"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Bob Dylan once asked: How many roads must a man walk down, Before you call him a man ?
Today we ask:  How many times does a man go to war before you call him an American?

Since before we became a state, New Mexico's Hispanic soldiers have answered the call to duty, The New Mexico National Guard, which included a high percentage of Hispanics, suffered through the Bataan Death March. Then as POW's they were treated brutally and without humanity by their Japanese captors. Of the 2,000 or so New Mexico Guardsmen in the Phillipines when World War II started, barely half returned home.  During the Korean and Vietnam Wars, New Mexico's Hispanic towns and villages sent thousands of young men to fight, paying a price that was way out of proportion with their populations. Over the course of recent American history, Hispanic  citizens and soldiers alike, have done all that has been asked of them "Lest we forget, this day is set aside to remind us"

Memorial Day
The call to duty is never refused, you need not ask, for we will fight
if the flag falls  pick it up, if the tide turns stand your ground
until the guns grow silent and peace returns us to our homes
white marble slabs mark the stone gardens
mortal remains planted in their native soils
look across yonder and always....always remember
that the entry fee is paid for with blood and honor
in service we stride into the fields of combat
in battle only your brothers stand next to you
and on his behalf, no sacrifice too small, no price too high
in the eyes of our enemies there are no distinctions
We are all Americans, they know of our willingness to fight
America is great because her soldiers are great
lest we forget, this day is set aside to remind us

Friday, May 27, 2011

Don't Panic!

