Gimme Some Weird, People

Today I’m going to lean heavy on my New Mexico readers, or travelers to and fans of New Mexico.

Been feeling a little homesick, so I took to Google for searches about New Mexico.

Of course there are all the sites dedicated to the aliens, the cattle mutilations, La Llorona and the chupacabra.

And I find a LOT of sites that want to tell me how weird my homestate is.

Weird huh. Is it?

Hmmmm. I don’t think it’s weird at all.

I came across a list of “New Mexico Attractions and Oddities” and went through the list.

Honestly, is it just because I’m from there? I didn’t find many of these things to be odd at all.


The Chevy on a stick in ABQ. Ok, ok, I remember when that was first going up and there was a hubbub, but hardly what I’d called genuinely weird.

And the big green dinosaur, also is ABQ.

But are these really all that weird? Or just…um…bad taste?

Speaking of bad taste, how about the scrap metal roadrunner in Alamogordo or the recycled roadrunner in Las Cruces…or the auto parts dinosaur, also in Alamogordo. Not art, but not weird.

Or how about the big metal glasses in Taos. I mean, it’s Taos fer chrissakes. The whole town is a half bubble off level.

Then there’s the “mysterious/religious” stuff like all the spontaneous healing at Santuario de Chimayo with the crutches left behind, the shrine at the top of Mount Cristo Rey or the image of Magdalena in the side of the hill in Magdalena (outside of Socorro).

All sort of your garden variety stuff, filed under “mystical.” But weird? Nah.

And of course there’s all of the natural formations: Camel Rock, Shiprock, and the Kneeling Nun to name a few. All fascinating works of geology, but hardly weird.

The rock formation that gives you the thumbs up going into Laughlin, NV and flips you off on the way out is WAY more weird than any of that. **

And remember when the Burning of Zozobra used to be kind of weird before those frapping Burning Man people went mainstream? Now everyone just thinks New Mexico ripped off the idea (we were burning Old Man Gloom first, you damn hippies!)

I dunno, maybe it’s just the desert heat that leads people to believe that the good people and place of New Mexico are weird. I suppose to someone who has never seen such wide-open spaces and deep blues skies, it could all be a little scary.

But weird? Pfffft. No way. I live near San Francisco. Now that’s weird.

Blame The Good Man for this post topic. We got into a conversation about why New Mexico put “USA” on their license plates (a vague attempt to get around “One of our Fifty is Missing” troubles, I think).

The conversation drifted into new slogans to add to the plate as we bandied them back and forth.

The winner being: “New Mexico…you don’t know who we are and we don’t like you anyway.”

They can take their “weird” and go jump in a lake.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

If any of ya’ll New Mexicans know of something really weird I’ve overlooked, let me know. I’m open to suggestions.

New Mexico sign image Copyright 2007, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the terms of the Creative Commons license found in the right hand column of this page.

** Nevada rock formation images from Life is a Road Trip.

My Aural New Mexico

Over the past weeks, the good folks over at NPR are doing a series of short essays about the sounds that evoke memories of summer.

Today on Twitter, New Mexico Magazine posed the question “What’s your quintessentially New Mexican sound of summer?”

Well, that just opened the door to the Wayback Machine and shoved me right in. I’ve been lost for a few hours, thinking…remembering.

Turns out I can’t name just one. So let’s go with five.

Evaporative Cooling

This is a cacophony of noises. A creaky drum turning inside the cooling unit, the wet wind whooshing out, and the drip, drip, drip of water running off the roof.

Both loud and comforting all at once. I’m a light sleeper, but the white noise of a swamp cooler set on high in the dead of a hot summer day will drop me fast into sweet dreams.


Not a very original summer thought, but a genuine memory. That droning buzzing sound used to drive me bonkers.

Where the swamp cooler lulled me to sleep, the cicadas kept me up all night.

We had this huge tree in our backyard that would fill to overflowing with the damn bugs.

There is a site I found that calls cicadas “nature’s vuvuzela“. Damn right! Gah!

I used to mentally try to get them to stop. Like Uri Gellar bending spoons, I thought I if I thought hard enough I could control it.

I couldn’t control it. Damn winged creatures had a mind of their own.

Such a distinct sound of summer.

The low rumble of an August monsoon storm off in the distance and approaching fast.

The summer storms move so quick you know it will be on top of you before you know it. It goes from bright sunny skies to black boiling skies in what seems like an instant.

I’d be out in the yard playing or on my rollerskates and I’d hear that sound. Like a low mumble at first. I’d take off for home before it turned in a loud wail.

Here’s a not very well kept secret: I’m a skeerdy cat when it comes to storms.

Styrofoam cooler and lures on a fishing pole.

Do they even make squeaky Styrofoam throwaway coolers anymore? Because that’s an unmistakable sound. We’d pack sodas for us, beers for dad, and bait for the fish along with a couple sandwiches into the blue speckled cooler. Then the fishing poles alongside with the jangling lures hanging off the end.

Then we’d all load into the truck and head down dirt roads to fish Ute Lake.

That squeak jangle engine rumble symphony can only mean summer to me.

Flame thrower on a tumbler of green chile

Ok, this one may be more of a smell than a sound memory, but at the end of summer (like, oh, now) the green chiles are coming in from the fields and at every grocery store there is some guy with a flamethrower and a metal turning basket.

You want ’em roasted? Okay! *click* WHOOOOOOOOSH.

There ya go.

Damn. It’s like a piece of my soul.

My quintessential sounds of summer may not be NPR worthy, but they all make me smile.

In the summertime, my Fair New Mexico is a beautiful place to be…for ALL the senses.

Image from I don’t know where….if it’s yours, let me know and I’ll credit or remove at your request.

Go Read!

I have a story published in the September issue of New Mexico Magazine!

And the story just happens to be up on the NMMagazine website too.

Click here to read.

Then go buy the magazine because I’m featured in the Storytellers section of the print edition!

Image from the New Mexico Magazine website.

Lucky Page 13

The June issue of New Mexico Magazine is on newsstands now! I got my copy in the mail this week and found a few more copies at my local Borders.


Here’s the cover, in case you’re looking for it. I’m on page 13!