Dying for a Breakfast Burrito in Albuquerque

The bicycle commuter cruising toward downtown Albuquerque on a pleasant April morning hugged the curb as he slipped into the shadow of a tractor-trailer rig slowing in traffic. As the bike reached the cab, the trucker on a delivery route suddenly turned right toward a Safeway loading dock granting the unlucky biker barely time to blink before he lay crushed on the pavement.

And that was that.  The cyclist became a statistic, one of seven of what the feds call pedalcyclists killed in New Mexico that year, a low number but given our small population placing our rate of bumping off bicyclists among the worst in the country, where it remains. Regardless he was dead, and I was hungry.

Car hits girl crossing street.

The driver and witnesses comfort a girl hit while running across a street in Las Cruces, N.M., in 1973 as the ambulance, a pickup truck with camper, approaches. She survived. © William P. Diven. (Click 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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Sniping At Our Newest National Monument

The negative spin on the new Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument suggests we’ve thrown the door open wide to terrorists and narcotraficantes while stomping all over New Mexico’s already abused cattle ranchers. That’s easy to believe, too, if you see no good in anything Barack Obama does or only watched the Fox network covering the story.

The moon rises at sunset over the Organ Mountains and Las Cruces, N.M. © William P. Diven

The moon rises at sunset over the Organ Mountains and Las Cruces, N.M. © William P. Diven

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Planet News Spins Through Space

It used to be said you only enjoyed freedom of the press if you owned one. Those times vanished with the last millennium as the Internet and outlets like Twitter, Facebook and WordPress spread faster than a Grumpy Cat video. Now anyone — from press-card and citizen journalists to neighborhood activists, would-be writers, hacks and shills — can beat an online drum to attract your attention and say anything they please. This is one revolution that actually handed power to the people but with little guidance for spotting honest information brokers among the misguided, misinformed and routinely deceitful.

Do you really know the source of your information? © William P. Diven

Do you really know the source of your information? © William P. Diven

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Death and the Newsroom

John Cleveland didn’t die at the assignment desk in the KRQE newsroom although I feared he might given the health issues he mentioned from time to time. Instead we are told he died in his sleep, a peaceful end for a larger-than-life character who boosted the game and noise level of an already frantic place. He wasn’t much past 50 and leaves behind a wife and young son.

John Cleveland. Photo by Rebecca Valdez.

John Cleveland. Photo by Rebecca Valdez.

For those of you who don’t know TV newsrooms, the assignment desk occupies the high ground at the center of the maelstrom. It’s where police scanner chatter merges into ringing phones while competing with a two-way radio base and shouts from all directions. The manager assigns photographers to reporters and live trucks to photographers, dispatches the helicopter, updates all on fresh developments and constantly calls contacts for information and confirmation. Continue reading

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Unfunking America

The American people aren’t stupid, just depressed. In case you’re not among the depressed, or are medicated, self-medicating or figure it’s Armageddon so what the hell, here’s a headline from last week: “American dream fading, poll says”

The McClatchy newspaper chain is behind this Marist-MaClatchy Poll, and one of its reporters led his story by saying Americans are “overwhelmingly pessimistic about their chances of achieving and sustaining the American dream.”

They see an economic system in which they have to work harder than ever to get ahead, and a political system that’s unresponsive to their needs. They see the wealthy allowed to play by a different set of rules from everyone else.

To which I say, OK, so what’s new? Since when has it not taken hard work to get ahead in this country? Since when has the political system not leaned toward big money? And since when have the wealthy not played by their own rules or at least tried to? Buying Manhattan Island, slavery, Robber Barons, invading Nicaragua, renting congressmen, Justin Bieber, anyone? Continue reading

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Mom and Krauthammer

My mother and I view the world differently, which is not surprising.  Her birth came barely a year after the end of World War I and a week into the failed 12-year political experiment in alcohol Prohibition.  I arrived on the anniversary of Prohibition launching a massive criminal underworld and a few months after Chinese troops chased us out of North Korea during the Korean War.  (Funny how this country measures time by its wars, but that’s another topic).

Mom’s attempts to keep me on the straight and narrow began early, kept me from becoming a derelict or a Democrat but not a free-thinking journalist and continued last Christmas with the gift of columnist-pundit Charles Krauthammer’s new book “Things That Matter” (Crown Forum, New York, 2013),Krauthammer-cover a collection of past writings from the psychiatrist who morphed into an inside-the-Beltway espouser of all things conservative.  He’s a regular on the pages of the Albuquerque Journal, which plops daily onto our gravel road, and his screeds mesh with the paper’s conservative/libertarian/antiunion editorial slant that flavors not only its opinion pages but taints its news columns as well.  To oversimplify Krauthammer but a little, his columns in recent years sum as: conservatives good, liberals bad, Obama is the antichrist. Continue reading

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