Thursday, October 20, 2016


Growing up in West Covina, California, voting was no problem. The folks in charge of our local precinct knocked on our doors and let us know where the polling place was. They practically came over and walked us there on election day. They didn't care what party you were with, or who you were voting for. They wanted you to register and vote, dammit!

Ah, America!

Then I moved to Arizona. Just about every election, they moved your polling place, and finding it was a job in itself. It was like they didn't want you to vote. After several hectic election days, and horror stories from friends who didn't make it in time to cast their ballots, my wife and I signed up for early voting.

We get our ballots in the mail, fill them out right away, and mail them immediately. We have already voted in the upcoming election. It feels good. Voting always give me a natural high.

Yeah, I know some of you don't think there's anybody to vote for, and the system is so corrupt that it doesn't matter. The way I see it, democracy is like pinball: huge, multi-million player pinball. You shoot the ball in, thwack it in the direction you want, and hope it doesn't go tilt. Sure, there's a helluvalota interference from all the other people who are voting, but that's life. It's not about you, or me, it's about us.

And that's never easy.

And if you don't get your thwack in, you're not participating. You're hiding under a rock, letting everybody else decide what's going down. If it all goes tilt, you didn't do anything about it.

You may think you're high and mighty, above it all, but you look pretty low to me.

Pardon me, but I have some more thwacking to do.

Friday, October 14, 2016


It's recomboculturism versus cultural appropriation in Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga.

Who's afraid of dealing with other cultures?

Does Tenochtitlán translate into Hollywood?

Who are these turkeys?

We need to get down to business.

Monday, October 10, 2016


It was a dark and stormy night. Really. And the sky turned white in the middle of the night, just like in Captain Beefheart's “The Floppy Boot Stomp.” Emily and I had booked this getaway a while back, and it came just as the presidential race was getting tight and scary. Outrageous weather was a relief.

The next morning, there were problems with my Chicanonautica post getting up on La Bloga. Or maybe it was just me tripping on Google's security protocols. One way or another, it went up just before we left the motel, into the rain, for a rock 'n' roll breakfast at the Galaxy Diner.

Outside Flagstaff, there was a hand-painted sign: TRUMP! SAVE THE U.S.A.

We took a walk through the lava around Sunset Crater, enjoying the eerie beauty.

Stopped by Walnut Canyon, walked a trail we've never been down before, with more Sinagua ruins.

Strolled through downtown Flagstaff and got red mud on El Troque's tires. Had an early dinner at Dara Thai.

The next day, steam rose from piles of logs at the side of the road. There ware patches of snow, too. Em told me that there was snow on El Troque in the morning.

While waiting to be seated for breakfast at the Coffee Pot in Sedona, I saw a young guy in an NRA T-shirt, and an old man with scabs around one eye.

I took pictures of some Kandinskyoid Indian art – one that was signed with glyph-like symbols, the word HOPI, and the copyright sign. And the men's room had gone 21st century with waterless urinals and air blade hand dryers.

After some aimless driving through the spectacular Oak Creek Canyon, we hiked for about an hour in Red Rock State Park. Red mud on our shoes makes us happy.

Then we took the 89A to Cottonwood – which is colorful, and hippie-dippy, and worthy of further investigation – and stopped at Adventures Unlimited Books, where I bought The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentice.

There were political signs in Jerome: WE LOVE BERNIE, BUT WILL VOTE FOR HILLARY and WE SUPPORT HILLARY, so big it went all the way across the front of a house.

In Prescott, where Trump would be holding a massive rally soon, we ate tacos and carnitas at El Charro, on Montezuma Street, while the the music of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson played overhead.

We left into a downpour. There were scattered downpours all the way home.

In memory of Søren Heinecke, who enjoyed these little travelogues.

Friday, September 30, 2016


It's the story of a joke in Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga.

I also give some rare writing advice:

Get inspiration from the road:

And politicians:

As for the promised wall, we should listen to the singing cowboys:

Monday, September 26, 2016


We continued our detour up to Utah. There was a place called Valley of the Gods on the map that sounded interesting.

Meanwhile, we cruised through the Navajo Rez. There is a McDonalds in Shiprock – actually there are McDonalds in most of these Indian towns, announced by large, well-maintained billboards. We passed another Burritos y Más, could it be El Uno? Could one be coming soon to your town? And what about the store with the mythic name of Monsterslayer?

I made a joke about how in Trump's America they'll have to hire illegal aliens to do all the deporting, and they'll take turns arresting each other. Em ordered me to write the story. The problem is by the time I finish it, the election will be over, and the gag will either be irrelevant or illegal.

