Monday, November 29, 2004

Have You Tried The Red Special?

WEST CENTRAL--This is absolutely THE best cheap and filling meal in Albuquerque: Casa Grande's Red Special. Here is what you get: 3 cheese enchiladas with onions and red chile, Spanish rice, beans, lettuce & tomato, 2 sopapillas, and desert (like tapioca or sweet rice). Here is the price: $4.25. If you have a better deal for good tasting food, please let me know!

APS Police Issue Warrant For Arrest Of Weatherman...Superintendent Should Have Looked Out Her Window This Morning

NOB HILL--The APS Police, the organization who expects perfection from teachers in terms of never missing a call to police HQ notifying the police of their comings and goings...the same APS Police advised the Superintendent of Schools to not bother calling a 2 hour delay for schools this morning. Everything looked all right to them!

Meanwhile every child and parent on their way to school between 8:30 and 9:00 knew that it was too dangerous to be on the road or sidewalk in that snowstorm. Two schoolbuses got in accidents. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.

As if to make up for everything, when the weather cleared up, APS called for an early dismissal. Maybe they should look out the window once in a while.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Breakfast With Carolyn Calceran, Great Granddaughter of Major Trevanion Teel, C.S.A.

NOB HILL--This morning in the Flying Star I spotted Carolyn Calceran and had a chance to talk briefly with her about her noted grandfather.

The most famous officer in the Sibley's army in New Mexico was Major Trevanion Teel, C.S.A. He was in charge of half of Gen. Sibley's artillery, and is responsible for burying the cannons just north of Old Town. The cannons on display in Old Town Plaza are replicas of a couple of these 12 pound mountain howitzers. The actual pieces are in the Albuquerque Museum.

The cannons were buried during the Confederate retreat following the battle at Glorietta. They needed the carriages to transport wounded and supplies, so they buried 8 cannon barrels in a corral just northeast of the Plaza...about where the Albuquerque Museum is now. Major Teel was in charge of the operation.

The Confederate retreat from Glorietta is one of the most heroic sagas in New Mexico history. An account detailing what happened to the cannons on that trip can be found in a recently published article in El Defensor Chieftan. After losing everything at Glorietta, including ammo, food, water wagons, livestock, etc. the Texas volunteers marched back through Albuquerque heading south. At Bernardo they were forced to leave the river in order to avoid the Union forces at Fort Craig. They did not rejoin the river until they got south of the San Mateo Mountains. This journey, without food or water except what they could carry as individuals, was epic. They abandoned more cannons south of Ladron Peak. Ladron Peak can be seen in the distance on the right as you leave Albuquerque heading south on I-25.

The only cannons Maj. Teel was able to keep were the ones he captured from the Union forces at the Battle of Valverde...there were 5 of them. The Rebels were too stubborn to abandon the only thing they had to show for their foray into New Mexico. The most famous of these captured pieces was "The Blue Whistler" which saw action later in the Mexican Revolution.

Long after the war was over, Trevanion Teel returned to Albuquerque from El Paso where he was a lawyer and helped dig up the 8 buried artillery pieces. A former student of mine once told me that his grandfather had witnessed the excavation and had said the the barrels were stuffed with Confederate money.

Carolyn Calceran is Maj. Teel's Great Granddaughter. She sometimes eats Sunday breakfast at the Flying Star with her husband. I forgot to ask her how she ended up in Albuquerque. Her family's story is a wonderful and important part of our history.

One last thing...during the retreat, a carriage had to be abandoned in the Rio Salado valley north of Magdalena. Wrapped around one of the uprights for the canopy was an oil painting stolen from a residence in Albuquerque. It was a picture of Napolean: the one with the horse. When Teel was on his way to Albuquerque after the war, he had occasion to stop at a Catholic church in Socorro. On the wall was the picture of Napolean. The priest said it was a picture of a saint. Teel informed him that Napolean was no saint. What became of the picture I do not know.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Lady Lobos Push Past Missouri, Tomorrow Play Gonzaga

THE PIT--Timi E-Nunu makes a free throw late in the game as the New Mexico women defeat the Missouri Tigers 67 to 48. Here is a link to the complete story. But there are two other big stories here, sports fans. The first is my camera. This shot was not taken by my camera-phone. I bought a Nikon Coolpix 4800 last Friday with a 8.3x zoom. This picture was taken from the very top of the chairback seats. The other big story is the Lobos inside game. I didn't look forward to much of an inside game this year: last year Jenny Shetters didn't seem to be enough of a presence and Jana Francis was a little erratic. They looked like they needed some help. Well they got it: Dionne Marsh. Tonight the three post players combined for 20 points and 9 rebounds in the victory. Tomorrow night the women play Gonzaga, a high scoring experienced team from Spokane. If you haven't been to see the women play, this would be a good one.

