Monday, September 1, 2014

Blue Sky Day - Part One

"I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really… I was alive." - Walter White

If you've ever read this blog, you know that I am from New Mexico and went to college in Albuquerque. It was never my plan to end up there - I originally intended on going to school in the midwest. Alas, I ended up in Albuquerque, attending UNM, and had the best time of my life. Ever the gypsy, I knew I'd leave Albuquerque as soon as I graduated. And I leave I did… twice! Despite my wanderlust, however, nowhere I have lived thus far has felt as close to home as good ol' Albuquerque. 

Although I try to get back to New Mexico and Albuquerque as often as I can, I don't get to go as often as I would like. When the governor of New Mexico started advertising film tax credits as a way to boost the economy, I was both amused and excited… hoping that it might mean I would get to see my beloved city more often on TV and in movies. Sadly, most movies and shows filmed in the city use Albuquerque as a backdrop for other cities - rarely featuring the city as a character itself. When Breaking Bad aired, I was thrilled! Finally, a show based in Albuquerque! And it was fantastic television to boot!

Last month, I visited an exhibit at FIDM showing various television costumes from various Emmy nominated television series, including costumes from Breaking Bad. This gave me an idea - I would take my own Breaking Bad tour when I visited home over Labor Day! I convinced my mom and my sister to join in (my sister LOVES the show), and we scheduled a couple of hours to tour various spots before they left me in Albuquerque. I already knew most of the locations from recognition alone, and we filled in the blanks with the help of friends and Foursquare. What follows is the first half of our tour. 

While Albuquerque as a whole is definitely a major character, one cannot dismiss the importance that the White residence played in the show. This house, given the fictional address of 308 Negra Arroyo Lane, is a real home used in every single season of filming. So many pivotal scenes took place at this home - it's hard to pick a favorite. The screenshots above show the house through the years, including seasons 1, 3, and 5 respectively. Surprisingly, only the front and backyard ever make an appearance on the show. Despite looking incredibly realistic, the interior shots were not filmed on location - they were shot offsite on a soundstage. The owners have taken great pains to make sure people are aware of this - they've had quite a few classless looky-loos who have disrespected the property trying to get a sneak peek. 

Walter White's House
3828 Piermont Dr NE
Albuquerque, NM

While I knew it was located in the Northeast Heights, I was surprised to discover that it was in a neighborhood that I knew quite well. It's actually only a few short blocks away from my cousin, and less than 5 minutes slightly southwest of Saul Goodman's office. Thousands of fans have taken the trek to visit the iconic property, much to the annoyance of the owners and the neighbors. If you do decide to visit, be respectful of the private residence itself and the surrounding neighborhood. Don't block traffic or driveways, and definitely don't trespass, loiter, or vandalize the property (don't throw pizza on the roof!). You can visit the White Residence at 3828 Piermont Dr NE in Albuquerque. 

Saul Goodman's Office
9800 Montgomery Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM

As I mentioned earlier, the White Residence is located less than 5 minutes from another famous location from the show - the offices of Saul Goodman! Saul's character was a riot, and appears to be based on a lawyer I remembered from my college days. (Yeah… not going to name him! But if you're from Albuquerque, you probably know who I'm talking about!) Hilariously enough, I did not recognize this location when I watched the show - my friend had to point it out. Why is that so funny? Because the strip mall is the site of a couple of my biggest college haunts! Haha! "Better Call Saul" has already started filming, but it doesn't appear that they are using this location for this prequel. Still, you can visit his former offices at 9800 Montgomery Blvd NE in Albuquerque.

A1A Carwash (Have an A-1 Day!)
9516 Snow Heights Circle
Albuquerque, NM

Our last stop in the Northeast Heights was just a bit further down the road, and was something I instantly recognized when I saw it on the show. Standing in for the A1A Carwash, the Octopus Carwash chain has been an Albuquerque staple for over 45 years. Sadly, the family owning the chain recently sold to Mister Car Wash. Although they were confident that Mister Car Wash would keep the "look" of the place intact, Mister Car Wash itself was recently sold to a private equity firm leaving the future of this location rather uncertain. So… stalk it while you can! Visit A1A Carwash in person at 9516 Snow Heights Circle in Albuquerque.

Well, that's it for now! I'll try to blog about the rest tomorrow : ) 

Until next time…

--- Becks

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