Here are some stories about water.
I am fascinated by its absence; here in the high desert the dry earth is something I have both feared and revered. A dweller of mesas and arroyos, water remains elusive to me; it is a half-remembered dream.
My family moved to Albuquerque when I was twelve. Before that, we lived on the edge of the Navajo Nation. There was an arid beauty there, expansive and windblown. I remember being driven to small fishing lakes in Navajoland and not being able to believe that so much water could gather in one place.
Sometimes I would wander around the mesas and arroyos, almost drifting across them like a bird, finding waterholes and scratching up clay from the surrounding soil.
We went to Gallup often, shopped at place called Trademart and ate at various restaurants with names like "The Ranch Kitchen" or "Mucho Burger." On the weekends, the old man would drive us to Albuquerque, to visit friends and relatives.
Driving around the state with my father - who was oddly enough, a sailor - at the helm of a car he called a boat, my brother and I would hang our heads out the windows and scream in defiance of the water towers we passed.
They were monumental and mysterious and contained a force mostly unknown to us: the gathering together of powers we had only seen during the rare days of late summer thunderstorms, that we had only waded through, shin deep, in murky rivulets and ponds.
Here was that force, personified and unified, in mighty metal towers. The travels we took with the dude seemed to begin and end with those risen behemoths.
The towers loomed on this horizon and that. I suppose we imagined them to be a type of metallic creature, robots which might careen out of control at any time, drowning us with both malevolent size and watery contents.
The old man would glance in the rear view mirror and laugh and cuss when he saw one approaching; my mother would turn up the radio and prepare for the worst.
I grew older and stopped screaming. But water remained an elusory aspect of my world. By the time we finally moved to Burque, I remember standing at the edge of the Rio Grande, staring.
When I asked my father about this utterly strange phenomenon, a river that flowed, he said the world was a watery place, that my confusion was contrary to the way of nature. Water was a precious substance that made a difficult and dangerous magic, he warned.
And so, he also taught us to swim, mostly at pools around town. There was one at the Albuquerque Country Club. There was another at the Mountainside YMCA. Our favorite became a pool called the A-Pool. It was a public pool located near Pennsylvania and Menaul. It was shaped like a gigantic letter A.
To further pique our interest in the water, he would also make us watch the Val De La O show.
The Val De La O was a local teevee show that was broadcast live on Saturday mornings, from the KOB studios, in the 1970s and 1980s.
Besides providing entertaining Nuevo Mexicano music for my then young and beautiful parents to dance to, De La O featured a variety of fascinating celebrities as guests. One of his frequent visitors was Johnny Weissmuller.
Weissmuller was an Olympic swimmer who had risen to fame portraying Tarzan in the movies. By the time of my childhood, he had retired from his fictional vine-swinging, vicious lion and Nazi-fighting duties and often visited Albuquerque.
My father hoped that Tarzan's recollections of his watery exploits would encourage us to become safe and strong swimmers, despite the lack of water all around us.
He was mostly right.
Years later, long after De La O and his hilarious sidekick Mario Leyva (he was sort of like the Duke City version of Cantinflas, sabes?) had taken their leave of the studios on Coal Avenue, I nearly drowned in the Gila River.
My brother and I were camping with some other undergrads and decided to hike along the east fork of the river. The twin warned me that the spring rains spelled treachery, but I ignored his admonitions. I decided to cross the swollen river.
In transit, I slipped on a rock, fell and was pushed under the torrent. The current was swift. I could not lift myself against it, and became submerged in it. It was surprisingly quiet down there. I began to see pictures of my life being paraded around the backs of my eyelids.
When I had just about given up, I saw an image of a water tower rising above a dusty road. On that road, a super stock Pontiac roared along with kids screaming in the back seat and Jefferson Airplane blasting out of the open windows.
And like that tower, which held water, I decided to rise. Like that car which sought out water, I moved, somehow resurgent, somehow robotic. Lifting my head up out of the Gila River, I took a deep breath and did as I had been trained to do.
My brother was standing on the bank of the river, screaming.
This is what he shouted as I climbed up on a rock, loud enough to be heard over the din of the water, which was roaring like a beast: "Who in the hell do you think you are, Tarzan?"
