With the closure of Borders, I’ve started going to Barnes & Noble (Coronado Mall) for my book browsing/purchasing. Of course, everything is online at Amazon and other Internet booksellers. But I prefer to do some things in person. I also have been in Albuquerque for only a year now, and I’m still getting used to things here. So you tell me if this sounds off-base:
After seven or eight times at B & N, I accidentally found the gay section that I had casually looked for since the beginning of the year. It is on the second floor, back in an unlabeled row, on the very bottom of the shelving unit. You have to get on your knees to see anything (insert obvious joke).
The gay fiction section had three books. Not three rows, or 300 volumes, but just three lonely copies of (second-rate) literature. The lesbian pulp collection had 20 books represented. But literally nothing for the gay male population of Albuquerque.
There are, as you know, gay National Book Award winners, gay Pulitzer Prize winners and, of course, gay Nobel Prize in Literature winners. There are straight writers who commonly write with gay themes/characters (Chabon comes to mind) and lots of other gay authors who over the past century have populated book stores around the nation.
Most gay men can name the top 25 from the U.S., England and Ireland. Just to mention a few: Vidal, White (both), Holleran, Monette, Hollinghurst, Capote, Toibin, etc. A couple of them actually had a volume in the regular fiction section, but the vast majority were not in-store at all (in any convoluted section the corporation wanted to mislabel).
So the question remains—what the fuck is going on here? I don’t think that this is simply the expected discreet homophobia of middle America. Nor is this area a particularly Mormon-dominated part of the West either, with all those attendant problems. And trust me, there really are a lot of guys around the city who aren’t closeted either.
So if the gay population of the metro area is maybe 10 to 15,000, why doesn’t Barnes & Noble carry more than three volumes of gay literature?
While I applaud Gov. Martinez’ desire to improve the educational system in New Mexico, I am strongly against her desire to override the legislature and force the implementation of teacher evaluation process written by politicians who have no educational background or training. I am a teacher and I firmly believe teachers should be evaluated and that the system should be changed to provide better evaluations of teacher completeness, but to evaluate teachers based on the SBA scores or their school’s letter grades is incredulous.
There are several reasons for my opinion. First and foremost: How fair is this system? The governor says she wants to reward good teachers. I am a very good teacher and I love what I do, but under her plan I would be called incompetent and could lose my job. I teach Special Education at West Mesa. Teachers like myself would get bad evaluations. The students I teach can’t pass the test because they can’t read it, therefore the school didn’t get a high letter grade. How is this a fair system?
We are working in schools without proper funding or even materials needed to properly teach. I would like the governor to come into my classroom and teach for a week and see how difficult it actually is, or to see juniors in high school start crying because they know they won’t graduate because the test is too hard for them. I would also like the entire New Mexico Legislature and the governor to take the SBA test and then publish the results for the citizens to see. I wonder how many of them would be able to pass this extremely difficult test.
Secondly, under this system what teacher would want to stay at a failing school or even stay in education? The best teachers will try and leave schools where they are needed and try to go where the students get higher test scores. Under Gov. Martinez’ plan I would be punished for staying at West Mesa and wouldn’t get any of the extra compensation a teacher at a higher performing school would get due to the school’s demographics.
Don’t get me wrong, there are educators who should not be teaching. But don’t punish the teachers who are trying their best with what they have to work with. Come up with a fair system, or I envision a mass exodus of the best teachers. I don’t teach for the money, but if I am punished because of where I teach or who I teach, I might have to look for another career.
You’re Harshing My Mellow
The legislature and Governor have garnered praise [Letters, “Cannabis at the Roundhouse,” April 5-11] for the new law designed to have users fund the state's operation of its medical marijuana program. The legislature deserves the praise, the governor deserves the opposite—the production part of the program has been shut down.
For more than a year, most of it after Gov. Martinez took office, the Department of Health (which administers the program, under the supervision of the governor who had campaigned against it) ruled on no applications for licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana. Then at the end of February it denied, en masse, over a hundred applications, without saying what, if anything, it found wrong with them. It did say it was approving four but declined to license even those applicants because it's just not going to issue any licenses. It didn't say when or if it would again license producers. In fact, it said it wasn't even going to accept any applications—that's closed.
The legislature didn't give the governor the power to close licensing when it passed the laws creating and funding the program.
Medicated Drinking Water
[Re: News, “From Toilet to Tap,” Feb. 23-29] What about all the prescription medications being peed into the system daily? So now are we all on estrogen, statins, warfarin, etc.? And what about the structure of the water, the disease markers, etc.? Personally, I try to distill and remineralize most of the water I drink. When I have time, I ozonate it too. This is from a private well in the county, but who can trust the purity of the wells, with all the old septic tanks where I live?
Correction: Last week’s music article on L.M. Dupli-cation’s reissue of John Jacob Niles’ home recordings failed to provide a photo credit to Jess Ruby of Firebrand Photography. We regret the omission.
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Story Time at Esther Bone Memorial Library
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