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March 31, 2007

Next on the list of people who are not like you and me...

Travis Briscoe

Read up on him in the Albuquerque Tribune. I did.

It made me homesick. Real bad.

California, or at least the part of California where I live, the over populated part, isn't real big on rodeo. I have to say, I miss it. I think about it on a warm summer day...or on Fourth of July. The sights, smells, sounds. I really miss it.

Oh sure, people will jump up and down about how it's bad for the animals. I can't say I can entirely disagree....I mean, spurring the sides of a horse and strapping sharp object to a bull's huevos isn't exactly dainty treatment. I do actually understand that.

But I was raised watching rodeo. It's a sport I love. Very few events am I so totally engrossed in every moment of the action. It's a blink and you'll miss it kind of sport that inspires gasps and shouts from the crowd. Love it.

Travis is a local guy, from Edgewood, who has made it big on the circuit. And he is all of 19 years old. Nineteen.

In regards to the toughest bull he's drawn: "'You never know what he is going to do. I got on him twice, and he gave me a concussion both times.'"

I think about my bad days...the boss was stern, the food in the work cafeteria was bad, it rained puddles so big I can't get my car out to go home. But my work doesn't involve me getting concussed with regularity (just, you know, normal cussed), and then going back in to get concussed again.

Travis took some time off from work recently. "I tore two ligaments and chipped some bone off so there was some loose bone floating around in there," he said.


I also took some time off from work recently. I watched Giants Spring Traning Baseball and drank margaritas on the patio at Julio G's in Scottsdale (the one by the ballpark). There were, you know, some loose brain cells floating around in there, but that's the extent of the damage.

Travis is competing this weekend at the Ty Murray Invitational at Tingley. (is anyone else as tickled as I am that Tingley Coliseum has a Wiki entry? *giggle* I should file that away for a whole blog entry all to its own....)

Sure wish I could be there this weekend to watch this event and to watch Travis compete.

Here's to a good ride, cowboy.

March 30, 2007

Governor Bill Richardson has a sense of humor...almost...

On Wedneday, March 29, 2007, the Governor of our Fair New Mexico appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

You can watch the clip by clicking here:

Now I have to say that to see our Guv on such a big stage is pretty cool. It's a big step up for our state. Richardson is bringing us to the spotlight.

Are we ready for that?

In all I think it was a decent appearance. Ol' Bill was kinda, sorta funny, helped immeasurably by Jon Stewart, of course. I've seen Jon make politicians look like bigger buffoons, so all in all Richardson did ok. Even got a couple laughs but managed to step on his own best joke which was that his rankings in the Presidential race are below the percentage "margin of error". Pretty funny, actually. He could have gotten a big laugh from it...oh well.

His shameless plug at the end for his book was both embarrassing and to be expected. He IS a politician after all.

In looking for the Daily Show clip online, I also found this little gem. Not living in New Mexico currently I've missed this slice of Madison Avenue fluff.

Seems Bill Richardson kind of has a sense of humor. Or at least he's trying to....... Who knew?

March 29, 2007

Oh Polly, not again.

You know...since moving from New Mexico I've read the ABQjournal off and on via the net to keep up on news. Since starting this blog just a few weeks ago, I've been reading the ABQjournal much more thoroughly. I've now determined something.....one Ms Polly Summar, "journal north" columnist, someone whose work I'm not familiar with and as of today have only read twice, is going to provide A LOT of fodder for this blog.

First off...I want her job...because I far as I can tell, she gets to complain for a living. Sure, I'm doing that here on this blog, but she's getting *paid*.

Second...dear, dear Polly. You gotta get out of Santa Fe sometimes. There's a whole bright world out there! I don't know why you think the world oughta bend to your will...it ain't gonna happen. I suggest taking some of those over priced Santa Fe yoga classes and get in touch with your Kundalini or something...because, nice lady, you are going to pop a vein if you keep letting all this stuff get to you.

You say you are a baby boomer...I thought the hallmark of the boomers was their "live and let live" demeanor. What happened to you?

Today Polly is on about the younger employees of her office. In the same way I found her to be rather rude about the tourists in her beautiful town, now she's snubbing the 20-somethings in today's article, "Don't Bother Trying To Bond With Office Youths".

Don't bother? That implies these people aren't worth your valuable time. If you walk around with that attitude it's no wonder people don't want to "bond" with you.

Who bonds with their coworkers anyway? They are not your friends. They are not there to be your moral support. They are all there to do a job. And so are you. Leave your coworkers alone fer goodness sakes!

I think Polly's point number 5 chilled me the most:

"It is fine for you to do some things with 20-somethings during the week, like lunch or a quick dinner after work. But don't go and start inviting them to do things on the weekend. That is both gross and weird. Or maybe it's just weird. Just don't do it."

Oh my god! That's both gross and weird at ANY age! No one goes around asking coworkers to do things on the weekends unless you have already established that kind of friendship with them, which is rare at work. I don't hang out with any of my coworkers anywhere other than work. If you go around randomly inviting ANY coworker, regardless of age, to do things on the weekends I can guarantee folks will avoid you like you've got a stinging case of the avian flu.

Are you that lonely, Ms Summar, that you are trolling your place of employment for friends? I've always, personally, made it a policy to keep work at work and keep personal to personal. It's a lighter version of "don't dip your pen in the company ink". I don't WANT my coworkers involved in my personal life...because I have to WORK (you know, as a professional) with these folks. I don't want to have to negotiate a huge contract with someone who knows that I worry about my hair color being too brassy and that I’m confused because last night I cried my eyes out again over something that happened over two years ago.

