Reactions elsewhere:

If The Creek Don't Rise
Sunday, April 15, 2007

Aux des VRAI Canadiens:

Okay, for all my Canadian readers, you might
want to check out the web link below and add
your comments. It concerns one of my favorite
New Mexico bloggers (who I am linked to) and
an article his QWEE-beck guest wrote. Since
the article was published in French, it was
translated via computer. The translation results
were hilarious and the blogger reaction in
Albuquerque was even more amusing. You
may wish to add your comments - just make
sure to read through to the end of the
comments section first. Personally, I found the
comments about mayonnaise on fries and
ketchup-flavored potato chips just a little
inflammatory but you know the current culinary
score better than I. If they had mentioned la
poutine (or Lucier's "frit ... avec la sauce?"),
I might have become vocal myself.
¿Por qué?

Be Nice to Canadians in Albuquerque

by Stephen Ausherman

Duke City Fix


A correspondent for Montreal's Le Presse
recently took a road trip through the American
Southwest. Concluding his journey in
Albuquerque, he added these observations to his

"It has the air cute like that with the first access,
but Albuquerque is a strongly criminal city. ... It is
here full gangs, shootings each week, a
méga-traffic of meth, in a city not larger than
Sherbrooke. Then as soon as I cross a latino with
the pace of gangster or a biker salts full with
tattoos, I panic slightly. And as what I have just
described corresponds to a good third of the
passers by which I cross on the street, let us say
that I am never quite quiet." (Translation by

It would be easy to blame the aforementioned
Latinos and salty bikers for our city's intimidating
image, but apparently something else rattled
Ritoux's nerves. Prior to his arrival in
Albuquerque, he recruited local columnist Mike
Smith as his city guide.

Smith has an undeniable passion for all things
New Mexico. But in this state, passion often
translates into sensationalism, particularly the
kind that celebrates a culture of violence. It's the
same hype that transformed a punk like Billy the
Kid into the uber-outlaw of pulp novels and
Hanna-Barbera cartoons.

No doubt Smith romanticized Albuquerque with
the same sense of danger for our Canadian
guest. Problem is, Canadians don't get it. Aside
from the occasional brawl on ice, they seem to
lack the thanatos that fuels American culture.

As Mayor Marty once said: "Albuquerque doesn't
tolerate cultural diversity, we celebrate it."
Canadian culture is no exception. But we need to
go the extra kilometer to show our appreciation
for their delicate sensitivities.

So next time you cross a Canadian on our fair
streets, try not to startle him. Latinos, ease up on
your pace. Bikers, hide your tattoos. And skinny
white boys like Mike Smith, regale our Canadian
guests with cute stories about all the people who
didn't shoot meth and die in Albuquerque. We'll all
look a little better in the foreign press.

jeff wrote:
if only he was offered mayonnaise with his fries, all
would be fine.
04/11/07 14:44:53

Natalie wrote:
Oh, I don't know. I tried to read his blog and I didn't
understand a word he said.
04/11/07 14:54:30

mothra wrote:
Uh, fun translation from Google. I do believe the
"salty bikers" are supposed to be dirty bikers. But
then again....

Of course, if you read the rest of the piece, he is
going on about how he is a wanted man--by the
Sacramento police. So I think he has jazzed up the
crime stuff on purpose. To make it look like he is
living on the edge in the Wild Wild West.

His posts on Alamagordo are no less
sensational...Alamagordo, a Nightmare of Snakes is
the heading of one.
04/11/07 14:55:20

Snark wrote:
The Canadian does have a valid point:
Albuquerque is an incredibly violent place.
The stats speak for themselves.
04/11/07 15:30:56

Michelle wrote:
Google Translation is fun!

"To believe of it the attitude of the Patrolman
Highway which gave me my quotation to
comparaitre this evening, in the levels of criminality
which the man can reach in its worst subsoils there
are first of all the murder of a child, and right after
that, not very far, the fact of transporting empty
beer containers in its car."

I think our problem is obvious. Visiting Canadians
have no repect for our open container laws. Tsk.
04/11/07 15:40:10

DougR wrote:
I haven't met a Canuck who liked the US. I think it
has something to do with their hockey teams bailing
for better markets south of their border.
04/11/07 15:42:20

Michelle wrote:
Albuquerque could be worse. As mothra
mentioned, we could be ... ALAMOGORDO!