That night, back in the student ghetto, I dreamt of clay, of arroyos and dust.
The Daily Word in our high-tech legacy, Darren White and a dry river
Our city's high-tech legacy should be leveraged toward tourism and convention growth, say experts in the travel and airline industry.
Lockheed Martin has enlisted New Mexico Tech as a partner in its bid to assume management of Sandia National Laboratories.
DOJ Federal Monitor James Ginger will release his third report on APD reform efforts today.
Former Bernalillo County Sheriff and New Mexico Secretary of Public Safety Darren White says, "This year I can’t back the GOP," and has consequently endorsed his former boss, Gary Johnson, for POTUS.
High temperatures, sparse rainfall and the subsequent need for more water by farmers along the middle Rio Grande have resulted in a 17 mile section of the river running dry.
Trout fishing along the Pecos River can be enhanced by using simulators, bead-head prince nymphs or worms; meanwhile try angling at Isleta Lakes in the early morning while using garlic chicken liver or shrimp as bait.
Meanwhile, here's some local hip-hop about our fabulous Duke City!
Water Shoes Not Required
Sunday, Apr 17: Down in the Bosque Opening Reception and Talk
Winter Ducks of the Rio Grande
As good a time as any to head to the bosque
I'm lucky enough to have had the opportunity to spend several mornings and evenings along the middle Rio Grande bosque counting songbirds and waterfowl. Along with the season's emblematic Sandhill Cranes, there is an abundance of birds that are easy to spot, easy to identify and which there is plenty of to see along Albuquerque's sliver of the mighty river.
Among these, perhaps the most common is the Mallard Duck. Both males and females- usually mated at this point in the year- swim through the acqueias and the river proper. These ducks are endemic the whole world through and the males- with a glossy green head and shades of brown feathers down their wings, backs and chests- are easy to spot. More often than not, if you spot a male, there will be a better camouflaged female nearby.
The Gadwall Duck- nearly the size of the Mallard, but with more understated coloration and a black bill- is also easy to find in the river this winter. These ducks are nearly as widespread as the Mallard due to their extreme adaptability. They've even been known to snatch food from the beak of other diving ducks.
Looking for something even more adorable? The Coot- technically part of the Rail family- is dark, petite and easy to spot in open water. These birds are black throughout the body, but have a light, even white colored bill, and sometimes show white on the tail. Making them even more endearing, coots have small, rounded wings and are weak fliers, despite their ability to cover large distances when necessary.
Also keep an eye out for the striking Wigeon, too. These birds breed farther north and make their way down to Albuquerque during the winter season. Males are colorful, with a cream colored forehead and jade green highlights while females are grayish overall. I've spotted just one along the Rio Grande this winter, but these are increasingly abundant.
Also found along the river: dog prints, coyote prints, the spine of a large mammal. Winter time is just as wonderful to test the waters of the Rio Grande, particularly when we have such an abundance of beautiful birds floating by for the season.
The Daily Word in racial bias, gay marriage and Friday the 13th
Sissy, a miniature schnauzer from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, walked 20 blocks to be with her owner, who is recovering from cancer surgery at a nearby hospital. That's love, man.
More counties in Alabama are allowing gay marriage licenses after a federal ruling struck down the state's same-sex marriage ban.
On the other end of the spectrum, Oklahoma representatives voted to advance a bill that would provide immunity to clergy members who refuse to perform same-sex weddings.
Noted New York Times columnist David Carr passed away yesterday. He was 58.
FBI Director James Comey gave a talk on Thursday at Georgetown University, addressing “hard truths” police face concerning racial bias.
A group of high school kids are trying to help the homeless by making job kits.
It's Friday the 13th, y'all! And KOAT has compiled a list of strange events that have occurred on this day throughout history.
The Daily Word in Jeter's last game, pot lollipops and ghosts
Hear from those who are on the frontlines in the fight against the Ebola virus.
Derek Jeter played his last game for the New York Yankees and scored a game-winning hit.
Ferguson's police chief joined a march of protesters as a sign of solidarity; however, not everyone was happy about it.
An Oklahoma man decapitated a woman during a workplace fight.
A US Border Patrol agent was arrested for assaulting a 14-year-old boy because he had a cellphone while being detained.
City employees spoke to a manager of AutoZone about chemicals seeping into a nearby drain that runs into the Rio Grande.
Former APD Sgt. Adam Casaus is expected to take the stand today in his own defense after being accused of running a red light and killing a woman.
The federal government is set to pay Navajo Nation $554 million for mismanaging tribal resources.
A girl in Connecticut handed out pot-laced lollipops to her peers, one of whom was hospitalized.
The Daily Word in mudslides, derailments and Gwar.
A Washington mudslide has claimed at least eight fatalities.
An O’Hare Airport train derailment has injured at least 32 people.
Rest in peace, James Rebhorn.
Rest in peace, Oderus Urungus.
Japanese manhole covers are cool.
Do you want to build a snowman?
There was a police shooting in Los Lunas.
A man was rescued from Rio Grande quicksand.
Check out Albuquerque’s future buses.
Happy birthday, Harry Houdini.
The Daily Word in abortion restrictions, Egypt’s unrest, Wimbledon upset
Huge changes to go into effect this week in five states as the fight for the right to life marches on.
The Egyptian military may be on the verge of overthrowing their elected president.
Man accused of dozens of random attacks across Albuquerque is finally getting charged with battery.
U.S. Military to dispatch planes to aid in Yarnell Hill wildfire.
It’s time to irrigate the Rio Grande.
It is now a law in China that grown children have to visit and call their aging parents.
No. 1 Serena Williams is upset at Wimbledon.
NBC to collaborate on a sequal to the miniseries “The Bible.”
The Daily Word in sea monkey collections, gay marriage and Wendy Davis
The Rio Grande has become way less grande.
And county employees are broiling in their building.
A Las Vegas, NM school district ruins it for everyone. Because somebody wrote its name down wrong.
The Supreme Court went gay! Let's all get married!
Texas hero-lady Wendy Davis successfully fights for reproductive rights and shows everyone how a filibuster is really done.
A Florida entomologist found the wasp boss-level.
Here's a dude who collects all the crap they used to sell in the back of old comic books. I love this dude.
Walmart in the Bosque
In the edition on stands now, Jessica Cassyle Carr wrote an opinion article about the big-box megachain planning to plop a store in one of the most pastoral parts of the city.
The move, Cassyle Carr writes, shows disastrous lack of foresight. But the city’s never said no to Walmart.
This issue will be on the agenda of tonight’s Council meeting at 5 p.m. in the Vincent E. Griego chambers in the basement of City Hall. You can also view it on GOV TV 16 or at cabq.gov/govtv.
Keys to the City
Walmart on the Rio Grande
Down by the Banks
Does our desert city have the right to drink from the Rio Grande?
Día del Río
Fearfully shallow or perpetually dirty, you're still pretty important if Duran Duran puts you in a song. Lend a hand to that mighty Rio Grande today during the City of Albuquerque's 17th annual Día del Río. From 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., take part in conservation activities like trail maintenance, revegetation and trash pickup, all to assist the river and surrounding Bosque. Meet at the Bernalillo County Durand Open Space (4812 Isleta SW), and make sure to pack the essentials (sunscreen, gloves and lots of water). Be sure to stay for the prize drawing at the end. Register by calling REI at 247-1191 or by visiting rei.com/albuquerque.
Viva el Día del Río
Lend a hand to our mighty Rio Grande today during the City of Albuquerque's annual Día del Río. From 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., take part in conservation activities like trail maintenance, tree planting and trash pickup, all to assist the river and surrounding Bosque. Meet on the northwest side of the Central bridge at Sunset, and make sure to pack all the essentials (sunscreen, gloves and plenty of water). Be sure to stay for the prize drawing at the end. Register by calling REI at 247-1191 or by visiting rei.com/albuquerque. The first 80 people to do so get a free T-shirt. Pretty nifty, eh?
River of Shit
While walking down by the river this past weekend, watching my dog wade through plastic bottles, tarps, scum, and so much miscellaneous trash floating downstream, the timeless lyrics of The Fugs - Wide, Wide River AKA “River of Shit,” were called up from the jukebox of my soul. It appears that Travis Bickle’s prophecy has been fulfilled as the recent rains have come and washed all the scum off the streets. Into the Rio Grande.