Monday, November 17, 2008

Carrot? Or Clarinet?

I saw this on BoingBoing. It's amazing.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

First, possibly last, time for everything

What do you do with a worthless book? No, back up, first I have to determine whether there is such a thing as a worthless book. Having been raised to respect the printed word above all, above God even, I have a hard time overcoming the belief that no matter how wretched the prose or rancid the content, there isn't a book that isn't redeemed just by the fact that it is a book.

In all my life I've never thrown away a book. (Thrown away magazines, newspapers, yes, so why should a book be sacred? I've packed them, hauled them, sold them, donated them, given them away, left them behind.)

Yes, I dog-ear my pages, but I don't write in them, in pen or pencil or with a highlighter, or tear pages out, or even parts of pages. I can barely stand to write my name in a book - when I do the handwriting shows how close this is to me to real profanity. (Why is dog-earing okay? Don't ask me. I don't know. This is just how my mind works.)

I've burned a few books - bad ones - romance novels*. Not to prevent other people from reading them. Just to stay warm. But I don't throw them away. Until just now.

Yes, I know all about recycling. Socorro recycles. Tries to make it easy. I threw them away, even though I could have stored them a little longer until the next free recycling drop-off day.

There was something symbolic about it, because they were books belonging to my ex, who is not a reader. They were all crap, Tim LeHaye crap and things like it. They were in my house, and now they're gone. Yay!

The next batch I'll recycle. Okay? Okay.
* My sister once survived a long journey cross country in a van by reading romance novels. She was desperate. Some one, not a reader, had given her a stack. When she finished each one, she threw it out the window. This was not a stellar time in her life.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sad news

The memorial service for Ann is today at 2, at the Macey Center. The local bi-weekly paper had a nice article about her, here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Next time will be better

We got a call at the office this morning. "We thought you should know that Ann is in the hospital and is not expected to live through the day."

I haven't known Ann long, and I don't know her well, but I like her a lot. She's steady and kind, and generous. She has a knack for quiet encouragement, the right word at the right moment. She's always ready to help out and always there to back you up.

Her son Sam is my daughter's age. He still needs her. A lot of people still need her.

I hope she's still here tomorrow.

In Forrest Carter's The Education of Little Tree, when Eastern Cherokees died, they would say, at the end, "next time will be better." I'm not really sure what it means, but it's comforting, somehow.

Next time will be better.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Good Stuff

Okay - this is a great Eric Bibb song - he sings it with Maria Muldaur on Sisters and Brothers which has nothing but good songs on it:

And this is a song by Norah Jones, that I'm working on with The Decanters:


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ignominiously Scrubbed

It's true - I've been ignominiously scrubbed from Blabberon's list of people who blog about walking their city streets, and I completely deserve it. I don't do that much walking, these days.

On the other hand, I'm getting to know Socorro in all kinds of different ways. In the year since we unpacked our belongings and said "Okay, this is home now" the introvert in me has taken a back seat to the frenetically social extrovert.

Socorro is like that. It's a small town where everyone is literally and figuratively your neighbor. You can keep to yourself to some extent, but eventually you have to go to one grocery store, where you are likely to be greeted by the manager who is also a city councilor, or the other, where you are likely to to be greeted by the manager who is highly involved in the community theater. Everyone is important, and everything is interconnected. There aren't six degrees of separation - more like two.

I should probably change the name of the blog - most of my strolling is highly figurative now - but I'll keep it the way it is. I may eventually walk all the Socorro streets and want to tell somebody about it.

Here's what I've been doing instead. Yesterday I winterized my swamp cooler. That was Big Deal. I don't mind getting up on the roof, but getting back down scares me. And I fired up the furnace for the first time this year, and put that shrink wrap plastic up over a couple of drafty windows. Made a big pot of home-made chicken noodle stew. Started learning some new songs for one of my bands. Read the Funny Times, and took a little nap. It was lovely.

