a gentleman over here who I guess is trying to be cute,” said Gonzales, who clearly took no pleasure in what was transpiring.

Things, as you would expect, did not end well: The dong was downed, the owner tried to get it back, a scuffle ensued, charges were filed, etc.

Gonzales ended up being soundly defeated by the incumbent in November, donggone it.

GOP leader’s message stops at the state line: State GOP head Steve Pearce took to the airwaves via his radio show “Inside New Mexico” with a mouthful to say about the 2020 presidential election: for instance that Dems in states where the votes were close and results unknown for days bought absentee ballots, filled them out and turned them in, and that voting systems deleted votes for Trump or switched them to Biden.

Asked to appear on Fox News and Newsmax to discuss the election, he declined, explaining, “I never made any of these allegations publicly because I don’t really respect people who go out and throw out hypotheses in front of the press on a very volatile issue. … Because I felt like we had to be very judicious because these were fairly big issues and to politicize them didn’t seem right to me.”

But it was OK to forward such fodder within New Mexico?

“Are you kidding me? Are you saying that the six radio stations, or 10 or 20 or however many chose to play this radio thing in New Mexico, rural New Mexico, is the same format as Fox News or Newsmax?” he asked a reporter. “I think it’s a ludicrous question, my friend.”

Have gun, will travel to Estancia: Recoiling at the ban on guns at the Roundhouse, the Estancia Town Council passed its own rule requiring people to be “legally armed” to attend a council meeting.

“Rural New Mexico is just tired of being pushed around,” said Estancia Mayor Nathan Dial, who cast the tie-breaking 3-2 vote to adopt the requirement. “This is not just about the Second Amendment. This is about all civil liberties.”

But hold your fire! Dial said “legally armed” didn’t necessarily mean with a weapon and could be defined as armed with knowledge.

In that case, observed one area resident, “If the mayor is talking about legally armed being about knowledge, then I don’t think he’s legally armed.”

Then-Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan high-fives deputies in June after a jury failed to reach a verdict in his first trial. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

12 angry men or 12 salivating jurors?: As jurors sat in the deliberation room pondering whether to convict Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan on charges of bribery of a witness and aiding or harboring a felon, the panel watched and heard a tailgating-type cookout taking place in the Tierra Amarilla courthouse parking lot — an apparent show of support for Lujan hosted by his wife and attended by some deputies.

Prosecutors pointed to that get-together and other maneuverings they said tainted the fairness of the trial as they sought a change of venue in anticipation of the second trial after the first ended with a hung jury.

There was a second trial, and Lujan was sentenced to three years in prison the day after a jury found him guilty of two felonies for helping a friend avoid arrest back in 2017. There was no cookout the second time.

Illustration by Cathryn Cunningham/Journal

From the fridge to the cooler: Albuquerque police say a suspect shot at an officer and cops gave chase before the SWAT team found him cooling his heels inside an outdoor refrigerator.

He refused to get out, so officers dealt with the cold case by using flash-bangs, tear gas and a dog to end the lengthy standoff.

Why don’t you take a slow boat to Glasgow: State Rep. Stefani Lord’s temperature was rising over Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s trip to Glasgow, Scotland, for a global climate change conference, calling the trip “eco-hypocrisy.”

MLG and her administration don’t really believe there’s a climate crisis caused by carbon emissions, the Sandia Park Republican declared. “If this administration did,” she said, “Lujan Grisham would be avoiding air travel.”

Good lord, use Zoom, she suggested.

Featured amenities include: free WiFi, free breakfast, free meth — followed by a frenetic checkout: A Portales motel was shut down after methamphetamine made its way into the water system — or so it seemed.

It was actually Portales Police who put up the post of no return, saying on Facebook that a guest had a piece of meth hit them in the eye after it came out of the faucet and subsequently found the substance in another sink and — no pun intended — the ice machine.

Hazmat was alerted. The city’s water supply tested.

It turned out the substance was sodium chloride — that’s salt, if you remember your high school science — and likely came from faulty mesh that allowed water softener crystals to get into the system. But not before the incident produced such international headlines as: “Motel Guest Claims They Were Hit in Eye by Meth Shot Out of Faucet.”

Cowboys for Trump leader Couy Griffen at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Courtesy Cowboys for Trump)

Huey, Dewey and Couy

Familiar face Couy Griffin of Cowboys for Trump was among the yahoos corralled after the U.S. Capitol insurrection, but it could be the most interesting things to come out of the federal court documents charging Griffin were bits of his backstory.

“The defendant, 47 years old, is a former entertainer, having acted for six years as a Western or cowboy performer for the Walt Disney Company in Paris, France,” says the first line in “the defendant’s history and personal characteristics.”

Griffin was charged with knowingly entering the grounds with the intent to disrupt government business. And the Government’s Memorandum in Support of Pretrial Detention almost reads — at first, anyway — like a résumé: “self-employed as a restaurateur,” “self-styled preacher,” “county commissioner for Otero County, New Mexico.”

Then it includes all the stuff you wouldn’t put on your résumé — unless maybe you’re Couy Griffin.

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