Thursday, September 18, 2014

Chicanonautica: Media and Messages in New Mexico

When I travel, I try to plug into the local media. It gives me clues as to what’s going on, and provides an alternative to my usual habits. And if the ol’ cerebro diabolico gets knocked into a new configuration, so much the better!

I even found a copy of Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man in an Española thrift store. Hmm, wonder what a roadtrip through New Mexico would have done to McLuhan’s theorizing. 

Sure, I could have gotten online at the Wired? Cafe in Taos, where we parked next to a guy who looked like a latter-day Quijote/road warrior on the run: His car was dented and mud-spattered. Mud seemed to deliberately obscure the license plate. His door was open, a muddy boot touched the ground as he used a hand-held device.

Screw it, I decided, I’m on vacation. 

In these times of vanishing newspapers, I found local papers everywhere in New Mexico. There are even people hawking them at intersections. 

In Pojoaque, I picked up a gratis copy of El Semanario de Nuevo México, “El Périodico de Nuestra Gente.” It’s a modern newpaper with a website, Facebook page and YouTube channel. It also had ads that offered discounts on consulta espiritual, limpias-baño de yerbas, lectura de cartas, aguas espirituales, talismanes, jabones y mucho más. 

Unlike Arizona and California, in New Mexico, Latinos -- or maybe I should say Hispanics, are visible, almost a majority, as it should be since some families here have been around since before 1776. They blend with both the Anglo and large, diverse Native populations, but in a different way from the Hollywood ethnic-neutral androids. There are still stories about Hispanic criminals, but they are covered by brown news people. The us/them angle I’m used to seeing is lacking even when the subject of criminals, in the country illegally, comes up. 
And there are Hispanic conservatives. (Actually, we have them everywhere, but somehow they don’t get mentioned much.)

Susana Martinez,the Republican incumbent governor, is a Hispanic woman. When she criticizes Washington, it doesn’t sound like she’s running against Obama. In Arizona, you’d think Obama was running for just about every office in the state.

Rio Arriba County Sheriff  Tommy Rodella and his son were arrested by the FBI. “The pair were accused of civil rights violations, falsifying documents, and violating federal firearms laws.” Joe Arpaio would be proud.

There are more Spanish TV channels -- not just Univision and Telemundo, you can see Latin music videos, and catch a Chinese martial arts period pieces dubbed into español.

A PSA from the Santa Fe police kept popping up in which brown officers showed off shiny, new SWAT and riot gear, explaining how it's all to promote “diversity.”

Meanwhile, in Albuquerque, folks protested the upcoming NRA Police Shooting Competition because officers involved in recent fatal shootings were slated to participate (then backed out). “Many of those protesters have been affected by officer-involved shootings in the city. They say the competition is an insult to them and everyone else.”

Back in Santa Fe, the city council voted to decriminalize the “possession of less than one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana.” Which, of course, caused more controversy

Looks like the near-future in New Mexico is going to be interesting.

Ernest Hogan is an Irish-Chicano whose family came from New Mexico. The new Kindle edition of his novel Cortez on Jupiter is available for pre-order.


Giora said...

Thanks, Ernest, for the summary of your trip to New Mexico. I just read more about Susana Martinez. She seems like a great candidate to run for President or at least VP.


You're welcome. We'll see if the rest of country is influenced by New Mexico . . .