Last weekend I was barely home - played with my new band, Fargo, at an Obama Rally up in Los Lunas (Worried Man Blues, Hard Times Come Again No More, that kind of thing); visited my mom in Albuqueruqe; played kids' music at the coffeehouse with my Bug Soup band (If Pigs Had Wings, There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly, that kind of thing); and did a two hour set at the Stage Door Grill Sunday night with my band, The Decanters.

If you're in Socorro, check out The Decanters at the Socorro Springs on November 22nd, and at the Stage Door Grill on December 7th.
And don't forget to check out the annual Festival of the Cranes. It's awesome.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Socorro in the morning

Something good to read: an article about The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in the New York Times.

Something good to listen to: Pandora Internet Radio and more specifically a song Morningtime by Sarah Dashew.

Here are some pictures from this morning's walk. A Community Fair, Yard Sale and Farmer's market on the plaza.

Church Street.

This is a recycling place that apparently takes junk metal. No name, or hours posted -
but there is one very interesting sign.

You'd think there'd be something behind that sign besides sinks and restaurant type kitchen fixtures, wouldn't you?

I would love to have a screen porch like this.

If this house were anywhere near an ocean or large body of water, I'd call that Widow's Walk on the rooftop.

If I ever won the lottery, I might want to buy a house like this and make it liveable. I'm a home-owner by necessity, not by desire, but I could totally fall for a house with porches.

And that's all for now - headed south to Truth or Consequences to the RiverBend Hot Springs.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

ESP, or useful things I learned on the ranch.

My friend Jim, who keeps his finger on the pulse of the Socorro music scene, here, made me laugh by telling me I have ESP (Especially Senses Precipitation). In the interest of full disclosure, I will share my secret: watch the cows. When I drove to work the other morning, I noticed that the cows were all lying down in the fields. When the cows lie down, expect rain.

It rained this afternoon, so we put a chicken in the oven to roast, and went out to play in the puddles.

There's a new shop on the main drag, where we spotted this fellow -

and this one -

and this one.

He has the whole world in his hands...and while we're doing ellipses, check out this one:

Socorro is lovely after a good rain. We walked around a little near San Miguel. What follows is a few houses that appeal to me for one reason or another.

This has been a tough summer in a few ways, and I have been going a little crazy upstairs in my head. It feels good to be doing again the thing that kept me sane out in Catron County the last few years - walking and taking pictures and posting them on a blog. Also, reading good books and sharing them with people, like this one:

which is funny and interesting and has been a really good read in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

So in the interest of sanity, I'm back, and I will be posting more frequently, with pictures. Sure, I could find a good therapist, but this is cheaper, and more fun.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Humidity and mosquitos

One thing you can usually count on in NM is a lack of humidity, but not lately. Walks this summer have been confined to after dark, when it's not so sticky hot, along the irrigation ditches and canals that spread the water out laterally from the Rio Grande. I quit even those late night walks when the mosquitos population exploded a little while ago.

But you can't stay inside forever. Eventually the urge to wander about and poke around overcome the tendency towards inertia. Too buggy still along the ditches and irrigated fields, so loaded the kids and dogs into the car looking for where we left off.

It was starting to get a bit too dim for picture taking, but I got this picture of a house on Neel Street that looks like it's been there for a while. I like the one tiny little window high up in the north wall.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog

It doesn't get much better than this!

Oh - and here's what I've been doing instead of walking...and blogging...and yardwork...

The Decanters!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Finally, the scoop on the Capitol Bar and Courthouse

Okay - built of stone, adobe & brick in 1896, and one of 30 (thirty!) bars built in Socorro at the time (one for every 100 or so inhabitants.) Owned originally by a pair of italian brothers named Biavaschi, who sold the place "after the turn of the century" to a justice of the peace, Judge Amos Green, "who held court at the bar and jailed the guilty in the back room. Ownership passed to Fred Emilio (also known as the Lincoln County Stud) who painted the front brick facade green and renamed the bar the Green Front in honor of Judge Green. During Prohibition (1918-1933) the Green Front was a pool hall and speakeasy...drinks were 25 cents per shot..."

