Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Other Side of the Tracks

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.....The D&RGW "Chili Line"* departs Santa Fe, heading for parts north-ward, including Taos Junction, circa 1930s.** The last train left Santa Fe in the late 30s, and all the track in the right-of-way was torn up by the 50s.
.....What remains of the valiant engines which toiled the narrow-gauge grades and curves to negotiate New Mexico's formidable mountains, valleys, and plateaux and bring commerce to a hungry land, from the late 19th Century, is a stretch of about 100 miles between Chama, NM and Antonito, CO, now called the "Cumbres & Toltec Line" (58 mi.) and the line from Durango, CO to Silverton, CO, up the Animas Canyon (about 40 mi.).
.....The trestle pictured here was emblematic of "the tracks" of which there was an "other" side. My father drove a "hack" in Santa when he was a teen-ager, in the 30s. He recounted to me almost 50 years ago, when too I was driving a "hack" in Santa, that in his day, Santa Fe's small" red-light district was located under and a little to the west of the railroad trestle in the foto, which spanned the Santa Fe river near the intersection of what is now Guadalupe St. and the Alameda.
.....Cabbies delivered their 'johns' to the ladies' cribs, directly under the shadow of the Santuario de Guadalupe, along Agua Fria and Alto Streets, south of the tracks. The 'girls' would tip the drivers for delivering their "johns" to the door, but not directly. Drivers wore numbered buttons on their caps which identified them. The "girls" would send tips to the dispatcher (at La Fonda garage), who would distribute them (after taking a cut) according to the drivers' button number.
.....
If there were a red-light district in Santa, when I was hackin', in the early 70s,  I didn't know--and nobody ever asked me--where it was. Pop never said whether any of them tipped "in kind."

* Corrected, thanks to Milton Coombs.
** Corrected, thanks to George Pomonis.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Post-Eclipse Eye Test

This should appear to you as a clear, blue page, unless you looked directly at the eclipse, last week:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

All Fall Down


In the matter of the Confederate statuary:
Bring 'em down!
The graven images of Confederate traitors belong in museums, in contexts in which their deeds may be remembered and properly interpreted. There's a "dramatic/heroic," mounted statue of NB Forrest, the founder of the KKK in a park in Memphis, ffs. Forrest's troops committed the atrocity at Ft. Pillow, where Rebs executed captured Black Union troops.
The citizens of Memphis owe NOTHING to Forrest. Such as they do NOT belong in places of civic honor, on pedestals in public parks and memorials. As the chart below exhibits, MOST of them appeared during periods of racial unrest: either Jim Crow or Civil Rights. Their purposes were transparent: to glorify the "Lost Cause" and--no less importantly--to remind Blacks that tho the slavers had "lost" the war, Blacks were STILL a vulnerable minority, "sponsored" by "Women's" groups who tried to preserve the mythology.
Nor should we forget that they statuary also served to further intimidate and oppress Black citizens of the South. It was a constant, public reminder of their vulnerability, their weakness, their minority. They might as well have put up statues to the overseers and slavers, themselves.

The statuary should be decapitated, the heads kept in museum galleries, and the rest of the statues melted down.
Or, gathered from all 1500 sites where such atrocities now stand, and deposited, like an artificial reef, near Ft. Sumter in Charleston harbor. 
The actual bodies of the traitors, of course, SHOULD have ended up adorning gibbets at every trailhead and junction between Memphis and Mobile, from Atlanta to Austin.I read that there were over 1500 monuments to the Confederacy scattered around the South.
They should be leveled and razed. And, if memories of the Confederacy are to be preserved, it should be in the context of "holocaust" museums, not phony fucking "Gone With The Wind" romanticism.
If the Confederacy is to be preserved, it should be in "holocaust" museums which represent the WHOLE, BRUTAL, INHUMAN CONTEXT of what they "Celebrate."