THAT is not conducive to work.

I think the tone of this whole article is sad. You are doing nothing to improve your situation or the over all situation of "us vs them". You are making it worse. Much worse.

I remember being a fresh faced kid out of college working at Sandia Labs. The median age at Sandia isn't exactly "youthful". I was a fresh faced 23 year old MBA grad and I ran into a lot of curmudgeons who couldn't be bothered to mess with a "young kid" (they actually called me that). They constantly reminded me that I was young and "didn't know anything" (they actually said that). It was, actually, pretty demoralizing. I knew there was much to learn from these folks. They had made successful careers and I wanted one too. But they dismissed me much the same as Ms. Summar dismisses the younger employees of her office. And I lost out on a lot because of that attitude.

The good news is that my first boss, and the boss that followed, both took me under their respective wings. They are boomer-aged folks, had been at the labs twenty years or better at the time, and they knew they didn't have to talk to me in the "lingo". Here's what they did, Ms. Summar, they talked to me like they would talk to any adult, without regard for my age (hey, there's a respectful concept!). I formed deep friendships with both of them that last to this day (that was about fifteen years ago). They mentored me and today I can honestly say I owe my quite successful career to them both. I still email with them regularly. They still help me when I'm stuck with a work situation. They still make me laugh. They tell me how much they miss me, and I believe them because I miss them too.

And guess what? Today, I mentor the people in my office they way they mentored me. There is a very bright 21 year old working in my office. I made a reference to a 70's show, "The Jeffersons", much like Ms. Summar did with "The Odd Couple" in her article. The young girl of course said "what?". I laughed, she looked at me odd, and here's what I did...I said "here's what I meant...." She got it, because I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

Give people (regardless of age) the benefit of the doubt, Ms. Summar. Please!

Look what you are missing out on. Your elitist attitude is standing in the way of what could be a meaningful mentorship, passing on all you know to those that come after you in your same chosen career. Hey maybe THAT is a place to start, the fact you both chose careers in journalism. By sniffing and snubbing the "youth" (who but a curmudgeon even uses that word anyway?), you lose the chance to pass on all you've learned.

You seem to have had a successful career. Why are you keeping it to yourself by imposing all these obstacles?

Dictionary.com (wait, you are familiar with the internet, right?) lists one definition for curmudgeon that fits our friend Ms. Summar to a tee:

"a crusty irascible cantankerous old person full of stubbon ideas"

Maybe *that* is why the "youths" don’t want to hang out with you....

(P.S. I'd actually written a different post for today, but reading Ms. Summar's article fired me up so much I bumped it for another day.)

March 28, 2007

Now that's Rasquache

I had a pretty good laugh upon reading the ABQjournal this morning. I love our fair New Mexico. As hard as we try to play with the bigs, trumpeting articles like "Santa Fe Named No. 2 for Artists" (never mind my childish potty humor over using "No. 2" in a headline.....) showing we've got class, there is always another article to show just how small town we still are.

I'm referring to this article, "Albuquerque May Get Tricky With Red Light Cameras". I've read over the past few weeks the articles discussing the future of the cameras. Lots of folks are understandably unhappy with them. I've only given half an eye to those articles because where I live now, the San Francisco Bay Area, red light cameras are prevalent and have been for the better part of the ten years I've lived here. I don't like them anymore than anyone else, but they are just part of life. I've been cheering the good fight put on by the folks of New Mexico, but I know it is, in the end, a losing battle.

The article states, "City officials are talking about shutting down the camera operations at some of the most successful intersections but leaving the apparatus in place, making it appear as if the device still works."

What's happening there? Not enough funding to run the systems? Or not enough funding to have enough people to review the photos? I understand that is the most time consuming part, having people analyze the photos. The article states that some $6 million has been taken in since the program's inception in late 2004 (which seems low to me for a two year span given tickets here will run you $280, but what do I know?).

"'We are coming to a point in the program where you evaluate,' police spokesman John Walsh said."

Evaluate what? Money? Effectiveness? They report that accidents are down at the main intersections where this is being used. What's to evaluate about that?

The best part is that they are TELLING us they are doing it. Those wacky APD folks sure are wily!


They don't outright say it, but the plan to move the cameras to other intersections and leave inoperable shells behind has got to be a cost saving maneuver. For a program that's taken in over $6M.

That's like when your kid has a toothache....instead of taking your kid to the dentist, tying a string to a doorknob and yanking that sucker.

That's like using tin foil for curtains in your house.

That's like using a wooden cable spool for your dining table.

Fake intersection cameras. Now THAT'S rasquache.

God I love New Mexico. The more we try to big league it, the more our true nature shows. I'm proud to be a New Mexican.......I really am.

I raise bailing wire and duct tape in a salute to Mayor Martin Chavez and the APD for this fabulous traffic accident saving idea.

March 27, 2007

Let's keep it on memory lane

All the talk lately about Governor Richardson running for president has had me thinking about the men who have occupied the governor's seat in New Mexico. It's funny, I lived there from the early 70's through the 90's and off the top of my head I can only remember two (though there were more).

