#NewMexico: #Pueblos and #Alamos, #SantaFe and #Albuquirky

Rules and regs on the rez

Rules and regs on the rez

America has lost its center—centers—plural, every city’s central core, its coeur, abandoned in flights to the suburbs, only to hopefully return some day when some mathematical formula for redemption is hopefully satisfied. Its small towns are dead or dying, too, riddled by meth and boredom, too-simple answers to complex questions, mansions constructed on shifting sands, two-by-fours on bedrock…

Many of them had not much reason to exist in the first place, I figure, just a wide spot in the road where two wagon trails crossed, now forgotten when the new highway skirts the central business district and shifts the center of gravity to the outer edges, with big box stores and not much else. The modern American paradigm is that every person is attached to a car at all times, no exceptions, so cities still sprawl to the hinterlands, looking for liebenschraum and a place to park that f*cking car…

The past is still present

The past is still present

It’s a losing battle, time for the tide to turn back inward and people return to center. There is no place left to drive to, and nothing to do once you get there, and not much music to listen to along the way. God has taken over the left-hand side of the radio dial and country music the right. That leaves not much in the center, short-cuts to sex and the dark side’s middle path…

But there is an older system, when river traffic was king and water was sacred, especially the year-round kind, flowing down from glaciers distant or lakes too full of it. What will happen when there are no more glaciers? Reservoirs can only take so much, and you don’t know what’s in that water, what with people skiing, and peeing, and mucking around…

The Indian Pueblos are part of that older system, ground zero for civilization in the American southwest, lined up along the Rio Grande, where life is good; and branching off on the upper Colorado plateau, where life is harder, but at least it’s safe, and sacred. They’re lined up like so many tourist attractions on the river, struggling for cultural survival where biological survival is fairly well ensured, the ultimate ultimatum for any tribe or nationality: live free or die trying…

Rain or shine

Rain or shine

Santa Ana, San Felipe, Santo Domingo, and Santa Clara, for starters: the names roll off the map and the tongue like so many ‘Hail Mary’s, a random roll call of saints in the service of the new gods, Paul and the Apostles replacing Feathered Serpents and assorted and sundry supernatural animals and grotesque anthropomorphs, overseen by a benign Creator and benevolent dispenser of favors, which is the sine qua non of any true religion, divine intervention, no intervention from outside allowed…

The natives drive that point home by prohibiting pictures, whether sketching or clicking, all the same to them, as if grabbing a picture is stealing a soul, pointless and penniless. So I drive my point home by driving myself home, pointless and picture-less—but picturesque—a fly on the wall of archeology and architecture, human eye-witness of the time and place of our encounter, no souvenirs but the picture of a pueblo post office, before I knew that photos were prohibited, ignorance my excuse, but is a US post office really sacred? I don’t think so…

Santa Fe sunset

Santa Fe sunset

But Los Alamos is nothing like all that, the city that science—and atomic bombs—built, even today with names like Oppenheimer Drive and Manhattan Loop, vestiges of the past come back to haunt the present, American military cracking atoms for the taking, while natives down the road prohibit pictures of potholes, and sacred trees, and sacred fire hydrants. Everything is sacred to the natives; nothing is sacred to the modern Americans, not even atoms, not even Nature…

All the old roads led to Santa Fe—Holy Faith—something of a misnomer, since the full name equates to “The Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi,” so cherry-picking concepts, really, since it could just as easily have ended up as Villa Real or San Francisco, anything but Frisco, but I have to confess that I ended up here—again—only because the hurricane rains set in farther south, and I came north to escape them, this little gem of a city just a little too precious for me, real estate handled by Sotheby’s and Christie’s, too rich for my blood, arbitrage of the soul amid the quest for true value…

Old Town Albuquerque

Old Town Albuquerque

Santa Fe is a dead museum (sorry, New Orleans), history and art packaged for parties and partisans, the business of pretentiousness, accessories to the fact, accomplices to the crime, the crime of civilocide, the killing of cities, by hook or crook, making them unlivable by price or boredom, a crime we’re all guilty of, every one of us, the crime of reducing cities to parking lots and parlor fixtures, anything but living spaces…

But today all roads in New Mexico lead to Albuquerque. Civilizations have earned the right to a fresh start, it seems. Born from the same origins as Santa Fe, the big city is no longer in its shadow, except as capital. The downtown is lively, and Central Ave far east even more so, thanks to students, ex-students and their lively lifestyles. And this weekend the big event is Globalquerque, the annual world music event that I’ll probably write up when I get around to it.

Hilton Pueblo

Hilton Pueblo

Still I wonder: where did the quintessential puffy New Mexican dough-boy adobe architecture come from, the natives or the Spaniards? Natives get the credit, I think, yet Muslim-inspired architecture in faraway Mali is almost identical, the common link being the Arabs (‘adobe’ comes from Egyptian and Arabic) that were common to both there and Spain. Chicken or egg? You tell me…

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