Another New Mexico Sunrise...Even Dawn In The City Is Awesome!

NOB HILL--Dawn breaks with humbling beauty on the day following Thanksgiving, silhouetting the cupola of Immanuel Presbyterian Church. This Nob Hill landmark, designed by John Gaw Meem, was built in stages from 1949 to 1955. There is a wonderfully detailed history of the building on the church's website.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Archie and Ray Stacking Pinon At My House

NOB HILL--Around two years ago, I was making room for MaryAnn to move in. I had a yard sale that featured, among other manly treasures, over 50 tube-type radios. None of them worked. It takes a special person to see value in such a collection. At any rate, Ray Rael was on his way home to Grants from Isleta Casino where he had scored big. How he ended up in Nob Hill I don't know, but he bought a pickup truck load of radios from me. I bought a pickup truck load of wood from him. We came out about even.

I called Ray up again two weeks ago to see if he is still in the wood business. He is. He cuts it himself, and delivers and stacks it himself with his friend Archie. All Pinon...short lengths...split...somewhat aged...looks like a full cord...$140. His phone # is 505-287-7820.

By the way, since our "radio" days, Ray has been fighting cancer. He worked in the uranium mines in Grants...even scraped out the yellowcake from the ovens. He was going to Tucson twice a month (over the same route Mike and I rode) for treatment. But he is feeling better, and he looks great. If you need wood...

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I Ran Across Dave Etter's Name By Chance...

NOB HILL--Dave Etter! His early work, like in his book Last Train to Prophetstown, is full of magical images that you could tell enchanted the poet as well as the reader. But when I left northern Illinois to hang out in San Francisco I left all that and struck out on my own--looking for a truth that was of a different generation. Eventually I came back to Illinois and after a while I got to thinking about Dave Etter.

I decided to go see him in the town of Geneva, about 40 miles away. It was already dark, but I hitchhiked out there anyway, dressed in my old bellbottoms and a navy pea jacket. When I got there I went up to the door and hesitated...after all I didn't know him, he didn't know I was coming, and most importantly, any form of rejection would be devastating to me. Well, I knocked and he answered. I told him I was also a poet and wanted to know if he had a little time for me. He hemmed and hawed and kind of shuffled his feet but eventually he let me in his house.

I didn't blame him for not wanting to look at my poems. If he didn't like them (and that was the most likely scenario) what was he going to say. I think it took him some time to come to the conclusion that he would just tell me (gently) they stunk and for me to stick to my pearl-diving day job if it came to that. But by the time he let me in I am sure that he had worked it all out in his mind.

But he surprised himself. He liked them. He gave me the name of a couple of magazines to send some of them to, and told me to use his name in the cover letter. I was in heaven. Hitchhiking back to DeKalb on a cold winter night was as exciting and gratifying a time as I have ever had.

Last week I ran across his name on a website called Illinois Poet Laureate. It has a realplayer video of him reading three poems. He writes a lot differently now than he did almost 40 years ago, but the last poem gives you some feeling for the sense of space all midwestern poets seem to feel. Here, below, is a poem he read in 1967 when I first heard him. As Lucien Stryk used to say, "Hmmmmmm."


Hollyhocks are swaying gently
under the blue branches of an elm.

I watch 82 freight cars
sink into the corn leaves
and drop over the rim of the prairie.

On my back now, I watch the sky
make wool pictures of mothers.

Two blackbirds fly toward the river:
the muddy river of endless regret.

I could lie here forever
and look up at these hollyhocks.

I will never get on in the world.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Struck Down By Beauty In The Walmart Parking Lot

EAST CENTRAL--Looking north along San Mateo from the Walmart parking lot the dark drama taking place in the mountains contrasts with the sun shining in the city.

And Now...This.

NOB HILL--We received an email from MaryAnn's sister living in Cairo, Egypt stating that Larry LaPrise has died.

With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person which almost went unnoticed last week. Larry LaPrise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey," died peacefully at age 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into his coffin. They put his left leg in. And then the trouble started.

