Category Archives: The Howl

My Curious New Guest

_MG_6571Española, NM – As I pulled into the driveway after work yesterday I noticed a dog across the road hobbling along. She had white fur, big expressive eyes and, if not for the fact she was terribly emaciated, you’d say she was a beautiful animal.  Before driving through the gate and over the little bridge toward my casita I came to brief stop and in one of those moments the animal and I locked eyes. A short while later I went for a walk when I noticed the animal sitting against my van. Up close I could tell it wasn’t… Continue Reading

Don’t Wear Flip-Flops in Española Because You Might Stub Your Toe and Catch AIDS

_MG_6543Española, NM – If I have a major pet peeve it’s wearing socks. Hate’em. Absolutely. Positively. Instead I wear flip-flops. The cheap Old Navy brand that sell for $2 a pair. Because they’re cheap they don’t last long and I end up buying several pair over the course of a summer. According to my projections, however, I’m going to save a little money on flip-flops this summer for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve been informed after three months of doing so that I’m not allowed to wear flip-flops to work. Apparently this is codified in the employee handbook or… Continue Reading

‘What’s With All the Mexicans?’

_MG_5681Española, NM – So I’m leaving the gas station and I’m asked Excuse me, sir? by a well-groomed man I guessed to be in his 50s. He wasn’t wispy, but wasn’t quite small, either, but his diminutive size nonetheless belied his deep gutteral voice. The sun glinted off his oily bald head. Can you tell me how to get to Santa Fe? he asked. He glanced down at my plates as I gave directions and after he asked what brings me to New Mexico. I live here, I told him. About three months now. His beady eyes darted to… Continue Reading

City of Broken Dreams

_MG_4071Española, NM – Stick around any place long enough you’ll begin to recognize those people and events that encapsulate its fundamental absurdity, moments that in your mind come to define a place and its people. My hometown of Madison, WI, is characterized by the cartoonish lunacy of otherwise normal people going out of their way to look and act weird. Philadelphia had its share of weirdos, but over all it was moments like glancing sideways to see some street urchin in the park shitting in full view of an indifferent public that captured essence of a city that refuses to… Continue Reading

Collaterally Damaged….

**Note** This is article, which I wrote for Isthmus newspaper in Madison, WI, was first published on April 5, 2012.  At night, when the lights go out, Ahmed Etaymish, 29, is transported from Madison back to Baghdad, where he relives the horror that followed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Sometimes he reimagines his brushes with death or the murders he’s witnessed. Other times he’s choking on the mist of human tissue that lingers in the air following a car bombing. More often he’s back in the morgues searching for his father, a university professor abducted by… Continue Reading

The Land Where Nothing is Everything

_MG_3926Rio Arriba County, NM – Land of Enchantment is a supremely apt description for New Mexico. As someone last night said of the landscape, It really draws you in. Indeed, northern New Mexico is otherworldly. Once a week I drive 66 miles from Española to Tierra Amarilla, the county seat. Highway 84 north, paved along an ancient seabed, snakes across pastoral valleys before entering the red rock canyons that you can see jutting above the horizon from miles away. But there comes this point when these sheer rock cliffs begin to rise rapidly toward the sky. In an instant the… Continue Reading

Third-Class Citizens

_MG_3410Rio Arriba County, NM – I’ve come to enjoy indulging the White people here who complain about being treated like third-class citizens – behind the Natives even! Oh, the audacity of these brown people. In their own ancestral lands! It is true, though. People eye you when you enter bars or restaurants and you try not to stare back, but you can feel their eyes on you. Aside from the handful of people I work with, I may go all week without seeing another Gringo and when I do it’s likely a family that had traveled from Los Alamos to… Continue Reading

Dead Dogs and Old Dusty Towns

_MG_3251Rio Arriba County, NM – You can’t fully appreciate the lunacy of cities until you’ve spent enough time in the country that you feel that full break from modernity. Rio Arriba County widens that disconnect because not only is it rural, but it’s primitive enough to feel entirely of a different time. The rhythms and sounds are different. More peaceful. Serene. The other day, while driving along the Rio Chama river corridor, I saw a pair of guys on horseback galloping among their large herd of cattle. The dogs ran at the margins to keep the herd in formation as… Continue Reading

Notes From Nowhere

CattleYesterday on my way back from Tierra Amarilla, I picked up a hitchhiker on one of the pueblos. It was the middle of the day and he was wearing a tucked in, button-up shirt with a clearly visible ID badge clipped to the pocket. On his way to work, I figured. I was really flying down the highway and so came to a stop a considerable distance away. He seemed to take forever to catch up to the van. It took me back to my days as a younger man when I hitchhiked through northern New Mexico to Silver City… Continue Reading

Settling Into My Adobe Abode

_MG_2996Española, NM – After driving 23 hours over three days I at last arrived at my new home in Española, New Mexico, located in the north central part of the state. It’s a beautiful part of the country. And contrary to the many warnings from friends and others that I would hate living here, I’ve experienced nothing but awe since arriving. That sense of wonder came as a great relief, because the last time I moved to a new city – Philadelphia in June 2008 – I was miserable from the minute I arrived. Of course, a lot had to… Continue Reading
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