Could it be that space aliens were playing a game of chicken over central New Mexico in 1947? A game that went terribly wrong with two spacecrafts colliding into each other, scattering debris from  Corona to the Plains of St. Agustin. Although this purported UFO crash is closely linked with Roswell, N.M. none of the alleged crash sites were within 70 miles of Roswell. The Roswell Incident as it is now known, is back in the news with the release of Annie Jacobsen's book "Area 51" published by Little, Brown and Co. A review of the book by The New York Times states that her reporting of the top secret base is backed by "numbingly intensive documentation." Although it primarily deals with the mysterious Air Force base in Nevada, it's her controversial  claim that the Roswell Incident was merely a hoax perpetrated by the Soviets that has UFO geeks spitting Red Bull all over their computer screens. Annie, you're fucking with my emotions here, the legend of space aliens crashing to earth in New Mexico, gave birth to  "A story cherished by conspiracy theorists and not easily refuted." or so The New York Times states. That wild tale of alien voyagers spawned Roswell's numero uno cash cow; The Annual UFO Festival, which takes places the first weekend of July. Annie Jacobsen speculates that Soviet dictator Josef Stalin recruited Nazi physician Josef Mengele after World War II to produce "grotesque, child-size aviators" who would fly into the United States. Once discovered their very appearance was supposed to instill fear and panic much like Orson Welles' War of the Worlds.
It sounds crazy as a shithouse rat, so let's take a closer look, these mutants while physical deformed would need the mental capacity required to understand aeronautics. They would have to fly their crafts to the American Southwest, since the technology for self guided or remote controlled aircraft was in it's primitive stages in 1947. So, the Soviets couldn't just pack some peabrained science experiment into capsules, someone had to operate the craft with some expertise. I smell cowpies and I'm not the only one with a working bullshit detector around here. New Mexico's resident UFO expert (yes, we have one) Bill Lyne of Lamy,N.M. also doesn't like what he smells, but for different reasons. "They're just saying what I've been saying all along, that it was a hoax," he said. "But that Mengele stuff is a bunch of hogwash because Mengele was recruited by the CIA, and he was actually brought to Albuquerque." That's right, remember that creepy guy at the Edelweiss German American Club who went around telling all the young girls "My what pretty blue eyes you have" yeah that was him.  Lyne goes on to say that the Roswell Incident was a hoax perpetrated by our own government and not the Soviets. Lyne also added that the alien remains recovered in New Mexico were rhesus monkeys, with all their hair shaved off, and their skin tinted green. Lyne's remarks seemed to set off a pissing contest between ufologists, Peter Davenport, who runs the National UFO Reporting Center crawled out of the woodwork to say: "If they (The Nazis) had that kind of technology, the Germans would have won the war," Clifford Clift of the Mutual UFO Network (I'm not making this stuff up) questioned why this would take place in the desert. "It is a stretch, one of my concerns is if they wanted to create panic, why in New Mexico and not New York where there are more people to panic?" I guess the Soviets didn't plan on lazy 'ol Mac Brazel ignoring the crash site for three weeks before reporting it to local authorities. That's no way to start a panic, ultimately there are too many holes in Annie's Soviet theory for it to be believable.
 On June 14th, 1947 William "Mac" Brazel, the foreman for the Foster Ranch, located 70 miles north of Roswell, came upon a strange debris field near a water tank. Brazel would later describe it to the Roswell Daily Record as "A large area of bright wreckage made up of rubber strips, tinfoil, a rather tough paper and sticks."  (Right there that should've set off all kinds of alarm bells.  These aliens were capable of intergalactic travel, yet the only material available to build their space crafts was rubber, foil & sticks?) Brazel would return to the site on July 4th to gather up some of the material. With the nearest telephones 30 miles away in Corona, Brazel felt no urgent need to contact authorities. Following a timeline of events that transpired during that first week of July, 1947, Dan Wilmot of Roswell  reported on July 2nd. 1947,  that an object had passed overhead which Wilmot described as "like two inverted saucers faced mouth to mouth." On the morning of July 3rd. 1947, on the Plains of San Agustin, 150 miles west of Corona.  Barney Barnett and a group of archaeologists supposedly stumbled upon an alien craft and its deceased occupants. Before they could report it, military personnel showed up and they were ushered out of the area. This would take us to July 6th. when Brazel met with Chaves County Sheriff Wilcox to report his find.
If Brazel first discovered the debris on June 14th, what did Wilmot see, an alien search party? Could it be that what Barnett's group discovered was wreckage that had been undiscovered since June 14th or earlier? The symposium of theories seems to be that both Brazel's & Barnett's discoveries were the result of the same accident. On July 7th. Brazel accompanied by Sheriff Wilcox, Maj. Jesse Marcel and a G-man dressed in black, traveled to the Foster ranch to examine the debris field. The men would spend a couple of hours at the site before returning to Roswell AAF, later it was reported that a company of soldiers arrived in trucks to scour the site clean of all crash evidence. The first public reports of the incident came out on July 8th, when the now infamous press release was made available:   "The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff's office of Chaves County. The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the sheriff's office, who in turn notified Maj. Jesse A. Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence Office. Action was immediately taken and the disc was picked up at the rancher's home. It was inspected at the Roswell Army Air Field and subsequently loaned by Major Marcel to higher headquarters."  By the following morning, the military was doing some heavy duty backpedaling. Under orders from Gen. Roger Ramey of The Eighth Air Force at Carswell AAF in Ft. Worth, Tx. another press release was issued accompanied with a photograph of Maj. Marcel holding pieces of the debris. This release identified the object as being a weather balloon and its kite, which was a radar reflector used to track the balloons from the ground. For all intents and purposes that was the end of the story, everyone at Roswell AAF including Brazel and Sheriff Wilcox shut their pie holes.
On March 22nd, 1950, FBI Special Agent Guy Hottel issued a report to the Director of the Bureau which stated that the Air Force recovered three flying saucers and nine 3 feet tall human shaped bodies from the New Mexico crash sites. Which didn't seem to concern J. Edgar Hoover, as no action seems to have been taken. The story would lie dormant and forgotten even in Roswell until 1978,  when physicist and ufologist Stanton Friedman interviewed Major Jesse Marcel who was involved with the original recovery of the debris in 1947.  Maj. Marcel expressed his belief that the military had covered up the recovery of an alien spacecraft. His story spread through UFO circles, being featured in some UFO documentaries and The National Enquirer. This garnered national and worldwide attention for the Roswell incident, planting the seeds for a cottage industry that continues to thrive in Roswell to this day.  Just like all those self styled ufologists, I have an opinion of what took place: 1. What Mac Brazel discovered was in fact a Project Mogul balloon array and its tracking kite. 2. Barney Barnett's report of finding alien corpses and wreckage was a hoax  3. All reports of alien autopsies, mysterious nurses who vanished and requests for child size caskets are just part of the Roswell myth and legend. 4. Jesse Marcel tailored his recollection of  actual events to meet his self serving needs.  5. Not one scrap of evidence of any kind has ever turned up. There are people who will go to their deathbeds or have already done so, believing it happened. It's just as well, because who the hell would want to attend a Project Mogul Balloon Crash Festival.? 

