Parking and Dancing
Our readers write.
Regarding your editorial "Parking Wars" in the June 2012 Desert Exposure: I know you're old enough to remember the song lyrics from "Big Yellow Taxi" by Counting Crows sung by Joni Mitchell: "Don't it always seem to go/ That you don't know what you got til it's gone./ They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot." But you've forgotten them. When our little company bought the Isaac's building (then the Corner Café building), people laughed at us for buying a building that was "simply too far gone." When Tre Rosat bought the old bookstore, people smirked — it was "simply too far gone." Ask Art and Conversation what their building looked like before they rehabbed it. Or Un Mundo, or Fire Cloud Traders, or the Murray Hotel, or almost any other building downtown.
We love our quirky little town. We don't see buildings that are too far gone, we see opportunities, and so does the occasional energetic, visionary person who will bring them back to life. This town has already lost too many historic adobes to the wrecking ball because they were empty "too long" or "simply too far gone." Spend some time on Bullard and Broadway and Texas and Yankie Streets and ask the people what their buildings looked like before. We'd have ONLY parking spaces if everyone had your attitude. It's because of people fixing up buildings "too far gone" that the downtown is so popular that we perceive the need for more parking spaces.
Gail Stanford and Herbie Marsden
Editor's note: Thanks for the thoughtful and specific letter. I'm afraid, though, that you're taking a very small part of this editorial — which mostly argued for paving and signage — and blowing it way out of proportion. I specifically wrote, "We're not advocating a 21st-century urban renewal or 'malling,'" and wouldn't dream of advocating demolishing any building like the ones you mention. Indeed, the very same editorial specifically celebrated the Murray Hotel opening, and in this issue we cover the return of Tre Rosat.
In our pages, too, we have consistently featured Silver City's historic buildings — most recently in Pep Parotti's "Some Things Gone By" (May). Ironically, that story notes that a three-story landmark house was demolished to make room for the Clifton Chevrolet building that's now been lovingly renovated as the Hub. Apparently "paradise" is sometimes in the eye of the beholder.
As the editorial expressed, let's hope that the latest good news does indeed help make downtown more popular. But sitting around waiting for the "occasional energetic, visionary person" who has the bottomless pockets to restore an old building is not exactly a sound downtown development strategy.
The Cost of Community
As chairperson of the board of directors, I must comment on Patricia Pawlicki's statement of City of the Sun being a "cheap" place to stay (Southwest Gardener, July). Yes, and no. If you are a desert-hardy individual who can live off the grid (think of the cost of solar power — a mini-setup is at least $1,000 unless you can find used equipment). Then there is a $1,500 membership development fee required in order to be assigned a homesite should one be available. Then there is the cost of a propane tank, unless you put in enough solar to really be off the grid. Also, there is the cost of a Sun-Mar or other state-approved composting toilet plus the effective microorganisms to help it along. There is a monthly lot fee for maintenance. And your water bill and, if on the grid, your electric bill, etc.
City of the Sun's purpose is to build an alternative community. "Community" means that individuals ideally should want to live here at least part of the time and be young enough, strong enough and intelligent enough to really assist with the many things that must be done to maintain our community. For example, we need trainees for our environmentally approved wastewater lagoon that uses effective microorganisms. We also need people with bookkeeping and treasurer skills, and also people with secretarial skills (that means someone who understands how to file, type a business letter, and deal with state agencies). We need maintenance skills as well, for plumbing and basic repairs. While we are an alternative community interested in creating a healing environment and pursuing methods of gardening and horticulture and alternative housing, we also have to comply with state regulations regarding building codes.
Finally, living in a community with a lot of people with very different outlooks can be a challenge. We would welcome a few hardy younger souls willing to try such an experiment, but contact us first (we're on the Intentional Communities website). Arrange a visit, meet people, and take your time making the commitment.
Thanks for the fantastic article on contra dancing in your recent issue ("Fun with Footwork," July). The writer captured all the history, joy, growth and fun of contra dancing, and the photos added to that. I forwarded a link to the article to the national Country Dance and Song Society (in Massachusetts) to show them that great things are possible, even in small, distant places like Las Cruces.
Let us hear from you! Write Desert Exposure Letters, PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, fax 534-4134 or email email@example.com. Letters are subject to editing for style and length (maximum 500 words, please), and must be in response to content that has appeared in our pages. Deadline for the next issue is the 18th of the month.
A Letter to Readers from Writer Jeff Berg
Well, it had to happen sooner or later. My desire to leave Las Cruces has finally been met and I have been released for bad behavior and am now living in Santa Fe.
When I first decided to try and make a "living" through freelance writing, it was former Desert Exposure editor/publisher Jay Glickman who published one of my first articles, submitted blindly, since I liked the way the paper looked. That piece was a satirical overview about those who trashed people who left California to live elsewhere, which at the time included me.
I lived in beautiful Santa Cruz, Calif., for three lovely years before coming to Las Cruces in the spring of 2001.
Since then, I became a regular contributor to Desert Exposure, and was "promoted" to Senior Writer by editor/publisher David Fryxell a couple of years after he bought the paper from Glickman.
I've had the good fortune of writing about most any topic or person that I pitched to Mr. Fryxell, covering (or uncovering) everything from Las Cruces' own naturists (nudists to those who don't know their lingo) to a horrific day with an animal control officer.
I've been with the cops, the Border Patrol, the deaf community, writers, painters, sculptors, sex toy sellers (again, Fryxell asked no questions), interviewed Santa Claus and "furries" (look it up!), been to prison (for real) several times, and met numerous other good folks. One of my favorite artist pieces was an interview with Mari Broenen, who has since relocated to Tucson, but whose work I was nearly speechless to define.
I've visited with local celebs such as Bob Diven, Carrie Hamblen, David Salcido and Julienne Hadfield. All were candid and great to work with.
But behind all that and all of the kind and wonderful people I've met in Las Cruces, places like Tiffany's Greek Café, Happy Dog and Zeffiro's Pizza, and a passion for the Chihuahuan Desert, I've never felt truly "at home" in Las Cruces. That was for a number of reasons, and recently, my discomfort with the city reached a pinnacle and it became time to attend to my own inner spiritual needs in another place.
Santa Fe is not the ideal solution, and I have lived there before, and another move might be in the cards later on. But for now, I will remain a "don" of New Mexico and will continue to write for other publications and continue to write my book about movies made in New Mexico.
Mr. Fryxell has hinted at a possible write-up of the Santa Fe circus, aka the state legislature, in 2013, but if that doesn't happen, I want to sincerely thank all of the Desert Exposure loyal readers, David and Lisa Fryxell, Donna Clayton Walter, and all of the great people I have met and/or interviewed over the years.
"To part is the lot of all mankind. The world is a scene of constant leave-taking, and the hands that grasp in cordial greeting today, are doomed ere long to unite for the last time, when the quivering lips pronounce the word, 'Farewell'" — R.M. Ballantyne
Of course it is not as meaningful as human interaction, but feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.