Alibi V.15 No.42 • Oct 19-25, 2006 ››
Trinity Crew Represent
[RE: Letters, “Vagrant Park,” Oct. 12-18] Although I live in Taos, I have worked in Albuquerque for the Trinity House crew which serves a free community picnic to anyone who wants it every Sunday at Robinson Park. The lovely work they do includes providing a toilet for people when nobody else—not even the city—will do so. To shed light on the recent misinformation sent to you and published as a letter to the editor, let it be known that Trinity House is not a church. They are a home for people who don't fit in to churches, as part of the anarchistic Catholic Worker Movement, started in the ’30s to help “build the new society within the shell of the old.” Trinity House gets its name from the infamous nuclear bomb detonated here in New Mexico 61 years ago, as well as the notion that “God is for all of us; God is in all of us; and God is with all of us.”
After reading Mr. Fox’s letter [“Vagrant Park,” Oct. 12-18], I have to agree. Albuquerque has a major homeless problem. It is fed by mild weather and many centralized charity kitchens Downtown, and virtually unenforced vagrancy and loitering laws.
Don’t get me wrong … I am not against feeding the poor and homeless, but many cities are passing new ordinances that forbid these outreach people from going into public parks to dish out food. Public parks are taken over by tramps. Regular citizens give up using them for precisely the reasons Mr. Fox gave. I no longer go to any Albuquerque parks.
Albuquerque is teetering on the national and international stage, ready to become a major Southwestern city and a player, but it is absolutely rife with drunks, bums, street people, addicts and the homeless on its bus benches, buses, all major streets and public buildings, such as ATC and the main library. It isn’t just Downtown, either, it’s at the Wal-Marts and 7-Elevens and Circle Ks these people make their homes and panhandle for beer and alcohol money. I find myself coming Downtown only when I absolutely have to; tired of being panhandled and confronted by lunatics that badly need a “Kendra’s Law."
I am actually considering retiring elsewhere, when the extent of this problem became evident to me over the 14 months I’ve been here.
Gubernatorial Duke Out
I hope Gov. Richardson will change his mind and debate John Dendahl. Dendahl is the nominee of a party representing a significant portion of New Mexicans who deserve the respect of having their candidate’s views aired and responded to. Second, if Richardson is the world-class negotiator and confronter of bullies he promotes himself as being, as part of his presidential résumé, he shouldn’t be afraid to confront Dendahl and rebut whatever might get thrown at him.
Finally, one of the biggest problems in politics today is the demagoguery, oversimplification and grotesque, mischaracterized attacks on the opposition. If Richardson feels—as I suspect he does—this is Dendahl’s approach, this would be a great opportunity to confront it, discuss it in real time, on the spot, and bring it to greater scrutiny. In any case, I would not in a million years vote for anyone who wouldn’t debate his top opponent. To quote Gov. Richardson himself, speaking with regard to North Korea on Oct. 10: "I would engage directly in face-to-face talks. That's when you deliver your toughest message."
Shake Your Moneymaker
I feel compelled to respond to Jessica Carr's “The Spirit of the Radio" column [Music Editorial, Sept. 14-20], and the letters regarding it [“Soppy Old-Prof Radio” et. al].
First off, as a publicly funded institution, KUNM serves many masters. And it should. Perhaps KUNM's call letters should be changed to better indicate its role within the community. I only wish our elected officials did the job KUNM does of serving divergent interests.
Secondly, I would like to point out to Ms. Carr and Mr. Perry that when those annoying middle-aged hippies they despise so greatly encountered something they did not like, rather than display their myopic, childish petulance, they acted to change it. To wit, I speak of the Vietnam war.
If these precious twentysomethings truly feel their demographic is underserved (something any marketer would find truly funny), they should put down their cell phones, turn off their PlayStations and start their own radio station. Kids, the sad truth is radio stations are rarely run by music lovers. They're run by businessmen. Businessmen who seek the largest possible market for their product, theoretically resulting in the largest possible return on their investment. That's why Albuquerque has the glut of hip-hop, country, oldies and Latin stations that it does. Like them or not, these are the popular music genres of the day. Be honest: If the choice (and the start-up capital) were yours, would you be playing CDs that sold in the millions, or ones that—at best—sold in the tens of thousands?