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Fool and His Gold Are Soon Departed

This is a fantastic tale of lost treasure, betrayal and ultimately murder.  It involves skeletons staked to cavern floors and tethered to cavern walls, skeletons stacked like cord wood, military cover-ups,  mine openings blasted shut and never found again, off duty Airmen stumbling on a cache of gold bars and gold seekers buried alive (allegedly).  All this over a mound of rock and dirt, barely 500ft. high. A hill that you could walk around and over twice before you got tired.   That the murder took place is probably the only part of the Milton Ernest "Doc" Noss lore that is based on reality.  Then again, the man who killed Noss, Charles Ryan was acquitted of all charges, thus according to the courts, not even a murder took place. 
 To say that this is a sad and sordid saga is a gross understatement.  The lies started the day that Doc Noss allegedly dug up that rock to reveal a passage into Victorio Peak. According to Doc Noss he removed over 200 gold bars, jeweled swords, coins and a jewel adorned crown from the shaft, and stashed all of it  in the nearby desert. Surely a find of that nature would have been hard to keep under wraps. In fact the entire Victorio Peak tale is full of things and objects that no one ever saw. No gold bars were ever produced,  no one, other than Noss, Babe (his wife) and an inept mining engineer ever saw the shaft.   We are expected to believe that  Noss was able to control the urge to cash in on a king's ransom?   Private ownership of gold was illegal at the time, but a man with access to that much gold (allegedly) would find a way to get that gold out of the country.  The borders were wide open back in those days, he could have driven a truck load of gold into Mexico or Canada. He could have reported his find to the government and negotiated a finders fee. There were options that would have allowed him to live well for the rest of his life. Instead he chose to hide the treasure and live on the edge of poverty in Hot Springs, N.M.!
That however is not why I think the entire story is bogus.  Looking at it from a mining perspective, it doesn't stand up.  Doc Noss entered through an opening  about 30in. wide.  He lowered himself 60ft. into the void before he got to the bottom.  There he found another shaft,  by his own calculations this shaft was 125' in length. He didn't mention using any ropes, so  I assume it was an inclined shaft that sloped down into a natural cavern. Further into the earth he discovered another cavern, 300' to 400' underground.  At that depth, without proper ventilation, lack of oxygen becomes a problem, This would make hauling gold bars to the surface quite a staggering task.  Doc Noss may have been quite fit, he was after all a chiropractor (sneer) but that's a large order for anyone.  It takes a stretch of the imagination to believe that Doc Noss pulled himself up (carrying gold bars that weighed 40lbs. each)  countless times to the surface.  Even if he was using a pulley and bucket with his wife working on the surface, he still had to haul the gold bars to the shaft.   That's 400ft. under the earth in an oxygen starved environment.
This leads to another reason that this story is fraught with fraud.  Why would gold be there in the first place?.  The story of Padre LaRue hiding the wealth from his  secret gold mines.  Only to die at the hands of Spanish soldiers torturing him to reveal his secret, is absurd.  Ditto for Victorio and his warriors hiding their plunder at the peak. Think about this, in order to transport that much gold to the site, a train of wagons and pack animals would be needed.  Hundreds of men would have to accompany them, and even in colonial New Mexico, this wouldn't have gone unnoticed.  As for Maximillian's gold, the same holds true, how were they going to transport that much gold and treasure from Mexico City across an international border, during wartime, without drawing attention. It's the stuff of fairy tales, and when it's said and done, that's all it was.  What intrigues me is that so many people took Doc Noss and his wife at their word.  Doc Noss was a grifter and a liar, he played his hand and it cost him his life. There never was any real gold, just a fool and his dreams of gold.
This article was originally posted on Argonauts and 40 Niners 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

We Sell Soul

I feel like a reporter for The Police Gazette, researching and writing this article was not easy. These were people you would never want to meet and they committed hideous acts of violence. How is it that two of the vilest cold blooded killers in the history of this state came from the same community? Poor Margaret Salcedo does not deserve to be mentioned with them, yet she became a victim in the same manner as Marie Parker, both were killed by monsters set loose on unsuspecting people.