There are a lot of Navajo murals around Shiprock. A good subject for a photo essay or a documentary. America is creating new cultures and doesn't even know it. Then we passed the headquarters of Navajo Nation Shopping Centers Incorporated. Once we got into Utah, but still on the Rez, a sign said, VOTE FOR FAY BLUE EYES.

And there was datura blooming everywhere.

Unfortunately, the Valley of the Gods was unpaved, too primitive for our vehicle, but the stuff near it was fantastic! Gooseneck State park was amazing!


We stood at the Kokopelli Inn in Bluff, Utah, established in 650 A.D.(the town, not the motel). The password for wi-fi was in Navajo.

The next morning was cool and cloudy. Native American flute meditation music accompanied the free continental breakfast. The motel was linear and symmetrical, so I got lost. It was time to head for home.

As we left Bluff, Highway 163 was lined with datura.

The 7-Eleven at the Mexican Hat gas station sold coonskin caps. I decided not to get one. It never gets cold enough for them in Phoenix.

Then we went down through Monument Valley, that Hollywood uses as a stand-in for both Texas and Mars, back to Arizona, through the Rez, and Hopi, where a lone llama was surrounded by cows, and just before Tuba City was a hand-painted sign for dinosaur tracks. What? A Hogan Family Restaurant? Then the Painted Desert, where someone named Jamesita was running for office.

Eventually, it got familiar. Still weird, but familiar.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


Em decided that we should head home through a place we had never been to. So we went north on Highway 84 to Farmington. We had never been to Farmington, and didn't know what to expect. The name didn't sound inspiring. I imagined a town in the middle of nowhere with a lot farm equipment for sale, cheap.

On the way we saw interesting signs: SOCORRO'S RESTAURANT SPANISH FOOD/PIZZA and MAMACITA'S PIZZARIA. Pizza was a big favorite in this part of the country. And what did they mean Spanish food in New Mexico?

Once again we were in Indian territory. The word Navajo, and complicated native names, were on all the signs. As Navajo began to be replaced with Apache, we filled up at the Red Mesa Express Gas Station. It had little TVs on the gas pumps, tuned to the Bloomberg network. I guess the locals like to keep up with the financial news

Under a cloudy sky, even under the cloud shadows, there were mirages on the road.

In a town called Bloomfield there was a tacky little strip mall called Enchantment Square, with a salon called Paradise.

Later we passed a place called Burritos y Más Dos.

We stayed at the Region Inn, where I picked up a copy of Talon,”Loved my Many, Despised by Some, Read by All,” a free newspaper covering Aztec, Bloomfield, Blanco, Cedar Hill, Farmington, Flora Vista, Ignacio, Kirtland, La Plata, Navajo Dam, Center Point, and SJ County. It had an interesting headline: MYSTERY UNEARTHED AT HUB Ancient remains of Atlantis? Lost Jimmy Hoffa tomb? This mysterious slab was unearthed Monday 8/22 at the HUB courtyard in Aztec during recent renovations. They asked their readers if they could help identify the . . . thing.

Farmington was a lot more interesting than I expected.

Next to the motel was a place called FRMF Choppers. With an impressive sign and murals. Some people were hanging out in front of the biggest mural. When I asked if we could take pictures, a paternal figure ordered everyone to move out of the way, and they did. They looked more like a family unit than a gang. And they were what they call in New Mexico, Hispanos.

Again, interesting. Hispano bikers with Zapatistaoid art! The mind boggles!

Tequila's, the restaurant attached to the motel, also had a nice sign – though in a different style and sensibility. I took a picture of it before we decided to have dinner there. I wasn't expecting much from a motel eatery, but the food was excellent! And they had two impressive murals and a Frida portrait.

Just when I thought I wouldn't run into any more surprises, in the parking lot, I saw a Mercedes with California plates and a Gary Johnson bumper sticker.

There's more going on in Farmington than I could grasp in our brief stay there.

Monday, September 19, 2016


Around the El Malpais Visitor's Center, signs warned of rattlesnakes. A millipede crossed our path before we headed to Truchas through fields of datura-studded lava.

They were roasting green chile in front of the Pojoaque supermarket. I thought I caught a whiff of marijuana. New Mexico is always a bit countercultural.

It usually rains as we approach Truchas. This time there was a gigantic, grey cloud, like a tidal wave crashing down in slow motion, rotating in an attempt to become a tornado. Things cut loose as we reached the mountain roads. Pounding rain. Lightning. Thunder. Muddy water running in the washes.

When we got to the place we usually rent, and settled in, the storm stopped. The sun blazed. Em and I took the High Road to Taos and got lattes at the Wired? Cafe.