I'm quoting here from a little mock-up of a pamphlet I found at the Socorro Chamber of Commerce. It just gets better and better, doesn't it? The Lincoln County Stud? There's a story there...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

This post brough to you courtesy of the Burlington, Northern & the Santa Fe

I love this photo, taken near my house - some weird foreshortening effect makes it seem as though the mountains rise directly behind the train tracks, although this is not in fact the case.

Here are some other pictures taken on my Sunday walk.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Perfect Macro Moment

Driving down the hill from the high school this morning, I could see the town laid out before me. A few landmarks stood out: the blue roof of the Casa de Flecha, the old brick building with the wooden top story sitting next to the railroad spur that I haven't identified yet. For no particular reason I was just filled with a great affection for my new home, literally as though I had in the moment before been an empty glass and some large hand* had poured and filled me with fondness. Since I didn't have a camera I will have to make do with this mental snapshot of Socorro on a late winter morning, seen from high on a hill, with M mountain behind, and in the distance more mountains.

*No, not "God" for pity's sake. It's a metaphor.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

On the bright side...

Call me Pollyanna if you like, but there's a silver lining in every cloud. When you're drowning in snot and regularly horking up tadpoles of mucus that are threatening to metamorphosize into giant bullfrogs of phlegm in your lungs, cigarettes just aren't as satisfying as usual, which makes it a great time to quit.

Also making it a great time to quit is a lovely program they have here in New Mexico where they send you stop smoking nicotine patches in the mail, and all it costs you is a half hour of phone time answering highly personal questions asked earnestly of you by total strangers who sound like they're virginal seventeen year old honor students, honor students who would never do anything as stupidly self-destructive as poisoning their temples with nicotine. Not that anyone I talked to sounded in the least bit judgemental, in fact everyone was extremely pleasant and friendly, but still, I would have preferred to talk with a fifty-year old ex-chainsmoker, or at least someone who sounded like they might be even slightly acquainted with the concept of human frailty. Or maybe I'm just of an age now where youth is just, frankly, annoying.

But anyway, if you'd like some free help quitting, try or call the 1-800-QUIT-NOW hotline.

The patches have worked beautifully for me before, and seem to be working just dandy this time around as well. The old patches could easily be trimmed down to reduce your dosage, but the new ones are a bit differently made and specifically say DO NOT CUT PATCH IN HALF OR INTO SMALLER PIECES. I don't know why.

We went for a walk this morning. Saw some goats playing king of the mountain on a pile of wood. The air was cool and damp. The horses were frisky and the ducks subdued. The district's irrigation season has officially begun, and water is running in the irrigation ditches, but not yet into farmers' fields. The weather has been swinging from warm and sunny to cold and overcast, and back, and I am swinging, myself, back and forth, between the usual spring urges - yes, all of them - and the comfortably dormant winter of body and mind.

If, like me, you're not quite ready to emerge from hibernation, may I suggest that you do as I did yesterday: put clean sheets on your bed, pile it high with cosy comforters, plump up the pillows, and crawl back into it with Louise Penny's beautifully written mystery novel, Still Life and a lovely cup of tea.

If, on the other hand, you are bursting with a sense of renewal, etc., by all means, put down that double-espresso and read this article in today's Albuquerque Journal, Pruning Roses Just Isn't That Effing Difficult, All Right? Okay, that's not really the title, but it's what I immediately thought when I read the real title, for some reason, and although I've only skimmed it, I can tell you this much: you'll need Elmer's Glue. Presumably to put back the bits you didn't mean to cut off. Or maybe for some other reason.

I think I had better go put on a fresh nicotine patch. Have a lovely day.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Flu season

As far as I can tell, we started coming down with the flu here around January 17th, and everytime we think we've shaken it, it's come back around with a vengeance.