Friday, July 14, 2017

Las Nubes de Nambe

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The view here is titled "Las Nubes de Nambe," by John Vigil. I know the view intimately. It was made along the highway that is/was the northern boundary of the old adobe house where my family lived for 40 years. I sent it to my sibs. My sister, Cary, in Los Alamos, wrote the following, in reply to my query "Look familiar?"
"Indeed! I see my barrancas behind Web and Margaret's wall off our hill. and the triangle on the Jemez. "Yesterday we went to SF, we walked around downtown and the sky to the east was purple, there was a cool pre-rain breeze coming down from the mountains, the clouds were big and looming behind the bright blue sky, there was water in the river and the smell of the cottonwoods and olives was mixed into a divine perfume.
"On the way home it rained. ..no it poured. As we crossed over the bridge at Pojoaque toward Los Alamos we saw the Tesuque river was flooding. It was soooooo great. We stayed on the highway and all the way to El Rancho the arroyos were running.
"We got off the road and went to the El Rancho bridge. It's made of concrete and reinforced now so it doesn't wash out..... and you get to stand on the bridge's sidewalk and watch the flood.... ! OH! it was terrific! That muddy mixed smell of juniper and pinon needles, cottonwood, leaves, sticks, dead cows and a yellow basketball. "Marvelous! "Then we crossed the river and drove up the river road to the Monks driveway and crept out the water's edge and put the car in reverse and sat and smelled the smells for a few minutes. We drove back to the bridge, crossed over again, and turned east. ,"WELL, by this time the arroyos next to the road were flooded. We splashed through 1 shallow arroyo to continue our journey... yes we evaluated the situation before entering. We were stopped by the water at the Jaconita road intersection with the river and had to turn around.
"IT WAS GREAT!!! It felt JUST like it used to."
Summer storms were magical in the older days. I've seen whole cars swept along like milk cartons in the muddy churn of a flash-flood, 250 yards south of where that foto was made.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Pop Quiz: Compare & Contrast. You Have One Hour...

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Differences that make a difference:
One is a work of political art, 'signed' by Griffin's face. There is no threat implied or real. The other(s--and there are hundreds of them) is political terrorism, unsigned, anonymous, threatening. 

A correspondent put it well: "The lynching image calls up real racist violence that has happened to African Americans. Trump's severed head is merely harsh satire. Totally different. There was never a pattern of hundreds of white billionaire beheadings that I am aware of. Kathy's art was ballsy. The Obama lynching cowardly. You notice the perps didnt put their name on it and post a selfie with it. 100% different." 
Yup!
Yer ol' perfesser admires hell out of Griffin's stunt; it was pure political satire, street theater. There was no threat, no menace. Our oligarchs don't get decapitated. 
And Griffin put her face and name on it...unlike the hundreds and thousands of skulking cowards who produced defamatory images and memes of Obama and Michelle, but never were around when the fotos were taken.
The attacks on Obama always also were assaults against the whole of Black culture. They harkened back to lynchings and a climate of terror. They were racist reminders of the power structure that could--and WOULD--do nothing to prevent or sanction them. Swinging down v. (Griffin) Swinging UP! 

Get over it. 
HOAP!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Where Were You, May 4, 1970?

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Today, May 4, is infamously the anniversary of that bloody day in 1970 when the Ohio National guard opened fire on a gathering of protesting students at a small, obscure state school in Ohio called Kent State University, killing four and wounding a half-dozen more, with random fire from more than 100 yards from the demonstrations. No one was ever punished or even held accountable for the murders.
Every year, on this date, the Oligarchs haul out the images from that event to remind us that, yes, they will kill ya, if you piss 'em off enough, even if you're white.
May 4, 1970: I had just turned 24, was a student/veteran activist at UNM...There was a lot of tension on campuses that Spring, and UNM was seething, too.
The week before had come the announcements of the Cambodian incursion/invasion. USer body counts were in the hundreds every week and had been for several YEARS. The draft lottery loomed. Then the four students at Kent State were murdered, and several others were wounded, in a public demonstration by the RMNixon regime that their tolerance had been breached.
Events at UNM escalated, that week, too.
There were multiple demonstrations. The cops had come out once or twice. There were altercations near the campus. The President's Office was besieged, and students took over the Student Union Building. Classes were suspended. 
On Friday that week, May, 8, the NM National Guard got orders to "retake" the UNM campus from "radicals." They fixed bayonets and cleared the Plaza. Their rifles were unloaded, but the bayonets were unsheathed.
A dozen students were bayoneted that day, May 8, in and around the UNM Student Union Building Plaza. You could smell the blood. I was standing near one kid WHEN he was stabbed in the leg and his femoral artery was nicked. Another vet and I got a tourniquet on it and evac'ed him to an aid tent over by Johnson Gym--past ranks of Burque's "good burghers" who had come out to watch the fuckin' dirty hippies get their asses kicked, cursed and spat at us...Some radio station spread the news, as I recall.
My esteem for 'average Americans' did not survive that encounter and subsequent events of the almost 50 intervening years have not restored it.