December 28, 2012 Racial Violation
It took six months of frustrating efforts punctuated by long waits, but today we figured out why my e-mail correspondence was not getting through to New Mexico Magazine editor Dave Herndon. We were discussing my returning to Clovis/Portales to do a full city feature. He had questions which I answered and he was ready to assign the job. But for months he'd periodically send me notes asking why I hadn't answered him.
I tried again yesterday and Dave finally solved the problem: my notes included a reference to Kelley's in Clovis as a "honky tonk." The state e-mail system applied a filter that blocked my mail, time after time, labeling it "State of New Mexico: Racial Violation," ineligible to proceed through the state communications system. My transgression?
Dave asked me to go back through and change "honky tonk" to "blanky tonk" and re-send. Voila! Problem solved!
Adding to my grin is the fact that the fourth and final feature I prepared for the Magazine, on The Fireballs, is in the current issue, January 2013, and one of the images I submitted showed The Fireballs playing at the Shuler Theater in February 1958 in front of lines of children wearing blackface!
With The Chronicle-News definitely not planning to reinstate my work (because it covers the wrong side of the state line), my primary source of work for now remains New Mexico Magazine, so I'm happy to finally get back to where it looks l'll be developing more projects for them soon. If I can just be more careful not to commit any Racial Violation.
December 10, 2012 Rest in Peace, Linda
December 8, 2012 Poetry, Out Loud
Raton High School hosted its second annual Poetry Out Loud competition November 29. Competitors Mariah McCarty, Rochelle Jackson, Cheyenne Starr, Sarah Caruana, Marisa McCarty, and Rachel Patty (from left) each recited from memory a pair of poems she'd selected and learned from a database of 650 classic poems available at the wonderful Poetry Out Loud website. The skill of oral recitation and interpretation has largely been lost. Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and New Mexico Arts, this program makes important strides in keeping the ancient tradition alive.
Reciting Robert Frost's well-known "Fire and Ice" and Emily Dickinson's "Much Madness is divinest Sense," freshman Cheyenne Starr was the first runner-up to the winner, senior Marisa McCarty, who recited Emily Bronte's "Shall Earth No More Inspire Thee?" and Charles Lamb's "Thoughtless Cruelty." Marisa will represent Raton at the New Mexico Poetry Out Loud finals at St. Francis Auditorium on the Santa Fe Plaza Sunday, March 3. The winner there will represent New Mexico at the national finals in Washington, D.C., in April.
November 25, 2012 A Face in the Crowd
Walking around Madrid Friday with my new camera and lens, I delighted in finding a "photo park" with wonderful paintings on plywood with cut-out faces for tourists to take whimsical photos. I was alone, no one else around. It occurred to me to photograph some of the cutouts this way, with faces empty, their wooded backgrounds blurred through the use of very shallow depth of field. (As always, click any image to enlarge it.)
The painting above places the subject realistically at bat in the adjacent Oscar Huber Memorial Ballpark, which I also photographed and posted today at my photography blog (it's a gorgeous art shot: check it out!). The Madrid Miners was the town's baseball team back in its pre-hippie coal mine days.
Less realistic but no less fun is this double cutout of a pair of...cowgirls? Saloon gals? Whatever, they're typical of the fun in this little photo park. The mountain background mirrors the actual hills and Ortiz Mountains surrounding Madrid. I like the way the sun is setting behind them without actually throwing them into silhouette in my shot.
Finally, continuing in a progression from realism to whimsy, here's a Roswell-inspired alien. It's funny that New Mexico has become associated with aliens and space travel. I'm glad the artist tapped into that for this humorous image. If you're ever in Madrid, don't miss this little photo park. You can put your loved one in the cutouts, though I rather like them just like this.
November 21, 2012 A Celtic Music Feast
Colorado Rocky Mountain Celtic band Feast returned to Raton's Shuler Theater Monday night for another rousing show featuring seven musicians and a pair of dancers. Add the band's lighting and sound techs, plus their driver, and their entourage at the Shuler numbered 13. Although the individuals assemble only for these occasional tours, they're all masters of their crafts so they sound like they play together all the time. Last time through, for St. Patrick's Day week in March 2011, the band booked and promoted its own tour, resulting in the only sold-out house I've seen at the Shuler. This week's show was booked and promoted by Raton Arts & Humanities Council, whose promotional skills are nearly nonexistent, but the theater was still half full, not half bad for a Monday night.