Actually LaPrise died in 1996. But there really was a lot of trouble with his casket. The funeral lasted a long time, and they did play the Hokey Pokey in the background. Then, as they wheeled his coffin out to the hearse, which was parked on a hill, the undertakers lost their grip and the coffin headed down the street, whizzing by traffic, going through red lights, and eventually flying in the open door of a local pharmacy, and coming to a crashing halt in front of the counter. The coffin cover fell off and the body sat up straight in its bier. The pharmacist leaned over the counter and asked, “Can I help you?” And LaPrise replied, “Yeah, have you got something that will stop this coffin?”

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I Ran Across Dave Etter's Name By Chance Yesterday.

NOB HILL--In 1967 I went to a poetry reading in DeKalb, Illinois to celebrate the publication of Lucien Stryk's anthology of midwestern poets. Besides Stryk as host, it featured readings by Dave Etter, R.R. Cuscaden, and Robert Sward. Each was to read for 20 minutes and then a reception was to begin. Dave Etter read some wonderful pieces that were stunning in their imagery and oneness with northern Illinois. Rob Cuscaden was next and also read some beautiful stuff...really imaginative with a wry sense of humor. For instance, he had previously published a book entitled Ups & Downs of a Third Baseman. Small wonder, then, that the Northern Illinois University crowd was most receptive. The energy was contagious and Cuscaden just kept on reading.

After about 30 or 40 minutes, Etter tried to get his friend to sit down, but Cuscaden ignored him. This might have been because they all had been at the bar in the Holiday Inn across the street for most of the afternoon. Finally, an hour approached and nothing of a gentle nature seemed to have worked to get Cuscaden to end his part of the show. Lucien Stryk stood up...Cuscaden kept reading. Stryk approached the podium...Cuscaden plowed further into his manuscripts. Stryk stood right next to him and put his hand over the typewritten pages. Cuscaden yelled out, "Just a second, Loosh, I'm just going to read the titles!" He then read the titles of 10 or 15 more poems before taking his seat.

Here is one of his poems from that night, about a small town near where I grew up. It is published in Lucien Stryk's anthology, Heartland: Poets of the Midwest (1967).


There was something nagging me about Freeport.
All day up the old main line from Centralia
Some memory scratched away and wanted out.
But whatever it was--a girl, a baseball game,
A poem--was in too deep. I gave it up.

That night, standing in the shower, six bottles
Of beer and a rare steak shifting uneasily
In my belly, I remembered all about Freeport:
A girl, a baseball game, a poem--the three
Together, on a warm afternoon in Freeport.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

VB Price: A Lion Amongst the Boulevardiers

NOB HILL--Just as soon as I say VB Price doesn't hang out in Nob Hill anymore, he makes a fool out of me and shows up! But he can't be both an Icon and a Hero, so he will have to stay a Hero. Actually, I emailed him in care of the editor of the Tribune and he sent me a nice reply. He has also started his own website, which has some of his poems, etc.

I wrote him about how the electon had affected him. Here is part of what he had to say:
For some reason I can't explain, the election defeat revved me up in
a way that I haven't been in years. I was worried that I'd be completely
deflated by a loss, and just run out of gas. I don't understand why that
hasn't happened, but it hasn't. I just got really pissed, and figured
now we have nothing to lose. But really as curious, I guess, as I am
pissed. I'm fascinated by how this all happened, by dirty tricksters, by
the political judo they work on the Dems. So lots and lots to learn and
that's always a wonderful motivation.

"We have nothing to lose." That pretty much sums it up. And it does give off a lot of energy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I'd Like To Place A Buy Order On The Chicken-Fried Steak With An Option On A Chocolate Malt.

Four members of the Double-in-5 investment club listen intently to a discussion about the future of Starbucks in the back room of the 66 Diner. Or maybe they're just day-dreaming after a good meal. The club has about a dozen members.

Don't Be Afraid To Talk About Money

NOB HILL--Have you ever heard of an investment club? Well, Yours Truly, Johnny_Mango has belonged to one for over ten years. It isn't making me rich, but it does keep me thinking about the future. We better take care of ourselves as best we can. Being savvy about money is part of that.

The club I belong to meets once a month at the 66 Diner. We eat, we talk, we discuss various companies. Sometimes we buy or sell. It doesn't cost a lot of money. Our club dues are $30/month. Of course when you quit the club you get all your money back plus whatever return your share of the stocks have earned. But basically it is about education. It is about learning how to buy and sell stocks intelligently. It is about learning how to think and talk about money, the market, and the future.

Most investment clubs are affiliated with the N.A.I.C. If you are interested, the New Mexico chapter has a list of contact people on their website. Think about it. Think about whether you would enjoy it. I bet most of you would.