Its only entertainments are the Musée
old-fashioned of Space, the Museum of the
train-toys which one has not vacuum-cleaned for
20 years, an agricultural fair including/
understanding a gun show and one not beaten of
snakes with bell, a couple of churches Baptists and
evangelic, a déglingué cinema, a store of skin
mags, one limps of night in which I do not dare to
penetrate, and of the branches of Wal-Mart,
Wallgreen's and Home-Deposit.
04/11/07 15:42:54

rico wrote:
Sounds like our Canuck visitor shouldn't have
ventured south of Boise.
04/11/07 16:21:15

the boy wrote:
I must say, in my visit to the Canadian Southwest
this summer (yes, Saskatchewan refers to itself this
way), they were all pretty hospitable. Or inside. I
saw one scene kid walking around in a t-shirt, and
maybe two other Canadians walking about.

Certainly no salty bikers. I was a tad threatened by
the Canadian Army Reserve post, until I realized
the tanks were from the Korean War.

The relevance of this comment to Albuquerque?
None, none at all
04/11/07 16:26:17

Amy wrote:
The translated version sounds like Borat visiting
the US.
04/11/07 18:22:37

JYD wrote:
i like to make intoxicate with the meths, it having the
sensations of much pleasure and also loss of the
04/11/07 18:35:55

maximus attentivus wrote:
Everybody is pasty up north. Believe me.

And the air is thick with criminality.
04/11/07 19:25:08

Michelle Meaders wrote:
Quebec gives bilingualism a bad name: they push
French on everybody. In the rest of Canada, it's not
like that.
04/11/07 19:26:36

JeffJ wrote:
heh, as a canuck of many years I must say I
thoroughly enjoyed spending a number of months
circumnavigating the continental portion of your
fine country. I found the people to be varied and
though some places evoked a higher level iof
caution than others, it was a blast to meet many of
your countrymen/women. I think as with any culture,
country, there will be both good and bad, please
don't assume that all canadians are the same.

04/11/07 21:54:11

mike wrote:
I dont think this guy is a very accurate
representation of most canadians. I myself am a
canadian and just moved here a few months ago.
Ive been in some of the sketchier parts of town, and
I happen to be living right downtown at the moment.
A few nights ago we heard gunshots followed by
screeching tires, and then last night, two homeless
people set up a noisy, drunken camp in our front
yard. So, I can see where M. Ritoux is coming from.
However, I dont feel threatened or unsafe here. Im
afraid that the rest of us Canadians often have little
in common with French Canadians like M. Ritoux. I
wouldnt take it personally, Albuquerqueans. On
that note, what do you call someone who is from
04/11/07 23:26:53

Ausherman (the guest blogger) wrote:
I just received e-mail from Smith himself, in which
he offers several possible explanations for what
might have given Ritoux his impression of
Albuquerque as a hotbed of violence and mayhem.

For the sake of fairness, I'd like to share it with the
forum. In the interest of brevity, just the first three:

> 1) He [Ritoux] asked about the memorial to the
dead cops next to my house. I told him the story of
the guy who went crazy and gunned down all those

2) He stepped outside for a cigarette one morning
when there were syringes lying on the nearby

3) He was approached by a prostitute while
unloading his bags. ...

It goes on like that.
Maybe we need to go a little further than the extra
kilometer to make our Canadian guests
comfortable? I assume Ritoux called on Smith
instead of the ACVB for a reason, though perhaps
not for those syringes and dead cops next to his
house. I can see how that could give the wrong

Or maybe there's something wrong with our
prostitutes. Does anyone know how they compare
to those in Montreal?
04/12/07 01:41:39

Los Ranchos Rider wrote:
Everyone seems to be making too big a deal about
shootings, gangs, drugs, prostitutes... if ya wanna
play with the big boys...

