Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Books and Trains and Artists

Manuel Ramos
The Southwest Chief
Olivas on Aldama on Islas
Lorna Dee on Luis Cervantes

The Southwest Chief
Last week I rode the Southwest Chief, the Amtrak line that connects Chicago and Los Angeles, although I only rode from Lamar, CO to Albuquerque, NM, and back. Here's a photo of the Chief climbing Raton Pass (courtesy of the Crewten web page):

On the way south, the train announcer gave us details about the Santa Fe Trail, the Dick Wooten Ranch, the Battle of Glorieta Pass, and so on. He directed our attention to a gravemarker near the Wooten Ranch - the Cruz Torres gravesite. His story was that the tombstone simply said, "He stole the payroll." I don't think that's right - here's a link to a picture of the tombstone. This epitaph says, "Murdered" and something about the 1st N.M. Cav.

On the return trip, a couple from Farmington, NM who were riding the train from Albuquerque to somewhere in North Carolina told their version of how Raton Pass got its name. According to them, travelers along the old Santa Fe trail were overwhelmed? disgusted? amazed? by the numerous marmots along the trail. Somehow, the marmot population transposed into generic rodents (in the minds of the pioneers), and eventually the area was known as Raton Pass.

On the way back our fellow passengers included an Amish family, a group of tough-looking young men with buzzed hair and tattoos who seemed bored more than anything else, and a large group of African-American youth and older women, going up north to Chicago.

The trip in both directions was a quiet, peaceful journey. The weather put on quite a show: gray overcast, a snowstorm, rain, clear sunny skies and the beginning blooms of mountain wild flowers and cactus blossoms. In terms of wildlife, I didn't see all that much from the train except for a small herd of antelope north of Santa Fe and a group of buffalo in Southeast Colorado. My only complaint was that I couldn't read in the swaying train - can't read in cars or busses either.

Olivas on Aldama on Islas
The Elegant Variation has posted Daniel Olivas's review of Dancing With Ghosts by Frederic Luis Aldama. The review's conclusion certainly speaks highly of the book and the job done by Aldama: "Islas was plagued with self-hate and was often moody, manipulative, narcissistic and unpredictable. Yet he could be brilliant, gentle, soft-spoken and, above all, generous. Aldama succeeds in synthesizing the disparate elements of Arturo Islas to produce what doubtless will become a seminal biographical study."

Lorna Dee on Luis Cervantes
Lorna Dee Cervantes pays tribute to her father Luis Cervantes over on her blog. You should read it - she does a much better job than I ever could. Here's the beginning of one of her blog posts on the admired and beloved artist who passed away April 27:

"Luis Cervantes: 'All I Know Is That I'm an Artist & I'm an Indian'
Don't believe everything you read in the newspapers. He would not want to be remembered as a muralist, although he painted murals, and though he was the other eye in the co-founding of Precita Eyes Muralists, he considered Susan to be the Master Muralist. He was a fine arts artist, and probably one of the first postmodern artists, having come to it under siege in Antwerp, and in the sense that his art by it's very nature resists classifications, hierarchies & hegemonies. He would have spoken up, right away, interrupted the speaker had she or he called him a 'Chicano' artist. 'Call it what it is,' as he put it the last time I spoke with him, 'I'm Mexican and I'm an American (a certified WWII war hero) so I guess that makes me a "Mexican American", and that other guy over there, well, you'll just have to ask him where he comes from and where he's at.' (hearty laughter)."

Lorna Dee has posted several different pieces about the artist. It's quite a tribute. And, you can read more about Cervantes in the San Francisco Chronicle obituary.


Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

Hola Manuel y buena gente de La Bloga,

Thanks so much for the mention but the link addy is wrong in both this post & Manuel's (I read you guys daily). The correct addy is http://lornadice.blogspot.com

gracias de nuevo,

Lorna Dee

Manuel Ramos said...

Gracias, Lorna Dee - I'll fix that wrong link right now.