Monday, July 30, 2007


Mike Smith writes an excellent weekly article about New Mexico, appropriately entitled “My Strange New Mexico”. The articles focus on the “unique” and sometimes irrational tales of weirdness that take root in this Land of Entrancement.

The most recent article is entitled “Fifth-Largest State of Mind”. It addresses the large size, cultural diversity and attendant parochialism of the Land of Nonadvancement.

Smith describes New Mexico as:

… a monster of an area—and home to barely sixteen people per square mile. The state is so huge it needs the entire Midwest just to keep it from hurting all those tiny eastern states, and so vast that making generalizations about its terrain, its people, or its culture is nearly impossible. There are mountains and deserts and prairie, rivers and salt beds and flatlands, canyons and valleys and cities and parking lots. There are dusty, twisted-wire ranches along the New Mexico-Texas border, there are towns that speak mostly Navajo or other native languages, villages that speak mostly Spanish, and small cities where nearly everyone works for the Air Force or a top-secret government lab.

New Mexico is so big, and contains such a variety of people and places, that many parts of the state can barely even relate to many others. Residents of southern New Mexico often dismiss northern New Mexico as not much different from Colorado. Many northern New Mexicans write off eastern New Mexico as somehow tainted from its close proximity to Texas.
[AUTHOR’S NOTE: Interestingly, Kevin Phillips notes in his definitive description of the current American political cesspool, “American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century”, that Eastern New Mexico is “Little Texas”, a conservative cultural extension of Texas into New Mexico. “American Theocracy”, p. 201.] Many ranching communities in eastern New Mexico consider Albuquerque a crime-ridden ghetto, decry its traffic and sprawl, fear its drivers, and accuse it of being entirely devoid of culture and beauty. Numerous Albuquerque residents—along with much of the rest of the state—jokingly refer to Santa Fe as Santa Fake, Santa Fey, and Santa Gay, hurrying to dismiss it as an inland island of eastern culture full of pesco-vegetarian, turquoise-and-silver-wearing, Georgia O’Keefe-loving Californians. Many Santa Feans dismiss Albuquerque as an ugly and haphazard town of strip malls and seedy bars, with an alarming lack of stucco, and Albuquerque and Santa Fe often both go on to dismiss or take for granted or ignore much of the rest of the state.


The histories of the various parts of the state are eclectic, and so is their lore. Northern New Mexicans tell of enormous flightless owls, the insidious Taos Hum, and one-eyed feathered worms that can kill a person with a single glance. On the reservations, people talk of flying snakes, native gods, and skinwalkers—demonic medicine men that can change into animals. Ghost stories of dead Civil War soldiers are told from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, rumors of secret underground bases and tunnel networks are shared about Los Alamos and Dulce, UFOs and aliens and mutilated cows are reported from Socorro to Roswell, and many southern New Mexicans talk of the lost treasures of the Organ Mountains, sightings of living pterosaurs, enormous “thunderbirds” with fifty-foot wingspans, and the Lordsburg Door—an alleged portal into another dimension. [AUTHOR’S NOTE: He “Googgled” the “Lordsburg Door” and found no references.]New Mexico is so large, and contains such an eclectic variety of cultures and places, that one of the only generalizations that could honestly be said about it or its people is that New Mexico is kind of strange—across-the-board, without-regard-to-race-or-background, north-to-south, east-to-west strange


Still, New Mexico is the Author’s home. An excuse, a rationalization, or a geographic anomaly. Seems kind of strange.



At 4:27 PM , Blogger "Mike" said...

Mike Smith of "My Strange New Mexico" here. Wow, Rob, how cool that you would write this.

I wish I'd known all you know when I wrote that, because I definitely would have quoted that bit about Little Texas from "American Theocracy." I'll have to get that book, and I'll work that into the piece before I collect all my columns for a book.

As for the Lordsburg Door not turning up on Google, I'm not surprised. I have some good contacts for that though, and I'll for sure write a column about it before long. I actually like it when there's not a lot of web stuff about what I'm writing about. It gives me a chance to do original research, and it gives me a near-Monopoly on the subject.


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