I don't think crime is such a big problem in ABQ...
but then maybe it's because I spent 20 years in
Chicago... make ABQ look ALOT better...ratta tat
04/12/07 09:54:00

Steve In Maine wrote:
At least you don't have heavy-set Quebeqers
wandering around your beaches wearing speedos.
04/12/07 11:14:24

jeff wrote:
we have texans to contend with.
04/12/07 12:39:49

Nicolas Ritoux wrote:
Hey guys... It took quite a while before I was warned
that this discussion was going on. So here is my

1) Google translation tools are shit like every
robotic translation, and you should not even try to
use them.

2) Translation tools are even worse when it comes
to translating irony, or any slight layer of language

I was deliberately exaggerating, not to produce a
sensationalist piece, but rather to make my readers
laugh. It's obviously exaggerated. That's on
purpose. Got it ? As for the "latino gangsters", I was
doing a surreal cinematographic allusion (Grand
Theft Auto-style, if you will) and not a racial
prejudice. The bikers, on the other hand, were
quite real - I arrived on a Sunday when they were
like 1000 on W. Central St.
Well, maybe all this is not that clear in the text,
even in French, I must admit. Maybe I wrote it too

I loved Albuquerque, I actually felt safe there and
met nice people. As for Alamogordo, it was indeed
a strange city for a Canadian traveler. The posts
about Alamogordo are actual journalistic pieces, as
opposed to my post about Albuquerque which is a
personal fun piece.
04/12/07 13:26:31

Nicolas Ritoux wrote:
Oh, and as my fellow countryman said above,
French-Canadians have nothing to do with
Canadians. We don't even call ourselves
Canadians, actually...
04/12/07 13:29:23

dianne wrote:
he was just mad that we don't have ketchup
flavored potato chips.
04/12/07 14:07:11

Freekbuoy wrote:
mike - we're Burquenos (with the tilde over the n,
so it sounds like the n in "onion")
04/12/07 19:25:59

shelley wrote:
I can't stand Canadians!!! hahaha
07/16/07 07:18:05
Pourquoi pas?

Bad translation means WAR

by Nicolas Ritoux, journaliste techno

Vu Lu Su

Jeudi 12 avril 2007

A few bloggers from Albuquerque didn’t like the
way I wrote about their city. After discussing my
views, they went on exchanging ideas about
Canadians and their culture.

Their discussion is here. Everything began with
my satirical post about Albuquerque. They
unfortunately didn’t get the satire.

First of all, I’m not a Canadian, I’m a Quebecer
(not even that - I’m a Montrealer). Secondly,
that’s what happens when unilingual Anglos try
to read my blog using a translation tool, trusting
the results enough to discuss my opinions in
great lengths. It doesn’t take much to launch a
comment war on a blog, but it takes even less
when the original text is twisted by a crazy robot.
I hope this serves as a lesson…

Back to French now… Désolé !


Betty a écrit :

12 avril 2007 à 11:53 pm
Discussing views and exchanging ideas are
good things, non?

Also, I think the robotic translation enhanced the
level of satire. Except for this:

“…an agricultural fair including/understanding a
gun show and one not beaten of snakes with
bell, a couple of churches Baptists and
evangelic, a déglingué cinema, a store of skin
mags, one limps of night in which I do not dare to

Man, that’s poetry to shame Kerouac.

So please - NO WAR - we’ve had enough.
You dig?

El Orange a écrit :

13 avril 2007 à 1:40 pm
Writing satire is difficult, let alone translating it to
another language. That said, I think most
Albuquerqueans were amused.

Your post certainly played on many of the
negatives we often fear visitors take with them
once they leave our city. I might be speaking for
myself now, but Canandian culture (especially
French Canadian culture) has aura of purity
surrounding it — that when we hear our city has
some how corrupted this purity — it’s funny.

“Albuquerque? Crime capital of the world! Who
said that? A Canadian! Ha! Oh, boy, now we’ve
gone and done it — corrupted the Canadians.”

We know we’re not all that bad; we know every
place has its grimy points — Canada and
Quebec included. Your post played right into a
naiveté/corruption dichotomy, which, even if the
satire was literally ‘lost in translation,’ it was still

No harm, no foul.

Hopefully I didn’t just dig myself into hole!
Quebec to Albuquerque: It's WAR!
by Stephen Ausherman

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