Before the Rio Grande was dammed, the sleepy little village of Las Palomas was known for its geothermal hot springs and not much else. With the establishment of a post office in 1914, the name was changed to Hot Springs, the completion of the dam in 1916 transformed this tranquil river valley into a mecca for vacationers, boaters and those seeking the regenerative healing powers of the natural springs. That would be the end of our story, but in 1950 the host of a popular radio show, Ralph Edwards found himself in need of a gimmick to celebrate the show's tenth anniversary,  "I wish that some town in the United States liked and respected our show so much that it would like to change its name to 'Truth or Consequences.'" Except that it wasn't about respect, what Edwards wanted was for some podunk town to whore themselves out, Hot Springs was his kind of town. The nationwide search began and the village formerly know as Las Palomas quickly made its intentions known, " Here was an opportunity to advertise the city and its resources free of charge!  Better still, no longer was our city to be confused with that "other one" in Arkansas" not that anyone was confusing this Hot Springs with the one where FDR played hide the hotdog. A special election was held, however enough residents opposed the idea that it forced a second election, this time the naysayers were browbeaten and the name change was approved. In return for selling their souls to Ralph Edwards, he broadcast his anniversary show live across the nation, from Hot..err! Truth or Consequences. Nobody can argue that it didn't work, 99.9% of what anybody knows about T or C, is a result of the name change. Edwards would return once a year for the Fiesta, he would wave and smile at the town folks,  at times he would bring some minor Hollywood celebrity with him. But, the  truth is, you fuck with the natural order of things and you suffer...the consequences.
There is something slightly fucked up about the place, and whenever T or C has made headlines it's been for all the wrong reasons. The ill will that seems to plague the town may have started way back in 1937. That's when Milton "Doc" Noss a local chiropractor and scam artist first claimed to have found hundreds of gold bars in a shaft at Victorio Peak. That sordid affair set off a stink bomb around Hot Springs. Doc Noss was screwing with the town's karma and as John Lennon once said "Instant Karma's gonna get you, Gonna knock you right on the head" In 1949, an angry business partner did just that, shooting  Milton "Doc" Noss dead in Hatch, N.M. during an argument. That mess was quickly swept under the rug and the focus returned to the town's cash cows, boating and tourism. Every Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day, boaters flock to Elephant Butte Lake, overnight the population swells by 200,000.  The crowd seems evenly divided between folks from Albuquerque and El Paso, they come equipped with all the latest water toys. The Texans are the worst, they take over 1-25 like it's a Texas farm road, speeding and passing people without even a courtesy attempt at a turn signal. Once they arrive at the lake they hog up every campsite and generally behave like assholes from El Paso (does anybody else remember Chinga Chavin?) Once the weekend is over they rush back to Texas leaving a trail of busted ass boat trailers strewn along the roadside. Not that Albuquerque boaters  behave any better, but at least they're New Mexicans. Hot Springs has always been an anomaly, in the midst of a large Hispanic population, it is unrelentingly white, and it's not the farmers, ranchers or even Mormons that you find elsewhere in New Mexico. No, this is a different breed,  they don't run cattle or farm, malfeasance flows in their veins, along with crystal meth. 
On March 3rd. 1996, Albuquerque residents awoke to reports of an act, so depraved and senseless that it defied understanding. Three night employees of Hollywood Video on San Mateo were found shot to death in the store. Each victim (two female, one male) had been shot three times in the head. The family of the young man killed reported that his grandparents had gone to pick him up from work and now they were missing. It wasn't long before their bodies were found in the East Mountains, they had each been shot nine times.  Outrage swept through the Duke City, a reward of $100,000 was offered for any information leading to the killers. Authorities called it "an evil act by evil people" Holly Lawrence who lost her young cousin and her grandparents that night stated: "They didn't do it for the money, you don't rob a store for $1,800 and leave $3,000 behind, I think they just wanted to kill people"  Within days APD got a break in the case when a man contacted them and claimed that his girlfriend Esther Beckley had admitted to taking part in the murders. Beckley was arrested and quickly led police to her  accomplice, he was Shane Harrison an ex-con from T. or C., who had made his way to Albuquerque following his release from prison. He was a shithead going down the wrong path from an early age, a miscreant angry at the world.  The story took a bizarre turn when it was discovered that Harrison had a membership card for that store, and was known to be a regular customer. However, the night before the murders, a young female employee had refused to unlock the front doors for him after closing time. She would later tell police that he stormed off in anger, that young lady remains convinced to this day that what he did was an act of revenge for not opening the door. Both Harrison and Beckley were sentenced to life for the murder of the grandparents, however, to the astonishment of the entire city the jury deadlocked on the killing of the three employees. Former D.A. Kari Brandenburg, under public pressure to convict, instead chose not to retry them, reasoning that both would spend their lives behind bars regardless. Shane Harrison was T. or C.'s psychopathic gift to the land of enchantment, but there was more evil brewing at the Hot Springs and Harrison's deeds would almost pale in comparison.
