Cold Turkey Twitter

I Quit. The new oligarchic owner with an adolescent's impulse control gave me the push I needed. I've "deactivated" my account which is apparently the closest thing to leaving Twitter you can get. No withdrawal symptoms but it's only been 24 hours and this morning I was on tiktok so long I got the warning video. "Hold on! You've been scrolling WAY too long...." Or am I the only one that gets those? Is it after two hours? Three?

Twitter never showed concern for time or anything else. I used Tweetdeck to create news and topic columns. I didn't see the ads or promoted tweets. It was like a old school ticker tape - news scrolling down my screen. It is invaluable for breaking news and events. But step off into the discussion and you're tripped up and tied down like Gulliver by little lying Lilliputian trolls.

In the many years that I've "reported"  accounts that were obviously fake, abusive, or purposefully misleading, Twitter never determined a single one violated their narrowly defined policies. Nearly every thread of substance and topical interest, and there are many, is infested with professional and amateur trolls within hours of posting. They dispirit, dishearten, misdirect, mislead, question consensus, suppress, degrade, intimidate and threaten.

Done with it. I re-upped subscriptions to Santa Fe New Mexican and WaPo and honed the tiktok algorithm to feed me videos of   horses. Horses running, jumping, doing tricks, getting groomed, pulling things, having foals, having surgery, having snacks....


Cricket’s Revenge

The Deputy was the one that got the worst deal. Sandman paid with his life. He didn’t get pardoned by President Truman like Sheriff Happy and the other guy, even though he’d only watched them torture that black veteran into confessing. They had needed somebody else to blame after the football player was exonerated. It took J Edgar Hoover getting involved to shake things up and finally get the Sheriff and his men. But they were convicted of violating that man’s civil rights, not for Cricket’s murder. 

368AF82B-613A-473C-A8C6-E4800DE6EDA9The cover-up got obvious. Like digging a hole to bury something and leaving a big mound over it. Sandman served his full sentence and then publicly vowed to solve the murder. He started asking all the questions again. Next thing you know, Sandman’s shot dead. First they said he killed himself until the coroner pointed out to a reporter that the bullet entered the back of Sandman’s head. 

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Continue reading "Cricket’s Revenge" »

Who Killed Cricket Coogler? 2

Downtown Las Cruces was quiet after midnight. Big partiers and players from Santa Fe and Ft. Bliss were at the clubs down in Anapra, a misbegotten little pocket on the border where nobody claimed authority or took responsibility for anything. It was wide-open. Gambling was supposed to be illegal then, although you might be forgiven for not knowing that. Even Uncle Johnny had slots in the back room of the diner. But those places in Anapra were like palaces. Cricket described it to him once - the neon lights, doormen, music, and back rooms that seemed to go on and on.

Angelo would sometimes walk Cricket home after closing. He looked forward to it even though he had to get up before dawn the next morning to help his father with their flock. He’d wait on the bus bench across from the diner, watching her move about the counter and flirt with customers with professional ease. After closing, Johnny would lock the front door behind her. Tonight Angelo watched as Johnny he held her around the waist from behind whispering something in her ear that made her squeal. 

On the walk she took off her loud shoes and strolled barefoot in the dark shadows talking. She told him about beautiful things and places she would go. Neither of them had been past El Paso or Albuquerque but she had big dreams - like going to California. Unsurprisingly, none of her dreams involved herding sheep.  


Who Killed Cricket Coogler? 3

One night she told him she’d gotten a job as a hostess in Anapra. She talked about what she’d wear, her new lipstick. Some new shoes of her sister’s. He tried to ask her more about the job but she didn’t really know much then and after that she wouldn’t talk to him about much of anything. She didn’t have time. She was too busy at the diner and now she got rides, mostly with customers, to and from downtown. Red shoes

Angelo missed her. He wanted to hear about her hopes and new clothes. Her mother was pleased to see him when he stopped by. She told him that Sheriff Apodaca gave Cricket rides to and from her job and how important her job must be if he taxied her about. She imagined it as a secretarial role, though Cricket hadn’t finished high school and couldn’t type.

She brought cash home, her mother said. When he asked how much she just raised an eyebrow and pointed to the new TV with her chin. 

Who Killed Cricket Coogler 4.

Maybe loud shoes took attention off the rest of her. Relieved her of the weight of mens’ eyes. It seemed to Angelo that men and women stared at Cricket as if her kind of pretty might wear-off on them. Her particular sweetness might get absorbed and somehow make them more attractive. Most just leered.  Like Johnny and his associates who called her a ‘tall drink o’ water for the desert,’ and whispered things in her ear while she refilled their coffees. Angelo suggested she bash them in the head with the coffee pot. But she just had to smile and take it. She probably saw the attention as a way out of town.
Maybe the car she got into that night gave her a ride to LA. He held fast to that thought. But she left without saying anything and  it had been over two weeks.

On Easter morning,  like most Sundays after church, he went rabbit hunting with his younger brother and his friends. They had gotten a late start and the desert sun was already high and hot over the mesa south of town. Angelo’s brother would say it was the smell and the flies they noticed first. But Angelo saw a single red shoe and recognized it at once. Through the waves of nausea and welling tears, he saw her broken body.

