Thursday, January 08, 2009
Here's a Q Tip for You: ¡Viva Burque!
By Leslie Linthicum
Journal Staff Writer
The city of Albuquerque's official nickname The Q has been a thorn in the side of a growing revolution of city dwellers since it was rolled out a little more than a year and a half ago.
The revolution has been led by the anonymous subject of today's column. The Q drives him mad. Not because he's got any particular beef with the 17th letter of the alphabet, but because of what it represents: "We as citizens were never asked what we wanted to call ourselves," he says. "It was brought upon us. I think it's strange, this whole idea of branding a city."
Since Mayor Martin Chávez's desire to come up with a city brand resulted in the official Q logo, billboards have advertised Albuquerque as The Q; the mayor's radio show is called "The Q Hour;" local shopping cards are Q Cards; the annual Downtown music fest was named the "QJam;" and the new bicycle borrowing program is being named Q Bike.
The mayor is a happy early adopter of the Q. "I just like the heck out of it," he said when the logo was rolled out.
Outside of official channels, The Q isn't exactly spreading like the flu. Ever heard anyone say, "I'm spending the weekend in The Q"? Or, "I just moved to The Q and I'm lovin' it"?
Ever heard anyone outside official channels use The Q in any context, ever?
Spending about 30 seconds on Google reveals what we all suspected: The Q did not spring from the loins of originality.
The Q is an arena in Cleveland (still time to get Monster Jam tickets!); a gay dance bar in Lincoln, Neb.; a hard rock radio station in El Paso (and a host of radio stations elsewhere); the subway train that goes to Coney Island in Brooklyn; and the nickname of Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, Mass.
(It is also the odd devotion of a librarian at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, who has a trippy Web page devoted to "facts and fancies concerning the seventeenth letter of the alphabet.")
So back to our anonymous hero, who fought back and launched the Burque movement. With a Web site and T-shirts and bumper stickers for sale and a You Tube video showing how to make your own Soy de Burque shirt he has reclaimed some control over what he wants his native city to be called.
He opts for Burque because that is how he grew up shortening Albuquerque. While his shirts have shown up in shops and on chests around town, he has remained unnamed through it all, opting for Burque to get all of the attention.
"I'm just a guy on the street. I'm just another regular old citizen," he says. "It's not about me and I don't want it to be about me."
The Burque movement has spurred quite a little nickname war one that Burque is winning on the streets.
Or was winning.
Then came the dark day late last year when the city's new blue curb side recycling bins were delivered. It's hard to do battle with a city-funded blue army.
"I was driving down the street and everybody had their canisters out and I just saw Qs everywhere," he says. "I thought, 'What can I do? It's this thing that's just being pushed on us.' "
What happened next will help explain why Mr. Burque likes to remain anonymous.
"I stared at it for a little while. Then I got some vinyl and cut out some stencils and went out and put my own little mark on it."
And the official Q became BurQue. Seditious or delicious, depending on your point of view.
The Duke of Burque is excited about the possibilities for all those Q's as Albuquerqueans receive their recycling bins. He points out that those without stenciling skills can use a "Soy de Burque" sticker to amend their Q.
"I think people can go crazy with it," he said. And then added judiciously, "I'm sure it's city property, so I'm not encouraging anybody to do anything with them."
He's also not pushing Burque that would be as bad as what the city is doing.
"You can call it Albuquerque. You can call it ABQ or Duke City. You can call it The Q. You can call it Burque," he says. "It's about where do we live? Who are we? Shouldn't we have a voice in this?"
If you've never had any trouble spitting out "Albuquerque," all four pesky syllables and two Q's, feel free to continue. If you want to be the first in the city to actually say you're "from The Q," well, good luck. If you're thinking of joining the Burque Brigade, please, some words of advice. Practice rolling your r's. And, remember, Burque does not rhyme with turkey.
You can reach Leslie at 823-3914 or email@example.com. Read all of her columns at www.abqjournal.com/upfront.