I don't want to complain too much, but I will say that between the three of us we've produced more mucus than should be humanly possible.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Let's get political

Really quickly, I just want to mention that if you go on over to This Isn't Sydney you can find what Australia's new Prime Minister said in his apology to the indigenous people of that country, and get a feel for the impact it had. I have to admit I was a little skeptical that an apology at this late date would do much good, or have much impact, but it's very clear to me from reading the text of the speech, and Spike's response to it, and the things said in all the links Spike provides, that it was hugely important and absolutely amazing. It also gives me a warm hopeful feeling to realize that the Aussie's really have managed to replace that Bush sycophant Howard with someone much much better, which leads me to the question of what is going to happen when people here in the US go to the polls in November and elect our next president.

It goes without saying that anybody we elect is going to be better than what we've had for the last seven years. And I have to admit that I find Barack Obama appealing on many levels. I've said that I will be happy to vote for either Obama or Clinton, whichever one of them makes it onto the ballot. But I want to share with you an op-ed piece that I found in a British newspaper, the Guardian - I'll give you a link, but I am also going to quote the piece in it's entirety. I tried to figure out how to just quote a little of it, but just a little of it isn't enough.

So, here's the link.

Goodbye to all that #2
US elections 2008: The women's movement must condemn the sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton and unite to support her candidacy
Robin Morgan

Goodbye To All That was my (in)famous 1970 essay breaking free from a politics of accommodation especially affecting women. During my decades in civil-rights, anti-war and contemporary women's movements, I've resisted writing another specific Goodbye. But not since the suffrage struggle have two communities - joint conscience-keepers of this country - been so set in competition as the contest between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama unfurls. So.

Goodbye to the double standard ...

Hillary is too ballsy but too womanly, a snow maiden who's emotional, and so much a politician as to be unfit for politics.

She's "ambitious" but he shows "fire in the belly". (Ever had labour pains?)

When a sexist idiot screamed "Iron my shirt!" at Clinton, it was considered amusing; if a racist idiot shouted "Shine my shoes!" at Obama, it would've inspired hours of airtime and pages of newsprint analysing our national dishonour.

Young political Kennedys - Kathleen, Kerry, and Bobby Jr - all endorsed Hillary. Senator Ted, age 76, endorsed Obama. If the situation were reversed, pundits would snort: "See? Ted and establishment types back her, but the forward-looking generation backs him." (Personally, I'm unimpressed with Caroline's longing for the Return of the Fathers. Unlike the rest of the world, Americans have short memories. Me, I still recall Marilyn Monroe's suicide, and a dead girl named Mary Jo Kopechne in Chappaquiddick.)

Goodbye to the toxic viciousness ...

Carl Bernstein's disgust at Hillary's "thick ankles". Nixon-trickster Roger Stone's new Hillary-hating 527 group Citizens United Not Timid (check the capital letters). John McCain answering "How do we beat the bitch?" with "Excellent question!" Would he have dared reply similarly to "How do we beat the black bastard?" For shame.

Goodbye to the Hillary nutcracker with metal spikes between splayed thighs. If it was a tap-dancing blackface doll, we would be righteously outraged - and they would not be selling it in airports. Shame.

Goodbye to the most intimately violent T-shirts in election history, including one with the murderous slogan: "If only Hillary had married OJ instead!" Shame.

Goodbye to Comedy Central's Southpark episode featuring a storyline in which terrorists secrete a bomb in Clinton's vagina. I refuse to wrench my brain down into the gutter far enough to find a race-based comparison. For shame.

Goodbye to the sick, malicious idea that this is funny. This is not Clinton hating, not Hillary hating. This is sociopathic woman-hating. If it were about Jews, we would recognise it instantly as anti-Semitic propaganda; if about race, as KKK poison. Hell, Peta would go ballistic if such vomitous spew were directed at animals. Where is our sense of outrage - as citizens, voters, Americans?

Goodbye to the news-coverage target-practice ...

The women's movement and Media Matters wrung an apology from MSNBC's Chris Matthews for relentless misogynistic comments. But what about NBC's Tim Russert's continual sexist asides and his all-white-male panels pontificating on race and gender? Or CNN's Tony Harris chuckling at "the chromosome thing" while interviewing a woman from The White House Project? And that's not even mentioning Fox News.

