Dust In My Head

photo (5)The Land Of Enchantment (LOE) is indeed a place of fuzzy boarders and strange events. Since some of these happenings can be blamed, perhaps given to the “newness” of the state, joining in 1912 only a few months after Arizona… and we know how Arizona turned out…. It is no surprise that this land would be something of a Third World Shit Hole, like the rest of the former prefects and Land Grants of Old Mexico and a good part of the First World that is fast drifting downward in quality of life and the quality of those living. One of the most striking features of the LOE, if not perhaps the defining quality, after the beauty of the landscape created by g/G/o/d/ess/ss/es and the strange landscape that is attractive in the barren ugly of it all but wondrous is the clusters of poverty stricken denizens and the preponderant of pugnacious pill-popping models whose meth-degenerating faces grace such publications as BUSTED! and MUG SHOT and other publications that revel in the filth of humanity and seem ill placed out of some Dickensian fantasy. Over this rugged and sublime monuments to time and eons or the forces of Creation, as you wish, that are the mountains and mesas is set a thin smattering of all that is foul and degrading from today’s roadside America.
In driving about this land, actually 666 miles of LOE from the airport and back, I guess I saw a sample of this enchantment, dire and squalid settlements and crusty holdons at the side of the highway that breathed in and out from two lanes to eight and back again so that it seemed that the heaving was natural, part of the landscape. This landscape was dry when it was not locked in snow and ice, cold and damp was dry and hot, burning sensations and tingling of nipples. Frostbite and sunburn all in the same day. So too, the many businesses, the personal establishments and fortunes of individuals seemed to burn up in this new land, this unforgiving series of places to fry, bake, freeze or be torn apart by wolves or Natives. Too true, too true, the crows seemed to call and to that no wonder the spirit of that animal was given to trickery by the First Peoples. Too true, too true…. another half-abandoned house. Too true, too true…. blown out snack shacks, no-tell motels, big belly delis, all manner of small buildings in rack and ruin. For lease. For sale. For fuck you the property is posted. Left to the sun and wind to eat away, to gnaw on as the bones and suck the moist marrow of any of the previous animals that came to munch at the unlasting green of the fields and the momentary cold springs that ran foul and acrid when they were really needed.
photo (3)Perhaps this is a good thing. The lost gas stations. The closed motels, acre after acre of lost highways and breakdown lanes now closed off by cement barriers taking the byway to allow for the high speed highway, for the eight lane road to breath in the edges, to engulf those who had come before in an age old, perhaps wrote tale.
At the gas station the machine worked as it did in other regions. This particular chain gas station was a reservation or land grant or some semi-autonomous region however we reserve that phrase for The Third World or certain post-SOVIET regions. These are other countries. And in this one, gas was a few cents less than in my country. So were certain other products, except that the sign said that in order to receive benefits one had to not use the benefits cards for:
1. Tobacco
2. Beer
3. Hot food
4. Lotto
5. Energy drinks
6. Scratch offs
Since we know lotto and scratch offs are usually seen as the same sport, just a different expression, a new way to toss away some hard-earned government benefits. I visited one such gambling establishment on a certain reservation – I believe where there was no free food or drink, so why – and it being the first of the month it was packed at 4:40PM… on a Monday. The bells ranted and raved, the old people were lined up hooked to machines as if some evil healthcare system, all butter faces to a nob, women the parlor of the tobacco they were smoking, men with fat swollen legs, that same fat lady with the skin the colour of cancer that I swear I had seen in the casino of New Orleans, Cleveland, Sioux City, Detroit, Atlantic City, Edmonton, and wherever else I posted into these establishments in order to gander at the assembled creatures and see what free food/drink I could scam. These places look so very much the same, I may have gotten bored with checking them out. The same machines. The same noises. Fake ka-chhing ka-ching ka-ching when some POS is cashing out or CS is attempting to gather its “winnings” in order to try out another machine, because that machine is “hot” it is paying out like 80% of the time and the OFAH knows the next payout will allow for unlimited funds to divorce that FC back home and move on to a life of EDABM. I placed some dollars into the gape of the machine and pushed buttons until it was gone. There was no food. No drink. No sex. So, I moved on. FTP, I thought as I exited. What a rip off. We stole the Native’s land, they pilfer our dollars… with the help of various mafias I am certain. Nothing romantic about the modern Reservations. Come to think of it… was there ever a good time to be pushed onto a Reservation and managed by the Beureu of Indian Affairs?