Toney Anaya. He served from 1983 to 1987. That was when I was in high school. My mom used to call him Toney Annoy-ya. He was this little nebbish of a man. To be honest, the only thing I remember about him is that in the waning days of his leadership, he commuted every death sentence in the state to life in prison. Oh man, were there some hostile folks about that. New Mexico is traditionally a very Democratic state. But there is a good portion of New Mexico (farmers and ranchers, mostly) that are as conservative as heck. My dad was an engineer and as is traditional for the engineering folk, also incredibly conservative. He leaned so far to the right I'm surprised he didn't flop over when he walked. Thankfully one of his offspring (me) has turned out quite moderate. I can even walk in a straight line. I remember when this whole thing went down with Anaya he would fume and talk back to the television when the news was reporting about the details. At the time I remember thinking it was a pretty compassionate thing to do, but wondered how we'd pay for it all. Governor Anaya certainly left an impression on the state. On me too, it seems.

The other one I remember is Bruce King. He served from 1971 to 1975 and again from 1979 to 1983 and then again from 1991 to 1995. No wonder I remember him so well, he was governor for most of life. The memory I'm here to talk about today had to be from his first incarnation as governor. My memory is pretty fuzzy about my childhood, and so dates are tough, but there are certain memories that are vivid in the visuals. This is one.

I was in grade school, had to be maybe first or second grade. We went on a field trip to the capitol building in Santa Fe ("The Roundhouse") and had a tour. I remember the state legislature was in session. We all had to go in and sit quietly and listened for a while. I can only say this from my memory...boooooring.

The tour continued and we went on to the office of the governor. I remember standing around when the teacher and other adults suddenly got twitterpated. Without warning the largest, loudest man I'd ever seen in my life in the biggest brownest polyester suit emerged from some hidden doorway and came out to greet the children. Many of the kids ran to him and hugged his leg. I had zero idea who the hell that was (I was always a head in the clouds kind of child) and I sure as hell wasn't going to hug a man that scared me senseless.

He came around to us, one by one, patting heads (in hindsight, kind of like a priest). I remember when he patted my own head he stank of cigar smoke. He scared me even further up close. I have sensitive ears and that guy was *loud*.

I've included a photo I found on the web at the end of this post. I have no idea of the date of that photo but I can say he makes Bill Clinton look small in that photo, and Clinton is no tiny man.

I think that brief meeting of a "man of power" at a young age sort of tinged my view of all governors...and maybe presidents too. I expect them to be all verbose, bluster and polyester. I may not be too far off the mark.

Anyone had the chance to meet Bill Richardson? What's he all about? Shoot me a comment or an email, I'd love to know.

March 26, 2007

When memories reach up and grab you

Lately I've been on quite a jag of reading the works of one noble New Mexico left handed cowboy poet named Baxter Black. He's a good friend of my "adopted dad" (my best friend's father). I had the chance to meet him once back in college and I've heard stories of his over the years.

I was heartened to see that my local library carried a good selection of Bax's works. They make you smile, make you think and make you outright laugh yer bum off.

I just got done reading one of his collections from a few years back. It was one of the books of his NPR material called "Horseshoes, Cowsocks and Duckfeet". One selection from that book is called "Lake Valley".

Man oh man. That almost made me weep with homesickness. It also made me smile to know that two people, some twenty-five years apart in age, have similar memories of the same event. That's the staying power of Lake Valley.

In fact, back in college I used to go to Lake Valley with my best friend. She's the one who turned me on to it. Her parents used to come along with us too, having danced at Lake Valley back in the day (and probably along with Bax). I remember at the dance they used to give you a family rate of $20. My fill-in dad would gather up all us scraggly college kids, blonds, redheads, brunettes, short, tall, thin, stocky and all about the same age. He'd point to our gang, tell 'em that was his family, throw 'em a twenty at the door and we'd all get in.

You know, in our way, we were (and are) family.

The way Bax describes Lake Valley in his writing is just how I remember it. Though when I was going, a band called The Rounders were the ones playing the old songs. What a talented group, The Rounders...they even played at my best friend's wedding. Now THAT was a party.

At the end of this post is a photo I found online. It's how the schoolhouse used to look. Ok, imagine that...but with no desks and a lot more years on it and that's pretty much how it used to look. See that riser there at the end? Where the teacher would sit? That's where the band would play. It was a long narrow room and we had to dance in a long oval. Like Bax said, the floorboards give under your feet and after all the years they weren't particularly even, so you had to mind your feet, but oh was it a hell of a good time.

I've never felt quite so free, happy and in touch with the simple easy joys in life. I miss the feeling of flying I'd get dancing a polka with my very tall and very dear friend Larry. I loved the camaraderie of wrapping arm around arm and doing the Schottische and Cotton Eyed Joe ("stepped in what?"). And, as Bax said, when the band took a break, we'd all migrate outside to cool off and dip into the ice chest for food, beverages and the telling of a few good stories.

Ah the memories. If I let 'em, they'll take over my whole day.

March 25, 2007

The sound of crickets chirping...

In my head. Oh god, all day long when I ponder what will be my blog entry for today, all I hear are crickets. (Go here if you are aurally challenged and need help imagining the sound. I did.)

It is day nine of blogdom for me and I'm more than embarrassed to admit I don't have any good ideas for a post today. So I'll post about my lack of post, how's that?

When I set out (just over a week ago) the ideas flowed easily. I'm not ashamed to admit I'm pretty proud about how things are going so far. As I mentioned in the beginning, this blog starts out as a source of good discipline for me as a writer. And today I'm up against one of my demons as a writer. "Eh, I don't have a good idea, so I'll not bother to even write."