Goodbye to pretending the black community is entirely male and all women are white ...

Surprise! Women exist in all opinions, pigmentations, ethnicities, abilities, sexual preferences and ages - not only African-American and European-American but Latina- and Native-American, Asian-American and Pacific Islanders, Arab-American and - hey, every group, because a group wouldn't exist if we hadn't given birth to it. A few non-racist countries may exist - but sexism is everywhere. No matter how many ways a woman breaks free from other discriminations, she remains a female human being in a world still so patriarchal that it's the "norm".

So why should all women not be as justly proud of our womanhood, and the centuries, even millennia, of struggle that got us this far, as black Americans, women and men, are justly proud of their struggles?

Goodbye to a campaign where he has to pass as white (which whites - especially wealthy ones - adore), while she has to pass as male (which both men and women demanded of her, and then found unforgivable). If she were black or he were female we wouldn't be having such problems, and I for one would be in heaven. But at present such a candidate wouldn't stand a chance - even if she shared Condi Rice's Bush-defending politics.

I was celebrating the pivotal power at last focused on African-American women deciding on which of two candidates to bestow their vote - until a number of Hillary-supporting black feminists told me they're being called "race traitors".

So goodbye to conversations about this nation's deepest scar - slavery - which fail to acknowledge that labour- and sexual-slavery exist today in the US and elsewhere on this planet, and the majority of those enslaved are women.

Women have endured sex/race/ethnic/religious hatred, rape and battery, invasion of spirit and flesh, forced pregnancy; being the majority of the poor, the illiterate, the disabled, of refugees, caregivers, the HIV/Aids afflicted, the powerless. We have survived invisibility, ridicule, religious fundamentalisms, polygamy, teargas, forced feedings, jails, asylums, prostitution, trafficking, sati, purdah, female genital mutilation, witch burnings, stonings, and attempted genocides. We have tried reason, persuasion, reassurances and being extra-qualified, only to learn it never was about qualifications after all. We know that at this historical moment women experience the world differently from men - though not all the same as one another - and can govern differently, from Elizabeth Tudor to Michele Bachelet and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

We remember when Shirley Chisholm and Patricia Schroeder ran for this high office and barely got past the gate - they showed too much passion, raised too little cash, were joke fodder. Goodbye to all that. (And goodbye to some feminists so famished for a female president they were even willing to abandon women's rights in backing Elizabeth Dole.)

Goodbye, goodbye to ...

- blaming anything Bill Clinton does on Hillary (even including his womanising like the Kennedy guys - though unlike them, he got reported on). Let's get real. If he hadn't campaigned strongly for her everyone would cluck over what that meant. Enough of Bill and Teddy Kennedy locking their alpha male horns while Hillary pays for it.

- an era when parts of the populace feel so disaffected by politics that a comparative lack of knowledge, experience and skill is actually seen as attractive, when celebrity-culture mania now infects our elections so that it's "cooler" to glow with marquee charisma than to understand the vast global complexities of power on a nuclear, wounded planet.

- the notion that it's fun to elect a handsome, cocky president who feels he can learn on the job, goodbye to George Bush and the destruction brought by his inexperience, ignorance and arrogance.

Goodbye to the accusation that Clinton acts "entitled" when she's worked intensely at everything she's done - including being a nose-to-the-grindstone, first-rate senator from my state.

Goodbye to her being exploited as a Rorschach test by women who reduce her to a blank screen on which they project their own fears, failures, fantasies.

Goodbye to the phrase "polarising figure" to describe someone who embodies the transitions women have made in the last century and are poised to make in this one. It was the women's movement that quipped: "We are becoming the men we wanted to marry." She heard us, and she has.

Goodbye to some women letting history pass by while wringing their hands, because Hillary isn't as "likeable" as they've been warned they must be, or because she didn't leave him, couldn't "control" him, kept her family together and raised a smart, sane daughter. (Think of the blame if Chelsea had ever acted in the alcoholic, neurotic manner of the Bush twins!) Goodbye to some women pouting because she didn't bake cookies or she did, sniping because she learned the rules and then bent or broke them. Grow the hell up. She is not running for Ms-perfect-pure-queen-icon of the feminist movement. She's running to be president of the United States.