photo (4)The city of Albuquerque can be divided into certain quarters as if Berlin after the war. There is the middle-class quarter, up on the ridge schmeared along the base of the mountain and Tramway Boulevard as close as the rich can get to building into the mountain, every American city a supernova with the prenumbra of expansion those rich enough to constantly be escaping the poor, who are always close on their heels. There is the quarter of endless KenTacoHuts and commercial strips. Were we to walk, it would be an endless journey since even in a car the drive through this quarter seems to last forever. Then there is quarter of Mexo-Hispanic poverty and large tricked out trucks such is the culture out here of El Caro and faco tattoo-o a la’ Sin Nombre and cholo culture, quite a few of these people having to shop at Hot Topic since Goth has crept into cholo and I think I managed to find just a thin mist of Hipster on a few of them. There is the Old Quarter, a small dot of history surrounded by the usual poverty – where TeeVee dishes were bolted on to mud houses that one would assume belong on the register of historic places but today just provide whomever dwells in there a place to receive a benefits card and some meager maintenance payment for whatever kids they managed to crap out before all that shit down there went south. I wanted to get more out of staying in the Old Historic Town, but it was a midge in the eye of an otherwise occupied giant filled with teeshits, Indian Souvenirs (made in China) and Authentic somethingorotherfartcanwegohomenows. Barking at my heals on the short walk to the hotel from The Old Town were the outsiders, the masters of the Forbidden Zone, the Buckaroo Bonsai methheads except in this early hour (6PM) they were still drooling and waiting for a fix to “clear their head.” I am leaving out the college quarter since you kids know that space well, perhaps someone better blogs about it, and I did not visit it. But, the college quarter…. exists. No shit hole city would be compete without a harem of victims to get R&R and activists who want to get the university involved in the community… because blah blah blah, blah blah – Ted.
Away from the cholo quarter, the republican quarter, the strip-mall quarter, and Old Town, ran a line, a sinister line of demilitarized chaos called Central Avenue. You may call it whatever you want. In some cities it is Division Street. In others, Canal. Some cultures speak of Broadway, but most call it Dr. Martin Luther King or Malcolm X. Some older residents of certain cities call it Main Street while younger kids call it That Street of Broken Dreams. For here, it was Central Avenue. Some told old stories of this road being known as Route 66, that storied highway that linked the old dirty East with the new and fantastic West. The highway of those early road trips. There was, to some extent, archeological evidence of these ruins, old motels with signs that once were lit, pointing to motels of rustic or clever designs called the Aztec of Hopi and now these signs pointed to chain link fences guarding ruins or flat gravel lots where the original structures had been flattened in anger and avarice. The few remaining in the upper ends of Central that still stood, were open to the public were now reduced to pandering to the Breaking Bad crowd, the fans off the show about the science teacher and the student who made Meth, and these fans swarmed everywhere and dressed and acted like they were on drugs, the bars on the windows, the gates, the filth of it all so realistic as to make me shudder that people, fans, could engage in such a cosplay…. or perhaps they were just drug addicts. Real ones. Which is even more frightening. I locked my doors. I have been to Morocco, driven in Mexico, wandered the wastes of Russia… and I was afraid of getting killed in the LOE – which, considering my love for Breaking Bad… may have been a good final episode for me.. although I am saving myself for being torn apart by wolves.
New state or not, this is a frightening thing we have done to our Nation and a frightening way to arrange the lives of so many people. Perhaps an anomaly, a stage in the development of a city that has yet to take shape, to shake off the old European buildings imposed on the city, to fold in Native American culture with that of India, China, and Meth, and to create a truly American City. Or perhaps we just did. Perhaps this is the American City, a split city of haves and have nots, enclaves of angry identity-mongers shopping at Hot Topic, a culture of instant gratification and bunker-building nutcases.
I expected more from Albuquerque. Perhaps I had just taken a wrong turn when I got there.
photo (2)

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