This is bad. It victimizes great writers every day.

For the past few years I've participated in National Novel Writing Month, an exercise in which you force yourself to write 50,000 words in thirty days for the sheer challenge of doing so. I've done it twice and won both times. Mainly because I learned this about myself: I work great under a tight deadline. When the race is on and there's "something in it", I'm all over it.

But my momentum tends to lag when there isn't a carrot out there that I'm running toward.

That's the discipline I'm working on. I'm an amateur writer working on growing my chops. I see how far I've come in the almost ten years since I set out to honestly focus on writing, and I can sure see how far I've yet to grow.

They say, "write what you know" and writing about New Mexico fits that bill. So far I'm having a good time with this. I hope over time I can get some eyes here that aren't just family and friends (though I'm incredibly grateful to any family member or friend who is giving me a glance).

I love writing, I really do, and this blog, I've discovered, is actually harder to do than it seems. Not complaining. It was just surprising to me. I have some favorite bloggers that I've read over the years who complain about how much time a blog takes. I always thought, "pish posh, get with the posting!" Now I know better.

I'm having a fun time...despite the ever increasing volume of crickets in the noggin today.

I suppose I could blame the ABQjournal for having a slow Sunday, or New Mexico Magazine for having a slow month (the "home edition" always leaves me cold, I flipped through it in record time today). But that's just all excuses. And the time has come to stop making excuses.

Today, I write. Look at that....you can squeeze a whole post outta nothing to write about!

March 24, 2007

Maybe They Oughta Listen to My Mom

During the some 27 years I lived in New Mexico, I had many occasions to encounter the Rio Grande. How might I best describe my impressions? Muddy, dangerous, cold, forceful undertow. Oh yeah, and flotsam and jetsam of the highest order. Things that make you go ewww as they drift by in the swirling eddies of the mud colored water.

My mom always insisted that my siblings and I not swim in "that dirty water". Her main worry, of course, was that in the dry seasons, trees and weeds grow in abundance in the empty riverbed. During runoff, water covers that tangled underbrush and it's real easy to get a foot caught and that's that in a wicked undertow. The river flows fast when it's flowing.

I'd heard stories through the years too about if you swim don't gulp any of the water. Hepatitis. E coli. Other exotic things with exotic names I can't remember.

I can honestly say, I've never swum in the water of the Rio Grande. Now I took on the muddy waters of Ute Lake with a pink air mattress and a smile during summers in my childhood, but I never had occasion to swim in the river. Occasions presented themselves, but I never went in. I've sat on the muddy banks a lot, pondering life, raising hell, drinking beer. Once after losing my college love, I sat by the banks of the river in Las Cruces for days on end and raised the water level with the volume of tears I cried. But swim? No.

In each person's life, they have a collection of images in their head that are indelible. They stick for a variety of reasons. The first time you saw the love of your life. A terrible car crash you once witnessed. What it was like to see the ocean for the first time. One of those images from the mélange in my own brain is from my college days. There were lots of spots in the greater Las Cruces area with good access to the Rio Grande. As such, we college kids made it a point to have many a celebration by the banks of the Rio Grande. Many of these "river parties" took place at night, after a dance or the bar closed. But sometimes it would start as a barbeque down by the water and last into the night.

One afternoon on a warm day, a gang of girls piled in to the car and headed to the river for a barbeque day. It was a crowded party and there were some boys swimming in the river. I always give the river a beady eye of skepticism mainly because my mom drummed it into me. So I watched these nineteen-year-old guys swimming around in that gross water with fascination. I remember one guy, I can't honestly remember his name, but he was in the water and he was swimming with all his might against the current and he was losing ground. This was a strong guy, in good shape and a strong swimmer and he was putting everything into it, and the river was pushing him back.

Ok, I know for any "mighty" river this probably isn't all that amazing. But to me, it crystallized everything my mom had said about the dangers of swimming in that water.

Along with the wonder of seeing him swim for all he's worth and not get any forward progress was seeing bits of yuck floating past him in the water. Not only was I horrified at the danger he put himself in swimming into the current, but my god, what danger did all that crap pose to his health?!?!

By the time that water makes it to the southern end of the state, it's been subjected to some pretty heinous stuff. Insecticides, manure, runoff, and the occasional dear departed dog. Yes, horrible to say but true, many a person has tossed their deceased animal into that water. Hell, a few human bodies too, but that's almost too much to consider.

In October this year I took my partner to see the span of river near my folks place in Los Chaves on the Bosque. It's beautiful there. As we stood on the banks I recall him saying to me, "What's that foamy stuff floating by?" God knows. I sure didn't.

So this is a long way of saying there is no way in hell I'd drink that water. So imagine the ewww face I made when I read the article in the Albuquerque Tribune with the story title: "Taste testers find Rio Grande water earthy, approachable".

Say it with me now....EWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!

The story says that in Albuquerque they are building a treatment plant to make the water, and I quote "drinkable and deliverable to area sinks, toilets and showers."

They'd do best not to tell folks where the water came from. Cuz I know I'm not the only one who'd be real opposed to having that in my water glass.

I know beggars can't be choosers when water is tight. But gad...that's just...gross.

