Mixed Emotions

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It’s probably time I chime in on the whole spaceport tax issue currently stirring up trouble in Doña Ana county. I’ve been reading all the news for the past weeks and thinking about it a lot. It’s hard to say where I come down on this one….

Much like the outcome of the voting….

Seems this is an “on the fence” issue when looking at voters as a whole. A lot of folks are vehemently against this new tax, and why not? Why should they, residents of a poverty state, pay more money in taxes so that one of the richest men in the world can live out some misplaced boyhood dream?

I’d like to think that this is a *good* idea for the State of New Mexico, bringing commercial space travel to the world, media attention to our fair state and dollars rolling in to our coffers. New Mexico has certainly always been on the forefront of space and research and I’d like to think that Sir Richard Branson has only the best ideas at heart for this project.

However, I just can’t buy into that.

Richard Branson is a controversial person, ranking on both the 100 Greatest Britons and the 100 Worst Britons lists. He is by all accounts an egomaniac and a cad but he is also a businessman, which by its very virtue means he is not looking out for the best interests of New Mexico on this venture, he’s looking out for the best interests of the bottom line. Which, as a businessperson myself, I’m not actually opposed to. But I am very clear in my own mind what this deal is all about.

In the end, if it’s not this venture it’s something else. New Mexico traditionalists (like me) are often very reluctant to see new growth in our state, especially growth that brings more people, more taxes and more headaches. This would fit the bill on all three counts.

I hate that the residents of the county have to pay for this in taxes, but as a now ten year resident of California, I’ve learned that usually that’s how things, big things like this, get done.

I honestly think that the group behind the spaceport has done a poor job of marketing this to the people who will actually foot the bill. I think with a little marketing spin, a little “what’s in it for me”, the tides could turn and voters might warm up to the cause.

In the end, the bill passed by a narrow margin. Progress marches on. I hope this whole venture will be worth it.

For the record…if I still lived in Las Cruces…I probably would have voted yes on the tax…

Despite my ongoing sadness at the loss of farm and ranchland in New Mexico and I know that development in Upham (which today is not much) and the area right at the spaceport means ranching families will sell out thus filling the pockets of the real estate elite (again)…but that’s another post for another day.

To think of the media attention this will bring to Hatch, that small town near Upham and situated right there on the road to the spaceport…

Wait! Does this mean the world will know our little secret about the most delectable foodstuff in the world?


Whatta maroon….

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Actually, even that is too nice an insult for this cat….

I wrote about radio personality Don Imus a few weeks back regarding his idiotic comments about Governor Richardson. Seemed Imus had his knickers in a bunch because he wanted some funding for the small town where Imus owns a whole sh*tload of land.

Last week this yo-yo found his way back into the news by making racist remarks on the morning radio show that no one listens to.

He has since apologized for his remarks. I heard the tape of his apology on another morning radio show and it was hardly an apology.

I could get into the whole “I made a racist remark but then I apologized so it’s okay” phenomenon our society seems to be getting into (and oddly ok with). This along with an appearance on a show with a person of the racial group group the remark was made about in order to “show that I’m ok with them” (Imus is due to appear on Al Sharpton’s show). Suddenly every celeb can pop off but then feel ok about it. This whole trend makes me flat worn down crazy.

But that’s not the point of today’s post. I could rant from a lot of angles on this one, but today’s rant is that this man dares call himself a New Mexican.

You, sir, are no New Mexican. Never were, and this just completely tears it. None chance.

I don’t think most real New Mexicans claimed him anyway, but I’m hostile that this guy goes on his show in his ridiculous cowboy hat mumbling epithets and in the next breath talking about his ranch for kids with cancer and claiming to be a “part time New Mexican”.

Bah! I say again, BAH!

I was heartened to see that only the ABQ Tribune picked up the story. The ABQjournal did not. The less press the better in my most humblest of opinions.

I can console myself with the fact that this once relevant man is now a dinosaur that folks in the business whisper and laugh about behind their hands. The other morning show I listen to had some interesting history on Imus this morning. They used to work for the same station some twenty years back and evidently this is not the man’s first racial comment, by far.

All this popping off with comments that make the national news seems so…desperate. A bid for ratings? Maybe.

Until then, he is and always will be an outsider, and if you are a true New Mexican, you know how we feel about outsiders. If you don’t then please do read “The Milagro Beanfield War” or better yet, “Red Sky at Morning”.

Hell, read those books anyway, they both rock.

Thus ends my Monday grumpiness…..

UPDATE: Imus has been suspended but not fired from his job….. The ABQjournal, slow to the party, has now picked up the story as well.

Top Ten

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With a wink and a nod to the Late Show, I present my own version of the Top Ten.

This came to me on the ride home from work on Friday. I got to thinking about all things New Mexico and how crazy our state must look to an outsider.