Goodbye to the shocking American ignorance of our own and other countries' history. Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir rose through party ranks and war, positioning themselves as proto-male leaders. Almost all other female heads of government so far have been related to men of power - granddaughters, daughters, sisters, wives, widows: Gandhi, Bandaranike, Bhutto, Aquino, Chamorro, Wazed, Macapagal-Arroyo, Johnson Sirleaf, Bachelet, Kirchner and more. Even in our "land of opportunity", it's mostly the first pathway "in" permitted to women: Representatives Doris Matsui and Mary Bono and Sala Burton; Senator Jean Carnahan ... far too many to list here.

Goodbye to a misrepresented generational divide ...

Goodbye to the so-called spontaneous "Obama Girl" flaunting her bikini-clad ass online - then confessing Oh yeah it wasn't her idea after all, some guys got her to do it and dictated the clothes, which she said "made me feel like a dork".

Goodbye to some young women eager to win male approval by showing they're not feminists (at least not the kind who actually threaten the status quo), who can't identify with a woman candidate because she is unafraid of eeueweeeu yucky power, who fear their boyfriends might look at them funny if they say something good about her. Goodbye to women of any age again feeling unworthy, sulking "What if she's not electable?" or "Maybe it's post-feminism and whoooosh we're already free." Let a statement by the magnificent Harriet Tubman stand as reply. When asked how she managed to save hundreds of enslaved African-Americans via the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, she replied bitterly: "I could have saved thousands - if only I'd been able to convince them they were slaves."

I'd rather say a joyful Hello to all the glorious young women who do identify with Hillary, and all the brave, smart men - of all ethnicities and any age - who get that it's in their self-interest, too. She's better qualified. (Duh.) She's a high-profile candidate with an enormous grasp of foreign- and domestic-policy nuance, dedication to detail, ability to absorb staggering insult and personal pain while retaining dignity, resolve, even humour, and keep on keeping on. (Also, yes, dammit, let's hear it for her connections and funding and party-building background, too. Obama was awfully glad about those when she raised dough and campaigned for him to get to the Senate in the first place.)

I'd rather look forward to what a good president he might make in eight years, when his vision and spirit are seasoned by practical know-how - and he'll be all of 54. Meanwhile, goodbye to turning him into a shining knight when actually he's an astute, smooth pol with speechwriters who've worked with the Kennedys' own speechwriter-courtier Ted Sorenson. If it's only about ringing rhetoric, let speechwriters run. But isn't it about getting the policies we want enacted?

And goodbye to the ageism ...

How dare anyone unilaterally decide when to turn the page on history, papering over real inequities and suffering constituencies in the promise of a feel-good campaign? How dare anyone claim to unify while dividing, or think that to rouse US youth from torpor it's useful to triage the single largest demographic in this country's history: the boomer generation - the majority of which is female?

Old woman are the one group that doesn't grow more conservative with age - and we are the generation of radicals who said "Well-behaved women seldom make history." Goodbye to going gently into any goodnight any man prescribes for us. We are the women who changed the reality of the United States. And though we never went away, brace yourselves: we're back!

We are the women who brought this country equal credit, better pay, affirmative action, the concept of a family-focused workplace; the women who established rape-crisis centres and battery shelters, marital-rape and date-rape laws; the women who defended lesbian custody rights, who fought for prison reform, founded the peace and environmental movements; who insisted that medical research include female anatomy, who inspired men to become more nurturing parents, who created women's studies and Title IX so we all could cheer the WNBA stars and Mia Hamm. We are the women who reclaimed sexuality from violent pornography, who put childcare on the national agenda, who transformed demographics, artistic expression, language itself. We are the women who forged a worldwide movement. We are the proud successors of women who, though it took more than 50 years, won us the vote. We are the women who now comprise the majority of US voters.

