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.

Continue reading

Feel free to share: Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.

Continue reading

Feel free to share: Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Hang on Tight as Your Train Wiggles Through an Autumn Slide Show

Coal smoke, chill air and rampaging color. Can’t beat the high country as your train whistles and chugs above 10,000 feet and through the aspen groves on a splendid fall day.

Aspen-04-yellow-red

Each aspen stand is its own little family with their DNA determining the remaining color as photosynthesis ends and the green drains away until next year. Photo © William P. Diven.

Continue reading

Feel free to share: Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Openness cures ills unless government blocks the sunshine

Who loses when supposed leaders don’t get the big picture? We the people, of course.

So, how to explain denying our history, ignoring the First Amendment on public lands and cloaking yet another attempt to dam the free-flowing Gila River?

Gila River Lower Box in the dam project area. Photo © William P. Diven.

Gila River Lower Box in the dam project area. Photo © William P. Diven.

Continue reading

Feel free to share: Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

We Beat Dick Nixon in 1972 When Nobody Else Could

Here’s a story of a forgotten 1960s youth movement, the Vietnam War and how 3,300 of my closest friends and I derailed Dick Nixon’s political machine.

1960 Nixon campaign pin. Author's collection.

1960 Nixon campaign pin. Author’s collection.

In it Team Nixon plans a pure victory and cheats in a failed attempt to get it. It’s also a reminder of why politics can be a great game, why votes count and why voters, especially younger ones, need to wake up and smell the excitement. Continue reading

Feel free to share: Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Say It Ain’t So, Lou Brock!

Curse you, Internet, for destroying a precious childhood memory: Lou Brock’s inside-the-park home run. Oh, the devastation, humiliation and lamentation despite the often-hapless Cubs sweeping the vaunted San Francisco Giants in five games at Wrigley Field all those decades ago.

Topps 274: Lou Brock 1963. © Topps Chewing Gum, Inc.

Topps 274: Lou Brock 1963. © Topps Chewing Gum, Inc.

It was June 5, 1963, when Dad, brother Chuck and I rode the Burlington’s Morning Zephyr into Chicago and took a cab from Union Station to the hallowed ballpark on the North Side. The Cubbies thumped the Giants on Tuesday, and on this Wednesday we settled in for an afternoon double-header (there were no lights at Wrigley then, so every game was a day game). Continue reading

Feel free to share: Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

D-Day’s Barely Recorded Landing

There’s a reason you only see the same few still and movie images from the D-Day landing on Omaha Beach over and over: That’s all there is.

Nineteen photographers in the first waves joined U.S. troops hitting that sector of the Normandy coast on June 6, 1944. Of the five sectors, the worst death and dismemberment happened here. It’s also the retelling of what happened at Omaha Beach that leads some to forget Canadian and U.K. forces suffered, some grievously, in the other sectors as did the U.S. and U.K. airborne units landing by parachute and glider. Continue reading

Feel free to share: Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Dead and Not Dead

Dead2-83-poleSee yourself in this guy riding the pole flying a Grateful Dead flag when the band played Santa Fe? Maybe if you launched your acid trip in the 1970s with no landing field in sight as the ’80s slipped in.

Or maybe you’re reminded of a free-spirited friend or the uncle about whom your parents stayed cagey, the one who “took a trip to Taos, and then we lost track.” No matter. Even without LSD, music can do this to you.

It’s a wonder more of Pharrell Williams’ fans aren’t locked up. Or John Philip Sousa’s. Continue reading

Feel free to share: Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Reforming the Impossible

Justin Weddell arrived in New York City as a newly minted graduate of the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts Class of 1908. No Aggie hayseed, Weddell sprang from Chicago and came of age in the rowdy Progressive Era replete with yellow journalism and muckrakers stirring up scandal and busting monopolistic and rapacious corporations.

NMCA&MA Class of 1908. Justin Weddell far right second from top.

NMCA&MA Class of 1908. Justin Weddell far right second from top. (The Round Up, June 2, 1908, New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections.)

At the time New Yorkers read about 20 daily newspapers, not all in English. Feuding news barons like Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst battled for readership creating their own headlines and perhaps their own wars, if you credit Hearst’s Morning Journal and its million-a-day circulation with pushing the McKinley administration into the Spanish-American War.

Weddell took all that in as he wrote back to A&M Professor Elmer Ottis Wooton in June 1908 describing his new surroundings:

I find everything and everyone in the East concerned in some form of reform. I’ve read so much of it, and heard so much of it that almost am I persuaded to be an ardent foe of any reform movement. One can’t turn around without encountering a new graft and its attendant muckrake. I prefer the spotless Southwest–where reform is almost impossible. — Justin R. Weddell, Ballston Spa, N.Y., June 15, 1908. Courtesy Hobson-Huntington University Archives, New Mexico State University.

A lot has changed in New York City since then. Too bad the same can’t be said for New Mexico.

Continue reading

Feel free to share: Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather