Critical of the Mass
[RE: Feature, “Approaching Critical Mass,” May 11-17]
Thank you for the article on Critical Mass. As both a life-long cyclist and someone who has been part of the bicycle community and industry for many years, I have no problem with seeing Critical Mass dying out. I have commuted in Knoxville, Tenn., Phoenix, Ariz. and Santa Fe, N.M. for years now with no major incident simply obeying the same laws I’m subject to as a motorist and paying attention. Many others may not be comfortable riding alongside cars, but taking up the entire road, riding with a mob-mentality, has not helped convert motorists to the bicycle and has probably made the situation worse for many experienced or novice riders, instead infuriating the motorists and souring their opinion of our beloved two-wheeled machines. How can yelling at cars and kicking their doors help those of us with no desire other than to share the road?
Although I may disagree with the opinions of Julie Luna, she is definitely to be commended for the advice regarding daily commuting. She’s absolutely correct on all counts, from riding on the sidewalk to occasionally taking up the road. Thinking of yourself as being in a car while on your bicycle and obeying the same laws result in a lot more confidence amongst traffic. You will also discover so many pleasant alternate routes and actually see so much more of your neighborhood. If you like the idea of something like Critical Mass, organize it! Imagine a stream of bicycles single-file riding past cars stuck in traffic from their own malaise. Drivers would notice the bicycles passing them, not blocking their path. Boot those who just wish to take their anger out on cars, trying to lower the event to a war on cars. The bicycle knits more than fellow cyclists. It knits communities if it’s just allowed to be what it is: the most efficient, quiet transportation on the planet and not an obstacle to the tired, irritated masses in their cars returning home on Friday evening at six.
[RE: Letters, “The Beef with Cow,” May 18-24]
The Forest Guardians’ response to your article, "From Gate to Plate: Life on a New Mexico Cattleman's Ranch,” is certainly unfortunate. The ranchers Laura Marrich speaks of are the norm in the cattle business, not an aberration. However, extreme "environmental" groups, such as Forest Guardians, fail to realize that grazing by animals, cattle or wildlife maintain the viability of grasses and other ground cover by invigorating the growth of the vegetation. Without renewal, prompted by responsible grazing, the beneficial vegetation ceases to exist, dying under the weight and shade of the unconsumed material. It should also be noted that animal's hoof prints in the soil actually provide a pooling area for rainwater to nourish the roots of the native grasses, which does not promote soil erosion, as claimed by the aforementioned group.
Regardless of the protestations of Forest Guardians in "The Beef with Cow," the "preservationist" mentality they embrace only serves to verify that until every federal agency is forced to believe as they do, lawsuit or otherwise, a plethora of species are in danger of extinction because of a cow. The fact of the matter, in my opinion, is that Forest Guardians doesn't really care about endangered species more than they care about controlling land use, to suit their particular motivations. What they don't understand is that sustainable use of the land, public or not, is more beneficial to any given ecosystem than it's supposed "preservation.”
When I grew up in a near-metropolitan area 135 miles west of Albuquerque, many immigrants from Mexico became somewhat concentrated in a southwest portion of the town; after a time, this area of the town was called "Chihuahuita" from many of the town’s residents originating from Chihuahua.
In the beginning, it seemed that this term, Chihuahuita, began as a form of derision by the non-Mexicans, but it soon became a source of pride to the residents of Chihuahuita. Most of my friends were Mexicans (Mexican-Americans, now, to be politically correct) and they weren't ashamed of it, as in: "Hey, where ya from, dude?" "Chihuahuita, you?"
At any rate, these days, it seems if you use the term "Mexican" you run the risk of being thought a racist, insensitive or worse. So where did all the Mexicans go? And where did all of these brown-skinned Hispanics come from? Have the grandchildren or children of the residents of Chihuahuita disappeared? Become so fully assimilated that they are no longer recognizable as being members of a single group?
Notwithstanding the long-held notion of not wanting to be associated with the indigenous population due to some notion of their being slow, backward and otherwise unworthy—how come it isn't PC to say “Mexican” anymore? I understand the answers are many. But I miss the days of hearing a friend pridefully identifying themselves, "I'm a Mexican," or "I'm from Chuhuahuita!"
So, thank you, Alibi. Thank you for running the “¡Ask a Mexican!” column in your publication. Not only does it satisfy some intercultural gabacho curiosity, but it may also say to some former Mexicans out there that it is OK now. Mexicans can be just as smart, cute, clever, humorous (and all the negatives, too) as any other cultural group.
So go ahead and identify yourself as a Mexican if you can trace your ancestry to only "around here," instead of Madrid or Barcelona. And, if you can trace your ancestry to Madrid or Barcelona, it's OK to say you're a Hispanic. Or from Spain.
Thank you, Mexican, for showing us that there are some true cultural differences among us and that they sometimes can be found in some humorous expressions in behavior. Now just tell me one thing--which is the slowest and/or the noisiest: a Mexican wedding parade or a Polish wedding parade?
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