David Parker Ray a resident of Elephant Butte had devoted his adult life to being a sick twisted fuck. While he nurtured the outward appearance of an average sixty year old man, inside he was a perverted misogynist and sociopath. He might have got away with his sadistic crimes if not for the miraculous escape of Cynthia Vigil.  Cindy Hendy a drifter from Seattle and Ray's girlfriend and  accomplice, had lured Vigil to his house, once there she was held captive and brutally tortured by Ray with the help of Hendy. On March 22nd. 1999, with Ray gone from the house, Cynthia Vigil grabbed a key to the padlock of the chains holding her, Hendy had left the key on a nearby table. As Vigil tried to free herself, Hendy returned and the two struggled, Hendy smashed Vigil over the head with a lamp, but Cynthia persevered and removed the lock. She then armed herself with an ice pick and stabbed Hendy in the neck. Cynthia Vigil fled from the house naked with an iron collar padlocked around her neck and sought help from nearby houses.  A few people turned their backs on her before she found a lady who took her in and called the police. For David Parker Ray the day of reckoning had finally arrived. As Criminal Investigators arrived at Ray's house it became clear that they had stumbled on something sinister. On his property, authorities found a sound proofed travel trailer that housed his "Toy Box" a room equipped with torture implements and devices  that he used to inflict pain on his restrained female victims. Many were crafted by Ray, complete with diagrams and instructions, police also found an audio tape, that he used to taunt his semi-conscious victims after torturing them.
They came across a video of Ray torturing an unknown woman, A local woman came forward to tell police that she had been imprisoned and tortured by Ray. However, she wasn't the woman in the video, investigators began to wonder just how many victims were out there. The lady on the tape was eventually identified and played a key role in Ray's prosecution. The mounting evidence also connected Ray and Dennis Roy Yancy, a drifter who was known as Ray's disciple to a missing T. or C. woman, Marie Parker. Yancy would confess to strangling Parker, a single mother of two, while Ray took photos. Cindy Hendy, who had quickly turned state's evidence in return for a lighter sentence., told investigators that Glenda Ray (David's daughter), Dennis Yancy and herself would troll the local bars looking for potential victims at David Parker Ray's request.  She would also claim that Ray told her that he killed at least 14 women and dumped their bodies in the lake. Information from Hendy allowed investigators to solve the murder of Billy Ray Bowers, who was David Parker Ray's boss when he lived in Phoenix. Bower's body had emerged from the lake in 1989 wrapped in  a tarp. Until Ray's arrest, police had not been able to i.d. the body and had filed it away as an unsolved "John Doe" case. While in custody, David Parker Ray would claim that he committed one murder per year for 40 years, FBI agents working the case put the possible count at 60. Ray's first trial in Tierra Amarilla would end in a hung jury, he was retried in Lovington and convicted of abduction and sexual torture. He was sentenced to 223 years in prison, but would only serve 8 months, he died after suffering a heart attack while incarcerated at a state prison.
I wish there was nothing else to report, but bad things just seem to happen in T. or C.  On Easter Sunday of this year, 48 year old Margaret Salcedo, while out walking was attacked in the street, by a pack of four pitbulls, who had escaped from a nearby yard. Salcedo desperately fumbled for her cellphone but dropped it when one of the dogs bit her arm.  A man driving by, stopped to help her but was driven back to his car when the dogs turned on him.  A police officer arrived within minutes, one dog attacked, forcing him to fire several shots wounding that dog and driving off the rest.  The officer James Harrington, then assisted Salcedo who had suffered grievous wounds during the brief attack. Salcedo was rushed to the local hospital but succumbed to her injuries a few hours after the attack. Officer Harrington then followed a trail of blood to the home of John Hardiman, who was not at his residence at the time. Harrington found all four dogs on the property, he shot and killed one dog under the house (it was the same one he had wounded earlier) and Animal Control captured the other three canines. Margaret Salcedo who lived alone, did not own a car, she was known to walk everywhere she had to go. "The officer arrived on the scene in less than three minutes, but it must have felt like an eternity to the poor woman being attacked." stated T. or C. Police Chief Patrick Gallagher. Salcedo's brutal death sent shock waves through the community,  T. or C. resident Elizabeth Stout said it best: "I think it's like living in the Middle Ages, where you hate to go outside because the wolves are going to eat your grandchildren."  Authorities are trying to determine if criminal charges will be filed against John Hardiman.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Calderon Prophecy

