I'll say this about Albuquerque, they sure love their Breaking Bad. Also, their meth, apparently, but mostly, their Breaking Bad, one of the many TV shows and movies that have been shot in the New Mexico city over the past few years -- largely due to drool-worthy tax incentives and scenic locations -- but the only one that we, myself and photographer Nadia Chaudhury, were willing to travel across the country for. After all, Girls already films in my city.
Breaking Bad aside, I've been wanting to visit Albuquerque for years, but never bothered reclining up from my blogger chair until last week, when we flew from New York to the Land of Heisenberg. We saw as many notable as-seen-on-Breaking-Bad locales as possible, and yes, we were obviously even lucky enough to have an encounter with Bryan Cranston, a.k.a. a guy with the initials "W.W." who isn't named Walt Whitman.
Come join us, won't you, on a journey through time, space, Albuquerque, and photos of bathrooms.
Location: 9516 Snow Heights Circle NE
I hope Bogdan's doing well. Anyway, this is the totally legitimate car wash that Skyler and Walt own, for perfectly noble and car wash-y reasons. Octopus Car Washes are everywhere — they're like the McDonalds of the automobile cleanliness world — but they're not a laser tag facility, and thus, like Saul, I am very disappointed.
Location: 4915 Cumbre del Sur Ct
Hank and Marie's house, which is goddamn gorgeous. It's in the rich people, far-away Albuquerque hills, with nary a trace of purple. That's somehow even more of a let down than the car wash/laser tag thing.
Across the street from where we were staying is the abandoned Albuquerque rail yard, which hasn't hosted any Breaking Bad scenes, but did provide set locations for Terminator Salvation, Transformers, and, most non-crappily, The Avengers, which used the building for multiple scenes, including the one where Mark Ruffalo is discovered by a security guard in the nude. Sorry, ladies, but we didn't see any naked A-list actors, though I DID spot a homeless man nearby. Actually, maybe that was Ruffalo...
Location: 2010 Ridgecrest Dr. SE
Welcome to Casa de Vamonos Pest Control. All I thought about when I was there, "I miss Mike." Then, "If only Jesse had walked away from Walt for good after their Vamonos fight." Then, "I could really go for some tacos." Then, "I wonder if that adorable Vamonos Pest Control logo is still around here somewhere?"
It is not. (It used to be on that shredded billboard.)
I had never been more excited to see a door than I was this one, where Skyler stored Walt's ill-gotten money. And yes, it's the same one that's used in "Gliding Over All," as seen in this weird BB/Storage Wars mashup GIF.
If I could have any prop from Breaking Bad, it'd be Bryan Cranston's life. After that, the RV where Walt and Jesse did their cooking. It's parked in the lot where much of the show's interior scenes are shot, and it's...just kind of there. It ought to be in a museum, next to Archie Bunker's chair and Tony Soprano's breathing noises, but for now, it rests silently, without protection, in the parking lot of an Albuquerque studio.
Location: 2435 Wyoming Blvd NE
If you like your pastries like you do your women — covered in crunchy blue sugar — then go to Rebel Donut, which sells HEISENBERG donuts, as well as Pancake Bacon donuts, which we didn't eat because we didn't want to die.
Location: 3828 Piermont Dr NE
THE WHITE HOUSE. It's in a normal, totally residential part of town, and this was photo was taken the day after we saw the cast and crew filming an important, I'm-not-going-to-talk-about-it-in-specifics-because-it's-a-huge-HOLY-SH*T-spoiler scene. Apparently, the couple that own the house are very accommodating to Breaking Bad fans, and if you ring their doorbell and offer them $100 to throw a pizza on the roof, they won't say no. We didn't try, however, because we were too star struck from the day before by...
...this guy. (Not me.) Everything you've heard about Bryan Cranston — that he's the nicest, most charming guy in the world — is completely true. We were about 200 feet away from the White house, which is as close as fans can get after some asshole took photos and published frame-by-frame notes on the Internet about an important scene two weeks prior to our visit.
Now, gawkers have to stay back, but everyone is still very accommodating . Moira Walley-Beckett, who wrote "Fly" and "Bug," among others, came over to say hi to us, for no other reason than she wanted to. Anyway, Cranston's stand-in was chatting with us, too, and he said that once HEISENBERG was done being HEISENBERG, he'd bring him over. Which he did, and then we, and two other fans, spent the next five minutes shooting the sh*t with Cranston about the Oscars, Breaking Bad, and the time a member of KISS stole his girlfriend. He even signed an autograph as Walter White. Because he's the best.
OK, two more photos, if only so you can see how exaggerated Cranston gets in person.
This has nothing to do with Breaking Bad, but everything to do with Bob's Burgers.
Location: 4257 Isleta Blvd. SW
The interior of Twisters, or as its known to fans of buckets of chicken batter everywhere, Los Pollos Hermanos. It's your typical Southwest burritos/huevos rancheros/burgers joint, except for the fact that it was co-founded by a now-dead drug kingpin (the line between reality and fiction doesn't exist for me anymore). The location that was used on the show even keeps the Los Pollos logo on the wall, which must confuse 99% of the population.
By the register, there's a notebook that doubles as a guestbook for Breaking Bad fans to sign. You're supposed to write down your name, where you're from, and, what kind of drug you're looking for, probably. I like to imagine that one day, someone will write, "Looking for a good time, call 555-NOT-FAKE," then another BB enthusiast will call the number, hoping for a sexual good time, but end up chatting about Gale Boetticher for hours, then they'll eventually meet up and get married. All because of a notebook in a restaurant. Paradise by the four egg omelette light.
Location: 524 Romero St. NW
"METH," courtesy of the Candy Lady, who makes blue rock candy for when you want to worry about bringing a suspicious-looking object on a plane to New York, and wonder if it'll make it through security, especially when you have 10 packages, and if you do get caught, will that be the coolest or lamest story ever? The point of this tale is, I didn't get a cavity search because I bought candy in New Mexico.
You can also purchase a HEISENBERG hat.
Location: 322 16th St. SW
Jesse Pinkman's house, volume one. So much history: it's where Krazy 8 was held in a basement, where acid destroyed a ceiling, where Jesse's parents lived until he made Saul blackmail them, where Jesse threw a days-long party with copious amounts of booze, pills, pizza, and Xbox games. An Albuquerque landmark.
Location: 1216 Central Ave SW
The Dog House is where certain scenes were filmed — OMG LOOK AT THAT DOG.
Location: 325 Terrace St SE
Jesse's house, volume two. This is where he lived next to and shacked up with Jane (poor, poor Jane). It's for rent in real life, if anyone needs a place to asphyxiate on their own vomit.
Location: 2608 Central Ave. SE
Hey, that's me! I'm drinking tea (CLASSIC me) at the Denny's where "Live Free or Die" was filmed (haha, take that, New Hampshire), but what you should be focused on are the seats at the counter, where Walter had a conversation with a waitress on his 52nd birthday. I think everything's going to turn out OOOOOOOOOOOOK for that guy.
Here's an absolutely riveting iPhone near-selfie of the Denny's bathroom where Walt purchased an M60. This bathroom has seen some terrible things. Grand Slam breakfasts...actually, that's about it. *shudder*
Lovingly recreated, though when I asked for extra bacon so I could "redo what Walt did on Breaking Bad," the waitress looked at me like I was a crazy person. Like I was Walt, basically.
Crystal Blue persuasion, anyone? 'Til next time, Albuquerque.