Without further ado…

Top Ten Things Said By a First Time Visitor to New Mexico:

(in no particular order)

10) What’s with all the orange barrels?

9) Clean water and fast ducks?

8) Ok, so to get from Las Cruces to Albuquerque I get on I-25. Then what?

7) *This* is Roswell? I thought it would be bigger.

6) *This* is the Governor? I thought he would be smaller.

5) Red or Green what?

4) Why is that car on a stick?

3) I wonder how much it would cost to buy land?

2) Why is that car so wide/low/loaded down?

and finally….

1) Wow. You don’t *look* Mexican.

Happy Easter and Happy Sunday. I’m out to enjoy the sun…..

The high price of popular art

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As an artist in my own way, it always hurts me to see squabbles over how to price the stuff of well-known artists. Recent mind-boggling accounts of auction prices for Van Gogh paintings come to mind….

You know, I’ve never been much of a fan of Georgia O’Keeffe, a shocking admission, I know, for a New Mexican. Actually, that’s not true. I think many true-bred New Mexicans aren’t real partial to her work and less partial to all the hubbub made about her stuff. It’s an out of towner, Santa Fe/Taos trying-too-hard art society thing and I’m just not in that groove.

But I’m saddened to see the recent squabbles between the State of Tennessee and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe over a particular painting called “Radiator Building— Night, New York” (1927). A picture of this particular painting can be found at the end of this post.

Near as I can put the story together based on an ABQjournal story is that a deal was struck with the cash strapped Fisk University for the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum to buy the paining for $7M. That’s a nice tidy sum of money, actually. I don’t know what kind of funding the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum gets but I’m certain that’s a substantial chunk of change to try to bring Ms. O’Keeffe’s work back to the State of New Mexico. It was originally a donation to the university so now they stand to make some money, which works out great.

Since the deal was struck and approved by the Tennessee Attorney General (who looks over charitable donations and such), and I guess since news got out about the deal, there have been a variety of offers from art dealers and the like for substantially more money. Like around $25M. Wow.

This makes me sad on both sides of the table. Fisk University needs the money. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum wants the painting for obvious reasons. Meanwhile I think the damn Attorney General is being greedy, and that makes me grumpy.

While this argument languishes in the courts, the school is still floundering for money, the museum is anxiously twiddling it’s thumbs, and the attorneys are getting their rocks off jumping up and down and getting paid by the bounce.

Boy does this make me steamed.

I, of course, didn’t know Ms. O’Keeffe but I’d bet she would be a bit steamed by all this too. She was, by all accounts, a humble woman. I’d like to think she’d like to do what’s best for both sides. In cases like this it’s hard to know what is best.

As a negotiator for a living, I’d love to see this one get settled without the courts. Could the university and the museum get together and agree on a new price? And could the frapping Attorney General just agree to abide by the deal they strike?

I say get them all in a room with coffee and bagels, cater in lunch, and let them hash it out. Good people tend to make reasonable decisions. Just keep that frapping Attorney General out of the room. You know how them law dogs tend to complicate matters…..

Anyhow, here’s to the memory of the artist, Georgia O’Keeffe. I’ll bet when she painted the canvas, the thought of a squabble over money never crossed her mind. Here’s to all the struggling artists of the world who’d give their eyeteeth for twenty-five bucks for one of their pieces.


Dining al fresco

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The Albuquerque Tribune has a feature called “Viewfinder” which has a picture and a bit of an essay or editorial around it.

I read this one today, just before lunch, so of course it resonated.

I also love dining outdoors. I mean LOVE it in a weird obsessive kind of way. Much like the article’s author, Steven St. John, I think eating a meal outdoors has a special feel to it, and one that we who live in nice climates tend to take for granted.

I had occasion to ponder this just last month while in Scottsdale, Arizona for baseball Spring Training. It was a particularly cold winter here in the Bay Area and I was very happy to embrace the mid 80 temperatures in balmy Arizona.

After the game one day, we sat out on the patio of Julio G’s visiting with a friends (one of whom is also a minor league player in the Giant’s organization). The sun was getting more towards low on the horizon at 5:30ish, the patio was warm but not hot, the guacamole was fresh made on site and the margs were on special. Oh yes, and there was much baseball talk…..

I had a moment, calmly sipping my on the rocks house marg and nibbling at crisp chips and avocado where it felt like everything in the universe was just….I don’t know…right. I tend to remember very well those few times in life where there is a convergence of all things good, and you just let your shoulders down, you deeply exhale and you, you know, relax.

Relax. That’s a nice thing. It’s a nice thing to ponder here on the eve of the weekend.

Maybe if I’m lucky I can convince that wonderful man I carpool with to find a place to eat outside. That sounds like a nice way to start the weekend….

Until then, I remain…nose to the grindstone. Bah!