Lightcap's annual roundup of newsworthy New Mexico.
Famed New Mexico artist extraordinaire Georgia O'Keefe did as much to showcase our unique southwestern joie de vivre as anyone, especially among fans of impressionist gynecological canvas. She managed to capture that indefinable New Mexico essence, an enigmatic quality that is felt rather than seen, and we lucky enough to live here are surrounded by it every day.
Just stand up and walk to the nearest window, open it and look outside. Past the mountainous bank of crispy tumbleweeds stacked sky-high against the barbed-wire fence and beyond the decrepit assemblage of non-functional General Motors vehicles arrayed on blocks in the front yard. Past the skulking, skinny, egg-sucking mongrels milling about, and beyond the half-buried bath tub serving as a covered altar for a plaster statue of the Virgin Mary. What do you see? Enchantment, my friend — pure, unadulterated, New Mexico enchantment, and we had a bumper crop of it in 2013.
To start my annual recap, we go to that wellspring of enchantment, Santa Fe, where a legislative committee bravely fought for the rights of drunken employees. According to a Feb. 8 story in the Las Cruces Sun-News, a Las Cruces sanitation worker was too — ahem — trashed to hold onto his garbage truck, and did a face-plant on the street. He got an owie, and was awarded $100,000 in workers' compensation benefits, which might seem ludicrous if you aren't drunk. Luckily, Democrats on the House Labor and Human Resources Committee know how hard it is to work after a midday pitcher of martinis at TGI Fridays, so they were able to block a bill that would have given judges the flexibility to deny all or most benefits to intoxicated workers that are hurt on the job. Way to look out for the little man.
New Mexico's outlaw past is still alive and well in Roswell, although on a scale that would make Billy the Kid shake his head in disbelief. According to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle published June 11, a diabolical criminal genius made a daring escape attempt after being arrested for burglary. While the coppers were engaging in routine doughnut-interrogation duties, the suspect wiggled out of his handcuffs and slipped away. Avoiding the stereotypical getaway conveyances, the outlaw prudently selected a low-profile vehicle that would escape the attention of all but the average six-year-old girl: He found a tiny girl's bicycle, one of those jobs with a plastic flowery basket and white-rubber 10-inch tires, and furiously pedaled away. Surprisingly, a grown-ass man on a tiny girl's bike was fairly conspicuous after all, and the outlaw was returned to custody. He faced additional charges of evading arrest and having no sense of shame.
The very next day, the Albuquerque Journal reported that no matter how cool a tattoo might look, it's not a good idea to ink your nephew. Especially if he's only three years old. And you're using homemade tools. And you aren't even a tattoo artist. Apparently, all of these factors combined were enough to land one New Mexico uncle in jail for child abuse for six months, where he's sure to see a lot of professionally done tattoos on a daily basis.
Love means never having to say you're sorry, but it seems that one Albuquerque man should at least send flowers after a classic New Mexico date night on May 29. The Albuquerque Journal story made it clear that love wasn't the only thing in the air when a Duke City dunderhead was having sex with a woman while driving drunk and crashed, ejecting her from the vehicle. Responding officers found the driver wearing nothing but one shoe and a pair of inside-out Underoos, and his formerly amorous companion was buck nekkid. Sure, she was a bit cut up, but otherwise fine, so the driver gallantly decided to call it a night and drive away after the crash, but without his nekkid lady. This is exactly the sort of thing that makes women loathe men. Luckily, appalled bystanders took the man's keys, so he opted to hide behind a cactus until he was politely invited to seek shelter in the back seat of a squad car.
One of the most enchanting things about our kingdom is our mouth-watering cuisine, especially when infused with the magical powers of chile. When your chile levels involve the services of a HAZMAT crew, however, you might be doing it wrong. Such was the case in Santa Teresa on Oct. 17, when an angry cloud of habanero chile powder descended on unsuspecting denizens. According to the Sun-News, about 50 people were affected and one woman was sent to the hospital when dust from ground-up chile pods from a food-processing plant entered the ventilation systems of nearby buildings, causing more irritation than a Justin Bieber appearance. As die-hard chile lovers, New Mexicans are known to stick chile into everything, including beer, ice cream, lasagna and chocolate, but we need to draw the line at the air we breathe.
Top-shelf enchantment didn't arrive until late in the year, but our friends in Deming really knocked it out of the park. In a story that made national news, a wayward WalMart shopper was pulled over for rolling a stop sign exiting the parking lot. Reasonable suspicion clearly established, local constables noticed that the driver was clenching his buttocks, which really should be a natural reaction whenever you're pulled over in Deming. Using Sherlockian powers of deduction, they figured he was hiding narcotics in his most holy-of-holies. After obtaining a search warrant — for his butt — the officers proceeded to x-ray the suspect's abdomen. When nothing appeared, they then performed a more intimate search involving rubber gloves. When that didn't produce results, the officers went in again. Then, again with an enema. And a second enema. A third enema followed. Still not satisfied, they performed another x-ray with no luck. With police hot on the trail of what was clearly the best drug smuggler in history, the suspect was then sedated, prepared for surgery, and had a camera inserted into his anus, rectum, colon and large intestines. At this point, the officers gave up. They let the man off with a warning. Tired of people poking things into his posterior, he had other ideas at this point, and called an attorney who is currently crawling up the ass of every law-enforcement official in Luna County. They will be experiencing the enchantment of litigation for a long, long time.
The future is difficult to predict, and we can't be sure what adventures 2014 holds for us, but one thing is certain: There is no place as enchanted as our wonderful, magical, madcap state of New Mexico.
Henry Lightcap rang in the New Year in Las Cruces.