Then we went to a thrift store, where Em shopped for clothes, and I found a lot of very interesting used books – including Comte de Lautrémont's Le Chants de Maldoror – that were too cheap to resist.

I also considered that for them, the next stop was the landfill. We can only hope the the archeologists of the future have the technology to reconstruct them from the decay.

Decay. Like the abandoned, dilapidated buildings of New Mexico, the new ruins – some of them from the current century. Truchas has its share.

And a new world springing up in the form of murals, like this one with a green horse in Taos.

Truchas is good place to stay, even if it doesn't have wi-fi – which can be something of a pleasure, like the unseasonably cool temperatures, and using blankets at night in the summer. It's also reasonable and a picturesque drive from Taos, Santa Fe, and Española that are all full of wonders. This time there was a lot of Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin on the ambient radios.

There does seem to be magic in the air. I remember saying at one point,“This is the right way. I remember the dinosaurs.” There was a sign: VEGAN TACOS MADE WITH REAL VEGANS. And we ate at a wonderful place called Mante's Chow Cart, a fast food joint with a delightful local, green chile flavor.

Why doesn't Taos rhyme with chaos? I need to write a story called “Chaos in Taos . . .”

At a visitors center, a vehicle with out-of-state plates was having trouble negotiating a tourist center parking lot. Two elderly hippie ladies (their gender was not obvious at first) got out, and had to help each other walk. This place attracts interesting people.

At one point, Em and I walked over to the family graves of people who owned the house we rent, to pay our respects. As we were there, a rainbow faded in and out over the nearby rain-shrouded mountains. Some kind of magic in that air.

Friday, September 16, 2016


Read all about! In Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga!

I blab that I've decided to finish my Martian Mariachi novel.

Better hurry, because everybody is getting into the act:

So, play that Martian music, white boys!

I even get to use the term “doodly-squat.”

Who knows where it could lead?

Monday, September 12, 2016


The sign in front of the Zuni pueblo said, NO PHOTOGRAPHY OF RELIGIOUS OF CUTURAL ACTIVITES. I put my iTouch away out of respect as we we drove through. The sky was full of fat, fluffy, flat-bottomed clouds. Then it started raining. Suddenly, it hailed. It cleared up as we left the pueblo.

Clouds swirled all over the sky as we hit the El Morro National Monument. They got thicker as we climbed up to the ruins of the Atsinna pueblo. A raven warned us that we could be struck my lightning. There was thunder. And lightning in the distance, getting closer. We took the raven's advice, and left.

We saw ravens all over on this trip, big ones, strutting around like they owned the place. Don't know if any were brujos in disguise.

We passed the El Morro Ranches Subdivision, and a USE EXTREME CAUTION sign on the way to Grants, “The City of the Spirit,” where we checked into the Super 8, and had another dinner at El Cafecito. The spices on the tacos were subtle at first letting you taste the meat, then they got the inner ears tingling, and the nose running, and made a proper mess.

Back at the motel, TV news of the apocalyptic: a killer earthquake in Italy, tornados in the Midwest, Trump accusing Hillary of being a bigot, and then there's something called the Alt-Right . . . Whither goest thou, America?

Something to ponder in Grants, New Mexico, an old uranium mining town that after the Cold War became a place to stay to see wonders like El Morro and El Malpais. It's Postapocalyptic and Postmodern, but doesn't realize it, which give it a unique 21st century American charm.

How did that large white rabbit (definitely not a native cottontail) become roadkill? Could it be an escapee from a local mad scientist's lab? I wondered as we passed a store with strange metal chairs with lots of electronics attached – like props from a vintage sci-fi flick.

In a drug store I found Alien Amber Ale, and bought a six-pack. It seemed fitting.

After cruising the magnificent desolation of the lava-fields of El Malpais, Em and I explored Grants' Main Street/Santa Fe Avenue/Route 66, with its murals, quaint motorcycle shops, bars, eateries, motels, and strange vehicles. Some are still in business, others dead and abandoned, and often it's hard to tell which is which. Not a ghost town. Maybe a zombie town, but if you say so, it comes to life and objects.

We had dinner at El Ranchero Cafe, in Milan, a little further down Route 66. The walls were decorated with a picture of Zapata in his skinny jeans, and a Villa Wanted poster that offered a $5000 reward for the general. The food was “Mexican Mexican” enough for my mother-in-law, though a poster advertised TACOBURGERS FRIES & COKE X-HOT for $7.99. The tacoburgers looked like Navajo tacos, or Indian tacos as they call them in New Mexico.