It's uncharacteristically quiet along a Juarez avenue, the silence broken only by the slow beat of a solitary drum. 300 marchers took to the streets in Juarez, hardly a drop in the ocean compared to the city's 1.5 million residents.

It's the latest call to end violence in a city that has seen over 8,000 people killed over the last three years. Mexico is at war, make no mistake about it, the beat goes on without pause or remorse. The procession was led by several protesters carrying banners with the names of all 8,000 victims. Julia Monarrez of The Northern Border College in Juarez explains the significance of the banners: "If their names are not registered, it's like their deaths are not worth crying for and their lives were not worth living" she stated emphatically. 

Can a people stoically resigned to their fate rally for a cause?  Other demonstrations took place across Mexico, the largest gathering converged on the plaza of El Zocalo in Mexico City. There banners decried corruption and the escalating violence, gangs of youths dumped red dye into fountains to symbolize the continued bloodshed. We as Americans have long held onto the notion that a life has less value in Mexico. Given the current circumstance, who's to say that we're wrong, the carnage has reached levels that make it a reasonable assumption.

Calderon's government is engaged in mortal combat with powerful and violent drug trafficking organizations. The President is under mounting pressure to either negotiate with the cartels or to back off his strategy of aggressive engagement, either would be suicidal both for his administration and Mexico as a nation. "It's not an option for the government, nor can it be for anyone in our country, to quit the fight against this criminal and social disease," says Alejandro Poire, the government's spin doctor on these matters. Calderon brought the military into the fray upon taking office in 2006, there are now 50,000 soldiers engaged in the battle. Nobody in Mexico from the Halls of Moctezuma to the shores of Rosarito Beach expects the battle to end before Calderon's term expires in 2012. 

Mexico's defense ministry reported that soldiers have either killed or recovered the bodies of 338 cartel gunmen so far this year, many of the slain sicarios died in gun battles with rival cartel gangs.  This is just in the area along the Texas border in the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon. By comparison so far this year, 22 American soldiers have died in Iraq, 165 in Afghanistan. Since 2003, 4770 coalition soldiers have been killed in Iraq, an additional 2446 in Afghanistan. 

Since Calderon took office, a 4.5 year period, 35,000 have died in Mexico as a result of the drug war. Almost 4,000 were gunmen killed in shootouts between various gangs, another 550 died during attacks on authorities (military or police) Compare these numbers to U.S. losses and you can see that the cartels are bleeding themselves to death. This lends credence to the government line that Los Zetas and other cartels are using forced recruitment to replenish their rapidly depleting ranks. 

However, if the army is taking far fewer casualties and yet the cartels still hold their ground, then what does that tell you? It seems that the real war is between the cartels, with the Mexican Army picking and choosing when and whom to engage.  A cynic would say that each Army Commander is either cutting his own deals or involved directly in the drug trafficking.

Los Zetas are locked in a fierce turf battle with the Gulf cartel that has turned much of Tamaulipas state into a virtual war zone. In addition Los Zetas are engaged in a rapidly escalating battle with The Sinaloa cartel in the state of Durango. The discovery of mass graves in San Fernando,Tamaulipas, the same area where 72 immigrants from Central America were found murdered, underscores the area's severe security crisis. Even with thousands of soldiers and marines massed along the border, large swaths of  the region remain under the control of cartel gunmen.  

The deteriorating conditions along the Texas border were brought to light in this country, by the unsolved murder of David Hartley. Falcon Lake, a dammed section of the Rio Grande has become a choice location for smugglers bringing their payloads across the vast sprawling body of water. On Sept 30th. 2010, Hartley and his wife journeyed across the lake  on personal watercraft, they photographed a historic church on the Mexican side of the lake and then headed back to the U.S. side.  

Along their route they were intercepted by  river pirates or cartel gunmen, who shot and killed David Hartley, his wife was able to escape unharmed. Hartley's body has never been found and the investigation was further stymied by the murder of the Tamaulipas state police commander and chief investigator, Rolando Flores. He was murdered while the search for Hartley's body was underway and his decapitated head was delivered to a nearby army base.