Hillary said she found her own voice in New Hampshire. There's not a woman alive who, if she's honest, doesn't recognise what she means. Then she got drowned out by campaign experts, Bill, and media's obsession with All Things Bill.

So listen to her voice:

For too long, the history of women has been a history of silence. Even today, there are those who are trying to silence our words.

It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls. It is a violation of human rights when woman and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution. It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small. It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war. It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide along women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes. It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilised against their will.

Women's rights are human rights. Among those rights are the right to speak freely - and the right to be heard.

That was Hillary Rodham Clinton defying the US state department and the Chinese government at the 1995 UN World Conference on Women in Beijing (the full, stunning speech is here).

And this voice, age 22, in Commencement Remarks of Hillary D Rodham, President of Wellesley College Government Association, Class of 1969 (available here):

We are, all of us, exploring a world none of us understands ... searching for a more immediate, ecstatic and penetrating mode of living ... [for the] integrity, the courage to be whole, living in relation to one another in the full poetry of existence. The struggle for an integrated life existing in an atmosphere of communal trust and respect is one with desperately important political and social consequences ... . Fear is always with us, but we just don't have time for it.

She ended with the commitment "to practice, with all the skill of our being: the art of making possible".

And for decades, she's been learning how.

So goodbye to Hillary's second-guessing herself. The real question is deeper than her re-finding her voice. Can we women find ours? Can we do this for ourselves? "Our president, ourselves!"

Time is short and the contest tightening. We need to rise in furious energy - as we did when Anita Hill was so vilely treated in the US Senate, as we did when Rosie Jiminez was butchered by an illegal abortion, as we did and do for women globally who are condemned for trying to break through. We need to win, this time. Goodbye to supporting Clinton tepidly, with ambivalent caveats and apologetic smiles. Time to volunteer, make phone calls, send emails, donate money, argue, rally, march, shout, vote.

Me? I support Hillary Rodham because she's the best qualified of all candidates running in both parties. I support her because her progressive politics are as strong as her proven ability to withstand what will be a massive right-wing assault in the general election. I support her because she knows how to get us out of Iraq. I support her because she's refreshingly thoughtful and I'm bloodied from eight years of a jolly "uniter" with ejaculatory politics. I needn't agree with her on every point. I agree with the 97% of her positions that are identical with Obama's - and the few where hers are both more practical and to the left of his (like healthcare). I support her because she's already smashed the first lady stereotype and made history as a fine senator, because I believe she will continue to make history not only as the first US woman president, but as a great US president.

As for the "woman thing"?

Me, I'm voting for Hillary not because she's a woman - but because I am.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Walking for Love

Appropriate, perhaps, to find on the eve of St. Valentine's Day, a story in the Guardian about a young man who is walking from Bristol to Gandhi's birthplace - 12,000 kilometers give or take - for the love of it. Well, more specifically, it's a pilgrimage to promote the idea of a money-free economy, where people trade services and help each other not for profit but from a shared sense of humanity, and he has a website, here called JustForThe and a blog here.

He's only been walking for a few weeks so far, but I hope he makes it.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

More about the Capitol Bar

According to a pamphlet called "Historic Socorro" available at the Visitor's center, the Cap was established in 1896, is "made of stone and has a long and colorful history associated with the plaza and town" and was restored in 1993 following a fire caused by a lighning bolt.

And from a 2006 publication called "Old West Trails" is this little tidbit: "Built in 1896, it also doubled for a time as a courtroom and jail."

That was all a google search netted me, and it's just enough to make me want to know more. Without actually getting out of my chair, I was able to find several references to the Capital Saloon in a book called "Socorro, A Historic Survey" by John P Conron (published in 1980 by the UNM Press, for those who appreciate that kind of information.)

Socorro was going through a boom period in the 1890s, which is when the Capitol was built, and Conron talks about the availability of brick being key to the style of the commercial buildings that went up at that time. The bricks would have come by rail or been made by the Fire Clay Works in Socorro, and the architectural details would have included "corbel tables, arched windows that were often narrow in width and long, recessed panels, and dentillated coping." (p.22)

A corbel table is what I would think of as a "ledge-like thing"; coping is the capping or covering of a wall, and you're on the right track with dentillation if you think "teeth" - according to Wikipedia, a dentil is a tooth-shaped block used as a repeating ornament in the bedmould of a cornice. It occurs to me that better pictures are in order - I'll try to get some, soon.