Growing up in an urban area with 16 times the people currently in Albuquerque, I thought the radio sucked, too. That's because my musical tastes fell (and continue to fall) outside the mainstream. As much as I'd like to turn on the radio and hear Van Hunt, the Futureheads and TV On the Radio, it just ain't gonna happen. That's because there's no money in it. And as far as getting my musical needs met, well, I guess I found (and continue to find) a way. Even though my existence—like yours—was tortured by the presence of “unhip" radio stations and people older than me.
Mike Hendrick's labeling of Democrats as "true cowards" [Letters, “True Cowards,” Oct. 5-11] is typical radical Republican name-calling but the smear doesn't match the facts. The Congressional Democrats began calling for a pullout or phased withdrawal of American troops from the Iraq civil war well before a majority of the U.S. public had turned against the war. That was courageous.
The Democrats in Congress have turned against Bush's ill-planned adventure in Iraq because of the deaths of 2,700 American troops and the severe maiming of nearly 10 times that number—not to mention the tens of thousands of deaths of Iraqi children, men and women.
The White House and Pentagon Republicans, who neglected to adequately equip American troops with adequate body armor and provide armored vehicles or plan for the reconstruction of Iraq, made errors that continue to result in so many deaths and severe casualties because too many of our civilian leaders in the White House and Pentagon had no combat experience.
Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and a dozen others in the two Bush administrations did everything they could to avoid military service to their country while furthering their own academic and bureaucratic careers. Even Bush only donned the Air Force Reserve uniform when it was convenient and then went AWOL before his own mission was accomplished. And vice-prez Cheney finagled five deferments! Donald Rumsfeld was the only senior policy-maker of the Bush war team who had any combat experience, but his goal was to invade Iraq to prove his theories of “transformation warfare."
What a pathetic group of leaders—sending a small force of inadequately protected men and women into battles the Bush leaders themselves connived to avoid. Yes, there were some military careerists who climbed the political ladder of the Pentagon bureaucracy that supported radical right-wing Republicans in their desire to invade Iraq. There were also dozens of high-ranking military leaders who were against the invasion and now are dismayed and angry about the Bush administration's incompetence: Read Tom Ricks' book, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. Ricks, a veteran Pentagon reporter who spent much of the past five years in Iraq and earned the respect and confidence of many military commanders, called the U.S. involvement in Iraq “the worst war plan in American history."
I served five and a half years in the U.S. Army Reserves between the Korean and Vietnam wars and consider myself fortunate that I didn't have to fight in Vietnam. Perhaps Mr. Hendricks has served in uniform. If so, will he tell us readers?
In either case, if Mr. Hendricks can label as “cowards" those Democrats who wish to spare American families more deaths than the 2,700 of their sons and daughters already killed, and stop the severe injuries of brain damage and amputations that have afflicted 20,000 more of our brave service men and women, then, using the same standard, I can label the Bush desk-jockey warriors as “traitors" for sending young women and men to their deaths because our troops were poorly equipped and sent in too few numbers to succeed in an incompetently planned invasion.
Better yet, let's both stop the name-calling and elect politicians who are not simply inexperienced theorists who send others to do what they aren't willing to do themselves.
Sense of Moral Outrage
I was curious about the reaction of Congresswomen Heather Wilson to the disclosure of the activities of Rep. Mark Foley's sexual misconduct. Where is her moral outrage? Where is her rejection of the party line on this scandal? Is she afraid to offend her party's leadership? Is she unwilling to voice the opinion of New Mexico parents who find this kind of predatory behavior repulsive?
Is she interested only in serving the needs of her party and placing the party's needs before the needs of the residents of the state of New Mexico? I ask our elected official to stand up and be counted with us in holding the Republican leadership responsible for the failure to act when they first heard of Mr. Foley's behavior.
Put the Cell Phone Down
It was a sad day when cell phone users were allowed to drive and to talk on a phone. On Sept. 6, a pickup in the lane next to me was hit by a young man driving a large car. He was talking on a cell phone and ran a red light. We were turning on a green arrow.
The large pickup next to me stopped, but the young man kept driving and talking. The pickup was hit first with great force due to the speed of the car. That pickup hit my small pickup.
The young driver would have hit the door of the driver's side of my pickup if I had sped up, and I would have been badly injured or killed. As it was, the damage to my pickup amounted to $6,600. The driver at fault had no insurance and no driver's license. He smiled and kept talking on the cell phone until the police arrived and ordered him to stop talking.
I do my best to stay away from drivers who are talking on the phone, but their use is so rampant in Albuquerque that many such situations cannot be avoided. Is there any way to stop this senseless practice?
What is the difference between being hit and maimed or killed by a drunk driver, or by a driver who is using a cell phone?
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