Percussionist David Alderdice anchors the band and the audience's attention (right), but violinists Marcin Arendt and Fillip Lazovski are fabulous, too: like most of the players, they're academically trained (Dr. Arendt is one of Lazovski's professors in the University of Colorado's Masters program) but they don't let that limit their fun. Among the show's highlights was a "Flight of the Bumblebees" duel (top photo) between cellist Gabe Mientka and bassist Benjamin DeKock; another highlight was an a capella percussion duet between Alderdice and his wife Arlyn Deva. Keyboardist and Feast co-founder (with Alderdice) Kathryn Mientka was more radiant and joy-filled than last year, holding her own from her place beside Alderdice's huge drum and percussion kit. For the audience, the feast was both visual and musical. Here's hoping for a regular get-together at the Shuler.
November 17, 2012 Adding the iPhone 5 to my Photographer's Kit
Christina and I got our first smart phones this month, his-and-hers iPhone 5 phones -- hers in white with 32GB, mine in black with 64 GB to hold all of my music. The iPhone has profoundly changed the world. We're finally finding out all of the ways that's true.
One is photography. The iPhone 5's camera is excellent. I took this self portrait in my classroom before school this week, using the slanting early-morning winter sunlight through the venetian blinds. I can't control aperture or shutter speed, so it has huge limits, but within those limitations the iPhone 5's camera does a great job. Many professional photographers have begun using it as an adjunct to their camera kits, for good reason.
November 11, 2012 Looking for an Edge
Almost three months into the new school year and the new house, I've got a new camera and a renewed itch to get back to work producing stories with my camera and my writing. The problem is that magazine commissions are few and far between (I'm working on it!) and The Chronicle-News, which used to keep me working on a daily basis, still can't bring itself to give me a green light to again produce New Mexico stories for the Trinidad, Colorado, newspaper.
My young border collie, Django, has hankerings of his own -- he, too, has been cooped up and is itching to get back to work -- so we drove up Bartlett Mesa Road and hiked above Raton yesterday. The edge of a storm was moving by, producing 40-mph wind on the mesa and double that on the south edge where I took these photos overlooking Raton. That's Django at the top, looking south into the wind and the mesa's edge. Below, that's Raton far below the mesa's edge, beside mile-wide dust devils whipped up by the winds.
Until I can find publications to satisfy my yearnings for work, I decided up on the mesa that I'll use this blog to post stories I'd otherwise submit to an editor. I'm back on the prowl, and the results will show up here.
November 3, 2012 Solo at the Shuler
Utah guitarist Michael Lucarelli came to Raton for a solo concert last night, number two in the Raton Arts & Humanities Council's 2012-2013 season of wonderful live entertainment at the Shuler Theater. Lucarelli sat on a chair alone in the center of the Shuler stage, playing his nylon-string classical guitar in a variety of styles. My favorite piece was Shubert's "Ave Maria," but he also swung as widely from classical guitar as George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," John Barry's "James Bond Theme," and Mason Williams's "Classical Gas," a mainstay at local KRTN radio.
While technically impressive, Lucarelli's playing rarely achieved a musicality that pleased me; that is, if I closed my eyes and judged solely by the music he produced, it was generally not as pleasing as other versions I've heard of the same songs. The "Ave Maria" was a sweet exception and made me think he might have fared better if he'd stuck to the classical repertoire. But as a solo artist in this series at the Shuler, he had more responsibility to be entertaining than he was up to -- he would have been far more enjoyable in a small folk club -- and I assume he felt the need to add popular songs in an effort to entertain. It was a rare misstep in booking by the arts council: many times I've been skeptical of a booking, only to be won over by a surprisingly entertaining program. In the right setting with the right repertoire, I would better enjoy Lucarelli's music. Fortunately, live entertainment is always appreciated in a small town, and, as I hope my photos suggest, hearing any live artist at the Shuler is a treat.
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