Tag Archives: Desolation

The Land Where Nothing is Everything

Rio Arriba County, NM – Land of Enchantment is a supremely apt description for New Mexico. As someone last night said of the landscape, It really draws you in. Indeed, northern New Mexico is otherworldly. Once a week I drive 66 miles from Española to Tierra Amarilla, the county seat. Highway 84 north, paved along an ancient seabed, snakes across pastoral valleys before entering the red rock canyons that you can see jutting above the horizon from miles away. But there comes this point when these sheer rock cliffs begin to rise rapidly toward the sky. In an instant the… Continue Reading

Notes From Nowhere

Yesterday on my way back from Tierra Amarilla, I picked up a hitchhiker on one of the pueblos. It was the middle of the day and he was wearing a tucked in, button-up shirt with a clearly visible ID badge clipped to the pocket. On his way to work, I figured. I was really flying down the highway and so came to a stop a considerable distance away. He seemed to take forever to catch up to the van. It took me back to my days as a younger man when I hitchhiked through northern New Mexico to Silver City… Continue Reading

Everybody Knows This is Nowhere

Española, NM – Nested in northern New Mexico’s Rio Grande Valley, between the Jemez Mountains and Truchas Peaks, is a ramshackle town, just north of Santa Fe, called Española. Founded in 1598 by Spanish conquistadors, the city is one of North America’s oldest. But to call Española impressive stretches credulity. Big box stores with expansive parking lots, chain restaurants, and gas stations, call out from the roadside as lives unwind behind coyote fences, many  bearing little rectangular signs warning visitors to “KEEP OUT.” In my head I sing the verses of Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, as I… Continue Reading

The Dark Beauty of the Badlands

Badlands, SD – Cruising along the meandering scenic bypass through Badlands National Park in southwestern South Dakota it’s difficult to ignore the supernatural inklings they evoke. Teddy Roosevelt, awed by the dark beauty of this region, aptly described the Badlands as “hell without the fire.” Indeed, this vast, jagged landscape is composed of eroded buttes and spires spread across nearly 244,000 acres that formed as a giant sea receded some 69 million years ago. Prehistoric animals likes mammoths, rhinos and saber-toothed cats once flourished here, making it one of the most fossil-rich areas in the nation, with some fossils dating… Continue Reading

The Town That Couldn’t

Lost Springs, WY – If you’re looking for a drive to get away from it all, I-25 north from Denver to US-HWY 20 east in Wyoming is about as remote as it gets. Two-hundred-and-fifty miles of beautiful nothing. You won’t see utility lines strung along as there are no towns along the way. It’s beautiful country, with large, rocky hills covered with prairie short grass. Wyoming is the nation’s least populous state and Lost Springs is its least populous town. Lost Springs sits on US-HWY 20 east. It’s a town that never really was. It’s population peaked during the mining… Continue Reading

Nebraska Gothic

Gothenburg, NE – There isn’t much to Nebraska, at least along the I-80 corridor, which stretches clear across the state. Its sheer length and monotony is in and of itself a head game. Mile upon mile of flat, endless farmland that before long causes the eyes to go out of whack, as if you’ve stared too long at a fixed point. No amount of blinking or shifting around can bring the world back into focus. It’s nearly as bad as driving at night. Pulling over to stretch and gather your bearings is the only remedy. After fighting my eyes over… Continue Reading

The Miserable Life of Rajib Mitra

For those of you wondering what I’ve been up to in Madison, here’s a sampling. It’s an article I wrote for Isthmus newspaper about a guy who, after a series of misfortunes and unfornunate decisions, decided to check out of life. Enjoy! The first letter to Fundamental Pete’s Ass-Jammery arrived in late September, but sat in the WSUM studio’s mailbox for several weeks before the show’s host, Pete Hnilicka, got around to opening it. It was a response to a choose-your-own-adventure bit that the college radio talk show had recently aired. The adventure left off with Hnilicka and a co-host… Continue Reading

Nuclear Neighbors

The cooling towers at Three Mile Island nuclear plant loom over Middletown, PA. The city of Okuma Japan has been evacuated indefinitely pending the outcome of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where the cooling system for at least two of three failing reactors have yet to be powered up more than a week after the area was rattled by a 9.0 earthquake then ravaged by a 33-foot tsunami. So far, nuclear meltdown has spared Japan, but the situation remains serious. As of tonight, engineers are considering whether they’ll have to entomb the plant’s No. 3 reactor… Continue Reading

Federal Inmates Ain’t All That

Brent Delzer, 36, is currently serving a three-year federal prison sentence after pleading guilty in August to one count of conspiracy to traffic marijuana. “The Worst Summer Camp Ever” is a series of Delzer’s dispatches from the Federal Prison Camp in Duluth, Minnesota. The Feral Scribe interviewed Delzer on the eve of his surrender to federal marshals in September. That interview, which provides more details about the case, can be found here. I was going to start this project some time ago. I had it all set in my brain on how I was going to do it and how… Continue Reading

Standing with a Dopeman in the Footsteps of a Strangler

The vacant lot where the Kensington Strangler murdered his first victim on Nov. 3, 2010. Kensington, Philadelphia – With not much on the agenda today I thought I might make cookies, but I instead put on my Sunday best and headed north to the badlands where a man dubbed the Kensington Strangler has murdered two, but maybe upwards of four woman in recent months and has choked and raped just as many. Several people, including myself, disembarked the el at the Somerset Station. Slow walkers they all were and it seemed like an eternity passed before the line traversed the… Continue Reading
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