I do love the quote, though, from a local winemaker John Calvin. "He detected some 'overtones of granite,' he said, a hint of 'Russian olive in the nose,' and something else that might have been 'evergreen trees after a rain.'"

Wow. Bet that's not all he tasted......

(actual photo of the actual river in Los Chavez)

Photo by Karen Fayeth

March 23, 2007

Los Turistas

On Thursday, March 22, Polly Summar wrote an article in the ABQjournal entitled "Rules of Tourist Etiquette".

It is to laugh.

I know Ms. Summar is well intended. She even makes some good points. I especially agreed with number five, "Do not stand in the middle of the sidewalk during busy times on the Plaza..." Then she says later in the same point, "Would you do this in New York City? No? Well, don't do it here."

The thing of it is, they *would* do the same in New York City. I saw it. Hell, I probably did it. They would do the same in Boston, and San Antonio and Dubuque. That's what tourists do. If you live in a place that is popular with tourists, you have to accept a certain bit of foolish behavior.

And trying to impose Tourist Rules is like shouting at a hurricane. You're going to strain yourself. It's not going to hear you. And it's still gonna blast past you anyway (though hurricanes are not in an all fire rush to buy jewelry from a "real Indian", but that's another post for another day).

In fact, articles like this one can be perceived as being a bit hostile to tourists. For a state like ours that depends on the tourist dollar....I'm not saying cater to their every bad behavior, but you gotta accept some of the cost that comes with the plentiful tourist dollar.

Maybe Ms. Summar should take some 'round the way roads to get where she's going if tourists jamming the Plaza are going to ruin her good day.

The lure of the Plaza is too great. It's beautiful, and Santa Fe is a vacation destination. The Southwest Airlines in flight magazine told me so.

While I've been known to rail against a tourist or two in my life, I've also learned a certain symbiotic relationship with them. We both have a place in the world. We get something out of each other. Heck, when I visited New York for the first time just last year, I was completely the tourist, mouth agape at the skyscrapers. I even scared a cab driver by shouting "holy sh-t!" when he rounded a corner onto Broadway and I laid eyes on Times Square for the first time in my life.

To his credit, that cab driver didn't complain at me or tell me I'd behaved wrong. He asked, "Are you okay?" then said, "It's amazing, isn't it?"

I like to think his kindness was payback for all the tolerance I've shown tourists in my life.

Here's my qualifications:

Grew up in Albuquerque. Endured many a balloon fiesta as a child where grownups trampled me to get a better look.

My parents lived in Carlsbad for several years. You want to talk tourists? Try working a fast food joint in Carlsbad on a hot August day! I did it.

I currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area. My partner lived on Fisherman's Wharf in the early days of our dating. He loved the area and I was skeptical when he first moved in. He was blocks away from Pier 39. Let me tell you, I've been in both Santa Fe and Pier 39 in various tourist heavy times of the year. Ms. Summar, you know nothing of tourists. Pier 39 can best be described as pandemonium. The locals here know better. You *avoid* those areas. You take a more circuitous route because you know those damn turistas are gong to make you crazy. And you know you can't expend the calories letting turistas make you crazy because there is still traffic, your boss and that wiener who stole your parking spot left in the day to drive you bonkers.

And you know that no matter how many rules you try to impose, how many ways you ask nicely for them to respect the locals, how many times you gently request they move off of the sidewalk for that family portrait session, they are not going to change. Tourists enjoy a certain sense of entitlement wherever they go. It's why many other countries don't enjoy American tourists.

For a while there, post 9/11, we all felt a distinct lack of tourists. San Francisco suffered financially because people weren't traveling. Hotels, restaurants, cab drivers, the common man suffered the loss. Funny how your perspective on tourists changes when you don't have them.......

So just know, we can't change 'em. We can only change how we react to 'em. So Ms. Summar, next time you see that guy flossing on the plaza (point four on her list), don't see the uncouth, unaware, buffoon, see instead the dollar bills that fall out of his pocket and help make your historic town and our beautiful state keep percolating along.

March 22, 2007

Well I'll Be Darned

You know...sometimes I don't give New Mexico enough credit. One of the things I enjoyed growing up was the sort of slow quiet desert way about New Mexico. I was firmly entrenched in the small backward ways of my home while also silently making plans to grow up and live somewhere else. I always thought living in a big city would be better. Then, towards the end of my college career at NMSU, I thought I wanted nothing better than to live in New Mexico the rest of my life.

As fate would have it, my job situation worked out to move me to the Bay Area. I was now as an adult living in a major metropolitan area. And as much as I enjoy living here, I long for the slower, easier ways of New Mexico.

But again, I often don't give New Mexico enough credit for it's deep cultural roots, not just Hispanic and Native American, the culture of America.

I was humbled, again, today as I hit the New Mexico Magazine website. On the front page they have a poll. You are asked to vote for the song that will go down as the best by a New Mexican. Ok, so I expected to see some hokiness. A couple Nelson Martinez songs or maybe Jim Glaser and his "Lights of Albuquerque" (a song which, honestly, makes me cringe a little).

But I have to apologize to my fellow artistic New Mexicans because there are a couple of my all time favorites on this list. Then again...some of these folks can *barely* be called a New Mexican. I tend to get pretty strict on that score...I prefer natives over movers in, but I guess I can't get too fine on this point. I'm going to just feel proud that our fair state is somehow associated with these fine musical works.

