And we care about this why again?

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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 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…..

Only somewhat on topic…

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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”.

Really?

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

The State’s answer isn’t mine.

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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

A Little South of the Big I

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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

In the beginning…….

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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.

Chorus:
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.

Chorus

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

Chorus
_____________

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