Thursday, April 29, 2021



We took Grand Ave. out to the 60, past the Superstition Mountains, and Apache Junction, through the desert, into more mountains, to a town called Superior. There it got surreal . . . Lots of abandoned motels, middle-aged/middle class bikers and their shiny machines all over, plus old, rusty mining equipment on display. Magma Avenue! A monument to fallen miners makes it even more surreal . . .

Oddly, there were no Trump signs. Somehow, I was expecting them.

Along Highway 177 we say the results of extensive strip mining, and bleak towns that weren’t ghost towns, yet. I got ideas for sci-fi planets, entire worlds sucked dry of all resources, nothing but ugly, collapsing dunes of slag, patrolled by the stubborn mutant ancestors of the original miners.

Past the town of Oracle was a sign announcing a road to Biosphere 2, continuing the science fiction mood in my head leaking into reality. There were Joshua trees along Route 77, showing that different ecosystems do intersect. The Tom Mix monument wasn’t very impressive—like a tacky ornament that would decorate a neglected Scottsdale front yard. The desert was scarred, yet beautiful the way a disfigured face and deformed body can be beautiful. 

Florence has some Southwest charm, but the prison that shared its name and was the main industry gave it a miasma of quiet misery. We had lunch at Lidia’s Cocina at the Old Pueblo—home of the “eggschalada”—and there were motorcycles parked out front, and guys in black leather in the bar. This region is ideal for the twenty-first century biker.

Instead of going back the way we came, we took the Old West Highway. With the exception of images on some tacky signs, anything Old West was long gone. It was all shopping centers, bar/restaurants (with more bikers), motels, trailer parks, abandoned businesses that got more franchise contemporary as we got into Mesa and met up with the light rail.

For a while we were behind an SUV, its rear window decorated with GIRLS FOR TRUMP and grinning skulls.

Friday, April 23, 2021


Chicanonautica is about rotten Arizona voting laws, over at La Bloga.

Of course, this is nothing new:

Latino votes matter:


But this is dangerous territory:

Thursday, April 15, 2021



Emily said, “I’ve lived in Arizona for sixty years and never been down this way,” so we headed south on Highway 85. We passed a Circle K with an ORDER AT AMAZON, PICK UP HERE thing attached to it. Then we went through an Amazon complex as we left the Metro Phoenix Area.

Soon we were on a long drive through lots of largely unspoiled desert surrounded with jagged mountains. Now and then we saw something like the Lewis Prison, warnings not to pick up hitchhikers, and the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range.

Rumor has it there are secret military bases. Will the real Area 51 please stand up?

Just the sort of thing to get you out of the urban mindstate.

In Ajo, a charming town whose major industry seems to be Mexican auto insurance, we spotted a mural with angry-looking giant rabbits. Turns out the classic schlock sci-fi flick Night of the Lepus was filmed there, and Roadrunner Inn bears a mural in its honor. They also sell donuts and espresso.

There are a lot of murals for a small town like Ajo. They must have artists, too.

Beyond the Why Not Travel Store in the town of Why, we reached Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

It was well worth the drive. We’ll probably be going back.


It’s right on the border. I got a text welcoming me to Mexico and offering a deal on Mexican cell service.

After a fantastic hike, we were hungry, so we went back to Ajo and found Arriba Mexican Food. The people didn’t mind wearing masks and practiced social distancing. The tacos, beans and rice were good, too.

As we headed back north, there was roadside graffiti: FREE CHAVIZO . . . FREE MI HERO . . .

Further north, there was a Border Patrol checkpoint. They believed us when we said we were U.S. citizens.

Friday, April 9, 2021



Chicanonautica reviews Gómez-Peña Unplugged, over at La Bloga.

A new book from Guillermo Gómez-Peña:

He has an interesting take on things:

A man about la Cultura:

And master performer:

Thursday, April 1, 2021



Been wearing masks for over a year now. It’ll probably be for a bit longer.

I’ve kind of gotten used to it. Accidentally rushing out with a naked face feels weird.

I’ve actually rather enjoyed it.

When it all started, I dug up bandanas that had been stuffed in a drawer since back in the days when Emily and I were janitors. This time it was different, tying ‘em over the face bandido style instead of around the forehead in the careful workingman’s manner that my grandfather taught me. Now I’m covering my mouth instead of soaking up sweat.

Since then, I’ve acquired a large array of colorful bandanas, and more conventional masks.

When you put something on your face you take on a new identity. Sometimes you feel different, other times it’s just other people are seeing you as somebody or something else. It’s a powerful magic that even works in modern, commercialized rituals.

It’s probably the real reason why the anti-mask folks object. They don’t like having to throw a monkey wrench into their fragile façades. Sketchy identities are easily warped, and sometimes the effects can be permanent.

I’ve enjoyed going from loyal worker to postmodern bandido to explorer of the stargate corridor to agent of the psychedelic bat squadron. I think it’s only made me more loco Ernesto than ever. But then I’ve always known who and what I am.

Others have undergone changes, some that they didn’t want, or aren’t even aware of. 

The world has changed. 

I think it’s a good thing.