Mexican investigators then surmised that Tiffany Hartley, David's wife, had in fact killed him and was now covering up the crime by blaming cartel killers. This story was quickly quashed and discredited by Texas law enforcement officials also investigating the murder. There have been no further leads or breaks in the case since. Falcon Lake was back in the news on Mother's Day, Mexican marines patrolling along the shore stumbled upon a drug gang camp on an island, the ensuing gun battle left 13 suspected Los Zetas gunmen dead along with one marine. A Mexican naval spokesman said that the camp was used as a launching point for speedboats smuggling marijuana into Texas.   

The drummer keeps drumming, only now the beat is accented by sirens and the distinctive rattle of the AK47, as darkness falls not even the drummer has the courage to continue, the city is returned to the men in black.

Blog This

I'm no expert but I have learned a thing or two about blogging, 1. There are millions of them out there  2. Nobody really likes to read anymore  3. the majority of blogs are written by women with children who want to record every minor detail about their upbringing. 

Even the most mundane of these blogs have 40-50 followers, family are automatically obligated to follow as are co-workers and hubby's co-workers and their wives. It's a captive audience, and you see the goofiest god damn children on those sites. You were thinking it, but I said it, it's like playing Blogger roulette, click on the "next blog" feature and I bet you dollars to donuts that you land on a picture of freaky looking kids blowing out birthday candles.

It's a passive aggressive way of saying "My kids are more adorable than yours" or "Our lives are better than yours and I have proof."  It reminds me of the scene in Angela's Ashes, where the neighbor lady stands at her doorstep calling her kids home "Come get yer mutton stew, mint jelly, biscuits and tea" while the McCourts stand there with their stomachs growling.

Fuck 'em,  when you start writing a blog there are two ways to go: you can assume that everybody will read it and format your writing along that those lines (cheery, hopeful, funny, sincere) This approach does restrict what you can write, if Aunt Tillie and Uncle Joe might read it than cuss words are forbidden. Also if you wake up one morning hating your life or you've fallen into a pit of despair, stay away from the keyboard. You must avoid any mention of race, politics or religion (unless you belong to the LDS church) crossing those lines could have dire consequences in the workplace or with your co-workers. 
The other approach is to assume that nobody will ever read your blog, so you can write whatever you want. I use swear words on my blog, many bloggers do, in my case I don't do it to offend or shock, it's just the bi-product of having grown up and worked with people who swear out of habit.  Starting at 12 years old when I spent a summer working with a crusty World War II vet, who introduced me to this classic "God Damn It! I just fucked myself and didn't even get a kiss." he had hundreds of wise sayings like that. That's pretty bold stuff for a 12 year old kid, it wasn't long before I was repeating everything he said. Serving in the military and many long years working construction didn't help, watching every single episode of Trailer Park Boys, Deadwood and The Wire only added fuel to the fire.  

I manage three different blogs, the one that I use the most swear words on is the most popular by a long stretch, the one where I never and I mean NEVER, swear is the one that nobody reads. Unless you are steadfast and determined about your purpose for blogging, do not use the stat counter, Blogger has that feature and there are other counters available. When the number of total views sits at 12 for two months, it might be discouraging, on the other hand if  you start racking up some crazy numbers, it can be exhilarating. 

The down side to having lots of views and followers is the pressure that starts to build when you don't post anything. My remedy is to keep a backlog of stories and articles in reserve for that week or month that I just don't feel like writing. Statistics show that 1 out of every 3 blogs will be abandoned within a year, if it becomes too much of chore, just delete it, life will go on.  

Pick your theme with care, blogging about how wonderful your kids and family are is acceptable, blogging about how wonderful you are is not. The sleaziest blogging trend I've found so far is on Networked Blogs, there people troll for followers, "Follow me and I'll follow you back" which of course leads to messages like this "Ok I followed you, now follow me back", "I'm following you, but you are not following me", "Why are you not following me?, we agreed, I follow you, you follow me!" I'm not making this up, this was from an actual forum at Networked Blogs. This spirited discourse involved an angry African man and god know who else, maybe I've missed something here, could it be that whomever has the most followers wins?  

"What? You seek something? You wish to multiply yourself tenfold, a hundredfold? You seek followers? Seek zeros!"  Friedrich Nietzsche