Between her disappearance and the horrifying discovery was a period of suspended reality Angelo would hold in his heart until his death. He didn’t want to know what actually happened, so he imagined what hadn’t in great detail. Cricket went to Los Angeles. Cricket was just too busy to get in touch. 


Who Killed Cricket Coogler?


This strange little murder and the efforts to cover it up caused a kind of outrage that cleaned up New Mexico. I really believe that had the Cricket Coogler case not happened, Santa Fe would be Las Vegas.

Tony Hillerman in "The Silence Of Cricket Coogler: A Political Murder"        


He noticed her new shoes as she stumbled getting into the dark sedan with official state plates. Shiny red high heels, like bright beacons. Royal blue dress with a flared skirt. Angelo wondered if hummingbirds weren’t drawn to that outfit. Loud. Like her shoes. You could always hear her coming. It was the way her heels hit the cement. She wore her sister’s borrowed shoes, a half-size too large so they dragged a little off her heel with each step, skipping on the sidewalk and making a chirping sound.  It’s how she got her nickname, Cricket. 


Wislizenus Cottonwood

What a character Wislizenus must have been - explorer, physician, and botanist. He’s the cottonwood's namesake. A02235E4-7FEF-4B83-B404-3C98A887CA52

Frederich Adolphus Wislizenus (1810-1889) was a German emigrant involved in several political causes, uprisings, and adventures. Among these were his expeditions to the American West. 

He studied medicine at four universities in Europe before arriving in New York in 1834. Then he moved to St. Louis to practice medicine a few years later.

He joined a fur trading expedition in 1839 and on that trip crossed the Rocky Mountains. On his return he joined a band of Flathead and Nez Perce. He wrote an account published in German in 1840.

Back in St. Louis he partnered with fellow physician and botanist George Engelmann who encouraged him to continue exploring and collecting. With his support Wislezenus began another trip in 1846 -  a merchant expedition to Santa Fe and Chihuahua.

On this adventure he was detained for six months after the war with Mexico began. He spent the time in the Sierra Madres observing, and collecting plants. His next report, Memoir of a Tour to Northern Mexico (1848) was about that trip but I haven't got a copy.

I imagine that's when he first met our tree. The populus deltoides wislizenii.


River Curves

The big westward curve of the river - the top of the Valley. That's where the big floods used to start. The Camino Arroyo, named for the road up to the mountain, swept into the valley up there from time to time, depositing muddy water and trees and boulders too sometimes. They "tamed it," along with all the other arroyos and the Rio itself. A87F3A5C-6858-41C8-9714-8B79C0FFE1DD

Some of the cottonwoods have a curve like the river. 

Up there's also where Edward Abbey began the tale of The Brave Cowboy, later made into the movie Lonely Are the Brave.  When Kirk Douglas rides his Palamino mare Whiskey into town, he crosses both the Rio and Second Street. The Big Chief Truck Stop is in the background along with decent sized clusters of cottonwoods. 

These twisted trees were probably stomped on as seedlings. This place was a park. And a dump. We thought it all belonged to us as kids. It magically morphed into private hands after construction of the drainage canals and ditches and began sprouting houses after that. 

In at least one 60s neighborhood, free-range children roamed widely and climbed the biggest trees. They urged each other on, nailing up short pieces of scrap lumber as footholds for the scariest straight parts. High trees seemed to go on forever like our high hopes. In some places you can still see steps in the tall trees. 



Liminal Forest

The electric utility guy came to visit today. Hard hat man in a bright jacket. He eyed the fat cottonwood that's precariously close to a transformer.

That wasn’t her choice. The tree and forest were there before the land was divided up. And that’s only one in a series of abuses, and relatively minor. The whole Bosque was cut for firewood - multiple times. Now people treasure the cottonwood around here, right? Right?
So many places are named for it including Spanish: El Alamo, Alamogordo, Alameda....

C8E878A8-F5C2-476A-B5D0-EA0187E3F87CI suppose it once must have seemed there were too many to count. Trees didn’t matter. The street, utility lines and houses were worth more than the forest. Profit-wise.  Sort of a way of honoring the dead.  Naming things for them.

Some big monster trees remain on the ditch banks and edges of fields - places the chainsaws haven't reached for whatever reason. Or they are prized yardfeatures whose soft wood must be monitored and radically trimmed lest heavy branches crash onto cars and rooftops.

The big mother tree survives on the liminal edge between this subdivision and that. She attracts attention only from admirers, with the possible exception of the electric utility guy. She is guarded by neighbors who watch, including noisy crows.

The kind of tree that makes you want to be a better human.


Mice Are Back

It’s like I thought if I killed two or three … or eight they'd get the message. But NOOO. They know “No cat,” and have ventured in again - into the underspace where they make nightly forays onto the counters and into the cabinets. They’re safe from Mr. Coyote and his cousins who thrive, polishing off the last roaming cats, hens and pheasant in the neighborhood.

Last night I heard the snap. But the sound of flopping went on too long and in the morning I saw the poor thing firmly snapped in half and very much alive. And angry. About the only thing worse than taking a dead mouse out of a trap is taking a mad mouse out of a trap. Maimed mad mouse.

I suspect them of some form of coordinated vengeance now.