The fire in 1993 and subsequent remodeling explains why I didn't feel the presence of inebriated ghosts. For some reason, I wonder if the Historic Socorro pamphlet wasn't wrong about it being built of stone - it makes more sense to me to put a brick facade on an adobe building than on one built of stone. I'll have to figure out how to do more research on this - and on the use of the bar for a courtroom and jail. That has a wild west vibe to it that I'd like to know more about.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Here are a couple of photos from a walk a little while back that we did around the Historic Plaza area.

The Capitol Bar building is over a hundred years old, and ought to reek of history. I've been inside and was vaguely disappointed. I don't know what I expected. Inebriated ghosts?

Depending who you believe, this was built in the 1890's or the early 1900s - about the time that water began to be piped around the city - and was the Water Department (or Water Commission.) Then it was, until recently, the City Police Department, and now it houses the Socorro Heritage and Visitor's Center.

I don't know anything about this building on Garfield (Garfield Street, paved 1936 by the WPA, yes?) other than it used to be a roller skating rink - remember roller skating? Looking at it makes me feel wistful.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Streets and Sidewalks

Following Fort Bragg Ron's example of noticing the little things as well as the big, I spotted this marking on the sidewalk of Fisher Street, and wondered about it. Finally had a moment to check out what Wikipedia has to say about the WPA, which, for any readers who might not happen to be up on their American History, was a government program created to provide jobs for people during the Great Depression (now there's an oxymoron for you.) I knew they built schools, and I knew about the Federal Writer's Project, vaguely, but I didn't realize they also built streets and sidewalks and Camp David (which was called "Shangri-La" when Roosevelt was President, which strikes me as weirdly fanciful.)

Speaking of presidents, here's another WPA graffito on Garfield Street:

In the news today were more stories about the recession - it's official, folks, we're in a recession. Usually the word recession has the word "mild" in front of it, but I haven't noticed them using any qualifiers this time around. Wonder what that means.

Monday, January 7, 2008

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...MREs!*

A lovely comment from Jim Wetzig reminded me how much I love blogging, and how much I've seen and experienced of Socorro that I want to write about.

Tonight I went to the City Hall to attend a city council meeting, and got my first look at the mayor. The issue that got me, and many others, to attend a city council meeting, had to do with an air force "drop zone" - an area where the air force can conduct training runs on how to drop shit out of aircraft - at a proposed site not far from the city limits.

There was a movie a while back called "Operation Dumbo Drop" where for various reasons that I won't go into here, an elephant is dropped out of a military plane, and so when I think about the air force dropping things out of planes, naturally I can't help envisioning elephants and zebras and giraffes gently floating down out of the sky under brightly colored parachutes to land beside highway 60 to the surprise and amazement of the cows and passing motorists.

When I read the fine print of the proposal, however, there was no mention of elephants, much to my disappointment, and so I felt that it behooved me to get over to the meeting and learn what there was to learn. And I was encouraged by what I saw and heard, and hopeful that between the input of the citizens and the mayor and the city council we might be able to influence this decision and minimize the damage to this town which I already love and feel at home in. I'm not against this drop zone existing, or even existing somewhere close to where I live, but I'd like to see the aircraft routed in a thoughtful and responsible way.
* MREs - "Meals Ready to Eat" - vacuum sealed pouches of "food" which can be heated or, in a pinch, eaten cold; a staple of the U.S. military, and of survivalist groups who stockpile them because they are Indestructible and Never Go Bad. I'm not really clear on what the air force wants to train their pilots to drop out of their aircraft, other than bombs, but one of the things mentioned was "rescue kits" which presumably have food in them, food which doesn't need refrigeration and can survive an 800' drop into a fresh cowpie.