Philadelphia has Rocky at the foot of the stairs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Marilyn Monroe graces the Palm Springs Art Museum. And now, thanks to the generosity of Sony Pictures and Breaking Bad showrunner Vince Gilligan, larger-than-life bronze sculptures of
icons Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) adorn the
Albuquerque Convention Center, welcoming busloads of tourists to
Gilligan commissioned the work from sculptor Trevor Grove and
donated the statues to the city. He and the cast want to express
gratitude and honoring Albuquerque’s decade and a half of hospitality,
But are they Burque?
It’s too late to wonder if Burque wants to be represented by two notorious crystal-meth cookers and their cohorts of murderous psychopathic gangsters. It’s like that. The six-year-old brilliantly executed TV show plus movie “El Camino” more or less, if not more brilliantly acted, wrote and produced a prequel captured the world’s imagination. “Better Call Saul” is nominated for five Emmys this year alone, including Bob Odenkirk for Lead Actor and Rhea Seehorn for Supporting Actress. “Breaking Bad” entered the Guinness World Records in 2014 as the most critically acclaimed show of all time.
If you had any doubts about the power of the anti-hero’s quest, transforming a chemistry professor in a Costco shirt into a ‘say my name’ drug lord, stop by the Breaking Bad. Store in the Old Town any day of the week between 10am and 6pm, or “be the one shopping” 24/7 online. More than 500 people a day from literally all over the planet flock. Most pass, although the store is the last stop on the Breaking Bad bus tour. They’re vacationers on their way to Sunport, and they’re locals looking for the perfect gift –
mittens and aprons for their cook and a dog for their best friend. Christmas decorations, BB themed Monopoly, books, birdhouses and tumblers and locally cut jewelry. There’s even something special for crafters, with color-coded BrBa yarn skeins. And visitors can complete their Halloween decor with Walt and Jesse’s lightweight faux tombstones. Watch the guestbook signed by visitors from Italy, Colombia, Canada, Ethiopia – everywhere – stopping in to make an average purchase of $28 to $150 each.
According to the City of Albuquerque’s Department of Cultural Services, Mayor Tim Keller credits the success of Breaking Bad with boosting the local film industry, bringing in $855.4 million in direct spending in fiscal year 2022, a increase of $228.9 million over the fiscal year
Absolute power corrupts absolutely
And now a new generation of BrBa enthusiasts are obsessed with the 15-year-old show. Shop co-owner Ed Candelaria says that during the pandemic, the original fans picked up the show, but now their kids are old enough to be allowed to watch it. So Gilligan and fellow writer/showrunner Peter Gould and the cast got this new generation hooked on the adrenaline rush they conjured up.
The shop’s co-owner, Marq Smith, thinks the story is mostly moralistic: a struggling high school chemistry teacher wanted to let his family support him after he left. “It’s a critique of the health care system, basically,” he says. However, he adds, adding archetypal status to the script, as Walter White’s story unfolds, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
“It’s on Burque,” says jeweler and Zumba instructor Sarah Mackenzie of the idea for the sculptures. “I love it. They brought a lot of money and attention to the city. Albuquerque has an empty stomach. We have to admit that. They took what they found. They made smart TV and show a lot of creativity.
Superfans made it possible
Breaking Bad superfans Smith and Candelaria opened their store in January 2021. “It’s the only one of its kind in the world,” says Smith. From their own collection, they developed the Heisenberg Museum and Photo Ops, with sets featuring virtually every BB and BCS character, so visitors could take photos with Jesse in the meth lab, with Saul Goodman in his office or with Gus at Los Pollos Hermanos. counter.
The museum is free, but to enter visitors must run the merch gauntlet, a wall-to-wall assortment of licensed merchandise far beyond coffee mugs, shot glasses and T-shirts, although the most big seller of the store is the Los Pollos Hermanos t-shirt. The shirt adorned with drug lord Heisenberg’s face is a close second. An imitation of his hat is also available to complete the set.
In addition to imported items made in Vietnam, Smith says the store stocks the creations of local artists, including maps, prints, jewelry and crafts of all kinds. “If you’re a local artist working on the Breaking Bad theme, we’ll review your work,” he says.
Photos of Walt and Jesse statues by Rusty Rutherford.