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About the cover


Isn't That Special!

Lightcap's annual review of New Mexico follies.


There are a lot of states in our union — 50 at last count, and every one of them is unique in its own special way. There is only one, however, that has the distinction of being confused with a sovereign nation, and that's our humble patch of real estate. Nobody ever confuses New York with Old York or Minnesota with Manitoba, but our state is often thought of as a part of Mexico, only substantially cleaner. If news reports from the past year were any indication, New Mexico has a lot to offer the rest of the nation; sadly, most of it is of comedic value.

Our first story in our annual review of New Mexico folly comes from the Duke City up north. An Albuquerque man was getting so disgusted with elections, he decided to prove the whole process was going to the dogs by registering his pooch to vote. KOB-TV News reported on Feb. 29 that the dog's owner saw a voter registration booth and decided to see if his hound could participate in the electoral process this year. To his glee, he received a valid Bernalillo County voter registration card for "Buddy" using a made-up birth date and Social Security number, just like most everybody else in New Mexico. The county clerk's office huffily said that they don't require proof of an applicant's name, birth or social, but what Buddy's owner did was voter fraud, a serious accusation in New Mexico. Oh, wait — no, it's not. Voter fraud is more like a quaint local tradition.

A few weeks later, trouble was afoot in the austere desert paradise of Luna County. According to an article in the Deming Headlight of April 2, three men were arrested for cattle rustling when a deputy spotted a Honda Civic speeding at 3 a.m. After stopping the perps, the constable found four occupants in the compact car: three nefarious outlaws and a 220-pound Holstein calf sharing the backseat with one of the cattle rustlers. Lacking proper cow-rustling equipment, the inexperienced bandits whisked the confused bovine away in the Honda, which quite frankly was detrimental to the upholstery. The three men were charged with larceny of livestock and wasting oxygen that could be better used by dung beetles.

Not long afterwards, the last reader of books in New Mexico was arrested for overdue library books in Portales. The Associated Press reported on June 28 that Portales mom and renegade literary felon Lori Teel was arrested at her home, in front of her children, for an overdue copy of the mind-numbing book, Twilight, featuring teen vampires doing — something. With nearly $36 of overdue fines, Teel was hauled away by jackbooted library goons and booked in the county hoosegow, where she had to spend a night cozying up to a rather large woman with a mullet haircut named "Foxy." Charges were later dismissed by Portales City Attorney Stephen Doerr, who probably decided that the library was better off without the stupid vampire books anyway, and if they couldn't get Teel on felonious bad taste, then it wasn't really fun anymore.


Dogs are important in our proud state, which is why it's no surprise that a second canine-themed story made the list from Vaughn, New Mexico (Official Motto: "It's not our fault, it was already like this when we got here."). Nikka, no relation to Buddy in Bernalillo, is a drug-sniffing dog for the Vaughn Police Department that became the only certified member of the town's police department after Police Chief Ernest "Chris" Armijo stepped down after reports that he couldn't carry a gun because of his criminal background. Turns out that Armijo owed tens of thousands of dollars in back child support in Texas, which is kind of a no-no when you're in law enforcement. Nikka seemed indifferent to his new responsibilities as the only remaining cop in Vaughn, and he hopes an unfortunate leg-humping incident in 2007 doesn't come back to haunt him now.

In November, something really crappy happened in Las Cruces. According to an article in the Las Cruces Sun-News, city employees returning to work on Monday after Thanksgiving found a payment drop-off box for utility payments had been vandalized and was emitting a "foul odor." City officials determined that somebody had made an unauthorized deposit by defecating into the drop box. Exercising caution, City Treasurer Robert Scaling recognized that feces are a genuine biohazard, and declared the box and every payment in it to be voided (much like the perpetrator's colon). Since there was no way that the dookie could possibly be disposed of and the box returned to a pre-poopified state, City Manager Robert Garza said that the city might have to discontinue drop-box service. "It takes one bad apple to ruin the barrel," Garza didn't say, "and one chocolate sub to torpedo the payment box." City officials, still miffed about the whole thing, report that if people want to pay their utility bills without buying a stamp, they can tape it to the back of a carrier pigeon for all they care.

As we look forward to 2013, other states will celebrate their own unique diversity. California will find new ways to tax citizens into oblivion, and Florida will enjoy their citrus, beaches and senior citizens. South Dakota will do whatever it is they traditionally enjoy doing in South Dakota, and Alabama will continue to provide reality TV programming for the rest of the nation. In New Mexico, we can count on another fun-filled year of enchantment and amusement, and find comfort in our bottomless well of specialness.



Henry Lightcap stays out of the news in Las Cruces.




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