Here's the list:

"The Bare Necessities" by Terry Gilkyson

This is a great sing along song. Gotta love Baloo in the Jungle Book, deep voiced (Phil Harris lent his voice to the character) and crazy dancing along. A simple happy upbeat tune. Written by Terry Gilkyson, a very well known musician from the 1950's as a member of the Easy Riders. Mr. Gilkyson retired in the later part of his life to Santa Fe. So while not a native, we'll gladly claim him as our own.

Now when I jig around the house singing this one, I'll have peace in my heart that it's a part of my New Mexican heritage.


"By the Time I Get to Phoenix" by Glenn Campbell

Ok, this one blew me away. Glenn Campbell is one of my all time favorite musicians. I love everything he's ever written. "Still Within the Sound of my Voice" is a song that breaks me up every time. Ol' Glenn can only tangentially be called a New Mexican. From a brief web search I found that while about age 16 (in 1953) he played with an uncle's band in Albuquerque, so I am not sure we can claim him. But it's a fun tidbit to know that part of his career passed through our fair state. My mom lived in NM in the 50's as a young woman...it's cool to ponder maybe she saw him play at some bar in downtown Albuquerque while having drinks with friends. She wouldn't remember, but I can dream, right?


"A Holly Jolly Christmas" by Burl Ives

What!?!?!? Burl is quintessentially Christmas to me! He voiced Sam The Snowman in that stop action animation "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer" in which he also sang "A Holly Jolly Christmas". The Wikipedia about him says he used to sing "There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" at every concert. That is a TOTAL childhood favorite. Was singing it not five days ago...

Man oh man. Burl. An American treasure. As for the New Mexico connection, I found an interview with his widow that made mention of them living in our great state. Ok, fair enough. Burl, you're in!


"King of the Road" by Roger Miller

Almost wept with joy to see this one on the list. Hands down, Roger Miller and his music holds a deep, special place in my heart. Most of his tunes evoke a particular memory for me, and usually a good one.

His wacky lyrics sometimes overshadowed the fact that he was an absolutely incredible musician. I adore me some Roger Miller. I sing all his stuff in as loud a voice as possible. Loudly and badly. Oh yeah. I couldn't really find the link between Mr. Miller and New Mexico, but far be it from me to argue with New Mexico Magazine.


"Singin' in the Rain" by Nacio Herb Brown

An all time great movie moment from a top ten fave movie. Watched it again maybe three or four months ago. Gene Kelly moving effortlessly through the rain. Debbie Reynolds was never better. Donald O'Connor in my opinion steals the movie from both Debbie and Gene. Adore the movie. Adore the song.

And of all on the list, he's a true New Mexican. Born Ignacio Herb Brown in Deming, his family moved to LA when he was five. But he's one of ours, no two ways about it.

Another fact I never knew. "Singing in the Rain" written by a native son.

And because of that, Nacio got my vote.....(and when I voted I got the see the results so far. Nacio is leading the pack. Go New Mexico!!)

March 21, 2007

And we care about this why again?

Shame on you ABQjournal for making a non-story, a less than b list celeb story, into top of web page linkatude....for several days in a row now.

ABQjournal reporter Leslie Linthicum reports today on the latest in the story regarding Don Imus, called by the ABQjournal "a sometime New Mexican", and his on air remarks pertaining to Bill Richardson.

Is Imus even relevant anymore? His radio numbers would suggest the answer is a big fat round NO.

Imus has his knickers in a knot because he thought Richardson was stalling on granting financing to turn the old Ribera (pop. 2,326...no I didn't leave a digit off) school house to a community center. What? Where?

C'mon!?! You think the oh I don't know, GOVERNOR of a whole state, with Legislature in session, *might* maybe have some OTHER more pressing items to deal with?!?!?

Imus is a media whore. He's riding on Bill Richardson's coattails. And the ABQjournal bought into it posting no less than two blog entries about it then writing a full article.

Who. Cares.

I realize that this playing out on the national scene seems enticing. A shiny object to glom onto. Unfortunately, the ABQjournal is keeping our fair state firmly wallowing in podunkery if they think *anyone* who has an opinion that matters gives a rip about ANY opinion Imus has to offer. The once popular and influential radioman has sunk to near anonymity. C'mon! Let's pay attention to things that give momentum to the growing recognition of our state! Leave the celebrity rabble behind and make our great state a nationally recognized great state!

I yearn for the day when New Mexico Magazine can cancel their long running section "One of our Fifty is Missing" because not just the US but the world knows who and what New Mexico is about.

Then again....maybe it's better for all of us...the natives, to have no one know. Let's let it be our little secret. An even better reason to ignore that waste of radio waves....

My head hurts...I need a margarita.....

March 20, 2007

Only somewhat on topic...

So today's thoughts aren't specifically New Mexico related...and yet, in a way they are. Today we're going to have to *gasp* include our Texan neighbors to the south, in El Paso, in the conversation. It's ok, we like them, mostly.

So in looking for ideas for this blog, I went to the bastion of internet knowledge, Wikipedia to look at what they had to say about our fair state.

In the history portion of the Wiki, it talked about the early Conquistadores, Coronado coming along first looking for the cities of gold, then fleeing back to Mexico. Then next, Don Juan de Oñate some 50 years later (1598), founding the first European settlement on the Rio Grande. Oñate was then made the first governor of the Province of New Mexico.

This Wikipedia entry is all very factual, but it got me thinking....