Monday, November 15, 2004

"Hero of Reality" Keeps Working, Writing.

NOB HILL--I have been waiting for VB Price to show up again at the Flying Star so I could name him an Icon of Nob Hill. Unfortunately, I haven't seen him in a while so that title is perhaps not all that appropriate. So I am giving him the title of "Hero of Reality." Why?

Because he always is aware that we create our own world...our own reality...and he has devoted his life to making us aware that this particular world we inhabit in ABQ is worth thinking about. How can we make it as livable as possible? VB Price acts like every one of us is able to know beauty and fulfillment, and he democratizes beauty every time he writes.

Is he depressed by the election? Who knows. Many of us have been through SO many fights in our lifetimes that life is no longer a rollercoaster. But Price has always stuck up for intelligence, conservation, beauty, and compassion. He writes for the Albuquerque Tribune. In his latest column he takes the Republicans to task for making hatred a "moral value."

I admit I have never met the man. But once I went up to him and embarrassed both him and myself by blurting out to him that he was "one of the good guys." But he is...and he always was.

Ken and Dagwood Take Five...Maybe More

NOB HILL--NewMexiKen and Dagwood of Metaquerque have suspended posting to their blogs. They say they are either burned out or too busy. In times like these we all have to conserve our energy. Always work for good...but pick your battles. Save yourself. We WILL live to fight another day. Here's hoping they come back soon (but not before they are ready). Sit down and rest a while. Good job, guys.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Quit Whining About Teachers Working Overtime (For Free!)

APS--The School Police have proposed that teachers be limited in their access to their classrooms after school. I guess it is too difficult to keep track of things what with everybody working all the time. Two key parts of the proposal are that teachers must stay at least an hour if they go to their rooms, and no going after 8:00 PM on weeknights. Weekends have even more restrictions.

The problem is that there are about 5000 classrooms in APS, all of which have motion detectors. Any idiot could predict that a system that relies on 5000 people calling in to Police HQ is not going to be successful much of the time--especially since most classrooms don't even have phones. The penalty for forgetting to call is to surrender your key and have a nasty meeting with your if the teacher were a child rather than a professional. I personally don't care if it makes the job of the School Police harder to have to deal with the realities of teaching. Let them work as hard as teachers do and then we'll have a talk. What person wants to have to go back to work at night and on weekends? Nobody. But a classroom is a complex part of a teacher's life: part workspace, part home (25 young people live in a classroom for most of the day), part maintenance-needing interactive learning environment, part repository for sensitive information which cannot leave the building. The School Police stated that teachers were just showing up to feed their hamsters. Frankly, it is not Police business what a teacher thinks needs to be done in that classroom. It could be that the teacher is sick and dropping off lesson plans. It makes no difference: it is not Police business.

If the job is too difficult with 5000 people working in 5000 different rooms, get rid of the APS Police and let APD respond. Or come up with a different system. But quit whining. Everybody has a tough job.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Three Postcards from Route 66 in our Neighborhood...Every Business Tried to Attract Its Share of Travelers

UNIVERSITY OF NM--I am sure you recognize this building, but have you ever noticed the words and pictures above the windows? They say, "Pig and Calf." It used to be a restaurant. The above postcard shows it called, "The Pig Stand Cafe." It might have had other names as well.

NOB HILL--Sam Pillsbury mentioned the other day that he remembered eating at Hoyt's Dinner Bell. The building has been torn down and the corner now houses a strip mall, but the aroma of those steaks and chicken still wafts down old Route 66.

Help me...Help me. Does anybody remember the Iceberg Cafe on East Central?

EAST CENTRAL--The Iceberg Cafe and gas station was located on East Central (Route 66). Here comes the hard part...and I need some help. At some point this wonderful roadside attraction was moved to or from Algodones. It makes more sense to move the building to Central from Algodones because Route 66 was shifted to Central Ave in 1937 from the northern route which did pass through Algodones. But I am not sure if that was the case...or was it later moved up north of Bernalillo from its Central location. Anybody know?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

An ABQ Best Bet: Lady Lobo Basketball

THE PIT--The Artist Ken Saville demonstrates proper binocular technique while participating in Albuquerque's #1 male spectator sport: Lobo Women's Basketball! Go Lobos! Last night's game showed that the Lobos look good, deep, ready for action.

Do You Miss Baca's Red Chile?

