Reefer Madness And The Bootlegger’s Grandson

My companion’s eyes bugged out in a Looney Tunes SPROING!! when we stepped into a Colorado marijuana store with product samples arrayed across the counter.

This can’t be legal, she said. Ah, but it is.

I was less thunderstruck having seen something similar while on assignment in Amsterdam where sidewalk shop windows display sex for sale while the scent of craft buds pools behind the doors of coffee shops across the city.

Not bird seed but 62 kilo bricks of marijuana ready for the federales' bonfire in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Photo © William P. Diven.

Not bird seed but 62 kilo bricks of marijuana ready for the federales’ bonfire in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Photo © William P. Diven. (Click to enlarge)

A few months before the trip to Colorado, we were visiting the west coast of Oregon on the day recreational marijuana became legal there. You could now have 8 ounces and four plants at home and 1 ounce on you while out and about. Voters in a statewide referendum made the change effective July 1 although it took a little political magic to start sales in October instead of sometime next year.

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Spinning U.S. History Until We’re Dangerously Dizzy

Symbols do matter whether it’s the flag of rebellion or the swastika of genocide. Take it from someone who’s been on the losing end of one of those arguments.

History matters as well, and we place our country at risk without consensus on the facts and meanings of our shared experience in all its glory and pain.

Our-heroes

Confederate generals (from left) Stonewall Jackson, P. G.T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee in “Our heroes and our flags,” Southern Lithograph Company, ca. 1896. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-pga-03338. (Click image to enlarge)

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Bashing the Bearers of Bad News

While I miss some aspects of the 1970s, my hair and the Allman Brothers Band, for example, the Nixon zombies roaming Albuquerque City Hall are not welcome here in 2015.

Spiro Agnew (left), Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum, image No. T25035c1-27; John Mitchell, photo by Steve Northrup in Time Magazine, April 30, 1973, author's collection.

Spiro Agnew (left), Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum, image No. T25035c1-27; John Mitchell (right), photo by Steve Northrup in Time Magazine, April 30, 1973, author’s collection.

Among the undead is Attorney General John Mitchell, part of the team that shilled for President Nixon by attacking enemies real and imagined in and out of the news media. He’s the one who said Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham is “gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer” over exposing a connection between the Watergate burglary and the Nixon re-election campaign. By that time, Mitchell ran the Committee to Re-Elect the President, wonderfully known as CREEP. Continue reading

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The Last Cadillac Ride of Jaime Pescado

Hell, it might have been Fish’s first Cadillac ride although either way he was just a passenger.

None of us in the news game could afford pricey wheels like the one he cruised in today. Well, maybe, if we picked up an old Fleetwood because it was cheap, didn’t smoke much and was roomy enough to live in, if necessary.

Photo © William P. Diven

Photo © William P. Diven

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Mellow El Paso vs. Shoot-’em-up Albuquerque

If Albuquerque took a chill pill, it might act more like El Paso, Texas, a metro area of similar size but only half the violent crime.

Metro Albuquerque counts four times as many murders as El Paso, a city 250 miles down the Rio Grande opposite Cíudad Juarez, Mexico, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) for 2013. Albuquerque tallies twice as many rapes and in 2013 recorded 742 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, twice the national rate.

El-Paso-v-Abq

El Paso police cordon a downtown street to investigate a pedestrian fatality. Unlike Albuquerque, jaywalking laws are enforced here. Photo © William P. Diven

In comparison to the Wild West shootout occurring almost nightly in Albuquerque, El Paso might as well be Mayberry RFD.

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New Year, No Fear

Another year blows by like so many snow pellets riding a ferocious east wind. In crossing the artificial dateline on Pope Gregory’s calendar, how do you tally progress versus the countervailing forces of fear and greed?

Snow-streaking

Sideways snow falling in the foothills of New Mexico’s Sandia Mountains, Dec. 30, 2014. Photo © William P. Diven.

On balance the human species survived 2014 without actually destroying the planet. That counts as a positive although one friend isn’t so sure. Would be fine with her if Homo sapiens somehow erased itself leaving earth and the animal kingdom to proceed without our interference.

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Will You Be Trekking for Justice When You’re 91 Like She Is?

Sally-Alice Thompson was young–only 63–when she walked across the United States protesting nuclear armament. Nearly 30 years later, she hit the road for Santa Fe to preserve the value of voting.

Sally-Alice Thompson on the march nearing Algodones, N.M. Photo © William P. Diven. (This photo also appeared in the Sandoval Signpost, Placitas, N.M.)

Sally-Alice Thompson on the march nearing Algodones, N.M. Photo © William P. Diven. (This photo also appeared in the Sandoval Signpost, Placitas, N.M.)

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