Oñate has a bit of a colorful history. The Wikipedia entry for the man uses the light language that "Oñate soon gained a reputation as a stern ruler of both the Spanish colonists and the indigenous people". Stern is a nice way of saying he was a bit of a sonovabitch.

And some four hundred years later, there are still some folks a bit, shall we say, uptight about his history.

In 1998 a statue of Oñate at the Oñate Monument Visitors Center outside of Epañola, NM was vandalized. Our friends in Española aren't often known for their senses of humor...they cut off his foot, leaving a note saying "fair is fair".

And the latest in the debate...this is where El Paso comes into play. In 1997 work began on a statue of the well-known conquistador. Billed as the largest equestrian statue in the world by the artist, John Sherrill Houser, it was completed in 2006. It's due for a ceremony and unveiling in April 2007. I saw it when in El Paso this past December. I have to say, it's a visually stunning statue (photo at the end of this post), huge, oddly placed at the entrance to the El Paso Airport.

I asked my best friend "What the hell is that?" She went on to tell me about the debate in the city over the statue (a quick search of the El Paso Times shows a debate raging in the letters to the editor as recent as a couple weeks ago). It was clear to me from first glance that it was a statue of Oñate. But there are still bad feelings about his "stern" rule to such an extent, that instead, it's been decided to call the statue "The Equestrian".


Here's a quote from the El Paso Times regarding the Lipizzaner Stallions on a visit to El Paso, "Artist John Houser's bronze Equestrian statue in front of El Paso International Airport was modeled after the kind of Andalusian horse that Juan de Oñate rode during his conquistador days in the Southwest."

Modeled after? Really? No, it's a statue glorifying Oñate.

The guy is part of the history of the Southwest (and especially New Mexico). We can't deny it. But we also don't have to like what he did to the indigenous people.

I have the same issues with the variety of missionaries who founded a string of missions along the edge of California. I know we owe these guys some debt of gratitude for settling the lands upon which we now live. Then again, they did this at considerable cost to the proud people who lived here first.

A few years back I visited the Mission in San Luis Obispo. At one part in the tour they even pointed out a tree in front of the place where the natives were hung if they refused to be converted. It sort of lent a pall to the day for me. I've steadfastly refused to visit any of the Missions since.

I don't know what the right answer is. But I do hate the sort of politically correct "cover" that happens when people speak their truth. They say, "We shouldn't glorify a man who tortured and killed our people". So in response we get real cute and call it "The Equestrian" to make all those upset brown people feel better?

Now *that* makes me hostile.

Photo by Karen Fayeth

March 19, 2007

The State's answer isn't mine.

On March 15, 2007, Arnold Vigil wrote an article in the ABQjournal titled "To Mix, or Not Chiles?" (terrible grammar, by the way.....).

In this article, Mr. Vigil discussed that the New Mexico State Legislature, currently in session, is contemplating a "State Answer" to the "State Question" which was established on the books in 1999. The state question, as most natives already know, is "Red or Green", asked by wait staff in restaurants and referring to which type of chile you want on your eats.

The proposed State Answer is....get this..."Christmas"....referring to wanting both.

Ok...I don't want the state answering for me. Mainly because I never order both. But also because that answer is dumb.

None of my friends order both. We are confirmed green chile fans. Hell, I know a few folks from Hatch and other spots who contribute their crops to the state's supply of green chile. Plus, I like the taste of green better. Red chile is usually left out in the field too long and roasted too long and it takes on a bitter flavor. Bitter is NOT what I want on my huevos. No, a nice smoky green chile is the stuff of life. Red is okay. I'll have it on enchiladas sometimes...nice on carne adovada, of course. But I'm a green girl and most of my buddies are too.

And if we did order both, we'd say both. I think I remember one time at Gardunos when I was a kid, my dad ordered both, but he said "both". No self-respecting native would say "Christmas" or even more schlocky "Navidad". Ugh!

As New Mexicans, sometimes I think we shoot ourselves in our own feet by giving over to scholcky and silly. Actually, a lot of that comes from, I believe, people who moved to NM...but moved there like 20 or 30 years ago and fancy themselves to be natives. No.

Maybe a turista can giggle and feel so "in" by ordering "Christmas" on their burrito. The waitperson will bring it to them. And all will be fine. But those of us from there originally will roll our eyes at the ridiculousness. I guess coming from there you have to learn to give over to some of the silliness. If I can endure Nelson Martinez on the news and then endless commercials for his Mariachi band, schlocky content set on "extreme", then I can handle my own freaking legislature catering to the inane.

Hey, this may be a north vs south thing. Maybe up North they say "Christmas" with frequency. South of the Sandia Casino, no self-respecting New Mexican would give in to that.

And I have to be honest...I'm a little tweaked that the Legislature thinks they can answer the age old "red or green" question for me. If this passes, does this mean everyone has to have both all the time? Oh the horror at the thought! My mouthwatering Chopes chicken enchiladas with a fried egg on top, smothered in green and *gasp* bitter ass red? NO!

I don't want this to pass! I don't want this answer on the books! I'm outraged!

Who is the lobbyist that can best represent the interest of us the few, the proud, the hungry!??! In the name of Sadies and Gardunos and Nopalitos I DEMAND that I be given a choice! My choice!

Don't let the government dictate your combo plate!

"Christmas"...fer chrissakes...forcing an answer in un-American.