DOWNTOWN--Will is part owner of Wrap It Up. His dad is the head chef. While I was eating the carne adovada something about the red chile kept nagging at me. It tasted SO good and yet so familiar. Well, it turns out that Will's dad used to be the head chef at that Nob Hill institution of yesteryear, Baca's. He used to make that great red chile at Baca's! Thanks God it's back! Yahoo!

DOWNTOWN--Tuesdays and Thursdays Bob Evans and I ride the river bike trail end to end. We get hungry, very hungry. To top things off, Bob is so particular about food, and so knowledgable, that he should be doing a weekly TV show from his kitchen. So when we stopped in at a new restaurant, I wondered what he would think. Look at his face. Look at his plate. He liked it, and wanted seconds. The restaurant was called Wrap It Up on the corner of Coal and 10th. They moved there from the old Tito's Bar location on 4th NW. This building used to house Carlito's restaurant. In fact, what they did was combine Carlito's menu with their now it serves wraps and Mexican food. Cheer up Bob, have another carne adovada burrito.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Enlarge This Picture! Look at that Road...

Looking back into the canyon from partway up the other side, you feel humbled by both the scenery and the riding experience. Believe it or not, I don't think we ever felt proud...just humbled by being able to be part of it all.

Lighting Up the Sony at the Bottom of the Salt River Canyon

Mike worked into the night on his laptop every night recording the day's events. They are published here. This was a wonderful, quiet evening along the Salt River featuring Mountain House freeze-dried stew for Mike and MH chili-mac for Yours Truly, Johnny_Mango.

A Beautiful Campsite on the Salt River

When we got to the bottom of the Salt River Canyon we found the store closed. We had plenty of food, but needed to refill our water bottles. Sorry Charlie. Still, the place was so beautiful and peaceful that it didn't bother us too much. The next afternoon, however, we did get down to one cup of water between us as we rode up and out of the canyon and into Globe.

The Old Mission at Zuni Pueblo

The Zunis convinced us that we ought to spend the night at the b&b in Zuni Pueblo rather than camp by the side of the road near the Arizona border...after all, it was cold, windy, in the middle of what they called a "spooky" area, and Halloween. Also, it was near the only bar in 50 miles.

So we stayed at The Inn at Halona. It was just great, and cost $80 for the two of us including a big, hot breakfast. It gave us time to wander around the pueblo and even go to see the "Santo Nino," a statue whose origin in Zuni history goes back to Coronado's passing. Care of the statue is handed down from generation to generation. I do not feel comfortable writing more about it, but there is a house in Zuni with "Santo Nino" written above the door. Go in there. The statue is in a large sort of living room. The Santo Nino also has a bedroom which we did not get to see.

While we were there, the statue's guardian was explaining the stories to us when an old pickup drove up. A middle-aged cowboy got out and helped an older cowboy into the room. I took them to be father and son. The father went up to the Santo Nino for a few moments and spoke softly. They sat quietly on a couch for a little bit, then went out to the pickup and drove off.

On the road to El Morro

Mike Moye rests with El Morro in the background. This is an unmistakable sight on the road from Grants to Zuni, and has been for centuries. Coronado stopped here at the spring in 1540 and his scripted name with the words "paso por aqui" are still to be seen carved into the bluff. If you haven't been here, do it. There is a nice campground here connected to the National Monument.

Hanging Out at the Witch Well Bar

This is the infamous Witch Well Bar. I had a microwave sandwich and a coffee. Mike just had the coffee. The man at the bar ordered 200 gallons of diesel from (I guess) the proprietor's private stock.

Time for a Clif Bar...Maybe a Piece of Cheese

These cliffs near Zuni show some of the spectacular scenery you always have time to stop for if you are on a bike. The flag gives you some idea of the headwind we encountered in that area.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Sitting In Globe, Arizona With Chips and a Coke

GLOBE, AZ--I have had a hard time posting, but here we are at a Comfort Inn in Globe. We have at this point biked about 280 miles with about 90 more to go. Today, starting with breaking camp on the Salt River and then climbing out of the canyon was spectacular! Everything about this day was harder than we thought it was going to be. We had been told that the road out of the Salt River Canyon gained 1500 ft. in three miles. Well, we climbed 3000 ft. in over ten miles getting away from that beautiful slash in the earth. Then, the store at the bottom of the canyon was closed because the owner was attending a workshop in Albuquerque! The hard part about that was that we were depending on the store to resupply our water supply. As it was, we went 90 miles in 2 days with less than a gallon of water each. Mike Moye has posted a detailed journal of the trip complete with pictures and in his own inimitable style. Please check it out. Tomorrow we have to climb out of Globe and then camp out someplace around Mammoth.