Photo by Karen Fayeth

March 18, 2007

A Little South of the Big I

Since I barely kicked this thing off a day ago, probably best for my own mind as much as anything, to jot down where I'm headed with this blog.

This is my first foray into blogging after having read quite a few out there, some good, some downright compelling, and some hardly worth the mouse click. I can't really say what I think makes some work and others flop. Something interesting to say, perhaps. Frequency of posting helps too. Topical, popular, and hip all make a dent as well.

Can't say I'm any of that. When asked why I'm starting a blog, the honest answer is that at my heart, I'm a writer. That's all I want to be when I grow up, a professional writer. A blogger I like (who writes for a local paper in her hometown) mentioned that a blog is a great way for exposure. Now...she's got quite a hook to her blog, what with being a professional sex worker and all. But I take what she says seriously. She's got quite a following.

But maybe more than exposure, this has a deeper meaning. Discipline. See, I'm a lazy writer. I tend to write when I'm inspired and languish about when no great ideas hit my mind. That is lazy. Every Learning Annex class on writing and every book on writing and every person doling out advice on writing tell you to write every day. And I don't. But maybe with a blog, I will.

Then again, once the new wears off, will the posts tail away?

With a shrug, all I can say is...it remains to be seen.

In a brainstorming over coffee with someone who has opinions I respect very much, we kicked around the idea of a blog. I knew I wanted to try it, but didn't have much to say on any one topic. A blog about my own self, expounding on my own pent up thoughts seemed a bit self-serving. My partner, who is wise beyond belief, suggested I write about New Mexico because he knows how much it means to me to have been raised there. I long for it, feel homesick for it, and speak about it all the time, to anyone will listen.

The more I thought about his idea, the more I knew he was right. If nothing else, this will allow me the space and the freedom to lament and remember and give in to bouts of homesick melancholy. For nothing is ever as grand as you see it in your memories. When I go back home, I love it for about three days then begin see the cracks in the adobe façade. The ristra is just a little bit tattered. There are too many orange barrels for comfort.

And when I leave and come back to my new home...I always lament how fast Californians move, how crowded it is, how the rain leaves me cold. But in my heart, I love New Mexico. And in my way, I love the Bay Area too. So inside, I have the best of them both.

Most of the stuff out there in the press about New Mexico is pretty well focused on Northern New Mexico. From the celebs in Taos to our Governor (and Democratic Presidential Candidate)'s big doin's in Santa Fe.

Oh, towns south of Santa Fe get the occasional oddball like the stolen baby found in Clovis and the runaway bride found in Albuquerque, but generally, there is no love for the parts of the state south of La Bajada Hill.

Well, there was NMSU's brief run at the NCAA this year. But even then, the media focus was more about the Hollywood coach than it was about the school.

So this blog aims to look a little bit south of the Big I. We're talking Albuquerque on south. Oh, sure, will there be an occasional Northern New Mexico entry? Sure. I reserve that right. Hell, I plan to rant about Richardson pretty soon. This will be about my thoughts on current stuff, my memories from growing up and going to school at NMSU, my laments and thoughts and whatever else comes to mind about the great state of New Mexico, what with it being all enchanting and everything...

photo by Karen Fayeth

March 17, 2007

In the beginning.......

Oh Fair New Mexico. It starts as a song. Our State Song....

Written by Elizabeth Garrett (daughter of Pat Garrett, the man who took down Billy the Kid) three years after New Mexico became the 47th state in the Union, in 1912...

Set to music by John Philip Sousa. Sing along:
Under a sky of azure, where balmy breezes blow,
Kissed by the golden sunshine, is Nuevo Mejico.
Land of the Montezuma, with firey hearts aglow,
Land of the deeds historic, is Nuevo Mejico.

Oh! Fair New Mexico, we love, we love you so,
Our hearts with pride o're flow,
No matter where we go.
Oh! Fair New Mexico, we love, we love you so,
The grandest state we know — NEW MEXICO!

Rugged and high sierras, with deep canyons below,
Dotted with fertile valleys, is Nuevo Mejico.
Fields full of sweet alfalfa, Richest perfumes bestow,
State of apple blossoms, is Nuevo Mejico.


Days that are full of heart-dreams, nights when the moon hangs low;
Beaming its benedictions, O'er Nuevo Mejico.
Land with its bright manana, Coming through weal and woe;
State of esperanza, Is Nuevo Mejico


Sort of cheery and exclamation pointy, isn't it, then?

Skies of azure, sunshine of gold...firey hearts and all that. Sounds pretty good, right?

Like any good "fight song" it sings of something of an ideal. Not reality.

I mean...the NMSU fight song...what with all its drinking to the Aggies winning is only half right, right?

But it says we're a state of esperanza (hope) and maybe that's true. A lot of folks move to the state with a hope of something. Peace. Quiet. Cheap land? They don't bargain for poor infrastructure and some backward thinking. And a blowhard of a governor now running for president.

But the push pull of the state...new vs old, tradition vs progress, is what keeps people on their toes.

And so it begins...the first post in my new blog about my home state. I have a lot of good memories, thoughts and lots of mental stuff to work out on these pages. Figured it best to start out explaining the source for the title of this blog.

And so....

Oh! Fair New Mexico. From green chile to fry bread to cerulean skies...yes, as a matter of fact, we do love you so........

photo by Karen Fayeth

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Creative Commons License
All content of Oh Fair New Mexico by Karen Fayeth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.